ďON EAGLESĒ WINGS MINISTRIESĒ
ďSee how I bare you on eaglesí wings and brought you unto myself.Ē Exodus 19:4
Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774
"The Marriage Supper of The Lamb." February 2011. Page 1.
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints." Revelation 19:7,8.
"For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." Isaiah 62:5. The two scripture passages to be considered in this study were written over 790 years apart, and the question that arise first and foremost is whether the two are connected in theme and substance. Are they referring to the same event?
The marriage supper of the Lamb has always been seen and understood as an event that will transpire up in heaven. I remember quite well how my mother used to explain to me that after the Rapture of the Church, as we enter heaven, we will be taken before the judgment seat of Christ, not to be judged for sin, but it will be the judgment of rewards, at which time each saint of God will get their reward for service rendered on earth throughout their long years of Christian service. From that event, we will then move on to the marriage supper of the Lamb. After a number of years in that heavenly bliss, Jesus Christ will gather us together to make his descent to earth, put an end to the tribulation and set up his throne in Jerusalem.
As a teenage lad, it never dawned upon me to question these views, and it certainly never dawned upon me that perhaps my mother could be wrong concerning these events. When I became a preacher of the gospel myself, I began to preach and teach those very concepts that I was taught by my mother and other Church leaders. It was not until 1968 that I was made to slow down and even back track to where it all began.
Among West Indian Churches in London, back in the 1960s, in order to get support to further the cause of each local Assembly, we conducted weekend meetings in which all the related Churches come together. This continued each weekend until each Church had its own meeting and the offerings that came in the baskets. What struck me in all of this, was the fact that these supporting ministers were each introduced as a great man of God who was doing a great work in his named district. But I began to marvel how it was that I never heard of these "great men of God" until that night in the service.
Deep in my spirit I felt that something was radically wrong with this picture. In simple terms, it was like baking a cake with the main ingredients missing, leaving a watered down product. I began falling off from attending these meetings and began spending more time alone to ponder the Word of God and to seek more of him in prayer. After a while he spoke to my heart saying, "The person that I will use in this 20th century must be able to stand where he is and reach over the top of everything, back to A.D.33 and to where the apostles left off; for everything in between is mixture, and there will be no mixture in my kingdom."
Let us consider the question of heaven from Godís own description when he created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 tells us that in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, but there was no detailed description of either, and if the biblical narrative had stopped there, we would still be guessing what heaven meant and what earth meant. But so as not to leave us totally confused God went on to breakdown these issues for a simpler understanding. "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament (but without any further explanation, weíd be asking, what is the firmament?) And divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters that were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day." Genesis 1: 6-8.
The Hebrew word for firmament is raw-keeí-ah and it means an expanse or the visible arch of the sky. While standing behind the lectern before I begin my sermon, if I ask the congregation what will you find awaiting you when you get to heaven, what do you think the answer would be? In other words, what are peopleís concept of heaven? Right off the bat, I would be told by some that they will finally see their mansions. Others would say that their golden slippers will be there along with their white robes. Others would be excited to finally be able to walk on "streets" of God, and to feel exuberance at the sight of the walls of jasper and the huge pearly gates.
Now, my Friend! Donít get excited and quit reading after the next few explanations, because as my practice is, I always offer scripture texts to underscore and substantiate every point that I interject into the lesson. Here are points to consider! Are there white robes hanging in a clothes closet awaiting our arrival? The bible says that the white, clean, fine linen upon the bride are the righteousness of the saints, and even right here, right now, God has "clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath coveted me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." Isaiah 61;10.
Are there streets of gold in heaven? "And the STREET (just ONE STREET) was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." Revelation 21:21b. Is this gold the same as that which we humans know and handle and buy at exorbitant prices? Peter warned us this way; "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and GOLD, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1st Peter 1:18a, 19.
If the bible classified gold as a corruptible commodity, why would God use this object of ill repute to pave the main street in heavenís most glorious city? When we put the facts together, we are left with two prominent factors to consider. First of all, gold as we know it is corruptible. Secondly, natural gold stocked high in Fort Knox is not transparent. When we stop thinking naturally, like natural men, we will conclude that John wrote of highly spiritual truths that are to be understood in the realm of the Spirit.
But why is there only ONE street? The city is 1500 miles four ways like a cube. It is like traveling from New York City to about 52 miles east of Dallas, Texas, and yet it has only one street. Is there any hint given to us in the Old Testament? I think an ancient prophet saw this same highway and wrote about it in vivid details. His narrative is one that over the years has become the highlight of some of my sermons, that propels me to the outer edges of the celestial realm. The prophet was shown the Church of Jesus Christ in resplendent beauty.
