While Christians involve themselves today in various issues including both those outside the church - government, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, gambling, etc. - as well as those issues within the church - worship, the family, doctrine, teaching, preaching, church government, church discipline, revivals, evangelism, church history, etc. - there is an issue which is of far greater concern to Yahweh, yet few are even aware of it. In fact, this one issue is so wholly encompassing that its resolution would reconcile and solve every other issue at hand. What issue could be of such preeminent concern to Yahweh? It is an issue of such focus to Him that it has been the driving force of all His works for 6,000 years, and equally will be in all years to come. When Yahshua came to walk upon this earth, this sole issue was the focal point of all of His teachings, it was the misunderstood hope of all who heard Him, and He Himself manifested the very substance and truth of this issue. When instruction was solicited by His disciples on how to pray, it was this issue that was first in that heavenly directed petition by the Savior. His instruction concerning what was to be our first pursuit upon this earth was nothing less than this sole issue. And in the end of His life, in the final seconds, as we will see in this writing, Yahshua uniquely effected the resolution of this one great issue. What, we ask again, could this preeminent issue be?
The resolution of this issue centers on the equal question - What is the church? What is its destiny, its future? Most Christians would say the church is the body of Christ, His representation upon this earth. Indeed it is, but how does that body fit into Yahweh's overall plan? What is God offering through that body? All of these questions relate to this one great issue at hand. The one great focal issue of Yahweh throughout the centuries that has and will indeed change the entirety of all men and all creation forever, the one great issue that determines the destiny of the church, is the establishment of the kingdom of God upon this earth.
But what, one might ask, is the kingdom of God? Surprisingly, most, when asked this question, are unsure of an answer. It is a strange thing that that which Yahshua declared should be of utmost priority in one's life - "seek first His kingdom" - most do not even know what that kingdom is, or even where it is, or what it means to reside in it. We ask - How can one "seek first" something they do not know for certain what or even where it is? To understand the kingdom of God, it is essential we consider both its history and its ultimate fulfillment. This writing in no way can be an exhaustive study of His kingdom, but will sketch out the basic picture and path of the kingdom. Some items can only be mentioned in brief, often referring to previous written material which more thoroughly covers the subject - the first item in our consideration being an example of such. Also, we do not seek to differentiate here between the terms "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven," both speaking of the same kingdom.
To understand the kingdom of God, one must first look at its origin upon this earth. When Yahweh created in six days all things related to this earth, and called them "good," He had created His kingdom here upon the earth. This kingdom was God's pleasure, providing man sinlessness, the absence of death and the curse, and His divine presence. Yahweh walked and talked with man, and man was to rule over all He had created. His kingdom was "bliss" for man, and "good" in His sight.
But there were two weaknesses to this initial kingdom. First was the flesh. Adam and Eve were from the dust of the ground - they were of this world - and this origin was and has continued to be a very great problem for man. Though initially sinless, man was still earthly; and earthly-flesh-occupying man cannot handle the things of God (which has proven to be true for 6,000 years).
The second problem in this first manifestation of the kingdom of God was the serpent, the devil. He was the source of the leaven in the kingdom, and it was not long before the woman believed his lies, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they received the sentence of death, and were removed from the garden.
Placing together (1) man's earthly flesh existence, along with (2) a devil who lies to, tempts, and deceives man, and whose full intent is to destroy man, the two always (as we will see) mean the corruption of God's kingdom. When Adam and Eve corrupted the initial kingdom of God upon this earth, then the man, the woman, Satan, and the earth were all cursed, and man lost the kingdom - he was cast out.
Do you understand this important brief beginning? It is important you do, for as you will see, this entire drama is a foreshadowing pattern that is repeated. What happened to the kingdom? It was removed from the earth. The kingdom of God no longer existed among men, having been defiled and totally removed. And it had to remain removed until it could be restored. We thus see the following scenario (a pattern of that which is to be):
How was it that this initial kingdom could be cleansed and restored? There was only one way - through the all-important vow of the Nazirite and the power of an indestructible life.
