When John the Immerser blasted onto the scene he warned his hearers of losing eternal life and loosing national destruction. The means of avoiding both was encapsulated in one word: REPENT.
REPENTANCE DRIVES GREAT AWAKENINGS
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [Matthew 3:7-10]
John did something then that next to no American Christian does today: He blasted the religious leaders. These were men who had total control of the religious establishment in first-century Judea. They controlled the entire Temple complex. They controlled every single synagogue. Their control was such that John was preaching way out in the wilderness.
In today’s terms these would be the religious leaders who control denominations, churches, seminaries, and major Christian media, including publishing and television. The Pharisees and Sadducees had a lock on all things religious back then just as Christian controllers have a lock on most things Christian at present. Both have a single denominator: MONEY.
ONLY TWO GODS FROM WHICH TO CHOOSE
Getting to the root of Christian intention begins with the simple question: Is it serving the Lord Jesus or is it serving the money-god?
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. [Luke 16:13-14]
One will either submit to the Lord Jesus and make money a servant, or one will submit to the money-god and make oneself its servant.
If one serves the Lord, one’s life will look increasingly as being under the primary influence of the Lord and His teachings. If one serves the money-god, one’s life will look increasingly as being under the primary influence of the money-god and its teachings.
Here’s is a quick contrast and illustration: John the Immerser served the Lord. His life looked like the Lord. The Pharisees and Sadducees served the money-god. Their lives looked like the money-god. Compare both to the present.
John warned everybody, but especially the brood of vipers otherwise known as the Pharisees and Sadducees, that the entire nation was about to suffer complete destruction for one principle reason: IT CHOSE THE MONEY GOD.
Money can make you and it can break you. If there was a way to exist without it we would never have to deal with its powerful influence and temptation. We would never have to submit to its effects. But the international money system has been with us a while and unless we somehow manage to go completely off the grid we have little choice but to enter the game and play according to the rules.
It is for this reason that most people believe there is no escape and the only solution is to try to gain as much money as possible in order to gain the upper hand. In other words, the way people think they can beat the powerful effect of money on their lives is to defeat it by gaining enough of it that it no longer rules them but becomes their servant.
This works for some people. For a while. It never works for the vast majority. The system has limited resources. Some are able to gain the upper hand and remain relatively personally free or at least maintain the appearance of freedom, and do not seem on the surface to be anxious regarding money matters. If one does win the money battle by doing whatever they feel they must to gain authority over it by having much of it, it rarely lasts. One must keep doing whatever it takes to gain access to the money well. Most do it legally. Some do not. But even if one does find a way to beat the system, so to speak, and gain great piles of gold, one cannot leave this world with it. It must all stay right here where one found it.
MONEY IS NO GOOD OVER YONDER
It has been said that rich people don’t have armored trucks full of money following their hearse to the graveyard. Money does not translate into eternity. To the degree that one depends on money is to the same degree that one does not depend on the Lord. This equation portends one’s final location in the afterworld and often whether one even believes in an afterworld.
One of the best things that can ever happen to a person is to discover early on in life that the pursuit of money for the purposes of mastering life is a heartbreaker. The money-god is a deceiving, bewitching taskmaster. It is a hard lesson to learn. It can be quite cruel. On the other hand, if money always comes relatively easy then the odds of having a spiritual life with the Lord are next to zero. Most people will always choose much money over a disciplined spiritual life. Here’s why:
Making the decision to give oneself totally to the Lord involves:
(1) Faith in the Lord Jesus instead of faith in the money-god and all it portends.
(2) The need to repent, which means one must accept the fact that one is a sinner and a violator of God’s laws and commandments. Who wants to do that? Especially in these days? To admit that one is messed up like this, that one is not the great person he or she thinks he or she is can have a devastating effect on one’s psyche. And yet the Lord is persistent. He says that prior to our born again experience we are sinners. He says we violate His laws. He says we have uncircumcised flesh that must be dealt with. This fleshly nature is not always on display but certainly reveals itself on occasion, with some people much more than others, especially when under stress.
TEST AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS RIGHT
A simple test to prove God is right and humans are compromised in this way is to simply see how often we violate the Golden Rule. Do we always treat others the way we want to be treated? Do we do this especially when we are stressed out or under a lot of pressure? Do we always contain the pressure that builds up, find a way to keep it from building up, manage to channel it off in some safe way in which nobody is hurt, or even stop it completely in the very beginning? Do we always master our impulses? Do we have impulse control or do we simply vent all the time everyday at everybody?
