Posts filed under ‘Supernatural’
Four years ago or so, my friend and now one of my spiritual fathers Andy Taylor, asked me this question in response to my asking him what I should do about some situation: “what is the Father saying to you?” It was a question that began to change my life, because for the first time I started listening to the voice in my heart instead of the voice in my head. An essential part of the Trinity DNA is to point people to the Father as the source of their direction and decisions rather than handing out advice that may or may not be the will of their Father. It is the right way, even though at times it is easier to dispense or receive advice, rather than to wait for the Father.
But like all good and right things you can sometimes get in the ditch by not recognising there is at least one other important way to hear and move in the Spirit. If we are staying in step with the Spirit we must be, in most circumstances, in relationship with other Family members. The Spirit walk is not to be lived in isolation. Just like we are born naturally into a family, when we are born again spiritually we become part of a Family that is as important as any natural one.
Being part of a Family where you are loved, affirmed, valued, encouraged and free to grow and fail is called a covering. Under the covering of a true spiritual Family you are known as you know, your heart is knit together by the Spirit with others, and just like there is no way to be separated from the love of the Father there is no way to be separated from His true Family either.
Under this covering there is safety. There is freedom. There is failure and there is success. Under the covering there also must be direction. Spiritual families have parents just like natural families do. In a spiritual Family we have fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and cousins. Sometimes I am as close as a brother to my Family and we relate on that level. I do not know all of my Family equally well and so relate to some more as I do my natural cousins. Sometimes for my spiritual family I serve in the role of a father/mother. And sometimes I am functioning as a son to someone else who is my father/mother.
Fathers and mothers provide direction to a natural family and they must also in the Spiritual family. I am not suggesting they are always telling us what to do, as that would negate the first principle of each Family member hearing The Father for themselves, but where and when there are decisions that in one way or another effect the life of the whole Family, then under the covering there are is a place for the Family fathers and mothers to give direction.
When those of us who serve as fathers and mothers (which in reality we all do at times) refuse to give counsel by hiding behind the first principle of hearing the Father for ourselves, we miss one of the ways the Father uses to move the whole Family in the way He is calling all of us to go and we end up in the ditch, just as we do when we are always depending on others to tell us what to do.
No question, learning to hear the voice of the Father for ourselves is preeminent. Nothing is more important and without an ability to clearly distinguish the Father’s Voice from the myriad of other family members voices that try to give direction, we will end up going from one thing to another without direction or focus and we will end up doing what others think we should do at the expense of doing what the Father wants us to do.
But under the safety of the Family Covering there are times when we need to hear the voice of fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers and even a few cousins, to confirm or affirm what we are hearing the Father say. There is also, in the safety of the covering, a place for our spiritual parents to tell us what they think is best for the whole Family, when one of us is faced with a decision that may affect us all.
Hearing the Father for yourself is essential but counsel from under the covering is a complimentary way to hear Him as well.
Since we are both natural and spiritual beings we have access to both the natural realm and the spiritual realms. (see previous post) Access to the natural is easy because we just do what comes naturally. Access to the spiritual realm does not come naturally so how can we tune into the spiritual dimension?
Deuteronomy 4:29 says if we seek Him (God) with our whole heart and soul, then we will find Him. Are there ways to seek God where He will actually make Himself more fully known? Yes.
God is spirit, Jesus said and so if we want to worship Him we must do so in spirit. (John 4:24). The woman Jesus spoke these words to was focused on the natural aspects of worship, finding God in nature, what religion was right, etc. Jesus was calling her to change her focus from the natural to the spiritual, since as a natural and spiritual person she had access to both. God is not flesh and blood, He is spirit so to connect with Him we must enter the spiritual realm.
To worship Him (relate to Him, have intimate interaction with Him) requires us to use our spiritual side since that is what He is-spirit. As I write these words I am in Washington state. I am a citizen of the United States and my location is in the state of Washington. If you want to talk face to face with me you must come here to Washington. You can read these words but to have a conversation we have to connect here in Washington, that is where I am.
God has told us where He is located and it is in the spiritual realm and those who want a connection with Him must go to where He is.
How do we do that? Remember what God said in Deuteronomy 4? (quoted above) To find Him requires that we seek Him with our whole being. What I think He means is that we must take everything we are and direct it, focus it, point it toward Him. Just focusing our minds toward Him will not get us into a connection with Him. All we can do with our minds is think about Him, rehearse facts about Him, remember past things about Him that are special and unique about Him. Focusing our mind is a good thing to do and one step in the process but since we are body (mind), soul and spirit we must bring our whole being to the pursuit of a connection.
