TROUBLE: akar. Verb. (Strong’s 5916).
Sounds like: aw-kar
There’s a remarkable, free, multi-season series on the life of Jesus called The Chosen (in case you’re living in seclusion and haven’t heard). At the very end of the first season Yeshua (Jesus) and his followers march like a confident gang, slow-motion, towards Samaria with a catchy song setting up season 2:
Trouble is a subjective word. Is trouble good? Is trouble bad? Well, it all depends on the heart behind the trouble. Trouble caused by the wicked was never good. But trouble caused by those who stood in the face of evil, well, that was very good.
Think of all the positive “troublemakers” of the past… people who stood in the face of socially accepted evil, and refused to bow down to it, including Pitikwahanapiwiyin (aka Poundmaker), Harriet Tubman, Sophie and Hans Scholl, Oskar Schindler, Rosa Parks, and the “Tank Man” of Tiananmen Square. These were all rebellious troublemakers who forced the world to take notice and acknowledge the injustice that surrounded them.
Yeshua (Jesus), like those mentioned above, was a troublemaker… He challenged fixed social standards and shook the foundations of the recognized establishments: Jewish, Greek and Roman. He stood in the face of evil and refused to bow down to it.
But Yeshua did not come up with this behaviour on His own. He descended from a long tradition of Jewish troublemakers: Noah, Tamar, Moses, Jeremiah, Esther, to name only a few. The Old Testament was filled with good troublemakers.
Troublemakers for Good
One such God-encouraged troublemaker was Elijah. The evil king Ahab even gave him a “troubling” nickname:
1 Kings 18:17
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel [okehr Israel]?”
Elijah denied this nickname. He was not the troubler to Israel… that title belonged to Ahab and his house.
1 Kings 18:18
He [Elijah] said, “I have not troubled Israel [lo akar’ti et Israel], but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of YHWH and you have followed the Baals.
Ahab, the king of Israel, and his wife Jezebel led their people into idol worship. They bowed down to pagan gods, bringing grave trouble and chaos to Israel.
To make his point, Elijah challenged Ahab and his prophets to prove their deity’s effectiveness against YHWH, the One Creator God:
1 Kings 18:19-21
[Elijah to Ahab:] “Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel.
Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If YHWH is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.
And so Elijah announced a test: sacrifice an ox and create an altar, but do not light a fire under it. And so 850 pagan prophets created an altar and Elijah said to Asherah and Baal’s prophets:
1 Kings 18:24-39
“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of YHWH, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” And all the people said, “That is a good idea.”
To prove their point, the pagan prophets did what Elijah suggested:
1 Kings 18:26-29
Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made.
It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.”
So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.
After all the pagan hoopla, Elijah stepped in:
1 Kings 18:30-35
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.”
So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of YHWH which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of YHWH had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” So with the stones he built an altar in the name of YHWH, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.
After drenching the altar with water, making the miracle of fire even more dramatic, Elijah prayed to YHWH:
1 Kings 18:36-39
At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O YHWH, answer me, that this people may know that You, O YHWH, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”
Then the fire of YHWH fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “YHWH, He is God; YHWH, He is God [YHWH hu ha-Elohim; YHWH hu ha-Elohim].”
Elijah, even though he rejected the title, was a troublemaker for good. He stood firm in the face of evil and would not bow down to it. More than that, he challenged evil, and he, with God’s divine help, controlled the chaos and made evil fall down on their faces in front of YHWH.
Troublemakers for Evil
Elijah was a troublemaker for God’s goodness, but those who caused trouble, only to support chaos and wickedness, were troublemakers who represented evil. The Israelites who worshipped Baal and Asherah lived off trouble; it nourished their appetite for evil:
Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, but trouble [neh-a’karet] is in the income of the wicked.
How they made their living was through trouble; they stirred up trouble to satisfy and nourish their appetites and to give themselves purpose. Trouble and chaos fed evil and wickedness.
Although evil (Ahaz) called good (Elijah) the “Troubler of Israel”, there was a man also named “Troubler of Israel” in the Bible, and his trouble was not the good kind.
Achan/Achar, The Troubler of Israel, was a primary example of trouble who supported wickedness.
