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To those who are only interested in the Kingdom of Heaven or even destined for the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus only asked them to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  It is to those to whom He mentioned the Kingdom of God that He said, “The Kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”  And it should be obvious for all and sundry that the ‘good news’ of John 3.16 was not preached openly by Jesus, but only to one man, Nicodemus, who came to see Him alone… at night.

Just as things began to crystallise and become clear for the children of Israel as they nursed their circumcision wounds at Gibeath Haaraloth, that God had rescued their fathers from Egypt and was so determined they take Canaan that all their fathers died in the desert.  Not only that, their leader, Joshua, one of two survivors of the first generation, had just parted the Jordan so that they crossed on dry ground, just like the story they had heard of Moses parting the Red Sea so that their fathers crossed on dry ground 40 years ago!  They had just lived through a smaller but no less miraculous version of the exodus from Egypt.  Now they were sitting there facing Jericho and the rest of Canaan.  If there is anything they would have realised, it is this:  God was serious about fulfilling His promise to Abraham that Isaac’s descendants would inhabit Canaan.

Jericho merely confirmed what they now not only believed, but were coming to know more and more.  That city fell with a shout, and they won that impossible battle without any casualties.  Except for Ai, which was not the fault of the rank and file soldiers, but Joshua’s fault, they would suffer no further setbacks.  In fact, as you read of the conquest, those men of Israel behaved as men who knew they would win every battle without any casualties.  Their belief in Joshua and in God had turned to faith in Joshua, and they did whatever he commanded to the letter.  That is the behaviour of the Israelites of the generation of Joshua.

So likewise, it should be clear to those of you whom the Holy Spirit has set aside for His work that God is very serious about all He has purposed through Jesus Christ, and that He is very serious, deadly serious about the words He gave Jesus to speak, that everyone of them be proved true beyond the shadow of doubt.  So serious that God knew He would have to roll away the reproach of Egypt from the generation of Joshua before they would follow Joshua wholeheartedly.  And so He planned a place and a time when they, the disciples, would be truly circumcised again and in a manner that would remove all doubt, but not only doubt, all Jewishness from their mindset.  So that indeed, they would be men and women who had no doubt in their hearts and whose thoughts were taken captive completely to Christ.  Men and women who would conform no longer to the ways of the world, their world, the Judeo-Greco-Roman world, but were completely transformed by the renewing of their minds.  Their minds so renewed that they would no longer think of God from the perspective of the law of Moses… when to obey was to be blessed and to disobey was to be punished, but from the perspective of men who knew God before there was a law… where to believe was to walk with God and to not believe was to walk without God.  Like Adam walked with God and like Abraham walked with God because he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. 

A place and a time had been set aside for the disciples of Christ to have their minds renewed with complete faith in their hearts, so that they would no longer think as men and women who sought righteousness by works, but knew they were already righteous by faith.  And since they knew they were righteous by faith already, there will be no further seeking after it by works.  They were men and women, or would have become men and women who knew their works have nothing to do with righteousness, but their works have to do with the imitation of God.  They would be men and women who knew what they would do would make them more and more like the Firstborn, not more and more righteous.  Like the Israelites of Joshua who knew their obedience to God’s command to kill all who lived in Jericho would not make them look righteous in the eyes of men, but that they were being exactly what God wanted them to be in God’s eyes.  In the world’s view, they were genocidal criminals.  In God’s view, they were His instruments to rid the world of humans who had crossbred with angels and had reintroduced mutants that did not belong on Earth – the descendants of the Nephilims, the Anakites and the Rephaites, giant men like Goliath and his brothers.  Every man, woman and child in Jericho had to be killed because they were all contaminated by angelic material that produced Nephilims.

