149. Seat of Rest

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

yoke-575205_640Come to Me, all you who are weary and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls (Matt 11:28-29 AMP).

One of my most significant encounters in the heavenly realms was face-to-face with Jesus as He talked me through this scripture. He sat me down and talked to me about living from a place of rest, a place of peace and wholeness. He gave me a revelation from this passage that I can live in, and that He wants all of us to live in.

Take My yoke

Jesus asks us to take His yoke upon us. We are to be joined to Him. We go where He goes. This means that we do not get to choose which field we go to plough in. Jesus sets the field, the path and the direction.

He wants to carry the weight of our burdens so that we can be at rest. But we also have to learn from Him. By looking at His life we can learn how to live at rest. In His relationship with the Father and how He operated, He modelled how to live in rest. Jesus wants to train us and disciple us in that.

He describes Himself as ‘gentle and humble in heart’. Being gentle is not being wishy-washy and allowing yourself to be treated as a doormat. The meaning of the Greek word used here is that of a wild stallion which has been broken and has a bit in its mouth. God wants us strong and powerful, but wholly submitted to His will and purposes.

It is the same with humility. Being humble is not saying ‘Oh, I am a worm and no man! I am nothing!’. Humility is acknowledging who you are as a child of God and accepting your royal identity, your destiny and calling. Jesus took on the form of a servant, even though He was the Lord of creation. But He knew who He was, and what He was called to be. He lived totally surrendered to the will of His Father: ‘I only do the things I see the Father doing’ (John 5:19). We must accept who we are as children of God, and live out of that knowledge.

Weary, heavy-laden

Most of us would say we want to live in ‘rest, relief, ease, refreshment, recreation and blessed quiet’, prospering in all we do, and not having to struggle and strive. But we will not be at rest if we are feeling weary, heavy-laden or overburdened.

So if I feel tired, I am going to ask Jesus to show me if I am:

  • trying to survive and cope with life myself. Or am I surrendered to Him?
  • trying to provide for myself. Or is God my provider?
  • trying to protect myself. Or do I trust in His protection for me?
  • trying to find significance in achievements.
  • trying to create my own self image.
  • trying to compare myself with others. Or am I content to be unique?
  • trying to be somebody else. It is OK to have role models, but I need to be me.
  • trying to meet others’ expectations. Maybe even the expectations my parents put on me as a child? It is God’s expectations I need to fulfil: that is my destiny.
  • trying to wear a mask of pretence. Keeping up appearances.
  • trying to maintain control. Or have I surrendered control to God?
  • trying to cover up my inadequacies. He knows all my faults and weaknesses, and loves me anyway. He loves me enough to accept me, but also enough to transform me and make me whole.
  • trying to be good and righteous with dead works. Jesus’ sacrifice provided all I need for salvation and for transformation.
  • trying to please God, others and myself. I cannot please everyone: I must choose to please God.
  • trying to make amends for my past. Or receiving forgiveness as a free gift?

If I feel burdened, am I carrying things I shouldn’t be?

  • burdened by false responsibilities for family, finances, or future?
  • burdened by sin, guilt, shame and condemnation? In Christ there is no condemnation. In Christ I am cleansed and made the righteousness of God.
  • burdened by the weight of expectations?
  • burdened by sorrows and grief? Jesus came to carry my griefs and sorrows. There is a grieving process, but I do not have to bear it on my own.
  • burdened by disappointments? Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov 13:12).
  • burdened by unforgiveness? That would probably be the heaviest weight for me to carry. I have been forgiven completely and unreservedly: He wants me to be able to forgive everybody else.
  • burdened by worry, anxiety, fear?
  • burdened by debt?
  • burdened by carrying the responsibility for my own life?

If we will hand all these things over to Jesus, He will take the weight. How do we do that?

Covenant names of God

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

The compound names of God, the covenant names, are really important here.

  • The Lord my righteousness.
  • The Lord my sanctification
  • The Lord my peace
  • The Lord my provider
  • The Lord my healer
  • The Lord my shepherd
  • The Lord my banner of victory
  • The Lord is there

All are names God has revealed because He wants us to live and know Him in these ways.

Cast your care

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (1 Peter 5:7 AMP). He has broad shoulders and can carry everything we would like to lay on Him. He longs for us to hand over the burdens of our lives to Him, our future, our present and our past.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt 6:33). Places to live, clothes to wear, food to eat: everything we need will be added to us when we seek first the kingdom. I cannot put myself first, and still seek the kingdom. If we insist on providing for ourselves, we cannot expect that God will provide for us. It is one or the other. God wants us to surrender.

