The Eschatological Zenith and Paradigm

Everything within theology has eschatology as its nexus,1 zenith,2 and crux.3 With such a statement as that, I suppose each of those three need to be explained out a bit. Firstly, let us deal with the issue before those three words. Eschatology is the study of the end times, coming from the Greek word εσχατον. Why would the study of the end times be the very fulcrum of theology? And what does it mean that theology hinges in all ways upon eschatology?

When you go into the Bible, you find that there are very few passages that do not deal with the end times – especially when you see the overview of the Scriptures. Taking seriously the words of the prophets and apostles leads you to understand that even the things that happened at the beginning are mere reflections of what shall happen at the end. It’s all one giant cycle where we have patterns that happen over and over again throughout the Scripture, and every time the cycle repeats, it gets closer to the ultimate finale and consummation. Take for example the exodus story. You first have a righteous lineage from Seth through Noah, that is separate from the children of Cain. After Noah comes the tower of Babel, in which you have the great call unto Abram to “come out”, or “leave” the system and nation he is in, in order to be established as God’s nation. After Abram comes the generation of Moses, which “comes out” from Egypt, out of nations to be established as God’s nation. Hosea recounts this deliverance, and says that “out of Egypt I called my son”, and Matthew then applies that to Jesus, to show that just as Israel has gone through this, so too does messiah. And yet, it doesn’t stop there, for the prophets declare a “new exodus” at the end of the age, where Israel is again brought into the wilderness to meet with God. And, of course, there is the “come out from her my people” of Revelation 18:4. It is after the exodus of the end times that God then establishes again the nation of God forever – according to the prophets as well as the book of Revelation.

Within these patterns we see something emerge. It isn’t just that the Scripture all revolves around a final conclusion of the age. It isn’t just that all things are leading unto that epoch that includes the return of the Son of God. What we find emerge is that there is a theological foundation to all of the various dogmas, or doctrines, which begins in Genesis, and branches out unto the very last chapters of Revelation. When we discuss soteriology, we’re discussing an end time salvation. When we discuss anthropology, we’re not only discussing the nature of man from the Garden, and after the fall, but we’re also discussing humanity in the bodily resurrection. God’s perspective and view is ever and always upon that eschaton. For our view to consistently be upon the here and now, wanting to expound the depths of the Scripture and theology according to current experience falls short of the glory of God.

Therefore, theology has eschatology as its nexus. Everything links and comes together when the key of eschatology has been put into place. That isn’t to say we cannot understand without first going to eschatology, but to say that if we have been negligent to understanding God’s paradigm and cosmic, apocalyptic, and eternal purposes, then we have been even more negligent within every other branch of theology. The very culmination and aggregation of the great dogmas is rooted and grounded, even the foundation being laid, within the eternal purposes of God. What is the Church, and what is the Church’s purpose if it does not have an end time orientation? What is salvation, and what is the purpose of salvation, if it does not have an end time conclusion?

Eschatology, though it seem to be a study of the end time events, is much more than that. If we are trying to graph and chart things out, imparting a knowledge of how things will take place, but we have not yet seen the pertinence upon daily life, and the constrains that the eschaton brings into practice, then we have not truly studied, nor understood, nor desired to understand, the end of the age. It is not the heart of God that we are looking for, but rather a pristine theology, and sound doctrine. To ask the question of the end is to ask the question of God Himself. What we claim to believe about God is put to the test in what we believe about the end. Nothing shows forth the grace, mercy, severity, love, and anger of God like the end of the age, the conclusion of all things.

Therefore the eschaton is the zenith of theology. To do theology apart from an apocalyptic expectancy, and a blessed hope in which Messiah shall come, and raise a banner for the nations, that all might see His glory, and Israel might be joined under her brethren, and we might enter Zion together with an eternal inheritance, with everlasting joy upon our heads, and tears being wiped away, the Spirit of grace and supplication being poured out on the House of David, and the Spirit being poured out on all flesh – that kind of theology that refuses to consider this eternal bliss in all things is a prime example of ministerial malpractice. It doesn’t prepare the congregation for the glory that is coming, if they shall truly be found faithful unto that glorious appearing. Rather, it teaches a dullness, and a malaise, in which every Sunday is like the other, new messages with the same message, and all of the hearers are lulled into thinking that what we have is all we’ll ever have in this life.

