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Thursday, October 4, 2018

9-29-2018    The Menorah, the Valley of Dry Bones & Todays Church
Revelation 1:1-20

            Exodus 25:31-37                                        Zechariah 4:1-14                                                               

Ezekiel 37:1-14                                Col. 1:17-18, 1 Corinth. 12:27         
                                                        Revelation chapters 1, 2, 3 & 4        
What do the menorah, the valley of dry bones and today’s church have in common?
Recently, our pastor spoke about the menorah, as depicted in Zechariah chapter four with the golden bowl, the fig branches, the pipes pouring into the bowl and the stems feeding each of the flames on the candlesticks,.  Father immediately reminded me of Ezekiel 37 and the valley of dry bones.  He had already explained to me how the valley of dry bones represents the reconstruction of today’s church. From our walking in our wilderness to getting ready to enter into our “Israel”.  He has added an accent to that with the menorah and how it ties in.  He has also shown me the original menorah He commanded Moses to make so as to draw a comparison with the one that Zechariah saw in his vision.  And all this connects with the early and latter rain spoken of in the book of Joel chapter two and the state of the former and latter house mentioned in Haggai 2:9.  Father has connected the dots and shown how all this connects into what is happening in today’s church.   

Let’s start with the menorah, the one God commanded Moses to make (Exod. 25:31-37, Exod. 37:17-23) and the one that Zechariah saw in his vision  (Zech. 4:1-6).

Moses made a candlestick as a shaft and having six branches, three each on opposite sides if the main shaft.  There were bowls, wreaths and flowers on the shaft and the branches with a lamp atop each branch and the shaft.  The bowls were to be shaped like an almond.  I mention the almond because it is a most sturdy tree, a strong root system and, of the trees, the first to bear fruit.  The almond also represents God’s readiness to perform things quickly.  The candle lights represent God’s presence in a dark world and dependency on the Creator of all things.  The center candle was kept burning though the other six would have to be regularly relit.

There is a change in what Zechariah saw in his vision.  There is now a bowl over the candlestick and an olive trees (or branches) on either side continually pouring their oil into the bowl.  Note the bowl has seven stems coming down feeding each of the “candlesticks”.  A continuing source of fuel to the flame.  The olive branches represent God’s peace and just who is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6, Romans 5:1)?  The pipes leading down from the olive branches to the bowl provide a constant source of oil, or fuel, and what does olive oil represent to us?  Along with being that continuing source of fuel (nourishment) into the bowl it also represents the Holy Ghost (Spirit) and His presence in our life. 

As I mentioned, with Moses’ candlestick, the priests had to relight the six candles (man)  on a regular basis while the seventh (God), the one on the shaft, was kept burning.  The pipes from the bowl and with oil, enter into each candlestick.  The Holy Ghost is a constant source of strength and energy for all the branches of the candlestick, constant and simultaneous (at the same time).     

The candlestick, or menorah, of Moses represents the first covenant between God and man, the law, and under which man was functioning at the time.  The six candlesticks also reflect man’s frailty and note they are connected to the seventh, middle, shaft which represents our reliance upon God for life. The candlestick, or menorah, of Zechariah reflects this and the coming second covenant between God and man or that which is of promise, the revelation of God’s love (Jesus Christ).  Don’t forget, the second covenant did not take away the first.  It fulfilled it (Matt. 5:17).  That’s why nothing was changed from the menorah of Moses, but rather the revelation of God’s grace and love were added through the olive branches, bowl and connecting pipes.  That’s why Jesus told His disciples that we are dependent upon Him (John 15:1-8).

The two menorahs represent the move from works to grace.  In the old covenant (before Jesus), man had to keep the law and was judged by what he did.  In the new covenant (in Jesus) man is judged by the intents of his heart (Eph. 2:8-9, Jer. 17:10).  In the old covenant, man ‘worked’ to ‘get saved’ and in the second covenant, man works because he ‘is saved’. 

The seven candlesticks also represent the seven churches of God (Rev. 1:20).  Though these seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, were the primary seats of Christian faith of the time, for today, they would represent the true Christian church, with its various branches.  I say “true” church because we know that in the end times there will be a falling away (2 Thess. 2:1-3).   I say it this way because not all ‘Christian’ denominations accept that Jesus is the risen Son of God, much less that He is God come into this world, in the flesh, to redeem us back unto Himself.  Remember as  Abraham and Isaac were preparing for the sacrifice, Isaac asked “… where’s the lamb…?”  Abraham responded “… God will provide himself (Himself) a lamb (Lamb) …” (Gen 22:7-8).  Do I need to mention John 1:1?  “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  In the Word was life and that life is the light of men (John 1:4) and was made flesh and lived among us (John 1:14). 

