Since only our resurrected Master, God’s Perfect Living Word made flesh, can produce the Spirit-originated human Fruit that God will accept, His disciples must be trained and prepared to abide with Him, and get to know Him and learn to receive from and embody and radiate what comes to us from His Perfect Presence and all that it contains. We are now spiritually equipped to receive and share all of His Abundance… into everything we are and all that we’re connected with and all we do in our daily experiences. As He teaches us to abide in and receive from Him, we can thus begin to embody Him. And through us, He will be able to reveal and display His Resurrection Reality and Truth to the world around us. And, of course, He also will expose and silence the demonic powers of Darkness that do their best to get us to mistrust Him.
So, this is the vital question: Which of us knows our risen Lord with the depth of authentic intimacy and fruit-producing interaction that the Last Days Era is going to require of us? Which of us has truly completed the boot camp training that disciples of that era will have to undergo? Can any of us say that we have no more to learn and no more need to grow? Are we even close to being prepared at this point in time? Are we ready to accompany our Lord into the firestorms we’ll encounter as He leads us into that awesome Arena of Testimony?
“Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My Name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My Name, I will do it.”
Perhaps, by pondering the words above, we can better understand what the Lord was endeavoring to demonstrate to those very same men, at an earlier time, when they were in that boat during the storm on the Lake of Galilee. That was truly a moment filled with the possibility of imminent disaster. To any natural human eye and heart it appeared that death was inevitable and utterly inescapable. That was what the disciples saw and believed; to them, there was no hope, no possible way to escape what was about to engulf them. That was the reality for them. And, if that’s the way it was for them… how much more dire will the horrors of the Last Days appear to the people of that final generation?
“Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to Life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,” declares the Lord.’”
Beloved did you get that? “I, the Lord, have spoken (My Living Word on your behalf) and (He has) done it, declares the Lord.”
The Living Word that God speaks, performs and does everything to Perfection that His Father sends Him to do. That is why He is the one in whom the Father is well pleased! And that is why God commands us to tremble at His Word and look only to Him for all things! Only Yeshua is the creative, all-authoritative Word of the Living God! Only He contains within Himself all of the infinite eternal Fullness of God! And He is the one that was sleeping in that boat amid His disciples. He was taking a peaceful nap… while those poor, still-ignorant men were mentally and emotionally falling to pieces! God had chosen them to be His Word’s disciples. And the Word made flesh had come after them and summoned them to follow Him. And there they were, in His Presence and under His Father’s protection… in the midst of a raging, violent earthly storm… being subjected to one of the many boot camp training lessons that their future New Covenant commissions were requiring them to undergo.
By the end of their lives, they had grown and matured into veteran disciples and spiritual giants! But the maturity of their latter years came as a result of that intensely rigorous, unbearably thorough discipline and training they had undergone in the earlier years. That’s what got them ready to face, endure, persevere and overcome everything the powers of Darkness tried to do to stop their advance. The powers of Darkness failed then. And they will fail again, when the time comes for the Last Days generation of disciples to take their positions in the Arena… and the end of time as we know it, is finally at hand.
In that first century storm on the lake, the Messiah was with His disciples in their boat. But at the end of time… He will be IN His disciples, thanks to the awesome Gift of the Holy Spirit! He will be much closer and much more intimately connected to His disciples by the end than it was possible for Him to be in the beginning. And once again, He will exercise His infinite, eternal, absolute Authority over all of Creation. Once again He will rise up and speak, not just to a tiny storm on a tiny lake in the very small country of Israel… but to the Final Cosmic Maelstrom that the powers of Darkness will stir up in their last ditch effort to contradict, defy and replace Him!
And when He speaks into those final, ultimate moments in time, not only will all of His disciples realize who He is, but all of Creation, including His angelic hosts, and every one of His demonic enemies, will also know the full extent of who He really is! For at that time, every demonic lie and delusion and trap will be totally exposed, discredited and stripped bare of all delusions and pretenses. God’s enemies will be ultimately debased and paraded for all of Creation to see. They will be seen as the pathetic liars, frauds and spiritually blind fools they have always been, since they chose to follow the Serpent into his rebellion:
“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies!”
