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The Gathering

         I received the following question from a good friend and brother in the Lord recently:

         Morning brother…I was reading (the following passage) this morning and wondered what your thoughts are….though it is addressing Israel, do you think there is a New Covenant application to this as well? I have heard people call for help from the four directions and there is something about gathering from the four winds. “Gatherings” would make a great word study. God’s richest blessings on you today and into eternity. Let’s gather soon.

         But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” [Isaiah 43:1-7]

         This is my response:

         Thanks for the question. First of all, everything in the OT Scriptures has a New Covenant application. God does not have two separate peoples. The nation of Israel, descended from Abraham, is ethnically the people of God by DNA in that Abraham’s descendants are part of the covenant God made with Abraham. But throughout Old Testament history, the majority of the people descended from Abraham turned their back on God and violated this covenant. Just like a marriage, for example, both parties of the covenant must be true to the covenant terms. Otherwise, the covenant, or contract, is violated. If you hire someone to do work on your house, there is a contract explaining the role each party must adhere to. If the contract is honored properly, you get your work done and the worker gets paid by you to do the work. Simple. If the person you hired does not fulfill that which is spelled out in the contract, you do not have to pay him since he violated the contract.

         Israel’s covenant with God was violated by the majority repeatedly. However, there was always a remnant of the descendants of Abraham who stayed true to God and did not violate the covenant, but this was always a small percentage. Hence, a remnant. It was in the nation of Israel’s original DNA for the majority to go south, and the majority repeated their sinful behavior all throughout their history. When God Himself became a Man and walked among them, the majority of His people agreed with the decision to kill Him. A remnant of Abraham’s descendants, however, believed and obeyed, as it always had.

         The Lord’s twelve disciples were of the believing remnant, except for Judas, who decided on his own to betray the Lord. The 120 on the Day of Pentecost were of the believing remnant, but were a very small minority. When Jerusalem and the outward nation of Israel were destroyed in 70 AD, the unbelieving covenant-breaking Jews were scattered. The believing Jews already knew about the Lord’s prophecy of that destruction (they believed) and the Lord guided them to safety.

         New Covenant believers are not divided between descendants of Abraham and non-descendants of Abraham. There is no distinction. 

        For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 3:26-29]

         Therefore, there are only two different kinds of people in the world: Real Christians and everyone else. Real Christians obey, honor, believe in, and trust the Lord Jesus. Everyone else does not.

         There are, however, promises made to the descendants of Abraham that are exclusive to them, but they must honor the Lord nonetheless. How can one NOT believe in Jesus and be right with God? How can one have “The Father” but NOT have “The Son?” It is impossible:

         Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. [1 John 2:22-24]

         The distinction between the Father and Son is parabolic. If one does not have eyes to see, a veil is covering his or her eyes. This is why the Lord spoke in parables—only those who had eyes to see and ears to hear got it and understood. If one SEES the Son, one SEES the Father also. The unbelieving Jews of the Lord’s time could not see that Jesus—God in human form, “The Son”—was also YHWH, the God of the Old Testament, or “The Father.” They rejected Jesus because they did not believe He was the one God of the Jews. Of course, they thought they had a relationship with God and were right with God, but they were not. They had not “The Father,” and the Lord Jesus said they actually had a different father altogether:

         Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.” [John 8:42-45]

         The Lord is definitely gathering His children. He is doing this overall but also in regard to small communities. But there is a problem. Just as Ananias could hardly believe the Lord when He told him that “Saul” who became the apostle Paul, had become a real believer,[1] so do many Christians refuse to accept many of those whom God has called. In other words, many Christians reject other Christians because they do not think they are real Christians, or because they think they are messed up in some way. This prejudice is the only real problem the Lord has in creating his communities.

         Christian denominations are not real communities created by the Lord. They are almost exclusively man-made organizations. Most “churches” are man-made as well. They are organized and united together not in the Spirit by the Spirit of God, but are instead based on a particular doctrine or way of doing things. I love it when the Lord takes those of His people who are otherwise separated in such a way and puts them together. (“I didn’t think you were for real because…” “And I didn’t think YOU were for real because…”) There are some believers whom almost no one thinks are for real! But here is what Paul said about real believers:

         For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. [Romans 2:28-29]

         And this is what the Lord said about those leaders who claim to be believers but are not:

         “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:24-28] [1]

         This sentiment, though directed to unbelieving Jews, can also be applied, and much more so, to unreal Christians, since there are so many millions of false Christians the world over who claim to believe and obey the Lord but do not.

         In the end, the Lord will have accomplished creating ONE worldwide unified body of believers. Until then, we must keep working with Him to gather and be gathered as He says to gather and be gathered. But we must not compromise on who the Lord wants us to be for the sake of gathering. We have millions of “churches” composed of people who gather together physically but are not unified in heart (see above quote from Matthew).

         The only real gatherings are those composed of real believers, like the gathering on Pentecost, for example. Each one of the 120 was right with God. They were diverse, of course, because diversity is the strength of unity. But each was right, and strong, and obedient. 99% of churches are not like this. So what is God doing? He continues to work to gather His people together, to eliminate prejudice, to end fearfulness, and to mature His people. And sometimes, He has to get downright angry because of the people who only want to mess things up and keep His people in bondage (see above quote from Matthew).

         The Lord is faithful, but all too often Christian prejudice against other Christians stymies His plans to gather His people together. One can be assured that the 120 on that original Day of Pentecost were composed of representatives of many different and very diverse groups. Their unity, therefore, had to be based on something much greater than that which unites most Christian groups and organizations.

