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“The primary primitive Christian confession was not of Jesus as Savior but of Jesus as Lord. ‘If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” [Rom. 10.9]. This is more than a confession that Jesus is my Lord. It is first a theological confession that I recognize that God has exalted Jesus to the status of Lord. He is the Lord; he has been exalted to God’s right hand. Therefore, I make him my Lord by bowing to his sovereignty….The same truth is clearly set forth in Peter’s Pentecost address which he concludes with the statement, ‘Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” [Acts 2.36]. Taken out of context, this verse might mean that Jesus became Lord and Christ at his exaltation. However, Acts 3.18 makes it clear that it was as the Christ that Jesus endured his sufferings…Christ means ‘anointed one’ and refers to his role as the anointed Davidic King. Lord is a religious word meaning absolute sovereign….In his session Jesus has been made Lord. He has also begun his reign as the Messianic Davidic King. He has entered upon his reign as Lord and Christ.”
George Eldon Ladd
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The death of neutrality
In spite of poverty, crime and illiteracy, in spite of the decay of education and the increase of war, many living in comfort and safety envision mankind evolving toward ever higher planes of consciousness until we attain a level called by some, “Christ consciousness,” where Christ is not so much person as principal. It is expected that participation in this principle will reveal us to ourselves as gods. Such is the dream of Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin and his “ascent” of man to what he calls the “Omega Point.” Such also is the dream of the Transhumanists, although they are wise enough to have lost patience with evolution and are banking on the more hasty processes of bioengineering and nanotechnology to craft their perfection.
But the path of a man to the Christ of history is not a scramble up the stairway of consciousness. It is rather the collision of the consciousness of the human person with the being and consciousness of the divine person, Yeshua of Nazareth. He is the one who has informed us that he himself is the origin of God’s creation, the Logos, in whom all things find their beginning. Yeshua, having lived and died as a man, is now resurrected and seated in full authority over all of history, seated at the right hand of the God of all worlds. Seated also, by his Spirit, in the hearts of his subjects.
Late in the first century A.D. Yeshua, from the throne of heaven, revealed to his disciple, John, prophetic messages pertaining to the end of this era. What these messages foresaw was not an Omega Point but rather a Point of Frenzy in which mankind will no longer have the luxury of neutrality and will be forcefully divided into two groups – those who enlist in the agenda of the world mind and those who refuse and stand on their own.
Globalism, ecumenism, and war are spreading at such a pace that we who reject the reach of the world mind must take extra care to encourage each other to prepare our hearts, to be fully awake, and to be ready at all times to stand in the truth. Those of us who merely acknowledge God will not survive. We must be bound to our God. We must own life as sacrifice, life given to God as Yeshua swore himself on our behalf and gave his life for us. We must be bound in the knowledge that our hope lies with Him alone:
“Be faithful though you have to die for it, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Compromise and dissent: the “Christian Empire” dilemma
Under the Roman emperor Diocletian there was a grim manhunt and a long persecution of all who refused to acknowledge the emperor’s claim to absolute authority over the lives of his subjects – persecution of those who, in the face of his royal prerogative, yet dared to brand themselves with the seditious claim, “Yeshua is my royal lord and sovereign king.” They further brought offense by claiming loyalty to certain sacred Scriptures as having authority above all other writings and traditions.
Thousands of followers of Yeshua were killed, preferring to stand with their king, even in the loss of every earthly possession and enjoyment, even in the loss of life itself. Many others, however, yielded to the demands of the emperor and were able to see their bodies spared. Some even aided Diocletian in his persecutions by revealing the identities of fellow worshippers and by rendering to the enemy copies of the contested Scriptures. Such people were infamously known as traditores, “those who turn things in.”
Then, in a change of imperial rule, Rome was transformed. Under the emperor Constantine, faith in Yeshua – carefully refurbished as faith in a more Gentile and global Jesus – became the very faith of the realm. Constantine, wisest of politicians, saw something exceptional in the “Christian” traditores: that they understood the supreme importance of personal faith bending before imperial power. Therefore Constantine saw to it that large numbers of the bishops of his new Roman church were chosen from the ranks of the traditores. So began the long marriage, or at very least détente, between ecclesiastical power and temporal power. So began the contempt of the Catholic church for the supremacy and intimacy of the relationship between a man and his God.
In response to this installation of traitors in positions of authority over the faithful, many believers rose in protest, setting themselves apart, asserting that it could not possibly be God’s will that they be shepherded by men with the character to betray the Scriptures and the lives of their brothers. The new Roman theologians responded that, in any official capacity, the authority of an official of the church is not compromised by his personal idiosyncrasies or shortcomings. Roman power then hunted down the dissenting purists and drove them either to their deaths or to the fringes of society.
So rose to currency the enduring adage: “Do not try to be holier than the church!”
The wayward maiden matures into the global harlot.
