|Sons to Glory book by Paul Jablonowski||
Part 2 - Acting Like Mature Sons - Apostles
The Birthing of Zion's Sons
Jesus' first coming began with a birth, and Jesus' Second Coming is also beginning with a birth. His first coming started with a birth through a mother: It was a natural birth, through a natural mother (Mary), birthing Jesus the One and only unique Son of the Father. The Second Coming is also starting with a birth through a mother. It is a spiritual birth, through a spiritual mother (Zion), birthing Jesus IN His mature sons within His Body of believers. The purpose of this writing is to study this particular aspect of Jesus' Second Coming through a birth. "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19)
If the majority of God's people misunderstood Jesus' mission the first time He came, what makes us think that we will understand His mission this time? In Jesus' earthly time, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, who loved God's Word more than anyone else, were actually the greatest obstacles to the purposes of God in their generation. Why? Because they already thought they knew how the Messiah should come. "If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." (Galatians 6:3)
So, how can we understand the Father's purposes for sending His son Jesus the second time to earth? Mary is our example with her simple trust and humble devotion to the Lord. She simply believed the Lord could and would do the impossible through her (Luke 1:38). The secrets of the Lord are for those who fear Him, not for those who study hard or think they already know everything like the Pharisees. It is only by God's grace that He gives us revelation into His purposes, and He looks for a broken spirit and a humble heart to impart His revelation. A sincere love for the truth (Jesus - a person - is truth) is the main focus to have in order to understand Jesus' mission during His Second Coming. The key is to keep your relationship with Jesus at the center, and let Him give you revelation in His timing, like Mary, out of that simple devotion to Him.
If we want to qualify to receive God's revelation we must realize in humility our role as clay pots, and understand that there is "no good thing in me" (Rom. 7:18) that can help Jesus fulfill His purpose. His Spirit alone IN His people will fulfill His purposes in the earth with or without us personally. True humility will allow God's grace to flow into our lives (James 4:6). Rather than "head knowledge" stemming from a fleshly mind, His GRACE is what we really need in order to receive revelation of His purposes for our generation. The Pharisees and Sadducees were proud because of their head knowledge in the Scriptures. But God resists the proud and blinds them no matter how much they might know (1 Tim. 6:4, John 12:40). I have always been amazed at God's ability to hide His greater truths from those who are earnestly seeking it, but with a wrong motivation. His ability to hide His secrets from the proud is much greater than our ability to "search and find."
Understanding Christ's Second Coming in our generation can only come to us as a gift of divine revelation. What is written in this study has been accumulated piece by piece over the past 14 years as I've walked day by day with the Lord and asked Him about His coming. Some things came to me by reading other people's books or articles, but they often came right at the time I was asking the Lord personally about that subject, so I received it as from the Lord and not from man. While there may be areas in this chapter that need minor adjustments and corrections, the overall picture given here I believe is from the Lord who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
To know Him as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending is a tremendous key in understanding Jesus' Second Coming. A detailed study on the beginnings and endings of the Old Testament "Age of Truth " will reveal amazing similarities, which are not coincidental. However, this study primarily compares the beginning and the ending of the New Testament "Age of Grace," where we see that history repeats itself. After all, history really is His-story which "was written for our admonition and instruction, on whom the ends of the ages has come" (1 Cor 10:11). He really DOES want us to understand His coming! May we all have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to this "end of the age" generation.
The Alpha and the Omega
Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, which means He is the beginning and the ending (Rev. 1:8). Therefore, it should not be a surprise that the beginning and the ending of particular works of God have many similarities, because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). One of the greatest keys to understanding the big picture in prophecy is to see the relationship that exists between the beginning and the ending. Likewise, in order to better understand the Second Coming of Jesus (the ending of this age of grace), a short comparison will be made to the First Coming of Christ (the beginning of this same age):
Comparison of Jesus' First and Second Comings
So Jesus' first coming came in different stages. First, He was conceived in His mother Mary's womb and birthed. Then, He grew up in wisdom and stature with both men and God for 30 years. Then, He was baptized by John and started His 3 ½ year ministry on the earth. At the end of His ministry, He was crucified, buried and rose again from the grave. All of these events, over about a 34 year period, consisted of His "first coming," and it was a transition period between the Age of Truth and the Age of Grace.
Likewise, Jesus' Second Coming will not happen all in one day, but will occur in stages and cover many years (which is why the dates in the above chart are approximate and not exact). The Lord's "Second Coming" is a transition period between the Age of Grace and the 1,000 year Age of Peace. Let us compare the second coming of Christ to the blasting off of a rocket with three different stages. The first stage of the rocket is the conception and birth process, which is the focus of this writing.
The second stage of His coming, which is the longest phase, is the growth of God's government (manchild) on the earth. This second stage can be compared to the 30 years before Jesus started His ministry where He was growing in spiritual maturity. The third and final stage of this rocket is the 3 ½ year ministry of the "two witnesses" discussed in Revelation chapter 11 and can be compared to Jesus' 3 ½ year ministry. These final two stages will destroy the "lawless one" by the "brightness of His coming" (2 Thess. 2:8). The Greek word "coming" in this verse is "parousia" and refers to the coming of God's manifest presence and glory IN His people.