This matter of the restoration of the kingdom via the vow of the Nazirite is the subject of other writings as well. Unfortunately, we can address this here only briefly in order to preserve the continuity of our course. The vow of the Nazirite and its great significance is one of the most marvelous and exceptionally important truths in the Scriptures. Understanding it is essential to understanding this issue of the kingdom of God.
What was it about the garden of God, this first and brief kingdom, that made it so unique? There were three things. The first two were the two trees located in the middle of the garden - the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. The third thing making the garden experience unique was the fact that Adam and Eve were clothed with the glory of God - they had no clothing as we know it today, but rather were covered with the light of God, His glory. There were many other things unique to the garden, but these three - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life, and the glory of God on man - as we will see, were of great judicial significance in Yahweh's restoration plan for His kingdom.
For 4,000 years man was void of God's kingdom. Patterns were lived out that pictured the kingdom (e.g., Noah, Lot, and Solomon), men were miraculously born and placed in situations to restore the kingdom (but failed), the Law of God was given and the prophetic sacrifices instituted revealing the ways and plan of Yahweh, a people were established to follow those laws, a tabernacle and two temples were built for Yahweh's habitation, but still there was no kingdom. Rather, all of those people awaited the kingdom they knew Messiah would establish. How, they did not know; and when the awaited One came, they crucified Him. And it was here, at the death of the Messiah Yahshua, we see the long awaited and very important restoration of the garden of God, His kingdom.
We have already seen the three unique qualities of the garden of God - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life, and the glory of God upon man. These three qualities were uniquely captured in a vow any man or woman could take before Yahweh - the vow of the Nazirite. In Numbers 6 we read of this highly important vow. The institution of it by the candidate required three points of obedience: (1) they had to abstain from anything whatsoever from the grape, (2) they could not cut their hair, and were to let it grow long, and (3) they could not go near a dead person. Here in this highly important vow we find in representative form the three unique elements of the garden of God.
First, they had to abstain from anything whatsoever from the grape. It is clear from the Scriptures that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a grape tree. But you object - "Grapes don't grow on trees; they grow on vines! The tree of the knowledge of good and evil could not have been a vine." But this is the very point. Snakes don't walk on legs anymore either; they crawl on their bellies, like vines. Even as the snake was cursed to crawl, obviously the snake-inhabiting tree of the knowledge of good and evil was equally cursed. What fruit prevails in testimony throughout the entire Scriptures more than the grape and its wine? There is none. The fruit of the vine flows uninterrupted from the garden of Eden to Revelation. What one fruit upon fermentation, in the end "bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper" (Proverbs 23:32)? The snake-offered grape! The tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of God was a grape tree, and the first injunction of this vow of the Nazirite equally forbade eating anything from its fruit. Thus, the Nazirite's total abstention from grapes represented in picture abstention from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
(For your convenience on the internet, we have made available from our book entitled Coverings the section which provides added important information on this matter concerning the grape tree. Click to read this most interesting and revealing section on the grape tree.)
The second point - they could not cut their hair, but were to let it grow long - represents this next unique element of the garden of God - Adam and Eve were clothed with the glory of God. While, once again, we cannot devote ourselves to a thorough and just study of this matter, it is clear from the Scriptures that long hair represents the glory of God (thoroughly addressed in the book - Coverings). In 1 Corinthians 11:15 we read that a woman's long hair "is glory to her." This has far reaching and profound significance, but let it be noted here that long hair on the woman is glory. Her long hair is a prophetic testimony of the glory the woman (as well as Adam) lost in the garden of God at her temptation, fall, and death via the serpent. Thus we see the second point of identification of the Nazirite with the garden of God - letting the hair grow long represented the glory of God that resided upon Adam and Eve.
