For the next few weeks, we will be sharing with you some excerpts from my new book, When Kingdoms Collide. I am doing this because I believe it's so vital that the Body of Yeshua hears this message. It will change how you view the days we are living in and the age to come. To order the book, please visit our bookstore.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have covered how the New Testament clearly reaffirms Israel's place in God's heart. Israel is not replaced by the Church. Both are key players in God's plans for mankind. Today, we explore several additional passages that demonstrate this truth.
Running out to meet our Liberator!
If I could rewrite my book Birth Pangs, I would add this to the two chapters on the rapture. In addition to all the reasons I laid out in that book as to why I do not believe in a rapture before the tribulation (download Birth Pangs free), I would add this powerful picture from 1 Thessalonians 4, combined with 1 Corinthians 15’s trumpet and the nature of the covenant in Deuteronomy, and us receiving new, glorified, incorruptible bodies. It is one of a new emperor taking over territory. This is going to blow you away. As you will see in the paragraph below, this can’t take place with a seven-year pause.
As mentioned above, the nature of the covenant that Moses lays out for the new generation of Israelites in Deuteronomy is modeled after the Hittite Kingdom. The Decalogue, that is, the Ten Commandments (Deut. 5), is fashioned after the ancient suzerain treaty that the Hittites used when taking over a smaller country. Let me repeat the quote from the last chapter from William Dyrness regarding the nature of the treaty. “[A suzerain treaty] spelled out the terms of the relationship between the Hittite state and the vassals (that is, the servant nation) … which gave allegiance to the empire. The king would offer to protect the people in exchange for their support and tribute.” As noted in chapter 11, the book of Deuteronomy greatly resembles a suzerain treaty, whereby God is the King offering support and protection to the vassal state, which is Israel.
The Scholar G. E. Mendenhall “notes six elements that were nearly always found in the Hittite treaty texts.” Go back and look at the book of Deuteronomy; it is all there.
● Preamble, introducing the sovereign: “These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel….” Duet. 1:1
● Historical prologue outlining previous relations of the parties. We see this in the beginning chapters of Deuteronomy.
● Stipulations: this explains the obligations of the servant state, including how much they would have to pay for protection. We see this in the Ten Commandants and other requirements in the Torah.
● Document clause, providing for the deposition of a copy of the covenant in the vassal’s sanctuary and its periodic reading: The Ark.
● Witnesses, a long list of gods invoked to witness the covenant: God doesn’t rely on worthless gods but says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut. 4:26).
● Curses and blessings: All laid out before that last verse.
In ancient cultures, when an emperor would take over a smaller domain, the citizens from the previous regime, not wanting to be slaughtered by or become slaves of the new emperor, would go out to meet him (or his general) as if to say, “We submit to you. We pledge our allegiance to your monarchy.”
In some cases, this would be a sign of extreme weakness—self-preservation, surely, a lack of loyalty or patriotism. But in this case, believers suffer through oppression in this world—creation groans and for 2000 years have been longing for liberation.
I consider that our present sufferings (under this corrupt earthly government) are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (when Yeshua overthrows the kingdoms of this world and assumes authority) …creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God… Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom. 8:18, 21, 23)
We don’t see Jesus as an outside invader but a liberator—the rightful king coming back to claim that which his vassal, Adam, forfeited to the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4)—coming to set us free from the bondage and corruption of this realm and from the decay of these earthly bodies that are subject to sickness and death. In the parable of the tenants (Matt. 21:33ff), God the Father is the landowner, Yeshua is presented as the rightful heir, and the tenants' temporary overseers. In context, it speaks of how the religious establishment within Judaism rejected Yeshua, and their authority was transferred to the Jewish apostles. But it is also an excellent picture of the kings of the earth who have been given temporary authority over their domains, but one day the Son will be sent back, and their authority will be given to the body of believers to rule and reign with Messiah. "[W]ith your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 9-10). No, we are not traitors to “Caesar”; we already defected from the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) when our eyes were opened, and we confessed, “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9), and not Caesar!
You have to understand when Paul told the Romans that the door to salvation was through confessing Jesus as Lord; this was an act of treachery against Caesar. Every year, subjects of the empire had to burn incense to Caesar and confess, “Caesar is Lord.” No, this is not some anemic entrance to the kingdom by mumbling some words. For many, it was a death sentence. The main question to the citizens of the earth is, “to which kingdom do you belong?”
We who follow Jesus chose the “red pill” long ago (to borrow an anecdote from Morpheus in The Matrix). Like Neo and Morpheus (of The Matrix), we suffer in this present age with the knowledge of the truth while waiting with “eager expectation.” From Romans 8:19, “eager expectation” is one Greek word, and it means to stretch out your neck as if longing to catch a glimpse. Once in Tel Aviv, there was an official Tour de France-like bike race. Elana and I, along with thousands of others, waited until the bikes came, strategically placing ourselves in the best position to catch a glimpse. The streets were eerily empty. It was silent. When would they come? Would they come? We were beginning to doubt. And then suddenly, whoosh! They came with a fury, speeding by us. Now multiply that expectation by a million, and that is how we are to long for Yeshua. We join along with all creation, “for the children of God to be revealed.”
Could it be that this is what the rapture (harpazo, caught up…in the clouds) of the Ecclesia is? Yeshua comes down as a conquering King, and we meet Him on his way, leaving this oppressive kingdom on earth, to immediately return with Him, as the Captain of the Army of the Lord of Hosts enters his new domain as sovereign of the universe. Just as I Corinthians 15 says, at the sound of this great trumpet, we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. We will throw off our corruptible earth suits for an immortal, glorified body. Just look at the imagery!
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command (this is military language), with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God (this is the announcement of the new King), and the dead in Messiah will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (and then we do a U-turn and return with him). And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess. 4:16-17)
Keep in mind that it does not say we will be in heaven forever but that we will be with the Lord forever. The hope of the New Covenant is not that we die and go to heaven. It all points to the prophecies of the ancient Hebrew prophets—Tikkun Haolam/World Redemption—that spoke of a new age coming to planet Earth, the 1,000-year millennial reign of Emperor Yeshua. It is at this point that kingdoms collide, and we see Revelation 11:15 fulfilled! The kingdoms of the earth are merged with the Kingdom of God, and Yeshua will reign from Jerusalem.
This is why we must keep our focus, and this is where our focus must be. Be encouraged, dear ones. Joy indescribable is on the way, but we must keep our eyes on the coming King. “If we allow the difficulties of life to absorb our attention, they will effectively blot out the glory that awaits us. Our focus needs to be on things above (Col 3:2), spiritual concerns of eternal significance (cf. 2 Cor 4:18).”
If you are not excited about the coming of the Messiah, you need to be! If you allow the cares of the world to rob you of the joy of living with an eager expectation of the coming Kingdom, you are forfeiting one of the great benefits of New Covenant kingdom life.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14)
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)
Friends, this excites me! I long for the appearing of our great and glorious King, Yeshua the Messiah. I long to throw off this jar of clay and to receive a heavenly body with no aches or pains, no coronavirus, no sickness or death. Soon these two realms will merge, bringing this age to critical mass, resulting in the millennial kingdom. My passion is not to go to heaven but to see Yeshua bring his heavenly reign to earth.
If we could live with this in mind, we would be more effective witnesses to the lost. We would not get consumed with conspiracy theories. We would keep our eyes focused on the Messiah, the soon-arriving King.