Friday, March 12, 2010

A Thought Not to Passover

By Ramone Romero

Recently at a prayer meeting a friend excitedly showed me a news bulletin she got from a certain church. It was filled with things about this or that prophetic season in your life—based on the cycle of the Jewish year, the old covenant festivals, events in ancient Israel, etc. While I can't remember the exact words or events, I think I can write in the same way as an example:
PASSOVER is coming up soon. Look for seasons of deliverance in your life. God is about to vindicate you in the eyes of your neighbors and those who have treated you wrongly. Be sure to give glory to God when this happens. There will be "plunder" that God will give you. Expect increase in your finances especially. This will be the beginning of a new journey, a new level in your spiritual walk. Do not look back to Egypt but continue to go forward, for this day is the Lord's Passover!
Is it just me, or does this kind of thing read like a horoscope?? I was shocked and horrified as I read the church news bulletin with two pages filled with things like this. I do believe God speaks prophetically today, and yes, I know He can take any event or word in the Bible and speak to us today with it, even at times out of its original context. But to try to align, order and predict our futures by the ancient Jewish calendar or the events of Jewish history? Does it make it okay simply because it's done with the Bible instead of with star charts?

More disturbingly, this kind of exercise misses the fulfillment. It fails to recognize that these things were shadows which pointed to the Messiah. Hebrews chapter one speaks of what was revealed to the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament as having been revealed in various parts, but in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, Jesus, who is the exact representation and out-shining of His being. Jesus is God's "word" to us today!

Each festival pointed to Jesus. Each event of ancient Israel's history pointed to the coming of Jesus and the fulfillment of all things in Him. Colossians chapter two says that the festivals, sabbaths and even the foods and drinks of the Old Covenant were shadows of Jesus Christ!

Are we not like the parable of the several blind men holding different parts of an elephant and making wild conclusions and assumptions without seeing the larger picture? When we take our eyes off of Jesus Christ and return to the shadows of the Old Covenant to try and discern our future (or the world's future), are we not choosing spiritual blindness? Although God told us explicitly in the New Testament that the festivals and events of Israel's history were meant to lead people to Jesus Christ (the "elephant"), in effect I think we are saying something like this: "Yes, God, You say it's an elephant and to look at the big picture, but I know there is more to this, so I'm going to pick it up and look closer at it because that's the way!" Meanwhile Father just wants us to rest on top of that elephant—to rest in the fulfillment of Jesus Christ and let Him carry us by His Spirit to new, unknown and unsearchable things and places in our lives.

After the prayer meeting where my friend had excitedly showed me the horoscope-like church bulletin, I walked back to the train station alone, nearly weeping as I walked because I felt the Spirit grieving so much. Sitting on the train home I asked God if I could draw a picture about this, and He gave me one. It is called,

"Back to the Wilderness"

It's a picture of a boy holding a scroll-like map with a Star of David on it, his footprints zig-zagging this way and that in the sand. And in the foreground is the Cross, and the white dove of the Holy Spirit is perched on the arm of the Cross, watching and a tear falling from His eye.

The boy is many of God's people in the churches who have considered "the cross" to merely be elementary, a sort of "entrance thing". They have thought that the more "advanced" teachings and "way" is found in looking at the ancient festivals of the Old Covenant. And in the world today, they are also trying to navigate the "end times" according to the literal nation of Israel today. They don't realize that they are walking in circles, and have gone back to the wilderness. They have returned to walking in uncertainty, walking in the flesh and in the law instead of walking by the Spirit and by faith.

While the picture applies immediately to looking to the past festivals and events of ancient Israel to find our way today, it also equally applies to looking to present-day "Israel" in order to discern God's "times", His movements in the world today, and what will happen in the future in the final days to come. God has given us the "way"—it is His Son—and now we are called to walk by the Spirit instead of according to the circumcision of the flesh. The Holy Spirit is waiting for us back at the cross! It is not about a holy day, a holy "land" or which people in the world are "holy", but it is about the Messiah Jesus who Himself is the Holy One!

A final thought. Maybe you, your church, someone or some church you know is getting excited that "passover" is approaching at the end of this month. Maybe you're looking for deeper meanings (deeper than "It represented Christ"). Or maybe instead you're praying for the nation of Israel today. Maybe you want to celebrate "passover", or maybe you want to find some Jewish people nearby so you can show them that you "honor" them. Here's an idea for you and your church:

When you see a Jewish festival approaching on the calendar, why don't you pray for the Jewish people that they see Jesus as the fulfillment of the event? Why don't you cry out to the Lord to open their eyes to see that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away their sins? Why don't we cry out to the Lord to show them that He Himself is their promised land instead of a strip of perishable earth in the Middle East? Instead of looking for other "ways" or supporting their desperate efforts to find fulfillment in their land, why don't you pray that they see that Jesus is their only true "way" and that they can find complete fulfillment and everlasting rest in Him?


See also: "Where is Your Center?"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not Included!

