The Necessity of Theology

Coupled with the task of theology is the necessity of theology. When we break this down we’re essentially asking why we need theology, and specifically, why we need systematic theology. The blunt, horrifyingly honest answer is to continue to perpetuate salaries and institutions. When you read the Bible it isn’t written in a systematic structure. God never intended a systematic structure, and we’re all too Gentile in our ways of thinking to believe that He ordains and blesses it. God speaks in patterns and mysteries, which are ways in which the unconcerned and the one lacking the Spirit will never comprehend. The need for theology, says many, is to make it accessible and easy to memorize. We can understand the breadth of Bible dogma through concise systems, classes, subjects, or teachings.

Our need for theology stems instead from our need for each other. Theology is the study of God, and its task is the manifestation of heavenly protocol in the earth. How does that protocol manifest? Is it somehow through isolated vehicles of Jesus that sometimes collide in the night? No, rather we believe that we’re all of one Body built together through the Spirit, and jointly attached to our Head, Christ Jesus. As many members of the Body, we all have our own calling, function, and purposes. The whole point of theological endeavor is to engage the interconnection of the callings and functions, both for ourselves and for each other. If one is called to be apostolic, it is not for the sake of those who are also apostles. And if one is called to be an overseer, it is not for the sake of programs and events.

We are fit together as one Body, and it is through theology that we build one another up, being built up ourselves through our faith and engagement with the subject Himself. It says in Ephesians 3:10 that our whole purpose as the Church is to manifest the wisdom of God, and specifically make that display unto the principalities and powers of the air. While we have oft conceived of a fallen world that needs a savior, and considered missions to be about the souls of men, Paul seems to turn that idea on its head. Our primary function as a Body is unto this mystery, even the fellowship of this mystery, which was hidden in God from the beginning of the ages. This manifest demonstration of the wisdom of God is an eternal purpose, and we see the mystery being expressed in chapters 2-3 together.

Our one Head is Lord over what some have seen as two different peoples. What is the whole crux of Ephesians 2? Have you noticed that the whole chapter hinges upon verses 11-13? An inheritance is mentioned in the first chapter, which is then again taken up in the third chapter, but is explained to us in the second, as being something explicitly Israelite. We, as Gentiles, who were once under the power and influence of the principalities and powers of the air, the wisdom and course of this world, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, are no longer under that usurping agent of darkness. We have been brought out of that darkness and into marvelous light. Yet, we have been taught the darkness was sin, and here Paul is saying it is the very culture of Satan himself. Yes, sin is mentioned in Ephesians 2:1, but Paul doesn’t remain there. We have not only been brought out sin, but also out of a darkened kingdom that has its authority and power with the evil one.

Why the contrast between the course of this world, of which we used to walk, and that we’ve now been “raised up together” to sit together with Christ Jesus “in heavenly places”? We used to walk, but now we sit. We used to be of the earth, but now we dwell in heaven. We used to be dead in transgressions and sins, but now we’re “made alive” and “raised”. We used to conduct ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, but now we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has predestined. We were once Gentiles and uncircumcised, but now we’ve been brought into the commonwealth of Israel, and made to be a part of the “circumcision”. Do you see the thrust of the argument? We are no longer in the kingdom of darkness, which is the ways of the world, ruled by the principalities, which the Gentiles walk in without knowledge. We are now in the Kingdom of God, ruled by Christ Jesus, where the people of this Kingdom are called “Israel”.

Does that then negate the natural branches? I believe Paul would say, “God forbid that you would think that!” The chapter continues to show that God has broken down the hostility between Jew and Gentile in His own flesh, making of the two peoples one, just like you see of various characters in the Old Testament. Was Ruth an Israelite? Or Rahab? Or Bathsheba? And yet all of these women are mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel as being mothers of the Messiah. Not only were they considered Israelites, even though they were Gentiles in the midst of ethnic Israelites, but they were so honored by the God of Israel that they are in the lineage of Messiah.

It shouldn’t surprise us what the need of theology is. The need is expressed from the beginning unto the end. From the foundation of the world God has separated light from dark, and created more and more order, until He rested on the seventh day, in which we have our rest if we rest with Him, and in which we overcome the darkness and become the bearers of light if we allow the true Light to shine forth. What is it that manifests the wisdom of God unto the principalities and powers of the air? Is it not the very mystery expressed in Ephesians 2? We are one new man, and Israel, though they mostly stand in unbelief currently, is still under that Head with us, as our brethren, who shall have an inheritance at Christ’s coming, being the purchased possession that shall be redeemed, so that Gentiles might be “fellow heirs”, and not the sole heirs, of the same Body, and partakers of the promise in Christ through the Gospel,

What could more bring the principalities and powers to rage? What is it that manifests this wisdom and glory? It is a people who have been brought into their fullness, as Ephesians 2:19-22 expresses. We’ve been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and we’re fitted together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord. What is Paul saying? Is it not the very thing that’s been expressed? In Ephesians 4 Paul will go into the fact that in his own day, when Paul is writing, there were apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. He has given some to be within each of these callings, which I believe many have misunderstood the functionality of each. And the giving of these calls is for the equipping of the saints, and for the edifying of the Body, till we all come to the unity of the faith and off the knowledge of the Son of God.

While it is true that I think we have a long way as the Gentile believers before we “all” come to that fullness, the truth is that Paul is also thinking of ethnic Israel. If Paul is including them from chapter 1 as the “purchased possession” that shall be redeemed, then it only logically concludes that he hasn’t forgotten about his brethren, his countrymen according to the flesh. We need theology, because we need fullness. Fullness comes through the outworking and wrestling together, listening to the apostles teaching, taking care for the prophetic oracles, accepting the message heralded (herald being an alternative word for evangelist), allowing the shepherds (pastors) to lead us, and finding the nourishment from the burrowing in of the rabbis (teachers). When the Spirit is given that kind of liberty, that each member of the Body might express itself in humility and love, we find that the wisdom of God is indeed being manifest. The wisdom of God is relationship, and apostolic authenticity is the only thing that the principalities are required to recognize. The supernatural is offensive to the principalities, and therefore to the worldly man, because man, who came from the dust of the earth, does not deserve (in their mind) spiritual fullness. But we are made in the image and likeness of God, which is a statement in itself against that mindset, and therefore we are able to perceive God, even as dust. We’re given the mind of Christ because we’re in Christ and Christ is in us. We are spiritual, and therefore supernatural. This is the need of theology – the connection of the two.