If so, it is the opposite of real discipleship and thoroughly proves the need for heart circumcision surgery and real repentance. It proves the Lord knows exactly what He is talking about though many people may successfully hide their true nature. Occasional mess-ups are understandable. A lifestyle of trashing others and violating the Lord’s teachings is not.
The Lord looks on the heart, not the outward appearance. He is not fooled by outward appearances. He knows what a dirty, fleshy, sinful, uncircumcised heart looks like. It doesn’t matter how much one may try to cover it up and deceive people about one’s true nature. God knows. And He demands that we fix it! The Pharisees and Sadducees fooled almost everyone because they dressed to look the part. They were mere religious actors. That’s what hypocrites are—stage players. Is it any wonder then that the majority of Christian leadership at present does all its work on a stage? What would they be without the stage? It was money that made the Pharisees and Sadducees successful. They served the money-god while pretending to serve God. IT IS EXACTLY THE SAME TODAY. God is not fooled.
A FOOL’S PARADISE
If there appears to be a way around the repentance and discipleship the Lord demands, most people, including most Christians, will do the end run. They will run from God. They will find substitutes in which they can keep themselves in charge. They will choose counterfeit belief systems, of whatever variety, in which they do not have to submit to the Lord. They will try to convince themselves and everyone else that they are good people.
Of course, they are playing a fool’s game. There is no other way than the way the Lord Jesus prescribed. Better to find this out early in life than to build one’s house on sand, but most people always end up building their house on sand and it works great as long as everything remains constant. But we all should know this is ridiculous. Next to nothing in this life remains constant. Change is ever-burgeoning, is always messing up the best laid plans, and the tide always comes in and wipes out sand castles no matter how well or elaborately they are constructed. Wise people know this. Yet, there are apparently not many wise people when it comes to applying known knowledge if it clashes with one’s authority.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” [Luke 9:24]
Real repentance is the end of one’s personal authority. What unrepentant religious leaders do not know, however, is that they do not have any personal authority anyway because they are bound by sin. And they are deceived about it. Sin is in charge but they are not aware. They reject the notion. They are not accountable. Most are spiritual adulterers. It is why they refuse to preach the real Gospel. It is why the Lord stated what He did in the preceding verse. The word “lose” in that verse is translated from the Greek word apollumi. This word means “to destroy.” It is only by losing one’s life (or destroying it) through real repentance and submitting fully to the Lord Jesus that one breaks the power of sin and the powerful grip of the money-god. The Lord gave His very life to set us free from this monster.
OPPOSING THE GREAT AWAKENING
Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
As did John the Immerser, the Lord warned the people of His nation that total destruction was soon coming and that it was coming because they rejected His love and leadership for the love of money. The more He attempted to bring forth a Great Awakening the more the religious leaders who were sold out to the money-god opposed Him. Their continued rejection of the Lord and His real teachings, their intransigent rebellion against truth, their refusal to repent, and their worship of mamônâi brought forth a witch’s brew of arrogance, ignorance, and religious pride. It increasingly enflamed their wicked uncircumcised hearts and removed all semblance of impulse control. They sowed the seed of murder and reaped over a million deaths. Literally.
THROWN INTO THE FIRE
As time marched on toward 70AD, they became ever more strident in their opposition to the Lord. They were incorrectly fulfilling Newton’s Third Law of Motion. They were resisting that which they should have surrendered to and surrendering to that which they should have resisted. They had a completely different agenda. Their persecution of the Lord’s people—those who chose the Lord as Messiah—increased dramatically. They were doing to them, on an ever-advancing scale, exactly what they did to the Lord.
The same dynamic is at work today. Christian Pharisees and Sadducees look great on the outside and preach what sounds like the real Gospel. They don’t look compromised. They look successful. They’ve been in control seemingly forever. Their status quo rendition of official Christianity appears as the only accepted rendition, but it has little or no resemblance to the Lord’s original and has almost zero impact within the spiritual world. They can’t handle anything they can’t control. They can’t handle anything that exposes them as pretenders. They can’t handle anything from which they cannot extract a living. It would be good if they could learn from the past.
