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

Advertisements

I Will Make A Ransom – Exodus 8:20-32

Within the fourth plague, it begins again with Moses meeting Pharaoh at the river. This is how the first plague commences. Here God begins something new. Now the children of Israel are being distinguished from the Egyptians. The Hebrew wording here is not “to make a distinction”, at least not in the strict English connotation of those words, but rather, “to make a ransom”. God tells Pharaoh that He shall “make a ransom” of Israel, and within that “ransom” is the distinction and deliverance of Israel from this plague. The obvious connotation from this is that if they’re delivered from the plague, they will also be delivered from Egypt.

It is here that we have a quite interesting dialogue. Pharaoh doesn’t seem to assert his authority over God this time. Outside of the fact that Pharaoh is the one who declares, “I will let them go”, you can’t seem to make out much of any notion that Pharaoh is denouncing God’s power, or yawning at such a thing. Whereas from the miracles performed before the first plague unto the previous plague, every time Pharaoh as been unimpressed and unburdened. Previously, the magicians claimed it was the finger of God to perform the third plague. Pharaoh wasn’t phased.

There is the reasoning back and forth, almost like a bartering. Pharaoh tells Moses to sacrifice in the land of Egypt, but Moses says that this will result in Israel being stoned. Many commentaries express that they don’t know why this would be the case. If we simply look at ancient Egyptian religion, we find that the lamb was a sacred animal. Moses knew that God required the lamb to be slaughtered, just like Abel knew before there was the giving of the Law. In the relationship of faith with God, there is something intuited and communicated to the inner man that allows one to know that it requires the sacrifice of the lamb, and not simply of a chicken, pig, or some other animal. Abraham told Isaac that God would provide the LAMB, and not the goat, bull, or deer.

This was a sacred animal to the Egyptians. Therefore, Moses knew they must leave to sacrifice it. I find it interesting, though, that later God will demand of Israel to sacrifice the Passover lamb in Egypt before they leave. Not only does He require this, but then also demands they put the blood on their doorposts for all of Egypt to see!

What begins as Pharaoh attempting to keep Israel within Egypt turns into him suggesting that they can leave, but not very far… Don’t venture three days out; just stay here in the region. This is not what God has said, and therefore there is no deal. The devil does this with us too. You can be a Christian; there is no problem with that. Just don’t start living in a righteous manner. Keep your drinking, your promiscuity, and other acts of the flesh, and you can call yourself whatever you want. When we refuse this, it turns into not going too far. Sure, live righteously. Tell people that sin is wrong, and don’t mince your words. Just don’t start to tell people that the mindsets that they have are wrong. Don’t start living by a different wisdom. Make sure that you keep your job and live by the conventional wisdom of the age. Go into debt, enslave yourself to your occupation and the bank, fill your life with so much that you have no time for prayer or Scripture reading, and then among all the piles of laundry and household chores, you can remind yourself that you’re doing fine because you’re going to church every Sunday and not doing the despicable things.

I just described to you the majority of conventional Christianity in the West.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because Pharaoh will harden his heart and not let you go. You have an advocate with the Father, who is not simply the one who cleanses you from sin and your sacrifice of atonement, but is your Moses who stretches forth His rod and declares, “Let my people go!” It is the rod of iron that Jesus holds. To His people, it is the rod of God, the very rod that brings comfort to the sheep. To Satan and his darkened kingdom, it is the rod of God, the very rod that shall smash in pieces all of his kingdom and all of the nations he has deceived.

This plague is significant because of the discourse that we find here. It’s significance is found in the reality of knowing that God is on our side, and as long as we won’t give up, neither will He. He will plague the darkened kingdom, even sending it into darkness, in order to bring you out into deliverance. To exodus Egypt in this kind of “spiritual” sense is to come out of sin, come out of the false mindsets and attitudes of the world, and to come face-to-face with the living God. It is in that wilderness that Israel heard the voice of God and received the marriage covenant. It is there that we hear our hearts being beckoned, and if you won’t harden your hearts today, as you did in the rebellion, you can enter into that rest.

 

Share in All Things – Galatians 6:6-10

Within this passage is a mandate to all. First, let me explain a bit of what it meant to be within the first century Church. Second, we’ll look at the passage directly. Third, we’ll ask the question of how we get there.

Within Acts 2:42-47, we read that they who were added to the Church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, having all things in common, selling their possessions and distributing as anyone had need, and spending time together daily, whether in the temple, going from house to house, or or otherwise. It was completely natural. You didn’t have to tell anyone to sell their possessions; they did it naturally. You didn’t have to tell people to live in obedience to the apostles’ teaching; they did that naturally. It was the logic of the salvation and outpouring of the Spirit that caused them to come together daily, and not merely weekly.

