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Oh Lord, Where Do We Go From Here? Current and former members (and anyone in between!)... tell us what is on your mind and in your heart.

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Old 10-03-2010, 04:28 PM   #1
Curt
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 3
Post The Change in the Practical Expression of the Oneness

What follows is an open letter from me to John Smith (a former elder in the Church in San Diego) and Ron White (a former elder in the Local Church the Orange County area). It concerns the matter of the change in the practical expression of the oneness from before the captivity to after the captivity in the Old Testament, and from before the dark ages to after the dark ages in the New Testament. Readers of this who are or were in the Local Church will recognize the things written concerning the pre-captivity and pre-dark ages periods. The things written concerning the post-captivity and post-dark ages periods will be new material and, I pray, of some help, healing, and encouragement.

If you have not already read my testimony in the “Introductions and Testimonies” forum, I recommend that you do so before you continue reading this matter.


Introduction

Greetings brothers and fellow servants of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, grace and peace be with you.

I desired to communicate the enclosed matter to you sooner, but due to my limited time to write each week, what may have been done in a few days, given a more traditional job and living situation, has taken several weeks to complete. Even though it is already somewhat lengthy, I feel I should give a brief testimony of the events leading up to this matter which I have received from our Lord and now pass on to you. Both of you have heard parts of the testimony of my return from my years as a prodigal son, though not the same parts, and neither of you has heard all of it, and I do not repeat all of it here, only as pertains to the matter at hand.

After 23 years of attempting to ignore/pass off the still, small voice within me, during the first week of November, 2008, I gave myself back to the Lord. Soon thereafter, I began to pray on a daily basis, and around the first week of December, I began to read the Bible on a daily basis also. Over the next few weeks, my spirit strengthened, and in March, 2009, I began to think about meeting with other saints once again.

My contemplation on where and with whom I should fellowship led to the following considerations and conclusions: 1) I believed that during my time with the Local Church from 1974 to 1986, the Lord’s anointing and blessing had genuinely been there, and that it was, at the time, the place the Lord had chosen to put His name, up to about 1985. 2) I believed that the anointing and blessing had been there due to the practical expression of the oneness, but that they were removed when the practical expression of the oneness became corrupted and a spirit of exclusion of and separation from other believers crept in. 3) I believed that the Lord’s anointing and blessing had moved on to another group of believers, that He had chosen to put His name somewhere else. 4) I believed that the center of what God was doing “today” existed somewhere on the earth. 5) Ultimately, I realized, I needed to get there.

To me, it was as if I had been carried away in captivity for 23 years, and now I needed to get back to “Jerusalem”, to the place where the Lord’s name was, to “rebuild the walls and repair the gates”. This feeling intensified over a period of days. But where was “Jerusalem”? I had lost contact with all the saints I knew 23 years previously. Even if they had not moved on to where the Lord’s anointing was now, maybe they would know. Even if not, I needed a starting point. As my desire to find the Lord’s anointing increased, so did my feelings of helplessness and isolation.

Finally, on a Friday near the end of March, either the 20th or 27th, early in the morning in a Starbucks, the desire, the helplessness, and the isolation all peaked, and with tears and great desperation I prayed to the Lord that He would take me back to “Jerusalem, to a place where He had chosen to put His name, to rebuild the walls and repair the gates”. I quoted from Nehemiah, praying, “You commanded Moses that if our hearts turned back to You, that You would bring us back to a place where You chose to put Your name. Lord, You commanded Moses, this is Your commandment, I hold You to Your commandment. Take me back, Lord.” I told Him that I wanted to see His eternal purpose fulfilled, that I cared for His church, and asked Him to grant me the love for His church that He had.

Apparently, my prayer touched the Lord’s heart, for the next day, I discovered that He had touched mine back. In the same Starbucks, early Saturday morning, I opened the Word intending to read the book of Galatians during the two hours I had before work started. An hour and a half later, I found myself still in the middle of chapter 2. The outpouring from the Word was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Over the weeks, I continued to pray for the Lord’s leading in finding a place to fellowship. I even attempted a couple of phone calls to a Local Church nearby and left messages which are still unreturned. Then, on May 3, 2009, as I was returning home from lunch with my daughter, I mentioned that I had been wanting to start meeting with saints somewhere, but hadn’t found anything, and wished I could get in contact with some of the saints I used to know in San Diego. My daughter said, “Oh. I think mom still has some of those phone numbers.” I jumped at that and asked, “Does she have John Smith’s phone number?” She said she wasn’t sure but she would find out.