         It was a gathering united by the Holy Spirit of Jesus.

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[1] Acts 9:10-20

[2] 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.

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WE’RE WINNING (Quit Listening to Liars)

December 16, 1773

         The Lord warned us. He repeatedly warned us. As the Old Testament Hebrew prophets repeatedly warned their nation, the Lord Jesus warns His people yet today. But most Americans remain asleep, deceived, and preoccupied about temporal things and non-spiritual matters. There is a lot of fear rising up in the nation but instead of addressing the causes of the fear head-on and properly, Americans continue to prefer lies and drugs to calm them down and zone them out.

         These times are unprecedented and are far, far worse than most people imagine. But the many who know the truth and are speaking the truth continue to be treated with supreme indifference and mockery. Because most Christians NEVER hear much of what Jesus taught from their lamestream American pulpits, even they have become generally duped about reality.

         For those who do the prudent thing and make some sort of an appeal to authority to seek out answers, they continually choose for the most part those who will never tell them the truth but tell them what they want to hear:

         “Everything is okay. It’s not that bad. Relax. There’s a few weird, zany people out there with different ideas. They are far out of the mainstream. Don’t let them upset you. Here, take this narcotic, it will make you feel better. Here, listen to the normal voices on television. They will make you feel safer. Go to church and feel the peace that comes from being in a normal (dead) environment. Watch out for the wackos.”

         From the standpoint of societal opinion two-thousand years ago, Jesus was a wacko.

         The “voices of reason” are telling you to disregard the real teachings of Jesus! They did the same thing to Him in His time. Great crowds followed Him until He began to get in more and more trouble with the political and religious authorities. Many then began drifting off. They left Him in droves. They betrayed Him. Why?

         Because they believed the lies. The believed the devil who continually disparaged His character. They had much more respect for their pastors and rulers. They could not and did not and would not see into the future. They didn’t believe His prophecies and warnings.

         Forty years later their nation was destroyed. FORTY YEARS. Their beloved Jerusalem was torn to pieces. The great and mighty Temple they could not live without and honored above God was torn down without a single stone left upon another. They were so used to going through the motions and believing lies they could not hear the voice of the Prophet. They chose this world rather than the next. They chose their present time rather than eternity. They chose the voices of lying jerks instead of the pure and honest voice of God. They had become programmed, just as many if not most Americans have become programmed. Most of the world has become programmed.

         There still remains only one cure. When this cure is applied, great change for the better results. Otherwise we get the same old same old same old same old—and the rich get richer. And the poor grow more numerous. And the American Middle Class is vanishing before our eyes. We have entered into the next step in which the government-corporate hybrid rules that much more in such a way that a return to the American dream is that much smaller in the rearview mirror. Very few have the gumption to do anything about it.

         We waste our time believing lying politicians and television pundits who already have the money and lifestyle they want. Most of them sold their soul to get where they are and will certainly never give up their money and position. Some of them dance all around the truth but know a big pink slip is waiting when they get out of line. Truth-tellers are smeared. Prophets are kicked out of churches. And no one is dissed more than the Lord Jesus, THE ONLY CURE.

         Want business as usual? Keep listening to the fakers and pretenders. Keep doing what they tell you. Step on your heart. Disobey your conscience. Raid the medicine cabinet. Curl up in a fetal ball, suck on your binky, and wait for the end. With a big dumb smile. Our authority figures have always been correct in the past, right? The Pharisees were right, right? And the Romans, boy, those Romans! They were always right. A bunch of good old boys. Big deal that they all conspired together and crucified the Lord of glory. Big deal that they unleashed wicked and evil persecution campaigns against the saints of God.

         The last tiny crumb remaining of Solomon’s mighty empire expired in 70 AD. The huge and powerful Roman Empire officially came to a dribbling end in 476 AD. And if Americans don’t wake up this country will soon join their ranks. Ask yourself how many godly men and women there are in places of power in Washington DC. How many of them are sold out to Jesus? How many American churches are sold out to Jesus? The reality is that He is being rejected more and more and in many more places than before. The fix might be in regarding the usual places of power, but NO ONE has a right to the inner place of your heart without your strict permission.

         The great news is that the Lord already knew what would happen here long ago and has been working on a plan behind the scenes. Even His own people did not know what He was up to, but remained obedient though their lives made little sense. They have already gone through horrendous times. Most importantly, they have allowed only the Lord Jesus to have the rule and honor and deepest place in their hearts. These real believers constitute millions all across and throughout the country. Their influence is everywhere, but it is a quiet though very strong and powerful servant influence. They comprise the influence of salt, light, and a strong back.

         They have a light in their eyes and a knowing smile that tells others they know a secret.

         On this day, the 238th anniversary of the original Boston Tea Party, they know that against all odds, when so much is against them, when time is running out, when defeat seems inevitable, when there is no possible way of victory according to the natural eye and human reason, something really cool will happen:

         WE WILL WIN THE BALLGAME. AND YOU CAN PUT IT IN THREE-INCH HEADLINES. WE WILL WIN THE BALLGAME. [1]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Coach Jimmy Johnson of the Dallas Cowboys uttered these bold words on a live call-in radio show prior to that weekend’s NFC championship game with San Francisco in January of 1994. Despite losing their starting quarterback to injury in the third quarter, the Cowboys won 38-21 and went on to win the Super Bowl for the second year in a row.