Of course during those very early days of their training, the first century disciples did not fully understand everything they would later be required to know and demonstrate before the rest of the world. In those early days they had not yet received the Holy Spirit in the awesome Fullness that the New Covenant would one day make possible. So they only knew some things about their Master. But they were not yet equipped, as we now are, to abide as one with Him, like we’re able to do. Then they were merely near to Him. But now, we can be one with Him… just like living branches are one with the life of the vine out of which they grow! But that wonderful oneness and intimate interaction with Him is, at this time, purely spiritual. We are not able to connect with our Lord in the realm of physical flesh. For the present we can only abide with Him spiritually, by faith in His promise and assurance that, by His Authority, God has fused His own Spirit into the newly regenerated and purified human spirit of each disciple. So, even now, we can be as one with the Word of God… and thus one with Almighty God Himself! But that can only be done by faith.
“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you Rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find Rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’”
In those early days, it was not yet time for God to impart to them His wonderful New Covenant Gift of the Holy Spirit’s abiding Presence. And so, just like all the other humans around them, they too struggled mightily to try to grasp and comprehend what Yeshua was saying and doing before their eyes. However, in the New Covenant, God requires us to make a complete Spirit-effected ‘life-exchange’ with His Living Word, our Messiah. Our Master was utterly serious and really meant what He was saying when He spoke of disciples who would be operating ‘in His Name’. That was another way of saying that He would be abiding and working from within them! He was painting an authentic, accurate portrait of every true, Spirit-empowered disciple of the New Covenant Era. So note well what He said: He was also speaking about those of us who are being trained to participate in the Ultimate Showdown between the Lord of Glory and His demonic enemies… who will be totally devastated in the near future:
“I have manifested Your Name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.
“I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your Name, the Name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your Name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your Word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the Truth; Your Word is Truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in Truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also (by the Holy Spirit) may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me!”
The words above show us how those disciples ended up when their training was complete and the Holy Spirit empowered them to fulfill their New Covenant commissions. In those days, their job was to launch and proclaim the arrival of the New Covenant Era. But now, at the other end of the New Covenant history of the Lord’s disciples, our job will be to prepare the way for the New Covenant’s glorious Fulfillment! Then our glorious Lord’s physical Return to Earth will take place. And then… He will speak and release His infinite, irresistible Authoritative Rule and Reign that will forever crush and dispose of every speck of demonic rebellion and opposition. So, by learning from the Lord’s original disciples, who later transformed into the original New Covenant apostles, we can learn much about the training we still have waiting for us.
When the originals were just starting out, they were, like all the rest of us, typical, Adamic, flesh-driven, independent agents. They too assumed that they had lives of their own that God intended to bless, and prosper and exalt over the rest of mankind. They still did not understand that because of their Sin contamination and state of living death, any religious efforts at self-improvement and self-enhancement they would initiate were doomed to failure. They did not yet understand that self-absorbed, radically independent people are actually ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing.’ So, in those days, each one instinctively strove for self-enhancement and self-improvement. They kept vying with each other for positions of prominence and preeminence. Each one kept striving to improve and enhance his personal status before God, at the expense of his fellows. And the Lord had to break that streak in each one of them. And that is the very same streak that He will have to break within us:
“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in Heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ (The Messiah). But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.’”
In the beginning, the disciples still labored under the delusion that they had an independent life of their own, a life that they could improve by study and learning and striving to get to a higher level of achievement on the world’s false scale of 1 to 10! They did not yet realize the depths of this awesome fact… that when Adam fell into Sin and died… we all died, without exception. Like us, they too were convinced that they were basically okay, and all they needed was a little more education, training and to gain some self-improvement techniques. They still were impressed by worldly pomp and glory and physical might. They still feared those who appeared to be powerful, influential people and they still thought in terms of earthly attainment and possessions and status and achieving the ultimate in brute physical military-level strength. Thus they had no clue that they, and all other human beings, had no real life of their own, that we are all children of fallen Adam, and that in truth, we are all, already, hopelessly dead in our trespasses and sins! They did not yet realize that Sin and Death have always been at work in all of us and that we, and everything we do, are permeated and negated by Death!
