Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 7/28/02
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8, RSV).
In our times together, we have been seeing that God is stretching us. Through the prophet Isaiah, He said, "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; hold not back, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes" (Isaiah 54:2, RSV). He is enlarging our spiritual horizons to see Him as He is, the one who declares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). Can anything be too difficult for God? Is there anything beyond His control? Dedicated Christians, who say they believe in the power of Almighty God, and who probably do believe He called the worlds into existence and flung the stars into the velvet night, nevertheless, doubt that He can turn their lives into something beautiful and glorious. I say that, because all too often, we see that they have set their tent stakes in sin consciousness, and have accepted defeat by the whims of the flesh. In Romans, Chapter Four, the Apostle Paul declares that Abraham is the father of faith to those who believe, and demonstrates some important differences between law and faith, works and grace. Paul declares, "It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression" (Rom. 4:13-15, NIV). Let me repeat it: "law brings wrath." Those who are heavily invested in the wrath and justice of God, who believe in an everlasting hell, are living by law, not by grace. "Where there is no law there is no transgression," is another way to say, "The power of sin is the law!" (I Co 15:56). Those who live in sin consciousness, are living by law, because in grace, where there is no law, there is no transgression!
Paul continues, "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring, not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Rom. 4:16-17, NIV). So, there you have it. For those of us who doubt our inheritance, who wonder what good thing could possibly come from this flesh in which we dwell, we can relax, because we serve a God who "gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." This, by the way, is a perfect definition of the word, "prolepsis," used by theologians. Harry Fox, a dear friend of ours, who actually is a theologian, was talking about this concept just recently. The dictionary defines prolepsis as: "the representation of something in the future as if it already existed or had occurred; the use of a descriptive word in anticipation of its becoming applicable." And isn't this what faith is? "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb. 11:1, RSV). God is in the miracle business, by which He calls that which is not, as though it were, and He invites us to believe that this is true when we ask Him for what we need.
Here's another example of prolepsis. Paul says of us, "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him" (Eph. 1:4). Most Christians would look at their own lives and snicker at the idea that anyone would call them holy and blameless, and yet this is exactly what Paul says about us. To set the bar even higher, the Hebrew writer says of Christ, that He is a high priest, "one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens" (Heb. 7:26, NIV). Trying to comprehend these verses with your natural mind, always leaves you confused and frustrated. For instance, most Christians think of Jesus as so much higher and purer and holier than they are, that they could never be like Him. Under law, this was most certainly the truth, but under grace, Ah, under grace, because God calls the things that are not as though they were, and because He lives in us, we ARE what He is in this world. The Apostle John wrote, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God IS love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him" (I Jn. 4:16-17, NIV). It is the love of God which gives us confidence on the day of judgment, and it is the love of God which says, "You are like Him in this world."
Last week, we talked at length about Jesus' parables of the sower. We learned that the Son of Man, is the sower (Matt. 13:37), and He also is the Seed being sown (Gal. 3:16). God is the husbandman of the garden, the one who is in charge of the care of the Seed and the harvesting of it. It is the harvest that has my attention today, because the harvest that God reaps will be the manifestation of the sons of God! Jesus is the first of many brethren (Rom. 8:29). He was planted in the earth, and rose again triumphant over death. The death He died, He died once for ALL (Rom. 6:10), which means that we are triumphant over death as well. Like the Virgin Mary, we were overshadowed by the Spirit of the Most High and impregnated with the Seed of God, who is being formed in us now. This was God's plan from before the foundation of the world. I believe that when He unveiled His plan before time began, "the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy" (Job 38:7). Improbable and unlikely as it seems to our natural minds, the God of heaven and earth, the Creator of the Universe, invested Himself and all that He HAS and IS in a man.
The Hebrew writer, quoting the Psalmist (Ps. 8:4-8), asks, "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him" (Heb. 2:6-8, NIV). This last sentence nails our present dilemma perfectly: "At present we do not see everything subject to him (to man, to us)." We have been programmed to think, to analyze, to reason things out. We look at our lives and say, "There are MANY things not subject to me yet." The organized church has mistakenly concluded that these things which we don't see subject to us right now, will be subject to us when Jesus comes again, when they believe the kingdom will be established. They have projected so many blessings and privileges out into the future, that many live in spiritual poverty and hopelessness today. When Lazarus died and Martha asked Him to do something about it, He said, "Your brother will rise again." Like many Christians today, her well trained religious mind replied, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (John 11:23-24, NIV). Jesus did not commend her for being a good Sabbath Day student. He challenged her thinking by asserting, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26, NIV). He could easily have said, "Well, sure Martha, but I will bring him back sooner just because I love you." Instead, He pushed the envelope to the max declaring, "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die." This verse sticks in my soul like a magnet, drawing me ever deeper in my search for truth.
