Yom Teruah 2002
The Feast of Trumpets
Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 7 September 2002
A year ago, when we were celebrating Yom Teruah - the Feast of Trumpets - as we are today, the world was still recovering from the shock of the Muslim terrorist attack against the Word Trade Centre and the Pentagon. At the time I warned everyone that our world would never be the same again and that moreover Yom Teruah would take on an added significance in our spiritual devotions. The passage of twelve months has, I think, proven that to be true.
Yom Teruah is the first of the autumnal festivals and is celebrated by us to mark the awaited second coming of the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus). The trumpet blasts are followed by 9 days before the Messiah actually appears at Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement - when the work of the cross, accomplished two millennia ago - is applied for the last time on all those who will receive it over a five day period of time. After that, salvation is no longer available to the human race. Satan is bound and the thousand years of peace begins at Sukkoth - the Feast of Tabernacles.
The 11 September attack by Islamic terrorists, just four days before Yom Teruah last year, marked an important spiritual and historical change for all humanity. It has, in fact, provoked the beginning of the final clash between two utterly irreconcilable civilisations: the Judeo-Christian West and the Islamic East. It was a trumpet blast of its own. What the West has yet to learn is that there is no actual difference between fundamentalist and moderate Islam because Islam cannot coexist with any other religious or irreligious system. Whereas Judaism is about national salvation - that is, the small strip of land between the eastern Mediterranean and the River Jordan - and Christianity is about personal salvation, Islam is, and always has been, about world conquest. The Koran itself says: "Allah sent Mohammed with the true religion so that it should rule over all the religions." When "moderate" Muslims therefore speak of peaceful coexistence, they do not view this as a permanent arrangement but as only a temporary one, which could be changed at any moment to suit their ambitions. The Islamic doctrine states that if Jews and Christians do not want to live under the rules of Islam as second-class citizens, that Muslims must fight them by means of Jihad or Holy War. Jihad quite simply means war against those people and nations who refuse to submit the superior power of Islam.
The Koran views the world as being divided into two, one of which is presently under Islamic rule and the other which will come under Islamic rule in the future. That division is understood by all Muslims no matter what their stripe: peaceful coexistence with others is quite simply not on the agenda. Indeed, the whole of the planet is described as either Dar al-Islam, which means the 'House of Islam' where Muslims rule, or Dar al-Harb, or the 'House of War'. Whether Westerners like it or not, they exist, by Islamic definition, in a war zone, which is marked for conquest. As far as Muslims are concerned, 'anything goes' in this zone not presently ruled by them - including acts of terrorism. Apart from the few who have been brainwashed into believing through propaganda that there are peaceful committed Muslims and warlike committed Muslims, almost all Muslims, whether Sunni of Shia, believe that they are at war with the West. Thus when an opinion survey was conducted in the United Kingdom following the 11 September attack last year, the vast majority of Muslims living there (and as you know there are several million in Britain) expressed open support for the Taliban in the then war in Afghanistan. Their loyalties, clearly delineated in the Koran, were not for the land of their domicile (Great Britain) but for a foreign Islamic nation. As far as Koran-believing Muslims are concerned, the non-Islamic lands they live in are the enemy.
No doubt a fair number of secularised Muslims who are not religiously-inclined would take a different view, and these we would call the nominal Muslims. Such get a lot of pressure from the religionists to support their agenda, however. And as we know from the deeds of the Taliban, the religious Muslims are more than willing to threaten or kill their own less zealous religionists.
I mention these things simply to inform people of contemporary realities. Muslims have for the first time successfully attacked the "Great Satan", the name they give to the United States, and have become emboldened by it. And as I told you last year at this time, this will encourage them to be even bolder in the future with more lethal weapons like nuclear, chemical and germ warfare. They must know, however, that when they launch such an attack that it will provoke a terrible response from the West which might, in fact, mark the beginning of a violent clash of civilisations which will result in the destruction of one or the other ... or even both.
From our perspective as Christians, the West is hardly now the paragon of virtue. It is under the control of secret illuminist forces whose aim is to de-Christianise the West completely (a process already well under way) and to turn it into a pagan one world dictatorship. That this is their agenda has been made perfectly clear by their proponents. They are already pressing for massive population reductions and view war and the current AIDS epidemic as a blessing in disguise. That they would be only too willing to use weapons of mass destruction against major Islamic population centres seems more than probable to me. Mass genocide is being planned in secret by both sides.