1 Chronicles 2:7
The son of Carmi was Achar, the troubler of Israel [Akar, okehr Israel], who violated the ban.
Achar’s name [Akar] literally meant “trouble”. Although we’re given limited information from the passage in the first book of Chronicles, in the Book of Joshua we hear the full account of Achan’s story. In Joshua, Achar was recorded as Achan, but it is clearly identified (by his genealogy) as the same man, the one who violated the ban.
Achan’s story was tied into the story about Joshua leading the people to defeat the city Jericho. Joshua marched his people around the city, and on the seventh day trumpets blew and the walls fell down. It was a great victory for the Hebrew people, but Joshua announced that, as victors, there were rules to follow. Not everything they found in the city could be taken as booty, certain things belonged to YHWH; those things were banned and could not be taken for personal consumption:
At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For YHWH has given you the city. The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to YHWH; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble [l-kherem wa-akar’tem] on it. But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to YHWH; they shall go into the treasury of YHWH.”
Even though Joshua made this very clear speech, Achan, son of Carmi did not listen:
But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of YHWH burned against the sons of Israel….
It was only Achan who had violated the ban, but YHWH’s anger burned against all the sons of Israel. Achan represented his people, he bore their image, and so his actions brought YHWH’s displeasure upon all of them. To rectify Joshua took stark measures:
So Joshua arose early in the morning and brought Israel near by tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. He brought the family of Judah near, and he took the family of the Zerahites; and he brought the family of the Zerahites near man by man, and Zabdi was taken. He brought his household near man by man; and Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, was taken.
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to YHWH, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.”
So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against YHWH, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”
Without a reflection of remorse or an apology, and without giving glory to God, Achan identified and claimed his sin.
So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was concealed in his tent with the silver underneath it. They took them from inside the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the sons of Israel, and they poured them out before YHWH.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor [valley of Trouble].
Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us [meh a’kar’tanu]? YHWH will trouble you this day [ya’kor’ka YHWH bai-yowm hazzeh].” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and YHWH turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor [Valley of Trouble] to this day.
Achan’s story, of heaping trouble upon himself, can be summed up in one Proverb:
The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man troubles [w-okehr] himself with harm.
Fixing Troubles with More Troubles
He who profits illicitly troubles [okehr] his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.
Early in the Biblical story, Jacob, the deceiver, tricked his brother out of his birthright. He illicitly profited at his brother’s expense, and if you followed Jacob’s story closely you would see many troubles in Jacob’s very dysfunctional family. He profited illicitly and his own house paid for it. By the end of Jacob’s story his whole family was transported to Egypt and that family would eventually find themselves in slavery under Egyptian rule.
In one instance, Jacob blamed his sons for the trouble that would befall on him:
Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me [akar’tem oti] by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.”
But they said, “Should he [Shechem] treat our sister as a harlot?”
What was going on here? Well, Jacob’s daughter Dinah, in her tender age of childhood, was raped by Shechem the Hivite. Her brothers took revenge on not just the rapist, but his whole tribe, and Jacob knew there would be terrible, reactionary, repercussions.
Although it had been Shechem who had heaped troubles upon his family, Jacob knew that his sons were his reflections, his ambassadors. Every action they took, was in his name. Even though there was nothing to indicate Jacob’s sadness over what happened to his daughter, the lack of that passage doesn’t mean he didn’t grieve. He understood that revenge wasn’t his to give. That action was for YHWH (“Vengence is Mine.” Deuteronomy 32:35). Heaping trouble onto trouble wasn’t a way to fix the problem. What happened to Dinah couldn’t be fixed, and a toxic, masculine, war wouldn’t help her heal. Her brothers had lost focus of what was most important… Dinah herself.
Waging war wouldn’t fix troubles, it would only piled on more troubles… problems piled onto more problems.
In another instance Jephthah, a judge of Israel, desired respect and power. He was the son of Gilead and a prostitute. His illegitimacy caused his half-brothers (the sons of Gilead) to drive him out of the town of Gilead. But Jephthah was a strong warrior, so when the Ammonites became a threat, the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah to ensure his aid in war. Jephthah saw this as a way to regain respect and power.
