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“Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness.  Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua, at the end of his successful career, had to confront Israel with their choices.  If you look at his words, they tell you that at the end of the life of Joshua, after the second generation had entered and conquered the promised land, this second generation was still holding onto the gods of Egypt and worse than that, they were starting to adopt the new gods of the new land of Canaan.  It is tragic but a reality that Joshua was faced with the problem of having to challenge the people as to their preference of worship and had to separate himself from them if needed.  However, for Joshua, he was spared the agony of separating himself from the generation he had led, for they replied, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! … We too will serve the Lord, because He is our God.”  But it is written in Judges 2.10-11:  After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.  Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.  All the hard work of the generation that followed Joshua was lost within one generation… because of the peace that they had won and established. 

This is a reality that repeats itself with every move of God in the current church.  No sooner than the founding patriarchs are gone, that movement begins to devolve until a few generations later the founders would not be able to recognize their movement.  It is called progress.

The privilege that is ours, to be shown what we have seen and learnt, not from cleverly made up stories of visits to Heaven or revelations beyond what is written, but rather, based on what is written, it is more than clear that for whatever the reason, the eleven did not allow the Lord to launch the church as intended.  No one went to Galilee that morning.  This may seem an inconsequential point to most who love the church, who are devoted to the church and who show their love for God through a jealous and zealous devotion to the church… whatever denomination they belong to, and whatever traditions and doctrines they hold onto.  For the consequence of a band of disciples to go to Galilee in the spirit to see what the eleven did not go to see that resurrection morning is more profoundly divisive and destructive than anyone can begin to imagine.

As a 21st century parable, it would be like a group of space colonisers who suddenly discover that their rocket ship was launched with a different set of coordinates than intended, and as a result, they have colonised the wrong planet… they have an established colony, yes… but somehow, there has always been something missing or something wrong with the whole project that no one could quite put their finger on.  However, the discovery may be superfluous, for the error may have been discovered after launch… and the mistake corrected, and the colonisers are truly on the intended target.

So we find ourselves in that same quandary, having been led back to the command to listen to Jesus and having explored its consequences to be finally shown the truth… no one went to Galilee that morning.  The rendering of the post resurrection events in Matthew has been as misleading as its rendering of the events following the feeding of the 5000.  Just as any reader of Matthew can draw the incorrect conclusion that Jesus sent them into the middle of the lake if he has not taken the time and trouble to cross correlate the account with the other three gospels… so Matthew can give its reader the wrong impression that the eleven did go to Galilee that morning, for Matthew 28.9-10 reads:  “Greetings.    Do not be afraid.  Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me,” and verses 16-17 record: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.  The truth however is very different as you reconcile the accounts of Mark, Luke and John with Matthew’s.  When the four accounts are read in harmony, you can see… no one went that morning, just as the combined accounts of the events after the feeding of the 5000 show that they were to go to Bethsaida, not Capernaum, but they all ended up in Gennesaret.  

The answer seems simple… return to Galilee through the Holy Spirit and ask the Lord to show us what the eleven did not go to see, so that the original plan may be made manifest for the correction of the current system.  However, the reality can be far from simple.  Indeed, the task is so huge… that we should either give up now or… if we are to undertake the task, ensure that whatever the work, whatever the sacrifice, whatever the effort… that it is not to be in vain.  And in order to ensure that… the first lesson we are to take with us is the lesson of Joshua… do not rely on the second generation to take the rest of the land, for they will not, but press on until all the land is taken.  Could Joshua have done it?  Possibly… for he had conquered the 31 kings in five years… what could he have done in another five?  However, in Joshua 14.15, it is written:  Then the land had rest from war.  After 31 campaigns in five years, you would understand that desire to let the land rest from war.  However, that was the mistake because the rest of Canaan was not taken, and the surrounding nations became a thorn to Israel.

