FLIES IN THE RAIN
15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Tim 2:)
Flies of course are not what I'm concerned with in this article. It's the matter of asking questions that I'm interested in. I find it all too common that people (myself included much of the time) just go along with the crowd, the lemming instinct, accepting whatever is handed to them as "truth" by someone who has declared him or herself an expert on the matter at hand. Some things told to us we have no choice but to accept, such as how many light years away from the sun our earth is. I haven't measured the distance, so I don't have a reason to question what the "experts" say. I only know I don't want the sun to be any farther away or closer than it already is, if in fact it has the strong effect on us the scientists tell us it has.
While I don't question the conclusions such as the one mentioned, neither do I accept what they say. I don't know if any of these so-called experts have actually taken a measuring rod and measured that accepted distance. They use devices and calculations that supposedly are able to do what we humans cannot do, and they use computer samplings to assist them in making their decisions. I have two problems with this process: One, I have several computers. And there's not one of them I would want to rely on beyond their ability to drive me to a high level of frustration due to their idiosyncracies. Then two, I see where supposed "experts" are always changing their mind and declaring that those experts who disagreed with them have been found to be correct. When I hear "Yes" from one side of a person's mouth, and "No" from the other side, I tend to question whatever that person says. Don't you?
Speaking of science, I think I'll begin with the flies that are buzzing around its (science's) door and raise some questions regarding scientific findings. First, we all "know," or have at least been taught, that life on this planet began with a bug that somehow came from nowhere, that survived the intense heat of the sun and this burning lump of coal, then mutated into what we see when we look in the mirror. Setting aside the laughability of such a theory, let me ask some questions of the scientists. Supposing such a thing were in the realm of possibility, that is, the bug survived the heat: why then; after all these billions of years of evolving am I unable to stand more than 80 degrees of temperature rather than the 80 thousands of degrees my fore-bug granpappy was able to withstand? Also, if this primitive form of animal were able to withstand such heat, what did it eat? I mean, if I take a handful of wheat grain for instance and place it on the stove for too long, it burns up. How did seeds of any kind survive the heat of the lump of burning coal called Primitive Earth? What did the bug eat? Each other?
We've discovered that there is no life on the moon. Why? As I understand it, it's because there's not enough of the required atmosphere on the moon to support life. But on this lump of coal, earth (which I assume the moon was as well) there was no atmosphere either. Besides this, oxygen burns, and burns with intense heat. This being the case, whatever atmosphere, that is air to breath, at that time would have gone up in flame, would it not?
Water evaporates in heat. What did these bugs and miraculous seeds of vegetation drink? When this planet cooled, after how long of a time we can't begin to imagine, water might form, but from where? And from what? By that time, our ancestral bug would have died from thirst, wouldn't you say?
Today the earth is mostly water, as far as we are concerned. Where did that water come from? And if it came to earth, why didn't it come to the moon as well? Scientists will probably tell us the moon didn't have enough magnetic force to attract the water droplets (from where did those droplets come from? Is there water in space?). As I understand it, the moon has a fourth the gravitational pull as does the earth. That to me would mean it should have a fourth the water of the earth.
I know, silly questions. But then, the answers we've been given to these silly questions, that we so readily accept, are even sillier than my questions.
I think you know I'm leading up to something, and that something has to do with the Bible. Keep in mind that people are people, and while you're holding on to that thought, consider how those scientists could just as well have (and often have become) doctors of religion, interpreting the Word of God for us. The same reasoning a scientist uses is utilized by the theologian. And as we do with scientists, we do with our theologians and pastors. We just accept what they say because we have no means by which to check their findings.
False. We have the same means at our disposal to learn what God has to say as does the theologian and the pastor. We have the Bible. Whatever is outside the Bible is heresay and most likely wrong. It certainly is not the Word of God, as some would have us to believe. Oddly enough I've noticed that when extra biblical information conflicts with the Bible, the Bible is either twisted to support the spurious literature, or it is set aside altogether in favor of the "traditional" view. This was the problem the Pharisees had; they trusted their traditions and their doctrines above what God has said. When Jesus tried to bring them back to what God had said, they wanted to (and did) kill Him in order to keep their popular view.
