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.

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?

 

The Covenant Reaffirmed – Exodus 6:1-13

In Exodus 5, we left off with Pharaoh tormenting the Israelites, and Moses lamenting before God. Here in chapter 6, God is beginning to respond. He affirms to Moses that He shall indeed redeem and give inheritance. In verses 2-3, God even says, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name YHWH I was not known to them.” I have heard it said, and seen it written, that this verse is often interpreted that the patriarchs didn’t know the name YHWH.

Here is my contention with that: in Genesis, they address God as “YHWH”. Even within Genesis 2, we find LORD God, YHWH Elohim, and this is only in verse 4. So, if from the very start of human history recorded in Scripture, YHWH is being used, then how can we claim that the patriarchs didn’t know this name? To claim Moses wrote these books doesn’t cut it for me. Instead, I would like to suggest something else.

Associated with the names of deity are their power and character. We have something similar today. When you give someone your word, you are putting forth your reputation and everything that people know of you on that promise. We can even think of sayings like, “smeared his name through the mud”. To smear someone’s name is to smear their reputation, their esteem, through the mud. It isn’t about making their “name” ignominious, but but rather the very person and character.

What I want to posit is that this promise to the patriarchs was based utterly upon God’s character. God promised to Adam and Eve a deliverer (Gen 3:15), He promised to Abram a son who would inherit the land of Canaan (Gen 15:4, 7, 18-21), but He didn’t show them the fulfillment of that promise. In fact, when you get to the book of Hebrews, you find the author saying, “having obtained a good testimony through faith, all these did not receive the promise”. The next verse does not say, “But you…” Instead, it says something  better is presented to us, that together with us they might be made complete.

Unto the patriarchs, God has promised the inheritance of Canaan, which is seen in the Hebraic mind as being the very place where heaven and earth meet. This is the very place where God dwells – a Garden of Eden restored. But, the patriarchs didn’t receive the inheritance. Moses is being told here that God had given them the promise, but didn’t give them inheritance. Therefore, the patriarchs did not experientially know the power and glory of the name of YHWH like God will reveal to Moses and his generation. It is about God’s name, His honor, His power, and His character. It is about an experiential knowledge of that Name.

To trace this thought forward in the narrative, not just unto Sinai, but beyond Sinai, we find that God’s name is repeated throughout Scripture. For example, you have God revealing Himself through His name quite directly to the Hebrew children. They experience His power and majesty in the wilderness, and eventually in the Land itself. Joshua leads Israel to inheriting the Promise. Yet, we then find later that the psalmist declares, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest’.” (Psalm 95:7-11)

Let us think this through. The psalmist is not writing about this “today” in the generation of Joshua, who was promised to inherit that rest, but rather centuries after Joshua. The psalmist is writing this while in the land. Somehow, Israel is in the land, inherited the promise, and yet there is a promised rest that if that generation, paralleled with the generation that was killed in the wilderness, will hear God’s voice, they can enter into that promised rest.

It is then the whole point for the rest of the book of Hebrews to show how it is that we haven’t come to the physical promises, but the eternal, which are not separate from the physical, but are interwoven. It is the physical promise that reflects the eternal and heavenly. We have not come unto Sinai, the physical mountain upon which God came down, but unto Zion, the New Jerusalem, which is the throne of God, revealed to us in explicit detail in Revelation 4. It is not Sinai that the prophets envisioned with theophany, in places such as Isaiah 6 or Ezekiel 1-3, but the heavenly Zion.

And so, we see the “better” inheritance that we have, not exclusively as the Church, but together with “them” who are mentioned in Hebrews 11, the saints eternal, they who are called “Israel” by most theologians. There is an connection, then, that cannot (and certainly should not) be severed. It has always been that the prophets perceive beyond the physical and tangible into the spiritual and equally tangible. That is our inheritance as the saints. And, there is an eternal “today”, that if you are willing to humble yourself, ceasing from your own works (namely, righteousness through our own efforts), we can enter into that rest, which from the beginning has been established for all who by faith will enter.

Yet, we cannot conclude that this is the fulfillment. Remember that God put His name upon the physical inheritance – not the spiritual. There must be a physical that is coupled with the spiritual. It is for this reason that we read various texts in the New Testament about the “inheritance” at the end of the age. Jesus promises that His disciples will rule over all Israel upon twelve thrones (Matthew 19:28-29). Paul speaks about we, as Gentile believers even, who shall receive an inheritance with the “redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:14). He then further explains what this means in Ephesians 3:1-6, in which he makes the statement that “Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel…”

What is this “body” that is spoken of? It cannot be the Church exclusive, for that would demand a “new” body. The context of Ephesians 3:6 is that this body apparently is already in existence, and hence “same body” instead of “new body”. Don’t quote to me Ephesians 2:14-15, that Christ has made “of the two” “one new man”, and therefore the Church is new and distinct. That isn’t what Paul is saying at all, for only if you skip Ephesians 2:12 can you come to that conclusion. It is because we, even we Gentiles who were aliens and at enmity with God, have been brought near, and made to be partakers of the promise and covenants, being grafted in (to use the language of Romans 11) to the already existent House of Israel. We are not the elite, but the remnant.