These final two stages will include the return of the risen Lord to empower His people with His presence that will bind Satan and render him powerless to deceive people anymore. Jesus will return the same way that He did the first time at His resurrection. Again, the Scriptures have established a pattern for beginnings and endings. He did not return to unbelievers, but only to those looking for Him. He will simply appear to individuals and groups of people, as He chooses, to give them direction in establishing His kingdom on earth. There is much to say on this aspect of His return, but this writing is for the purpose of looking at the first stage of this rocket, which is the birthing of Christ IN His mature sons. For more information on how the Lord will return physically, please read on the internet: "The Shekinah Glory of Christ at His Coming" by Roland Pletts.22
|1. Little Children||Your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake||You have known the Father|
|2. Young Men||You have overcome the wicked one||You are strong and the Word of God abides in you|
|3. Fathers||You have known Him who is from the beginning||You have known Him who is from the beginning|
As this chart above shows, maturity is a progressive revelation of knowing the Lord. Spiritual maturity is accomplished by the way of the Cross. Ask yourself this question: How much am I willing to give up in order to obey the Lord? Self-centeredness is the root of spiritual immaturity. On the other hand, maturity is "speaking the truth in love" from a heart that has submitted to God's dealings, discipline and testings (the Cross). The way of the Cross is the wisdom of God and the power of God. His life is able to live through us only when we are dead to "self." Life comes through death. It was only after Jesus died that He was able to bring us eternal life. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much grain." (John 12:24) This is foolishness to the world, but brings God glory because no flesh can boast in what "I've done for God." The focus is on Christ and what He has done for us.
"For I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)
The Greek words used in the Scriptures for "sons" also reveal a three level pattern to spiritual growth: Infancy is "teknion," while puberty is "teknon" and finally maturity is "huios." Most importantly, the life of Jesus reveals the same spiritual growth pattern with three major milestones marking public attention to His maturity as a son in the Hebrew culture. The first was Circumcision and baby dedication, which happened at the temple when Jesus was only eight days old (Luke 2:21-35). This marks a Hebrew child as a "Covenant Man."
The second was the Hebrew Bar-Mitzvah meaning "son accountable" which Jesus also publicly celebrated in the temple at the age of twelve. This marks the time when a son was able to become an apprentice under his father in the family business. This is why Jesus said to his parents, "I must be about My Father's business" (Luke 2:41-52).
Finally, a "Huiothesia" was celebrated around the age of thirty,
which marks the age of maturity. This occurred in the life of Jesus at
the beginning of His ministry when He was baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17).
Here is some history about this Hebrew maturity rite of passage:
The word Huiothesia means "Son Placement" and indicates the time when a male child reached what was considered to be the age of maturity somewhere around thirty. At this time, the father of the young man would place his hand on the head of his son and openly proclaim, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased! I bestow upon him now all of my riches and power and authority (through power of attorney) so that he might act on my behalf in all of my affairs."24
The entire creation is waiting for these mature sons of God to be revealed. Romans 8:20-25 shows that this manifestation of the mature sons of God is an event which has not yet happened. It is a great "hope" that all of us "wait for with perseverance." In another place, 1 John 3:1-2 explains that as children of God "it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." The next verse explains that this is a "hope" (something in the future) which we prepare for by purifying ourselves. For as Jesus said, "The pure in heart shall see God."
This process of maturity has taken 2,000 years to perfect, as each generation has learned from their forefather's mistakes and pressed on. Even the apostle Paul said that he had not attained perfection or even laid hold of it (Phil. 3:12-16). This attitude of "pressing on toward the goal (perfection) for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" is what Paul called a "mature" mindset, saying "to the degree that we have already attained (of maturity), let us walk by the same rule, and let us be of the same mind (unity in Christ and with one another)" (Phil. 3:16).
We can see from this verse above that Paul did not focus on this perfection individually, but rather corporately, and this perfection is not of ourselves. Rather Christ IN us, His body, will be manifesting His life through vessels who have died to self and have allowed the life of Jesus to flow through their lives to a hurting world. Individually we "know in part and prophecy in part, but when that which is perfect has come (Jesus IN His mature unified body), then that which is in part (the current church structure) will be done away. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now (in the present state of God's body) we see a poor reflection as in a mirror; but then (when Christ's body is perfected in unity) we shall see face to face. Now we know in part; then we shall know fully." (1 Cor 13:9-12). Again, this "perfect man" in Christ will be a corporate body of unified believers.
The man Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh, but Jesus is still coming in the flesh everyday through His Body of believers. God manifests in the flesh in terms of Sonship. 1 John 4:2-3 says that it is the spirit of antichrist to deny that Christ "is come" in the flesh. This Greek term "is come" is in the future tense and could easily be translated: "is coming" because Christ is coming today IN us. CHRIST IN US is the hope of glory and the secret mystery hidden from all ages, but now revealed to those of us who know Him. We are inheritors of His divine life and nature, not in His Deity, but rather in His character and love nature. Sonship is about maturity, and maturity is being like God in our character no matter what the circumstances may be in our lives. John 1:12 clearly tells us that it is our "right" to be sons of God. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power (some translations say "the right") to become the sons of God." (KJV). But to become sons we must MATURE. To help God's people get a vision towards maturity is one of the main purposes for this writing.