Today Rome maintains that ancient role, orchestrating the ambitions of her cardinals with the ambitions of kings. Rome, over time, resembles that cleverly constructed doll, which, by a few convolutions of her garments, reveals the ability to enact all the characters of a story. In one time she is a mighty ecclesiastical institution with far reaching but concealed tentacles of temporal power. In another time she appears to be a small temporal kingdom, while under her royal robes spread invisible cords of ecclesiastical power. Rome assumes many forms, and yet she remains Imperial Rome.
Today she plays the part of the ecclesiast in disarray, shepherded by a diminutive Pope in white cassock, her temporal power but a handful of Swiss guards inside the Vatican. In reality, however, she owns the treasure of centuries; owns controlling interest in banks; maintains universities and costly scientific enterprises; holds endless real estate, monasteries, vineyards, and distilleries; fields an army of priests and Jesuits in the hundreds of thousands – while the kings and lords of nations rarely deny their kiss of obeisance upon the papal ring. The leaders of the world dare not separate themselves from Rome and hope to retain power.
The Pope, meanwhile, positions himself to be the great ecumenical mediator of the religions of the world. John Paul II gathered the bishops and gurus and shamans of all religions at Assisi and had each one place his peculiar deity upon the Catholic altar, each to receive honor and glory in the blasphemy of ecumenical “godliness.” The Popes equally have plied their trade with Shimon Peres and the Zionists in order to consolidate Roman power in Jerusalem.
John Paul II even made peace with the evolutionists and raised to a place of honor the heretical Jesuit, Teilhard de Chardin. In Fe e Futuro, Cardinal Ratzinger, in brazen language, belittled the thought of man created in the image of God, and asserted that the church must adjust to the modern scientific conclusion that man is an animal that has not “fallen” but rather has ascended from primeval darkness into the light.
This “church,” which conducts its life as the handmaiden of world political power, has totally betrayed the truth of Yeshua, who is the only sovereign over the holy people of God, without need of any Pope or Pontiff or Vicar of any kind. The Catholic institution, since the day of Constantine, has cynically inserted itself between the believer and his God, so gathering to the Catholic edifice those powers which appropriately belong to God alone.
The true presence of God in man is conveyed by the substantial presence of the Spirit of God in the believer as enabled immediately by the love and agency of Yeshua himself, and is not conveyed by the ludicrous and cynical charade of priestly conjurings over a factory-made wafer.
The forgiveness of God is conveyed directly to the person who kneels before God and confesses his sins, while the claim of a priest to have the power to forgive sins is a lie matched only by their claim to have the power to conjure the very being of God into a wafer. Nor is there anything respectable in priests who sit in dark closets and draw out the confession of the most intimate secrets and disappointments of wives and maidens.
The claims of the Popes – these very men who openly deny the creation of man in the image of God – these claims that they are the representatives [vicars] of God on earth are nothing short of the blasphemous representations of the anti-Christ, lies born in the heart of Satan himself. John Paul II even dared to call himself “the replacement of the second person of the Trinity on earth!”
The teaching that the mortal woman, Mary, is Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, and co-Redeemer with Christ is nothing less than the revelation of the roots of the Catholic church in a Gnosticism which adores the goddess Sophia as the queen of heaven, demotes the God of creation to a mere demi-god, and, in the ultimate obscenity, raises to the metaphysical zenith that princely consort of Sophia, who is none other than Lucifer! This is a Gnosticism which is nothing short of the worship of Lucifer, wherein lies the bond which shall unite the false religions of the world.
The worshippers within the churches of Rome are mostly kept in ignorance of the abominations which are actually being spread by the authors of these teachings. The penitent enter these churches in the hope of reaching out to God, while priests and teachers lead them to kneel, not at the feet of a loving and merciful God, but at the feet of men in cassocks, teach them to kneel before the overriding and crushing power of the church institution, its priests, its sacraments, its Pope, its distorted gods and false goddess.
This is the church modeled after the Pharisaic religion of the time of Yeshua on earth:
“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves have not entered in; and them that were entering you have hindered.” Luke 11.52
This is the church which is positioning itself in the middle of world affairs, which is preparing itself to nod benevolently toward people of all faiths, encouraging all to be no holier than the church, to hold hands and adopt a new mantra, for the sake of a new age of peace and good will.
The new Roman Empire and the return of dissent
Where are the voices of dissent? People attend mass, comfortable in the old liturgies, unaware that their leaders are selling them into a hell…not merely a betrayal of Scripture: the bishops and the Jesuits are working with the leaders of the Protestant churches and with the heads of nations to bring together a great new imperial society. Yes, in the words of the Popes, “It is time for a new age.” In the words of the leaders of the United States and Europe, nationalism is no longer mentioned and all are occupied with talk of global cooperation in a New World Order.
The world religions and the national powers work together, every faction making sure that it will not be left out when the great union is achieved. But that union will be a reinvention of the Rome of Constantine. As such, it will be intolerable that the voices of divine authority should oppose or even seem to rise above the voices of civil power. As in the days of Constantine, civil and ecclesiastical power must be seamlessly grafted together, and those with the temerity to occupy a ground more holy than that of the church shall be driven to the fringes of the world.
