Church of God, New World Ministries

The New World Order And The Church - Part 3

If you were the president of a company that manufactured a special product that could save human life, like an artificial heart or a breathing machine, wouldn’t you want the engineers and designers, the specialists working on the various parts, and the salesmen who demonstrate your product to know the product? Would you want them to be meticulously careful in the delicate manufacturer of each part, because you know that some day a human life would depend on the functioning of your machine?

How would you find such people? You would be especially selective in looking at their resumes, would you not? Wouldn’t you want to know about their education and former work experience? Wouldn’t you want to know if they were highly skilled and capable of being trained to manufacture this new machine you had thought out and designed?

Wouldn’t you want those who were going to the clinics and hospitals and doctors’ offices to really believe in the life-serving capabilities of your machine, and to enthusiastically sell it to them?

What if you had a worker on the assembly line who was very careless; who was only there for the money; who was indolent and lazy; and who allowed defective parts to slip by? What if you had a salesman who was selling a machine of his own in direct competition with your machine, when you were paying him to sell your machine?

You would weed out such people, would you not? Yes, you would, especially in today’s environment of gigantic malpractice insurance settlements. If the family of a loved one who died sued and won a judgment against you for millions of dollars because your machine proved defective, your entire business could go bankrupt and you would be ruined.

Jesus Christ was carefully training His disciples. Like a Master Builder, He was painstakingly building into each one of them special qualities, unique experiences, poignant memories, knowledge of the Scriptures, which would cause them to fulfill the great commission He would lay upon their shoulders.

Jesus did not “fire” a one of them! No, some of them left Him, and even the most loyal eleven disciples, following Judas’ betrayal, fled out of sight on the night of His arrest: utterly forsook Him! Why?

There were many times when Jesus Christ saw carnality among them: jealousy, spite, many different human weaknesses, including being overcome with sleep. He saw them angry, wanting to cause fire to come down and destroy people in a horrible death; saw Peter’s lack of faith when he nearly drowned; saw their tears at Lazarus’ tomb; saw them openly arguing over who would be “the greatest” in His kingdom – just when He was greatly burdened with the nearness of His own torture and death.

He saw all their carnality, all their vanity and ego, and all their mistakes. Yet, His Word tells us, “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1).

Then follows the account of the “Lord’s Supper,” Judas’ betrayal, and all the events of the night of Christ’s arrest, His torment, and His death on the stake the following afternoon.

Each disciple saw and heard the events of that night from his own perspective, from his own point of view. Each sat in a certain place. Each saw and heard what took place from a different vantage point.

Have you ever been out to dinner with a group of at least thirteen? If so, then you know that such a group will tend to break up into smaller groups for conversation: that some will be talking together about one subject, and others will be discussing other subjects. Not everyone can hear all the other conversations at once. We cannot know all that was said and done at the Last Supper, but God’s Word informs us of the essential knowledge we need to know about that great historic night.

Two days earlier, Judas’ constant influence with others of the disciples resulted in a minor disagreement, one which Jesus had to settle: “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as he sat at meat. But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, ‘to what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much and given to the poor.’ When Jesus understood it, He said unto them, ‘why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you: but me ye have not always’ (Matt. 26:6-11).

When He said she had used the ointment in anticipation of His burial, Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests, and agreed to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver!

When the night of the Lord’s Supper came, Judas had already covenanted with the priests to betray Christ. Now, he was merely waiting for the right opportunity.

Jesus spoke aloud of the fact that there was a traitor in their midst. John leaned over on Jesus’ bosom, and Jesus told him, as he dipped slivers of meat and juice into a sop, that it was the one to whom He handed the sop. He then handed it to Judas.

Just before this happened, Christ had said, “But, behold, the hand of him that betrayed me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed! And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing” (Luke 22:21-23).

As Jesus handed Judas the sop, Satan entered personally into him. Jesus then said, “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27).

The others, further away, did not know what had happened. “Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spake this unto him. For some thought, because Judas had the bag (carried their common purse), that Jesus had said unto him, buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or that he should give something to the poor” (John 13:28-29).

Of course, Judas was a thief. He was entirely dishonest about money, and so, to quiet his own conscience, continually complained about Jesus’ “extravagance,” and attempted to influence the other disciples about how money was being wasted.

You and I both believe we would never have judged or criticized Jesus Christ! We believe, from our vantage point of history, that we would have been in awe of Him; loving, respecting, worshiping Him as the Son of God!