A week later, at our weekly lunch, she produced another brother’s and your phone number, John. That day I called that brother and the next day I called you and Sonia. You got me in touch with Ron, and two weeks later, on May 24, I walked in the door of the meeting place of [our fellowship name] for the first time. As soon as my foot crossed the threshhold of the front door, my spirit leapt within me. I knew at that instant, before anyone even spoke to me, that this place was the answer to my prayer. The Lord had brought me to a place where He had chosen to put His name. I told the Lord right then that I would drop all my concepts of what a meeting should be like, or what the saints should be like, and just enjoy the fellowship and the oneness, the anointing and the blessing.

I could tell from that first meeting that the Lord’s anointing was truly there. Over the months, I began to see displays of the oneness that I had not observed in my previous experience. The Lord was showing me things that were happening at [our fellowship name] regarding the oneness that were bringing the Lord’s anointing and blessing. I even attempted to e-mail you both a couple of times, but each time, after a few sentences, the words stopped flowing, and I realized the Lord was not ready to say anything yet, so I let the matter rest.

Then, on Sunday, November 7, 2009, I had lunch with Max and Ron. During lunch, Max gave me a book, “Doing a Great Work” by T. Austin-Sparks, edited by Bill Mallon with a preface by Max. I read the preface and the first two chapters. That same night, at our monthly Sunday night fellowship, I mentioned to Ron that one could not hope to impose the principle of “one city, one church” on today’s society. Due to the social, political, and geographical structure of today’s society, the size of most cities, the way we live and go to work, and the massive number of Christian fellowships, there would be no way to establish elders in a city and have all the believers in that city come under that “umbrella”. Nevertheless, I thought to myself, there must be some way for the Lord to express His oneness practically with the saints. Two days later, on November 9, at around 8:00am, in answer to that unspoken thought, the Lord gave me the following revelation.


The Change in the Practical Expression of the Oneness


I. The Old Testament

A. The Practical Expression of the Oneness before the Captivity

David desired to build a house for the Lord. However, the Lord told David, “Whereas it was in your heart to build a house unto My name, you did well, that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son...shall build the house unto My name” (I Ki 8:18-19). Solomon built the house for the Lord, the temple, in Jerusalem, on Mt Zion. Why this particular location? David relates in the Psalms, “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. This is My rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psa 132:13-14). After Solomon finished building the temple, on the day of dedication, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord (I Ki 8:10-11). So, the Lord dwelt in the temple, on Mt. Zion, in the city of Jerusalem.

The dwelling of the Lord in the temple on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem was of particular importance in the practical expression of the Lord’s oneness by His people. Moses told Israel, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord” (Dt 6:4). As the Lord is one, He is the source of oneness, and so also His people must be one, and express that oneness from God as the source in a practical way. The land was divided into twelve portions, one for each of the tribes of Israel, as their inheritance. Although they were one nation, they lived separately as twelve tribes, each in their inheritance.

Therefore, the Lord had to make some provision for the people to express the Lord’s oneness in a practical way, to remind them, and to testify to others, that although they dwelt separately, they were in fact one people. The Lord accomplished this by bringing them together to one place to worship Him. First, Moses told the people, “But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His name there, even unto His habitation shall you seek, and there you shall come, and there you shall bring your…offerings…and there you shall eat before the Lord your God…You shall not do…every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes…But in the place in which the Lord shall choose in one of your tribes” (Dt 12:5-8, 14). Furthermore, he told them that they must come to the place the Lord chose three times a year, for the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of weeks, and the feast of tabernacles, to offer to the Lord (Dt 16:16). So, three times a year, all the males from the twelve tribes came to God at the place of His choosing, in the temple, on Mt. Zion, in the city of Jerusalem, to worship the one Lord as one.

The main principle to note here is that, although the people were many, and dwelt separately, they were one in God’s eyes. Coming together three times a year in Jerusalem was the practical way to express the oneness outwardly as a testimony before God, to themselves, and to others.