But we know from the revelation of Scripture that under the oppression of the world-mind, many shall rise as witnesses to the truth of Yeshua. There shall be powerful voices of dissent. There shall be those who stand in their faith and refuse to remain silent as the civil and religious powers compromise all that is noble in humanity. For the living kingdom of Yeshua and the great hope of the Abrahamic promise, the hope of history, all belongs to us who are faithful to Yeshua. Yeshua holds us to himself: We are bound together, and nothing, not even death, can separate us from him.
The stratification of society into those who adopt the world-mind and those who refuse it was portrayed two thousand years ago in the writings of John. Confined to a prison cell off the coast of Greece, he received visions and recorded them in the book known as Revelation. In his visions we hear the voice of those who serve their king and honor a kingdom which can not be seen, which king and kingdom they serve at the price of their lives.
John sees the world-mind in the image of “the Beast,” who represents both the world kingdom and the world master who stands at the head of the edifice:
“Then as I stood on the sand of the sea, I saw a Beast rising out of the sea. The Beast I saw resembled a leopard, his feet were like a bear’s, and his mouth like a lion’s [i.e. bearing qualities of the constituent empires from which it is formed.]
The vision indicates that the dragon, Lucifer, will be recognized and honored as the source of the glory of the great empire, and the Beast will be feared and honored for its indomitable military might:
“…To him the dragon gave his own power and his own throne and great authority…. and the whole earth went after the Beast in wonder, worshiping the dragon for having given authority to the Beast, and worshiping the Beast with the cry, ‘Who is like the Beast? Who can fight with him?’” Revelation 13.2-4
The Beast is much more than a broad-minded globalist hoping to bring order out of chaos. He is the virulent opponent of the God of Israel.
“He was allowed to utter loud and blasphemous vaunts, and allowed to exert authority for two and forty months; so he opened his mouth for blasphemies against God… He was allowed to wage war on the saints and to conquer them, and also given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation…”
And he will hold dominion over every person who does not take a stand with Yeshua:
“All dwellers on earth will be his worshippers, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life.”
In John’s vision we also meet the “miracle worker,” the director of worship, the doctrinal leader who brings metaphysics into the service of the world ruler:
“Then I saw another Beast rising from the land; he had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exerts the full authority of the first Beast in his presence, causing the earth and its inhabitants to worship the first Beast….He performs amazing miracles, even making fire descend from heaven on earth in the sight of men, and by dint of the miracles he is allowed to perform in presence of the Beast, he seduces dwellers on earth; he bids the dwellers on earth erect a statue to the Beast who lived after being wounded by the sword, and to this statue of the Beast he was allowed to impart the breath of life, so that the statue of the Beast should actually speak.” Revelation 13.11-15
We find that he who holds the very manual of righteousness — this author of all catechisms, this master of mythologies – we find that he also holds the sword of judgment. He is aided in the efficient exercise of judgment by a global system of classification:
“He has everyone put to death who will not worship the statue of the Beast, and he obliges all men, low and high, rich and poor, freemen and slaves alike, to have a mark put upon their right hand or their forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he bears the mark, that is, the name of the Beast, or the cipher of his name.” Revelation 13.15-17
The key to remaining safe within this world-mind society is our willingness to publicly give honor and devotion to the Beast and his image and, by implication, to endorse his values and goals and accomplishments. In return for this willingness to pledge allegiance to the Beast we will be able to wear upon our right hand or forehead his cipher, his imprimatur, indicating that we are not in any way dissenters or opponents of the global power, that we are above any form of protest or civil disobedience, for opposition and every form of disorder or threat to the world-mind society must be driven out.
Revelation makes it clear that those who belong to Yeshua will not qualify for this mark, nor will they accept it.
The bond of the Covenant
By word of our king, we are “in the world but not of the world.” Now, however, the trench deepens between the City of God and the City of the World. Our easy passage through the world-mind landscape is coming to an end. For the world-mind is coveting to itself all devotion, as insurance of its global supremacy. It used to be enough that we occupy the role of citizen, but soon we will be called to play the part of world-mind supplicant. For those of us who kneel in fealty only before God, the role of world-mind supplicant is quite impossible.
Are we now ready for an act of civil disobedience which may cost us our lives? What will sustain us and fill our hearts with a devotion which can stand against the seduction and the threats coming from the world around us? What will keep us fixed on a loyalty and a hope so grand that the threat of death can not undo it? What will hold us firm in devotion to the unique truth of Yeshua when everyone calls us to save our lives and simply acknowledge the integrity of diverse religious inspiration?
The consolidation of the world-mind society into a homogeneous global structure under a “world messiah” is the final assault of the forces of rebellion against the God of creation. It is the final test of the people of God, and it will be our final witness to the magnificent truth of our God.