Such a theology does not know God, nor the power of God. God Himself has made this one statement at the end of the age, the epochal drama and saga of Israel and the saints, to be the very testimony and witness of a King who rules forever. Where eschatology has classically been the end cap of theology, and almost an addendum of interesting discussion, I would persist that it is actually the foremost consideration in God’s heart. This isn’t one doctrine among many, in which we can come to whatever conclusions we want, because it doesn’t really matter. What you say of the end of the age will result in the life or death of countless masses. Martin Luther must have rolled in his grave to behold Nazi Germany willingly using his material to woo the anemic church into antisemitism and violence. And this is modern history, after the enlightenment, when Germany was the motherland of theology, and the place of immaculate culture. We aren’t dealing with primitives, nor with uneducated or uncultured Middle Eastern Muslims. The atrocities of Auschwitz and Birkinau were performed by a nation of civilized and cultured jewels, who willingly forfeited their humanity to become automatons under the coercion of the principalities and powers of darkness, who have only too gladly held their place of honor and rule over the German people from before the Reformation, and even through the Reformation with the giddy condemnation and slaughter of the anabaptists.

Would such a mass murder and condemnation of the reformers been allotted if the so-called church held to a view that God would kill all the sinners of His people? Would it have been conceivable for Martin Luther to call the anabaptists demon possessed, simply because of their exemplary holiness and godly living, if he took seriously that the Church is to be a demonstration of the manifest wisdom of God unto the principalities and powers of the air – a demonstration that is quite obviously of unity, not just between brethren, but even an impossible humility to accepting that we as Gentiles have been brought into the commonwealth of Israel? And how does that demonstration manifest? Is it not explained in Ephesians as well? Is it not that in the dispensation of the fullness of time that God would bring together under in one all things in Christ? When is that dispensation? At the formation of the church in Acts 2? Never for a minute consider that Paul had such a thought, for he continues in pointing out that we have obtained an inheritance, “εις απολυτρωσιν της περιποιησεως”.4 Here it is mentioned “to the praise of His glory”, which goes back to verse 12, in which Paul speaks of “we who first trusted”, which is not the Gentiles addressed in verse 13, but the Jewish believers that are a part of that “purchased possession”.

If we are willing to hear God’s heart, I think we would be flabbergasted. All of us would be on our faces to consider the things that He has spoken, but we have not been willing to heart it. Our thoughts are too high, and our ways are too high – far higher than the meek and lowly road that God has endured. The proud won’t understand, because God hides Himself from them. The meek, however, who shall inherit the earth, stand in God’s counsel, willingly hearing the hard things, and willingly embracing even the statements of an Israel that God still loves, who are currently “not my people”, but shall in that day be called “my people”. The Bride of Christ is Israel, the congregation (εκκλεσια) is Israel, the election is Israel, and even the promises, covenants, prophecies, blessings, and inheritance are all for Israel. Any part that you or I have, if we are not a Jew by birth, is not because we are somehow a superstructure in Christ called “the church”, but because we have been grafted in, and are now a part of the commonwealth of Israel.

A theology that does not embrace the things that God has declared about the end of the age, and has made light of His very heart and vexation, is an arrogant theology. That arrogance is not something to take lightly, considering that Ezekiel 28 tells us that Satan himself corrupted his wisdom, and his heart boasted over – exalted itself – because of his beauty. The arrogance of Romans 11:18 is not about high mindedness, which is found in verse 20, but rather an exaltation and “boasting over of”. Do not boast against the branches, being arrogant, exalting yourself like the ancient serpent, and corrupting your wisdom in the process. Rather, remain pure, lay down your life as a living sacrifice, be not conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and all these statements come after the explanation that we as Gentiles have been grafted in so that they might be driven to jealousy – a statement straight out of Deuteronomy 32 for the end of the age.

The arrogant theology parades as God’s view, exalting itself against and above the branches, not believing that the root supports it. Any branch that is grafted in that does not take dies, and is good for nothing but firewood. To not take seriously the eschaton, and to expect that you don’t need to see the mystery that Paul emphatically declares in Ephesians 3, is to willingly, and arrogantly, believe that there are more important things than the eternal purposes of God. Such a slap in the face desecrates all of the teachings of Jesus, and it certainly doesn’t take seriously the call that Paul lays forth for “the Church”. Whatever he was expressing as this mystery, which will demonstrate the manifest wisdom of God unto the powers of darkness, is the very thing that brings the conclusion, “αθτω η δοξα εν τη εκκλεσια”.5 That glory is not a seasonal glory, but “εις πασας τας γενεας του αεωνος των αεωνων”.6

1 A connection or series of connections linking two or more things.

2 The time at which something is most powerful or successful.

3 The decisive or most important point at issue.

4 To the redemption of the obtained, or acquired, or purchased possession

5 To him be glory in the church…

6 To all generations forever and ever.

Advertisements

The Eternal Moment

Something lost to the consciousness of modern Christianity is eternality. We can define it for theology, and we can speak of it in regard to God being eternal, but that experiential reality is not awakened in the lives of the majority. The eternal moment is not a moment at all. It is a position. We have been seated with Christ in heavenly places, as ambassadors of heaven, who are in the world but not of the world. The mindset and perception of the believer is to be one of that dimension. Eternality is not something we toy with theologically, but rather something we’re apprehended by, and something that we progressively come deeper and deeper into an awareness of.