It is within this context, spending day after day with the other believers throughout your city, that we have a definition of Church. The Greek word (ekklesia) actually comes from the Hebrew Kahal, neither having any kind of religious connotation. It simply means an assembly, or a group of people who have gathered together. The sunagoge (synagogue) was where they met. Once again, there was absolutely nothing religiously affiliated with that word in the first century. Herod called the scholars together, and that gathering was called a sunagoge (Matt 2:4). In Hebrews 10:25, the “gathering together” is sunagoge. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1, the place where Jesus gathers His Church is called an epi-sunagoge.

From this context, let us ask again what “Church” is. Within that first century manifestation, the Church was simply the people of God. For this reason, we find that Paul writes to whole cities, and not congregations within those cities. They met together daily, and anyone who had need was provided for. How did they have so much money? They didn’t. Everyone lived within their means, living a peaceful and quiet life. They didn’t spend their money on large homes, fancy clothing, or “things”. Rather, they spent their money on one another, putting it to a greater use than themselves.

This all came down to the eschatological dimension. The end times were not something far away and outside, but were a dynamic that was lived out in daily life. There was an expectation of imminent judgment upon the House of Israel, and a knowing that the righteous should be preserved. There was a knowledge that God was progressing His people forward in an ultimate drama, and therefore every day was another chance to grow and develop, progressing with God toward that ultimate climax of the age.

When we come to Galatians 6:6, we find Paul telling the people to give to they who teach. For you who are being taught, and who are finding much growth spiritually through a certain teacher, you should do what you can to provide for their needs. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, Paul uses the idea of sowing and reaping in a similar context. But, notice that Paul doesn’t remain with providing for they who teach, but the conclusion in verse 10 is to do good to all. Given the context, it must be that Paul is speaking about physical need, and giving to those who have need.

Why is this stressed?

It is the logic of our salvation, the logic of love, to provide for one another. Simply living what we’ve received demands that we would take care of one another. And how do we even get back to such a thing? In our day and age, especially here in the West, we are enshrouded with debt, with expenses, and with financial trouble. How do we get free of this? Let me be clear: Dave Ramsey might speak about getting free from debt, but he doesn’t give the biblical answer.

From the New Testament text, it seems that the way that we get free from debt is selling everything. You have your house paid off? Invite they who don’t have their homes paid off in, and allow them to live with you until they have the necessary provision to buy a home without debt. Are you still paying on your car? Sell it and get something much less exotic. Are you struggling to pay your bills? Get rid of the cable, the Internet, the cigarettes, the Netflix, and anything else that is unnecessary, and ultimately is a waste of life and time. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Sell your possessions, give to the poor, THEN come and follow me.” How many of us would also go away saddened, and not follow Jesus?

You want freedom? How much? You want the first century reality in your midst? How much? Are you willing to buy your brother or sister a new roof on their house because they need it? Are you willing to ding-dong ditch some groceries? Are you willing to purchase a car for the single mom who can’t afford to fix the minivan that she is currently driving at 250,000 miles? Are you willing to get to know the people around you well enough to know their needs, and know whether you can provide or not? It is a shameful testimony that you can have someone who can’t even afford to feed their child and someone who has tens of thousands of dollars in their bank account gathering at the same building for “church”.

My wife and I live at a level that is so far in poverty that we don’t even register on the chart. Yet, we don’t have debt, we pay our bills, we have clothes, we have food, and everything is provided in its time. I confess, we often do have struggle, and we’ve gone without meat, we’ve gone without reasonable shoes, we are currently going with clothes that are worn out and falling apart, we have no computers, our apartment is so small that the living room is our bedroom, when car insurance or veterinarian bills come we get nervous, we’ve known hunger, we’ve known what it is to only afford water, we’ve known what it means to have a drafty house that chills you in the winter, we’ve known what it means to skip changing the oil in the car because you can’t afford it, we’ve known what it means to debate paying the electric bill or buying groceries, we’ve experienced the ghetto poverty even outside of the ghetto, and yet I boast in these things because His grace is sufficient.

You want to know why my words are often so powerful? You want to know why I speak so much of resurrection? It is because if my God is not real, then my wife and I will perish. Everything is cast upon God. If He doesn’t come through for us, providing us our daily bread, then we don’t eat. It’s not expedient, and it certainly isn’t comfortable, but it’s life from the dead.

So I ask again:
How much are you willing to experience the first century phenomenon?

