One is allowed back in church again. If there are some restrictions regarding the virus, there is at least hope that it will end soon. Things feel a bit more normal. We have been plucked out of our normality in a cruel and extreme way. In the beginning of virus-politics and virus-regulations one often heard about a “new normal”. I wonder what happened to that term. Have we become aware of that which has real value in our “old life” and therefore work hard towards going back to that, or are we so adjusted already to a new way of living that the “new” is now “normal”?
Great upheaval usually goes hand in hand with great adjustment. Life makes a course correction. We are challenged to do and think differently in order to make it work for us. It is a very personal process, unique in every way and limited to each person’s own decisions and conclusions – well, if you are free to make your own choices to the degree that your life is determined by what you decide for yourself. We live in community. Our way of living impacts others.
What would you say is the most important experience or lesson that you could take away from this extraordinary time that we have all lived through? Would you remember it with loss of dear ones? Was there anything from which you were kept away from, that you miss? What impact did the restrictions on travel and gather have on you personally? It might be a good idea to list some stuff in a journal. It is a sobering experience to look back on emotions and soul struggles much later on in life. Time passes quickly and things change rapidly – sometimes so intensely that one looks back in awe of what happened over the years.
Will you go to church again? What did you experience without the usual rituals of religion in a building with coffee afterwards? Has anything of value emerged from being prohibited to gather spiritually?
Were there other ways that you experienced God? I have spent time in nature as always, but also to be able to see friends when we were not allowed to gather indoors. Nature sings with the manifestation of God all the time. A forest is a cathedral with no walls or doors. The roof is the heavens above with the sun as chandelier and dappled shade the dimmer switch. The stars and the planets sing the worship. So will I.
That is how it was in the beginning. That beautiful garden in Genesis was a Spirit-expression of the perfect manifestation of God – rest and peace in splendour and provision. God came to speak in the evening breeze. When Adam and Eve hid and their nakedness was revealed, God came again. He was where He always is; where He promised to be. He called until Adam answered. In spite of sin, the conversation continued. The exchange with God was remedy and redemption. It is the principle for all the centuries to follow. It is his character. His Word is established even when heaven and earth will disappear. His voice echoes in all the darkness and destruction of this world. He is ready to redeem and restore. When the consequences of sin wreak havoc in lives and in nature itself, He is ready to save when the call comes.
Thousands of years ago, during the Bronze Age, God cut a covenant with Abraham. He let Abraham sleep while the ritual of the covenant was taking place. In his sleep, Abraham saw a figure of light walking amongst the animal halves in his place. The writer of Hebrews explains that God cut covenant with himself, to promise and swear by himself, so that the Covenant would last for all eternity. Man cannot bring his side. We are fallible and sinful and can do nothing that satisfies God. From the earliest of times, Jesus came to take our place, also there on the plains of Canaan, where Abraham slept and God spoke.
His son Isaac had twins, the few-minutes-younger of the two was named Jacob. He grew into quite a character. He was the father of the nation of Israel. He had twelve sons and the story of Joseph, his beloved, spoilt little favoured one and his brothers is a fascinating chronicle of the triumph of forgiveness and restoration.
But in his youth Jacob stole the first-born blessing from his brother in a fraudulent scheme concocted by him and his mother, in spite of the prophetic word to Rebekah (Genesis 25:23), that the younger will serve the elder.
Jacob has to flee and overnights with his head on a rock. He dreams of a ladder reaching into heaven with angels ascending and descending (Genesis 28:12). God speaks to him in his dream and makes an amazing promise.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)
This promise, as all God’s promises, is the confirmation of the terms of the Blood Covenant that God cut with Abraham. Every word to Jacob is the Highway of Holiness (Isaiah 35:8) on which we can walk the walk of life. God’s words are the Truth and substantiate every word throughout Scripture.
Jacob realizes what is happening.
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (Genesis 28:16,17)
He calls his place of revelation knowledge, the gate of heaven. He honours his conversation with God there by the rock on which his head rested. He names the place so that he will never forget the experience – a name of remembrance, a signpost of testimony – Bethel. He promises a temple, a house of God for God, so that God could dwell there. The house of God is recognized as a place of spontaneous giving. (Genesis 28:18-22)
For us the Temple of the Word of God is the Cross of Jesus. He is the Word of God from the beginning (John 1:1). Jesus speaks to Peter about the Rock on which his Church shall be built. It is the Rock of the revelation of who Jesus is. The words that Peter spoke in Matthew 16:16 do not come from himself, but was revealed to him by the Father (16:17).
The Rock of Revelation for the Church of Jesus is the true knowledge of who Jesus is. There we will tithe spontaneously (Hebrews 7:1; Malachi 3:10)
The deep revelation of Jesus, the Word of God, from God is the Rock on which the Church stands. It is the gate of heaven. Jesus is the Door, the Way. There is no other access to God. Jesus takes us with him in his triumphal entry into heaven – the unseen Kingdom of God on earth.
Where is you church? By the Rock of Revelation of the true church – the shadow of the Almighty and the secret place of the Most High.
It is exactly as Jesus said to Nathanael.
And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)
Jesus confirms Jacob’s “church”, marked by angel activity. As you read these words, “see” the angels around you and God dwelling in your praises. Make your church the rock of revelation where you “hear” God in the evening breeze. Hear the promises to Abraham, confirmed in the Cross,
All the promises of God are yes and amen in Jesus.
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
It is the gate of heaven.