A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Old Testament Prophets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Old Testament Prophets. Show all posts

February 4, 2024

The Importance of Prophecy for Advancing The Kingdom of God

I recently had a conversation with a beloved Sister in Christ regarding "the prophetic". From some of my comments about "false prophets", she thought I might be expressing doubt in the gift of prophecy being viable for today. I assured her that I absolutely believe that prophecy is important in the Body of Christ today. I just struggle with the amount of men and women that I discern are prophesying from their soul [and from pride] and not out of their spirit. 

In other words, I believe what 1 Corinthians 12 says ... God, as the Holy Spirit, distributes the spiritual gifts [word of wisdom and word of knowledge; along with faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning between spirits, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues]. Jesus, as God, ordains the ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. And the the Father, who is the same God as Jesus and Holy Spirit, empowers them [for His will to be done] through their gifts and ministries, as He energizes and activates them.   

And, of course, Jesus can use His ordained men and women to help grow and mature others until we are called to step into those ministries. But I'm very careful to discern who is a REAL and LEGITIMATE prophet, ordained by God, and not simply men giving each other that title, through a Church committee, or by self-proclamation. Furthermore, the fact that I believe God still ordains prophets today, is evidence that I believe God still speaks prophetically to His "called out ones", just as He did to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, etc. 

These prophets all foresaw the coming Messiah, and spoke of what Almighty God told them, teaching ancient Israel about the laws and statutes of the One True God and how to live in them. When instructed by God, the prophets of old called the people to repentance when they strayed from those laws and the holy lifestyle they were meant to protect. And although they would not see Him, it was their assignment to bear witness that the Lord YHWH would send them a Redeemer; the Messiah. And, miraculously, all the prophesies in the Old Testament concerning the First Coming of Jesus were literally fulfilled -- among them, His divine conception and His place of Birth; the Holiness of His character; that He would be David's seed; that He would be crushed for our iniquities; and that His body would not be allowed to decay (prophesying His resurrection on the third day, before decay began to set in on the fourth day).  

These reasons that God sent prophets in the Old Testament are the same reasons He sent His Son, Yeshua Ha Mashiach -- to stress a return to the moral laws and statutes of God; to call the people to repentance (Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!); to instruct them on how to live a holy lifestyle; and to bear witness of Himself, sent by God  And for the record, these same reasons are why I do believe that the spiritual gift of Prophecy is for the Believer today, and it did not cease after the Apostles died. 

My spirit clearly discerns that this gift [along with all the other spiritual gifts] was given to the early Church to advance the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought to the earth, and all the gifts are just as needed today! I don't understand why anyone in the Body of Christ would think that God revoked those gifts in the First Century. The Gospel of the Kingdom certainly had not spread throughout the world, and there was still so much work and progress that needed to happen to restore the earth and the Kingdom to God's original plan -- we're still far short of that goal! So, let me share with you a few reasons that the particular gift of Prophecy is so important for strengthening and cultivating a Kingdom culture.

First of all, God did not design us to be completely mature in our faith the moment we received our Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a process of growing up into the image of Christ, and that will take practice and commitment.  Also, the point of Salvation is not to give us a "get out of jail free" card so we can live out our lives, simply waiting on the promises of God -- His strength; His rest; His provision; the answers to our prayers; His protection; His freedom from temptation to sin; and most importantly, everlasting life. Additionally, "the prophetic" is more than what is predicted to happen in the future. If understood correctly, Prophecy gives us a spiritual foundation upon which to build a Kingdom lifestyle -- it instructs us how to live and gives us goals for spiritual growth.

NOTE: It is important for Christians to grow into the mature understanding that the Kingdom of God on earth is a spiritual kingdom -- NOT a physical kingdom. That's why Jesus responds to Pilate in this way when asked about His Kingdom: My kingdom is not of this world, if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now My kingdom is not of this realm". But the influence of His spiritual kingdom can now [and will in the future] manifest changes in the earth and in nations and in peoples.

For example, Jesus gives many prophetic pronouncements to the Disciples before His Death on the Cross. He foretells the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD; and warns of false christs and prophets, wars, tribulation, persecution, lawlessness, and most importantly, the Coming of the Son of Man. All these prophecies will be fulfilled, just as the prophecies of the Old Testament were, and they will serve to validate that Jesus was who He [and the Bible] says He was! 