Judea had been in the midst of a Great Awakening during that final generation in the first century and the religious leaders continually put much effort toward their opposition to it. The more they tried to stop it the more it grew and yet they could never stop opposing it. Their unrighteous stand for the old dead religious order—the only one they could control, the one that gave them power and wealth—was thoroughly compromised by a love of money and service to the money-god. Their unrighteous rebellion must eventually end. Their opposing reaction to God’s action must finally stop. Justice was demanded. Only God could administer it. He did. Judea was no more. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, by fire, exactly as John prophesied.
“The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [Matthew 10:10]
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
THE FIG TREE
On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. [Mark 11:12-14]
Why did the Lord curse the fig tree? The narrative said it was not the season for figs.
Actually, a fig tree produced fruit three times a year. In about April, which was the time the Lord saw the tree in question, every healthy fig tree would bear what are known as “early figs,” also known as “unripe” or “untimely” figs. These immature figs were very small, were edible, though certainly not comparable to the full fruit which would come later, and most fell to the ground with the wind. They appeared as the first leaves appeared on the tree.
In about June, the first mature figs appeared, the first actual crop, and were said to grow out of the “old wood,” or the shoots from the prior year.
In August or so, the final crop of figs came forth, from the “new wood,” or new shoots of the present year.
From this we know that if a tree will be fruitful and not barren, it will send forth fruit roughly at the same time, or very shortly thereafter, as it sends forth its first leaves, though the first fruit is a far cry from what will come later. The Lord Jesus knew, therefore, that because the tree He came upon already had leaves but no “early figs,” it would never produce any figs.
Keep in mind also that He was hungry, that He saw the tree “at a distance,” that He had to put time and effort into reaching it, and that He expected to find food. This is obviously indicative of His long journey to visit and rescue His beloved people.
As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” [Mark 11:20-23] 
Mountains are associated with spiritual high places, places of great power. The little that was left of the Jewish nation in the first century had long since been subverted by a political association between the religious leaders and Rome. This was especially true of the Sadducees who had no belief in spiritual things whatsoever, not even the resurrection. It was also true of Annas and Caiphas, the High Priest. They were living only for this world, had achieved great wealth and power, and had joined “the mountain,” represented by the great earthly power of the Roman Empire.
The fig tree was representative of the Israel of that time, which made an outward show of national legitimacy and religiosity, but was actually fruitless and spiritually barren. It is the same today.
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” [Matthew 24:1-2]
As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” [Mark 13:1-2]
And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” [Luke 21:5-6]
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.
“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44] 
At sunset tonight begins the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. It was on this exact date that both ancient temples of the Jews met their complete destruction.
Because this infamous date falls on the Jewish Sabbath this year, it will be commemorated on Sunday.
The original Temple of Solomon, which began construction circa 966 BC, was completely destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC on the 9th of Av.
It has now been exactly 2600 years since that date, and is a clear multiple of 13, the Biblical number of rebellion.
A second temple was built 70 years later, completed in 516 BC, though it in no way resembled the magnificent glory of the original. This temple had degraded significantly for five full centuries until the time of Herod the Great.
In approximately 19 BC, Herod began a massive overhaul of the entire temple mount area that was not fully completed until 64 AD.
Regarding the second temple built in 516 BC, it was essentially completely deconstructed and rebuilt by Herod on a far grander scale, taking less than two years to complete. Though it was not referred to as a third temple, this is a mere semantic overreach insisted upon by Herod and the religious leaders of that time and has always been known as the Second Temple.
It lasted less than 90 years.
On this date in 70 AD, on Tish’a B’Av, it was completely destroyed by the Romans, exactly as the Lord Jesus had prophesied.
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. 
EXCERPT FROM PART 4:
“Proper sacrifice was the answer. Repentance is the first part of the equation. The circumcision of the heart is at the heart of the New Testament. The preaching of the cross is core, foundational, at the nucleus thereof, and points directly to what salvation entails. Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness… [Hebrews 9:22]”
Link to Part 4:
EXCERPT FROM PART 3:
“In Part 2 we learned that Jerusalem was not prepared for the manifest presence of God, any more than many Christian congregations and groups in America are ready. David’s original plan was well-intentioned but not even close to the Lord’s protocol. It seems that in our many and varied attempts to do something for God, we fail to inquire of God, either whether we should do a particular thing, or regarding the method we employ in doing it…”
Link to Part 3:
In May of 2011, about two weeks after I started this site, I wrote a 4-part series entitled “Here Comes the Ark.” It was written in part to both prepare for the coming Great Awakening in America and become knowledgeable of it.