And the Israelites around Yeshua and His disciples in those days were no different from the rest of the nations of the world. That’s why, despite Israel’s awesome history, and all God revealed and provided for them, nothing had changed in Israel, fundamentally and essentially. It wasn’t time for such change to be seen on the earth. So, prior to Yeshua’s coming, all the people could do was to keep looking backward, back to the days of Moses and to the written Torah and the prophets and wisdom writers. And of course, they also kept looking forward, trying to peer into the distant future… to the day when the long-awaited Messiah would finally appear in their midst. They peered into the past… and into the future… but most of them could not see what God was doing among them in the present… right in front of their noses! Most of them did not realize the God’s Living Word was right there with them… in the flesh of Rabbi Yeshua. A few received that level of spiritual insight, but compared to the majority that refused to believe and embrace Yeshua as their long-awaited Messiah, there were not very many:
“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the Consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him (notice how exceptional this was at that time). And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (the Messiah of Israel that had been foretold in the Torah by Moses). And he (Simeon) came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the (completion of the Covenant circumcision regulations that were the) custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your Word; for my eyes have seen Your Salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light of Revelation to the Gentiles, and the Glory of Your people Israel (that is, Salvation from God, through Israel, for the entire human race).” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
So we see that at that time, the Holy Spirit was already with and in the nation of Israel. But His Presence was not as prominent as it would be after Yeshua would be raised from the dead and glorified. So most people were entrenched in the habit of following the ‘guidelines’… the direction that had been pointed out by Moses in the Covenant of Sinai, by which men could begin and to proceed with their exit from the ‘Egypt’ of this fallen world’s system. But that hadn’t been enough to open the living dead Israelite hearts. Nor was it able to equip them with the spiritual eyes and ears God intended to give them in the New Covenant. So, if that’s the way it was with Israel, how much more was it with the other peoples of this fallen world? No… something much more was needed… the Holy Spirit of God had to be given to the living dead people of this world in a much fuller, deeper, more intimate level than was ever given before. And that would be the Supreme Gift that the New Covenant would impart to God’s beloved believing, Yeshua-embracing Remnant of Israel… and through them… to the rest of the world.
But, look at us, beloved! Even to this day, even after the New Covenant Era has been on Earth for so many centuries… the Fulfillment still has not yet come! We all remain somewhere on our Exodus Journey, still ‘en route’ to our final Destination. Yes, we have the New Covenant, at least in theory. But anyone with seeing eyes and discerning hearts can see that our Exodus is far from over. We have much more ground to cover before God takes us all the way Home… all the way to the Ultimate Fulfillment of the New Covenant. And so… just as it was with the original disciples of the first century, so is it true for us… our boot camp training must also continue. We’re not even close to ‘being there’ yet!
That’s why, in those early days, when He was laying the groundwork for the institution of the New Covenant, Yeshua began to train His disciples to ‘go beyond’ the current Sinai Covenant status quo of first century Judaism. That was not ever going to be enough. But before the New Covenant Era actually arrived, the only thing Israel’s leaders could do was to teach their people to look backward, back to Moses… and remain faithful to what God had given them earlier. But after Yeshua arrived and actually instituted the New Covenant… His disciples had to remain faithful to what God’s Word had already established in the past… and they also had to begin to look… and see into… and penetrate the awesome spiritual Reality that God was initiating for them in the present! There’s an enormous difference between what God was doing in the Sinai Covenant, and what He intends to do in the New Covenant!
The same Living Word of God that had once appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses and Joshua… was now actually there with them… in the Perfect Humanity of Yeshua of Nazareth! This is what Simeon was empowered to see and understand! He knew that Israel did not have to wait any longer… the Messiah had finally arrived!
Yeshua Brought Complete Fulfillment of New Covenant
Not only were the disciples required to grasp this awesome fact, but now of course all of us must finally grasp the fact that He is actually here… with us… right now and always! We can stop looking backward to what was… and we can stop looking forward and peering into the distant future that never comes… waiting for something we believe we do not already have! We don’t have to wait any longer! We have what Israel was waiting for… for such a long time. HE IS HERE… in our hearts and in our midst!
Even now we can walk into the glories of this New Covenant that Yeshua was demonstrating for His disciples in the first century! It’s time for us to learn to walk in the Reality of it, just as He was doing then! We must begin to realize that God’s Word is with us, in all of His Fullness… we must realize that He is here… to bring in the complete Fulfillment of the New Covenant promises that God has made to Israel! It is time for us to learn to receive what God has always wanted to do for Israel, and through her, for the rest of the world. This is that critical time for which the world was always waiting and groaning. This is that time when God’s People must actually begin to walk in the New Covenant’s world-shaking, Reality-transforming Actuality!
