"And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light." Zechariah 14:5,6:
Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in His Ways, and to fear (reverence) Him. For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of Water, of Fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills . . .’ Deuteronomy 8:1-7
We are to flee to the mountains even as Lot was told to flee to the mountain when God was ready to bring judgment on Sodom (Genesis 19:17). The mountain or mountains are a reference to God being our help (Psalm 121:1, Psalm 125:1).
"Souls that were scattered all through the religious bodies answered to the call, and the precious were hurried out of the doomed churches, as Lot was hurried out of Sodom before her destruction. God's people were strengthened by the excellent glory (character) which rested upon them in rich abundance and prepared them to endure the hour of temptation. I heard everywhere a multitude of voices saying, 'Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.' "Early Writings, pp. 277-279.
"Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers .... Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand." (GC 612)
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
The Book of Amos is one part of the Bible that is seldom preached in churches these years. An obvious reason: its message is not what the itching ears of today's churchgoers wants to hear. With the exception of a couple of passages, the whole book warns of the horrible judgments from God that shall surely come and the reasons therefor.
Nevertheless, it is a message we believers mustn't ignore, especially since the admonition, as we shall see, is directed particularly to the end-time generation that we are. For one thing, the many references therein of Israel's idolatry and hypocritical sac
The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And he said, The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.The passage starts by declaring that we are about to hear the words of Amos. As the name "Amos" means burden-bearer, the prophet is really a type of our Lord Jesus. He is the One who, according to Isaiah 53:4, "hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" on the Cross, and who has continued to bear the everyday burdens of our pilgrimage. "Come unto me," He says, "all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
Moreover, this Amos is among the herdmen of Tekoa. The Hebrew word for herdmen appears in just one other verse in the BibleII Kings 3:4. There, it is translated sheepmaster. A sheepmaster is one who raises and tends sheep, and to us that's what our Lord Jesus is. By His Spirit, our Great Shepherd raised us up when we were dead in trespasses and sins, and He has been caring for us since.
Tekoa. The word "Tekoa" appears in the Bible in six verses. In two of them, it was the name of a person of whom little is revealed in the Scripture. But behind the remaining four verses, there is significant spiritual meaning.
For example, we read in II Chronicles 11 beginning in verse 5: "And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem and built cities for defense in Judah. He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa..." Thus, Tekoa was a fortified city, and again that's what the Lord Jesus is to us. "In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God" (Psalm 62:7).
Next is II Chronicles 20:20: "And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said..." Here, Tekoa is described as a wilderness. Remember the woman in Revelation 12 that represents the church? After she had brought forth a man child that was later caught up unto God, she "fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God" (v. 6). Yes, we who belong to the eternal church of God are sojourning in the wilderness and are being nurtured by our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
Before we look at Jeremiah 6:1, the last verse in which the word Tekoa appears, let us go back first to Amos 1:1.The verse ends with the phrase "two years before the earthquake". Interestingly, this earthquake is not mentioned in the historical part of the Old Testament. God evidently does not consider the physical event itself important enough to be recorded. But what it stands for spiritually He does, because He speaks of it again in Zechariah 14:5,6:
And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.We know from I Thessalonians 3:13 that it is on the last day that our Lord shall come with all the saints to judge the world. So, here, God links the earthquake in the days of Uzziah to the last day, which will also be the beginning of eternity for believers. Hence, it shall be light even at evening time.
A great earthquake is also that which God uses to speak of Judgment Day in Revelation 16:18. When the seventh angel poured out the vial of God's wrath, the verse says: "there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great."
The Bible repeatedly states that Judgment Day will come as a thief in the night to the unsuspecting world. Not so for us believers, however. Here in Amos 1:1, we are given a warning ahead of time. The term "two years", I believe, ties to Acts 28:30,31:
And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.Recorded at the tail end of Acts, the two years that Paul preached in "his own hired house" represent the short period before Judgment Day when God uses para-church ministries to feed us. I'll talk more about this later.
Believers should be able to see signs of the end also because judgment must begin at the house of God (I Peter 4:17). And that's what verse 2 is saying:
And he said, The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.Even as God used Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Israel because it had fallen away, God has been using false prophets to take over the corporate church. Indeed, the shepherds are now mourning and the top of Carmel withering, so to speak. One can hardly hear the whole counsel of God in any established congregation. Instead, some churches are promoting grace-plus-works gospels (including the freewill doctrine); some are offering sugarcoated gospels that promise mainly health and prosperity; some openly defy the commands of God on social issues; and some feature signs and wonders.
