"...one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
These are noble words, and nothing could be closer to the heart of the Creator than to have a holy nation that matches that description. Indeed, the Law and the Prophets, and the Savior who came to fulfill them,1 call for nothing less than such a nation. Old Israel failed to be that indivisible holy nation producing the fruit of justice and righteousness that God earnestly longed for:
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant planting; and He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! (Isaiah 5:7)
That is why Yahshua, the Son of God, when He retold Isaiah's parable of the vineyard to the religious leaders of His day, ended with this stunning judgment:
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:43)
You can be sure that He had in mind nothing less than the holy nation which the Apostle Peter wrote about many years later:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
So where is this holy nation today? Is it America? But if that were so, where does that leave believers who are citizens of other countries? Are they excluded from the holy nation? Or could it be that Yahshua was not thinking of a political nation at all, but rather a spiritual nation? For what if America, for example, should go to war against another country, such as Germany? How could the believers in America ever take up the sword against their fellow believers in Germany? They would have to disobey their Savior's command to "love one another as I have loved you."2 Unthinkable!
Yahshua said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight..."3 But He actually forbade His disciples to fight for His sake with the weapons of this world.4 And as His beloved disciple John later wrote, "We know that we are of God, and that the whole world is under the sway of the evil one."5 So if the whole world, including all of its political nations,6 is under the sway of the evil one, then where is the "one nation under God"?
If ever there could be such a nation, surely it would be the answer to the Savior's earnest prayer the night before He was crucified:
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:20-23)
Yahshua was not one to waste words or utter vague generalities. His prayer was very specific, urgent, and not the least bit mystical. If His disciples -- all of them -- are not one as He and His Father are one, then there is no possibility that the world can know that His Father ever sent Him, or even that He loves them. This unity must be expressed outwardly, for how can the world "see" the so-called mystical unity that Christians say binds all "true believers" together? Disciples of the Son of God cannot be divided in any way -- not doctrinally, not politically, not economically, not racially, not socially -- unless the Father and the Son are also divided in the same way. They are to be truly one nation under God -- that is, a spiritual nation that transcends political boundaries and bears the fruit of the Kingdom, being under the headship of the King.
"Impossible!" you say? If that is the case, then either Yahshua died in vain or we are following another Jesus who does not have the power to save us from the sin that divides us.
"But there is no other Jesus! There is only one Jesus and He's our Savior!"
Ok, then why do all of us who claim to know Him as our Lord and Savior not seem to know the same Lord?7 If we truly have the same Lord, why are we going in thousands8 of conflicting directions?9 Why are we divided over doctrine, politics, race, sexuality, culture, and in countless other ways?10 How can there be rich and poor Christians even within the same congregation?11 And why are the past 1700 years of history stained with the blood of Christians killing one another?12
I know, "It's just human nature. When we all get to heaven, then we'll be one." So how is this Jesus saving his people from their sins?13 Isn't that why the Savior came and died for us -- to set us free from our sinful nature?14 The Apostle Paul didn't go for the "sinful nature" excuse:
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:8-9, NIV)
But Paul did say that some would receive a different spirit from another Jesus:
I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:2-4)
The sad reality of history is that what Paul feared is exactly what came to pass. As the first true apostles died, other self-proclaimed apostles rose up, bringing a different gospel which was readily received because it was easier to swallow. It promised eternal life but did not require the radical surrender of one's own life and possessions that the original gospel required.15 This other gospel was peddled16 by charismatic preachers eager to gain a following and make a name for themselves.17 They became unwitting servants of Satan18 to undermine the radical life of love and unity19 that had turned the world upside down in the first century.20
As a result, in the subsequent centuries the nature of the church changed almost beyond recognition21 as having anything to do with the full-time life of "sincere and pure devotion to Christ" that characterized the first communities of believers. Instead, the churches came to be more like the "high places" of old Israel where worshipers gathered for ritual observances led by the "prophets of Ba'al" (Ba'al simply meant "Lord"), each according to the distinctive flavor of the local deity and the personality of its prophet. But unlike the polarizing prophetic ministry of Elijah on Mount Carmel, it was the pagan Emperor Constantine who, for the sake of his political goals,22 gathered the prophets (bishops) of all the diverse factions of Christianity and compelled them to forge a doctrinal creed to which they could all agree.
So the once-pure virgin betrothed to Messiah was married instead to this prince of Rome who, in return for her favors, made Christianity the official state religion. "One nation under God," right? Wrong!
When Elijah gathered together all the prophets of Ba'al, it was not in order to get them to hammer out some sort of doctrinal unity. It was to expose the fact that in spite of all their religious rhetoric they were not being heard in heaven. Elijah was after the hearts of the people who had been led astray by these servants of Satan disguised as "prophets of the Lord." Rather than whip the people into an emotional frenzy, Elijah called them near and quietly began to restore a simple altar of twelve rough stones, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel, symbolizing the holy nation they had not been for generations. Then he dug a trench around the altar and drenched the sacrifice and the wood with twelve jars of water, filling up the trench...
