In certain passages in the Scriptures, the sites in the above diagram are not merely geographical locations, but represent stages of spiritual growth in individual Christians. They are not united physically, but united throughout the world by the Spirit in having the same spiritual purpose. This will be explained further in the study.
Mount Zion signifies the presence of God in our midst and so represents the perfected Church, or the Bride of Christ. Those who have attained the bridal status have embarked on the path of the cross, laying their carnal self-lives on the altar of the cross to be gradually put to death by the Spirit, and replaced by the mind and heart of Christ, which is forged in them. They have progressed further spiritually in knowing the presence of God in them, and they in Him. Various passages in the Scriptures describe the attributes of the Bride. In Revelation 14, they are the 144,000. In spiritual numerology, twelve symbolises governmental authority, as in the twelve tribes, and the twelve apostles. Taken to the third degree, 144,000 represents perfected authority. Jesus said to the Overcomers of the Church at Philadelphia, “I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem [the bride of Christ], which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” Rev 3:11. To the Church at Laodicia, He wrote, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Rev 3:21. It has been granted to the Bride to share in the authority of God’s throne, as in wielding the authority and power of the Name of Jesus. Below is the description of the 144,00 from Revelation 14.
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads [they are His personal servants]… These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God [firstfruits of the perfected ones] and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. Rev 14:1-2 & 4-5.
They are virgins in that there is no deviance or spiritual harlotry in them, being entirely consecrated to God. They are totally obedient to the Lord’s will in following Him, and there is no guile or deceit in their mouths.
Their personal relationship with God is depicted in the account of the ‘sons of Zadok.’ Throughout history, God has always preserved a remnant on earth to ‘keep His charge,’ or to establish and maintain His will on the earth.
“But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat [ their spiritual empowerments] and the blood [their lives] ,” says the Lord God. “They shall enter My sanctuary, and they shall come near My table to minister to Me, and they shall keep My charge.” Ezek 44:15-16.
In Revelation 19, the Bride is clothed in white garments that are said to be “the righteous acts of the saints.” These righteous acts are said to be righteous because they are done through the presence of the Lord within them, without the interference of their flesh.
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Rev 19:7-8.
As other sites radiate out from Mount Zion, or the presence of God in their midst, there is less and less of the power of the Spirit manifested.
Jerusalem represents the true Church, which has faithfully adopted the pattern and precepts of the early Church founded by the apostles. Although members have not attained the status of the Bride, they are on the bridal path, laying their carnal lives on the cross and accepting God’s refining hand. They have embraced Christ’s abiding presence and have learned to live in union with Him, allowing Him to live and express His life through them. In this reading from Zechariah, we are told how highly regarded by God are those who have advanced to Zion and Jerusalem on their spiritual pilgrimage, and watches over them with loving care and protection.
“Again the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervour I am zealous for her.’ “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’” Zech 8:1-3.
The title, City of Truth, is extremely important. Christ’s ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, are formed in those from within those who have attained the Jerusalem status. Of these, the ministries of prophets and teachers (the ministry of the Two Witnesses) that present spiritual truth to the Church, are the most important in preparing the way for revival. Before people can receive the baptism and gifts of the Spirit, they must be informed of their reality from the Scriptures. To guard the use of the gifts of the Spirit, the Spirit and truth must operate together, the Spirit revealing the truth, and the Scriptural truth acting as a guardian of the operation of the Spirit.
Judah represents the traditional Church that the world recognises as ‘the Church.’ Members regularly attend fellowship meetings, and to the best of their abilities engage in ministries attending to the needs of those in their midst. However there is a limited knowledge of the presence of Christ’s life in them, or of the empowering of the Holy Spirit. The true ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, have been replaced by the overall ministry of a ‘minister’ trained in the manner of the world. Despite its many shortcomings, Judah represents the vast majority of Christian believers.
Israel is a picture of the apostate worldly Church, taken into captivity by Antichrist. Members have chosen to accept the beliefs of the world in matters like homosexuality, marriage equality, equal rights, democratic election of Church leaders, rather than the commandments of God. Many have drifted away from attending fellowship meetings, and are settled in the unchallenging comfort of the world. At the time of many of the end time prophecies, Israel the nation had been conquered by Assyria, and dispersed among the nations of the world. In Ezekiel’s account of the restoration of the dry bones, God has promised to restore Israel from their captivity by the world.
“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: "Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land.’” Ezek 37:21.Their own land is not geographical Israel, but Christianity, with Christ as their Saviour and Lord.
The Mediterranean Sea:
In the diagram, the Mediterranean Sea represents the unsaved people of the world. In the vision of Ezekiel Chapter 47, the waters of the Spirit flow into the sea, opening eyes and hearts to the truth, resulting in multitudes being saved and brought into the kingdom of God.
The Dead Sea:
The Dead Sea represents the salt and marshes where the waters of the Spirit in Ezekiel’s vision cannot be revitalised.
THE ACTION OF EACH PART IN THE LATTER RAIN RESTORATION
The Bride of Christ Initiates the Outpouring of the Spirit
In Ezekiel Chapter 47 vision, we have a prophetic picture of water, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, flowing out of the temple from the throne of God, gradually filling the whole land, imparting healing and life to all that it touches.
