22. The Promised Land
Christ (and God in Christ) is a community, the continual experience of communion together found only in full heart-union and flowing out as rivers of life and love in practical daily application. We are members of one another.
22. The Promised Land
Between crossing the Jordan and David are many stories beginning with the fall of Jericho. All of them speak of Christ revealed through us or stand as a warning to us of the futility of not-Christ. But this series is on the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles in the life of the church. Thus I include only those things that are needed to enlarge our understanding of that feast.
The Feast of Tabernacles is the Body of Christ.
The Promised Land is the Body of Christ. The difference is simply that the Promised Land, though it contains the promise of Christ revealed through a many-membered Body, and though it is a life lived together, yet it is filled with a continual falling short, just as the Church age has been.
The Feast of Tabernacles contains no falling short; the Promised Land is filled with falling short. Yet in it is the shadow of many things that will be the experience of the Body of Christ, particularly through the next one thousand years.
You see, “heaven” has not only replaced Salvation in the mind of Christianity, and it has not only replaced the power of Christ in us, but it has also, it seems, booted out any thought of the Body of Christ operating in full measure as God intends. “When we all get to heaven” and turning the Bride of Christ into a literal planetoid circling the earth (the city foursquare) contain no thought of the practical outworkings of that same Body.
Life together as God intends is very much in our picture, not only here and now, but forever.
Christ (and God in Christ) is a community, the continual experience of communion together found only in full heart-union and flowing out as rivers of life and love in practical daily application.
We are members of one another.
The city foursquare that John saw in his vision, the Bride of Christ, is just one more picture among many of life together, you and me, walking together as members of one another. The golden streets mean very simply that every step we trod together, we walk entirely in the full knowledge of a meek and lowly God. “Streets of gold” means that God is beneath our feet, always arising. We walk in God.
Think of that. God remains forever invisible. If every step we walk together is in the full knowledge of God (the life of the age to come), then FAITH will be operating at the highest level of wide-openness.
Only one thing prevents us, then, from walking in that full knowledge of God right now, and that is unbelief.
The only difference between us right now and Jesus as He walked this earth, especially in the walk through the Atonement is that He believed what God speaks and we do not.
The manifestation of the sons of God is the unveiling of a people of community, of a shared heart, of life together. That community is not rigid outward form, but always fluid, like a flock of birds. The bond of that community is a shared Heart, the Mercy Seat of God inside of us, the Bond of the Covenant.
This picture of the entire nation of Israel, each individual person, walking past that Ark of the Covenant in the lowest place on earth in the empty bed of a flooding river, walking by it together all on the same day, each one, that experience created a bond of togetherness that would have held, then, for their entire lives.
Thus God uses the term “baptism,” that we are baptised, immersed, into the Body of Christ. – 1 Cor. 12:13
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . . and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
Christ life is corporate life, a life of communion together.
God unfolds Himself into space and time, into heaven and earth. That's just another way of saying that God makes Himself to be known by His creation. Or that the knowledge and glory of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. Or that God causes Himself to be seen and known and handled, though He must forever remain invisible. What a mystery! But we are speaking of Christ and the Church.
But when God is fully known, when all creation see and know their God, how will He appear? He will appear entirely as Community, as Life Together, as the Body of Christ, the Body of God.
In the communities in which I lived for many years, we had this idea of sorts, that if we perfected community, as in all in submission to God's order, walking together in love, THEN God would show up.
That's called putting the cart in front of the horse.
God alone, by His very Being, causes the final form of His revelation to be seen and known. However, God has a specific order of revealing Himself in the human experience. He does so by only one means, and that is to unfold Himself through a process that begins with travail.
All the perfection of God is found in the beginning of that process and in every step along the way. But the appearance to us of that process appears to be filled with imperfections. That's why we are to walk by faith and not by sight. Did I judge my wife by her appearance in labor and not by the child she was birthing?
The unfolding of an invisible God into a God known and seen and touched by His creation is travail from beginning to completion. God is the One in labor. – But the travail of God follows a very specific order.
