Understanding the times and seasons
We are living in exciting days! I hope that you think so. In fact we are in unprecedented days, days that the prophets of old saw and spoke about and longed to experience in their day.
Never has there been so much praise and worship going up from the face of planet earth as there is today. (Give examples of the Burundi Presidential Palace Charismatic Service experience, the Philippines and the S Korea mission, the awesome World Prayer Assembly gathering in Jakarta Indonesia this last May etc etc)
…singing the same worship songs….the love language of the saints of God.
Never has there been so much prayer and intercession ascending to God’s throne as there is today. Illustration: Small and large 24/7 Houses of Prayer (Kansas City, USA or the small wooden cabin in Penzance Cornwall), Prayer mountains of Paul Yonggi Cho, S Korea, the rise of organisations such as the Global Day of Prayer(S Africa), various Child Prayer Movements (CiP Movement The Royal Kids’, India), P.I.N.K Conference in South Korea, Youth prayer…USA recently where 100,000 youth met for a day of prayer and fasting to seek God to forgive their nation particularly over the murder of innocent babies through abortion. Most recently the WPA event in Jakarta, Indonesia, last month, was perhaps the largest gathering of its kind. 100,000 people including leaders of government, market place and Church leaders, Youth and 20,000 child intercessors gathered to pray, testify about examples of national transformation and to worship together for four days whilst 373 other city stadiums throughout Indonesia were filled and joined in the televised event. 400 million others linked up around the world to watch the re-televised event on Pentecost Sunday.
Never has there been such an increase in the revelation and understanding of the counsel and wisdom of our God as is being revealed today as He seeks to restore His Son’s Church.
Never has there been such a release of the prophetic ministries, of vision, of dreams, of declarations, of visits of angels to the saints or visits to heaven by the saints.
Never has there been such an acceleration of the fulfilment of biblical prophecy as in these last 100 years
We are privileged to be alive today. We are certainly in unprecedented days!
However all this is taking place against the backdrop of intensifying darkness in the world. But that’s consistent with world conditions at the time of all major moves of God. It was so in the coming of Jesus to earth as a man. Just as the prophet Isaiah prophesied about His first coming so it will be in the world at the time of His second coming when He comes to take His Bride.
Isaiah 60 v 1,2 ….”Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the face of the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you”
Many of the signs recorded in Matthew 24 are being experienced repeatedly today ….. earthquakes, famines, wars and rumours of wars. We are certainly in the “beginnings of the birth pangs” but that darkness, as in the days of Noah, must yet reach its full measure before He comes. Jesus said that....”As it was in the days of Noah so it shall be at the coming of the Son of Man” which refers not only to the unexpected timing of His coming but to the evil darkness that would envelop the world in the day of His coming as it was in Noah’s day. This darkness will be like the trumpet that heralds the glory of the hour. It points to the glory that is yet to come. The fact that we are aware of the hour we are living in, at all, is a privilege indeed.
But this privilege of discerning the hour comes with a responsibility which we must respond to and of course we first need to discern the ‘Time and Season’ itself. There are two scriptures that will help us to discern and to respond correctly.
a) 1 Chron 12 v 32… “The Son’s of Issachar that understood the times and seasons”
b) Acts 3 v 21 that says….”He (Jesus) must be held in heaven until the restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began”.
a) 1 Chron 12 v 32… “The Son’s of Issachar that understood the times and seasons”
Who were the ’Sons of Issachar’……..it does us well to understand their gifting and their role in ancient Israel.
Their importance and role for Israel is demonstrated by the fact that they were recorded in the scriptures here. Their contribution was appreciated enough to be recognised above the other tribes.
According to the Targum, the Rabbi’s oral commentary on the Torah, the sons of Issachar were also biblical astronomers and astrologers who kept track of the times and the seasons. Although the Targum is a collection of Jewish traditions and not necessarily historical fact it does serve to suggest that the Sons of Issachar had a particular role in Jewish society. So much so that they were singled out for mention in 1 Chron 12 v 32.
The Targum says of these people…"and the sons of Issachar, who had understanding to know the times, and were skilled in fixing the beginnings of years, the commencement of months, and the intercalation of months and years; skilful in the changes of the moon, and in fixing the lunar solemnities to their proper times; skilful also in the doctrine of the solar periods; astrologers in signs and stars, that they might show Israel what to do."