The Task of Theology

When using a word like “task”, we must ask what it is that we mean. Can theology itself perform something? Or, by task, are we referring to something that it leads us into? While the majority claims theology helps us understand the Bible, I’ve also considered that theology is for the next generation. If you want to understand your Bible, then read it. You don’t gain insight by reading what others say of it, but by reading the source itself. Theology could be to make the details of theology available to the people, who themselves are not considered to be theologians, and many don’t want to be. It isn’t about self, but about others. Especially over 500 years after the Protestant Reformation, we of all people should no longer be withholding such knowledge of God and His nature to the people of God.

While considering this issue seriously, I have a different answer still. The task of theology, which often is the question of why we study theology, shouldn’t be about passing it on to the next generation either. While that is a subsequent result of its task, I’m no longer convinced that it is the task in and of itself. Rather, the task of theology is to understand that we have touched heaven, and through messiah have been brought into a reality that is tangible. Our hearts were strangely warmed, and the expression of that heavenly reality cannot be denied.

Christian theology is not based upon philosophy. It is based upon truth. It is not based upon reason, but upon experience. While none of these things should conflict with one another, it is only too true of a statement that in many theological circles we’ve been denied the authentic thing for the discussion of that authentic thing. The keys to the kingdom have been received and locked in a small metal box, most likely stored within the catacombs of the Vatican somewhere, and one of the church fathers swallowed the key to opening that box. Now that we’re 1,500 years after those “fathers”, our generation is left to explore new ways of opening the box.

Because we believe in the messiah, or more specifically, that the messiah has come, we must believe that heaven and earth have kissed. “As in heaven, so on earth,” is not simply the prayer to recite. It is the life embodied in messiah, and it is the crux of the issue. As believers, we have tasted of both – heaven and earth are one within us. “We are in the world, but not of the world”. We are “ambassadors of heaven”, “seated with Christ in heavenly places”, and beckoned to “draw near”, having “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.”

As believers we have fellowship with these realities. The task of theology is the imperative participation in these realities. The task of theology is to explain the imperative participation in these realities. We are not interested in sound doctrine. We are not interested in “truth”. Intellectual truth is nothing more than trite truism. Yet, the authentic thing, that which is truly true, the expression of eternality itself, is what we’re desiring to partake, comprehend, and explain.

If our theology is merely a piecing together of various themes, and attempting to make them work together cohesively, we have missed the mark abominably. Every denomination and bend have their pet doctrines, by which they shove everything else through. This kind of filter pollutes rather than reveals. In all cases, other than unorthodox liberal theology, sin and depravity are continuously at the forefront. I suppose the reason is found in Hebrews 5 and 6, and shouldn’t be such an enigma. Even these believers were stuck in the “elementary principles”, a Pauline concept from Colossians 2 and 3, which describes the wisdom of the principalities and powers of darkness, that they might usurp and rule over religious man in a way that binds him to immaturity and tradition. While we quibble about such elementary things, the powers of darkness brood over our cities and countries, not content with the authority we’re only too quick to give them. These things we’ve devoted ourselves to, which are only shadows of the the things of Christ, ultimately meaning we’re discussing the discussion of the discussion of God, not finding the substance in Christ, “these things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the Body.”

We rob ourselves of our own humanity through depravity focused theology. The result of dehumanizing self is that we don’t even get to enjoy the benefits of human redemption. The thing that the angels desire to look into we forfeit, even after tasting of the heavenly gift, simply because we desire to continue to aver and banter over the milk, calling it meat, and never realizing our own immaturity. Instead of finding fullness, and coming into that Melchizedek priesthood, where we are under the new covenant, free from the bondage of such “elementary principles”, found in fellowship with God in the Holiest Place, perpetuating the faith of all the saints and greats of all generations, overcoming to a place where the world was not worth, no longer standing before Sinai, but now coming unto Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and ecclesia of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood sprinkled that speaks better things than that of Abel, we must wait for the redemption of all things, for which the creation currently moans and groans, because we’ve reduced being human to being beasts or even creatures.

By our unbelief we must watch as others enter in before us. The very glory that the Church displays in the book of Acts, which is ultimately the intention of God for all humanity from the foundation of the earth, is at best a quandary to us, and at worst something marked up as only for that generation. The task of theology is to take us past all of the mumbo jumbo that we’ve erected in the name of religion, thinking that our Gentile superstition was somehow correct, and that what we’ve now experienced in Christ is only an additive, or even supplement, to the already established pagan means of worship. No longer do we offer our children on altars. No, we do worse by making them two-fold sons of hell.

Theology is supposed to be the study of God, seeking Him whom we’ve been united unto. Because we’ve been brought into relationship with Him, and our hearts have beautifully been united unto Him, our biggest concern in theology would be to make the part stand for the whole, or worded more plainly, taking the worldly system and mindset that we’ve sucked down from our mother’s breast and calling it the same as God’s mindset and wisdom. Theology is about seeking “those things which are above, where Christ is…” Setting our minds “on things above, and not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” If you are dead, then, it isn’t an issue of putting to death, but of putting on life. We put to death our “members which are on the earth…” The point of theology is the recognition that we are no longer “of the earth”, and therefore must now live of a different culture – one that is of heaven.

The Table of the Lord notes

 

I recently made a video that traces the communion table from Genesis through Revelation, expressing the common theme behind it. It also looks at the table of demons, which instead of feasting upon Christ we feast upon our brethren. If you’re interested, check out the video, and here are the notes that go along with it:

Malachi 1:7, Ezekiel 41:22, 44:16
-Here in the prophets the altar is called “The table of hte LORD”.

Leviticus 21:6
-Here God calls the offerings “the food of God”
+This idea of food being provided by God comes up over and over again throughout the Bible.

