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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58. Preached To All The Nations

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

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

Birth pangs

"Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img 0327" by Ikluft - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img_0327.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img_0327.jpg

San Andreas Fault [“Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img 0327” by Ikluft – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons]

We are taking this verse by verse now, so let’s go on to Matt 24 vv4-8: ‘And Jesus answered and said to them, See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

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

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

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

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

To all the nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

47. Just One Answer?

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Interpreting the times

no-plan-bMaybe you are old enough to remember all those books about the supposed significance of the Common Market being 12 countries, or about Communism and the USSR? Well, we can see now that none of it was true. Today those books are just gathering dust on people’s bookshelves, and if they were to read them now they would laugh. Dates, times, everything seemed so very plausible. But it didn’t happen.

That came about because the authors of those books just looked at the world around them, and tried to fit their own understanding of scripture with those events. We need instead to get a proper understanding of what scripture is really saying. As I mentioned before, that involves seeing things from a Hebrew rather than a Western viewpoint.

Covenant

Take Biblical symbolism and covenant language. The whole Bible is written in terms of covenant. We even speak about the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. If you have never considered covenants then I do not have space to go into the whole subject here, perhaps the best advice I can give is to get hold of some of Ian Clayton’s teaching on covenants.

In short, covenants are binding agreements, and they are something that God has always used in interacting with people. God initiates covenants, and He makes them in blood. He always upholds His part of the deal. The sad fact is that the human race never upheld their part: at least, not until Jesus came and made a new covenant of blood with God. That covenant is unchallengeable because Jesus cannot fail: His blood is eternal. So we now receive all the benefits, all the promises, because of what Jesus has done.

The Old Covenant was all about what we had to do to be acceptable to God. That is no longer the case. But covenant is still the basis on which God works, and to understand the Bible we need to understand covenant language and how that covenant language is used.

Personal revelation

Again, because Jesus is the Living Word, He can give you a personal revelation of any word, any passage, any part of Scripture that He chooses. It may be completely out of the context it was originally written for, but He can still speak it to your heart and speak to you in it. That may be for you and you alone, in your situation and circumstance, and it may apply to nobody else. But it is vital that you have a proper overall understanding of the purposes of God. That will safeguard you from error so that whilst God can give you things like that, you won’t completely go off at some tangent because of some fanciful thing that you have made up.

For example, if you get what you think is a revelation that tells you to go off and rob the person down the road, you will know it is not God. You need to have understanding of the nature and the character of God, of how God works, so that you don’t go off the rails completely. You have to realise that not every voice you hear is God. Sometimes our soul can speak to us, particularly if we have a deep desire, and it can convince us that it is God telling us to do something, or that what we want to do is all right, when in fact it isn’t. Jesus can take His Word and apply it to us as He sees fit – we just need to be careful that it really is Him.

Plan A

My point here is that we need to understand the context of the eternal purposes of God. He hasn’t changed His plan. He has no Plan B, C or D.

Now, there is a teaching which says He has. You have heard it, maybe been influenced by it. You may not have thought of it in quite that way though. It is the teaching that prevailed in the town I grew up in, as I have written about previously. It divides up scripture into blocks and periods in which God works differently. It says ‘that is not for now’, and it denies the continuity of God’s purposes from Genesis to Revelation. If you read those two books, so much of the symbolism is the same. What it is in the beginning, it is in the end, and that is why it is so important to get understanding of it.

1 + 1 = ?

Our Western mindset is based on Greek, linear logic. For example: ‘1 + 1 = 2’. That makes sense to us. How could it equal anything but 2? Hebrew logic doesn’t see things the same way. In Hebrew logic (also called ‘open block logic’) there are multiple understandings which can all be true even if they seem contradictory to the western mind. And that is how God works. So in Hebrew logic, 1+1 can equal 11. It is the same proposition, but a different way of looking at the answer. And in Hebrew context, 11 is actually a much more likely answer than 2.

If that makes no sense to you, look at it this way. There can be layered truth. There is the obvious thing that is on the surface, but there can be layers of truth underneath, which may not be so obvious. The first layer of truth may be literal: Joseph was given a word that God’s people would be 430 years in Egypt and then they would be set free, and history tells us that was how it was. That is very straightforward for us to understand. But that word may also have further meanings, and they can be equally true, and equally valid.

There may be different fulfilments of prophetic words in scripture. Often there is an immediate or initial fulfilment that we can see, for example in the life of Jesus, and there is also a progressive fulfilment that goes on happening. Now this is not true of every single prophecy, but it is true of some. Therefore you cannot just read something, see how it was worked out once, and think that because of that is it over and done with. It may happen again, in a different way.

So which meaning is correct? What did God intend us to get from a particular scripture? The fact is, you do not always have to choose just one answer.

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