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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Sixty-Fifth (Seeing)

Is seeing believing? There is a saying, derived from an Edgar Allan Poe quote, that says, "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see." This saying may be more accurate today than any other time in history, and I would probably adjust it down to more like 25% of what you see rather than half.

There are a lot of events recorded in scripture showing many people, upon seeing some supernatural event, came to believe in YHWH and also, in some cases, Yeshua. One of the most well known is Elijah's challenge against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40). As a summary, Elijah had called for a drought in the land based on YHWH's people turning to other gods to worship. He then challenged the king to what could be called a "worship-off," where the king's prophets of Baal would attempt to get Baal to light their offering and Elijah would make an offering to YHWH, having Him light it to prove who was in fact real. Obviously, YHWH was the only one that lit the the offering, and all the people, upon seeing that, repented and turned to Him.

Clearly, experiencing this event was significant based upon the response it produced in the people, but if you believe Edgar Allan Poe, the people should have been skeptical. I don't think he accounted for such a supernatural event, however. Thinking about what it must have been like to see the Baal prophets getting more frenzied and cutting themselves to no avail, which was (and is) a common practice for worshipping those gods, and then Elijah soaking the altar with water and the offering being lit with a fireball coming from heaven, I think anyone would have been convinced given the technology (or lack thereof) at the time.

There were things to be skeptical of back then, to be sure. When trying to set the Israelites free, Moses had Aaron's staff turned into a serpent, to which the sorcerers of Pharaoh responded in kind (Exodus 7:8-13). Who knows how that was even possible, except perhaps that the evil one and his angels are able to transform matter somehow, but it ended up that YHWH showed His power by His staff-serpent devouring the sorcerer's staff-serpents. If you were in that room, seeing that happen, the fact that both sides of this confrontation were able to perform the same miracle would not convince you to follow one over the other, and Pharaoh, as the decisionmaker in the situation, likely leaned towards siding with his own people, vice Moses, despite the devouring that his serpent did. In other words, to Edgar Allan Poe's point, skepticism was involved in deciding whether or not Moses' God, YHWH, was the one true God Pharaoh should obey.

If we fast forward a few thousand years, we're in a world dominated by the Roman Empire and all the technological advances that came over time. It's easy, based on our beliefs, to sometimes overlook the challenge the people of that time had of determining what to believe when seeing Yeshua and all that He did. We jump to a judgment of those people that still did not believe despite all that occurred during Yeshua's ministry. He healed and cast out demons (Luke 11:14, Matthew 8:16, Mark 1:34, Luke 4:41, etc.), with some even claiming this power came from the evil one (Matthew 12:24), but He also spoke to the people in a way that convicted them that what He was saying was truth.

Scripture records the fact that the people were amazed at what Yeshua was saying (Matthew 7:28), and when you think about that you have to place yourself in those people's shoes (or sandals!) to understand what that means. At that point in time, Yeshua was just another man to them, preaching a message. However, this message was different than any message they had heard to date from their religious leaders, save John the baptizer. Essentially, this was the same as if you went to the same church hearing the same message preached by the same pastor week after week, and a new preacher comes along using the same book your preacher had and provides a different message that still lines up with that book as well as him giving prophecies of what's to come. I think we've all seen enough false preachers and prophets by now to have a healthy skepticism of the new preacher, and that was no different for the people of Yeshua's time. People are no different now than they were back then, so you know there were just as many scripture-scourers and date-setters back then trying to tell as many people as they could the discoveries they made and when they know their Messiah will arrive.

Today, our challenge is even worse. If you haven't been keeping up, not only are we provided false information, including pictures and videos, by our government leaders and media in an attempt to achieve their own objectives, with the advancement of artificial intelligence and other computer technology, literally anyone can produce convincing reports, pictures and videos of whatever they desire in order to achieve whatever goals they have in mind. Coverage of a mass shooting somewhere, pictures and footage of a war zone in another country, even just recordings, videos and pictures of various people saying or doing things could all be falsified quite easily. Tom Hanks being deep faked into a dental ad and AI-generated photos of atrocities of war are just a couple recent examples.

You can try to discern what's true and what's not, and what the evil one's path is to his ultimate objective, but it's going to become nearly impossible to do that as time goes on, and likely we won't figure it out until it's too late. Yes, there are little tell-tales right now in things like AI-generated pictures where people's fingers are not produced correctly or something is clearly off, but these things will quickly be worked out such that it will be indiscernible as to what is real and what is not. We're even told that YHWH's elect could possibly be deceived (Matthew 24:24).

Is this all doom and gloom? Do we even have a hope of not falling for all the lies? Of course! But you have to be strong in conviction, and strong in your relationship with Yeshua, which is infinitely more difficult than it sounds. We were blessed by the last few years giving us a glimpse as to what extent the evil one will go to, through all the various people and organizations/agencies of the world, to achieve his objective. To what extent have we really learned this lesson though? Do we believe and trust in man and the organizations he has built such that we just consider the last three years a one-off and we still believe that all the other things they've told us and had us do (and will tell us and have us do) are the truth and we'll just fall in line?

Seeing is not always believing, and that's true now more than ever. The only hope we have to make it through on the side of truth is by the leading of the Holy Spirit and the reading of His word. In that word, we are warned multiple times against trusting in man (Psalm 118:9, 146:3, Jeremiah 17:5), and it's imperative that we begin heeding those warnings if we haven't started already. As uncomfortable as it will be at first, to put 100% of your trust in YHWH, over time He will let you know you're doing the right thing.

Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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