The state of this world is evidence that humankind has strayed far from the moral laws of God. If we only looked at the news and the events around us, it would be easy to lose hope and give up on this life and the reasons we are living. But prophecy serves to give us that hope and to inspire us to live a holy life, awaiting in patience and endurance for the return of the Lord. Now, if we lived only in the prophecies of Jesus in Matthew 24 [of wars, tribulation, persecution, and lawlessness], it would be  easy to become discouraged. But God provides those glimpses of the future so that we might not become too lax, but that we might become strengthened and prepared [in our faith] for the Enemy's strategies. As Amos 3:7 says, "The Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets". 

So, Jesus gave those prophecies for His Disciples [in their time] and for us, in our time, so that we might begin to understand and correctly identify the season we are in. Remember, we are not to know the hour or the day, but we are to watch and remain sober, because we are children of the Light. We can see and discern correctly, because we recognize the signs the prophets have given us, and begin to look forward to our Lord's return. 

I am thankful that God still sends us Prophets and Watchmen! I praise Him for continuing to validate Scripture and our faith through the words of those He appoints as prophets. I am thankful for the discernment He gives us, so that we might hear correctly from these men and women of God, and not be deceived by those who seek to validate themselves. God is still speaking to this generation, and Prophecy is still good for educating, encouraging, and comforting the Body of Christ. Let the true prophets of God share what they're hearing from the Lord!

#thegiftofprophecy #false prophets #GodstillspeaksthroughHisprophets #biblicalprophecy #isthepropheticfortoday

2 Peter 1:19    And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts   

June 29, 2021

"Stop The Singing and Listen" -- The Words of The Prophet - Part 2

I often find myself wondering what it must have been like for the prophets of the Bible to receive the word of the Lord concerning His judgments upon their nations. They knew that what He instructed them to say would not be popular, and would be difficult to receive. Yet, they were obedient, often at great personal cost, to forewarn their countrymen of the coming justice from God's holy temple in Heaven.

Such was the experience of the prophet Micah, who lived from 740 BC - 670 BC. He was the first prophet to predict the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the capital of the ancient nation of Israel before its fragmentation into separate northern and southern kingdoms. Jerusalem then became the capital of the southern kingdom, Judah. 

Micah was an equal opportunity prophet, rebuking the northern kingdom of Israel [as well as Judah] of dishonesty in the marketplace and corruption in government. He announced impending doom and judgment from God for enriching themselves while impoverishing their citizens. He announced, on behalf of God, their transgressions, rebellion, and idolatry... something common to nearly all the prophets of the Bible. So, why am I focusing on this minor prophet? Because, as I said in the previous post, the Holy Spirit unexpectedly brought this short book of seven chapters to my attention. As I read it, I could not deny that Micah's messages to the princes/leaders and people of Jerusalem could just as easily be given to us. Let me share with you what my spirit heard...

Micah begins his message with the earnest appeal for the people -- all of them -- to pay attention because the Lord God is going to be a witness against them. He is going to be "coming out of His place" because of the transgressions [rebellion] of the house of Israel and Samaria. Now for a little history ... the direct transgression he is referring to is the division of the nation of Israel into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. But this was all set in motion years before by King Solomon when he built two houses: the house of the Lord and his own palace, the king's house. He then prostituted himself with Hiram, the king of Tyre, to receive gold to build the houses and multiple his wealth. As if that wasn't enough, he took foreign wives from Egypt, Moab, Ammon and other pagan nations. It was an alliance not countenanced by God.

Solomon sold the king of Tyre cities in the land of Galilee, virtually selling the birthright of the nation of Israel. And because of this corrupt alliance, the taxes were raised to fund all that Solomon owned, resulting (after his death) in the conflict between the ten northern tribes, under the rulership of Jeroboam, and the two southern tribes, under the rulership of Rehoboam. Solomon's slide into idolatrous worship [against the manner of worship God had prescribed] eventually led to Jeroboam's own fall from grace. He had been Solomon's superintendent over the taxes and labor of the citizens to maintain Solomon's extravagant lifestyle. He was effective in that role; enough so, that the prophet Abijah revealed to Jeroboam God's intention to make him a ruler of a new kingdom. When, after Solomon's death, Jeroboam attempted to explain to Rehoboam, the heir to Solomon's throne, that the northern tribes were too burdened by the taxation and labor, their demands were rejected and the nation of Israel split in two. 