Before the Lord can bring someone to full salvation there must be repentance. And before that He must prepare a person’s heart.
It is no different when He desires to bring an awakening. All great movements of God include a preparation time before the outer movement is seen. Sometimes the time of preparation takes decades or more. It is no different at present.
Though several great movements of God have taken place in America, the first was the Great Awakening of the 1730s-40s. It helped prepare the nation for the American Revolution, which led to the creation of a country with the greatest spiritual freedom in history.
As you read the following article, which remains just as topical and relevant, consider what must be achieved, how long the Lord has been working on it, and your own personal role.
Please feel free to add to the discussion.
Here’s the link to Part 1:
The following is an excerpt from Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church:
THE UPPER ROOM
Why did Jesus create His community of called-out ones in the humble upper room? For starters, He had to have a place off the beaten path, so to speak. It would have to be owned by a disciple or a disciple’s family who was sympathetic to the cause. It could not be a public place, such as the temple complex, but private, to allow for complete unity of spirit and purpose. It had to be a place big enough for 120 people to pray and seek God for about ten days without interruption. In short, it had to be a house. In reality, it was a house.
Though we cannot yet be positively certain, particular statements in Scripture lead one to the strong conclusion that it was located on Mount Zion, Jerusalem’s highest southwestern hill, and that it was probably the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. If placed on Mount Zion, this house would be located roughly a half mile due southwest of the Temple Mount, approximately five hundred feet south of the present Zion gate. At the time of the Qahal’s creation, however, this house was within Jerusalem proper since the southern wall of the city was located further to the south. Therefore, though Jesus was betrayed, died, was entombed, and rose again outside the city walls, He created the Church inside the city. Not only that, He created the Church in a house.
Why did He create the Church in the city that condemned Him to death? If it had to be within Jerusalem, why didn’t He create the Qahal in a place of high honor, such as the temple? Was it because He was rejected by the ruling hierarchy? Was it because there was no place of high honor for the Lord of all Creation? Or was it because Jesus simply created His community in the most appropriate of all dwelling places, a place which had been foretold in Scripture?
You will bring them and plant them
in the mountain of Your inheritance,
The place, O LORD,
which You have made for Your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O LORD,
which Your hands have established.
The LORD shall reign
forever and ever. 
THE HOUSE OF GOD
From the untold millions which had descended from Abraham by the first century A.D., only the upper-roomers were present when this scripture was fulfilled. Each and every one of these original 120 were Jews. On the birthday of the Lord’s Qahal, Jesus established a sanctuary, a dwelling place on His own mountain—Mount Zion. On this mountain, the 120 were planted, both in the Lord and by the Lord, and functioned as the ovum fertilized by the Holy Spirit which would eventually develop into a body—the body of Christ. Before the sun went down that first day, the original 120 grew by twenty-five times to three thousand—all Jews, all descendants of Abraham, all devout and God-fearing, from every country under heaven to which they had been dispersed. Even though Luke, the author of the book of Acts, doesn’t say so specifically, can there be any doubt that each tribe of Israel was represented in the initial outpouring?
This was the mysterious destiny of the house of Israel—to one day become the actual dwelling place of YHWH!
When Abraham was first called forth and told he would be the progenitor of many people, God had His own future residence in mind. Later, He revealed this truth to Moses, who led God’s people to the land of promise. The house of God would only be a home for the obedient, however, since they would be sharing quarters with God Himself. The structure of the tabernacle of Moses reveals to us The Nature of the Church. The tabernacle was a tent, mobile, following after the Lord as He moved onward into the future. It was filled with His presence. It was where the ark of the covenant was kept. The priests would minister in its midst. Sacrifice was called for. Repentance, baptism, and the infilling of His Spirit were all typed into its construction. It was pliable and moveable, built for eternal purposes.
The tabernacle and all the rites associated with it continued to the time of David. It was then that God revealed to yet another generation the purpose of the tent, and the great revelation of its underlying meaning. After building his own house, David desired to build a house for God. But the Lord would not. God’s plans had not changed, nor would they ever. His eternal purpose was wrapped up in the illustration of the mobile tent. In the future, His dwelling place would be similar—it would be within humanity. 
 Acts 12:12
 Exodus 15:17–18
 Pages 281-284 Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Real Life is the one thing lacking in the Christian experience of most, and it is the reason so many Christians are stacked up against the outside of the entry door to the Kingdom. Milling around without, not wanting to venture inside, they have set up transitory venues like so many crude wooden market booths constructed hastily against the outer walls. The door remains in their midst and every so often someone has the temerity to not only ask about it but want to proceed through it.