God becomes Word first, the All-speaking of God. That Word is God, but God in His second form, the form of a servant. Then the Word becomes flesh, you and me, Christ living as us. It is here that we behold His glory. But that Word can become us only as it enters through faith.
Faith and surrender are two sides of the same thing.
Then that Word, having become us, having become our very hearts, never limits Himself to our hearts only, but always enters our mouths and flows out from us as a Spirit of Power connecting with each other. That connection is the Church. That connection is the Bond of the Covenant we share together. Then that Word, flowing as Spirit among us, becomes the Body of Christ, God made visible.
The source of God is the heart of the individual. The Church exists only as God, springing up and flowing out from one, connects with God springing up and flowing out from another.
God is. We know that He is (God revealed) when we believe that He already IS. – I AM. Pretty simple, eh?
And yet the entire world and the church in this world will tear us down the moment they discover that we dare to believe such a thing or that we dare to speak Christ.
That knowing that God IS, Jesus said, is eternal life, the life of the age to come.
All Israel, each individual person, passing by that Ark in the lowest spot on earth, then shared together the bond of the covenant. They may have walked as a column in order for all to cross in one day, but you can be certain of this, that every single eye turned, as each walked by, to look upon that Ark usually hidden away in darkness, every eye turned to look upon God.
Here are the next five letters I am working towards: “Trumpets,” “The Day of Atonement,” “The Obedience of God,” “The Mind of Christ,” and “God's Heart in a Man.”
My own heart is filled right now with a desire to comprehend the thinking of Jesus. We cannot walk as Jesus walked except we think as Jesus thought. Our thinking changes entirely in the fulfillment of the Atonement in our experience (we are transformed by the renewing of our minds). Thus it is the three letters following the Atonement to which I am drawn and to which I am focusing all that I write.
Let's look at a few points of the shadow of Israel's promised land pointing to our experience of life together.
The Promised Land is life together.
Life together is an endless series of one with one friendships. Life together is being best friends, one with one, with an endless array of people. When Jesus said that “there is no marriage in heaven,” He meant that the intimacy of friendship I share with my wife will, in the purity of Christ, be shared with all, one with one. (This last sentence (only) is actually from Sam Fife just a few months before he was killed in a plane crash.)
Friendship is a bond of trust on the inside and respect on the outside. Trust—Respect.
Trust is my inner sense towards you; respect is the visible part of my friendship touching you.
You see, of truth, in sending you this letter, I am inviting you to be best friends with me, just you and me, personally together in the purity of Christ. – Okay. – I didn't actually know that before, not in the front of my mind, though I knew it in my spirit.
I cannot be your friend if I am “above” you or “beneath” you. You cannot be my friend if you are “above” me or “beneath” me. Friendship is 100% equality. When two people sign a Blood Covenant together, they are instantly made 100% equal. When God signed a Blood Covenant with us, He immediately became 100% equal with us, Face to face, Eye to eye, Heart to heart. All that is God belongs to us; all that is us belongs to God.
We are immersed into God and God into us first (Covenant), then God immerses us into one another second (Covenant).
The primary visible reality of life for Israel in their promised land is that there is NO hierarchy of authority. There is no king, no aristocracy, no political government, and no monopoly of violence.
No one is “above,” and no one is “beneath.”
Because the human heart, empty of a meek and lowly God, fills itself with the notions of the serpent's “superiority,” this idea of the equality of friendship is shocking and “blasphemous” to such a heart.
But you see, I cannot be your best friend, ever, if you are “above” me.
If God is always beneath of me, always catching me up in Himself, always arising on high and I inside of Him, if God has made Himself, by Covenant and by Oath, my equal, eye to Eye and heart to Heart, then how could I ever see myself as “above” or “superior” to you? Such a thought is the mind of the serpent, yet it rules in Christianity and in the “Christian” definitions of God. They are hanging upside down.
God always thinks of us more highly than He thinks of Himself – that is the mind of Christ.
From 1422 to 1065 BC, from the crossing of the Jordan to the reign of Saul, there was no established human authority in Israel. That was entirely God's intention and purpose for them.