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:10).
God wants to raise us up and give us a position and a place of authority and rule to fulfil our destiny and call. Will we surrender and humble ourselves before Him?

Let us pray these things through, step into the presence of God and allow Him to change us and transform us. We can step into His presence, because the kingdom of God is as close as the hand in front of our face: we have a choice to turn into it or elsewhere.

So, if you really want to hand over to God all your cares, worries and burdens, everything that is making you tired and weary, here is an opportunity to do it.

I suggest you stand if you are able, and find a place where you can take a step forwards and backwards as by faith we engage our physical bodies with this process.

Father I thank You
that You have made a way
for me to come into Your presence

By faith [take a step forward]
I step into the realm of Your presence
and ask You to forgive me
for doing things in my own strength.
I repent of providing for and protecting myself;
I repent of finding significance in achievements
and trying to create my own self image;
I repent of comparing myself with others.

I repent of trying to be somebody else
and trying to meet others’ expectations;
I repent of wearing masks of pretence to cover up my inadequacies;
I repent of trying to be good and righteous
using dead works
to try to please You and others;
I repent for trying to make amends for my past.

I repent for trying to maintain control of my life.
Today Jesus I wilfully, with desire,
hand over responsibility for my life to You.
I cast all my burdens onto You
and hand over responsibility
for my family, finances and future.

I cast all my sin, guilt,
shame and condemnation onto You
I cast all my sorrows, grief,
disappointments, worry, anxiety and fear onto You.
I cast all my debts onto You;
I cast all the weight of expectation onto You;
I surrender control of my life to You.

I choose to be yoked to You Jesus:
Train me in gentleness and humility
to bring me to the place of maturity.

Now, Lord, I step back [take a step back]
into this earthly dimension,
bringing Your rest with me
to live in the eye of the storm.

I choose to live from the seat of rest.

Related articles from Freedom ARC

I Surrender – Hillsong (via YouTube)

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88. The Fall of Lucifer, the Light-Bearer

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott


satansfallWe have seen that something catastrophic happened between the first two verses of Genesis. Satan fell.

When God made the earth, as it is now, He removed it from the sphere it was in and placed it into time and space. God said, ‘Let there be light’ before He made the sun, and the moon, and the stars. Because He is light, and that light is creative light. And there are two speeds of light: there is the speed of light that operates in the heavenly realms, and the speed of light which operates here, which is slowing down (as some scientists have now suggested), although at the beginning they were the same speed. Because of Adam’s fall, the speed of light started to slow down and so time used to be quicker (if you understand what I mean). That is why the earth appears to be 10,000 years old in the biblical account, and yet it is 14 billion years old as measured by science. Time was different, time was stretched out, the heavens were stretched out.

There is a passage in 2 Peter which speaks of this period: For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water (2 Peter 3:5-6).

This is not Noah’s flood. This is talking about the original destruction of the earth, and the fall of Satan. Earth was flooded with water at that time, the first flood. That is why we then find that the Spirit of God was brooding upon the waters in Genesis 1:2.

The anointed cherub who covers

We need to see what happened when Satan fell. He was originally a covering cherub, one of those angels who covered the throne, one who cried ‘Holy, holy, holy’. When he cried ‘holy’, he was exclaiming with wonder as he received from God the revelation of His purposes.

At some point, God revealed His plan to use Man, a person with DNA, to carry the DNA of God on the earth. And God revealed that it was to be His sons in DNA who were going to inherit the earth and the heavens (rather than the sons of glory, the angels).

Instead of crying ‘holy’ this time, all of a sudden, something else started to form in Satan’s heart.  He rebelled, and in his heart he was saying, ‘I want to ascend to the place where I will be like that!’

Now Satan had a reptilian form, and he was covered in stones. He was called Lucifer, the light bearer, and he was also the leader of the worship in heaven. So those stones were supposed to reflect the light of God’s glory, and he was supposed to be responsible for training Man to come into the fullness of God.

In Ezekiel 28 we can read about Satan’s fall.

Thus says the Lord GOD, “You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared (Ezek 28:12-13).

The garden of God (Eden) was connected to the earth. In Genesis it says God had a garden in Eden, and then He planted a garden east of Eden. So there were two gardens, and at that point heaven and earth overlapped. The garden of God was where God walked, Adam had access to that; it was where the Tree of Life was.

