The Kingdom's Progress
Issue No. 130
Since the beginning of time, God has been training a priesthood for the Age of Tabernacles that is nearly ready to begin. We call these people "overcomers" or the "barley company." (See our book, The Barley Overcomers.) They can also be referred to as "the remnant." No matter what term we use, one thing is certain: they are a priesthood that are trained by God to minister to the world.
The Levitical priesthood under Moses was an imperfect model of the Melchisedec priesthood. It is not that God institutes imperfect things, but rather that the priests of that Levitical order were imperfect and lacked the spiritual power to truly bring the nation of Israel into the perfection of the Kingdom of God. They were products of their day.
The Kingdom's Progress
The Kingdom of God has progressed through history from Adam to the present within the hearts of God's people. The Kingdom is certainly within us, as Jesus said. However, that which is in heaven is coming to earth in a visible, tangible manner, and that which is within us is likewise becoming manifested outwardly. This trend will continue until Jesus' prayer is fully answered, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven."
With Abraham, God planted in the earth the seed of the Kingdom, and from Abraham to Moses it grew as an embryo within its mother. Then Moses acted much as a midwife to give birth to the nation of Israel, where God's Kingdom first became visible in the earth. Yet the King-dom was only a child in this stage of development and still unfit to be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
Under Moses, the Kingdom of God needed discipline, much like a child needs discipline in order to attain full maturity. Israel was certainly an unruly child, and seldom obedient to the laws of God. The Apostle Paul says in Gal. 4 that while we are yet children (minors) we differ in no way from a servant, even if we are "lord of all." The function of the law is to discipline us ("disciple us") and teach us to hear and obey the voice of God.
Only in learning obedience do we come to the maturity of "the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:5). This "adoption" in Paul's day was not what we call adoption today. It was the placement of the fully-matured son into a position of full authority over the estate, giving him full legal rights to the inheritance.
It is plain that God will not give such power to immature Christians. The question is, What is a mature Christian?
Experiencing the Three Feast Days
A fully mature Christian is one who is continually and permanently experiencing the feast of Tabernacles in his life. But no Christian attains this when he first accepts Jesus Christ and begins to follow Him. Our Christian experience is a journey toward maturity, portrayed by Israel's journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan.
Our first experience is Passover, which we attain when we are justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb. This experience creates a baby Christian. It is a good beginning, but certainly not the final goal. If Israel's goal had been to leave Egypt, they would have remained at the border of Egypt and never gotten to the Promised Land.
Our second experience is Pentecost, where we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is portrayed by Israel at Mount Sinai, where the fire of God came down, and He spoke the Ten Commandments to the people in their own language. Pentecost is the Christian's stage of develop-ment where they begin to hear the voice of God, and where they learn to be obedient to His voice. They learn to be "led by the Spirit," even as Israel was led by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Pentecost is where God begins to write His law in our hearts. If we refuse to hear, then the law remains external on tables of stone (or books made of paper).
Pentecost prepares our hearts for the third experience with God portrayed by the feast of Tabernacles. This discipline of the law under Pentecost is what brings us to full maturity in Christ. Anything God speaks or commands is a law, and if we reject any portion of that Word, we are not yet mature. We must live by EVERY WORD (Matt. 4:4), not just the New Testament writings. True Pentecost is rooted in the divine law.
Three Types of Love
Christian maturity can be measured in one's ability to love others. In the Greek language there are three main words that can be translated "love." The first is eros, from which we derive our English word "erotic." Eros is based upon physical attraction. It is often the first stage of a new relationship between men and women. It is not necessarily bad, but in itself it is primarily selfish. That is, if a man says, "I love (eros) you," he really means "I need you."
Children are born totally selfish. They need everything and demand everything for their comfort. This is normal for a child, but some people never seem to grow out of it. Such people are not mature.
