You therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Messiah Y’shua. 2 The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship, as a good soldier of Messiah Y’shua. 4 No soldier on duty entangles himself in the affairs of life, that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:1-4
We hear many believers today talking about being a soldier and fighting a spiritual war, but exactly what is being a soldier in the Kingdom of Yisrael? Little did my wife and I know that Abba would take us on a journey to truly know what this was all about. It all started sometime in 2009 when a friend’s heart was moved to send us to Yisrael. This was to be my second visit, but Reyyna’s first and the desire of her heart during her “Jubilee” year. Needless to say with all of our financial obligations this was the miracle we needed to make that journey. While preparing for a 1 month stay in the Land of our inheritance Abba was impressing upon us that we were soldiers and part of an army that He is assembling. Prior to our departure to Yisrael, a package came in the mail. Enclosed in the package was a computer component called a CPU that was from a place in North Carolina called Soldier Services. Now for those who do not know about computers, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the father of the computer. All other components in the computer must obey the CPU or the computer will not function. I looked at Reyyna and I said, “Honey, we’ve been enlisted.” In Yisrael you will see the IDF all over the place, but the first time we encountered Yisraeli soldiers was going into the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. While entering into the Park we found ourselves walking in step with other IDF soldiers! Another confirmation occurred while in Tiberias where we visited with an Yisraeli who you could tell would be considered one of the “down and outers” of Yisraeli society. The very first question he asked me was, “Are you a soldier?” This man certainly was a messenger of Yah! Our stay in Yisrael was a very powerful time that saw many miracles of provision. At every turn, Abba was there for us. Yet, the real soldier lessons were about to begin when we got back home after our trip.
No Place to call Home
The moment we got back from Yisrael there was a message on the phone concerning a diagnostic center looking for an MRI technologist. We wondered if Abba was giving us a sign of changes coming. A few weeks later Reyyna received an anonymous phone call with the message. “You don’t know who I am, but I want to let you know that when you leave work, someone is coming in to receive training to replace you.” Reyyna’s final day on the job was toward the end of November. I was working as a substitute teacher at the time. With prayer, we decided this was Abba directing us to leave South Florida. The place he was impressing upon our heart was Greenville, SC. It was early in the morning in late November 2009 when we left South Florida with each of our cars fully packed. While driving we called each other on the cell phone marveling that we left during a full moon. Truly this was a mini Exodus.
It was definitely Abba’s design for us to stay in Greenville for a month. It was during this time that Abba witnessed to our hearts that Gates to Zion kehilah was mishpakah. This, in fact, was already started by Abba when a few years earlier dear friends in Yisrael told us about a couple, Craig and Jan O’Dell, in South Carolina that we should get to know. Later Abba would add to that number including what I call “my brother from another mother”. We tried to land jobs in Greenville, but Abba had other plans. The door closed, but that 1 month, we believe, was very important and strategic in Abba’s eyes. We want to thank Gates to Zion’s support of prayer and compassion during times of hardship while this soldier’s story was developing.
We ended up in the Atlanta area staying with our daughter and later our son. I continued to apply for jobs with absolutely nothing happening. Reyyna finally was hired at a hospital in Decatur which lasted for only a month. She discovered her supervisor was trying to sabotage her work. It made the job unbearable for her. We were back to square one with both of us unemployed. For the next 4 to 5 months, we continued to apply for jobs without any success. We had friends living in Southern Missouri who encouraged us to come and look for work. In addition, there was an alleged Torah based Messianic community there that we wanted to check out. The information we were getting about this community sounded good. So we packed everything we had in our 2 cars and went to Southern Missouri. While at our friends we decided to stay a week at this alleged Torah based community which was a 120 acre farm, what an eye opener! Jezebel ruled there with no changes in sight. The one week was a trial for us, but we chose to approach the 1 week as if we were going to stay. If they had known we were 1 week visitors, we may not have seen what we did. Nothing was getting done because Jezebel and everything about the community was hype. We were back to staying with our friends. Now what? I applied for several jobs and finally got employment as a child/youth caseworker at a nearby hospital. First, it was a blessing that one of us had a job and we had some semblance of stability, but, mind you, we have a much greater understanding when Y’shua said, “Foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”(Mttw 8:20) This job was a salaried position so you might guess what was next – yes, long hours, very long hours! While I was there a more senior member of the staff resigned and within 2 weeks I had a full case load. I was completely overwhelmed not having the opportunity to learn the full aspects of the job. Other caseworkers saw this and were upset for me. In addition, I saw how broken our mental health system is. Children were over medicated and there was a real pushing of medications on young vulnerable children. Demonic influences were being treated with drugs. I sat in one meeting where a child was receiving medications that he was not taking. The mother was confiscating them, selling them on the black market and using some for a meth lab. They had full knowledge of this situation, but were continuing to write prescriptions for this child! I saw that I was supporting a broken system. Working many 10 to 15 hour days was beginning to take its toll. I had no energy left to study Scripture. My life line to Abba was being taken away from me. Abba made it clear that before the end of 7 months I needed to resign. If I was being paid millions I still would have resigned for no price is worth taking away my relationship with my King. Before I handed in my resignation, a friend called me from South Florida and said, “Tzefanyah, I was praying for you and I really think you need to consider getting out of that job you are in.” I said, “Brother, that is a confirmation. I have already written the resignation letter and I am about to turn it in.” We decided to go back to Georgia and see what Abba had in store there again. Abba gave a date for our departure from Southern Missouri and it turned out to be exactly 1 day after the tornadoes that swept through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama and parts of Northern Georgia and Southern Tennessee.
