God is doing a new thing, so different from what we might have expected as American Evangelicals, that we could be caught off guard in this moment, as much as was Judaism at coming of Christ! This writing has a hard edge to it, not atypical to my writings, yet a few disclaimers may be in order.
I am proud to be American and love the freedom this country has given me; yet I no longer believe that the nation is as free as some might suppose. I might add, that I am still Christian, in that I am a follower of the Christ, the Christ who was God, virgin born, and named Jesus by Mary. Yet, I did not say that to set up some political position to criticize our current national leadership.
You see, I no longer believe that everything preached to me thus far, will hold water in the days ahead; nor that the Holy Spirit would deliver a bride to Christ as divided as the present church in America. Divided over issues that stem from our personal interpretations of scripture, even among those who profess to accept the Word as God breathed and literal.
I still believe in the virtues of capitalism, but not to the extremes of the greed and prosperity often supported by the churches of America. How can I when a majority of persons across this globe are fed a starvation diet, while even our poor are mostly obese! Something is out of sorts in this once Christian nation.
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse (Israel), which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” Is. 11:10-11
When I read this text, I hear at least three windows of time, even people groups, Jews, Gentiles and then “after a rest” which may imply the church age, the last scattered people groups are gathered from among the very nations currently in the news.
Let me share a few more things I do believe:
1-We are the temple of the Holy Ghost, all temples and necessary facilities before, were simply metaphors for the day in which we live, post-Calvary. This eliminates our need for super facilities that often glorify men more than God. The huge number of churches constructed across our land have provided an infrastructure for an industry of church, spawning institutions that in their best attempts at religion, if not guided by truly humble men, sometimes hinder the work of God in the earth today.
2-I believe I was uniquely shaped behind the sacred veil of my mother’s womb, a Holy Place, sinew upon sinew framed to look as I look, and think as I think; given a word, a voice that I must express. Some say that is why children cry out immediately upon birth?
No human tool shaped the stones of this temple, solely Christ alone. And since my birth, He has by His Spirit, brought me to this station in my life and you to yours, for such a time as this.
My life seems unfair given my point of privilege, but I am not God, neither will I second guess His favor. In fact, if I feel that my life is not favored, my God is not the Father Christ expressed Him to be. You too are highly favored and that is not arrogance but grace; His ways are above our ways, using the foolish, the lesser to confound the wise!
3- I believe that all people matter to God and it is not His will that any should perish. He died for the sins of the whole world. His goal was to redeem a remnant, as many as would come, from all highways and hedges. He is offering undeserved entry to a banquet, a celebration of life for all nations. He did not come for Jews alone, though in His sovereignty He began his redemption story with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Had he been about preserving the integrity of His name, over the salvation of His creatures, He would have been called the God of Joseph, for of the four men in the latter Genesis narrative, he most demonstrated Christ. However, God chose to identify himself with sinful men, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob….healthy men need no physician! Even the seed of Jesus is found not in Joseph but in Judah a warring and promiscuous son of Israel!
4- He has not changed His plan since the flood, his testimony of the rainbow still stands, though we now, in our arrogance know much more about prisms and refraction of light than about grace!
Let’s go back and visit Noah a moment in Gen 9:18-19, so we can round this corner:
“And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.”
You know the story, the two other brothers then backed in and covered their Dad, who later cursed the sons of Ham, the father of the Canaanites, from whom Esau would later take a wife, out of spite for his parents Isaac and Rebecca, thus sustaining the seed of Ham.
“And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Gen. 9:24-27
To understand the age that we are entering, this verse becomes critical!
God began foretelling his redemption process with chapter ten of Genesis, describing the origin of nations, first with Shem, and the children of Abraham; then with Japheth and the Gentiles; lastly with Ham, and those who occupied the regions we now know as Babylon and the Arabic nations.
Of course the Old Testament narrative moves rapidly toward a focus on the sons of Abraham, and specifically Isaac. So much so, that we may have forgotten God’s covenant with all three sons of Noah. Both Isaiah and later Jesus, spoke to a day when the gentiles would be brought back into the picture; and once they had their fill of grace, the other nations:
“again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” Is. 11:11
Prophets like Micah, spoke so accurately of Bethlehem and the preservation of Israel; so much so, that the Jews felt as if a political kingdom would one day be established. Yet, something of a shift began occurring some 400 years before Christ, the Messiah was introduced. God seemed to go silent; yet the believers of that day had become so religious that they missed that silence and also the very thing God had revealed through the rituals of the tabernacle and the teaching of the synagogues. We in Christendom may too be at that same point in our own religion of Christianity?