Genesis 1:29
-God gave every herb and tree for food – specifically anything bearing seed.
+There is an eternal provision, just like we previously learned of the eternal tabernacle. This “food” here is again made very apparent in other key places.

Genesis 4
-If the altar = Table of the Lord and food of God, let us consider the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture.
-Cain brought from the cursed ground, by the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:17)
-Abel brought of the flock, which God had multiplied and blessed
+Abel brought from rest. It is in the wisdom and eternal pattern of God to bring a firstborn yearling lamb, for “God will provide tha lamb”, and even the meekness portrays God’s character.

Ezekiel 34:1-10, Micah 3:1-3, Zechariah 11:15-17, Jeremiah 10:25, Psalm 14:4
-Over and over again there are these people working by their own toil, according to their own knowledge. Just like with Cain, the result is to slay their brethren.
+God provided good food, and said to eat of every tree, but this one tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – do not eat. Don’t take in the food of your own toil and knowledge, leaving rest as you do so. There is no seed in that – only death.

Leviticus 6:26, Deuteronomy 18:2-3, Numbers 18:11-12
-The sacrifice was not intended to be “feeding God”, but rather as the allotment for the priests and Levites. In offering the sacrifice, you feed your brethren and give them provision.
+Malachi 1:7-14 – In bringing bad sacrifices, the people aren’t providing for their brethren. In this, they again show the mindset of the bad shepherds who feast themselves, while others go hungry.
-1 Corinthians 11:21-22 – Paul rebukes Corinth for this very thing.

Jacob and Esau
-Esau despised his birthright, even the blessing of all nation, and sold it for lentils.
-Jacob, perceiving the provision for many nations, inherited the birthright and blessing, while Esau sought it with many tears.
+Just like Cain, the response to his brother’s righteousness was murder (1 John 3:10-12)

Joseph and his brothers
-God gives Joseph dreams, which he then shares. There is a certain favor upon Joseph from his father.
+Just like God favored Abel’s offering, bringing what God blessed.
-Joseph’s brothers despised their brother because of his dreams and favor, and just like Cain they desired to kill their brother.

David and Eliab
-David brings bread to his brothers and cheese to the commanders, so they might look with favor upon the sons of Jesse.
+Just like the sacrifice is provision for priests and Levites
-Eliab, David’s oldest brother, shows hostility and accusation against David, even after witnessing him be chosen of God, and anointed, filled with the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:14-22
-The context before this is Israel being fed and provided for in the wilderness, and yet they served idols, committed sexual immorality, and tested God.
+Though they ate of the bread and cup, they showed in their actions which table they feast from.
-Manna from heaven was given – the bread of life
+Jesus is the bread from heaven (John 6)
-Drank from the spiritual rock
+1 Corinthians 10:4 – Jesus was the rock, water representing His blood (Jn 19:34, 1 Cor 10:16)
-In all these things, they partook of Christ as we. For them it was a tqable prepared in the wilderness (Ps 78:19-20), sacrifices offered upon an altar. For us, we see Jesus our high priest (Heb 3:1) offering Himself upon the heavenly altar (Heb 9:24).
-Do we not partake of one bread? Are we not that broken Body, divided of Jew and Gentile? Yet, we are divided, some feasting from the communion God provides, laying our lives down as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), an offering of the Gentiles made holy by the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16). Others take of the table of demons, despising their brethren, and biting and devouring one another (Gal 5:15), whether their brethren be Jews or Christians.
+You cannot eat of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. They who minister at an altar with sacrifices have no right to eat of the table we eat upon (Heb 13:10). They are within a system built on the wisdom of the principalities and powers. Though they minister at “God’s House”, they are not in Zion, the eternal City, whose builder and maker is God. So let us join Jesus, who suffered outside the gate, and leave the camp to find His provision in the wilderness.

Table in the Wilderness
-There are many end time passages that speak of God preparing a table in the wilderness. These are passages that hint at an end time “exodus”.
-Ezekiel 20:33-35
+Hosea 2:14-15, Amos 9:8-10, Micah 7:13-15, Revelation 12:6, 14
-Deuteronomy 30:1-6
+Deuteronomy 32:20-22
-Revelation 12:6
+”They should nourish/feed for her…”
+Psalm 102:13-14, Luke 12:42, Matthew 24:45

Matthew 25:31-46 – The Least of These My Brethren
-They are judged uppon how they treat Jesus’ brethren.
+To not act is to act. It is to repeat the sins of the wicked leaders/shepherds who save themselves at the expense of God’s flock. It is feasting upon the people of God for your own nourishment, rather than nourishing them. This shows your identification with the table of demons, for who else comes to steal, kill, and destroy?

Generation After Josiah (Parts of this section are not in the video)
-Daniel and his companions refused to eat of the defiled meat. Where did they gain the wisdom it was defiled? In eating from the Table of the Lord, they were granted wisdom and discernment.
+1 Corinthians 10:21, 1 Corinthians 6:12 – Everything is permissible, so why can’t we eat from this table? It is even more repulsive than not being beneficial. It is defiled.
-Who can bring them meat in due season? (Mat 24:45, Luke 12:42)
+Luke 15:29-30 – The youngest son in the parable of the prodigal is accused of “devouring your livelihood with harlots”. Yet, the “faithful and wise servant” in the parable brought the fatted calf for this son. He has passed from death unto life, and therefore again eats from the proper table.
+Matthew 24:45-51 – At the end of the age we will either feed others nourishment, or we will beat our fellow servants. There is no in between.
-Matthew 25:31-46 – “What did you do to the least of these my brethren?”
-Parable of prodigal, the eldest son complains because he isn’t given even a young goat. “Where’s my meat?”
+Exodus 16:2-3, “Oh that we died in Egypt, when we had meat to eat and we ate bread to the full…”
-Psalm 78:19-20, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?”
+The eldest son complains that the younger brother “devoured with harlots”. Jerusalem/Israel is often called a harlot in the prophets.