B. Division, Apostasy, and Captivity

This expression of the oneness, the twelve tribes coming together as one people to God, in the temple, on Mt. Zion, in Jerusalem, continued for some time. Upon the death of Solomon, Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was due to inherit the kingdom of Israel from his father. However, Ahijah prophesied to Jeroboam the son of Nebat that the Lord would give ten of the tribes of Israel to Jeroboam (I Ki 11:29-32). As prophesied, because Rehoboam followed the advice of the young men that grew up with him rather than that of the old men who stood before his father, ten of the tribes forsook Rehoboam and followed Jeroboam, leaving only Judah and Benjamin to Rehoboam (I Ki 12:13-17, 21-24). Additionally, all the priests and Levites came to Judah and Jerusalem, and any out of all the tribes such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel also came to Jerusalem to sacrifice. (II Chr 11:13-14, 16).

At this point, even though the kingdom had been split, nevertheless, the Lord’s commandment that all the males come to Jerusalem three times a year to present their sacrifices still stood. When Jeroboam realized this, he knew when the next feast occurred, that when the people went up to Jerusalem, they would become one again and he would be through. So, he set up golden calves in two places, Beth-el and Dan, telling the people of the ten tribes to go there to sacrifice and worship the Lord, rather than Jerusalem. This apostasy proved to be the final “nail in the coffin” for the expression of the oneness of the twelve tribes, and was a great sin in the eyes of the Lord (I Ki 12:26-30). Thereafter, Jeroboam was mainly referred to as Jeroboam the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin. After many years and the fruitless efforts of several prophets to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord, God judged Israel and Judah. Israel was carried away to Assyria by Shalmaneser (II Ki 17:3-6) and, eventually, Judah was carried away to Babylon by the hand of king Nebuchadnezzar, and thus began the 70 years of captivity (II Chr 36:17-21).


C. The Practical Expression of the Oneness after the Captivity

When the 70 years of captivity were fulfilled, Cyrus, king of Persia, issued a decree releasing whoever of the Lord’s people who were willing, to go back to Jerusalem and re-build the temple (Ezra 1:1-3). This return took place under the leadership of Zerubbabel, with Joshua the high priest (Ezra 2:2), to re-build the temple, and was followed up by Nehemiah during the regin of Artaxerxes for the re-building of the wall and the repairing of the gates (Neh 1:3; 2:5).

Now, the problem was this. Only those of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, plus the Levites, returned to Jerusalem. How, then, would the people display the practical expression of the Lord’s oneness of His people without the other ten tribes? The place of oneness was still the same, that is, God, in the temple, on Mt. Zion, in the city of Jerusalem. But all the twelve tribes were no longer physically present. How could the oneness of God’s people be expressed practically? We need to take a careful look at some verses in Ezra and Nehemiah regarding the description of the people when they returned, how they were listed in the register of the geneology, the offerings for the work, the way they worked together, and the way they assembled themselves together. All the italics in the scripture quotes that follow are mine. It will be simpler to quote all the verses first, then make some comments.

After the decree to return was issued by Cyrus, “then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin” (Ezra 1:5). These are those who returned with Zerubbabel. When Ezra returned, he said, “These are now the chief of their fathers, and this is the geneology of them that went up with me from Babylon” (Ezra 8:1). Then, here is a small sample of the list of geneologies of those who returned with Zerubbabel, from Ezra 2:1-60, which, with some minor differences, is repeated in Nehemiah 7:6-62. “Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity…the children of Parosh,…the children of Shephatiah,…the children of Arah” (Ezra 2:1-5). And again, from Ezra 8:2-14, those who returned with Ezra, “Of the sons of Phinehas,…of the sons of Ithamar,…of the sons of David” (Ezra 8:2).

Now, regarding the offerings for the work, Ezra 2:68 says, “And some of the chief of the fathers…offered freely for the house of God”, and Nehemiah 7:70-71 says, “And some of the chief of the fathers gave unto the work…And some of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure of the work.”

When the foundation of the temple was laid, “many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers…wept with a loud voice” (Ezra 3:12). Then when the adversaries came to distract the people from the building of the temple, “they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers” to ask the people to let them build with them, “but Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers” refused to let them (Ezra 4:2-3). Chapter 3 of Nehemiah shows how the different families worked side by side in the rebuilding of the wall and repairing of the gates, and in particular, verse 12, “And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.” And in 4:13, he says, “I even set the people after their families.” Then in verse 14, “fight for your bretheren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Finally, regarding the assembling of themselves together, on the second day of the seventh month “were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people…to understand the words of the law” (Neh 8:13). Then, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, the people made a covenant with the Lord and sealed unto it. “Now those that sealed were…all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone having knowledge, and having understanding” (Neh 10:1, 28). Finally, at the dedication of the wall, “that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off” (Neh 12:43).