“We can’t have that!” the vendors all cry. Denominational Christianity always winces when someone wants to go deeper into a closer walk with God. They are all well aware of the real Spirit-filled experiences of others but have been so conditioned by their own reluctance and weakness, and also their cultural underpinnings to shun all things “Pentecostal,” that they successfully remain outside. The Lord continues to beckon all to the door however, as He always has. Large numbers of “I don’t think so’s” will not sway Him from His mission. The door of death has become persona non grata and down-to-earth Christians recoil at what would happen to their social standing if they followed the Lord through it.
The people on that original Day of Pentecost had the same concerns at some early point in their walks with God but had quickly cast off the doubts. They instead manned-up and courageously took a stand for God and the truth. They realized that something optimum must happen, that something very powerful and new awaited them on the other side, and that they must obey the Lord.
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” [Acts 1:4-8]
We all know what happened next. If only the Lord had arranged some other way that did not involve such boisterous expression and (crud!) speaking in tongues. What a terrible way to start the Church! Well, at least we can all be glad that it was over long ago, right? That it doesn’t happen anymore. That God has thankfully done away with it. That…
Well, the above is true, of course, for those who reject it and build church communities without it, and remove any and all people from their midst who actually do it. And there are other things behind that door of death, you know. The people outside hear stories of miraculous healings and strong manifestations of the very Spirit of God that never take place outside in the normal world. Some are always curious but are very concerned about breaking any social conventions and losing their standing among their fellows. I mean, what would people think, right? “Can’t do it, no sir. I’m stayin’ out here. Those people inside that door are freaks…”
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [Titus 3:3-7]
There’s a Holy Ghost experience waiting inside the Kingdom. The Door of Death is always open. Real repentance removes our sin and all things that hinder, and prepares us for real Life. The 120 knew something incredible was going to happen, but no one could have imagined just how incredible.
Of the tens of thousands who followed the Lord during His ministry, only 120 followed Him all the way to the Upper Room. It was a command, of course, but not everyone obeyed. The majority never obeyed. You can be sure that at least a few hundred had severe second thoughts when the Day of Pentecost arrived. They had been the reluctant ones. The Lord had appeared to over five hundred at one time in His glorified state, but most of these experienced Pentecost outside the initial Upper Room experience. They refused to enter the Door of Death and thus did not understand that it was also The Door of Life. They stayed back and some even watched what was happening. They missed it! But many of them found their way to the streets below the Upper Room as Peter preached that initial message of the entire Church Age. They ran through the door and were a part of that original class of three thousand that turned Jerusalem upside down.
The moral of the story is that only a few are willing to be pioneers, leave all, and do all that the Lord requires, including entering the Door. They must experience real Life. They must show succeeding generations the Way.
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 2 of 2]
Proper sacrifice was the answer. Repentance is the first part of the equation. The circumcision of the heart is at the heart of the New Testament. The preaching of the cross is core, foundational, at the nucleus thereof, and points directly to what salvation entails. Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. [Hebrews 9:22]
One does not often hear about the cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus so much anymore. It is not so seeker-friendly. People are put off by it, pretty much the same way most people would rather never be reminded of over fifty million unborn American babies ripped from the womb and literally thrown in the trash.
The crucifixion of the Lord is not pretty, but His perfect sacrifice remains the most beautiful thing anyone has ever done or will ever do. It was the greatest and best offering ever made. His death brings our life, if we so choose. In Part 3, David discovered the secret of repentance. He discovered the proper protocol. He understood that sacrifice must precede the presence of God. No one is saved without real repentance. It is impossible.
There is no new birth without a surrendering of the life that resulted from the first birth.
You must be born again [John 3:7]. All great movements of God over the last twenty centuries have been preceded by heart-changing individual repentance, including the Great Awakenings in America.
In the initial event of the Church Age, the 120 real believers who gathered together at Pentecost were exactly on time and properly prepared. It had been ten days since the Lord Jesus had ascended to heaven. Ten is the Biblical number of ordinal perfection or testing. It is readily apparent that not everyone gathered at the beginning remained until the big day. For those who did, they had fully repented and prepared themselves. Such individuals had bowed the knee to the Lord and confessed His glorious Name, and this resulted in the beginning of an incredible worldwide movement that continues to the present.