While driving through Birmingham, Alabama we saw the devastation first hand. Why, did you preserve us Abba? In addition, we saw people staring and not helping, in fact, they were more in the way to help the recovery. Reyyna and I both in separate vehicles responded with tears seeing the state of where things are in this world.
We were again staying with our daughter in Georgia. We started the process all over again looking for full time work. With so many unanswered applications, Reyyna decided to apply for a job as a PRN MRI technologist position at a small hospital in Jasper, GA. It turns out that a few months earlier I had mentioned to her if it would be something if she got a job at that hospital. Reyyna responded, “That hospital is so small I really would doubt if they would have an opening.” After seeing an open PRN MRI position and applying for the PRN job, she got a call for an interview. It turned out that the radiology manager was from South Florida. He and Reyyna knew many of the same people! To her it did not seem like an interview, in fact, she had to ask if she had the job or not. He responded, “Of course, you’re hired.” Several weeks of full time training certainly helped us out at that time! We were able to move up there as driving 2 hours round trip every day was a bit much. After moving into an apartment, we soon were in a tenuous situation after 2 months. The apartment complex was in foreclosure. So we decided to look for a small house to rent. We found one that had Abba’s signature all over it. The day I handed in our letter to the current management of the apartment I asked Abba if we were doing the right thing. We would have to pay a penalty to leave. I brought a letter in person to the bank that was managing the property. The bank was a good hour and half away from Jasper. It was raining like crazy all along the way that morning. I kept asking Abba to show us if this was the right thing to do, then just as I pulled into the parking lot, literally the heavens opened a beam of light shone through the clouds with a beautiful rainbow! Abba spoke to me in the car as I was looking at this in amazement, “You are doing the right thing, do not fret trust me and I will supply all of your needs.”
With assurance in November 2011 we moved into this small house on a little mountain outside of Jasper, GA. When we moved in something occurred to me that I did not consider. The house has a propane stove and a propane furnace for heat. We were going to need to fill the tank with propane! I looked at the gauge on the tank and it was 70 percent full! Already He was supplying our needs!
Still l was not able to find a job. Meanwhile, change in management at the hospital brought reduced hours for Reyyna. Despite it all we continued to barely scrape by and continued to learn to thank him in the little things. I was able to find a part-time job at the local Boys and Girls Club and also some substitute teaching jobs. At the end of the school year in 2013 that all dried up. We continued to seek Abba for guidance and continued to apply for jobs that would help us to pay the bills. Though we were in great financial need, we always asked Abba to close the door if it was not of Him. During all of this time we continued to ask Abba why we were struggling with such financial hardship. One day we were in Atlanta and I saw a cardinal and the voice of Abba said to me, “I care for you so much more than this little bird.”
Yet still He was silent to our main question of why all this struggling. Was He punishing us? Did we do anything wrong? Or had He given us the answer and we could’nt hear? Then, this past January 2014 things really came to a head. During a cold spell we ran out of propane fuel in the tank, no less on Shabbat. I made an emergency call to the propane company who could only deliver by Monday. Since we had a fireplace and other people had not alternative ways to heat their house; I said we could wait, but with the inflated price of propane because of a shortage we could only afford to put 50 gallons in the tank. This was just enough to utilize the propane oven we had. Believing our fireplace could not adequately heat the house, I saw this as an “ox in hole situation”. I headed to a store to get an oil filled radiator type of space heater. Reyyna needed to stay home to attend the fire in the fireplace.
