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There is only one Church, but it is developing in three stages throughout history. Stage One began with Moses and ended with Jesus. I call it the Passover Church, because it really began at the first Passover, when Israel was called out of Egypt, and it ended at the Cross, when Jesus was crucified at Passover. In Stage One, Israel was "the Church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38), because "the Church" means the called-out ones. Israel was called out of Egypt.
Between the Cross and the day of Pentecost was a short transition of just over 50 days. Then the Pentecost Church was established. This was merely a continuation of the Church--not a completely separate Church. This time, however, God was calling people out of the old order of Passover into a new experience and relationship with God.
Not all were prepared to make that change. The majority of the religious leaders in Judaism had no real relationship with God, or else they would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah and crowned Him as their King. These religious leaders had not really come out of Egypt at all, so they had not attained to the Passover-level that God had been teaching them for 1,500 years. This disqualified them not only from entering into Pentecost, but also from knowing God on a Passover level. After all, without the Passover Lamb, they could not come out of Egypt. Even though they killed the Passover Lamb (both the animal lambs as well as the true Lamb of God), they did not do so out of genuine faith, but out of religious forms.
Their lack of faith is evident from the fact that they did not hear the voice of the Shepherd. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17), but they did not hear His voice, because they were not of His sheep. Jesus told Pilate in John 18:37, "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." The chief priests of Jesus' day, therefore, were not of the truth.
I suppose if Jesus were to make such a statement today about the rabbis of Judaism, He would be crucified in the newspapers and in many pulpits. But some of us take Jesus' words seriously, because we know that if we truly "hear" Him and believe that He spoke the truth, then we too are of the truth as Jesus defined it.
Those that rejected Jesus as the Lamb of God and the King of His Kingdom, forfeited the right to be part of that Kingdom. Paul makes it clear in Romans 2:28, 29 that those who remained in Judaism apart from Jesus Christ had also forfeited their right to be called Jews (i.e., Judeans, or Judahites). The tribeship of Judah resided in the King of Judah, and when they rejected the King, they cut themselves off from the tribe itself.
Those who accepted Jesus as King remained as the true Judahites and became the nucleus of the early Church in Pentecost. To this trunk was added many branches from all nations, including many lost sheep of the House of Israel, who had been cast out nearly 800 years earlier and deported to Assyria. Being engrafted into this trunk of Judah, even these lost Israelites had to become true Jews as Paul defined it. That is, they had to be engrafted into the trunk of the Judah Tree with its King, Jesus Christ, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
God was doing two things here. First, He was pruning the Kingdom Tree. He got rid of the branches that did not bear fruit. This is called "pruning." Men prune trees so that the other branches can be more fruitful. Secondly, God grafted in many other branches, in order that this Tree would bear even more fruit.
I have heard examples where men have engrafted twelve different kinds of fruit into a single stock of an apple tree. Perhaps they got their inspiration from Rev. 22:2, which says,
2 And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
When we engraft a branch from a pear tree to the stock of an apple tree, the branch gains sustenance from the apple tree, but it continues to bring forth pears, not apples. In the same manner, when many different branches of nations are engrafted to the trunk of the Kingdom Tree, they bear different kinds of fruit. No one, by becoming a Christian, suddenly changes his racial character. Nor does God intend for this to happen. God loves a variety of fruit. He does not want this Tree to bring forth only apples. He wants 12 kinds of fruit, not just one. Yet they all derive their sustenance from Jesus Christ, the root of David.
The second stage of Kingdom development is nearly completed now. The Pentecostal Age, according to all of the biblical types and shadows, was a 40-Jubilee time period, extending from 33 A.D. to 1993 A.D. Since May 30 of 1993 we have been in a transition from the Church of Pentecost to the Church of Tabernacles.
The story of King Saul and David seems to indicate that this transition will last 7 years and 6 months. If so, this transition should end by the end of November, 2000 A.D. This is not to imply that the Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled at this time. It might, of course, but in our study we have concluded that a more subtle change will occur that will not be evident to the majority of the people. But that is beyond the scope of our present study.
In our time, God is calling people out of the old order of Pentecost into the new order of Tabernacles. In many ways it is similar to Jesus first appearance, where He called people out of the old religious order into a new relationship with God that was based upon the Feast of Pentecost. This time, however, Jesus is coming the second time to call people out of Pentecost into a Tabernacles experience and relationship with God.
Like the first time, God will again prune the Kingdom Tree. There are many in the Pentecostal realm who are satisfied with the old order and cannot hear the voice of Jesus calling them into a higher realm. The Tree itself will remain the same, for its root is Jesus Christ. In other words, it will be the same Church, or Kingdom, but its character will again change because of the pruning and the new grafting that will take place.
