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Monday, April 23 2012

The Church In The Wilderness

Studies in this series:

1. The Church In The Garden 2. The Church In The Wilderness 3. The Church Today
4. The Church In The End Time 5. The Church In The Kingdom Of God 6. The Church: Mission Accomplished

The Messiah's people (see Friends Of Jesus and The Yoke Of Freedom) came to be called the "church" from a Biblical word that means people who are "called out" of living by the ways of the world to live by the Way of God. According to the Word of God, "church" is not a building or a corporation, let alone a religious organization being ruled by some human who claims to be the "leader" of Christ's Church, Christ's people (see Can You See The Church?). The people of God, the church of God, have existed right from the beginning (see The Church In The Garden). Thousands of years later, it was also Jesus Christ who led the Israelites at the time of the Exodus, for "they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."

"10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ [see Christ's Crossing Of The Sea]." (1 Corinthians 10:1-4 KJV)

But what happened to those of the people, those of the church, who thereafter refused to obey the Messiah's Commandments after their calling? They were "overthrown in the wilderness" by "Christ." Notice also that the apostle Paul was referring directly to the Passover, of that time, as Christ's Passover deliverance of His people of all time i.e. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" because "the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (see The Messiah's Days Of Unleavened Bread and Christ Died For Repentant Sinners).

The Tabernacle

"10:5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness [see The Stones Of Mount Sinai and What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?].

10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play [see The Mount Sinai Riot]. 10:8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

10:14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. 10:15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 10:17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread [see Nisan 14: The Messiah's Manna]." (1 Corinthians 10:5-17 KJV)

As stated above, "that Rock was Christ" in the Exodus. Not long afterward, Christ delivered the Ten Commandments with the Christ-identifying statement "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (see Appearances Of The LORD God).

The Holy Scriptures

"20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 20:6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy [see Why Observe The True Sabbath?]. 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work [see The Fourth Commandment, Part One: Work]: 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work [see The Fourth Commandment, Part Two: Rest], thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

20:13 Thou shalt not kill.

20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

20:15 Thou shalt not steal.

20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's." (Exodus 20:2-17 KJV)

"This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness"

Perhaps the greatest irony of all of the Messiah's human life was that He was rejected by the people, the church, to Whom He gave the basis of their religion to begin with - which unfortunately became their religion (see Is Your Religion Your Religion? and Is Your Church A Cult?) because they replaced much of what Christ actually gave them with their own "laws" and traditions - and then blasphemously accused the LORD God of being a law-breaker. They claimed to be the children of Abraham, but by that time they had become a very different sort of children (see How Did The Messiah's Levite Priesthood Change?). The good news is that it will change in their due time (see When Do Jews Become Christians?).

The Western Wall

"8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 8:37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 8:38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.

Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father.

Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." (John 8:31-41 KJV)

Abraham was a key figure in the history of the church - and a key ancestor of the faith (see What Did Jesus Christ Say About Abraham?).

"8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech [see The Word Of God In The Tongues Of Man]? even because ye cannot hear my word. 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 8:47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." (John 8:42-47 KJV)

After more blasphemous insults, including about Abraham (i.e. as though Abraham would have rejected the Messiah as they were doing), they sought to kill the Messiah - which they eventually did.

Abraham's Journey

"8:48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

8:49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 8:50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

8:52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 8:53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

8:54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 8:55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 8:59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." (John 8:48-59 KJV)

Not long after the killing of the Messiah, many of His people, His church, were also killed. Among the first was Stephen (see The Crossing Of Philip And Saul). Stephen was killed right after he made his defense before the religious authorities by means of a history lesson - beginning, exactly as Christ did, with the faith and obedience of righteous Abraham, when the LORD God appeared to him i.e. when Christ appeared to him (again, see Appearances Of The LORD God).

"7:2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 7:3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee.

7:4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. 7:5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 7:6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7:7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 7:8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision [see Circumcision]: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs [see The Syrian Marriage Wells].