That churchgoers toward the end of time would be deceived by a menagerie of false prophets is that which God speaks of in Jeremiah 15:1,2:
Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.In other words, it doesn't matter which gospel they follow. As long as it is not the Gospel of the Bible, people following those churches will all end up being eternally condemned in hell.What if the church that we have long attended has turned into one of those apostate churches cited above? Let's look again at Zechariah 14:5:
And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.God wants us to flee to the valley of the mountains. In some translations, including the Modern King James Version and the Interlinear Bible, the term "the mountains" reads "My mountains", underscoring that God has Himself or His kingdom in view.
Fleeing to the mountains is also what Jesus commands in Matthew 24. Speaking of the end of time, He says: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains" (vv. 15,16) The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, as most of us know by now, refers to the period when the corporate church is dominated by Satan and his workers.
Not coincidentally, fleeing Jerusalem is the same commands God gives in Jeremiah 6:1, the remaining verse in which the word "Tekoa" appears:
O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.Putting all this together, we thus further see that the words of Amos, the herdman of Tekoa, are really Christ blowing the trumpet warning the world and us of Judgment Day to come.
Back to the Bible. How do we flee Judaea or Jerusalem? Well, spiritually we are the Israel, or the Jews, of God. So, Judaea and Jerusalem represent the congregations to which we normally belong. But when we see that they have become the abomination of desolation, we have to leave them. To remain under the hearing of false prophets is to willfully submit to the devil.
As noted earlier, the mountains (or My mountains) to which we true believers are to flee, is God Himself. In Psalm 125:2, we read: "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever."
To better understand how in practical terms do we go to the mountains, notice that Zechariah 14:5 tells us to flee to the valley of His mountains. A valley is the lowland between mountain ranges that is typically lush with pastures and through which a river of fresh water runs. Spiritually, therefore, the valley of God's mountains represents the Living Word of God that we are to feed upon. In short, instead of listening to misleading teachings, God wants us to go to the Bible directly for truths.
Para-church ministries. It's true that we believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us spiritual things. But for the work of the ministry, God specifically give some to be prophets; some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. Most of us still need one or more gifted persons to guide us. Thankfully, bypassing the traditional corporate church, God has raised up in these end-time days ministries by which we can be faithfully taught the truths of God wherever we are. Go to God Alone - SEEK HIS FACE, while he may be found.
While we are to flee our churches if they have turned apostate, we must nevertheless not forsake the assembling of the saints. In fact, Hebrews 10:25 tells us to exhort one another especially "as ye see the day approaching".
Since Judgment Day is indeed drawing nearer and nearer, true believers will be increasingly persecuted. Hence, it is all the more important for us to support and encourage one another. We may not be able to find too many such Christians around, but to the extent that we can, we should get together to worship and to fellowship. If necessary, meeting in a home church should be considered.That God tells believers to flee to the mountains before the end of time is prefigured in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. After Lot had taken his family out of the city, God said to him in Genesis 19:17: "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed."
Special grace. By giving us this warning beforehand, God is fulfilling His promise in Amos 3:6,7:
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.It may not be pleasant for us to leave the church with which we have long associated, to part with the friends that we have long loved, and to go without the organ and choir music to which we are accustomed. But if we do see the abomination of desolation that Jesus warns us of, we can count on God to give us the wisdom and strength to do the fleeing.
Meanwhile, we have this promise in the closing verse of Amos:
And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.The land out of which we will never be pulled up, the land that we will possess forever, is the new earth that we will inherit after Christ shall have destroyed the present universe. From then on, we won't be able to stop praising God for the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
JESUS SPOKE IN PARABLES
Jesus Christ spoke in parables as prophesied. "But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples (Mark 4:34 )."
The wonder of wonders! While people use illustrations and other expressions to make the listeners understand, Jesus spoke in parables in order to make His message incomprehensible. He did it so that "those on the outside" will be thrown out from the range of comprehension.
This alone is already beyond the grasp of many people. They may quote Bible verses to refute the sad fact. "Is not God, love?"
Why does He disqualify many people if that is so? Is not His wish, "that no man should perish?"