And then we read about all the stones that covered Satan’s body. You will notice that Satan had nine stones, but Man has 12 stones: the breastplate of the High Priest had 12 stones, there were 12 tribes, there are 12 foundations to the New Jerusalem, 12 fruits on the Tree of Life. The number 12 speaks of government, and Man was supposed to exercise godly government.

[Biblical numerology is really interesting: threes and sevens and tens and twelves and forties are everywhere once you start to see them, but we can’t go fully into that here.]

Then it goes on,

You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire (Ezek 28:14-16).

Heaven is on a mountain, ‘the holy mountain of God’ (v14). The whole structure of heaven is a mountain and there is a plateau on top. On the mountain there is a throne and from the throne runs a river of fire – imagine how lava flows from a volcano. There are stones that operate on that fire which are stones of revelation. I have been on that mountain and I have walked on those stones, and another time I will maybe explain what those stones are. They represent what Satan would have done to bring Man into the fullness of God.

But then unrighteousness was found in him. It was exposed because of his role as covering cherub and the revelation that God gave him. The scripture goes on to speak about Satan’s trading and about his being filled with violence.

Again, I am going to have to teach on trade and trading floors another time, because it is to do with covenant and to do with exchange. For now, let’s understand that it worked like this: Satan had information, revelation of what God was going to do, and he traded it with the other angels. Man was going to inherit the heavens, rather than the angels doing so, because the angels were all about being ministering spirits for those who would inherit salvation (Heb 1:14). All the angels were created for us, and that now became clear. When Satan discovered this revelation, he went to some of the other angels and a third of them decided they were going to receive and act on it, and they were going to seek to rule the heavens instead of Man.

Like lightning from heaven

So Satan fell, like lightning from heaven, Jesus said. As a result of his fall, Satan no longer has access to Heaven (but has not lost access to all of the heavenly realms). He has no access to the River of Life or the stones of fire, or anything else which is found in that heavenly realm.

And when he fell, ‘there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him (Rev 12:7-9).

Here Satan is referred to as the dragon (I was writing about dragons and giants a few weeks ago in a previous post). This is where the word ‘dragon’ comes from: it is a description of Satan. A third of the angels – and that is a great number – took the trade Satan offered them, and fell with him.

As I say, that was in the original creation. Satan’s activity on the earth brought down God’s judgment upon it in the first flood, which resulted in a planet that was ‘formless and void’, covered in waters over which the Spirit would hover, brood or vibrate (Gen 1:2). And in the second creation, Adam’s rebellion would give Satan access to heaven again and open some of those realms back up to him.

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77. Characteristics of the Joshua Generation (#1-5)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott 

amalekWe have seen that in our time God is raising up a Joshua generation, who will enter into their inheritance and enable others to do the same. This is what that generation will be like:

1. The Joshua Generation will be victorious warriors, dependent on God’s Spirit for supernatural victory.

Do you remember the story in Exodus, when Moses was standing and needed support for his hands, because as long as his hands were raised, Israel was winning the battle? Even at that point, Joshua was being prepared to succeed Moses, and there was a supernatural dimension to what was happening:

‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner; and he said, “The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation”’ (Ex 17:14-16).

We need to know the Name of God, Jehovah-Nissi:  the Lord our banner or victory. ‘The Lord is my banner’. There is something here that we need to get hold of in our spirit. We use banners in this dimension of warfare, and that banner of victory is what will enable us to overcome. This battle will be in every generation. This is something which God wants to equip us for, to see Amalek destroyed.

There is a reason God wants it destroyed. The Amalekites were descended from Esau – they personified evil, and were inheritance robbers. They were those who competed for the Promised Land. For us they represent the tares, the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod, who seek to rob us of our inheritance. We need to destroy them; and there is going to be a battle in our generation. We need to know the Name of God, Jehovah-Nissi, because of the level of warfare which is going to come. When the world is falling apart, we have to be able to be overcomers in the midst of everything that is going on around us.

2. The Joshua Generation will have a servant heart.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).

This is a key scripture to understand about being servant-hearted. It is about not doing things in your own strength but in knowing your identity and being of gentle and humble heart. That’s what Jesus said, “if you take My yoke upon you, learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart”. A servant generation will know true authority and true identity through submitting it all to God.

We need to understand that Joshua had a call, and yet he was Moses’ servant: ‘So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God’ (Ex 24:13).