Their knowledge of the Jewish Torah and their understanding of the times made them keepers of the biblical calendar. Consequently, they were the ones who made known the appointed times and seasons of when Israel should observe the feasts of the Lord (Lev. 23). Since the Lord's Feasts reveal God's plan and timing of His redemption in the Messiah (Jesus was to be the Passover lamb to be slain) I believe it is clear that the sons of Issachar had an anointing which gave them a unique insight into God's timing of things past, present and future.
The Sons of Issachar advised the Kings of Israel. For example, during Israel's first civil war, when God was transferring the kingdom of Israel from Saul's rulership over to David, eleven of the twelve tribes were divided amongst themselves as to whom they would serve. Only the sons of Issachar, were united to the point that "all their kinsman" joined to fight with David (1 Chron. 12:23-32).
The sons of Issachar were able to totally commit themselves to David, because they understood that it was the time for God to fulfil His prophetic word given by Samuel 17 years earlier (1 Sam. 15:28). The Lord granted them an anointing to understand the prophetic timing for when He would tear the kingdom of Israel away from rebellious Saul and give it over to his servant David (1 Sam. 15:22-28).
It is importance for us today that we are like the Son’s of Issachar.
If we too do not listen to the prophets and seek to understand the time and season of God then we too will find ourselves unable to fully cooperate with God in bringing to pass the things He wants to do in our generation. In fact it is imperative that we do listen. Scripture insists that we do. The kings and Israel herself were judged because they had not listened to the voice of the prophets. See Daniel 9 v 6 ...”and we have not listened to your servants the prophets”. God for Daniel was the “revealer of mysteries” and for Joseph God was the interpreter of dreams.
In the N.T. Jesus warns His disciples to understand the signs of the seasons. In Matt 16 v 3 Jesus rebuked them for not doing so. “You know how to interpret the signs in the sky but you cannot interpret the signs of the times”. In Luke 19 v 41 – 44 we read of perhaps the saddest indictment upon Israel that Jesus ever gives. He felt the pain of it so much that He weeps over Jerusalem as He prophesied its destruction because …“You did not recognise the time of God’s visitation”
Certainly we are not to understand the dates and days of present and end time events as Jesus clearly said in Act 1 v 7 “ It is not for you to understand the times and dates that the Father has set by His own authority” but we are to know the times and seasons.
This is a part of having vision and scripture says that…”Without vision the people perish” and “everyone does what is right in their own eyes”. With vision and understanding there is direction, maturity and forward movement. When the church fails to understand Her destiny and where She is in the prophetic timeline of the Lord then there is participation in the movements of God by default only and at times even down right resistance.
God wants partnership in the Spirit with His people. Jesus desires cooperation in the spirit with His Church, His precious Bride. God is sovereign and omnipotent. He has no need of our help in fulfilling His purposes but He chooses to work in partnership with man. What dignity He gives us, what honour He bestows upon us by such a chose.
If, as scripture says, that the purposes of God are not fulfilled before being first revealed to the prophets, then we need to both know the prophetic word and understand the times and seasons or if you like to understand where we are in the prophetic time line in order for us to respond and participate fully with the Father, by influencing the conditions that must be in order for that prophecy to come to pass.
How do we, as the Church, influence those conditions that will anticipate the fulfilling of the declared prophecies in line with God’s ‘time and season’? Part of the Church’s response is by prayer and intercession.
The place of prayer in this process is crucial. Intercession is the means by which the Church births the prophetic word.
This revelation was given to me when I was asked to address a meeting of some of the leading national intercessors in Nairobi, Kenya in 2006. In my preparation time the Lord asked me to explain the function of an intercessor. I gave my best answer.
But then He took me through the scriptures from the Old Testament to the new and showed me that no prophecy was fulfilled or movement of God was birthed without the ‘travailing’ of an intercessor, known or unknown. He took me to 1Samuel 1 and the prayer of Hannah and showed me, that because of her ‘travailing’ in prayer over the request for a son released not only a son to her but birthed the Prophetic Movement in Israel. It was the time and season for this to happen and her availability and ‘travail’ initiated the ‘first prophetic movement.’ Then he took me to 1King 18 v 42 - 46 and showed me Elijah, who after the famine in Israel which had devastated the land for three years, discerned the ‘time and season’ and got down in the Hebrew birthing position seven times to birth his own prophetic word that the drought would end.
