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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Ninety-Seventh (Lost)

I hope you had a wonderful week. If so, thank Him for it! Remember, the Lord directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9), so you have Him to thank! Kinda makes you wonder why sometimes you get lost trying to get somewhere, right? Perhaps for a purpose?!

This week we're going to take a look at the concept of being lost. Not physically lost, but spiritually lost. Have you ever felt lost? I think we all have. Sometimes though, we can be lost without feeling lost. Everything can be going well, we can feel just great, and it can seem like everything's coming up roses, but in actuality we are lost.

If that's hard to believe, just take a look at what Jesus walked into when He started His ministry. But first, let's look at this word lost. There are quite a few times the Jewish people were called lost, and lost sheep were the subject of a parable as well (Luke 15:4-7). Interestingly enough, the word lost in these references are translated from the Greek word apollumi.

Apollumi means "to destroy," or "destroy utterly." In other verses, this word is translated to "perish," as well as "destroy." Is this a mistranslation? Should they be called the "destroyed sheep," or "perished sheep," instead? If we go back to the Old Testament and take a look at some of those verses, we will find that this is the same idea used back then as well.

The first place we look, we see that the reference to lost sheep uses the Hebrew word abad, and that means "to perish," very similarly to apollumi (Psalm 119:176). A prophecy through Jeremiah about Israel being lost sheep, with shepherds that led them astray (Jeremiah 50:6), and one through Ezekiel about Yehovah seeking His lost sheep (Ezekiel 34:11-16), also use the word abad. Clearly, the usage of a word that means to destroy or perish is purposeful, and this is a reference to spiritual death in contrast to the eternal life given to us by our love of God and believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our Savior. After all, what happens to a lost sheep without the care of its shepherd? It ends up being prey to predators like wolves.

So, once again we see the Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament. And what we see in the Psalm is an acknowledgment that the writer is like a lost sheep, and a pleading that Yehovah seeks the writer so that he or she doesn't forget His commandments. Based on what's in this Psalm, it may have been written during Israel's Babylonian exile, in which case this pleading is very appropriate.

Much the same way Israel was surrounded by the world and all it's satanic influences during their enslavement in Egypt, they were also surrounded by them during the Babylonian exile. With all that being in their face, and likely forced upon them, they needed help to remember what God told them. They were lost from God's way.

When Jesus arrived, the Jewish people were just as lost. Called lost sheep (Matthew 10:6, 15:24), Jesus was there to seek and save them (Matthew 18:11, Luke 19:10). Remember though, there were more tribes than just that of Judah. While there is a big focus on the Jewish people in the context of the New Testament, the lost tribes were all dispersed among the nations and Jesus clearly said "lost sheep...of Israel," not just of Judah, specifically.

But while the other tribes were actually physically lost among the nations, Judah was also considered lost despite her adherence to Yehovah's commandments (with the added oral tradition requirements as well). We just saw a Psalm though, that talked about being lost and needing help to remember those commandments. So how could the Jewish people be lost when they're following the law and then some?

Even further, they had no idea they were lost. In fact, they were so sure that they weren't lost they rejected their Messiah. They had everything under control, they were following God's requirements and their added requirements, and even going to synagogue every Shabbat. Does that sound familiar?

They were comfortable and confident they were doing what they were supposed to. Their shepherds, the religious leaders, leading them astray, were even more lost. They were deluded to the point where they saw it necessary to collude in having their Messiah crucified. We need to make sure we remember this lesson, because I believe this is what will happen as we get closer to Jesus' return.

I believe there will be many pastors and other religious leaders out there that are so influenced by the world, corrupted by it, that they will turn people away from Jesus even as He returns to reign on earth. Even worse, they are convincing people that worldly teachings and ideas are in accordance with God's Word, and when Jesus returns these will be the ones He will say He never knew (Matthew 7:21-23). If we are not seeking Yehovah and studying His word ourselves, rather than taking a pastor or religious leader's word at face value, we will be just as deceived as the people during Jesus' time. We are already seeing their influence on people as I discussed last week.

We also need to look at our lives and what we are doing day to day to make sure we are not spiritually lost. Checking the church box, checking the charity box, checking the love box (by our actions and not our hearts). These are all things exactly like what the Jewish people were doing when Jesus started His ministry. It's not about the words or what our actions look like from the outside, it's about the heart.

Just like the Israelites in Egypt, again in Babylon, and again in the Roman Empire, we live in this world, are surrounded by it and can easily be influenced by it. Pagan rituals get transformed into Christian traditions. God's commandments get replaced by societal ethics. The sanctity of marriage gets twisted into a transactional arrangement that can get thrown away and replaced with another at the drop of a hat.

Don't be lost. Don't let tradition replace Yehovah, no matter how comfortable it feels or how much more it's accepted by society (even Christian society) than following God's Word. Seek His Word and find out what it means for yourself. Find out what He's telling you about how you should live your life, not what anyone else says. The various translations of scripture include a range of different grade reading levels, but none of them are higher than 12th grade. Some of them are even as low as 3rd grade. You are more than capable of reading any of them, understanding them, and studying them yourselves.

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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