Paul wrote, "We who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption (Sonship), the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23). Here, Paul links the placing of the mature sons of God with the resurrection of our bodies. In another Scripture (Philippians 3:10-12), Paul links the maturity of the saints or "being perfected" with the resurrection, where he rejoices in the sufferings of Christ that he may "attain to the resurrection from the dead." So, the "revealing of the sons of God (the maturity of the saints)," which is still in the future, is intimately connected with bodily resurrection, and it is a completely different event from salvation. We will now see that laboring and sorrow is required before this "revealing" of God's character and glory will take place. But like Paul we should, "consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be (future tense) revealed IN us" (Rom. 8:18). Christ in us is our ONLY hope of glory! (Col. 1:27)
Marvin Byers writes:
The Father's desire is not merely to produce babes in Christ; He is also looking for mature sons who will bring His glory to a needy world. The life of Christ is formed in us through "travail," and travail involves suffering and sorrow. So, this is why Paul mentions that "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18 NIV). That travail will bring forth that glory... The concept of giving birth to Christ's life in a spiritual sense is a glorious hope set before us. It refers to a level of spiritual maturity where we become channels through which the fullness of His life flows to others. This is a theme that is repeated many times throughout the Bible. This is why the Bible refers so often to travail, intercession, and giving birth.25
"For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. And not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:22,23).
There is a birthing process to reveal the character of Jesus through His mature sons to all of creation. In order to bring forth new life, labor (pain) and birth (a sudden change) is required. When a baby is born, it goes through tremendous amounts of biological and chemical changes. For one, it starts breathing air for the first time and eating from the mouth instead of the umbilical cord. Likewise, during this spiritual birthing process, there are some major changes that take place suddenly. "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant (Jesus the Christ)." (Mal. 3:1) The Lord's "suddenlies" may take years to fully grasp (just like it did when he was born the first time), but from heaven's perspective it is like turning on a water faucet of God's glory. If the hose is not strong enough to sustain the sudden thrust and continuous flow of water it will burst. Likewise, if we are not prepared vessels through humility and brokenness, we will burst and not be able to be used by the Lord to contain His glory that is coming. Jesus uses a similar analogy referring to us as wineskins (Matt. 9:17).
Jesus also says that "whoever does the will of God is my brother and My sister and mother" (Mark 3:35). So we can all become His mother, or vessels through which the Father can use to birth His life. As mentioned previously, Mary's life is one of the greatest examples in Scripture of a vessel through which God was able to birth His purposes. A detailed study of Mary's life will reveal many godly characteristics, but one that shines through the most is her faith in believing God's promise to her. She simply trusted that God was able to bring to pass in her what was impossible to happen in the natural. She believed God and knew Him intimately, thus revealing her spiritual maturity or Sonship. Listen how Mary responded to the Lord:
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God... Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word."" (Luke 1:35,38)
Believing this promise did not come without suffering and sorrow and reproach. I am sure that Mary labored spiritually as much as she did naturally. How many of Mary's family and friends do you think actually believed along with her that her pregnancy was really from the Holy Spirit??? In that time period, if you were pregnant out of wedlock it was bad news! You were a social outcast. Also, it was a great step of faith for Joseph to take Mary as his wife. In the natural, he was admitting that he was the father of the child out of wedlock. Mary and Joseph were like Moses who "esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (Heb. 11:26), and they were also entrusted with the secrets of the Lord.
Also, John 16 explains how the first disciples were used as "mothers" to birth the life of Christ to their generation. He told them, "it is to your advantage that I go away" (vs. 7) so that you can give birth! Jesus compares them to a woman in labor who is sorrowful during her labor, but rejoices when new life is birthed and forgets her initial anguish. "Most assuredly, I say to you that you (disciples) will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you." (vs. 20-22)
This explanation of the woman in labor is the answer that Jesus gives to the riddle that is mentioned three times just before in verses 16-19. This riddle gives us insight that it was Jesus Himself who was being birthed by the disciples. Jesus says, "A little while, and you will not see Me (because He was about to be crucified); and again a little while, and you will see Me (not because of His return, but), because I go to the Father (which will cause you to sorrow and labor)." Jesus left them right at the time when they had realized that He was the answer for all of fallen humanity! This caused the disciples to travail and labor like a woman in birth so that Jesus could be seen again through them. So, Jesus was seen again not because of His return, but because His character and life was seen through the disciples as a result of travail and a birth.