A parallel reading from Revelation presents a similar picture of water flowing out from the throne of God, but in this case the water flows from the street of New Jerusalem, which is the Bride of Christ. Because of the obvious similarity of the visions, we conclude that they describe the same happening, and that both visions apply to the end-time Church.
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street [taken from the previous figurative description of the New Jerusalem, or Bride of Christ], and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Rev 22:1-2.
Although the two visions describe the same event, in Revelation, the water flowed through the street of New Jerusalem, or Bride of Christ before entering into the land. This indicates that the Bride of Christ initiates the flow of the water into the Church and beyond. This will be by their intercessory prayer and testimonies to the truth. We have further insight into the initiation of the Holy Spirit flowing into the dead Church when we further examine the description of the Valley of Dry Bones, or the dead Church.
“Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy [pray under the inspiration of the Spirit] to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live’… Also He said to me, prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘thus says the Lord God: come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’ So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” Ezek 37:4-5 & 9-10.
It will be the responsibility of the end-time Bride to pray under the inspiration of the Spirit inciting the Holy Spirit to fall on the dead Church, and restore it to life.
Ministries Evolved in Jerusalem or the True Church
We are reminded that the restoration of the Church is precipitated by the falling of the latter rain of the Spirit, which will restore the gifts of the Spirit, and the ministries of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers. These ministries are formed and set in the Church by Jesus Christ. This verse is an introduction to the description of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 1 Cor 12:4-6. From this we see that the Holy Spirit is in charge of distributing gifts, the Lord in charge of ministries, and God overseeing all the activities of the Church.
Re-establishing the ministries of the Lord in the Church is a vital part of restoration, and it stands to reason that they will be formed in mature Christians in Jerusalem, or the true Church. We will see their importance as we study their initiation by the Lord in the Fourth Chapter of Ephesians.
“And He Himself [Jesus Christ] gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ [providing truth and direction], till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint [ministry] supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Eph 4:11-17.
From this reading we see,
· It is Jesus Christ who forms these ministries by the working of the Spirit in chosen mature believers.
· They are ‘called,’ and set in His Body as Christ chooses. The ministries provide truth and direction.
· They equip the members of the body so that everyone has a share in ministry.
· The Body is knit together by ministries which act like joints in a physical body, allowing all parts of the body to move and play its part in the function of the body.
· They unite the body, everyone growing up into Christ as a new creation, perfecting the body as a whole.
In the same manner that the dry bones were brought to life, end-time members of the Bride are asked to intercede to the Spirit, asking Him to initiate the falling of the latter rain, members of the true Church will be called to pray for the restoration of the Church. God has said, “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” Isa 62:6-8
The Role of Judah or Traditional Church
Many commentators believe that revival and restoration will come out of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, but these revival movements are preparatory revivals that demonstrate the Baptism of the Spirit, and the Gifts of the Spirit. The last great revival and restoration will not come from any movement, but come as a sovereign act of God, in which the latter rain of the Spirit will fall on the whole Church, precipitating a revival even far more extensive than Pentecost.
Because of the weight of its numbers, the Spirit falling on Judah will have the most effect on the whole Church. Of course the members of Zion and Jerusalem will have the important roles of oversight, empowering, and directing, but the when the Spirit falls, it will be Judah that precipitates the most fruit of restoration.
In various Old Testament prophecies, we see that it is Judah that is entrusted with bringing Israel, the corrupted apostate worldly Church, out of her captivity, and restoring her to her ‘land’, or the restored Church.
Chapters 8-12 in Zechariah describe the involvement of Zion, Jerusalem, Judah and Israel in the end-time battle against the forces of Antichrist, to bring about the restoration of the Church.
In Chapter 8, God promises to save and restore Judah and Israel. “O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear, let your hands be strong.” Zech 8:13.
Chapter 10, tells the Church to join in prayer for the latter rain. “Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone.”
The house of Israel, or the corrupted Church, had been bereft of the shepherds with the ministry of teaching to guide them, and they were easy prey for the deceptions of the spirit of Antichrist to lead them astray. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd.” Zech 10:2.
In the battle against Antichrist, God promises to make Judah His royal battle horse and the cornerstone for restoration. “For the Lord of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle. From him comes the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together” Zech 10: 3-4.
When the latter rain of the Spirit falls on the Church, Judah, will be like the valley of dry bones, when “breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” Ezek 37:10.
Judah, or the traditional Church, who had been weak and ineffectual, will come to life, empowered by the Spirit. In Jerusalem, or the true Church, the ‘Two Witnesses,’ [or ministries of teaching and prophecy] will be revived, and the whole Church will be armed with truth, to be wielded as “the sword of the Spirit.” The works of Antichrist, like apostasies, false doctrines, and lying signs and wonders, will be exposed and cast out of the Church.
God will restore Israel to their ‘land,’ or the land of their Christian heritage. They will be sown among the nations, where they will be a witness to the Lord, turning many hearts to the kingdom of God.
“I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph [Israel]. I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. They shall be as though I had not cast them aside; for I am the Lord their God, and I will hear them. Those of Ephraim [Israel] shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as if with wine. Yes, their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the Lord. I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased. I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries…” Zech 10:6-8.