God is the One who calls the things that are not as though they were, and who encourages us to soar higher, or dig a little deeper, whichever metaphor you prefer, to find out what He means by that. In Revelation, Chapter 12, we see a beautiful picture of the Manchild. This chapter begins with a description of "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth" (Rev. 12:1-2, NIV). In order to understand the Book of Revelation, we must remember that, "what you see, is NOT what you get." The angel made this clear to John immediately, when he explained that the golden lampstands John saw were not lampstands at all, but were symbols of the seven churches, and the seven stars in His hand, were not stars, but were the angels or MESSENGERS of the seven churches (Rev. 1:20). We can only understand the book of Revelation by the Holy Spirit, rather than with our natural minds.
The crown of twelve stars on the woman's head suggests either Israel (12 tribes) or the church (12 Apostles). Both, of course, came out of Israel and are the result of God's promise to Abraham. This woman, then, is a symbol of the process by which God gives us life, the new birth. Enter the dragon, who was powerful, menacing, and ready to devour her child as soon as it was born (Vs. 4). God had other plans: "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne" (Rev. 12:5, KJV). I used the King James Version here, because other versions read, "male child," and the title given me by the Lord is "Where is the Manchild?" It is obvious to any bible student that the one who would rule all nations with a rod of iron is Christ Himself (Ps. 2:8-9; 110: 1-2; Rev. 2:27; 19:15). Therefore, at the very least, this word picture in Revelation twelve, is a description of Jesus' birth through the Virgin Mary. Certainly the "dragon" would be an apt description of King Herod who had all the boy babies in Bethlehem two years and younger killed because of his insane jealousy for the throne of Israel (Matt. 2:16).
This title, "Where is the Manchild" has intrigued me for days now as I have waited to find out what God wants me to see and share about it. There are those who say that the woman is the church, without spot and wrinkle (Eph. 5:27), who gives birth to the manifested sons of God. Many of these people also believe Rev. 12:5, is speaking of a literal rapture, where the elect will be snatched away while God mops up on the miserable sinners left behind on the earth below. Years ago, God delivered me from believing in the Rapture, by showing me His incredible, unconditional love for the world and all who are in it. When Jesus walked the earth, He was NOT an isolationist. Had He only hung around with the godly folk, He would not have been crucified. Instead, He ate with tax collectors and harlots, and told the Pharisees that these sinners would go into the kingdom ahead of them (Matt. 21:31). He was in the thick of the action, wading through the muck and mire of human nature run amok. He was kind to the ungrateful and selfish (Lk. 6:35), but hard as nails on the religious folks, the scribes and Pharisees, calling them whited sepulchers full of dead men's bones, blind guides, hypocrites and a brood of vipers (Matt. 23).
We've already read the verse which states that as He is, so are we in this world. Christ did not hesitate to go among the suffering sinners, like some of His followers do. He did not ask to be whisked away, and neither will we be. If we are like Him, we will be right here speaking peace to the heathen, not raptured out to some overhanging cloud where we can watch the carnage below. What a TRAGIC misconception of the love of God who is not willing that ANY should perish, but all come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9). The word "rapture" cannot be found in the bible, not in any translation! It is a childish idea, an escape hatch drummed up by someone scared silly by images of literal hail, fire, and blood falling upon the earth and helicopter sized locusts with stinger missiles in their tails attacking human beings. The book of Revelation IS the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Period. Besides, if all the Christians are going to be sucked out of here, who will be around to give the altar call for those miserable sinners who just might repent?
There are those who claim that they are already manifested sons of God. It is true that God calls the things that are not as though they were, and the Apostle Paul said that we ARE (present tense) "holy, blameless, unreprovable" (Col. 1:22). Nevertheless, Paul also said that the Creation is still groaning (present tense) for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19). Why are they and we groaning for this miracle? The creation is longing to be "set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21), and we, the Apostle declares, "groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom. 8:23). The evidence of the manifestation of the sons of God is the redemption of our bodies. As long as God's children continue to be sick and die physically, the sons have not been fully manifested, no matter what anyone boasts.
The Manchild was caught up to the throne of God where he was protected and nurtured. According to Paul, we also are caught up to the throne: "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6-7, NIV). This is the real rapture that each of us has experienced, sometimes daily. We were made alive with Christ and raised up with Him to be seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus! I asked the Lord if the Manchild is corporate or individual. His answer was, "corporate as to function and individual as to growth." We were in the Manchild when He was caught up to the throne of God, and there we are seated with Him still. May God open our eyes to see and enjoy and feast on this magnificent truth. Where is the Manchild? Look in the mirror! He is IN you and IN me, and we are IN HIM! Hallelujah! Many centuries before Christ, Isaiah wrote, "And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it" (Isaiah 40:5, RSV). In God's time, this Manchild will be revealed to all creation who is yearning for His presence. IN HIM, WE will speak peace to the heathen (Zach 9:10), and Isaiah's magnificent prophecy will be fulfilled in glory and splendor. Lord, haste the day when "all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:9-11). Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Mothering the Manchild"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 7/26/02
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/29/08.