Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO on 8/11/02
"O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble" (Ps. 79:1. NIV).
For the third week in a row, the Lord has been talking to me about the Manchild. The first week, we saw that we, the elect, ARE the Manchild, caught up to the throne of God and protected from the murderous intentions of the dragon (Rev. 12:5). Last week, we found that God Himself is the Mother of the Manchild, the one responsible for giving us life and bringing us to maturity. Today, we will explore God's dealings with Jerusalem, another symbol of the Manchild. His promises through the prophets that He would restore her ruins and redeem her completely are for us today! (Isa 58:12). There are many ways to look at Jerusalem, the symbol of God's grace and purpose. Scripture is fluid, and like flowing water, it takes the shape of whatever landscape it flows over. Likewise, the images and metaphors we find in the bible, are perfectly designed by the Spirit to minister life to us on whatever level of spiritual maturity we approach them. For instance, the account of the woman who bore the Manchild in Revelation, 12, is the story of Jesus, born of a virgin, under God's continued protection and care until He completed the work He was assigned before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). It is a great deal more than that, however, when we look with our spiritual eyes at what our Father is telling us today.
Throughout the Old Testament, Jerusalem was the symbol of God's care and relationship to Israel, His chosen people; in the New Testament, when persecution of the infant church began there, it became more like its ancient enemy Babylon, destroyer of truth. John saw the end of Babylon, and rejoiced that "Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments" (Rev. 19:1-2). With the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, believers were filled with this glory and power, which spread the gospel throughout the world. The seat of spiritual power left earthly Jerusalem, corrupted by law, and tainted by rebellion to God, and was transferred to the New Jerusalem: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King" (Ps. 48:2, KJV). Power now swept into the lives of the elect from the heavenly Jerusalem, of which Paul wrote, "Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother" (Gal. 4:25,26, RSV).
Buckle your seat belts and come along with me for a journey through God's promises that will take you to places you may not have seen and bring you to the glory which awaits His children today on Mount Zion, where we dwell. Our trip through time begins with Abraham, father of the faithful, to whom God preached the Gospel so long before the birth of Christ (Gal. 3:8), and to whom He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you" (Gen. 22:2, RSV). God spared Isaac at the last minute, which became the first in a long line of miraculous saves for God's children and Jerusalem herself. David captured Jebus, a Canaanite city, in 1000 BC and made it his capital (II Sam. 5:7). This is the first reference to Zion as well. "Beautiful for elevation," the City of David sits high above the Judean wilderness, and within it is Mount Moriah, the place where God spared Isaac and where David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. There, he built an altar where he offered a sacrifice to stop the plague which was killing Israelites by the thousands (II Sam. 24: 15-25). Of this place, David declared, "Here shall be the house of the LORD God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel" (I Chron. 22:1, RSV). The term Zion often refers to Jerusalem, but primarily, it bespeaks God's power, might, and authority.
David's words came to pass: "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite" (II Chron. 3:1, RSV). This same place is known today as the Temple Mount, and was also the site of Zerubbabel's temple, built by those who returned from Babylonian captivity. This structure was a poor imitation of the first Temple, so much so that the old men, who remembered Solomon's Temple, wept when the foundations of it were finished (Ezra 3:12); yet because it was built by repentant and contrite hearts, I suspect it was more pleasing to God than Solomon's gold covered monument. Herod the Great began the reconstruction of Zerubbabel's Temple in BC 20, which took forty-six years to complete (John 2:20). This beautiful building was completely destroyed in AD 70, when Jesus' prophesy came to pass that there would not be one stone left upon another (Matt. 24:2; Mk. 13:2; Luke 19:44). Today, the most sacred shrine of Islam, the Dome of the Rock, sits on the Temple Mount. I have two comments about that. The first is that God made sure zealous Jews and/or Evangelical Christians could not rebuild the Temple because the Dome of the Rock sits on the exact spot where a third temple would have to be built according to tradition. Since rebuilding it would signify an attempt to bring law back into the age of grace, God shut that door in AD 70, by the hand of the Roman General Titus. The second comment is that The Dome of the Rock is a symbol of spiritual Babylon, the counterfeit of truth, a shrine for all that stands against the glory of God and His Christ. John saw the end of Babylon as the smoke of her burning rose for the kings of the earth to see (Rev. 18:9-10).
Our topic today, however, is Jerusalem herself, home of the great and lavish Temple Solomon built. When he finished it, God appeared to him a second time and said, "I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there" (I Kings 9:2-3). As I was meditating on the subject, "Maturing the Manchild, rebuilding the ruins," I began to run references on this chaotic era. When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah in 586 BC, he destroyed the temple and the city, hauling off the leading citizens to Babylon as well as all the Temple Utensils (II Kings 25). The Lord brought judgment against His people because they mocked His messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets. As a result, "God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. "He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD's temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there. The remnant who escaped the sword were carried off to Babylon, "until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah" (II Chron. 36:17-21, NIV). After the seventy years of captivity were completed, God moved upon Cyrus, King of Persia to send the captives home for the purpose of rebuilding the temple. The monarch funded the operation and returned the temple utensils with them (II Chron 36:22-23, NIV; Ezra 5:14-15; 6:5).