This narrative is so profoundly spiritual and vibrant with divine life that it is hard for me to condense the message into just a couple of verses; I am compelled to offer the complete picture.
"Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those, the wayfaring men, though fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isaiah 35: 4-10.
Since out of the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established, and God never leaves himself without a witness, John on the Isle of Patmos wrote: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4. Thank you Jesus! Ladies and gentlemen, lift up your gates, and be ye lifted up ye everlasting door and let the King of glory come in. Rejoice in the day that we are living in, for indeed there shall be no more death, when we enter the time set aside for Godís word to come to fruition.
As a matter of practice, when we write and teach about not dying, and having embraced the truth that our covenant with death has been broken, some folks take issue with it, as perhaps they would rather die than live. But as I like to say over and over in these writings, whether we believe or not does not alter one iota of what God has done and is continuing to do. Over my many years in this path, I find it to be more prosperous and justified to side with God, than to be stuck in the court of public opinion embracing the traditions of the elders.
It is clear then, that both John and Isaiah mirrored and highlighted the same truths. The single street that John saw running down the middle of the city, symbolized the single, straight and narrow walk of the true child of God. Man in his vain thinking composed songs about us walking on "streets of gold" not be informed of the spiritual reality behind the images that John saw. This gold mentioned by John was transparent as glass; unlike any gold any where in the world. Gold speaks of a thing of value that will outlast other forms of currencies. At the time of this writing (December 27, 2010) an once of gold is selling for $1,131.25. That is not chicken feed as the saying goes. But Johnís gold reflects an object of greatest value; yet it is transparent in that the steps, character, and life of the child of God must be transparent, or one that we can see through, with nothing to hide. Paulís contribution goes like this: "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men." 2nd Corinthians 3: 2: Everything about us as the children of God should be like an open book, and wether or not we believe this, I used to say in live meetings, sinners do not read the bible as much as they read us. As a city set on a hill, we cannot be hid therefore we must believe that we are transparent and others should see his righteousness, for the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:18. Our light should shine before men as a guiding light. We are yet to discuss the marriage of the Lamb! But so as to get our thoughts set on actual truths, and to build a solid foundation for the bulk of our study, it is necessary for me to enlarge upon the concept of heaven as perceived and understood by multitudes across the globe. We mentioned streets of gold, white robes, pearly gates and walls of jasper; all of which are major fixtures in heaven that multitudes hope to see when they get there. But there is much more for us to list. John also mentioned sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, and amethyst. John also told us of a river of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. We read of the tree of life on either side of the river that bore twelve manner of fruits, and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.
Beloved hearts all of this splendor and mystique are relegated to heaven by the entire Christian world. These things are what earnest, devoted Christians hope to see when they get to heaven. But what exactly did John describe so vividly to us? Was it a place called heaven to which we must go to inherit or was this a description of some thing else? Listen to John again! "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14.
All that you and I may read through Revelation 21 and 22, the sum total of our findings is that the real object is the "CITY" and the city is not heaven. The city with all that we have just described and itemized for clarity is not heaven, because it came down to earth out of heaven. If we understand this, we will also understand the truth about the marriage supper of the Lamb. At this juncture I want to reiterate what I have been saying from time to time; the bible answers its own questions if we would simply take time and put in some effort to search for the truth. Unfortunately, we are content to sit on our lees and digest the traditions and half truths that are being fed to us day after day. Still, I cannot blame others because people can only walk in the light they have; but we sell ourselves short when we settle for a mere drop on the bucket.
Revelation 21 and 22 speak of a city that cannot be specifically called heaven; so let us view the city once more. "And I John saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Let us mark essential points as we go along. This city looked like a woman who is about to be married and she is adorned for the occasion. But what was her destination all dressed up for her wedding?
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them (he is coming to dwell with us and not the other way round) and they shall be his people, and God HIMSELF SHALL BE WITH THEM (and where is this going to be? On earth where the city already came down to) and be their God." Revelation 21:1-3. Here are a few major points to consider. John saw the city as it came down to earth from God out of heaven. John saw this event as it happened, and not an event slated to occur some decades or centuries in the future. Secondly, John saw the city adorned as a woman all dressed and prepared to be married. Last of all, John announced that the tabernacle of God (where he dwells) is with men, and God himself shall dwell with men. What part of these truths you donít understand? What part of these truths puts us on a trip up to heaven to meet God "UP THERE?" Listen folks! Let us get this settled in our mind and in our spirit! The only time we go up, is to MEET him in the air as he descends to earth, just as the guests went out to meet the bridegroom in Matt.25. To escort him back to where the wedding will convene. To "meet" is different from "to join."
