For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
The Final Phase of God’s Work (3)
The Lord’s prophecies concerning Israel have a direct relationship with the future of the Church.
We want to concentrate on chapter 37 of Ezekiel. When doing so, we have to remember the words of our Lord: "Learn the parable from the fig tree." Israel is nothing but a shadow; the reality is Christ's Church, because it has something to do with the eternal will of God.
In verse 17 it says: "Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick that they may become one in your hand." In other words, the two sticks will be joined into one stick. One stick represents Judah; the other one, Ephraim. I believe that you know the history very well, how the twelve tribes of Jacob were divided in two: the Kingdom of the south and the Kingdom of the north. In the south, we have Judah and Benjamin, usually represented in the Bible by Judah. In the other, the remaining ten tribes, are represented by Ephraim.
Now then, God allowed them to have two different Kingdoms, but he never allowed them to have two centers of worship, because the will of God is always in Jerusalem. Jerusalem represents the testimony of God because the temple of God is there, and the temple represents the presence of God.
Concerning the call, the twelve tribes were all equal, even when they became two Kingdoms. But God had said: "there is only one center of worship." Those who lived in Galilee had to travel to Jerusalem; because only in Jerusalem could they offer their sacrifices. This is the will of God. But unfortunately, for political reasons, they established their own center of worship. Then, around the year 720 B.C., because of the failure of the Northern Kingdom, they were taken captive to the region of Padan-Aram which today is a territory between Syria and Turkey. A hundred years later, the last two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were taken captive to Babylon. After 70 years, some of those two tribes returned to Jerusalem; however, those ten tribes never returned.
Judah and the testimony of God
When the people of Israel reconstructed their temple in the city of Jerusalem there was only a contribution from two tribes. Now then, why did these two tribes have to come back? If they had continued to stay in Babylon, they could have had a good future. But they could not remain in Babylon. According to the prophecy in Malachi, our Lord Jesus would enter the temple of God. For that reason, the temple of God would have to be rebuilt; the city would have to be built, and Bethlehem would have to be restored. So when this people returned to Jerusalem, they rebuilt the temple, they rebuilt the walls of the city, and finally Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The will of God was completed.
There is something very interesting here: the restoration of the testimony of God rested on the shoulders of only two tribes. They were only a part of the people of Israel; they didn't represent all of God's people. If we compare them with all the tribes of Israel, they were only a minority. What's more, the great majority of those two tribes remained in Babylon. It is not surprising then, that the Bible calls them a 'remnant '. Although they were only a remnant, the testimony of God rested on its shoulders.
The other tribes didn't care about the testimony of God. Although they were also the chosen people of God - the call of our Lord is irrevocable-they continued living their own lives. Now then, if they don't care about the testimony of God, does that mean that the will of God will fail? Do we think that the will of God will be frustrated because we are not willing? Because they didn't care about such a thing, God allowed them to be captured - and they were not only captured, but also scattered. To be scattered is to fall under the disciplinary hand of God. The children of God should be one, but if the people of God don't care about unity, they have freedom to go their own way. But the end of that road is to be scattered all over the world.
However, by reason of those two tribes, we have the temple of God, and the city of God.
The fate of the ten tribes
What happened to the other ten tribes? They disappeared. We don't know where they are. The Bible tells us that Abraham's descendants should be as numerous as the sand on the seashore and as numerous as the stars in the sky. We should not forget that that refers to the twelve tribes; to Israel in general. But we know that those ten tribes were scattered. However, according to the promise that we have here: "Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick that they may become one in your hand." Not only the Jews (that is to say, those of the two tribes) would have to return, but also the ten lost tribes. Before the Lord's return, they will no longer be two sticks, but one. Is that possible, brothers and sisters? We do not even know where they are. All that we know, according to the Bible, is that they got lost toward the east. Most probably, they are in Afghanistan, and in Tibet, and even more probably, in China, especially in the western part of mainland Chinese. According to archaeologists, if you go to Tibet, you will discover that there are two types of people there. Some have a round face, and others have a lengthened face. Those belong to the Chinese, but the others must belong to the ten tribes.