The main emphasis, then, in the preceding verses is fathers, wives, sons, daughters, and children. Where there is a father, a wife, a son, and a daughter, there is a family. The main emphasis in Ezra and Nehemiah is the family. When the children of Israel were carried away into captivity, they were carried away as 12 tribes, but when they returned, they returned as many families. So, when they came together to worship the Lord, it was no longer the males of the 12 tribes coming together as one, but the members of the many families coming together as one. Therefore, the practical expression of the oneness changed from the 12 tribes gathering as one to the many families gathering as one. Note that from Deuteronomy through the beginning of the captivity, the scriptures relating to gathering in the place of the Lord’s choosing mainly referred to the twelve tribes, but Ezra and Nehemiah refer to family members. Notice also that the source and place of the oneness never changed. God was still the same God as before the captivity, and the place was still Mt Zion. The people still had to come to God, in the temple, on Mt. Zion, in the city of Jerusalem, to worship. But now, instead of coming as 12 tribes to be one, they came as many families to be one.

Some questions need to be addressed. Were they expressing the principle of the oneness? Yes. Ezra 3:1 confirms, “the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.” Again, in Neh 8:1, “And all the people gathered themselves together as one man….” The principle was many coming together as one. They came together as one man, many families gathering as one. Was it the proper expression of the oneness, were they on the proper ground of the oneness? Yes. Ezra 3:1 indicates that they were at Jerusalem. Moreover, they held the feast of tabernacles there, and dwelt in booths for 7 days (Ezra 3:4; Neh 8:13-17). This was one of the feasts that the Lord had established to bring the children of Israel to Jerusalem 3 times a year for the expression of the oneness.

Were they one with all God’s people, all the tribes of Israel? Yes. At the dedication of the temple, the people offered, “for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel” (Ezra 6:17). Then, when Ezra returned and brought the silver, gold, and vessels for the temple, the people that had returned from captivity “offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel…” (Ezra 8:35). So, even though only the families of Judah and Benjamin returned, they remembered those of the other ten tribes by offering a sacrifice for each of the twelve tribes, thus testifying to the oneness of all God’s people. Furthermore, they also sacrificed the passover there (Ezra 6:19), again showing the proper ground of the oneness, and it was killed “for all the children of the captivity” (v. 20, this does not distinguish between those who returned and those who remained in captivity), although only those “which were come again out of captivity…did eat” (v. 21).

To review, then, the source and place of oneness were the same before and after the captivity, that is, God, in the temple, on Mt. Zion, in the city of Jerusalem. The principle of oneness was also the same in both cases, that is, many coming to and gathering in the same place as one. However, the practical expression of the oneness changed. Before the captivity, it was twelve tribes coming together, and after the captivity, it was many families. Notice also, although there were only twelve tribes, each tribe had several tens of thousands of members, whereas, there were many familes, but each family had only a few members (at most about 2800 when listed by cities, one or two hundred when listed by their father’s name, cf. Ezra ch. 2 and 8). Nevertheless, in either case, the principle remained the same, many gathering as one. In general, then, before the captivity, a small number of groups (12 tribes), each group with a large number of people, came together to the source of oneness at the place of oneness. After the captivity, a large number of groups (many families), each group with a small number of people, came together at the same source and same place of oneness. This principle will be important when we look at the practical expression of the oneness in the New Testament and how it changed from before the dark ages to after the dark ages.


II. The New Testament

A. The Practical Expression of the Oneness before the Dark Ages

As David desired to build a house unto the Lord, so Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Mt 16:18). Now, we know that the church is His body (Eph 1:22-23), that His body is the saints (Rom 12:5), and that the saints are growing “into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom you also are builded together for a habitation of God in spirit” (Eph 2:21-22). This is the reality of the temple in the Old Testament, that is, the Lord dwelling in the spirits of the saints who are the church, a temple, a habitation of God. So, the place of oneness in the New Testament is the church, the saints, where the Lord dwells in their spirits. This place of the Lord’s dwelling is confirmed by the Lord Himself in John chapter 4 where He tells the Samaritan woman “the hour comes when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…But the hour comes, and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit” (vs. 21, 23). Therefore, God, the source of the oneness, dwells in the spirits of the saints as the church, the place of oneness.