But familiarity breeds contempt. After describing demonic men who were “crept in unawares,” and who were “ungodly men,” Jude wrote, “These are murmurers (some of the disciples, led by Judas, murmured against Christ!), complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaking great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of (in order to gain) advantage” (Jude 16).

Sycophants “cuddle up” to people in positions of authority – those who have power, or money – in order to gain advantage. There has never been a powerful politician, a wealthy man, or a religious leader who has not experienced sycophants trying to flatter him in order to gain advantage for themselves.

Judas judged Jesus, because Judas himself was a thief! His screaming conscience could only be quieted when he pointed the finger away from himself – at Jesus Christ. He was envious of Jesus. He wanted His power, His position among the disciples. A typical sycophant, Judas continually attempted to solidify his position with Christ, all the while undermining Him, criticizing Him, vilifying Him before the others!

Christ knew what Judas was, and that further galled Judas, because Judas knew that Christ knew!

At the Last Supper, when Jesus spoke openly of his impending betrayal, Judas snippily spat out, “I suppose it is I” (Matt. 26:24-25)! Jesus calmly said, “You have said it,” indicating that the language would have been more like our English retort, ‘I suppose it is I?” as said sarcastically.

But Jesus also knew that all His disciples would forsake Him at the last moment.

“Then saith Jesus unto them (on the Mount of Olives, following the Last Supper), ‘All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, “I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee’ “(Matt. 26:31-32).

Why should the disciples be “offended,” when it was Jesus Christ who would be arrested, and beaten nearly to death, and then hung on the stake? This is a vitally important point!

These men had eagerly anticipated Jesus Christ taking over the government, overthrowing the Sanhedrin, raising vast armies from among the masses, ejecting the occupying Romans, and seeing Christ ascend to the throne of Judaea, and all the provinces of Palestine.

Only when you understand the attitudes of these young would-be revolutionaries can you truly comprehend the events of the night of the Last Supper, their watch in the garden, Jesus’ arrest and why they all forsook Him at the last minute.

During the supper, as an example, Jesus had spoken of selling one’s cloak and buying a sword, saying ‘that this that is written of must yet be accomplished in me, ‘And He was reckoned among the transgressor’: for the things concerning me have an end” (Luke 22:37).

They did not understand that He was saying there needed to be swords present among the disciples to give His persecutors and murders an excuse to call Him an armed criminal, to “reckon Him among the transgressor.”

There was not a one of them who did not know of Judas Maccabaeus, or of Theudas, who gathered a band of four hundred insurrectionists, only to be hunted down and killed, and his disciples scattered; or about Judas of Galilee, who led a tax revolt at the head of many people, who was also killed, and his followers scattered (Acts 5:36-38).

Attempts against the government were not so unusual. These disciples lived in the here and now so far as their lives were concerned. At the feeding of the four and five thousand, an attempt was made to hoist Christ upon the shoulders of the crowd, and march on Jerusalem. Christ put a stop to it, much to the disappointment of the crowd and the disciples.

At the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when Jesus rode on the white foal whose hooves were not allowed to touch the ground; with vast crowds shouting that He was the King, His disciples must have believed this was, at long last, the final moment; that He would ascend to the Temple, overthrow the religious leaders, the puppet government and then eject the Romans (Luke 19:29-46).

Their spines must have fairly tingled when He went into the Temple and cast out the moneychangers for the second time (Luke 19:45-46). But instead of setting up His kingdom right then, He merely “taught daily in the Temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy Him” (Luke 19:47). This was not the only occasion when His disciples thought the moment had come.

Continually, for three and one-half years, His disciples assumed the moment had come for Him to establish His kingdom over Israel. They saw His powerful miracles; saw how vast crowds gathered and were astonished by what He did. To them, it would be at the next Passover, when huge masses of people from all over the Mediterranean world would be collecting in Jerusalem: or it would be at the Feast of Tabernacles, when the same thing would happen. Jerusalem had a population of about 100,000, which was swollen to twice that size during major annual feast days.

They argued over which one would have the highest office in His government! Not for a moment did their minds interpret His statements about His kingdom as a very distant prophecy, and not to be fulfilled for perhaps two thousand years.

No, to them, it was here and now! To us, from our modern vantage point, it was “then and there.” We tend to think of the apostles as elderly men with long beards, probably because of religious art and sculptures. But this is a totally false concept. They were called in their prime, in the late twenties and early thirties. Some were professionals, like Luke the physician or Levi (Matthew), who was a tax collector. Some were working men, like Peter, who was a commercial fisherman.