You and I, although we have the Book right in front of us, either don't bother to read it at all, or if we do, we read it assuming we already know what it has to say. We don't question what we've been told. This is our downfall, as we will see when the end of the matter comes upon this world.
Let's take a peek beyond the word written on the printed pages and ask some questions, and see if we can't find out where flies go in the rain, or better still, what God is trying to tell us:
Twelve oxen. Why twelve? Or do you even know what I'm talking about? Of course you don't, because I haven't told you anything yet. Twelve we know is the number of administration, that is, of authority. Twelve is the number of tribes that comprised the nation of Israel. Twelve is the number of disciples Jesus had as His following. Of course you knew this, I've told you nothing beyond the obvious. But there's something strange about the use of the number twelve. God doesn't seem to work in a linear fashion as we would assume Him to do. He likes to throw us a curve and see if we will step out of line in order to catch what He's thrown.
The articles that made up the Tabernacle was quite heavy, this we can pretty well assume. I suspect it took several priests to carry the Ark alone. But once these items were placed on the wagons used to transport it, how many animals would it take to pull the 12 wagons?
God chose the number twelve to perform this task. Twelve oxen? Isn't that rather overdoing it? Or does the number twelve have significance?
Fifty we know is the number of anointing, of the Holy Spirit. Every 50 years there was (is) to be a year of Jubilee where everything returns to its original condition and owner. The number 50 is used in several ways in the Bible, either to demonstrate the anointing of God, or to represent that anointing in order to deceive. One extreme example of such a deception is when Haman built a gallows 50 cubits high (about 7 stories, 75 feet) upon which to hang Mordecai. This is obviously an effort to tell us something, that in general reading we miss.
Pentecost, a word that means fiftieth, is a number we're all very well acquainted with. And many of us know that this event, as well as the death and resurrection of Jesus, was foretold in the types and shadows of the yearly feasts.
Extremes cause us to sit up and take notice. Why 50? And in this case we're looking at, why 12 oxen and 12 wagons?
Twelve has significance. It was twelve men Jesus chose to carry on His work when He left this earth. We read of twelve men, and again of 24, double that number, worshiping God in Revelation. What are the twelve spoken of? Is it the twelve Apostles? How about the twenty four? Are they the Apostles and the leaders of the tribes of Israel?
In the Book of Kings we read where Elijah was told by God to go to such 'n such a place and there he would find a young man by the name of Elisha. Elisha was plowing a field. So, what's so strange about a man plowing a field? Nothing whatever. However, how he was plowing that field is even more mysterious than the number of oxen that was used to pull the cart containing the Tabernacle. Elisha had twelve yoke of oxen attached to his little plow (1Kings 19:19). Twelve yoke of oxen! A yoke is made up of two, a pair, which is what the word yoke means. When a man and woman gets married, they are considered yoked together. They become a team, forced to go in the same direction and work together toward the same goal. Jesus said we're to take on His yoke, that is, to become one with Him (as in marriage) in His efforts to do the work of God. Jesus does not intend to go the direction we want to go, but we're to go with Him where He chooses. I think we know this.
Elisha, we're told, "was with the twelfth." How is that significant? And what are we to learn about his being with the twelfth?
Before Elisha departed with Elijah, he first informed his parents of his intentions, then boiled a "yoke" of oxen to feed the poor (leaving eleven). What can we learn from this? How many times have you read this, or heard it read, and just shrugged your shoulders (if that) and dismissed it as some odd custom of days gone by?
