By Samuel Clough
An overview of some of the essential elements of Eschatological Missiology given at the International House of Prayer University.
By Samuel Clough
An overview of the subject of a transitional generation and the looming controversy around Zion, followed by a brief consideration of how this affects the way we do missions in this generation.
Posted in Audio, Day of the Lord, Eschatological Missiology, Eschatology, Forerunner Messengers, Isaiah, Israel, Jacob's Trouble, Missions, Prayer Movement, Zecharaiah | Tagged forerunners, Missions, transitional generation, zion | Leave a response
By Samuel Clough
An audio message delivered at the Antioch Prayer Society Convocation for Prayer and Revival from Isaiah 6 on the call to live before the Lord as a priest in this age.
By Samuel Clough
The Unique Relationship of Jewish and African Peoples at the End of the Age
When we speak of the black community we must clearly include all black believers, both those in Africa and those throughout the earth due to the African diaspora. The call to the black community to take leadership in the prayer movement is a global call because of the immensity of their role at the end of the age.
Many leaders are feeling a prophetic urgency that the black community must take a place of primary leadership in the prayer movement and this prophetic urgency must not be seen as a prophetic whisper, but as a prophetic shout due to the urgency of the hour. It is critical that we understand that this is not a good idea or another man-made attempt at reconciliation. This is a critical issue and there will be massive repercussions in the years ahead based on how we respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit
The prayer movement at the end of the age will be from intimacy, with music, and for the harvest. The Lord has placed a unique gift and divine authority on the black community relating to music and to worship. At the end of the age the prayer movement will be in the context of worship and this unique gift is specifically designed to build the house of prayer.
From the end of the earth we have heard songs… – Isaiah 24:16 NKJV
We must respond both in the place of intercession and in action. While action is necessary, intercession is more necessary. We fail to intercede over this issue because we fail to understand how truly critical it is. Man-made attempts at superficially uniting the races have caused many to ignore the call to unity. We must understand that, in this hour, the call for black leadership in the prayer movement is not a fad, a trend, or another man-made attempt at reconciliation, it is a critical once we understand the prophetic context that we are living in and the context in which the events at the end of the age will unfold.
While we are going to primarily consider the eschatological issues surrounding black leadership in the prayer movement, we must be clear that the Lord strong desires racial unity in the church. The racial separation in the church is a serious concern before the Lord regardless of the eschatological implications we will examine. The conflict between Jew and gentile is the origin of all racism, and from the beginning, the church was intended to be a miraculous demonstration of unity between the Jew and Gentile.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! – Psalm 133:1 NKJV
…where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. – Colossians 3:11 NKJV
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28 NKJV
One of the greatest blights on the church is the initial racial divide that occurred as the gentile community of believers outgrew the Jewish community of believers and began separating from them and persecuting them as early as the 3rd century. This racism had profound implications for the church. This separation is felt to this day in Jewish distrust of the very people that carry their own Scriptures. Beyond the blindness spoken of in the Scriptures, there is a resistance to Christians due to their experience of racism.
Even Christian theology suffered tremendously from this divide as the gentile church divorced itself from the Jewish context of the Scripture and sought to synthesize the Scriptures with other philosophical ideas. In light of our past, While we want to examine the eschatological issues that surround black leadership in the prayer movement, we must acknowledge that the Lord truly desires unity in His church and our separation grieves His heart.
The Purpose of the Prayer Movement
Because we are considering the prayer movement specifically, we must understand why the prayer movement is exploding at this particular time in history. The prayer movement does serve the purpose of unifying the church, laboring for revival, and demonstrating the worth of Jesus; however, those are not the only reasons for the unique night and day prayer movement that is spreading rapidly throughout the earth. Without understanding the full context of the prayer movement, we will not have vision or strength to continue.