The flames of the candlesticks are the loving light of God piercing into the depths of spiritual darkness in this world.  (I’m gonna let my little light shine?)

The bowl is the “storehouse” of the oil which should be influencing our lives.  Of course, oil also represents the Holy Ghost.  Ergo, it is our source of life and direction.  The stem leading from the bowl to each candlestick and flame is the source of life of each candlesticks and flame.  They keep the flame burning.  The olive branches are, of course, the source of the oil and the olive branch represents “peace”.  And Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6, Romans 5:1) Jesus IS our source of peace.  And that oil is ever flowing.  The bowl never dries up.  The source of our life-oil never disappears.

God takes Ezekiel into the midst of a valley filled with “dry bones” (Ezek. 37:1-14).  
God has Ezekiel pray three prayers.  In the first, God tells Ezekiel to command the dry bones in the valley to come together into proper alignment, bone on bone.  Then to connect those bones with ligaments.  Why?  So they don’t become disarrayed and scattered all over the valley floor again.  The next command is to cover those bones with muscle so they can function.  Do what God has called us to do.   Finally a covering so those old, dried bones can look like what they are supposed to look like.  People, rather the church.  We were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27).  God’s presence is love.  So we should be a reflection of that love to the world (1 John 4:7-8). 

Father expects us to operate as ‘one’ body and gives us the ability to do so as He bathes us in His love.

Yet, though the bodies are formed, they have no life them.  So God has Ezekiel pray a second prayer where he commands breath to come from the four winds to bring life into these slain that they might live.  When we don’t function as God intends or “in” all that Father gives us, we are like the slain, like dead men.  We may have shape and form and even natural life, but we are dead to God’s will – not doing what He has called us to do.  Not quite as bad as the whited sepulcher, all bright and shiny on the outside but full of dead bones on the inside (Matt. 23:27).  The one advantage we do have is that our bones are covered with the image of a person so we can be revived.  Though we may have form and breath, we may still be in our graves.  Going through the motions but not really alive.  Not performing at the level God intends for us is ‘quenching’ the Holy Spirit, which God tells us not to do (1 Thess. 5:19).

In the third prayer, Father has Ezekiel issue another command.  God says that He will open our graves and cause us to rise up out of them.  He will bring us into the land of Israel.  That is, He will help us to function effectively for Him in this world, fully operating in His power.  Once we are in our (His) realm here on earth, we will know that God said it and did it (brought us back to true life) because He has put His Spirit in us and He will be in full operation.  Dispelling the idea that He cast out devils out by Beelzebub, Jesus said that if a kingdom is divided, it cannot stand, but if God casts out the devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon us (Luke 11:17-21).  Don’t go looking all around for the kingdom of God for it is within us (Luke 17:20-21). We don’t have to wait to get to heaven!  His kingdom has come.

In helping us to start growing, Father prompted John Wycliffe to translate the Latin Vulgate into English so the common man might have a bible he could read for himself, which Wycliffe completed by 1384.  Father also prompted Martin Luther in a similar fashion and he produced a German translation for the common man.  Of course Luther also wrote his 95 Theses in 1517 which ignited the Protestant Reformation.  Though the Reformation and four “Great Awakenings (1730’s, late 1700’s to mid 1800’s, early 1900’s [Pentecostal movement] and the 1960’s – 1970’s [the charismatic movement] ) Father prompted men to draw closer to His truths.  Closer into His love.  Through all this, God was drawing the dry bones of His church together, connecting them with tendons, covering them with muscle so His word could be preached effectively and then a covering of ‘skin’ so the church could look like what God had intended.  Finally He breathed life into the church – the movement of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  And yet, even today the church still complains “our bones are dry we are lost and we are cut off for our parts.”  All of Christianity is not yet living in the fullness of what Father has to offer.  And none of us where Father would really like us to be.  Denominational “dogma” still separates the body of Christ from being truly united and working as a single unit towards promoting God’s love though we all have different roles through which we may accomplish this.  Man, all too often, doesn’t understand the unity of those roles, but rather sees only the differences. When man sees something but it doesn’t operate for him, he pigeonholes it, sets it aside.  When we don’t believe that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, we run into problems (Heb. 13:8) for we are quenching the Holy Ghost.  Thank God He has accomplished much of His will even though we don’t all look alike, sound alike or even act alike or even believe, exactly alike.  However, Father does tell us the world will know us by our love one for another (John 13:35).  The love of Jesus is our common bond.

Through the works of Jesus in the gospels and the book of Acts of the Apostles, Father has shown us how, His church, the body of Christ should be built.  Indeed, we are the body of Christ (1 Corinth. 12:27) and each with his/her own task to accomplish.  The epistles give further direction on how this body should be put together and how it should function in unity.