Revelation 17 – Babylon
-Revelation 17:15-18 – The description of the judgement upon this harlot fits many Old Testament prophecies concerning Jerusalem.
+Ezekiel 16:23, 37-42, Ezekiel 23:29, Jeremiah 22:20-22, 50:41-42, Hosea 2 describing Israel as a harlot
-They who call themselves God’s people, Israel, or Jerusalem go through this chastisement. However, they who are truly God’s people shall come out refined, purified, and made white (Daniel 11:35).

Revelation 12:6 – “They provide for her…”
-The woman is Israel, fleeing in the wilderness.
+Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
+Who is the faithful and wise servant to provide meat in due season?
-They who are like Abel, but the Cain people/false shepherds feast upon Israel, beat their fellow servants, and despise their own inheritance/roots.
-The Abel people bring an “offering” to God to provide for thise woman. 1 John 1:9, Revelation 7:14, Daniel 11:33-35, Romans 15:16 (12:1)
-Revelation 17:6 – Cain (Daniel 11:32, Isa 25:18)

Psalm 107:4-9
-Who is that wise and faithful servant who shall prepare the way, being an ambassador of that City, building the highway of holiness, so that they may say, “This isthe way, walk ye in it”?
-Psalm 102 – The Set Time to Favor Zion
+The psalm opens up to imagery of horrendous persecution. It describes an Israel in Holocaust-like scenario.
+Verses 12-14 then speak of a time that has come, a set time, where God now has mercy upon Israel. This set time to favor Zion is contingent upon one thing: God’s servants cherish Zion’s stones, and show favor to her dust.
-These servants cannot be a part of the persecuted and judged Israel, for they are bearing the mercy of God. They must then be something distinct, and yet still in God’s Household to be called “servants”.
-What does it mean to cherish her stones and show favor to her dust?
+Psalm 103:13-14
+Luke 12:42 – Who is that wise and faithful steward, whom is master will  make ruler over his avadim, to give them their okhel (food)?
-For thy avadim cherish her stones…
-Psalm 145:15 – For the servants to give food in due season is for God to give food in due season (Ezekiel 22:33-35 – I will plead)
-Genesis 42:10 – Joseph provided food for his brothers without cost (Gen 42:25-26, Isa 55:1, Rev 22:17)

Cities of Refuge
-Revelation 12:6 – A place prepared in the wilderness, for refuge
+Numbers 35:6, 1 Timothy 2:2
-We don’t wait until “one day” to be this, for the saints have always lived like this in their own generations.
+Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his household (Heb 11:7)
+Shem expressed something of God in the covering of his father’s nakedness, and therfore received the greatest blessing (Gen 9)
+Abraham believed God, and in leaving nation, family, and father’s house he became God’s nation to bless all nations.
+Melchizedek brought unto Abram bread and wine (Gen 14:18)
+Abraham slaughters the fatted calf and bakes 70 pounds of bread for three strangers (Gen 18)
+Lot takes in the two strangers and protects them under the shadow of his roof (Gen 19)
+Joseph was used to provide food to his brethren and to all nations
+The sacrifices provided for the priests and Levites
+David brought bread to his brothers and cheese to the commanders
+Ziba, the servant of Saul, brought David’s men cakes and wine to feed the faint (2 Sam 16:1-4)
+Nabal denied David’s men food, but Abigail provided lavishly (1 Sam 25)
+The widow offered two mites, all that she had, and was honored above everyone else’s offering
+Jesus tells His disciples to feed the people, even in such a solitary place (Mark 8)
+The Shunamite woman provided for Elisha a room he could always call home
-As God’s people, we are called to be that solace in the wilderness in our own generation, If we won’t do it now, then we simply never will. All these died having not received the promise. Why do we think we shall receive with much less effort, and with much less willingness?

Hebrews 13:10-16 as benediction

God, Women, and the Bible

In honor of women’s history month this March, my wife and I are starting a series where we discuss some of the issues regarding women and the Bible. For us, this has been something of tremendous freedom. For others, this has been a struggle. For those of you interested, please feel free to join us as we discuss these messy and unclean issues. 🙂

Prophets and Seers

I assume that if you clicked on this it is because you’re interested in the subject. You’ve probably read or heard the Scripture, “he who is called a prophet now was formerly called a seer.” It is located in 1 Samuel 9, and this is specifically verse 9. The verse itself doesn’t give a whole lot of clue as to what or why. There is practically no explanation.

For myself, I haven’t begun to understand what the hubbub is. It seems obvious. There aren’t two “classes” of prophets, as if one sees visions and the other hears words. It isn’t like God is telling us that seers are somehow based around physical or spiritual sight, but prophets are a broader term. It isn’t like the prophet is one who can “read your mail”, and tell you all about your life and the things that God says to you. These are all false understanding, even though somewhat popular and mainstream within Charismatic circles.

The text simply means what it says. The term “seer” was given as description of the “prophet” originally. Most likely, this was in reverence for “the prophet” who would come after Moses. Because of the caliber of that man, whom God gave the Law through, it’s difficult to label others under the same title. Sight in the prophetic books is emphasized consistently. Sight, defined by the prophet, is more than what you “see”. It encompasses the spiritual dimension and temporal field together.

I don’t have a good word for it. “Seeing” doesn’t cut it. It’s more than “seeing”. It is a perception, an intuition, a cosmic view of the faith, an eternal witnessing. The largeness of this word escapes me. It is a concrete concept, and yet for they who have not experienced such a view have nothing else to compare it with. This “seeing” involves both spiritual and physical aspects, seeing past them to that which is eternal and does not fade away.

We read in Haggai 2:21, “I am going to shake the heavens and the earth.” Hebrews then expands this to saying that with this shaking is the removal of what can be shaken so that the unshakable would remain. What is it that is the shakable things? We’ve been naive to suggest it is the physical or the temporary. The author tells us it is the created things. And what is not created? The whole book of Hebrews is telling us what is not created.

