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Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising for many in Israel, and a sign which will be spoken against (Luke 2:34, emphasis added). God purposed before the foundation of the Earth to bring forth many sons to glory. So, God created Adam in His image as His son (Luke 3:38) and into the likeness of His divine nature. He was the embodiment of divine dignity and royal nobility manifested in the graciousness of His love and magnificence of His divine humility. When the Serpent breathed his venomous pride – the desire to be like God, “knowing good from evil” (Genesis 3:5) – into the hearts of our first parents, they fell from their high estate of sonship into the pit of pride and self-exaltation of the Serpent, the hell of separation from God. Though our first parents fell from their glory in Christ, their Creator, as sons of God into the likeness of sinful flesh, God never deviated from His original purpose, to bring forth a harvest of sons, but perpetuated His vision in Christ. Christ’s vision to see His seed (Isaiah 53:10) was fulfilled on the cross. The blood of the Lamb is the seal of the New Covenant, which is the guarantee that men will, one day, walk as fully manifested sons of God on the face of the earth. By one offering He has perfected those who are being sanctified. We who were once far off were brought nigh by the blood of Christ. As many as receiving Christ, God places in
the body of His Son, they become one Spirit with Him because they are joined to Christ and they have been empowered in Christ to grow up from infants (Greek: paidion) to children (Greek: teknon) and eventually into the sons (Greek: huios) of God, to the measure of the fullness of Christ. The vision of God and of Christ is our vision, which is to know God as Father and to fully mature in Christ as His sons. Christ’s life is the truth about and the way to follow toward our adoption as sons, which is His glorious image. The life of Jesus the pattern Son is the vision and prophecy about the road that you must travel to mature into a son of God. To study the life of Jesus is to interpret the prophecy concerning your life because He is the first among many brothers and you will have to follow along the same way if you wish to mature into sonship and to be glorified in your body with the glory which Jesus had before the world was made. At the tender age of six weeks Simeon prophesied over Jesus. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising for many in Israel, and a sign which will be spoken against (Luke 2:34, emphasis added). Just as Jonah was a sign pointing to the resurrection of Christ, so, is Jesus’ life for a sign given to this generation. And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation” (Luke 11:29-30). Jesus is a sign that points to many sons of God that will come into His glory. He is a sign which will be spoken against. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not 2
confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist (2 John 1:7). Today, many, even heathens, acknowledge Jesus’ coming in the flesh as a historical fact and they also believe He will physically come again. However, not many believe He is coming again in the flesh of His body of believers. Just as God fashioned Adam in His image likewise He is bringing forth a new man into the image of His son. To deny that Jesus is coming forth in the flesh of His Church is deception and the manifestation of an antichrist spirit. Even the spirit of antichrist has subtly infiltrated the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan do not mind the Church to place much emphasis on the physical coming of our Lord; even the secular world broadcast many end-time messages on TV programs based on the pre-tribulation rapture theory. The Church is neglecting the message of the Lord coming in the flesh of His believers, which is the undiluted message of the cross. That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me (Philippians 3:10-12, emphasis added). This is the message of the cross, to conform to His suffering, death and resurrection by laying hold of Christ with the same intensity that He laid hold of us; the message that needs to be restored to the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan hates this message because it spells out his defeat. When Christ appears bodily in His saints Satan will be bounded for a thousand years. Off cause Christ will also appear physically. In the mean while let us live our lives, like Paul did, as if we have attained to resurrection life and perfection, knowing that it will be ours at the Last trumpet. That is called faith. 3
Not only must the message of the Church be restored but also the fivefold ministry gifts. Till we all come to the unity of the faith of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13). The great commissioning that Christ gave to the Church was not only to make converts but disciples and to bring forth the Church of our Lord to the measure of the fullness of Christ. It is to invest more into people than in structures of buildings and organizations. Both are necessary but the emphasis should be much more on equipping the saints. The gospel of the Kingdom of God will be easier to understand if you grasp the three major events that drew public attention in the life of a Hebrew boy, which applied also to Jesus’ life as a Hebrew, which also have spiritual significance in your life. The first major event in Jesus’ life was His birth and circumcision on the eighth day after His birth. Jesus was born a Hebrew boy. On the basis of His nationality He was included under the Covenant of the Law, God made with His people Israel. Thus, by virtue of His Hebrew heredity He belonged to God’s covenant people. To be part of God’s family, under the New Covenant, you need to be born from the Spirit of God. Who is born of the flesh belongs to earthy families and who is born of the Spirit belongs to God’s family. Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:5-6). Those outside of Christ have no part in the New Covenant that was made in the sacrificial blood of the Lamb. They cannot see the kingdom of God nor enter in. 4