Faith itself is something of eternality. Faith is not defined as a belief. We can have a checklist of doctrines that we can “believe”, but do we have the actual substance of those doctrines? There is a substance that we have ingested if we are truly saints indeed. Salvation itself is not something that we believe in, but rather something that has actually happened in our life. In this way, the faith itself is not something that is “static” or “developing” in these rigid sorts of ways. There is a faith once and for all given, with a sacrifice once and for all made, and a today once and for all heralded, by which we might enter a rest once and for all given. With all of these “once and for alls” we might begin to comprehend that we can develop our thoughts and opinions, but the goal should ever and always be to hit closer and closer to what God has actually established.

The eternal moment is a position of eternality with the believer. They are no longer subject to the parameters of time and space, but have stepped out and into a dimension of apostolic and prophetic comprehension. God is eternal, which doesn’t mean outside of time, but rather transcending time. While in the midst of time itself, He is not restricted by the bonds of time that they who dwell on the earth are. As an eternal people, being unified with God Himself, we also are not bound to time, though we are within time and space. We can obviously experience the effects of time, and indeed we know it all too well, but we are a part of something beyond time itself. We are of an eternal people, who are connected to an eternal God, with an eternal purpose, which is the eternal Gospel itself.

Jesus is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth. There is a continuum, of which we are prophetically a part of, that from the beginning unto the end we are ever and always effecting time and eternity. The way we act, react, and interact now effects both this history of that great cloud of witnesses that has gone on before us (for they are not made perfect without us) and the future set before us. Peter speaks of “hastening the Day”, as if it is up to the people of God as to when Jesus returns. While I categorically reject that we somehow determine when the close of the age shall come, I want you to focus upon the reality of such a statement.

Our witness is not simply to the world, nor to the Jews, but beyond both it is to the principalities and powers of the air. These beings that are unseen are the ones unto which God has made display, disarming them through the cross, and He now calls upon us to make that same display. In this, and especially considering the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, the cross was retroactive. It is isn’t that the people of the Old Testament had to look forward to Jesus in order to be saved, but that time itself was not restricting such an eternal act. The crucifixion of Jesus was something that reverberates through all of time, all ages without end, because it was not a man that died, but an eternal Man. For we who are connected to that eternal Man, who enter into the work of Christ by laying our own lives down, taking up our own cross and following Him, we are also able to touch history and time.

Bearing our own cross, and enduring with patience the sufferings of Christ with Him, loving not our lives even unto the death, we are able to witness that these afflictions are momentary and light. The prophetic and apostolic people of every generation has always been the persecuted and oppressed. It is always the glee of Amalek to attack Israel, and the desire of Saul to pursue David. Yet it is always the glory of God to through death defeat death. This is what works in us an eternal weight of glory, seeing and focusing upon that which is unseen, knowing that it shall not fade or blemish. This is the faith once and for all given, the theology of all of the saints forever. It is the beauty of holiness, seen by those who are spiritual, and loved by those who love not their lives, but rather lay down their life as a ransom for many.

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.

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.

Resting With Messiah

 

My wife and I had hopes of talking about “What Child is This” for the Christmas season. We were going to talk about the eternality of Jesus, and how we can find the roots of our messiah going back from Genesis 3:15 and then forward unto the final amen. Even John opens his Gospel by pointing out that “in the beginning” “God said let there be light, and there was light”. He couples this with Jesus being the light, and essentially is making the statement that just as God filled the darkened creation with light, so too does He now send the Son, the true Light, to fill the darkened creation.

When we started talking, we got caught on something else haha. We got caught on the fact that in the beginning, God rested, and He offers this rest for anyone and everyone who might believe. The Christmas message is about a savior who has been born, but so often we don’t understand what the statement even means. It’s like our thoughts have been reduced down to going to heaven after we die, and we don’t realize God has always been trying to get us to look up and see the reality already present.

So, instead of writing out everything we talked about, I thought I’d share our video. This is one of those subjects close to our heart, and it shows. I hope you enjoy, and hopefully I’ll be able to get back into writing on this blog during and after our advent season 🙂

The Exodus – Exodus 12:37-51

Here it is, folks. The moment we’ve all been waiting for: freedom. The exodus from Egypt marks the moment when Israel is finally permitted to leave the land of bondage, a moment when they are finally able to find hope and release. We all probably already know the story, that there will come another attack from Egypt before they cross the Red Sea, however, let us take a moment to live in their shoes. Can you imagine what it must have been to take that trek from Ramses to Succoth (probably Tjeku, a day’s journey)?

It’s finally happening. My children aren’t going to have to suffer the same enslavement that I’ve faced.