Yes, this is written but it should not be made into a human doctrine. To take the lighter side of human understanding of the verses, this will run counter to what our Lord Himself said:
Does not God speak in parables? Let Him explain His words. Human doctrines, though supported by Bible verses, contradict other truths. In this case, man's understanding would challenge the omniscience of God.
GOD IS OMNISCIENT
Can man accept the omniscience of God that He knows those who will believe Him even before the creation of the world?
Man might be led into thinking that there is predestination. No! God gave man, His greatest creation, a free will to decide. But God is a discerner of thoughts.
On this basis does God exercise His prerogative of choice.
God’s prerogative of choice is not based on caprice but on His foreknowledge of what man would decide on. Man, therefore, plots his own destiny. It is on this knowledge that God says, "those on the outside, these things shall be hidden from them." How many can accept this bitter truth? It is only by genuine belief and total surrender to God's wisdom, might and mercy that one can truly accept this truth! Jesus Christ is the Truth (John 14:6).
THE HOLY BIBLE AND THE WORD OF GOD
Since God is a Spirit He gave His words, through the Holy Bible, to represent Him (John 1:1). His presence therefore is manifested through His words. "God never change (Malachi 3:6)." Just as God never change, so are His words be viewed in that perspective.
If people are tempted to read the Holy Bible chapter by chapter, or verse by verse, and taking the context of the story thereof to get the message, God has this to say:
The Holy Bible therefore consisting of 66 books is taken as a whole composing the words of God. In truth, God’s "presence" is manifested through His words for "God is the Word" (John 1:1). Jesus Christ is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13 ).
God speaks in parables: Ezekiel 20:49 "Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?" Who can explain the words of God? His prophets? The apostles? What is the role of God and His prophets and apostles in the simple illustration of the MICROPHONE and the SPEAKER SYSTEM? Who speaks over the microphone? From where is the sound heard from? It is from this view that God should be perceived in relation to His chosen servants.
CHRIST’S INSTRUCTION FOR DIRECTION
Once the disciples asked our Lord for the signs of His coming and the end of the world.
Is Christ’s coming not stated in parable? Take notice of His promised in "Matthew 28:20 "… and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Was Christ with His disciples before His death? After His death and resurrection? After His resurrection but before His ascension to heaven? At Pentecost? After Pentecost? Today? Till the end of the world? In a parable, Jesus Christ gave the direction for His people to follow:
To escape annihilation in the hands of the enemy, man understands this to simply leave Judea , a place in southern Palestine , and flee to the mountains. Or he may try to allegorize the words by saying, "man must leave his place of residence and find a suitable abode for his safety."
If that is all to the word of God, then how could it be a "living bread?" If this is simply taken literally, waiting for our Lord’s physical coming, where is His promise in the following?
If our Lord is yet to come, where is His promise of "being always, even unto the end of the world" with His disciples. Does not our Lord always fulfill His promise? Who can explain the parable without the divine revelation through the Word of God? True to what Jesus did to His disciples however, He explains everything.
Judea is a place named after Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel , a favored clan in the eyes of God:
Jesus Christ is of the tribe of Judah :
Judah, or JUDEA , therefore, indicates closeness to God. Example, the Jews whose title was derived from Judah were God's favored people. That is why He entrusted His words to them, the Holy Scriptures. But this needs to be underscored.
"FLEE FROM JUDEA"
"Fleeing Judea " was physically demonstrated early in the life of our Lord, as model showing the way. "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king," of all people, it was a "Judean" who wanted to kill the Messiah! Was not Herod a Jew or "Judean (Matthew 2:13 )?" Later, as Jesus grew up, He was again hated and rejected by the "Judeans" who were supposed to be God's people (John 11:7-8).
Who killed Jesus? Were they not "Judeans?" All of this is history. But the Word of God stretches far beyond history; neither is it just a simple story. The word of God has great spiritual message that serves as spiritual food. It is the "living bread."
God entrusted His words to the Jews. Spiritual Judea is supposed to be a spring of righteousness. However, it turned out to be a seed of hatred to real Godliness. Judaism, using the word of God as basis, degenerated into a prototype for human standard of Godliness!
"God manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16 KJV) in the person of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6), was to show the way (John 14:6), for no man is worthy to serve as model (Romans 3:10 -12, 23). In the eyes of the people, He was a religious rebel. When He expounded on genuine Godliness, through real spirituality instead of religiosity, He was condemned as a heretic.
