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   A long time ago I got a speeding ticket, and in preparing to go to traffic court, I remembered something my dad had taught me. He said, “If you ever find your self in court, and you’re guilty, ask to be tried by the judge; if you’re not guilty, ask for a jury trial.” He added, “If you are before the judge, guilty, say, “I plead guilty, your honor, and place myself at the mercy of the court.” I thought this would be as a good strategy as any, so I planned to say just those words. I mean, what did I have to lose?
   My day in court came, and I watched many people try to convince the judge that they were not guilty. I was guilty of speeding, so when the judge asked how I plead, I said, “Guilty, your honor; and I place myself at the mercy of the court.” Inside I smiled, thinking I may have won myself a lesser penalty by acting with humility – the key word, here, being “acting.” I thought I would stand out amongst the common rabble, that I would win mercy for my simple declaration of guilt and my feeble attempt to portray a “willing subject.” That is, until he asked me, “Is there any reason the court should grant you mercy?” I hadn’t planned on his retort. So, I began to nervously explain myself, immediately putting myself into the same category of those who had whined about their plight before my turn came. After listening to my rationale for a few minutes, he interrupted me with a brief summary of my defense, and I agreed with his extremely abridged version of my story, uttering a simple,“Yes, your honor.” He reduced my fine by one half.

What Could Have Been Said?
   The conversing continues:
   “Yes, your honor, there is. As you know, mercy, by definition, is not something that is deserved. On the other hand, a verdict of Not Guilty, based upon competent evidence, is not merciful, but simply, just. Mercy is the prerogative of the one who has the authority and duty to condemn in the light of evidence proving guilt; but, instead, exercises compassion upon the accused-found-guilty. Further, that prerogative cannot have anything to do with the depth or the nature of the crime having been committed. In fact, the greater the crime, the greater the depth of mercy. Rather, mercy is a function of a judge’s ability to discern the depth of sincerity of the accused to genuinely repent of that unlawful action and make an oath in his heart that he will not violate that law again. Mercyistheabilitytoseeintoone’sheart.
   “Ultimately, mercy is an act reserved for the Creator of the Universe; yet, we are commanded to imitate Him; therefore, there can be no guilt in a man appointed to authority who chooses to grant mercy, even if he is wrong in his judgment. Rather, the burden lies on the heart of the man who committed the infraction. It is what comes out of our own mouths that condemn us, not the verdict of other men. The accused takes on the burden of the court by asking for mercy.
   “Your honor, it would be much easier for me to pay the fine, have my infraction ‘concealed’ or ‘cleansed,’ and be free to continue in such illegal behavior, unburdened by an oath to ’go and sin no more.’ By asking for mercy, I am saying to you that I will never violate this law again. I am aware of the consequences for having contempt for the court by bearing false witness. I am also aware that other consequences are well beyond the power of this court of this land. The consequences of my request for mercyare,infact,eternal.
   “May I remind the court that it has been said, ‘We shall be judged – as we judge others?’ I understand the enormity of the responsibility that you have taken upon your shoulders, and I shall abide in your judgment whether merciful or harsh. It is said that enduring the punishment for a wrong-doing has no credit; but that enduring punishment when one has committed no wrong is comparable to what the Savior did for us, and is therefore credible. I am guilty of wrong-doing, and there is therefore no honor for me even though I endure my punishment. But, consider how honorable it would be for a judge to grant mercy in the face of guilt! Certainly, this must be what is referred to as storing up treasures in Heaven. Thank you, your honor, for hearing my plea.”

Higher Decision Making Time!
   Having written this defense, I found myself shaking in my boots at the thought of ever offering it, considering the consequences should I ever exceed the speed limit! I will have broken an oath that I made with my own mouth! How in the world could I actually do what I promised to do? If you were the accused in this scenario, would you make such a plea? Or, would you simply pay the fine? If you were the judge, how would you have ruled? Would you laugh at my presumption and grandiosity, recognizing the true condemnation found in the words, “Mercy granted! Case dismissed,” and thereby passing the matter to a Higher Court? Or, would you exercise true mercy by throwing my plea for mercy out the window, knowing that my inevitable failure at obeying the law would invoke a worse judgment upon me? Are you ready to be a judge in the Kingdom?
   I have to admit, writing this fantasy defense was fun. It was an exercise in attempting to “win in court,” perhaps a reflection of my hope in our upcoming real court battle. However, it served to point out to me the commitment that I am making to the Judge of all Judges, the King of all Kings and the Lawgiver of all Lawgivers, Yahweh, my Elohim, Savior and Shepherd. Having been immersed in the name of Yahshua, I have asked for His mercy to be applied to my sins. Have I not, in a sense, taken on His burden, in that I am vowing to abandon sinful behavior, in exchange for His forgiveness of my past sins?
   Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light, Matthew 11:28 -30.