This new stage of development will ultimately bear the most fruit of all. More branches will be engrafted upon the Tree under the anointing of Tabernacles than at any other time in the past. All nations will come and worship before Him, because the Overcomers will present His character to the people in the full revelation of truth.
The flaws of the Passover Church (in the Old Testament) caused His name to be blasphemed among the nations. The flaws of the Pentecostal Church has likewise caused men to reject Him. But when they see the Overcomers manifesting the fullness of His glory and character, they will begin to see Him for who He really is, and they will fall in love with Him. Men will have to work hard NOT to love Him. Revelation 15:4 tells us how men will react to Him in that day:
4 Who will NOT fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; for all the nations will come and worship before Thee, for Thy righteous acts have been revealed.
God has acted the part of the Husbandman, or farmer, for many long centuries. He has patiently cultivated this Kingdom Tree, pruning it and dunging it until it brings forth the perfect fruit that is food for God and all nations. We are coming into the third day, the third feast. When we understand the implications of this, then we can better prepare our hearts to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church in this new day.
It seems that with every true work that God does, there is also a counterfeit that runs parallel to it, which is so persuasive that it can easily deceive even the elect. However, the elect have an advantage in that God works in them, preparing their hearts over a period of time, so that in the end, they can distinguish the truth from the counterfeit. God does not keep the elect from falsehoods. He leads them THROUGH falsehoods into the truth. No one is born with a perfect understanding of truth. All must experience darkness in order to fully understand and appreciate the light of day.
For this reason, I do not fault people for not seeing the truth as I see it. We are all growing--if we are truly alive in Christ and led by His Spirit. My understanding today is far different from what it was years ago. The real evidence of life is growth. Do not look at where people are today, but determine rather what direction they are moving. See if they are growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. If they are not, then they have not been given ears to hear--at least not yet.
Remember that we are all dependent upon God to give us ears to hear. Remember what Moses told Israel after they had spent 40 years in the wilderness. Deut. 29:4 says,
4 Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness.
This blindness and deafness in the Church in the wilderness under Moses directly parallels the Pentecostal Church in its 40-Jubilee wandering in the wilderness from 33 A.D. to 1993 A.D. Blindness in part has been imposed upon the Church by God Himself. Isaiah 44:18 says,
18 They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend.
God always took the credit for blinding His people, even though many try hard to remove the liability from God, because we think this is terribly unjust. But God has a purpose for this blindness. The ultimate purpose is stated in the law in Exodus 21:26,
26 And if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.
In other words, He has blinded us, destroying our eyes, in order to obligate Himself by His own law to set us free. God is not only sovereign in blinding our eyes, He is also totally just and will set us free in the Jubilee, because God always takes full responsibility for His actions.
My point in saying this is that we should not judge men for their blindness, but pray for the day when God removes that blindness from His people. And as men's eyes are opened, share the Word with them.
In our blindness we are fooled by the counterfeit. God opens our eyes to see the real. The counterfeit that we have been dealing with in this present series involves the coming of Jesus and Judas. Paul tells us about this in his second letter to the Thessalonians.
We have shown in the past few issues that the man of sin--also called the son of perdition--is identified as Judas in John 17:12. We have seen how Judas' life and calling prophesied of a betrayal first in Jesus' first work, and later in His second work.
Relative to the two Judases, Judas Iscariot represents the bad fig tree of Judah, or the unfruitful branches that were to be cut off. But relative to his relationship with Jesus, Judas Iscariot also represents the portion of the Church that ends up betraying Christ. We gave details of this in our previous issue of the FFI.
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:22-31 that the old Jerusalem is Hagar, not Sarah, and represents the Old Covenant. Its temple, priesthood, and religious order persecutes those who are of Sarah--that is, the Isaac company--those who have come under the New Covenant. The history of this persecution can be traced from the crucifixion of Jesus throughout the book of Acts, where the early Church was persecuted by the temple priests of Judaism.
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:30 and 31 that the solution to this problem is:
30 But what does the Scripture say? Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.
In other words, in the transition from the Passover Age to the Pentecostal Age, the old order of Judaism was the bondwoman, the Hagar, and its adherents were represented by Ishmael. The Christians under Pentecost were of Sarah and were the people of Isaac in this prophetic allegory.
We know, however, that in the Scriptures Ishmael was called "a wild-ass man" (Gen. 16:12, lit. transl.). The ass is one of the main symbols of Pentecost in the Bible. (See our book, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost.) For this reason, what Paul said about the old order of Judaism in his day is equally true in our day about the old order of Pentecost as we enter into a new Church Age.
The Church denominations under Pentecost have largely forgotten Paul's admonition about casting away the bondwoman of Judaism. They have, instead, begun to teach that the bad fig tree of Judaism--in the form of the Israeli state--is the beginning of God's Kingdom on the earth. They teach that the Jews who are of the evil fig tree will bear fruit unto God, even though Jesus said, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever" (Matt. 21:19).
