24. Thy Kingdom Come

A few days later, after having met again in Yerushalayim, Jesus brought them out of the city as far as the outskirts of Beth-Anyah.   It was time for him to go. 

Still, some of the disciples asked him, “Lord, has the time come?  Are you going to restore the kingdom to Isra´el?”

They still did not understand that it was not about the Romans or about political independence and certainly it was not the time for God’s final judgment upon the nations.

But Jesus was gentle with them knowing that the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, would explain everything.  He replied, “It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Yerushalayim but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.”  And Jesus lifted up his hands to bless them and as he blessed them, he withdrew from them, and a cloud took him from their sight.

The cloud was the radiant glory of God, the Ruach HaKodesh, the Shekinah Glory, which brought him directly into the throne room of God, where thousands upon thousands of angels awaited, and the twenty-four elders, and the four living creatures, and the Majesty himself.  A great white throne was established at the right hand of the Father, and the throne was for him.  He would rule the nations with an iron scepter and the good news would go out into all the world.

Gabriel felt the excitement building within him.  He looked at the eager faces of the angels around him, waiting for permission to soar into Heaven to join in the celebration.  Gabriel smiled, about to give the order, but then he saw the look on the face of Alexandria.  At once he was concerned.

She was one of his favorites, big and bodacious.  A guardian angel that had been with them all through the ministry of Jesus, taking care of the needs of the women in the group.  Her eyes were stricken and full of grief.  Tears welled up and began to spill down her cheeks.

“Look,” she cried, pointing at the women who were also weeping at the departure of Jesus into the heavens.

At first they had been awestruck at the ascension but now the absence of their Lord and Savior fell like a shroud of despair upon them.  The men were putting a brave face on it, Gabriel could see, but it affected them as well. 

Gabriel hesitated, wondering what he should do.  The celebration in heaven seemed at odds with this grief on earth.  Something was wrong.  He waited with eyes closed and looked within and soon the answer came.  Alexandria was the instrument but the Father was the author of this Holy Pause.  There was more to be done, more to be said.

Gabriel lifted his face toward heaven and smiled a slow, knowing smile.  He opened his eyes and searched quickly around him.

“Zacharias,” he called.  “And you, Ezekiel.  You may speak the prophecy growing within you.”  Gabriel pointed toward the disciples.  “Appear to them and proclaim the message, for this very moment is a prophecy for the children of men, a prophecy of what already is and of what will come to pass.”

Ezekiel and Zacharias both nodded and moved into place.  Then they began to glow and transform before the startled eyes of the disciples who were still staring into the sky.

But the preparations were not yet complete. Gabriel turned to Alexandria and said, “You have been chosen.”

Alexandria looked at him for a moment and then took a deep breath.  “I can feel the song growing within my spirit.  It comes from the Holy One but through the hearts and minds of those who follow him.”  She pointed at the disciples below.

“It is a wonder,” Gabriel agreed.  “Wait a moment longer and allow the Spirit to move you as he fills the hearts of his children with an understanding of the prophecy.”

Alexandria nodded in agreement and looked toward Ezekiel and Zacharias who were about to speak the prophecy in the hearing of the disciples.

“Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky?  Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.”

Gabriel could see that the disciples were awestruck at the words that had been spoken and he could feel the Holy Presence filling their hearts, replacing their grief and sadness with deep joy and conviction.

Alexandria looked at Gabriel with piercing eyes full of the same joy and conviction and took a deep breath.  In that moment, all of the angels could sense the veil of heaven part and the gaze of the Father and the Son turn toward them.

Gabriel was filled with unspeakable joy.  He knew that the Ancient of Days was in no hurry.  He wanted to savor every moment of the unfolding drama of redemption.  He loved these people, every last one of them, each one separately and fully and he would not celebrate in heaven while they grieved for him on earth, filled with the loneliness of his parting.  He would always be with them.  That was his promise and its fulfilling would begin immediately.

Gabriel watched in awe as the disciples began to worship God with shouts of joy and much backslapping and pulling of beards. 