Can you remember what I said my mother told me when I was a teenager? After the Rapture, we go before the throne of Christ in what is deemed to be "the judgment of rewards" to be followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb. Since we are anticipating a wedding let us look in on John another time. "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lambís wife. We cannot miss this because we are offered doubled emphasis. We are being shown the Lambís wife,Ėotherwise known as the BRIDE.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great CITY the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and the names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel." Revelation 21:9-12.
So in the opening scene of this chapter, John saw the new Jerusalem as a city, but it was adorned as a bride prepared to meet the bridegroom on her wedding day. He saw it coming down to earth accompanied by God himself, who came down with the city to dwell with mem. My Friend, it is not brother Kennedy saying this off the top of my head. Take your bible and read it for yourself and if you donít believe me, try and believe what your own bible says.
Here we have a city dressed up like a woman, and in the same chapter when John was to be shown a woman, the Lambís wife, he was shown a great city, the holy Jerusalem. So then, how many cities God has? "But ye are come unto mount Sion (Zion) and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." Hebrews 12:22-24. Notice that the CITY is the church of the first born, or the church of Jesus Christ, him being the first born among many brethren.
The interpretation "God with us" stands predominantly to this day and Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of this world." Here is Godís own account! "If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. For the Lord hath chosen Zion; for he hath desired it for his habitation. (where he lives) This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; (remember that God himself shall dwell among us as John wrote) for I have desired it." Psalm 132:12-14.
"And Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode (tabernacled) with him." John 14:23.
"As God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 2nd Corinthians 6:16b. Let us not forget that Jesus himself said: "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Revelation 21:12. Paul offered us a glimpse of the final chapter in our earthly life as it now is. "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2nd Timothy 4:8. The New English Bible translation puts it this way: "And now the prize awaits me, the garland of righteousness which the Lord, the all-just Judge, will reward me on that great day; and it is not for me alone, but for all who have set their hearts on his coming appearance."
The bottom line is simple: Since he is bringing our reward with him, there is absolutely no need for us to go up to collect it. Moreover he described the process as paying every man according to his work, meaning both good and bad are included. If you work for me and we plan to meet at the train station, and I told in advance that I am coming to meet you at the station and I am bringing your check with me; when we meet at the station, am I expected to bring you back to my house or office to collect your check? Understand that I am not trying to alter your philosophy in any way. The thoughts I express are for personal contemplation and scrutiny. It is my way of trying to stir up your pure mind. Contrast is the thing that add diversity to life and to society at large.
If we do not challenge our mind, it is likely to go to sleep, and perhaps many in Christendom posses a mind that has gone to sleep because it has never been challenged on spiritual matters, and on the faith that was once delivered to the saints. The following account is not meant to put a halo around my head, nor garlands around my neck; it is meant only to clarify a point, so I offer it with humility and seek to give God the glory. Some time in the early 1970s while serving as pastor and a traveling evangelist, I went to Toledo, Ohio, to conduct a week of special services. About the third or fourth morning, the host pastor and I went for breakfast at the local I H O P (International Pancake House). While conversing the pastor said; "Elder, of all the ministries that came to this Church, you have been a blessing to my wife more than any other. You see, my wife is an intellectual, teaching school, and your ministry causes her to think."
It is nothing that I contrived for myself. I grew up in the old school like many of my contemporaries; but somewhere along the way, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "I donít want you to be a copy cat preacher. Do not repeat everything you hear. Check the source and if the source is wrong , throw everything out, for all is wrong. With that mindset, I refuse to teach and preach what people want to hear to make them feel good. If what I share is not potent enough, vibrant enough, and does not contain elements for personal growth in Christ, I will sit myself down and be quiet. Some biblical truths require the spirit of revelation to open the eyes of our understanding, while others require only that we use some common sense. It seems logical to me that if Jesus said he is coming and he is bringing his reward with him to pay every man, I must conclude that in such case, all I need to do is to wait until he arrives and I get in line to receive my reward.