Why is Jesus greater than the angels? What is this eternal name that the angels don’t get to inherit? What is this rest that we enter, yet the Hebrews inheriting under Joshua did not enter? What is this Melchizedek priesthood? What is this sacrifice upon the heavenly altar? What is the Holy of Holies that we’re beckoned to enter by the blood of Jesus? What is the faith expressed through all of the saints – Hebrews 11 using specifically the Old Testament saints before Jesus? What is this “Zion” that we’ve come unto? What is this altar that we have a right to eat from, but they who eat from the altar at the Temple have no right to eat from? What is this City whose builder and maker is God, which is outside of the camp, and we’re called to leave the camp and join Jesus outside?

The “whats” here are all interlocked with both spiritual and physical things. It isn’t the “spiritual” that makes it unshakable, nor the “physical” that makes it shakable. Rather, God has chosen Zion, which is not a statement of heavenly abode solely, but is still indefinitely tied together with the land of Israel itself. There is a prophetic view, which is also the apostolic view, that can see the eternal covenant, stemming from before the creation of the world, all the way unto the age to come. That eternal covenant, taking into sight all things eternal and everlasting, is the very “sight” of the prophet.

It is the beholding of Him who sits upon the throne and is lifted up. It is the beholding of Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It is the beholding of angels crying, “Holy, holy, holy”. It is the seeing of the throne room, and the great multitude that sits round about. It is coming unto Zion, the New Jerusalem, to the general assembly and ekklesia of the firstborn who are registered in heaven. It is perceiving God, the Judge of all. It heralds the faith once and for all given, the faith of just men made perfect. It witnesses the Messiah Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

The prophets used to be called seers because of their larger perspective. They could comprehend that there was more to the story, and more at play in flesh and blood life. When the prophets would witness the destruction of Israel, the captivity or overcoming of the people of God, the destruction of Jerusalem, or even just the oppression by Israel’s enemies, they saw that this isn’t just a moment in history. This is God’s Kingdom and Name being overcome. This is the principalities and powers ruling over God’s people, and it isn’t because they don’t have the power or authority to be free. Rather, in their own lives and choices they have collectively and individually chosen to give themselves unto the wisdom of the world, which is the wisdom of demons, and thus their decision was made manifest by their oppression, devastation, and exile.

When we claim to eat of the table of the Lord, and yet then indulge in the table of demons, maybe not even physically, but through our practices and choices, we will reap the judgment of it. God will not be mocked; you reap what you sow. To belittle your brethren, betray, ignore or even oppress the poor, the widows, the orphans, and they who have no voice, to seek advancement by whatever means necessary, and/or to even seek the things of this world and the pleasures of “life” that is not truly life is to reject the wisdom and calling of God.

For a people who are to be a prophetic people, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, it is an absolute shame and even blaspheme that we would follow the same pattern that has been given us from the Old Testament. After being told multiple times in the New Testament that these things were written as patterns and signs for us, that we might comprehend that we should not go the same way, we have all too well gone the same exact path of apostasy. This year we’re celebrating 500 years of the protestant reformation. Yet, no one even asks whether the reformation actually went far enough. We’re 500 years into this, and even now we act more Catholic than we’re willing to consider. And with all of the so-called prophets running around, why is there no one who is speaking this, condemning the institutionalized religion that has called itself God? Many can’t understand the interchange between prophets and seers, simply because the prophets they listen to are false to the uttermost.

Ye Have Come to Zion

These are notes that I used in a video with the same title.

Genesis 1:1
The Bible cannot be about “salvation history”, as if all of the Bible describes only the means to redemption. God created in the beginning, and that creation was “good”. The degree to which creation was not fallen is the degree to which the Bible expresses something larger than salvation history alone.
Our Bible/Gospel doesn’t begin with Genesis 3 and end @ the cross
This verse expounds to us God’s purposes are larger than “salvation history” to envelop even the creation itself.
Revelation 21:1
To the degree Genesis 1:1 is about a physical heaven and earth, this is also about a physical new heaven and new earth (resurrected)

Genesis 1
1 Heaven and earth, light
2 Atmosphere and oceans (sea)
3 Land and vegetation
4 Sun, moon, and stars – separate light and dark as rulers
5 Birds and fish
6 Animals, reptiles/amphibians, humans
7 Rest
What God created on the first three days, He also made distinction and separation. What God created on the next set of three days, He used to fill what He made on the first three.

Genesis 2 – Revelation 21-22 comparison
2 trees (Gen 2:9)                       –          2 trees of life (Rev 22:2)
River (Gen 2:10)                        –          River (Rev 22:1-2)
Beauty (Gen 2:11-14)               –         Beauty (Reve 21:10-21)
Purpose (Gen 2:15)                   –         Purpose (Rev 22:5)
Marriage (Gen 2:18, 21-24)    –         Marriage (Rev 21:2, 9)
No shame (Gen 2:25)               –         No curse/shame (Rev 21:4, 22:3)
Sea (Gen 1:6-8)                          –        No sea (Rev 21:1)
Darkness (Gen 1:2-5)               –        No darkness (Rev 21:23-24, 22:5)
God’s presence (Gen 3:8, 10) –       God’s throne (Rev 21:22, 22:3)

The question is: How do we go from the Garden to the City? This gets at the heart of God’s purposes, the theme of the Bible, and eschatology.

2 Timelines:
Most people read the New Testament as the new covenant, and assume that we must look back at the Old Testament through our New Testament filter. The Old Testament is said to be looking forward to Jesus, and the New Testament looking backward to Jesus.
Hebrews 4:1-4 seems to indicate that the rest we enter into is not a New Testament thing, but established from the Garden. The Gospel itself is said to have been preached to they who came out of Egypt as well as to us. What Gospel is it that they heard, if Jesus had not yet been crucified to take away our sins?
The reality that God’s people of every generation live from is that eternal rest.
The earthly reflects the heavenly
Exodus 25:9
When we read the Old Testament, we need to understand that they were at a different part of God’s plan, but that God had still revealed to them His ultimate intention.