“He will return.”  Peter cried, the realization of what the prophecy meant growing in him.

“Maranatha, Lord, come quickly,” John shouted, his face lifted toward the sky.

At that moment Gabriel looked at Alexandria and nodded but she was already taking a deep breath.   

“Behold He comes.”

The song burst forth with power as the prophecy was declared once again in the presence of heaven and earth.  And the angels began to clap and cheer and the angelic choir joined in. 

“Riding on the clouds.  Shining like the sun.

 At the trumpet call.  So Lift your voice. 

It’s the year of Jubilee. 

Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes.” 

And the instruments and pipes lent their praise to the worship.

Then Alexandria came in low and rhythmic, building the song into a declaration of faith found in the hearts of the disciples.

“These are the days of Elijah,

declaring the word of the Lord.

These are the days of your servant, Moses,

righteousness being restored. 

And though these are days of great trial,

of famine and darkness and sword. 

Still we are the voice in the desert, crying,

prepare ye the way of the Lord.”

The angelic choir joined in with ringing tones.

“Behold He comes.  Riding on the clouds. 

Shining like the sun.

At the Trumpet call.  Lift your voice. 

It’s the year of Jubilee.

Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes.”

Alexandria continued together with the angels.

“These are the days of Ezekiel,

the dry bones becoming as flesh.

And these are the days of your servant, David,

rebuilding a temple of praise. 

And these are the days of the Harvest,

the fields are as white in your world. 

And we are the laborers in your vineyard,

declaring the word of the Lord.”

Again the angelic choir joined in.

“Behold He comes.  Riding on the clouds. 

Shining like the sun.

At the Trumpet call.  Lift your voice. 

It’s the year of Jubilee.

Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes.”

And then Gabriel saw a movement among the disciples as they turned and headed back toward Yerushalayim, still worshipping and praising God.  But there was something more determined about their step, more sure as their confidence mounted.  They remembered that Jesus had told them to wait in Yerushalayim for the gift that was to come from heaven.  As they streamed down the mountain in pairs and small groups, their eyes eager and their hearts soaring, they began to declare the goodness of God.

James began the chant. “There is no God like our God.”  And the others took it up.  Peter grabbed John and pulled him closer and threw his beefy arm around his shoulder and then James joined them as well and they marched together down the hill, chanting “There is no God like our God.”

Gabriel glanced at Alexandria amazed that she had already caught the change and made it apart of her song.

“There’s no God like Jehovah. 

There’s no God like Jehovah.

There’s no God like Jehovah. 

There’s no God like Jehovah.”

And as the angelic choir beat out the rhythm, Alexandria made even more declarations of love and adoration.

“There’s no God, like our God. 

He’s the one who is our God. 

He’s our Savior and our Redeemer. 

There’s no God, like our God.”

And then the song began to build in strength, overflowing with praise and adoration to the Lamb who was slain.  And all eyes turned toward Jesus who appeared as a Lamb that was slain, bearing proudly the marks of his death.  For the song was about him and a celebration of his victory.

“Behold he comes, Riding on the clouds. 

Shining like the sun.

At the Trumpet call.  Lift your voice. 

It’s the year of Jubilee.

Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes.”

And all of heaven held their breath for one long moment as Jesus began to walk down the aisle between the rows upon rows of angels toward the throne.  Then the excitement broke forth and the angels began to dance and sing and rejoice in their joy that the King of kings and the Lord of lords had come. 

“Hallelujah to the Lamb that was slain!” 

The angels sang in perfect counterpoint to the song that Alexandria was singing.  Heaven was bringing the two celebrations together and making them one.  And then Gabriel realized that they were one and the same.  This was the Throne Song.  The reign of the Lamb of God in the hearts of mankind had begun.

“Behold He comes.  Riding on the clouds. 

Shining like the sun.

At the Trumpet call.  Lift your voice. 

It’s the year of Jubilee.

Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes.”

This was the victory song of the Lamb.  The Kingdom of Heaven had arrived and the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah would reign over his people forevermore.

