Ere the Lamp of the Lord Go Out…

FeaturedEre the Lamp of the Lord Go Out…

Where there is no vision, the people perish…
– Prov 29:18

1 Sam 3:1-3
And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep

For those unfamiliar, the book of Samuel takes place almost immediately after events in the book of Judges.  The final verse in the book of Judges says this:

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.  (Judges 21:25)

The kingdom, which was supposed to be ordered entirely by the Living God had forsaken the Lord, and digressed literally into a state of anarchy.  Due to this final verse in Judges, I have heard it speculated that God intended for the nation to be run as an anarchy.  This is entirely inaccurate.

God gave plain guidelines for this nation which He had called to Himself, they were supposed to be a nation of priests (Ex. 19:6).  Not only was the nation to be a kingdom of priests, but their king and ruler was to be God, alone (1 Sam 8:7; 12:12).

Yet how was the Lord to rule over the people?  If not via a king, what was God’s intended way to rule His nation of priests?  Actually, His desire from the beginning was  to have a personal relationship with each individual, and that they all might be led directly by Him.  However, when the Word of God spoke in an audible voice from the Mountain of fire the people feared, and with one accord they prayed that they would not hear the Word of the Lord, but that God would grant them an intermediary (Ex 20:18-22).

Because the people drew back from hearing the Lord for themselves, God declared that He would rule His kingdom of priests by the next best thing: the hand of a prophet (Deut. 18:15-18).  The prophet would act as intermediary between the people and God – as such, the office of prophet was a typological representation of the coming Messiah.

But even in his day, Moses, looking forward to the days of the coming Messiah declared this great restorative prophecy:

Num 11:29
…would God that ALL the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

This prophecy of Moses would later be fulfilled in Acts 2.

Yet now back to the narrative of Samuel the prophet.

The book of Judges concluded with God’s nation of priests digressing into a state of total political, and social anarchy.  From the outset of the book of Samuel we see that the one thing remaining of Israel’s great spiritual dynasty was the religious service of the tabernacle.  Yet this, too, was in a dreadful state!

The high priest in Israel was a man named Eli, Eli was old, overweight (1 Sam 2:29; 4:18) and going blind (3:2).  In his physical state, Eli seemed to do very little of the temple service himself; almost every time we see him in scripture he is sitting, or lying down (1 Sam 1:9; 3:2; 4:13).  Eli’s two sons – Hophni, and Phinehas – who were carrying out the temple service were overtly corrupt, so much so that they would steal from congregants, and fornicate with women in the temple (2:22).  But the worst of their corruption was that they made the people to despise the sacrifice of the Lord (2:17; 2:29).  Thus, indeed, corruption had entered Israel at every level of its society – it was only a matter of time before the judgment of God would come, and even the priesthood of Israel would be cut off.

My, what a terrible state the nation was in!  The whole nation was corrupted with sin, even the very priesthood!  There was not a man in Israel to stand before the Lord, the entire realm had become – as the wife of one of the evil priest’s would later prophesy – ICHABOD meaning that God’s glory had entirely departed from the people, and the entire nation was left desolate.

Oh but hear this song of hope in the midst of the fallen priesthood:

1 Sam 2:18
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.

What a great tragedy that there was no man in all the land of Israel to minister before the Lord!  But there was SOMEONE willing!  Even a little boy – a child wearing a priestly garment before God!

Now this is the stage set for the seed, the new hope of Israel – for the whole of the land was burned and charred with the corruption of sin, and in only a matter of a few years the very priesthood in Israel would be handed over to Satan.

Oh, but the child Samuel would soon carry that life which God had ever intended that the nation of Israel walk in – soon the light of the world would be imparted to a lonely little boy who had been given by his mother into a life of service to God.

1 Sam 3:1-3
And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep.

For those who have eyes to see, this passage fully defines the lack in Israel: that poverty for which the people would be handed over to the Philistines.  The WORD OF THE LORD was ‘precious,’ or ‘rare’ in those days.  What does this mean?  It goes on to give further clarification: ‘THERE WAS NO OPEN VISION.’

Specifically, this ‘vision’ speaks of PROPHECY.  The Hebrew word for ‘vision’ here is:

chazown (khaw-zone’); a sight (mentally), i.e. a dream, revelation, or oracle

Thus the ‘word of the Lord’ spoken of here, is not specifically the bible.  Bear in mind that they had the ‘Pentetuech’ that is the scriptures handed down from the pen of Moses (the first five books of the bible), as well as the book of Joshua.  (The book of Judges may still have been in the works for, as mentioned, 1 Samuel starts almost precisely at its tail-end.)

Some speculate that ‘open vision’ means a literal open-eyed vision as Ezekiel, and some of the other prophets had wherein they seemed to literally see heavenly beings and events with their physical eyes.  In this case that appears to be an inaccurate interpretation, for the word ‘open’ (King James) actually means something closer along the lines of ‘wide spread,’ or ‘given abroad.’

The trouble in Israel was that there was no widespread prophetic revelation.  The people of Israel were without the Spirit of God.  THERE WERE NO PROPHETS IN THE LAND.  Even the prophecy which was given to Eli, wherein God warned him of the coming wrath on his family was brought not by a ‘prophet,’ but simply by one called: ‘a man of God’ (1 Sam 2:27).

Bear in mind that God had promised to lead the nation by the hand of prophets.  Prophecy was intended to be widespread – the light of the kingdom.  But there was no open vision.

Furthermore:

1 Sam 3:2
…it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

The high priest, himself, was losing his sight.  The correlation of his physically going blind is no coincidence; this is a prophetic parable of the state of the priesthood.  He who should be the most prophetic man in Israel was going blind.  He was not yet fully blind, as he would be the day of his death (4:15) yet at this time he had all but lost his perception of the things of God.

Israel had become a pagan nation which had not honored the Spirit of prophecy; of all those who knew the ways of the Kingdom that the LORD had instigated, only ONE priest who understood the ways of the Lord was left in the land – and he had compromised, and compromised until his complacency had caused his understanding to wax dim.

So it was that a nation designed to be filled with priests who communed with God, and walked in the Spirit of prophecy, had no widespread prophetic understanding.  Furthermore, even the high priest was going blind to the things of God – and the third and final horror is contained in the next verse:

V.3
And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD

The only remaining light was a dull flickering lamp in God’s temple.  The nation’s light was about to be entirely snuffed out.  If the light goes out entirely, there is nothing left in the whole world but darkness: death reigns with no hope of salvation.  Israel was like a man in some sort of a coma, barely breathing – at any moment the light could entirely flicker out and the nation of Israel would become just as the heathen kingdoms they had driven out of the land.

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5) – this is speaking of the work and testimony of Jesus in the earth.  There must be a prophetic witness in the world.  The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy (Revelation 19:10).  God had to search out and find Himself a little boy who would regard the Word of the Lord.

Then in the dark of night, as a little boy faithfully executed the inept priest’s office, because he had made his heart right, for he alone set his face to worship, and honor the Lord – God spoke to that little boy.

Sadly, the nation was already too far gone – Eli the high priest was too complacent even to repent when warned of the wrath to come (1 Sam 3:18).  Judgment would come to Israel, the priesthood would die – the ark of God’s presence would be handed over to the devil.

But the light was not altogether diminished:

1 Sam 3:21
And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

And here is an interesting fact of scripture.  For Samuel’s first lesson was HOW TO HEAR GOD.  So learn carefully what this means, beloved children – from the perishing priest, his final flicker of illumination in the ancient ways; that which led Samuel fully into that blessed heavenly kingdom of light – hear carefully, and meditate on these words, until ye become prophets yourselves for I will not at this time reveal the mystery of it, but God shall reveal it to you if you seek Him:

1 Sam 3:9
Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

And now for the application.  Why am I writing this?  Why take heed to the life of the great prophet Samuel?

There is a testimony of God in the world.  Many fear that it is diminished entirely, and that there is now no hope.  But Samuel ministered unto the Lord, being a child girded with a linen ephod.