Then I looked at Daniel and was reminded that when he realised the ‘time and season’ he was in, the seventieth year of captivity, and that it was indeed that year that the prophet Jeremiah had declared, would see the end of their captivity, he set himself to prayer and intercession to usher in the fulfilment of that prophetic word. Daniel knew that God always uses a human instrument to participate in bringing a prophecy to fulfilment. The ninth chapter describes the steps Daniel took to activate the prophecy into fulfilment by confessing the sins of the people, prayer and supplication with fasting for God to fulfil His Word and start the process of restoring the Jews back to their own nation. One lone prophet in a foreign land received a revelation and took appropriate action, which resulted in the restoration of GOD’s people and the rebuilding of their temple of worship.
Finally, He took me to Luke 2 v 26 and explained that even His own son’s incarnation had to be birthed by the intercession of Simeon and Anna to whom it had been revealed by the Holy Spirit…”that he (Simeon) would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”.
So, we, the Church, have a vital role in the fulfilling of the purposes of God inline with the times and seasons of God.
b) Acts 3 v 21 that says….”He (Jesus) must be held in heaven until the restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began”.
This is the second of the verses that help us understand more clearly what God means by discerning the ‘Times and Seasons’ and I find this verse humbling, very sad and exhilarating all at the same time.
Jesus must be ‘held’ in heaven
That Jesus would submit himself to being held in heaven against His heart’s desire is humbling. He is longing to return to sweep up His precious Bride in His arms and to present Her to Father but He will not until “the restoration of all things”. He submits to the Father’s will awaiting His command “Go get Her my Son!” and the Father will not release Him until the ‘time appointed’ when all things are restored. I find it humbling that the King of Kings and the Bridegroom King submits Himself to both the will of the Father and the conditions that He has decided must first be met. This is reflected in Jn 14 when Jesus at the betrothal or engagement meal (the last supper) tells His disciples that He has to leave them to prepare a place for them, the marriage home, but that He will return when all is ready. Jn 14 v2ff …” I am going to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me”
Now in Jewish custom the marriage home was built either on the flat roof of the father’s house, or as an extension of the father’s house or on the father’s land. AND only the father knew when the home was completed well enough. He alone gave the signal for the son to go get His Bride. Jesus said, when asked when the time was that He would come again, said….“ Only the Father knows the hour, not even the Son”.
However the Bride must also make herself ready. Rev 19 v7 says …” For the wedding of the Lamb has come and the Bride has made Herself ready”. The fact that we can as a Church live in obedience or rebellion or apathy and so hinder the preparation that we must make, causes me to wonder at the humility of God who will humble Himself enough to allow us to hinder or hasten His purposes. It is also so sad that often the Church does hinder the plans of God.
….“until the restoration of all things”.
God is in the business of restoration. Not only has He redeemed mankind but He wants to restore all things. To restore is to bring back someone or something to the original perfection and purpose for which it was designed. The Church, that was designed to “demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God” Eph 3 v 10 had, as we will see in a moment, lost its way. Over the centuries since its birth it lost the fivefold ministry gifts, it lost its anointing and power and it became a human institution….”having the form of Godliness but lacking the power”. But God has been slowly and faithfully restoring all things in terms of anointing, spiritual gifts and administrations, understanding and restored truth. He has been doing this through the various revivals, visitations, spiritual movements that taken place over the last 500 years.
Now this scripture in Acts 3 v 21 refers to all the things that God will restore and of course that ultimately refers, of course, to the renewal of the heavens and the earth in the final phase of God’s restorational programme but as in most prophetic scriptures there are primary and secondary fulfilments of the prophetic Word. In our day God is restoring many things as witnessed by the restoration of the fivefold ministry to His Church so that the Church can now become mature and make herself ready…”without spot or blemish!” At that point He will be initially released from heaven to take us to the Wedding of the Lamb and then immediately to return to planet earth with His Church/Bride, to reign with Her for 1000 years. The ultimate ‘release‘ will be when He finally returns to judge the living and the dead and create the new heavens and the new earth.
So, how can the Church co-operate with the Spirit so we can hasten not hinder the purposes of God?
So……. Let us now look more closely at the things that God in His mercy and for His own eternal purpose has been restoring to His church over the past 500 years and at those things yet to be restored. Let’s try to understand the ‘time and season’ we are in. To do this we need to briefly study the amazing history of the Church from its birth until the present day, the 21st Century. This is because Church history is prophecy fulfilled. Prophecy is simply the part of Church history yet to be fulfilled.
The four major phases of Church history can be identified by four words: origination, deterioration, restoration, and destination.