It's not unlike God to violate His own program and commandments. We can't assume that God didn't mean what He said for us to do just because He doesn't do it Himself. For instance, we're told not to kill. Yet God has destroyed nations of people, including His own. In fact He's killed the entire world of people with a flood just a millennium after He created mankind. He also said we're to love our enemies, and yet He told Israel to wipe out every living thing, even babies, in the land of Canaan. God will do what God will do. We are in no position to question His judgement, but we're to try and learn what He desires of us. Moses had to learn this the hard way, even to antagonizing God with his questions in an effort to avoid fulfilling God's desires for him. Jonah is another example of trying to escape the will of God because of his disagreeing with God's desires.
When Moses was told to construct the Tabernacle, God said they were not to build the alter of burnt sacrifice in such a way as to enable a person on the ground to see the legs of the priest working at the alter. This means the alter was to remain on the ground, not be elevated. Then in Kings and Chronicles we read where Solomon, in building the alter of burnt sacrifice constructed it so as to be very high needing to climb in order to reach it. This to me means the alter, as per the instructions to Moses, was essentially unusable (2Chron 4:1; Psalm 147:10; Ex 20:26).
Then we have the ten "lavers" that were to implement the Temple priests in their duties. In the Tabernacle the laver was low and very accessible to the priests, enabling them to clean up before they began to perform their functions. But Solomon's lavers were not designed for the priest to cleanse themselves, but to clean the sacrificial animals. Considering the function of these ten lavers, why was there not such an accommodation (the cleansing of animals) with the Tabernacle? What is this inconsistency supposed to teach us? Also we have the name, that is, laver ("Something round, caldron, wash basin, hearth, pulpit"). In the Tabernacle the laver was to wash the priest, in the Temple it's to wash the animals (1Kings 7:27-38; 2Chron 4:6). Can you imagine trying to wash a full-grown oxen in one of these lavers, even if it is cut in pieces? Imagine what that must be like during the Great Feasts when so many animals were brought to be sacrificed. And on top of this, where were the priests to wash themselves if not in the lavers?
We read where there were twelve oxen pulling the cart in the wilderness. Solomon uses this picture, but in a much different way. He too had twelve oxen, brazen oxen (does this remind you of the calf worshiped in the wilderness, and what the kings of the divided nation of Israel set up?) made that was to hold up a huge bowl of water called a "Sea." The basin itself was about seven and a half feet high from base to the brim, not including the twelve oxen it rested on. This would bring the brim of the sea to at least as high as the rooftop of my house. (1Kings 7:23-26; 2Chron 4:2-5). In this "Sea" the priests were to wash themselves. Wash themselves? How did they get to the water in order to wash themselves? Besides their restriction not to climb, there was nothing that we're told of that would enable them to climb to the top of this giant cup!
Then there's the engravings, all of gold, brass and linen. We have the oxen, the Cherubims, palm trees, lions, including the lions that sat near the throne that Solomon had built for himself. What happened to God's commandment that there were to be no graven images of any kind constructed? What's going on here?
Questions, question, questions. Lots of questions, but apparently few real answers.
Regarding the Temple itself, let's see if we might find something we can learn from it and it's deviations from the rule. Keep in mind, these tidbits I'm presenting are only speculations, they're just steps to understanding, not the full understanding themselves.
The alter of burnt sacrifice is too high to use (15 feet, 2Chron 4:1), and it apparently had either steps or a ramp to the top (which would have been illegal to use as already seen) whereby the priests could approach the top of the alter. Consider that the working area of this alter was half again as high as my house. How would you like to have to make all those trips up to the top of this thing to burn the thousands of animals that were brought to the feasts? Then the alter was 45 feet square, that's longer both ways than my home is in one direction. That's a biiiiig alter!
There was a small court yard as there was in the Tabernacle. The Temple was a permanent structure, not a movable one as was the Tabernacle. The Sea (of which there was none in the Tabernacle, except that this structure apparently replaces the laver), "sea" being indicative in much of the Bible of the turbulent world outside the Church, is carried on the back of twelve (whatever twelve means) beasts of burden, facing in all directions. The purpose of this sea, as we're told, does not lend itself to the performing of that purpose given.