The church began in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Acts tells us that on that day, about 3000 were added to the original 120, and thereafter, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41, 47). Then, on the day Peter and John healed the man who had been lame since birth, there were another 5000 added to Jerusalem (Acts 4:4). So we know there were over 8000 believers in Jerusalem. At first, there was only the group of believers in Jerusalem, but as time went on and the gospel spread, groups of believers sprang up in other cities. Due to the distances between cities and limited means of travel in those days, plus the relatively small geographical size of most of the cities of the day (one could walk from the south wall to the north wall of Jerusalem in 20 minutes or less), the city became the defining unit of a group of believers in that area, that is, they were the representation of the church in that city. For example, when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he addressed the letter to “the church of God which is at Corinth” (I Cor 1:2), or to the Thessalonians, “to the church of the Thessalonians” (I Thes 1:1). There is a more universal example in Revelation 1:11, where the Lord tells John to write what he sees in a book and send it to the seven churches in Asia, then seven cities are listed.

So the city, then, became the practical expression of the oneness of the believers that people could see. It would have been difficult (to say the least) for all the believers in all the cities to get together in one place as a testimony to the oneness, so the believers in each city came together as one to express the oneness. Nevertheless, all the believers in all the cities were the body of Christ in total, or the universal church as we sometime refer to it. Paul highlights this in his letter to the Ephesians where he says, “in Whom all the building fitly framed together grows into a holy temple in the Lord: in Whom you also are builded together…” (Eph 2:21-22, italics mine). “All the building” refers to all the believers in all the cities where saints met, and “you also” refers to the believers there in Ephesus. So the believers in each city were a local expression of the oneness in that city, and all the cities where there were believers, all together comprised the universal body of Christ, the church, in oneness. Thus, the type of the twelve tribes coming together in one physical place in the Old Testament was fulfilled in spirit in the New Testament by the believers in all the cities comprising the church, with the saints in a particular city meeting together as a practical expression of this spiritual oneness with all the saints in all the cities.


B. Division, Apostasy, and the Dark Ages

This expression of the oneness continued for some time, but then, as in the Old Testament, division and apostasy crept in. We see evidence of this in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Paul heard through Chloe that there were strifes among the believers there (I Cor 1:11; 3:3). The believers there were dividing themselves behind the names of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ. He encourages them that there be no divisions among them (I Cor 1:10) and asks them, “Is Christ divided?” (v. 13). In the churches in the province of Galatia, there was some apostasy that caused the saints there to be “removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Gal 1:6). And Peter warns of false teachers that would bring in heresies which would bring destruction and judgement from the Lord (II Pet 2:1-3).

Despite the warnings of Paul and Peter, division and apostasy finally took its toll, and we know that by the end of the first century, the church had been carried away into a spiritual captivity, beginning the dark ages. However, unlike the captivity of the Jews which lasted only 70 years, the dark ages lasted several centuries.


C. The Practical Expression of the Oneness after the Dark Ages

As the Jews returned from captivity in the Old Testament, so the dark ages ended. The events that took place during and after the return of the Jews from captivity are recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. It would be well to examine the major events that occurred during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah to guide us in determining the spiritual reality in this age which is the fulfillment of the types in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

When Zerubbabel and Joshua returned to Jerusalem, their first and primary task was to rebuild the temple, as decreed by Cyrus (536 B.C., Ezra 1:2-3). In the seventh month, they built the altar of the God of Israel and re-established the daily sacrifice, morning and evening, and kept the feast of tabernacles (Ezra 3:1-4). During the first year of their return, they also began to collect money and raw materials for the building of the temple. Then, in the second month of the second year of their return, they began to lay the foundation of the temple, and this work was completed (Ezra 3:8-11). At this point, the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin began to frustrate the work of the temple, and eventually, in the days of Artaxerxes (circa 522 B.C.), the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin worte a letter to the king, and as a result of Artaxerxes’ response, the work on the temple ceased (Ezra 4).