We begin with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
The prophets had declared that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem in Judea and not in His parent’s home town of Nazareth in Galilee where they were now living. But how could this be? God ordained that in 63 BC Israel would become a part of the Roman Empire and that in the year designated for the incarnation, God becoming man, the Roman Emperor would hold a census and command all people to return to the ancestral home town to register for the census which in their case was Bethlehem. Mary being very advanced in her pregnancy gave birth to Jesus whilst in Bethlehem. This was the season of the Lord’s appointment and the fulfilment of ancient prophecy.
Times and seasons are so important to God. For example nothing could motivate God to send the Messiah until everything was in divine order and the time was right. “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law!”
Jesus came to become the “firstfruits of a new race” born “not of man’s will but of Gods”, a new human species of Godmen, born of the Spirit, with the very nature of God within them and of His spiritual DNA. This would be called the Church race…..the saints!
Calvary …the place where the Church is born and bought.
Now I don’t want to be controversial but we are often taught that the Church was born at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the upper room. The reason for this is that she begins to function as a community of Christ like, Spirit filled believers, as from that point. However if the Church is the company of those men and women, boys and girls born of the Spirit then the Church came into being when the Jesus breathed upon the disciples in Jn 20 v 22 and gave them authority to forgive sins and said…”Receive the Holy Spirit”.
No, I believe that the Church was born on the cross of Jesus when the spear was thrown into His side and He shed His blood purchasing Her for Himself. This blood was His dowry…Her purchase price!
I suggest that the Church, the Bride of Christ, was born out of the rib of Jesus, the second Adam, just as Eve was born out of the rib of the first Adam. The first Adam lost everything that God had prepared for Him, authority, relationship with God and eternal life. Jesus the second Adam won that back for us when He died on the cross. At Pentecost the Church was empowered.
The first century of Christianity in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and Europe
This was a period of amazing growth and missionary activity but it was often in the midst of terrible persecution. But the Church was vibrant and the preaching was followed by signs and wonders …”and many mighty things were done at the hand of the Apostles”, “and the Lord added daily to their number those that were being saved”.
Persecution caused a further spread of Christianity as the saints were scattered throughout the Roman Empire taking their new found faith with them. It advanced into Europe and into Africa although tradition suggests that the Ethiopian Eunuch of Acts 8 might have been responsible for the birthing the Church in North Africa. Paul’s missionary journey’s reached as far as Spain. Tradition says that the Apostle Thomas birthed the Church in India. By the end of the second century Christianity was firmly established in Europe, Asia and in Africa. These were the three centres of Christianity for the first 500 years since its birth and developed somewhat independent of each other. One of the greatest Church theologians was an African called Augustine of Hippo from whose teachings we get much of our doctrine of the Trinity.
The decline of the Church
What started off as a vibrant supernatural mission Church became by the end of the third century a political and state controlled organisation. By the end the fifth century the Church had lost the Fivefold Ministry and the Holy Spirit had begun to withdraw from the Church.
(Note the difference between the 9 or 12 gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the 5 gifts of the ascended Lord Jesus) There was still a witness to the supernatural and miraculous ministration of the Spirit on earth for God will not be without a witness, but generally the Church was in a terrible state.
a) The African Church decline provided a vacuum and consequently saw the birth and the rise of Islam. In 570 AD Mohammed was born and soon Islam moved throughout Africa.
b) The Western Church decline resulted in the 1000 years of spiritual darkness in Europe known as the Dark Ages. (Corruption, Absolute authority, Incredible wealth, Penance, Confession, Absolution)
c) The Asian Church however seems to have continued undeterred until the Muslim Arabs conquered great parts of India, Persia and Mesopotamia in the 7th century. In 301AD Armenia for example was the world’s first nation to officially embrace Christianity.
God’s Restoration Programme begins
Jesus came and birthed the church and nothing will stop Him from fulfilling His prophetic declaration, “I will build My Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it”. Matt 16 v 18. Building sometimes involves restoration and Jesus is committed to restore and mature His Church in order to present Her to Father as His precious bride. The triune God sends and has sent seasons of refreshings and revivals throughout Church history to restore Her. These ‘Movements of God’ were meant to advance the whole Church towards that maturity that Jesus desires. Denominations came from periods of Church restoration because group received the new truths but either were rejected by other groups of churches or became possessive of their own revelation.
Church historians have designated the year 1517 AD as the official beginning of the period of Church Restoration. There have been five major Church restoration movements since that time.
In 1525 after the 1000 year reign of darkness in the Western Church and the rise of Islam in the African Church, God declared ..”Enough is enough” and he began to restore the fivefold ministry to the Church that had been lost for so long.
