Chapter 9:

The Matthew 18 Process: Part 1 (Set-Apart Communities: Part 4)

Watch: The Matthew 18 Process (Set-Apart Communities Part 4)

We have been talking about establishing set-apart communities to help believers survive the end times. And in this video series, we have been talking a lot about how to establish set-apart communities, why they are so important, and why Yahweh expects us all to belong to set-apart communities.

Now, there is no commandment to live in set-apart communities in Scripture, but it is one of those things that is just simply implied. It is one of those things, like the two houses of Israel or the ancient Hebrew wedding ceremony. If you do not understand the two houses, you cannot understand prophecy. And if you do not understand the ancient Hebrew wedding ceremony, you cannot understand what Yahweh is doing with His bride Israel in these last days. So, in much the same way, we are going to see that set-apart communities are one of those things that, although it is not commanded anywhere, is certainly understood in the context of Scripture.

We need to note that, as we have seen in past installments, set-apart communities are the basic building blocks of the Kingdom. So if we want to help build His Kingdom the right way and to make Him happy, then we need to be building set-apart communities. Because these are the basic building blocks of the coming Kingdom.

We are also going to see that there are rules to this and that it is not easy. We are getting a very good response; most people are understanding what it is that we are saying. But there are a few people that for whatever reason, whether they do not understand or perhaps do not want to understand, are sending some comments and questions like the following.

“Norman, do I really need community? I mean, I rest on the Sabbath. I rest on the feast days. I go to our friend’s house and our neighborhood fellowship. And we break bread, we have a shared meal, and we read the Torah portion together. And then we share Scripture insights. Is that not enough? I mean, what do we need to take part in the great commission for? What do we need to help build Yeshua’s Kingdom for?”

In other words, I think a lot of people are wondering ‘What is in it for me’, effectively. Okay, so, those are fair questions and I think we should answer those questions before we get into the Matthew 18 Process. Because if we do not understand why we are doing the Matthew 18 Process then it is not going to help us any. We need to understand why the Matthew 18 Process is so important, and why the Matthew 18 Process is part of building Yeshua’s Kingdom and a part of pleasing Yeshua. So that when we go to the judgment we will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

If we take a look at the way things were in ancient times, ancient Israel was surrounded by enemies. Just as Israel is surrounded by enemies today, you had the ancient kingdoms of Edom, Moab, Ammon, the Philistines, all kinds of groups who would attack the nation of Israel. Later you had the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans. All kinds of groups would attack the ancient Israelites. So the Israelites had to band together in order to provide for their own common protection and self-defense. And I believe we are going to see those days again, coming soon.

Yeshua tells us that every kingdom that is divided against itself is brought to desolation (ruin) and every city, or every house divided against itself cannot stand.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 12:25
25 But Yeshua knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

That is certainly the case with ancient Israel. Ancient Israel was not in agreement with Yahweh. As Amos 3 states, you must be in agreement to walk together.

Amos 3:3
3 “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

They could not walk together with Yahweh and so the nation of Israel split into two parts. You had the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) and then you had the two (some say three tribes) of the southern kingdom of Judah. The tribe of Levi was included also. But then the Assyrians came and took Israel (Ephraim) into the Assyrian dispersion, and then the Babylonians came and took the kingdom of Judah into the Babylonian exile. And because the kingdom was split, because the kingdom was not unified (united), that is why it was brought to ruin. It has yet to be restored to this day. If you read the Revelation study, then you know how it will be restored in the coming decades.
But again, the ancient Israelites had to band together in set-apart communities in order to survive the onslaught of these hostile enemy forces that surrounded Israel on every side.

Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) 4:12
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

The basic concept here is that there is strength and safety in numbers. And as we come into the end times (we are either in or approaching the end-times right now), one of the things we are going to see is the whole Babylonian system fall. Things are going to get worse, and worse, and worse over the coming few decades, and then ultimately the whole Babylonian system is going to fall. That means there can be no police, no firefighters, nothing like that. So if you do not belong to a set-apart community, how will you defend yourself against these hostile groups? Because, like it or not, survival is a group activity. and the thing we need to understand about set-apart communities and the Matthew 18 Process is, in order to have communities work, you need true servant leadership that is willing to make living sacrifices. That is the only way set-apart communities can actually work.

Some people tend to doubt that there will be problems after Babylon falls. I would encourage them, again community is one of these words that is baked right into the Hebrew language, you cannot get away from it. In fact, just the concept of warfare is tied to the term for bread. Let us take a look in Strong’s Hebrew concordance at the word for war.

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance
OT:4421 (מִלְחָמָה); mil-khaw-maw’
From H3898 (in the sense of fighting); a battle (that is, the engagement); generally war (that is, warfare): – battle, fight, (-ing), war ([-rior]).

We look it up in the root from H3898, because that is what we like to do! As you read the definition, take notice on the similarity of lacham to the Hebrew word for bread (lechem). It is the same consonants, just has different vowel points. Notice that it literally means, to feed on, to consume, and to devour, in the sense of war.

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance
OT:3898 (לָחַם); lâcham, law-kham’
A primitive root; to feed on; figuratively to consume; by implication to battle (as destruction): – devour, eat, X ever, fight (-ing), overcome, prevail, (make) war (-ring).

In other words, you have to battle or struggle in order to devour or to eat. You have to overcome and prevail and in order to do that, you have to make war. And this is simply in order to have food to eat.

A lot of people have this concept of Yeshua in terms of a cuddly, little lamb and this kind of thing and we forget that Yeshua is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And that when He returns, he is going to come in the clouds as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. There is going to be a lot of struggle, a lot of difficulty, and a lot of warfare in the years ahead. Because that is war according to a Hebrew understanding. Lechem is bread. Milchamah (struggle) is what comes from bread because, in a world of limited resources, there are not always enough resources to go around. So you end up with struggle over these limited resources. And like it or not, no matter what you believe about climate change theory or this or that, we are living in a world where there is peak oil. We also have peak water and peak food. We have an ever-growing population, we have an ever-dwindling supply of resources. It is this same concept that, sooner or later, the supply is going to come into conflict with the demand which will lead to struggle and warfare as a result. So, how are we going to protect ourselves and our families if we do not live in set-apart communities?

In this continuing series on Set-Apart Communities, we want to talk about the Matthew 18 Process which we plan to be at least 3 parts in itself. We are going to see that the Matthew 18 Process is an integral part of establishing Yeshua’s Kingdom because it is an integral part of helping set-apart communities live together the way they should live together. So if you are interested in living in a set-apart community, or if you are interested in hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” on the day of judgment, then this series is for you. We are going to talk about the specifics of The Matthew 18 Process starting in the second part of this series. But before we get there, we first want to talk about some common misconceptions about the Matthew 18 Process so that we can clear them out and clear the air, effectively. Because there are a lot of bad teachings out there. We need to help people understand what is reliable and what you can trust versus other things that are basically a rabbinic myth, so to speak.

One of the teachings that our rabbinic brethren have is what is called the teaching of Lashon HaRa. Lashon means tongue and hara means the evil, so basically it means the evil tongue, or figuratively is talking about evil speech or what in English might be called bad-mouthing. We all know that bad-mouthing is when you go and say negative things about someone or something with the purpose of tearing someone or something down. You are not trying to build anything up, you are trying to tear things down. That is bad-mouthing.

Okay, well, it is a very easy concept to understand. But our rabbinic brothers (at least some of them) have a different understanding. Some of them have the teaching that if you say anything negative at all, even if it is true and especially if it is about a rabbi, that is evil speech. And that is not accurate but there are a lot of people that believe this. So when you go to speak the truth in love, as the Scriptures say to do, a lot of people will accuse you of evil speech, which is a complete and total misconception. We want to do a good, thorough job of clearing the air in this in this first part of the Matthew 18 Process series. If you have a stronghold on that then please join us for the Matthew 18 Process, Part Two. But I think most people are going to get something very important out of Part One.