Jesus selected and trained His ‘apostles’ and those disciples who travelled with Him in God’s ways.  He confirmed that He is indeed the Christ, the Messiah, the Chosen One and that they should all live in the Father’s love.  The greatest commandment is to love God above all else and then our neighbor (everyone else) as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).  Any other commandment or action is based on God’s love (Matt. 22:40), an explanation of that love.

 The world knows that we follow Jesus Christ because of our love one for another (John 13:35).  When I was young, it seemed that each and every Christian denomination believed that they were the only true church and that everyone else was lost.  My youth was spent in a Southern Baptist Church, but as I grew, Father brought me through several denominational as well as full gospel churches (baptism of the Holy Ghost & operation of the gifts). 

After my wife and I had moved to Hagerstown, I encountered a Baptist brother in a local bookstore.  We talked for a while and as we parted company he commented to me “Though I don’t agree with some of what you said, I feel in my spirit that we are brothers in Christ.”  Whoa!  What a revelation!  I mean, what are the basic requirements for being a Christian?  1) Believe that in the beginning was the Word.  The Word was with God and the Word was (is) God and was made flesh (John 1:1-14).  2) Receive the precious blood Jesus shed for us, cleansing us from all unrighteousness and sin, on the cross (1 John 1:7).  3) Confess and repent (turn from) those sins (Acts 3:19). 4) Believe that God, the Father, raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, He ascended back to the Father and is now seated in all power and glory at the Father’s right hand (Acts 7:55-56, Romans 8:34) waiting for the time to come back and get us (John 14:1-3).  Our salvation, our existence with the Eternal God is a matter of heart in our relationship with God Almighty.  When someone believes these things with their whole heart, we then will live in God’s love and then we are brothers in Jesus Christ, no matter where we go to church and we look forward to Christ’s return.

In case you missed it, the menorah represents man’s relationship with our heavenly Father.  How He gives us life and guides us.  It shows how Father has transitioned man from living for Him by doing things (works) to living for Him because we desire to please Him.  After all, we should desire to please Him for all he does for us.  So let us count our many blessings.  For what has God done for each of us throughout our lives?

Transitioning our relationship which is has to be kindled when necessary to one that is constantly kindled by His Holy Spirit.  I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ (John 15:4-5), but through Him I can do all things (Phil. 4:13)!

What did Father tell Ezekiel?  “I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel”.  Father is now in the process of bringing us up out of our graves. (Ezek. 37:12)”  Even us.  Though the church has grown mightily in the past century, denominational dogma yet keeps us split.  We have been focusing more on our differences than the unifying blood of Jesus.  The menorah in Exodus is man living without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit but through Zecariah, Father shows how He is bringing us up out of our graves by filling us with new and greater levels of His Spirit.

We receive power in our spiritual life with the infilling of the Holy Ghost because we confessed and accepted Jesus.  We receive power (Acts 1:8) in receiving the “baptism” of the Holy Ghost as we continually yield our lives to Him and yet we cry out “Our bones are dried, our hope is lost, we are cut off for our parts. (Ezek. 37:11)”.  We are not yet unified as the body of Christ.  I’m not talking about one massive church.  I AM talking about all the different aspects of the body of Christ working together to accomplish His will.  We are each unique.  We all have a different role in God’s kingdom.  But our uniqueness keeps our roles different even though they may overlap.  Father desires each and everyone of us to function in the gift He has given us. 

God is preparing to bring His people up out of their graves by opening our eyes through His love.  Through His love we can accomplish things we may never have dreamed of by working with other Christians with whom we may have never associated.  Father knows that once we become single in heart, we can accomplish anything our hearts desire (Gen. 11:5-6).

The early rain, the early church (the apostles, etc.) was getting the ground ready, an introduction if you will, to what was coming.  The latter rain ripens the fruit for harvest and it is the revelation of the operation of the fullness of the Holy Ghost, at Father’s level.  And it is for today.
There is a Spiritual explosion coming.  Father has been preparing His “soldiers” and is even now solidifying their duties so they may be ready to do battle in just a few years.  Battle with the enemy for lost souls.  Guiding all souls (who are willing) into God’s eternal love.

Father is raising up a people who will have a new and greater awareness of His love.  As that love grows comes a growing desire to walker closer and closer with Father.  As we walk closer with Father He opens up more and more of His Spiritual realm to us so we can walk into our “Israel” an function as He intended.  As this happens, the second outpouring of the Holy Ghost, the latter rain, as man has never seen it before.  The fields are ripe.  Father is simply waiting on His harvesters – to be ready. 

The Spiritual Explosion is coming.  Who has been listening?  Who is responding?  This is an exciting time to be alive and Father is making us ready.  He is preparing all who are willing and obedient. 
All of this is preparing the way for the Spiritual Explosion.  The Spiritual explosion?  THAT is, my brothers and sisters, will be the sequel.


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