3. The Joshua Generation will know the glory of God as a consuming fire.

We are already beginning to experience this in the heavenly realms, but there is so much more of it still to come.
On Mount Sinai, when God gave the commandments to Moses, Joshua also went up with him to the mountain top. Most people don’t read that or realise it, but that is what it says. And what happened there was that ‘the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. .. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top’ (Ex 24:16-17).

God is inviting everyone to come to the mountain top, to come into the fiery smoke, and to meet Him face to face. It is an awesome thing to look into His eyes. Face-to-face encounters with God will characterise the Joshua generation.

4. The Joshua Generation will be hungry and thirsty for the intimacy of God’s Presence.

We will not be satisfied with anything less. We need the intimacy of God’s presence. We need to press into it. We need to be so hungry and thirsty for righteousness, and for the presence of God, that it is going to transform our lives. And God is going to start stirring that hunger, by giving you experiences that make you crave and hunger for more. Don’t be satisfied with just an experience: it needs to become a lifestyle. We need to live in the presence of God in the dual realms of heaven and earth. We need to press in.

‘Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent’ (Ex 33:11).

Joshua stayed in God’s presence even after Moses left, and that will be a characteristic of the Joshua generation. When some people give up, when they have had enough, the Joshua generation will press in for more. You are not going to be satisfied until you have received the fullness of your inheritance.

5. The Joshua Generation will be chosen as forerunners to enter the Promised Land.

Some of you are going to have experiences that go beyond, and you are going to help other people to come into it. When I went on the fast two years ago, and began to enter into heavenly encounters, my desire was to facilitate others coming in. Our intention is always to open the door for others. We are not exclusive. The purpose of being  forerunners is not to keep others out, but to encourage everyone to come in.

Joshua and Caleb were sent out as spies: they saw the promises – and they saw the giants – first hand. But they had a different attitude to the others: they were willing to press in.

…and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land through which we passed as spies is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” But all the congregation said to stone Joshua and Caleb with stones (Numbers 14:7-10a).

These are just the first 5 of 40 characteristics of this generation which I believe God has shown me. Do you recognise these things in you? Is this a generation of which you are called to be a part?

We will look at some more next time.

Related articles from others

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67. Why Complicate It?

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott 

The Great White Throne

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds (Rev 20:12-13).

God will take into account the actual deeds of those He judges. Whatever that looks like, and however it has been protrayed to us in the past, it is not about ‘eternal punishment’. He is fair and just, and His justice is always restorative, not retributive.

New heavens and a new earth

If you are a believer, and you have faith, you are not going to the lake of fire. But there will be a judgment for believers, as we saw last time. We will have to give an account of where the record of our lives fails to match up to the scroll God wrote for us, but there is no condemnation for believers. Still we must be careful how we live, maintaining holy conduct and godliness, as Peter writes:

galaxies-597905_640But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:10-13).

‘The elements will melt with intense heat’: this is what I meant when I said before that Jesus will not come back and stand on the earth. There will be no earth – His coming will burn it up.

Materialism? Forget it, it is all going to go. Even if you have some favourite places on the earth (and I have some I really love), you need to know, it is all going to go. But in the age to come, the new heavens and the new earth are going to be so much better than this one. Nothing but righteousness dwells there. He is righteousness. And please notice: He comes to dwell with us, we don’t go to Him.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away (Rev 21:1-4).

All that sense of loss we were talking about last time, of weeping because we messed up and didn’t do all that God had planned for us – He is going to wipe it all away.

There won’t be any sea. All of you who love the sea – sorry! The sea represents division, which is why there won’t be any. And there will not be any night. So all of you who like to sleep – sorry! Night won’t exist in the age to come. No darkness, the whole universe will be light because God is light and He will fill the universe:

In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21:25-27).

We can hasten His coming by our holy conduct and godliness, because it is not a fixed hour. Our response can hasten or delay Him. That is why we must be ready to bow the knee in surrender, ready to see His kingdom fill the earth.

This is what God is calling us to.

Search the scriptures

I know that much I have taught in recent posts is not the accepted understanding of this subject. Please, take time to search out the scriptures like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) to see if this is so. Search with a positive attitude, not a negative one (to prove it isn’t so). Ask God about it.

I was brought up to believe much that I have now come to see as lies and deception. When I got baptised in the Spirit, God started talking to me about covenant and the kingdom of God and over time I have had to change my understanding. I have studied all of this closely, in fact on my bookshelves I have books written from almost every point of view. I haven’t just accepted the first new idea that came along. I know how deceptive the enemy is.