The thing is it is not wrong to speak the truth in love. In actual fact, we are commanded to speak the truth in love. Whether it is pleasant or not pleasant to hear, we are supposed to speak the truth in a loving way. We are going to see that this is commanded all throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament) and it is also how the body grows. It is how Yeshua’s body grows up in the Spirit.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 4:11-13
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah…

The apostle Shaul tells us that Yeshua Himself gave five ministry giftings. And the reason Yeshua Himself gave these gifts was in order to equip the saints for the work of ministry. In other words, these are the gifts by which we are going to conduct ministry. Both within the body to edify the body, and also to evangelize to the outside world. And we are supposed to operate by these Five-Fold Ministry gifts until we all come to the unity of the faith. We talk about that in other places. We are not there yet and until we all come to the knowledge of the son of Elohim to be perfect men or to be a perfect renewed man. In other words, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah. When we are perfect as Messiah is perfect, then we will no longer need the Five-Fold Ministry giftings. But that is a long time from now, it is a question as to whether that will even happen while this earth still stands.

But the promise is, that if we will do this (organize and integrate ourselves by these Five-Fold Ministry gifts and operate on a single Foundation of Apostles and Prophets) then we will no longer be as spiritual children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery men. By the trickery of the book salesman. By the cunning craftiness and the deceitful plotting of the prosperity gospel teachers. These kinds of things.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 4:14-15
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…

But this is what we are commanded to do. We are commanded to speak the truth in love. That is a problem for a lot of people because a lot of people get offended by the truth. Now, we are also commanded not to be easily offended. But a lot of people are very easily offended by the truth. So we who know the difference have to speak the truth in as much love as we can so that other people can hear it, so that we do not cause them to stumble, but yet we still speak the truth. So that we all may grow up together into Him who is the head, Messiah.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 4:16
16 …from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Every part of the body is supposed to make a contribution to the body. The simple fact is those parts of the body that do not want to make a contribution are not really part of the body. They may think they are, but they are not really. Shaul is saying that every part of the body needs to come in order to provide something. And if every part of the body will give of itself and provide something, this will cause growth in the body for the edifying of itself in love. Such an important passage.

Now, the thing about speaking the truth in love is that there are ways to speak the truth in a complaining, negative way. And there are other ways to speak the truth in a funny, witty, or positive way. Wit is one of those things that went out a few hundred years ago with Scripture. But I remember when I first got called to repentance, I went to one of the Feasts of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. And I remember we walked everywhere. We would walk to the Mount of Olives, then we would walk back to the old town, we would walk to the new town. We would walk just all over the place. And there were some really precious sisters from England that were there, and part of their culture is to speak the truth in a loving way. And so everyone was tired, everyone’s feet hurt. But instead of complaining, she made a joke out of it.

She said, “I did not realize we needed commando training to attend this feast!

It was just the way that she said it, she spoke the truth in a loving way that got the message across to the leadership. So again, it is like the old saying.

It is not always what you say but sometimes it is very much how you say it.

This can make very much the difference between speaking the truth in love and speaking the truth in Lashon HaRa (evil speech). Because even though it is true, if it is not spoken in love, in a way that is edifying to the other party, in a way that helps to build Yeshua’s Kingdom, it is still not completely correct. Yahweh also speaks to this in Leviticus chapter 19.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 19:17-18
17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.
18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Yahweh.”

Now, this is the opposite of the way the world works and how the world thinks. The world thinks, ‘If you love me do not tell me my flaws.’ ‘If you love me just be patient with me and just put up with me’. ‘I do not want to know, do not tell me the things that are wrong with me’. And this is the opposite of the way Scripture is. In Scripture, another one of these assumed or implied concepts is that we love Yahweh, and we want to learn how to serve Him. So, it is actually a blessing when our neighbor tells us the things that we are doing wrong. Especially when they tell us the things that we are doing wrong in a loving way that we can hear. That is how we need to then turn and behave to others. If we like it when someone helps us to learn and grow in a loving way that we can understand, our job then is to also turn and love other people in a way that they can understand.