Garden compared to Tabernacle/Temple
Sea (Gen 1:6-8)                                –      Water from rock (Ex 17)
River (Gen 2:10)                               –      River (Eze 47:1)
Precious stones (Gen 2:11-12)     –      Breastplate of High Priest 12 stones (Ex 28:15)
Sun, moon, stars                             –      3 Types of light (outer, inner, Most Holy)
Stars                                                    –      Menorah (see Rev 1:20-21)
Mist (Gen 2:6)                                  –      Smoke (altar of incense)
Abad and samar (Gen 2:15) are the same words used for temple service (Num 3:7-8, 1 Chron 23:32)
I know some of these are a stretch, but notice the connection. The Old Testament sacrificial priesthood was about restoring unto Eden, which we’ve also seen is parallel to Zion, the New Jerusalem.

Tabernacle compared to Sinai
Washing basin                   –        Water from rock
Altar                                      –        Altar at base (Ex 24:4)
Menorah                              –        Lightning/fire (Ex 19:6/19)
Smoke of Incense             –        Smoke (Ex 19:16)
2 Trumpets (Num 10:2)   –         Trumpet blast (Ex 19:16, 19)
Showbread                          –         Manna
Ark of Covenant                –         God enthrones (Ex 24:11)
The Tabernacle was a traveling Sinai
Exodus 25:9, Hebrews 8:5
Moses goes up the mount and beholds the heavenly/eternal Tabernacle. That is the pattern the earthly is based off of. The entirety of the Old Testament priesthood and sacrifice is a reflection of something eternal.

Tabernacle/Temple compared to Rev 21-21
Ark of the Covenant                                 =   God’s throne (1 Sam 4:4, 2 Sam 6:2, Isa 37:16)
24 priestly families (1 Chron 24)         –   24 elders (Rev 4:4)
Menorah                                                       –   Seven lamps (Rev 4:5)
The Sea (1 King 7:23)                                 –   Sea of glass (Rev 4:6)
4 Cherubim (Ex 25:18, 1 King 6:23)       –   4 cherubim “in the midst of throne” (Rev 4:6)
4 Levites carry Ark (Ex 25:14, 37:4-5)  –   4 cherubim carry throne (Eze 1:22, 26-28)
Tablets of Testimony (Ex 32:15)             –   Scroll w/writing on 2 sides (Eze 2:9-10, Rev 5:1-2)
2 Altars (offering/incense)                      –   2 Altars (Rev 6:9, Rev 8:3-4)
Ex 19:16 compared to Rev 4:5
The tabernacle on earth reflected the tabernacle in heaven
Sinai was a manifestation of heaven on earth, and the tabernacle was a traveling Sinai. But God did not choose Sinai; He chose Zion.

Genesis 22
God tells Abraham to offer Isaac on a mountain in the land of Moriah. It doesn’t specify upon mount Moriah, but in the land of Moriah.
Abraham declares God will provide the lamb
God provides a ram
Exodus 12 – Passover requires a lamb, but God requires Israel to provide their own
John 1:29 – Jesus is called the Lamb of God (Gen 22:8)
Moriah has been identified as the area around Jerusalem
Notice Gen 22:14 – Mountain of the Lord
The Mountain of the Lord almost always refers to Zion, upon which the Temple sat (2 Sam 24:18-25, 2 Chron 3:1)
Ezekiel 28:13-14 – Eden was called the Mount of God
Would God be so specific to place Eden in a specific location upon the earth, which would later be called the region of Moriah, which would even later be called Jerusalem and Zion?

Hebrews 12:14-29
This isn’t replacement theology. This is the expression that we’re a part of the eternal reality, manifested in the earthly.
You have not come unto the reflection, finding the end in itself as the Tabernacle and priesthood of Aaron, but unto the eternal thing itself.

The whole Bible is attempting to explain and portray to us how God intends on making the eternal/heavenly unified and one with the earth. Eschatology (study of the end times) is the answer to that question.
If God chose Zion, then the physical Land is still important
If God chose Israel as His people, then they still matter
If God chose Jerusalem, then that Mountain is still the place where it shall be provided (Israel’s redemption, the Kingdom, nations’ redemption, judgment and mercy, etc).
God does not change His mind. Just because we don’t like it doesn’t mean that everything must now be ethereal and spiritual. The Kingdom is always spiritual and physical at the same time, ruled from one place, with one nation as God’s elect chosen people – Gentiles always having been grafted in.

Eunuchs and the Tree of Life

With the discussion of the two trees in the Garden, we’re again discussing the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. These are two different cultures at enmity with each other. Within the first two chapters of Genesis, we have the Kingdom of God expressed. In Genesis 1:16-8, we have the darkness being “ruled” over by the sun and moon. In Genesis 1:26-27, we have humanity being made in God’s image, that it might “rule”, or “have dominion”, over the creation. This ruling is described in further detail with the wording of Genesis 2.

The words of our English Bibles tell us that God God commanded the man that he would “tend and keep” the Garden. The Hebrew words denote something slightly different than what commonly comes to mind. In my mind, I always read that Adam was to “tend” the Garden, and I assumed that meant working. But God isn’t talking about work. He isn’t talking about labor. Rather, God is talking about a certain kind of building up, a certain kind of servanthood that takes into consideration what the creation needs, and then becomes that foundation that tends to the needs of the Garden. This describes nothing short of what it means to be apostolic or prophetic. Apostles and prophets are called the foundation, the very thing that holds up the building, and gets walked on without any thought or consideration.

Our word “keep” doesn’t work well anymore. It used to be that to “keep” something was to guard and cherish it, but it has now become simply possessing. For God to tell Adam to keep the Garden, He was telling Adam to cherish and guard it. This is also the word used for the commandments of God. We’re to keep the commands, which we’ve interpreted as flawlessly adhering to their demands. While it might be true that God expects we’ll live in obedience to Him, the word that he used was the same as here in the Garden. The Hebrew word shamyir means to guard, or to cherish. If you tell someone who loves God to guard His commands, they would gladly risk their lives to make sure that they do so. In fact, many of the traditions of the Jews come from this very thing. They want to guard the commands, and so they must rigorously ask the question of what exactly it means to covet, or to steal, or to bear false witness.

