Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus (Part 2)
Beloved Family… let’s continue considering what we began to unpack in Part 1 concerning this very important prompting that the Holy Spirit gave to all disciples through His letter to the Hebrews:
“… Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 1:1b-2a)
Previously, we saw what happened to Moses as a result of his habitual focusing on, and interactions with, God’s Living Word. The written Word tells us that his face would emit an afterglow… to such an extent that the Israelites around him would be afraid to come near him.
And something similar happened to Stephen. Stephen really knew His Master in a most intimate and profound way. And because of His abiding with Yeshua, his face would also register an afterglow. And this intimate interactive knowledge of Yeshua was what prepared, equipped and empowered Stephen to make the ultimate sacrifice in Acts 7. He was trained, equipped and ready for anything… because, Stephen, like the other New Covenant disciples of that day, was being taught and trained by the apostles, to ‘fix his eyes’ on the risen, ever-present Lord.
Beloved, this Stephen-level of disciple preparation comes when we wholeheartedly believe that Yeshua was truly raised from the dead, and is actually present with us and in us, right now, in an electrifyingly imminent and reality-changing way. This kind of training equips us to remain always mindful of Him so that we can never again forget or ignore Him for long periods of time. But unfortunately, the living, interactive kind of training the first century disciples were familiar with is hardly ever known or discussed, much less practiced, in our modern era.
This is why our Ultimate Journey and Follow Me Ministry material has always emphasized ‘Christ Life’ or ‘Christ living in us.’ And this is why we always strive to make people sensitive to our great need for knowing how to truly repent of our original self-life ways, and begin instead to ‘abide and interact with our risen Lord.’ All that I have to go by in presenting this material are the precious times when the Lord has tangibly, discernably revealed Himself to me, and has allowed me to know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that He is real and present always, and ready to interact with all of us perpetually and ceaselessly. Those electrifying revelations have left such deep impressions on me that I can’t ever forget them; nor can I get off of talking about the Lord who invaded my space and loved me and took me back into His service!
I am convinced that the Holy Spirit wants to use the Biblical revelations that reveal God’s Son… appearing to and interacting with His own chosen disciples, throughout all of Scripture. But He also wants each one of us to experience Him for ourselves, so that we may have personal testimonies that will attest to the Truth of His Resurrection Presence among us.
The material I offer is meant to serve as a practical training tool that can help us get prepared for whatever it is that God will require us to face, deal with and overcome in the days that lie before us. It is also my conviction and my hope… that if we allow the Lord to draw us closer and closer to His Presence, we too will begin to develop our own personal ‘afterglow’ as a result of our habitual focus on Him and our hard-earned ability to interact with Him, hear His voice, and enjoy the great comfort of knowing beyond the shadow of any doubt… that He is here with each one of us… guiding, leading, teaching and supplying us with everything we will ever need.
Beloved, I believe with all my heart, that when we can know Him like this in increasing numbers, His Presence will naturally fill all of us from within and He will radiate and emanate from us as we stand together in His service! Disciples of this caliber will not realize within themselves, that this ‘afterglow effect’ is taking place. But the people that are around them will most certainly be able to sense and perceive the fact that when these disciples are present… THE LORD IS PRESENT!
Even though unbelieving people have been spiritually blind and deaf all their lives, and even if they themselves cannot yet know, believe and trust Him for themselves, they will nevertheless start to become ever more aware of Him, and begin to realize that He truly is real, and authentically present, when the disciples they know and observe start to become aware of the awesome Treasure that is always abiding within them! As soon as the disciples know it, the people around them will also begin to know it. And that will enable the Lord to finally be able to reach out and break through to the hearts and wills of the people who surround the current generation of His New Covenant disciples.
This is what I believe is the most important reality that modern day believers need to realize at this critical time of human history. I believe that this is the only way Father will be able to pierce, penetrate and break down the resistance that always dominates hardened, stony unrepentant human hearts. The sons of Adam’s disobedience will never be able to believe or trust someone they have never known! No matter how much empty religiosity they see around them, no matter how much empty, lifeless religious talk they hear… they will never follow or trust in a Master that they cannot believe to be real!