There are many other women throughout the Scriptures who through faith and patience were able to be used by God to birth His purposes in their generation: Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth just to name a few. However, one of the most dramatic and climactic births in the Bible is one that is occurring in our generation, and it is found in Revelation chapter 12. Here we find "a woman clothed with the sun (glory of God), with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars (governmental authority). Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth... And she bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne." (Rev. 12:2,3,5)
This birth sounds so much like the birth of Jesus that many scholars attribute this to Mary birthing Jesus. However, John clearly says that the book of Revelation is to show us things that will take place in the future (Rev. 1:1). Although we can compare this birth to the natural birth of Jesus, this Scripture is more accurately a reference to the spiritual birth of Jesus through a spiritual mother who is the Church - the Jerusalem from above - or Zion.
Before we look in detail at this birth, let's make sure that we understand that Zion is a reference for the Church, and specifically the Bride of Christ. Then we can compare Zion giving birth in the Old Testament Scriptures with this woman giving birth in Revelation 12.
"For the Lord has chosen Zion, He has desired it for His habitation; This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it." (Psalm 132:13,14)
About a dozen different Scriptures directly mention that Zion is God's "dwelling place" or "habitation." Since we know that God's ultimate dwelling place is inside His people or His Church (2 Cor. 6:16), we can safely conclude that Zion, in a general broad sense, is representative of God's people or Church. Scripture confirms this directly in Hebrews 12:22-23, "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels (messengers), to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect."
Originally, Zion was a "stronghold," "high place," "fortress," or "castle" within the city of David (Jerusalem) which David took in battle (2Sam 5:7, 1Chr. 11:5). Since the natural reflects the spiritual (1 Cor. 15:46), spiritual Zion is like a stronghold or fortress within the city of God (the Church). So, Zion can correctly be called "the city of the great King" (Ps. 48:2) and refer to the Church at large. However, more specifically Zion refers to a particular part of God's city - the very heart and strength of it (Ps. 84:7). "The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion" (Ps. 110:2).
Zion is representative of the more spiritually mature. Everyone starts their walk with the Lord as a child and progressively grows up (1 Cor. 13:11). However, growing up requires that we make certain decisions, because "many are called, but few are chosen," (Matt. 22:14). Although spiritual maturity is available to all who believe, few are willing to pay the price and really lay down their lives in order to be chosen. The Lord alone builds up Zion (Ps. 102:16) by the "way of the Cross," and chooses all those who "overcome" to be closest to Him. "And they overcame him (Satan), by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Rev. 12:11). Zion is a remnant (Joel 2:32, Isa. 37:31,32) chosen by God to be His Bride who trust in the Lord with all of their life, love Him with all of their hearts, and overcome the world through love.
Psalm 76:1 shows this progression of intimacy with the Lord "In Judah God is known; His name is great in Israel. In Jerusalem also is His tabernacle, And His dwelling place in Zion." This verse, along with the 3 steps of spiritual maturity (fathers, young men, children), the three parts of mankind (spirit, soul & body), and Moses' tabernacle (most holy place, holy place & outer court) gives us a pretty good idea of how the Lord views Zion as very central to His heart.
Inside the Most Holy place of Moses' tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant, which represented God's Presence. However, no one was allowed in the Most Holy Place except the high priest, and only once per year with fear and trembling. Some priests did not come out alive if they did not follow the prescriptions of blood sacrifice exactly the way God told Moses, because the way to ultimate intimacy with God was not yet understood (Heb. 9:7,8). This may be why we do not see "Zion" mentioned in the Scriptures at all during the Tabernacle of Moses, because Zion represents the way of abiding intimately with the Lord in the Most Holy Place, and this was not yet known at the time of the tabernacle of Moses (Heb. 9:7-8).
However, we DO find "Zion" first mentioned with King David (2 Sam. 5:7, 1 Kings 8:1). David found amazing intimacy with God, which is why he was able to bring the Ark of the Covenant right into his backyard and worship the Presence of God whenever he wanted to without dying. Unlike the tremendous rules and regulations found in the tabernacle of Moses, the tabernacle of David was a simple three-sided tent with the Ark of the Covenant right in the midst of it! David was definitely a spiritual pioneer in his generation. To approach at free will the Ark of the Covenant (the Presence of God) was tremendously unorthodox behavior according to the laws of Moses. This is why David's tabernacle is the only tabernacle or house that God said he was going to restore (Acts 15:16,17), because Abba Father has a desire to be close to us in an intimate way. David's tabernacle, which was in Zion, represents the way to be intimate with God.
Zion is a set-apart place of spontaneous worship and adoration toward God. Most of the Psalms were recorded by scribes as David sang from inspiration and poured out His heart to God (Ps. 87:7). Although the tabernacles of Moses and Solomon were given specific dimensions and building instructions, the tabernacle of David did NOT have any dimensions or descriptions, because God himself will build Zion. Since Zion is a holy place of worship, how can holiness or worship be measured? There was no veil to separate God's presence from His people -"everyone of them appears before God in Zion" (Ps. 84:7).