 

Two Covenants – Galatians 4:21-31

This is one of the passages used to say that Israel has been replaced by the Church; after all, didn’t Paul plainly say that the woman of bondage is the Jerusalem which is now? In regard to this, all I can say is that such an exegesis can only come from arrogance. To interpret this passage so shallowly astounds me. This would be likened to someone standing before God in all His radiance and saying, “Yeah, but that guy over there is just a normal guy…”

When I read this passage, such hope fills my heart. Can you vision it? We aren’t any longer bound by this Jerusalem upon the earth, but are of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is free. Maybe a little bit of historical culture might help.

In the time of Jesus and Paul, Judea was ruled by the Herods. Herod the Great (given the name by Romans, no doubt) taxed the people of Judea to such a point that people could not afford to live. The normal tax across the board, unless you were in Jerusalem, was 80%-90% of your income. You had to tithe 10%. Then, there was the temple tax on top of that. There were taxes from the money changers to buy the sacrifices necessary. By the time you finish paying just the religious taxes, you’ve spent about a third of your paycheck. On top of that is the fact that Jerusalem didn’t have any kind of agriculture accessibility. So, the question is, how do you, if you’re in Jerusalem, eat? You force those who are making a living from agriculture (which was about 80%-90% of the people, so I’ve been told) to pay a “tax” that gives their produce to Jerusalem.

Thus, after the religious taxes, there were political taxes to Herod, and then beyond Herod there were political taxes to Caesar.

To live in Judea during the time of Paul or Jesus was to live in utter bondage. In fact, there are historical records of Herod being reprimanded because of the poverty of the common people in his governance. There was such poverty that there was only hopelessness among the people of Israel. And, if you can’t afford to pay your taxes, you’re evicted from the family land – which you inherited from Joshua’s generation. If you’re evicted, you have to find a city and move there, taking up some sort of trade to figure out how to make ends meet. Can you imagine the guilt and shame?

Essentially, there are only three groups of people in Jerusalem. There were the religious leaders under Herod, who served as political leaders as well. These were the Sadducees, also sometimes called the chief priests and elders/rulers. Then, there were the religious elite, who could afford to live in Jerusalem because they were the leading scholars who taught at the Temple – known as the Pharisees. Lastly, there were the poor who had nowhere else to go, and were essentially the homeless of Jerusalem.

What kind of religious system is it that is built upon oppressing the people for the benefit of wealth and security? (I want to remind you that Paul’s own testimony was of being a Pharisee.) It is the religion that is built upon law, rather than faith. The oppressive Jerusalem is directly the result of a religion that is founded upon “do this; don’t do that”.

Here in Galatians 4:21-31, what is important to gather is that we are no longer bound by that. For example, in regard to paying tithes, Jesus asks Peter, “Do the sons of the king pay taxes or the common people?” Peter answers, “The common people.” Thus, the sons are exempt (paraphrase). Do you see how radical Jesus’ statement is here? The sons of God are exempt from the Temple tax and the tithe. If you suggest something like that today, you’d not only be labeled a heretic, you’d be cast out with furor! Yet, because we’re not of the oppressive Jerusalem, but of the freedom of New Jerusalem, we are no longer in bondage to the religious infrastructure ruled by the principalities and powers!

Does that statement make you want to turn to Israel and be like, “Yeah, but… they don’t have this, right?”

Do you see why I find replacement theology about as detestable as it comes? It takes the very promises of God and tosses them aside, simply because it would rather show that God has chosen the Church instead of Israel. How about we look at what is being proclaimed here and rejoice to the uttermost. (For the record, I don’t believe that this passage, nor Galatians 3:16 or 3:28-29 suggest that Israel has been replaced. After all, if we take Galatians 3:16 to mean that Jesus is the only seed of Abraham, then that excludes you and I, which ironically defeats replacement theology anyway. Paul expressly claims that you and I are part of Abraham’s seed, so obviously the “seed” versus “seeds” point can’t be about whether Abraham’s seed is only Jesus or plural.)

What would it mean for us to take this seriously?

For my wife and I, we’ve pretty well proclaimed that the thing that calls itself church, the fathers promoting such bitterness and spite against the Jew and women that you can barely read their words without feeling the venom, isn’t our mother. That thing that calls itself the real deal, but is only a brick and mortar system isn’t really my mother. My mother is beautiful, has compassion, and weeps for her children. That thing that calls itself church, but is only too quick and willing to cast away the marginalized and perplexed is not. It is at best to be likened to the woman who rides the beast; at worst the beast itself.