How about you?

Behold, I send You Elijah the Prophet

FeaturedBehold, I send You Elijah the Prophet

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.  -Mal 4: 4 & 5

Before the coming of Christ, a foundation of stone had to be laid.  A SOLID, UNMOVABLE FOUNDATION, to prepare the way of the Lord.  The high places needed to be brought down, the low places needed to be brought up, and the crooked places needed to be made straight.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John, the same came for a witness to bear witness to the light THAT ALL MEN THROUGH HIM MIGHT BELIEVE.‘  (John 1:6)

Did you know that John the Baptist is the man through whom God meant we should believe in Christ?  Well, let me clarify, not John the person, but the spirit and ministry of John – or to phrase it biblically: ‘the spirit, and power of Elijah.’

Jesus affirmed that without receiving the ministry of John, the Pharisees had been unable to receive His own ministry:

For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.  (Matt 21:32)

So it is at this day.  Without the foundational ministry of John the Baptist, we cannot receive the ministry of Christ.  What was the ministry of John the Baptist, which God sent before we could receive Christ?  It is deep beyond imagination, and more profound than any man yet realizes, it is spiritually complex, and powerful, but it can be summarized with these words: ‘REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!’

If we receive not the preperation of the heart, neither can we receive the ministry of Christ in our lives.

The passage first quoted (from Malachi) speaks of the end times – behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

In John’s day the Jews expected Elijah, himself, to come back to the earth, but it would be the spirit and power of Elijah that came in the ministry of John.

Before the Lord returns there must be a revival of the spirit, and power of Elijah.

I our day there must be a turning of the hearts of the righteous to their children, and a turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers of faith – for if they speak not according to His Word, there is no light in them.  A foundation must be laid, and the bride needs to prepare herself for the coming of the Lord by the spirit and power of Elijah.

Learn more about the ministry of John the Baptist in my book: More Than a Prophet

WHERE is the Israel of God? ‘Know ye not, ye are His Temple?’

WHERE is the Israel of God? ‘Know ye not, ye are His Temple?’

(I cover a lot of ground in this one – a bit long but it will be worth the read for you as I begin to touch more solidly on the foundational thought for the revelation I believe I’ve had concerning the latter days & you will be able to see the direction I am going with this.)

Please read the two preceding posts (1st; 2nd), as I continue to lay groundwork of thought to share a particular revelation I’ve had.  To give a better explanation of what I am doing here I will say this: a mystery has been (I believe, rather conclusively) revealed to me about things concerning the latter days.  I see the great danger of misconceptions on this particular point – which I intend to get to when I seem to have liberty to fully release the specifics of the revelation.  Regardless of what comes in the latter-days, we can be prepared through full knowledge, and understanding of the Gospel.  Indeed, as I mentioned in a previous post – not all latter-day revelations are found in the books of Daniel, and Revelation; rather as God declared, He is the LORD that speaks the things of the end from the beginning:

Isa 46:9-10
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

I am not one given to theological trends, I believe the admonishment to ‘prove all things, and hold fast to that which is true.’  (1 Thess. 5:21) So, I’m not really blowing smoke when I say I believe I have received an important revelation regarding the coming days.  As I hope my readers can perceive as I lay this ground-work my perspective is based upon plain scripture, and if not you oughtn’t to read my works at all for it is written:

Isa 8:20
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

The Messianic Age

I have been speaking of the New Covenant era – in the first post I showed three authoritative testimonies which plainly state that the covenant of God is no longer exclusively with people of Jewish descent (teachings from John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and Paul the Apostle – ‘let every matter be established out of the mouths of two, or three witnesses.’ (Deut 19:15; Matt 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1; 1 Tim 5:19)).  According to these three witnesses, no one is accepted as the people of God except they receive the Messiah: Jesus Christ.  Those who are genealogical Jews are counted NOT to be Jews (God’s people) if they do not receive Jesus Christ, and those who are not genealogical Jews are counted to be Jews (God’s people) if they receive the Messiah: Jesus Christ.  ‘Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.‘  (Gal 3:7)

In the second post we looked at an example which conclusively verifies that under the New Covenant God’s people are NOT BOUND to the Old Covenant statutes or regulations.  Each one is accepted by God – and given the Holy Spirit upon the merit of their faith in Jesus Christ alone.  We saw that the three defining staples of the Jewish religion, namely:

  1. The covenant of circumcision
  2. The Law of Moses
  3. The Levitical priesthood

which all Jews HAD BEEN held strictly enforced to follow were no longer necessary practice under the New Covenant.

Some have posed the thought that we are in the ‘age of the Gentiles.’  I pointed out this thought in a previous post – so… do we live in an ‘age of the Gentiles?’  No, that thought would presuppose that the ‘age of the Gentiles’ will, at some point end – that salvation will once again be extended ONLY to Jews.  There is no scriptural precedent for that thought – furthermore, even under the Old Covenant Gentiles could be included in salvation by observing the appropriate Jewish customs (circumcision, law, Levitical priesthood).  We are not in the ‘age of the gentiles,’ we are living in the age of the Messiah.

In this current age we live in, all things are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and salvation is open to every man, Jew or Gentile.  No earthly custom, culture, or religion need be observed – Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all righteousness before God.  This is the Messianic age, or age of Messiah – and it culminates not when the remnant of Jews return to God through Jesus Christ, but when Jesus Christ returns to the earth.  (Actually the biblical term for the age we live in is: ‘the year of the Lord’s favor,’ but here, it is far better described as the Messianic age, as the person of Messiah – Jesus Christ – fulfills all righteousness, and imputes it to those who believe in Him, apart from observing the law (Rom 3:28; Gal 2:16).)

(If you want to study these things in depth personally, the most concise places to find the distinctions between Old, and New Covenant doctrine in scripture is the book of Hebrews (wherein the writer explains Christ’s fulfillment of all three of these tenants of Jewish culture.) and Galatians.  If, after studying Hebrews you remain confused about whether we should continue to follow the Old Covenant traditions, then read the book of Galatians – where Paul strictly warns believers not to fall back into the tenants of the Old Covenant, lest they be quote: ‘FALLEN FROM GRACE.’ (Gal. 5:4))

WHERE is the Israel of God?

John 4:19-21
19 The woman saith unto [Jesus], Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye [Jews] say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, NOR YET AT JERUSALEM, worship the Father.

22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Where is the Israel of God?  Where is the place of the Lord’s habitation?

In the above conversation, Jesus clarifies that since the coming of Messiah (‘the hour cometh, and now is‘ – since Christ was in the earth already) a new mandate for worshiping God has come!  Thus Jesus is announcing this era that I have described above as the ‘Messianic Age’ – He clarifies this when He gives distinction to the fact that He, Himself is Messiah (v.26).  Once again, the distinction was the person of Jesus Christ – the Messiah.  Nothing else had changed, but Messiah – who is the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets had come, and was in the earth.

Not to go on too great a tangent, but a change from worship in Jerusalem would not only be a great change in the spiritual, and religious realms of Jewish society, but ALSO a great change in the social and political realms of Jewish life and culture.  From the time of King Solomon the temple in Jerusalem was the center of the economy in Israel – and was supported by the entire nation.  Not to go into too great a depth on that, basically, changing the mandate of worship in Jerusalem would change just about EVERYTHING in Jewish culture which was not already determined by the covenant, and the law.

Furthermore, Jesus declaration that worship in Jerusalem was not necessary is a direct statement that the era of temple-worship had passed.  What was the point of going to Jerusalem to worship?  The Temple – God’s dwelling place in the earth – was there.  But here Jesus declares that under the Messianic era (the era of the Messiah), God will dwell and commune with EVERYONE who worships Him in Spirit, and in Truth.  It was no longer necessary for people to go to Jerusalem to meet with God.

For Jesus to make the declaration that there was no further need to worship in Jerusalem is to completely liberate God’s people to serve and worship the Lord independently anywhere –  the formulation of their own communities for worship would be sufficient, no matter where they were!  In fact, this was precisely what the early Christians did in the book of Acts.