Zion is always referred to in the feminine throughout the Scriptures, and several refer to her as a virgin. The next chart has some brief characteristics of Zion the Bride of Christ:
|God's dwelling place or habitation||Ps. 9:11, Ps. 76:2, Ps. 132:13, Zech. 8:3,|
|The ark (presence) of God is here||1 Ki. 19:21, 2 Chr. 5:2, Ps. 102:16, Isa. 4:5|
|Seat of God's governmental authority||Ps. 2:6, Isa. 2:3, Ps. 132:17,18, Isa. 24:23|
|She is God's people||Heb. 12:22-24, Ps. 74:2, Isa. 10:24; 30:19|
|She is a virgin||Isa. 62:5, Jer. 31:4, 2 Ki. 19:21, Isa. 37:22|
|She is a mother of daughters and sons||Ps. 149:2, Isa. 66:8, Jer. 4:31, Mic. 4:10|
|She is a bride||Isa. 49:18, Isa. 61:10, Isa. 62:5, Rev 21:2,9|
Zion is the seat of God's government: "For I have set my king on My Holy Hill of Zion" (Ps. 2:6), "there I will make the government of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My anointed" (Ps. 132:17,18). "For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders gloriously" (Isa. 24:23). From general to specific, Zion is: God's dwelling place - the Church, the overcomers, and His intimate Bride.
"Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God." (Rev. 21:2,3,9,10)
Revelation chapter 12 is the clearest description of the Bride of Christ giving birth to the life of Jesus. Therefore, let's prayerfully read it again in its entirety with this imagery in mind: 1) the woman = the Bride of Christ; 2) the man child = Jesus manifested IN 144,000 mature sons of God; and 3) the dragon = Satan.
Since Satan can only counterfeit what God is doing, we should not be surprised to find another woman in Revelation 17 who also represents a group of people. This woman is "Babylon the harlot" who is also a mother - "the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth" (Rev. 17:5). At the same time that the Bride of Christ is birthing the mature sons of God bringing liberty and life, the Great Harlot will be birthing mature sons of the flesh who will bring bondage and death. Isaiah 60 explains how great glory can cover the earth, while at the same time deep darkness also covers the earth. Jesus compares the time of His Second Coming to a woman in labor by saying that wars, famines, and earthquakes are all the beginning of "birth pangs" (Matt 24:8).
Also, Paul explains within the context of Jesus' return that: "when they cry, 'peace and safety,' then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman" (2 Thess. 3:8). Therefore, a comparison can be made of these two women:
The Bride of Christ (Rev. 12)
The Great Harlot (Rev 17)
|Mother of a child to rule all nations (vs. 5)||Mother of harlots and abominations (vs. 5)|
|Filled with life by the blood of the Lamb (vs. 11)||Filled with death because they shed innocent blood (vs. 6)|
|Clothed with the riches of heaven (vs. 1)||Clothed with the riches of the earth (vs. 4)|
|The dragon and beast oppose this woman (vs. 3,13,17)||The dragon and beast carry this woman (vs. 3,7)|
|The earth helps this woman (vs. 16)||The earth hates this woman (vs. 16-17)|
|Compared to the city of Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2,3,9,10)||Compared to the city of Babylon - earthly Jerusalem (vs. 5)|
|Lay down their lives and end up with life eternal (vs. 11)||Live for the moment and end up in eternal death (vs. 16)|
|Compared to Sarah birthing Isaac (Gal. 4:21-31)||Compared to Hagar birthing Ishmael (Gal. 4:21-31)|
To further explain these births by the Bride of Christ (Spirit) and the Great Harlot (flesh), let's take a look at Galatians 4:21-31 where Paul compares the sons of promise to Sarah and Isaac, and the sons of the flesh to Hagar and Ishmael:
"For it is written that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bondwoman (Hagar), the other by a free-woman (Sarah). But he (Ishmael), who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh, and he (Isaac), of the free-woman, through promise; which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar - for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children - but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all." (Gal 4:21-26).
Here we can see from Abraham's life, that our own good ideas (the flesh) will give birth to bondage, and only that which originates from God's promise (Spirit) results in bringing life. Mount Sinai brings death, but Mount Zion brings life. The next verse continues: "For it is written; "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who do not travail! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband."" (Gal 4:27, Isa. 54:1)
Sarah was made barren by God (Gen. 16:2). Therefore, she attempted to bring about God's promise by acting in the flesh and allowing Abraham to bring forth a son from Hagar which was not God's perfect will. We, the Church, have done the same thing as Sarah. We have not been patient and willing to accept God's purpose in keeping us barren for a time, and we've acted in the flesh using carnal methods to birth fleshly sons into God's house. The watered down gospel which says, "come to Jesus and He'll fix all of your problems" allows sons of the flesh (Ishmael's) to be birthed. The true message of the Gospel is the Cross, which says, "whoever desires to save his life must lose it." The Cross is not just a part of the Gospel, the Cross IS the Gospel. True sons of the kingdom will be born out of barrenness because their mother (the Bride of Christ) will have been through the wilderness (Cross) and come to the end of "self". Sarah was not able in the natural to give birth, because she was over 90 years old and "past the time of child bearing." Likewise the Bride of Christ in the wilderness will not be able to give birth to God's mature sons in the natural. It will be (it must be) a work of the Spirit.