Preparing the soul is a key step in making a connection with the spiritual realm. The Scriptures often speaks of the soul by using the word heart. The heart is the place where spiritual connections take place. The heart is the place where we are most sensitive, real and open to spiritual realities. The heart is where the Spirit of God comes to live when we are born again and receive a new nature, one with a capacity for connecting. So the soul/heart must be prepared for a spiritual connection.
A humble heart, the Bible says God will not despise (Psalm 51). In other words the Father likes humble hearts. Psalm 113 talks about a humble heart that is focused on quiet, spiritual things and not taken up with things we can’t or don’t need to understand. It goes on to say that the heart of a child is the attitude God seekers need to have.
Entering the spirit world requires a humble and quiet heart/soul. Approaching God with a heart consumed with natural worries and philosophical ideas muddies the flow into the spirit. There are things we cannot know with the mind and to try and figure them out keeps the heart from opening into the spiritual.
James writes: draw near to God and He will draw near to you (4:8) We do that, James says, by leaving the cares of the world behind (1-4), submitting our wills to Him (7), and cleansing our hearts (8). We are also to lose the double mindwhen we come, which I think means we must stop arguing with ourselves about whether or not access to the spirit is available to us. Preparation of the heart is essential to entering the spirit realm.
It is from a place of humility that we move into the deeper places of the spirit. We must open the pathways into the heart if we are to experience the fullness of the Father. As we direct our focus toward the Father our hearts enter into agreement with Him and our body (the temple of the Holy Spirit) fulfills it’s most natural function which is to house the presence of the Spirit and that presence filling me up begins to manifestto the entirety of the believer.
Last night at the healing room we spent an hour in worship before we began to pray for the people who came for healing. I could have used more time because I really needed to get myself out of the way last night. I needed to find humility and brokenness by emptying my heart of the stuff of my life. I needed to get in tune with the spiritual side of who I am and to do that required me to be cleansed, to submit my will to His will, to get my heart in tune with His, to put away doubt and release faith. Because I know my Father loves a broken and repentent heart, I spent time moving my spiritual side to that kind of position and by doing so I released the Spirit to take control of all of me, body, soul and spirit.
Making a spiritual connection takes time. Making a natural connection only requires me to know things about my Father, but when I want a spiritual connection I move from knowledge about Him into intimacy with Him and that usually takes more time than I think it will, but when I get there it is really worth the effort.
Sometimes I need to fast from things that I have allowed to be more important than an intimate connection with my Father. Often the pathway I take will start with reading the Word, especially those scriptures that point us to release and withdrawal from the cares of this world. Singing in the Spirit, praying in our prayer language, listening to music, all help to create an environment that is free of distractions. Even getting my posture to a place that shows I am serious about this encounter and that I am truly humbled before Him opens my spirit up to connect with the Spirit.
When I take the time, as we did last night to tune in a connection in the spiritual realm is made and I take my seat in the heavenlies and encounter my Father.
More on tuning into the Spirit, next time.
Our friend Kim and her son Ben have been going through some tough days lately. Ben, a high school senior has a diagnosis of lymphoma and along with our Family have been believing the Father for the manifestation of healing for Ben’s body. A few weeks back Kim, concerned that she was doing everything she could do to see healing take place, asked some of us this question: “if we go ahead and do all this chemo-therapy, doesn’t that show a lack of faith and which will keep God from healing Ben?” My answer to that question was this: “we live in both the natural and the spiritual world and so we want to do everything we can in both worlds to see Ben healed.”
They continue to walk it out in both worlds and the Father is operating to bring healing through both.
We exist in two worlds and we are responsible for our actions in both. We get inspiration, purpose, direction, wisdom and many other things from the Spirit but all of these have to be worked out in the natural world we operate in. This is the way we were created. It is why we are left to live on the planet even though we have a seat in the heavenlies. (see the letter to the Ephesians)
Error comes when we give emphasis to one side over the other. I just came from having coffee with Kelly, a man I knew a little, when I was a pastor here in this area. Kelly had heard me speak the other night and wanted to know how I could go from preaching what I used to preach to now preaching with an emphasis on the fullness of the Spirit. He was wanting to know how I was able to live in both the natural and spiritual worlds after having functioned primarily in only one for so many years.
I use to say things like this: “if you get it right in your mind you will get it right in your life.” This statement, while it contains some truth, is not the whole truth. I was full up on knowledge and had a very good grasp on the truth but I didn’t always get it right in my life. I was not a whole person. I knew the Word but I was not open to the Word the Spirit wanted to implant, moment by moment as I walked through my day.
When we have an extreme emphasis on the rational, natural side of life we tend to have trouble receiving anything from the Spirit. When our focus is solely on study and aquisition of information we are not always conscious of the Holy Spirit speaking, leading or revealing and we miss that moment by moment direction the Spirit wants to give us.
