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Easy I – Back to Basics

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“Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel…”[1] Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under His feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself.[2] When Moses went up to the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day, the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went up on the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.[3]

The purpose of the forty days and nights is a reminder of the forty days and nights of the days of Noah, when water came from the Heavens and the springs of the deep until all unacceptable life was destroyed, and only that which was in the ark was kept alive. Likewise, the forty days and nights for Moses was so that all that was unacceptable about him would be destroyed or ‘killed’, and only what was acceptable was kept as he received the Law from God. Yet, those seventy elders with Aaron and Hur,[4] after they had eaten and drunk in the presence of the Lord, went back to worship what they knew in Egypt, forgetting what they had seen, heard and felt when they were permitted to see the God of Israel and live, and not only live, but eat in His presence. Moses alone never turned away from the Lord, as did Caleb and Joshua. But then, as God said, “But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me whole heartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”[5]

What was to have happened on the Mount of Transfiguration was to be another forty days and nights in the presence of the Lord and His glory, so that, that morning, the prayer of the Lord would be answered and manifested. “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.”[6]

Forty days and nights being drowned in the glory of God until all that was unacceptable was killed and destroyed, forty days and nights being enlightened by what they were seeing and hearing and feeling, tasting of the heavenly gift of the Son, fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit, tasting of the goodness of the Word of God (capital W), and of the powers of the age to come.[7] It was meant that the eleven and whoever else was there would come down that mountain as completely changed persons, and because of their change, a completely changed world. For the world was changed by the forty days and nights of rain in Noah’s days, and Moses was a changed man after his forty days and nights, a man who no longer stuttered, but a man who dared order the killing of his own people for disobeying God.

To change the world, we need to change, and when we change, the world has changed. Noah, by his faith, changed from whatever he was to be an ark builder, and the world was changed by him. Moses, because of his change, changed the nation of Israel and the world. The Lord’s – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – plan was to change the world by first changing Israel, that is, changing the first group of disciples who were all Jews, and because they would have emerged from the forty days on the mountain in the presence of His glory, they would have been so changed, so transfigured, that the world would have changed irrevocably.

Just as not a single unrighteous person survived the flood in Noah’s days by the end of the forty days and nights, those forty days and nights on the Mount of Transfiguration were meant to eliminate all unrighteousness from the disciples, and not only that, the church would have started in the fullness of maturity, led by apostles who were fully matured, rather than apostles who were still learning what to do. Apostles who would have not only seen the Father and Son in Their glory, but also the Holy Spirit in all His glory, and not as the tongues of flames as they later did in the upper room.

They may have also waited and prayed for forty days and nights in that upper room as they waited on the arrival of the Holy Spirit, (although I think it would only have been about ten days). Waiting in an upper room, fasting, praying and whatever, is not exactly the same as forty days and nights sitting inside the glory of the Lord. Seeing the Holy Spirit come upon them as what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them,[8] is not exactly the same as seeing the Lord seated upon His throne with the Father (even within, for the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father[9]), and then stepping out and off His throne to put Himself into each of them as the Lord Jesus baptised Him into the disciples. The fire they would have seen would not have seemed like ‘tongues of fire’ that separated, but a ferocious wave of the glory of God flooding into them as the Spirit of Glory sat Himself down on the throne of His own Temple, that is, each and every body of the disciples present.

They would have come down off that mountain having received the Holy Spirit for who He truly is, the Spirit of the King, Himself also the King. Instead, they emerged from that upper room having seen only tongues of fire and the Holy Spirit had come; but they had no knowledge at all of His Lordship. Have you ever wondered why Paul is the only one who wrote: Now the Lord is the Spirit…[10] this one apostle who was abnormally born as he called himself, but yet was caught up to the third Heavens fourteen years earlier and saw and heard things unlawful for men to speak of? Peter, John, and you can forget about James, and Jude, do not refer to the Holy Spirit as the Lord… why?

Because their introduction to the Holy Spirit was that of seeing Him come down on them as tongues of flames that seemed to separate, not as the Lord upon His throne stepping out of the Father to come into them as Jesus baptised them. Their first experience of the Holy Spirit, as marvellous as it was, was nothing compared to what they would have seen had they spent forty days and nights in the presence of the glory of the Lord, the glory He had before the creation of the world.