It would appear to me as how these peculiar items are designed and intended more for a memorial than they are for actual function. When we consider that the Temple is a picture of Eternity, the Age of Perfection, then this all begins to make sense. There will be no more sacrifice (as we know it) in Eternity, at least not for those who have made it into the presence of God, the Great City, the Temple. This being the case, there will be no need for those instruments that enabled a person to prepare themselves for such an occasion. They have prepared, and sacrificed, themselves in this life ("made themselves a living sacrifice unto the Lord" Rom 12:1).
The number twelve is oddly concealed in the construction of the Tabernacle as well. On the surface of it, the number, and the object the number is attached to makes no sense, or seems insignificant at best. But we know that everything about the Tabernacle, down to the last nail that supports the fence rails, has a special meaning. We also know that the Tabernacle is a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven (Col 2:17; Heb 8:5:), and of Christ. It's also a picture of the Church and the Church Age. If we don't understand the minor details of the Tabernacle, then we don't understand God's purpose for us and the Church. If we miss, or misinterpret a detail, then we're thrown off kilter when we try to interpret what the Tabernacle is telling us (1Thes 5:21; Mat 13:11-15; 1Tim 1:5-7; 1Cor 2:7; 2Cor 4:3-4). If you've ever listened in on, or participated in a conversation where two different languages are involved, then you know how taking the wrong meaning of a single word can cause a great deal of problems.
Where we don't yet know the answer to a given question, we must leave that space blank until God chooses to give us the answer to that question. A lot of times the answer we seek will merely confuse us or lead us astray until we've been shown the questions and answers that lead up to the answer we seek. It's much like trying to explain how to repair an automobile to a five year old, when that child hasn't even sat behind the wheel of a car, and doesn't know what the brakes do.
The Tabernacle had four covers, made up of what were called curtains. Each of these covers are significant. They represent an important aspect of the Tabernacle, and of God's plan. The inner cover was made of finely twined linen, which we know represents the righteousness of God, and of the saints. This cover can only be seen through the top of the open frame structure of the Tabernacle. The colors and the emblems on this cover all have an important significance, that significance, most of which we already know. The pictures and the makeup of this curtain, and of everything else in the Tabernacle proper is representative both of the Church age, and of Heaven (even this partial ream that we are now living in). It's from within this structure that a person can see "Heaven," and the Heavenly things God has provided. In order to enter this area one must be "Born again" into the Spirit of God. And, as we've seen, though there are a great many priests, only a very few of these priests ever got to see the inside of Tabernacle. Yet it's from this vantage point, and only this vantage point, that Heaven can be seen or understood and experienced. When we consider this important aspect of the Tabernacle, then the words of Jesus to Nicodemus makes more sense. "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
How many times have we read these words, heard these words preached, and didn't realize what Jesus was saying? Doesn't it seem to you that Jesus has bypassed what Nicodemus said and replied with something off the wall? Jesus does this a lot, or at least so it seems. But it seems that way only because we're not following what it is Jesus is saying. Therefore, we miss the important message Jesus is giving us. Yes, it's true that being born again is important, nothing amiss here. However, what is it Jesus has actually told Nicodemus, therefor us?
First of all we see how Nicodemus is giving recognition that Jesus is from God, but only as a teacher. We can't determine from this statement if even Nicodemus realized Jesus was their Messiah. In other words, Nicodemus did not see the Kingdom of Heaven that was standing right before him: "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." (John 3:12-13 see also 14:9-11). We think we can walk into a church, fill out a card, take a bath, and suddenly we become a child of God, and able to see all things. I don't think so. We would be seeing some drastically changed lives if this were all it required, because we would not be able to accept the things of this world if we had in fact become a part of the Heavenly realm. And I don't see this happening, certainly not nearly enough in my own life. I can see what God is saying, I just haven't found it in me to walk in what I see. I stumble over ever little pebble of carnality that besets me.