The second lesson to learn is this… do not make the first mistakes of the eleven, whose lack of absolute repentance of the law with their propensity to go to the temple to pray with the rest of the Jews, to the appointment of Nicholas, to the acceptance of James’ recommendations, to the appeasing of those who were zealous for the law.  As you watch the reacceptance of the ways of Judaism into the church that was birthed at Jerusalem in Acts 2, you wonder what Steven’s sacrifice was all about at the hands of the Jews.

Thus, before the journey, whether in Spirit or in flesh… that depends on the Lord as He either catches each of you up in the Spirit and shows you through visions and dreams, or translates you through time and space… and not just space, remembering nothing is impossible with the Lord… two things must be settled in your heart and mind that demand absolute focus and concentration… that is, be determined that with this one generation, the whole work is finished, and not rely on the subsequent generations as Joshua did, and secondly, be very circumspective of the ways of the old and the traditional, remembering where they come from.  In the same way as the eleven should have recognized as Paul recognized… what could not be accomplished through the law was accomplished through Jesus Christ… so we need to recognize what has not been accomplished by the church launched in Jerusalem must be accomplished by the church launched from Galilee.

At the end of telling the eleven about the signs of the end of the age, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this generation (race) will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.”  Well, if you choose ‘generation’ as the translation, then the eleven certainly made a liar of Jesus, for they have all passed away and Jesus has not returned with His elect.  If you choose the word ‘race,’ then the words still await fulfilling, for indeed, the Jewish race, which all eleven belonged to, has not yet passed away.  So then… the eleven had chosen the option of ‘race’ as the translation to be fulfilled, leaving the option of ‘generation’ for anyone who would choose to commence this journey with the Holy Spirit to be fulfilled.  That is… with this generation, those present to see and hear, believe and obey this, to witness the arrival of the Son of Man on clouds of the sky with power and great glory.  It must be fulfilled with this generation of the elect even if we are slow and we need to remain alive and never die as well.  A generation… not a race, who commences this journey, must be the generation who chooses John 11.26 over John 11.25 in order for Matthew 24.34 and Mark 13.30 to be absolutely fulfilled in the generational translation of the Greek word and not the racial translation of that word.

Thus, even though we are waiting for the Holy Spirit to elect some more, and certainly more will join us… each one of you who now know you are elected must have this singular focus and concentration of your heart and mind.  You must, as an individual, remain alive to see Jesus arrive to ensure Matthew 24.35 and Mark 13.30 are fulfilled in the generational sense, whilst we protect the Jews so that those verses are fulfilled in the racial sense of the translation.  There is no shirking off of responsibility to leave it to others… there is no allowance for the land to rest.  This is the easy part.

The second part is far more difficult.  Jesus said, “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one.  If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.”  The entire format and history of the church that has descended from the eleven who did not go to Galilee on resurrection morning is like a well worn, well used, well weathered old garment that the world is familiar with.  If you mention to the world the church… anyone and everyone knows you are referring to people who carry Bibles and crosses, who go to buildings adorned with crosses and filled with Bibles on a regular religious basis, who are convinced they are the only true worshippers of God, who start wars, get sick, get married, have families, get buried and can be as hypocritical as the next person… and yes, who believe in miracles too, although they cannot do any.  That is the familiar garment… loved by some, hated by others, and ignored by still others.

Now the church that could have, might have, should have been launched after the eleven actually went to Galilee that morning in obedience to the Lord’s first command… that church no one has ever seen.  It really does not matter whether the Lord had prepared for a 40 day mountain top encounter with them, or whether He just wanted to present Peter, James and John with a 100 more fishing boats than they gave up for Him (and Andrew too), or whether He was planning to have a picnic on the beach with them with fish He had caught earlier, or whether He wanted to visit His hometown, Capernaum, one more time… whatever was planned.  You see, it did not really matter… even though it does.  But more importantly, more important than what they were to be shown before the launch and where the launch would have been, is the fact, the truth, that had they gone that morning as they were told and as they were reminded… then the church would have been launched in faith and obedience to the words of Jesus, and not in disbelief, disobedience and fear.

