The Cross Becomes a Sword
The progression of the Kingdom in history is portrayed by the feast days of Israel when viewed from the perspective of prophecy. Moses led Israel out of Egypt on Passover, bringing the Kingdom into a Passover Age—the first of a series of three ages. The Passover Age ended officially when Jesus died on the cross on Passover 1480 years later.
Those who believed in the Passover Lamb (justified by faith) are those who, in effect, "passed the test of Passover" and were moved into the next grade level—Pentecost. These became known as the “Church,” though more specifically they formed the Pentecost Church, as distinct from the Passover Church that Moses had formed. Acts 7:38 calls Israel "the Church in the wilderness." I equate this with the Passover Church, when viewed in this manner.
The Pentecost Church was the transitional Church into that final perfect one, which I would call the Tabernacles Church—or the Church with the anointing of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth).
2000 years ago the majority of the people failed to pass the Passover test (Faith) and to graduate into Pentecost. This has occurred also with the Church of Pentecost today. Instead of moving forward into Tabernacles, they have reverted back to the perceptions and limitations of the Passover Age. Even so, there has always been a minority (overcomers) which has continued to move forward instead of backward.
The Passover Age began with great miracles—the Ten Plagues on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna in the wilderness. But it was not Pentecost. The people did receive OPPORTUNITY to enter Pentecost at Mount Sinai, when God came down as fire and spoke the Ten Commandments to the people. Everyone heard God in their own language. That day came to be celebrated as the “feast of weeks” thereafter, and it received its current Greek name over a thousand years later—Pentecost.
It is evident that the Holy Spirit was present and operative even in the Passover Age. The Holy Spirit is not limited to Pentecost, but functions and manifests in a greater way. Israel had opportunity to grow rapidly from Passover (leaving Egypt), to Pentecost (hearing God's voice, receiving the Spirit at Sinai), and even to Tabernacles (entering the Promised Land). They could have “graduated” within a period of just two years. But though this was God's WILL (thelema), it was not God's PLAN (boulema).
Under Moses, God granted Israel the ability to leave Egypt, thereby typifying those who are Justified by Faith in the blood of the Lamb. That is the Passover experience, not Pentecost, and it speaks of all true believers who have Faith. In any age, the Church, by definition, consists not of organizational members, but of people with a genuine heart-experience of Justifying Faith.
In other words, the “True Church” consists of those who have experienced Passover in their hearts and have a direct relationship with Jesus Christ. But in the prophetic type under Moses we find that Israel was unable to go beyond Passover. When they came to Pentecost, they ran away from the voice of God at Sinai (Ex. 20:18-21). Verse 19 says,
19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself, and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.”
Scripture says that their hearts were hardened, their eyes were blinded, and their ears were stopped, and this situation was still present with them 40 years later (Deut. 29:4). The reason for this was because God intended to work on a much longer time frame than just the individual Israelite's experience. He intended to slow down the process and work through three AGES. And so the eyes and ears of the people were opened only after Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:32). This unlocked their hearts and opened up to them the Pentecostal Age, which they entered seven weeks later.
A few people drew near to God in the upper room for Pentecost, desiring to hear His voice. In contrast to Israel, they were unafraid, and they were rewarded with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), which those of the previous Age were unable to experience.
But within a few centuries we find from reading Church history that they lost nearly all of what they had gained on the day of Pentecost. A few miracles continued to occur, of course, but miracles did not set them apart from the Passover Age. Many miracles occurred under the anointing of Passover. What was the real difference between these two Ages? What did the Pentecostal Church lose? How did they revert to Passover?
In a word, the issue was the Holy Spirit. But how did this play out in experience? The Holy Spirit came primarily in the form of the Voice of God manifesting in the Fire. It is also pictured as a SWORD, because of the "flaming sword" of the Cherubim (Gen. 3:24) as well as the sharp sword coming out of the mouth of Christ (Rev. 19:15). A sword coming out of one's mouth is a symbolic representation of the WORD OF GOD, and the sword is the tongue by which it is spoken.
It is a Hebrew idiom in Scripture that the “edge” of the sword is the Hebrew word PEH, which means "mouth." It is literally the BLADE of the sword, but the Hebrew word is MOUTH. So the sword coming from the mouth of Christ in Rev. 19:15 is a word picture of Hebrew origin.