The natural and logical are important dimensions of our life and must be trained and used to function in the natural world but our spiritual senses need training as well so we can receive from our spiritual side as well. Paul prayed that we would be sanctified (made pure) entirely, body, soul and spirit (1Thessalonians 5:23). God never intended us to deny or reject any of these essential parts of our nature. The message of the gospel is redemption, redeeming of our entire being. If our minds are the only thing redeemed we will miss much of what the Father’s intentions for us, are. The Father’s intention for us is that we live in touch with both the natural and the spiritual world.
Because most of my life was lived primarily in touch with the natural world at the expense of the spiritual world I have a lot of ground to cover to catch up. I am not going to get out of touch with my natural side but I am going to give a lot of attention to my spiritual side. I want more and more of the Spirit and will gratefully and boldly take anything and everything He wants to blast me with. However whatever that is must be worked out in the natural.
I plan to do some writing on how we can live out our maximum potential in the Spirit while we walk it out in the natural. Check back, it could be interesting.
Some of the best comments in a long time came in to the Juniper Tree on my last post on the effect of worshipping the written Word while ignoring the other ways the Father speaks to us. One friend said it this way: “I know it because I have read it in His Word, but it goes deeper than that: it is solid in my heart because I have encountered Him, and I have heard His Spirit whispering in my ear.”
There is no substitute for the written Word, I love it, I generally read something from it every day and have for nearly 5 decades. It is like food for a hungry soul that must feed on it to live. But for most of those 5 decades I missed hearing God because of unbelief, hiding behind knowledge.
I was taught that in these “last days” our Father no longer speaks to us the way He did with the apostles and prophets. That He no longer is operating outside of our knowledge of Him or our understanding about Him. My teachers were consistent, faithful to their hermeneutic and had a love for God that was real and hopeful. But they allowed their unbelief to be fogged over by their commitment to wisdom/knowledge over faith.
Unbelief often has an appearance of being a being an approach to life that is careful, scholarly, conservative and skeptical of anything that defies logic and could possibly be faked or flow out of an emotional experience. No one who operates out of that frame of reference calls what they are doing unbelief but it clearly is.
The mission of unbelief is to subject God to the mind and control of His creation. Unbelief questions everything including God’s agenda and His way. Unbelief’s favorite method is to demand proof. If it really is a miracle, unbelief says, then “prove it”.
What is sad and so counter productive for Kingdom advancement is that unbelief is completely unable to represent Jesus in His power and glory. It may sound wise, steady, steeped in conservative and proper Christian behavior but it effectively cuts off what the life of Jesus in us is capable of doing to see His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth (in the same way) as it is in heaven.
One old friend said to me during a discussion (argument) as to whether God was still healing people: “when people start getting out of wheel chairs and walking instead of a few people having their hearing restored, I will believe it”. Well they are getting out of wheel chairs, the dead are being raised and now he wants doctors reports and x-rays to prove it. The issue is not does God heal, the issue is will we believe He heals.
I am aware that there are fakers out there. There are mean people who prey on broken, hurting and hopeless people for their own gain, but this intensive effort to protect ourselves from being fooled is more about unbelief than it is a desire to be wise so we are not deceived.
Fear of deception exists predominately where unbelief has been ruling for a long time. Children believe, new followers of Jesus believe, people who are not followers of Jesus believe! Wisdom does not believe.
It is not for us to put God on trial. He is not subject to our knowledge, our wisdom. When Paul spoke of renewing the mind it was to just such an issue he was speaking. The unrenewed mind demands proof and demands the Creator explain Himself to the created. Prove it God and I’ll believe it. What arrogance, what unbelief.
1Corinthians 13:7 says this Love believes all things. When we encounter the redeeming, freeing, consistent, unconditional agape of the Father it frees us from our protective instinct of unreasonable caution. The apostle Paul takes us further into an understanding of this agape when he writes in Galatians 5: faith finds it greatest expression in love. When fear is driven out by real agape love it opens up the door to the kind of faith that believes the Father’s desire to lovingly reveal Himself extravagantly through miracles. An encounter with the Father’s love is the best method for dismantling unbelief.
The enemy of our souls always comes at us with fear which leads to unbelief which leads to falling back on wisdom which leads to power-less and glory-less lives.
My friend and pastor, Andy says: God is what (knowledge about) He is but Father is who He is (relationship with). Religion is a call to knowledge about God, to aquiring knowledge about what He is which more than not produces fear and unbelief, while an agape relationship with the Father leads to a trust in who He is (our Daddy) and an ability to see with the eyes of the heart and not the proof demanding eyes of our head.