Some studies have been conducted indicating that, around the year 200 B.C., those ten tribes that got lost arrived in China. They were persecuted so they moved to the south. And then they were divided in two: one part left toward Vietnam and the Philippines, and they disappeared; and the other half traveled south, to Burma, and India. Most of those people are today concentrated in the northeastern part of India. If you visit them, you would see that they always call themselves "children of Manasseh" and that there are synagogues there. Many of their customs are those of the people of Israel. The government from Israel sent their scholars and rabbis to study those people; they came to believe that they are very probably descendants of the lost ten tribes. Now, in the last ten years, more than 400 of these children of Manasseh have returned to their homeland. There are between 5 and 6 million people there; they look like Hindus, and some speak Chinese.
But there is an even more important thing: Afghanistan. We sometimes we wonder why there was a war between the United States and Afghanistan. Of course, we can discover some political reasons behind this, something that has to do with September 11. But if we study about the Afghan people, we find out that scientists have discovered that they live as tribes. There are between 40 and 60 tribes there, and the leaders of the tribes are very powerful. Now then, if we study the name of these tribes, their names are those of the ten lost tribes. The most important name is Joseph. They call them "sons of Joseph." Of course, today they are Muslim; but we should not forget that they were converted because of their situation. Even so, they still have unconsciously maintained some old customs.
If we visit Jerusalem, or if we watch television, we will see that when rabbis or Pharisees study their Bible they always shake their heads. Now then, if we visit the children in Afghanistan, although they are studying the Koran, they make the same movement. When the Muslims read their Koran, they never usually do anything like this. If these children do this, it means that they are somehow descendants of Israel.
A director of Jewish cinema tried to make a movie about the ten lost tribes. Then the tourist guide drove them so that they could take many pictures. So that guide asked the director: "why do you have such an interest in taking all these pictures?" So he said: "Because we are looking for the ten lost tribes." Then that tourist guide cried and said: "If that is true, I am your brother." He was one of those that belonged to one of the ten lost tribes.
In their tribes they have two different laws. Outwardly, it is the law according to the Koran; but inside the tribe, there is a law that is even higher than that law of the Koran. When they are gathered inside the tribe, strictly speaking, that law is the Law of Moses. Many biblical scholars believe that the ten tribes were very probably scattered in that area.
There is something very interesting thing: if one studies the 2nd book of Kings, you know where the ten lost tribes were captured in the beginning. Actually they were taken captive to Assyria, where the river Euphrates is found. There is another called branch of that river called "the Habor River." For many years, the ten lost tribes lived in that area. We have the river Euphrates, and we have the Habor river. And this is the exact area of Padan-aram mentioned in the Bible. That is where Haran was where Abraham stayed. There, near the river Habor, there are two names: one is Harat, and the other one is Gozan. The river Habor, the Gozan, and the Harat.
If one visits United States of America, and goes to New York, perhaps we wonder why it is called New York? The answer is: Because in England there is a place called York. When the Britons went to the United States, they missed England and so they named their new place with the same name as the previous one. In London, we take a place called Richmond; in the United States there is also a Richmond. We have this in New York, and New England. What does that mean? It means that that town had come from England. That is very clear.
Now then, if you visit Afghanistan today, most of these people meet in a very important place; it is the most dangerous place in the whole world. It is the most lawless place in the whole world. It doesn't belong to Afghanistan, nor Pakistan. It was always in the hands of these tribes. For 3.000 years nobody dared to touch them. Great Alexander was there, and he didn't know what to do with them. The British Empire reached them, but didn't know what to do with them. So did the Russians, but finally they had to withdraw. This region was always under the control of these tribes. Very probably, they belong to the ten lost tribes. Why? They have control of the most important places between the east and the west.
There is a mountain pass, very narrow; however, it is the most important pass if one wants to go from east to west or west to east. When Mongolia conquered the world, they had to go along that pass. When Marco Polo visited China, he had to go through that pass. In that area there are many caves. When the ten tribes were under the persecution of the Islamic Empire, they hid in the caves, so it is impossible to conquer them. Now, we wonder where Bin-Laden has hidden himself. Bin-Laden is surely hidden along this pass among the mountains. What is the name of this pass? We have mentioned the Euphrates and the river Habor. They had been there for many years, but finally moved to Afghanistan. They missed their homeland; they remembered the river Habor, of Gozan and of Harat, and then, they unconsciously named the most important new places, according to the previous places. This pass is called the Kabul pass. Now, Kabul is simply the name of the river Habor that is in the Bible.