It will be a test of the depth of our loyalty and our love for the person of our God. It will be a test of our trust in the power of his Spirit to hold us and sustain us. It will be a test of the vision by which we are separated off from the greater body of mankind. It will be the great proof of the emptiness of the City of the World, and it will reveal the unshakable foundations of the City of God.
There is a prophetic passage in Daniel which reveals the architecture of that to which we must hold, that within which Yeshua brings us his power and renders us able to stand against the seductions and threats of the world mind. This passage in Daniel states plainly the focal point of all the assaults of the anti-messiah, and so it is a revelation of that which is “the king’s queen,” that prize, the possession of which makes battle the richest privilege, the loss of which renders battle meaningless.
The core objective of the enemy’s hatred is the covenant between God and his people — in particular the critical elements upon which every prior covenant did depend and upon which the new covenant is fashioned: 1.]Yeshua’s covenantal sacrifice of his blood, by which we are bought back from death, 2.] our loyalty to our sovereign king as his holy people, our loyalty to his covenant expectations, and 3.] our preservation of the core hope of the covenant: the promises to Abraham.
Against this covenant, element by element, the enemy has been striving since the early centuries. Satan directs his hatred against this covenant because it is the essential in-historical content of God’s love for his people. Because of the content of the covenant, our life with Yeshua is not mere wishful meditation but is history, is past and present and future and human destiny. All our access to our God and the power of God to hold us to himself is enshrined within this covenant. If Satan can simply spoil all understanding of the covenant between Yeshua and his subjects, then all worship will be reduced to the insipid babble prescribed by the world-mind, a worshipful mumble which can offend no one because it no longer possesses meaningful content.
To conclude that “the covenant” is the most determinant structure of our bond to Yeshua may sound like mere theology, but we will see that this which is so hated by Satan lies at the core of redemption and history. If we are to survive, we must refuse to take the covenant for granted. We must hold tight to every aspect of its riches. Satan knows our weakness when any part of this treasure is carried away, therefore he has been carefully at work within every sect of those who attach themselves to Yeshua, doing all in his power to tailor for them a “civilized” semblance of faith which owns no need to bother itself with the details of that covenant which our sovereign king fashioned for our sake.
The passage in Daniel reveals Satan’s hatred for the covenant and reveals much about those who stand within it.
“The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country. At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.
“His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.
“Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
“The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.” Dan. 11.28-36
Many suppose that concern with a “covenant” must be an Old Testament issue, and so they surmise that the battle against the covenant and the “abomination of desolation” are essentially 4th c. B.C. prophecies fulfilled in the 2nd c. B.C. It is true that in the rage of the king of the North against the covenant, he is credited with deeds which seem to belong to the past:
‘His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation…”
We do know that in 169 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes did plunder the temple in Jerusalem and by 168 B.C. set up an altar to Zeus Olympus inside the temple, totally desecrating it. And there has been neither temple fortress nor daily sacrifice since the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.
We could be content that this is just a short term prophecy which has no bearing on our time were it not for the subsequent context in Daniel and a remark made by Yeshua in the Olivet Discourse.
Daniel’s “king of the North” openly blasphemes Yahveh and publicly magnifies himself above Yahveh. These are hallmarks of the final “man of lawlessness.” And Daniel, in the passage quoted, ran his narrative of the king of the North right on to “the time of the end” and “the time of wrath,” which suggests that the battle against the covenant, including the “abomination” event, are related to the time of the end.
Yeshua affirms this as he alludes to this very passage in Daniel while talking with his disciples about the end of the era:
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again.” Mat. 24.15,21
Daniel’s narrative also goes on to take that which seems to be buried in the past and connect it with the apocalyptic future as he narrates that “those who know their God” will resist the king of the North and instruct others in that faith; although some will struggle, it will serve the benefit of their understanding, and resistance will go on “until the time of the end.”
The blood of the covenant
The Spirit of Yeshua is the indestructible cord of steel which binds us to our king, but the covenant is the structure which establishes the possibility of that bond and defines the nature of that bond. Man and wife are bound by love, but the covenant of marriage sets the parameters of that relationship which finds its life in love. A sovereign Lord and his subjects are bound by love and by devotion unto death, and the covenant is the oath of devotion which establishes the parameters of that commitment by virtue of which they give their lives to each other and to the welfare of their kingdom. By such a covenantal oath we are bound to Yeshua our king.
The price and the power of this covenant are beyond measure, because at the center of it we come to the blood of Yeshua, shed at the cross and laid upon the horns of the heavenly altar.
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered once for all into the holy place thus obtaining eternal redemption for us.”
This sacrifice stands alone in history, towering over all of history, to stem the flow of damage coming from Satan’s seduction of mankind. It is the blood of the long awaited Passover lamb, that blood prayerfully anticipated in every ancient Paschal sacrifice, that blood now at the center of our thanksgiving in every modern Paschal feast.