He preached the very law that was in the hands of the religious leaders at that time. But in the eyes of the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Priests, and the Elders of Israel, and the Jews in general, He was nullifying the law. He insisted, however, that "He did not come to destroy the law, but to give fulfillment to them (Matthew 5:17 )." He was misunderstood, and was called"A Samaritan and having a devil (John 8:48 )." He was mocked and convicted as a mad man.
He was perceived as an enemy of God. That is why He was condemned and crucified. This is spiritual Judea , supposed to represent spiritual Godliness, but it degenerated into soulish religious righteousness. This is spiritual Judea , supposed to promote the heavenly, the spiritual; but in place espoused the earthly, the temporal literal-physical. This is spiritual Judea , supposed to preach pure Bible doctrines, but instead taught human doctrines in the words of God.
Everything about the Word must come to pass. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but God's words will never pass away." If Jesus Christ left the spiritual Judea to show the way, where or what is spiritual Judea today to escape from? To whom was the Word of God, the Holy Bible, entrusted for teaching and preaching? Is it not to Christianity? What is modern Christianity? Is it not made up sects and denominations, each trying to outdo the rest in claiming the truth? Is this the kind shown by Jesus Christ and continued by the apostles?
Do people representing Christianity Today truly accept the powerful Word of God?
Can the religious sects withstand the piercing power of the Word, screening the truth from falsehood, and thus, separating God's doctrines from human doctrines? Both human doctrines and God's doctrine are supported by Bible verses. Satan started it all in the Garden of Eden when he tempted Eve using the very word of God. The Devil tried to repeat the feat on Jesus Christ in the desert. Satan quoted verses from the book of Psalms regarding Jesus' foot not to hit a stone. Our Lord rebuked Satan for his wrong "doctrine." This would have made our Lord a liar, for a literal stone had indeed physically struck His feet. If Satan had listened to our Lord, He would have expounded on the true doctrine of "a stone not striking the foot of Jesus." Stone refers to man.
During the physical life of our Lord, as prophesied, a "stone" never hit him in His spiritual walk. Never was our Lord distressed or affected by any man! Can many people distinguish the difference between GOD'S DOCTRINE and HUMAN DOCTRINE? Human doctrines contradict fundamental spiritual truths. Pure Bible doctrines put together the entire Bible into a perfectly harmonious Word of God.
Now it is getting clearer why Jesus told His disciples, " flee Judea !" Jesus showed the way Himself in fleeing from Judea , not only in His physical escape from Herod, but in His spiritual flight from the established religious teachings of the Jews.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13 ). He is the Truth (John 14:6). As Jesus was mocked and hated, so is the truth in the word of God discredited and hated by spiritual Judea . Jesus was crucified; so is the word of Truth condemned as strange and heretical.
Constantine the Great had a hand in shaping Christianity Today. Modern Christianity is an adulteration of true and pure Christianity in the first century. Two thousand years ago, a voice from heaven echoed a similar warning:
The "woman" referred to here is a CHURCH considered the mother of spiritual harlotry. But this Church is not alone in "spiritual adultery." She has many daughters of the same trait: that is why God called her, "the mother of harlots." God directed His people to come out from "her." Spiritual adultery is the acceptance of "strange seeds" apart from the "seeds" of the spiritual Husband that is God. The "seeds" of God are His words (Luke 8:11 ).
"Abominations of the earth" is everything contrary to the truth. It is truth vs. falsehood and deceptions.
A warning for God's people was given. All the warnings have one message: "FLEE JUDEA, and go to the mountains."
THE SPIRITUAL MOUNTAIN
As stated earlier, when Jesus said, "Let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains," man is thinking of a literal escape to the physical mountains. But this is a part of the word of God, and the Word of God constitutes "things of the Spirit." How could human wisdom explain this parable? What is the spiritual message?
God explained spiritual Judea . Now, what is the spiritual mountain? God first spoke of a "mountain" when His people were still in Egypt under slavery. The sign, which indicated to Moses "that he was really sent by God," was:
God called Moses after Pharaoh finally allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt, saying:
God also referred to a "mountain" to indicate close relationship with His people:
Literally, people reading the Bible see the meeting of God and His people in a physical mountain:
Very clearly, God referred to JERUSALEM and His HOLY MOUNTAIN as the seat of unity with His people:
The word of God is now leading us to the spiritual meaning of MOUNTAIN as indicating some relationship with God in prayer and worship.