How Can a “Burden” Be Light?
   Thus says Yahweh, Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it.” And I set watchmen over you, saying, “Listen to the sound of the trumpet!” But they said, “We will not listen.” Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their plans, because they have not listened to My words, and as for My law, they have rejected it also, Jeremiah 6:16 -19.
   When Yahshua invited us to take His yoke upon us, He was not just uttering poetic words, taken from the Book of Jeremiah, whose name in Hebrew, YermeYah, means “Yah Will Rise.” Does Jeremiah’s name not point to the One Who shall rise, Who came in the name of Yah, Yahshua Ha Mashiach? HalleluYah! By referencing this verse in Jeremiah’s writings, Yahshua is encouraging us, the “Congregation” in the “Nations” of Earth, to “Ask for the ancient paths,” to “Listen to My words,” and to not “Reject My Law.”
   In essence, Yahweh is saying to us, “Look what I’ve done to My people who have disobeyed Me!” By pointing to the Israelites of old, He is proving that no one, on their own, can obey His Law. He sent His anointed Son, Yahshua, to prove that only a Perfect One can refrain from sin. In other words, we, in ourselves, are without hope for eternal life. Only Yahweh’s mercy can save us from eternal condemnation and death. And, again, it is by virtue of His mercy that He has shown us His lawful means in which we will obtain mercy. He has offered us a New Covenant, a one-way covenant that HE writes upon our minds and our hearts.
   The English name, John, is the Hebrew name, Yahchanan, which means the Mercy of Yah. It was the “Mercy of Yah” who cried in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of Yahweh; make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim!” John the Immerser thus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, whose name is YeshaYah and means “Yahweh Saves.”
   “Yah” is the translation of the Hebrew Yah; OT:3050 is a contraction for OT :3068, Yahweh the existing One, and meaning the same; Jah, the sacred name: KJV - Jah, the Sovereign, most vehement. Compare names ending in "-iah," "-jah."
   “Saves” is the translation of the Hebrew
yasha` (yaw-shah'); OT:3467 meaning a primitive root; properly, to be open, wide or free, i.e. (by implication) to be safe; causatively, to free or succor: KJV - at all, avenging, defend, deliver (-er), help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save (saviour), get victory.
"Comfort, yes, comfort My people!" says your Elohim. "Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from Yahweh's hand double for all her sins." The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of Yahweh; make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken," Isaiah 40:1 - 5 NKJV.
   Prepare for the Revealing, the Revelation, the Coming of the Salvation of Yahweh. All of mankind shall see Yahshua, the Anointed Redeemer from Yahweh. In reading Hebrews 8:7 – 12, we find reference to the first covenant.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says Yahweh. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know Yahweh,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more,” Hebrews 8:7 - 12 NKJV.
   This is a quote from Jeremiah 31:31 - 34.
   One should take note that the author of the book of Hebrews (and Jeremiah!) do not find fault in the Law, itself, but the covenant made with the ancient Israelites. The fault was in their breaking the Covenant through disobedience to the Law of Yahweh.
   It is interesting to note that the author of the book of Hebrews, two chapters later, clarifies for us the depth of Yahweh’s will in the keeping of His Law.
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them, Hebrews 10:16 NKJV.
   The First Covenant was broken because Israel abandoned their oath to follow Yahweh. The New Covenant is made BY Yahweh, Who places the Law in our minds and writes the Law on our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that allows us to understand the importance of the Law of Yahweh and which empowers us to abide in it. The “burden” that Yahshua asks us to place upon our shoulders is “light” and “easy” to bear, not because it represents an easier, lighter burden, but because the burden is supported by the strength of the Holy Spirit. How strong is the Holy Spirit?
I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you, Matthew 17:20 NIV.
   Yet, for all the strength that the Holy Spirit affords those who abide in Yahweh, the physical manifestation of that strength is literally nothing compared to something much more powerful.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV.
   Is not the greatest strength that Yahweh manifests toward us, at least as far as our eternal salvation is concerned, is His willingness to forgive us? He is full of mercy; He is longsuffering; and He is lovingkindness.
   Knowing this, how can it be said that keeping the Law of Yahweh is impossible? Scripture says that keeping the Law of Yahweh is easy, that it is not a burden. In fact, Yahshua sets a higher standard on keeping the Law for those who receive the New Covenant signed in HIS blood! He is willing to grant mercy to those who are willing to ask for mercy and who know full well the obligations they are taking on.
   You have heard that the ancients were told, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgment; and whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the Sanhedrin; but whoever says, “[Shut up, you idiot!],” shall be guilty enough to go into Gehenna, [the Lake] of fire, Matthew 5:21 – 22 NIV.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yahshua, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the House of Yahweh, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching or if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of Yahweh underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing and insulted the Spirit of Mercy? For we know Him Who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says Yahweh. And again, "Yahweh will judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Elohim, Hebrews 10:19 - 31.
   Now, what could be worse than being killed! How about being killed again? The “second death” is mentioned four times in the Book of the Revealing of Yahshua Ha Mashiach:
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14 - 15 NASU.
   Going back to the Book of Hebrews, starting at verse 32 in chapter 10, we read:
But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became compan- ions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowingthatyouhaveabetterand an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward, for you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of Elohim, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, and He Who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to destruction, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul, Hebrews 10:32 – 39.

   I began this article with reference to a court hearing, hypothetical as it was. Allow me to conclude in the same setting, but maybe now speaking in general terms of being involved in a court case.
   The question for us is this, "Is losing the court case Yahweh's way of punishing us, or is it, rather, His way to provide discipline for us?" If the former, then we need to take stock of His Set-Apart Word and examine the sins that we have committed that have stirred His wrath against us. If this defeat is, instead, His way of taking us away from a place from which He has removed His name ... and His way of leading us to a new place where He will place His name, then we need to gird the loins of our wisdom, strength and faith and follow His fire by night and His mist in the day to the destination that He is making for His flock.
   Whenever we are confronted with a difficult task and feel a great need for assurance, the reading of Psalm 23 will not only help, if read before the task begins, but also after, for comfort.
   YAHWEH is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the House of Y AHWEH for ever.

-Elder John Fisher (deceased)

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