And the disciples worshiped Jesus and then went back to Yerushalayim full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.

 

 

*****

It wasn’t long before it happened and the happening would change everything.  The Spirit of God hovered over the assembly of disciples in anticipation of a new creation.

Shavuot was a celebration of joy for a good harvest.  A celebration of gratitude for the blessings of God.  Especially the blessing of the Law of God which came to them from Mount Sinai in fire and the trembling of the earth.It was celebrated fifty days after Passover, when sins were forgiven and a new life of gratitude could begin.  It was an appropriate time for the Spirit to fall upon them.

They were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Peter looked around at the walls and ceiling, his initial fear muted by a warm embrace that seemed to hold him suspended in time.  It sounded like a mighty force was about to enter the room and he knew instinctively what it must be.  The awesome weight of the Presence of God seemed to move every moment closer until it surrounded him, swirling and moving through him in a continuous stream of life.  It seemed to invade his very soul almost stealing the breath of life from him in the Divine embrace.   

At first he saw nothing but, then, something appeared like tongues of fire.  These separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.  In awe Peter looked at the tongue of fire on John’s head and he moved his hand slowly upward to touch it.  He could feel the heat though it did not burn him and he had a fleeting image of what it might have been like for Mosheh when he had first encountered this holy flame.

Strangely, he felt no fear and he dropped his hand to John’s shoulder and squeezed it.  John looked at him with an almost fierce joy and clapped his arm upon Peter’s shoulder in a fisherman’s embrace.  Both of them began to move through the room, touching the others as if to remind themselves that this was not a dream, and then clapping each other on the shoulder and then embracing and laughing as the Divine joy bubbled up within them and spilled over into joyous shouts and excited babble.

The excitement spilled into the street, the disciples all talking at once while the crowds gathered in groups to hear the good news in their own tongue and the church was born in the power of the Spirit of God.

 

 

*****

 

“What do we do now?”

The question came from the eyes of the angels surrounding him as Gabriel stood looking down on the celebration.  They were excited but they also felt a bit useless.  With the coming of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, in the hearts of each believer, the work of the angels of God would change.  They had known it would happen.  Gabriel had spoken with the Father about it and he knew they still had a role to play.

“Yes, our mission has changed,” he said, “but it is also the same.”  He looked around as the angels pressed in closer to hear his words.  “They must fight their own battle for faith while they take the message of the good news of salvation to the nations.  We must protect them.  That is our mission.  We will act when the Presence commands us to act in response to the prayers of the faithful.”

Peter’s voice broke into Gabriel’s address with the ringing sounds of salvation.  “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Gabriel looked around at his angelic brothers and the smile on his face grew wider as the Divine joy swept over him.  He pointed toward the disciples and he shouted, “Behold our mission, our inheritance, our destiny.  We shall serve these children of the dust whom the King of Glory loves with his very life.”  The silence was pregnant with expectation.  Everyone knew that Gabriel was not yet finished.

Gabriel looked at Benoli, his eyes glittering with excitement.  “The battle is no longer ours but the celebration, the joy, the wonder of redemption will always be ours to share with our earth brothers.  So we shall sing and we shall tell the Divine Story in our own way.”

Benoli held Gabriel’s eyes one long moment, his mind racing, his creative spirit swelling and growing until it threatened to spill out of him.  He turned on his heel and strode to the middle of the angelic crowd and faced Gabriel once again.  Angelic warriors had already surrounded the crowds where Peter was speaking even as more and more people streamed to the scene.  Peter was standing upon a column of broken rock and the crowds had left a space open before him as they listened to his message.  The other disciples had already started to penetrate into the crowd and spoke in groups telling the story in the strange languages of the Diaspora as the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, gave them utterance.  But the majority of the crowd listened to Peter.

In that space between Peter and the crowd, Benoli now stood and the music he brought forth and the story he told was reflected in the story that Peter was telling.  The two stories were one and the excitement and the celebration were one as the people heard and believed and were saved.