Now, in this letter, I want to separate the failings of Israel from God's intention. Yes, the book of Judges is filled with the failings of Israel – then it goes downhill from there. But our focus is not on the flesh empty of God, but on Christ and His Bodily revelation, that is, life together.
Government in Israel consists of several elements or functions. These are not “levels” because no one is “above” anyone else. Rather, they are concentric functions, operating fluidly according to present need.
The first function is full individual liberty. Liberty exists only in property rights. The Ten Commandments are the foundational elements of liberty – do not take what belongs to another. God gives no exemptions to someone claiming to be “king.” God's argument through Samuel against a king is that a king will always violate the Ten Commandments and thus individual liberty. A king will always take what belongs to others.
Liberty exists only when I respect you and all that belongs to you, beginning with your integrity.
ALL violation of liberty consists of one person taking by violence what belongs to another person. The law does not provide for self-defense, for self-defense is not a property right. Rather, the law assumes fully the reality of self-defense and provides only for its moderation, that is, that self-defense would not extend violence beyond that which is needed to protect life and property. For instance the law assumes that a woman will use violence to protect her home, but the law limits her use of violence to exclude an assault on a man's reproductive organs.
Thus the law assumes no monopoly of violence. Every individual person and every head of a household has the right of self-protection. More than that, every head of a household holds the power to exact a proportional penalty on those who have violated their property right.
You see, it works this way. In a monarchy a murderer breaks “the king's peace.” In a modern democracy a murderer commits a crime “against the state.” Neither one gives a fig about the person who was murdered or the family who lost a loved one because both of them claim a monopoly on violence (that is, the beast). In God's order for Israel, a murder was a crime against another person and that person's immediate family. Thus it was simply assumed that the head of the family was the individual who would pursue the murderer.
However, the law, based on that initial assumption, restricted the head of the family in his pursuit of the criminal. That is, if the violence was unintentional (manslaughter), then the violator could flee into a city of refuge and there be safe. But if the violence was intentional, although the head of the family could apprehend the murderer, the law did not allow him to punish the murderer himself.
Rather, the law required what we now call “due process of law.”
Thus two other circles of “government” came into play. One was the role of a judge, a leading wise man of a village. The other was the role of the elders “sitting in the gate.” The best way to understand these is to look at some of the American Indian societies. There you see judges and elders, but what you do not see among the historical Indian tribes or in Israel was any police force or power of violence attached to those judges or elders.
In the end, the only retribution of violence against those who had stolen (life or property or integrity) from their neighbor, came at the hand of the family of society, that is, by the hand of all the villagers together. That retribution of violence came only after due process of law and the decision of the judge. Stoning was used because it was the one way in which the just violence of retribution could be kept in the hands of all and thus kept out of the hands of just a few (that is, the prevention of any monopoly of violence).
Both the judges (many, many local judges) and the elders in the gate (which included leading women at times) also served as a general guide for society, a guide that had no access to violence to enforce its decisions.
At times, however, there was a need to defend Israel from foreign invasion. At such times, God raised up individual “super” judges, men or women of His particular calling. These individuals held no authority, rather, they simply invited men to join with them and then led the fight against the enemy. Other than such leadership, they held no other authority. In fact, when a judge stayed in a place of influence too long, such as Gideon did, things always went contrary to God and to freedom. An example on the good side is Joshua. Joshua led the armies of Israel for seven years, then he divided the land, then he retired. A few years later, Israel was invaded by an outside enemy, and God raised up Othniel, not Joshua, to lead the armies of Israel. Joshua was just in his early seventies; he could easily have led. It was no problem to him to let Othniel lead, the son of his good friend, Caleb.
In actuality, however, if Israel had walked with God, there would never have been a need for any military “judge.” God was Israel's defense; those “super” judges were not in God's intention.
A few decades later, Boaz is the prince of Judah. If Israel had been in journey still, Boaz would have been the first of Israel to follow the Ark. Boaz is clearly wealthy with much property and many servants. Yet he sits as an equal with the elders in the gate and has no access to his own power of violence over anyone else.