Mark of the Beast 1 – Rev 13:14-18

And it deceives those dwelling on the earth because of the signs that were given to it to perform before the beast, telling those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the beast, that has the wound of the sword and has lived. And it was given to it to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should also speak, and should cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast would be killed. And it causes all the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the servants, that it should give them a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and that no one should be able to buy or to sell if not having the mark – the name of the beast, or the number of its name. Here the wisdom is. The one having understanding let him count the number of the beast. It is indeed man’s number. And the number of it is 666.

We spoke briefly previously about this image. The signs are warned of in Matthew 24:24 and parallels. Paul tells us to watch out for false signs in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. Something beyond dubious signs should be expected. It isn’t enough to consider that this man will come out claiming Satan to be god, and here is the proof! We can’t simply expect a Muslim Antichrist, and therefore these things will be done in the name of Allah. These signs are warned against. It would imply, therefore, that there is a seduction that can take place in beholding these signs. They aren’t fake. This man truly calls down fire from heaven.

The people who flock to televangelists and other phenomena, whether true or not true, are in danger at this point. What is it within the human mind that miracles and signs are the signet ring of heaven? There is something here that needs to be burrowed out. We identify heaven by the character, and not by the miraculous. The Antichrist and the False Prophet will give every sign of being authentically in God the Father, yet are not. They somehow are able to deceive, thus we have warnings of their coming, but at the same time blaspheme the very name of God and they who dwell in heaven. What is it that is so drastically neutered in our thinking to be so placated?

One thing is certain: they who are cheap in their walk with Christ are in far more danger than the devout. To read the Bible, whether New Testament or Old Testament, and to still be searching for what it says ‘to me’ is a grave disgrace. Herein lie the glory of eternity, and we would rather see ourselves. There is something calibrated within our souls. We hope to find a mirror instead of a pool. A mirror will reflect back to us what we are, and we’re happy with that. A pool reflects us, but also reveals what is beyond the surface. It is much better to find self in the Scriptures than to find God, for in finding God we are confronted with something much more grand than ‘me’.

The deception comes when we are not lovers of truth, as Paul would tell us in 2 Thessalonians 2:10. To love the truth is more than desiring truth. We can desire truth and hate it. We can seek truth and not love it. We can be content to ‘know’ truth, and yet not live by that truth. We might even delight in the knowledge, but as soon as requirement hits to live by that truth we show the reality of our condition. In the olden days, back when you used gold and silver for currency, one of the ways you knew whether it was true silver was by throwing the coin to the ground. It would hit the floor and make a *ping* that resonates for time after the incident. If the coin be fake, it would hit the ground with a *thud* and the ring would instantly stop.

Either we are true through and through, or the truth is not in us. Truth is something that we live, and not simply something we ‘agree’ with. Doctrine is a strange thing. It goes beyond what we believe. It reverberates into the very soul itself. It finds lodging in the deepest cracks, and from there it shows forth its reality. Whether we are truly believers will come through in all instances in life. For example, when you are in the midst of joy, that joy will overflow into praise unto God. When you are in the midst of trial, no matter how adverse the trial, that will drive you into the loving arms of God the Father. If you be true, you find in all things, in all moments, Christ is there. If you only have the outward appearance of silver, but lack the actual thing, you will find that no matter what circumstances life brings to you, you will continue to emanate your ‘self’, and not a new creation either.

I have often found it bizarre that in the midst of the Charismatic miracles and healings there is always a personality. In the midst of the prophetic, there is rarely a word. It is almost always characterized by ‘getting the Bible out of the way’. You give the quickie sermonette so that people will hear what the Bible says, but the real action is within the healings. The real action is within the prophetic word. Why do we so quickly pass by the Scriptures in order to come to something ‘more glorious’? Could there truly be anything more glorious? This isn’t a critique against prophecy or miracles, but against our mindsets.

This sort of quick grab-bag mentality stinks. It comes up into the nostrils of God and reveals our inner hearts. We don’t truly want Christ. We want manifestations. We want prophecy. We want excitement. We want something bigger, louder, more ‘hit you in the chest’. Our desire is tangibility, but the reality is not found there. How is it that the two witnesses perform signs explained in Revelation 11, and yet just across town people are lining up to get marked? Does this not blow the whistle on the whole thing? The true is abandoned because it is true. The false is embraced because it is easier.