Therefore, we know that we have received a spiritual inheritance, even being sealed by the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians 1:13, but that isn’t the fulfillment. It is only the guarantee of the future inheritance at the end of the age, which is not ours exclusively, but unto the whole House of Israel – both the natural and the wild branches. Interestingly to this study, one of the promises to the seven churches in Revelation is that “I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, And I will write on Him My new name.” (Revelation 3:12)

That promise, in the context of what is written to the rest of the seven churches, cannot be understood as the New Heaven and New Earth, but at Jesus’ return. There might be legitimacy to saying that it is fulfilled to the uttermost in the New Heaven and New Earth, but don’t squash the beauty that is presented in that we rule with Christ for 1000 years. When you parallel the statements of Revelation 2-3 and Revelation 20, you find that there are certain things that are doubled.

Notice again Revelation 22:4. Here it is that having the name of God written upon our foreheads is coupled with seeing God face-to-face. There is a revealing of God intimately that cannot take place apart from the judgment that we experience during Tribulation (not judgment as in condemnation, but judgment as being within the nations who are being judged, and within Israel [the people] who are under judgment). Just as Elijah endured the judgment alongside of his fellow Israelites, and just as Joshua and Caleb had to endure forty years before being permitted to enter the land again, so too must we wait for the second coming – after seven years of Tribulation – before we shall see the fulness of our inheritance in Christ.

The blessed hope of Titus 2:13 is not rapture, as I’ve heard so many say. It is the coming of the King, and with Him the Kingdom of God. It is the redemption of Israel, and with them all the nations. It is worldwide peace. It is the obliteration of the kingdom of darkness. It is the inheritance of promise – heaven and earth becoming one. It is the climax of the covenant, the culmination of the ages, unto which we’ve been progressing since “God separated the light from the darkness”. The blessed hope is the longing of every heart, whether we know how to intuit it or not, whether we’re believers or not. It is a Kingdom that is ruled in justice, equity, and righteousness, instead of bureaucracy, greed, and patriotism. To then take that verse out of context completely, simply to hold that we’re not supposed to endure “wrath” (as if that is even what 1 Thess 5:9 means), is to cast down all hope and all eternal weight of glory that might make out suffering and affliction momentary and light.

 

We’re progressing to a climax. The age is crescendoing. It is our opportunity to work with God or to do our own thing. We can either play church, play Christianity, or we can be the saints in our own generation. The hope that God is giving to Moses in this passage is the very blessed hope that is to give us satisfaction and perseverance unto the end.

Sons and Heirs – Galatians 3:26-4:7

As we saw last time, Galatians 3 is tracing the story of Abraham in Genesis 12-17. That will come in handy in Galatians 4 as well. Here at the end of Galatians 3, the point is about how we’ve been adopted in Christ Jesus. Here is where many of you were probably asking questions in my last post. I emphasized Israel and the Kingdom of God through Israel, but then the tendency that I’ve noticed from Gentile Christians is to ask, “What about me?”

Here it is, folks. This is the answer to the question “what about me”. You and I, as Gentiles, were outside of the promises and covenant with God. Yet, even the Jewish people are living in a manner contrary to that covenant (as we’ve seen in Paul’s point regarding the law). So, the question is now formed into, “How can anyone enter the Kingdom of God?”

The answer to that is adoption.

Adoption is one of the most fundamental and important words of the New Testament. In a sense, we’ve all be outsiders. We’ve all gone our own way. We’ve all been led down a path that is not God’s intention. Therefore, we’ve all received an adoption of sorts. For the Gentile, it is to be grafted in as a wild olive branch. For the Jew, it is to be grafted in as the natural branch. (This is the whole point of Romans 11, by the way.) There is a “spiritual Israel”, by which the word Israel actually defines the term (see Gen 32:28), that has ever and always existed. There have been both Israelites and Gentiles who have been a part of that “spiritual Israel”. Yet, what is important to remember from Romans 11 is that Paul never says the spiritual Israel supersedes, or replaces, natural Israel.

The issue of being “spiritual Israel” is the issue of adoption. This is where it gets interesting. In Galatians 3:24, Paul made the statement that the law was a “tutor” until the “seed” (Jesus) should come. In Galatians 4:2-5, the same point is being made. Here is the point:
Israel in its infancy, coming out of Egypt, could not bear the eternal covenant in maturity, and was therefore placed under “tutors” (namely, the law and the ‘elements of the world’) until there would come a time (indeed, the fullness of time) when God could send His Son as redeemer, and we might be taken together with Him into that eternal covenant.

It isn’t as though there were none in the Old Testament to be a part of that eternal covenant. This has been Paul’s whole argument from the beginning. When you see Noah finding grace in the eyes of the Lord, is that because Noah did something special? Did Abraham receive the call and the promise because of some merit within Abraham? Do we believe that Moses was called deliverer and mediator because of something intrinsic within Moses?