They lived in a time of terrible oppression and over-taxation. Their land was occupied by a foreign power. Poverty, squalor, sickness, and disease were rampant. When Jesus Christ called them, they believed they were part of something which was destined to replace the existing government in Jerusalem! He continually spoke of His kingdom, and they did not for a moment expect to live into their 80s or 90s, die as old men, or as martyrs, and then molder in their graves for over two thousand years while the Dark Ages came and went; and the Renaissance occurred; as the Industrial Revolution took place; as the world struggled through World War! and World War II; as nuclear weapons were invented.

Not a one of them foresaw such a scenario. No, they fully expected to become co-rulers with Christ over an earthly kingdom during their physical lifetime! The absolute proof of this is inescapable, as you shall see.

When Jesus spoke enigmatically of His disciples buying swords, some of them, not named, said, “Behold, here are two swords. And He said unto them, ‘It is enough’ “(Luke 22:36-38).

One of those who spoke had to be Peter, for he used his sword in an attempt to kill the servant of the high priest only hours later.

Obviously two swords were not “enough” to fight so much as the palace guard, let alone an army! He said it was “enough” so that the prophecy would be fulfilled that He would be “numbered among the transgressors.”

Now, think! Remember! During the famous Last Supper, Jesus had spoken of a traitor in their midst. He had given Judas the sop, and Judas, with a spiteful remark, had suddenly gotten up and departed.

Jesus Christ was becoming increasingly burdened as the hour of His arrest and horrible scourging approached. True to human nature, His disciples failed to see His terrible heaviness; were unable to truly empathize with Him in His hour of great trial. Instead, they thought of themselves.

“And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And He said unto them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship (domineering autocracy – headship) over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.  For whether is greater, he that sits at meat, or he that serves? Is not he that sits at meat? But I am among you as He that serves. Ye are they which have continued with me (many had left) in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:24-30).

This gentle rebuke about “lording it over” one’s subjects did not dissuade them from assuming He was speaking of a kingdom which would be set up very soon!

It is only with this understanding that one can comprehend why His own beloved disciples, including John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved,’ would flee into the night and utterly forsake Him after He was arrested!

To them, Jesus had let them down! To them, He could have used His mighty power as did Elijah upon the captains of fifty (II Kings 1:9-13). Instead, He meekly allowed them to arrest Him. Notice what happened: “As Jesus returned the third time (from His agonizing sessions of prayer to His Father), He heard the clatter of an approaching group, and saw the torches they carried as they forded the creek below. He cried, ‘Get up! We’d better be going, because the one who will betray me is right here!’ He had no sooner finished the statement to Peter and John when Judas materialized out of the dancing light of the torches held by the nearest of the group, followed by a large number of others, including the chief priests and elders, a number of soldiers, the officers of the Temple, all of them obviously heavily armed, carrying lengthy lances. Roman short-swords, and some wearing helmets and breastplates.

“It was well known among the disciples that Jesus resorted to the area of Gethsemane, and Judas knew precisely where to find Him since he had heard Jesus discussing His plans for the later evening.

“Jesus stepped out from the gloom into the flickering glare of the torches and lanterns and said, ‘Who are you looking for?’

“Those in the nearest ranks answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’

“Jesus said, ‘I am He!’
“When those words came out of His mouth, the strangest phenomenon you could imagine occurred!

“Several ranks of the group seemed to quickly stumble backward and actually toppled over and fell to the ground! A babble of excitement went rippling through the crowd as they tried to disengage themselves from each other. One or two leaped about, slapping wildly where a torch had touched their garments!

“While reasonable order was being restored to their ranks, Jesus waited. He then asked them again, ‘Who are you looking for?’ “Again, one of them said loudly, ‘Jesus of Nazareth!’

“ ‘Fine,’ He said, ‘I told you I am He, so if I’m the One you’re looking for, then let these others go,’ indicating His frightened disciples standing nearby. ‘Let these go their way.’ John later wrote that Jesus said this to fulfill the word that He had spoken in His prayer when He said, ‘Of those whom you had given me I lost not one.’

“About that time, Judas came directly up to Jesus and in the most cheerful possible fashion said, ‘Hello, Rabbi!’ And, taking Him by the shoulders, kissed Him quickly on the cheek.