Now, this letter is not a treatise on natural freedom in this world. What I want you to see is how God had thought through all the social ramifications of how a people could live together as a nation and yet remain a free people before Him. Only what is freely given out from true liberty can ever please God.
The problem was not and is never the law. The problem was entirely that God was on the outside of these people in their knowledge. Thus the law could never keep them free; the lust to control people will always find ways to turn the law from freedom to bondage in exactly the same way that the same lust turns the church, a free woman, into a top-down structure and American society into slavery and injustice.
But Christ on the inside of us fulfills out from our hearts all that a law on the outside could never do.
God's system of government provided full equality of all before the law; the law protected the property of the poor (beginning with conscience, life, and voice) as much as it protected the property of the rich. And thus God's system provided for a full dispersal of the power of violence used in self-protection, serving only to limit it to a proportional response, only one eye for an eye, not two, and placing it under due process.
But God's system of economics does NOT provide for equality in outward appearance. Rather, economic relationships between people rest entirely on the concept that a man's word is his bond. Thus the contract entered into by free association between two is held to be sacred and inviolable.
No one is ever equal outwardly; this is God's order forever.
There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:40-42
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 2 Timothy 2:20
The desire to prosper and increase is a God-ly desire, and we will prosper and increase forever.
Un-God-liness is wanting what belongs to another, rich or poor. Sin is actually taking it by violence. Nothing takes by violence as much as any monopoly of violence such as a king or a modern democratic state does.
You and I will find all the joy of fulfillment, all the pleasure of the universe, as we fill the place God has created us to fill and as that place fills us. We will know when we are fully in our place, for there we will find all the echoes of our heart singing in unrestrained joy. “Place” is not something forced upon, but aspired to.
Now, I am exploring all these outward practicalities out from the thinking of my letter, “Seeing the Invisible One.” God is very practical, and His practicality is very complex in its outworkings, though simple in its heart.
God is very rich, yet He made Himself poor that He might become our equal, one of us and we, one of Him.
This very, very rich God, then entered into a binding Covenant with us by the Word of His mouth, a Covenant that is sacred and absolute, a Covenant that makes us equal with Him at the level of Heart and at the level of Word. Yet – God is bigger than we are, to say the least.
Outward appearance will always be unequal.
Heart will always be together as the best and closest of friends.
You see, God through us serves, but God through us is owned by no man or group. Any service given as a debt of obligation is un-God-ly. Jesus had the power and the right to defend Himself when they dragged Him to the cross. He chose not to use that power and right only to win our hearts. If you do not “own” yourself, you cannot give anything to God. The only offering acceptable to God is that which is freely given.
Owe no man anything except to love one another.
The cry for outward equality in our world today is the cry of Marxism, the lust to drag everyone down to the lowest, a world in which the rich become poor and the poor die of destitution by the hundreds of millions. It is envy only, envy that makes everyone equal at the very bottom of existence.
Because they reject God, they reject God's right to place His creation where and how He sees fit.
Never in all the history of the world have the rich got richer while the poor became poorer. An 80/20 division is a law of all human society in all centuries and in all places. That division can be distorted slightly by violence, but it will always quickly come back to the norm. In the most poverty-stricken communist country, North Korea, where everyone is supposedly equal at the bottom, you will find that 20% of the population controls 80% of the wealth. And in Marxist-minded America, the top 20% of the wealthiest people pay 80% of the taxes.
Freedom allows the rich to become very rich and thus allows the poor to live better lives than kings and aristocracy once led. I have a refrigerator in my house; Bill Gates has a refrigerator in his; no king ever did.
There cannot be an equality in outward appearance; all who have sought such an equality never changed the 80/20 law one iota. They always succeeded, however, in shedding a whole lot of innocent blood and bringing the entire society down into ruin and loss. The purpose of their cries is that they, or those egging them on, want to be in the power side of the social spectrum, regardless of all the sorrow and loss they will bring.