“For all the earth had trembled, the sun had hid its face

All the men that walked with him

had turned and run away.”

Benoli spoke the words that they had lived and breathed and turned it into wonder and song.

“They crucified our Savior and laid him in a tomb.

The life that once brought love and hope

 slipped away that afternoon.”

He paused to gather his strength, a glint of mischief crept into his eyes as he continued.

“Satan gleamed with pleasure that day at Calvary.

For he thought he had won a mighty victory.”

Already the angels anticipated what was coming and started to laugh and cheer at the surprise that awaited their enemy.

“And like him all of the demons of hell began to cheer

Oh, but little did they know that the end was drawing near.”

And now the excitement was starting to build, the beat began to move faster, the angels started to clap and Benoli fed the rhythm with his song.

“Cause early Sunday morning, just like Jesus said,

He broke the curse of sin and death

and he rose up from the dead.

Now we have a new beginning

in a kingdom that has no ending.

Hallelujah,  Hallelujah.”

And now the choir joined in, the words and the music overflowing from hearts full of the joy of heaven.

“Hallelujah, Jesus is alive.  Death has lost its victory

And the grave has been denied.  Jesus lives forever.

He’s alive.  He’s alive.”

Benoli danced as he sang, he simply could not stand still, the rhythm and the beat a natural extension of his joy.

“He’s the Alpha and Omega, the first and last is he.

For the curse of sin is broken and we have perfect liberty.

The Lamb of God has risen.  He’s alive.  He’s alive.”

Peter and the disciples were into the heart of their message.  A message of despair at the travesty they had poured out on the Son of God.  A message of wonder and hope at the love that allowed it and transformed it into resurrection.  The people were falling to their knees and crying out to God for salvation.  Many were weeping in grief and joy.  The Holy Presence swept over them and many fell to the ground in the daze of Divine visitation.

“He’s alive,  He’s alive.  Hallelujah,  Jesus is alive.”

Gabriel knew what was happening and motioned to Benoli who immediately took up a new refrain to reflect the powerful work of the Divine Story on the dead souls of men to make them alive again.

“Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, I believe.

Yes, Lord, I believe you’re alive in me.

I’m going to shout aloud to the rock

The rock of my salvation. 

Yes Lord, Yes Lord, I believe.”

The excitement kept building as the angels sang.  Not one could take their eyes off the scene that was played out before them.  They were fascinated by the power of the story of redemption on the stubborn hearts and minds of men.  It was as if something had finally gotten through to them, a new authority, a new truth, a new love.  The good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen again.

“I believe the tomb is empty because I know my heart is full

Of the glory and the wonder of your name.

I believe the power that raised you is alive in me right now

And the joy within my heart can be the same.

Yes Lord, yes Lord,  I believe…..”

More and more of the people gave their lives to the Savior as the disciples preached and healed and ministered to the crowd.  More and more were on their knees praising God and Benoli and the angelic choir reflected the growing belief in the work of the cross, the power of redemption.

“I believe the tomb is empty because I know my heart is full”

Peter was aglow with the Presence of Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God.  His words were inspired and cut to the heart.  More than three thousand souls would be added to the church that day.  The first of many, many more to come.

“Yes Lord,  yes Lord.  I believe.”

Benoli and the angelic choir began to reflect the growing fervor with their back and forth style.

“Yes Lord,” sang the choir and Benoli would answer with the words of those who were giving their lives to the Savior.  “My soul is glad.”

“Yes Lord,” sang the choir once again.

“Yes to your will,” Benoli responded.

“Yes Lord.”

“Yes to your way.”

“Yes Lord.”

“Yes to your love.  Yes to your hope.  Yes to your power.  Yes to your strength.  Yes to your joy.”

Until they could do nothing more than shout “Yes Lord, yes Lord” as the souls of men were being redeemed all around them and they gloried in the redemption of man, the mystery of the ages, the immense love of their God for the Sons and Daughters of the Earth.

“I’m going to shout aloud to the rock, the rock of my salvation

Yes Lord, Yes Lord.  I believe.”