The place and the time for that circumcision of the disciples in their hearts were to be on resurrection morning when they met again with the risen Jesus in the presence of the cloud of glory on top of the Mount of Transfiguration.  The sight of Jesus there alive in the glory of the Father was to be for them like the crossing of the Jordan for the Israelites.  You see, that second generation experienced some victory on the east bank, yes, but a military victory is only a military victory.  It is not necessarily a miracle!  Crossing the Jordan on dry land, now that is a miracle.  Raising a dead man, that is a miracle, yes, but Elisha and Elijah had done that… but to raise yourself…!  To raise yourself from the dead rather than raising someone else, or being raised by someone else, now that is different!  That is a new miracle; that is the new land, the new way of doing things, a new covenant indeed!  And since it is a new covenant, it needs a new and different circumcision, not of the flesh, but of the heart.  The circumcision of the heart is not about love, no, but about the cutting away and the removal of doubt.

When Jesus finally spoke to the disciples about the law of faith in Mark 11.23, He first said, “Have faith in God.”  And of the law He taught, He said, “…and does not doubt in his heart…” whatever he believes and says will happen.  For faith to work, doubt has to be removed from the heart.  So that morning on the Mount of Transfiguration, the sight of the risen Jesus in the presence of the glory of God was meant to circumcise their hearts to remove, once and for all, all doubt from their hearts.  And the 40 days on top of that mountain was to remove all Jewishness from their mindset as they would see for themselves the Oneness Jesus has with the Father.  They were to be shown and taught directly by God the Father, as it is written, to fulfill Scripture, and indeed, they would also then realise that being taught by Jesus was also the fulfillment of Scripture and the promise, “They will all be taught by God.”  (“All your sons will be taught by the Lord…”)  That indeed, Jesus is One with the Father and the Father is One with Jesus, He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.  They would be men and women who did not just believe the Father and Jesus are One, but they would know and understand what that Oneness is, for they would all have seen and heard Jesus in the presence of the glory of the Father, the glory He had with the Father before the creation of the world.

Those 40 days and nights that never took place on the Mount of Transfiguration because the men did not believe the women when they told them what they had seen and heard.  Their repentance was unfinished and their belief was not absolute.  Even when John and Peter saw the empty tomb, instead of going to get the other nine to go to Galilee, they went home.

When repentance is not absolute, belief cannot be absolute, and when these are not irrevocably, unchallengeably complete, then the Kingdom of God cannot come in all its absolute power.  For, repentance without belief was all that was needed for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven… “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  Repentance from the sins defined by the law was all that was needed since the Ark of the Covenant was no longer in the temple.  That is why John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, preaching in the desert and not in the temple.  It was God’s way of showing the Jews:  Leave the temple, it is no longer valid because the Ark is not there, and since the Ark is no longer around, blood sacrifice of animals is useless for the forgiveness of sins.  Since the forgiveness of sins would not come, cannot come by works as demanded by the law, repentance by the overflow of the heart and a washing in the Jordan was sufficient.  The truth is this:  The Lord instituted the baptism of water for the forgiveness of sins for the Jews so that repentance for Gentiles and Jews was now made the same way.  For it was Naaman, a Gentile, who first was washed in the Jordan and had his leprosy (the sign of his sin) washed away.

John the Baptist did indeed come to prepare the way for Jesus, and he was also to prepare the way for the making of Jews and Gentiles one, for the way of confirming the forgiveness was no longer by the blood of animals on the Ark of the Covenant, but by the waters of the Jordan, the way a Gentile was shown he was forgiven by God.  The tax collectors and prostitutes saw it, the new way, the way of faith, to do what the prophet said rather than what the law said.  To do what you have heard, not what is written.  The Pharisees, priests and elders saw this new way and did not accept it even though they knew they could never fulfil the written way, for the Ark was lost to them.  To cling to something that you know can no longer work is stubborn… but to go back to something that cannot work when you have a new way that is working is beyond understanding.

So when Jesus picked up on John’s message, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near,” He was merely showing John’s disciples and us that He is the One John was preparing the way for.  So the three years with Jesus before the resurrection was for the disciples like the time on the east bank before the crossing of the Jordan, in preparation for the amount of miraculous work and amount of extra teachings they would do and receive after the resurrection.  It is like the two kingdoms of the east bank compared to the 31 kingdoms of the west bank.  For what else did Jesus mean when He said, He will do even greater things than these…” and, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth”?