The work stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius (520 B.C., Ezra 4:24). At this time, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah rose up and prophesied to the Jews, which encouraged them to begin building the temple (Ezra 5:1-2). By further decree of Darius, the building of the temple continued and was completed in the month Adar (12th month) in the sixth year of the reign of Darius (515 B.C., Ezra 6:15). They dedicated the temple and the next month, they celebrated the passover (14th Abib (or Nisan), 514 B.C.), and held the feast of unleavened bread (Ezra 6:16-22) . Then Ezra returned during the reign of Artaxerxes I (circa 474 B.C., Ezra 7:1, 6). Upon his return, Ezra’s main task was to separate the people and the Levites from the foreign wives they had married while in captivity (Ezra 9-10).

In the twentieth year of Artaxerxes I (455 B.C., Neh 2:1), Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem for the express purpose of rebuilding the wall and repairing the gates of the city of Jerusalem (Neh 1:3; 2:5). The work was completed with minor irritation from the enemy in the persons of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem.

Regarding the number of people who returned from captivity, from the genealogy listed in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7, the number who returned was 42,360 (cf. Ezra 2:64, Neh 7:66). Although Ezra does not mention a specific number of those who worked on the rebuilding of the temple, it seems to have been a significant percentage of those who returned since it included “the sons of Judah” and “their brothers the Levites” (Ezra 3:9). On the other hand, only a very small percentage of the returnees participated in the rebuilding of the wall and the repairing of the gates (Neh 3).

Four questions need to be addressed. When was the spiritual return from captivity, when was the spiritual laying of the foundation of the temple, when was the spiritual rebuilding of the temple, and when did the spiritual rebuilding of the wall and repairing of the gates begin? Note the tense of the verbs in the preceding questions. Let us think in terms of the four major events which occurred concerning the Jews returning from captivity. There was the return from captivity in 536 B.C., then after 1 year the laying of the foundation of the temple. Fifteen years after that, the building of the temple restarted and was completed 5 years later. Then after 60 years, the rebuilding of the wall and repairing of the gates was accomplished.

In 1517, Martin Luther released his 95 theses. The theses were mainly based on the fact that salvation was by faith, and could not be bought or earned by works. That, and his publication of the Bible in the common language, were certainly key in beginning a return to the truths that were praticed by the saints in the first century. Over the next three centuries many others, such as John and Charles Wesley, John Calvin, Benjamin Newton, John Nelson Darby, Andrew Murray, Watchman Nee, and many others added to this foundation with additional truths that were “rediscovered” concerning the Christian life.

Then, in 1960, a great spiritual revolution took place worldwide. People were coming to the Lord and being saved all over the world on a massive scale. People were leaving the denominations, and large numbers of non-denominational, inter-denominational, pentecostal, and free groups began springing up in which people were experiencing the Lord as we see in the New Testament, in Acts and through the writings of Paul and the other apostles. In some places, all the rediscovered truths were put together, and the anointing and blessing of the Lord were poured out. This revolution was fairly well sustained into the mid-eighties, and by 1990, had leveled off. However, during this time, a great building of the believers all over the world took place, and many were experiencing the true worship of God in spirit.

Let us consider, then, 1517 as being the “date” of the return from captivity, the period from 1517 to the early 1900s as the laying of the foundation, and the period from 1960 to about 1990 as the the building of the temple. These dates are not cast in stone, and cases may be made for other time periods. The point of these dates to be made is that they are all in the past, that is, the spritual return from captivity, the laying of the foundation, and the rebuilding of the temple have already taken place. We are now in the time period corresponding to the rebuilding of the wall and repairing of the gates in Nehemiah. (Unlike the time periods in the old testament of the return from captivity, the rebuilding of the temple, and the rebuilding of the wall, which had specific beginning and ending dates, the corresponding time periods in the new testatment do not have such constraints. The dates given are merely to indicate when the main thrust of the activity occurred. While the main thrust of the reality of the rebuilding of the temple was defined to be from about 1960 to 1990, that is not to say that the Lord is not still working on the re-building of the temple, that is, the building of His church, even though we have defined the present to be mainly the time of the re-building of the wall.)

