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 have 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.

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 (i.e. the valley of Hinnom), 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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56. Covenant Blessings, Covenant Judgments.

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

In looking at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 21-25, we saw last time that we need to understand covenant blessings and judgments. So today let’s consider Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (blessings) and 15-68 (judgments, or ‘curses’).

Above all the nations

Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth… But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you… (Deut 28:1, 15).

‘High above all the nations of the earth’ – doesn’t that sound like the mountain of the house of the Lord being lifted high above the other mountains? All the other nations were supposed to stream to them. They had a kingdom mandate. If they kept covenant and were obedient, they could expect blessings. But if they were disobedient, judgment would come.

Peace?

What would it be like when that judgment came? Deuteronomy 29:19-21 tells us:

It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, ‘I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.’ The LORD shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven.  Then the LORD will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law.’

‘Peace’. The first time this covenant judgment came upon Israel was when they were exiled to Babylon. At that time their prophets were prophesying peace and blessing, when they should have been prophesying judgment. ‘Stubbornness’: that sums up the attitude of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the rulers of Israel, who didn’t expect Jesus and didn’t accept His coming. There were bound to be covenant consequences (variously called ‘wrath’, ‘doom’ and ‘woe’).

As the eagle swoops down

Not so for us. Let’s be clear on this. God’s ‘wrath’ is not aimed at us, ever. It is an expression of His burning passion for us, not against us. But we will see where that wrath did fall.

“All the nations will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?’ Then men will say, ‘Because they forsook the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, the anger of the LORD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book; and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land’” (Deut 29:24-28).

Initially this judgment was fulfilled in the exile to Babylon, but with a prophetic promise of return. After a time, God restored them to the land and gave them another opportunity to be obedient. If they continued to be disobedient, then further consequences were inevitable, and this is what Jesus is warning them about. He is referring to passages like these in Deuteronomy:

A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labours, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually… 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 … It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the LORD your God has given you (Deut 28:33, 49, 52).

legion-444126_640The final fulfilment of this prophecy was that Jerusalem was indeed besieged and subsequently destroyed. That happened at the end of the generation to which Jesus was speaking, in AD 70. And look at the phrase ‘as the eagle swoops down’: you can also see how that could speak of the Roman armies, which carried an eagle as a standard.

This was to be followed by spiritual restoration. There was a promise of physical restoration after Babylon, which was totally fulfilled, and they were brought back into the land. But afterwards, all the promises relating to the new covenant were of a spiritual restoration in Christ.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer 31:31-33).

Restoration? Yes, for everyone, in Christ. This is new covenant language, and we see it again in Ezekiel. There would be a physical manifestation of this restoration, but it would be the kingdom of God filling the earth.

So much for the covenant background. Next time I want to consider in detail what Jesus said about all this, back in Matthew 21-25.

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52. Wheat and Tares

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott
 –

We have been considering the disciples’ question about Jesus’ return and the end of the age. It is essential to view all this through covenant eyes. God has always worked through covenants with men, and every time it was men who broke them. But they were all fulfilled in Jesus: every promise God ever made finds its ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ in Him. There are not two covenants in operation in our day, just one. And it is one which we cannot break, because it was not made with us, but with Jesus.

AD 70

We have seen that Jesus’ answer in Matthew 24 (at least up to verse 34, but probably the whole chapter) refers to the end of the Old Covenant age and the destruction of Jerusalem, especially its temple. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”. AD 70 would have been the end of that generation of disciples Jesus was talking to. The main fulfilment of all those prophetic words happened in that period. That is not to say that we cannot see further examples of them in our day – and throughout church history – but we are not waiting for them to happen as signs of the end. The end that Jesus was talking about already came.

We looked briefly at the decline and revival of the church over the centuries, how the Holy Spirit began to break back in once the scriptures were available in the common language again. I would encourage you to read the ‘God’s Generals’ series of books by Roberts Liardon, and see how God began to restore truth to the church through some amazing godly men and women. But as God sowed wheat, the enemy also sowed tares. Tares look just like wheat, and you can only tell the difference because tares don’t produce a harvest. So in the very period when God was working in revival and power, we also see the birth of Darwinism, Marxism, humanistic philosophy – false systems of belief sown into the world. And not only into the world – into the church too. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Science all started around this time. Some of them looked like the truth, and people are still deceived by them today.

False doctrines

In 1826 the Brethren movement rejected the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and put back the purposes of God for another 80 years. In rejecting the truth, they also embraced deception, as often happens. And the enemy was able to use this to sow in false teaching and false doctrines which have plagued the church ever since. This is what God is starting to challenge and remove so that we can regain a true perspective of His kingdom.

What were some of those things?