Others are bent on going up to heaven to collect it, and all the time they have mistaken the New Jerusalem, the Bride, the Church, to be heaven; choosing rather to think like natural men, equating the spiritual with the natural and the two shall never meet or co-exist. It is so easy to be breast-fed and go right back to sleep, which I believe many Christians do expertly, because they have no room for increased knowledge. They bask in the sensations of lullabies and so called "bedtime stories" like a child rocking in the cradle. Here is my conclusion! It doesnít matter one iota where or when I receive my reward, because it is not the main incentive that keeps me in the vineyard.
He did say to some, work and whatever is right I will give it to you; so the pay is not the issue; rather, it is my stewardship, my solemn obligation as a worker "together with him" to finish the task. We are told in Revelation 19:7, 8, that the marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife hath made herself ready. She is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, which reflects the righteousness of the saints. There are only two major players involved in this scenario; one is the Lamb and the other is the Bride, which is the Church. But in order to further stir up your spiritual mind, let me pose a question to you. Is the bridegroom going to be the man Christ Jesus as an individual, or will there be a bridegroom company? Suppose we take the popular and well accepted view that indeed Jesus will be the bridegroom? We will then have to figure out how the Bride, the Church, consisting of millions upon millions of people will stand beside the GroomĖJesus Christ, perhaps to repeat the wedding vows ministered either by the Father or by the Holy Spirit, or the four and twenty elders. My address and my email are at the top of this lesson, so do me a favor. Figure out in a practical way and supported by scripture, how millions of people being the makeup of the Bride will actually marry the man Jesus.
It is amazing how we look at earthly things and the way earthly people do things and eagerly equate them with spiritual things. And guess what? When we do that, we end up being wrong every time. Here is another point to consider! The average believer numbering millions are looking up right now for a ride up to heaven where it is supposed the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place. However, in the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus said at midnight a cry was made; "Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Does that sound like the Rapture taking off for heaven loaded with the wise virgins? Letís see what happens next!
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord open to us. But he answered (from within the building where the marriage is taking place) and said, Verily I say unto you, I know yo not." Matthew 25: 1-12. We do not need the Holy Spirit to understand that the virgins that were ready were not taken to heaven; and if it were so, how could the other virgins after buying oil return to knock on the door, seeking entrance, and how could the bridegroom answer from within saying depart? It is because he came for his wedding and as the custom was, all the guests were gathered where the ceremony would convene. As the bridegroom approached the sergeant of arms announced his arrival and all the guests went out to meet him and escorted him to the place where the wedding is to convene. When we are told that as he descends from heaven we are caught up to meet him, and another writer said he comes with ten thousands of his saints. Could it be the wedding guests who are waiting for the bridegroom to appear, who are now seen escorting him back to earth for the marriage ceremony? And remember that the guests are not the bride! Donít you agree that this is an interesting scenario? And donít you agree that this concept flies in the face of what weíve been taught over the many decades and even centuries of Christian education?
As we reflect upon this marriage, we are taken back to this announcement: "But thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." Isaiah 62: 4,5. In the natural, this sort of relationship is called incest and the closest we come to this in scripture, is Abraham marrying Sarah; but in fact she was his half sister and that was permissible back in those days. Thy sons marrying thee, seems to suggest that the bridegroom, is actually a bridegroom company of sons that came out of this mother after all. At conception every embryo is a female and the father later determines the sex of the child. So as many as "received him" to them gave he power to "become" the sons of God.
The mother is the Church and the Father is God. What we receive is the "creative word" that causes us to shed one image for another. It was that creative word (sperm) from the Father that impregnated Mary, producing the baby Jesus nine months later. So it is okay for a son to look like his mother (the Church) but he must act like his father, and our only father as taught by Jesus himself, is our heavenly Father, and the word Father really means starter. It is no wonder that Jesus said, Call no man father upon this earth. Our true Father is God whose life we possess.
"The marriage Supper of the Lamb" part 2. March 2011. Page 1.
We started our earthly sojourn by the will and action of our Father, and shed the characteristics of our mother. The problem that Ishmael encountered was the fact that he had the correct father; a man of faith representing principles and symbolisms that God intended us to learn. But he had the wrong mother, who was a bond woman from Egypt, that speaks of bondage. In truth, the lad was only half free, having the right father but the wrong mother. So it is today in the religious orders with which we are familiar. The Church, our mother, as we know it today, represents bondage and for the most part, salvation by works. Our heavenly Father by taking part in our second birth, having received him, or his Seed, we are become the sons of God. This concept takes us several rungs higher than what Jude called "the common salvation."