Then Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me from my father’s house? So why have you come to me now when you are in trouble?” The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “For this reason we have now returned to you, that you may go with us and fight with the sons of Ammon and become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and the LORD gives them up to me, will I become your head?” The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The LORD is witness between us; surely we will do as you have said.” Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before YHWH at Mizpah.
Jephthah had regained the power he desired, but he had to fill his end of the bargain to maintain the power. He had to defeat the enemy. In order to achieve success, which he felt he desperately needed, he made an irrational and costly promise to YHWH:
Jephthah made a vow to YHWH and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be YHWH’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
Jephthah was so focused on winning his war that he also lost sight of what was most important… his daughter. And so God showed him the cost of fulfilling his desires.
So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and YHWH gave them into his hand. He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.
When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter.
When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me [b-ok’rai]; for I have given my word to YHWH, and I cannot take it back.”
It would not be worth the terrible cost, but the trouble was cast and he paid the price. Without even asking YHWH for clemency, he held onto his pride and fulfilled his end of the “bargain”.
Jephthah’s daughter was stoic and graceful in her obedience to her father:
So she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to YHWH; do to me as you have said, since YHWH has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.” She said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions.”
The daughter of Jephthah and Dinah were both victims of men’s desires, their blood-lust for war and their greed for power. These were the troublesome things which nourished evil. They were, in no way, fed by the Spirit. The trouble that was heaped onto the families of Dinah and Jepthah’s daughter had nothing to do these two women. They were the innocent ones; their family members brought trouble upon themselves, and nourished their own desires with it.
Troubling his own House
Jephthah had troubled his own house. His only child would never bear a child. The line of Jephthah ended and would be no more; the house, dissolved.
He who troubles [oker] his own house will inherit wind, and the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.
Centuries later, the Hebrew people demanded to be like all the other nations and have a king of their own. YHWH was meant to be their one and only King, but in their short-sightedness they compared themselves to their enemies and desired political recognition and status. Saul was anointed king and it took very little time for trouble to fall amongst the people. Even his own son, Jonathan saw that his father was not a good king saying, “My father has troubled [akar] the land” (1 Samuel 14:29a).
By the next chapter, Saul disobeyed God and His kingship was removed from him.
1 Samuel 15:24-28
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of YHWH and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship YHWH.”
But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of YHWH, and YHWH has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, “YHWH has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbour, who is better than you.”
And so by heaping trouble upon himself, Saul’s house fell from kingship and his royal line was ended. Saul and his sons would all die on the battlefield.
1 Samuel 31:1-4
Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul. The battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armour bearer, “Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, otherwise these uncircumcised will come and pierce me through and make sport of me.” But his armour bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it.
The first king of Israel fell into trouble and never recovered. Human king after king would follow suit… finding themselves under the trouble they brought upon themselves, and falling down under its weight.
Some kings, however, handled trouble differently. Saul was replaced by David, as king, and David was a very different king than Saul. He was obedient to YHWH and even when he wasn’t, he was genuinely penitent. But David’s life was not an easy one. He was constantly surrounded by enemy forces and they did their best to heap trouble on him and his kingship. In his sorrow, he turned to YHWH in prayer:
For the choir director, for Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.”
I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, and my sorrow
grew worse was troubled [neh-a’kar]. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:
“YHWH, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
Surely every man walks about as a phantom; surely they make an uproar for nothing; he amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.
And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions; make me not the reproach of the foolish. I have become mute, I do not open my mouth, because it is You who have done it.
Remove Your plague from me; because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing. With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity; you consume as a moth what is precious to him; surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.
Hear my prayer, O YHWH, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner like all my fathers. Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again before I depart and am no more.”
David understood what trouble truly was… a separation from God. David ached from this separation so much that even his sorrow was troubled. But David did not give up. His hope was in YHWH and he clung onto that hope so that he would not fall under the weight of trouble.
And David had good reason to hope! Through the line of David, YHWH would find a way to reconnect with humans. YHWH would send an Anointed One (a Messiah) who would bridge the gap of separation. A Saviour who would redeem us would come from David’s line and His kingdom would have no end.
To the Pharisees, Sadducees, Jewish scribes and lawyers recorded in the Gospels, Yeshua was the number one troublemaker of their day. He challenged everything they stood for. He questioned their sincerity, their traditions, their knowledge. And He made the public question them too.