Both Israel and Judah would see their once prosperous and God-blessed nations slide into degeneracy and destruction. Jeroboam would altar the methods of worship that God had established by worshiping at the altars of pagan gods, appointing his own priests [from other than the tribe of Levi]; and changing the times of the Lord's Feasts. Rehoboam's leadership served the nation of Judah just as grievously. Using the trappings of power and wealth, he continued to burden his people with heavy taxes, and engaged in worshiping false gods, even to the point of giving a home in the Temple of Jehovah to heathen deities. The falling away from the ways of YHWH to worshiping false gods cost the people of ancient Israel dearly. God would use foreign kings and nations to discipline both kingdoms. The northern kingdom of Israel would be conquered by Assyria. From 740 BC to 722 BC the inhabitants were deported and taken into captivity; never to return to their homeland. Likewise, in 589 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem, and in 586 BC he destroyed the Temple and took the inhabitants of Judah into captivity for 70 years.

Both kingdoms traded their unique and blessed inheritance from the Lord for worldly wealth and power. In fact, they traded those blessings they had received from God and transferred them to foreign countries. All this is prophesied by the prophet Micah ... All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the high place [site of idol worship] of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country ... All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return (Micah 1:5-7).

I can't help but see a similarity to the sins of our nation. Have our leaders prostituted us to foreign nations for their own wealth and power? Have we entered into ungodly alliances with our enemies? Do our leaders seek to yoke us to heavier taxes and break the backs of the laborers instead of easing our burden?  Have we, as a people, abandoned our God-ordained ways of worship for ways that feed our souls instead of our spirits? Are we falling for soothing and appealing words of false teachers who encourage us to embrace all religions as the same, worshiping the same God? 

Micah 2:4 says, On that day they shall take up a [taunting, deriding] parable against you and wail with a doleful and bitter song of mourning and say, ‘We are completely destroyed! God exchanges the inheritance of my people; How He removes it from me! He divides our fields to the rebellious [our captors].’ I can't help but wonder if our enemies are mocking and taunting us in the same way. Will our leaders soon bemoan the state of the yoke they have placed upon us [by their immoral alliances]? Will they realize too late that the land they have taken from our hard-working citizens will be given into the hands of an idolatrous king?

And I know there are those who do not think that God's word against the ancient nation of Israel could possibly pertain to us. I hear all the time, that we are under the blood of Jesus, so we are not under the same condemnation or discipline that they were. But I will remind everyone that our God is Immutable, unchanging. It is not that He could change, but chooses not to. It is that He will always respond to everything according to His unchanging character. He is unchanging in who He is, in His perfection, in His purposes, and in His promises. So, while it may seem I only speak of doom and destruction; and it may be hard to accept that we are following this same path, and are deserving of His discipline, I will never fail to remind us all that by repenting, asking for forgiveness, and seeking His face, we can also be deserving of His promises.  

In order to receive those promises, we must be honest with ourselves. Not one of Israel's ancient kings restored the true worship of God. And the result was unavoidable national captivity. I do not believe it was our destiny to repeat that heresy. But I cannot ignore that this nation does not honor and glorify -- yet alone, worship Him -- the way He desires. Yes, there is a remnant that is desperately seeking to restore that Biblical model. We must recognize that our God and His ways are eternal; they are unchanging. And the words He spoke through His messenger Micah, nearly 2800 years ago, still ring true. Let us pray together and endeavor with might and purpose to change the trajectory of our nation so that we can avoid the downfall that is looming. We do not have to repeat the sins of the past!

Next: Micah's message of hope to this generation!  

Micah 2:1-2   Woe (judgment is coming) to those who devise wickedness and plot evil on their beds! When morning comes, they practice evil because it is in the power of their hands. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away. They oppress and rob a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.


