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How much can you entrust to someone who repeatedly does not listen and continues to formulate his own ways and methods when time and again you have shown him the value and the need to listen and obey?

Mary did not have to return to the men with the message that she had seen the Lord.  After all they had treated the first message as if …their words seemed to them like nonsense.  But she did because she was one who listened and obeyed, unlike the eleven who would listen but then go their own way.  Had they gone that morning, set out for Galilee, even though it was a few days journey from Jerusalem, they would have redeemed themselves from when they were told to go to Bethsaida, just across the river, but instead they went across the lake to Capernaum, yet ended up in Gennesaret.  It is interesting to note that in John’s account it is written:  Then they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.  It gives you the impression that they did go to Capernaum, except for Mark’s record:  When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.  Yes, they did go onto the other side of the lake because both Gennesaret and Capernaum are on the other side, but close enough is not the same as being there… exactly where they intended to go.

That is exactly where the church seems to be now… somewhere near where the eleven wanted to take it, but certainly not exactly where Jesus wanted it to be… yet really, the current church resembles nothing of what the eleven intended either.  It is like when they wanted to go to Capernaum, but landed in Gennesaret when Jesus wanted them in Bethsaida.  They did not repent then and so they could not go to Bethsaida even after Jesus joined them.  And why do I say that the church is not where the eleven intended it to be?  As it was mentioned in the Book of Absolutes, their failure to repent absolutely of their Jewishness meant that for the eleven and certainly for Peter and John, there was an undercurrent, a yearning, a desire, for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel.  They revealed this when they asked, “Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” and their actions in Acts 3.1 confirmed their desire… One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.  They still had a hankering for the Jewish tradition.  When you understand this, you might be able to understand the rise of Nicolas of Antioch with the ranks of the early church so that by the time Jesus wrote to the seven churches, Nicolas had a denomination of his own called the Nicolaitans whose teachings Jesus commanded to be repented of and whose practices He hates. 

So who is Nicolas?  We are only told that he is …from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.  If you understand the eleven’s desire, certainly Peter’s and John’s desire, or perhaps Peter’s alone, to see the restoration of Israel through Christ’s teachings, then Nicolas was the ideal candidate for such a project.  For he was someone from Antioch, a gentile who had been converted to Judaism and now converted unto Jesus… not a Jew converted to Christ like the rest of them, but a gentile converted to Judaism and then to Christ.  According to their standards, Nicolas was the prototype of what God must have planned for the gentiles and in so doing, Israel and Judaism would be restored.  For if all the gentiles were first converted to Judaism (hence by acts 15.1, there was a teaching that went down to Antioch that said, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”) then like Nicolas, they would first have to be circumcised in the flesh and then if drawn by the Father to Jesus, would become one of them, ‘Christians’.  It seemed logical… conversion to Judaism with circumcision of the flesh and then if they were considered worthy, baptism with water as they were and then baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.

It is the exact same mindset that they had that afternoon after the feeding of the 5000… since Jesus said Bethsaida and never mentioned Capernaum… to them, what is the difference between Capernaum and Bethsaida, for they were still on the same shoreline… and if Jesus could not find them in Bethsaida, He would walk to Capernaum to join them.  It is after all a bigger town and if they were going to revel in the news of the feeding of the 5000, Capernaum would be the better place.  Likewise, what is the difference… Israel is the kingdom of God’s chosen people and now would it not be better to restore Israel and use it to turn people to Christ… that way, at least those who would not be drawn by the Father to Christ would at least be circumcised in the flesh to be part of Israel?  Indeed, this way, both the old and the new would be together, just like going to Capernaum was like going to Bethsaida, but only bigger and better.  Unfortunately, Jesus never told them what was waiting for them in Bethsaida, just that they were to go there immediately.  When they did not go immediately but tarried until nightfall, they certainly proved Jesus’ words true about the centurion… “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”  For the centurion said, “Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes.  I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  The centurion understood authority and saw Jesus had authority… that was his faith.  But did the twelve see the Lord’s authority and respond to that authority?  What a shame that it was the centurion who could say, “I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it,” but the Lord cannot say to Satan, “I say to My disciple, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  For Satan can surely reply, “Even the centurion had servants who obeyed him, but Your disciples, they do not listen to You.  You told them to go to Bethsaida immediately, but they waited then went to Capernaum.  You told them to go to Galilee, but they stayed away.  You told them to wait in the city until they have been clothed with power, but they went fishing.  You told them to wait for the Holy Spirit who will make known to them what belongs to You, but they chose Matthias by a lottery without waiting for the Holy Spirit.”