By Ramone Romero

Please click to read the writing on the batteries

Recently as I was taking a bath, God began speaking to me about the "power source" of most churches not being included in the New Covenant. We know that the gospel speaks of the freedom of the Spirit and about giving love freely. However we wonder how in the world this good news will be "financed", and have felt like it was a sort of "batteries not included" situation. The way that the church did it in the book of Acts doesn't seem secure enough or safe enough for us. So we've reached back to the Old Covenant to find the "tithe" batteries so that we can power our churches and keep them running.

For a Spirit-led study on the subject of "tithing" in Christianity, please read my spiritual mum's booklet at this blog: Transformed By Truth

When I showed this picture to Hazel, she had this to say:
While looking at your picture right now I'm getting that many church leaders see the tithe as their life insurance policy that everyone in the church must get plugged into, just in case depending on the promises of God in the new covenant gospel doesn't pan out materially speaking... Without the "tithe power" church leaders are afraid that they will cease to function as a church. They're afraid they will have to close the doors, and that their material livelihoods, and their lavish lifestyles will be at stake...

The "sheep" are the "tithe power" that pay for the shepherds lavish lifestyles, and keep the church life going. Those "batteries" are constantly needing to be replaced and recharged... so low in some churches that they can no longer function as they did before and are having to close down shop and lay-off workers.

Since many church leaders can no longer hear God's voice in these matters, they use their own voice (as the voice of God) to spiritually abuse the sheep that are under their care, fleecing them, even sacrificing some for their own selfish means. Many have not been a shepherd to the sheep under their care, but have behaved more like a ravenous wolf, devouring the weak sheep so that they can no longer walk, but have to be carried.

The sheep are being made weak by not being taught how to discern God's heart for themselves through the power of the Spirit, but are always having to depend upon someone else (a leader or anointed person) telling them what to do, and what to think, and how much to give. Pretty much like our government's welfare system. It's a "Big Brother will take care of you if you do what I say" kind of thing, instead of teaching people to rely on God's Word for themselves, and letting them know that they can each hear God's voice for themselves and don't need to come to another "anointed" leader to be told what to do in these matters.

In fact, it's God’s heart that many churches do close their doors because they are a great hindrance to the work of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They are not plugged into God's power source, the Holy Spirit of Truth, but are relying on themselves for power. Man's power supply quickly runs low, but God's doesn't. Moreover, since the church building isn't the church, but believers in the body of Christ are, God is preparing the hearts of more and more believers to start more and more house churches. I believe that these little "islands of power" will replace more and more of the organized churches that have become dead wood, because they have fallen away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe that even the bad economy is working to God's advantage to achieve His ultimate purposes in releasing His children from spiritual bondage to man-made doctrines and traditions in many churches. Although much has been hidden up until now, God is bringing everything out into the light... everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Only our sure foundation, Jesus Christ, will remain. As long as we are found in Him, and plugged into Him through His Spirit, we will remain also.
I was surprised to read Hazel's reply because the "dead wood" thing she said explains why I was impressed to make the church building wooden!

The "storm" with lightning striking is God's discipline coming to "knock out" the ungodly power source. His storm is not meant to hit us, but rather our dependence on flesh and the old covenant.

But, the more we try to 'protect' this power source, the more we ourselves risk getting struck by lightning! He wants to knock out the false power source, not us, and replace it with Him Himself—the Holy Spirit of freedom and life! He's calling us to willingly repent and so detach ourselves from flesh, old covenant and feeding off the lives of our spiritual children, otherwise He will have to "strike us" (or flatten us) in order to fix things.

I need to pray:

Lord, You know all things and You know our hearts. Often we know we're stretching things when we try to find "tithe" in the New Covenant. But then we go further in to convince ourselves, and we want the congregation to be convinced, too. God, so often we've quieted that little voice in our heads that said, "Hey, this doesn't quite fit the context"... and that little voice was You, Lord.

Forgive us, Father, in Jesus' name. Forgive us for trying to extract support from the sheep when You meant them to give willingly. Forgive us also because when we have reached back to the Law for the support of its tithe command, we cut out "the poor" that You meant to benefit from tithing in ancient Israel, and we said tithe was meant to support our church institution instead of being given to the needy (ancient Israel was commanded to give a significant portion of it directly to the needy).

Forgive us, Father, because when we preach to people about "giving", it only rarely if ever means "giving to the needy". The whole topic of "giving" in church is reserved almost exclusively for giving "to the church"—to the building, pastors, leaders and ministry projects.

Lord, please enable Your children to see the truth and to take the daring leap of faith to allow Your people to provide for leaders and ministries freely without being under compulsion. Teach us the greater blessings in store for us when we live by the Spirit alone instead of by the letter of the Old Covenant Law. Please open our eyes and convict us, Holy Spirit, and please do so before it becomes time for You to discipline us, in Jesus' name, amen.


See also: "Depending On Darkness"