The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part I

[see part II here.]

Jesus Himself stated, “The kingdom of God is at hand” in Mark 1:15 [NIV]; however, it is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew that He also said “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 4:17, 10:7 NIV] A quick examination of Scripture leads to the conclusion that the phrases “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are synonymous. So, is the kingdom of God NOW?

Most first century Jews, according to their understanding of Scripture, were looking for a Messiah who would provide theocratic rule thus delivering them from Roman oppression and immediately establishing the Kingdom of God – the Age to Come. The then-current age – “Satan’s Time” – was one of sin, sickness, demonic possession, and evil in which evil men were triumphant.[1]

Consequently, even though Jesus Christ healed the sick, drove out demons and even claimed to have forgiven sins, the majority of religious leaders did not recognize Him as the Messiah in part because He did not try to overthrow Rome. Since many of the Pharisees – one of the religious parties of the day – did not believe Jesus’ claim as the “I Am” [John 8:58] they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy!

Historical background

Writings of the Intertestamental Era

400 years had already elapsed between the writing of Malachi, the last Old Testament book to be recorded, and the era of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In the intertestamental period (the time between the Old and New Testaments), the Jews were not a free people most of the time instead subjected to the rulership of various empires. There were no prophets providing correction or guidance; and, consequently, it was a rather unhappy time. As a result, it was a period marked by a surge in the production of literary works, the most important of which were the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Tanakh – what Christians know as the Old Testament (abbreviated LXX)[2], the Apocryphal & Pseudepigraphic writings (some of the Apocrypha were translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic and included as part of the LXX)[3], and the Dead Sea Scrolls.[4]

The word Apocrypha, from Greek derivation, means “hidden” which has a view of the works being either esoteric and only to be understood by the initiated or, “hidden” in that the nature of the writings are questionable or heretical[5]. The term Pseudepigrapha is usually applied to Jewish (and Jewish-Christian) writings from 200BC to AD200 and comes also from Greek etymology meaning the writings were attributed to fictitious authors[6] although some have authorship ascribed[7]. From both groups of works the subject of eschatology has a significant role. Taken all together, this literature appeared to have a profound effect on the pre-Christian and the immediate post-Resurrection era[8] up through the destruction of the Second Temple in AD70[9]. [Note: for the purposes of this article the “New Testament Apocrypha” including the so-called “Lost Gospels, ” Acts of Andrews, Epistles of the Apostles, etc. are not considered.]

…These and other writings emerged during the long silence that fell between the death of the last OT prophet, Malachi (about 400 B.C.), and the appearance of John the Baptist. To some extent these writings attempted to discern what God was saying to a nation that, though it had repudiated idolatry, still suffered under the dominion of a succession of pagan powers… [10]

At the Council of Jamnia in AD90 Jewish rabbis rejected the Apocrypha (of which parts were included in the Septuagint) as canonical[11]. Yet, some of the Apocrypha are included in the Catholic New American Bible as Deuterocanonical (meaning later added to the canon) books[12]. Some of the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine such as purgatory, masses for the dead, and obtaining the merit of God through good works come from these Apocryphal works[13].

The OT canon accepted by Protestants today was “very likely established by the dawn of the second century,” some time after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in AD70. However, the Apocrypha was still in common use by most Christians until the Protestant Reformation[14].

Societal Developments of the Period

Even though the Second Temple was in operation from 516 BC[15] until AD70[16,17] geographical constraints and oppressive regimes prevented easy travel for the typical Jew. Thus the synagogue was born. Synagogues can be likened to our modern day church buildings as they provided a convenient way to gather socially and to worship. Jesus Himself visited local synagogues [Luke 4:14-21; Matthew 12:9; Mark 1:21]; and, the Apostles [Acts 9:20, 13:5-43] and early Christian missionaries preached in them as well[18].

The Sanhedrin was a committee of Jews with recognized executive, legislative, and judicial power over Jewish faith and lifestyle during the Seleucid Empire (196 – 167BC), the Maccabean revolt (168 – 143BC) and within the limits imposed by Julius Caesar, Herod the Great, and Roman procurators during the Roman Empire (44BC – AD66).[19,20] Subordinate to the Sanhedrin were the religious parties or sects known as the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and the Qumran community[21]. Since the Sanhedrin had authority over these sects and ultimate authority over capital cases (yet subordinate to Rome during Roman occupation), Jesus’ trial is seen as being conducted illegally[22].

Beliefs of the Sects

Not much is known about the separative and isolationistic Essene group except that they were very legalistic living both frugally and communally while limiting contact outside their sect. While they did not condemn marriage in principle it was avoided and celibacy was celebrated. