Revelation is foundational to the church.209 But the revelation of what - the latest 'end-time' teaching or church growth formula? Absolutely not! Peter, in a flash of understanding declared to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God!" Jesus immediately responded, "Upon this rock I will build my church". But, what was the rock - was it Peter, as many
claim, or something more? That it was Peter is partially true in that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.210 But it was something far more - it was the rock of revelation - and more particularly, the revelation of God in Christ. As Paul declared, there is no other foundation, which can be laid.211 Consequently, the work of reformation
and revival will consistently call each generation back to beginnings, to the apostolic foundation of intimacy with God in Christ.
The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.212 Moving in this spirit, John called the church to return to her "first love" (Rev 2:4), and Jeremiah Israel to "the devotion of her youth" (Jer 2:2 NIV). The judgement of the Captivity
fell on Israel for one reason. They had forsaken bridal intimacy: "I will pronounce my judgements on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made" (Jer 1:16 NIV, emphasis mine). By turning to the works of their own hands, they had forsaken the Lord - the "fountain of living water" and "dug their own
cisterns" (Jer 2:13).
Jeremiah was therefore commissioned to call them back to the fountain and foundation of intimacy with God. But first their idolatrous strongholds needed to be dismantled - to be uprooted and torn down. If the church is to be rebuilt and restored on the foundation of intimacy with God the rubble of human pride and protocol will be removed first.
Idolatrous strongholds will be brought down before the process of rebuilding can begin. And before Christ s high-priestly prayer of John 17 - the dream of one flock with one Shepherd, can be realised the territorial Baals of productivity and power will be demolished. God himself turns his face in judgement against the idols of power - they are in fact, as Hosea prophesied, "idols
for destruction" (Hos 8:4). And as we shall see in this chapter the prophetic role is not only to serve as a proclaimer of imminent judgement against idolatry, but as an interpreter of those judgements when they fall. To fulfil this, Jeremiah's commission contained four negatives but only two positives. Before the positive activity of "building and
planting" could go forward, the false gods needed to be "uprooted, torn down, destroyed, and overthrown" (Jer 1:10 NIV).
As God pours out His Spirit in revival the work of the prophet often appears to be more negative than positive. Because, among other things, the prophet serves as the proclaimer and interpreter of God's judgements they invariably confront
heart attitudes and human systems that have violated the holiness of God. They "stand before the Lord and represent his holiness to men, calling them back to the arms of covenant-love. Their sometimes adversarial role is often misunderstood. It emanates from their vision of God - of his majesty and holiness - and of the imminence of the coming kingdom. Consequently, their whole call and passion,
rooted in the revelation of God, moves them as voices crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.
While the prophet is imbued with a vision of the invisible - of what is to come, natural men can only see what has been or what is - the status-quo. Any suggestion of uprooting, tearing down, or destroying is deeply disturbing. The natural or
carnal person is either rooted in the security of the past (tradition) or the present (success and power). They, therefore, look to institutional continuity, walking by sight, trusting in the work of human hands - in created things in position, possessions, or power. Whereas the man or woman of the Spirit, seeing him "who is invisible", looks to spiritual
continuity - to the prophetic unfolding of God's kingdom purpose. Knowing that man doesn t live by bread alone,213 they look to the now word proceeding from the mouth of God.214 They are looking for the city whose builder and maker is God.215
208 Rev 1:17; Isa 41:4; Prov 8:23
209 Mtt 16:18
211 1 Cor 3:11
212 Rev 19:10
From "Snakes in the Temple: Unmasking Idolatry in Today's Church" by David Orton
Duplication and re-transmission of this writing is permitted provided that complete source and website information for Lifemessenger is included.
Copyright © David Orton 2007
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