The Restoration of the Fivefold Ministry Gifts of the Ascended Lord Jesus
But God began to restore these gifts of ministry in reverse order to how they are listed in the scripture because the Church had elevated the Apostle to a position above the rest. These ministries were given by the ascended Lord Jesus, according to Eph 4 v 11-13 to mature the Church. These ministries had become hierarchical in there order of significance and so He began to restore them in reverse order. Eph 4 v 11….” It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers”
He started with the teaching ministry.
Martin Luther, a dis-satisfied Roman Catholic priest had the revelation we are saved by faith and not by works. As it says in Romans 1:17 ….”For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’.”
Martin Luther and his reformers taught the new restorational truth and this ushered in the Protestant Movement.
So in the 1500's.......... The Teaching Ministry was restored
In the 1600/1700's......The Pastoral Ministry was restored as groups of protestants formed new churches who needed pastors.
In the 1700/1800's.......The Evangelistic Ministry was restored as these new churches became aware of the great commission once again and missionary movements and organisations were birthed to take the gospel to all nations. (The Baptist Missionary Society with William Carey in 1792, the father of the Missionary Movement. The China Inland Mission in 1865 with Hudson Taylor, and the African Inland Mission in 1895 with Peter Cameron Scott)
There were two remaining ministries of the fivefold ministry that had yet to be restored: The Prophetic and the Apostolic. However, these by their very nature are supernatural and depend on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit had been grieved and had withdrawn. The Holy Spirit needed to return to the Church.
In 1901 he came as at Pentecost in the form of the Azusa Street Revival of 1906 in the USA and the Pentecostal Movement was born. This opened the way for the last two ministries to be restored. However, the Pentecostals kept it and made it denominational so God waited till around 1960 and then breathed again and the second wave came which is known as the Charismatic Movement.
So in the 1980's ………….The Prophetic ministry was restored through the movement known as the Prophetic Movement (Evidence: The many books and conference in this decade on the Prophetic)
In the 1990's.................The Apostolic Ministry was restored through the movement known as the Apostolic Movement (Evidence: The books and conference in this decade on the Apostolic…Title: ’Know your Apostolic and Prophetic gift’)
By the year 2000 the restoration programme has been completed.
Between the year 2000 – 2007 these last two restorational movements continued as God bedded these ministries down. Seven years it took to establish them but that work is progressive and will continue.
Then in the year 2008 the church I suggest entered a new ‘season’. 2008 is known as the year of New Beginnings. (The Olympic Games in China...a new era for China, their year of New Beginnings also.)
It is suggested that in 2008 there was a shift in the Spirit realm. Many believe that we entered a new season...the Season of the Saints. The Saints Movement was born
The Season of the Saints and the Saints Movement
It was from that time approximately that there was a decline of mega Churches with many going bankrupt around the world especially in the USA and many Christian celebrities fell from grace, exposed for sexual misconduct or corruption. It was no longer the day of Christian celebrities. Of course God uses the large Christian celebration event but the church is made up of smaller organic and discipleship and training groups or cells (of the Body). There was a shift. It was the beginning of the day of the ordinary made extra-ordinary in God when every individual believer being filled with the Spirit would rise up in power to do the work of the ministry. Judgement had started at the House of the Lord!
It was as if God was saying…..”This is not what Church is about. It is not about huge churches or celebrity stars. It is about a community of natural people made super-natural by My grace and empowerment. Everyone is a celebrity to me, everyone is a star.”
This is the day of the Saints which I believe we are now living in and because the fivefold ministry has been restored we are able to be covered and equipped by these ministries once again and so mature as His Bride…..all of us, equally!
Now don’t misunderstand me. Let me emphasis again….I believe in big meetings. There is nothing more exhilarating than being in a meeting of thousands praising God and worshipping Him all in one place but these are ‘Celebrations’, gatherings of all the saints from all the churches for witness and worship. That rejoices the heart of God.
Church is for closer fellowship and for teaching and discipling. Maybe a church should be made up of many of these smaller group of around 50 - 100 persons who come together for themselves every week and then at another time come together, across the denominational divide in a particular town or city for celebration. But that is another restorational mindset change that is yet to come if we really are to understand unity and take our towns and cities and territories for Christ.
So here we are in 2012. What is happening today? Where are we in the programme of God right now?