As we read our Bibles we find prophetic confirmation that this will be so. We are warned that a third of mankind will be killed in the terrors to come (Rev.9:18) and a very large part of the world will be polluted (e.g. Rev.16:4). The prophet Ezekiel describes conditions following a destructive war in Israel that many have interpreted to be the result of atomic fallout.
On the positive side, however, is the promise that Yahweh will now gather His elect so that the division of the world into good and evil will become more pronounced. This is not so much the alignment of good and evil nations, for according to Yahweh all nations are evil in the end times, and the divisions are of the good and bad people within each nation. Whilst civilisations clash, the gathering of the elect will be taking place apace.
Our own ministry has experienced enormous changes since last Yom Teruah. From being a church in virtual hibernation, we have exploded into activity and evangelism in a twelve month period. This was prophesied to us in the Olive Branch and is known by us as the 'Third Wave' (OB 382). The mission fields in India, Africa and the United States have been highly active and in the space of 1 year, we have grown from 6 to over 3,000 members, with hundreds of affiliates, and it shows no signs of stopping. We are also finding the apostles which Yahweh told us would come - we know at least 6 of them and 4 are actively engaged in the work, with a fifth coming into activity. We may rightly say that the trumpet blast has been sounded for NCCG to get into action. And that we mean to do.
I believe that since last year Yom Teruah will become increasingly pregnant with meaning for us. This work was called into being on 27 June 1984 and has unfolded in ways and in a direction that its original founders could never have dreamed of. As I look back at the way we have been directed, there is a clearly discernable pattern, which is closely linked to the prophetic number of this work, which is 333. In short, Yahweh is looking for a people committed to purity. And the first of the revelations which were given to us to define exactly what that meant was in terms of the relationship between men and women, and the centrality of the Lord's Supper (OB 6). We are to have right relations between each other, and to get into right relationship with Yahweh. The Body of Christ is to have a rebirth and a new beginning.
At that time I saw a vision. It was of the earth, which as you remember from my last sermon on The Garden in the Mind, symbolises the Church or Assembly of God. I was looking down upon it from outer space like an astronaut in orbit, only it was not like our earth, for its entire surface was covered in water, much as it had been when it was created, and also after the Great Flood. It was a rich blue all over and I was able to approach its surface to see and hear the waves (OB 6:40-41). The Great Flood was a cleansing just as the end-time Messianic Community must experience a cleansing. It is that cleansing which the Body world-wide is going through now.
The next section in the Olive Branch (OB 7) concerns the mechanism of this cleansing and it describes a wind sent from Yahweh which goes by the name "Holiness unto the Lord". Every believer is called to holiness, and to be holy in biblical parlance means, quite simply, to be 'set apart' or 'distinguished' from the rest of mankind, not in the Islamic sense of conquest, but in the sense of self-conquest, or the overcoming of the evil dispositions of the fallen man. This 'overcoming', of which there are seven major types, is accomplished through faith in the Messiah and obedience to His Torah or Law. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4-5, NKJV).
The 'overcoming of the world' here does not mean the conquest of nations as Islam and many false forms of Christianity have sought to accomplish, but the conquest of worldliness. The 'world' is the World System, its philosophies, religions, and carnal dispositions which have, over history, consumed and enslaved the soul of man. Breaking out of this is the Way announced by Christ and His apostles (Jn.14:6; Ac.9:2, etc.). And we accomplish our victory over it by our faith in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Tom Teruah is a Sabbath day in which we cease all regular work and prepare for the two festivals that follow it - Yom Kippur, a day of mourning for all our sins, and Succoth, a time for rejoicing for our forgiveness through faith in Messiah. Today we are simply making an announcement - through the blowing of trumpets - for the festivals that are to come. Did not Yahweh, our Father, announce the coming of His Son for the redemption of the sins of man? And did not He fill the saints with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) on the day of Pentecost, a time of great rejoicing? In these three festivals we see a type of the redemptive activity of the Godhead - Father, Son and Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) - not as in the spring festivals which have long since been fulfilled, but in terms of the final consummation. This trinity of festivals depicts the end-time scenario: and I believe that Yom Teruah may actually have been fulfilled last year, in 2001! I do not claim revelation for this, but I am wondering. There is no doubt that many trumpets were metaphorically blasted by the 11 September bombings.