"Unless a man be born again, he can not see the Kingdom." How can we understand the Kingdom if we can't even see the Kingdom? And it appears to me that very few people, in spite of all their talk, have seen the Kingdom of God. John saw it, as did Paul. And they were awestruck and unable to fully explain what it is they saw. Paul's life became totally dedicated to pursuing this vision, and in trying to explain it to us. But we have to see the Kingdom for ourself to believe it, which can only be done from inside the Tabernacle, not from the courtyard where the regular priests work (1Cor 2:9; 2Cor 12:1-7; Rev 2:7). Paul and John went behind the Vail. We're told we are now able to venture beyond the Vail as if we were given a ticket to Disneyland. Not so, not by a long shot. If this were true, and you are able to go behind the Vail, then surely you have done so. This being the case, please describe to me what you've seen.
Only from within the outer chamber of the Tabernacle proper can we even see the Vail, leastwise enter in through it. For myself, I've been given just a distant gimps of what lies beyond the Vail, and I know I can never attain to what I've been shown, though I hope to have been proven wrong (regarding my not having attained) at the Judgement. I think the more we see of Jesus, and of the plan of God, the less sure we feel of ourselves. I see this in Paul, as dedicated as he was. How far I am from attaining to his righteousness (1Cor 9:27; 10:12; Phil 3:9-15).
We're all told that we are now kings and priests. We read this in Paul's writings (though specifically in Revelations). But Paul isn't talking to everyone who hears his words, he's talking to those who have actually been converted, and who seek the Lord with all their might. This is made clear by his letter to the Corinthians where he told the church to put someone out of the church (and others who were "called brothers" but who walked as the world walks 2Thes 3:6; 1Cor 5:9-11) and be separate from them. He wouldn't say this if he believed they, the ones not walking in the will of God, were part of God's family, do you think? We also read where there are tares in the Church, and wolves, and many deceivers. These are not kings and priests, although they too are in, and probably very involved with the church as a local assembly.
And even though there are many kings and priests, as shown by the example of the Tabernacle and its priesthood, there are a great many priests given jobs attached to the Tabernacle, but they only work outside the outer court, or not even in the courtyard at all, and they never even get a glimpse of what lies beyond the first vail. On top of this we read where any priest less than perfect, that is, who has a broken foot or a sore, is not allowed to work in the Tabernacle at all, even though they still retain their title of "priest." You say you know you're a priest? That's great, now tell me, what job have you been given as a priest? Do you work outside the court because you're not living a life sufficient to enter into the works area? Are you serving up sacrifices for others, those who bring you their burdens? Are you letting your light shine for God, lighting the way for those still walking in the dark? Are you interceding for your brothers and sisters, offering up praise and sweet incense to the Lord? Or are you taking up space in a pew every Sunday, and counting on your presence to be sufficient righteousness to please the Lord? Are you a priest with a fault who is not allowed to be a part of the priestly activities? How do you measure up as a priest?
How about as a king? How are you doing when it comes to ruling and reigning? Are you pushing your wight around showing how much "authority" you've been given? Or have you done as Jesus did, and that He commands all His kings to do? How are you doing with your task to be humble? How are you living up to your responsibility to rule and reign over your own life, your own problems, your own spirit, and over your carnal nature? If we can't rule ourselves, how in the world can we expect the Lord to give us a job ruling over others?
Something to think about.
The cover next to the outer cover is of ram skins dyed red. The ram is a sacrificial animal. The red of course represents the blood, and that of Jesus, our sacrifice. I believe beyond this that it represents our sacrifice as well. Though most of us will not have to shed blood, we are to present ourself a living sacrifice unto the Lord (Rom 12:1).