According to the Hebrew calendar, today is Erev Shavuot. Wednesday morning, June 8, is the morning of Pentecost, the official anniversary of that bright dawn when the community of the Lord Jesus burst forth on the scene in unity and power 2000 years ago. The apostle Peter then preached a message containing the very truth the 120 had obeyed and what would be required for the movement to continue. He spoke of the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Under great conviction, voices from the crowd asked, “Brethren, what shall we do?” The first thing Peter said was, “Repent.”
There has always been much theological discussion about when the blood of the Lord Jesus is applied, but there should not be. The cleansing blood of the Lord is applied at real repentance. When David sacrificed the ox and fatling at the rebirth of the procession, he understood this. A Christianity without repentance is a faux Christianity. A Christianity without the preaching and teaching of the shed blood of our Savior is worthless and dead, regardless of any other factor. It is impossible to properly recognize, worship, and glorify God without mentioning His cleansing blood on our behalf. Those Christian bodies and groups who understand this and act accordingly are blessed with His presence, just as the city of Jerusalem was 3000 years ago. Those who don’t, aren’t.
Then it happened as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. [2 Samuel 6:16]
As always, the previous generation resists a new move of God. Saul had grown to hate and despise David, and had acquired bad spirits as a result of his hatred and resistance. Every time the Lord does something “new” it is resisted by the previous generation of His own people. Why would Michal suddenly turn against David? She was one of his wives, and had previously promoted him. There are several possible reasons:
(1) She did not think it proper for a king to behave in such an undignified manner.
(2) She thought he was unduly grabbing the spotlight.
(3) She still resented him for his rise to power at the expense of her father.
(4) She thought dancing was only for dancehalls and weird churches.
The predominant reason, of course, is that she despised God because she had an irreverent unrepentant heart. She opposed a life-giving move of God and was greatly offended at the actions of her husband, who seemed to violate all the laws of man’s protocol, both civil and religious. She preferred a controlled religion of decorum, dogma, and duty. The tares fight against the wheat. The goats fight against the sheep. The unreal fight against the real. Religious people killed the Lord. They killed Stephen. Millions of real believers have been killed since. Why?
It is simple: Those who refuse to die to themselves and bring a proper sacrifice end up killing their brother instead.
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” [Genesis 4:3-9] 
When the Ark was coming into Jerusalem, however, the circumstances were such that Michal was greatly outvoted. In fact, she knew this and therefore despised David somewhat secretly in her heart, at least for the moment, though she may have been staring darts. The city as a whole was celebrating. Jerusalem had properly prepared itself. David corrected his mistakes. He discovered God’s proper protocol. He no longer resisted the move of God or tried to control it. Instead, he jumped into it joyfully with both feet—literally! So must it be for us also, if we really want the actual loving and powerful presence of God in our lives, both individually and in collective unity on this eve of Pentecost. [Part 4 of 4]
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
In Part 2 we learned that Jerusalem was not prepared for the manifest presence of God, any more than many Christian congregations and groups in America are ready. David’s original plan was well-intentioned but not even close to the Lord’s protocol. It seems that in our many and varied attempts to do something for God, we fail to inquire of God, either whether we should do a particular thing, or regarding the method we employ in doing it.
It was fortunate for David and the nation of Israel that Uzzah was the only one killed. It was also fortunate that a Philistine convert named Obed-edom had a proper heart for the Lord. As a result, the Ark of the Covenant stayed at his house for a full three months while the heart of Jerusalem was prepared. The day came at last to continue the glorious procession.
David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness. And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. [2 Samuel 6:12-13]
They had only gone a mere six paces before a fitting sacrifice was made. It was obvious someone had done their homework. Uzzah lost his life on account of his irreverence toward God. The episode reflected on David, though he had orchestrated a parade of worship and praise from the beginning. What he had not done at the beginning was make any kind of sacrifice to God.
Our churches are often filled with wonderful praise music and worshipful hearts every Sunday morning. But what about sacrifice? Sacrifice is representative of repentance. Though all looks fairly good on the surface, our congregations are often filled with uncircumcised hearts and unrepentant attitudes. The presence of sin, disobedience, and a lack of reverence for the Lord Jesus often causes a muted meeting comprised of going through religious motions and largely leaving the way we came.
