Shalom and welcome to V’ahavtah Yisroel, a Hebrew phrase which means you shall love Israel. We hope you’ll stay with us for the next 30 minutes as our teacher, Dr. Baruch, shares his expository teaching from the Bible. Dr. Baruch is the senior lecturer at the Zera Avraham Institute based in Israel. Although all courses are taught in Hebrew at the institute, Dr. Baruch is pleased to share this weekly address in English. To find out more about our work in Israel, please visit us on the web at LoveIsrael.org. That’s one word, LoveIsrael.org. Now, here’s Baruch with today’s lesson.
Dr. Baruch: Are you thinking in the right way? That is, are your thoughts established by the word of God? If they are, you’re going to have a godly perspective. You’re going to see things from God’s vantage point. You’re going to want the things that he commands and you’re going to be quick to obey him. The problem is that most of the time that does not describe you or me. We’re very similar to the disciples.
And one of the things that appears over and over in the gospels is how so often the disciples missed out on what God was communicating to them. They simply didn’t get it. Why? Because their thoughts were upon themselves. Take out your Bible and look with me to the book of Mark and chapter nine.
Now, last week, as we concluded our study, we saw that Messiah, he began to speak concerning the fact that he was going to go to Jerusalem, that he was going to be betrayed, that he was going to suffer, die, but on the third day rise again. And one of the things that I emphasize is that that information just didn’t really register with the disciples. They did not understand what is this resurrection, they did not really pay attention to the fact of what was going to happen to him. They were far removed from his perspective, a godly perspective of why he came and what was going to be the outcome of that coming.
And this is going to be seen without any doubt today when we continue on in our study. So, look with me to Mark chapter nine and let’s begin in verse 33. Now, they are returning. We read here that they came to Kfar Nahum, Capernaum and they entered into the house. And it says, when he was at home, notice he asked them a question and a very simple question. He simply says, “What upon the way were you discussing?”
Now, the word here is probably a little bit more stronger than simply discussing. It’s like arguing or debating. And it’s interesting because it’s a simple question. I mean, it’s not like they could have forgotten, just a short amount of time had passed. And what happens? Well, notice their response, or better said, the lack of their response. We read in verse 34, they were silent. Why?
Well, if someone asks you a question and you know the answer, but you don’t want to share it, it’s usually because perhaps you’re ashamed of that answer. It’s going to be embarrassing because it reveals something about you that you prefer not to have revealed. Now, of course, Messiah. And we’ll see this in a few minutes. Messiah knew exactly what they were arguing about, but they did not want to share it. Why? Well, we keep reading in this verse.
It says in verse 34, because with one another, they were arguing on the way who would be the greatest. Now, notice the two things that are happening here. Messiah, he’s talking about his death, his tremendous sufferings that he’s going to go through. I think of the verse that says that the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a redemption for many.
So, he’s talking about the sacrifice that he’s going to make, lay it all out there. And what are the disciples thinking about? They’re thinking about which one is going to be the greatest of them. Now, one’s thinking about self-denial and the other one is thinking about self-exaltation. And that’s pretty much how it is.
I mean, if we’re not careful, if we’re not basing our thoughts upon scripture, if we’re not in God’s word, if we’re not praying through the scripture, we’re going to be as far away from the truth. We’re not going to have a godly perspective. We’re going to be thinking in pride about ourselves, how great that we can become. And here’s the problem. All too often today, there’s a great deal of teaching that basically says, “Come put your faith in Messiah Yeshua,” and what’s going to happen? He’s going to solve your problems. He is going to make you prosperous. You are going to achieve your dreams. You’re going to become exactly, with God’s help, of course, but exactly the person you want to be. That is so far removed from a godly perspective.
What we should be thinking about is not what we want to become, what our dreams are, but how our lives can serve and glorify the truth that there is a God in Israel. How we can respond to the savior who laid down his life that we might have life. How we might be able to serve also this concept of self-denial.
And it’s when religion is for the purpose of exalting self that it becomes an idolatrous religion. And that’s how the disciples were thinking. That’s how many disciples today think, and that’s why we need to really question our biblical perspective if we have it or not. So, they were thinking about which one would be the greatest.
Look at verse 35. Now, as I said, there is no surprise to Messiah. He knows all things. And this is going to be proven in this verse, verse 35. “For as he sat, he called the 12. And he said to them, ‘If someone wants to be first…'” Now, right on the matter. They didn’t answer his question, they were silent. But he knew. And so, he’s addressing that desire. And what he wants to do really is redirect it.