There are limits, of course. The rabbis will tell you, ‘Well, I do not understand what you are saying, so therefore, you are engaged in evil speech.’ And that is just simply not accurate. We are commanded to speak the truth in love, listening to the Spirit and letting the Spirit be our guide. But again, to attempt to speak it in as much love as we can. We do not want to become a stumbling block, we want other people to hear the message so that we can help recover our brother. That is what we are supposed to do.

But this passage in Leviticus chapter 19, verses 17 through 18 is very interesting. We basically have these two juxtaposed verses, but they are taken together as one single block. This is what is called Hebrew block logic. When you have two concepts that appear to be somewhat or slightly disparate you take them together as a block. And you have to understand it like the way we do a sword. A sword has two edges, and a sword can cut both ways.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 19:17-18
17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.
18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Yahweh.”

The assumption here is that your neighbor also loves Yahweh, and so by helping him to see what his faults are, you are helping him to improve and grow. And he should appreciate that. And Yahweh also says not to hate your brother or bear a grudge against him. Then Yahweh seals this with “I am Yahweh”, meaning, He really means this, this is really serious! So what we see here is Yahweh telling us that if we do not hate our brother, we are supposed to tell our brother the things that he needs to know in order to improve his walk. It is kind of the same sense that “Friends do not let friends drive drunk”. Or if you will, “Friends do not let friends deny two-house theory”, or something like that. We are supposed to help people understand the way that they should walk, we are supposed to help each other walk the correct way. Well, this is one of the concepts of living in community. We are also going to see this as one of the basic concepts underlying the Matthew 18 Process. And again, we will get into the details in the second part.

Mishle (Proverbs) 27:17
17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Well, if we can understand the way Yahweh’s thinking works, if we see our brother doing something that is not pleasing to Yahweh and if we love Yahweh and if we love our brother, then we want to tell our brother what he is doing wrong. So that he can improve his walk, so that on the day of judgment he will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Because if we do not love our brother we are not going to say anything to him. Our Orthodox brethren have a very active understanding of this. But basically, we need to help each other learn and grow. And if we love Elohim and someone sees us doing something wrong, we hope that they will be the watchman on the wall to tell us what it is that we are doing wrong. So that we can also learn and grow. That is the basic concept.

One of the key things is, how do we approach the Matthew 18 Process? How do we approach rebuking our brothers? Are we accusing them of something? This is something you see broken all the time, especially in the Messianic movement. You see people who are not seeking to edify their neighbors. Rather what they are doing is they are seeking to accuse their neighbors. One of the things we need to understand is what our purpose is. Or as our brothers what our Jewish brother would say, what is our intention? Is our intention to build up and to edify? Or is our intention to tear down and to destroy? Are we doing the work of the accuser of the brethren, so to speak? Or are we perhaps attempting to intercede for the saints, meaning, we are trying to help build up and to edify the body? That is the kind of concern we need to have.

So again, one of the problems that we run into is the concept that our Orthodox brethren have. This concept is that if you speak the truth, even in love, if it is not pleasant then it is evil speech. And that you should only ever say things that are positive and happy, you should never say anything that is unpleasant. And Yahweh has several sayings about this, that His people will say, ‘No, no, speak to us only smooth things, that we that they may hear and be delighted’. And this is what Yahweh is speaking against. If we are to build Yeshua’s Kingdom, then we need to speak the truth in love because Yahweh is truth. So we speak of Yahweh, and the things of Yahweh, and the truths of Yahweh in love, just like Yahweh treats us in love and patience and long-suffering. But patience, love, and long-suffering do not mean we should not speak the truth. We may take a little while to figure out what is the best way to speak the truth so that our neighbors can hear the truth. But if we never speak the truth then that is not truly loving.