And it came to pass, at the time of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, "Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Yahweh, hear me, that this people may know that You, O Yahweh, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again." Then the fire of Yahweh fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!" (1 Kings 18:36-39)
What is the significance of this sacrifice and God's dramatic answer to Elijah's prayer? Israel had not been "one twelve-tribed nation under God" for almost a century, and even their repentance was short-lived and did not result in the restoration of the holy nation of twelve tribes. Israel is a name given to the twelve tribes collectively,23 as a completed whole. Israel is Israel only as a completed whole. So was this great miracle done in vain? Surely not! Elijah's sacrifice on Mount Carmel was prophetic of a greater restoration that was to come -- the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel.
John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah24 to call Israel to repentance, preparing the way for the Messiah to come. And the Messiah came to restore the holy nation of twelve tribes. Like Elijah, He exposed the false religious leaders as He quietly gathered twelve rough stones and built an altar upon which to offer an acceptable sacrifice.25 Of course, the stones were His apostles, and the altar was the spiritual foundation of a new holy priesthood -- a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.26 But what about the fire? It couldn't be clearer than in the Messiah's own words:
"I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!" (Luke 12:49-50)
The spiritual sacrifices of His new holy priesthood would only be acceptable on the basis of the sacrifice of His life to release them from bondage to their sin. Once His sacrifice was accepted and He rose from the dead, then the fire came down from heaven and ignited those "stones," giving birth to the new holy nation.27 From its explosive beginning on the Day of Pentecost it grew into a spiritual nation of twelve tribes, in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy:
Indeed He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)
Perhaps you are not used to thinking of the church as having anything to do with tribes or being a holy nation, but the apostles, including Peter,28 Paul, and John,29 certainly thought in these terms. In his defense before King Agrippa, Paul said:
"And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews." (Acts 26:6-7)
Lest you think Paul was merely taking identity with the Jewish nation, remember that they were the ones who were persecuting him, and also that they had not been a twelve-tribed nation for almost a thousand years, so surely it was not they who were "earnestly serving God night and day." No, it is clear that Paul was speaking of the restoration in Isaiah 49:6, for it was in that prophecy that he recognized his commission as an apostle to the Gentiles:
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth." (Acts 13:47)
To Paul, the gospel was the means by which the Gentiles would be gathered into the new Commonwealth of Israel30 and the Israel of God,31 as he called the church. He hoped to move Abraham's natural offspring to jealousy by this "foolish nation,"32 like a spiritual "Jacob" appearing to seize their birthright. But they would not be moved to jealousy by watching Christians go to church on Sunday (or Saturday, for that matter) and live just like everyone else the rest of the week. They would have to see a people who were grafted into the "rich root of the olive tree," as Paul put it,33 experiencing the rich tribal life old Israel enjoyed when they were connected to Yahweh and united as a nation. They would have to see a people with "one heart and one way" as the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied of the New Covenant Israel.34
This life flourished for a generation or two, but then, just as Paul warned, they did not continue in that "one heart and one way" and were cut off.35 Since then, there have been countless conflicting "forms of godliness"36 that all deny the power to be one as the Father and the Son are one.37 So almost 2000 years have come and gone, and still "heaven holds"38 the One who died and rose again to bring about "one holy nation under God" that would be a light to all the unholy nations of the earth -- including America.
But there is a vital word of prophetic hope in something Yahshua said to His puzzled disciples long ago:
"Indeed, Elijah is coming first to restore all things... But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him." (Mark 9:12-13)
Elijah is coming... Elijah has also come... Just as John the Baptist had to come in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way of the Messiah's first coming, so it must be for His second coming. That same "spirit of Elijah" must come again for the same purpose -- to call the sincere ones out of the divided religious system of our day in order to "restore all things" as the prophets foretold:
At the appointed time, it is written, you [Elijah] are destined to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,39 and to restore the tribes of Jacob.40 (Ecclesiasticus 48:10)
What must be restored is not America as a Christian political nation, but Israel as a spiritual nation of twelve tribes living the same common life of love and unity that the first disciples lived.41 That same life must span political and cultural boundaries, as the prophet Malachi prophesied before Messiah's first coming:
For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 1:11)
Malachi in his day could not have imagined what "from the rising of the sun to its setting" would mean, but the Holy Spirit came upon him to prophesy of the days when human civilization would span the globe, and as the prophet Daniel said of the time of the end, "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase" -- on a global scale. These are the days the prophet Isaiah spoke of, when "Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit"42 -- not natural Israel, but spiritual Israel, a spiritual nation of twelve tribes that bear the fruit of the Kingdom in twelve geographic regions of the earth.
Remember the Messiah's stunning words to the religious establishment of the first century, "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it."43 Would He not say the very same thing to Christianity today? Did He not prophesy that "Elijah" would have to come again to "restore all things"44 before the great and awesome day of the Lord?
We want you to know that this restoration is happening right now, and you can be a part of it. But it is not happening in the churches or mass gatherings of Christianity. It is happening in a growing network of communities around the world where the "spirit of Elijah" is at work to restore the vibrant life described in Acts 2 and 4. This Spirit is turning the hearts of the fathers toward their children, and the hearts of the children toward their fathers, to bond families and generations together into clans and tribes. We all share a common life, a common purpose, a common culture, a common purse, and a common heart of love for one another and for our Savior that preserves our unity. We warmly invite you to come and see what our Father is doing in our midst, gathering His people into "one nation under God."45