As we continue to ponder the dynamics of the forthcoming marriage supper of the Lamb, we are reminded of the time away back in A. D. 33, when Jesus gathered with his disciples to share supper with them, on the eve of his departure from his earthly ministry. Serving as his departing words, Jesus said: "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new (or in a new form) with you in my Fatherís kingdom." Matthew 26:29. Mark was just as focused as Matthew was. He wrote: "Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Mark 14:25. Luke framed his account a little differently accounting for both eating and drinking. "For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come." Luke 22:16,18.
Emphasis is placed squarely upon the term "kingdom of God." This leads to the question, "what is the kingdom of God?" Jesus seemed to have placed much emphasis upon this concept. Even the parable of the ten virgins that we shared in last monthís study begins like this: "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins." It should be noted that the terms kingdom of God, and kingdom of heaven are used interchangeably in spite of the fact that many scholars of scripture willingly put a difference between them.
We need only two biblical accounts to settle this issue. We learn that as Jesus began his ministry after that John was put in prison, "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe the gospel." Mark 1:14,15. But here is Matthewís account of the same facts: "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say. Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.." Matthew 4: 17. Let us cite a couple more examples for good measure. "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 10: 7. "And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." Luke 10:9.
What conclusion can we honestly come to, without any sort of fasting and prayer, and consulting with the bishop or Church Mother? It stands to reason that if there was a difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven, both Jesus and the disciples he sent to preach were preaching the coming of two different kingdoms at the same time.
That belief is on sinking sand with no sure foundation under it. I have heard it said by some that the kingdom of God refers to us on the lower or more subjective plane, being ruled over, and the kingdom of heaven represents the realm of Spirit, Godís throne from which he rules.
Good reasoning if I may say so, from the perspective of the natural man; but the scriptures that I just offered blend in unison with no hint of discord whatsoever. Our next task at hand is to consider that Jesus promised to drink the fruit of the vine in a new form in the kingdom of God. It is not a long stretch in saying that many take those words to mean the marriage supper of the Lamb up in heaven, after the Rapture of the Church.
The main difficulty we have with that belief, is that Jesus promised to drink it new in the kingdom of God, long after he began preaching that the kingdom was at hand; and also that the kingdom of God is within you. The term "at hand" could not mean two thousand years in the future from when he spoke. If that were so, Jesus would have used terms such "in that day or at that time." First of all, we need to determine what the kingdom of God is, not forgetting that Jesus said it is in us.
We learn a bit from Paul about this truth: "For the kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink: (this rules out the idea that Jesus planned to come again, and we will actually be drinking wine and grape juice. No dining around the throne.) But righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Romans 14:17. And again: "For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." 1st Corinthians 4:20. What happened on the day of Pentecost shortly after the Holy Ghost fell in the upper room and the hundred and twenty souls were set on fire from heaven? As Jerusalem was taken by storm, some wondered, "What meaneth this?" "Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine." Acts 2:12,13. Isnít it a little prophetic that the people should suggest that the disciples were full of new wine?
Can you imagine why the conclusion the people came to, was that the men were full of new wine? Does that term sound familiar to you? Remember that Jesus had said he would drink the fruit of the vine new, or in a new form in the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God "is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." What we have presented here, is the biblical account of what the kingdom of God consists of. The power of the Kingdom, as conveyed on the wings of the Spirit did not empower man until the day of Pentecost. When Jesus sent the seventy out to preach, he empowered them to get the job done, but they did not possess the Holy Spirit for he was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Listen to the following proof!
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (Donít get confusedĖhere is the explanation) But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified." John 7:37-39.
Speaking of himself in the "second person" he affirmed that he, as the Spirit of truth dwelt with them, but shall be IN THEM. "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you (speaking of himself in the present tense) and shall be in you." John 14:17. Prior to the Pentecost experience, Jesus Christ as a man, could not indwell us. After the infilling of the Holy Spirit, Paul labeled the experience, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1: 27. The gospel narrative, and indeed the entire Bible is about spiritual realities, even when weak, natural, and mundane things are incorporated in the texts. But our early teachers and even the Church today wrongfully equates the spiritual, with the natural.
As we said before, Christians the world over think of the New Jerusalem as heaven, whereas John saw it as a city descending to earth. Early song writers utilizing what truth or understanding they had, wrote songs like: "He the pearly gates will open, so that I may enter in." But the entry is not into a place called heaven, it is an entry into the redeemed family of God right here on earth. John said there are twelve gates to the city and each gate was made of a single pearl. These gates based upon the City of Jerusalem and other eastern cities were huge, and hanging on hinges that allowed them to swing open at daybreak, and to close after sunset or some other hour after dark. In fact, within that large gate is fitted a smaller one called the needle eye gate, use for people and smaller objects that does not require the larger gate to be opened.The height and width of these main gates were enough to allow passage of people, camels, and even vehicles on wheels. Let us conservatively say that the height was t10 feet, and the width was 7 feet. Yet each gate was made from a single pearl that had to be 10 feet by 7 feet. What picture do you conjure up in your mind when you sing about the pearly gates will swing open?