God’s Kingdom is expressed fully in the Garden of Eden. His rule is one of service, giving itself over to the needs of others. Indeed, just as Jesus taught, we should not be rulers in the sense of the Gentiles, who lord over one another. Rather, anyone who wants to be great must become the least, and anyone who wants to “rule” must serve. This idea of being a servant is scattered throughout the parables of Jesus. At one time He minces no words in telling us that some are made eunuchs out of their own volition, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

To be a eunuch for the Kingdom is to strip away your own rights, your own thoughts, your own needs, and your own reputation. Eunuchs are servants who have no regard for their own households. Their only regard is for building up the house of their master. Just like the apostles wrote themselves as being “bondslaves” and “servants” of the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle is one who fundamentally stands in adherence to the word of God. Every waking moment is a pulsation of desiring and coveting that God be served and get the glory in all things. Our life is no longer our own. “I must decrease so that He might increase.” Just as the prodigal son desired to come to the Father no longer deserving to be a son, but now coveting to be a servant, for the servants have bread and enough to spare, the apostolic man and Body does not seek their own fame and reputation, but rather seeks to train the sons in maturity and fullness, that they might become heirs.

What strikes me is that Scripture doesn’t say anything negative of the eunuchs, other than that in Leviticus they are told not to come near the altar. Every other mention, and certainly the concept of that lifetime devotion unto your master, is blatantly held in high regard. Isaiah claims that these eunuchs shall indeed come near the House of God, and shall even be given names better than sons and daughters. It is said of Elijah that he comes at the end of the age to restore the sons unto the fathers, and to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the sons. This heart is one that bleeds of that eunuch-type servanthood. It has laid down everything so that it might raise up heirs who will inherit the glorious City. As Paul said to the Corinthians, they have been prepared for one Husband.

The Elijah people are they who have given up everything of their own, they who see the Bridegroom and rejoice, preparing the Bride for but one Husband, decreasing so that He might increase, and jealously seeking to build up His house alone. For this reason, because they have no desire to build up their own name and household, they are entrusted with the secret things of God, and they are men of authority. These apostolic and prophetic men are they who God has created from the beginning. Adam was the first foundational man, expressing what it means to rule in the Kingdom of God, and was therefore the steward of the great mystery. This mystery is God revealed. Adam reflecting God outward to all creation, and bringing even the creation into fullness and maturity, that the way may be prepared for the coming of its King.

When we examine the two trees of the Garden, we must bear in mind that they are given as symbols as much as they’re real things. Yes, Adam ate a tangible fruit. Yes, there was a real and lasting death that took place. However, the two trees represent heavenly realities as well. To the tree of life we have full expression of overcoming and ruling in the Kingdom of God. To the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we have full expression of dwelling in death, choosing death moment by moment rather than life, and thus becoming the antithesis of “seek first the Kingdom of God…”

Two Tables, Two Trees, Two Faiths

With two value systems, we have two completely different cultures being represented. There is the culture of heaven, that which defines everything that the Kingdom of God represents, and the kingdom of darkness, which this present evil age is subscribing to. These two cultures have two different mindsets at their core, two different ways in which they relate to and consider their surroundings, and two completely different ways in which they seek for salvation. What has struck me is that everyone is seeking for a messiah. Even they who know not what they long for are searching for something to put all trust and hope in, subscribing entirely to this messiah.

Protesting, politics, rioting, and even entertainment through sports, Internet, and celebrities are all signs of the search of a savior. Humanity needs something to put their hope, identity, and future into. They need something to invest all into. We will either do this according to the wisdom of the world, which employs all of these selfish and self-serving means, or we will search according to the wisdom of God, which employs sacrifice and deference in love.

What precisely we’ve placed our trust in will be revealed in John’s formula, that they who are the people of God are manifest in their love for one another. Yet, they children of the devil are made obvious in that they despise their brother. Jesus made the comment that the children of Abraham act like Abraham, and this is truth for all circumstances and pledges. When you’ve pledged allegiance to the Kingdom of God, and His wisdom and patterns, then you can act in no other way but to manifest His wisdom and patterns. These things should be obvious, but in case they are not, God’s values are faithfulness, acknowledgement of God, mercy to the poor and oppressed, wisdom, and justice/equity.

Why did Cain slay Abel? Was it not because Abel’s works were righteous, but Cain’s were wicked? This is manifest within our own day and age. They who are the seed of the serpent, claiming to be the seed of the woman, are the very ones devoted to the spirit of antichrist. They are Babylon to the uttermost, all the while boasting that she is the queen of heaven, and therefore declaring to be Zion and God’s delight. Yet her deeds are made manifest. Instead of caring for the brethren, and providing to they in need when that need is made known, she withholds and blesses, as if that were enough to put food on the table, or clothe the naked. She is like Canaan who sees his father’s nakedness and doesn’t do anything about it. She is like the brother of David who accuses instead of rejoicing at his brother’s zeal for the Lord.

The two cultures are magnificently revealed in whether we’re eating from the table of the Lord, or whether we’re eating our so-called brethren. Are we taking of the bread and wine, as Jesus offers it at the Last Supper, or are we taking the bread dipped, to then go out and betray? Let me remind you that many antichrists have arisen, and they are made known in that they have went out from us, for if they were of us, they would have never went out. Yet, just as it says with Judas, that when he went out from among the fellowship, it was then night, so too are these who break from the fellowship of truth finding themselves to actually be walking in darkness.

Many have betrayed the altar, making it a stench unto God, calling the Table of the Lord detestable, and yet taking carelessly the communion. For this reason many are sick and dying in our congregations. We’ve betrayed one another, eating one another’s flesh in gossip, slander, lack of compassion, and sometimes in outright violence to the covenant itself. We haven’t neglected the covenant and the brethren; we’ve murdered them by taking a covenant with death and hell. We’ve adopted the language of death, always seeking to die again and again, crucifying the Lord afresh with our attitudes of rejecting one another, and tearing one another down, rather than building one another up, and living in the resurrection.