So, just as an analogy. Sometimes if someone has a bullet or a splinter, or some kind of foreign body embedded under their skin, and it is festering (causing pus and problems), sometimes you need to operate in order to take the foreign object out. And this is what we think of when we think about the Matthew 18 Process. The Matthew 18 Process is all about a process of purging out leaven (sinful actions, sinful behaviors, sinful attitudes). That is the whole purpose of Matthew 18. And to do so at a community level is the challenge. There is a way to do it and it is very, very good, it is excellent when we do it right. But there are some tricks to it and some things that we need to know and understand.

Concerning those who say that we should never ever speak anything negative, how do they (Messianic rabbis, for example) explain that in lieu of passages like II Timothy chapter 4, starting in verse 14?

TimaTheus Bet (2nd Timothy) 4:14-16
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May Yahweh repay him according to his works.
15 You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.
16 At my first defense [in front of court system, Beit Din system] no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.

Apostle Shaul comes right out, and he names specific names of who had done him much harm. If you can never say anything that someone else finds offensive, how do you call spirits out it? Does not work. So again, whether it is rabbinic Orthodox or rabbinic Messianic, the rabbinic conception that you should never say anything negative is not accurate. What is more accurate is to say,

You should say it in such a way that will help to build Yeshua’s Kingdom.

For example, in Matthew chapter 23, starting in verse 13 Yeshua rebukes the scribes and the Pharisees strongly.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 23:13-14
13  “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
14  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”

Yeshua tells them things that they do not want to hear and of course, they would interpret that as evil speech. Because they would not find that personally edifying or uplifting. But that was not Yeshua’s intention. Yeshua’s intention was to speak the words He heard from His Father. Yeshua’s intention was to speak the truth in love. There are a lot of people out there who do not understand the need to speak the truth in love. But if we do not ever speak the truth then how is that loving? If we do not ever speak the truth then how do we fulfill our duties as watchmen on the wall?

So these are the questions we need to ask ourselves before we speak anything.

Is it going to help build Yeshua’s Kingdom?

Because that is our overall, overarching purpose. To build Yeshua’s Kingdom in His absence. That is what the Five-Fold Ministry, the Foundation of Apostles and Prophets, and the Matthew 18 Process are all about. Helping to build Yeshua’s Kingdom at different levels.

Is speaking this going to do right (benefit) or do wrong (damage)?

Are we just complaining, or are we trying to improve the situation?

Are we tearing things down or are we attempting to build something good up for Yeshua?

Will it warn someone of danger? (That is a good thing, to save someone’s life. Especially a believer’s life.)

Will it warn someone of the need to repent? (So that they can repent and then avoid divine punishment? And thus hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”.)

As we continue into the Matthew 18 Process, Part Two and we start to get into the details of how the Matthew 18 Process works, we are going to see why it is such a powerful legal and judicial process. We are going to see why it has to be used with such great care, with positive intention. But once again, as we see how it walks out in practice, the goal of the Matthew 18 Process is never to punish. It is not to condemn, and it is not to tear anyone down. But rather, the purpose is to approach a brother who is sinning with positive intention and with the motives of a child who just wants to have another child restored to the truth.

As we will see in the next part, the way that we do that is that we must first take the log out of our own eyes, we humble ourselves. Then we approach the other party privately. And only after we have approached the other party privately, that is when we can go to the elders. And if the sinning party does not listen to the elders, then we have no choice but to put them outside the camp. We will see that the purpose of the Matthew 18 Process is to help establish justice, order, and a sense of innocence inside the camp. So that those who remain inside the camp operate with a certain childlike innocence.

So please join us again for Set-Apart Communities as we talk about the details of The Matthew 18 Process in The Matthew 18 Process: Part Two.

If these works have blessed you in your walk with our Messiah Yeshua, please pray about partnering with His kingdom work. Thank you. Give