Third, they could not go near a dead person. This point of the vow obviously represents the second specifically noted tree in the garden - the tree of life. If Adam and Eve had eaten from this tree, they would have never died. Once Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and were cursed, they were removed from the garden, and a cherubim with a flaming sword was placed there to guard the way to the tree of life, lest man "stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." Appropriately, the Nazirite's third and final point of this vow - abstention from contact with death - clearly represented eating from the tree of life and not experiencing death.
Here then in this all-important vow were all three elements of the kingdom of God found in the garden. Very importantly, any effort to restore the original kingdom had to be legally effected through this sole representative touch-point with the original garden. This vow, we find, was the only legal link back to the garden. This vow of the Nazirite provided the only point of contact back to the original kingdom of God; and anyone who was to restore the corrupted kingdom had to effect it as a Nazirite. The word "Nazirite" (which does not mean one from Nazareth) means - "one consecrated, devoted." The Nazirite, in truth, was devoted to God for the all-important purpose of restoring the kingdom.
We can only oh so briefly point out here that Yahweh raised up three Adamic men as Nazirites to try to effect this restoration, but all three failed. All three men, very importantly, were miracle births. All three men were placed under a life-long Nazirite vow, not of their own choosing but before they were born. These three men were the only three individuals recorded in the Bible to have been under this vow - and all three failed.
Samson was under this vow, but he was sexually immoral. Samuel was also under this vow, but he could not bring forth godly offspring - his sons did not follow in his ways. And third, John the Baptist was placed under this vow, but at the end of his life he wavered in his belief. Three men were miraculously born, placed under the kingdom vow, but failed for various reasons. And since their vow was life-long, no matter if they had perfectly kept that vow all their days, their vow was violated at their death - they too in the end went among the dead, and their vow could not be restored since the grave held them captive! Who then could restore the garden of God?
The answer to this question requires a fourth man who equally, and even more so, was of a miracle birth. But unlike the others, as we will briefly see, this fourth man placed himself of his own will and words under the vow of the Nazirite. This, of course, was the man, Yahshua. He was born of a virgin, and at the Passover supper with His disciples placed Himself under the vow of the Nazirite when He resolutely declared - "Truly, I tell you - No more by no means will I drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God" (Lit. translation, Mark 14:25).
(Click to read the accounts in all three gospels confirming Yahshua's highly important vow.)
Upon making this important vow, Yahshua then, very significantly, removed Himself into a garden (John 18:1). Where was He at this point? Some would answer - the garden at Gethsemane. Yes, but far more importantly, as a Nazirite, intercessorally He was in the garden of Eden! John does not identify a specific garden; unique to the other gospels (as specifically the gospel of the kingdom of God), it only identifies it to be "a garden." While we read in these accounts the drama that took place at a natural level, a far more important, much higher level intercession was taking place. Intercessorally, as a Nazirite, Yahshua was in the garden of Eden - alone. Where was man? Sleeping! Peter, James, and John slept - they were pictorially dead, if you would. And in profound and very significant truth, Yahshua declared in the garden concerning man - "the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." At this immensely pictorial moment, He lucidly summarized the profound truth of God's willingness to give His kingdom to man, yet the possession of that kingdom reveals man's great weakness - his flesh! "The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." This was exactly the problem in the original garden, and as we will see as this matter of the kingdom of God unfolds, it continues to be the problem.
We will examine this again later in this writing, but note here that three times in the garden Yahshua cried out to His Father - "if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:36-46). Equally, three times in the course of His crucifixion He resolutely rejected drinking from the cup possessing the fruit of the cursed tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Mark 15:23, Matthew 27:33-34, and Luke 23:36). But then, as a final act which in the end would bring forth, after 4,000 years of corruption, the restored kingdom of God, Yahshua finally declared - "I am thirsty." Oh such a call; the impact of that cry being totally overlooked apart from examining the legal drama leading up to it! Many times He had drunk wine with others, but now as a Nazirite, that cup held something entirely different. As a Nazirite, His final request upon this earth was His Gethsemane relent to the Father to drink from the cup that held the death of all mankind, the cup which in the end bites like a serpent, the cup of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That cup was the touch point, the one tie drawing all the way back 4,000 years to the origin of death, and now as a Nazirite He was about to taste death for all men.
John enlighteningly records the significance of this moment - "Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, said 'I am thirsty.'" What "scripture might be fulfilled"? Reference verses in your Bible do not identify what that scripture was. His request was not spoken of by any of the prophets, as were other acts of His crucifixion. The only scripture to be fulfilled at this critical end was clearly Numbers 6 - the vow of the Nazirite. In order to restore the garden/the kingdom of God, Yahshua had to take the vow of the Nazirite (which He did, thus entering by this solitary link into that corrupted kingdom - testified to by the garden where He prayed alone), and likewise partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which effected the death of all men.
By partaking of the vine as a Nazirite, Yahshua legally went all the way back to the garden and identified with "dead" man and the corrupted kingdom. By taking the vow of the Nazirite, He had in legal type reentered the garden. By drinking of the cup of the cursed vine, He identified with all the sins of fallen man from its very source - the garden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thus, at the culmination of this entire drama - all the way from the garden of Eden to the cross - at the final request of the Son of God, sour wine was lifted up to Him in a sponge upon a branch of hyssop (one of the items dipped in blood for the cleansing of a healed leper), and as His final act, as a Nazirite He drank from the cup of the fruit of the vine! All things now completed, it was written - "When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit." His final identification as a Nazirite with the cursed kingdom of God and cursed man by drinking the cup of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was completed, and He died.
Did this final act now restore the kingdom? Not at all. At this point, the kingdom was still as corrupted as it remained when the three preceding Nazirites died. It would have to take more than the identifying commitment of a Nazirite to restore the kingdom. In order to restore the kingdom, the defiled Nazirite, according to the laws of God, had to return to the tent of meeting (the place of the presence of Yahweh), offer sacrifices, and restore His vow (Numbers 6:9-12). Neither Samuel, Samson, nor John had the power to accomplish that. Death held them in the grave and forbade the restoration of their vows. Only One, this fourth Nazirite, had the power to lay His life down, and the power to pick it up again. After rising from the dead, Yahshua departed for the heavenly "tent of meeting" and restored His vow, thus restoring after 4,000 years the corrupted kingdom of God.
How, you might ask, can we know that this is indeed what Yahshua performed while in heaven? Did He really legally restore His vow as a Nazirite? To answer this, one would have to know (1) how many days were required by God's law to restore a Nazirite vow, and (2) how many days Yahshua was at the "tent of meeting" in heaven. The answer to these two questions provides clear testimony to this essential work of Yahshua on behalf of the kingdom of God.
Numbers 6 tells us that the atoning process in the restoration of the Nazirite's vow, when defiled specifically by the Nazirite being among the dead, was an eight day process through which "the former days" were made "void." How long was Yahshua in heaven? John 20:26 clearly states - "And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, 'Peace be with you.'" What was Yahshua doing for eight days in heaven? The answer is clear - He was (among other things) legally restoring His vow as a Nazirite, and thus restoring the kingdom of God - "the former days" of the corruption of the garden being made "void"! Though this phrase - "the former days shall be void" - might be thought to simply apply to the days of a Nazirite's vow, prophetically and intercessorally it speaks volumes! For it was through this all-important vow that all the "former days" of cursed man and the cursed kingdom were made legally "void" by Yahshua. Thus, by Yahshua taking the vow of the Nazirite at the Passover supper, His garden intercession, His final act of drinking from the cup on the cross, His death, His resurrection from the dead, and then His ascension to the Father for specifically eight days to restore His vow, He restored the defiled garden of God/the kingdom of God and made the former days of the corruption of the garden and man void. Hallelujah! Yahshua, as a Nazirite, and having the power of an indestructible life, restored the kingdom of God!
Continue to page 2 of THE ISSUE for THE REPEAT FATE OF THE KINGDOM
Return to home page