The power of the blood of Yeshua is such that by it Satan was thrown from heaven to earth. It is no surprise then that Satan “has his heart set” and “vents his fury” and is in total war against this covenant sealed with the blood of Yeshua our king. The evident power of the blood of our king in casting Satan down from heaven is part of the witness of John in the narration of Revelation:
“And war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting with the dragon; the dragon and his angels also fought, but they failed, and there was no place for them in heaven any longer. So the huge dragon was thrown down – that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, the seducer of the whole world – thrown down to earth, and his angels thrown down along with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Now has it come, the salvation and power, the reign of our God and the authority of his Christ! – for the Accuser of our brothers is thrown down, who accused them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they had to die for it, but they did not cling to life. Rejoice for this, O heavens and ye that dwell in them! But woe to earth and sea! The devil has descended to you in fierce anger, knowing that his time is short.’” Rev. 12.7-11
Satan is struck down from heaven to earth, and we must be attentive to the fact that he is among us. Meanwhile we rejoice that the throne of the heavens and the temple of heaven are free of him, so that no longer does God witness the droning of his accusations against us. It is certainly in light of this very truth that Paul rejoices that now, under our covenant with Yeshua, No One can bring accusation against us for we are dressed in the colors of our king. This passage is an exaltation of the sustaining and liberating power of the new covenant:
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8.33-39
The emblem and purpose of the covenant
In Scripture, the covenant of Yahveh, from its origins until its final realization through the victory of Yeshua, wears an emblem, a mantra, the repetition of these words of Yahveh:
“I will be your God, and you will be my people.”
These words are an expression of the purpose of the covenant: that union be established between God and his people.
Yahveh began with Abraham to bring into the world the kingdom which would become the restoration of the earth. Yahveh said to Abraham:
“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” Genesis 17.7
The above statement makes it clear that the covenant with Abraham is forever, and nothing can undo it. But as the children of Abraham grow into a people set apart for God the covenant will become amplified. Four hundred and thirty years after initiating the covenant with Abraham, Yahveh speaks with Moses, affirming that the promise to Abraham finds its fulfillment through Moses and the people of the exodus. Again the appearance of the emblem:
“…and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm… I will take you as my own people and I will be your God ...And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Exodus 6.6,7,8
He speaks to Moses again, specifying that “my people” means to be a people apart, both by definition and by distinction of their devotion to the will of their God expressed in the terms of the covenant:
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation.” Exodus 19.5,6
It is clear in the above passage that “to keep the covenant” is to be obedient to the Lord of the covenant. Through Jeremiah Yahveh delivered a warning against Israel’s abandonment of the covenant, their disobedience, their preference to follow their own will. The dissolution of covenant loyalty became the collapse of Yahveh’s goal of union:
“I brought your forefathers out of Egypt…I gave them this command: Obey me [obey the commands of the covenant] and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts.” Jeremiah 7.23,24
As a result of their disobedience Yahveh took down the fence of protection around his people and let them be carried off into exile in Babylon. Then through Jeremiah came Yahveh’s promise to bring his people back from exile, to restore them to their covenant:
“My eyes will watch over them and I will bring them back to this land…. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Yahveh. They will be my people and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24.6,7
But the evidence is ample that the return was intended to be much more than the physical return to Canaan at the end of seventy years of absence. Yahveh spoke of return in broad and mystical terms. The promise of “a heart to know me” is uniquely the promise of the new covenant. Restoration to the covenant had become, in the purpose of Yahveh, restoration through a new covenant. In this light it is not surprising to see Jeremiah prophesying that restoration to covenant union will come under the rule of the Messiah:
“Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them…. So you will be my people and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30.21,22
As prophesied through Jeremiah, the promise of the new covenant would increase the power of the people to fulfill the expectation of the earlier covenants and better attain God’s goal of union between Him and his people:
“The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah …This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, says the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31.31,33,34
Then came a huge promise through Ezekiel that the new covenant would be under the Messiah, would bring peace between man and God and would make possible God’s habitation among us – i.e. would tear down the veil of the Holy of Holies, that his Spirit might now be in immediate relationship with us, defining us as intimate with our God and separate to our God:
“And David my servant [i.e. Yeshua, heir to the throne of David] will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I Yahveh make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.” Ezekiel 37.25,26,27,28
Ezekiel conveyed the promise that it would ultimately be the new covenant which would bring about the covenant union desired by Yahveh, providing the possibility of the Spirit of God resting immediately in the hearts of his subjects:
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them …then they will follow my decrees…They will be my people and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11.19,20
Six hundred years later Paul asserted that we who live inside the new covenant are a fulfillment of the covenant goal, subjects living in immediate relationship to our God, without need of mediating priest or sacrifice other than what Yeshua has accomplished for us:
“For we are the temple of God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they will be my people.” II Corinthians 6.16
Then, in the vision of Revelation, in the ultimate fulfillment, as God brings to earth the New Jerusalem “like a bride” for his covenant people:
“And I heard a voice out of the throne, crying, ‘Lo, God’s dwelling place is with men, with men will he dwell; they shall be his people, and God will himself be with them.’” Revelation 21.3
“Then he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Lo, I make all things new….I will let the thirsty drink of the fountain of the water of life without price. The conqueror shall obtain this, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.” Revelation 11.5,6,7,8 excerpts
The parameters and the progression of the covenant
A covenant is a pact sovereignly administered between the covenant lord and his people.