Just like Goliath was taunting the armies of Israel day after day, so this taunt of Satan has been rising to Heaven for 2000 years.  Israel’s army may have been facing the philistines ready for battle, yes… but they had not won the war.  Likewise now, the church has been fighting battles and getting ready for battles, but she has not won the war.  It is doing something, but nothing that the Lord commanded exactly.  It is like the twelve being out there in the middle of the lake, rowing and battling the wind and the waves, but they were not where Jesus wanted them and they were not going where Jesus wanted them to be going.  In fact, the church has not done what Peter and James the Younger wanted either.  Israel was not restored through the church.  The gentiles did not convert to Judaism just because they were doing miracles and having prayer meetings at the temple.  The restoration of the partial observance of the law of Moses through James the Younger’s recommendations in Acts 15 did not lead or inspire the gentiles to adopt Judaism and then become Christians so that Israel would be restored by the church and the church would find a permanent home in Israel.  Nothing like that happened.  Israel stopped existing as a nation from 70AD and did not start as a nation again until 1948AD, and the church, far from being an institution that is proud of its Jewish heritage or roots, became an institution that historically persecuted the Jews unceasingly.  Just like that night Jesus said Bethsaida, but they wanted Capernaum, yet ended up at Gennesaret.

We are where we are, 2009AD, because we do not listen and obey.  We are where we are in 2009AD because Jesus’ servants are not like the centurion’s servants.

As such, there is no point in bringing forth what no ears have heard if there are no listeners.  The twelve saw the multiplication of food, the two saw the empty tomb, and one of them even believed, but seeing did not help them obey.  It will only be those who can hear, really hear, who will be shown what no ears have heard nor eyes have seen what God had prepared for them in Galilee.  For it is written:  As he (David) was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it.  When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear.  David heard it…  Can you hear it… the defiance that Satan is shouting to our Lord?  “Where are the ones who would listen to Your Son?”  If you can hear like David heard and feel like David felt, then like David we need to choose five smooth stones from the stream. 

You see, the eleven proved consistently they were not listeners who were prepared to do exactly what they were told.  So how much were they entrusted with?  They were entrusted with the laying down of the foundation, and if you visit any building site, digging the foundation is hard work, dirty work, yes… but it does not have to be precise, close enough can be good enough.

So the eleven have done the Lord’s wish and borne the heat of the day, and as much as we may lament for the imprecision of the work… take heart and learn to see.  The church as it is may not resemble what Jesus had in mind if it had been launched from Galilee, but with the correct alterations, it will be and can be.  Just like a raw building does not look like what the architect has in mind, but when the plaster and finishes are applied, it will be the wonder it is intended.  Once the scaffolding and rubbish is removed, and the mortar washed, the world will see what God always had in mind for the body of Christ to glorify His Son.

But first, even you, the elect, need to listen and having heard, learn to obey so that truly Jesus can say, “When I tell My servants to go to Bethsaida, they go.  When I tell them to come to Galilee, they come.”

It is those who even now have the ability to hear the taunts of the enemy and the soft voice of the Holy Spirit who are prepared to listen, and having heard, will do exactly what they are told, whose ears will be privileged to hear what no ear has heard.  To ones such as these will be entrusted the power and ability to do what the eleven were never recorded to have done.

In Acts, it is recorded they healed the sick, drove out demons, caused the lame to walk and raised the dead, but it was never recorded that they multiplied food, otherwise they would not have had the debacle of Acts 6 and would not have had to collect gifts for the famine in Acts 11.  It was not recorded they stopped a storm; even Paul did not stop his storm in Acts 27.  It is not recorded anywhere that they turned water to good wine or changed the nature of one substance to another.  Nor is it recorded that they could translate at will even though the Spirit translated Philip in Acts 8.39 and Paul was the only one whose entry hints at the ability to do what Elisha could do with his spirit.  And certainly not one of them was recorded to have transfigured as Jesus transfigured.  As such, though they did do some of the things that Jesus had been doing, not everything that was recorded for us that Jesus did has been done by the eleven or even Paul.  So John 14.12:  “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing,” remains unfulfilled.

These five things – multiplication of food, controlling a storm, changing water to good wine, translation and transfiguration – are like David’s five smooth stones.  They are five weapons that remain unused in the stream of the Holy Spirit’s power, which are waiting for those who have ears to hear and hearts to obey exactly what they hear, to draw out of the stream to use against the giants that are taunting our Lord God and Father to this day.  Five weapons, which when fully manifested will allow the Kingdom of God to prepare the coming of the King of kings.  Five that were withheld from the eleven because they did not have the ability to hear and obey exactly, like the servants of the centurion did… but five that were not needed for the foundational work, only the finishing work.

So how much can you entrust to someone who will listen and obey?  Listen and obey and you will find out.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  And if you claim you can hear, then can you obey or are you like the eleven?

Remember there are two who are coming who have …power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the Earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.  Only those who can control the weather and change water to good wine, multiply the food as well as heal all the sick, who have no fear in them and neither do they need to fear the condemned one who can call fire down from Heaven, for they can translate out of harm’s way.  Indeed, neither would they fear the mark of the beast, for a person who can do these five things has no need to buy and sell, and indeed cannot be tracked or trapped.

Listen then to Jesus and go when He says, “Go,” come when He says, “Come,” for the one command we are all longing to hear is these three words… “Come up here.”

The sign on the Mount of Transfiguration says, “Listeners welcome.”  That is how you know it is the Mount of Transfiguration.

Amen.

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