You see, even though the place and the timing of the launch and what was to be shown at the launch are important, undeniably important, what is far more important than the place, the time and the knowledge is the attitude, the spirit, that would launch the post resurrection era of the disciples of Jesus Christ.  That morning, the spirit amongst the eleven (their spirit, their attitude) was one of unbelief, disobedience and fear. 

As it is written:  When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him, they did not believe it.  And neither did they obey, for it was the third day and Jesus Himself had told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.  They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise.”  “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”  And as they were coming down the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus had told the three, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Even if they thought Mary and the other women had hallucinated and made up Matthew 28.9-10:  “Greetings.    Do not be afraid.  Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me,” they had no excuse, for the command and instruction had been directly given to them already.  Not one of the three told the others what they had seen and heard on the Mount of Transfiguration when the news came that He had risen.  And because of their unbelief and disobedience, they had to hide in fear, so that when Jesus did come to them that evening, John recorded in 20.19:  On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews…  And because of their unbelief, disobedience and fear, Mark recorded in 16.14:  Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.  And even later, Matthew recorded in 28.16-17, when they finally went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

So, before we get to Acts 1 and 2… before we get to the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled them and enabled them to speak in tongues… this was the spirit in the first 40 days of the post resurrection event of the disciples of Christ… the male disciples that is (by the way)… lacking of faith, full of unbelief, disobedient, fearful and doubting.

Compare this then to Mary and the other women…but Mary Magdalene in particular… going to the tomb early.  Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb…  and when told by the angels the message… she came running to Simon Peter…  She did not go back home with the disciples, but lingered outside the tomb when they left.  And when Jesus appeared to her, she embraced Him, held Him… prompting Jesus to say, “Do not hold on to Me…” and the other women came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him.  See their faith, their obedience, their zeal and their love!  Faith to go and have a look at the tomb to see if anything has happened as He said… obedience to go as the angels told them and deliver the message to the men… the zeal to go back to the tomb again, not just Mary Magdalene, but the other Mary and the other women… and the love… that worship of Jesus.  There was no recording of fear, but an embrace, a falling down in worship, a clasping of His feet, and finally, that patient endurance that is theirs.

Patient endurance because Jesus told them, “…tell My brothers…”  The invitation was not for them, but for the men, and yet, when the men did not go but hid, not once, nowhere is it recorded that Mary or Mary or Salome or any of the women ever spoke up against the men.  There was no protest; there was no discord.  Not one of the women went just because the men did not go.  They had the patience to endure until Jesus came, and they left the correcting and rebuking to the Lord Himself.  There is a deafening silence from those women… the roar of those who know to endure patiently until the Lord comes and vindicates Mary the mother who suffered years of indignation and rumour mongering, and Magdalene when she was possessed.

The real spirit for the launch from Galilee was already found in the women.  A spirit, an attitude of faith, obedience, zeal, love and patient endurance!  Now compare that with the eleven’s unbelief, disobedience, lack of faith, fear and doubt.  The Holy Spirit, as we come to know Him, is not just the Spirit of Power… but He Himself has a spirit, an attitude, of faith in God, obedience to God, zealousness for God, love for God and patient endurance for God’s sake.  If there was anyone who was ready to receive the Holy Spirit that morning, it was the women.

So, before we go and bring forth this ‘new,’ although not really ‘new’ garment… we must remember we cannot tear a piece of it to give it to the old to mend it, for it would ruin both.  However, it can be placed over the old so that only the new is seen.  The choice is yours… to go or not to go… to stay with the old or go where no man has been and to see what no man has seen that morning (to borrow a phrase).

But before you go, remember, it does not really matter where the church was launched or how… but with what spirit (attitude) you go.  Can you stand with Joshua and say, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord with faith, obedience, zeal, love and patient endurance.”  For you are the absolute choice of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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