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Sun am 5th July 2015 – Kobus Swart
(Col. 1:15-16); (John 1:1-2); (Gen 6:6-7); (Gen. 9:11); Rom 16:20; Gen 1: 1-2;
Isaiah 4:4; Rom 8: 19; (Matt. 24:12); Eph. 4:15; 1 Kings 19:19-21; Mal. 4:6;
Heb. 11:39-40; 2 Tim. 4:7; (Heb. 12:1); 2 Kings 2:6-15; Luke 1:5-67
It is very clear that Jesus was the first born of all creation (Col. 1:15; John 1:2). Through Him and for Him all things have been created (Col. 1:16).
A question we should ask – especially since Jesus said that “as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man…” – is “what brought God to a point of being grieved and sorry that He had made man?” (Gen. 6:6,7). It sounds impossible and without logic that the sovereign all-knowing God created man and then was sorry that He had made him. God was ready to wipe out mankind, animals and plants, everything. God was ready to clean the slate and start all over again. But then He found Noah, who had a walk with God, and it saved this planet. Noah with his family (eight of them, the number of new beginnings) was saved. The floods came and at the end there was a rainbow symbolizing that God was saying “I will never again flood the earth” (Gen. 9:11). But He could still do other things to the earth. We know that the spirit of burning and judgement is already in the earth (Isaiah 4:4).
Another question we could ask is, “What happened between Genesis 1 and 2 when the earth was found to be formless and void?” We have to admit that whenever the Son of God (the first born of all creation) is no longer central, disaster strikes. God does not create anything formless and void (Is 45:18). The two words ‘formless’ and ‘void’ are only found in two other Scriptures and it is a result of God’s anger; His vengeance (Is 34:11; Jer 4:23-27). Paul reminds us that all of creation is in travail for the manifestation of the Son in the sons (Rom. 8:19). The cries of travail in the earth are going to get louder and louder as the Son is pushed out of the centre in so many places. Jesus said in the last days the love of many will grow cold (Matt. 24:12). The decay of the last days is upon us.
We do have this conviction, however – and that is that the true Church is getting stronger and stronger. Underneath the chaos Jesus is still building His church (Matt 16:18). What is the purpose of our getting together? We have a purpose besides building a church; it is about bringing Jesus back to the centre. Our mandate is clearly spelled out in Ephesians 4. God gave us the fivefold ministry to bring us to the unity of the faith and for the building up of the body of Christ to full stature. We have to bring the body to full stature and forget all our doctrines and differences. Bring Christ back right where He belongs. We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Eph. 4:15).
We are warned in Malachi: Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land (=earth) with a curse! (Mal. 4:5-6). These are the last words of the Old Testament. God gives us a key – the hearts of the fathers must become one with the hearts of the sons. What does it mean? Those who died believing without receiving what was promised, are also known as fathers. It says that they are not made perfect without the last generation (Heb. 11:39-40; Heb. 12:1). They are incomplete without those of us (sons) whose feet are still on the ground. The sons on the earth must unite with the fathers who have gone on before. In this context I see the father-son relationship. It is not about producing clones but about walking in the travail of a true apostle, illustrated in the life of Paul. Before he was taken in the cloud of witnesses he said, “I have run the race, I have finished my mandate, I have not given up the faith, I am still believing” (2 Tim. 4:7). In Galatians 4:19 Paul gives the heart of an authentic apostle “My little children, for whom I am again suffering birth pangs until Christ is completely and permanently formed (molded) within you…” All of creation is in travail saying, “Do not let history repeat itself. We want the manifestation of the Son back in the earth.” He will do it in the corporate expression.
God said He was going to send Elijah. We know that John the Baptist was seen as that fulfilment, but we know that he was not the final manifestation of the spirit of Elijah. There are some lessons for us in the story of Elijah whose mantle fell on Elisha. Elijah found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him. He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you? (1 Kings 19:19-20). When the mantel fell on Elisha something gripped him beyond the piece of material. So he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him (1 Kings 19:21). What Elisha did was he burned all his bridges and he could never go back.
Later in his life, Elijah knew he was going to be taken to heaven. The sons of the prophets expected something to happen (2 Kings 2:7). Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground (vs. 8). This is very significant. Normally if waters are separated the ground would be very muddy and wet, but the ground they crossed was dry, meaning it was a clean transition. Nothing of the past was dragged on. When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so” (vs. 9-10). It is more than just seeing the man taken; it had to do with seeing eye-to-eye. It had to be on a kindred level of understanding. As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven (vs. 11). If Elisha was not focused on Elijah, what would have happened? His eyes would have followed this amazing phenomenon, chariot of fire and horses of fire and he would have missed seeing Elijah taken, and so, missing his double portion. This man was sharp. His eyes were fixed on Elijah.
Let us go to Luke 1. Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth were both righteous, walking blamelessly in the sight of the Lord and they had no child for Elizabeth was barren. They were also advanced in years (Luke 1:5-7). They represent where we are now in the Church world. Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. … And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, saying, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. …and he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:8-17). This was quoting from Mal. 4:6. Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? … The angel answered… behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time” (Luke 1:18-20). The manifestation of this prophecy came from a womb that was barren. When Elizabeth met with Mary the mother of Jesus, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped. There was recognition. In that which is the barren Church there is a seed that is recognising the timing, the calling, the mandate. As it was with Zacharias, so also the Church at large today will not believe such a prophecy . The Church in some way has been scattered by wrong expectations… But there is a seed planted in this barren womb. When that baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb she was filled with the Spirit. There are some keys here and we must learn from it and see how it affects us here and now in the present world (Luke 1:39-42). The unbelieving Zechariah began to prophesy. It went far and wide. This is what South Africa (and the rest of the world) is waiting to hear: a voice driven by the Holy Spirit, the prophetic voice; not the continuation of traditions, but a whole new demonstration.
Unless the hearts of the fathers are united with the hearts of the sons, the Lord said, “I will smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:6). Give heed to these words. All of creation is in travail waiting for the manifestation of the Son in the sons.