My 8 year old son and I are studying the stars and constellations right now in Science. (He has me — for better or worse — as his home-school teacher!) One of the discoveries we have made is that to see the constellations, binoculars are really of little help. It seems counter intuitive but it is really true. You need the broader view of the naked eye when approaching the heavens… You will never see the constellation if you try and find them one star at a time!
Well, this got me thinking to an obvious Biblical correlation: “In our life with God we maybe are ‘not seeing the constellations‘ because we are too focused on the ‘individual stars’ through the binoculars”!
More to the point, I want to bring up a conversation I had recently with an old college roommate. He has known for some time of our partiality (passion) for “simple church“, churches meeting in homes without pastor, pulpit and pew, yet it has been hard for him to grasp the idea that a church without a pastor and the order that he brings can lead to more than just “unsanctified navel gazing” (my words not his!).
I tried to present the subject of elders being the New Testament (NT) expression and reality of what we nowadays call “pastors” and got him to see that elders in the NT had a rigorous list of qualifications as found in 1 Timothy and Titus. He agreed with those qualifications. Then I asked him “What are the NT qualifications for a pastor?” The phone line was silent for a few seconds… and then he responded that there weren’t any.
So it became more and more apparent to him during our phone call that we were talking about two different animals: pastors and elders. I suggested that pastors in the NT were the equivalent to those other gifts to the body of apostle, prophet, evangelist and teacher from Eph 4. Gifts to the body for the “equipping of the saints“ which may have lead them on a more itinerant journey than we have assumed for the past 2000 years. Elders, on the other hand, were local, homegrown, family men who seemed best suited to lead if they could lead their family in a stable way and provide for their “daily bread”.
So, in getting back to my analogy, I suggest that we have not seen the “constellation” of elders in the NT church because of the concentration upon the single star of “pastor”, what has no biblical warrant. One obvious case in point would be that in the Constantine church era (333 A.D.) there could be no baptism without the attendance of the pastor. No pastor, no church. (This was, and is, taken to an extreme to those who find themselves in a Catholic tradition, which point I do not want to belabor!)
In My Mind as I Lay on My Bed…
One last point I wish to bring up here came to me not during that phone conversation but a few days later in the middle of the night. I found myself “in my sleep” writing an article… Then I asked myself in the dream: “Who did Paul call to himself on the shores of the Mediterranean at Miletus?” (I don’t know what your dreams are like but this is quite normal for me…)
I woke up at this point and turned to my Bible:
And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. (Acts 20:17)
There was my heavenly answer. Paul did not address “the pastors” of the churches in Ephesus BUT the elders of the church.
I must confess that I wonder if we will ever live up to this high biblical standard when once again “Paul” can come to our city and call “the elders of the church” in Milwaukee to the shores of Lake Michigan, where we receive corporate instruction and encouragement and take it back to the flock with one voice!
Yours for the King,
P.S. BTW, my favorite constellation right now is the Northern Crown and my son’s is Pleiades — mentioned by God in Job 38.
Please forgive my obvious bias on this subject since, in an earlier life, I was a Band Director for two years in a small school district on the western edge of Wisconsin.
The first time in the Bible when God plays the trumpet, mountains shake and lightning flashes, and He descends down on Mount Sinai. Here is the account from Exodus:
“When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”… So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled….
Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. (Ex 19:13-19)
If I have this right, God blows a trumpet, this signals to the people to go up to the mountain and then God comes down on the mountain!
Another time when we hear the trumpets, seven priests are blowing them. This is where we see Joshua, following in Moses’ famous footsteps, leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. But to get into the Promised Land they had to defeat one last enemy – the walled city of Jericho.
“Seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark ; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” (Joshua 6:5)
If I have this right, seven priests blow seven trumpets on the seventh day on the seventh time around the city, and then the people give a great SHOUT!, and then God comes down on the wall and flattens it, and the people go up and take the city.
God seems to love the trumpet so much that He even dedicated an annual Feast for “Trumpet Blowing” and rest amongst the Israelites!
Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.'” (Lev 23: 23-25)
If I have this right, God commands His people to blow trumpets on the first day of the seventh month as a reminder to rest – to enter into a “Sabbath rest”! Did you know that Jews around the world still celebrate this festival under the name of Rosh Hashanah, which is their New Year, a day of memorial and the day of judgment.