The second type of love in the Greek language is phileo, or brotherly or sisterly love. This is the type of love that characterizes siblings. It is a legal or judicial love. After infancy, children begin to learn the law as the parents discipline and judge their disputes. They learn to respect boundaries and the property rights of their brothers and sisters. It is a 50-50 relationship, where children are primarily concerned with fairness and equity.
Children must go through this stage of development in order to learn to be lawful. If they do not, they will only victimize others when they are older, thinking that they have this natural right. Lawlessness is usually learned quite early in life.
The third type of love is agape, the unconditional love of a mature person, which really makes a person fit to be a parent. Such mature people do not think in terms of what is fair to themselves, but what is needed to help children mature into responsible adults.
Christian leaders must be capable of agape love in order to bring less mature Christians into maturity. The apostle Paul says that there are many instructors but few fathers (1 Cor. 4:15). We never lack for people who want to instruct others in what to do, but there are few fathers.
But what does this have to do with the progression of the Kingdom of God upon the earth? These three types of love describe one's earthly and spiritual maturity. They are another way of expressing our relationship with both God and man. Insofar as they relate to our level of spiritual maturity, they can be overlaid upon the three feast days.
Passover describes our first-level experience with God, and it has nothing to do with our own works, but rather what God has done for us. We merely accept it by faith. So also, a baby is born and accepts what the parents do for it by faith. The baby does not need to do anything to be an accepted member of the family. A baby Christian is a wonderful thing, but they tend to think of God as a sort of a divine Santa Claus, and their prayers are filled with requests: give me this, and give me that. This is alright for a while, but baby Christians need to keep growing.
Pentecost is quite different from the Passover relationship with God, for it has to do with the disciplines of the law. So also the child must soon learn to be obedient to parents and respect the boundaries of the law. Phileo love is therefore a lawful love, where the child learns the boundaries of acceptable behavior.
The fulfillment of the third feast, Tabernacles, comes with the unconditional love of God, agape love. This is what characterizes fully mature Christians. You can read all about it in 1 Corinthians 13. It is the character that qualifies people to be priests of the Melchisedec Order.
Three Kingdom Ages
On a historical level (as opposed to the personal), God has been establishing His Kingdom on the earth in three stages of development. These stages also correlate with the three feast days of Israel and the law of 2 or 3 witnesses.
Israel came out of Egypt under Moses on Passover. As a nation, they all had this level of faith. But when they came to Sinai for Pentecost, they all ran from God, for they were too fearful to hear the voice of God when He spoke the Ten Commandments to them (Ex. 20:18-20). On a historical level, the Kingdom therefore remained on a Passover level for about 1500 years.
Then in Acts 2 the historic event of Pentecost was finally fulfilled at the appointed time. This began the Age of Pentecost and marked a new level of growth and maturity in the progress of the Kingdom. Of course, there were many in Jesus' day who stumbled at the cross. Even though they may have observed the outward rituals of the feast of Passover, they were not justified by faith. These people ended up rejecting Jesus and disqualifying them-selves from moving into the experience of Pentecost.
During the Pentecostal Age, the Church had difficulty retaining Pentecost and slid back into the immaturity of Passover. Probably the most significant factor in this downward slide was when the Church threw out the divine law. In doing this, they exposed themselves as having rebellious hearts, much like children who refuse to obey their parents. Christians did not want any restrictions on their "freedom" to do things according to their own ideas of right and wrong. They argued that to be obedient to God's law was to be in bondage. They did not realize that to be lawless was to be in bondage to sin and death, while to be a bondservant of Jesus Christ was to find true liberty.
One cannot be a bondservant of Jesus Christ and be lawless at the same time. By definition, a bondservant is obedient to the word (law) of his master. Pentecost is a remembrance of the day God gave us the law. Because we do not start out as disciplined, law-abiding Christians, the law must be imposed upon us at first. But as we grow up in Christ, He writes His law in our hearts by the Spirit, until finally at full maturity, we are obedient because we WANT to be obedient, not because we HAVE to be. In our immaturity we chafe at the law imposed upon us, disagreeing with it and wishing God were a bit more understanding, fair, and just in His treatment of us. But ultimately, if we grow and progress toward a Tabernacles relationship with God, we come into agreement with God and know that everything He does is for our good (Romans 8:28). That is the evidence the law is written in our hearts.
