Guardrails, we’ve all seen them. Those silver shiny rails that extend the length of highways and roads that might be deemed a little dangerous. Their purpose is to keep you on the way that you should go, to prohibit you from wandering too far left or too far right, and to protect you and keep you from getting off course. Staying on the path will help you to arrive safely at your destination.
Our Creator, in His infinite wisdom, love, and grace has given us guardrails. You may not recognize them as they are not the guardrails we are so accustomed to. His guardrails come in the form of commandments. Words, instructions, spoken to direct mankind on THE WAY that they should go. These instructions light our path, give us direction and purpose, keep us from harm, and lead us to eternal life with our King in His Kingdom.
“You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD* your God* has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all THE WAY that the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.”
“This God—HIS WAY is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true… ”
The commandments were given to direct us in His perfect WAY, but only if our hearts desire to walk in it. The commandments will not fulfill their purpose in our lives if we desire to go our own way or choose the way of someone else. When we venture off the path and explore what is to the right or to the left, when we fail to respect the guardrails and want to remove them from our lives, the guardrails will no longer do what they were intended. We open ourselves up to the possibility of getting lost, being hurt, or even worse….
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
The Hebrew word, SHAMAR (Strong’s #8104), expresses the need to guard, to protect, to keep, to observe. In the Greek, the word, TEREO (Strong’s #5083), most resembles this Hebrew word. It’s a word that requires action, or doing on our part. If we want the LORD’s protection, His blessings, and the life that He offers, we are instructed to SHAMAR or TEREO the LORD’s commandments. We, in our obedience to keeping and observing the commandments, are functioning as guardians, protecting and preserving THE WAY that leads to life, and not only for ourselves but for the generations to follow.
“Therefore you shall keep (SHAMAR) his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time.”
“Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep (SHAMAR) all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!”
The instruction to SHAMAR or TEREO the commandments is repeated over and over again within the pages of Genesis to Revelation. And when something is repeated, it is best we pay close attention. Through His Word, the LORD is revealing His heart’s desire that His people walk in HIS WAY always. The Word also reveals the harmony, the unity that exists between the Father and the Son. To the surprise of many, Messiah did not come to start a new way, but to lead mankind back to THE WAY of the Father, that which was established in the beginning.
“So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me.”
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and TEREO whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”
“…teaching them to TEREO all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Yeshua our Messiah is the True and Faithful Witness of the Father both in word and deed. His prayer was that we guard (TEREO) the commandments just as He did, and to teach others to do the same. The religious leaders of His day sat in the seat of Moses. Within the synagogue, these men read from the books of Moses, otherwise referred to as the Torah, the books containing the instructions of the Father. Unfortunately, these men failed to TEREO the very commandments they were teaching.
Scripture repeatedly gives account of mankind’s failure to SHAMAR or TEREO the commandments. Man’s insistence on doing things their own way or following after the way of others occurred all too often. Scripture is witness that when man disregarded the guardrails, they walked away from the protection of the LORD and opened themselves up to the many curses outlined in the covenant for disobedience.
“Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good WAY is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
For the majority of my life as a Christian, I was taught to believe that Messiah’s purpose was to put an end to our need to walk according to the Torah; that His way was new and better. Once I said the sinner’s prayer all that was required was to walk in love, grace, and the counsel of the Holy Spirit. To my discouragement, I found myself for years feeling confused. I often prayed for God to show me His will and too often felt like I didn’t know if He was pleased with how I was living my life. What was expected from a “good Christian” in one church differed in another. What denomination was right? Which was wrong? The path I had chosen felt somewhat safe and familiar yet so foreign at the same time. I went through periods of feeling lost and alone, broken and lacking worth, as well as times of feeling like my life was rolling swiftly down a hill to destruction. Between these times, there were the warm fuzzies, the sensations that come with involvement in the charismatic church. Once you experience them you crave even more. If you don’t feel something, you doubt His presence in your life. Too often I was making decisions based upon my feelings and not with what is written in the Word. In all honesty, the sensuality offered in the religious system offered me nothing but a false sense of security. Something was missing from my relationship with my Savior, but I had absolutely had no clue what it was.
Two years ago, the LORD revealed to me what it was that was missing. For too long, I was unaware of the guardrails established by the very One who created my being. The enemy in his craftiness had succeeded in getting me and countless other Christians like myself to believe the guardrails were not necessary to the faith. But, I am not placing the blame solely on the enemy. Due to my own pride and ignorance, trust in the religious system and my feelings, and failure to read the Word for myself, I, too am to blame. My mistake resembles that of the very first man and woman. Adam was instructed to SHAMAR the garden, to protect it and preserve it, to keep out anything that would cause harm. Because Adam failed to SHAMAR the garden, the serpent was given an open door to deceive, and he did so by twisting the very words spoken by the Creator that resulted in Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Sin and death made their entrance into the world after man’s decision to lift the guardrails and go their own way.