A primary purpose for the night and day prayer movement is the crisis that will fall on Israel at the end of the age. The Scripture is very clear that night and day prayer will precede the end of the age. This contending prayer movement is both Jesus’ global welcoming party and will also be required for the events that befall Israel at the end of the age. See Psalms 96:1-13; 98:1-9; Isaiah 30:19; 24:14-16; 52:8; Zephaniah 2:1-3; Zechariah 12:10; Luke 18-8; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-5; 22:17.
The Scripture is particularly clear that night and day prayer exists for God’s purposes in Jerusalem. Isaiah 62 is very clear about the connection of day and night prayer with the urgency in God’s heart to see all His purposes regarding Israel and Jerusalem come to pass:
For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns…I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem [for the cause of Jerusalem]; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. – Isaiah 62:1;6-7 NKJV
Contending day and night prayer, which includes day and night worship and singing is a part of the end of the age. As the earth groans, so too the people of God will corporately groan in faith for His appearing.
The Significance of Israel and the Coming Crisis
Not only is night and day prayer significant for Jesus’ appearing, it is required because of the magnitude of the events that are going to befall Israel, and the entire globe, at the end of the age. Much of the church has little or no awareness of the magnitude of the trouble that is coming for Israel. Many assume that Israel’s troubles are mostly over because they are back in the land. The reality is that Israel’s troubles are only about to escalate. The terrors of the day ahead should cause us to have difficulty speaking about these things without weeping.
Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble… – Jeremiah 30:7 NKJV
Jeremiah 30-31 describes the time of Jacob’s trouble, an unparalleled time of difficulty and suffering for Israel. Many assume this is past, when a careful study of Scripture reveals that the most terrifying days of Jewish suffering are in front of us. Jewish suffering will not only affect Israel, but it will become an issue throughout the entire earth. The issue of Jerusalem will affect the entire earth as the Jews are persecuted and driven throughout the nations of the earth. Throughout the earth Jews will be on the run and in hiding. What was seen in Nazi Germany was a graphic illustration of what is coming again as the end-time scenario unfolds.
And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples… – Zechariah 12:3 NKJV
In the hour of their greatest suffering, God will be looking at the gentiles, the “wild olive branches that have been grafted in to the natural olive tree” to make provision for and suffer with the Jewish people in order to display His own unending love for Israel.
I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles…For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? – Romans 11:11,25 NKJV
The Preparation of a People that Can Endure Crisis
As the hour of trial for the entire earth approaches, the church must be prepared to endure crisis and pressure unlike any point in human history.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. – Matthew 24:21-22 NKJV
Since the prayer movement exists specifically for this time of great tribulation, and the many decades leading up to this time as the pressure begins to build, the Lord will prepare a people for this hour of suffering that are capable of enduring with strength. Particularly in the preceding centuries, people of African descent throughout the earth have endured great suffering and great trial. Because of this suffering, they have a unique history that the entire church is going to need in the hour of suffering to come.
Amazingly, the history of the African people contains unique parallels to the story of Joseph. Like Joseph they have endured persecution, slavery, and being cast aside as a people group. Yet, like Joseph, in the moment of national crisis there are significant consequences if they do not rise and take their place of leadership on behalf of others to prepare for and endure the crisis.
If the church is going to be prepared to endure the hour of suffering, it is critical that the black community take a significant leadership role to begin to prepare the church at large to endure the type of suffering that the black community has experienced over the last several centuries. The entire community of believers around the earth will soon experience the suffering that they endured simply because of skin color.
At the end of the age, this racism will come to its zenith and we must understand that the root of all racism is the divide between Jew and gentile. However, persecution will not be limited only to those that are Jewish by blood though they will take the brunt of the suffering. Those who join themselves to Jacob in that hour will endure the suffering as well. The African people have uniquely experienced the suffering that comes from racism on a global level and therefore have a great understanding of the suffering that will come as anti-Semitism reaches its height in all of history.