MAN'S CONCEPT OF WORSHIP AND PRAYER
Man's concept of prayer and worship is supplication for material, physical, and spiritual things, praise, and thanksgiving to God. People of the world are one in this respect. They are one in praying with their lips to establish a relationship with God. Many pray with their eyes by looking at some objects of worship. All pray with their heart to feel what they say. They pray with their mind to think and ponder on what they see and say. They pray with their ears, moved by what they hear from fellow worshippers or from sound associated with worship. This, in a nutshell, is man's notion of prayer and worship - to establish a relationship with God.
We also find God's people in the Old Testament following that concept. In other words, man's way of prayer and worship is physical, sensual (of the senses), mental, and emotional. It is a form of worship with the body and with the soul. This was demonstrated in:
There are many more verses demonstrating sensual (of the senses), mental, and emotional worship and prayer. This is what is written.
Man's perception of worship and prayer is literal-physical, sensual, intellectual, and emotional. All these were clear to the understanding of the Israelites and to Christianity Today, who practiced them before and at the present time. In the future, they are also looking to the Millenium period to follow the pattern:
One reason why "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16 KJV) was, aside from fulfilling His testament and demonstrating the spiritual way, is to explain His word to His people. Thus, we have seen how Jesus expounded on the real meaning of spiritual Sabbath (Hebrew 4, Matthew 11:28 -31), and clean and unclean food (Matthew 15:10 -11, Acts 10:9-35) among others.
Jesus Christ explained real worship to the Samaritan woman whom He met by the well of Jacob:
The following points arise from the verses cited:
1. Jesus, a Jew, was not supposed to talk to Samaritans because they were considered Gentiles. The Samaritans were the descendants of some tribes of Israel in their intermarriage with the neighboring countries. They were, thus, considered "unclean" (Ezra 4:1-5). But Jesus nullified this belief when He showed the spiritual way.
2. Jesus revealed the meaning of real worship to the Samaritan woman and not to the Jews because He was rejected by them. The Samaritan woman symbolized the Gentiles. This is a good illustration of "Flee from Judea ."
3. Jesus demonstrated His spiritual language (John 6:63) when He told the woman, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
But look how the natural man sees spiritual things: "The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. From whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?" The woman was thinking of physical water. Jesus was referring to spiritual water.
4. Man must be looking at the Samaritan woman as a notorious adulteress when she was exposed as having five husbands.
The woman was thinking only of physical things. Can we see ourselves like the woman who could only understand literal-physical things? While we may be "clean physically," can we deny that we are as guilty as the Samaritan woman of the sin of adultery? Do we still remember spiritual adultery? Still remember the acceptance of "seeds" other than the "seeds of our husband?" Are we not the Church, representing the spiritual woman, married to our spiritual husband that is God (Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:14 )? Are we not accepting strange "seeds" other than the "seeds of God (Luke 8:11 )?" Are we not accepting words other than the Word of God? Are we not following human doctrines instead of pure God's doctrines? Then we are as spiritually guilty as the adulterous Samaritan woman!
5. How can we understand spiritual things? Can we perceive things of God with our mind and feeling and with the senses? "Spiritual things" can only be spiritually discerned!
Did the Samaritan woman understand what Jesus said about true worship before she had access to the "living water?"
6. What is the "living water" that Jesus was talking about? What is this "well of water springing up unto everlasting life?"
The "living water" refers to the HOLY SPIRIT. The Father promised Himself as the inheritance in NUMBERS 18:20, PSALM 16:5, and EZEKIEL 44:28: "And it shall be unto them for an inheritance; I AM THEIR INHERITANCE." The one promising to be the inheritance was the Father God, the Testator (Genesis 17:7). Jesus Christ with His death on the cross fulfilled the Testament. This is what He was referring to in JOHN 7:37-39. The disciples received the Holy Spirit after Jesus died. These facts point to the identity of the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The "living water," therefore, very clearly points to God Himself as the "water springing up into life everlasting" (John 4:14 ). "And the Word was God" (John 1:1). In effect, the "inheritance" is the Word of God Who is Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:13 ). The Word with the revelation of the Holy Spirit is the Truth. Jesus told the woman:
The conditions for worship are: (1) it must be "spiritual" and (2) it must be based on "truth."