Its purpose is to establish the conditions under which union of interest and purpose can be achieved. Only the sovereign has the power to guarantee that the terms of the covenant will satisfy the goal of union. The covenant of a Sovereign and his people is not an exchange between equals. It is not a trade of loyalty in return for protection.
From a position of absolute power the sovereign calls for covenant loyalty from those who recognize his pre-existing right over them, from those who are ready to acknowledge and live within his royal claim.
Yahveh came to Abraham. From the beginning Yahveh called him to separate himself from his family and his country and to set out for a land unknown. Abraham recognized the voice of his Creator, his sovereign Lord, and he obeyed that voice.
Yahveh led Abraham to Canaan where he appeared before him and spoke with him:
“On that day Yahveh made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your seed I will give this land, from the River of Egypt to the great river the Euphrates’.” Genesis 15.18
That promise was sealed by a covenant ritual in which animals were slaughtered and divided in half, and “a smoking firepot with a blazing torch [representing the presence of God] passed between the pieces.” So it was sealed with the enactment of a self-maledictory oath, an indication of the “to the death” nature of the promise.
By the witness of Paul and of Yeshua himself we know that Abraham understood that “to your seed” meant something more than his immediate offspring, that it pointed to the Messiah who would be born into his line and would bring the rule of peace to the earth.
So the covenant with Abraham was a call to whole-hearted loyalty and also a great promise which would encompass and fulfill all of human history, finding its meaning and culmination in the ultimate rule of Yeshua on earth.
“And when Abram was ninety nine years old, Yahveh appeared to
Abram, and said unto him: ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou whole-hearted. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face; and God talked with him, saying; ‘As for me, behold, my covenant is with you and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for a father of a multitude of nations have I made you. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations from you, and kings shall come out of you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you, and between me and your seed after you, throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be unto you for a God, and to your seed after you.” Genesis 17.1-7
Four centuries later, the descendants of Abraham, nearly a million in number, were led from Egypt by Moses acting in obedience to the call of Yahveh. In the Sinai desert Yahveh gave his people an amplified covenant intended to establish them as a nation bound to Yahveh their king.
The Sinai covenant was not a replacement of the covenant with Abraham. It was an expansion meant to amplify the capacity of the holy people to know the will of their God and be a people set apart to God. As Paul wrote, nothing pre-empts the original promise to Abraham as the core of God’s relationship to his people:
“Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: the Law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.” Gal. 3.15-18
Paul is taking note that all covenant relationship is a function of God’s sovereign promise, God’s grace, the same grace extended to Abraham when it was noted that “Abraham believed Yahveh, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”
Paul teaches furthermore that the Sinai covenant was meant and is meant to guide us to Yeshua.
“So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3.24
People like to make much of Paul’s statements suggesting that the old covenant is overturned by the new. But it must be reckoned that the essence of the old covenant is not overturned: our king voices repeatedly, in the book of Revelation, his expectation that we follow his commandments. As he said during his time on earth,
“Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.18,19
The premier commandment of Yeshua is that we love God and our neighbor, but it is impossible to love God and our fellow man in a context of abandonment of the Sinai covenant. Yeshua said,
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15.9,10
Yeshua is not at all satisfied if we cobble together a worship of our own making while abandoning the commands of the covenant. He said to the Pharisees that their teachings were but “rules taught by men,” and added,
“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men….You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions.” Mark 7.8,9
The only interpretation of Paul which is consistent with the teachings of Yeshua is, not that the Law is cast aside, but rather that the covenant supremacy of the Law has been exchanged for the new covenant supremacy of the living word from the mouth of our living king, the living word of our king spoken directly into the heart of his subject. This has been accomplished through the explicit advent of Yeshua’s redemption and his provision of his Spirit by which we live in his immediate presence.
Yeshua’s expectations of us are not somehow depreciated because he has provided the grounds of redemption. If the expectations of the commandments were not significant in the extreme, then Yeshua’s suffering on the cross would be an obscenity. His covenant expectations are higher than ever:
“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.20
The difference is that we now live within his life. He in us. We in him. The love of the law is from its very root and origin in and from him. “He in us” is the fulfillment of the promise of Jeremiah that Yahveh would place “the law within our hearts.” Our attention therefore is free to be focused on the love of our king and the love of our neighbor and even our enemy, all of whom are loved and fall under the claim of our king. Yeshua leads us in the attainment of the fulfillment of the law, after the manner of a patient father leading and teaching his children. He seeks us out as sentient and devoted subjects of the realm, not as indifferent children who disdain the expectations of the Father.