If that it is the pass of Kabul, then we have to have a Gozan nearby. Where is Gozan? If we read the newspaper, we will remember that eight Christians were captured, and were finally rescued in a place called Ghazni. Ghazni is the equivalent of the biblical name Gozan. Then there is also a very big city called Herat, which is the exact biblical name Harat. That truly gives us enough proof that the ten lost tribes were scattered in that area. One day, the two sticks will become one stick. God will not only call to the two tribes of Judah: in fact God will also call to the ten lost tribes.
Why was there war between United States and Afghanistan? This is the first time that God will call his own people back or at least that God had to liberate them from their original condition. They didn't have freedom to sing their music; the children could not even play with their kites. Now we can see that that people have their freedom. This means that somehow they will have more religious freedom. We don't know in what way God will call those lost tribes.
We sometimes wonder how it is possible to identify if somebody belongs to one of the lost tribes. Very simple. Two or three years ago, in South Africa, there was a tribe called 'lamba'. They said that they were descendants of Israel, but the rabbis had a great doubt about that. Then a scholar from London took samples of saliva, and took them to London and checked them. And according to the DNA test they were not only of the people of Israel, but rather they were also descendants of Aaron's family-the family of priests. But that it is only the beginning. We believe that one day something will happen. Now, why is this happening? According to the Bible, this is very clear: The two sticks will join to be one stick.
The purpose of the Lord is unity
Unity is not only among those who know the will of God. The unity of the people of God is not limited to those who have the burden for the testimony of God. Unity has to embrace all the children of God. Two sticks will only form one stick. Today only a minority of the people of God have their eyes open. They have been given the privilege of carrying the testimony of God ahead. But we should not forget that God never meant them to be something different from others. If we truly are overcomers, the coming back from Babylon to Jerusalem is not just for the two tribes of Judah-even though the ten lost tribes don't have a heart for the Lord. Let us suppose that in Chile we have a hundred denominations, if someone really sees the eternal will of God, they truly will return to Jerusalem.
According to our experience, in the beginning we are purely for God. There is no war between us and the other children of God. But gradually, if you are in the blessing of God, the walls begin to be built. It is a sad thing, brothers and sisters that, although we are for the recovery of God, history however finally repeats itself. Then 101 denominations are formed. The victory of those two tribes never belonged to these two tribes alone: it belonged to the whole people of God. Because the purpose of God is this: that finally the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim become one. Brothers and sisters, this is the will of God. If we really see the prophecy here, we will discover how God is going to finish the final stage of His work.
The recovery of the Body
In Ezekiel we are told that in the beginning all the bones were scattered. But then the Holy Spirit worked through an earthquake, and those bones that were scattered, somehow joined together, and not only that, but rather some living cells grew among the bones. They were connected; and not only connected, they also had skin; finally the body was recovered. What does this mean? That there used to be a living body; however, one day that body got sick, some of its main organs failed, then death began in the lungs, and then it continued to the kidneys. And later death continued working in that body until finally the skin disappeared. The last cell that dies is the cell between two bones. When this cell dies, then all the bones are scattered.
When we study chapter 37 of Ezekiel you remember the history of the church. In the day of Pentecost there was a body that was born on this earth. This body was called Christ's body. There was a congregation of 120 members. Now then, Christ's church is different from the congregation of Israel in the Old Testament. The revelation of the body of Christ is something totally new. One doesn't find that revelation in the Old Testament. Only the new wineskin can contain the new wine. Judaism could not contain the new wine. After the Lord's ascension everything is a new creation. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit baptized 120 individuals into a body with 120 members. In the Old Testament, Moses was the leader, and the remaining people were only followers. That's what you call a congregation. The body of Christ is very different. The correlation is between all these members, and in a direct relationship with the Head. The church is the body of Christ. So we are members that belong to one another.