If you know your “Old Testament typology” you know that there are seven yearly feasts, and that the first four feasts, the “Spring feasts” – Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost – have ALL been fulfilled in the New Covenant, through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
HOWEVER, after the “Summer Gap” there remain the last three feasts to be fulfilled, the “Fall feasts” – Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. The NEXT feast to come on God’s prophetic timetable will commence on the seventh month, the first day, with God Himself playing the trumpet – THE Feasts of Trumpets!
This must make one think of the words of Jesus found in Matthew 24: 29-31
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened… stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken…. And then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
Since I have brought up Jesus I think it best to skip ahead to the last book of the Bible where it is recorded that Jesus speaks as though it were a loud voice like a trumpet.
”I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet… Rev 1:10
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” (Rev 4:1)
I want you to put this all together now and realize that there is coming a time when a scroll with seven seals, which is right now in the Father’s right hand, will be opened by Jesus, the “Worthy Lamb”. As Jesus begins to open the scroll and finally breaks open the seventh seal, there will follow that incredible silence in heaven for about half an hour.
After that staggering silence all heaven breaks forth with clamor as the seven angels are given their trumpets and prepare their lips to blow! While they are “warming up”, another angel takes from the golden altar before the Throne an incense burner filled with fire and hurls it down to the earth, signaling “the beginning of the end”, and that the heavenly assault is about to begin!
You will see by reading in further in Revelation 8 -11 that at the last trumpet, the Seventh Trumpet, “the mystery of God is finished” and Jesus Christ will take “His great power and will begin to reign”. (Rev 11:17) This is the EXACT MOMENT when “we who are alive and remain” on the earth will be caught up to be with Jesus, forever.
”For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thess 4: 16-18
Amen. ”Lord God, we long for THAT trumpet to blow once again. So come Lord Jesus. Maranatha!”
What If I were to tell you that I had a vision last night of a “star falling on a large city in Canada” and that this would happen within the next 7 months, would that be useful to you or useless? (Well, I think it would be most helpful to those living in that large city in Canada.)
What if I went on further to tell you that I asked one of the angels in my visions for more clarity and insight regarding the vision — which is exactly what Daniel did, by the way — and the angel told me that the vision was true and that the city would be Toronto and that it will happen in 165 days from today. WOW!!
Prophecy by definition is something that will happen in the future. It is a prediction of a future event and when that prediction comes from the Bible we know that it is God’s will and will come true.
The devil, on the other hand, wants to keep that prediction from happening with all his might — and he has considerable might, I might add! Did he not try to kill Jesus when He was an infant, thereby killing hundreds or thousands of male children in Judea?
If the devil cannot bring direct destruction through the hand of a mad “King Herod”, I guarantee you that he will try and bring confusion and chaos to the clear word spoke by God. I call it Babylon. I pretty much see the “sprit of Babylon” completely flooding the area of prophecy right now and fear that the saints will not be properly forewarned nor watching!
Remember that satan’s only mission in life, his job description, is to kill, steal, and destroy:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
The abundant life Jesus spoke of does not come with out effort, however! We need to diligently search the scriptures, “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were [true].” (Acts 17:11) The book of Proverbs even goes so far to tell us that it is God’s glory to “conceal a matter” and it is the king’s glory to “search out a matter”. (Prov 25:2)
How would you steal and kill if you were the devil regarding prophecy?
I think we can judge the tree by its fruit: many Christians today view Bible prophecy with either confusion or cynicism. I just read these wonderful quotes on prophecy that I wanted to share with you for their great insights. Later I want to take a few moments and break down some of these words phrase by phrase:
Prophecy braces the shoulder to bear the burdens it imposes. Prophecy prepares faith to meet evils which need not come unforeseen, and so fortifies patience to endure trial’s darkest hour. He who is forewarned is forearmed.
The arts [weapons] of our great adversary are so manifold and subtle that the fear is, the victims he seeks to ensnare will be entrapped and ruined before they have been made aware of his devices… Prophecy unmasks colossal iniquities which are foredoomed and from whose dread fate, divine compassion, extending a timely hand, would tenderly snatch us. (Lyman J. Fisher, “That Day of Days” – 1902)
1. “He who is forewarned is forearmed.”
Certainly Noah was glad that God is a prophetic, “forewarning” God!