This thought may bring immediate questions to why Jesus continued to teach in the temple, and why Paul, and other apostles continued to travel there.  The answer to that question is simple: to minister to the Jews.  When Jesus went to the temple, He taught, and healed the sick – He ministered to the Jews.  The Messianic age had begun (since Jesus had come into the world) but was not yet completed because He had not been crucified, raised and ascended to the right hand of the Father.

When Jesus came, He declared that He was come to minister to the ‘lost sheep of Israel’ (Matt 10:6; 15:24, etc.).  Thus, Jesus chief ministry, while in the earth was to the Jews.  Why?  Because this was – as He described it – the hour of their visitation (Luke 19:44).  God had sent His Word to the Jews first – they were given the first opportunity to receive the Messiah (just as Paul, also declared it was quote ‘to the Jew FIRST’ (Rom 1:16; 2:9 – 11)).  There is no respect of persons (or of cultures, ethnicities, etc.) with God – Jesus went to the Jews first because their culture was instigated by God – they had the first opportunity to receive Him.

Jesus ministered in the temple, and according to Jewish custom because while these things were passing away (fulfilled in Him) the Jews could not receive Him if He did not act in a way that was consistent with their revelation of God.  He was already in process of delivering the disciples from the legalistic precedents of the law of Moses – declaring all foods clean (see previous post), making statements like: ‘the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’  (Matt 12:8)  (Which is to say, faith in Jesus Christ, and obedience to Him personally fulfills the requirements of the Sabbath.  Say: ‘MESSIANIC AGE’)

Even when Jesus commanded people to offer the sacrifices of Moses in His day it was not because they had to for the fulfillment of righteousness, BUT FOR THE PURPOSE OF TESTIFYING TO THE JEWS!  Look at this – Jesus heals a man of Leprosy, there was a specific sacrifice required by the law for one who was healed of leprosy, read what Jesus tells the man:

Matt 8:4 (Also Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14)
See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, FOR A TESTIMONY UNTO THEM.

Even while He walked the earth, Jesus wasn’t advocating the usage of the law to meet its righteous requirements, but as a testimony to the Jews!

Even after the revelation of the Messiah, when the fullness of the Messianic age was in place, Paul, and others continued to travel to Jerusalem and participate in temple services upon occasion, not because they had to – but so that they could continue to bring the testimony of Jesus Christ to the unbelieving Jews.  This was the clear perspective of Paul in continuing to follow Jewish customs, just as he plainly declared it was:

1 Cor 9:19-23
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

Paul considered himself no longer to be bound by Jewish custom, but in order to continue bringing the testimony of Jesus Christ to the Jewish people, he occasionally followed Jewish customs.  And he says the same of the gentiles – to them that are without the law (gentiles) as without the law – i.e. he did not continue to follow the Jewish culture when with the Greeks, but Greek culture.  This is plainly bared out when he preached the gospel among the Greek philosophers, as a Greek intellectual on Mars Hill – a pagan place where no orthodox Jew would ever be found ministering (Acts 17:18-34)!  Among gentiles Paul did not follow Jewish culture, but the culture of the people where he was ministering – but at all times he ministered Christ no matter WHERE he was.

Know ye not, YE are His Temple?

Jesus Christ was not only the fulfillment of:

  1. the Covenant of Abraham – and thus circumcision passed away, and
  2. the law of Moses – and thus the letter of the law passed away (not the Spirit of it, mind you, but the strict adherence to the letter of the law)
  3. the priesthood – by which the levitical priesthood passed away (we are now under the ‘Melchizedek’ priesthood, i.e. Jesus Christ, himself is the complete fulfillment of every priestly service we require (see Hebrews 5-7))  (Apologies that I have not gone into the further details of each these things; as I am blogging, and not writing a book most readers would find it over-tedious if I went into much further depth on these things than I have done in the last couple of posts.  The substance of what I am building to may well be important enough to merit a book, in which case I will fill these topics out more thoroughly therein (I’ve also found if you speak too long on the New vs Old covenant many pre-suppose you are anti-Semetic))

BUT Jesus was ALSO the fulfillment of the TEMPLE WORSHIP!  We no longer need to travel to Jerusalem – or any singular place – in order to worship God; if we are born again, we have permanent access to God through Jesus Christ wherever we are!

Heb 9:1 & 8-12
Then verily the first covenant had [<- HAD: PAST TENSE] also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, WHILE AS THE FIRST TABERNACLE WAS YET STANDING [<- PAST TENSE]:

9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

10 WHICH STOOD ONLY IN MEATS AND DRINKS, AND DIVERS WASHINGS, AND CARNAL ORDINANCES, IMPOSED ON THEM UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION [<- the coming of Jesus Christ].

11 BUT CHRIST BEING COME an high priest of good things to come, BY A GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Under the New Covenant, the scripture declares that there is a GREATER, and MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE (or temple).  Jesus Christ was the fulfillment ALSO of the ‘tabernacle,’ or temple, itself:

John 2:18-22
18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

Jesus referred to Himself as the temple of God.  In context (and hermeneutically) He was speaking plainly of the temple of God.  This was not an amorphous saying where the word ‘temple’ – as Jesus used it here – could have been construed as anything other than the temple OF GOD.

Indeed, Jesus WAS the very temple of God, for He is the ‘fullness of the Godhead bodily’ (Col 2:9), and the ‘express image of His person.’  (Heb 1:3)

Even the Old Testament ministers, and prophets knew that God was too great to dwell in a building made with hands, for upon constructing the earthly temple even Solomon declared:

1 Kings 8:27
27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

Like the covenant, the law, and the priesthood, the temple itself is also fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Furthermore each one of us, who is born again becomes the temple of God – for God comes to dwell in us.

1 Cor 3:16
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1 Cor 6:19
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

2 Cor 6:16-18
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Wherefore Jesus could plainly declare that men need not to go to Jerusalem, or anyplace else to worship the Father – for in receiving Messiah every Christian becomes the temple of God.

Further, the body of Christ – as a whole – is the temple of God in the earth.  For those who are not yet saved, the church universal is the temple.  This is not a PLACE they go in order to experience God, but a people they interact with: Christians.

Eph 2:18-22
18 For through him we both [Jews and Gentiles] have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

22 In whom YE ALSO ARE BUILDED TOGETHER FOR AN HABITATION OF GOD THROUGH THE SPIRIT.

Jesus Christ is the demonstrative human temple.  He is the chief cornerstone.

1 Peter 2:4-10
4 To whom [Jesus] coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Covenant, the Law, the priesthood, and the temple of God.  This is the blessed hope of the gentiles, and the stone of stumbling to the Jews.  This is a great stone of stumbling because Jesus Christ disannuls the entirety of Jewish culture as the appropriate response to God – but, of course, He was not singling the Jews out with this, adherence to NO culture is the appropriate response to God.  Only adherence to Jesus Christ, the Messiah is the appropriate response to God.

Now let us keep place in our minds, that does not mean that Jewish culture is bad – it was initially set in place by God.  Yet everything in the culture was prophesying of the coming Messiah.  One who has lived by the culture who rejects the Messiah’s fulfillment of it has been blinded to what that culture means, and his religion is worthless.  One who has lived under the culture, and RECEIVES the Messiah of whom it prophesied need no longer live under it, but keep step with the current covenant with God.

Where is the Kingdom? …Where is the Antichrist?

Luke 17:20-21
20 And when [Jesus] was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Above, Jesus plainly declares that the kingdom of God will not come with observation.  It will not be found in this place, or that place – but in the people of God: those who have made covenant with Jesus Christ.

(Now I begin to scratch the surface of the revelation I’ve had about the end-days:)

Under the New Covenant, the TEMPLE is NOT A BUILDING – the TEMPLE is the BODY of JESUS CHRIST, the Messiah.