Now, the law of God assumes the sanctity of contract, but it does not legislate it. This is the same way as the law assuming a universal right to self-defense, but not legislating such a right. Rights cannot be entitlements, for that would be theft. Rights can only by termed as “thou shalt not.” Read the bill of rights, they are all, thou – Congress/President – shalt not. A right is not some thing belonging to me; a right is something you cannot steal from me. A right is not positive, but negative; it does not give entitlement, but it prevents the thief.
However, just as the law also moderates self-defense in order to make it proportional and just (due process), so it moderates the right of contract with one incredible provision. – That provision is the Year of Jubliee.
In Israel's timetable, every six years are years of production, then every seventh year is a rest for the land. This is an incredible plan. God promises that He will so bless the sixth year that the production will be sufficient to carry them through a seventh year of no production. The result is that all fields lie fallow for one year. This allows the natural life of the soil to replenish itself, thus keeping Israel's agricultural lands highly fertile.
This process of six years of production and a seventh year of rest passes through a cycle seven times, or for 49 years. Then, on the seventh time, God promises to so bless the final years of production that Israel will have enough to carry them through two years of no-production. The first is the usual seventh year of rest; the second is the year of Jubilee, every fifty years.
In the year of Jubilee, all contracts are automatically annulled. No one owes any obligation to anyone.
Thus, in the first year following, everyone starts fresh. Those who have made mistakes can now start over having learned from their mistakes. Bad investments are closed out; wrong directions of business cease. Business re-starts fresh and innovative going in the best directions to benefit people.
You see, in a society operating within the constraints of the year of Jubilee, investments will wind down in the last few years before the Jubilee. No one will loan a large sum of money in the 49th year knowing that they will lose it all in the next year. The result is that all financial positions are consolidated and regrouped in the last couple of years before the Jubilee. Thus, a huge amount of pent up resources will be ready to explode in production in the best directions just after the Jubilee.
One enormous benefit will be no inflation whatsoever. Everything will retain its same value over time except by the requirements of supply and demand and the scarcity of resources. (Our American dollar is created by contract and comes forth from the Federal Reserve as an obligation of debt. Thus a year of Jubilee would actually cancel the entire American money supply. In 1912, there was no such money supply to cancel. Today, all of the world's economic system is based on this U.S. government monopoly of stupidity.)
Of truth, God intended for all Israel, both rich and poor, to be extraordinarily prosperous and filled with abundance in comparison to all the nations around. And God intended all Israel to be equal in power to each other with no individual person having any claim of control over the violence of others.
God places Himself beneath all in order to lift all up, to encourage each one's heart.
Satan places himself above all in order to drag all down and to sow discouragement everywhere.
God sets all free of Himself, waiting quietly until Love, Christ Jesus, wins all back.
Satan dominates by a system of command and control, setting up hierarchies of authority from the top down.
You see, God is the Creator. Look at His creation; it is immensely practical with every tiny detail carefully thought out and everything working together in a perfect harmony with no external control.
Satan and Satan through man sets up orders of command and control in an effort to turn God's order of freedom into chaos and thus drag everyone down. Human control always increases the mess. Everything your government does to “fix the problems” fixes nothing, but only increases the problems more than before. Because your government controls both the media and the schools, it is able, for the time being, to convince everyone that it is NOT the problem, but that all non-government is the problem and that all must be brought into the control of the wolves who always control all human monopolies of power. – The Beast.
Too many Christians claim that they “trust” God, but they are completely unwilling to allow God to order the events of His creation, that is, His unfolding into visibility through travail without human control that ends up being nothing more than an effort to “make God do what God ought to be doing if He were as smart as us.”
Now, I want to bring this layout of the immense practicality of God into this friendship, you and me together, that is life together, Christ Jesus upon this earth Bodily.
Remember that the patterns of God are the unfolding of an invisible God through space and time. Thus God is all right now filling us full. Yet we know Him only as He unfolds Himself into our knowledge forever.
If you and I are to be best friends in Christ, what does that mean?