But if the disciples they encounter have learned to abide with Him, as He urges us to be and to do in John, chapters 13 – 17, they will be equipped to manifest and radiate His Resurrection Presence to the people around them. And that is how He will make Himself known to the world in the Last Days and gain the full attention of many who are languishing in hopelessness… in this demon-possessed world.
“At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.” (Acts 5:12-16)
This is the effect the Holy Spirit always has on earthly societies, when He is free to do what Father sent Him to do with the Lord’s true disciples. He works through those that know how to cooperate with God’s world saving, Messiah exalting initiatives. They are able to remain focused perpetually on, and interact with, Yeshua’s living abiding Resurrection Presence. Then He captivates the attention of people that are all around His disciples. Because the disciples only focus on their Messiah, and not on themselves, they are not aware of the ‘afterglow’ that the other people are seeing in them. But that’s how the people around them also begin to be aware of God’s Beloved Son. They see Him, by watching the people that can’t tear their heart’s attention away from Him!
The people that belong to this unbelieving world must know and see this kind of disciple! Because they themselves do not yet know Him, or believe that He is real or present, they continue to live as His enemies. And many actively reject Him and try to erase Him from the world scene because they consider him to be a myth that has become an unnecessary nuisance! But… if the Holy Spirit is free to do what Father sends Him to do in the midst of the true disciples… the people around them will see the Perfect Presence of our risen Lord living and acting in and through those chosen ones… and they will see the Lord doing through them what nothing else in the universe is able to do!
“But I tell you the Truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the Truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:7-15)
The precious Holy Spirit will disclose all that pertains to Yeshua… to His disciples… and therefore, He will disclose all that pertains to Yeshua… THROUGH THEM! So, can you see why most of the unbelieving world continues to resist and oppose our Master? They are doing it because they do not yet know Him AS HE REALLY IS! They have heard tons of talk about Him, from many sources. They have read many things about Him. And many have heard people who have tried to talk to them about Him. But very often, much of what they see and hear is not able to penetrate their hearts. And so what organized religion offers does not make any difference in the worldly arena. This is why many people of today have not yet been pierced, penetrated and impregnated with God’s Truth and Reality. God’s Truth has not hit them with bullet-like velocity and power… in the innermost depths of their heart of hearts. What they’ve experienced has failed to pierce their hearts with the Fire Power Velocity that can only come from the Truth and Reality of Almighty God Himself! It may have been impactful and extremely stirring at the soulish level for a short time; but that never lasts for very long because it lacks the Supernatural Resurrection Life and Power of Yeshua’s unforgettable Presence that awakens dead spirits and brings them back into His Life!
If the Holy Spirit is not truly in it, the ‘fruit’ that will result will always be unacceptable to God. God only testifies to His own Living Word! And wherever the Word is truly present and properly reflected, God testifies to His Truth. This is why only God’s Living Word can give Life to the dead. Only the Holy Spirit can impart the Truth and Reality of the resurrected Lord Yeshua so that He pierces human hearts with the velocity of a cannon ball, or a high-powered artillery shell! And once that truly happens to any human being… that person will never be the same!
If it isn’t God’s Spirit, working from within a true disciple, what is said about Yeshua will not be derived from, nor will it be in line with, God’s written Biblical Revelation. And so God will not accept, endorse or dignify such ‘testimony’ with His Approval. But when God does give His approval, the people experience the Holy Spirit’s great Fire Power and heart-transforming Effectiveness. If God is truly in it, His Validation comes into a disciple’s testimony as heart-piercing Resurrection Validating Truth! And that level of testimony will always effectively hit its mark! It ‘hits home’ because it is an authentic, Spirit-given, mirror image reflection, or embodying emanation, of Yeshua’s Living Death-destroying, indwelling Presence! That is the only thing that has the Power and Authority to bring this arrogant, strutting, self-adoring world to its knees!
“Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am The Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ (The Messiah), the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (John 11:23-27)
The Authority of God Himself, manifesting the Resurrection Reality of His Son will always overwhelm and expose and rout the world, the flesh and the devil! So, beloved, we must have the Lord Himself! Nothing short of Him will do. We’re not here to push any man-made religious system off on the people around us! It isn’t our job to show them a ‘better way of living’ or to promote just another movement, or to show people a ‘better way’ to achieve success, prosperity, material comfort and flesh-pleasing wellbeing in this fallen demon-possessed world! Our job is not to give head knowledge about a dead historical figure. Our job is to coincide and agree and be in line with the Holy Spirit and what Father always sends Him to do. Our job is to embody and radiate the Presence of a Person… the Person of God’s Living Word who has totally routed and overcome the Serpent… and all Sin… and has even overcome Death and has returned from the dead to be in our midst… always! This Spirit-empowered level of revealed Truth and Reality will always capture the attention of anyone who receives it. And that is the Testimony that Almighty God is here to give… through true disciples of His beloved Son… whom Father continues to send so that He can bring all the rest of those who are dead… into His Eternal Resurrection Life!
So we’ve already been made aware of the Messiah-revealing work that the Holy Spirit is here to do! Scripture has told us that He is never here to exalt or draw attention to Himself! Nor does He draw attention to anyone or anything other than Yeshua, God’s Living and written Word! He is here to draw men and women into Yeshua’s Living Presence and place them under His Transforming Authority and Activity. So He teaches, trains and equips the Lord’s disciples to reflect the electrifying Life-giving Resurrection Reality of Yeshua, and who He really is and what He is actually doing, as He abides within each disciple and fulfills His Father’s will and purposes on their behalf!
The Reality of Yeshua’s Truth and electrifying Presence is ‘The Holy Spirit’s Testimony’… and this is the only Real Testimony that believers will ever have, or be able to give, to this fallen world. The world is terrified of Death and it writhes in anguish over Death’s inevitability and it recoils instinctively whenever Death is mentioned or comes near to them. Even worldly people know that we were not made to die. Disability, Decay and Death are an outrage! We were designed and made to Live! The True Gospel proclaims and proves to the world that Life Himself has totally conquered Sin, and that He is here to set us free from the Destruction and Death that Sin has caused. And when they realize that He is Real and truly Present and is really here to actually set us forever free from all that pertains to Death… they realize that He is the One they have been waiting for… and they come running to Him as fast as they possibly can!
So that’s why the Follow Me Ministry does what it does. We keep repeating the Reality of our risen Lord’s Presence… even if nobody wants to hear it! We keep harping on the Truth that He is here in our hearts and in our midst, even if people are only interested in other things, created things, that pertain to this temporary world! Regardless of any other consideration, we will never stop pointing to the Resurrection Reality that God is here to endorse and validate. And so we are convinced that God requires disciples that are ready, willing and actually able to reflect our Lord’s Spirit-imparted Resurrection Reality and to radiate His world-changing Life-imparting Reality into every place they approach and into everything they do! Yeshua is Life Itself… He is our Life… and we are His living Body on Earth! And anyone that deviates from embodying and reflecting our Lord Yeshua, and chooses instead to demonstrate and proclaim something secondary or something that competes against or tries to erase His Resurrection Reality… will soon be exposed and what they propose will amount to and come to, nothing!
We must go beyond mere religiosity and theological correctness and ritualistic excellence. We must disengage from all entanglements and distracting interests in the world and its systems, so that we can exceed the boundaries imposed by mere human striving and expertise and well-crafted reasoning, logic, political manipulations and soulish persuasions. The mere distribution of religious tracts or regular attendance at some man-made building does not fulfill our God-given disciple job description! We are here to actually embody the Reality and Presence of the only Man who has truly been resurrected from the dead… the Living Word of God made flesh! If we cannot demonstrate the Truth that He is alive and present within us and among us, we should remain silent and get out of the way, for our efforts and religiosity will be in vain.