The Bible never told us that we are the cells of the body. A cell is the smallest unit of life. But when the Bible speaks about us, it says that we are members to one another. And these members are hands, or a foot; it doesn't matter what you are, this is the smallest unit of function, more than of life. Each member of the body should be functioning. We can speak about the life of the body, but we might not have the reality of the life of the body. To know if we have Christ's life or not is a very clear test, is everybody functioning? Because if my hand is not working, then I am paralyzed. This is very clear. My hand should be directly related with my head. This hand should "listen to" my head, and also be related to the other parts of my body, like my arm. Now, that never happened in the Old Testament.
For that reason, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit did something totally new. They were a congregation of 120 people, but the Holy Spirit baptized them into one, into one body, of 120 members. Unfortunately, if we study the history of the Church, while it was captive in Babylon, we will discover that there were only one or two members of the Church working, and all the others were simply followers. Some of them didn't even know their bibles. Since the time when they were baptized, they only attended mass. The body has been paralyzed.
Now then, after the Reformation do you think that the situation has changed? Yes, there are no more errors from Babylon; but do you think that the body of Christ has been recovered? If one studies chapter 4 of Ezekiel, you find a body there. God told to Ezekiel to go to bed on one side for 390 days; and then on the other side for 40 days. I cannot go into details here, but what does this mean? It is very important so that we can understand chapter 37. What is the situation there? It means that one day that body was sick, paralyzed. Think about this brothers, if your body is put to bed on one side for 390 days, and later for another 40 days, what will your doctor say? Isn't that what happened in the history of the church? However, thanks to God, before the return of the Lord, the Holy Spirit will do something completely different from what humans can do.
If we study chapter 37, we see God doing something that is truly impossible. If we study carefully, can we imagine? A strong, normal person, with a healthy body, was now sick. The main organs have died. The skin dies, then the cells among the bones. That is a very clear process of deterioration. That is what we see in this world. The process of deterioration is the process of death. According to scientists, it is an irreversible process. Nobody can revert that. One usually sees a boy or a girl playing sliding from a high place to a low place. We will never see a boy or a girl sliding from a low place toward a high place. Only when we put the video in rewind can we see that the boy comes from a lower place to the highest place. We always say: "You don't cry over spilt milk." It is impossible to recover it. This is what you call an irreversible process. Scientists will say to us that no one is able to make milk return toward the glass. That is only possible on a video, never in reality.
Now, before our Lord's return the Holy Spirit will do something that, according to men, is an irreversible process. The Church is scattered. The dry bones are scattered. In accordance with natural laws, it is the end. There is no hope for the Church; there is no tomorrow for the church. But when we study the prophecy here -thank the Lord-we see that the Holy Spirit will shake the church. Thanks to the Lord, finally those bones that were scattered will be drawn together; the cells will be reborn among the bones, so too the skin, until the body has been recovered.
Christ's work never fails
If we study the history of the Church, we will discover that the church has truly gone through a process of death, because we are divided and divided. We have been scattered. And now it seems impossible to revert this. But, dear brothers, God is God of death and of resurrection. And before His return, he will be presented to Himself a glorious church. And this is not our work. If you read Ephesians, we will see that Christ loved the church and he gave Himself up for her. Who did that work? It is Christ's work on the cross. Not yours, nor mine. After the church has been saved, it is Christ who will wash His body with His word. Again, this is Christ's work. It is not your work, nor is it my work. The Bible is very clear. He washes the body with the word, the word of life. And presents Himself a glorious church, holy and without blemish.
Our work may fail, but we can never expect Christ's work to fail. Chapter 5 of Ephesians is truly a prophecy based on Christ's work. Christ's work never fails. It is for that reason that we were saved, through the work of the cross. But today, Christ in you and Christ in me through the Holy Spirit, we go maturing through the operation of the cross. We are made Holy and without blemish. All this is His work. So, brothers and sisters, if we have faith in Christ's work, we know that the church has a tomorrow. One day, Christ's body will be totally recovered.