By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Heb 11:7
Notice carefully the words in the above verse — “in reverence”. It means to act cautiously, circumspectly, to fear, to move with awe.
Oh, if only more in the body of Christ today would walk in reverence with the “forth telling” of God. Sadly, it seems, the body of Christ around the world has become “gun shy” in boldly proclaiming what the word of God is clearly saying. We have grown hesitant, wary, and distrustful.
Thankfully God is reviving and recharging “forerunners” to prepare His Bride to once again embrace and declare His prophetic word!
Biblical scholars tell us that about 25% of the entire Bible is prophecy (28% OT; 21%NT). Others would postulate that only 3 of the 66 books of the Bible are without prophecy – Ruth, Philemon, and 3 John. (When I say “scholars tell us” this it is like saying that “scientists tell us that 1 million earths would fit inside the sun.” It sounds like a vague statement but it is generally accepted as accurate in that field.)
Well, any way you look at it 25% is a big chunk of real estate! I think of it like this: 25% of the earth is land and that is the most important part, for me!
2. “Prophecy prepares faith to meet evils which need not come unforeseen.”
“Noah was warned by God about things to come.” Evil was pending. God was warning. That is one of the simplest and clearest definitions of prophecy. We find this often in the Word of God:
+ Magi “And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” Mtt 2:12
+ Joseph and Mary “Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth.” Mtt 2: 22
If we are “forewarned by God” we must then also ACT! The magi needed to leave for their own country “by another way”. Noah needed to prepare an ark to save his household.
What has God shown you from his Word that you must now act on or declare in the midst of certain opposition? Noah built an ark BY FAITH! Not by warm, cozy feelings…
3. The arts [weapons] of our great adversary are so manifold and subtle that the fear is, the victims he seeks to ensnare will be entrapped and ruined before they have been made aware of his devices.
I have said earlier that the devil has brought so much confusion (Babylon) to the subject of biblical prophecy. We somehow have arrived at a Book that only speaks of historical facts and provides instruction for personal holiness. “Prophecy”, we throw up our hands in the air and proclaim, “is too complicated and confusing for me to deal with.”
This is part of the “devises” satan uses to keep God’s children in the dark. “No one can really know. There are so many different interpretations… One guy says one thing and the other say the complete opposite.”
Here is our predicament: If God just spoke a few words and created the universe and everything in it, how is it that we cannot “rightly divide” and understand what He is saying to us about the future?
It must be the great adversary! He cannot change the past. He was “uncovered” at the cross. He cannot change the future… he can only accuse, deceive, and divide the saints. Revelation 12 gives us some clues to his nature by these descriptions:
“The great dragon… the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world… Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time… So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
4 Prophecy unmasks colossal iniquities which are foredoomed.
Perhaps one of the most “colossal iniquities” to be unmasked by prophecy is the work and the nature of the antichrist. For this reason the book of Daniel must have been written.
In Daniel we get a precise description of the coming king who will takes his place in the “appointed time of the end.”
A king will arise,
Insolent and skilled in intrigue.
His power will be mighty, but not by his own power,
And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree
And prosper and perform his will;
He will destroy mighty men and the holy people.
And through his shrewdness
He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence;
And he will magnify himself in his heart,
And he will destroy many while they are at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
But he will be broken without human agency. (Daniel 8:23-25)
Daniel, like the apostle John, was both elderly and exiled as this vision came to him. The interpretation was given by the angel Gabriel. Daniel’s pedigree is unquestioned.
“Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, declares the sovereign Lord.” Ezek 14:14
Yet I cannot begin to tell you the “confusion and cynicism” regarding the end time truths that this book reveals. Here is one example of the truth of God’s Word having to fight its way into your soul!
If the book of Daniel fell out of the sky and if you were on a deserted island and you just read what was in the book without commentary and Google’s advise, you would come to the crystal clear conclusion that the coming king of the last days, the king who will try and “change the times and the law”, would come from a small, probably obscure, western portion of the empire of Greece.
“Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land” Daniel 8: 9
It is that straightforward — I did not say simple for I must say that I have read the book of Daniel almost exclusively for the past 6 months! But it is there and it can be known and the “prophecy that unmasks colossal iniquities” was written by the same God who gave us John 3:16. He has inspired it, breathed it and it is profitable “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16)
In His Love,