Believers of all backgrounds, who join themselves to the Jewish people in this hour of suffering, will begin to experience the full weight of suffering that comes from racism. In this hour, believers of African ancestry have been uniquely prepared to lead the church with strength. Because they have borne the weight of suffering rooted in racism, they will be equipped to lead the entire church as it comes under the weight of racial suffering through faithfulness to the Jew.
This is the hour for the black community to give the entire church strength to endure the persecution that is coming. If they do not their place of leadership the entire church will be unequipped for the eschatological suffering that is coming.
We are bear responsibility to see these things come to pass. There is a call to black believers to receive the love and warmth of other areas of the church who are genuinely repentant towards the history of racism that has existed in many countries of the earth and was effected by many of their ancestors. Just as Jesus forgave those who persecuted Him, so too the black community must forgive so that they can take their rightful place of leadership across the entire church.
There is also a clear call to non-black believers to have genuine love and sympathy for the suffering that the black community has endured. There is a tendency for non-black believers to over simplify the suffering endured by the black community and the issues it has subsequently faced because of centuries of slavery. This over simplification creates a barrier that prevents the black community from coming into their place of leadership over the entire church. Love must become the preeminent value of non-black believers towards their black brothers and sisters.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal…Though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing…the greatest of these is love. – I Corinthians 13:1,3,13 NKJV
The African Witness to the Jews at the End of the Age
Even as the black community is called to strengthen the entire community of believers at the end of the age, they are also uniquely called to minister to the Jew in the hour of suffering and trial. The African history of diaspora, suffering, and slavery has uniquely prepared the black community to minister to Jews in flight at the end of the age. Their shared history of suffering will enable them to minister to the Jews in a unique way.
It is critical that the black community does not see its suffering only through an Afrocentric lens. Yes, God cares about the unique suffering the black community has endured, but the black community must see their own suffering as a unique preparation that allows them to minister at the end of the age in the way that others cannot. (This, of course, in no way justifies the suffering perpetrated on the African people, but rather it is God’s glorious redemption of the wickedness they have endured.)
The black community will only find full healing from the suffering they have endured as they see the incredible gift they now have that will be required at the end of the age. Though there are real issues within the black community that all believers should labor for, the black community themselves cannot allow their own suffering to cause them to lose sight of their call which extends fall beyond their own community.
A primary tool of the enemy at the end of the age will be to make the black community entirely self focused so that they cannot give their unique gift to the Jew and the church at the end of the age. The enemy knows how significant their role is to be and this is why he consistently wars against them coming into true freedom and releasing the power of their history of suffering to the church and, in a coming hour, to Jews in flight.
It also cannot be overlooked that both the African people and the Jewish people are known as a musical people. Isaiah 24:14-16 is very clear that, at the end of the age, amidst all the destruction songs will be heard from the ends of the earth.
From the end of the earth we have heard songs… – Isaiah 24:16 NKJV
As Jews are persecuted throughout the earth, the Lord will cause them to be sheltered by gentile believers who will be singing the very songs of Zion throughout the nations of the earth. In the very hour when the Jews feel least like singing, they will be sheltered by a singing people singing their own songs from the Scripture. This global singing will be a primary witness of Jesus to the Jews at the end of the age. The black community has a unique gift and anointing for song and for music. Not only does the Lord intend to use this gift to fill the earth with prayer and worship in preparation for the Lord’s return, He also intends to use it to minister to the Jews at the end of the age.
We must always be clear that no one knows the day or the hour of Jesus return, but the Scripture is also clear that we will know the signs of the times as the end approaches. It is unbiblical to act as though we should not anticipate the end of the age or even watch for specific, biblical signs that the end is drawing near. The clear tone of Jesus’ and Paul’s writings is that we are actually in error when we do not recognize the times and seasons.