"SPRING OF LIVING WATER"
Our Lord spoke of "a spring of living water." A similar reference was made in the Old Testament:
The word of God is symbolized by water (Ephesians 5:26 ) coming from a "spring" that can never be depleted. In another instance, our Lord referred to it as the "river of the water of life:"
If this were taken literally, the word of God contained in the Holy Bible is limited to the number of pages that make up the sacred book. But God revealed that the SPIRITUAL MESSAGE, the literal word plus the Holy Spirit's revelation, has no end. The Word that gives life, the Spirit in the Word (2 Corinthians 3:6), truly is an inexhaustible "spring of water." It is John the apostle who received this great revelation earlier, when he wrote:
To take this literally is simply like the "doctrine" of Satan: "the foot of Jesus not being hit by a stone." The Devil wants to picture God as a great liar! How deceptive indeed is the Old Serpent! We are blessed to be given a glimpse of this great "spiritual thing." Indeed, the SPIRITUAL WORD knows no end for it represents God Himself!
What is spiritual worship? Is it the same as sensual worship which involves the senses? Is it mental or emotional such that it is only felt in the heart? What is worship according to the truth? What is the truth about prayer and worship? Here is one truth about prayer:
Can man follow this truth with his concept of prayer and worship? Can man pray unceasingly with his senses? With his intellect? With his feeling?
Look how the Word leads us to the meaning of spiritual worship! Prayer and worship is "direct" communication to God. Prayer without ceasing, therefore, is the continuous relationship with God. This is the truth. Therefore, spiritual worship leads us to the following truth:
To "walk in the Spirit" is to "live" according to the Word of God. To "live according to the Word, is to live by the Truth, as our Lord the "chief corner stone" and the apostles the "foundation" lived. Living by the Word sustains a continuous relationship with God, for "the Word is God (John 1:1)." Is this not "praying without ceasing?" That is how the truth in spiritual worship is fulfilled! This is what our Lord told the woman:
Can anybody do this? Can anybody worship God in Spirit and in truth? Again the two classes of people, in the eyes of God, are segregated.
THE NATURAL MAN
THE SPIRITUAL MAN
Who can " worship God in Spirit and in truth?" Who can " pray without ceasing?" As Jesus Christ told the Samaritan woman, she must thirst for the "living water." "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
Physical expression of relationship with God should only be the consequence, and not the antecedent, of real spiritual worship. Perhaps many people think that by not looking at statues and images, they have already satisfied the requirement for "spiritual" worship. How many people can see the distinction between "intellectual/emotional" from "spiritual" worship?
Is the natural man expected to understand this? Can he distinguish the difference between sensual-mental-emotional from real spiritual worship? Jesus Christ put it this way:
1. "Be not ye therefore like unto THEM." Our Lord was referring to the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:2-l28). They were the religious leaders who were noted for their articulate prayers and conspicuous worship. Their form of worship was patterned after man’s concept of prayer.
2. "Nor pray as the heathen do." The heathen were known for their repetitious prayers. Many people think that repetitious prayers refer only to the repetition of memorized invocation. Spontaneous prayers may also be repetitious.
Jesus Christ de-emphasized physical expression of worship. At this point, He was already advocating "spiritual worship." As the "letter of the law" is set aside in favor of the "spirit of the law," so is sensual-mental-emotional articulation of affiliation with God relegated to the background in favor of the spiritual expression of relationship. Spiritual worship is where prayer is said "in secret and where the door is shut."
Man's notion of prayer is supplication for physical and material needs, or a petition to be bailed out of some corporeal troubles. Can man accept the following truth?
1. What is Jesus Christ advocating here? To ask the Father for the "things needed?" He said, "Your Father knoweth before ye ask him." He was clearly trying to downplay supplication for material-physical needs. Do many people see this as an introduction to "spiritual worship" which is actually the continuous spiritual relationship with God more than anything else?
2. Where is the popular concept of prayer where God is virtually regarded as a genie who can be commanded to do many things for the physical benefit of the worshipper?
Who can truly "worship God in spirit and in truth?" Many? Or only the few chosen who have truly received the Holy Spirit and deserve to be called real CHRISTIANS?