There are 8 previous entries in this series on Matthew 24. Since it has been a while since I wrote anything on this subject some of you may want to go back and read a few of the previous posts. This post will focus on the second of three questions the disciples asked Jesus about the future. If you want a little taste of this series before reading today’s post you could start with 24.2. Find it HERE.
Question #2 What will be the sign of your coming? (24:3)
My background as a dispensationalist was not only good for me, because of their deep love for the Scriptures, it also taught me important principles about how to study the Bible and how to evaluate teaching as to its validity or credibility. An unfortunate thing about that training is that it also taught me to read my bias into what I was studying, especially in the area of eschatology. (the study of how the world will end)
A futurist reads this question and immediately decides it is about the second coming of our Savior. They are convinced, through some, in my opinion, incredible leaps of interpretive gymnastics, that the signs Jesus speaks of in Matthew 23-24 are yet to occur and so believe that the return of Jesus is waiting the culmination of these signs.
I have already explained (to my satisfaction) how all of these signs, like wars, earthquakes, famines and the rest were signs that came prior to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Those signs have been fulfilled. While there may still be wars, earthquakes, famine and all the other disasters mentioned in 24 around today, they are not the “signs” Jesus was talking about. Those are behind us.
When the disciples were listening to Jesus, they were not thinking about the Second Coming of Jesus, in fact at that point they were not even thinking about Jesus death, let alone a second visit to planet earth, some day. So that alone is enough to say they were not asking about the “Second Coming”. (the kind of Second Coming understanding the futurists teach and has been made popular by the Left Behind book series)
When they ask “what will be the sign of Your coming?” what did they mean by this word “coming”? The Jews historic fixation on the coming of the Messiah colored everything in their lives. All of their hopes, dreams, desires, understanding of who they were and what their destiny was, was focused on the Messiah coming and setting up a Kingdom where they would be in control and the Romans would be out of their collective lives. (see for example Matthew 20:20-23)
So their question was directedat finding out when Jesus would come into His Kingdom and take a position of authority and reveal Himself as King.
A Kingdom view of these verses and all the other references to Kingdom, authority, rule, reign, etc are fulfilled in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus to His place on the throne at the right hand of God, the Father. All authority was given to Him both in the heavenlies (spirit world) and on earth. Jesus came into His rightful and authoritative Kingdom at the moment He entered the heavenlies and sat down next to the Father. That took place 2000 years ago in the generation that was alive when these insightful questions were asked.
What else could it mean when Jesus says these words recorded in Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1? “There are some of you standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
It seems brilliantly clear to me that some of the people who were sitting right in front of Him, as He spoke on the Mount of Olives, would live to see Him come into His Kingdom. Jesus took His place on the throne 2000 years ago.
And now, as Kingdom people, given “all power and authority” by Jesus, before He went and sat down on His throne, we are, filled with the Spirit, with supernatural wisdom and revelation, in the process of taking back what was lost in the garden, renewing and redeeming this planet through the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom, anticipating the glorious return of our King and Bridegroom Jesus, to a spotless, pure and “made ready” Bride. (Ephesians 5)
Jesus came into His Kingdom 2000 years ago. We are not still waiting signs to tell us He will come into It real soon. He is on the throne right now and we His Kingdom people are establishing His Kingdom by His power and authority.
These posts are a work in progress. I am getting my thoughts in order as I write them here. I want to be real clear that Jesus has already “come into His Kingdom.” He is on His throne. We are not waiting for “signs” to be fulfilled so He can finally have all power and authority. He gave that to us in what we now call the Great Commission (Matthew 28) We await His return, but we do not wait for signs. We await His coming to rule and reign on a planet redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. (Read Revelation 12:11 with this post in mind)
With all of that in mind we will better understand the answer Jesus gives to Question #2 “What will be the sign of Your coming”. More on His answer in the next post.
I stated early on in this teaching on Matthew 24 that the futurists take the 3 questions the disciples asked Jesus and combine them into one question. Then they assume this “one” question is about the Second Coming and the end of the world. But we have shown in previous posts that there really are 3 distinct questions and they are not about some time yet in the future but are about the events the disciples, who heard Jesus prophetic words, were going to face in the days ahead.
It is interesting to note that Matthew’s fellow gospel writers record only the first of the three questions in their accounts of this conversation. The first question and the answers are simply about when the temple would be destroyed (Mark 13; Luke 21) The futurists want us to believe the 3 questions are really only one question and refer to a time yet to come. But Mark and Luke include only one question and the answers they record to that question are clearly about the destruction of the temple, an event history has already shown us, has taken place. Is it not fair to assume that all three disciples are writting about the same events?