The largest pearl in the world is called the "Pearl of Lao Tzu" and it weighs 14.1 lbs. It is believed that the shell of the oyster that produced this pearl was large enough for local churches to use it for infant baptisms. But a 14.1 lbs. pearl does not come close to the pearl of which each gate to the city is made. Why is the gates made of pearl? It was not for beauty or priceless value. It is because a pearl is created under enormous pressure in the stomach of the oyster. Paul puts it this way: "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Acts 14: 22. The path that leads into the kingdom is marked with intense suffering, so John was not presenting the gates as master pieces of ceramic or China art work. The city had four sides and on each side there were three gates; meaning that from whatever side one enters they must do so through suffering.
Even the precious stone, gems and rubies mentioned by John are perfected under the same conditions. The harder the pressure, the more precious stones will sparkle. John gave us a brief summation of the measuring of the city. "And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel." Revelation 21:17. But the angel in question was not an angelic being as we usually understand angels to be. "And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God." Revelation 22:8,9.
Some years ago, on one of my cross-county drive from California back to Virginia, I stopped for meetings in Phoenix, Arizona. A friend and brother of the late Franklin Hall took me out to Apache Junction to see a gold processing plant. The ore containing gold particles is carried on conveyor belts stretching all the way from the mountain side into the processing plant. I was shown that gold has to be processed three times at different temperature levels. It is placed in the first furnace at a set temperature, and certain amount of non-gold elements are taken out. It enters a second furnace at a higher temperature, and again more sediments are filtered out; but the pure gold is not produced until after it goes through the third and final furnace.
My Dear Friend, think back on your years of walking with God. Were there not times when you came out of difficult trials and felt that having come through, you will then find peace and ease, much like taking a breather? But before long the next set of trials are even more trying and challenging, and the thought that comes to mind is that "to whom much is given, much is required." It is like moving up the scale from high school to college and to university. Instead of rushing off to heaven to look upon gold and precious stones, know and understand that the picture is about us, the children of the kingdom; the city itself is the Church of the living God, and the Church is not a building made with hands; it is a body of believers redeemed by the blood of Christ, buried in the likeness of his death, raised up together with him, and we are made to sit with him in heavenly places. The city is the Church, and the bridegroom came to earth to enact the wedding ceremony as we outlined before. The next thought for us to consider comes to us this way: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, (no saints mentioned here) then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory (right here upon the earth) And before him shall be gathered all nations: (the good, the bad, and the indifferent) and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep, on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:31-34,41.
When I was a small child in school, learning about London, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and the Queen riding in a golden carriage, in my mind I created a picture of heavenly things that embodied ceratin amount of mystique. When I actually saw the palace and the Queen leaving and entering the palace, I was disappointed because what I saw did not correspond with what I held in my imagination. Supposed we unwind this lesson the way it was written? Let us picture Jesus coming to earth as a man, even though he would still possess a glorified body. If he came to earth in a physical body to sit upon a literal throne, he would be restricted to time and space like any one of us.
Let us also assume that indeed all the nations of the world must gather before him, this would inevitably create some insurmountable difficulties in what we call "logistics." Currently, the population of the United States stands at 310,551,284, not to mention about 12 million classified as "undocumented." As such, they live in the shadows and are not counted. The world population stands at 6,890,352,166. These numbers likely do not include nomads who move from place to place to find food and water, and grass for their livestock. They wander across regions of the Sarah Desert, Magnolia, and several parts of Africa. Then there are those in the Amazon Rain Forest and New Guinea who never saw modern man and has no contact with the outside world. The million dollar question is, "what single land mass can we find to put this massive amount of people?"
Since Jerusalem is featured to be the hub of all future religious activities upon the return of Christ let us assume that to fit this enormous number of people, we would have to include all of Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. But if we did manage to fit the people in, how would Jesus physically go about dividing the sheep on one hand and the goats on the other? And how many months or years would it require to get the job done? If we think on this with our five senses we are left in a quandary, and totally mystified. Here is another impossible task but imagined and believed by many.