Two sticks will become one stick. And this unity not only involves those that have seen the light of the church. It even involves those who don't have a heart for the Lord. Christ's love will reach them, and will embrace them. If we are faithful before the Lord, the victory of the two tribes will be the victory of the twelve tribes. When the overcomers are faithful to the Lord, and they reach maturity, they are not mature for themselves. No; they reach maturity for Christ's Church. We will wait for the whole body. In this way, according to Christ's work, and to the prophecies, the church has a future.
The prayer of the Lord
We are all familiar with chapter 17 of John's gospel. It is the prayer of our Lord before going to the cross. What was his prayer? That they would be one. More than that. He said: "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word that they may all be one even as you Father are in me and I in You, that they also may be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me." Our prayer to God sometimes is as if God didn't listen to us. But, are you able to believe that God wouldn't listen to His Son's prayer? He knew very well that one day dry bones would have been scattered on all sides. Now then, our Lord is our Great High Priest. He prayed for us before the cross, and today He prays for us after His ascension to the heavens. What is his prayer? When he sees dry bones scattered in all places, he prays to His Father: "Father, make them one."
Brothers and sisters, do you think that the Heavenly Father won't hear his beloved Son's prayer? Our Lord said this prayer in spite of the fact that Christ's body will be disintegrated, will be scattered, will be in a valley of dry bones, will be a hopeless case. But now we have hope. One day the Lord will return, and before His return, according to Ezekiel 37, Christ's body will be recovered. More than that, the Holy Spirit will fill that vessel. Thank the Lord! Finally, God will have reached His eternal purpose.
The last stage of the work of God
So brothers and sisters, for that reason we have comfort in our work. Especially in these last days, we ought to know what the last stage of the work of God is, to cooperate with God. We will have a single heart with God. We will consecrate ourselves to God. Before His return, we will work together for His purpose. This is because this is Christ's work; he loved to the church and died for her on the cross; and because today He is washing it by means of the living word of God, the church will grow, we will mature. Not only that, we will be one, as the Father and His Son are one. (Do you see that union of life?)
From the human point of view, that is impossible. If we study the history of the church, we will say: "No, no! It is impossible; it is an irreversible process." But, brothers, God is God of the impossible. He is the God of the resurrection. Thank the Lord! The message is clear. In the history of the church we sometimes find that the body is paralyzed. For that reason we should remember that the difference between a congregation and Christ's body is that the congregation has leaders and followers, on the other hand Christ's body has correlated members one to another. It is something much greater than a congregation. It is a new creation in Christ Jesus. Before the Lord's return, that's what we are waiting for. Brothers and sisters, human hands, human flesh, can spoil the work of God; even the servants of God can divide the body of Christ. But thanks to God, the Son of God will baptize us into a single body. Now the work of recovery will happen so that the body is totally recovered.
To the co-workers and leaders
If we see the blueprint of God, we will know how to cooperate with God. This is the message that I would like to share with you; those who are co-workers and leaders in the church. Brothers and sisters, let us not forget, you are nothing other than members of Christ's body. When you are under the authority of the head, then God will use you as authority. Nobody has authority. Are you only looking for followers? Our work is to equip the saints. Each member -Don't forget, the Bible never calls each one a 'cell ', but a 'member' which means a hand, it means a foot, a mouth-, each brother is important. If they don't move, then we have a paralyzed body. We have to work for this purpose. We have to equip them so that they can work, so that they are perfected. If each member is working, the whole body will be functioning. Then we will be successful in the work.
Brothers and sisters, we know very well that a strong mother will produce very weak children. The mother is so capable that she has made all the decisions for her children. However, a wonderful mother will always try to equip her children, so that they know how to choose and they can be strong. This is our vision today. You are involved in the work of God. You can be very capable, you can be a wonderful organizer, but you are only a member of Christ's body. You are not the head of the church. If we see that and we try to equip all the saints so that they are working, by ourselves, then we will be crushed. Only God is able to do the work of God. Thanks to God, He can even use us to help the saints.
We believe that before the Lord's return, he will do a wonderful work, not only in Chile, but also in the entire world. May the Lord speak to our hearts.
Synthesis of a message shared in the “Ranchillo” Conference (Chile) in January 2003.