THE APOSTLES' PRAYER
Jesus Christ taught His apostles the following prayer:
1. "Our Father" - Who can call God "our Father?" Everybody? Or only the "few chosen" members of His "household? (Ephesians 2:19)"
The "children of light" recognize their "Father" (Hebrew 8:11 , Romans 8:15 ) that He may not declare "Get out of My sight for I never knew (Matthew 7:22 -23)!"
2. "Hallowed be thy name" - Who can lift up the name of the Father? What is the name of the Father. Who is the Father and Who is God (1 Corinthians 8:6a)? What is the name of God (Isaiah 52:6, 45:23, Philippians 2:10 -11)? For a detailed discussion, read the article GOD VS. MAN'S EXPLANATION OF THE LORDS PRAYER
3. "Which art in heaven, thy kingdom come." - Where is heaven? Can it be seen with the eyes? Who are blessed "to be in God's kingdom?" Heaven is spiritually and not sensually (of the senses) discerned. The following are the shadows of the reality of heaven:
4. "Thy will be done." - What is the will of God? Where and how can we find the will of God? Do we not find the will of God in the word of truth? Who can accept the will of God? Who can bow down to the truth? The will of God is "to keep our Lord Jesus Christ's words." Only a few, according to Him!
5. "Give us this day our daily bread." - Is this physical bread (Jeremiah 15:16 , Matthew 4:4)? If so, then it will run counter to:
God values the fruits of labor. Jesus Christ worked as a carpenter (Mark 6:3) to provide for his material needs. Paul followed the example of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1). He worked as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3) and telling the believers that he worked with his hands earning his living (Acts 20:33 -34). Paul did not ask God for physical miracles for the provision of his material needs.
Satan in tempting the Lord in the desert thought of physical bread. But the "word of God is spirit." Christ answered him, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." "Daily bread," therefore, refers to spiritual nourishment that makes the REAL CHRISTIAN grow in stature as the "eldest Son of God."
6. "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." This can never be literal-physical. Otherwise, we have to forgive all our financial debtors. What is our debt to God?
Who are our debtors? What is their debt to us? Our debts to God are our sins. Sins are the transgressions of the law (1 John 3:4). We are forgiven for our debts and made "clean," but not in the natural man's concept of forgiveness. Many think that forgiveness is obtained by feeling sorry for the sins committed, to the point of crying and performing self-sacrifice. Real forgiveness and spiritual cleansing is stated by Jesus Christ in:
The love of God, which is the forgiveness of our sins, should be mutual by loving His word. Love for His word cannot be achieved through self-discipline or mind conditioning. It is consummated by the power of God bestowed on the chosen through the Holy Spirit's teaching, guidance, and assistance. In this sense, forgiveness of sins is still through the kindness and mercy of God.
In like manner, we forgive the sins of our "debtors" with the same kind of forgiveness we obtained from God. That is, it is the word of God, the cleansing "water," in the real believer that forgives the "debtor" of his sins against the "creditor:"
7. "And lead us not into temptation." - Look how God appears if the word is taken literally! It is the Devil that leads people to temptation, not God!
8. "But deliver us from evil." - It is the power of the Word that delivers us from evil:
9. "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." - How easy to say of God that all power and glory belong to Him forever. However, does not man unwittingly grab the power that belongs to God? One simple case which man is not even aware of, is his acting as the Teacher (1 John 2:27 ). Does not man also appropriate the power of appointing Christ's apostles? (Read the articles: THE SHEPHERD, ORIGIN OF THE PASTORAL SYSTEM, APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION DOCTRINE.)
How easy to recite the "Lord's Prayer" or the "Apostles' Prayer" as it is popularly known. But is that the kind of spiritual worship God requires His people to do? Who can pray the Apostles' Prayer "in spirit and in truth?"
THE ESSENCE OF SPIRITUAL WORSHIP
One aspect of prayer is supplication. What need to be asked from God: material-physical things? But Jesus said, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (Matthew 6:8)." Man uses the word of God for his material and physical benefit. But Jesus said, " The flesh profiteth nothing, the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit (John 6:63)."
What is to be entreated of God? Simple! Foremost, it is the humility to accept everything as Jesus showed by way of example (John 5:30 , 6:38 ). For it is on this basis that He gave this promise:
It is the innocence of the human spirit, the soul of man, the simplicity of thought and the trustfulness of the heart, that transforms man into a real spiritual little child in the eyes of God.