Don’t think that by ‘easier’ it means without hard preaching. They who speak harshly against cults and leaders can be quite easy. Condemn the outward sin, but let’s not talk about the inward problems. Talk about death and death and death, but let’s neglect resurrection. Crucify the leaders who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, but let’s not mention that we too have our struggles. The preacher who stands on a platform lies to you. Any elevation is a lie. They are ‘over’ you only in their imaginations. The elevated platform perpetuates the lie, but Jesus has said that we’re all one. If that is true, that we are all one, then the person behind the pulpit is no greater than you are. To perpetuate that lie is to give yourself over to deception. It is the love of truth that will raise the banner. I cannot give myself to that performance. It is blaspheme to continue in the system called ‘church’ when we know good and well that it is only a building and a service. Calling it church doesn’t make it church. Gathering together doesn’t mean Jesus is in the midst. The whole thing is based off of pretense and error, and to continue in that is dangerous.

The False Prophet makes a monument unto the beast. This is much like when Absolom made a monument unto himself in 2 Samuel 18:18. The Davidic kingdom was orchestrated by God. It was given from heaven, and blessed by God. Yet, this man in his arrogance attempts to steal the kingdom with force. So it is today that they who would call themselves the ‘head’ of any congregation is perpetuating a lie. It is an Absolom anointing, which ultimately is an anointing of Satan. It is antichrist at the heart. We have kicked out the people of God in order to continue in our games and events and programs. We have neglected the Jewish people, some even calling them cursed, and in that have rejected David as king. We have run out the prophets and apostles from our midst, because they won’t allow the pretense. They who are Davidic, whether Jew or Christian, are shunned – even from the Messianic congregations.

The Davidic character is one of tears. It is one of authenticity. It desires truth in the inward parts and will not allow the lie to be perpetuated. David is humble. He is gentle. Yet, when you oppose the Lord his God, you will find that he can also be a man of war. For this reason they are considered rude and bringers of division. They goat kick and wolf back, but to the sheep they are lovers beyond what can be worded. They protect the flock and destroy any who devour. For this reason they are opposed most strictly by the leadership within the walls. They are an affront to anyone who would claim leadership as a job instead of a function in the Body. To receive income for your ‘calling’ is an abomination.

We see in Daniel 3 the story of Nebuchadnezzar building a statue. Why is it that only these three men were caught opposing it? The same question can be asked of chapter 1. Why is it in Daniel 1 that these four men are the only ones unwilling to eat the defiled meat? Did no one else know the Law? Or, more correctly, could no one else discern the abomination? Here it is that the other Israelites considered themselves as blessed and being taken care of. Daniel and his three friends could see that this meat is anathema. What was it that Daniel and his three companions had that the rest of the nobility lacked? What wisdom did they draw from?

I speak quite harshly in this post concerning the religious system that we’ve made. The reason for this is to shock you into reality. By what wisdom do you know whether what you are doing is right or wrong? How is it that you know that wherever your attending is not an Absolom? How do you know that the meat is not defiled? Is it because you pray? So did the rest of the nobles. Is it that you read the Bible? So did Absolom. What makes you so different? This is the heart. This is the nub of the argument. How can we discern whether the miracles are true or false? How can we know and recognize this deception? It is by knowing intimately the culture and character of heaven, because we’ve spent time with God in heaven.

Heaven is the place of intimacy with Christ. It is where you and I are one. From that place, where Christ revealed Himself to you, you are united unto Him and all the holy brethren. If you are unable to love the brothers and sisters of Christ, then you do not love Him. You cannot love Him and then despise His brethren. They who claim they love Jesus and then hate their brother shows themselves to be a liar, and the truth is not in them. This is your antidote. This is the litmus test. The man or woman who would willingly cast out or oppress someone else because they don’t get along together is antichrist. It is true that some people are difficult to get along with. Are they your brother? Are they your sister? Are they truly of Christ? If yes, then you have no excuse. If no, then you cast out the unbeliever from your midst. This is what is important, and not whether you all play nicely.

What will distinguish the Antichrist and False Prophet will be their words. With their lips they’ll claim one thing, but with their actions show fruit of something else. Anyone who opposes them will be vehemently opposed. How is this possible if the love of God is within them? Did not Jesus show us that God’s character is one of servanthood and gentleness? Does not David show us that he was unwilling to harm the Lord’s anointed? This is the character of God. He is willing to endure suffering on behalf of the other person so that they might receive greater glory. If that character is lacking, then there is a problem.

I’ll pick up next time examining the mark of the beast more specifically. Until then, grace and peace in Christ.