When you see all these things, know that it is near-at the doors! – Matthew 24:33 NKJV
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42 NKJV
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. – Luke 21:28
The Pharisees…came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven…Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. – Matthew 16:1-4 NKJV
Concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you…But you, brethren, are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief…Therefore…let us watch. – 1 Thessalonians. 5:1-6 NKJV
Virtually all of the church recognizes the significance of Israel’s return to the land beginning in 1948 and their occupation of Jerusalem in 1967. After 2,000 years of absence from the land, this was a stunning development that shows us very clearly that we have entered a different prophetic season on God’s timetable. While most of the church recognizes there is great significance to the state of Israel, most of the church is still ignorant of the fact that the current state of Israel is not the full fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel and a great suffering exists between what exists now and what God will establish at Jesus’ return.
As we have already noted, the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30-31) is still future and almost no one is preparing for it. History did not crescendo during World War II. It is building to a crescendo.
The current state of Israel will not endure as it is and the Jewish people will experience another disastrous season of suffering that both the holocaust and the previous diaspora were precursors to. While the understanding of Israel’s future suffering has been considered by many to be a fringe idea in the last few decades, not only is the church now growing in understanding of the coming crisis but the actual events that must come before the crisis are beginning to occur with frightening speed.
In the last twelve months, virtually every Arab state around Israel has become embroiled in revolution. While these revolutions are often presented as movements for democracy in the western media, everyone knows that the end of these revolutions will always be a strict Islamic government. The phrase “Arab spring is becoming Sharia fall” is an apt description of what is happening.
Both of Israel’s great allies in the region have suddenly shifted course in the last year. Turkey has gone from a quiet presence in the region that allied itself with U.S. interests to become very vocal against the state of Israel. Egypt, a close ally of Israel, now exists without a real government and, barring miraculous intervention from the Lord, is set to transition to an aggressive Islamic government. Protests in the nation have included calls for a military march on Israel and an attack against the Israeli embassy.
Other surrounding nations are also rapidly positioning themselves to participate in an attack against Israel. Iran has been very clear about its intentions to wipe Israel out of the land. The Palestinians have repeatedly refused moderate land swap proposals and are instead pushing for an internationally recognized state that will be one step to their plan of annihilating Israel. Palestinians have been very clear about their refusal to recognize Israel as a legitimate nation.
Smaller Arabic nations surrounding Israel are all in the midst of turbulence and revolution. As the dust settles in each nation, it will be the radical Muslims who will be in charge of each nation. The current turbulence in the Middle East is very clearly setting up a situation where Israel is surrounded with a hostility that is far more overt than what it has experienced in the last 20 years.
When Israel begins to be overrun by Arabic nations and Jews again flee into the nations of the earth, most of the church who will have no understanding of what is happening will retreat into fear and confusion. Many will even lose their faith and fall away entirely because of unbiblical ideas they had about Israel and the end of the age.
We cannot know if these events are months, years, or decades away, but it is very clear that the Middle East is rapidly transforming to the point where the future suffering of Israel is no longer just an idea, but a reality.
Very little remains, except for the actual military invasion, to set up the final scenario of Jewish suffering. This is no longer just a theological or eschatological idea for us to wrestle debate-it is reality on our evening news.
At this point, it only takes one nation to pull the trigger and a unified Arab coalition in the region could easily unite in military action against Israel. When we understand the reality of our condition, we should tremble at the lack of understanding and, even great, the lack of day and night intercession for the issue of Jerusalem.
In addition, it should fill our hearts with urgency for black believers to take their place in the prayer movement. It is the enemy’s scheme that black believers do not come into their place so that Israel will not be ministered to as the Lord intends in the final suffering. The black church and the Jewish predicament at the end of the age are intertwined and this is why the enemy wages such war against black believers coming into a place of leadership in a unified praying church at the end of the age. If he can prevent black believers from standing in their place and strengthening the church and ministering to the Jews at the end of the age, then he can affect far more damage in his rage against the church and the Jewish people.
The issue of black leadership in the prayer movement then is not just an issue of racial unity, which is extremely precious to the Lord, but it has great eschatological significance. The consequences of black believers not coming into the fullness of their destiny are massive. The scenario in the Middle East should make us tremble with urgency. The events of the end, though they may take decades to unfold, are upon us and yet black believers have still not been brought into their full place of leadership at the end of the age.