The outer skin is that of "badger." Just what is meant by badger no one seems to know. Some say it's beaver, others otter, and some antelope. Like in all sciences, opinions run the gamut. It's the popular belief that this skin is to protect the entire structure from the severe weather. I doubt that very seriously. Consider how the entire nation, including the Tabernacle, had a cloud hoovering over them to protect everything attached to the people during their wanderings. Besides this, the red ram's skin would serve that purpose. And again, since each of the other coverings has a specific meaning, why assume that this cover does not? On top of this we read that in the entire forty years the people's shoes or their clothing never saw wear. I think we can assume that God could have protected His Tabernacle as well as He protected a pair of shoes. What do you think? This being the case, let's look for some other more significant reason for the Badger Skin cover:
If the Tabernacle represents Jesus, which is the general assumption, then wouldn't it make sense that the outer skin of this representation of Heaven is the skin that covered the body of Jesus, the part facing outward that the world saw? And if this is so, then might it also be true that the "coats of skin" given to Adam and Eve were also the outer covering you and I are born with? You haven't read this anywhere else? I'm not surprised, neither have I. But to me it seems the most logical explanation as to what the skins were. Fortunately I came to that understanding as a wee lad, long before I ever heard any of the "expert" explanations of the event.
It's the third skin I'm the most interested in here, the cover that involves the number twelve. You don't see twelve? Look again, and count on your fingers. What is 5 plus 6? You say your fingers only count eleven?
Let's look at the number eleven then. (Here's where God throws us a curve.) When we see the twelve heads of the tribes, the sons of Israel (Jacob), we find these boys all came from different parents. That is, they were born of the two wives, and the two maids of Jacob's wives. That being, they all had one father, but there were different mothers involved. We see how the two youngest children came from the mother Jacob loved best. The other ten were against the oldest of these two boys, Joseph, because of his position in the family, and because of his dreams. In another study I pointed to the possibility that these mothers were symbolic of the churches, all part of the same family, but not all equal. If this be so, then couldn't that mean being baptized into the Church, the body of Christ, does not mean we have necessarily been born into the Church, the family that God the Father loves best? Sound silly? I'm sure it does. But think for a moment about all the denominations and doctrines there are in the Church as a whole, and how the members of each of those organizations consider other members to be less than adequate and proper in their relationship to God. Consider how those in the "unloved" families despised and even sought to kill the one born of the wife most loved by the Father. We see this again in the way the Jews, those born of Adam (though of different sects), hated and killed the One born of the Father, the One beloved by the Father.
Twelve sons. Twelve patriarchs. At this point there is no confusion whatever. If we had twelve fingers, then this number would match up perfectly with the number of Apostles, the number of foundations in the wall of the New Jerusalem, with the oxen under the brazen sea, and the number of oxen that pulled the wagon carrying the Tabernacle.
We have a problem however. God took Joseph out of the picture in Egypt when Jacob was dying, and gave his inheritance to Joseph's two sons. Now there's been the removal of one patriarch, leaving eleven, and the addition of two others, the sons of Joseph, causing the number to become a confusing 13. Get the drift of what I'm showing you?
So, how then are there twelve tribes of Israel when there are 13 patriarchs?
When God brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt He set up the Tabernacle and a priesthood. This priesthood consisted of one of the tribes of Israel, one God chose to represent all the first born that should be sacrificed, and kept them for his own (Num 3:5-13) which He "gave" to the High Priest. One tribe less to have an inheritance in the Promised Land. Now we're back to the number 12, our significant number. In addition, we have a tribe with a closer relationship with the Father. Relate that to what was said in regards to the Church above.
Are you confused yet? Hang on, there's still more to come.
I find the patterns set up in the Old Testament are carried through into the New Testament. It takes the Old Testament types and shadows to understand the meaning of the New Testament. When there's a conflict between the two, then we can't just write off the Old Testament as having been suspended or done away with at the cross. Jesus and the Apostles made a great deal out of quoting passages out of the Old Testament, and Jesus made it clear that He was (and still is) a fulfilment of the Old Testament. That does not do away with any part of the Old Testament, it only expresses a need to better understand what the Old Testament is teaching us.
