Welcome to Nazarene Israel, my name is Norman Willis. In this series we have been talking about set-apart communities, what they are, why they are so very important, and why Yahweh Elohim wants (and expects) us all to live in a set-apart community.
Well, as we saw in our study on the Beit Din Structure, just as the nuclear family is the building block of society, the set-apart community is the basic building block of Yeshua’s Kingdom. So, if we want to build Yeshua’s Kingdom, then we need to take part in a set-apart community. It is one of those things that we can do that automatically helps to build Yeshua’s Kingdom. It is so very important.
And, of course, anytime you get people together, and they are in the Spirit, they are not going to have any problems at all… because everyone has the Spirit and everyone hears perfectly in the Spirit, and everyone knows what the Spirit told them. So there are no problems, right?
Well, that is not quite right. The reality is that people have a lot of problems when they go to live in a community because not everyone hears in the Spirit. People quench the Spirit and people do all kinds of things that they should not do with regards to Yeshua’s Spirit. So, what is needed then is some means of resolving disputes, some means of helping people to get along. Because Yahweh is an Elohim of order and not of disorder, as in all the assemblies of the saints. So there has to be some way to bring resolution to disputes that are done in a loving and servant-like manner.
In part one of this series, we talked about the importance of not practicing what is called Lashon HaRa (evil speech or the evil tongue). Prior to that, we also talked about the importance of having the correct spirit. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Havvah (Eve) stopped listening to Yahweh’s voice and decided that they were going to do what they wanted to do. So they stopped listening to Yahweh and as a result, they stopped obeying His commandments. So that resulted in the fall from Yahweh’s favor (grace). And then, not long thereafter, their son Qayin (Cain) slew his brother Havel (Abel). And when Yahweh asked him what had happened, Qayin replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
As we saw in Am I my brother’s keeper?, the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” Yahweh does expect us to serve as our brother’s keepers. And this particular attitude (or Spirit) of knowing that we are called to be our brother’s keeper is so quintessential for living in a set-apart community. If we do not understand that we are in fact our brother’s keeper, then set-apart community and the Matthew18 Process become impossible. Because without the correct spirit, there is no way to properly keep the commandments. There is no way to serve Yahweh Elohim in our flesh, we can only serve Him through the renewing of our minds.
Now, I have watched a number of Matthew 18 processes over the years, and one of the mistakes that people make is that they launch straight into Matthew 18, starting in verse 15. Many people consider this the meat of the Matthew 18 Process and indeed it is. But unless you get the appetizer and the rest of the course, you cannot digest the meat very well, so to speak.
For example, in Matthew chapter 18, verse 15, Yeshua uses the word ‘moreover’.
Mattityahu (Mathew) 18:15a
15 “…Moreover if your brother sins against you…”
Moreover means that Yeshua made His point already. So first we need to know what the point was. And then we need to take what He says in the following verses in context if we are going to understand what it was Yeshua truly said and what He means. So, we are going to back up to the beginning of Matthew chapter 18, starting in verse 1.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:1-4
1 At that time the disciples came to Yeshua saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then Yeshua called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven…
Of course, the disciples were surprised to hear that. But if we observe little children, at least before the age of puberty, there is a big difference. Before puberty and before children start mate selection, there is very little competition. They do not have hostility or envy, what they are really looking for is to have a good time with the other children. There is a lot less sabotage activity, we might say. The children tend to look out for each other more because what they want is a good, safe, stable, loving environment for everyone. This is the attitude that Yeshua says we must have in order to enter into the Kingdom.
He continues in verse 5.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:5, [Fake Version]
5 “Qayin was right. You are not really your brother’s keeper. If anyone is not perfect in your sight, you should just kick him out of the assembly without any due process whatsoever.”
In other words, you are the leader, you are in charge. You just make up things at random and you are going to judge in your own power and strength.