The Third Reformation
Maybe there is another season we are now transitioning into. All transitions are accompanied by refreshings and revivals. These condition the saints throughout the world Church and prepare them to be receptive to the restorational movements of God. In the past few decades there have been many major revivals in many parts of the world. There was the Brownsville Revival also known as the Pensacola Outpouring in the USA in 1995; the Florida Revival or the Lakeland Revival of April 2, 2008; the Bay Revival (also known as the Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival) in Daphne, Alabama in July 2010; and most recently the Dutch Revival starting on April 20th, 2012 in Hardewijk, Holland. An outpouring of the Holy Spirit has continued in many of these places ever since.
When we witnessed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and then the Japanese Tsunami in 2009, we saw the awful power of unbridled nature. Then the prophetic word came… “I will send My own Spiritual Tsunami upon the Church”. People were beginning to talk about a ‘Third Wave’, a huge wave of revival that would usher in the Great Harvest.
What I share now is not a doctrine. It is speculative but is very interesting non-the-less. I put it forward for you to consider only.
It is suggested that this Saints Movement has begun to transition us into what is being called the Third and Final Reformation that will accelerate the movements of God in our generation to complete the number of the Bride and bring Her to a maturity. This reformation will be driven by a passionate love for Him and an intense intimacy with Him. It is suggested that the Movement of the Saints, the Saints Movement, began to transition the Church into that Third Reformation. The First Reformation, initiated by the coming of Christ in 4 BC, transitioned, at Calvary especially, those of the company of God’s chosen people of the OT, the descendants of Abraham and those Gentiles called by God, out of the Old Covenant relationship with God as His people, or their heathen idolatry, into the one Body of Christ, those born again of the Holy Spirit. The Second Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 transitioned the Church into a position of sensitivity and receptivity to the Holy Spirit and the various restoration movements that God was to bring. It is suggested that the Saints Movement in 2008 heralded the transition of the Church into the Third and Final Reformation of the mortal Church. It will be in this Reformation, of indeterminable length, that we will mature as the Bride, either before or during the great Tribulation, and then we will be taken for the Wedding of the Lamb. This will mark the end of the mortal Church history and the beginning of the immortal Church history where we will reign here on planet earth in married partnership with Christ our Bridegroom King. It is then….”that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ”.
Much of this is yet to be so and remains in the form of mere conjecture but in our attempt to ‘discern the times and seasons’ let us hold it lightly but hold it indeed. What I’m saying may be prophetic but time will tell. In the meantime let us celebrate the things we now understand and humble ourselves before the Lord in order to receive those things yet to be revealed.
There are many movements that are still to come and that brings me to introduce the title of my next talk….’The Bride of Christ’ when we will look at the new season we are entering now. The Bride of Christ will be the central theme and focus of these remaining years of the Mortal Church’s history.
Most Traditional, Evangelical, Pentecostal or Charismatic churches teach that we as the Body of Christ and especially as individual believers, will go to heaven at the end of our earthly lives to our eternal reward and into the presence of the Lord for ever. They teach that this is our eternal destiny. However this is not the truth of scripture. Heaven is not our final or eternal destination! Planet Earth is!
This ‘muddled’ doctrine grew out of the desire of persecuted or suffering Christians to escape the difficulties of their lives and find the grace to remain strong since there would be a reward for their faithfulness and a better place to which they would eventually go. We could call this ‘escapism theology’.
However the bible clearly tells us that if we go to heaven at all we will only go whist awaiting the ‘rapture’ and then return to planet Earth to reign here with the Lord, for a thousand years whilst the devil is bound and chained. During this time the Church, the Bride of Christ, having been raptured and now ‘one with Him’ in Bridal union, will return to earth and reign with Him, victoriously. It is during this 1000 years that we will see the ‘Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our God and His Christ’.
God has always wanted to live ON PLANET EARTH with his creation and in particular with man. Eventually after the millennium reign, the release of Satan from his temporary bondage, his build-up to the final battle of Armageddon and the coming of the Lord Jesus to intervene and stop the battle, the destruction of Satan into the eternal fire and the creation of the new heaven and new earth and the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven ‘dressed like a Bride’…..the Lord God Himself will come to earth and ascend and descend from heaven, His throne, to ‘tabernacle with man on earth for ever and ever’. Revelation 21 v 3 “Now the dwelling place of God is with men and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God”
The earth is the Lord God’s final destination as His eternal dwelling place and it is ours too. This is our destination.
So……. Let us thank the Lord for His grace in restoring these truths to His Church in our day. These truths will help to focus us in this final reformation and to prepare us as His Bride for the destiny that He has always intended for the Church.
Dr Howard Barnes
Co director of Time Out Mission Intn'l www.timeoutmission.org
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