When Israel refused to hear the Voice of God in Exodus 20, they rejected the Sword that comes from the mouth. They rejected Pentecost, and so the fulfillment of that feast was postponed for many centuries. If they had accepted that sword, history would have been quite different. The most immediate difference is that they could have conquered Canaan by the Sword of the Spirit instead of the physical sword. But in rejecting the spiritual sword, they were left only with the physical sword.
And so, the Passover Age was characterized by carnal things, including the physical sword by which they would conquer Canaan. Yes, God was in it, but it was not the perfect order, nor did all that bloodshed really reflect the heart of God. Did God really hate the Canaanites? Did He really desire their blood? Was the God of the Old Testament a God of vengeance, rather than a God of Love? NOT AT ALL. The Canaanite genocide was the result of Israel's refusal to obtain the greater weapon of the Sword of the Spirit, by which they could have CONVERTED the Canaanites by the power and demonstration of the Spirit.
The fulfillment of Pentecost in Acts 2 shows us how the alternative Sword would have worked on the Canaanites, had that Sword been Israel's “weapon of choice.” Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He said to “kill” them by baptism. What we call the Great Commission is actually the operation of the Sword of the Spirit, which Israel was offered but rejected at Mount Sinai.
Unfortunately, by the fourth century the Church had lost this Sword of the Spirit. Constantine then picked up the physical sword by which he conquered. As a military general and Emperor, we might expect this of him. However, the Church later adopted this policy when it began to assume political authority, and this represented a major shift from Pentecostal-Age thinking back to Passover-Age thinking. The Church should have known better.
The Church reverted back to its Passover level of experience. Pentecost's Sword of the Spirit was discontinued. The focus of the Church began to shift from the resurrection back to the Cross. The Cross became a physical Sword. And the Church soon learned to conquer men by military might and to convert men by force of arms.
This is the real significance of Constantine's vision of the sword in the sky with the words, “In this sign, conquer.” If he had known anything about the Sword of the Spirit, he might have used a different sword. But like Israel of old, he did not. His experience was military, and he certainly did not have the time to learn about such spiritual things by that time. Few bishops at that time would have been capable of enlightening him on this. So he assumed that he was to conquer by military force. When the Church followed his example, it marked the greatest turning point in the Church in its reversion from Pentecost to Passover.
When I speak of the Passover Age, the term itself is to be understood in relation to the Pentecostal Age and the Tabernacles Age. But there is another way to look at this, a way which is more familiar: Old Testament time and New Testament time.
In most people's eyes, the Old Testament extends back from the cross; the New Testament extends forward from the cross. But if I were to use the term “Old COVENANT” and “New COVENANT,” these times frames take on new significance.
The Old Covenant was instituted by Moses, not by Adam, and it reached its culmination at the cross when Jesus was crucified. And so, technically speaking, the Passover Age is nearly identical to the time of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant time, however, covers both the Pentecostal Age and the Tabernacles Age. The New Covenant began with Pentecost but is completed with Tabernacles, insofar as its manifestation is concerned.
And so, when I speak of the Passover method of conquering Canaan, I really mean an Old Covenant method, which is by the fleshly arm of military might. Even though God had told Joshua to do it that way, and though God certainly was there to ensure military success, even so, we cannot take this method to be divinely sanctioned today. Under the New Covenant, we are expected to possess a greater weapon, having better armor, as Paul says in Ephesians 6:11-17.
When we were children, our parents allowed us to do things in an imperfect way, because we were not capable of more. They winked at our childish ways. But when we became adults, more was expected of us, and if we revert to childish ways, the law frowns upon us and treats us rather shabbily. So it is with God. The military conquest of Canaan was suitable under the Old Covenant, given the fact that Israel had refused the Sword of the Spirit (the voice of God) at Mount Sinai.
But after receiving the Sword of the Spirit in the upper room (Acts 2), more was expected of Christians. This greater responsibility involved an entirely new method of conquest, as well as a greater territory. Instead of being called to kill the Canaanites by the sword, Christians were called to baptize all nations into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by the power of the Sword of the Spirit.