Those 40 days and nights on the Mount of Transfiguration were to be the time for absolute belief to form in the hearts of the disciples and for the absolute renewal of their minds, so that all their thoughts would be taken captive to Jesus.  Moses spent two lots of 40 days and nights on the mountain with God.  That is why everything commanded of him about the tabernacle he did in precise detail, without question.  He had no doubt about what God wanted him to do, and he did not think of varying those commands as he put the tabernacle together in exact detail.  He would not have missed out on the promised land had the first generation not turned back.  Likewise, had the first disciples not turned back to the partial observance of the law as recommended by James the Younger, the church of Jesus Christ would not have dissolved into Christians, but remained distinctly fellowships of the disciples of Jesus Christ with power to do what Jesus had been doing, and even the greater things, as the hallmark of who their Lord and Master is.

Now, just as God did not leave His plans for Canaan unfulfilled just because the first generation turned back to Egypt, so likewise, He has no intention to leave what was planned for the disciples of Christ, His brothers and sisters, to do in His absence to be left unfulfilled.  They may have missed out on the 40 days and nights on that mountain, but the Holy Spirit is still here.  He knows what should have taken place, what would have taken place.  He knows what was lost and what is meant to be done.  He knows what were the ‘more’ things that He had to teach the disciples when Jesus had gone.  So do not for one moment think that which God wanted to reveal on the Mount of Transfiguration to the disciples has been lost.  Not at all, for all He needs is a group of disciples again, one and ones who have been taught by the Holy Spirit all the things Jesus had said, and shown by the Holy Spirit all the things Jesus had done, as if, like the first disciples, they too were there, except now we will do it here.  Except now, it will be the Holy Spirit showing us how to cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, and so on, individually and together as the very body of Christ. 

So let your repentance be absolute, and now to that absolute repentance add absolute belief.  Believe in the words you have heard so absolutely that you will practise them unceasingly until God gives you the success.  For the success from your practice of His words will give you the faith needed to believe not only in His words or the evidence of the miracles, but to believe in Him.

You see, it is only when you have absolute repentance that you know what is relative, incomplete repentance.  It is only when you have absolute belief and absolute faith that you will know what is incomplete, relative faith.  When anything is less than absolute, it can be compared and questioned, but when it is absolute, it is beyond comparison.

So, begin the ascent to the Mount of Transfiguration those of you who have just joined… but for some of you, get ready to come down the mountain… with your heart absolutely doubt free because of what you have heard, seen and now know, and your mind absolutely renewed because your thoughts are now held captive to Christ, so that those who see you, hear you and touch you will know… you have been absolutely transformed.  The old is gone, the new is now here… albeit a little late.  Just like the people of Jericho, as they watched the army of Israel march around them day after day, they knew that which was delayed, that which was put off, was now here.  The inevitable destruction decreed for their city was now upon them, 40 years later, but still it had arrived. 

Likewise, the unchangeable will of God to bring justice to His Son, Jesus, to glorify His Name and to save this world His way, is now upon us again.  Delayed, yes… diverted, yes… disguised even… but now, the rumours are over… that which has been dreaded has materialised.  Like for the Jerichoans, the legend of the nation in the desert that destroyed Egypt was now materialising out of the haze of the desert.  Not as a mirage, not as a dream, vision or nightmare, not as something you could conjure away, but as a solid mass of 500,000 men trained, armed and ready to wreak havoc and destruction.

Yes, the end is near.  So the church that Jesus had in mind, the Kingdom of God that was to come on Earth as He taught us to pray for, which appeared for a moment, like Israel appeared at the edge of Canaan only to be driven back into the desert… that church is back.  Though it was driven back or lured back into the desert of religion to the partial observance of the Law of Moses, now, just like the children of Israel who began to materialise out of the east bank and then the west bank, so that church… the church of Jesus Christ, the fellowship of His disciples and believers with power to do what He has been doing and even greater things… is back.  One by one, its numbers are being raised up… like the soldiers of Israel, one by one crossing the Jordan, circumcised one by one until all are circumcised, all are made new and ready.  Can you hear them now?  Can you see them now?  Can you touch them now?  They are coming and are now here.  And just like the Commander of the army of the Lord outside Jericho, so the disciples of Jesus Christ are now here, and that is enough.  Amen.

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