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Series: Our Participation
Sunday 04 October 2015 – Kobus Swart
(Acts 7:37-38); (1 Cor. 10:1-11); Heb. 1:2; Heb. 9:26;
(1 Pet. 1:20); Josh 13:13; (Matt. 6:10); (Josh. 16:10);
Judges 2:1-4; Heb.4:1-4, 7-11; (Amos 8:11); Gen.2:1-3;
2 Pet. 1:3-4; (Ezek. 37:4); Heb. 11:1; Josh. 1:3;
(Eph. 6:12); (Heb. 10:23)
Whenever I open the Word and study, I end up asking the question: Lord, are we doing what you expect from us? Are we participating in the final chapter of human history and accelerating the pace or are we happily just flowing along from one sermon to another and gathering principles and information? My second question is: Lord, are we engaged with the Word the way you want us to be and are we fleshing it out? Since the year 2000, more and more people admit that there is something God is waiting for. God has decided that we are going to participate in the consummation of history. You know that the Old Testament is explained in the New Testament and the New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament in types and shadows. When we go to the Old Testament it is not only to highlight history, it is to draw on principles that affect us today as the Church. The Israelites are referred to as the congregation in the wilderness (Acts 7:38; 1 Cor. 10:1-11).
We must avoid Israel’s mistakes. If we do not study history and learn from it, history will repeat itself over and over again. We all know that Joshua had a mandate to clear the land of Canaan. That was God’s instruction to Joshua. That refers in type and shadow to the kingdom here on earth. Pray the way Jesus did: Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). In Joshua’s days there were Canaanites that lived in the land of promise and they had to be driven out. We know that he did not completely drive out all of them (Josh. 16:10).
Now the angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’” When the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept (Judges 2:1-4). The spirit of this age has invaded the Church with its wisdom and tricks; in some cases the Church has actually invited the inhabitants of the land which were supposed to be driven out. For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience (Heb. 4:8-11). We must labour/work to enter His rest. Work not to work (MSG Bible). Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (Gen. 2:1-3). The interesting thing to see is that man’s first day of life took place on the seventh day. Was God saying something to us?
The Church of Jesus Christ, the redeemed community: to what extend are we benefiting and changing from coming Sunday after Sunday and listening to sermons? To what extent are we being transformed to become more active in God’s plan? What are we accomplishing? Are we progressing like we should? We must learn from Israel’s mistakes. Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before (Heb. 4:1-3). It is like a ‘kairos’ moment that has stretched over 2000 years now; the promise remains.
The promise remains to enter His rest. Israel had God speaking to them through the divinely appointed leader but it did not profit them. There is a famine for hearing the Word of God in our time (Amos 8:11).
Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Pet. 1:3-4). People are still waiting for something, for some ‘sign’ in the sky. That is why we are so eager to listen to prophesies about the future. God has done His part and He left promises for us that will help us become partakers of the divine nature.
We are waiting for a special day but God has fixed a day called ‘TODAY’ and the promise remains. He who promised he is faithful (Heb. 10:23). What we need is a hearing with faith. I trust that somewhere within you, something will hear and will awaken and manifest in a changed life. We are called to be co-workers, co-creators, progenitors of a new age. That will happen as we participate with God instead of waiting for God because He is waiting for us. What we need is an encounter with a proceeding Word. It means it penetrates your being, your subconscious, your heart, it changes the way you think, it changes the way you live. It is an encounter. Why did God ask Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, surely God could have done it Himself. He wants participation from His people (Ezek. 37:4). Ezekiel was a prophet of God. God is longing for participation from his people. The promise remains, it is still today; when your hear His Word it must impact you.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Hope is an integral part of faith. If you do not have hope, if hope collapses, your faith will fall to pieces. A promise from a source that is trustworthy like God Himself, creates expectancy. If you are truly expectant you will position yourself for the fulfilment. If we allow hope to rob us of experiencing the present then we have become “aliens in the land of promise”. The only way to inherit the promise once we have left the wilderness behind, crossed the Jordan, been circumcised, is to take the land of promise as you walk, to participate in the fulfilment of the promises of God. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses (Josh. 1:3). Christians are used to waiting for something to happen. I hear in my heart God is saying: ‘Let us’ and Christians are still saying: “When are You going to do it Lord?” He has done His part; He has prepared the way, He has paid the price. He has given us everything pertaining to life and God-likeness. The biggest promised in which we anchor this hope is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have been recreated in Christ; we have been raised from the dead with Christ and now we have to manifest it. My heart’s longing is that we will see it in this generation. God does not lie. The promise remains and we are still in the day called ‘today’. I would like to see more proclamation of the kingdom of God. Our mandate is proclaim the kingdom. The kingdom is in you, manifest it and proclaim it.