I mean, if you want to be great, be great from a kingdom perspective. If you want to be first, be first in being pleasing to God. So, what does he say? Well, once again, verse 35. He says, “And if one of you want to be first, he shall be last and a servant of all.”
Now, that’s not what they wanted to hear. I mean, “If I want to be first, I have to be last? If I want to be great, I have to be a servant of all? I thought if I’m great, I’ll be first. I thought that others will serve me if I’m the great one, not the other way around.” So, we see this totally different perspective on what life should be, what our goals should be based upon, how we should follow in faith the example of Messiah.
So, he says that and then he gives an example further. Verse 36, “And he takes a young child and he stands this child in the midst of them.” And what does Messiah do? Well, it’s an idiom. He takes him into his arms, that is, he hugs him and he says something to them. Verse 37, “He says, ‘Anyone who receives one of these little ones in my name.'”
Now, why would he do this? What is he trying to say? Well, let me ask you a question, which is a more honorable position? I mean, if you were to ask someone, would you rather be a college professor or a day school worker? Now, most people would say, “Well, there’s more honor, there’s more prestige to be a college, a university professor. And to work at a maon, that is, a daycare with preschools, I mean, anyone can do that.
Well, here’s the problem. Let me ask you a question. I mean, if you are a teacher, no matter at what level, what age, what you want to do is to have an impact on that individual. You want to teach them truth and see that truth impact their life. And by the time that a person becomes an adult, I mean, that truth, that academic element, even those spiritual things, I mean, a child, a child, they change drastically in a short amount of time.
And I’m not speaking about physically. I mean, a little bit can have such an impact on a small child. Therefore, if we’re concerned with results, we’re not going to think in regard to the ways of the world. Thinking, “Oh, I want to be that university professor teaching in a PhD program, that’s where the honor is. That’s where the prestige is.” No.
We’re going to realize the importance of what, we’re going to realize the importance of investing in even a small child. Now, a good example of that is Mordecai from the book of Esther. I mean, Mordecai was seen as a righteous, godly man. And even though he was in an illustrious position on a board ruling over a great empire, what do we know about him?
Well, he took his niece and he raised her. And more than that, he instructed her, he taught her biblical truth. He didn’t give it to someone else to do. And that’s why it’s so important, if possible, and I want to emphasize this. If possible. That mom and dad, as much as they can, they invest in their children. They don’t give that over to someone else to do, especially at that really young age of two, and three, and four before school age, that we would invest.
And not just give it over to some worker, but we realize the importance of forming and establishing those patterns in our children at a very early age. And that’s why I don’t believe it’s an accident. Messiah takes up, in his arms, this little child. He sets him in the midst of that group. And he says to them, “If you receive this child,” what? “You receive me.”
Furthermore, he says, “One who receives me doesn’t receive me but the one who sent me.” Now, that’s an important truth. Why? Well, today, especially in the messianic movement, there are those who teach what they call a wider hope. And that wider hope is a counterfeit gospel. It is not based upon the word of God. Why is that? Because what they’re saying is this. If you believe in the God of Israel and because God, the father, and God, the son, God, the Holy Spirit is one, three in one, one in three, they say if you worship God, the father, by default, you’re also accepting the son.
Well, that’s not biblical. In fact, we see over and over in the scripture, exactly what we read here, the way to the father is through the son. Never in the scripture does it say the way to the son, and faith in him, and salvation, and redemption is by means of the father. Quite the contrary. It begins. That’s why the scripture says in Acts 4:12, “There’s no name greater under heaven by which men must be saved with,” that name Yeshua.
So, it’s not sufficient, it’s not part of a biblical gospel to simply say, I believe in God and believe because I believe in the God of Israel. And I believe that there is coming a Messiah. Don’t know who that is, but he’s coming. That that person will be okay. It’s only when you name that name, Yeshua, that you accept him personally, identifying with what he did upon that tree.
So, Messiah is teaching this, and notice what happens. Verse 38, “One of the disciples, John, he begins to speak,” and there’s a change in language. Instead of son of man, it says here teacher. And that is because John wants to know the truth. He wants to learn something. So, he relates to him with those words.