The difference between these two swords is seen in the fact that at Sinai, the Levitical priests took physical swords and killed 3,000 people after they were found worshipping the golden calf (Ex. 32:28). But at Pentecost, the Melchizedek priests took their spiritual swords to the streets and converted 3,000 people—death by baptism. This was done by Melchizedek priests under a New Covenant, using a Spiritual Sword. Their sword was much sharper than Joshua's under the Old Covenant. Heb. 4:12 describes it:
12 For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Try doing all that with a physical sword! It will not work.
As long as the Church was oppressed by the Roman government, it had no sword with which to defend itself. It never occurred to Christians to foment a revolution to overthrow Rome. Instead, they complied with the Divine Plan. In Daniel 7:22 it was shown by revelation that the “little horn” extension of the iron kingdom would be given dominion over God's people until the time that the jurisdiction would be given to the saints of the Most High.
When Constantine began the process of giving dominion to the Church, Christians assumed themselves to be the “saints of the Most High.” It never occurred to them that they were about to become the “little horn” by assuming power when the Empire began to crumble and fall a century later.
(In their blindness, they also identified themselves with David, rather than King Saul.) They did not realize that this “little horn” was actually the Roman Church that would come out of the Roman Empire. Instead, the Christians assumed that the time of the little horn would be skipped, and that now the jurisdiction was being passed to the Church.
Blindness, of course, is part of how God fulfills prophecy without us realizing it. Once the assumption was made that the time of the “little horn” was either past or skipped altogether, the way was cleared for the Church to begin assuming political power. At first, this was done by using the favor of the Emperor. The Church began to request that the Emperors prosecute “heretics” as criminals. Many of these really were heretics, but their method of dealing with them was simply wrong. As the Church itself manifested more and more the rebellion of King Saul, its prototype, it eventually began to persecute “David” as well.
“David” is represented by the overcomers in the types and shadows, for he was crowned on a Jubilee, whereas Saul was crowned on the day of “wheat harvest,” or Pentecost (1 Sam. 12:17).
When the Church began persecuting the overcomers, using the precedent-setting tactics of the earlier centuries, it fully began to manifest not only the character of Saul but also the “little horn,” which was to wage war against the saints and overcome them (Dan. 7:21).
Here is where it is important to understand the book of Revelation, for it continues where Daniel leaves off. It shows the outworking of the plan over a period of 1,260 “days” (years, really). But that is another study in itself.
It has been my observation that when Christians lack the Holy Spirit, they look for a carnal solution as a secondary option. But because the carnal option is not very biblical in itself, they justify it by asking God's blessing upon the carnal option. “Lord, bless my sword, that it may smite your enemies.” When the New Covenant does not seem to work, we tend to revert back to Old Covenant methods.
The real solution would be to fast and pray and seek God's face until we receive power from on high. But that takes too long and is too troublesome for most Christians. Furthermore, the path back to the New Covenant is not easy, for it was abandoned long ago. In my opinion, the Church will not find that path easily, but will have to fight carnally until it is exhausted and realizes that there is no hope left. Only then will they truly be ready to trust in God's deliverance.
Meanwhile, the Church justifies and supports the Zionists in their Old Testament methods in fighting the Palestinians. Many think that it would be wrong for Christians to murder Palestinians, but it is morally acceptable for Jews to do this. This view is based upon the Dual Covenant theology—the idea that the New Covenant saves Christians, while the Old Covenant saves Jews.
By extension, the Old Covenant method of establishing the Kingdom becomes acceptable behavior for today. Because they identify the Palestinians with the Canaanites of old, and identify the Jews with the Israelites under Joshua, the genocide of Palestinians takes on an air of morality as well as assuming a prophetic mandate.
This Zionist ideology justifies much sin and does not understand that Yahweh—the Lawgiver—was Jesus Christ in His pre-existent form. Exodus 15:2 and Isaiah 12:2 prophesies: “Yahweh has become my Yeshua” [i.e., salvation]. Jesus came to explain the Law, not to put it away (Matt. 5:17). And so my intent has been to explain how Yahweh and Jesus can appear to be so different and yet be One.
One of the greatest keys is to understand that the physical sword was given to Israel ONLY BECAUSE they had rejected the greater Sword of the Spirit at that first Pentecost at Mount Sinai in Exodus 20. Theoretically, if Israel had been able to accept Pentecost in Moses' day, there would have been no Canaanite genocide, for they would have all been converted by the power of God, repenting on their faces for their idolatry and wicked practices.
But in the divine plan, Pentecost was reserved for the time AFTER the cross. The revelation has been given, and we are now responsible for it. Once we understand the problem, we then know how to pray and what to repent of. We can then seek God's face until He pours out His Spirit from on high.