The day is coming when a body of Christians will come into the fullness of the Spirit and thereby fulfill the feast of Tabernacles. There is an appointed time for this in history, just as there was an appointed time that began the Passover Age and an appointed time that began the Pentecost Age. When the appointed time comes for the corporate fulfillment of the third feast, then a body of Christians (but NOT the whole Church) will come into the full maturity of agape love and qualify as the priesthood that can lead the world into righteousness.
This event--the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles on a corporate, historical level--will begin the Tabernacles Age. God will do something new in the earth that was never before seen in the history of the world. God will have a firstfruits body of firstborn sons and daughters who will actually have the capability of leading the rest of the world by example into the righteousness of God's Kingdom. It will not be a temporary glory, as in the example of Moses when he came off the mount with his face glowing (Exodus 34:29). It will be permanent and perfect. It will be the beginning of permanent perfection upon the earth, as God begins to restore all things to the way He intended from the beginning of creation.
This is not the end, however. This is only the real beginning, for as a firstfruits company, they are only the beginning of a great harvest. These overcomers will have a monumental task ahead of them to manifest Christ to the rest of the world. Jesus said they would do greater works than He did (John 14:12). Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 says that in that Age people will come from far to learn the law of God. They will come willingly and gladly. Evangelism and teaching seen under Pentecost will pale in comparison to that which will occur under the Tabernacles anointing.
Psalm 67:1 and 2 says, "God be merciful unto us and bless us, and cause His FACE to shine upon us [like He did with Moses], that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health [salvation] among ALL NATIONS." This gives us the purpose for the feast of Tabernacles and is a prophecy of the Age of Tabernacles. The psalmist prays for the face of God to shine forth upon (from) us, so that God's way will be manifested on earth and result in the salvation of all the nations. Many have read this psalm, but have never seen the reference to Moses' face that was glorified in Exodus 35. Not many have seen this as an early pattern of the feast of Tabernacles.
Daniel 2:35 says that the fifth kingdom, the stone kingdom, will crush all the preceding kingdoms and then grow until it fills the whole earth. In Rev. 11:15 the angel proclaims, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever" (i.e., for the ages of the ages).
All Creation Awaits This Time
Paul says in Romans 8:19-23 that the entire creation is awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God. In other words, they have something to gain from it. This is not an event that will put fear into the hearts. It is not a time when God is going to give the nations a well-deserved beating. It is a glorious time. When the sons of God are fully set free from the bondage of this present tabernacle--in which we "groan" (2 Cor. 5:2)--the sons' Jubilee will be the hope for the entire creation's Jubilee.
All creation presently groans in labor and bondage to sin and death, but God has called a firstfruits company of overcomers to be the first to manifest the glory of Christ to the rest of the world. They will represent Christ to the world and rule with (under) Him on the earth (Rev. 5:10). They will be a kingdom of priests to the rest of the world. That is, they will be given the calling originally offered to the entire nation of Israel in Exodus 19:6, which calling the majority ultimately rejected and forfeited.
This priesthood will no longer be levitical, but will be after the Order of Melchisedec (Heb. 7:17). Even so, the patterns and laws laid down in the levitical priesthood will find new meaning and application in the Melchisedec Order. The Pentecost Age has been a realm of mixture, where Christians have learned a little about the new priesthood, but they are inevitably drawn back into the practices of the old order. That is, they often talk about being of the Order of Melchisedec, but in practice, they often revert back to temples made of wood and stone, as well as to professional priests modeled after the levitical order, through whom men must go to find God.