Yeshua refused to play by the Jewish social elitism rulebook. He was a Rabbi, but He did not separate Himself from those deemed sinful. He dined with tax collectors and a wide variety of sinners (Matthew 9, Mark 2, Luke 5); He touched the leprous and the ceremonially unclean (Matthew 8, Mark 5); He conversed with foreign (Mark 7) and adulterous women (John 4), and interacted with Roman soldiers (Luke 7).
Yeshua even had the audacity to disrupt long-standing traditions, such as the Temple Marketplace:
Then they came to Jerusalem. And He [Jesus] entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer fro all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.”
The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.
Just after Yeshua’s outburst the chief priests asked Yeshua…
…“By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?”
Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?”
And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.” And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.”
He also said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Yeshua was more than happy to debate with them, but if they refused to tango, he refused to dance solo. The Jewish leaders saw this man as disrespectful, belligerent, and troublesome, not because His words weren’t true, but because His words of truth threatened their privileged lives. Their sense of entitlement was put at risk and they had no answers (besides clinging to tradition) with which to defend themselves.
It would be fine if He was privately arguing with them in closed quarters, but this Rabbi from Nazareth was addressing large crowds. His popularity had gone viral, and He was making the Pharisees and the scribes, the lawyers and Sadducees, look very, very, bad indeed:
Matthew 23:1-7, 16, 25-28, 37-39
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
They love the place of honour at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men…
…Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves…
...Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness…
…Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHWH!’”
Just like Jacob, and Jephthah, and Saul, the house of the religious elite would fall into desolation. Their precious privilege would be lost.
However, Yeshua did not just point fingers. He always offered a chance for redemption: Be His disciple! Learn truth and be free! It was simple, yet so difficult for one who held on tightly to religion, social status, and tradition.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.”
Who was their real father? Yeshua was preparing to say the one thing that would offend to the Jewish leaders more than any other:
They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
Yeshua held back no verbal punches. He never shied away from what needed to be addressed… and that made Him enemy #1 of the Jewish elite. Yeshua was Good Trouble in every sense of the phrase!
Living In Trouble
Being Good Trouble did not mean you would be exempt from Bad Trouble… far from it. If the book of Job taught us anything, it was that terrible things sometimes happened to really good people. Living in this broken world was a guarantee that we would be affected by suffering, regardless of how holy we lived. But Yeshua promised salvation. We would not suffer forever:
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
There would be trouble and we would be in the midst of it… but fear not, God had a plan to save us, all along:
John 14:1-3, 25-27, 30-31a
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also…
…These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
…I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. “
The father of lies, the ruler of the world, was Bad Trouble, but he was disguised as good religion… and Yeshua, the good troublemaker exposed him in the hearts of men, like no other.
Eventually the religious elite had their wishes come true. They had their troublemaker, Yeshua, arrested and executed on the Roman cross.
Luke 23:13-15, 24
Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him” …
Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, but they kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!”
And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”
But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted.
To Pilate, this man was not a troublemaker; he had little affect on Pilate’s life. Pilate did not consider Yeshua guilty of anything and He certainly did not deserve death. But to the Pharisees this man was the epitome of trouble because not only did he insult them, he threatened their livelihood and privilege… and that, in their eyes, was worthy of death.
Although they had gotten their way, they did not have complete control of Yeshua’s execution:
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’”
Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
Yeshua knew His fate. He knew His purpose as the Messiah, the Anointed One, who would be the Saviour for humanity. He conquered death so that we would no longer be under its curse. He bought our entrance fee back into the Garden Kingdom of God, where we could see YHWH, face to face in eternity.
Yeshua’s gift of salvation is available for everyone who calls him friend. We bear the image of YHWH, and the Spirit within us is strengthened by our relationship with Him. We are a New Creation and no longer slaves to the world of bad trouble and its father of lies. Paul put it this way:
But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.
Do not let the troubles of this world weigh you down. Instead go out and cause the good kind of trouble that YHWH expects from you: help the helpless, stand up for the persecuted and shine God’s light on all who seek His face… and on those who don’t.
Next week: Lean, Rely On