The erosion of the covenant
The covenant is in great distress. And so our king ponders, “Will I find faith when I return?” The covenant erodes as Satan succeeds in dismantling our understanding of the critical elements of the covenant. Failure of knowledge becomes failure of understanding. Failure of understanding becomes failure of appreciation, and that becomes love grown cold, the end of real allegiance.
1.] The first and most essential element of the covenant: it is the word of our sovereign king that union between God and men is founded exclusively upon the blood of Christ shed at the cross.
“Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first born from the dead, and the prince over kings of earth… who loves us and has loosed us from our sins by shedding his blood.” Revelation 1.5
To this fundamental event we are called to respond by opening the heart to the presence and love and dominion of our king. Even more, in a world which is perishing, we are called to stand in the breach and hold up this fundamental truth for the world to know, never to compromise with the myriad factions who attempt to dillute this truth.
Historically, however, the church itself has conceived obscene deceptions to disguise this truth from those who seek God – all in order to take to itself the dominion and authority which the true covenant bestows upon our God. Satan, throughout the centuries of Catholic domination of Christian worship, has undone the understanding of the absolute and final power of the sacrifice of Yeshua. The Catholic institution introduced the doctrine that, for salvation, a person can not depend on the power of the cross alone. Rather the individual must look to the additional support of the endless succession of bloodless sacrifices in the mass, as well as to the merit of the suffering and good works of the individual, rendering him who seeks God always somewhere short of knowing himself bound to God, rendering the covenant without meaning and without power – transferring all power conveniently to the institution of the Catholic church and its administration of “sacraments.” An increasing number of Protestant sects also place value in eucharistic “magic” and the unending cycle of bloodless eucharistic sacrifice, essentially mocking the power of the true blood of the covenant.
2.] The second major element of the covenant: it is the testament of our sovereign king that we are to obey his word, his royal law, his commandments. A code which defines the behavior of the constituent parties, particularly the behavior of the subject toward his Lord, is an essential component of every covenant. Conversely it is implicit in our obedience to his royal law that we recognize the kingship of our covenant Lord and that we honor the covenant union as the substrate of our royal kingdom.
Yeshua described clearly the covenant condition that he gives all his life for us his people and, in response, we who love him do truly listen for his voice and follow his direction:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10.11,27
“If you love me, you will obey what I command….Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” John 14.15,21
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15.12,13
As he has loved us, so are we called to offer our lives in service to his will. This is the call of the covenant, to the last measure of devotion..
The church on the whole scorns the integrity and binding relevance of the commands given at Sinai. These words of the Sinai covenant are, however, the most elementary basis of any life which intends to respect the lives of others and intends to honor God. Yet huge swaths of the Protestant church disdain their significance, imagining that they individually are so bathed in the mercy and grace of God that He will never reproach them their rebellious lives. Here again the covenant loses all power in the process of a slight of hand by which that power is transferred to the individual for his own pursuit of pleasure.
The Catholic institution has eliminated the second commandment and has established the absolute replacement of the fourth commandment by open rejection and sixteen centuries of denial throughout all of Christendom.
The elimination of the second commandment [You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heavens above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.] conveniently makes room for the adoration of the eucharistic host, the adoration of the saints, and the adoration of the mortal woman Mary as Queen of Heaven.
As for the fourth commandment, the Catholic institution takes great pride in announcing that its power to change the day of worship from the Sabbath, as clearly directed in the fourth commandment, to the day of the Sun, is evidence of “the power granted by God to the church to ordain tradition” and contravene the words of Scripture! So again, the power and authority and honor which rightly belong to God, including the honor of the seventh day on which God rested from the activity of Creation – this power is transferred to an illegitimate institution and this honor is transferred from the miracle of creation to the God of the sun, who is none other than Lucifer himself.
In addition, Catholics and Protestants alike disregard the fundamental truth that Yeshua is this day king upon the throne of Israel. Catholics since the day of Constantine have done their best to disassociate Yeshua from Israel. Now Protestants and Catholics alike happily assign the name “Israel” to the secular Zionist entity which seizes the land of Palestinians in the name of divine right. Protestant dispensationalists [the majority of fundamentalists] believe that Yeshua is no king, having been “rejected” by “Israel.”
3.] The third critical element of the covenant: it is the testament of all of Scripture that our great hope as the children of the covenant is to share in the promises to Abraham: to be in total union with our God in the land of promise on this earth. Beginning in the 4th century, Satan has worked skillfully and patiently to destroy the understanding of the subjects of Yeshua that the promises to Abraham are the core of their hope. Now the church looks for its paradise “in the heavenlies” with no understanding that we are to stand in battle and see the victorious return of our king to this earth where he will establish us under his love in the land of promise.