If the temple continued to be a building – OR were once again a buildingthen the covenant of the body of Jesus Christ would pass away and salvation through Jesus would be void.  Everyone who wanted to serve God would have to, again, go to a geographic location to worship God – we would no longer have access to God wherever we are through Jesus Christ.  If the temple were a building, then worshiping God (under the BETTER covenant with BETTER promises) in Spirit, and in Truth would pass away.

The writer of Hebrews plainly declared that the worship of God in a building was based upon the OLD COVENANT, and was imposed only in CARNAL ORDINANCES (Heb 9:10) – NOT in Spirit, and in Truth.

So, I begin my warning: ‘Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there!

There will not again come a time – according to Jesus – when the Kingdom of heaven abides in some place that it can tangibly be said: ‘here it is,’ or ‘there it is.’  (Here’s the first major bombshell:) The Kingdom does not come with observation – it will not be found in the Vatican city; it will not be found in Salt Lake City, Utah; it will not be found in Mecca, Lhasa, or Varanasi; IT WILL NOT BE FOUND IN JERUSALEM.

Do not be deceived about constructing an earthly tabernacle – A TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM.  That, friend, would be a displacement of the body of Jesus Christ – that would be falling BACK into the rudiments of the CARNAL COMMANDMENTS (Heb 9:10).  In fact, it would be OUTRIGHT BLASPHEMY because it denies the person, work, ministry, and covenant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To build a new earthly temple and presume to meet God in it (limiting Him) under the New Covenant era would be an abomination as the tower of Babel was an abomination.

But wait – 95% of my evangelical readers are now in a bind: ‘Doesn’t there have to be a temple built in Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecies of scripture regarding the latter days?  Doesn’t the Antichrist have to stand in the ‘Holy place,’ and declare that he is God?’

First I will say: No, I don’t believe so.  I believe that the fulfillment of those texts regard the SPIRITUAL temple under the New Covenant – which is a far more terrifying thought than that a building becomes inhabited by the devil!

But, before I get ahead of the revelation in answering that question fully – let me say this: I do believe that a new temple will be built in Jerusalem.  In fact at this point, I am as sure of that as I am sure that there will be a singular human Antichrist figure, but let me say this of the construction of an earthly temple in Jerusalem:

GOD WILL NOT BE IN IT.  BEFORE, DURING, OR AFTER.

To construct a temple – a building of brick and mortar now that Messiah is come, and declare that God is in it (oh dear, I may be revealing more than I intended in this post) IS BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.  To attribute the anointing to a person (or place) where the Messiah’s ministry, work, and covenant has been rejected is the definition of ‘antichrist’:

1 John 2:22
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

1 John 4:3
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Any representation of God, which denies the Messiah has fulfilled all things is antichrist.

WHO is the Israel of God? Pt 2. ‘First Glimpse into the New Covenant Era’

WHO is the Israel of God? Pt 2. ‘First Glimpse into the New Covenant Era’

Heb 2:1-4
1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

4 God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Please ensure that you have read the previous post before continuing.  In said post I discussed WHO is the Israel of God.  We found from three authoritative New Testament Witnesses (John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, Apostle Paul) the message that the children of God are not specifically the children of Abraham, but rather, those who receive the Messiah of the Jews: Jesus Christ.

(I made the joke to my wife that I was writing this series because I felt I have too many friends – believe me, I understand what I am saying is unpopular (particularly among Christians in this hour.)  But I have had a revelation regarding pertinent latter-day issues, and am laying ground-work in order to share that revelation… ‘And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me.’  (Luke 7:23))

This Truth opens salvation to all men; previously – that is, under the Old Testament witness – SALVATION HAD BEEN LIMITED TO THE HEBREW NATION, AND THOSE WHO FULLY COMMITTED THEIR LIVES TO OBEY THE CUSTOMS, AND LIVE BY THE CULTURE OF THE POLITICAL NATION OF ISRAEL.

Quite literally, under the old covenant (the relationship of man with God during the time of the ‘Old Testament’), in order for a Gentile to be considered a part of the nation of Israel – i.e. in order for them to be ‘saved,’ they had to follow all the rules and customs of Jewish custom.  Every male would first have to be circumcised, as the Hebrew males were, and the family of any Gentile desiring salvation would have to fully submit to the law of Moses (the LAW of God), AND the priesthood of Levi (for the remission of their sins).  For ease of discussion, I will put these into a comprehensive list that we can refer back to:

  1. Covenant of circumcision (the foreskin (an unnecessary layer of skin surrounding the penis) would be trimmed away from the body – sorry for the graphic description, but it is essential that we understand the ‘type’ of the custom so we will be able to fathom its meaning
  2. The Law of Moses (the rules for living holy, and sanctified life before God)
  3. The Levitical Priesthood (The members of the Jewish tribe of Levi were the official intercessors between God, and man, they were to teach the people, atone for their sins, and complete the temple service.)

The thought that a Gentile should have to submit to these in order to receive salvation under the Old Covenant should not be offensive to us because the Jewish culture – in that original form – was set in place, and regulated by God.

Here was the trouble to the Hebrew nation, however: when Jesus, the Messiah of God came, He fulfilled all things pertaining to the Law and the Prophets in Spirit, and in Truth (Matt 5:17).  The covenant of circumcision, the law of Moses, and the priesthood were all fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ – the Messiah of the Jews.

Now, it is important to note what the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets means.  Believe it, or not, Jesus never fully explained what it meant to His disciples while He was in the earth.  Even the Apostles had to slowly discover the meaning of the fulfillment of the covenant, the law, and the priesthood as the church was formed over time in the book of Acts.  Recall Jesus before Jesus was crucified, He said this to His disciples:

John 16:12-13
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The education of the disciples was not over at the ascension of Christ, but when the Holy Spirit would come – HE would guide them into ALL TRUTH; yes, even the Truth that they could not yet bear.  This is one of the reasons why the book of Acts is so pertinent – it is not only a record of the dealings of God with the early church, not only the chief example of how the church ought to live; it is also the continued education, and discipleship of the Apostles, which began in the Gospels.

One of the things that the church needed to be educated on by the Holy Spirit – one of those things that they could not yet bear to learn before the death and resurrection of Christ was God’s acceptance of the Gentiles irrespective of their following the customs and culture of the Jewish nation.

God had to show Peter in a vision (actually three visions) that the dietary restrictions (for example) of the Jews were no longer to be strictly adhered to (Acts 10:9-16).  This should not have been altogether a shock to Peter, because Jesus Christ, Himself had already said so – and specifically emphasized this point to Peter.  Not sure?  I’ll quote it:

Mark 7:14-19
14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'”

17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? 19 For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”) (NIV)

In Matthew’s rendering of this same story (Matt 15:15-20) we see that it was, specifically Peter who asked Jesus to explain what He meant.  The funny thing, too, is that this thing Jesus said that they wanted Him to explain was not actually a parable!  In asking what it meant, Peter believed it was a parable (Matt 15:15 & Mark 7:14) because the concept was so far outside the scope of his cultural understanding of God’s Word!

Jesus had plainly said that nothing a person consumes makes him unclean.  When asked to explain the ‘parable’ He virtually says, word-for-word the same thing.

So, here Peter was told by Jesus Christ in the flesh that no food is unclean, but he didn’t believe it!  He was so inundated with Jewish culture – specific dietary laws set forth by Moses – that even when Jesus plainly declared a Truth, his eyes were holden to it!  Now, several years later, Jesus had to tell Peter the same thing THREE TIMES in a vision in order for him to be willing to travel, and eat with Gentiles!  Now, it was essential that Peter, finally learn this lesson just at this moment, because Jesus had also commanded:

Luke 10:8
And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:

This was a command specifically pertaining to evangelism.  How could Jews go into gentile cities, and spread the message of Jesus Christ if all there was to eat was pork?!  They would quickly starve!  In fact – it may be that this was the very command of Jesus which precluded the early Jewish Christians from going among the gentiles.  How can you go an bear witness among a people if simply being among those people is contrary to the law of the God you are witnessing of?!  It cannot be done – not without a lot more resources than the early poor, and persecuted Christians had!