God’s revelation of what He is doing just doesn’t fit with what is so often taught. And you will see, if you are honest and if you look at what Jesus said, that all prophecy has to be interpreted in the light of Jesus, and in the light of His teaching.

What Jesus said was: last day, day of resurrection and judgment. Simple. Why complicate it?

Related articles from others

64. The End Of The Age

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott  

We have seen that in Matthew 24, the disciples asked Jesus about three specific things:

Mount_of_Olives_(before_1899)
Mount of Olives (before 1899). Public domain.

‘As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”’(Matt 24:3).

In recent posts we have looked at how Jesus answered the first two of these. From verse 34 onwards He is talking about the end of the age.

And the first thing to say is that no-one knows when that will be. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah” (Matt 24:36-37).

So if you come across any books, blogs or articles telling you when it is going to be, don’t even bother with them. There is nothing and no-one that can tell you. And Jesus says that not even the Son knows. Now of course Jesus knows, but as the Word of God He has not revealed it anywhere, not the exact day and the hour.

We are not supposed to know the specific time, and there is a reason for that.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming… For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matt 24:42, 44).

Every single believer, from that time on, needs to live as if it is the last day. It could happen today. Then we will be ready. Jesus told the story of the wise and foolish virgins to illustrate that point; the parable of the talents, too. He wanted to warn us not to be found to have wasted our talents when the Master comes. We need to be prepared; we need to live in readiness not in complacency.

What we are permitted to know is what the times will be like when that day comes. It will be like the days of Noah, and we have already seen how that involved Nephilim, widespread evil, and pollution of the human DNA. Those times will come again, and the church must face them with authority and power.

“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).

Jesus said there would be a day of resurrection and judgment for everyone. When? On what He called ‘the last day’.

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).

Now there is something fundamental we need to understand about the last day: it is the last day. There are no days after it. So when Jesus comes and raises people from the dead, that is the end. There are not 7 years afterwards, not 3½ years, and not 1000 years. The clue is in the name: it is the last day.

Time itself stops.

And this also emphasises why Jesus will remain in heaven until every prophecy has been fulfilled, and does not come to fulfil them. There is no time for anything to be fulfilled after the last day.

‘…and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time’ (Acts 3:20-21).

I know that is not what is taught: the fulfilment of prophetic promises is routinely put off to a different age, or a different people. The truth is that the church has access to all the promises in order to see to it that the kingdom fills the earth. The alternative is the eschatology of defeat and failure we have looked at before, which only robs us of our position of power.

Here is another scripture which talks about the end in similar terms:

‘For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death’ (1 Cor 15:22-26).

The end is the end. At that point Jesus hands over the kingdom to God the Father. No more kingdom, no 1000 year rule, just the end. This scripture expressly tells us there is no more rule, authority or power after the end. They are all abolished. Jesus reigns until then, and He reigns through us.

Death too is abolished when Jesus comes, and everyone goes on to eternity, with or without Jesus.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.

63. Grafted Back In

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Grafted in

tree-357583_640I mentioned a couple of posts back that Romans 11 tells us what it will be like when the ‘times of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24) have been fulfilled. It speaks of an olive tree which represents God’s covenant and that Abrahamic covenant people. Israel was cut off, and Gentiles were grafted in – to that same olive tree – and then Israel will be grafted back in. But they will only be grafted back into that olive tree the same way the rest of us are: by faith in Christ.

Being part of the covenant people is not automatic for all Jews. It never was. It never will be. Scripture is absolutely clear about that:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants’ (Rom 9:6-8).

The covenant promise for the people of God to fill the earth has not failed. It has been fulfilled. Just being naturally descended from Israel did not make anyone an inheritor of the promises. You always had to come through the promise made to Abraham. We are all God’s children through faith, like Abraham. You have to have faith to be classed as sons of Abraham.

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7).

All one in Christ

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:28-29).

That is the New Covenant. We are all one in Christ. There is no separation or division of anything anymore: we are one in Christ. We are heirs according to the promise. We are the fulfilment of that promise. Everyone can come into that promise: Jew or Gentile. We come by faith in Christ; to be the people of God; to see the kingdom of God fill the earth. We are going to be part of that filling the earth. ‘But indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD’ (Num 14:21).