John speaks and says, “Teacher, we saw a certain individual in your name casting out demons and we prohibited him from doing so.” Now, what’s happening? Well, I think John is falling under conviction. Messiah said, “Receive a little one, receive people.” And what are they doing? Well, they are prohibiting people from, in the name of Messiah, casting out demons. So, he’s confessing that at this time. And what happens? Well, he said that they did that because he wasn’t following after them.
Now, what’s the issue here? Well, remember where we began, that these disciples were pondering among themselves who would be the greatest. And in that thinking, they see someone doing a miracle, casting out demons and they think, “Well, he’s not following after us. I mean, we’re the illustrious 12. We’re the key, the right hand men of Messiah. And he needs to follow after us. He needs to get in line behind us.”
And because he didn’t do that, they forbade him and prohibited him from continuing on. Now John’s coming to the conclusion, “Well, was that the right thing to do?” So he asked the teacher. And what does he say? Well, keep reading, verse 39. And Yeshua said, “Do not forbid him for no one who is doing…” And many Bibles say a deed, but it’s the word for a great deed or a miracle.
“No one who is able to do a miracle in my name is soon thereafter able to say something bad about me.” So, Messiah says, “Do not prohibit him.” Now, move on. Verse 40. It says here, “For if one is not against us, he’s for us.” And we need to understand this in the proper way. Some people they interpret it simply to mean, “Well, if I’m not doing something against Messiah, if I’m not cognitive working against him, then I’m for him. That’s okay.” Meaning I don’t have to do anything, but I’m with him. Not so.
What he’s saying is this. If you are not against him, then you need to be for him. You need to be doing something. There’s no position in between. You are either going to be against him or for him, nothing in between. And that’s what he’s saying here.
So, we read on and we’re going to see another passage that really underscores what he has just taught. Look on to verse 41, “For whomever gives a drink of a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Messiah,” he says, “For I tell you the truth that they shall not lose their reward.” So, notice what he’s doing. He’s talking here about people who are trying to assist the believers. And those who do that will not lose a reward, that is, they’re coming and supporting.
They don’t have to be right behind you, but they’re supporting. And we ought not to prohibit that but encourage that. They’re going to be rewarded for doing so. Now, encouraging that or not encouraging. Those are the two positions here again, Messiah, he does not speak about a middle ground. It’s either yes or no. It’s an either or situation, no position in between. And this is what is going to be emphasized in here. We are either going to be drawing people towards Messiah or pushing them away. And if we’re doing the latter, well, it’s a very fearful predicament to be in.
Verse 42. And whoever, and it’s that same word is usually translated offend but it’s the… where we get the English word to make a scandal. And basically we need to realize something. We are either going to be engaging in righteous behavior or what God sees as scandalous. We’re either going to be pulling people towards righteousness or pushing them into what God sees as scandalous. Here, again, no position in between.
So, he says in verse 42, “And whoever offends one of these little ones who believes in me, it would be better for him if a millstone was hung around his neck and he was cast into the sea.” Now, at that day, in that culture, there was a fear concerning the sea. So, being dragged underneath the sea was a very fearful thing. It was a position that no one wanted to be in. It was seen as worse than simply just dying. It was a frightful death.
And the point here is this, he’s emphasizing if we are causing others, especially one of these little ones who believe, to move away from the truth, to move in a way to be offended and to move in the wrong direction, our life would be better than if it did not exist. Strong statement. And what it implies is what? A need for a change.
So, we need to ask ourselves, are we open to such a change? And there’s only one way to bring it about and it’s drastic. Now, we’re coming to one of my favorite passages in this section. And it only can be understood if we take it literally. So many times people say, “Now, this is just poetic. This is symbolic.” No, it’s not. We need to take it exactly for what it says. If we don’t, we’re going to miss out. Now, what’s the scripture?
Well look, if you would, to verse 43, “And if your hand leads you to a scandal, that is, if your hand offends you,” do what? “Cut it off.” Now, here’s the key. We need to take it literally. And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. Do I really believe that? Yes, I do. Why? Well, the answer is this, my hand doesn’t cause me to stumble. It’s not the cause of sin that I made sin with my hand. I can steal with my hand, kill with my hand, all sorts of things.
But the hand is not the cause of sin. He’s speaking here to emphasize something. In the next few verses, what he’s telling us is this, whatever is rooted in sin in your life, get rid of it. Doesn’t matter what the cost may be, the benefits far outweigh any imposition, any discomfort, any change that you have to go through, any costs that you have to make.