Oh no! Wait! No, no, no. That is not what it says, is it? Okay. So what does Yeshua actually say? Let us take a look.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:5
5 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
We can think in terms of spiritual children. And the role of an elder is to effectively serve as role models or as examples to the flock, very similar to how parents serve in their own families. So, sometimes people think of the elders of the congregation as the spiritual parents of the congregation. This is by no means to suggest that anyone should be called “Father” because we have only one Father in heaven. But we have to bear in mind that Yeshua is also talking about spiritual children, like when someone comes to an assembly or is brand new in the faith. If they have been in the faith less than a year or two, they are effectively spiritual children. They have a lot of spiritual growing to do, and not only does it take time to grow physically, but it also takes time to grow spiritually. So, when you are dealing with people who have not been in the faith a long time you really have to take care of them.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:6-7
6 Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!…”
This was an actual punishment that they used to use in ancient times. When someone was guilty of death, they would tie heavy stones (weights) around his neck, or sometimes they would wrap them in lead foil, whatever they would do. Then they would take them in a boat and throw them out of the boat into the ocean or into the sea. So Yeshua is saying that it is better that we should die of physical death than that we should suffer the spiritual death that is going to come from mistreating one of the little ones that Yahweh has called. And this is a wake-up call for anyone and everyone who would hope to become an elder or even a deacon, any kind of a spiritual servant leader.
Now, Yeshua tells us that offenses will come. There is no way around it because we have to be tested and we have to be trained. Shaul talks about how you will have both sheep and goats (or wheat and tares) in the same assembly. That is because there has to be a difference that is made so that the approved ones can be shown to be approved. There will be trials, but we do not want to be one of the ones through whom the trials come. Especially not if we are in leadership because we are held to a much higher standard. And if we start stumbling and causing little ones to stumble, it would be better for us as if we were drowned in the depths of the sea.
Yeshua continues in verse 8.
Matthew 18:8, [Fake Version]
8 “…If your hand or foot causes you to sin, don’t worry about it. You can be double-minded and no one will care. You don’t need to die to the lusts of the eyes, the lusts of your flesh, or your pride. Yahweh will cover for you, because you call on His name…”
No, no, no, no! That is not what it says!
Well, we see so many abuses of the Matthew 18 Process in Christianity and in the Messianic movement because, again, people refuse to be converted. They will quench the Spirit, they will not walk in the Spirit, and so therefore their judgment does not come from the Spirit. And that is a problem because, again, there is no way to serve Yahweh Elohim faithfully unless we walk and speak according to His Spirit. That is why leaders of the assemblies, the apostolic priesthood, must hear in the Spirit. So that they can then speak and render judgment according to the Spirit.
Here is what Yeshua actually says.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:8-9
8 “…If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire…”
We are talking about the lusts of the flesh. We know from Yaakov (James) that all that is in the world consists of the lusts of the eyes, the lusts of our flesh, and our pride. These are three types of stumbling blocks that will be with us as long as we are alive and have these bodies of flesh. Yeshua is warning us that if our flesh causes us to sin then it is better (at least figuratively) to cast that part off. If you are looking at women or if you are looking at men, or whatever it is that you are doing, then at least in a figurative sense, pluck it out and cast it from you. He is trying to drive home the point that we really need to be conscious of the trip hazards that are the lust of our eyes, the lusts of our flesh, and our pride. These things trip us up.
Matthew 18:10, [Fake Version]
10 “…If any man is overtaken in a trespass, you who are spiritual should pass judgment, and jump all over him for not understanding. There is no need to bear with him or her in love, or try to recover him, because the job is only to rebuke…”
[If he does not arrive perfectly and does not already know everything, even though he is a spiritual child.]
No, no, no. Sorry, that is what happens, but that is not what should happen. Here is what Yeshua says should happen.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:10-11
10 “…Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their messengers [angels] always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
To ‘take heed’ means to be careful because this is something that can easily happen to you, or me, or any one of us. And so we have to be careful to take heed to not despise children, whether it be physical children or spiritual children. When someone is new in the faith, those of us who are called to be shepherds are called to guard, care for, and look after the sheep. We have to take extra measures because typically they do not have very good eyesight. Sheep cannot see the wolf coming or the bear coming. So they need someone to look out for them.