The last words were sung with all of the joy and glory of heaven and the note was held until it entered into eternity to echo throughout the farthest galaxies as the resounding answer of mankind to the enormous love of their Father in Heaven.  The drums and the trumpets and clapping and laughter, the joy and the dancing went on for as long as there were souls to be redeemed.

In truth it will go on for all eternity, Gabriel knew.  A celebration both human and angelic whenever a soul is saved from the pits of Hell by the Divine Story of Redemption together with the Holy Presence and power of God himself in the life of His people.

 Yes Lord, Gabriel thought fervently.  I believe.

 

*****

And all of the heavens rejoiced to see it.  For with the coming of the Spirit, Lucifer would be bound for a thousand years on earth and the warrior-church that was being born into this age of grace would take the light that had begun in Yerushalayim to the far reaches of the world.

And the four living creatures said, “Amen, so it has been spoken and so it will be.”

 

 

*****

         “Why not destroy him now completely, Lord?”  Gabriel had spoken but Michael was beside him, both of them grim with the knowledge that this hateful, defeated enemy could still roam the earth to cause problems for God’s anointed.

         “Because he still has a role to play,” the Majesty said.  “He has followers who must be transformed.  And they must be transformed not because he is no longer an option but because there is a better way.  Yet there will come a day when I will no longer tolerate him or his followers, be they demonic or human.”

         “We are your messengers, Lord.  We will take the news that the Evil One’s power has been broken to the ends of the earth.”

         “Gabriel, you and Michael have fought well and valiantly for my sake.  In your weakness, when you were first tempted by the Evil One, you found strength and faith in my Presence.  There is no fault in you, no rebellion, no sin but yet you have learned the important lessons of faith and love and you have been transformed.  You had your battle, now let them have theirs.”

The voice whispered gently in my ear.  “Serve them, Gabriel, for my sake.  That is your calling.  Observe closely, my son, for to transform holiness is one thing but to redeem depravity is a deeper transformation still.”

His voice grew stronger as it described the battle to come.  Although war had not been God’s original idea, he would transform it and use it to create the most precious commodity in the universe – the loving obedience of his people, rooted in faith, rooted in a intimate relationship with him, knowing him and living with him every day.  And I would serve these children of the dust whom the Almighty God loved so dearly.

 “The battle is mine as it has always been mine but my messengers will now be those whom I am redeeming.  I have given them authority.  They must demonstrate faith and live in reliance upon me.  At the beginning of time when they were strong, they embraced doubt and fear.  Now in their weakness they must learn to embrace faith and love.   I have put my Presence within them and they will learn the lessons and trials of faith.  And my glory, who and what I truly am, will be known throughout the universe I have created, throughout all time and all places.  And every knee shall bow and every tongue confess the Lamb of God as Lord from the most wicked and depraved to the most glorious and powerful.  There will be no exceptions.”

         And at that point the angels that surrounded his throne fell to one knee and the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures took up the mighty refrain:  “Glory and Honor and Power and Strength be unto the Lamb upon the Throne forever and ever.”

         I sang with all my heart knowing that one day not only I, as the most glorious and powerful, but also the Evil One, as the most wicked and depraved would, once again, bow the knee to the Majesty who sits upon the throne.  He, in despair and helpless rage, would nevertheless be humbled and what he sought to steal would be restored to its rightful owner.  And in the process, the Majesty would have from his children what he treasured most and what he gave the most – Love.

         Then I realized a most wonderful truth.  The Majesty had finally created the very thing he could not create – the freely given love of his people.  All of the power of the Mighty King of Kings, the Master of a thousand worlds, could not do it.  Only love could give birth to love and all of the evil of the most dedicated demons could not quench it.

“Hallelujah!  Praise him!  Praise him!”  Heaven was in full bloom as they praised the Lamb upon his throne, the miracle of the ages, the bright Morning Star, the beloved of heaven and now of earth as well.

Further transformations from glory to glory awaited them all, Gabriel knew, both now and in the new heavens and the new earth to come, for no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived – not even angels, Gabriel liked to add – what God has prepared for those who love Him.