  • Dispensationalism. Separating up scripture into particular periods of time in which God works in different ways. That breaks up the continuity of scripture and prevents people seeing the whole picture of God’s plan and purposes through the ages.
  • Cessationism: The belief that gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for now, that they stopped in the New Testament when the last apostle died.
  • Pre-Millennialism: Jesus was going to come back before the Millennium. Up to that time the only people who taught that were the Jesuits. No-one else believed it. Now it is prevalent among large sections of the church.
  • The Rapture: God would come for His people in a ‘secret rapture’, take them and leave everyone else behind. That doctrine only arose in this same period. And now it is the subject of a whole series of best-selling Christian books and accepted without question by much of the church as being what the Bible teaches.
  • Seven Years of Tribulation on the earth: this belief only started to appear at this time.
  • The separation of Israel and the church.

This was all so insidious that it spread like wildfire. The Schofield Bible came out of all this, robbing the church of authority by promoting an eschatology of defeat and rescue rather than of victory and of the increase of God’s kingdom to fill the earth. All of a sudden it was maintenance, put the walls up, protect your beliefs, have nothing to do with the world. The Brethren church was so exclusive you were not even allowed into their meetings unless you could prove that you came from another Brethren Assembly. I was brought up in this, and when I got baptised in the Spirit, God just challenged my whole theology. I have had to re-examine everything I believed: even now I have to be continually open for God to show me the truth.

Greek and Hebrew mindsets

The background to this is that there is a difference between the Greek and the Hebrew mindset. We have briefly touched on that before. Let’s be clear, I am not talking about reading scripture in the Greek and Hebrew languages, but about our way of looking at things when we approach scripture. Here are a couple of tables I often use to illustrate some of that:

Greek Mentality

Hebrew Mentality

The goal of salvation is to escape this world and go to God’s dwelling place in heaven The goal of salvation is to prepare a place fit for God’s dwelling here, among His people
The kingdom of God exists in heaven, not upon the earth The kingdom of God is God’s reign among people here on earth
Jesus is coming to take us away from this world Jesus is coming to reign over us and through us in this world
Message: “Get your ticket now, or you might miss the train!” Message: “The kingdom of God is coming! Get ready to serve the King and manifest the kingdom.”

Greek mindset

Hebrew mindset

Form Function
What I do How I do it
Secular/Religious Unified
Heavenly/Earthly Dual
Knowledge Experience
What I know Who I know
Works Grace
Creed Deed
Analyse Live – Be and Do

You will recognise many of the approaches in the left hand columns. They sum up how most of us have been taught, and have affected how we view everything. God is removing stumbling blocks, and we are going to find that the Greek mindset is increasingly going to be challenged.

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50. And Then The End Will Come

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

I suggested to you last time that Matthew 24 is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted of all chapters in the Bible. This is because people read into it what they expect to see, and do not come with an appreciation of covenant language and covenant understanding.

Good news?

We will look at the whole of Matthew 24 in due course, but for today I want to concentrate on two particular sections. Here is the first:

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. 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 24:11-14).

This is Jesus prophesying, and He is talking about an awful time. False prophets, people being misled, lawlessness, love growing cold, needing to endure. Then He says, “This gospel shall be preached…”. And I thought the gospel was supposed to be good news! If this is how it is, then no wonder some Christians are so miserable and pessimistic. No wonder some have a siege mentality and are just holding on, waiting for Jesus to come and rescue them.

And verse 14, I have heard that preached on so many times. We have been taught that Jesus cannot come back yet, because not every people-group has heard the gospel. The end cannot come until we have preached the gospel to every nation.

The end of what? That is the question we ought to be asking. The end of the world? The end of time?

Clearly not, because we’re still here. Why do I say that? Let’s look at the second passage I want to highlight today.

Amen, Amen

So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place (Matt 24:33-34).

“So you, too…”- Jesus is speaking to his disciples directly here – “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (my italics). That phrase ‘Truly I say’ is the ‘Amen, Amen’, the ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you’ of the older versions, and it means ‘Listen carefully and pay special attention to what I am about to say – this is particularly important.’

‘This generation’. That means a period of up to about 40 years. You really have to twist the meaning of the word to make it mean anything else, which hasn’t stopped some people doing exactly that.

So everything that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 right up to verse 33 – ‘all these things’,  including preaching the gospel to the whole world –  were to happen in the next 40 years or so, during the lifetime of most of those disciples. False prophets, people being misled, lawlessness, love growing cold, enduring to the end – it has all already happened. Now, there is an application of that, and in a sense of course it is always happening, has happened throughout the history of the church.

But the fact is, it happened already. And the end came.

Now that has blown many of your theologies right out of the water. Around the world, prophetic people are struggling to fit what God is showing them into an eschatology that simply doesn’t work, because it is based on a false premise, and a misinterpretation of this passage of scripture, amongst others. As I say, that is because people have not approached it with a proper understanding of covenant and covenant language.

Next time, we will look at how ‘all’ was fulfilled in that generation, and explore the question ‘the end of what’? Once again, we will be looking at some very familiar scriptures, and you will likely already have a very clear understanding of what they mean, because of what you have always been taught. And once more, I’m going to ask you to look again…

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45. Please Do Not Stone Me…

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

We are still looking at the Prophetic Timetable God showed me, but as part of that I am going to get into a subject now that could take quite a while to cover. We need to look at how we understand prophecy.