January 30, 2020

John the Baptist, the Spirit of Elijah, and the Kingdom of Heaven

     I'm going to attempt to share a deeper understanding I just gained about Matthew 11:11-15. It is a passage that is quite often quoted and mentioned in Biblical exegesis, but never adequately explained for my understanding. And in my conversations with fellow Christians, I find that many of them are struggling with its relevance, too. So, not that I see myself as a Scriptural expert, but after spending a bit of time diving in, I'd like to give it a shot, because it is vitally important to our understanding of the Kingdom of God. Here is the passage:

11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

     Let's unravel this verse-by-verse, shall we? First of all, the Bible is establishing that John the Baptist is a human being, just like you and me; born of a woman. Secondly, we need to understand that John is the last prophet who came with a message that the Messiah would one day come. He is great because he is the prophet that was allowed to see that prophecy fulfilled. But he dies before Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection [which pays for our sins and makes way for us receive eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven]. 
   So, then how could one who is least in the Kingdom be greater than John? We, who are the recipients of Christ's sacrifice are greater because we get to receive the benefits of His Coming, which are Salvation, which in turn grants us the right to enter the Kingdom of Heaven [see John 3:1-5]. We are more privileged than even John the Baptist!
     What does it mean that the Kingdom of Heaven "suffers violence from the days of John, and that violent men take it by force"? To suffer violence means the Kingdom of Heaven was being pressed into by men forcing their way in; because up to now, Satan has been the dark ruler of this world and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and men did not have access to, or a way, to enter into the Kingdom. And remember, Jesus castigates the Pharisees for not entering, nor allowing others to enter. (Matthew 23:13). 
     But from the moment John stepped onto the world scene until now, the realm of Heaven's kingdom is bursting forth and passionate people are taking hold of its power. The prophets and the Old Testament prophesied about the coming Messiah and His authority and power to deliver men and the world, and now here is John in the New Testament seeing those prophecies come to fruition.
     Then, here is the real stickler for most Christians: And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. Here's my take on this verse ... Got created us all as spirits, and each spirit is eventually assigned to a host body to live out its appointed days, after which the spirit returns to its "home" with the Father. Think "one spirit to one body; one life resulting in one death". But Elijah did not die a human death! He was taken up to Heaven before his body could die, so God receives his spirit back and can send it to John to help him carry out God's purpose for that spirit. [NOTE: spirits can't reside in bodies that die and then come back in another body -- that would constitute reincarnation]. 
     So, think of it like this: The "spirit of Elijah" is an anointing of the Spirit of God that works in a person in the same manner it did in the first Elijah. It is a spirit that is against worshiping false gods  (as Elijah came against Ahab and Jezebel). It is a spirit that brings about the restoration of God's Truth and turns the hearts of God's people back to Him and a true faith. 
     This is a word [for us] as spoken by the prophet Malachi: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.  In the Last Days, there must be a prophet anointed, just as John the Baptist was, with the spirit of Elijah to turn the hearts of believers (both Christians and Jews) to welcome the returning Christ. The traditions of men must be rejected! 
     The Word must be restored to its purity: Those who worship God must worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24). In the past, God revealed Himself through a prophet. Now, He reveals Himself through Spirit, and His Spirit will be revealed through the spirit of Elijah in the Last Days. The last anointing of the Elijah spirit will be the final witness to both Jew and Christian (Revelation 11?). Jews must receive the message of the Jewish Apostles in the Early Church, recognize Jesus as their Messiah, recognize the final Elijah's message and be sealed into the Kingdom of God. Likewise, the Modern Church must turn away from their rituals, traditions, and denominational doctrines and turn to the living God of the Bible! I pray that all those with ears to hear, will hear loud and clear!