That Mark and Luke do not include the other questions, but do include Jesus’ answer to the first question in the same way Matthew does, is confirmation that Jesus is answering only the first of the three questions and that all the other things He says would happen took place within the same 40 year period.
One can not understate how important an event it was when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Jerusalem was the holy city and Mt. Moriah where the temple was situated was the place where Abraham was willing to offer up his son Isaac (Genesis 22:2) It was also the place where God met with David (2Chronicles 3:1) and the place where Solomon built the first temple. It was the place where sacrifice was made for sin and the center of Jewish life and culture. There was no place more important to the men who were listening to Jesus than the temple. Their heritage and every thing sacred to them as Jews was wrapped up in that temple.
But not only did the destruction of the temple destroy their heritage and culture, it also brought to an end the Jewish religious system, the old covenant, replacing it with a new covenant made possible through the death of Jesus, an event that took place shortly after Jesus’ prophesies recorded in 24.
The writer of Hebrews makes it abundantly clear: When God speaks of a new covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and ready to be put aside. (8:13)
It was the destruction of the temple that made the old covenant obsolete and ushered in the New Covenant, a covenant made with better and more lasting promises. Jesus’ death on the cross provided us with a High Priest who made the ultimate, complete and final sacrifice.
The destruction of the temple is the pivotal point of Christian history and the Bible. It is where the Father’s plan makes a big turn and moves from law to grace as the means of salvation. It destroyed a religion of rules and replaced it with a relationship of grace and love.
To suggest that this question, when will these things happen, is pointing to some time yet in the future is to ride right over the most important point in the salvation story and miss the point of these crucial and critical events.
No wonder the enemy wants you to think we are still waiting for these prophesies to be fulfilled!
As we move through Matthew 24 we are looking at the prophesies that Jesus makes to see if they were fulfilled during the 40 years or so that immediately following the time He spoke these words. There are several different prophesies in 24 and I wrote about a number of them in the last post. Even though I will not take the time to do it, it can be shown that all the prophesis of 24 were fulfilled during the time period Jesus said they would and there is no need to be looking at the “signs” of these current times to determine when Jesus will return.
Here are two of the remaining ones that get peoples attention.
A great tribulation: For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occured since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (24:21-22)
Futurist teachers say this time of great tribulation (greater horror than anything the world has ever seen-NLT) will come at a time, yet in the future, just before the end of the world. Christians, especially western Christians, have talked so much about this horrible time it has taken on a life of its own own- known as- The Great Tribulation.
If you know anything at all about the time when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, you know it was the most horrific of times, perhaps not in magnitude (6 million Jews slaughtered by Hitler, the killing of millions in Africa in the 20th and 21st centuries are both larger in number) but certainly no period of time rivals the anguish and suffering of the days that occurred during the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the total destruction of the Temple.
Josephus, (the dude has his own website [HERE] and he is nearly 2000 years old!) perhaps the best historian of that period, tells how the Jews committed unthinkable atrocities to each other, including cannibalism, during the famine I wrote about in the last 24 post. He tells a story of a woman murdering her little boy, cooking and eating him and then arguing with thieves who broke into her house looking for food, as to who would eat the other half.
During the famine Jews swallowed diamonds and other precious stones in hopes of escaping and carrying them to a safe location. The Romans knew about this ploy and captured these men and women and cut open their stomachs and intestines searching for whatever they could find. They ripped open dozens of empty stomachs to find one with a diamond.
Titus put a stop to that kind of torture but the Romans found other ways to massacre Jews. Jewish men, desperate to find food for themselves and their families, would try to escape the city only to be caught by the Romans who would cut off their hands and send them back into the city. Josephus writes that 500 men were whipped, tortured and crucified, everyday. There were so many crosses at the gate of the city they ran out of room. This slaughter continued until there were less than 100,000 Jewish people left in the city and these were led off to captivity in Egypt or given by the Romans as gifts to the leaders of nearby provinces to be used for sport in their coliseums.
When Jerusalem was destroyed it set off the killing of Jews in other regions and countries surrounding Jerusalem. Even places where the hatred of Rome was nearly as great as it was in Israel joined in the frenzied genocide of the Jewish people. You can easily find periods in history where more people have been killed, but the violence during the AD 70 tribulation of the Jewish nation was extreme in its horror.
One of the problems I have long had with The Great Tribulation is attempting to vision how things could be worse then they were during this historical period. We have seen and will continue to see horrible treatment of human beings by other human beings, even treatment as terrible as it was during these days but we will never see a time where the torture will be worse. To suggest there is a tribulation of greater horror than these days, prophesied by Jesus yet to come, is to miss the point.
I was going to write about the anti-Christs too but will add that in later. Can’t stomach any more today.