They who feast upon the Table of the Lord feast upon the bread of heaven, which has come down, and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth. This is the bread, the true bread, which is broken for us, and we ought not mock that brokenness between Jew and Gentile, and even within denominational barriers. Christ was broken on our behalf so that His Body might not have to be. Yet we’ve made the division all the worse in our demands of Baptist versus Pentecostal, Catholic versus Protestant, Hebrew versus Greek, and even Israel versus Church. If we do not eat Jesus’ flesh, the true bread that was broken for us, then we eat the flesh form the table of demons, the knowledge of good and evil.

We reap judgment upon ourselves. If we eat our brethren, we reap judgment, for God has not given us our brethren for feasting. How is it that some come to the table, knowing their in a hierarchy in society, and therefore allowed to eat first, and so they are feasting while others get nothing? Has God not provided good food? Has He not provided enough? How do some get drunk in the Spirit while others are panting of thirst? How do some continue to get meat until it comes out of their nose, while others are crying out day and night for a word from heaven? We have not taken from the Lord’s table in these things, but have given ourselves over to demons, stealing from His beloved when we tear into our brethren.

Withholding your words is to speak. When God has given meat, to keep it to yourself is to show which tree you truly eat from. When God has given you sustenance, to withhold that from your brethren who are in lack shows which tree you truly eat from. We mustn’t tear into and devour our brethren, as the prophets of old have declared the ancient Israelite leaders to do. Rather, we must be like our Messiah, who doesn’t break a bruised reed. He cares for the poor, and He lays down His own life in sacrifice on behalf of His brethren. From which table do you feast, and which tree do you eat?

An excerpt from The Theocratic Kingdom (the second edition, which this is from, available soon in both ebook and print)

Why do we trust the Bible?

How can we know the Bible is the word of God? I’ve been working on a systematic theology, and I wanted to nail this down in a way that is both easy to understand, and that truly does answer the question. To give you a summary of where I’m going, I first reflected on all of the aspects of the Bible that are God truly speaking. We have things like the Ten Commandments where God thundered from the heavens, we have times where God speaks directly to angels, or where angels are sent as messengers from God, and we even have times where God speaks oracles through prophets. Yet, this still causes us to ask about the other 2/3 of the Bible…

It is from here that we can see that God speaks through visions and dreams as well, which might make our 2/3 into about 1/2 of the Bible unaccounted for. Often, we can give the history sections as God’s word, because it is history from God’s perspective. Yet, even here we’re left with prayers, songs, and letters written that don’t have an account. How do I know that the words of Paul to Timothy, telling Timothy to bring his coat and the parchments, is truly the word of God? And, honestly, even if I were to give you reason that this could be called the word of God, and I went through all of these kinds of verses, that still doesn’t answer the underlying question. How do I know that any of this is truly, and actually, the word of God?

The wisdom of God is relationship, and therefore God created. His creating all things stems directly from the very core of who He is. It isn’t a matter of debating whether He was lonely, or whether He wanted to see what would happen. God created because it is the precise logic of God’s character. From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, and from the overflow of who you are, you do. Your actions speak of the core of your being. It is not any other way with God.

Because God’s wisdom is relationship, He communicates. Because communication is a part of relationships – and not merely speaking – God communicates to His creation, through various means, and even communicates through His creation, so that, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Here we find that it isn’t only that God communicates to His creation, but that God finds ways of expression through all things. He has prepared vessels by which He communicates, and we mustn’t expect that it always be a thundering from the heavens, or a prophetic oracle, or an angelic visitation in order for it to be God speaking. Apostles and prophets have always seen the message of God streamed through history, and have spoken the word of God accordingly to the people of God.

If this be true, then we have ample reason to believe that God has communicated to us through all aspects of the Bible, not simply because He says so, but because He communicates through all. This communication, through a prepared vessel, whether an apostle, prophet, an angel, or the heavens themselves, is indeed the perfect communication of God. Therefore, we can conclude that even the Scriptures in the Bible that seem to have nothing to do with us are ipso facto prevalent to our own lives, because in them we have the eternal being communicated through the words on the page – even in the life and requests of certain men.

The final nail in the coffin for me is when we add the communication of God to us. We have the Holy Spirit within us who testifies of these truths, who bears witness to us when we read the Bible. There is an external account, and not simply our own, that breathes an “amen” from every page and every passage. How can we know the Bible is truly the word of God? Because God has communicated, and does communicate, with us.

Does God Really Test Us?

I believe we have a misnomer. It revolves around two words: testing and proving. Our English language adapts. It changes. For example, when my father was young, you could say that you feel gay, and people would understand you meant happy. If you were to say that you feel gay in modern society, happy probably wouldn’t make it onto the list of interpretations that you might be meaning. When my father was young, cool meant chilly. Now, cool means hip, or in style. Words adapt and change meaning and connotation from generation to generation. When we read our English Bibles, something that we ought to do is ask what the word actually means. When we read, “The Lord thy God put thee to the test,” does the word test mean something other than test?

Many times we have words that we use, and those words might be technically correct, but they have a connotation with them that is not correct. What we imply by using certain words or phrases is extremely important to be aware of. What does God testing us mean? I find that Job 1 gives the most solid answer. We find haSatan, the accuser, coming before God to accuse Job. God, then, says to Satan that his servant Job is a righteous man. God allows Job to undergo testing, to see whether God’s testimony about him is true. What is the point of the test?

We cannot conclude that God tested Job, and if Job were to have failed that test that he would undergo judgment. God had complete faith in His servant Job. In God’s eye, this wasn’t a test. This would be like challenging me as a grown man to tie my shoes as a test. I’ve performed this task thousands of times in my life, and it is no longer a test to see whether I can tie my shoes. This is God’s mindset. He doesn’t see it as a test. You want proof, Satan, that Job is a righteous man? I’ll give you proof. God allows the suffering to prove Job’s faithfulness and righteousness. To then say that it is a test brings false implications. We can try to justify the word by saying we’ll explain what we mean, but the fact still remains that the term simply has wrong implications. It might be possible that in 1611 when the King James translators used the word test that test did not have wrong implication. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But why perpetuate that word when we know that it does not imply the correct connotation? That connotation of God giving us a test to see whether we are able to live up to His requirement is contrary to everything that God reveals Himself to be in Scripture. There is a vast difference between testing and proving, and the difference needs to be noted.