The Living Word and Spirit of the Living God must be in residence within us… manifesting the Perfect All-Sufficiency of His Perfect Finished Works of Creation and Redemption! In other words… when the world sees and hears us as we interact individually and personally with whatever is around us, or when they see us gather together to operate as Yeshua’s corporate Body… the world must be able to see and hear the world-changing Presence of Almighty God! We must put them in touch with the Living God, their Creator, and, if that does not happen, and supernatural changes cannot and will not take place, we will not really be doing our job!
So I ask you to consider what the Holy Spirit reveals through that original generation of New Covenant Israelite disciples in the book of Acts. Let’s consider what was happening in their midst, right in the beginning, during those years before, and immediately after, it was time for God to begin allowing Gentiles to join the disciples so that they too could be grafted into God’s Blood Covenant Family (See Romans 9, 10 & 11 & Ephesians 2). Ponder those early events and situations… then ask yourself this question:
“Were these simple little ‘no frills’ Jewish disciples really the ones that were doing all of these marvelous things that we read about? Had they managed to learn some secret arcane ‘formulas’ or manipulative ‘techniques’ by which to mesmerize the public that was observing them? Or, was it actually the Living Word of God, the resurrected Messiah Himself, who was living and working from within them? Was God in their midst, was He the one that was actually causing all of those miraculous manifestations to take place?”
Scripture says that it was God! ‘Yes, God was actually operating in their midst’! And if we’re going to believe that what was written in the Scriptures is actually revelation from God, we’ll also have to admit that He was the one who was doing all of that through the flesh of His chosen New Covenant Remnant Israelites! When they came together, had you been there to observe them, you would not have been attending a typical ho hum, business as usual, routine synagogue or church gathering such as are so common among us today! You would have been attending a spine-tingling ‘God Event’, taking place in Jerusalem, right in the midst of these simple little disciples!
“Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours (after Ananias dropped dead), and his wife (Saphira) came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well!” And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things. At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. But none of the rest (the unbelieving Israelites that would come into the Temple courts) dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, AND THEY WERE ALL BEING HEALED!” (Acts 5:7-16) Emphasis added.
Beloved, can you see what God was doing at that time to validate, endorse and back up the living testimony that the Holy Spirit was empowering those New Covenant disciples to give on behalf of His Son’s Resurrection? They were telling the people that Yeshua was right there in their midst, making sure that each one of them knew that He was right there with them, by the signs they had just seen! God Himself was doing what, to mere humans, would have been utterly supernatural and unattainable! He was doing it to validate and endorse the proclamation the apostles were giving as to the reality of Yeshua’s actual Resurrection from the dead, to prove that it was true! They did this because only the Resurrection has the power and authority to validate everything else that the Living Word of God has revealed, commanded and promised to Israel. If Yeshua truly is risen from the Dead… then everything else that God has said through Him and about Him, is absolutely True! And then the rest of the world MUST take heed and come to grips with the Reality of the Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
In the days of Moses and Aaron, God testified to and endorsed the truth they were sent to proclaim in the pharaoh’s court. God proved that the Israelites really and truly were His special chosen priestly people. And now, in the first century, He was doing the exact same thing He had once done for Moses and Aaron. He was validating the claim of the disciples that Yeshua was back from the dead and that He truly is Israel’s Messiah, and that He truly is alive and present in their midst! So we can see that God endorses and validates His Word with awesome Power. He testified that Moses and Aaron truly were representing Him… and… that the Living Presence of the Word of the True Living God was present with them at the Egyptian court! And He did the same for the first century disciples of Yeshua.