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell of the return of the captives. These two men were God's chosen vessels to assess the problem and begin the reconstruction. When Nehemiah saw the destruction first hand, he exhorted the men, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace" (Neh. 2:17, NIV). All the prophets warned Israel about their disobedience and what God would do to them if they left Him. When God spoke to Solomon after the dedication of the Temple, He repeated the essence of Deuteronomy, Chapter 28, in which the children of Israel are promised all of God's blessings if they obey, and likewise, all the curses and punishments if they serve other gods. (I Ki 9:7-9, NIV).
He said to them through the prophet Jeremiah, "I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a lair of jackals; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant. .....For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion: 'How we are ruined! We are utterly shamed, because we have left the land, because they have cast down our dwellings'" (Jer. 9:11,19, RSV). Over against this bleak prophecy from God Himself and the subsequent actions He initiated to bring it to pass, there is the sweet, sweet promise of redemption guaranteed by the Holy One of Israel. One of the most difficult books for me to read is Ezekiel because it is filled with gloom and doom, prognostications of disaster, enigmatic and troubling visions which the prophet saw, most of which mean nothing to us today until and unless the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see. In the midst of the accusations and massive laying on of guilt, God breaks forth in one of the most awesome examples of grace found in the entire Old Testament. God told them through Ezekiel that they had rebelled against Him in their homeland, and even when He dispersed them throughout the nations, they profaned His Holy name wherever they went, causing Him concern for the sanctity and honor of His name (Ezek. 36:16-21).
Grace shines through the gloom like a beacon: "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes." He promises to gather them up and bring them back to their own land, concluding, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness" (Ezek. 36:22-29).
Finally, the end of living by law is foretold, centuries before it actually came to pass in Jesus. For His Holy name's sake, God is going to do these great things for His people so "the nations will know that I am the Lord....when I show myself holy through you before their eyes." After proving to us that we cannot do it by ourselves, He gave us a new heart and put a new spirit within us. This is the prophecy of the New Birth, the born again experience. He writes His laws upon our hearts, and He, IN us, will keep them through us (Gal. 2:20). Jeremiah continues the imagery of God writing on our hearts (Jer. 31:33-34), and here is God's glorious promise, repeated in Hebrews, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more." Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin" (Heb. 10:16-18, RSV). Please notice the last sentence, "Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin." Sin was what brought Jerusalem down and left her in ruins, even as sin is what brought all of us down and destroyed our relationship with God (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1).
Jerusalem in ruins is an icon of the human condition after sin brought us low. Paul reminds us, "at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ..... His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace" (Eph. 2:12-13,15, NIV). Harry Fox recently pointed out that the "one new man" is the Man-child, the perfect representation of the reconciliation of man to God by the cross.
Let me bring this home for us today. The rubble of Jerusalem is a snapshot of the ruin and desolation sin has caused us. There are times even now, when our walls are knocked down and we feel disgraced; yet, 115 years BEFORE the Babylonian captivity, God promised them through Isaiah, "who says of Jerusalem, 'She shall be inhabited,' and of the cities of Judah, 'They shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins'; who says to the deep, 'Be dry, I will dry up your rivers'; who says of Cyrus (the King of Persia who sent the captives home), 'He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose'; saying of Jerusalem, 'She shall be built,' and of the temple, 'Your foundation shall be laid'" (Isa. 44:26-28). We, the temple of God, are the fulfillment of this prophesy (I Cor. 6:19; II Cor. 6:16). God is rebuilding our walls and restoring our ruins. We can count on it because HE is doing it!
God always keeps His promises, no matter the odds against or how long it takes. He does so, not because of anything we do or fail to do, but for His Holy name's sake. This is incredibly GOOD NEWS for us today, because we can rest secure in the knowledge, that He who answers before we call and hears while we are yet speaking (Isa. 65:24), will bring to pass His perfect will in my life and in yours. For those of us who are waiting for the Manchild to be manifested by God, Isaiah gives us a picture of how God will do it in His time: "Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son (without human effort). Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children (The Manchild). Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God" (Isa. 66:7-9). The passage ends on this upbeat note: "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem" (Isa. 66:13). Our Father is the God of all hope and comfort (Rom. 15:13), to those who had none before the King of glory came in. The next time you stand looking at the broken walls and ruined temples in your life, rejoice because the one who caused it is the one who will rebuild according to His specifications, for your good and His Glory. "Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem" (Isa. 52:9, RSV). Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Where is the Manchild?"
"Mothering the Manchild"
The Glory Road
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This page was uploaded to the web on 8/8/02
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/29/08.