Isaiah testifies more about the barrenness of the true Bride of Christ in chapter 54 (where Paul is quoting from): "Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not travailed with child! For more are the children of the desolate (Great Harlot) than the children of the married woman (Bride of Christ / Sarah). Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed or disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. For your Maker is your husband. The Lord of Hosts is His name; and our redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused." (Vs. 1,4-6). Isaiah then goes on to encourage her that after her barrenness she will inherit: the promises of an everlasting Covenant of Peace, children who are taught by the Lord, and protection from all harm.
Paul continues in Galatians 4: "Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh (Ishmael) then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit (Isaac), even so it is now (the Harlot persecutes the Bride). Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman." So then brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free." (Gal 4:28-31)
Ishmael and Isaac lived together in the same house. Likewise, in the Church there have been both the sons of the flesh and the sons of the Spirit living together in God's house. But, there came a time when Sarah said, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son (Ishmael); for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son Isaac" (Gen. 21:10-12), and God told Abraham to listen to Sarah. Likewise, after the Bride of Christ births the child of promise (the mature sons of God), then the time is soon when the sons of the flesh will also be cast out.
Any method that we use to try to birth sons into the kingdom that is not God's method is like birthing an Ishmael, who only caused trouble for Sarah, and causes persecution and "ministry burnout" for us too. Whatever is started in the flesh must be maintained in the flesh and makes us weary, but Jesus' yoke is easy and His burden is light when we walk in the Spirit. Isaiah rightly testifies of the fleshly methods which births the wind when he says, "As a woman with child is in pain and cries out in her pangs, when she draws near the time of her delivery, so have we been in Your sight, O Lord. We have been with child, we have been in pain; We have as it were, given birth to wind; We have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth, Nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen." (Isa. 26:17-18).
Nevertheless, the promise remains that we WILL enter "the rest" of the Lord! "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" on the seventh day (Heb. 4:10). The exciting part is that we have arrived at the end of the sixth day or 6,000 years of mankind's history. We are now entering the promised 1,000 year "day of rest" that can be compared to the seven days of creation where God rested on the seventh day from all His creation work. Likewise, we will rest from our striving and labor FOR God and simply BE with Him in fellowship and companionship as He works out His Kingdom on the earth through us for the next 1,000 years!
Several Scriptures refer to how Zion will give birth. Since we have established that Zion is representative of the Bride of Christ, let's examine what the Lord's Bride will be birthing. Passages from the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah point this out:
"Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His word: "Your brethren (birthed by the Great Harlot) who hated you, who cast you out for My name's sake, said, 'Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy,' (saying why do you take up your cross?) but they shall be ashamed." The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the Lord, who fully repays His enemies!" (Isa. 66:5-6)
Above, we see that one of the reasons why the Lord is bringing about the birth of His sons is to fully repay His enemies, or to cast out the children and methods of the flesh. The very next verses explain the birth process that the Lord will bring to pass to punish His enemies:
"Before she travailed, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion (the Bride of Christ) travailed, she gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth and not cause delivery? says the Lord. Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb? says your God." (Isa 66:7-10)
The birth of these children of God through the Bride of Christ will be the answer that the Lord gives to vindicate His name and His holy city Jerusalem. Although spiritual Jerusalem (the Bride of Christ) has been redeemed, natural Jerusalem (the city as well as our physical bodies) still remains in bondage to the children of the flesh (Gal 4:25). But shortly after the birth of these "son's of Zion," Isaiah 66:10-13 shows that natural Jerusalem will also be redeemed:
"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; that you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. For thus says the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; on her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts. So, I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem." The conclusion of Isaiah's book goes on to explain the judgment of God with fire and the reign of His Kingdom on earth with the headquarters in His holy mountain Jerusalem.