And could you imagine what it must have been to see a mixed multitude go with you? According to verse 38, there were actually Egyptians that joined themselves with Israel in the exodus. The only mention of this later in the Bible is Leviticus 24, where a half-Egyptian man blasphemes the name of God. Even in this story, the point isn’t to show that he isn’t entirely Hebrew, but to show that he hasn’t truly separated himself from Egypt. There is a long history of people in the Old Testament who join themselves unto Israel, Gentiles being ‘grafted in’ to the commonwealth of Israel. Here is one of those moments.

What was displayed unto the Egyptians was so powerful that some of the Egyptians flat out rejected their own nation, religion, and people in order to follow the one true God. There was such a breaking in of the Kingdom of God that even pagans recognized it, much like the soldier who claimed at Jesus’ death, “Surely he was the son of God!”The powers of darkness have been defeated, and now we find the Kingdom of God being expressed.

It’s interesting to me that in every moment when the Kingdom of God is being established in a drastic way that there is a slaughter of children. Exodus begins with the slaughter of the Hebrew male children. Matthew begins his Gospel with Herod killing the male children of Bethlehem. Revelation 12 speaks of the dragon desiring to devour the male-child, and when the male-child is taken up to heaven, it then results in the dragon being cast down so that “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come…”

It’s also fascinating to me that we have the number 600,000 men are recorded as the number that left Egypt. This could make the number of total Israelites who left upwards at 2 million people! This is not a small herd of slaves, just like the beginning of Exodus proclaimed.

There is a question of integrity with the statement that Israel dwelt in Egypt for 430 years. Abraham was told that his offspring would dwell in a foreign land for 400 years. How do we solve this discrepancy? It’s actually quite simple when you read the text. Genesis 15:13 says, “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them 400 years.” Notice there are three things required in that “400 years”: strangers in the land, serving the foreign peoples, and being afflicted. When Joseph came down into Egypt, he was a servant of Potiphar. However, when the whole of the children of Israel came into Egypt, they were not servants. It wasn’t until a few generations passed, and there arose a Pharaoh who didn’t know of Joseph that they were servants and afflicted.

So, we can assume that the Israelites dwelt in Egypt for 30 years before they were put into slavery. And then, on the very same day that they entered, now only 430 years later, the Israelites were leaving. This night that they left is Pesach – Passover. Therefore, this is one of the required feasts, and therefore all of Israel is to honor it, and if anyone does not honor the Passover, they shall be cut off from the children of Israel. God was so intentional with the dates that He separated this day as a day of redemption.

In the regulations for this holy night, God prescribes several details that are important to note. First, notice that foreigners are not allowed to eat this. For we who claim Christ as our Passover Lamb, how is it that we can embrace that Gentiles are permitted in this holy feasting of the Table of the Lord? Well, notice the next verse, where any man’s servant bought for money and circumcised is permitted to eat. You, as Gentiles in Christ, have been bought for something more precious than money – bought by the very blood of Messiah. We’ve been circumcised of heart, which is the true circumcision of which the flesh only reflected the reality of. Therefore, we’re permitted to eat, but only through Christ Jesus.

Second, notice that it says you shall not carry the flesh outside of your house, nor shall you break one of its bones. John actually takes that statement about not breaking the bones of the Passover Lamb and uses it for Jesus, that the reason the soldiers didn’t break His legs was to fulfill this verse. This verse isn’t a prophecy, though. It’s for this reason we need to be eternally minded. Such an eternal moment as this reverberates outward into all time. The Passover is not something that we should expect as just one moment, but an eternal reality. Therefore, we find Lot offering the two angels unleavened bread, in order to celebrate the Feast (Genesis 19:3).

It was on Passover that Joshua crossed the Jordan with all of Israel. I’ve heard some rabbis claim that Abraham even offered Isaac on Passover, though there is no Scriptural support for this. The point, however, is to show that this day is significant eternally, because God has eternally fixed that the earthly shall reflect the heavenly. There is an interconnection through the eternality of God.

With this, we finish our segment on the Ten Plagues.

Slaughtering Children – Matthew 2:16-18

When I spend time in prayer, it is a time of silence. I sit still before God, and I wait for His words, for His heart. His heart is almost always something that I’m not even considering.  I’ll be thinking upon whatever Scripture I’ve been reading/wrestling, or I’ll be considering a life circumstance, or a theological question, but this is never what God seems to be considering…

He speaks to me about things that seem absolutely out of left field for everything that I would like to hear Him say. One of those times regarded this passage of Scripture. My mind went from Exodus 1, when Pharaoh slaughters the Hebrew children, to this passage, where Herod kills the children of Bethlehem, and unto Revelation 12, when Satan desires to devour the male-child. In that same instant, I hear the words of God, “Why does he always go after the children?”