And this is a very special warning again to leaders. If someone arrives in the assembly and they do not know everything then it is our job as leaders to help lead them in the correct way that they should go. Being a servant leader is a very difficult, full-time job and it takes someone who truly loves people to show people the manner in which we are supposed to love Yahweh’s children. For the son of man has come to save. Not to judge, reject, and cast out. Not to blame but to save.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:12
12 ‘What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?…’ ”
We are talking about a true shepherd here in contrast to a hireling. We are talking about someone who truly loves the flock (the sheep).
So for example. Let us say a busy prosperity doctrine pastor or he is one-house Messianic, whatever the case be. But this pastor has a fixed rigid doctrine, and he is not truly seeking the truth. Or you have got a Sunday church maybe, but they are not truly seeking the truth. Yeshua is going to let the one go, he is going to stay with the 99 that are paying the bills for Him.
But if you have someone who truly loves the sheep, he is going to reach out, maybe send a message.
‘Hey, I have noticed you have not been here. You seem distant, what can I do for you? How can I help you? Do you have questions? Do you have doctrinal issues? Do we need to sit down and study some things out? What is going on with you, how can I help you?’
These are the kinds of attitudes we have to have to be our brother’s keepers. We have to look out for the spiritual little ones who are not capable of looking out for themselves yet.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:13-14
13 “…And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish…”
Here you have someone who is wandering away because they are not finding the answers they need and then you help them find the answers they need. Well, that is a cause for rejoicing. And also that is how you learn and grow as a spiritual elder. Every time I have seen spiritual elders reject the sheep (because they do not arrive perfectly) it does not end well. It does not go well for the elder or for the assembly. The only thing that goes well is when the sheep have a problem and the elder loves the sheep and says,
‘Yahweh has placed me in this position. I am my brother’s keeper. I need to take care of this little one. These 99 that are here are going to be okay. I need to go look out for this little one.’
Again, that is how you learn and grow. That is where spiritual and emotional learning (not just doctrinal learning) takes place. Because you are loving the little ones. That is not to say that we need to put up with people who are causing trouble. Because there are plenty of those who only want to cause problems and if someone is intent on causing trouble, then that just needs to get dealt with. That is a whole separate issue. Goats are another matter separate from sheep. But if you have got someone who is genuinely not finding the answers that they need, that is a leader’s job to take care of the sheep that Yahweh brings them. Yahweh is the one who calls the sheep. It is our job as leaders and teachers to care for the sheep. If you have got a sheep you need to take care of the sheep.
Here we are, next passage.
Matthew 18:15, Fake Version
15 “…Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell everyone what he did, to warn them about him. Be sure to slander and stab him in the back, so that his reputation is damaged…”
Nope. Wrong again! Sorry, again, that is what happens but that is not what Yeshua says should happen. Here is the right way, what Yeshua says we should do.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:15
15 “…Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother…”
This is not only a message for the leaders, but this is a message for every single person in the congregation. New member, older member, this is how we are supposed to do it. And I see this one messed up more than anything else. What Yeshua is really saying here is that if your brother or sister does something wrong to you then you first have to go to them directly. At least in English, we have these sayings. You have to ‘man-up’, you have to ‘woman-up’, you have to ‘cowboy-up’. However you say it, it means that you have to take the courage.
Now, sometimes you will have to take counsel with someone else. There are times when you might have to talk to someone in confidence so that you can understand the position of the other person and get to know who they are so that you can help them. Because our goal is to speak the truth to them in love. Speaking the truth in love is not easy, but again that is what we are called to do.
Ephesim (Ephesians) 4:15
14 …that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Messiah…
This is part of the Five-Fold Ministry doctrine. Part of the promise of the Five-Fold Ministry is that, if we will walk out the Five-Fold Ministry and do the things that it says to do, then we will no longer be spiritual children “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of false doctrine”. And then we will not be deceived by prosperity doctrine, or by the trickery of the book salesman, or believe the wrong people who say we do not need to come together in set-apart communities.
We see the same manner here in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 15 as we do in the Matthew 18 Process. Yeshua expects us to help people come into His Kingdom by speaking the truth in love.
So what do we do when a brother or sister does not hear what we tell them? Let us look at verse 16.