The plagues that overwhelmed Egypt were testifying to the same thing! And wasn’t the miraculous Salvation of the Israelites from all of that doom that befell their Egyptian neighbors and the awesome Power that drowned the Egyptian military forces that were chasing Israel also proclaiming to the world that Almighty God was in the midst of His chosen people? This proof-giving testimony is the purpose for which God created Israel! And this is exactly the same kind of sign that God gave to Israel herself… to validate the claims of the disciples that Yeshua was God’s Living Word and Israel’s long-awaited Messiah… and that He was now here to save the entire world through the New Covenant that He had made with Israel! Beloved, to this world, that kind of News is too good to be true! The world cringes at the thought of being deceived and disappointed and disillusioned any further! So they’ll naturally shut down if all we have to offer to them is talk! But if the risen Lord is actually abiding within us… and He actually reaches out to them and pierces them with the supernatural testimony He wants to empower us to give to them… they will never be the same!
“Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
“Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? IS IT NOT BY YOUR GOING WITH US, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:12-16 Emphasis added.)
“Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and HIS FACE SHONE LIKE THE SUN, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
“Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said,
“THIS IS MY BELOVED SON WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED; LISTEN TO HIM!” (That is… ‘keep your eyes fixed on Him’!)
When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” (Matthew 17:1-8 Emphasis added.)
Beloved, can you see what Father is doing? Can you see that He was actually the One who was speaking to the pharaoh and his court through his commissioned servants, Moses and Aaron? God was validating and backing up His own Living Word as He had revealed Himself to Moses! And can you see that the Living Word that God spoke to Israel at Sinai, and all throughout Israel’s prophetic history, came into this world with awesome Reality-changing supernatural Fire Power? God never speaks empty idle words! His Word is always Living and Active and He cuts sharper than a razor-sharp two-edged sword! His Word always penetrates, pierces, cuts right through to the heart of every matter and changes things and separates what pertains to Life, from whatever pertains to Death, and He always leaves any human who receives Him, shocked, stunned, and forever changed! And that very same Word of God is here with us… to do that very thing to, and for, all the people of this current generation!
The point that the Bible keeps making is this: “Don’t focus on and obsess over Moses, or Aaron, or the pharaohs or the Israelites or any of the other significant people that are mentioned in the Bible. They were, and are, only mortal men! They do not stand before the unbelieving world on their own personal authority or initiative! I, the Living God, am with My chosen ones! I bring them before you so that, through them, I can reveal My Living Word to you! What you see and hear coming from them is not anything created and man-originated! What you see and hear coming from them is MY BELOVED SON. I AM THE ONE WHO SENDS HIM TO YOU… through these weak, simple, unassuming disciples!
“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, THEY HAD NOTHING SO SAY IN REPLY!” (Acts 4:13-14 Emphasis added.)
This is what happens from Genesis through Revelation, whenever God speaks His Word into His Word’s disciples… and through those disciples… into this world. The Living Word that the written Word reveals… pierces and penetrates and shatters and breaks the rebellion and unbelief that has encrusted human hearts! And this is what was happening in the first century. In effect, Father was saying this to the unbelieving Israelites in Jerusalem:
‘Don’t get hung up on Peter and the other disciples. They are not the ones who took the initiative to stand before you. I’m leading them! My Living Word is in their midst! They don’t think up things to do and say before you. They are My Word’s servants… I sent them to the high priest and to the Sanhedrin, and to all the people… to bring the Living Presence of My risen Word to Israel… and through Israel… TO THE WHOLE WORLD!
My Word is the one who has done all of the Work! He is among you, manifesting the Perfection and Power of what I can now transmit into your midst from My Eternal Dimension in Heaven! He is doing what I sent Him to do on Earth. So do not focus on these men… focus on the Word I sent, whose Presence comes out of them! My Word lives and speaks from within My people! So listen to Him!’
The healing, life-giving, liberating Power of Almighty God is what gives validating Testimony and Divine Endorsement to Yeshua, and to what He has done to save and restore all of Creation! This is what happened in Egypt in the days of Moses. That is what was happening throughout Israel’s history through the prophets! And this is what happened in the midst of those New Covenant disciples that God called, assembled and trained in the first century. They were commissioned and equipped to launch the New Covenant Era that God’s Word, Messiah Yeshua, had recently installed and proclaimed to Israel.