In God’s eyes, children are not ‘mere’ necessities to perpetuate the human race. They aren’t annoyances that suffocate the patience of adults. Children are the innocent. They are the ultimate representation of the needy. God’s heart for those who are unable to speak for themselves, unable to take care of themselves, unable to fend for and protect themselves, unable to bring justice, etc is so juicing with compassion that if you glimpse it you’ll burst. God loves those who are unbearable and unlovable.

We find it a nuisance to have to take care of the elderly, infants, or the sick. I confess that I say “we”, because I am not altogether different. My grandmother who is wheelchair bound, and often gets hurt because she doesn’t want to use the wheelchair, I haven’t seen in months. The heck of it is that I don’t want to go see her. Of course, it should be said that the reason is more than just that she needs someone else to take care of her. It isn’t that I’m unwilling to help. Instead, it is because of the lifestyle and mentality that she has. It is at enmity with everything that I stand for.

Even so, this is often true of those who are in need. The point remains, though. Children are often spoken of as these ‘beasts’ who throw temper tantrums and drive their parents berserk. Too often I hear parents who speak about how much their children are annoying, or worse. My wife and I have both said, to each other and to parents, “If you don’t like your kids, then why did you have them?”

The point is that in God’s eyes, children are the pristine example of those who are unable to take care of themselves. God’s heart toward the poor, the oppressed, the helpless, and those who have no voice is one of compassion. He cannot tolerate when there is injustice against those who have no ability to defend themselves. I’m not sure there is anything that makes Him more angry…

Can you feel the sadness? When you see someone who is defenseless being persecuted or mistreated, can your heart break for them? These children, not even old enough to understand what is happening, are being slaughtered.

Why does Satan always go after the children?

It is interesting to me that when we think of biblical Egypt, we often think of the place of oppression and slavery. Yet, in the previous passage, the place where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus all found safety and freedom was in Egypt…

Behold Israel under Herod:
The New Egypt.

But how can this be? The City of God, the Holy City, the Place with God’s Name, where all nations shall one day come unto to find God, and to hear God, and to be atoned before God has become a place of every evil spirit and wicked practice.

Oh how the mighty have fallen! He has cast down from heaven to earth the beauty of Israel! She was once the princess of all the nations, the very apple of God’s eye, the very place of all that is perfect and true! But now, behold, now God has made her a public spectacle, and a shame and a curse! Why, O Israel, have you gone so astray? What has the LORD ever done that makes you wayward? Did He not find you as a youth, seeing you mistreated and naked before your adversaries, only to take you in, and cleanse your wounds, and heal them fully? Has He not clothed you with splendor and honor? Why, then, O Israel, do you now seek to reject Him, and to mourn at His coming, and to slay His children in the streets, until the blood runs, and the sound of lamentation and woe is all that is heard?

You are not Israel, though you call yourself Israel! You are not Jerusalem, though you claim that title and name! You are Egypt and Sodom! You are Babylon, playing the harlot with all nations, getting drunk from the blood of the saints, killing until there is none other to kill! Which of the prophets have you not slain, O Jerusalem? And which of the righteous saints have you not murdered, O Israel? You are Cain, and his prime city Enoch, O Israel and Jerusalem.

But let us not forget:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more…”

When we turn back to Jeremiah 31, where this statement is made, we find the context to be quite interesting. In fact, with both places, I’ve often asked why it is mentioned that Rachel weeps. Why not Leah? Why Rachel? The previous verses were just expressing how those who survive the sword shall find grace in the wilderness (verse 2), and how God will bring redemption unto Israel, so that there will be no more weeping, but instead rejoicing. It speaks of how the young men and old together will comfort one another, and will dance, and will rejoice rather than sorrow. It speaks of how the souls of the priests will satiate with abundance, and all of God’s people Israel will be satisfied with His goodness.

And then, after all this is said, we find “a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping…” Why is there bitter tears? Why this lamentation? Why such sobs that are causing convulsions, and making it impossible to even stand? Notice the next verse in Jeremiah 31: “Thus says the LORD: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy…”

This is altogether a bizarre passage for Matthew to be quoting. It’s like when Matthew quoted Micah 5:2, to remind the readers of a time when the natural branches would be cast off for a season, but shall be grafted back in after “she who is in labor gives birth”. Interjected straight into the heart of the story, Matthew almost seems to change focus altogether in referencing Jeremiah.

Why does this segment end with this quotation? It is my opinion that we must comprehend something a bit more ethereal, which does translate into the physical. Follow me to Genesis 37:9.

“Then [Joseph] dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.’ So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall  your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?'”

Question:
When did that take place? When did it happen?