Yet this contradiction is all part of the leavened feast of Pentecost (Lev. 23:17). The Church is still in a learning stage with a mixture of wheat and leaven. To summarize:
Passover Age: Levitical Priesthood
Pentecost Age: Leavened Pentecostal Priesthood
Tabernacles Age: Perfected Melchisedec Priesthood
The problem is that the people of the earth have never really seen for themselves what sort of people God is creating in the earth. Passover Christians can manifest a few characteristics of Christ that cause some unbelievers to respond. Pentecost Christians have other advantages that make it easier for unbelievers to see Christ. But until a body of Christians is sent out under a Tabernacles anointing, the people of the earth really will not respond in a big way. They need to see Christ in a visible, tangible manifestation in God's people. That is the only hope for the salvation of the world. This is why it is so important not merely to learn the Bible, but to hear God's voice and submit to the leading of the Spirit, which will write the law on our hearts and give us the character of Jesus Christ.
The world does not need more dire threats of hellfire, the antichrist, or missing the rapture. Religion has beaten people into subjection for too long, converting them by fear and by force. Such conversions are not of the heart, and they only result in converting people to a religion--not to Jesus Christ. Coercive conversions may increase Church membership, but such tactics seldom create more Christians.
The world is looking for something real. When Christians have nothing to offer, they tend to bully people into the kingdom and kill those who reject their message. If Christians were truly filled with the Spirit of God as Jesus was, they would not have time to talk to all the people who would flock to their doorstep. The solution to the world's problems, then, is to focus first upon growing in Christ by experiencing personally the three feast days in the Bible. We will find that the more we grow, the more we will manifest the character of Jesus. Then as more and more people are able to see Christ in us, they will want what we have.
Timing the Creation Sabbath
There is more than one way to measure time, and we have found that God utilizes most or all of them in some way within His plan. We are told in 2 Peter 3:8 that a thousand years is as a day in the eyes of God. If that is so, then 7,000 thousand years is as a sabbatical cycle.
But in the divine law God set up a Jubilee system to measure time. Time was divided into weeks of days and also weeks of years. Every seventh day was a day of rest; and every seventh year the land itself was to rest, and no one was to sow or reap crops during the seventh year.
Then after 7 x 7 land-rest years, God called for a Jubilee year in the 50th year beginning on the Day of Atonement. This 50th year was actually the first year of the next Jubilee cycle, so Jubilee cycles were really only 49 years when measuring time.
The point is that in studying chronology we believe that the Day of Atonement, October 13, 1986 was the date of the 120th Jubilee from Adam. (See Secrets of Time.) This was the chronological year 5,880 from Adam. Because a Jubilee cycle is only 49 years long, it fell 120 years short of the year 6,000.
Nonetheless, by overlapping the 50th year with the first year, God has packed 6,000 years into just 5,880. It is one way in which God shortens the time. Jesus alluded to this principle when He said, "Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22).
On page 77 of Secrets of Time we showed biblical examples of how God shortens time by overlapping years. This discovery showed us the difference between actual chronological time and what we call legal time. A.D. 1986-1987 was 5,880-1 years of chronological time from Adam, but it was 6,000 years of legal time.
So the question is: Are we in the 7th thousand year period yet? Has the great Creation Sabbath begun yet? The answer is yes and no, because there are two ways of measuring time. I believe we HAVE entered into the Creation Sabbath according to legal time. This is the basis of what God is doing in our day. All the events and signs discussed in The Wars of the Lord series should be viewed in the context of our legal time entrance into the Creation Sabbath.
We do not yet know what God might do in the year 2106 A.D. when we come to the chronological 6,000 year point in history. From my observation and experience in dealing with multiple time cycles, I believe that God is using the factor of legal time to begin the restoration process inherent in the law of Jubilee. He is doing it for the sake of the elect, as Jesus said, but He is also doing it because if things were to continue for another 120 years at the present rate, no flesh would be saved.
In looking at things long term, I see this 120 years as a transitional period to the Creation Sabbath. It appears that God will use the Jubilee system as the legal basis for the fulfillment of the Autumn feast days, but the rest of the world will enter their lesser sabbath-rest more gradually.