David got the big idea. Six paces is not a very long stretch. Six is the Biblical number of man. It was at that point that an ox and a fatling were sacrificed. One wonders if it was one of the oxen originally pulling the cart upon which the Ark rested. The point, however, that the Biblical account portends, is that there will be no actual presence of God without repentance. We may receive an emotional lift or some other such thing in our meetings that may feel right, but without proper repentance it is a mere counterfeit traded for the real presence of God.
Once the sacrifice was made, the procession resumed.
And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet. [2 Samuel 6:14-15] 
The Ark of the Covenant had never been to Jerusalem. It was a triumphant entry. David had prepared not only a proper dwelling place for the Ark according to the Mosaic law, a tent, but also prepared his own heart and the heart of the people. Though David was the king, he was not parading through the streets of the city as some ego-driven potentate, along the lines of most political and Christian leaders, but as a man demonstrating his correct heart condition and position. He knew his place. He was no better than anyone else.
It was the Lord God who was King! And the Lord would be honored and reverenced properly and completely. David’s act of dancing with all his might with no pompous clothing or attitude was in perfect keeping with what we must give the Lord. God is worthy of our praise, but our praise is worthless without our entire heart and without full repentance. Imagine the incredible and far-reaching moves of God we can have in the present only by learning and practicing these simple truths. The good news is we are on the way, but there still remains opposition. For we have met the enemy, and it is us. [Part 3 of 4]
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
It was quite an occasion. One of the greatest of occasions. The Ark was coming home! David had recently captured the city of Jerusalem and made it his headquarters and capital city after becoming king of all Israel.
The Ark of the Covenant was located at the city of Kiriath-jearim, a town also known as Baale-judah. This location was none other than the center of Baal worship in the tribal land of Judah. During all the battle and confusion of the Saul-David transition period the Ark had resided on a hill here in the home of Abinadab for twenty years. David had decided he must unify Israel and bring the Ark to Jerusalem. He had never used the Ark in his battles with Saul, but now it was time to bring everything and everyone together. Though David was king, he knew the real King was the Lord God and that He must reign from Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals. [2 Samuel 6:5]
It was quite a scene! A great celebration of national unity, a new beginning, and worship of the Lord who made it all happen. But there was a later mishap along the way. Aminadab’s second and third sons, Uzzah and Ahio, were chosen to assist in the passage, and were driving the new cart holding the Ark on the journey. When the procession arrived at the uneven rock surface of a threshing floor, the oxen had nearly tipped the cart over, and Uzzah reflexively reached out to the Ark to steady it, apparently thinking it was part of his responsibility to protect the Ark. As soon as he made contact he died. The record states:
But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God. [2 Samuel 6:6-7]
Uzzah miscued big time. He was killed for his lack of proper reverence, though most Bible versions called it his error. Well, YEAH. He obviously wasn’t properly prepped, or was and messed up anyway. No one had taken up the Ark in many years, and it is understandable that mistakes were made regarding proper procedures and protocol. Had Uzzah grown too familiar with the Ark since it had resided at his father’s house all those years? Uzzah’s name means “strength,” and he obviously was leaning on his own understanding and human ability during the incident. One can hear the words of the apostle Peter echoing in from the distant future, when the Lord had just told him the Son of Man must go to Jerusalem and die:
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” [Matthew 16:22]
Tipping oxen or not, it was not the place of Uzzah to take hold of the Ark to protect it, or whatever he thought he was doing. Only the Kohathite branch of the Levites could carry the Ark, upon their shoulders by way of poles through rings on either side, and not on an ox cart. They were the only ones vested by God with the sacredness and reverence for the privilege, and were never to touch it.
But David didn’t see it that way. He immediately grew very angry for what had happened then grew disillusioned, and as he realized he was the actual party at fault he got scared. He had just been worshipping God with the entire Israel woodwind, stringed instrument, and percussion section, happy as a clam and on a spiritual high, and looking forward to the great entry into Jerusalem. The “Breach of Uzzah,” as the place became known, was such that the procession had to stop. The celebration was cut short. The Lord would not be going to the City of the King any time soon.
So David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” [2 Samuel 6:9] 
When the presence of the Lord is on the way to our country, our city, our house, or our very heart, we must pay attention. It would be good to get on our face, show the proper reverence and respect, be thankful and appreciative for the great privilege, and follow the Lord’s protocol. Whatever we do, we must make sure we do nothing to stop or impede the process. He may never pass our way again. [Part 1 of 4]
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.