There are a number of passages in the Bible which are sources of controversy and even of division within the Body of Messiah: Israel, Yeshua/Jesus, the Bible itself, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, certain gifts of the Holy Spirit, the rapture of believers, and more. The wisdom of God is far above ours, and the devil is smart enough to know how to sow confusion into everything. It is for us, in the fear of the Lord, to seek true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, so as to know our Father in Heaven better, and to be faithful as His sons and daughters in our lives and testimonies of our faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is given us to lead us into all truth once we have come to believe that Jesus and the Bible is the truth.
I speak much about the fact that God has a plan, and that we need to see things and to make decisions in the light of His purposes. We have spoken of prayers and intercessions, and how that the Lord is working to bring us more into His way so that we would pray more intelligently in accord with the name of Jesus, having confidence, then, that God will not only hear, but answer. There is a sense that a breakthrough is necessary soon by the Holy Spirit to move us on together, not only as one local congregation, but also within our personal and family lives, and the Body of Christ nationally and globally. The true gospel of the true Jesus needs to be preached and heard, and believers need to press on to the fullness of Messiah.
One such passage, which we find in two of the gospel accounts, over which there are two interpretations, each one opposing the other, is this:
Mt 11:12-13 And from the days of John the Baptizer until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.
Lk 16:16-17 The Law and the Prophets were until John. Since that time the Kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for one tittle of the Law to fail.
There is a passage in one of the prophets which speaks to that time of John, who prepared the way for the Lord Jesus; and it speaks to our day, for the final breakthrough is drawing near at the second coming.
Mic 2:12-13 (Jn 10:1-16) I (YHVH) will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob. I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep of the fold (Botzrah), like a flock in the midst of their pasture. There will be a loud noise of man. The Breaker (one who breaks open) will go up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it. And their King will pass before them, and YHVH at their head.
There are passages of Scripture that do have two opposing interpretations: for example, the Law is good and holy and righteous, and will be fulfilled completely. However, it is for sinners, not for the righteous; it is for children and slaves, not for the mature and free. Being that none of us are as yet perfected, we still have need of some rules and regulations, but if we truly understand what it is to be under grace, we do not need to be under law, whether or not we are Jews.
We will look first at the connection with Micah, and of John’s call to repentance in the spirit of Elijah. In both there is the preparation of the sheep, of God’s flock, of God’s people for the coming of the Lord Messiah. It is the Messiah who is the One who breaks open the way, and there is a certain “violence” and “force” in Yeshua opening the way, and in His sheep going through the way which He has just opened.
A sheepfold (dir k’vasim) is a place of incarceration (k’li’a), and of protection. When the shepherd wants to let his sheep out of the fold (mikh’la), especially when there is danger inside, as when a wolf gets in, the good shepherd protects the sheep and brings them to the gate to let them out to safety. Coming to the one door, the sheep crowd each other, they are in a close and tight place together, there is a bit of a panic and lots of noise from fear and of discomfort, and all are pushing on each other in hope of being near the door to safety when it is opened for them to go out. There is a violence and forcefulness in getting to the right place when the one who breaks open does open the door to safety and freedom.
This was what John the Baptizer was doing; he was preparing the way of YHVH; he was preparing the way for Yeshua to come. John was not the Messiah; he was not Elijah; he was a voice crying in the wilderness for a baptism of repentance in preparation for the Holy One of Israel who was coming to free His sheep – His people – those who recognize and obey His voice. As John went preaching repentance, and baptizing those who recognized their need for the freedom and peace of a new life from their sinful ways, the multitude came to him, who was preparing the way; he was not The Way.
Jesus came the first time, and declared that He is the Door of the sheep; He is the Good Shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep. (Jn 10:1-16) Jesus gives a similar illustration of this narrowing of the way in which those who want life will follow Him: wide is the road which leads to destruction, but narrow is the gate and the way which leads to everlasting life. (Mt 7:13-14) As His disciples get brought into this narrow road, we are brought very close and crowded together. We are going to be very uncomfortable; we are going to be pressing in and not so calm, and probably not so peaceable. And Yeshua our Lord and Shepherd at our head is leading us to safety and freedom, away from the enemies of our souls – whether it is the devil, or the world, or our own flesh. And there will be a violence, a force, in our being squeezed and pushed together; waiting for God’s breakthrough; and at the same time is the command to trust and love Jesus above all, and to love one another as He has loved us!
At the Passover in Egypt, after hearing the groaning of the children of Israel from all their hard bondage, YHVH God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go. Pharaoh, of course, did not do that. God did not tell Moses to raise an army among the Israelis to fight Pharaoh, or to plot a revolution by Egyptians against him. God told Moses to tell the people to watch as He brings Pharaoh to the place and time that he would let the people go, and that the children of Israel should be ready when the time finally came. There was certainly much violence, and anxiety within the people, as they prepared for their protection and their freedom. When the gate was opened, they left so quickly that the bread did not have time to rise, and till this day matza is eaten at the Passover to remember this great deliverance, and to remind the people from generation to generation of what YHVH their God did to break open their chains of slavery to bring them out to safety that they might serve and worship Him, the true God and Savior, as He led them to the land which He had promised, and to be King over them as a people.
Are you and I sensing any danger to the general health and welfare of believers, which would also hinder us from doing the work which the Lord has given each and all of us to do until He comes? Do we sense an impasse within ourselves, and in the Body at large, which requires an unclogging, a breakthrough, which will bring a greater and truer expression of unity and love among the believers? Do we sense any urgency as we understand the times in which we live?
Are we willing to leave quickly what we have been doing or thinking in order to both press in, and to be pressed in? Are we willing, in love, to be very uncomfortable as we wait for all of the sheep to be ready at the time the gate is opened by Yeshua? It will become even more uncomfortable as other sheep are squeezing in together, some in a panic, others getting impatient. But it is not us who open the door; it is not us who first breakthrough. It is Yeshua at our head, who has both protected us from the enemy by His death and resurrection, and who goes before us; we follow Him, the Lamb, wherever He goes.