Daniel says, “I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints…” (the horn is a symbol of authority again) “…and overpowering them…” (Dan 7:21).This is not going to happen at the end. We are not going to be overpowered by anything or anyone.

We are going to win: look at the end of the book, it is we who overcome; we are more than conquerors. And so Daniel goes on:

Until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favour of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom” (Dan 7:22).

The judgment on Jerusalem and the Old Covenant system was when the saints took full possession of the kingdom. And Jesus is going to stay in heaven until we get the job done (Acts 3:21), fulfilling all the promises of God and outworking it.

Chief of the mountains

Look at this scripture; it is the same promise as we have seen before in Isaiah 2, this time in Micah:

And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains.  It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD…” (Micah 4:1-2).

They will come because we have the answers. When the world’s systems fail, the church will rise up in authority and power. We will have the answers that bring salvation, healing, protection, provision, deliverance and blessing. We will operate the kingdom of God. As we seek first the kingdom of God, everything else will be added to us. That is our inheritance as God’s people: to fulfil the promises made to Adam, Noah and Abraham.

Through Jesus, we are that people. That is why it is so critical that we preach the gospel, so that everyone can come and be part of that people, through faith in Christ.

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61. The Sun Will Be Darkened

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott 

Salvation and judgment

Look at what the Jewish crowd said when Pilate was trying to get them to release Jesus instead of Barabbas: “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” (Matt 27:25). Now that is a very serious thing to say; and it is what happened. As we have seen, the counterpart of salvation is judgment. The blood of Jesus brings salvation for us but judgment upon those who did not accept Him.

The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was the culmination of God’s judgment upon that generation. “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand” (Deut 28:49). We have been looking at that over the past couple of weeks, and seeing what scripture really has to say about it.

Darkened Sun

eclipse-32823_640Here is another much misunderstood verse: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matt 24:29). You can already guess what I am about to say about that: it is covenant language and needs to be understood in terms of covenant judgment. People look to see this literally fulfilled. It was not, will not be, and was never intended to be. Let the Bible interpret itself.

And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come’ (Acts 2:19).

Even here, in the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit being fulfilled, an amazing time of blessing, associated with it was judgment.

Government

To get insight into what sun, moon and stars mean, let us look at Genesis. The sun and moon were created by God for a specific purpose, stated in this scripture: to govern.

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;  God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night’ (Gen 1:14, 16). They were signs representing government.

“I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me…” (Gen 37:9).

Joseph’s family understood that the sun, moon and stars spoke of government:  He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” (Gen 37:10).

Egypt, Babylon, Jerusalem

Nor is this prophecy about darkened sun, moon and stars unique in the Bible, as you might suppose:

And when I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you and will set darkness on your land,” declares the Lord GOD.  “I will also trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring your destruction among the nations, into lands which you have not known (Ezekiel 32:7-9).  

That is a prophecy about the fall of the Egyptian civilisation, about the end of a system of government.  Although it might sound like the end of the world, it is not. It is just the end for them.

The same language is used of the fall of Babylon:

Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light (Isaiah 13:9-10).

And here in Matthew 24:29, it is the fall of Jerusalem and of the old covenant system. This was prophesied in Zechariah 14:2-9:

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered… In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle… In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD… And the LORD will be king over all the earth.

Not also a literal splitting of the Mount of Olives: this is all about the destruction of Jerusalem and Jesus coming in judgment. The mountain speaks of authority. Remember, in all this we have to let the Bible interpret itself, and not project onto it what we think could happen in our own time.

The light of Israel was to be extinguished, the old covenant nation would cease to exist, and the old covenant system would come to an end. The partition wall between Jews and Gentiles would be removed: the mountains of Jerusalem and its walls which symbolise this division between the old and the new were to come down. This is what Paul had to say about it:

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross (Eph 2:14-16).

This was the end of the ‘one nation, one city, one temple’ wineskin. Today, there is one people of God: those who come to faith in Christ Jesus.

60. The Abomination of Desolation

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

‘Has not… until now, nor ever will’

Can we put aside everything we may have been taught and read afresh what Jesus actually said?

For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Matt 24:21).

Until when? Until ‘now’. That is to say, until the generation to whom Jesus was speaking. The Great Tribulation was about to begin right then. So if you are looking for a Great Tribulation still to come, you are going to be disappointed. At least, ‘disappointed’ is not really the right word; in fact you are going to be blessed, because it is not going to happen. Jesus was quite categorical about that: ‘nor ever will’. The Great Tribulation culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem, and its like will never occur again. It is history.