Matthew 18:16 [Fake Version]
16 “…But if he will not hear, take with you one or two people you know, just whoever. They don’t need to be servant leaders in the congregation. Just pick a couple of friends who will agree with you, and side with you…’”
What do you think? Is this the right version? (Hint: It tells you at the top of the verse.)
Yeah, okay. Sorry again. That is what happens as opposed to what should happen. But no, no. We are not supposed to pick rubber stamp leaders, that is not what we are supposed to do. Okay, let us try this again.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:16
16 “…But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established…’ ”
Yeshua says that first, we have to talk with the person who committed the offense. We have to take courage, we have to be adults, we have to face the situation maturely. If you need to talk with someone then you talk to one of the servant leaders in confidence. This would be in order to figure out what is going on and how to approach your brother in love, remembering that we are our brother’s keepers. We do not want to practice Lashon HaRa (evil speech), rather we need to protect people’s reputations. Because, as King Solomon says, love covers a multitude of sins. So, if we love our brothers we have to first go to them privately, and this gets violated all the time. People go about as talebearers and slanderers and violate this, but it must not happen. Going about as a talebearer or a slanderer is a very serious offense.
So we first go in love to our neighbor, the one who has offended us. And we try our very, very best to solve things privately so that there is no damage to anyone’s reputation. Then, if the brother or sister does not hear, then the ideal is to take one or two with you from the congregational servant leadership. Why? Let us read what commonly happens.
Matthew 18:17, [Fake Version]
17 “…And if he refuses to agree with your opinions, broadcast it to the assembly. Post everything on Facebook, and tell everyone you know. You don’t need to consult with servant leadership! Just act as judge, jury, and executioner.”
Again, that is what does happen sometimes, and that is because the leadership of the congregation is trying to do things in their own power and strength. A lot of leaders do not hear in the Spirit, or they quench the Spirit. So, this is something for every true sheep to be aware of. You have to be smart enough to spot the wolves in sheep’s clothing, you have to be smart enough to come under true servant leadership and to discern and know the difference. So that when there is adjudication involved, it is someone who actually cares about you as opposed to someone who is just going to be the judge, jury, and executioner.
Here is what Yeshua really said.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:17
17 “…And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the assembly. But if he refuses even to hear the assembly, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
Now, remember, we have gone to the neighbor privately. And then we have taken one or two more, hopefully of the servant leaders of the congregation. But after all this, the brother still has not heard and repented. And so, if he or she is not listening to the leadership, then you have to tell it to the assembly. Then, if he still refuses to hear even the assembly, then that is not someone who needs to be in the congregation with you. He is not accepting discipline, he is not hearing in the Spirit, he is not listening to those who do hear in the Spirit. And that is not discipleship. So if you are dealing with someone who is being stubborn and stiff-necked and he does not want to listen to discipline, then that is not a disciple. Disciples can come for services as they want, but if you are talking about a Kibbutz or even a close-knit Moshav, that is not the place for someone who is being stubborn and not taking correction. And that kind of thing has to be handled judiciously.
Just to bear in mind, this is another reason for using the servant leaders of the congregation in these situations. Because you really do not want people doing this at random. Imagine a congregation of 100 people and this family decides that they have an issue with that family. So they go get one or two more families and now they have got people in the congregation broadcasting to the assembly and to the whole congregation what they feel, and the servant leadership knows nothing of this. That cannot happen, that is not appropriate. Under democracy, people do what they want to do and that is a trick of Satan. Because the satanic law is to do what you want, or do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. That is from the Satanic bible. But Yahweh’s way is not that way. Yahweh is an Elohim of order and not of disorder, as in all the assemblies of the saints. So we have to be careful to operate within the framework of policy that Yahweh sets, we have to operate within the Beit Din Structure, as we explained in our corresponding video. It is the baked-in structure.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:18-20
18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you that if two of you [who hear in the Spirit] agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Particularly, Yeshua is talking about servant leadership, those who hear in the Spirit and speak according to the Spirit. And the wisdom here is to understand that Yeshua is speaking something that is a riddle or a mystery, so to speak. There are other studies on this particular passage and what He says in Greek is really this.