Traditionally Jesus’ circumcision ceremony composed of three main parts which was performed by a priest at the temple: Firstly, The priest would recite a blessing over Jesus that probably goes like this, “Praised are you, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us in the ritual of circumcision.” Then Jesus’ physical circumcision was performed and Joseph most probably recites the following blessing thanking God for bringing the child into the covenant of Abraham: “Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments to make him (Jesus) enter into the covenant of Abraham our father.” And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus [the Lord is salvation], the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb (Luke 2:21). Jesus’ circumcision was the surety that He would fulfill the covenant between God and Abraham and also fulfill the Old Covenant and make it honorable. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you (Genesis 17:11). For the believer in Christ circumcision takes place in the heart. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendents, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live (Deuteronomy 30:76, emphasis added). To live according to the flesh is death but according to the Spirit life and peace. Circumcision symbolizes the cutting away of the fleshly nature. Those who live according to the dictates of the flesh are enmity against God and cannot please Him. For all that is in the world – the 5
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:21). The uncircumcised of heart always resist the Holy Spirit. If you want the blessing of Abraham to come upon you do the works of Abraham. Through faith Abraham was circumcised; do you like wise and be circumcised in the flesh of your heart. The knife of circumcision is the word. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Our uncircumcised hearts are manifested in error. Jesus answered and said unto them, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Matthew 22:29). Secondly, the blessing over the wine (Kiddush) is said and a drop of wine is put into the baby’s mouth. A prayer for his well-being is recited, followed by a longer prayer that gives him his name. The prayer probably was the following, “Creator of the Universe. May it be your will to regard and accept this performance of circumcision, as if I had brought this baby before Your throne. And in Your abundant mercy, through Your holy angels, give a pure heart to Jesus son of the Most High (perhaps son of Joseph [John 1:45 and John 6:42]) who was just circumcised in honor of Your great Name. May his heart be wide open to comprehend Your holy Law, that he may learn and teach, keep and fulfill Your Law.” From that day forward they called Him Jesus the name that was given to Joseph by the angel (Matthew 1:20-21). The name (Hebrew: sign, mark with which one is marked) Jesus and all other names by which He is known signifies His glory – the purpose for His existence. Circumcision of heart includes the 6
discovery of the purposes for your life on earth that you may run your race and completes your course, not being disobedient to the heavenly vision which God placed in your heart. You shall be known by God’s anointing in your life. Thirdly, there is the Seudat Mitvah, which is a celebration meal that is required by Jewish Law. In this way the joy of a new life in this world is connected with the joy of sharing food with family and friends. Jesus’ meat was to do the will of Him that sent Him and to finish His work. For the joy (celebration) that was set before Him, He endured the cross. His flesh is meat indeed and His blood is drink indeed. To partake (celebrate) of the table of the Lord with an uncircumcised heart is to partake of it in an unworthy manner. Breaking of bread also refers to return to New Testament Church living but the glory of the Church of the kingdom of God will come in greater glory than that of the Early Church. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness [as in a celebration] and simplicity of heart (Acts 2:46). Breaking of bread with circumcised hearts also refers to divide the word of God rightly. Be diligent to present yourself approved [circumcised of heart] to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed [uncircumcised of heart], rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Typical the circumcision ceremony was held in the morning because Jewish tradition says one should be eager to perform the circumcision ceremony. As a child Jesus grew up and became strong in spirit, 7
filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him (Luke 2:40). We should be eager to perform the circumcision of heart. Not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11, emphasis added). We also need to become strong in spirit, filled with wisdom. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principals of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:1-2). Not growing spiritually is a symptom of an uncircumcised heart. The second major event in Jesus’ life was His Bar Mitzvah. Bar Mitzvah means “son of obligation,” in other words the person is now obligated to keep the commandments of God (mitzvoth of the Torah). Bar Mitzvah is a status. A Hebrew boy automatically becomes Bar Mitzvah when he turns thirteen years old whether there is a Bar Mitzvah celebration or not. Jesus’ Bar Mitzvah also signified the time when He became an apprentice under His father in the family business. Joseph was a carpenter (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3), thus, his family business was carpentry. So, Jesus at his Bar Mitzvah must have entered with him into an apprenticeship to become a carpenter in view for Him, as oldest son in the family, to inherit it at His adoption ceremony. When Jesus was twelve years old He came into His Bar Mitzvah. He announced it to His parents, saying, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). Jesus told them He came into His Bar Mitzvah and He is an apprentice in His Father’s business. They were supposed to understand what He was 8
telling them because they were acquainted with the Hebrew culture but they did not understand the statement He spoke to them. He went back with them to Nazareth and was subject to them. He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:50-52). Jesus both developed in a secular profession and His spiritual calling. Over an eighteen-year period Jesus was maturing into sonship by occupying Himself with His Father’s business according to the anointing that was working in Him. By now we should have discovered the anointing that is working in us, the calling of God in our lives. Our Bar Mitzvah is an apprenticeship under the leading of the Holy Spirit in all anointed areas in our lives. All areas not anointed by the Spirit of God should be avoided. Paul was both a tentmaker and called as an apostle to the gentiles. To the Hebrews he was no apostle (parameters of his anointing). The ministry (secular and spiritual) is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Maturity in Christ will lead to the third significant event in your life. The third event was what was known as the “Huiothesia” or the young man’s adoption ceremony. The word “Huiothesia” means “Son Placement” and indicates the time when a male child reached what was considered to be the age of maturity, somewhere around thirty years old. It is the time when a young man completed his apprenticeship with his father and proved his responsibility, faithfulness and worth over time serving his father. 9
