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Keyboard and Mouse



Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

In today’s session, we will cover the period from the time the Israelites left Mt Sinai until the next generation stood by the banks of the Jordan river forty years later, and the prophetic lessons we can learn from their wilderness journey.

First, when Israel set out to conquer the Promised Land, the nation was effectively entering into warfare as they would need to defeat the pagan peoples occupying the land then. Similarly, the Church is called into warfare and we must expect and be prepared for spiritual opposition as we rescue and take possession of lost souls for God’s Kingdom.

Next, the way the Israelites were encamped around the Tabernacle of God as they proceeded on their journey reflected how the life and community of the Israelites then, just as the life and community of the Church today, must revolve around worship of God as a witness to the surrounding nations. This is our primary weapon to win others to Christ - by reflecting God’s glory as His lesser light and so draw people to Him. Worship is also important in warfare as the devil will try to derail us through earthly distractions and temptations or by using fear and intimidation. We can only stand firm and overcome when we keep our focus on God alone. When we worship God in this way and have no other idols in our hearts - even things that are seemingly good such as health and family - then we won’t give a foothold for the enemy to use these against us.

As we all know, a journey that should have only lasted eleven days (Deut 1:2) ended up taking forty long years (Num 33). This wilderness period is prophetic of the forty jubilees from the time the Church - filled with the Holy Spirit - moved out of the upper room on the Day of Pentecost almost two thousand years ago until now, as this generation - like the one led by Joshua - await Jesus’ return to lead us into the Promised Land of the Millennial Kingdom and ultimately into eternity with God.

The number forty in the Bible is often associated with testing and trials, patient obedience and judgment. Like Moses who was up on the mountain forty days (Ex 24:18, 32:1), Jesus is “up on the mountain” of God’s heavenly throne these forty jubilees, a trial period to test whether we will remain faithful to Him while we wait for His return. We can either be like the rebellious three thousand who died at Mt Sinai during the first Pentecost, or the believing three thousand who were saved on the Day of Pentecost (Ex 32:28, Acts 2:41).

Ultimately, at the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Kingdom life is about God’s Kingship over Israel and the Church and the lives of each and every citizen of the kingdom. It was, is, and will always be about Love and Obedience. As Jesus Himself put it, “If you love me, keep my commands” (Jn 14:15). Obedience should not be out of habit or even duty, which can only fulfill the letter but not the spirit of the Law. It must ultimately stem from love for God.

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Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

Over the next few blog posts, we will conclude Session 3 by looking at the history of Israel and what it means for the Church as God’s royal priesthood and holy nation today. By Church, I want to clarify that we are speaking here about the Church in its visible form - as an institution, denomination or local body of believers that we belong to - just as by Israel, we are referring to the visible Jewish nation. This is because God has chosen to work through these earthly communities (Ekklesia) to bring about His spiritual plans and purposes.

In 1 Cor 10:1-11, Paul pointed out how Israel served as an example for the Church. He used the Greek term tupos, which means, in the technical sense, a pattern in conformity to which something must be made; in an ethical sense, a warning; and in a doctrinal or Biblical sense, a person or thing prefiguring or foretelling a future person or thing as it relates to Jesus. In other words, what happened to Israel is not only instructive but PROPHETIC of what will come upon the Church even as Jesus’ return draws near. In fact, as we will see later, Israel’s history would virtually repeat itself in the growth and development of the Church.

That the Church should behave like Israel, as though they were both from the same tree, should come as no surprise. In Rom 11:11-32, Paul warned Gentile believers not to be proud, thinking that they were superior to the Jews. This was because they were in actual fact ingrafted into God’s Kingdom in place of the Jews, who were the natural branches as it were but who had been cut off for now due to their rejection of Jesus. As I had briefly mentioned in our last session, the entire nation of Israel would be removed from the face of the Earth for almost 2,000 years following the Roman Exile in 70 AD. In its place, the largely Gentile Church was ingrafted in as it were to bear the fruits of the Kingdom of God among the nations during this “time of the Gentiles”. However, when the fullness of the Gentiles have come in - by this, Paul was referring to Jacob’s prophecy regarding Ephraim that we learnt about earlier on - Israel will be revived to prepare for Jesus’ return, even as the ingrafted branches of the Church begin to wither - something I hinted at in my last session and that we will go into in greater detail in my future podcasts. And we know that Israel has indeed been reborn since 1948.