The situation is not accidental, nor is it isolated. Let us labor with sobriety to see the black community come into their fullness and to see other believers recognize the awesome responsibility that believers of African descent have in the events of the end of the age. Let us labor with great love to see the fullness of God’s calling for black believers come to pass.
If we do not give ourselves to intercession and to action, whether we are of African descent or not, to see that the black community is established in her place of leadership we are ignorant of the times in which we live and lack understanding of how our actions now will have massive repercussions as the end of the age unfolds with greater intensity.
If you are not familiar with this issue, I would like to encourage you to prayerfully read through both The Holocaust: Where was God? by Art Katz and The Controversy of Zion and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble by Dalton Lifsey.
Posted in 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Eschatology, Intercession, Isaiah, Israel, Jacob's Trouble, Luke, Persecution, Prayer Movement, Psalms, Romans, Significant Posts, The Coming Crisis, Zecharaiah, Zephaniah | Tagged African, black community, Eschatology, holocaust, Israel, Jacob's trouble, prayer movement, suffering | 1 Response
By Samuel Clough
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51-54 NKJV
Jesus’ Approach to Jerusalem
Luke’s record of Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem in Luke 9:51-54 is set in the context of Jesus’ personal journey to the cross. Earlier in the chapter Luke recorded Jesus’ prediction of His own crucifixion and suffering (Luke 9:22) along with a clear admonition for the disciples to embrace the same determination in their own lives if they want to follow Him (Luke 9:23-27). When we come to Luke 9:51-54 it is clear that Jesus is going to Jerusalem and no man can turn Him from that goal and that He is going to suffer and die in Jerusalem.
The Messianic backdrop is clear when Luke records a calculated approach to Jerusalem. There was a lot of expectation for the day when Messiah approaches Jerusalem and executes judgment on the nations, but the shocking thing that Luke records for us is that the Judge will approach Jerusalem in mercy before He comes in judgment. In understanding the context of Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem, Luke gives us a full picture of the heart of the Messianic Judge.
The King subjects Himself to humiliation before He takes His rightful place as king in Jerusalem. This humiliation reveals the tender heart of the Judge and that the Judge desires mercy before judgment. The shedding of His own blood and the humiliation of His own body reveal the tenderness of His heart and the depths of His desire for and commitment to mercy.
The reader should clearly understand then that Luke is describing this approach to Jerusalem in such a way that it parallels the approach to Jerusalem at the end of the age when judgment will be executed.
The two approaches are remarkably similar. The difference is that the first is to open a window a mercy before the second in which the window of mercy is closed and judgment is executed. That window of mercy was unexpected by Jesus’ contemporaries.
Luke also gives us a very clear picture of the forerunner ministry when Jesus desires to approach Jerusalem at the end of the age. Jesus sent the disciples as forerunners but, like John the Baptist, they were a picture of a much larger sending of forerunner messengers that will precede and accompany His approach towards Jerusalem at the end of the age.
He Set His Face
…when the time had come…He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51 NKJV
Luke 9:51 must be understood in the context of Luke 9:21-27. Jesus had already embraced the suffering and rejection that would come when He entered Jerusalem. He knew what was going to happen when He entered Jerusalem and He was determined to enter the city.
The suffering and agony of the cross could not deter Him from His Father’s will. Doing His Father’s will was His primary consideration, not the shame and suffering of the cross. Nothing could deter Him. This is why He called His disciples to have this same sort of resolution in their hearts and follow His heart posture (Luke 9:23-27). He did not just follow the Father’s will fatalistically, but He approached Jerusalem with determination.
Jesus understood the shame of what He was about to do. In this context, He called the disciples to not be ashamed either of Him or His words. He knew His words about embracing the cross were offensive to men. He knew that what He was about to do in Jerusalem would be humiliating and that men would be forever ashamed of the idea of God hanging naked and humiliated on a cross as the means of cosmic redemption. In that context, Jesus spoke very direct and serious words – we are not to be ashamed either of Him or His words. Instead we are to set our face like Him (Luke 9:23).