And with that, Michael, his brother, the guardian angel of the nation of Israel and now of the people of God, took a step forward as a song began to well up within him, a song from the heart of John, and from the sons of men but upon the lips of the angels of heaven.  The hope of the ages, the timeless theme of change and transformation, of passion and glory, of joy unspeakable, the story of redemption – redemption begun and redemption completed.  Gabriel was filled with a sense of awe and contentment as he listened to Michael’s song.

The timeless theme, earth and heaven will pass away

It´s not a dream, God will make all things new that day

Gone is the curse from which I stumbled and fell

Evil is banished to eternal hell

For now, the battle of redemption will continue and every precious soul possible must be saved and to that end all the forces and the resources of heaven have been dedicated.  But they can only be used as the redeemed learn to rely on the Presence and fight the battle of faith for the souls of men.  Faith will be the key to heaven’s power, faith in the presence and power of God in this life and in his intentions for a life of inexpressible joy to come.

No more night,  no more pain

No more tears, never crying again

And praises to the great I AM

We will live in the light of the risen lamb

A final vision etched itself upon the sky of heaven and John was there to witness it.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, he wrote, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

See all around, now the nations bow down to sing

The only sound is the praises to Christ our King

Slowly the names from the Book are read

I know the King so there´s no need, no need to dread

I saw the Holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  It shone with the glory of God.

No more night, no more pain

No more tears, never crying again

And praises to the great I AM

We will live in the light of the risen lamb

Gabriel thought of the Rabbi Gamaliel witnessing these things.  His heart would, no doubt, be filled to overflowing as he gazed upon the new Yerushalayim, the bride of the Lamb.    Yerushalayim would not be destroyed, could not be destroyed because God now lived in the transformed hearts of men, not in temples and cities made of brick and stone.  And John knew these truths and his heart overflowed with joy.

See over there, there´s a mansion

oh, that´s prepared just for me

Where I will live with my Saviour eternally

Now Michael was really getting excited.  Gabriel smiled.  The angelic choir joined Michael in expressing the song that seemed to overflow from the heart of John, the beloved disciple of the Lamb.

There will be no more night, no more pain

No more tears, never crying again

Praises to the great I AM

We will live in the light of the risen lamb

All  praises to the great I AM

We will live, we will live in the light of the risen lamb.

Michael’s wings stood out stiffly, his voice one long drawn out cry of joy.  And heaven responded with clapping and shouts of celebration. 

But the Majesty was not done and there was one more thing to declare.  The truth of the song must be written for the sons of men to read, to hear, and to sing for themselves to give them hope and faith in the promises of God.  They must know what his intentions are, that he, himself, has declared it and will complete it upon pain of death.  Suffering and pain may last the night, but joy comes in the morning.

But the voice that came from the throne was not the voice of the Majesty but rather the voice of the risen Lamb, the Savior of mankind, who rose from his throne established beside the throne of the Majesty and he spoke to John, his beloved disciple, directly.  This was his work, his intention, his purpose for all of creation.  This was why he had died and rose again, to bring everyone and everything under submission to his Father in reconciliation or in judgment, as the case may be.  His arm swept wide toward the vision of the new Yerushalayim, and he spoke with a powerful and deep voice.

 

“You see this city?

Here God lives among men. 

He will make his home among them.

They shall be his people and he will be their God. 

His name is God-with-them.

He will wipe away all tears from their eyes.

There will be no more death and no more mourning or sadness.

I am making the whole of creation new.”

 

Those words will be words of healing for the old rabbi.  Healing is what Benjamin found and healing is what, by God’s grace, Gamaliel will also find, if he survives his final battle with the Evil One. 

But first the guilty secret of his heart must be brought into the light.

 

 

*****

 


The Temptations of the Cross by Bert Amsing
Copyright 2012 by vanKregten Publishers. All rights reserved.
http://www.desertwarrior.net    https://desertwarriornet.wordpress.com/

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