The standard belief is that one day we shall all stand before a literal throne upon which Jesus will be seated. Then each of us must approach the judgment seat and give an account for all the deeds that transpired in our lives. The language as it is written seems that each person will have to offer a credible and thorough account of all of lifeís actions. As of this writing, it is estimated that there are 2.1 billion Christians worldwide. If every person spends thirty minutes before the throne turning in his or her report, how many years would that take for every one to go through the line? Actually, the saints shall judge the world, and judgment begins at the house of God. 1st Corinthians 6:2; 1st Peter 4:17. We cannot equate spiritual realities with natural, mundane things, for both will never meet or co-exist. God uses things that we can understand and identify with to convey his truths, but if we see the symbols as the substance, we have missed the true message and have erred. If we are to focus more on difficult symbolisms we must understand the language of scripture and get to the substance rather than images. The prevailing belief possibly among all Pentecostal and Full Gospel and Evangelical believers is that God has to Rapture his Church and take them to heaven so that he can destroy the earth and cast sinners into an ever burning hell. They cite the case of Lot departing Sodom, and the same day that he left, God rained down fire and brimstone upon the city.
But what is fundamentally wrong with the prevailing belief that God has to take his people out of the earth to a place of safety? And if there is such a place of safety, is it heaven? Many Christian authors have made millions selling their books about the fate of those left behind, and the Rapture that has come to resemble a vehicle that will descend from heaven on which multitudes of Christian will ride back to heaven.
Peter has chronicled for us some vital information on what will actually happen in its due time. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens (no matter how many there are) shall pas away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." 2nd Peter 3: 10,13. Here is the rational!
If the current heavens and earth are going to be destroyed seemingly as a single event, although we look for new ones, where will the saints be during the transition period. One has to give way to the other, and that period is the sticking point. Here is another event for us to consider in our quest for truth! John wrote in vivid details the images he saw, not understanding them himself. There were times when he asked the accompanying angel to explain the meaning.
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." So then, heaven and earth and all that they possessed have disappeared and cannot be found. They simply left no trail for any one to follow, and as we would say, they disappeared in thin air. ADIOS! GOODBYE! But after this scene, John saw more and wrote about it. "And I saw the dead small and great stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the books, according to their works." Revelation 20:11,12.
Again, if we are to unravel the true meaning to all of this as natural, educated, five senses thinkers, we will surely end up like a crashed vehicle by the side of the road. If heaven and earth fled away in so much that they cannot be found, where are all these multitudes of people standing to be judged?
And another thing! Do you really believe that Christ is going to sit on a throne holding two books which he will open and proceed to read event entry pertaining to every person standing before him?
It is like dividing the sheep from the goats among trillions of people that are supposed to be gathered before him. All of these things are confusing and utterly unexplainable when seen and understood by our five senses. The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God, because they are foolishness to him. Consider the dynamics involved here for a moment of reflection. God is taking all of his saints out of the earth, to safely tucked away in a place called heaven. But alas! He turns around only to notice that both heaven and earth and even the elements are on fire. Here is another record of cataclysmic events as shown to John. "And the stars from heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Revelation 6:13,14. Ah! Yes! Heaven as seen here, was rolled up like a scroll! Donít you think that we need to re-examine our entire set of beliefs that have outgrown their usefulness? I think we do!
As we have patiently shown, case after case mirrored in the written word, events simply cannot unfold or come to fruition the way they were written. When ever a biblical account is seen as impossible, as defying logic, it simply means that we have to turn to the miraculous, or to some other spiritual meaning. Paul said when he was a child, he spoke like a child and he thought like a child. But when he became a man, he put away childish things. It would seem to me that there are an abundant amount of "children" among Godís people who are like kids on Christmas morning rushing to open their gifts under the Christmas tree. We see crowds of them at the shopping mall, lining up for a chance to sit on Santaís lap.
Paul indicated that in malice we should be children (they donít keep malice) but in understanding we should be men or grown ups. The Church in many cases has become like ancient Israel who clamored for a live, human king who could lead them into battle like other nations; or like Thomas who said he would not believe until he can touch and handle the nail prints in the hands of Christ. Many Christians see Jesus as "Big Brother" who is going to touch down in Jerusalem one day, and from thence he is going to defeat the devil, rub out and totally destroy the anti-Christ, and put an end to all wars and conflicts. But that is thinking like the natural man who has not the slightest understanding of Spiritual truths. Jesus already conquered and has put all things under his feet.