Bear this in mind, however: under the Old Covenant, Peter was right not to eat unclean food – Peter was right to refuse to have anything to do with gentiles.  They did not submit to the covenant of God, the commands of God, or the priesthood of God – they were unclean people!  You and I (if you be a gentile) were unclean people.  We were lost in darkness, and had never a hope of salvation.  You and I, would be on our way to hell without knowledge of the Son of God.

Yet even still, Peter could not fully believe that God’s New Covenant with man extended to all people regardless of whether had been privy to the Covenant of Abraham, the law of Moses, and the Levitical priesthood (Jewish culture), until the Holy Spirit was given in power to uncircumcised gentiles who were (also) un-initiated into Jewish custom, and culture!

Acts 10:44-45
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 AND THEY OF THE CIRCUMCISION which believed WERE ASTONISHED, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This full story of Peter’s vision, and preaching to the uncircumcised (those outside of the Old Covenant – the covenant God made with Abraham) gentiles can be found in Acts 10.  In fact, this story is so important to the early church that it is not ONLY found in Acts 10, the story is retold TWICE in the book of acts, thus it is declared a total of THREE TIMES in the book (Acts 10; Acts 11:5-17; and Acts 15:7-11).

Now – you’ve got to bear in mind that this single testimony from the life of Peter (which was important enough to be told three times in the book of Acts) was a HUGE perspective shift to the Jewish Christians.  God’s acceptance of the Gentiles broke ALL THREE UNBREAKABLE (to the Jew) STATUTES FOR LIVING!

  1. It broke with the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision – for the uncircumcised were accepted by God, and given the fullness of the Holy Spirit
  2. It broke with the law of Moses – for the gentiles neither knew, nor practiced the Jewish law, and yet were accepted by God, and given the fullness of the Holy Spirit
  3. It broke with the Levitical priesthood – for the gentiles entered not into the temple, submitted to no priest, nor did offer sacrifice to atone for their sins, AND YET WERE ACCEPTED BY GOD, AND GIVEN THE FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

In fact, the only way that these gentiles could be said to have submitted to the Jewish culture was that they honored the One True God in spirit, and in Truth (Acts 10:2)!

In what way did they submit to the God of Israel?  In one way only: they received the message of Jesus Christ – the Jew’s Messiah.

Jesus was the fulfillment of the law, and the prophets.  All we receive the fullness of God not through works of the law, not through the old covenant, but through faith in the Son of God.

WHO is the Israel of God? ‘Seed of Abraham’

WHO is the Israel of God? ‘Seed of Abraham’

I’ve had a particular thing revealed to me, which I believe is very pertinent for the church in our day.  The revelation pertains to end day events, and I believe it is essential to take heed to it.  Now, please don’t take me too odd here – honestly end day events are things that I have never tried to look too deeply into, nor to minister, or speak on – partly for the same reason I try not to be too political.

I feel that, generally, there is a great deal of interest in end-time events in the church, and that many ministers spend over much time emphasizing things that often amount to no more than speculative theology.  Wrong theology of end time events is terribly destructive.  If something does not hold True from the beginning, it will not be found True in the end. I.e. there should be plain, evident teaching of it throughout the scripture, it will not just be a singularly placed, stand-alone revelation.  For God is God who ‘declares the end from the beginning.’ (Is 46:10)  Remember that in questions relating to the end days – if an interpretation of something does not line up with the rest of the Word, it is out of place.  It will be found an untrue interpretation.

Further, the scriptures can only be interpreted through the revelation of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:14-16), how much more with the visionary elements of the prophets! (I mean, wheels and eyes, multiple headed beasts that look like leopards, bears and lions, horns sticking up everywhere, etc. …)

I have resisted any desire to emphasize latter-day things, though in my resistance to it, I often find that the Lord reveals certain things to me concerning that topic unsolicited (Ex: Elijah 1, 23 & 4) – to which I say: ‘His will be done.’

I look forward to sharing that revelation with whosoever will listen; as I search, and cultivate the Word I find it more and more conclusive from scripture, and more and more collaborated in reality.

Before I get to the revelation I speak of, I will need to lay some ground-work of thought, and so I have chosen to spend a little time answering the titled question.  Do bear with me, as this will all lead in to the thing that I believe the Lord has revealed to me.  These things may not seem to correspond any way with latter-day events, but again:

Isa 46:9-10
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

 

WHO is the Israel of God?

There are just about as many perspectives in the church on this question as there are noses.  In our day one standard and commonly accepted perspective among Christians is that the genetic descendants of Abraham – the Jews – are the Lord’s chosen people: the Israel of God.  Christians are accepted under the covenant of Jesus Christ, yet Jews are elect of God and will one day return as a nation and accept their Messiah.  The belief is that we are in quote: ‘The age of the Gentiles.’

This belief comes centrally from Romans 9-11; the core verse is:

Rom 11:25
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that BLINDNESS IN PART IS HAPPENED TO ISRAEL, UNTIL THE FULNESS OF THE GENTILES BE COME IN.

A natural assumption that follows this belief is that in the end days, the Jews will, again, become God’s chosen people, and that the geographic, and political nation of Israel will be re-established.  The temple will be rebuilt, and Israel will once again offer sacrifices in the physical temple.  Continuing this thought, the stage would, then be set for Antichrist to arrive, and shew himself to be God in the temple.

I think this is all pretty standard fair, which most evangelicals believe.  I am now going to bring some of these conclusions into question.  Bear in mind, I agree whole-heartedly with everything that Paul said in Romans 9-11, what I am bringing into question is some of our interpretation, and conclusions regarding what he said there – not the text itself.

So, I come back to the question: ‘Who is the Israel of God?’

And here I will begin as early as possible in the context of the New Testament revelation, and try to flush out the question so that we have a solid scriptural foundation to work from.

Let’s start with the initial inception of the concept of Christianity in the days of Jesus, with a man named John the Baptist.  John was the first actual teacher of the New Covenant, he prophesied the coming Christ, and his ministry was for the purpose of preparing our hearts to receive Jesus.  His central message was of repentance – those who repented of their sins, and believed in Christ would be accepted before God.  This message was intolerable to the priesthood because they trusted in their genealogical heritage for salvation.

Contrary to the popular view of his day, John declared that physical descent from Abraham had no bearing on salvation.  Here’s what he said:

Matt 3:7-12
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Whoa!  Intense!  Yeah, we could call John the original hell-fire, and brimstone preacher.

Here John makes a couple of very interesting statements, however.  First – he is speaking to whom?  ‘Many of the Pharisees, and Sadducees’ – that is: the official members of the Jewish religious council known as the ‘Sanhedrin’ (put a pin in this thought, because later we’ll visit some very clear and definitive prophecies that Jesus declared to the same group (the Sanhedrin) in another post… well we’ll look at some things Jesus said to the Sanhedrin in this post as well, but a certain other vital teaching in a later post.).

So John, speaking officially to the Sanhedrin (in fact a conversation is recorded in the book of John, where the Sanhedrin sent an official delegation to John in order to determine who he was (that conversation with the official Sanhedrin delegates is recorded in John 1:19-27), declares in no uncertain terms that physical descent from Abraham is of no value in the New Covenant but only those who bring forth fruit meet for repentance, and receive the Messiah will be accepted.

In fact, by his statement, John makes descent from Abraham of no value at all: ‘…God is able of these STONES to raise up children to Abraham.

How offensive!  The prophet is actually speaking of the hard-hearted; those who were not the people of God [the Gentiles], as we will see as we continue – not literal stones.  Surely to leaders of a religious counsel who believed their own salvation was sure based on their genealogical descent, this was the very height of insult.

He followed this with a strict prophetic declaration:

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Those of the sons of Abraham – he says – will be cut down, and: ‘Cast into the fire.’  A plain allusion to the lake of fire.  Not only does he warn the Sanhedrin counselors that their genealogy is of no value, but that although they have trusted their heritage, they are in danger of being cast into the lake of fire!