Abba knows when to give an answer and when we are ready to hear. Driving down the road Abba spoke to my heart and said, “Every good soldier must endure hardship.” It is hard to explain this, but an explosive shalom filled that car. It was a shalom that surpasses all understanding that guarded my mind in Him. Tears streamed down my face as the answer to all our difficulties finally made sense. Now I knew what it means to be enlisted in His army as a soldier. How were we to know that we were good soldiers unless we would pass the test of hardship? An earth shattering contentment settled into my being that day. Since we now got the message that we had been seeking, I knew that Abba would bring a financial break through. Regardless of how short lived that will be I am content with any hardship brought our way. Reyyna and I needed to know that we are good soldiers. If you are listening to this message, you have had questions. You have wondered. He is preparing a people who would know that they are good soldiers. They need to know this for a conflict is about to be unleashed like we have never seen. It is a conflict of righteousness against evil. A conflict of those who are for Yisrael and those who are against Yisrael. Will we be prepared, as Eliyahu was for a Mount Carmel experience? Forces are positioning themselves as we speak.
Not too long after receiving this message of endurance from Abba; our daughter and her child were staying with us for a few days. I came into the room where our little grand daughter was crying and I looked at her closely. Abba spoke again to me and said, “This little baby can do nothing for herself, so it is with you for you can do nothing apart from Me.” Don’t get me wrong we can do a lot of things, but none of them matter in His eternal economy unless we allow ourselves to be an instrument or vessel for Him.
Without faith it is impossible to please Elohim. A good soldier knows this and obeys His commander even when a command does not make sense. (see Hebrews 11:6)
Endurance involves patience. Yesheyahu says that those who wait on YHWH shall have their strength renewed and they will mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint. (see Isaiah 40:30-21)
Yaacov 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Romans 5:3 Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: 5 and hope doesn’t disappoint us, because Elohim’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Ruach HaKodesh who was given to us.
Revelation 3:8“I know your works (behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut), that you have a little power, and kept my word, and didn’t deny my name. 9 Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but lie. Behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming quickly! Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown.
Ephesus, like Philadelphia was praised for their endurance, but because they left their first love; it was not an endurance that would allow them to prevail to the end. The command to endure is this: Revelations 14:12 Here is the endurance of the set-apart ones, those who keep the commandments of Elohim, and the faith/belief of Y’shua.”
If there is no war, there is no need for soldiers; let alone good soldiers. Ephesians 6 makes it clear that we are in a war, a spiritual war. The enemy of our souls main mission is wipe out His people Yisrael off the face of this earth. Yisrael is to be YHWH’s testimony of His faithfulness to His people. Abba has given us the understanding that the tests that come our way are for our benefit to strengthen and prepare us for war. Every soldier in a war needs weapons and armor to fight this good fight. What has He given us to maintain our testimony as a good soldier and how are we to use those tools?
The Lethal Weapon of Love
Since a good soldier is equipped with spiritual weapons, he/she will understand that one of the single most lethal weapon at his/her disposal is love.
One day it occurred to me to ask a question. Why is love (Heb. ahava) the first gift of the Ruach listed? I was lead to draw out a diagram that brought much revelation!
The Ruach lead me to flip the image. What do you see?
The Ruach began to expand this image. A good soldier will work through his/her issues of fear and not give in to this spirit. For this will produce a soldier with a sound mind.
But, Elohim has not given a spirit of fear, but of power, love/ahava, and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (emphases added)
1 Kefa 4: 1 Therefore, since Messiah suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind; for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; 2 that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of Elohim. (emphases added)
I find it interesting that Kefa uses the term “arm yourselves”. Was he trying to convey to us something that is necessary to being a good soldier?
Unity and Humility Another Lethal Weapon
Shofetim/Judges 6:15 He said to him, Adonai, how shall I save Yisrael? Behold, my family is the poorest in Mennasheh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
16 Eloah YHWH said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
An army with an Eliyahu anointing is being raised up. There are precious few in this army and they act as one. Family of Yisrael, the core of this battle is spiritual. How many weapons did Gideon utilize to fight the Midianites with?