Some of us, who have been raised with doctrines of rapture, pre-trib, mid or post (all professing to be of the same spirit), are now fearful as we see the potential for Armageddon in our lifetime. So fearful in fact, that we too could miss a new thing happening in the earth. Not to say that all the aforementioned is wrong, but our job is not about timing or sequence but demonstration of the love of Christ to all people! Even those so confused by our lifestyles as Christians, that they act out in hate against the Church, our Middle East brothers!
Let’s look at the words of Jesus in Mark 7: 24-27:
“And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.
For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.”
Here Jesus was verbally preparing the Jews for a Kingdom shift that would soon occur, once adequate time had been given to the Jews, and sufficient ground work laid for their eventual realization of who Christ was. As pointed out in John’s reference from Zechariah, a day when a wake up call would come, as they would “look on Him whom they had pierced!”
Then in Acts 10, we read the story of Cornelius and the three gentiles, witnessing this shift, with the truth delivered not through the high Priests as was supposed, but through this newly converted radical fisherman named Peter.
God was now closing our a time of focus on Judaism, and transferring grace to the Children of Japheth, the Gentiles. The gospel would now also shift geographically from Israel to Rome and the ministry of Paul was birthed.
We may now be witnessing a similar shift of grace, and again geographically, the very fulfillment of Luke 21:20-24:
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
John 10:16, may no longer be attributable to Jews and Gentiles alone:
“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” But also, Egypt, Iran, Iraq (old Babylon) and Libya,
Has God once again heard the cry of the “lad”, Ishmael; this son of an Egyptian woman, later married to a Canaanite, the children of Ham:
Gen 21: 14-18 “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.”
Could we as American Christians, just as those steeped in early Judaism, have become so secure in our religious beliefs and sense of favor, that we miss a moment when the spirit of freedom, the Spirit of the Son grips the hearts of the children of Ham, the sons of Ishmael. Long held in tow by the religion of Islam, they are now moved toward a call for freedom? Will we hold fast to our fears rather than reaching out in love?
We best reconsider our typical first inclination, troops and war. I am appalled that some “believers” support those who would bomb first and question later for the sake of oil; hesitant to risk our present quality of life, rather than to share the love of God, even with those whom God has now sent to our own shores from all nations.
Sure, the enemy has swiftly moved to defensively to block what God is about to do, filling so many hearts with fear after 9/11! We need not see this as a threat to our nation, but rather a shift in God’s grace. Just as He has kept tiny Israel, He will make provision for us until He comes.
Just as Jesse had a son he hardly recognized, one that God would later make a King; Noah also had a son in Ham, despised by his sinful father, but heard by his Father God, yes the same God of Abraham and promised a great nation through Ishmael.
I don’t want to be crass, but we have struggled with this since we first brought Africans to our shores as slaves in the name of economics. Yet, now are we are confronted, not only with our sins against these people, but God’s grace toward those against whom we have sinned! Truth is Truth!
This is probably the place where the people in the synagogues booed Jesus, but I believe it is a word from the Lord.
The American church is in foreclosure, some literally, but the good news is, that the one repossessing is the Son of God, the near kinsman named in Rev. 5; the Lamb that was slain, who alone is worthy to reclaim the scroll, the deed…that which He rightfully owns.
We are in a transition, one that will require the church, just as it did Israel, to decide to follow God. The “church” of Jerusalem crucified the Lord, though that too was a fulfillment of sovereign love, and will be completed one day when they again look on him whom they pierced, as earlier stated by John, then all nations will be made one in Christ!
Current events are huge today, but I am not sure we fully understand our role as the Body of Christ. God is love and though a few radicals held captive by the religion of Islam push back in anger, both at radical Judaism and radical American capitalism (not worthy to be called Christianity), we cannot fail to show the love of Christ, even when it cost us much.
This present economy was brought on by our materialistic and undisciplined lifestyles and now has sovereignly set up this historical moment.
Paul in Romans 11:19-21 cautioned: “Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”
Be cautious of your judgment of the sons of Abraham. My friends tell me of scores who are now having visions of Christ, coming to him during this End of an Age, the Gentile Age, as God reaches back to the sons of Ishmael, the last of the Sons of Noah.
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
“If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways…” It’s not only about humility, our heads bowed in shame when we hear the truth, nor a prayer meeting simply to deal with the truth of our sins…but true repentance, a change in our ways!
God is doing a new thing on the earth, will all be reached, it doesn’t sound like it; will Armageddon one day be a reality, the word certainly indicates that.
Yet He has preserved Israel mightily through the pains of their rejection, surely He will keep us as well, as He reaches out a second time to Ishmael, toward that day when we shall be one in Jerusalem; and as Paul said, not an earthly, secular Jerusalem but a new Jerusalem coming down from on High!