The first century apostles, and the disciples that gathered around them, were commissioned to serve as a human bridge between both Covenants, so that they could lead the rest of Israel and the non-Jewish world, into a full share of this New Covenant and the Salvation God had made possible through His Living Word, the Messiah! The disciples had to be brought into this unprecedented level of awareness so that the Ultimate Renewal and Full Restoration of God’s Creation could finally begin to unfold and develop all the way to the end of human history!
The time has come for men and women to learn to become temples of God’s Holy Spirit, just the way Yeshua had been The Temple of the Holy Spirit centuries ago. Now it is time for all other disciples to be fitted together with Him, like His image and likeness companion ‘living stones’ so that together with Him, as the Chief Corner Stone… we can become God’s Living New Covenant Temple on Earth! That’s what Yeshua was continually demonstrating for them and teaching to them. He was the Chief Cornerstone of that Temple… and He has been waiting all of this time for his ‘living stone’ disciples to gather around Him and complete the building of His Body on Earth:
1 Peter 2:4-10
“And coming to Him as to a Living Stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy (New Covenant) priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious Corner Stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed!”
“This precious Value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very Corner Stone,” and, “A Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the Word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
“But you (Jewish and non-Jewish disciples that constitute Israel’s New Covenant Remnant) are a Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a People for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim (to the very end of time) 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!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
So, instead of looking exclusively into the past, to try to duplicate God’s past dealings with His people through Moses… and instead of always looking for Him to come in the future, we must begin to encounter Almighty God in the NOW! God wants to be as real to this generation, as He once was real to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses and Joshua! God wants to be as real to us as He was to our Messiah Yeshua while He walked among men on Earth! We New Covenant disciples are equipped by the Gift of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, to actually experience and abide in, and draw from… our risen Messiah’s awesome Reality and Electrifying, Dynamic Love-Activity… personally, intimately, wherever we may happen to be in the universe, in each present moment. All New Covenant disciples are required to realize that God is ready to be truly present and working within us, so that He can reveal and exalt His beloved Son… the Living Word… everywhere on Earth, at all times… in Spirit and in Truth and in awesome authoritative Power!
1 Corinthians 4:18-20
“Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the Kingdom of God does not consist in words but in POWER!” (Emphasis added.)
Beloved… this Power comes from the Perfect Presence of Almighty God! And He abides within in each Spirit-filled disciple! This is about you… and about me… and about all of us who ‘follow’ our risen Lord at this crucial time! God intends to empower His New Covenant Israel to bring the Living Presence of His own Living Word and Holy Spirit into every situation we encounter, and every relational interaction in which we engage, wherever we may go! It’s not about theory or philosophy or theology or intellectual abstractions. This is about God Himself being present within us and among us! This is about God Himself equipping and commissioning us to bring our awesome risen Lord… the one who quiets storms and raises the dead and heals the twisted, sick Sin-devastated world and frees captives… into every action, reaction and interaction in which we partake! God’s Living creative Word is here, abiding in us, to reveal Himself and reach out to all the people of this fallen world that we will encounter… so that by watching and interacting with us, they too can become aware of Him and His awesome Reality and electrifying Truth.
In the Gospel story we have been considering, He was in the boat WITH His disciples. But now, He is reaching out to the whole world… as He abides IN us and FROM us! We are His New Covenant ‘boat.’ We are privileged and honored to carry His Presence to wherever and whomever the Holy Spirit draw us. In the midst of any and all earthly storms… we bring the Lord of the storms into every situation and circumstance and problem. In this way, the world around us can also begin to respond to, and interact with, God’s Living Word, while there is still time for Him to redeem and restore them to His Father! God is training us to dance with our Messiah in the Last Days’ Arena… The Arena of God’s Final Testimony to this world. He is doing this in the face the Serpent… and all of His demonic powers! He is doing this, through us, because the time is at hand for the Lord of all Lords, the Living Eternal Word of God, to take back sole dominion and rule over His entire universe!
This is what Yeshua began to demonstrate to His first century disciples through His own Spirit-filled Humanity. He was showing them how to stand, and effectively hold their God-given New Covenant Ground against any and all attacks. He was showing them that, once we know the awesome Perfect Presence of Almighty God, and are actually one with God… we too will be able to abide in His Peace, Rest and Joy. We too will be able to draw from, and work from our awesome God at all times. And we too, like our serene Master, asleep in that boat… will find that it is possible for us to be outrageously confident and courageous, and overflowing with supernatural hope. We can do all of that when we know for sure that God is right here with us and in us… at all times and that everything necessary has already been done and paid for and given to us… to see us through whatever we encounter in the days to come.