He goes on to declare the imminent coming Messiah:

Matt 3:11-12
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

The clear implication being: you have to obey my ministry and repent – you will, further, have to submit to the full cleansing power of the Messiah’s ministry, if you want to be included in salvation.  Those who do not receive the ministry of Messiah – including children of Abraham – John calls chaff, and says they will burn in the lake of fire.

Ah, but maybe this was a hyperbole for effect?  John is a pretty intense, and uncompromising dude… obviously.  Perhaps he was just rigorously pontificating, and got a little carried away.  Let’s see what Jesus had to say about the Jew’s acceptance before God based upon their descent from Abraham.

First the context of this conversation: it takes place entirely inside the Jewish temple (John 8:2).  The scribes, and Pharisees (again, the Sanhedrin) bring to Jesus a woman who was caught in adultery.  This, also, is an official correspondence with the Sanhedrin.  In this case, the Sanhedrin was acting in its official capacity of religious rule – they were in judgment of a woman caught in adultery.  Most know this story – ‘who is without sin let him cast the first stone.’  Then one by one her ACCUSERS left (not the Sanhedrin – remember this is in the temple – her ACCUSERS left; these were probably community members, family, etc.), until she was left standing alone before Jesus, and the Sanhedrin with no one remaining to accuse her.  Then Jesus declared that He would neither condemn her, ‘…go and sin no more.’  (John 8:11)

After this Jesus began speaking to the Sanhedrin.  In context:

John 8:10-12
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those THINE ACCUSERS? hath no man condemned thee?

11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

12 Then spake Jesus again unto them [the Sanhedrin counselors, still standing by], saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

13 THE PHARISEES therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

The first thing Jesus says to the Sanhedrin – that is the Jewish religious leaders – is that in order to walk in the light of salvation they needed to follow Him (His teaching, His way of life, etc.).  The Jews understand what He is saying, and immediately begin to deny it.

That is the context of this conversation – Jesus is speaking officially to the Sanhedrin.  Reading John 8 you’ll notice that in retelling this episode in full, John refers to the people Jesus is conversing with as quote: ‘the Jews’ (v. 27, 48, 52) as though He is speaking to ALL Jewish people.  Guess what?  He is.  (Remember this is another official conversation between Jesus and the Sanhedrin – the ruling council of the Jewish nation.  A distinction is even made in the narration between the general council of the Jews, and the ‘Jews which believed on Him.’ (v. 31))

Now the context is laid, we will pick up in verse 32.

John 8:32-33  Jesus says:
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

Now this is the beginning of an interesting conversation about being descended from Abraham.  Jesus makes the declaration: ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

First I will point out that here Jesus’ declaration indirectly states that genealogy makes no difference to salvation, but that knowing the TRUTH is what makes one free.  The Sanhedrin counselors are not stupid, they understand that the premise of the statement infers that they are in bondage, and need to be liberated.  The Jews respond with their self-assured theology of their eternal salvation based upon the fact that they are descendants of Abraham.

In v.34 & 35 Jesus defines what He means: that even the Jews are in bondage to sin, and must be liberated only by the Son of God.  The rest of this thought is rather interesting:

John 8:36-40
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

37 I KNOW THAT YE ARE ABRAHAM’S SEED [Jesus gives recognition to the fact of the Jew’s genealogy]; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, IF YE WERE ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN, YE WOULD DO THE WORKS OF ABRAHAM.  [Above Jesus acknowledged they are the children of Abraham – here He DENIES that they are the children of Abraham.  The thought: if they are really Abraham’s seed, they would be so in spirit, not merely according to the flesh.]

40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.

Abraham loved the Messiah, but THESE Jews, though they were physically Abraham’s descendants, rejected the Messiah!  So Jesus plainly declares (my paraphrase of v 39) ‘You are not REALLY Abraham’s children, or you would love me.’

Okay, now not to beat a dead horse, but we started with Paul.  How does this descent from Abraham line up with the Pauline revelation in the book of Romans?  Interestingly enough, Paul speaks specifically of Abraham, and God’s covenant with him and his seed in Romans chapter 4.

Well, since I have already taken a lot of time with the teachings of John, and Jesus, I will jump directly to the central essence of Paul’s message:

Rom 4:12-13
12 [Abraham,] the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, BUT WHO ALSO WALK IN THE STEPS OF THAT FAITH OF OUR FATHER ABRAHAM, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

13 FOR THE PROMISE, THAT HE SHOULD BE THE HEIR OF THE WORLD, WAS NOT TO ABRAHAM, OR TO HIS SEED, THROUGH THE LAW, BUT THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH

Then in Romans 9, Paul gives a further declaration, as he speaks of the genetic Jew’s place in the New Covenant:

Rom 9:6-8
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. FOR THEY ARE NOT ALL ISRAEL, WHICH ARE OF ISRAEL:

7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

8 That is, THEY WHICH ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE FLESH, THESE ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD: BUT THE CHILDREN OF THE PROMISE ARE COUNTED FOR THE SEED.

And the final passage from Paul’s Romans that I will quote declares two things plainly 1) that the natural seed makes no difference, and 2) that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation:

Rom 10:9-13
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE JEW AND THE GREEK: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.

Okay, so according to Paul, Abraham’s seed are not those of his genetic lineage, but to those who walk in faith – specifically those who believe in, and call upon the Jew’s Messiah.  He declares plainly that being Abraham’s seed does not have anything to do with genealogical lineage.  ‘Abraham’s seed’ means those who have been adopted into the faith of Abraham – those who receive the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Rough conclusion of the New Testament revelation on Abraham’s descendants:

  1. John Baptist: Genealogical descent does not matter; REPENTANCE (we could call this ‘circumcision of the heart’ (Jer 4:4)), and RECEIVING THE MESSIAH matters
  2. Jesus Christ: Genealogical descent does not matter; RECEIVING THE MESSIAH matters
  3. Paul: Genealogical descent does not matter; FAITH IN GOD VIA RECEIVING THE MESSIAH matters

Who is the Israel of God?

Is it those who, in outward form, are Jews?  I will let the scripture answer these questions:

Rom 2:28-29
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

29 BUT HE IS A JEW, WHICH IS ONE INWARDLY; AND CIRCUMCISION IS THAT OF THE HEART, IN THE SPIRIT, AND NOT IN THE LETTER; WHOSE PRAISE IS NOT OF MEN, BUT OF GOD.

The Israel of God are those who receive Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  According to Paul (and other prophecies) I believe that there were, are, and will be a remnant of genealogical Jews who receive the Messiah, (Rom 11:25-27) but all are accepted on account of faith in Jesus Christ, not heritage or native custom.

Follow the Way of Love (or ‘Love and Spiritual Gifts’)

1 Cor 13:1-3
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  (NKJV)

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes nine supernatural gifts of the Spirit.  In the following chapter, Paul seems to interrupt himself, and speak about love for several verses before continuing his discussion on the technical usage of spiritual gifts.

Often it is easy for us to take 1 Corinthians 13 – the ‘love chapter’ out of its contextual fixture (the discussion of spiritual gifts), and attribute to it some secondary perspective.  How often this passage is read at weddings, and to commend the order of love in situations of tension, or friction between people.

Now, let me point out that those are [generally] not misuses of the passage in question, as it is about love, which is applicable everywhere, all the time.  It is the primary basis for the Christian faith, and it is [almost] ALWAYS appropriate – even as the passage, itself, says: ‘love never fails,‘ (13:8) and ‘And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love‘ (13:13)

Yet, let us not fail to consider this – the well known ‘love chapter’ would never have been written had Paul not given his exposition on spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12-14).  It was not written in the context of his teaching to married couples, it was not written in the context of teaching on church government, it was not even written in the context of accepting the gentiles (the issues of racism, and religious law).  You see, love is applicable in all of these situations (and in many more); Paul discussed all of these issues in his letters (and many more), and yet nowhere else does he go on a chapter long tangent about the merits of love.  Is that interesting?  Have you ever considered that?