So, he says, and this is exactly right. “If your hand causes you to sin,” it doesn’t. But if it should, what should you do? He says, “Cut it off.” Why? “For it’s better that you would be maimed and enter into life than to have two hands and go into Gehinnom,” that is hell. Into a place where the fire, and it uses a word that we all know. It’s the word asbestos.
Now in Greek, that word means, that which is not burnt. That which cannot be quenched, just keeps burning and burning. And the point here, and this is important, is that he emphasizes judgment. And not just a punishment, but here, the words that he uses talks about an eternal punishment. Now, oftentimes we don’t like to think about that. In fact, there’s places that teach the scripture, but they will not teach about judgment, they will not speak in a way that brings conviction, they don’t want to think about a literal health. They reject that. But Messiah didn’t. He talked about it.
And furthermore, he continues on and he says in the next verse, verse 45, “If your feet should cause you to stumble, to sin, cut it off. For it’s better to enter into life lame than have two feet and be cast,” once again, “Into Gehinnom or hell.”
Now, once again, what’s he emphasizing? Get rid of anything that causes you to sin. Again, the feet, the legs don’t cause us to sin. Now, I may use my legs to get to a place where I will sin, but they’re not the cause. What’s the cause? A heart that is not established. A heart which is what? Full of sin. And what’s the key? Get rid of that. Cut it out. Get rid of anything that has to do with sin and those things that are in opposition to the purposes of God.
What he’s trying to say here is that there are numerous things in your life and my life that we need to get rid of no matter what the cost may be. Move on to verse 47, “And with your eye, you shall sin or stumble, pluck it out.” Literally it’s the same word, “Cast it out. For it’s better to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than have two eyes and be cast into Gehinnom.”
Now, in verse 48, he defines hell in a very clear way. He says, “Where…” Some Bibles will translate worm, but it’s really the word it’s the best translated as anguish, “Where anguish is never completed.” That’s what it literally says. It’s the same word. Remember when Messiah was on that tree? And he cried at the end, “It is finished.” Well, what it’s saying here is that the anguish of Gehinnom, hell, will never be finished. Nor, he says, “Will the fire be quenched.”
Verse 49. He talks about fire and in the rest of this chapter, the last two verses, and he speaks about fire here. And he says basically that all fire is what? Well, he says basically with salt. Now, it’s hard to understand because many Bibles leave out a word, the best manuscripts speak about a sacrifice. And here’s what he’s speaking about.
He’s speaking about fire, and in two ways. There is fire that’s going to bring about judgment and there’s fire, for example, the Holy Spirit is likened to fire. And what he says here is that fire’s going to come down and he begins to speak about salt.
Why? Well, if you’re a good student of the Torah you know that sacrifices are mixed with salt. Also, he calls us the true disciples the salt of the world. So, what he says here is this, “If there’s salt…” and what does he speak about? True salt or good salt. He says, “There’s a power to salt. But if salt loses its power, well, it’s good really for nothing.” And the point is this, is that we are either going to be an instrument of our recipient of God’s judgment, or we’re going to be like a sacrifice that is salted, that God receives fire comes down from heaven upon that altar and receives it up.
Those are the two choices, either fire, a judgment, or fire of the Holy Spirit that refines us, that purifies us, that causes us to be an acceptable offering to God. But that will only come about when we do what? Get rid of that cause of sin. And the only way to do that is by repenting and putting one’s faith in the person of Messiah, Yeshua. Recognizing what he did when he laid down his life so that we might have life and have it eternally and abundantly.
And it’s only when we develop his perspective, when we stop thinking about self and what we want to become and start thinking about how we can serve him, then and only is that transition going to happen. The spirit is going to come and we’re going to be trained and transformed where we become a useful vessel to the living God. Messiah, he’s calling us to make a complete commitment to him based upon his truth.
Speaker 1: Well, we hope you will benefit from today’s message and share it with someone else. Please plan to join us each week at this time and on this station for the radio edition of LoveIsrael.org. Again, to find out more about us, please visit us at our website, LoveIsrael.org. There you will find articles and several other lectures from our teacher, Dr. Baruch. These teachings are in video form. You may download them or watch them in streaming video. Until next week, may the Lord bless you and our Messiah Yeshua, that is Jesus, as you walk with him. Shalom from Israel.