Our Perfect Covenant Representative has already done all of the necessary work, and He has also paid for it in full, and has given it to us! And His Holy Spirit is actually living and working within us, at all times, to apply the benefits of God’s New and Eternal Covenant to us. And now He wants us to enter into the full realization and enjoyment of this awesome New Covenant state. He wants Yeshua’s outrageous confidence in His Father to seep out of our very pores! He wants us to be absolutely convinced that our Heavenly Father has, by the Gift of His own Holy Spirit, already made each one of us… one with His Living Word! And when we’re one with the Word, we’re one with the Father!
This is the New Covenant ‘boot camp training lesson’ that Yeshua was demonstrating before the eyes of His disciples during that storm. That is what we also must learn to embrace and absorb into ourselves! We too must know that when the risen Lord, Yeshua, is with us… when we are one with HIM… we already have EVERYTHING! And then He will be free to be and do what His Father sent Him to be and do… from within us:
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.’
“But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for IT WILL BE GIVEN YOU IN THAT HOUR WHAT YOU ARE TO SAY! For it is not you who speak, BUT IT IS THE SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER WHO SPEAKS IN YOU!”
“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.”
I AM with you always, even to the end of the age!”
Today, as a result of all of the sad and tragic Church history, and the current ‘falling away’ from the ways of God, what do we see? We live in a world atmosphere that vastly differs from that first century Israelite world. That world was devastated, torn to shreds and the remaining pieces were scattered to the four winds. First century Judaism was devastated by Rome and the Jewish temple and priestly system were leveled, and the people who survived the carnage were scattered all across the world! So, despite the efforts of their sages and rabbis to retain what they could of their past and hold what was left of Israel together, most modern day Jewish people are far removed from the way things were from the days of Moses, leading up to Yeshua’s day. That part of what Israel was, in the glory days of David and Solomon, no longer exists!
Yes, we still have droves of hyper-religious people, and some try to recreate what went before, but very few worship the Living God of Israel the way He commanded His people to worship Him in the New Covenant! Most contemporary people worship gods that were fashioned in and by the imaginations of religious men. They are idols… false gods that have no connection to the True, Living God as He reveals Himself linguistically in the Bible… and in real actuality through the Holy Spirit. Those of us who do not yet believe in the Reality of our Lord’s Resurrection Presence, are forced to live in the twenty first century atmosphere, where there are many, many false, man-made gods. We live in an atmosphere of ‘hyper-pluralism’ and moral relativism and universal tolerance and acceptance of what God has called ‘Sin.’
The Egypt of Moses’ day was filled with the worship of many false gods… and our world is no different! The cultures and societies of today like to think in terms of ‘universal equality’ and ‘global oneness.’ But those are delusions. In order to maintain them, the world must ignore the wicked rebellion and individualistic willfulness that dominates each human heart and so they are in denial of the true meaning of what is really happening. The world ignores or denies the actual, Babel-like confusion, strife, division and enmity that plague and threaten the entire globe! How can such a rabble of conflicting, contradicting, back stabbing, squabbling, individualists ever learn to live ‘globally’, as equals? How can such people ever be unified in any way that would be truly meaningful and peaceful and in the image and likeness of the Oneness of Almighty God?
This world despises and denies the existence of changeless objective Truth as God revealed it in His Torah. And it rejects and denies the God-created Order and Reality that He gave to us through the Scriptures He entrusted to Israel’s care! So, in our Western, North American culture for example, the norm is one of ‘I’m okay and you’re okay’ universal acceptance!’ In our world, God’s commandments are scorned and rejected; therefore, anything goes. Everyone claims the right to determine what reality is, based on his or her own pet preferences, desires, urges and perspectives! And many of the people around us firmly believe that ‘all roads will eventually lead to the same god’ so it’s okay to believe and do whatever you want:
“The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil!’”