This love chapter seems so tainted by its setting to those who deny spiritual gifts, that it must be (by them) used to deny the spiritual gifts.  But isn’t it interesting that this great central teaching on love was written ONLY in the context of the usage of spiritual gifts?  though this chapter is the very heart and vitals of the teaching Paul wrote us about the gifts!

I think it is worth our time to examine the question: ‘Why is the ‘love chapter’ written in this context?’

Let’s look at the verse following the love chapter.

1 Cor 14:1
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
(NIV)

Follow the way of love.  Love is the crucial essence of operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Remember that God is love (1 John 4:8 & 16).  The Holy Spirit gives us gifts of love.

Operating in spiritual gifts is MINISTRY.  They are for the purpose of… what?  Let’s consult Paul, lest I simply make up a reason:

1 Cor 12:7
But the manifestation of the Spirit [in this case, specifically the ‘gifts’ of the Spirit] is given to every man to profit withal.

The gifts of the Spirit are given in order to profit EVERYONE.  They are not given for the benefit of aggrandizement.  They are not given so I can show off how spiritual I am by given words of knowledge to everyone in the church service.  They are given for real, practical benefit.

Have you ever known someone who was sick (or been sick yourself)?  Would it be nice if we knew someone who had gifts of healing?  God cares about the sick!  He LOVES them – that’s why there are gifts of healing!

Every gift of the Spirit is given for the purpose of profiting EVERYONE.  Do you have a spiritual gift?  Follow the way of love.

This directive is the basis for lawfully operating in the gifts.  What else is the point of these things?  Do you want to get anointed and sport a red-hot prophecy that will shoot you to the cover of Charisma magazine, or something?  Do you want to work powerfully, and get recognized in your church?  Not operating in love.

(I may also warn you, for those striving for more of God in this way: it has been my experience (and it is the plain teaching of scripture) that when someone begins operating in real supernatural gifting is when they start really having difficulties, persecutions, and resistance.  Operating in the anointing will necessitate that you take up your cross.  You may find yourself attacked and rejected by even the most spiritual people you know.  Its not really as pie-in the sky as it seems for people who operate in these things for real – pray for those bold enough to operate in spiritual gifts – and love them.  Believe me, they need it.)

Follow the way of love.  Read through the Gospels sometime, and pay attention to how many times Jesus did something for the people because He was: ‘moved with compassion’ for them.  Jesus’ ministry worked on the basis of love.  He healed the multitudes because He loved them.  He taught the ignorant because He loved them.  He spoke directly to the hearts of people, revealing their sins because He loved them.  None of that was to show off how spiritual He was.  I have no doubt if that was His intention, He’d have done lots more!

One day He will return, and we will see the full manifestation of His power in the fierceness of wrath.  You’ll be impressed then, I guarantee it.  Yet even that is for what?  Love!  He will come and deliver His beloved children from the oppression of wicked men, and the empire of Satan – like a father who breaks down the door wielding a baseball bat to save his daughter from an abusive boyfriend.  Its not because of hate for the fiend that’s hurting his daughter, but because his love has so overtaken him that he will not stand one more moment and allow harm to come to the one He loves!

All ministry – whether it appears gentle, or strong – must be out of the compulsion of love.

Consider the often quoted story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-36.  A man is mugged, beaten and left for dead on the side of the road.  Two MINISTERS pass on by (a priest, and a levite).  These are, surely, busy about their liturgical duties.  In the context of Jewish law, it makes sense that they would not want to stop.  If they touch a dead body, they will be unclean and will have to set aside time become purified again before they can minister.  It would be a great inconvenience for them, and interfere with their ability to minister… but here is the error: WHAT IS THEIR MINISTRY IN THE FIRST PLACE?!  How much good are they doing, if they refuse to help a dying man?  Their ministry is not compelled by love, but by ritual!

So Paul inserted the love chapter as the spine, squarely between the two shoulder blades of the technical aspects of ministering in spiritual gifts.

Here is the central element of the story of the good Samaritan:

Luke 10:33
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

Two men had passed before, two spiritual men who had understanding in all the technical aspects of deep spiritual ministry.  Maybe they prophesied.  Maybe they had a big important spiritual ministry.  They had no love for a poor desperate man by the side of the road.

But the Samaritan… now he was busy too, wasn’t he?  It says he was on a journey.  He was trying to get somewhere.  We don’t know where, its not important.  The point is he was busy, perhaps more busy than the two ministers who passed by, he wasn’t near home, he was out on the road.

The Samaritan saw the man and was moved with compassion.  Follow the way of love.

His compassion moved him to stop what he was doing, and help the man.  He was a better minister than the priest and the Levite, wasn’t he?  The pagan Samaritan was closer to the heart of God – who acts because of love (John 3:16)!

So it is with spiritual gifts.  Eagerly desire the greater gifts.  The more spiritual gifts you have, the more you will be able to benefit others in their situation.  Have you ever been in a situation where there seemed no hope, and you didn’t know what to do?  Would it be nice if someone who loved you was operating in the word of wisdom right about them, and could give you the Word of the Lord, and turn your situation around?  I’ve seen the word of wisdom work that way – reveal the perfect supernatural wisdom that no one else thought of, and turn the situation around entirely.  Guess what?  That’s the purpose of the gift.  Because God loves you – He wants to help you.

Try to get spiritual.  Try to learn everything you can about the supernatural workings of God.  Pray and seek to obtain more, and greater spiritual gifts.  But do all that because of love.  Do it that ye may be equipped to ‘profit everyone.’

Follow the way of love.

 

The Language of All Men

Do you see my face – have you glimpsed my form?
Do you know the love I feel for children in the storm?

Have you looked upon a tree? have you seen the stars?
Have you read the longing cry of even your own heart?

You say you do not see me, you say you’ve never heard;
I’ve spoken from the dawn of time and given you this Word.

Do you smell the flowers? have you touched the grass?
Have you ever run your hand over cool and solid brass?

Has pain, and sorrow pierced your heart for longings you don’t know?
Have you awoken in the night and found from even darkness: glow?

You say you do not know me, that you cannot see my face.
But I, my love, am everywhere, my song will ever leave its trace.

My words are not away from you, nor foreign to your ears,
I am found in children’s sounds, and in an old man’s tears.

WHO AM I?  The riddle of the ages!
WHO AM I?  Your souls are trapped in cages!

Who am I, who from dawn to evening calls?
Who am I, whom even darkness never stalls?

I AM.

Do you think you do not hear me?  Can you claim you don’t?

You have heard me from your birth, I AM the language of all men.
‘God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;’ (Heb 1:1-2)

The Primary Essentials of the Gospel

Those of you who have been following my blog recently are aware that I have been talking about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  I’ve got a whole lot more to say on the subject, but before I go on I’d like to ratchet back for a moment and talk about the primary essentials of the Christian Gospel.

Image result for bear necessities meme

(There’s my quirky humor for the post)

Usually if I spend much time talking about anything with more heavily spiritual implications, people of the Western mindset and worldview have the feeling that I am going off on some non-essential tangent from the plain, simple Gospel of Christ.

I’ve found myself frequently looking down the barrel of this argument, which says: ‘We want to make it easy for people to come to Christ, so we don’t want to scare them with too much overt spirituality.’  Usually its not stated quite so plainly, but that is the heart of what is meant.

This always leads me to wondering this question: ‘Okay… but when do we introduce people to the LIVING Christ?’  See we can explain a creed, or liturgy pretty easily to people, but once they’ve heard it are they convinced?  If they are, don’t they want to enter into the real thing?  If they’re not, then surely we need to demonstrate it as well as declare it.  Furthermore, if what people accept in our evangelism is merely our perspective, and they are not introduced to the real, living Jesus of the bible… are they really saved?