My point with all of this will be made clear in the days ahead but I need to say this: A Kingdom view of the end of days focuses not on how bad it is or how bad it might get but instead focuses on making ready a victorious Bride for the coming of the Bridegroom and the establishing of an unshakable Kingdom, one rescued life at a time.
The American church especially, has spent so much of it’s time and resources warning people about the perceived horror of The Great Tribulation and visualizing some AntiChrist in every leader they don’t agree with, including the current president of the USA, while ignoring the strategic mission of the Church.
Our mandate is to change the culture by being salt and light, bringing real hope, real healing (especially physical and emotional), real deliverance (there is a war out there) and real freedom by loving people, especially those who “persecute us and say all kinds of ugly stuff about us, which is untrue” (Matthew 5:11)
It doesn’t matter, in fact won’t matter, what any world leader or culture does if the Body of Christ will actually be the Body of Christ. We must stop looking for the return of Jesus and start being Jesus. I am pretty sure the point of His leaving, was so there would be billions of Jesus’ to do the job rather than One.
His Kingdom will come and His will will be done on earth in the same way as it is in heaven, not when Jesus returns or we are jerked out of here but when each one of us, operating by the Spirit in the ”spiritual places” wages war and takes back the territory lost in the garden proclaiming Jesus is Lord to the glory of God, one day at a time, one person at a time, one situation at a time, one location at a time.
Trying to re-fulfill prophesy is a monumental distraction we do not need to waste our time on.
Place and time: Trinity Fellowship-9 and 10:45 (listen live at 9:30 Central time HERE)
Best thing about speaking at Trinity? Blue jeans!
Thesis: Looking at life through the “eyes of the heart” we see things that “are not as though they were”.
Text: Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flows springs of living water. Proverbs 4:23
- used to say “get it right in the mind, get it right in life”. If that were true the people who know the most would live life the best. we know that isn’t true.
- Looking at life with our minds we can only bring what we know in the mind to bear on situations that seem impossible and offer the problem natural solutions. The eyes of the heart allow us to see what God sees, know what God knows and bring supernatural solutions.
- The mind looks at impossible situations, takes in all the data and renders a logical, fact based conclusion and says to the heart “can’t be done, won’t work, you are going to die, it’s over…”
- The heart looks at the same impossible situation and says “I see things you can’t see, I see a different reality…”
- It isn’t denying reality, it is accepting a different reality.
- Agreements are life changing.
- We zero out the supernatural when we make agreements with what we can only see with the eyes of our mind. The enemy says “look, that situation is impossible” and when we only look with the eyes of our mind, we say “you are right, I agree, it isn’t possible.”
- When we bring the super natural to bear on the situation and see with the eyes of the heart, we hear our Father say, “I know what I am doing, there is another side to this situation…” and we enter into an agreement with the Father and the supernatural is unleashed.
- Kingdom power is only released to the degree I am in agreement with it.
- The Father always has an agenda for us in every situation but so does the enemy. In every situation we face we either partner with the Father or with the enemy.
- The enemy says “your problems are greater than the solutions you carry.” The Father says “the solutions you carry are greater than your problems.”
- One produces fear the other faith.
- If you choose your enemy’s analysis you make an agreement with the one who hates you, wants to kill you, wants to steal everything from you. If you choose the Father’s veiw of the situation you make an agreement with the One who loves you, wants to give you life beyond your comprehension, and has nothing but good for you.
- One is a temptation that leads to death the other a test to pass that leads to deeper faith, greater anointing and more opportunity to unleash the supernatural.
The greatest revelation ever is this: your Father is good. Drive a stake in the ground today, build a alter in your heart right now, to the reality that your Father is good. Always, all the time.
- when you get blindsided by a bad diagnosis-your Father is good.
- when you lose your job, nothing changes…your Father is good.
- when your child acts out-your Father is good.
- when your marriage is a wreck and hopeless-your Father is good.
To see with “the eyes of your heart” and not the “eyes of your mind” you must guard it with a burning, unrelenting, absolute conviction that your Father is good.
There you have it. You can sleep in tomorrow!
Question #1 When will all this take place? (24:3)
Matthew 23 flows into 24 with, as you know, no chapter break. In vv.1-2 of 24, Jesus repeats again that the Temple was going to be totally demolished. Immediately after His prediction, Jesus and His disciples take a walk up on to the nearby, Mount of Olives (24.1) When Jesus sits down to have a private conversation with his disciples on the hill across from the Temple, they are looking right down on the place they had just left. Mark’s account of this conversation confirms the disciples were facing the Temple when they asked the 3 questions (see 24.3 for content of 3 questions).