Now these Spirit-filled and Spirit-sent disciples were being authorized and empowered to carry Israel’s spiritual Legacy and the living revelation of their resurrected Lord’s Presence to the rest of the world! God created Israel to be His image and likeness, to embody and reflect Him… into the entire world! And that is exactly what was happening in those first century days. And tens of thousands of Israelites embraced the Word and tried to obey and establish Him throughout the Middle East. And they began to embrace, welcome and train an even greater flood of incoming Gentiles regarding the meaning and reality of what it means to be ‘grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel!’ (Romans 11:17)
So now this Galilean band of Israelite ‘outsiders’ were in Jerusalem, sent by God to confront the mostly incredulous, supreme council of the High Priest of Israel! They had no acceptable ‘credentials’ to present before those highly trained and very learned men. They had no officially bestowed worldly authority or credibility with which to impress or persuade anyone. There was no way they could have beaten the expert sages, rabbis and religious authorities of Israel at their own game. But God saw to it that they gained the ‘upper hand.’ They had Authority that was not of this world! They had obviously been endowed and backed by the awesome supernatural Power and Authority of Almighty God! And, therefore, there was nothing that those religious experts and authorities could say in reply to what the apostles were proclaiming freely throughout the city.
Those New Covenant apostles were sent to embody and reveal their Master’s Presence before the hardest, most resistant audience imaginable! Moses and Aaron confronted the idolatrous supreme ruler of the Egyptian Empire. And that was very difficult because the pharaoh was immensely powerful in military and economic terms. And he was used to being adored and revered and obeyed as if he were a god in his own right! But now, the New Covenant disciples had to try to convince people that were even more formidable than that! The men the apostles had to face were acknowledged experts and authorities in the Torah that God had entrusted to Moses! They were the appointed custodians and guardians of all the time-honored religious traditions and cultural accretions that had grown in the midst of God’s own people – Israel! They were the caretakers, guardians and custodians of God’s Covenant that He gave to their forefathers on Mt. Sinai!
But now the apostles were commissioned to proclaim that God was requiring all of Israel to follow their Master Yeshua, who is the Living Word of their God, beyond the confines and limitations of the Sinai Covenant, and into the world saving, Creation restoring Reality of the New Covenant! And for most of the Israelites, that was, and continues to be, a major stumbling block! Most of them could not, and cannot, persuade themselves to let go of their time-honored, deeply embedded ideas and traditions, in order to be free to move into the New Covenant Fulfillment Reality that God had clearly promised to give to them! (See Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-28)
Those Israelite contemporaries of the apostles could not begin to grasp the reality that what they had received from Moses… was not yet the Ultimate High Point of God’s Revelation! They could not admit that they did not yet have all the answers, that they had not yet ‘arrived,’ and that they still had much more to learn about God’s ways that they did not already know. So, rather than humbling themselves before God, the majority of them rejected what Yeshua’s Father sent Him to proclaim and institute upon the Earth! And that is why I say that most of God’s chosen people were, and still are, the toughest, hardest, most resistant audience of all to the New Covenant glories that God clearly promised to give to them.
“I have come in My Father’s Name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the Glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:43-47)
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39)
Moreover, all of this was happening within the brutal Roman Empire, which never hesitated to break, burn, destroy and murder any opposing movement or nation or religion that might be perceived as a threat or competitor to its military, economic, social or religious well being. And, as we saw in Part 1 of this article, Israel herself was going to experience just how brutal and ruthless Rome could be… in just a few years.
So, all of the odds and circumstances were stacked against the disciples. By natural reckoning, it was utterly impossible for them to succeed, or grow in numbers, or continue to exist for very long. But yet… as we observe the world of the twenty first century, despite all odds and so many overwhelming difficulties suffered throughout her history… despite all the demonic opposition she continually experiences, Israel has survived… and she continues to thrive… and her God-given significance and testimony and the blessing that she represents to the Gentile world continues to be as strong and unbroken and unstoppable as ever… even to this day!