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed…” – Luke 9:26 NKJV
Luke’s description of how Jesus set His face and His heart (Luke 9:22,51) reveals how fierce His dedication was to entering Jerusalem and securing mercy on the cross. It is not a passive commitment to mercy, but a fierce commitment to enter the city and fulfill His Father’s will. When Jesus approaches Jerusalem at the end of the age for judgment, His dedication to His Father’s desire will be just as fierce and terrible. He will execute judgment with the same tenacity that He secured mercy with. The same fierce dedication that caused Him to embrace and run towards the cross will also empower Him to enter the city in judgment and destroy all unrighteousness.
The fierce resolve that covered Him in His own blood on the cross will also cover Him in the blood of the nations when He enters Jerusalem again (Isaiah 63).
He Sent Messengers Before His Face
…sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. – Luke 9:52 NKJV
Luke gives us one of the clearest examples of the forerunner ministry. Jesus was giving a foretaste of the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3. Once Jesus set His face towards Jerusalem, He sent messengers, or forerunners, before Him to announce His coming.
In ancient times, a king would send an envoy before him to prepare the people to receive the king. This messenger would be entrusted with the authority of the king and command the people to prepare the king. In the same manner, Jesus will send messengers before Him to command the nations to receive Him as the ultimate King and Judge of the nations.
When Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem again at the end of the age, He will release a forerunner ministry of messengers that will be sent to proclaim His coming with clarity and authority.
Once Jesus had set His face to enter Jerusalem, He sent these messengers to prepare the people for His arrival.It is very likely that we are entering that period of history when Jesus is again beginning to set His face towards Jerusalem and we will begin to see the forerunner ministry released on a global scale to declare to all the nations that Jesus is coming as bridegroom (because of love), king (to rule from Jerusalem), and judge (to judge sin and wickedness).
When Jesus decided to approach Jerusalem, He sent messengers before His face. This has two very clear implications. First, the messengers were sent from the place of intimacy. Jesus will commission messengers that are before His face. He does not send random messengers but those who have sought His face. Those who will be sent as messengers are not those who have sought ministry, but those that have sought Jesus Himself. He will send those who are “Friends of the Bridegroom” whose chief delight is not in their ministry or power, but in Jesus Himself (John 3:29).
One of the primary purposes of the prayer movement in our generation is to prepare these messengers by putting them before Jesus’ face in the place of prayer and fasting. Houses of prayer are incubators where messengers are being formed “before His face” that they might be sent before the earth sees His face.
Forerunners choose to give their life to proclaiming specific messages before the church at large emphasizes them. In the same way, they begin to live before His face in order to prepare the church to live before His face and the nations to experience His face.
Secondly, messengers carry a very serious ministry of preparing the earth to receive Jesus. This is a great and a terrible calling. John recalls that when Jesus sets His face to enter Jerusalem again that the nations will cry out in fear and terror because of the glory of His face.
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?” – Malachi 3:2
…said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come and who is able to stand?” – Revelation 6:16-17 NKJV
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. – Revelation 20:11 NKJV
These messengers both live before His face and are sent out before Jesus’ face appears to the nations to prepare the earth to receive Him. In the kindness of His face towards believers and the terror of His face towards wicked nations we see the fullness of bridegroom, king, and judge.
For some His face will be great comfort, for all it will be great glory, and for many it will be great terror.
Jesus focused most of His ministry on Israel though He interacted with and responded to gentiles that sought Him out. Jesus had previously sent out His disciples and specifically commanded them to only go to Israel and not to Samaria or the nations (Matthew 10:5-6).
However, when He set His face for the confrontation with the enemy in Jerusalem, the messengers He sent went through Samaria. A forerunner ministry not just in Israel but also in the nations precedes the confrontation in Jerusalem, both the first confrontation on the cross and the second one with the nations that is coming.
