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The New Jerasulem - The Book of Revelation
Week 48, 2018
It is apparent that the New Jerusalem, not the old, is the focus of the Book of Revelation. We need to know the purpose of both to understand God’s purposes at the end of the age and for the age to come. I saved the last few weeks of this study to address the place of both and seek a clearer understanding of this crucial subject.
A majority of the advancing church seems aware of and committed to restored Israel’s place in God’s plan. However, this is not the case with much of the institutional church. It also seems that only a very small percentage of Messianic Jews seem to understand the church’s place in God’s plan for the end of this age or the age to come. Their overwhelming focus is on the present Jerusalem, and only a few seem to grasp the “Jerusalem above,” or the “New Jerusalem” that is the focus of the Book of Revelation’s conclusion. This is not so surprising since very few Christians do either.
Just as many Christians wrongly apply some of the promises made to natural Israel to the church—a foundation for what is called “Replacement Theology”—many Jewish believers (and many Christians) wrongly apply promises or prophecies concerning the New Jerusalem to the old. I call this “Replacement, Replacement Theology,” as they replace many of the church’s purpose with natural Israel. Being able to distinguish these is crucial for understanding the end of this age and the age to come.
Consider that there was a period of about two thousand years when God dealt almost exclusively with or through the Jewish people. Now there has been nearly two thousand years when most of God’s work was to and through the Gentiles, which is called “the times of the Gentiles.” Many wrongly assume that when the times of the Gentiles is completed, we will revert to another time of the Jews, but that is not the case. It will be a time when the Jews and Gentiles are united in the “one new man” the Apostle Paul spoke of to the Ephesians. Many from both camps talk about the “one new man,” but it is apparent that few understand it.
Israel’s restoration is a miracle and its implications are so huge that it is understandable that many have allowed this to eclipse their understanding of the coming New Jerusalem, which we are told is the bride, the wife of The Lamb. Many Messianic Jews have an understanding of the church’s place in God’s plans, but it is at least as shallow as the understanding many untaught Christians have about Israel’s place. We cannot truly understand Israel, and the present Jerusalem’s place in God’s plan, without understanding the “Jerusalem above,” or the “New Jerusalem” that is the focus of the conclusion in Revelation.
It should not be so surprising that few Messianic Jews seem to grasp the place of the New Jerusalem since very few Christians do either. The vision of both is still mostly earthly. Both Christians and Jews have much to learn about the other, and we need to do this because our ultimate destiny is linked. Neither of us can get to where we’re supposed to go without the other, and our ultimate destiny is to be “one new man,” not two.
I have a great respect for Messianic movements. Many would be included in a list of the most courageous people I know. Many of their brethren, the Jews, hate them and persecute them, especially those in Israel. Many Christians consider them at best a forgettable anomaly. The New Testament confirms the place of Messianic Jews as being both believers of Jesus as their Messiah, and yet being called to maintain their Jewish culture and identity. We see this distinction being honored often in the New Testament, and it is one Christians need to understand and honor.
Many evangelical Christians are pro-Israel for biblical reasons, and they also love the Messianic movements. I expect to see all Christians moving in the present purposes of God do this before the end of this age because it is so essential to understanding our own place in these times. However, it is much rarer to find Messianic believers who know, love, and teach God’s place for the church. In fact, there seems to be as high a percentage of Messianic believers who are anti-church as there are Christians who are anti-Jewish (and there are many of these). There are reasons for this on both sides, but they are not good reasons, and both sides must overcome them.
As a Christian leader with a fairly sizable reach, I am often contacted by Messianic groups that want to “partner” with me. I’m always open to any kind of partnership that will further the kingdom, but I am especially open to these because it must happen. When I ask how they see this partnership working, the answer has been focused, with but one exception, 100% on ways we can support them or contribute to their projects. There seemingly is not even a thought about how they can help us or contribute to what we are doing.
When I asked what we would get out of this “partnership,” some offered that a way to help us is for them to come and teach our people about God’s purpose for Israel. Now I believe that teaching is important, but I also know how many Christians feel worn out and used because of it, with little or no reciprocation. Most Messianic Jews are just as much in need of a revelation of God’s purpose for the church.
Now if the above were business proposals, no one would take them seriously. However, I do even though they are (for now) almost completely one-sided. When it was prophesied in the Book of Acts that a famine would come upon the whole earth, the church prepared for this not by hording, but by taking up an offering for the needy brethren in Israel. As we are taught in the Book of Romans, those who have received so much spiritually from the Jewish people should be willing to help them with physical needs.
Giving is one thing, but when someone proposes a “partnership,” I still do a very serious “due diligence” before I join with anyone in such a serious relationship. Like any sound organization, I have it spelled out very clearly what the performance in this agreement looks like. Those who do not do business with such clear intent don’t last long, and neither do ministries or churches. This is not my ministry, but I am a steward of The King of kings. So seek to do a better job managing such things for Him than I would do for any organization or government.
Now most “partnerships” offered to me by Christian ministries have been the same kind of one way street, being almost entirely about what we can do for them with little or nothing offered concerning that they can do for us. I just take this as an indication that we all have some maturing to do before a true joining is possible. However, as the times progress such unions will not only be possible, they will be essential for any of us to accomplish our full purpose.
The most serious partnership we could ever enter into on this earth is going to come between the church and Israel. It seems both sides have some maturing to do before we are ready, and working together in any way that we can is one good way to get ready for it.
next week 49