“Jesus stood rigidly, looking at Judas in scorn and hurt, and said, ‘Judas, do you mean to tell me you would betray the Son of man with a kiss?’

“Peter and some of the other disciples had drawn protectively about Jesus, as if to try to conceal Him from the leaders of the mob; Peter said, ‘Lord, shall we attack them with these swords?’

“Several of the soldiers leveled their pikes and spears, and one of the officers of the high priest made a move to seize Jesus. Peter took a step backward and the whisper of his sword coming out of his sheath had barely been noticed when the flashing blade descended with a vicious arc through the air!

“The servant of the high priest dodged nimbly, or Peter’s Roman sword would have split his head open like a ripe melon! The priest’s officer stumbled backward and Peter’s blade barely sliced through his ear, completely severing it from his head! Peter was raising the blade for a second blow as a wild yell went through the crowd behind.

“Jesus quickly spoke with great authority, saying to Peter, ‘Put your sword away into its sheath! All those that take the sword will perish with the sword! Don’t you think that I could turn to my Father and beseech Him and that He could send me more than twelve legions of angels?’ Saying this, Jesus stooped down to the ground, picked up the officer’s severed ear, and touching it to his head, spoke briefly. The officer, amazed, put his hand to his ear and found it as whole as the other! Peter, mumbling, put away his sword and stepped back with the other disciples.

“Jesus said, ‘Have you come out here to arrest me as if I were some robber? Do you believe you have to be heavily armed with swords and spears to seize me? Here I was, sitting daily with you in the Temple, teaching, and you didn’t arrest me; but this is all being allowed to happened that the scriptures the prophets wrote might be fulfilled: but this is your hour and the power of darkness and desolation shall prevail. However, your time will be short.’

“The mob moved forward with several of the soldiers trotting quickly left and right with their spears at the trail, intending to surround the whole group. Quickly the disciples all melted into the darkness and fled as fast as they could.

“Years later, young John Mark (the author of the second Gospel), admitted that he had been among the group when he wrote about a certain young man who had followed along after them, being clothed only with a linen cloth about his naked body, and when they mistook him for one of the disciples, grabbing at his clothing, he left the linen cloth and fled away naked (Mark 14:51-52).

“This took place probably either a little before or a little after midnight”

Peter’s actions in attempting to kill Malchus, the officer of the high priest, are only understandable in the context of Peter’s frustration at seeing Jesus allowing Himself to be arrested. Always boisterous, brash, displaying a rough and ready bravado, Peter had vowed He would go to the death with Jesus if necessary! Peter had been frustrated time and time again when it seemed as if Jesus would seize a certain, wonderfully appropriate moment to begin His coup d’ etat and set up His kingdom.

“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat (a satanic “winnowing,” in opposition to the “winnowing of the chaff” accomplished by the Holy Spirit, this in reference to Satan’s desire to completely corrupt Peter): But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou are converted (Peter was yet carnal; he did not have God’s Holy Spirit), strengthen thy brethren.’ And he said unto Him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with Thee, both into prison, and to death.’ And He (Christ) said, ‘I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny

that thou knowest me’ “(Luke 22:31-34). This is exactly what took place (Matt. 26:69-75). Three times, Peter cursed and swore, denying that he had ever known Jesus.

“Then began he (for the third time) to curse and to swear, saying, ‘I know not the man.’ And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, ‘Before the cock crow, thou shall deny me thrice.’ And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:75).

Each one of the disciples experienced his own broken-hearted chagrin after Christ’s resurrection. Remember, “then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled” (Matt. 25:56). Even John, that “disciple whom Jesus loved,” forsook Jesus and fled.

As Jesus Christ was dying, He saw John and the others standing well back in the crowd. Mary, His mother was there, as was her sister, and “Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved (John), He saith unto His mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son!’ Then said He to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:25-27).

What was going through John’s mind? What were the thoughts of all His disciples? We can well imagine the feelings of guilt, remorse, and self-doubt, as well as their conflicting feelings of fear: for they did not want to be arrested and murdered. We can imagine their terrible shame, for they must have felt that they had shown themselves cowards.

So, it was that Jesus Christ called, shaped, molded, trained, and tested His disciples. He knew the terrible trials they would face. He knew, and plainly prophesied, that some of them would meet horrible deaths, even as they would kill the Savior of the world.

By all these tests, Christ was hammering, shaping, tempering the spiritual character that would form the building blocks of His “church,” or group of specially “called out ones.”

 
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