So now we swim in a sea of philosophical and theological relativistic ‘mush’. But, according to our God, those things are mental quicksand and spiritual suicide. So disciples of today must deal with the very same false, deluded, Truth-twisting world that was prevalent before the Flood of Noah! It still despises authority, and encourages lawlessness and holds in contempt legitimate properly elected parental and appointed civil and organizational authority. What the Bible proclaims to be granite-solid objective Truth and Reality has been ‘morphed’ into a type of ‘anything goes’ mental goop! This is the ‘fruit’ produced by people of the ‘modern’ generations. They allow themselves to remain ‘decapitated’ from their True Head, the Word of the Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And just like the generations of rebellious people that went before, the ‘fruit’ of this modern world is also doomed to the same rejection and judgment that Cain and the fruit he offered to God, received:
“So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part, also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.”
This fallen living dead world is deteriorating by the moment! What was regarded as absolute truth yesterday is ignored and discarded today! But our God and His Reality and Truth will never change! God will never deviate from His Perfect Eternal Nature. He will never change, contradict or deny what He has already created, revealed, commanded and promised. His Word will stand forever! And this is why our God is infinitely stable, credible, trustworthy and reliable, while the false gods of this world remain ever-flaky, treacherous, criminal, and death-ridden.
Last Days disciples will be required to embrace, serve, trust, obey and follow God’s Living Word exclusively. We must remain faithful and always aligned with our God and His revealed Truth, regardless of the consequences. God has pitted us against His enemies, so we must deny and contradict and be diametrically opposed to the ever-changing pop culture mindsets, priorities, agendas and aspirations of most of the people that surround us! This is why the criteria our Master gave in the Matthew 7 text above, about the ‘fruits’ that will emerge in peoples’ daily circumstances, are extremely important and necessary to keep in mind. It’s not enough to claim that we’re His people… God requires us to prove that we’re His people… in the midst of the destruction, chaos and devastation that the Light vs. Darkness and Life vs. Death combat will bring into this world!
So be forewarned: The disciple identity and lifestyle will get us into a lot of trouble. It will appear to be as dangerous to us, as the storm on the lake appeared to be to the disciples spoken of in Matthew’s Gospel. We’ll be pressured by all the changes that the opposing world may decide to embrace and promote for a fleeting season. Worldly people are easily ‘sucked into’ the quicksand of their passing fads. One day they worship them with unshakable conviction and regard them as unchangeable truth. The next day their children and grandchildren forget all about them and start pursuing and idolizing their latest replacements! Meanwhile, our Master, God’s Living Word, is always the same So, we’re forced to choose continually… between God and His revealed Truth, and all the contradicting chaos we see around us. Our days will be like the days of Noah… and like the days of Lot in Sodom:
“For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.’ Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.”
“Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, ‘Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.’ But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
“When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”
“…The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”
“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes!”
Beloved, can you see the handwriting on the wall? If you can, then take a good close look at what our Lord is saying concerning the fruit that will be appearing from within people of the Last Days Era. He said many would claim to be His servants, but He also warned that what many seemed to be on the surface would prove to be phony and utterly unreal. He said their fruits would expose them and prove that they are frauds. And to make sure we understood His meaning, He used hyper-religious people as His example. On the surface, many people ‘talk the talk.’ They know the popular, trendy religious formulas that are popular with the current religious establishment. They regularly go through the motions of meeting the requirements imposed upon them by their synagogues, churches, mosques and temple custodians and gurus. And each of them clearly are assuming that they are ‘special’ and unlike the other people that are destined for destruction and perdition.
The Lord speaks of such arrogant, self-righteous people as being tragically blinded, naive and clueless. What they think is so important means nothing to God! He is looking for something altogether different. He won’t judge us so much by what we do… He’ll judge us according to what we are! The question He will ask is this:
“Are you alive or dead? If you are radically independent from God, trying to live a life of your own and manage yourself, then you prove that you are dead! And no matter how religious you try to become, as long as you remain in that state, nothing you will decide to offer to Me will be accepted. But if My Word lives and works and produces His fruit from within you, then you are ALIVE with His LIFE! And the fruit that you bear and offer to Me will actually be His perfectly Acceptable Fruit. I will always accept from you… whatever you receive first from Him!”
So it’s a matter of whose life a person is manifesting; is it their radical independence, or is it the Word of God that lives and works in them? That’s what matters to God. WHO IS LIVING IN YOU? WHO IS DOING WHAT COMES OUT OF YOU?
