Our big spiritual truth in this lesson is: The sealing and indwelling of the Holy Spirit is unique in all the ages and is reserved exclusively for the Church.
The Old Testament:
|Pillar of Fire around the Tabernacle|
Christians often sit in judgment when they read about the failure of Israel in the Old Testament, but we have to consider that these people did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes they would be temporary used by the Spirit (1 Samuel 11:6) but they were not indwelt, they couldn't be without the sanctification of the blood of Christ. David, a man after God's own heart, had the Spirit on him but not in him. (1 Samuel 16:13).
Christ's Ministry on Earth:
God continued to speak with the Jews through external sources, miracles, and the prophets until the Lord Jesus came. Then He spoke directly to the Jews, not in a thunderous voice from the Heavens, but through His Son. We have to realize that Christ's ministry was only to the Jews while He was on this Earth. That's tough to swallow, especially if you come from a replacement theology background, but it is the truth. Read Jesus own words to the Canaanite woman who was seeking healing for her daughter: But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."… (Matthew 15:24-26) So His ministry was not to the Gentiles of the church, it was to the Jews, period. The Lord related to the Jews directly until Pentecost, from that point forward - the Church Age began.
During the Church Age, the Holy Spirit spiritually enters a believer, Jew or Gentile. Jesus called the Holy Spirit, the Helper. Through the Holy Spirit, believers testify to the truth and are instructed to do the work of the Lord here on the Earth. There are no booming declarations from above, no pillars of fire leading the people forth in the Wilderness, no feeding of the 5000, no parting of the Red Sea. Jesus himself ushers in this change, this truth, with the last beatitude, "Blessed are those who have believed and not seen." John 20:29.
Today, the Lord is quieter, gentler, more subtle. He woos his Bride with kindness and gentleness. Those who believe in Him during this time receive the greatest blessing of the age. The church holds the highest position of honor and power. In no other group of people does God indwell, not the Old Testament Saints, Tribulation Martyrs, Tribulation Believers, nor those that come to faith in the Millennium. This honor belongs solely to the Church. (Let that sink in for a minute.)
The Lord is present on the Earth through His Church but because we are in the flesh, we have never fully manifested the Power that He promised; we don't move mountains, we see healing rarely if ever, we lose more often than we win in political and cultural battles. We are, by and large, puny in power from a magnificence manifestation perspective. Yet the Lord himself said he would lay the foundation of the church and the gates of hell shall not prevail upon it. I believe our power will be perfected in the Millennial age - stay with me while I explain.
|The Bride of Christ at the Rapture|
From the moment of the Rapture, the Church will depart from the Earth and with it the age of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the great restrainer (2 Thessalonians 2:7). This will usher in a period of time where the Lord God will once again deal directly with Israel through signs, wonders, and judgement. Through the Tribulation, God will speak and work just as He did throughout the Old Testament. Believers will once again, hold tight to their salvation, for they will not be indwelt with the Holy Spirit.
Tribulation Saints are exhorted several times to remain faithful to the end so they do not lose their salvation. They will be given a portion of the Holy Spirit but will have to be obedient and faithful to retain their position. (I invite you to study the subject of Post Church Salvation by Jack Kelley) These are the Bridesmaids in the Parable, all are given a measure of oil (the Holy Spirit) at the time of their salvation but they did not endure to the Second Coming. Keep in mind, that the Tribulation is God's dealing directly with Israel. What happens to the rest of the world is secondary, the age of the Gentiles will be finished and they are once again outside of the focus of the Lord. That's another harsh truth to the replacement theology folks but one needs only to read the words to discover it is truth.
The Millennial Kingdom is ushered in when the Lord descends from Heaven and touches down on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14). The Tribulation Martyrs come back with the Lord, I believe they are the army he brings back with Him in Revelation 19:14. He will set up His Kingdom here on Earth, abiding in the Jerusalem Temple. There will be no prophets during this time, (Zechariah 13:3) for the Lord will deal directly with the people. They will worship him with a shadow of Old Testament sacrifice as indicated in Ezekiel 45-46. The Tribulation Martyrs will serve in the new Temple (Rev. 7:14-15) and rule with the Lord on the Earth during the Millennial reign (Rev. 20:4-6).
Where is the Church during the Tribulation and the Millennium? During the Tribulation we are having a huge celebration in Heaven. A 7 year Wedding Supper of the Lamb, where we will receive our crowns, be shown our new home, and be arrayed as the eternal Bride of Christ. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
I believe that it is while we abide with the Lord in New Jerusalem that the church, who is now the Bride of Christ will come to full power. Since we will have been perfected and operate only in the true spirit and truth fully aligned with the perfect will of God we will manifest His Power. We will speak to the mountains and they will move, we will pray for the sick and they will be healed, we will be as Christ was on Earth completely sinless and fully surrendered to the will of the Father. (John 14:11-13). We will live in New Jerusalem with the Lord Jesus but we do not know what we will be doing there, whether we will come down to Earth, or exactly what our roles will be but we will soon find out!