In addition to the need to SHAMAR the commandments, our Creator instructs us to SHAMAR ourselves. Failure to guard and protect our own lives and hearts opens up doors for the enemy to deceive us through enticing our flesh, which is incapable of obedience to God’s instructions.
“Only be careful, and SHAMAR yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”
Disobedience to God’s instructions, His Torah, is sin according to 1 John 3:4. It is the Torah that instructs us in THE WAY we are to walk, giving us specific things to do that express love for God and love for our neighbor. Without the Torah, there is no definition of sin. Without knowledge of the commandments, the guardrails, we are left to find our own way with no directions in hand.
It is quite clear now, why for so long I felt how I did in my walk with Messiah Yeshua. Not only was I left without direction, I was left without the awareness of my own personal transgressions, the very acts of disobedience I was guilty of. I knew I was a sinner in need of a Savior, but for almost 30 years, I had no knowledge of just how far I had fallen. I was left without true understanding of all that Messiah did for me on the cross. The pain and shame that He endured should have been mine. My failure to walk in His WAY should have resulted in my death, but instead Yeshua paid the penalty on my behalf.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
My heart is overwhelmed with gratefulness for all Yeshua has done for me. It’s not for my salvation, but because of my salvation that I embrace the Torah. The Torah teaches me how to walk in the footsteps of my Redeemer. The Torah teaches me how to sin no more, how to walk in the will and WAY of my King. The Torah teaches me what it means to seek His Kingdom first and how to love the LORD with all my heart, all my soul, and all my might and love my neighbor as myself. More than just a feeling, love is a heart that is devoted, a heart faithful to walk in His WAY and forsake its own, a heart that delights to TEREO the commandments.
“If you love me, you will TEREO my commandments…”
It was never promised that choosing His WAY would be a smooth and easy ride. Just like any road, one can expect potholes, construction, and delays. What appear to be setbacks are actually opportunities to be conformed more into the image of Yeshua. The LORD permits trials to test us, to reveal what is in our heart, to see if we remain faithful and obedient to Him.
“And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”
James 1:2-4, 12
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
But there is good news, we are not left without help. We have been given GPS, God’s Personal Spirit, to provide us with navigation to get us through all we encounter on the WAY and to help us arrive safely to our destination, but only if we heed it’s voice.
Because of my religious experience, I was left believing that being led by the Spirit is equated to feeling one’s way through the journey of faith and that manifestations, emotional experiences were necessary to confirm the work of the Spirit in my life. The truth is, the Holy Spirit was given to be our Helper, to lead us in the WAY, and empower us to SHAMAR the commandments, the guardrails set up by God. The Spirit cannot speak on its own authority and would not lead one to think or act in opposition to the Torah. A feeling to walk in opposition to what is written, to disrespect the guardrails, is undoubtedly from the flesh not the Spirit of God and will result in wondering from His WAY. The Spirit of God desires to transform our hearts of stone, rooted in pride and selfishness, into hearts of flesh, rooted in humility and the desire to love and obey.
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and SHAMAR my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the LORD God.”
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
A study of the words SHAMAR and TEREO clearly reveal the things dear to the Father’s heart. The following were always to be guarded and protected: the garden, the tree of life, the covenant, the way of righteousness and justice, Passover, Unleavened Bread, the commandments/statutes/laws, the testimony, the Sabbath, the tabernacle and furnishings, the altar, oneself and life, the heart and soul, Israel, the ark, the LORD’s anointed, the house of the LORD, the threshold, the door, the gates, the words of Moses, the Word, unity of the Spirit, the faith, purity/cleanliness. All of the above have eternal value.
There are some things mentioned in Scripture that should be guarded against: forgetting the LORD, who offers deliverance, invoking the names of other gods, practicing abominations, neglecting the Levites, worshiping God in the same way other nations worship their gods, adding or subtracting from the law, treating your brother unjustly, devoting oneself to things that bring destruction, committing iniquity, speaking evil, and relationship with the adulterous woman. Participation in any of the above leads down a path opposite the WAY of life.
David was a man after God’s own heart. I eagerly desire a heart such as his, one devoted to the King and that delight’s in His WAY, a heart that keeps from things that bring destruction, a heart that cherishes the things of His Kingdom, a heart willing to forsake all and follow Him at all cost.
“Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared.
Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life!”
*LORD – in English bibles you will find this word used in place of “ יהוה ” which is the Name of our Creator. Most commonly said as “Yahweh.”
*God – the term is “Elohim” in Hebrew