So, if you were one of the disciples and your leader has just told you the building at the heart of your whole religious and cultural life is going to be pulverized, what would you want to know? I would want to know when this dramatic and life changing event is going to happen, wouldn’t you?
Now, the futurist teacher assumes the disciples were asking about the end of the world, but that is the third question they ask, not the first. To Jewish boys, like the disciples, their first concern was for the Temple, because destroying the Temple would be such a huge event to them, they had to be wondering if such an event might not be the end of the world. It had to be shocking to them that God’s holy Temple would be destroyed. What would life be without it? To these simple men, whose whole history was wrapped up in the Jewish life and faith, the Temple was as central as anything in their lives. To think of it being destroyed would easily have made them think their whole world was coming to an end.
We will come to questions 2 and 3 another time, but for now let’s answer the first question with the context just described firmly in our minds. When is the Temple (and potentially all of Jerusalem) going to be destroyed?
Have these words of Jesus already come to pass or are we still waiting? To meet Jesus’ time table of the Temple being destroyed within the “generation” of those to whom he was speaking, the Temple would have to be destroyed by AD 70, about 40 years (a generation) after His prophetic statement. Did that happen?
Within 40 years after Jesus declared judgement, 20,000 Roman soldiers, under the command of General Titus, surrounded the city for four months, starving the citizens of Jerusalem. Then the soldiers marched into the city and without mercy slaughtered more than one million Jews. The soldiers set the Temple on fire and took nearly 100,000 Jews into captivity. Nothing much is heard about the Jews for the next 60 years until they attempted one more rebellion against Rome. After 3 years of fighting, the Romans crushed the rebellion, killing another 600,000 Jews. Israel was not recognized as a nation again until 1948.
The Roman soldiers so demolished the Temple that every stone was carried away and the land on which the Temple stood was plowed under until absolutely nothing was left, just as Jesus said it would be!
Jesus’ answer to question one is in 24:34 “I assure you, this generation, will not pass away until all these things take place.” If we take His answer literally and understand a generation to be 40 years, then Jesus’ answer was right on. The Temple was destroyed just as He predicted.
Now, the futurist teachers see all of the events in Matthew 24 happening not in AD 70, but 2,000 plus years (and counting) into our future. They do not accept that the “generation” Jesus declared in both 23:36 and 24:34 is referring to the “generation” alive when Jesus spoke these words. Sometimes they redefine “generation” to mean “race,” as in the Jewish “race”, so they say the Jewish race will not pass away until the end of the world, which we continue to wait for. Futurists must give the word “generation” some other meaning, other than the commonly held 40 year period, if they are to make Jesus’ predictions yet to be fulfilled.
But why would you explain it that way? Why would you not just take a plain, literal explanation of the text? If you have no Left Behind books, no Scofield Bible, no prophetic TV to watch, no dispensational theology to confuse you, and you read Jesus’ words without any coaching and with only history to study, could you or would you see His answer as referring to something yet to take place, now more than 2000 years into the future?
The disciples ask a simple question of Jesus, as they look down on the Temple they were just in, from the hill right across from that building. It is the question I would want answered if I had just heard that the religious and cultural center of my life was to be destroyed.
If you were given a prediction of the total destruction of Washington DC, the White House and all the other monuments in our nations capitol, by a person you considered to be trustworthy and your promised Savior, what would you want to know?
I would want to know “when will all this take place?” and I certainly would not expect the answer I received would be about something totally unrelated and 2000+ years into the future, would you?
I can’t imagine it. Jesus knew exactly what He was speaking about, and everything He prophesied between Matthew 23:36 and 24:34 took place just as He said it would, during the generation that was alive when Jesus spoke the words.
While this blog is not the place to try and speak to all the predictions found in Matthew 23-24, I will attempt over the next post or two to write about some of the other predictions Jesus made that some how have been moved from the 40 year period that followed His speaking them, to a day yet in the future. (if all of the predictions in 24 are already fulfilled we are free to read Daniel 2, 9 and Revelation in a very different way. More on that later.)
If you have read this stuff to this point you might be wondering why you should read on or what my point is. Here is my reason for putting so much of myself into this study and asking you to work hard to understand it: What Jesus predicts in these verses is ugly, negative, vicious and life changing for those who live or die as they go through it. The futurists, of all persuasions, tell us these terrible times are still in our future. Some futurists say the Church will be raptured out before it gets real bad and so find “joy” in the signs of the times. Other futurists predict we will be here for all these events, while some others say we will stay for half or less of the bad days. If we choose to believe their report we spend our time and energy in certain ways.