So we see then that the Church is not separate from Israel - not distinct from, let alone replace Israel as the final or perfected Kingdom of God. The Church is here for a season and a purpose. To phrase it another way, both Israel and the Church are the same Kingdom of God but revealed in different ways at different times. While Israel was, historically, how God chose to reveal His Kingdom through whom Jesus first came, and eschatologically or in the end times, for whom Jesus will return, prophetically, the Church - which was a “mystery” (Eph 3:6, 10) until then - was how God chose to reveal His Kingdom in whom the Body of Christ reaches its full maturity - the fullness of the Gentiles - before Jesus returns.

This correct understanding of how Israel and the Church are related is important because it determines the Church’s true identity and mission - especially in this Kairos when - as we saw in our last session - Jesus will return soon to establish His millennial kingdom and rule.

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Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

In our opening session, we learnt about God’s concept of time - how earthly time is temporal and is in continual linear motion. We then learnt how God gave us a series of weekly, monthly/annual and sabbatical/jubilee cycles in patterns of 7s as a way for us, who live in earthly time, to understand His eternal will. These were given in the form of religious practices and festivals, as well as national laws and regulations, that Israel was to observe on specific dates. In so doing, Israel was to mark and draw the world’s attention to the sacred or appointed times symbolised by these occasions whereby God would bring about His plan of redemption in His Kairos through the coming and return of Jesus.

Weekly cycle - Sabbath first seen in the 7 Days of Creation points to the 7 millennia (7,000 years) of world history, revolving around the coming of Jesus the Greater Light and His return on the Day of the Lord to inaugurate the Sabbath rest, which is the period of the Millennium. If we understand time as being measured according to the chronology of events and people in the Bible, then we are reaching the end of the sixth millennium in our day. Looking back at the narrative of the 7 Days of Creation, God is telling us that the world is now living under the rule of man - more specifically, one man - the Antichrist. In fact, the Apostle John tells us that the spirit of the Antichrist was already at work in our midst since his time (1 Jn 4:3), but as we approach the end of this Sixth Day of Creation the Antichrist will soon be revealed in the flesh.

Monthly/Annual cycle - 7 High Sabbaths that Israel was to celebrate in the form of 7 Feasts of God over 7 months every year. These High Sabbaths, which can be grouped into the Spring and Fall Feasts according to Israel’s agricultural calendar, point to 7 Kairos events during these 7 millennia of world history. Now, we know that the Spring Feasts have already been fulfilled in God’s Kairos 2,000 years ago with the coming of Jesus. Here, the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits to commemorate the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt pointed to Jesus' death and resurrection as our Passover Lamb opening the way for our salvation and escape from the bondage of sin. Meanwhile, the birth of Israel as a nation at Mt Sinai, which took place on the day of Pentecost with the giving of the Law, pointed to the birth of the Church at Mt Zion with the giving of the Holy Spirit. Today, we are reaching the end of the Summer interval - this age of grace and year of the Lord’s favour (Isa 61:1-2a, Lk 4:18-19) more commonly known as the Church Age - before the Fall Feasts arrive in God’s Kairos to mark Jesus’ return and another great exodus - that of the final and complete deliverance of God’s people from His enemies, and ultimately from the judgment of sin which is eternal death.

Sabbatical/Jubilee cycle - God commanded Israel to let the land rest every seventh or Sabbatical year and to further proclaim freedom for the people during the year of Jubilee, which takes place every 50th year - that is, after 7 by 7 or 49 years. This cycle was to start after Israel entered the Promised Land, and points to the spiritual rest and freedom that the world and mankind would ultimately experience during the Millennial Sabbath after 6,000 years of human sin and struggle. We know that, historically, the Promised Land only got its rest after 70 Sabbatical cycles and this during Israel’s exile in Babylon because of her disobedience and unfaithfulness to God (Lev 26:34-35, 2 Chron 36:20-21). Today, we are in the 70th Jubilee cycle from the time Israel first entered the Promised Land. In 2018, Israel celebrated 70 years since its rebirth as a nation. The Israel we know today is far from God and the Church is not doing that much better. All these indicators point to us as being the last generation in God’s Kairos who will witness Jesus’ return to usher in this Millennial rest during a similar end-time Babylonian exile as prophesied in the book of Revelations.

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