As we mentioned before, a son marrying his mother is a gross case of incest, a case that has not been catalogued in scripture as acceptable to God. But the prophet Isaiah announced that "thy sons shall marry thee" which causes us to look to a more defined spiritual reality. When a man marries a wife, he becomes the primary provider for that woman. Under normal circumstances as they used to be in bygone days, she would stay home, bear children and always be present to see to the needs within the confines of home and family. Husbands became "bread winners" and were the ones to "bring home the bacon."
By the same token, if a son marries his mother (according to the prophet Isaiah) he would become the caretaker, protector, and sole provider for her well being. Let us see if we are left only to speculate, or we are given enough leads, enough information scattered about in scripture from which we are able to paint a candid picture of the truth, that is reserved only for those who are keen and sharp in the things of the Spirit. Remember that when it comes to divine matters, things are not always the way they appear or seemed to be. Suppose we actually discover that the bridegroom is not Jesus as a man or an individual, but rather a company of sons who, by receiving the Fatherís seed have received power (the dunamis of God) to become sons of God. This simply means that these upgraded people now called sons, were not always sons. (They became sons.)
Let us remind ourselves of what transpire in the natural. At the time of pregnancy, every embryo is a female. For instance the female has between 30 and 60 counts of testosterone, compared to between 300 and 600 counts in the male. It is the input or intervention by the father that will change the testosterone count and determine the sex of the child. Now, let us assume that we were all conceived as female in the womb of our mother, the Church. "But as many as received Him to them gave he power (his seed) to become the sons of God." John 1:12. It is the same as saying that man "became a living soul" meaning that he was not always a living soul. The day became extremely dark, means that it was not always dark. It requires an existing object to become a different object. Here is an excerpt from the teachings of Christ that we read through in a hurry and missed the significance of the truth embodied therein, because of its simplicity and the frequency of such normal occurrences in everyday life that no one is alarmed or made to take a second look at the implications.
"A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." John 16:21. Is there any specific reason why Jesus said a man and not a woman, or a boy and not a girl? Is it common place for a man to be born? First of all, Adam was not born as a baby. When he left the Fatherís hands and placed in the garden, he was a fully grown man. We are given a hint in this grand scenario. Let us bear in mind that in these matters, God does not exempt or over look a single iota, no matter how minute or insignificant it may seem to us.
Referring to Zion (the Church) we read: "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." Isaiah 66: 7,8. Here is Isaiah, as a prophet, foretelling the exact theme that Jesus endorsed and used in his teaching some 698 years later.
In Revelation 12, we are shown a sun-clothed woman, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. Like Zion, she was in travail and in pain to give birth. "And she brought forth a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne." Revelation 12:1-5. At this juncture we are quickly reminded of what Jesus said to John for him to write in his book. "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father." Revelation 2:26,27.
We are told, NOW, the Lord is that Spirit! 2nd Corinthians 3:17 and it is as the Spirit that Christ can indwell millions upon millions of his saints at the same time. Here is how Paul described Christ as a person. "For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." 1 Corinthians 12:12. Paul did not say, so also is Christianity, or religion, or Church membership, rather, so also is Christ. He is now a many membered Body.
On the Damascus Road, Saul was asked, "Why persecutest thou me?" Saul asked, "Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest ." I am Jesus! Yes indeed! But the man Saul was on his way to capture, bind in chains and bring back to Jerusalem, as many Christians as he could find. But Jesus said in essence, when you persecute them you are persecuting me. Why? Because Christ is now a collective Body of many believers. In fact, this same Saul, who was now the apostle Paul enlarged the issue by saying: "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." Ephesians 5:30. We cannot describe oneness with another any closer or more realistic than this. As we offer more and more scriptures, we should be getting much closer to understanding how the bridegroom can actually be a "company" and not a person. If we frame the issue this way, we can quickly see what it means to say, "Thy sons shall marry thee" and it does not amount to the crime of incest.
The sons as "female embryos" were in the womb of their mother, the Church; but as many as received him (the seed from the Father) to them gave he power to become the sons of God, and before Zion (our mother) travailed, she brought forth her children and she brought forth a "man child." One that needs no cradle or milk or nurse to clean and cuddle the little fellow. The man child company has reached maturity a long time ago and is being set in place ,and in order, to participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb. Let us not sleep as do others. Let us put on our wedding attire! Let us get into a festive mood and begin to celebrate for the supper is at hand and the bride has made herself ready. The man child came out of the mother, but they possess and display the attributes of the Father. Look like your mother if you wish, but please act like your Father and to his glory.
Royce O. Kennedy