However if we see these events as already fulfilled in the 40 years immediately after they were predicted, then we are free to live another way, building the Kingdom that will never pass away, the Kingdom that cannot be shaken, the Kingdom given to us by Jesus to advance, until as His Bride we are fully clothed in His righteousness and purity, radiantly displaying to the world the glory of His presence. His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth just as it is in heaven. Why destroy what you have called your Kingdom citizens to advance?
Before I jump into Matthew 24 here is this morning’s Henri Nouwen devo. It has Kingdom all over it:
The opposite of a scarcity mentality is an abundancy mentality. With an abundancy mentality we say: “There is enough for everyone, more than enough: food, knowledge, love … everything.” With this mind-set we give away whatever we have, to whomever we meet. When we see hungry people we give them food. When we meet ignorant people we share our knowledge; when we encounter people in need of love, we offer them friendship and affection and hospitality and introduce them to our family and friends.
When we live with this mind-set, we will see the miracle that what we give away multiplies: food, knowledge, love … everything. There will even be many leftovers.
Now on to 24!
Question #1. When will these things happen?
The disciples ask Jesus three questions in Matthew 24: …Tell us, when will these things happen and what will be the sign of your coming, and (what will be the sign) of the end of the age?
Some translations, maybe even yours (for example the KJV) ends this sentence with the word “world” and in doing so makes the 3 questions into an inquiry about the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world. What happens when the word is translated world is it moves the focus of these questions on to a summary of what the world will be like just before it comes to an end, rather than a “simple” asking of questions related to what Jesus has just spoken about.
But the Greek word aion can also be translated, and in my opinion should be translated, “age“. By translating aion as age, or a period of time, and not world, we are not tempted to move the fulfilment of this text from its first century setting into the 21st century. The ending of an age and the ending of the world are two very different things.
The Kingdom view attempts to read nothing into the text, to not see a summary, but 3 distinct questions about how the current age, the age the disciples were living in when the questions were asked, would end. 1. When will these things happen? 2. What will be the sign of your coming? 3. What about the end of the age?
When we make a decision, to let the text say what it says without adding or summarizing, it frees us to understand the answers Jesus gives to these questions in a very different way than the futurist sees them.
So, first question; When will these things happen? What are “these things”? If you have been taught, like I have the futurist view, we immediately think that “these things” refers to events that will happen right before the second coming of Jesus. But what does the context of Matthew 24 tell us? Many of you have been reading it and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you, so before you read my answer to the question, ask yourself, what is the context here? What is the conversation about? What is Jesus talking to His disciples about? Take a minute and read the chapter. Start back in chapter 23 and let it lead you into 24.
Jesus is speaking in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The first thing He does is warn the crowd and the disciples to be very careful about the Jewish Temple leadership. You can see this in vv.2-12. Next Jesus turns to His disciples and, with no mincing of words, rips the religious leaders. The flavor of His comments are clear: v.13 … woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. v.14…Woe to you… v.15…Woe to you… v.16 Woe to you blind guides. Jesus is ripping into the Jewish Temple religious leadership (and cultural leaders) with an intensity that can’t be missed. He repeats these same words in vv.23-29.
With even greater intensity, Jesus winds up His beat down in vv.33-36 with a scathing rebuke of these phony and controlling leaders: You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? 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 beat in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the alter. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. (33-36)
Jesus is passing judgment on a generation of religious leaders who have spilled the blood of “every righteous person, from A-Z, Abel to Zechariah” (in the Hebrew Bible Abel is book 0ne and Zechariah is the last book) Jesus is telling these religious leaders that the blood of every righteous person in their Holy Book, from start to finish is on them.
Typically in the Scriptures a generation was considered to be 40 years. So if we assume that the judgement Jesus is passing is going to come true in a literal sense (why would we not take it literally) then those who heard Jesus speak these words could expect judgment to fall on them. (Jesus began this rebuke and judgment back in Matthew 23 and some of the specifics of the judgement are included there (vv.37-38).
A literal reading of these verses makes it really hard to see this judgment happening at any other time than during the generation (40 years or so) immediately following the speaking of the words.
Question 1. When will these things happen? What things? Answer: These things= vv.33-36 23:37-38) When? Answer: Over the next 40 years or so, from the time they were spoken.
I find it hard to make this text say anything at all about the time we are living in today. How about you?
Almost all prophesy writing of a futurist nature (Left Behind series, Scofield Study Bible, Dispensational theology, popular prophetic writing, etc) moves Jesus’ answers from the 40 years immediately following His speaking to the time we are currently living in. That is really poor hermenuetics (logical guidelines for interpreting historical writings) and there is no reason for it. Let the text and the historical evidence speak for “themselves”!
Next post. Did the words of Jesus in Matthew 24, come true during the next 40 years or so, or are we still waiting for them to happen?