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One of the first lessons that I learned in the early 1980’s was that God has no trouble speaking to those who believe what men may call “false doctrine.” I later expanded this to include unbelievers. God speaks to the whole world (Psalm 19:1-4). The main difficulty is in their interpretation and understanding of what they hear. In the case of genuine prophets, many of them lack understanding in specific aspects of prophecy, as, for example, many of them remain under the ancient curse of blindness as to the fate of Jerusalem (Isaiah 29:10-12).
A classic case, of course, is Balaam, whose prophecies in Numbers 23 and 24 are part of Scripture. We see this again in Daniel 2 and 4, where a Babylonian king was given revelatory dreams which formed a large part of long-term prophecy.
In the New Testament, we read in John 11:49-52,
49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Caiaphas, though he was the high priest, had no faith in Jesus but had rejected Him as the Messiah. That was the whole point of the crucifixion. He seems to have been driven by the fear that if a Messiah should appear at that time, the people would rally around Him, and this would provoke a war with the Romans. It was the common belief at the time that the Messiah would be a great general who would work miracles to fight the Romans and to elevate Judah to a position of power over the nations.
The point is that John says “he prophesied” inadvertently, though “he did not say this on his own initiative.” In other words, he did not prophesy by his own “free will,” but by the will of God. In fact, my observation is that most prophecy is inadvertent. I have heard many prophecies from people who think that they are just speaking their own words.
Furthermore, I recall going to various churches in the past—churches which did not share many of my beliefs. I made it a practice, however, to pray that I would receive some revelation or direction from God while I was there. I recall that in most cases, the preacher’s sermon was quite superficial, even boring to me, usually designed to evangelize the choir. Yet God always made him say something that was a revelation to me. So I was spiritually fed in spite of the preacher.
A few days ago, I learned of another interesting example. A Muslim couple in South Africa awoke to begin their morning prayers at 4 a.m. They prayed separately, of course, as is their custom, but she told her husband of a dream that she had just before wakening. She saw what her husband had just witnessed the day before, though he had told her nothing about it (as is their custom).
What she saw confirmed to them some key revelation of events taking place even now in South Africa behind the scenes involving a transfer of authority and the rise of the Kingdom. These things are yet developing, and I am not at liberty to say more at this time, but the point is that a Muslim woman confirmed the specific event and its prophetic significance.
But getting back to Caiaphas’ prophecy, the part that is usually overlooked tells us that he prophesied “that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”
Who are those children of God? How were they to be gathered? When?
John gives us very little explanation or interpretation. Nonetheless, it appears that this prophecy is derived from the prophecy “that the whole nation not perish.” While Caiaphas thought he was speaking of Judea, God applies this to all the tribes of Israel that had been “scattered abroad.”
In other words, Caiaphas prophesied first that Jesus would die on behalf of the nation, and this would result in the regathering of “the nation,” which John interpreted to mean “the children of God who are scattered abroad.” Of course, God has the right to broaden definitions over and beyond the intent of the one who is prophesying.
Caiaphas, then, inadvertently prophesied of the regathering of the lost and scattered tribes of Israel. How was this to be accomplished? Obviously, it was to be based upon Christ and His death on the cross, as Caiaphas said. But knowing that there are two comings of Christ (as prophesied in the law), it is clear that the regathering of Israel was to be accomplished through the second work of Christ, culminating with His second coming.
As I have shown many times in other articles, Christ came the first time through the tribe of Judah to claim His throne rights; He comes the second time through the tribe of Joseph to claim His birthright. The birthright is about the sons of God—or, as John 11:52 calls them, “the children of God.”
So Jacob’s blessing upon Joseph stated in Genesis 49:22, “Joseph is a fruitful bough,” that is, a fruitful son (Heb., ben). “The right to become the children of God” (John 1:12) is the main feature of the birthright. For this reason also, Joseph’s heir was Ephraim, “double fruitfulness.”
Of course, we know that the tribe (and leadership) of Ephraim became corrupted by idolatry, and so God scattered them abroad. This is the subject of Hosea 7-13, which holds Ephraim primarily responsible for the sins of the ten tribes. Ephraim was the leading tribe of the House of Israel, even as Judah was the leading tribe of the House of Judah.
Hosea 1:9 prophesied that the Israelites would become Lo-ammi ("not My people"), but also that at a later time, they would be renamed “Ammi,” that is, “My people” (Hosea 2:23). The prophet tells us in Hosea 1:10, 11 how this was to be accomplished,
10 Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” 11 And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together; and they will appoint for themselves one Leader [i.e., Christ], and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
We see from this that the prophecy inherent in the name Ephraim was to be fulfilled physically even while they were “not My people.” But they were to be regathered under Christ, implying that they will have faith in Christ, accepting Him as the Messiah. We know from John 1:12 that these “sons of Israel” have the right to become children of God only because they “believe in His name” (John 1:12). No one can become a child of God apart from Christ, regardless of their genealogy.
Moses prophesied that God would “raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you” (Acts 3:22). This is the “Leader” that we must rally around in the time that Judah gives way to “Shiloh” (i.e., Joseph, Genesis 49:10 KJV).
To become “My people,” one must become children of God, begotten by incorruptible seed through the Spirit. This is not possible apart from faith in Christ. Hence, one cannot claim to be a son of God through physical genealogy, nor is one chosen apart from Christ.
The regathering of the scattered children of God into one nation is not as easy as moving to a certain piece of land in the Mideast. While many do indeed gather to become a nation, these are not the children of God, for many wicked people are inevitably gathered with them. In fact, it requires a change of genealogy from Adam (or Israel) to Christ. It requires a change from corruptible seed to incorruptible seed. It requires a change from Old Covenant to New. It requires a change of leadership from Moses to Christ.
We today are living in the season of the second coming of Christ. We who have accepted Jesus’ throne rights are now in the season where He is also claiming His birthright. Hence, the message of Sonship has arisen with greater understanding in the past 70 years. The message of Sonship does not replace the message of the cross, but it does build upon it and is now particularly the message of the hour. In my view, it is the message of the overcomers who expect to become manifested sons of God through the feast of Tabernacles.
There are many important truths being taught today, but in my view, the core of the gospel that is relevant in preparing for the second coming of Christ is the message of Sonship.
That was the second part of Caiaphas’ prophecy in John 11:49-52.