To be best friends, I must trust you implicitly. That means I must open myself up to you to allow you to enter into my heart and to make use of all that I am and possess as your own (covenant). At the same time and in equal measure, I enter into your heart with the highest regard and respect. I KNOW that I am being highly honored by you that you would allow me to enter your heart and to make use of all that you are and possess as my own (covenant).
You see how the law can never create such a covenant, either between us or between God and us? How can I dwell in your life and you in mine by a list of rules? Whenever one Christian violates the heart of another Christian, they always whip out the rule book to explain to you why they have the right to violate your heart.
Yet a true friend will know when he or she has tracked mud into your living room, will apologize profusely, and clean up their mess.
We cannot be best friends except as humans. That is, as people who make mistakes. This is the incredible God-ness of trust, the Mercy Seat. It is the Mercy Seat in me into which I am allowing you entrance, and it is the Mercy Seat in you into which you are allowing me entrance.
This, and nothing else, is Church, members one of another.
God has given me so many tastes of real friendship. The five men of whom I have spoken, men who walked with me in honor and with whom I excelled, of those five, three were elders in move community. When I worked with them, and I worked very closely with each over time, my oddities and mistakes and harsh outer autistic shell of protection did not exist to them and thus did not exist to me. In their mirror, I saw a reflection of myself that was capable and good. Those were my times of success in walking with God in His Church.
I am a whole man today only because I remembered my reflection in their mirror.
Yet the days in which I worked closely with bullies, men and women who saw their place in God as making them “superior” to me in the sense that they were “in charge” in a rough and selfish manner were far more in count over many years. Don't get me wrong. I moved in much the same way in my own sphere of being in charge of the construction projects in the communities where I lived. God placed me with bullies because I also bullied in my own way.
When I wrote a letter of apology to the brother I bullied the most, he replied to me that he hardly remembered any of that, all he remembered was that I was always there for him daily over many years. God heals our hearts by breaking them first through the Mercy Seat in the heart of our brother or sister.
Welcome to Church. – Church is a bunch of human humans filled full with a meek and tender God and thus filled full with each other.
I'm not good at all at being friends outwardly, yet friendship fills my heart. I always need encouragement from my friends, regularly, yet any encouragement I try to give back always feels forced and unnatural. As I accept myself as I find myself to be, so I accept you in like manner.
We love one another only as we first love ourselves as the image and dwelling place of God.
Ninety percent of all Christian ministries I have known did not show to me this kind of a God. Rather, the sense of entitlement and superiority rules underneath amazingly anointed and Christian personas. You don't get close. You see, when you're not sure about a brother or sister, one who seems to be with you, just get in there close and see. Can you find even a little bit of something that considers you above him or herself, something that would humble self beneath of you? Or do you find nothing but the words coming out from “I am superior to you in the Lord; I am in your life in order to fix your problems and to set you straight.” The words coming out from that kind of a heart are all the same, and I have heard them so many times. When there is nothing but such words, then you must quietly go your way knowing that in the present season God is not connecting with you through that one. To confirm your quiet decision, you will then hear the words that argue that you are walking away from God and God's order by walking away from them. At that point you know that God is keeping you from evil (“The Obedience of God”). We don't need to judge; we just need to remain free.
This issue of the bond of friendship coming out of Blood Covenant together, members of one another, is a river that runs deep and full. Only here do we find Church. Only here do we find the Body of Christ. Only here do we find the full revelation of God in the Feast of Tabernacles.
This bond of friendship comes out from a Heart, the Heart of our High Priest beating in our chests.
I cannot “create” this friendship between you and me. I make so many foolish mistakes that it is amazing to me that I have had any friends at all, let alone having so many now and in the past. Let me repeat my definition of the Feast of Tabernacles.
– To be best friends, I must trust you implicitly. That means I must open myself up to you to allow you to enter into my heart and to make use of all that I am and possess as your own (Covenant). At the same time and in equal measure, I enter into your heart with the highest regard and respect. I KNOW that I am being highly honored by you that you would allow me to enter your heart and to make use of all that you are and possess as my own (Covenant). –
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 4:14