Community, Demons, and Zion

I wrote a comment last night on someone’s blog who was asking for a definition and discussion of community. This is what I wrote, which I would like to take the time to expand a bit more in this post:

Community is solely based upon the bearing of the image of God in our faces, and beholding that glory to be moved from glory to glory. It is found when the saints gather, whether for prayer, for Bible study, for worship, or for fun 😉
Community is the stepping out from this world and into the eternal together with other believers. It is the dividing of oneself away from the systems of the world, and the principalities behind those systems, in order to be taken by something much more organic and beautiful: Zion. Zion is the City of God. Zion is the Mount upon which the Temple sits. Zion is twofold – a heavenly dwelling with an earthly counterpart. Zion is the place of freedom. Zion is the beauty of holiness, it is the unadulterated splendor of where God’s people are in unity with Him, and it is where we shine with the radiance of Christ. This is community. It is where we love one another with the love of Christ Himself, and from that love, we pursue absolute perfection in that love together. Community, to put it plainly, is heaven manifest upon earth through the children of God. Though we know that when two or three gather in His name that He is in our midst, we also know there is a time for this literal manifestation, when Zion will come down from heaven, when the earthly Zion and the heavenly Zion will be one. That is community. It is born out of the travail for that reality in our midst, whatever means it might take through the Spirit of God to get there.
Grace and peace, dear brother. May Christ’s love overflow in you to be brought unto that eternal radiant glory.

First, lets start with that first statement. It comes directly from 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. For a little bit of context, know that Paul is expressing the immense glory of the New Covenant in comparison to the Old Covenant. He references Moses’ veil when he hid his shining face from the Israelites, and he says that this veil is still over the hearts of all they who are not in Christ whenever Moses is read. This needs a bit of explaining. Isaiah 25:7 speaks of a “veil” that covers the nations. This veil is the principalities and powers of the air. It is the demonic strongholds that rule and influence all nations and peoples. That veil was upon the hearts of the Israelites when the came out of Egypt, for it takes more than just receiving the Law to be saved. There is an inward heart conversion that must take place – that did take place for some, hopefully even many, in that first generation. This veil is the Law, which is the power of sin. Now, Law in Paul’s mouth is not the same as what we think. Law does not merely mean the words on the page, but the idea that we can have righteousness apart from faith. If we simply uphold “the law”, then we are obedient and righteous. That is a false righteousness, one based upon our ability and pride rather than our humility and brokenness. It utilizes the wisdom of those principalities and powers in order to consider ourselves right before God, simply because we have a form of godliness.

Yet, when the heart turns, that veil is taken away. When the individual will come to Christ, and be regenerated, the veil is broken off. This is why Paul says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 

Because we are beholding God’s glory in one another’s face, instead of that veil upon the heart, we are brought into a place of ever increasing glory.

You can see with this how we go from my first statement directly into the next. We step out from the influence of the principalities and power through living a life of reflecting the glory of God in our face unto all others. Freedom from the principalities and powers can only be attained when we come out and be separate unto the Lord. We no longer have our identity within the systems of the world – not even our father’s house, our kindred (Irish, German, African, etc), or our national identity. That kind of separation is painful if it is only for the sake of separating. That is the beauty, though. It is not only for the sake of separation. There is a process unto which we must be taken, and sometimes that process is long and difficult, but we are indeed coming unto Zion, and you have indeed come unto Zion if you are in Christ.

Because we are no longer under the oppression of the devil, we are now at liberty to conduct our lives through the freedom of the Spirit. To live out of that Spirit is to wage war against the enemy. Our lives, everything we do, is a battle.

Ephesians 3:8-12 reads, “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”

This is the purpose of the church. We are to display the wisdom of God to the principalities and powers. What does that even mean? How do we do that?

The wisdom of God is displayed through the cross. It is that through sacrifice, and not selfishness, that we obtain exultation. It is through submission unto death, even the laying down of our lives for our brothers and sisters, that we obtain life. This is utterly paradoxical in our rational world. The reason this seems to be completely opposite of what we would think is because we are influenced all too much by the wisdom of Satan. It is his wisdom that tells us “It is a dog-eat-dog world out there! You have to look out for number one! If you don’t, then who will? You have to take care of yourself before you can care for others, right?” It is the wisdom of God that says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” There is an utter contrast.

What is community? It is the place where the saints have come together utterly separated from the world, untarnished by the principalities and their wisdom, in order to serve the Lord their God in whatever way He might command. It is when we do not rely upon the wisdom of the kingdom of darkness – pride, self, manipulation, intimidation, greed, lust, etc – but rely solely upon God that we have entered into community. Our daily life is to go from house to house breaking bread. If we don’t meet with all of the saints, and we don’t receive from them the impartation of life, then how shall we survive the day? The enemy of my soul is too strong for me alone.

This is community, and this is what we are to display unto even the cosmic realities. May the Lord make you incredibly hungry for such expression of His kingdom in your midst, and may you be unwilling to settle for anything less. Blessings in Jesus’ name!