Trick question.

Yes, we do, but no we don’t.

There is something intrinsic within these saints that gives credence to God’s call, but it isn’t because of the individual. Rather, it is because the eternal covenant has ever and always been something that brings forth this kind of redemption that Paul is speaking (which, once again, is his whole point). So, no there is nothing within the person themselves, for it is of faith and not of works. Yet, we can’t just throw away the whole point that God chose them for a reason.

Anyway, the scripture at hand is explaining to us that these “tutors” had been placed in charge over Israel, which remain to this day, until there would be the time that God would give a means of redemption, a means of coming out from and into. Here is the difficulty of Old Testament revelation. If we believe that Jesus is the messiah, and that redemption only comes through Him, then how were the saints in the Old Testament redeemed, and how is it that we do find attributes of new covenant resurrection/regeneration in the Old Testament? The answer is that we’re not looking at a covenant contained within time, but a covenant that is “eternal”, and therefore beyond time. Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and that isn’t a rhetoric and fancy use of wording. This is the eternal covenant, the Lamb slain on the heavenly altar, the covenant that stems back to the Garden of Eden and Adam being a son of God.

Here is the point.

We find in Colossians 2:8 and 20 the same discussion regarding these “elements”. Here Paul calls them “tutors”. There he leaves no question when claiming the law to be tied together with the principalities and powers. In Psalm 82, we read of these “judges” (sometimes translated kings) who rule wickedly, and shall be held accountable. They are told that though they are greater than men, they shall be judged like men. The chapter ends, then, with all of the nations coming to worship the Lord. Does anything seem bizarre to you about that?

These judges of Psalm 82 are actually the principalities. They are demons in the place of influence and authority over nations, who have used their influence and authority to manipulate, deceive, usurp, and oppress. Therefore, they shall be judged as men (meaning, they shall ‘die’, though they are not subject to life and death as we know it), and the judgment of those powers results in the nations coming to God. Compare this with Isaiah 25:7, where God says “upon this mountain (Zion) He will destroy the veil that is spread over all nations.” The context of the statement is redemption for the nations.

Again, we ask ourselves how this has anything to do with “tutors” being set up over Israel. And, again we must conclude that the law was given through a mediator (Moses), that God was marrying Israel, but that Israel desired a mediator rather than God Himself. Therefore, because we read in Exodus 20:19 that the people took Moses rather than God, it was allowed that Israel would for a time be ruled over by “elements” (whether judges, kings, or priests who were under the influence of demons and not God), not the least of these elements being the simple “do this; don’t do that” mentality of the law.

To try to tie together some of the loose ends and make sense of what I’m saying, then, I think we can consult Ephesians 2:1-7. There was a time in yours and my past where we were not in Christ. We lived according to a different mindset, a different wisdom. That wisdom was not a wisdom from God, but rather of demons. They had an influence over us, a way of causing us to think, that promoted righteousness via works and “doing or not doing”. Because I haven’t killed anyone, I must not be as bad as the murderer, right? Such a mindset is blatant error, as Jesus points out, because murder doesn’t start with the act. It starts with the heart that would think someone so worthless that the world would be a better place without that person. That I am guilty of, and therefore I am indeed guilty of murder.

It was to that kingdom, the darkened kingdom, that I subscribed, and therefore lived and breathed and had my being in the demonic perspective. Even while being an atheist and not believing in demons, I still gained my understanding and worldview from the wisdom of demons. However, there came a point in time – a divinely orchestrated point in time – when God sent His Son so that Israel might indeed be heirs and receive the inheritance due her. They who have been promised the eternal covenant, and the inheritance of that eternal covenant all died without receiving that inheritance (Heb 11:39). Notice that the statement does not then go, “but to you…” No, we also have not inherited, because we’re told quite plainly that we shall receive our inheritance with them at the end of the age (Ephesians 1:13-14, 3:1-6).

Our adoption has been one of coming out from being under that darkened kingdom and into the Kingdom of Light. Adoption in the New Testament doesn’t necessitate that we were outside of Israel. In fact, even the Jews had to receive an adoption of sorts, or else Paul wouldn’t make the point that Jesus redeemed “those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons”. Who was it that was “under the law”? Was the law given to Gentiles or to Israel? But now, in Christ, we have all been redeemed, so there is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ, and made to be sons instead of children, inheriting the eternal covenant rather than being under the supervision of “stewards”.

Sonship is the issue of covenant. It is the issue of maturity. It is the issue of adoption. All of these things go hand-in-glove, because all of these things are essentially defining the same thing. The same issue is behind it all. Though they be different from one another, the issue behind the issue for all three of these things is the Kingdom of God, the rulership of God, the eternal purpose of man (to rule), and all of these things being made manifest on the earth. This was the purpose of the covenant made with Abraham (to be God’s nation among the nations), and it continues to be God’s prerogative.