The adoption ceremony of the Lord Jesus took place when John baptized Him, the heavens were opened to Him, the Spirit of God descended like a dove and remained upon Him and the Father declared Him, His beloved Son. This was Jesus’ public adoption ceremony. Only three and a half years after His adoption ceremony, when He was raised from the dead in power, He was glorified in His body. In the Near East, during biblical times, the word adoption had an entire different meaning than in our present Western civilization. The Western civilization perceives adoption as an orphan or a homeless child being adopted by foster parents. This is not the biblical meaning or the way the people in the Near East understood it. In Israel and in the Near East, adoption was a public ceremony where a young man who had proved his responsibility, faithfulness and worth over time serving his father was proclaimed a son. The ceremony is called adoption. At the ceremony of adoption, with friends, neighbors and relatives present, the father publicly proclaimed his matured boy his son. This proclamation gave the son certain privileges not enjoyed by him before this time. Firstly, the son was given power of attorney. He could buy or sell or do business in his father’s name. Jesus, at His adoption ceremony, received the Spirit without measure, hence His unlimited authority. Secondly, he received his inheritance, and thus was able to use the wealth that his father had provided for him. It was his from then on and he did not need to ask any question about its distribution. Previously, as long as the heir is a child (not a son) he does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all. Thirdly, the son was given equality with the father. The Jews sought to kill Jesus for making Himself equal with God. Jesus that came into His adoption as Son of God had God’s authority and backing to 10
make Himself equal with God. The Jews understood their tradition of sonship but never believed Jesus to be Son of God but thought Him to be blasphemous. Enoch (without the law) received a similar testimony of sonship that Jesus received. Enoch’s adoption took place when he received the testimony, that he pleased God. Before He was taken he had this testimony that he pleased God. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:5-6). Enoch’s adoption took place when he received the testimony, that he pleased God, only afterward, like Jesus, he was caught up to God and His throne and was glorified in his body and perfected in his soul. Elijah (under the law) received a similar testimony of sonship than Jesus and Enoch. He testified that he stands in the presence of God (1Kings 17:1) like Jesus who testified that He was living with His Spirit in heaven while His body was on earth. No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven (John 3:13, emphasis added). Only sometime after Elijah’s testimony he went up by a whirlwind into heaven. His mortal body must have put on immortality because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. The first 30 years of Jesus’ life show you the road to follow from being birthed by the Holy Spirit until you mature into sonship. Before the foundation of the world God predestined those whom He 11
foreknew to be conformed to the image of His Son. Thus, God made the Firstborn’s life the prophecy, pattern or blue print of the lives of the other brothers to follow. The most prominent characteristic of mature sons is the testimony they receive from the Father that He is well pleased with them because they are led by the Spirit of God and not by the carnal mind. Only after they have received the testimony that they are well pleasing to the Father follows their redemption or glorification of the body. However, Paul sees the adoption as sons and the glorification of the body (their inheritance) as one event. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23). Just like Enoch and Elijah, Paul also pressed on for resurrection life. That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me (Philippians 3:10-12, emphasis added). I am convinced that if God did not willed for Paul (under grace) to die for his name sake he would have attained to the resurrection from the dead because he manifested the same manner of faith in God as these two faith heroes. During Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain, witnessed by Moses and Elijah from heaven and Peter, James and John from the earth, the Father confirmed Jesus’ sonship again with the promise (transfiguration of His body) that He would raise Him from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is the guarantee that our bodies will be raised from the 12
dead in glory. In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-53). Enoch and Elijah are types of the mortals that will put on immortality. Those many bodies that came out of the graves at Jesus’ resurrection that appeared to many in the holy city are pointing to many, many more that will be resurrected from their graves and be clothed with incorruption at the last trumpet. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many (Matthew 27:52-53). As it may be the Scriptures said emphatically that in Adam we all die, but in Christ all shall be made alive but each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Each one in his own order may also refer to people that will be quickened to God in their bodies at various stages. I wish to refer Revelation 12 as a future event of resurrection and some Old Testament saints during Christ’s resurrection as a historical event. I doubt it if there is anybody at this moment in time with the full picture. Now we know in part and we prophecy in part. Now we who have the Spirit in part see only dimly as in a mirror, Christ walking in a far distance but when the fullness has come then we will see Him face to face just as He is. However, now we press on into the higher calling of God in Christ Jesus. Our hope is, to ever-grow in the Father-son relationship, which is in Christ by maturing into sonship to the full measure of Christ and to constantly press in for a testimony that we 13
are pleasing to Him in hope that we will be caught up to God and His throne and thus not see death. Our faith is audacious like that of Enoch and Elijah that were transformed before the sounding of the last trumpet. The message of Jesus’ life is the roadmap to conform to His death in hope to attain to the resurrection from the dead. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom.
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