A CALL AWAY FROM ISOLATIONISM: Exploring Matthew 5:14-16
In the previous posts we discussed some of the basic understanding to lay a good foundation for the frequently used Biblical metaphor of "light."
Light is representative of holiness, righteousness, and truth.
Truth can only come from God, He is the only source of the light of truth. This truth is made known in YHVH's instructions or Torah.
The Torah then becomes the path by which we understand righteousness and holiness and how to walk in them. It points us not only to those truths, but the truth of the Messiah and His ultimate mission, reconciliation and atonement.
Being a City on a Hill will come at a cost. It will costs those who follow any version of "truth" they currently holds that does not come into alignment with the light of truth in YHVH's Word. In addition, it will cost every kingdom and man-made success built upon their own effort and skill. The light does not shine for its own glory, but the glory of YHVH.
Being a a City on a Hill or a Light on its stand often results in those who wish to remain in darkness to hate you based on the light you shine. We are not greater than our master. Our Master, Yeshua, was hated, we will be too.
Despite the hate, vengeance remains YHVH's, we must stay above the fray and trust Him alone to work His will in our lives no matter the cost, including our comfort, livelihoods, and even our lives. Being a light means remaining in the light, despite what those in darkness intend to inflict upon us.
In the previous 3 parts of this series we have covered some challenging implications of being a light, this final post will focus on one last unforeseen consequence of being a true light-bearer, being called out of isolationism. Every post up to this point is marching to this final conclusion, we CANNOT excuse isolationist behavior if we are to truly be a light to a darkened and evil world who is desperately clutching at the final throws of life. Remember, our light is not our own, it is a reflection of the truth we follow based on our faith in YHVH. It is His way, His truth, His light alone, therefore it must be handled in the manner in which He declares is right and just. That means, any other form of action is just another form of darkness which proclaims itself as light, yet is absent of the singular Light of Truth that only comes from the Father of lights, YHVH. There is no other light, either we walk in it or not. We can no longer stand silent, willingly hiding the light we have been entrusted with, not matter the reason behind that choice. Stand! Be Bold! True light is not hidden!
Before we go any farther in this post, let's take a minute to reflect on the foundational truth in which this entire lifestyle is built upon.
Matthew 5:14-16 esv "14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
Two unyielding truths are laid out in this short passage: 1. City on a Hill CANNOT be hidden.
2. Lamp doesn't fulfill its purpose under a basket.
The implications of the first truth is much deeper than many of us often allow ourselves to dig. Consider the following, "if a city on a hill cannot be hidden, and you are hiding, then you are NOT in that city." As so many believers find themselves struggling to reconcile self preservation and being truly exposed as a lighted city on a hill, this truth should undergird your resolve more than anything else. You cannot claim to be in the city of light, if you are hiding the light. The Scriptures echo this concept.
1 John 1:5-7 esv
"5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."
Isaiah 2:1-5 esv
"1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of YHVH shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of YHVH from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of YHVH."
Deuteronomy 4:5-8 esv
"5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as YHVHmy God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as YHVH our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this Torah that I set before you today?"
Being a light, apart of the City on a hill means walking in the ways of YHVH and in Him there is no light. If we willingly "withhold" that light because we don't want to be seen, then we are not truly walking in His ways. God is light, in Him there is no darkness, so if we do not walk in the light, then we are not apart of that City of light. There are no other options, either we walk in it, or we don't. Hidden light is no light, light only matters if it is seen, otherwise it is darkness, which leads us to our second point. As Deuteronomy 4:6 and Isaiah 2:5 both eluded to, light has a purpose, and if that light is not fulfilling its purpose, it is worthless. We cannot be hidden and be light. IT DOESN"T WORK! It doesn't matter how you rationalize it, explain it, or justify it, isolationism is an attempt to hide the Light from those in darkness. If you dare to put your light under a basket, then you fail in the purpose the Master has given to each and every one of us who claims to walk in His light. You cannot be both, you cannot be hidden and an effective light at the same time. It's one or the other, we are told to be a light, so we must not be hidden.
Isaiah 60:1-5, 19-21 esv
"1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of YHVH has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but YHVH will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. 5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you...19 The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but YHVH will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. 20 Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for YHVH will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended. 21 Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified."
Acts 13:45-52 esv
"45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."