You cannot tell me that it took place at the time when Jacob and his sons came into Egypt. First of all, Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him before this. Second of all, there is no mention of Jacob/Israel bowing before Joseph. Instead, they embrace and weep upon one another’s neck. Third of all, Rachel had died while giving birth to Benjamin, so this dream seems somewhat absurd to begin with.

Then, when we come to Jeremiah 31:15, why is Rachel mentioned? We can see the context is for Ephraim, so it makes sense that it is Rachel and not Leah. However, I want to ask the question of possibility. Is it possible that Jeremiah was perceiving something beyond in Joseph’s dream? We can go to Revelation 12:1, and find the woman standing upon the sun, clothed with the moon, and having twelve stars upon her head. I believe this to be Israel, connecting it back to Joseph’s dream.

Move to Judges 5:7, “Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.” Deborah was called “a mother in Israel”, or “the mother of Israel”. What is this? Go to Galatians 4:26, “But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” Now go to Hebrews 12:22, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”

Notice this. Deborah is called the mother of Israel. Then, the “Jerusalem that is above” is called our mother. Then, we collect from Hebrews 12:24 that Zion is another name for “the Jerusalem that is above”. Go to Isaiah 49:14, “But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you. Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.”

Do you see how similar this passage in Isaiah is with Jeremiah 31?

I think that there is a nuance here. There is something beyond just the obvious interpretation. Rachel was to come and bow before Joseph, along with Jacob. But, Jacob never bowed, and Rachel wasn’t alive to bow. So, there waits a future fulfillment of this, even if not with the exact people. Instead, there are ‘types’ (I truly hate that word, but I have no better alternative). Rachel is patterning Zion, just like Deborah was a type of Zion, the mother of us all.

Look at Isaiah 62:4-5, “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

God says that the land itself will be married at the marriage supper. This is the end of the age, when the Bride has made herself ready, and the wedding of the Lamb is at hand. We then come to Revelation 21, and the City is described, being called the Bride of the Lamb. But, why is it a City? I thought the Bride was the people…

We find the twelve foundations represent the apostles, which would represent “the Church” (I hesitate to say such a thing). Then, the twelve gates of pearl represent the twelve tribes of Israel. This is not two separate entities, or two separate “peoples of God”. This is one Body, unified by one Spirit, culminating together as one Bride of the Lamb, in one City called “New Jerusalem” and “Zion”.

What am I getting at?

There is a Jerusalem that is distressed at the coming of her King, who is ruled by men like Herod, who will slaughter children in order to destroy the threat of the true King. We find this to be the Babylon of Revelation, that the Antichrist finds his rule and epicenter in Jerusalem (see Revelation 11). Somehow, there is a Jerusalem that is ruled by the principalities and powers, a Jerusalem that looks more like Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon, where the Lord was crucified. But there is another Jerusalem, the eternal City, the heavenly City, the City whose builder and maker is God.  That Jerusalem, which is above, is our true dwelling, and it is the true Jerusalem of God. But that heavenly dwelling is not the fullness, for the earthly Jerusalem is the physical counterpart. Just like the soul has the physical body as its counterpart, so too does the true inheritance of God have the physical land of Canaan, the true Holy City have the physical Jerusalem, the true heavenly Temple have the physical tabernacle and temple, and etc.

Rachel is weeping, even from beyond the grave, because Rachel is not simply a character in the Bible. She is an eternal reality, just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not dead, but living. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Therefore, Rachel weeps, for her children are no more. They who are defenseless, who are the people of God, who are the eternal people, who are the very representation of the heaven upon the earth are being slaughtered.

Rachel weeps. Can you hear it?

Darkness You Can Feel – Exodus 10:21-29

For three days there is darkness in the land of Egypt, even a darkness that can be felt. This corresponds to the “three day journey” that Israel requests to make into the wilderness to sacrifice to the LORD their God. The Egyptians god Ammun Ra was the highest of all the gods. This plague would have been more than devastating to the religious system.

The word for “felt” in Hebrew is more than just a darkness that affects the inward man and hope. This kind of “felt” is the Hebrew word that signifies touch. There is a darkness over the land of Israel that can somehow be touched, and in that manner be felt. The Jewish commentary has somewhat dropped the ball on this, as with most all of the plagues. It attempts with all of its might to push away the emphasis of these plagues. It reasons them out, saying that the plague of darkness was the result of a massive sandstorm that comes every March. Because of the former devastations, this one would have been peculiarly intense.

My contention here is that these plagues are given by God, and even if God uses the natural elements around, that doesn’t then give us the right to word it away as “natural phenomenon”. This isn’t just something that takes place every March. This was a calculated affront to everything the Egypt represents. For this reason, the words of Pharaoh are harsh and direct toward Moses, that if Pharaoh sees Moses’ face again, Moses shall die.