“Whatever you bind on earth will already have been bound in the heavens.”
Because it has to be that way. If Yahweh will bind in heaven whatever we bind on earth (that is, what we decide) that makes us effectively demigods. So, like the pope, we run around, and we issue our judgment of things and then Yahweh has to bless it. Because, well, we agreed about it. We have two or three people and we agreed. We do not listen in the Spirit, we do not hear in the Spirit, but that does not matter. Because if Yeshua promises that if there are two or three of us who are agreed and we call on His name, then (right or wrong), He is going to bless it. But no. That is not what Yeshua is actually saying here. What Yeshua is actually saying is a riddle to some people, but He is actually saying that if we are hearing in the Spirit then we are going to listen for what Yahweh says to do. And that is what we are then going to speak and do (bind).
Congregational leaders need to hear in the Spirit. Sometimes deacons are not there yet, but ideally, to be an elder you really have to hear in the Spirit and act according to the Spirit. This is where we get the concept of a Foundation of Apostles and Prophets. Because, by definition, apostles and prophets both hear in the Spirit and then speak according to it. Because if someone is not capable of hearing in the Spirit and speaking according to it, then how do you know he is rendering judgment according to the Spirit (and not according to human understanding)? And again, this is something for every sheep. You have to be wise enough to tell the difference between an elder who hears in the Spirit and speaks according to it and someone who does not. A lot of people are not that wise, but we cannot take control. All we can do is help the people who come to us for leadership and adjudication.
“Whatever you bind on earth will already have been bound in heaven.”
That is the correct understanding. Someone who is listening in the Spirit is going to listen for what Yahweh says to do, and that is what he is going to speak and that is what they are going to bind. Just as we see in Acts chapter 15. That is the understanding and that is where most people take a wrong turn. Most people do not hear in the Spirit, most people quench the Spirit and do not walk in it. That is the quintessential difference.
Now, concerning the Matthew 18 Process, it is very important to realize what shunning is. Shunning is basically the spiritual equivalent of death by stoning in the Melchizedekian Order. Under the Levitical Order, anyone who breaks Yahweh’s Torah dies on the witness on the word of two or three witnesses. But that is for the land of Israel, it is not something that we are doing right now, at least not in most nations. Right now we are under the Melchizedekian Order. In the Melchizedekian Order, we need to obey the governments which are appointed over us and most governments in the world do not allow stoning for these kinds of offenses. Some governments do, but that is not our goal. Because the Son of Man came to save that which was lost.
So we need to understand what happens when someone refuses to accept discipline. If you come to them and you try to speak the truth to them in love and they reject it, then you bring one or two elders of the assembly (servant leaders). And when they reject them also and do not listen to them, then it is like ‘Wow, what are we going to do?’ What we need to do next is take the case to the assembly because the assembly needs to understand what is going on. And when we explain the whole case to the assembly in an open, honest, and loving manner and the assembly is like “Wow, this is terrible! This is something that should never happen.” But even still the guilty party refuses to listen, even to the assembly, then once again, they have no reason to be within the camp. So then this is a case where you have to put the sin outside the camp. Basically, it is the Melchizedekian Order version of stoning. There is no destruction to the body, but the spiritual implications are definitely severe and profound.
Qorintim Aleph (1st Cor.) 5:1-3
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father’s wife!
2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.
Shaul tells us here that in Corinth (which was a center for temple prostitution) that it is a shocking and stunning thing it is being reported there. Shaul is hearing in the Spirit and the Spirit communicates with Him.
Qorintim Aleph (1st Cor.) 5:4-5
4 In the name of our Adon Yeshua HaMashiach, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Adon Yeshua HaMashiach,
5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Adon Yeshua.
The implicit understanding that we have here is that everyone in the set-apart community has to want to be in the set-apart community. He has to want to do the right thing. And if that is not the case, then that person is not a candidate for the set-apart community.
So I hope people will understand the importance of set-apart community as well as the importance of the Matthew 18 Process. Please join us again for the next chapter, when we are going to talk about Adultery and Matthew chapter 18: Part 1.