The essence of worship is praise. Exaltation is the foundation of praise. God cannot truly be exalted unless the worshipper looks down on himself. This is what Jesus showed in praising the Father. How many can imitate Him?
The sincerest basis of praise is thanksgiving. What other blessings surpass the great spiritual miracles in the life of a real Christian but the clear recognition of God! Can anything be better than the clear understanding the Word of God -- the "food" that sustains the real Christian to eternal life? Can the worshipper think of anything greater than the guidance and strength coming from God making him a victor over his spiritual enemies? Can not the real Christian prostrate himself before God in gratitude for the physical-material blessings which are given "in addition" after having sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33)? No wonder we find the chosen in this state of relationship with God:
"THOSE IN JUDEA, FLEE TO THE MOUNTAIN"
In response to God's command, the real Christian will simply say:
"YES, LORD, RIGHT NOW I WILL BE LEAVING JUDEA AS YOU DID; AND AT THIS MOMENT, I AM FLEEING TO THE MOUNTAIN. AMEN."
THE FINAL SIGN
His apostles asked our Lord about the sign He would give "for His coming and the end of the world (Matthew 24:3)." He said, among other things, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:14)."
We are witnessing today how "the gospel of the kingdom" is being preached in many nations. It is a gospel of variances and controversies among the religious sects that compose Christianity Today. Attempts, through the efforts of men, have been made to have a common doctrine for all religious sects under the gospel of "love." However, each denomination claims the truth. While there is some physical success, it is a total spiritual failure! We are all witnesses to this religious episode. The truth has been revealed! Which of the gospels spread by the "1001" religious sects is the true gospel? Through the wonder of modern age communication, everything according to the plan of God, the prophecy for the final sign can be discerned.
Through the Word of God spoken in parables, Jesus explains the answer to the query:
1. Is this event in the life of our Lord and His apostles just a simple story that happened literally during that time? If so, where is the promise, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away?" Is not the word of God alive through the message (Jesus is the "truth" John 14:6) it gives at any given time? The Son of God is perceived to be alive through the "life" in His Word. After all, is not the Son of God the Word (Rev 19:13)?
2 . "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death." Did this happen during the time of Christ and the apostles? No account has ever been recorded as to whether this happened physically. Spiritually, it did happen. After all, "the word is spirit (John 6:63 & 2 Cor. 3:17)." Our Lord spoke of division in the family because of Him (Luke 12:51 -53). Will this not happen today after the truth is revealed to any member of the family? Do not members of the family cause the spiritual death of the other members because of spiritual blindness and ignorance?
3. "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." Is it with the literal name JESUS CHRIST that the apostles were hated? Or is it with the SPIRITUAL NAME? Today, are people hated because of the literal name? Are not all religious sects using the literal name (Matthew 24:4)? So, it cannot be with the literal name that Christ's disciples will be hated. It is with the SPIRITUAL NAME (Revelation 19:13 )! The Word, the TRUTH (John 14:6), is the spiritual name of our Lord! It is with the TRUTH that real Christians will be hated by all men, as Jesus and His disciples were hated by the Jews. This is happening today. In fact, the moment people hear the truth, and cannot accept it, they will find ways to put it down, discredit it, and "kill" it!
4. "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another." This can happen literally. But more than the literal, the Disciples did it spiritually by sharing the word to individual persons.
5 . "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel , till the Son of man be come." Did Jesus refer only to "His coming after He left them?" When did Jesus leave His apostles? If this were taken literally, it did not even happen physically. Our Lord left them when He was crucified, and then returned after His resurrection. In that short period of time, consisting only of a few days, the apostles did not preach the gospel. They were hiding from the Roman soldiers and the Jews who killed Jesus. Do people understand the great message expressed by this line?
If the final sign for Christ's coming and the end of the world is the spread of the "gospel of the kingdom" to all nations, then He could not have referred to the spread of the gospel preached by His apostles. The real gospel will not be heard "in all cities of Israel ." The real gospel will not be heard in all nations of the world. It is the "gospel of the kingdom" being preached by the different religious sects that compose Christianity Today that our Lord was referring to as the last sign! Who can accept this very bitter truth? How many will accept it: many or only a few?
How can we show our love for the Lord? He said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words" (John 14:23 ). The greetings of Paul to the Christians of Corinth may be appropriate to end this great revelation of God of His words:
- King James Version
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
- King James Version
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
- King James Version
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.