To re-iterate, we are now in the New Testament “age of Nehemiah”. This can be seen by answering the question, “What is the reality, the fulfillment of the type, of the ‘many families’ ”? In Nehemiah, we see that the families worked together side by side to rebuild the wall and repair the gates. How, then, do we see this taking place in a spiritual way today? When I first came to [our fellowship name], one of the first things that came to my attention was that Max was meeting with both [our fellowship name] and [another fellowship name]. Although he was mainly meeting with [our fellowship name], he was also helping [another fellowship name] with their transition to a new pastor. Also, on at least one occasion, the men’s Wednesday night Bible study group from [our fellowship name] met at [another fellowship name], with members from [another fellowship name] attending as well, with Max as the speaker. This is a tremendous display of the oneness, and a perfect example of the reality of two families working together side by side for the rebuilding of the wall and repairing of the gates. Another thing that came to light was that Ron was meeting at [our fellowship name], yet taking care of the finances for [a third fellowship name], which includes more than one place of worship. This was yet another display of the reality of families working side by side.

The reality of the family, then, is the small, Bible believing fellowship, all members being born again, and believing the fundamental truths of the faith. Let’s look again at the principle mentioned at the end of Section I.C. Before the captivity, a small number of groups, each group with a large number of people, came together to the source of oneness at the place of oneness. After the captivity, a large number of groups, each group with a small number of people, came together at the same source and place.

Now, what do we see in the New Testament? Before the dark ages, there were a small number of cities, each with a large number of believers (remember the 8000+ in Jerusalem). And what do we have now? Many fellowships (our pastor mentioned there were over 100 in this city), each fellowship with a small number of believers. In each case, both before and after the dark ages, we worship God in spirit as the expression of His body, the church. So, before the dark ages, all the believers comprised the church, with the believers in a particular city meeting together as a practical expression of the oneness with the saints in all the cities. After the dark ages, all the believers still comprise the church, but now, the saints in a particular fellowship meet together as a practical expression of the oneness with all the saints. Note that not all have “returned from captivity”. Some still remain in denominations and the like, however, we maintain our oneness with all believers, as evidenced by the previous two examples, and also, the Monday fellowship in our city with men from several different groups. Note also that not all the “families” are participating in the “rebuilding of the wall and repairing of the gates”. Some fellowships do not participate in “working together” through fellowship in spirit or co-ordinating in practical matters.

Today, then, we are fulfilling the type of the families working together side by side to rebuild the wall and repair the gates by the fellowships that are displaying the outward expression of the oneness as seen in the examples above, that is, members from different fellowships meeting and worshipping together, and co-ordinating together in practical matters. Note that while a large number of families participated in the laying of the foundation and building of the temple, only a few families participated in building the wall. Such is the case after the dark ages. A large number of saints from 1517 to 1990 were involved in laying the foundation and building the temple, but a much smaller number are involved now in rebuilding the wall.

One final question remains. What was the next event in the Bible to happen chronologically after the end of the book of Nehemiah, that is, after the rebuilding of the wall and the repairing of the gates were complete? The answer is, the first coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It stands to reason, then, that when we are done rebuilding the wall and repairing the gates spiritually, the Lord will return. This means, then, that other than what we are doing now spiritually as a fulfillment of the type in the book of Nehemiah, there is no other significant event to occur before the Lord’s return. This does not mean that we are fixing a date or time of the Lord’s return. No man knows that. What it does mean is, that when we are done spiritually rebuilding the wall and repairing the gates, Revelation chapters 4 through 22 will begin to unfold. Brothers, I believe that the Lord has given it into our hand to be the ones to bring Him back, that is, all the believers in fellowships such as ours all over the world who are meeting, worshipping and co-ordinating together with other fellowships of like mind.

We are at the end of a long “relay race” which has lasted thousands of years and travelled many thousands of miles. We have the baton in our hands, we are running the anchor leg of the race. Compared to the distance that has already been travelled in this “race” we are, relatively speaking, only 50 yards from the finish line. We can see the tape stretched across the line waiting for us to break it. We need only run as fast as we can. What does this mean? We must pray for the Lord to bring us into contact with other fellowships of like mind, and to bring others into contact with us that we may work together, side by side, to rebuild the wall and repair the gates in spirit, to hasten the Lord’s return. We can do it, I believe, in our lifetime, but we must pray, and pray desperately and often, alone and with others. I believe we are the ones who can see the book of Revelation begin to unfold before our eyes physically. But we must pray.

There are additional things concerning this matter that I wish to fellowship with you, but they are not essential or critical to what I have written here, and I need your input on this first and foremost. The business my daughter and I are starting is doing well, and, if the Lord wills, is about to become profitable. John, greet Sonia and the rest of the family. I hope to see you all soon. The grace and peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all. Lord, come quickly. Truly.
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