At the end of the age, the forerunner ministry will not just go to Israel; it will be throughout the nations of the earth. This ministry will take a significant amount of time to unfold because God is going to release a witness in every nation. Not only will every nation hear the gospel of salvation, they will hear the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14).
At the end of the age, that gospel will be that the King is coming. It is very possible that this ministry will occupy the better part of a generation to announce Jesus’ return and prepare the people for it.
The modern missions movement is going to have to establish strong eschatological foundations for the final missions thrust of history.
Many are focused on fulfilling Matthew 24:14 but few are emphasizing the context of Matthew 24:14 and it is an eschatological context. The gospel is going to the nations is for salvation, but it is also for the preparation of every nation to respond to the return of Jesus. This preparation ministry is to prepare both men individually and nations for His return. It will meet much opposition but it is a required ministry.
They Did Not Receive Him because of Jerusalem
But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51 NKJV
The messengers He sends will face incredible opposition. There will be a harvest as many will turn in repentance, but the kingdoms of the world will reject them. The messengers He sends will have the same experience as John the Baptist who turned many to repentance, but also faced stiff opposition.
Many in the church will reject the proclamation of the messengers just as the town in Samaria rejected Jesus’ disciples. Samaritans were an ethnic mixture of Jews and people who had settled in the land. In the same way, those in the church that have tolerated mixture will reject Jesus at the end of the age.
Samaria also represents the nations of the earth that surround Israel. Governmentally, the nations of the earth will reject the proclamation of Jesus as a real, political King and surround Jerusalem to extinguish the city that is Jesus’ desire. Jerusalem will be the divisive issue at the end of the age. It will be a stumbling block to all people.
And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth are gathered against it. – Zechariah 12:3 NKJV
Israel has always been a stumbling block to the nations and so too at the end of the age. The people of the earth will literally be divided over the issue of Jerusalem and the Jewish people.The controversy that surrounds Jerusalem and the Jewish people is entirely because He has set His face on them.
Jerusalem will be the stumbling block of the nations precisely because Jesus has set His face on it.
For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you [Zion] touches the apple of His eye.” – Zechariah 2:8
The Heart of the Messenger
“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But he turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” – Luke 9:54-56 NKJV
Even though the messengers He sends will face tremendous opposition and pressure, it is critical that they have the heart of Jesus. Though He is coming as judge, everything He does is rooted in love. It is the fire of love in Him that causes Him to judge and the messengers He sends must know that flame of love. Jesus rebuked the disciples because they wanted to call down judgment on those who have rejected Jesus. They did not have the true heart of the Judge who loves mercy.
Jesus’ heart is revealed in the fact that He entered Jerusalem for mercy first before He enters Jerusalem for judgment. His mercy is also on display in the gap between the two entrances into Jerusalem. He gives the nations time to respond to mercy offered. The heart of the Judge is for mercy first of all. As Art Katz used to say, “It is not judgment that is penultimate, but mercy.”
His intentional entrance into Jerusalem to face the horror of the cross forever declares the nature of the Judge.
In all His glory, He is seen as a “Lamb slain” in the midst of the throne (Revelation 5:6). He is forever, even as Judge, a Lamb slain who willingly surrendered His life to provide mercy for all who would repent.
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain… – Revelation 5:6 NKJV
Jesus’ love of mercy is also in display in the intentional sending of messengers before His face into the nations of the earth before He enters Jerusalem. Before He enters the city for final judgment, He wants every nation to have the opportunity to prepare for His coming. Messengers are sent before His face to prepare the nations to receive Him in repentance so that they will not face His wrath.
Messengers must remain fully rooted in the love of God, or the pressures they face will cause them to become bitter and forget what spirit they are of and lose the heart of the coming Judge in the very act of preparing the earth for His approach.
We will tremble at His tenacity as Judge, but tremble even more at the greatness of His mercy.