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather (Matt 24:27-28). Again, this is covenant language. These things are not literal: corpses and vultures are the language of judgment. It is Jerusalem being described as a corpse where the vultures gathered for the pickings. Flashes of lightning are also covenant language, speaking of the Son of Man coming in judgment.

Desolation

Luke 21:20-22 is the parallel passage to this:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.

"Siege of JerusalemfiMap" by User:Barosaurus Lentus - self-made based on[1]. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Siege_of_JerusalemfiMap.PNG#mediaviewer/File:Siege_of_JerusalemfiMap.PNG
“Siege of JerusalemfiMap” by User:Barosaurus Lentus – self-made based on[1]. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Armies, desolation (the house being left desolate, Matt 23:38). When believers saw these things, they were to flee to the mountains. Christians actually did do this. If you read Josephus, the Jewish historian, and his account of the Roman-Jewish wars, he says that all the Christians left Jerusalem when they saw the ‘abomination of desolation’ come.  That was because they understood exactly what Jesus was talking about in these warnings, and they did what He said to do. These were days of vengeance that God was bringing on those who rejected Jesus, on those who rejected the Stone. It was not intended to fall upon those who believed in Him, so they were warned to get out of Jerusalem, and stay out. It was good advice. The ‘things which are written’ (Luke 21:22) about God’s vengeance were all to be fulfilled at that time.

Abomination

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (Matt 24:15-16).

That refers to a passage in Daniel which said, ‘and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate…’ (Dan 9:27). That took place in AD 68, when the Idumeans (Edomites) broke into Jerusalem and cut the throats of 7000 priests in the Temple. Blood ran out of the Temple in rivers. This is when the Christians fled, because Jesus had warned them to expect to witness an abomination in the holy place, and to run when they saw it.

I know I am laying out lots of scripture here. Firstly I know we might have lots of questions so I want to give a really firm scriptural basis for seeing things this way. And secondly, believe me, we will need to know the scriptures because if we talk to other Christians about this it will be a challenge for many of them. We will need to be really clear in explaining what we believe and why we believe it, not only so that they can be persuaded, but so that we cannot be led astray.

Times of the Gentiles

So finally for today, let’s go back to Luke 21:23-24 (the parallel passage again). Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Are we living in the times of the Gentiles now? Yes we are. So Jerusalem is still being trampled underfoot by Gentiles? Yes. That may be a bit of a theological struggle for some. Romans chapter 11 is where we can read about what will happen when the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled, but it is not yet.

58. Preached To All The Nations

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

We have seen how, in the passages leading up to Matthew chapter 24, Jesus was talking about covenant. Specifically, He was warning of the judgments of the Old Covenant which would come upon that generation of unbelieving Israel.

Birth pangs

"Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img 0327" by Ikluft - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img_0327.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img_0327.jpg
San Andreas Fault [“Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img 0327” by Ikluft – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons]
We are taking this verse by verse now, so let’s go on to Matt 24 vv4-8: ‘And Jesus answered and said to them, See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

‘See to it that no-one misleads you’: in this whole passage, Jesus was talking to the church, to those who would be living in Jerusalem and in Israel at the time. They were being warned, so that when they recognised what was happening they could escape out of the city. ‘The end’ is not the end of the world; it is the end of Jerusalem and that Old Covenant system. And when Jesus talks about ‘birth pangs’, what is it that is being born? It is the new; it is the birthing of the church – the new ekklesia of God – in persecution, trouble and pain. The difficulty and pain in the birth of the new was caused by the fact that the old was still around to persecute it.

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name (Matt 24:9). That is exactly what the Jews did in all the cities where the gospel was preached. They stirred up trouble against the church, against Paul and others, wherever they went.

Verses 10-13: At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

There was persecution. Believers did fall away. There were false prophets. Many were misled. Lawlessness increased. People’s love grew cold. All these things took place in that period between AD 30 and AD 70. “But the one who endures to the end…”, that is, who endures until the destruction of that old system, “… will be saved”.

To all the nations

Now comes a verse which has caused a great deal of misunderstanding because, like much of this chapter, it has been taken completely out of its first century context. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt 24:14). Now you are going to tell me that the gospel could not have been preached in the whole world by AD 70, because most of it hadn’t even been discovered yet. My answer to that is: let the Bible interpret itself. Let‘s look at some scriptures and see whether this prophecy was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5). So already, the day the Holy Spirit came to the church at Pentecost, the gospel was preached to people from every nation – and you could quite legitimately say that the end could have come at any time from then on. But God, because He is gracious, left a generation for people to repent. And many priests, and many Pharisees and Sadducees, did indeed repent and become believers.