7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 7:10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

7:11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 7:12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first [see Why Did They Go To Goshen?]. 7:13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. 7:14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls [see What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?]. 7:15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 7:16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem." (Acts 7:2-16 KJV)

The LORD had made the Exodus ("that Rock was Christ") known to Abraham (see The Exodus Prophecy). When the time came for it to happen, the LORD called Moses into His church, His people.

Abram Leaving Ur

"7:17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 7:18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 7:19 The same dealt subtly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.

7:20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months: 7:21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 7:22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.

7:23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 7:24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 7:25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 7:26 And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

7:27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 7:28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 7:29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian [see Moses Of Midian], where he begat two sons." (Acts 7:17-29 KJV)

The time that Moses spent in the Sinai (see Paul's Geography Lesson) was for a purpose - to serve "the church in the wilderness" after their Exodus i.e. "This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness." Notice how it all and always begins with or returns to Christ.

"7:30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 7:31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 7:32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.

7:33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 7:34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.

7:35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 7:36 He brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

7:37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:" (Acts 7:30-38 KJV)

The purpose of Stephen's history lesson then turned to the present - and the future: "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."

Moses

"7:39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 7:40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 7:41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 7:42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets,

O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

7:44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 7:45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 7:46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 7:47 But Solomon built him an house.

7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

7:49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 7:50 Hath not my hand made all these things?

7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it." (Acts 7:39-53 KJV)

The result of their blind rage was inevitable - but many of them, just as many "Christians" are today, were indeed blind to the Truth. Among them who killed Stephen was a Pharisee named Saul - who would, after his conversion, become a good and faithful Christian (see The Passed Over Pharisees and Straight Street). Saul's example plainly proves how there is yet hope for many - when their time of calling will come, sooner (see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin) or later (see The Eighth Day: What Does It Mean?).

"7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:54-60 KJV)

Fact Finder: How has the church always been in the wilderness, looking forward to the Promised Land that is yet to come?
See Lessons Of Perseverance And Faith


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This Day In History, April 23

215 BC: A temple was built on Capitoline Hill (one of the "seven hills of Rome") dedicated to Venus Erycina.

1014: Brian Boru, high king of Ireland, was killed while fighting Viking invaders at the Battle of Clontarf.

1348: The first English order of knighthood, the Order of the Garter, was founded.

1500: Pedro Cabal claimed Brazil for Portugal.

1563: Construction of El Escorial began in Spain by Philip II (a Hapsburg).

1616: English playwright William Shakespeare died. Born on this date in 1564, he died on his 52nd birthday.

1625: Frederick Henry became Stadtholder (ruler) of the Netherlands after the death of Maurice of Nassau.

1633: The League of Heilbronn was established. It united South German Protestants with Sweden and France against the Catholic League and the Imperialists.

1661: King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

1823: Aaron Arrowsmith died at age 73. The British geographer and cartographer published many fine maps and atlases.

1851: The first Canadian postage stamp, the Three-Penny Beaver, was issued.

1891: Jews were expelled from Moscow, Russia.

1918: The British Navy under Admiral Keyes raided the German submarine base at Zeebrugge.

1941: King George of the Hellenes and the Greek government fled the Greek mainland from the advancing Germans; the Greek army also formally surrendered to Germany and Italy.

1945: The Russian army liberated the Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrueck concentration camps.

1950: Chaing Kai-shek evacuated Hainan, leaving mainland China to Mao Zedong and the communists.

1963: Itzhak Ben-Zvi died. He was the second President of Israel, one of the 37 signers of the declaration of the present-day state of Israel in 1948 (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate, A History Of Jerusalem: Zionism and A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).

1969: Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for assassinating Robert Kennedy. The sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.

1985: Coca-Cola changed its sugar and caffeine formula and released "New Coke." Consumer response was so overwhelmingly negative that the original formula was back on the market in less than 3 months.

1997: The presidents of Russia and China signed a declaration opposing the domination of one superpower in the post-Cold War world.


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Copyright © Wayne Blank