At the beginning of the Bible, there is darkness upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovers over the waters. From that point onward, God seems to have a positive relationship with darkness. While we know that God is light, and that His Kingdom is the Kingdom of Light, and that Jesus is the Light of the World, and anyone who walks according to the darkness is not truly a follower of God, still we find somehow that God isn’t embarrassed or afraid of the darkness. There is a personification happening here, and darkness itself is an embodiment of something quite tangible.

When we go to Exodus 10:22, we read of this “thick darkness” that covers the land of Egypt. Then, a few chapters later (20:21), we find that God is dwelling in “thick darkness”. It’s the exact same phrase. How is it that the Spirit of God hovers over the darkened waters? How is it that God dwells in the “thick darkness”? How is it that God makes darkness canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies (2 Sam 22:12)?

Darkness itself is a representation of mystery. What I mean is that the power of darkness is found in that it conceals, or hides. God did not eliminate the darkness at the beginning, because God uses the darkness to “hide” Himself in order to fellowship with humanity and His creation. There is a certain sense in which God cannot fellowship with us without this cloaking of darkness, because to see God face-to-face would kill us in our mortality.

But the serpent, who was craftier than any other beast of the field, usurped the darkness, manipulating it into something it was never intended to be. The darkness was simply meant to be a means by which God could fellowship. Satan used it to hide information from the woman, thus deceiving her. There is a manipulation happening here, and therefore our thoughts of darkness have become negative. The original intention of darkness was not something negative at all, though it was separated from light, and though it was kept guarded by “rulers” (Gen 1:16-18).

When we come unto Exodus 10:21, the darkness that can be felt is something altogether an anomaly. It is as though God is taking off the ruse, allowing for Egypt to experience – tangibly enough to even be felt – the exact spiritual state that they are in. They believe themselves to be following the gods of these phenomenon, keeping them satisfied, but ultimately they are worshiping demons. It’s a sad testimony to perceive.

I heard a story of a man who is within a prominent ministry. He had a dream that this ministry was hosting some sort of end-times teaching seminar at the fairgrounds. There were tons of people there, and they were having a great time discussing the subject matter. The people were breaking off after the messages and asking questions, and ultimately it seemed like everything was perfect. It was precisely at this point, during one of the messages, that serpents started raining from the sky and biting people. There was blood and death everywhere. The serpents were consuming the people, and pandemonium ensued. No matter how much the teachers or listeners tried, they could not command in the name of Jesus to get the snakes to cease. They had no authority over these serpents. The speaker then talked about how this dream shows him that he needs to begin to pray that God gives them authority over the serpents for when this happens.

I’m sad to be the one to bear bad news, but the reality is that this dream was not a “future” dream, but a “now” dream. This ministry, with all of its hype, and all of its impressive stature is currently at a place where people think that they are the pinnacle of Charismatic belief. If you want to know what ministry really has it all together, you point to this one. Even those outside of the Charismatic movement find it to be quite impressive. Yet, the truth is, the serpents didn’t “suddenly” start devouring people. The truth is, their eyes were “suddenly” opened, and they saw what was happening. The serpents have been devouring the people for quite some time, which I suppose is why I’ve never been impressed, though it is all the rage and hype within the denomination I was saved in.

The same is true here in Egypt. Yes, this was a physical judgment. Yet, please realize that the judgment was equally an unveiling of the reality that they were in. Egypt was already in this kind of darkness before the physical darkness ever was shown. This is the danger of what we can become. We can be a people who think ourselves to be shining with radiance unto the nations, and thinking that we’re the “light of the world”, and yet ultimately be the very land that dwells in darkness. How is it that you can know whether you are or are not in this kind of state?

I believe the answer to that question lies within something very simple. Pharaoh continues to harden his heart, and continues to refuse to consider what God is demanding. It comes down to this final time, when God Himself hardens the heart of Pharaoh. I think one simple question will answer for me whether you are in this place or whether you are a child of light. Are you willing to read all of the words of Scripture, seeking to understand what it is that God commands, and to simply obey what it says? As soon as your mind jumps to various passages that you think  don’t apply anymore (*cough – Leviticus – cough*), you have forfeited any possibility of not being in this kind of darkness. To refuse to even consider a large portion of God’s word because it is “law”, or it is difficult to understand, or it is boring, or it makes demands that no one can live up to, the game is up, and you are ultimately left without any hope of freedom from this darkness.

I’ve written before somewhat extensively on law and whether we’re supposed to obey it. The lack of our willingness to even consider it, which ultimately leads to the fact that so few even know what Leviticus or Deuteronomy actually says, only shows that we are precisely within the same haze that Egypt was. We have a god named Jesus, who we claim to be the God of the Bible, and yet we care very little about what this god says or requires. It’s a religious idolatry, relinquishing us from responsibility and from psychological condemnation, but it doesn’t actually bring us the freedom from law and sin that we claim to have. It might psychologically relieve our conscience, but that in no way demands that we have truly died with Christ and been raised in power.