In the meantime we have much to do no matter what our personal trials and sorrows or the opposition we receive. And since last Yom Teruah the opposition has been mounting and once again the Adversary at our very heart. Each year at Yom Teruah we will sound the trumpets and remind ourselves that without adequate preparation we may find ourselves in a dangerous predicament for our families and ourselves.
A week ago I had a vision. I saw before me a large apple tree covered in densely packed large apples. With the exception of no more than a handful, which were rosy red, all the rest were this orangy-brown colour - they were thoroughly rotten. Only the day before we had started to bring in our apple harvest. My eldest son was shaking the branches and cascades of rotten apples came tumbling down.
I am sure you will be interested, in light of what we have been recently discussing about trees and fruits, what the apple tree signifies in the Bible. The apple tree is only mentioned three times in the Bible - twice in the Song of Solomon (2:3; 8:5) and once in Joel (1:12). In the first it represents the Bridegroom, or Christ, sheltering His Bride, the Messianic Community or Church. Yahweh's own people are described as "the apple of His eye" (Dt.32:10; Ps.17:8; Prov.7:2; Zec.2:8), an Aramaic idiom which means Yahweh loves them so much that He takes care of them. The eye is one of the most delicate, sophisticated and important organs of the body. The apples therefore represent believers, and in this instant, believers at this particular time world-wide.
This vision is the announcement I am to give to you this Yom Teruah. It is an announcement that judgement is coming to the House of God - to all the Churches in the world. The vast majority of them are rotten to the core and are about to fall away from Christ - the apple tree.
Apples that fall from trees either disintegrate or are eaten by wild beasts. One tree we tried to harvest the other day was so full of wasps we could not get near it - the apples were being eaten before they could even rot because the skins were cracking, and the wasps were eating from the cracks. We have watched while deer, elk and badgers have come and devoured the windfall apples or those on the lower branches. The enemy is busy at work at the tree - the body of Christ - and going for the fruits. But some of the fruits are so bad that they need no animals to devour them. They are destroyed from within.
The churches are being eaten alive by false doctrines and false spirits. Few of them are walking in the commandments. Most reject Torah and say it was done away with. They are the lawless ones whom Christ declared were not known to Him in spite of the things they do in His Name. Not since Pentecost has the Church of God been so weak, so rotten, and so ripe for near total destruction. And as we know, those assembles or congregations which are being true are being increasingly persecuted world-wide.
For those who occupy the high branches - and the red apples I saw were high up - and are safe from predatory animals like elk, a promise is given to them - they who obey the commandments. In Zechariah we read:
"For thus says Yahweh-Sebaoth (the Lord of hosts): "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that Yahweh-Sebaoth (the Lord of hosts) has sent Me" (Zech.2:8-9, NKJV).
The apple of Yahweh's eye are those who are true and faithful to Him in all things, and not those of a particular racial lineage. They have the promise that those who come against them will meet the full indignation and wrath of Yahweh-Sebaoth, the God of the Heavenly Hosts. There is both safety and protection walking in Yahweh's holiness.
As we read the instructions given for Yom Teruah in the Torah we are given to understand that whilst we honour this day, the Gospel life must continue uninterrupted. This is most certainly not a time for sitting back. We must not abate our zeal in Yahweh's service nor use the festival as an excuse to cease rendering our due service. Rather, we are to rejoice in the opportunity to accumulate and do more than we ordinarily do in our religious duty. We are to be abounding in the work of Yahweh.
The time we are entering is not for the faint-hearted but for the courageous. And if courage is something we naturally lack because it is not built into our nature, then it will be more than supplied by Yahweh. Indeed, you will discover that the blowing of trumpets is associated with victory and praise: "Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet" (Ps.150:3, NKJV). It signals war. As Paul says: "For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" (1 Cor.14:8, NKJV). And I assure you that the trumpets being sounded by the majority of the churches are most uncertain - mostly they are just having a big party! It is our duty to sound a clear note - and that message is: "Flee from all sin and gather to holy places!" In short, start overcoming! Get to work! For if you are not prepared, what will happen when the last trumpet sounds. As Paul reminds us:
"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed -- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor.15:51-53, NKJV).
Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself said:
"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:28-29, KJV).
My heart is deeply pained as I look around at the blindness - both the will and the unconscious. Like those who ate, drank and were merry in the period immediately before the flood, we see believers and unbelievers alike vacationing before the eruption of war. And I have noticed in particular that there is a kind of 'enchantment' over people - a kind of drowsiness or sleep, something that John Bunyan warned of in Pilgrim's Progress - a spiritual numbness that is brought to bear on believers in the last part of their spiritual journey, even upon those who have journeyed far along the Way of Eternal Life. In many ways it is the most dangerous obstacle of all, because it creeps on you gradually unawares until you are in its grip and still ignorant that you are gripped. Paul pleads to the saints:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-10, NKJV).
