With same sex marriage now legalized in many Western countries, and militant Islam ravaging the East, Christians might be wondering what God is doing. With the repeated failure of predictions of an imminent second coming, is the Bible any help to us at all in predicting what will happen next? I believe it is.
The New Testament writers often quote the Old Testament in crazy ways because they understood that God’s covenants are “harvest cycles.” They could refer to events in previous covenants and say, “Look, it’s happening again! See how God reunited Israel? Now He is reuniting Jew and Gentile!”
The moral degradation of Western culture and the rise of militant Islam make perfect sense when understood in the light of sacred architecture and the “harvest” process it represents. So we will take a brief look into the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, observe how this pattern shaped the events of the first century, and quickly trace it to the madness of our own day.
The Holy Place
In the Holy Place were three furnitures which represented three offices: Priest, King and Prophet. These three describe a process of maturity. The Priest listens, the King acts, and the Prophet speaks. This is what was required of Adam in the Garden of Eden, and it also gives us three clear stages in the history and literature of ancient Israel.
The Table of Showbread is the Priest (manna and grapes in the wilderness), the Lampstand is the King (the light of the law for wisdom in governing) and the Incense Altar is the elders who advise in the courts of heaven and guide history on earth. Of course, Christ is the first one who truly united these three offices.
Since the Tabernacle layout is cross-shaped, these three furnitures are two hands, left and right, with the bosom or breastplate in the center. This is why Christ holds seven stars in His right hand in Revelation 1 (the church rulers). He is the Tabernacle fulfilled. Christians are a royal priesthood, a combination of priest and king with a voice from heaven.
The First Century
The conflict between Priesthood and Kingdom, Church and State, can be traced throughout Scripture, seen very clearly in the hatred of Abel by Cain, and Jacob by Esau, and in the Egyptians’ hatred of shepherds. However, only a faithful combination of Priesthood and Kingdom results in a voice that is truly Prophetic, hence the Day of Pentecost followed the Ascension of Christ and resulted in the Apostolic witness and the New Testament document.
However, Priesthood and Kingdom often collude against the true prophets. That is always the nature of Babel. The Jews hated the Romans, and yet Herod and Pilate became friends over the crucifixion of Christ. This was repeated “institutionally” a generation later, when Herodian worship (left hand) and Neronic rule (right hand) joined forces against the Christian church, the Body of Christ.
The Global Church
Islam is an insane parody of Priesthood. Listen and do not question. Circumcision for everyone. Holiness by coercion. Secular humanism is Kingdom taken to the extreme, the “guns, girls and gold” prohibited by Moses (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) and amassed by Solomon, which began the downfall of Israel.
Islam and Secularism are vehemently opposed. One claims divine authority (Priesthood), the other claims infinite wisdom (Kingdom). Both invent history in order to claim the future (Prophecy). Like Herod and Pilate, the only thing they have in common is a hatred for Christianity, the fragrant bride in the bosom of Adam, the supernatural institution which, by the Spirit of the ascended Christ, unites Priesthood and Kingdom in a voice that is truly Prophetic.
It is easy to blame the Church for the degeneration of Western culture, but the prophetic witness in our culture has in reality been reasonably consistent. Based on covenant history, the fact that God’s words now enrage His enemies is not a sign of failure. It is a sign of their imminent doom.
Romans 1 tells us that cultural homosexuality is a sign of the end of a culture, the final proof that it has gone insane. But subsequent chapters also describe the hypocrisy and futility of a carnal priesthood. Paganism and Judaism were castrated forever, their “ministries” replaced by the enthronement of the fragrant firstborn from the dead.
This explains the natures of Islam and Secularism. In this age, everything is Christian. With paganism and Judaism disempowered, to have any real longevity, any idolatry must now be a distorted form of Christianity. Islam is Christianity without sacrament, without grace. Secularism is Christianity without discipline, without self-government. Islam and Secularism are thus the bipolar moods of Christless Christianity, schizoid faces of a global perversion of the prophetic Gospel. Christians in the East testify like Elijah against false Priesthood. Christians in the West, like the angels sent to Sodom, testify against false Kingdom. Sacrament and Government can only be united under the Word by the Spirit.
But both perversions are not only the enemies of the Gospel, they are the results of the Gospel. Islam and Secularism are rebellion against Christ taken to its logical conclusion in opposite directions: legalism or licentiousness. With no spiritual weapons, both “hands” are reduced to bearing the sword in their respective ways. They can be united only in death, and their current victories are suicides in disguise. As it was in the first century, the only solution, the only release, is faith in Christ.
The Whole World in His Hands
What does the future hold? When God’s people persevere, God confuses their enemies and sets them against each other. Rome devoured Jerusalem, and then the New Jerusalem devoured Rome. The prophetic voice of Christ and His Apostles was vindicated. Released from the trappings of the old order, and possessing both the divine authority of the Jew and the earthly abundance of the Gentile, the Gospel began its transformation of the empire.
When Sodom was destroyed, Sarah conceived. When Israel committed similar sins, Ruth and Hannah conceived. In God’s kingdom, the last days are only ever the last days of the old order. A bipolarity of Priesthood and Kingdom expressed in global culture means some kind of Prophetic resurrection across the world is at hand, a Christendom more faithful, wiser, and bigger than even the saints could imagine, the next “growth ring” of the kingdom of God.
The inheritance of Jesus includes both the East and West, just as it included Jew and Gentile, set in opposition by the Law: divide and conquer, circumcise and baptize. With the Spirit of God in us, and the lessons of the millennia, God’s thoughts are not so high above ours any more. And that was always the plan: that all His people might be Prophets, wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Mike Bull is a graphic designer in the Blue Mountains of Australia, and author, most recently, of Sweet Counsel.
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