During the declining years of the first gathering of Israel, as detailed in the Old Testament and summarized in our last blog, prophets openly declared God would renew His call into Kingdom life during their “latter days” (a). And He did. (Our blog “Are We Really in the Scriptural Last Days,” clarifies the Scriptural perspective regarding “the last days.”)
Renewing His call into Kingdom living, God’s actions are described in an unusual way by Daniel as; “a stone cut out without hands that would eventually fill the full earth” (b). This renewing call is different from God’s first invitation to be joined as a “People of Faith.” This supernatural activity toward Abraham’s offspring of faith (c) would focus primarily on what the first gathering refused; personal interaction and fellowship with God’s presence (d).
Invited to Personally Interact with God
Unlike the first call that included physical deliverance and a gathering into a specific Land, this renewed call into Kingdom life began with the invitation to personally interact with God right where they were. This was a significant contrast to God’s laws written on tablets of stone as given to Moses. First and foremost, God would write His way of life on people’s minds and hearts.
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days…I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them” (e).
The personal nature of this second call into freedom enabled spiritual experiences that initiated the transformation of minds and hearts. Individual interaction with the presence of God-in-Christ would fulfill His promise to Moses of people becoming a Kingdom of priests and a holy nation (f). Responders to this call became as “living stones,” gathering with one another and interacting before God as natural kings and spiritual priests (g).
During this historic call to respond to God as “People of Faith,” Jesus clarified; God’s Kingdom life is readily available; at hand, within our reach (h). Remaining true for believers today, who-so-ever-will can:
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is (i). Yes, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (j), that Christ may dwell in your hearts (k).
God’s Kingdom life is readily available; at hand, within our reach.
God as Personal Guide
As noted, this call did not include a physical homeland like the first gathering. Because followers were unable to separate from the world around them, they became an inclusive influence, as God intended. Following the life of Jesus, the character, attitude and personality (CAP) of multitudes transformed into more Christ-like people. In a very positive way their transforming lives changed perceptions of God and what life is like under His guidance.
Believers proclaimed “God is with us,” thus upsetting the world’s concept of God and the practice of relegating Him to a Temple or an emblem (l). Specifically, neither a physical location (Temple) nor a special person (Holy man) is needed to mediate our contact or interaction with God.
Jesus made it clear; the restrictive oversight of Kingdom life by Judaism was ending; that very generation would see people respond to God’s guidance and become fruitful (m). Of course, leaders of the old order openly opposed the call to personally interact with God. As no longer relevant, they witnessed the destruction of the sacred places of Judaism; the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD.
The clarity of followers of Christ spread into the entire known world. Fortunately, then and for several succeeding generations, people learned to respond to God’s presence as their primary guide and principle source of wisdom.
Followers of Christ experience clarity with God’s presence as their primary source of wisdom.
Slipping into Spiritual Slavery
However, a few generations after the appearance of Jesus, a teacher began promoting the idea of assigning area overseers. He taught: “We should follow a bishop as Jesus followed God, to respect elders as apostles, and bring honor to bishops as unto God.” His ideas were largely rejected, yet over time, were adapted. Once again, a class separation was introduced into Kingdom life as the so-called ‘wisdom’ of man was accepted over the individual guidance of God’s presence.
Eventually the appointed overseers were assembled into councils to form ‘official’ doctrines. Then all other views and experiences were labeled heresy. The first buildings for worship were then built and gatherings became structured meetings. As buildings became known as ‘the place’ to interact with God, personal reliance on God’s presence became a forgotten reality.
To solidify control, in AD 500 authorities confiscated all copies of sacred writing and restricted public reading of Scripture to clergy and only in Latin. Reliance on God apart from the official religion was forbidden. Unfortunately, the hearts and minds of people and of nations fell into a spiritual slavery that lasted for 1000 years, until Bibles were printed in the language of the people. Today, we still struggle with many of the misperceptions imposed on believers during those times of enslavement.
Believers still struggle with many misperceptions imposed by those times.
Accepting God’s Very Presence
Despite the deceptive antichrist (instead-of-Christ) perceptions and personalities of those days (n) and subsequent slip into spiritual slavery, God’s purposes will eventually prevail. Jesus, as the only real mediator between us and God, (o) promised to always be with those who respond (p). After his sacrificial death and resurrection, Jesus appeared as a spirit with the look, form, and personage of the man they had known. His ascension out of physical sight clarified how Jesus could always be with them and us, as the Spirit Presence of God. A few days later, Jesus fulfilled his promise and returned to immerse people in God’s Spirit (q).
Acceptance of God’s guiding presence “with us, among us, and in our midst” was an improvement over the refusal of the first believers. Hearts and minds were favorably impacted. Multitudes responded and allowed God-in-Christ to be an anointing and insightful presence with them through the many difficulties of life.
The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds…Finally…whatever is true…honorable…right…pure…lovely…of good repute, if there is any excellence…worthy of praise, dwell on these things (r).
Believers living and working ‘together’ became the ‘visible’ body of Christ (God’s anointed) in the earth. The connective factor was their faith in God. This is also true today.
Believers who live and work together become the ‘visible’ body of Christ.
Kingdom Life Today
Kingdom life successfully functioned for several generations as extensions of God’s Light and Love in this earth. Believers were a visible witness of renewing minds and hearts under God’s leadership, as we can be also. While a future enlargement and expansion of Kingdom life can be anticipated, we should not ignore or negate its reality in lives today!
God perpetually calls and recalls us into the experience of His Kingdom fellowship. As with the first two calls into Kingdom living, the real battle is always waged in our mind and heart. Will we seek and hear what God is saying today? Are we open to sensing God’s guidance as we ask Him for wisdom in each of our particular situations? How well are we growing into fuller expressions of God’s heart by seeing more of His Light, and sensing more of His Love?
While a future enlargement of Kingdom life can be anticipated, we should not negate its reality in lives today!
a) Micah 4:1-2; Isaiah 2:2-3; b) Daniel 2:31-35; c) Galatians 3:7-9, 27-29; Romans 14:16; d) Deuteronomy 5:24; Exodus 20:19-22; e) Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16; f) Exodus 19:5-6; g) 1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:6; 5:10; h) Matthew 3:2; i) Romans 12:2; j) Galatians 4:6; k) Ephesians 3:6, 17; l) Acts 17:6; m) Matthew 21:43; 23:36; 24:34; n) 1 John 2:18-21; o) 1 Timothy 2:5; p) Hebrews 13:5-8; q) Acts 2:33, 41; r) Philippians 4:7-8