Be awake, be on your guard! This is the warning to the children of God. We dare not be careless, especially towards the end of the journey, for it is often then that we become the most complacent and can be so vulnerable. So many people, after a period of valiant service to Yahweh, slip into a spirit of self-assurance that lulls them to sleep. And once asleep, enemies appear and ensnare.
That is why we have trumpet blasts. That is why we have Yom Teruah. It is to awaken us for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement through repentance and faith in Messiah. Every year we are to do this, to ensure we have not become complacent and careless. Now is the day of salvation, not yesterday (2 Cor.6:2), because salvation isn't just the day we receive Christ but every day!
There is an enchantment in the world - a demonic spirit - that lulls the soul into stupor, turns it towards self, and is convinced that self is the revelation of God - because it is listening to self and not to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). And how can you know if it is doing this to you? Because it causes you to abandon the Truth, to reject Torah, and to set self on the throne of the heart. It is a cunning and wicked spirit because it seems so 'enlightened' and yet it is antichrist. It is so sure of it self that it chooses to ignore God's Word to justify itself, inventing sophisticated rationales for its rebellion.
We must remember that Christianity is a way of life and not simply a spiritual perception or understanding. And that way of life is defined by Torah. It is a Way - a path we tread, it is Truth, and it is Life ... and in that order. And other life that is defined apart from truth or a part from the Messianic road of corporate discipleship as laid out in the New Testament is a false life - a counterfeit life. And all counterfeit life is death.
Yah'shua said: ""I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me ... "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever -- the Spirit of truth ..." (John 14:6, 15-17, NKJV)
Notice that it is only as we are walking in the truth - in the pure doctrine of Christ (Jn.7:17) - that the Helper or Comforter - the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is given, and that only if we obey the commandments. These are Christ's own words. No obedience, no truth, no Holy Spirit.
The trumpet blast of Yom Teruah reminds us to wake up and to soberly consider these things. It reminds us that repentance is the next stage, because Judgement awaits! Do people really believe that when Christ returns that He will just pat everyone on the back and say, "It's OK, you didn't need to obey. I won't judge you. All are forgiven!"? He is coming back to tread the wine press of His wrath to judge this demon-invested world which humans have invited in (e.g. Rev.14:9).
Do not assume that because you are knowledgeable or have had a spiritual past that you are beyond deception. For it is written that we shall witness "great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matt.24:24, NKJV). Though the elect may not ultimately be deceived, they may be deceived in the first instance and waste time, hurting themselves and their loved ones. It is an unwise person who becomes complacent and lets down his guard and assumes that all will be well. It is complacency which has allowed so many of the churches to be swept away by a wave of charismatic and supernatural delusion, because these delusions ultimately serve not Yahweh but the lusts of self.
Are you enjoying a life of ease amongst the heathen? For if you are, it is because you are not in the light, for it is written that Yahweh's people will be hated and persecuted by them. Paul summarises this up when he says:
"We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed -- always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus), that the life of Yah'shua (Jesus) also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Yah'shua's (Jesus') sake, that the life of Yah'shua (Jesus) also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus) will also raise us up with Yah'shua (Jesus), and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God" (2 Cor.4:8-15, NKJV).
Thanksgiving. Can we praise and give thanksgiving in times of distress and persecution, maintaining the unity of the faith, the cohesion of our local assembly, and our families, true to our covenants, faithful to the end? Can we do this? Only the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) can do this. She gives a spirit of joyful praise even in the midst of despair! She is not distant or remote, not absorbed with ones own feelings or reflection of self. It has its eyes upon Yah'shua (Jesus) and flows in His Spirit at all times, with fruits and signs accompanying.
I pray that all of us may be alert and diligent in our duty so that we may not slip into the devil's trap. Let us pray: "O Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, you see us in our distress, and the enemies we have around us. You see that we are heavily oppressed, our hearts broken by those we love and those who hate us. Consume us with the Spirit of your Praise, remove the curtains that make darkness in front of their eyes, and let the captives be free and return home. In Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name. Amen."
This page was created on 2 October 2002
Last updated on 2 October 2002
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