And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all of your heart! (Jeremiah 29:13)
The LORD is good to those that wait for Him; to the soul that seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:25)
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Saturday, February 25, 2012
International Church - Asher Intrater
There is a progression of the idea of the international church from the beginning of the New Testament to the end, from Matthew to Revelation. Likewise there is a development of the church from the first century until today. Yeshua started the church in Matthew 16:18 when He said to Peter, “On this rock I will build My church.” He was not referring to a building or a denomination, but to a group of people who are defined by the common element of true faith in Yeshua.
The Greek word here is ekklesia, meaning those who are called out. In every nation the majority does not believe in Yeshua; yet there is a minority who do. They are the called and chosen remnant within the nation. The remnants of faith in all the nations together compose the international ekklesia.
In John 17 right before the crucifixion, Yeshua prayed His great prayer for the ekklesia: to have union with God, unity with one another, authority, glory, love, holiness, and ability to evangelize the world. This prayer set the ekklesia in motion, but was only partially understood by the disciples at that time.
In Ephesians 1:20 the apostle Paul described the ekklesia as Yeshua's governing body over the authorities of this world; in Ephesians 2:7 as vessels receiving God's abundant grace and blessing; in Ephesians 2:12 the partnership between Jews and Gentiles, and the joining of the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel; in Ephesians 2:20 as the dwelling place of God; in Ephesians 3:10 as instruments to display God's power to angels and demons; in Ephesians 4:16 as the body of Messiah in unity, and in Ephesians 5:27 as His bride in intimacy.
The final description of the international ekklesia is found in Revelation. This fullness of the ekklesia takes place in the end times. The revelation of the church is progressing even unto today. The ekklesia has two parts: a smaller part with the remnant of Israel and the larger part with the remnants of all the other nations.
Revelation 7:4 – the number of those who were sealed, 144,000 from all the tribes of the children of Israel
Revelation 7:9 – a great multitude that no man could count from every nation, tribe, people and tongue
This is the masterpiece artwork of God. He is creating, not a painting or an object, but a group of people. It is like an orchestra with Yeshua as conductor. The harmony of the different types of people gives the beauty. Each people are different in their gifting, culture, and abilities, yet all united in harmony in one spirit. The beauty is found in the diversity with unity. A rainbow would not be beautiful if it were all one color; nor would it be beautiful if all the colors were clashing.
Every nation has its own strengths and weaknesses. When the ekklesia of the nation uses those gifts for the Lord, there is holiness and power. When those same gifts are used for selfish motives, the result is worldliness and sin. In the John 17 prayer, Yeshua called for separation from the “world” more than any other element (John 17:6, 9, 11-13, 14, 15, 16-19).
For example, the Brazilian church has a gift of love, affection, fun, fellowship, music, etc. When the rest of the nation uses those gifts for the world, then the result is the “Carnival” - the world's great celebration of the flesh. The South Korean church has a gift of discipline, zeal, respect for order, prayer, missions, etc. When those gifts are used the wrong way, the result is some of the worst religious cults in the world. Similar examples could be given for every nation.
The international ekklesia in Revelation 7 is described with each nation having its own language and national-ethnic identity, yet worshipping together. For example, when Israeli Messianic Jews and Palestinian Arab Christians share communion together, we are very appreciative of one another's cultural differences, yet celebrate our unity together in the spirit. Since the world is round and rotates, today there is praise and worship rising before the throne of God at every hour of the day, in every location in the world, and in every language and people group.
In the end times, there will be a significant role for the Messianic remnant of Israel, as described in this passage. Not only will this remnant be restored to the way it was in the first century, there will also be a full partnership between the Israeli remnant and the International ekklesia. In Revelation 12:1 the Israeli remnant/International ekklesia is described as a glorified woman, clothed with the sun, with a crown of 12 stars on her head. This prophetic picture is starting to be fulfilled in our day.