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul says,
3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy [apostasia, ["the casting away, divorce"] comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [or "perdition," i.e., Judas].
Paul is telling us that "the day of the Lord" will not come until after the old order of Judaism has been cast away. I would guess that in Paul's day they were thinking in terms of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. That event was, indeed, the casting away of the evil fig tree at that time. However, because Jesus prophesied that this fig tree would again come to life and bring forth more leaves (Matt. 24:32), there must of necessity be a second casting away in our day.
In 1948 this evil fig tree that Jesus cursed did come back to life and bring forth more leaves. The tree was the old Jerusalem with its children, who still continued to reject Jesus as the Messiah. "Judas" was thus raised up to manifest once again in the 20th century. And with it came the great betrayal, for the bulk of the Protestant churches gave their full support to that fig tree in its usurpation of the birthright of Joseph and the name of "Israel."
The Roman Catholic Church at first refused to recognize them as "Israel" and the inheritors of the Covenant with God. But on December 30, 1993 the Vatican finally established diplomatic relations with the Israeli state and recognized them as "Israel." Then in March 2000 Pope Paul II visited Jerusalem, proclaiming to the world that the Jews were "Israel" and "the people of the Covenant."
The Jews may certainly be the people of the old covenant, but that covenant has been abolished, because the people broke that covenant. That covenant is no covenant at all. It has been nullified for a long time. The only way that ANYONE can be in a covenant relationship with God is through the New Covenant. This comes only by means of Jesus Christ. The Jews of Judaism who reject Jesus Christ are NOT the people of this covenant. If they will accept the terms of the New Covenant and accept Jesus Christ as its Mediator, then they are welcome to be engrafted into this Kingdom Tree. But Christians have no business becoming Jews and trying to be engrafted into a cursed fig tree. One cannot do so without becoming part of the body of Judas Iscariot.
Paul tells us further in 2 Thessalonians 2:8,
8 And then that lawless one will be revealed ["unveiled"] whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance [epiphaneia, "the shining forth"] of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders.
This tells us that, like in 70 A.D. when Judaism's center of worship was destroyed, there will be another great destruction, a repeat performance. This is the event that "the day of the Lord" awaits. That day will not come until Jerusalem is destroyed once again, and the lawless fig tree, the people represented by Judas Iscariot is unveiled and exposed for what it is.
Then will come to pass Jeremiah's prophecy of the old earthen bottle in Jeremiah 19.
1 Thus says the LORD, Go and buy a potter's earthenware jar, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests. 2 Then go out to the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate; and proclaim there the words that I shall tell you, 3 and say, Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle.
Jeremiah pronounced judgment upon that place, with the elders of Judah as witnesses. Then verse 11 says,
10 Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts, Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial. 12 This is how I shall treat this place and its inhabitants, declares the LORD, so as to make this city like Topheth.
Take note that Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would be broken like a potter's vessel "which cannot again be repaired." Jerusalem was "broken" by Babylon in Jeremiah's day--but it was later repaired. It was "broken" again by Rome in 70 A.D., but it was again repaired.
I believe the day is soon coming when the city will be broken in such a way that it can no longer be repaired. This is because the old Jerusalem must give way to the new, even as the old covenant was broken and had to give way to a new covenant.
The common thinking is to apply the prophecy in Jeremiah 18 to the Israeli state--rather than Jeremiah 19. But Jeremiah 18 is a prophecy to the House of Israel, not to the House of Judah. It applies to the "lost" tribes of Israel, including the tribes of Joseph, who were carried away by the Assyrians. It has nothing to do with the house of Judah, and certainly should not be applied to the Jews who suddenly decided to usurp Joseph's birthright name of Israel in 1948.
The Israeli state is a counterfeit Israel. The same people who usurped the Messiah's throne and crucified Jesus in 33 A.D. have now usurped the Joseph's birthright as well. In both cases they had help from Jesus' disciples. In both cases Jesus Christ has been betrayed into the hands of those who hate Him.
All of these things were prophesied, of course. None of this took place outside of God's knowledge and control. Even so, now that both the Protestants and Catholics are in agreement in Christ's betrayal in the 20th century, the time is ripe for Jerusalem's destruction. Time is running out for Christians to separate themselves from the body of Judas, the man of lawlessness, and adhere to the other Judas, Jesus' brother.
When Jerusalem is destroyed, the Church will be shocked, for then it will become apparent that their "temple" had no glory in it. It was like Herod's temple, whose emptiness was exposed by the Cross. This time the emptiness of the old Jerusalem will be exposed by the brightness of His second appearance. The light will cast down all idols of the heart--men's opinions of who God is and through whom He is working His Kingdom plan.