And, despite even Israel’s opposition, the New Covenant Gospel Testimony has returned to the Land of God’s Promise. New Covenant Messianic Jewish disciples have reappeared and are multiplying and spreading throughout the Land that God promised to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And they continue to spread and multiply across the entire Gentile world as well. So the New Covenant Gospel of Messiah Yeshua remains unstoppable… both in Israel, and throughout the entire world!
So how could all of this have happened? How could tiny little Israel have survived all that she has been through? How could any of the apostolic New Covenant Testimony have survived the many bloody persecutions it has outlived… if human strength and ingenuity and contrived created devices were all that the New Covenant disciples have had to rely on?
No dear friends… Israel hasn’t survived because of her own might and resources and wits. And Peter and that little band of New Covenant apostles and disciples would have never been able to keep the momentum of the Gospel rolling into the future… had it not been for the fact that the Perfect Presence of their Messiah, God’s Living Word, has always been right here on Earth with His chosen Jewish and non-Jewish disciples! The believers could have never been able to carry on after Yeshua’s brutal death… by simply trying to remember the things He had once said and by trying to duplicate the things He had once done while He still lived in their midst! No other flesh would have been able to fill in and make up for His absence; nor would anyone else have been able to take on His Role and begin to do what He had once done. Neither Peter, nor any of the others, even had what it took to change and transform themselves! So how could they have accomplished something as monumental as the world transformations that have come down to us throughout history?
Men who had dared to take Yeshua’s place did not perform the signs and wonders that stunned the world during those post-Ascension days. It was the resurrected Yeshua Himself who did it! All of those wonders happened because He was still with them… by the Holy Spirit’s Power and Influence… healing, delivering, liberating, cleansing, regenerating and doing the works only God could do through His Living Word. Only God Himself is able to bring the dead to life. Only God is able to speak His Word into the demonic Darkness and send His enemies screeching and fleeing in search of cover. Only God is able to impart perfect Restoration to His Sin-blasted Creation. And that is exactly what He sent His Son to reveal and to do and to set in motion! And yes, the Word of God is still here! He is here with us… waiting to see what we will do with this awesome realization and the commission, responsibility and the enormous opportunities that the Reality of His Presence makes possible for us to pursue.
“While he (the formerly crippled man who had just been healed and restored) was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of Life, THE ONE WHOM GOD RAISED FROM THE DEAD, A FACT TO WHICH WE ARE WITNESSES. And on the basis of faith in His Name, it is the Name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and THE FAITH WHICH COMES THROUGH HIM HAS GIVEN HIM THIS PERFECT HEALTH IN THE PRESENCE OF YOU ALL!” (Acts 3:11-16 Amplification and emphasis added.)
This is what Almighty God is revealing to us… His Living Word is the one who does all of the work… and God’s Spirit imparts and manifests and testifies to the Truth of God’s Word… through Israel’s chosen Remnant… the New Covenant disciples. He does all of that through His beloved Son, His Living Word. And so, the Word is here with us… to carry on the commission His Father gave to Him… and the Fruit of it will begin to appear again on Earth… as soon as His disciples in each generation wake up and realize and accept the Truth that He is actually here in our midst, waiting for us to assume our proper positions before Him.