We see where the cover over the Tabernacle, the one we're looking at, is made of the hair of goats. When I think of goat's hair, I think of rough material, something scratchy and uncomfortable. I don't think I'd like to wear underwear made of goat's hair. Even wool, as soft as it is, is very uncomfortable against the skin. Even when I wear wool socks, I wear another, softer pair against my skin. But goat's hair? Unh-unh, I don't think so.
We read where Elijah was known by the rough clothing he chose to wear (2Kings 1:7-8 ). Then came John the Baptist, coming in the likeness of Elijah, wearing clothes very similar to what Elijah wore (Mat 3:4). It appears by this verse (Zech 13:4) that people made it (and will make it) a practice to deceive people into thinking they're prophets by wearing rough garments.
From this, I think it conceivable that this goat's skin cover might well represent the prophets.
A prophet is someone who speaks for God (Num 22:18; Ex 4:10-15; John 3:34; Mat 10:19-20; John 14:10), who God uses to tell us what He wants us to know. Take a look at your New Testament. Is it not a book filled with the Words of God? Who wrote these words? Wouldn't you say that it's the Apostles who wrote these books? Of course we have two that we know are not true Apostles, they being Mark and Luke. In fact Mark we're not sure where he came from. Some say he was a small boy at the time Jesus was arrested, and he is the one described as running away and having his clothes torn. Some say this is Mark, the one who accompanied Paul (and then Barnabas), which to me is the more likely. Whatever may be the case, these writers are essentially nothing more than scribes recording the Words of God. I think most of us will accept this as true.
"Apostle" is a word that causes people to think of a person who is rather high up on the scale of God's religious order. And there are churches who base their priorities around apostles. But in actuality the word simply means a "messenger," or a "sent out one." On the lower order of apostles, if the pastor was to send the janitor or a small child to give a message to someone, that person would be, for that moment, an apostle. On the higher level, when a church appoints someone to be a missionary, that person is in essence an apostle. However, such a person is an apostle of that individual church or denomination, he or she isn't an apostle of God. Because of this lack of understanding, much confusion has existed in the churches. Paul said the Church has been given apostles and prophets. Many of the churches, if not most, reject this idea for today because they don't understand what Paul is saying, what his words mean. As just mentioned, those missionaries the church sends out are apostles in every sense of the word. As for prophets, anyone who speaks as a Christian should be a prophet, only speaking the words given in Scripture (1Peter 4:11; Mat 5:37). For myself, I've had the Lord speak through me, and I know for a fact He still does this. I'm not a prophet in that sense, and I don't want anyone assuming I think that what I say is God speaking. But I do try to keep to what I see in the Word, and to repeat what God has shown me.
Evangelist is another word that creates a bit of confusion. We think of an evangelist as someone like Billy Graham, someone with a large following and that tours the world. In 2Tim 4:5 we read where Paul is instructing a young pastor. It appears that at one time Timothy was an evangelist along with Paul. But as far as I can tell, at the time Paul is writing this letter, Timothy is a pastor of a church, yet Paul instructs Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. How can Timothy be an evangelist and a pastor at the same time?
An evangelist is someone who preaches the Gospel. You and I, every one of us should be an evangelist to our family, to our neighbors, and to the world at large, to everyone we know or meet.
An evangelist is a publisher. I'm a publisher, with stories going all over the world. Whether anyone reads what I publish, or if they accept what I say, is beside the point. I publish. Because I publish, I am therefore an evangelist after the first order. I preach the Word, and I explain the Word as I see it. By this one might assume I am also an apostle, but that is far from true. I'm certain there are many people who have web sites such as mine who are apostles, because they have been endorsed and sent out by their church or some other organization. They are sanctioned and supported. I am by no means in such a category. In fact, I can't think of a single person or organization that would even acknowledge me and my writing, leastwise lend me their support and approval.