On several different occasions Jeremiah compares Zion or Israel to a woman in labor:
"For I have heard a voice as of a woman in labor, the anguish as of her who brings forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion bewailing herself, who spreads her hands, saying, "Woe is me now, for my soul is weary because of murderers!"" (Jer. 4:31)
Thus says the Lord, "Behold a people comes from the north country as men of war set in array against you, O daughter of Zion." We have heard the report of it; our hands grow feeble. Anguish has taken hold of us, pain as of a woman in labor." (Jer. 6:22,24)
"Lift up your eyes and see those who come from the north what will you say when He punishes you? For you have taught them to be chieftains, to be head over you. Will not pangs seize you like a woman in labor?" (Jer. 13:20,21)
Israel was about to be taken captive to Babylon, and her labor, travail, pain and sorrow was prophesied to come as a result of Babylon wreaking havoc in Jerusalem. Likewise, the Great Harlot (Babylon) that was birthed from the flesh, will wreak havoc in spiritual Jerusalem. But at the same time that the Bride of Christ (mature believers) are being persecuted by Babylon she will begin to intercede and travail to bring about Jesus' life to a dying world. Jeremiah lets us know when this birth will take place: during the "time of Jacob's trouble" and during the "day of the Lord" which is also the time when Jesus returns: "Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah. "We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it (the Day of the Lord); and it is the time of Jacobs's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, says the Lord of hosts, that I will break his (Babylon the Great Harlot - false church's) yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them." (Jer. 30:4-9)
Finally, Micah also confirms that the Lord's reign in Zion will start with a birth: "In that day (the day of Messiah's return), says the Lord, I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast and those whom I have afflicted. I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation. So the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever. And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, To you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem. Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in your midst? Has your counselor perished? For pangs have seized you like a woman in labor. Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, Like a woman in birth pangs." (Mic. 4:6-10)
Micah then goes on to explain that the Messiah will have two comings, and that he will not return the second time until AFTER the Bride of Christ has "given birth." "But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth (two comings) have been from of old, from everlasting (they are established). Therefore He (the Messiah) shall give them up (by returning to heaven after his earthly ministry), until the time that she who is in labor (the Bride of Christ) has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. And he (Jesus) shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace." (Micah 5:2-5)
Jesus is waiting in heaven to return, but He will not return until the Bride of Christ has given birth to His life and character through mature sons. Only after this birth can we begin to start looking for any rapture or physical return of the man Christ Jesus. Only after this birth will the nation of Israel begin to be provoked to jealousy and saved. Only after this birth can we look for the promise of a restored government of God on the earth. It requires some effort on our part, some pain, some labor, some spiritual travail. Life comes from travail. Jesus travailed, Paul travailed, the Early Church travailed, and the Bride of Christ will also travail to bring forth the "sons of Zion" in our generation.
I have yearned so much just to spend time in the Presence of the Lord and behold His beauty! Yet at the same time, I have desired so much for others to see His beauty and love that I must get out and show others His goodness! The tension between these two desires is what has caused a spiritual travail to begin. The pain, travail and labor are not fun. But we have a great hope and joy set before us. Jesus said, "a woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world" (John 16:21). Let's be like Jesus, and for the joy that is set before us "endure the cross." Then, through the power of the Cross, we can take part in birthing His life and character to be seen by the whole world as a witness and then Jesus will return in glory: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27)
The "man child" being birthed in Revelation chapter 12 is Jesus the Christ - only it is "Christ IN us." Christ's Bride is a many membered body. Likewise, the child (or children) whom she births represents a many membered body. The creation eagerly waits for the revealing of these sons of God because they will manifest Jesus Himself. Jesus alone is the only glory that is worth eagerly waiting for. Anything that comes from us is less than worthless; it is dangerous, because the flesh is always in conflict with the Spirit. Even heresy (false doctrine) is listed as a "work of the flesh" which is far from harmless, because it ends up bringing bondage and death.
There are only five direct details given about the "man child" being birthed in Revelation chapter 12. Since ALL of these details can be found in the "144,000 saints" discussed in Revelation 14:1-5, it is not far fetched to conclude that the manchild represents Jesus IN the 144,000 saints. The following chart compares these two:
The "man child"
The 144,000 saints
|Will rule all nations with a rod of iron (12:5)||Are found on Mt. Zion with Jesus - Zion is the place of His worldwide government (14:1)|
|Are caught up to God and to His throne (12:5)||Are before the throne of God (14:3,5)|
|They (plural) overcame Him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb (12:11)||They are overcomers found without fault and blameless, which only comes from the blood of the Lamb (14:4,5)|
|They overcame Satan by the word of their testimony (12:11)||They sing a new song that only they can learn (their testimony) (14:4)|
|They love not their lives unto death (12:11)||They follow the Lamb (sacrificial animal) wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4)|
|Is a firstborn child (Isa. 54:1)||Are firstfruits to God and to the Lamb (14:4)|
The only place that Zion is mentioned in the book of Revelation is in connection with the 144,000 saints who are sealed with the Father's name written on their foreheads (Rev. 7:3, 14:1). We have seen that Zion is representative of the Church and more specifically of the Bride of Christ who is called out from the church. These 144,000 are birthed out from the Bride of Christ and stand with the Lamb who is the head of His body. This is a beautiful picture of unity, because the next verses go on to show that the "voice of many waters like the voice of loud thunder," and "the sound of harpists playing their harps" comes from these 144,000 redeemed saints. They are all speaking and singing the same thing spiritually and so it sounds like "many waters" and "loud thunder," because they are one with the Lamb and therefore one with each other. The world will finally see and know that the Father loves them and that He has sent Jesus as His only Son! Not because of our church programs or Christian bumper stickers, but because we will "be made perfect in one" as Jesus promised! (John 17:22-23).
These 144,000 are not defiled with other "loves" in this world. They are spiritual virgins, because they have set their sights on loving Jesus as their main goal in life and Him alone. They do not let other cares or distractions take them away from their first love. The 144,000 are emptied of "self-life" and have allowed the life of their savior to flow through them. They are without fault and blameless because their entire self-worth and right-standing relies practically (not just judicially) on the blood of the Lamb. They walk by faith and not by sight where the blood of Jesus cleanses them from all unrighteousness.