Running from Church to Find God

In the case of Philemon, the history might be the best commentary. Philemon was a man who owned slaves. He was a believer in Jesus, and somehow had a connection with Paul, by Paul’s own words he was indebted his life. The story that seems to be taking place in the midst of Philemon is a slave named Onesimus ran away. Philemon was a believer in Jesus, and he had some sort of meeting of the Church in his home. One of the questions that come to mind would be why his slave ran away – but more specifically, why to Paul?

The best thing that can be figured was that Onesimus heard about this man Paul. He heard about this man Jesus. He heard the message of the Gospel, but didn’t see the reality of it lived out before him. His master was quite the Christian man in front of all the other believers, but is it possible that he was less than sanctified while dealing with his slaves? Maybe the reason that Onesimus ran away – especially to Paul – was because he heard the message of hope and redemption, but still felt oppressed and tormented. Onesimus would have ran to Paul as an attempt to find the man who gave his master hope and redemption. He apparently believed the Gospel, but was discontent in the house of affliction – a house that purported to be Christian.

In one way, we can look at this and ask why it must have been that this happened, but in another very real sense, we need to glance at out own lives. Why is it that our friends and family – those who are closest to us – don’t believe our message? Is there anything is me that would hinder my witness of the Gospel? Am I the very instrument that is causing someone in my own home to say, “I would love to believe it, but where is the reality in their life?” All across the world we find this story being played out a million times over. Teenagers, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances are running away from Church to find God. This isn’t a new phenomenon. It has happened from the very first century onward. The question is not why they are leaving. The question is why they have been pushed out the door.

What is it about Philemon that drove Onesimus to such drastic measures? What is it about our so-called Christian homes and church gatherings that have driven the youth away? I have yet to talk to one person that is uninterested in God, except they who are in the Church. The people outside of the buildings have questions that are not getting answered, and they love to talk and discuss the things of God when someone is able to talk reasonably and intellectually. It is the system of religion that has driven them into insanity, looking for life and hope in a dead and dying world. Where are the Pauls of the world? Where are the people that they can run to? Unlike Onesimus, our generation seems to have persecuted the true apostles and prophets so that there is no one to run to.

In a world that is hostile to God, where do they who truly seek run to? The buildings don’t talk about God. They quote from the Bible, but only to talk about self. On September 12, 2001, while churches across America gathered for their midweek Bible studies, and again on the 16th for Sunday service, millions of people flocked to the churches with questions of love and hope. They wanted to know whether America was under judgment because of the terrorist attacks. They wanted to know if God saw their oppression and heard their cry. They wanted to hear a message from the preachers, who are supposed to be God’s spokesmen, but instead found “business as usual”. When they ran to the churches to find hope and redemption, the preachers got up and began the same sermon series from where they left off – as if the World Trade Centers had not just been kamikazed. Where do the people have to run? Who is the voice that they can go to in order to ask these difficult questions?

What I find as a challenge with the book of Philemon is that this man was a Christian who sat under Paul’s teaching, and even had a house church. Yet, Onesimus found it necessary to run away from that in order to find God. What vexes me is that I see the same thing taking place, but where do they run? To whom do they take counsel in? The severity of the situation calls for drastic measures, and yet the majority of Christians see it as a “them” problem and not an “us” problem. They are the ones leaving, right? So why is that our fault? What was it in Philemon that caused Onesimus to run away? It wasn’t because of Onesimus that Onismus ran. He could have very well spoken to his master about the same things he sought Paul for. Yet, he decided to run to Paul instead of asking the very man closest to him.

In considering the book of Philemon, let us consider also the implications that this epistle has on our own lives. Let us reflect on those who have run away from our own homes and lives. Is there anything in us that would have caused for that fleeing? Sometimes there isn’t anything, and they just don’t want to believe. Yet, that shouldn’t be our immediate response, considering the depth of grace and love that we’ve experienced in Christ. Anyone who knew the glory that we have attained to in Christ would sprint 1000 miles to also come unto. The question isn’t our message, nor their hearts, but first and foremost our own hearts and lives and conduct.

I feel like to end, I should quote Mother Teresa: If you don’t want your children, then send them to me. She was talking about abortion, but I’m officially opening my doors for a generation that is asking questions.

Why I left Church – a follow up

In my post about why I have left church, I addressed some of the issues that I have faced personally. But I haven’t left it at that. My goal was to try and also give some sort of remedy. In the last few days since I posted that, I have had people asking me a lot of questions. Some of them are easy to address, and some of them are very difficult to address. Ultimately, when you ask a question about something that seems like the whole Bible has something to say about, I’m not sure I can give a quick 1-sentence answer. But this is something that I have noticed is lacking in the questions: a reality of eternity.