August 25, 2019

What The Prophets Had To Say About The Kingdom Of God

     Recently, my husband and I spoke before a group of people about the Gospel of the Kingdom. It was such a spiritual high to see people recognizing (some for the first time) the importance of understanding Jesus's primary message, and to see the implications of entering the Kingdom of God for this generation.
     It amazes me how the Enemy has been able to successfully hide this truth in these latter days of the Church Age. Of course, I understand why -- when Jesus came over 2000 years ago, He declared that Satan's kingdom was coming to an end. In John 4:31, the Lord said, From this moment on, everything in this world is about to change, for the ruler of this dark world will be overthrown.
     The Good News that Jesus was re-establishing the Kingdom of God on earth was a sentence of judgment on the fallen world and meant that Satan's kingdom of darkness would soon be toppled. What's more, mankind [from whom Satan received his dominion of the earth through deception] would be redeemed, and death would be conquered by Jesus, Himself. Man would again be given dominion over the earth; to occupy it and hold it until Christ returned for His final judgment of Evil.
     So, Satan had much to lose if men, who came to salvation through faith in the Risen Christ, ever learned of their restored power and authority and took back their dominion of the earth. So, it should not be a surprise that, slowly over the last two millennia, this truth of the Kingdom of God and our role as citizens of Heaven on earth, has been concealed and shrouded by false doctrines and flawed teachings within the Church. Satan has done a good job of infiltrating our seminaries and leading Church leadership down a path that has succeeded in birthing a powerless Body of Christ.
     But equally amazing to me is that the truth was there all the time ... all we had to do was be diligent in reading and studying the Word. But again, the mantra in far too many 21st Century churches is that the Old Testament has been surpassed by a New Covenant and is no longer relevant. But Jesus says in Luke 16:16, The law of Moses and the revelation of the prophets have prepared you for the arrival of the kingdom realm announced by John. And now, when this wonderful news of God’s kingdom realm is preached, people’s hearts burn with extreme passion to press in and receive it.
     The prophets of the Old Testament revealed that there was a new kingdom coming; they prepared men to be on the lookout for it. And it came with Jesus. And Jesus said that when men hear the good news of this kingdom preached, they will burn with extreme passion to enter into it. 
     We need not doubt the words of the prophets in the Old Testament. They heard directly from God as men called to deliver God's promises of judgment and restoration. They were called to both warn of disaster coming from violation of the covenant with God, and to announce the blessings of a future messianic kingdom [preserving a descendant of David to sit on its throne]. And Jesus confirms this truth when He says, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
     I don't know about you, but I find great hope in those words, and it makes the prophecies in the Old Testament so dear to my heart. Jesus says He came to fulfill them! He came to bring to perfection all that was written! So, let's rejoice in these hope-filled prophetic words of long ago:

Jeremiah 23:3-4.  YHWH will return to Zion to deliver His sinful [and wayward] people and equip them to extend His saving reign to the furthest points of the earth. Jeremiah expresses this prophecy with an image of God placing shepherds (a symbol of kingship) over His people in the context of bringing them (in a new exodus) out from the nations to which they have been driven ... Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord. 

Daniel 2:44. Daniel shares this vision of permanent restoration and sovereignty in a different way ... And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever …  

Daniel 7:13-14.  The image of an exalted and majestic king is firmly established; one that is approved and authorized by the Father ... I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Zechariah 14:9. There will be an end-time kingdom that will dominate the earth and only one Lord and King ... And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and His name one. 

Psalm 89:3-4, 29.  YHWH is faithful to fulfill His promises to His chosen ones ... I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations ... I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens.

Habakkuk 2:14.  Adam’s dominion mandate will be fulfilled and restored through the dramatic saving work of God. Death is conquered at the Cross, and the Kingdom of God once more reigns on the earth  ...  In that day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
     As you can see, the Old Testament's prophets provided the context within which Jesus could declare that the "Kingdom of Heaven was at hand [had arrived]". Jesus said that He came to the lost sheep of Israel. They knew that YHWH was king, and had always been king of the earth. What they didn't know, or recognize, was that God, Himself, had broken into the world, through the appearance of His Son, in order to reclaim dominion and rule of the earth. What we have not known -- until those with "eyes to see" and "ears to hear" have re-discovered it -- is that through our faith in Jesus, we are to assume the roles of ambassadors, royal citizens, and sons and daughters of the King. We are to continue what Jesus started, putting the Enemy on alert that his time is ending; his kingdom no longer holds power over this earth, and we are rising up in a wave of believers walking in new identities!
     I, for one, am grateful to the prophets of old for overcoming scorn, derision, captivity, and death to bring us the profound blessings of their written words. What crowns and inheritance they will reap on that glorious day when they stand before the Lord! May we honor their faithfulness with our own strength and courage, by declaring and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the whole world as a testimony to the nations. For Jesus says, "then the end will come". And all the obedient faithful proclaim, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Thanks to Ligonier Ministries for referencing the Old Testament prophecies.
Hosea 12:10    I spoke to the prophets; it was I who multiplied visions, and through the prophets gave parables.