“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 marvelous 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)
The New Covenant disciples that are part of Israel’s Last Days Remnant, will be, in themselves, no better, wiser, stronger, holier or smarter than any of the others. In fact, God will strategically place them in the most disadvantageous positions, when their time comes to deal with the pagan unbelieving world! And yet, despite the incredible force of the hatred, opposition, military might and religious traditional opposition that will pit themselves against them at that time, God’s written Word tell us that those disciples will most certainly prevail! And those who dare to come against them, just as has always happened before, will be outlasted and outwitted and outdone by the awesome Power and Authority of Almighty God, who will be covering these plain little ‘no frills’ disciples under the ‘Shadow of His Wings!’ (See Psalm 91)
Those disciples will be so well trained, prepared and equipped to render their world-overpowering Testimony… that they will do nothing but rest and rejoice and trust in and celebrate… because of what their God has already done on their behalf! And at the very End, every one of the world’s false gods will be exposed, disgraced and discredited. And finally all of the opposition of God’s demonic enemies will disintegrate and disappear into oblivion… before the eyes of all of God’s Creation!
So can you see what the Scriptures are revealing? Can you see the enormous Advantage with which the Word’s true disciples are always endowed and equipped? We never have to do any of the work, because the Work is already finished to Perfection! Our job is simply to believe in and rely upon and rest in the Truth that our awesome Infinitely Perfect Almighty God is with us… and He is here to impart the Reality of His Perfect Finished Works of Creation and Redemption, as an endorsing Testimony that will be backing up our claims and proclamations concerning our Messiah. God is here to manifest and impart this in our midst, for the sake of His beloved Son, His Living Word!
And we are commissioned to demonstrate and prove the Truth and Reality and Benefits of all that God’s Perfect Word has done in obedience to His Father. The Perfect Finished Work will manifest its Fruit through the peaceful Rest of the disciples. That is what always proves and validates what the Holy Spirit says to the world about Yeshua, God’s Living Word! And this is why the Spirit abides in and works through us, because… OUR TASK IS TO REMAIN FOREVER FOCUSED AND DEPENDENT ON… AND SUPREMELY CONFIDENT OF… THE PRESENCE OF OUR GLORIOUS RISEN LORD!
So Scripture shows us that, since we were made to be the image and likeness of Almighty God… then it stands to reason that we must choose to become the image and likeness of His Living Word! God reveals Himself, and does everything that He does, through His Perfect Word. And because we have mirror-like minds and hearts… we must make sure that our minds and hearts remain firmly and habitually focused on the Word that God has sent to abide and work from deep within us:
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these Last Days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed Heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the Radiance of His Glory and the Exact Representation of His Nature, and upholds all things by the Word of His Power…” (Hebrews 1:1-3a)
“He is the Image of the Invisible God, the Firstborn of all Creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also Head (that is, the Life) of the Body, the Church; and He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the Dead, so that He Himself will come to have First Place in Everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the Fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made Peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, IN ORDER TO PRESENT YOU HOLY AND BLAMELESS AND BEYOND REPROACH— if indeed you continue in the faith (by keeping your eyes focused) firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from (Him who is) the Hope of the Gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all (earthly) creation under Heaven…” (Colossians 1:15-23a Amplification and emphasis added.)
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 Emphasis added.)
Beloved… stop what you’re doing. Stop and notice whether or not you have God’s abiding Peace and Rest within your soul and in your heart. Is the risen Lord’s abiding Glory and its Eternal Stillness enfolding you and everything about you? Has His overriding Presence quieted and stilled all the storms that God’s enemies try to inject into your systems? Is the Lord’s overriding Authority and Presence able to tune out all the worldly static that is trying to drown out His voice in your heart? If the Holy Spirit is now able to do this for you, you will be able to ‘stand your ground!’ You will remain aware and mindful of the fact that Someone who is Eternal, Infinite and Invincible is enveloping and covering you. You will be aware that the Eternal Infinite Power and Authority of the awesome Living God is always covering, sustaining, and interacting with you at all times. And you will be able to give Him your full attention.
When that happens, you will stop majoring in minor, temporary things. And you will sink your roots deep into The Eternal One who never slumbers, nor sleeps, nor changes. And He will speak Truth into your heart… continually… and you will begin to sing and rejoice and give your thanksgiving and praise and worship to Him, with all of heart, soul, might and strength!
… And when that is your habitual state of heart… then everyone around you will begin to see awesome things begin to happen all around you!
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