I’m going to make the case that the best way to win souls to Christ is demonstratively – Jesus declared that we are the ‘light of the world,’ and that a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and sets it under a basket!  (This is from Matt 5:14-16)

Just what did Jesus mean by that?  Did He mean that we are to use our natural talents, and abilities in order to make ourselves known? (<- This is how I [almost always] hear it taught.)  NO!  He’s not speaking of natural talents and abilities at all – He’s speaking of the anointing of God.  This is clarified in parable form in the previous verse:

Matt 5:13
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

If He were speaking of natural abilities, it is not as though you will lose them!  But if He is speaking of godliness (the anointing) – you CAN lose your zeal, your zest for God, your sense of His presence.  Then what are you good for?

Being the light of the world means that we are supposed to be the most spiritual, godly people on the planet.  Do you know God?  That will be evident by the light of His presence upon you.  What if that presence of God makes people uncomfortable?  Should we quench it?  GOD FORBID!! (1 Thess. 5:19) For if the salt loses his flavor… how shall it be salted again?

If you reject the anointing of God upon you for the fear of man (which is what this seeker-friendly thought comes down to), how can God entrust you with His presence again?  God forbid that we would crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame (Heb 6:6)!

The goal in our lives is godliness, is spirituality (1 Cor 2:14-16).  Will it make people uncomfortable if we become highly spiritual?  You bet it will!  But don’t worry… it will make YOU uncomfortable first, so you’ll be able to sympathize🙂

Remember this: the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter, but He is not primarily interested in our comfort.  No, indeed, in fact our comfort is an enemy of the Spirit of God.  The desire for comfort is a desire of the flesh (and of the soul that wants to be in control), and ‘the flesh lusteth AGAINST the Spirit, and the Spirit AGAINST the flesh…’ (Gal. 5:17).

The Holy Spirit is not primarily interested in our comfort, He is primarily interested in EXALTING JESUS CHRIST(John 15:26)

RIGHT BIBLICAL SPIRITUALITY equates to RIGHT BIBLICAL MATURITY.  So, then, what is that right biblical spirituality?  What are the essentials of the Gospel, which make one appropriately spiritual?

The writer of Hebrews lays out plainly the first six principal doctrines of Christianity – the ‘Primary Essentials of the Gospel,’ if you will.  In context he is rebuking the church for not having these thoroughly in place already, but you will find as you look at them that these basic biblical teachings are some of the very teachings that the church in our day equates to non-essentials!

Heb 6:1-2
1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

I won’t really tackle all of these, but I have heard Christian ‘ministers’ declare that repentance is not necessary for salvation, only faith in Jesus.  This mindset is, firstly, a misunderstanding of WHAT repentance, and faith ARE, but secondarily is a denunciation of the first principal doctrine of Christianity!  From this flawed ideology that repentance is not necessary the church has birthed such abominations as acting homosexuals who believe they are saved because they have accepted that Jesus is Lord – is that not an horrible tragedy?  When they are cast into hell at the judgment because someone taught them that they need not repent of their sin, is it not then also the teacher’s fault?  Did we teach them that so that they would join our church and be comfortable?  God will hold that teacher accountable, rest assured of it.  (This is not the only misconception that deleting the doctrine of repentance has led to, (or will) but it is a readily available example in our culture.)  Is it a ‘non-essential’ doctrine?

I’ll not go on that tangent further, but let us appropriately heed each one of these topics, study them and be well grounded in each.  These are the primary essentials of Christian faith.

Notice that the first doctrine mentioned in verse 2 is ‘baptismS‘ plural.  The doctrine of baptisms is plural because this passage speaks of 1) the water baptism, and 2) the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

When we speak on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, it is one of the six principal doctrines of Christianity.

1 Cor 2:12-16
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Would that All God’s People Were Prophets

Would that All God’s People Were Prophets

Num 11:27-29
27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.

28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

Moses here declares that he wished all of God’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them all.  In fact this is not merely some sort of spiritual daydream but a prophecy, for Moses declared not only his own desire for God’s people, but the desire of God, Himself!

I mentioned this passage just briefly in my last post ‘Ere the Lamp of the Lord Go Out,’ which post was also about the Spirit of Prophecy.  I declared that Moses’ prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost.  Now I know that this thought is a bit of a stretch for most, but let’s explore just what this thought means.

First, let’s look at this story of Moses in the book of Numbers, then we can consider the later New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.

The story of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the book of numbers, wherein men were prophesying in the camp, actually started when the people of God became too great a burden for Moses, and he petitioned God to help bear the load of the people.  As the Prophet of God in the earth, God had entrusted Moses with leading, and directing the whole nation – because His Spirit was upon Moses to do so.

The people were not satisfied with the provision that the Lord had made for them, and they complained, and cried out AGAINST the Lord, who was caring for them through the ministry of Moses.  They had literally just been punished for contending with the Lord in this matter, yet they quickly forgot the correction, and were complaining, and crying out again (Num 11:1-10).

Under the stress and pressure of being held responsible for the whole nation, Moses called out to God:

Num 11:10-15
10 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.

11 And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?

12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?

13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.

14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

Moses feels so overwhelmed with the burden of the people that he says he would rather die than to continue caring for them on his own.

God graciously responds – He has a plan to help Moses carry the burden of the people:

Num 11:16-17
16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.

17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

God’s plan is to take of Moses’ anointing, and IMPART that same anointing upon 70 elders of the people of Israel.  In this way, the 70 would be equipped as prophets to the people, as Moses was in order that the people may be cared for, and ministered to more effectively.  (There is great depth of meaning, and of typologies here but we’ll stick to the basic overtones for the moment.)

Moses did exactly as God told him, he gathered 70 princes of the people together and the people sanctified themselves (Num. 11:18).  Now this sanctification process is crucial, because when the Spirit of God came upon someone who was impure before God, they were consumed with fire (even priests).  In terms of New Testament application this means that they repented, and were baptized (Acts 2:38).

Num 11:24-29
24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.

25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, THEY PROPHESIED, AND DID NOT CEASE.

So every one of the elders, or princes upon whom the Spirit of God came PROPHESIED, and furthermore, they: ‘DID NOT CEASE.’  Meaning (in New Testament terms) that the rest of their lives, they had the gift of prophecy (Rom. 11:29).

Yet there was something else interesting about this situation.  Two of the princes called to the tabernacle did not come, for some reason.  The scripture gives us no indication why they did not come to the meeting at the tabernacle, though as they are men of renowned integrity we can doubtless assume it was not in intentional rebellion to the command of God.  Whatever the reason, God’s grace was upon them, regardless and they too received the Holy Spirit, and prophesied:

26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.

27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.

28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

Now, these two are an excellent example for us in terms of New Testament promises, because it means that even if we were not present for the corporate move of God we, too, can receive the Holy Spirit!  ‘For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’  (Acts 2:39)

Now, there is a clear correlation between the Spirit of God coming on the princes of Israel in the time of Moses, and of prophecy, but is there a real correlation between the New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and of prophecy?  After all, Moses was an established prophet, perhaps the prophesying of the 70 had to do with the fact that their reception of the Holy Spirit was an impartation from Moses’ ministry and gifting?

On the day of Pentecost, after Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the gathered believers.  The apostle Peter declared that this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of a prophecy found in Joel chapter 2.

Here is Peter’s quote of Joel 2:

Acts 2:17-21
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Is it interesting that every gifting which would accompany the Holy Spirit is a prophetic gifting?  Prophesy, see visions, dream dreams, and finally a fourth affirmation: ‘they shall prophesy.’

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is given so that we may be witnesses unto Christ (Acts 1:8).  How appropriate, then, that the central focus of the Holy Spirit is prophecy?  As I also mentioned in my former post, the testimony of Jesus is the SPIRIT OF PROPHECY (Rev. 19:10).

1 Cor 14:39
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy…

1 Cor 14:31
For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

(For the question: ‘Didn’t prophecy pass away?’ see post: ‘The Year of the Lord’s Favor‘)