Moses spent forty days and nights, and he never tolerated idol worship again. Aaron even made the calf and did not say a word as the people said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”[11] Not one of them, the disciples, spent forty days and nights on that mountain, so like Aaron and Hur and the seventy elders, they too were quick to revert to the old ways as soon as Jesus was gone, for they also did not know when He was coming back, just like their ancestors thought of Moses when they said to Aaron, “Come make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”[12]

So, by Acts 15, just like Aaron, they even penned the letter that carried the recommendations of James the Younger, and just like their forefathers, went back to worshipping a little of the old. Just like the golden calf was only one idol compared to the hundreds of Egypt, so the four recommendations of James was just four compared to the six hundred and eighteen of the entire Law of Moses.

The forty days of Noah prevented Noah from going back to the old world. The forty days of Moses prevented him from going back to Egypt, even when it meant forty years of wandering in the desert.

Those forty days and nights that Jesus spent on Earth after His resurrection, had they been spent the way it was intended, would have meant that the church, the body of Christ, could never have gone back to the partial observance of the Law and become cursed again, as if Christ Himself was once more hanging on the cross with His body torn and shredded, bleeding and powerless, mocked by all but that one thief on the cross. They would never have tolerated a shred of the observance of the Law in part. Remember, when brother Paul agreed to James and the elder’s suggestion in Acts 21:26, he was alone. Barnabas was gone. Even Moses made one mistake as did Paul. Perhaps that is why Paul is not a witness of John 11:26 in the flesh, but like all who have gone before us, waits in the spirit for John 11:25.

Without those forty days up that mountain, our nature does not change. Peter’s nature did not change. Even after Jesus clearly said to them that first night, “I am going to send you what My Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”[13] Jesus said this the first night He caught up with them at the upper locked room… “Stay… stay… stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Did they stay in the city until they had been clothed with power? How do you read the words of Jesus now? Are you prepared to take the Lord at His word? If you do, then those words spoken to you, if you were there in Jerusalem that night, would mean only one thing—“STAY IN THE CITY…” Don’t go out of the city; don’t move UNTIL the Holy Spirit arrives! Did they obey this second appointment that Jesus had made with them with the Holy Spirit??!?!? If they did, then Peter would have not had to spend a night fishing without catching anything again in John 21.

Jesus said, “Stay..” and next thing we find that John’s gospel recorded for us: Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee). It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, (John and James the Elder) and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.[14] What the hell were they doing fishing at the Sea of Tiberias when Jesus said, “Stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”???!!? Had they been clothed with power from on high yet? No! Did Jesus ever tell them when the Holy Spirit would arrive? No! So, if you do not know when your Lord and Master, rather, your Master’s Friend is arriving, should you stay and wait, or do you think you can go fishing and catch up with Him later???!?

Now—he’s just screwed up the second appointment by leading James and John off fishing when they were told clearly, “Stay in the city…” Now, you might understand why Jesus said, “…do you truly love Me more than these?”[15] Whenever we do not learn to take Jesus at His word, we can ruin things for Him. Look at the grace of Jesus. He cooked them breakfast after He gave them a net full of fish! Really, He was saying again, “You’ve got to listen to Me!

If that is not bad enough, read Matthew 28:16 in this light now: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. What were they doing there outside of the city??!! Had they been clothed with power yet? No! So Jesus had to go and get them again! When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said…[16]

Readers beware—if you only read Matthew, it appears that they did go to the Mount of Transfiguration as instructed. However, remember, if you only read Matthew’s account of what happened after the feeding of the five thousand, you would have thought Jesus sent them into the middle of the lake.[17] It is not until you read Mark and John that you realise that Jesus said, “Bethsaida,”[18] but they said, “Capernaum.”[19] So then, when you read Luke and John, you realise the eleven went to the mountain at Galilee where Jesus had told them to go after Jesus had changed His orders and said, “Stay in the city…” after they had missed the first appointment. Imagine what would have happened if Noah ignored the second word from God in Genesis 7:2 and stuck to the first word of Genesis 6:20!