The 144,000 found on Mount Zion are called "firstfruits" (Rev. 14:4). Firstfruits are grains or crops that have reached maturity earlier (first), before the general harvest. The 144,000 will be believers who have reached the place of maturity before the rest of the believers. They will have learned through "the way of the Cross" and the grace of God to abide (be one) with Jesus and with each other in His body. God's plan is unity in diversity. We are not all to be the same "cookie cutter Christians" looking and acting alike. But we can still be unified together in the spirit, and maintain our individual callings in God. This true unity will bring the perfection that the apostle Paul longed for (Philippians 3:12-16).
12 X 12,000 = 144,000. If you compare the 144,000 saints to the 12 apostles of Jesus, I think you will get a better picture of the role and function of these 144,000 in our generation. They will be chosen by the Lord to first "be with Him," and secondly, "to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and cast out demons" (Mark 3:14). These end of the age apostles each have a special individual calling from the Lord. They will not be appointed by man, nor is it a "promotion" in the Kingdom. It is simply a calling to a position in God's government to fulfill His purposes at His second coming similar to what the first twelve apostles had to do during His First Coming.
Zechariah saw the final purpose of Zion's sons: "For I have bent Judah My bow, Fitted the bow with Ephraim, and raised up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and made you like the sword of a mighty man. Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning The Lord of hosts will defend them; They shall devour and subdue with slingstones; They shall drink and roar as if with wine For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, lifted like a banner over His land." (Zech. 9:13-16) Jesus will bring righteous judgment to the kingdoms of this world through His manchild.
When Jesus came the first time, there was very little fanfare and public understanding of the significance of His birth. Even among the religious leaders of Jesus' time, there was no big "birthday party" for the Savior of the world. Only a few faithful shepherds and some far away wise men were shown by revelation the glory of what transpired at Jesus' birth. The world as a whole continued on blissfully ignorant without any earth shaking changes. I expect His second birth will be similar. Jesus was first born in a dirty lowly place like a manger in a stable, and His second birth will also be in a dirty lowly place - the human heart. Oh, what mercy. Even so, Maranatha - "Come Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).
Update -- It is now September 2004, five years after I first wrote this study on the Birthing of Zion's Sons. When this writing was first published in July 1999, there was a section here on the "Signs in the Heavens" which were happening in the stars starting from 1996 and culminating on September 11th 1999 (The Feast of Trumpets). I was eagerly anticipating this September 1999 date as a significant one in the purposes of God concerning the birthing of Zion's sons. I had no idea at the time that my own second son Stephen Paul would be born (a month earlier than he was due) on this very date of September 11, 1999 to prophetically confirm this spiritual birth. The details of Stephen's birth and the prophetic significance were discussed in chapters 9-11 of this book. It is sufficient enough to say here that this spiritual birthing has already taken place and we are now in the maturing phase:
The chart above gives a rough timeline of where we are in the maturing process of God's government on the earth. The reason the conception for this birth is placed at 1991 is because a very unique sign in the stars was happening that was very similar to the sign at the first coming of Jesus as well as this 1999 sign. The details of this heavenly sign were shown to Bob Schlenker and written on his Open Scroll website.15 The next few decades should bring about the maturity of God's Man-child. It is during this time period that the Lord is sealing His 144,000 apostles for the work of ministry, which will culminate in a 3-1/2 year time of intense ministry and demonstration of the Kingdom of God on earth similar to that of Jesus' three and one half year ministry.
I do not know the exact dates of the next phases of the Lord's Second Coming, which is why there are question marks in the previous chart. Discussing things like the Manchild, the Sons of God, and the 144,000 is often controversial, but these issues and concepts are in the Bible and we must continually seek the Lord for understanding, and wait patiently for Him to answer. If the Lord is not giving revelation, then we cannot force His Spirit of Revelation. Instead we need to just sit and enjoy the fellowship of His Presence throughout every day life until He does speak on these difficult topics. I trust that He will give us understanding as these things approach.
Finally, remember that we live in Bible times! It is an AWESOME time to be alive and living for Jesus Christ! He will certainly come IN His people before He comes FOR His people. We now stand poised in the middle of the return of Jesus IN His people to begin establishing His government before He returns physically! Our generation is the transition period before entering into the new age of the Kingdom of God on earth, and the Lord desires ALL of His children to participate in these momentous times of the return of Jesus Christ! Behold Jesus the Messiah, for He has certainly come, and is coming in His people today, and will come in physical glory to rule and reign the earth!
Revelation 1:15 says that the Lord's voice is "as the sound of many waters." This means that when He speaks, there are many voices saying the same thing from a slightly different perspective. There have been many confirmations that what is written in this study is also being said by many others in the Body of Christ in similar ways but from slightly different angles. One such confirmation is from a brother named Bill Burns. When I first wrote this article in 1999, Bill published an article called "The Day of the Eagle" within days of my first completing this study. Now in 2004 within the same week that I am updating this study, Bill just happened to re-publish his same 1999 article with some more clarification. Bill's article, which can be read in the endnotes, includes similar information on God's government and the 144,000.26