“Let the wicked (Sin-corrupted living dead child of Adam) forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
Do you see what God is saying? He, in His essential Perfection and Infinite Completeness is totally ‘Other.’ He is not to be compared to us at all. His order and dimension of Being are Uncreated! He is thus entirely removed and different from any of His creatures. He is Eternally Changeless because He is infinitely Perfect… totally Unlimited! The Fullness of His Nature lacks nothing! He is Lord of whatever is past, present or future to us. But in contrast to Him, we are temporal, grossly limited, incurably self-centered and innately helpless. That’s why God only accepts the Fruit of His own Word. His Fruit is Perfect and, therefore, worthy of Almighty God:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from Heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; It (He) will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it (Him).” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
Beloved, this is the New Covenant Reality that is our God-given Legacy. We are not spiritual orphans! We are regenerated sons of Almighty God! Our Heavenly Father is here on the Earth with us… through His Living Word and Holy Spirit who indwell us! Our Faith assures us that God Almighty is with us in the midst of our storms… just as He was with those first century disciples when they encountered their storm on the Lake of Galilee! At that time, they were not aware of it, and so they were filled with terror. But now, just as those disciples grew beyond their initial unbelief and spiritual immaturity, so too must we go beyond where they were at that time.
Peter went beyond that point. If you will recall, he was one of those disciples that were in that boat with their sleeping Master. And like all the others, he too panicked and fell apart at the seams. But he did learn from that hard lesson. Yes, the Lord chided him and the others when He asked: “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” But in time they went beyond that level of immaturity. I ask you to recall that time in the Book of Acts when Peter encountered another ‘storm’… a storm of great opposition and dire threats of bloody persecution and lethal danger. The Jewish religious authorities in Jerusalem were deeply concerned about all the talk going around concerning Yeshua and His so-called ‘Resurrection from the dead.’ They dreaded what would surely happen, if the Romans that were oppressing them saw how the Lord’s apostles were stirring up the crowds with their crazy talk about how God had raised Yeshua from the dead. They were not about to allow their brutal overlords to have any excuse to vent their wrath and brutal heavy-handed control measures on them and their people simply because of what these trouble makers were saying and doing to arouse the people:
“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. But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, ‘Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach.
“Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned). When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this Name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
“But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him!’” (Emphasis added.)
Notice the great difference in these men when they faced this second storm! During the first storm, they obsessed over the storm and forgot all about their Master who was asleep at the back of the boat. But during this second storm, all they could do was to remain focused on the Glory, Majesty and Overwhelming Preeminence of their risen Lord! They couldn’t even see or hear or give a second thought to anything that was coming against them from the mob of frightened religious authorities that surrounded them. And so now these disciples were doing what their Master had done for them in those early days. He had demonstrated the difference between the Covenant of Sinai and the New Covenant to them… and now they were doing the same thing before the Sanhedrin of Israel… and exposing their spiritual bankruptcy by the Authority of God’s Living Word, and the Power of His Holy Spirit. That was the New Covenant Reality in Action!
And so dear ones… what we need to know… and what we will need to do… is not something you will see or hear or find coming to you from anywhere in this fallen world. Do not consult the experts and professors and gurus or political controllers of this world. They are not equipped to give you the Truth and Direction you will need. Paul warned Timothy about this long ago. And what he said to Timothy is also true for us today. There is only one True Source for you and for the rest of us Last Days disciples:
2 Timothy 3
“But realize this, that in the Last Days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the (personal, fruit-bearing) knowledge of the Truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the Truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the Faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the Wisdom that leads to Salvation through Faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (Emphasis added.)
What happened to the Lord’s apostles in the first century is a preview of what the whole world will see. And the Heavenly Power that was seen operating in the midst of those faithful disciples during the storms of the first century will be the same Heavenly Power that will make itself supremely visible and felt during the Last Days Era… as the supreme Climax of the confrontation between the Living Word of God, the Resurrected Messiah of Israel… and the terrified powers of Darkness finally approaches its final Conclusion.
And then… the demonic enemies of God’s Word will be totally broken down and stripped and discredited and disgraced once and for all, in the sight of all of God’s Fully Restored Creation!
“And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the Tree of Life, and may enter by the gates into the City. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the Root and the Descendant of David, the bright Morning Star. The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the Water of Life without cost.
“I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the Tree of Life and from the Holy City, which are written in this book.
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all! Amen.”