Eleven goat skin curtains covered the Tabernacle. Remember how Joseph was withdrawn from the list of patriarchs, and his two sons were given an inheritance in his place? Consider that out of the twelve Apostles (these Apostles were not sent out by any church, they established churches around the world. These were sent out by Jesus Himself, not by any organization. Do you understand the difference?), one of them was taken out of the way, leaving eleven, an insufficient number. To compensate for this lack, and in order to fulfill what they understood of the Scriptures, the Eleven sat down and tried by human means to choose a twelfth to take the place of Judas. This, as you recall, was before they had received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, therefore they were using their human reasoning to try to fulfill God's will. Earlier we read where Jesus breathed on them and give them the Holy Spirit, but by the questions the disciples raised just before the ascension of Jesus, in Acts, it's clear they didn't yet have the reasoning power the Holy Spirit would afford them. Jesus made this clear when He told them to remain until they were filled with the Spirit.
Back-stepping a bit, we see where it was at the ascension that Jesus made it clear He was sending out the eleven, that is, He was designating them to be Apostles ("Sent out ones") from Him, not some church. Later we see where Jesus appeared to Paul (then known as Saul) and sent him out as a messenger from He Himself. This even the Eleven acknowledged later, after much consternation and doubt.
Now we have twelve. The number is complete. But what about the doubling at the front of the Tabernacle? What about the 13 that brought about the confusion with the patriarchs of Israel?
How many Apostles were there? So far I see twelve that are certain. However, as we see, while the Eleven remained in Jerusalem, at least until the destruction of the Temple (Gal 2:6-9). (I know, there are lots of traditions saying otherwise. But consider how those same traditions say Jesus wandered the Orient during His silent years before Jordan, and Mary Magdalene became an Apostle, and what we see of the Catholic's view of Mary and the Saints, what reliance can we place on tradition?). Paul was being sent by the Holy Spirit throughout the world planting churches (Acts 9:15). In fact it appears that Paul had little to do with the Eleven, living in a world of his own it seems. The Eleven gave him their approval, and sent him out to the Gentiles, but he had already been given his commission by Jesus Himself.
The front of the goat skin cover was doubled, like the tribe of Joseph was doubled. Consider how there was one other Apostle we can be sure of, and that is Barnabas. Barnabas was not sent out by Jesus Himself, and as far as I can see Barnabas never had an encounter with the Lord. But it's clear that Barnabas was sent out, by the Eleven (Acts 11:22-24). This is the doubling. Barnabas was, no, not a part of the Eleven, but a part of the twelfth Apostle establishing Gentile churches with Paul, except when he was touring separate from Paul, but still establishing churches. (Do you recall how Elisha "was with the twelfth" yoke of oxen? Any significance?)
Twelve patriarchs, and twelve Apostles, that are in actuality thirteen.
Of course this is all just mere coincidence and speculation at best. But as you can see, there's a lot more to the Bible than meets the eye. If we want to understand what God is telling us we must look beyond the doctrines, that are essentially abbreviated footnotes of the Gospel and not the "truth" as they are presented to be. And we must disregard traditions, considering them to be no more than old wive's tales designed for itchy ears, and not for the seeker of the wisdom of God.
As in so many pictures given to us in the Old Testament, those little things like the number eleven (twelve) we're looking at are part of the prophesies to be fulfilled in the New Testament age. They are also the "watermarks," hidden evidences that what is presented is the true Word of God. We have on our paper money marks that only the knowing can look for and find that provides proof of its validity. We can't discount these hidden messages, because their absence is evidence of a counterfeit or a deception being set forth.
About two years ago I did a complete study of the Apostles consisting of 40 printed pages. I have yet to publish it because of one word in one verse. I don't have the answer to this question as yet, although I still seek the answer. When it is complete, and that answer is given to me, I'll publish the study. Until then, what I've presented here is a sampling of that study for the purpose of causing a person seeking the truth to see how most of the important answers are outside the box of doctrinal thinking. Truth and understanding is hidden in what is seemingly the insignificant elements of God's Word, the parts that are overlooked, or that we're told we should not investigate because it conflicts with established doctrine.]
14Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2Tim 2:)
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