Faithful to the covenant
“You are my king and my God.” Psalm 44.4
The covenant defines the allegiance of subject to king. We have noted that our covenant with Yahveh has passed through a progression. The real progress of the covenant is the narration of a most wonderful transformation: the covenant which was external and explicit – even carved in stone – has become Spirit: internal and transcendent. So the kingdom has been transformed from geo-political nation state to transcendent City of God, its throne in the heavens, its roots in the hearts of men around the world.
In the same vein we must note that the sign of the covenant has also been transformed – from an external and physical mark to an internal and spiritual engraving.
Yahveh concluded his covenant with Abraham with the condition that male children of the covenant must be marked with the outward sign of circumcision:
“Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.” Genesis 17.10,11,13
Over time, however, men in their thinking substituted the mark of the covenant for true satisfaction of the original order of the covenant, which was a call to the trust and obedience which produce union:
“Walk before me and be thou whole hearted. I will confirm my covenant between me and you.” Genesis 17.1,2
Forty years after the exodus, when time came to confirm the Sinai covenant with the generation which was preparing to enter into Canaan, Yahveh warned the people that there is no participation in the life of the covenant short of the devotion of the heart to Yahveh:
“Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from Yahveh our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; when such a person hears the words of this [covenant] oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, ‘I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.’ This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. Yahveh will never be willing to forgive him: his wrath and zeal will burn against that man….Yahveh will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster.” Deuteronomy 29.18,19,20,21
Then, following these warnings to the people, Yahveh indicated that he knew in advance that the people would not adhere to the covenant, and that as a result he would see them overtaken by their enemies and dispersed among the nations. But he followed this prophesy with a promise of hope, that a day was coming when they would seek God and his covenant commandments with all their hearts:
“…and when you and your children return to Yahveh your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then Yahveh your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations.” Deuteronomy 30.2,3
Yahveh then promised a new and more profound sign of the covenant:
“Yahveh your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live.” Deuteronomy 30.6
This promise of the circumcision of the heart is congruent with Jeremiah’s conveyance of the promise of the new covenant:
“‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares Yahveh. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.’” Jeremiah 31.33
Centuries later Paul confirmed that the circumcision of the heart is the sign of the new covenant:
“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2.29
Furthermore, we see in Paul’s words that it is the Spirit of God alone which effects the circumcision of the heart. It is the blood of Yeshua as sacrifice, the fundamental event of the new covenant, which makes the Spirit available to us. Therefore we may equally say that the receipt of the Spirit of Yeshua into our hearts is that circumcision of the heart and is similarly the new sign of the new covenant:
“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” Ephesians 1.13,14
By the presence and power of this Spirit we are bound to our king and to each other. We are formed into the great and ancient and enduring people of God. What was begun in Adam and restored in Abraham and guaranteed through Yeshua will find its completion in us, by the power of his Spirit:
“As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua the anointed king….You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” I Peter 2.4,5,9,10
Before his conversion, Paul stood in supervision at the martyrdom of Stephen. Stephen belonged to God and was marked by the seal of his Spirit. It is recorded that through the presence of the Spirit in Stephen he was “full of God’s grace and power.” The synagogue opposed him,
“but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.” Acts 6.10
So they seized him and brought him before the Sanhedrin, producing false witnesses who claimed that he spoke against Moses and the Law [which he did not do.] The Sanhedrin asked if the accusations of the “witnesses” were true.
Stephen began by telling his accusers that their very presence in the land of Canaan was rooted in the promises of God to Abraham, for the sake of which promises Moses had led the people of God out of Egypt.
Stephen pointed out that Moses himself had foreseen the coming of the Messiah when he had said,
“God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.” Acts 7.37
Stephen reminded them that their fathers had refused to obey Moses so that God “turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.” [Acts 7.42] He continued by telling them that their fathers had built a tabernacle and a temple to facilitate the presence of God among them and yet they refused to allow Him to rule in their hearts. Stephen then cried out,
“‘You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him – you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.’
“When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts 7.51-56
Stephen stood in covenant loyalty to his God. Stephen’s root criticism of his accusers was that they did not own that Spiritual circumcision which is the true sign of fealty to the covenant.
Stephen stood in the truth that Yeshua is the prophesied “Righteous One,” the one who brings healing to his people in being “pierced for our transgressions.” Stephen stood firm in the truth that Yeshua rules from the heavens, “standing at the right hand of God,” in royal authority with the Father. Stephen stood in witness to the power and authority of the commandments of the covenant. Stephen stood in the hope of God’s covenant with Abraham.
“Yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him…. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’” Acts 7.57,58,59,60
Stephen stood in the truth of the love of Yahveh for all mankind.
© Copyright 2013
Lawrence S. Jones
 Acts 3.18: “But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.”
 George Eldon Ladd, “Historic Premillennialism”, The Meaning of the Millennium, pp. 30,31, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1977
 See Charles Chiniquy, The Woman and the Confessional
 Threshold of Hope, p.3, 1994
 Galatians 3.16 “The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”
 John 8.56 “Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.”
 Revelation 2.4; 2.23; 12.17; 14.12; 18.4; 21.7,8,27