Sons of Issachar

Scripture tells us that the Sons of Issachar were people who understood the times, and who also had knowledge of what to do. We have had that prophesied over us here, but it is not only true for us, it is true for anyone who will lay hold of that truth for themselves. If we are to gain understanding from God, so that we know what to do, then we must deal with all that robs us. We need to face up to the fact that God is about to challenge and change things we have in place in our lives, in our thinking and in our understanding, so that we line up with Him.

And He loves to give continual opportunity for people to respond. If you look at the Prophetic Timetable diagram, you can see that although God moves on to the next stage, He carries on doing everything He has already begun, so that people can get on board with it at any time, right up to when Jesus returns.

Understanding the times

Some within the church, and indeed some churches, have still not heard the call to intimacy, to identity, or to sonship. Some have not realised that God is highlighting the stumbling blocks, the lawlessness in the church. Not everyone yet sees that He is in the process of refining and purifying us so that the church can be presented to Jesus as a spotless bride (and no longer what Joan Hunter calls a ‘dalmatian church’ – covered in spots). Some may have seen or heard, but not yet responded.

Knowing what to do

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There is still time, but it is already shorter than it was. If we have received revelation, we need to take action. Are we willing to be that generation of harvesters? Or those who train up that generation of harvesters? A shaking is coming, and when it does, the world’s systems are going to fail, big time. It will be critical that we really do understand what God is doing and that we actually do know what to do. That is not the time to be caught unprepared.

In the next few posts I am going to challenge some of your sacred cows. I am going to call into question some of your deeply held beliefs and the way you have always understood and interpreted scripture. There are doctrines which up to now many of us have simply accepted without question; but which God is now exposing as doctrines of demons.

Please do not stone me, at least not until you have read and considered everything I have to say. I do not say it lightly. It is not my natural inclination to be confrontational. But God has shown me some truths and I cannot escape that I need to share them with you.

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39. Demonic Doctrines in the Church

Mike Parsons 

In looking at the prophetic timetable which God showed me, it is clear that a time of persecution is coming. As with everything else, we need to be prepared for it.

Persecution

Where is it going to come from? Well, there are Nephilim spirits which are controlling world systems at the moment, but they are hiding. When the light starts to shine into the darkness, it begins to expose them. It says in Matthew that when Jesus returns, it will be like in the days of Noah. If you want to look into that in more detail, in a previous post we have already considered some of what that might mean. In short, there was open warfare going on upon the earth. If those days are returning, we need to be prepared for open warfare once again.

There is going to be a massive persecution which comes through the religious church. This is because there are so many demonic doctrines operating in the church at large which hinder us and have robbed us of power and authority. When we start to challenge those doctrines, all sorts of religious spirits start to kick off.

If you look at the internet, you will find far too many people from some sections of the church criticising and complaining against other Christians and other moves of God. Come to that, I have had books and leaflets and emails and CDs and DVDs given to me and even posted through my letterbox telling me that everything we see of God moving in supernatural power is actually demonic.

There is a reason why those things are happening. The enemy gets worried when the church begins to rise up, and starts to operate in the power of God and in the authority that God has given us. He tries to get other people (and especially other Christians) to start criticising what is going on, so that it causes disunity and disharmony which disrupts the move of God and makes the church ineffective again.

Where is the fruit?

If you are truly concerned about whether what is going on here (or anywhere else) is a genuine move of God, the answer is to look at the fruit. If it is not of God, it will just fall away. If it is of God, it will produce fruit. Are lives being transformed? Are people being saved and healed? Certainly they are, and there will be more besides.

But the critics I am speaking about will not be satisfied with that. The challenge to God moving supernaturally comes from entrenched doctrines which place the kingdom of God and the authority of that kingdom in another time, or give them to another people. Even just to point that out has a tendency to cause religious spirits to kick off really heavily. Those entrenched doctrines are false doctrines. Was it only in New Testament times that the power of God worked, or will the kingdom only be manifest a thousand years in the future? The only thing you can be sure of is that as far as these people are concerned, it certainly isn’t for us and it certainly isn’t now.

Defeat and rescue?

This kind of thinking has bred an eschatology (that is, an understanding of the end times) of defeat and rescue, that Jesus is going to come and rescue a weak, pitiful, defeated church. That is just a complete lie. If you read the Bible, how could you possibly believe that is going to happen? But it has been taught, and for years and years the church has fallen for it. This is one of the biggest areas that stirs up controversy. As soon as you begin to question people’s eschatology, it causes stink.

Lots of prophetic people around the world are facing a problem in these days, and some of them are quite well known people. Their problem is that what God is showing them prophetically just doesn’t match up with their own eschatological beliefs. One or two of them have been brave enough to stand up and say so, but have quickly lowered their heads below the parapet again because of the hail of abuse and criticism they received for doing so, especially in the USA and Canada. They end up trying to fit what God is saying into an eschatology that doesn’t work.

Jesus is coming back for a victorious church. This is not triumphalism, it is the plain truth of scripture. The kingdom of God is going to be raised up, and we will look some more at this next time.

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