There are four gospels because it is written in the Parable of the Sower that it takes the fourth sowing to get the harvest of 30, 60, and 100fold. One gospel alone, and you’ll have Satan swallowing the word and you will be deceived, as Matthew alone can ‘deceive’ you. Two gospels will have you rejoicing, but in your rejoicing you would not have realised Bethsaida is not on the other side of the lake, and you would still have thought Jesus sent them into the dark, cold, stormy night, and your rejoicing will soon stop. Three gospels and you would not have thought about the night at all, but be distracted onto another subject matter, for Luke makes no mention of the boat trip in Luke 9:10-16. So, like the third seed amongst the thorns, you will be fruitless. It is not until you read John also that you see they went to Capernaum, not Bethsaida, and only after you have heard the entire word, accepted the entire word, understood and persevered with it, that you will bear the fruit of repentance, seeing that they disobeyed and Jesus was not testing them at ALL! As the parable said, the forth seed found the good soil and yielded forth a harvest![20]

Now you might just see and realise it was never the intention of Jesus for the Holy Spirit to come to us like flames of fire, the tongues of fire separating and resting on us like a little candlestick in a nondescript upper room in downtown Jerusalem. But we missed the first two appointments! We missed the first appointment, the perfect appointment, and then we missed the second appointment, the pleasing appointment, so that only the good appointment was left—good, for at least the Holy Spirit met up with them.

Perhaps that loud sound like the blowing of a violent wind…[21] that came from Heaven was not what we thought. Remember what happened when Elijah failed to wait for the cloud to arrive on top of Mount Carmel. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.[22] That might have been a sound of frustration from the Holy Spirit being reminded of Elijah again by the disciples. Elijah did the good and pleasing, but missed out on the perfect. The burnt offering was good, the prayer of faith was pleasing, but to stay and wait… perfect! Understand?

It was the perfect intention of the Lord Jesus to introduce us to the Holy Spirit, the Lord who proceeds from the Father on His throne, when He would personally be there to baptise Him into us. It was still His pleasing intention to do it personally, but they had to wait in the city. But when they wandered off fishing and sightseeing on that mountain when Peter, James and John finally remembered to say something—too late, it was time for Him to depart.

Again if you read Luke 24 by itself, you would think from verse 50 that straight after He said, “but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high…” He led them out immediately to the vicinity of Bethany and while He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into Heaven.[23] It was not, for we know there were forty days from that night and to Ascension Day. He was probably leading them back from Galilee to the city —and He ran out of time and was taken up. Jesus missed out on personally baptising them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. By personally, I mean by being there in the flesh on Earth, standing next to them, even laying hands on them, instead of what He had to do next, sit at the right hand of the Father and watch as the Holy Spirit caught up to them the third time… on the day of Pentecost, at least forty days after Resurrection morning.

See – hear – and learn. It was never the intention of Jesus to start the church with immature apostles who barely knew all the basic teachings and doctrines of Christ, much less repentance from dead works and so on—but with fully mature apostles, who had been where Jesus is, and had spent forty days and nights in the presence of His glory, who would come down off that mountain fully matured, equipped even with the powers of the age to come!

The spluttering, stuttering start of the church was never meant to be, if we had listened and took Jesus at His word! See, it is why His yolk is EASY!


 

[1] Exodus 24:1

[2] Exodus 24:9

[3] Exodus 24:15-18

[4] Exodus 24:14

[5] Numbers 14:24

[6] John 17:24

[7] Hebrews 6:4-5

[8] Acts 2:3

[9] John 15:26 NJJV

[10] 2 Corinthians 3:17

[11] Exodus 32:4

[12] Exodus 32:1

[13] Luke 24:49

[14] John 21:1-3

[15] John 21:15

[16] Matthew 28:17-18

[17] Matthew 14:22

[18] Mark 6:45

[19] John 6:17

[20] Matthew 13:8; Mark 4:8; Luke 8:8

[21] Acts 2:2

[22] 1 Kings 19:11

[23] Luke 24:50-51

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