As a believer, I tend to be an ‘idealist’ ( a person who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations) because I believe in the ideals ( the standards or principles) revealed in the word of God and I boldly profess it, expecting to see it being fulfilled in the Church. But as a ‘realist’ (a person who takes note of a situation and deals with it accordingly ), I tend to question the ground realities, so that it can be addressed, in an effort to narrow the gap between ‘Reality and Revelation’; between what is and what is supposed to be, until the revealed will of God becomes the reality within the body of Christ.
The early Church lived up to the revelation they received for we read that ‘they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ ( Acts 2:4, 4:31), ‘all the believers were one in heart and mind’ ( Acts 4:32), ‘all the believers were together and had everything in common’ ( Acts 2:44), ‘there were no needy persons among them’ (Acts 4:34) and ‘all of them were healed’ (Acts 5:16). We see the three gospel promises of infilling, blessing and healing being manifested in the early Church. But after the death of the Apostles and of those who had personally known some of them or have been significantly influenced by them ( referred to as the apostolic fathers), the Church was on the decline. Everytime the Church drifted away from its ideals and the gap between what was supposed to be and what is, widened, God raised men and women who would restore the Church to its position. – This downward spiral was not new to God’s people because it had beset them even in old testament times. ‘Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who has experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.’ ( Joshua 24:31) Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us to read this chilling statement, often repeated in the book of Judges, about Israel : ‘In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.’ (Judges 21:25) This closing statement by the author of Judges, attributes the reason for their backsliding, to the lack of leadership.
Restoration of Israel happened when God raised Samuel, who was attested as a prophet (1Samuel 4:1) but he also judged Israel ( 1Samuel 7:15 ) as its last judge, since Israel asked for a king. But none of their kings were beyond reproach and as kings and priests became increasingly corrupt, God trained the spotlight on the prophets, who emerge as Israel’s real heroes. Overtime, the significance of Prophets, overtook and even surpassed that of kings. Nevertheless, neither the kings nor the people heeded to the words of the Prophets and therefore God used the Assyrians to exile the ten northern tribes and the Babylonians to exile the two southern tribes, even letting them to set fire to his temple, so that Israel might have a change of heart for a new beginning. Seventy years later, the restoration happened under the leadership of Zerubabel, grandson of king Jehoiachin who was taken captive to Babylon. It looked like a promising start to some but ‘many of the older priests and levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of the new temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.’ ( Ezra 3:12) Before long, they faced opposition from other settlers and ‘thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.’ (Ezra 4:24). ‘Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet … prophesied to the Jews … in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. ‘Then Zerubbabel … set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them.’ ( Ezra 5:1-2) ‘Then Zerubbabel … and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of God and the message of the prophet Haggai because the Lord their God had sent him.( Haggai 1:12) ‘So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the Prophet and Zechariah … The temple was completed in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius’ ( Ezra 6:14 -15), primarily due to the exhortation of the Prophets.
Likewise, the Church struggles to live upto the revelation it has received through its Apostles and teachers and needs exhortation by its prophets, to close the gap between reality and revelation; between what is and what it is supposed to be! That is why Paul wrote: ‘ Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy … everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself but he who prophesies edifies the Church. I would like everyone of you to speak in tongues but I rather have you prophesy.’ ( 1 Corinthians 14:1-5) I suppose Ezekiel the prophet would totally agree with Paul because the Spirit of the Lord took him and set him in a valley full of dry bones and asked him, “Son of Man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones … Prophesy to the breath … that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me … and they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel” ( Ezekiel 37:1-14) What relates to Israel relates to the Church as well. It is time that the Church rises up as a vast army against this ‘plandemic’ ( not a spelling error but was misspelt intentionally because it is after all a planned pandemic) and break into the realm of the Spirit where Revelation dictates reality, as experienced by the early Church. Amen.