No more can we claim to be people of the Light, and refuse to share that light with the nations. Just as Paul and the apostles faced certain persecution for their BOLD testimony of faith, they did not hide their light. We too must follow in that way, the path made clear by our Master, Yeshua, and walk in the light so that all may see our good works and turn to the Lord.
Matthew 5:16 esv
"16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
THE CALL AWAY FROM ISOLATIONISM:
Avoiding the pitfall and false doctrine of isolationism will grow more difficult as the world around us commits their ways more and more to darkness. As those who claim to be faithful followers fall away under the pressure, those who persevere and remain boldly in true faith to our Father will be increasingly exposed to ridicule, hatred, violence, and even death. Preparing now by understanding some basic, Biblical principles will be foundational to overcoming isolationist tendencies and engage in the light-bearing mission we are all called to as followers of Yeshua our Messiah now and as we face intensifying persecution.
Our position as followers of the Messiah, is servanthood.
We are to be about the "Master's Work"
Yeshua commanded us to "Go!"
We are called to produce
First, we are servants of the Most High, we were bought with a great price, and we are not our own, as we discussed in part 3 of this series. We cannot claim to be servants, while we reject the commands or instructions of our Master.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 esv
"19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
Romans 6:16, 20-22 esv
"16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?...20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."
Second, this servanthood comes with expectations from the Master, full obedience. We like to think we are free, free, free, but the apostles taught otherwise, we are slaves to something, let's be slaves to righteousness as we obey our Master, Yeshua.
Colossians 3:23-24 esv
"23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
1 Peter 1:13-20 esv
"13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot."
1 John 2:3-6 esv
"3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."
Yeshua taught the same thing
Luke 11:28 esv
"28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
However, this is not a new concept, even in the Old Testament YHVH calls His people, His servants to obey Him.
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 esv
"1 And if you faithfully obey the voice of YHVH your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, YHVH your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of YHVH your God."
The promise is our Master, YHVH, will set those who "fully obey" high above the nations. Just like Yeshua says, a "city on a hill" and a "lamp" on its stand. Obedience is necessary for us to be a servant of YHVH, and to function as He has required as a light to the nations. When we obey, we do not embark on our own work, instead we fully engage in the work of our Master.
Third, as willing servants to YHVH our Master, we whole-heartedly obey His instructions to accomplish His will and purpose, not our own. What is the "work" He would have us do? Well, it's simple, and has been echoed in many of these passages we already explored, We "go!"
Luke 9:1-6 esv
"1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. 4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere."
Luke 10:1-3 esv
"1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.'"
Matthew 28:16-20 esv
"16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, 'all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
The task is simple, we go. We go to every nation, tongue, and people, and we proclaim the Gospel of truth, the Light, to everyone and teach them to obey just as we were taught to and are doing ourselves. Finally, this means our mission, our sole purpose our lives as faithful and effective servants of God is to bear fruit for the Master.
John 15:1-8 esv
"'I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."
Colossians 1:9-14 esv
"9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son ,14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
Jeremiah 17:7-8 esv
"7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is YHVH 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
It should be no mystery that this is the mission the Father has given us to accomplish, since this is the order He designed from the beginning, that His creation, when operating as He proposed will bear fruit in kind.
Genesis 1:12 esv
"12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."
Resisting isolationism is the direct result of knowing, understanding, and faithfully accomplishing all the Master has instructed us to do. If you are one that pays attention, you will notice that we are never commanded to avoid, flee, or hide away in any of these Scriptures. You cannot claim to be a light when your light is hidden away from all those who are desperate to find it, yes, even the wolves. This is the only way to become a true light, a city on a hill as Yeshua calls His people in Matthew 5. It will cost you everything including your own version of truth and your own personal kingdom. It will require that you accept the reality that just as Yeshua was, we will be hated by those in darkness, you would will be a target that does not hide even in the face of intense abuse and persecution. I pray after reading through this study series your heart burns with passion to be a faithful servant who knows the voice of the Master, who is resides on the vine, and bears fruit in kind.
If you are unwilling to accept these terms, stop calling yourselves a light, you aren't, you are deceived. However, if you are willing to humble yourself and faithfully accept what Scripture teaches us, then your light will not only shine bright amongst the darkness, but your will bear great fruit for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
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