And there are more scriptures to consider. Look at these:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.” (Rom 10:1-18).

… the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world… (Col 1:5-6) and, the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven (v23).

The Bible says that the gospel was preached all over the world, to all the nations, at that time. That prophecy was fulfilled before AD 70. We are not still waiting for it to happen.

I hope you are catching this. We have been wrongly taught for so long that it can be a stretch for us to lay aside other people’s opinions and actually see what the scriptures say. And next time we will be doing more of the same.

57. This Generation Will Not Pass Away

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

It is important to understand the covenant background to Matthew, chapters 21-25, and please do take a moment to read that here if you missed it, before we get into what Jesus said. Because this is quite a challenge.

Woe

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people… Woe to you, blind guides… Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!… You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of Gehenna? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city…” (Matt 23:13, 16, 29, 33-34).

‘Woe’ is a covenant word which we are not really familiar with, but which they understood very well, and they were very offended by it. In fact it got them so mad that they began plotting to kill Jesus in earnest. In saying ‘woe’, He was prophesying that judgment was coming to them under the terms of the covenant. ‘Serpents, vipers’… He was calling them children of the devil, as they also understood very well. ‘Gehenna’ is often mistranslated ‘hell’, but what Jesus was referring to was the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Then, the bodies of thousands of the city’s inhabitants, including all the priests and other religious leaders, would be piled up in the valley called Gehenna, the rubbish tip outside the city.

He refers to that time again as He goes on to explain in more detail what the consequences would be for them: “so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth from Abel to Zechariah… Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! (Matt 23:35-38).

“On this generation” – there it is again. He was speaking of that generation living between the years AD 30 and AD 70, and warning that all the righteous blood ever shed upon the earth was going to come upon them.

‘This evil generation’

El Greco“Your house is being left to you desolate”. This again is covenant language that we really need to understand. Remember how Jesus came into the Temple and drove out the moneychangers and traders with a whip?  You can read Matthew’s account of that incident in this same section of his gospel, in chapter 21. And when Jesus left the Temple, swept clean and put in order, they had the opportunity to follow Him.

But what did happen? Well, Jesus had already described what would happen. You can find it in Matthew 12:43-45. “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.

Did you notice that last sentence? Maybe because we are so familiar with it, we have just skipped over it. Jesus specifically says that this has an application for the generation of which He was part. And indeed, that is what happened to them and their Temple. Their last state was worse than the first. That is why the unbelieving Jews persecuted the church – they were demonised. Literally, the whole house was full of demonic influence.

Babylon

Rev 18:2 speaks of this: And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird”.

The book of Revelation is talking about the persecution of the church and the judgments that came upon Israel. And it is Israel who are described here as ‘Babylon the great’. Jesus said that the guilt of all the righteous blood was upon that unbelieving generation. In Revelation 17:6 and 18:20,24, we can see that same blood-guilt is assigned to this ‘Babylon’. Here is the Bible interpreting itself; and we need to know it, because accepting this is going to be a major difficulty for some as God begins to challenge the church.

Three questions

And so we arrive at Matthew 24. Jesus came out of the Temple, and was going away from there, with His disciples; leaving it desolate, because the Holy Spirit left with Him. That was the last time He went there. “Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down” (Matt 24:1-2).

So He was prophesying physical destruction of the Temple. The disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt 24:3). So they were asking 3 things: ‘When will be the destruction of the Temple?’, ‘What will be the sign of Your coming?’ (to bring about this judgment, not His last coming), and ‘What will be the signs of the end of the age?’.

The next 30 verses, up to verse 33, are the answers to the first two questions. We will see that very clearly as we look at it in a little more depth in coming posts. For now let’s skip ahead to verses 33-34. “So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door”. So they, His disciples, would see all the things mentioned in the previous 32 verses. And when they did, they were to know that He – Jesus – would be ‘at the door’ (that is, ready to come in judgment).

And then He goes on, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”. I think that is clear enough, isn’t it? Everything in the previous 32 verses was to take place before that generation passed away. It was not to come upon a future generation, as so many of us have been taught, but upon that generation. It was on them that the curses of the covenant were to be outpoured.

Jesus was coming in covenant judgment.

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