The children of Israel were in Goshen, where there was light. Are you?

Israel or Messiah – Matthew 1-4

There is a specific verse in Matthew 2 that gets a lot of scoffing. It is his usage of Hosea 12:1, that “out of Egypt I call my son”. When you go back to Hosea, you find that this verse cannot be employed in such a manner. It is so far removed from the original context that many have labeled Matthew as a deceiver. Of course, they who have done so are either non-believers or utterly unorthodox. However, the remark needs to be tenderly attended to.

While Matthew 2:15 is not the subject of this blog post, it does do great justice to the point that I want to make. There is a continuum that is unbroken. Israel is the nation of priests, and is called to go out into all nations and be God’s nation. It is unto Israel that the call was given to be a witness unto all nations. Yet, when we come to the New Testament, these sorts of statements and role is given unto Christ Jesus. Many have used this to then claim that everything is fulfilled in Christ, and therefore Israel is no longer held unto that place of honor. It is no longer the Jew that has God’s mandate to witness unto the world, but the Christian.

We read in the letter to the Romans a fascinating statement: “The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable”. The statement is within a context that tells us this is specific to Israel. Therefore, such a conclusion that all of what Israel was called to be is fulfilled in Christ is absurd. However, there is indeed a connection and correlation. Let us begin this in the book of Isaiah, among the servant songs.

We read in Isaiah 41-49 a servant being addressed. This continued over into Isaiah 52-53, which is why many Jews debate the Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53. Let us note a few of these references to the servant of Isaiah 41-49:

“But you, Israel, are my servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
T
he descendants of Abraham My friend,” Isaiah 41:8 (Israel)

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles,” Isaiah 42:1 (Messiah)

Who is blind but My servant,
Or deaf as My messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as he who is perfect,
And blind as the Lord’s servant?” Isaiah 42:19 (Israel)

You are My witnesses,” says the Lord,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
Nor shall there be after Me,” Isaiah 43:10 (Israel)

Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant,
And Israel whom I have chosen.
Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen,” Isaiah 44:1 (Israel)

Remember these, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!” Isaiah 44:21 (Israel)

“Who confirms the word of His servant,
And performs the counsel of His messengers;
Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’
To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’
And I will raise up her waste places,” Isaiah 44:26 (Messiah)

For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me,” Isaiah 45:4 (Israel)

And He said to me,
‘You are My servant, O Israel,
In whom I will be glorified.’ Isaiah 49:3 (Isaiah)

“And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:5-6 (Messiah)

 

What you can note from these verses is that there seems to be a back and forth to the “servant”. Sometimes it is explicitly stated as Israel, and then other times, this “servant” is the very deliverer of Israel! In fact, when you read the context of Isaiah 42 and 49, the servant cannot be Israel, because this servant is the one who is made as a covenant for Israel, and the deliverer of Israel.

How do you answer this?

Matthew saw a principle here that we have missed. As with Israel, so with Messiah. As with Messiah, so with Israel. The two are interwoven. Sometimes the servant is explicitly Israel, but other times it is impossible to be Israel. Think of it like the Olympics. When a runner wins the gold, they don’t mention that runner’s name. Instead, they say that America won the gold, or Germany won the gold, or whoever the person is running for. They are a representative of the whole nation. So it is with Messiah.

When we take this to the Gospel of Matthew, we find something fascinating. The birth of Jesus was a miraculous birth, just as the miraculous birth of Isaac. Just as Pharaoh killed the Hebrew male children, so do we find Herod slaying the male children of Bethlehem. Thus, Jesus is taken into Egypt to flee Herod, so just as Israel came out of Egypt, so now God calls His (other) Son, Jesus, out of Egypt. Just as Israel must cross the Red Sea after coming out of Egypt, now we find in the narrative that Jesus gets baptized in the River Jordan. Just as Israel then roams 40 days unto Sinai, so we find Jesus being in led into the wilderness for 40 days. Just as Israel suffered three temptations in that wilderness to come unto Sinai, so does Jesus face three temptations. Just as Israel comes unto Sinai to receive the Law, now Jesus comes out of the wilderness and up on a mountain and expounds the Law to the multitudes of Israel.

Matthew is brilliantly putting together pieces that most people I’ve talked to have never even considered. It eventually comes to a point where we begin to wonder if a man wrote this, or if God wrote it… We eventually come to a place where we wonder if Jesus’ life was happenstance at all, or if every moment of Jesus’ life was an eternal moment that reflected a pattern already established, and continued that pattern to reveal unto us the eschatological scheme. Every detail matters.

With this, we will begin next time examining the birth of Christ and the scene that Matthew records around Joseph and Mary during this time. Grace and peace to you all.