Shofetim/Judges 7:16 He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put into the hands of all of them shofarot , and empty pitchers, with torches within the pitchers. 17 He said to them, “Watch me, and do likewise. Behold, when I come to the outermost part of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so you shall do. 18 When I blow the shofar, I and all who are with me, then blow the shofarot also on every side of all the camp, and shout, ‘For YHWH and for Gideon!’”
19 So Gideon, and the hundred men who were with him, came to the outermost part of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch, when they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the shofarot, and broke in pieces the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the shofarot, and broke the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands, and the shofarot in their right hands with which to blow; and they shouted, “The sword of YHWH and of Gideon!” 21 They each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran; and they shouted, and put them to flight. 22 They blew the three hundred shofarot, and YHWH set every man’s sword against his fellow, and against all the army; and the army fled as far as Beth Shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath. 23 The men of Yisrael were gathered together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Mennasheh, and pursued after Midian. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against Midian, and take before them the waters, as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan!” So all the men of Ephraim were gathered together, and took the waters as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan. 25 They took the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian: and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond the Jordan.
Question: Will a Gideonite army once again play an instrumental role in bringing Ephraim to the land to finish the job started by an army of faith blowing shofarot? Will this be how Ephraim will increase as they once increased in the valley of Yizreel?
How did the men of Ephraim respond after coming to the valley of Yizreel?
Shofetim/Judges 8:1 The men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you treated us this way, that you didn’t call us, when you went to fight with Midian?” They rebuked him sharply. 2 He said to them, “What have I now done in comparison with you? Isn’t the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 Elohim has delivered into your hand the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb! What was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.
A humble man will emphasize another person’s accomplishments, but not his own.
Ephesian 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Master, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; 3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Master, one faith, one immersion, 6 one Elohim and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.
Never Take Off Your Armour
Question: How do I put on the armour and what can constitute taking it off? Good question. Here are several points to consider in no particular order:
- One must adopt and practice a Torah-based life style. Psalms 119:22; Psalms 78:5;
- His Torah will be your delight and wondrous to you. Psalms 112:1; Psalms 119:24; Psalms 119:47; Psalms 119:70; Psalms 119:77; Psalms 119:92; Psalms 119:143; Psalms 119:174;
- You will not forget His Torah. Psalms 119:16; Psalm 1:2
- You do not shrink back from your Heavenly Father’s chastisement and repent with a contrite spirit. Psalms 51; Psalms 34:8, Proverbs 1:23; Proverbs 3:11-12; Proverbs 10:17; Proverbs 12:1; Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 15:5; Proverbs 15:10; Proverbs 15:31-32; Proverbs 29:15; 2 Timothy 3:16
- You know and believe His Word is the only thing that can lighten your way in this darkened world. Psalm 18:28; Psalm 119:105; Psalms 132:17; Proverbs 6:23;
- You will be wholehearted in your walk with Him. Psalms 119:10;
- Without faith it is impossible to please Elohim, if you have no vision for the unseen world; you do not have a faith that will quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Hebrews 11:1-3; Romans 8:24; II Corinthians 4:18; II Corinthians 5:7; I Peter 1:8; Ephesians 6:16
- You will cease from wrestling with your brother. Ephesians 6:12; Ephesians 2:2; Galatians 5:15; Proverbs 6:16-1
- His Word of Truth will be in your heart, upon your lips, and in your mind. Psalm 1:2; Devarim 6:4-9
- You will have feet that will not be quick to run to evil. Proverbs 1:16; Proverbs 6:16-19
- Humility is the hallmark of your life. Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 18:12; Proverbs 22:4; Tze. 2:3; Philippians 2:3; Collossians 3:12-14; 1 Peter 1:5
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Master, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of Elohim, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on the whole armor of Elohim, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace; 16 above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the spoken word of Elohim; 18 with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the set-apart ones: 19 on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
YOU HAVE THE TOOLS! YOU NOW KNOW WHAT HAS BEEN AT WORK IN YOU.
IN YOUR HARDSHIP HE HAS BEEN MAKING YOU A GOOD SOLDIER! THE CAPTAIN OF THE ARMY IS ASSEMBLING HIS SOLDIERS, GET READY FOR HIS ORDERS. DO NOT SHRINK BACK WITH OUR GREAT COMMANDER Y’SHUA LEADING US, FOR WITH HIM IN CHARGE WE SHALL PREVAIL!!
Tzefanyah ben Yochanon
Let us be strong, let us be strong and let us
strengthen (encourage) one another!