Many of the questions have to do with what church would look like outside of church. Some are asking about the performance, but not everyone. A lot of the questions are more geared toward: if you don’t meet together weekly, how do you function? This isn’t so much a performance question as it is pertaining to questions about lifestyle, submission to authority, confession, sharing faith, evangelism, and all of the important aspects of Christian life that are difficult to understand outside of the church building context.

Let me expand a bit of what I see missing in these questions. The first century church seems to speak unwaveringly about a soon coming return of Christ. That actually might even be their most prominent topic of discussion in the New Testament epistles. There were a lot of questions in regards to church service and how we live out our lives daily, but all of the answers to those questions seem to be a way in which the writer refers back to Jesus is coming back.

I am reading a book with my wife called “True Fellowship.” The author in the sixth chapter has taken up the question of apostolic lifestyle. What kind of lifestyle did the apostles have, and what was their reason for having such a lifestyle? He links their reason to their full expectation of a soon returning Jesus in order to establish His Kingdom on earth, in which we will then be partakers. Some will be found worthy of ruling over 10 cities, some over 5, and some over 2. Eternal rewards and the understanding that Jesus returns directly after great suffering and tribulation seemed to dictate the way that these people lived.

The chapter started with a statement that declares apostolic poverty is a necessity. Where do we hear such things? Why would poverty be a necessity? He later addresses that the first century Church sold their possessions and gave to the poor. Why? It was because they knew that Jesus was coming back soon, so why do we need these things? The chapter then continued in expressing all of the ways that we have been all too casual and living in luxurious manner. Our retirement funds, pension plans, “eating out,” needing coffee in the morning, church budgets, hopes of building the ministry, million dollar building projects, etc are all connected to a “scoffing” at the Lord’s coming. We can scoff without using words.

In our daily lives, how much is lived in an expectation that the end is soon coming? How many of our choices are predicated upon a belief that I might not live to old age? The answer to those questions should be quite revealing. If we put trust in our retirement and desire to build for ourselves a “good life,” are we really believing that Jesus will return? We might subscribe to the doctrine, but how much are we truly believing that if we aren’t living like we believe that?

This was a challenge for me. It caught me off guard. In a sense, I am living like I expect Jesus to return, but in another sense, I’m one of those people writing up articles about why I left church. Is that even important? Are there more important things to be occupied with?

When being asked about what it would mean to be Christian outside of church, and how are we supposed to meet together, and what about all of the details, I find that the reality of Jesus’ second advent is not present. Of course, I don’t expect people to ask what we’re doing to prepare, but I would at least expect that if this was a living reality in our confession that the questions would be phrased and posted in a different manner. How many of the questions that come to mind are truly important, and how many are simply being asked because we want to perpetuate our Sunday culture?

This isn’t an in depth blog post or even an indictment. As I’ve been reflecting, I just wanted to share some of my thoughts. I do have answers to the questions raised, but so many times I feel like to address the question is to somehow cheapen my stance. When asked “What is truth,” Jesus said nothing in response to Pilate. That moment of silence answered the question better than any exposition could. Pilate is standing before the very man that said, “I am the Truth,” and if Pilate cannot see it before his eyes, then he cannot see it at all. In the same way, I almost feel as though some of these questions and statements are merely ploys to say that there is no answer, or there is some sort of faulty ground, so that the questioner can then justify every point that I brought up.

I could be wrong, and I know that some are honestly asking. I just hope that this is not one of those times where truth is standing right in front of people, and they are so despising toward it that they look for any out they can take. The road that I have chosen to promote and strive toward is a difficult road. Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. Is that a reality that we can truly obtain? Can we truly be one in that same kind of relationship together? If so, I want it. Enough with our talk, enough with our egos, enough with everything that hinders us from achieving so great a calling. If it is even possible to live as Christ as lived, then I want that. If it is not possible, then the Bible is a lie. I see no way of obtaining this without community.

By community, I mean a group of believers that meet together frequently – if not daily – to share life together and pour into one another the reality of Christ that has been manifest to us. What does that look like? I can’t give a formula. All I can say is that it is predicated upon the blessed hope of a soon coming Jesus to restore all things. Every aspect of life and interaction is first sought out with His Kingdom in mind. If my location is too far away to be able to frequently meet with other believers, then I’ll move. If employment (which I don’t have, but just to make the point) takes up much of my daily life so that I can’t spend time with the brethren, then I either cut back my hours or quit my job. The focus is upon His soon coming, and His Kingdom – never upon this life and how do I survive?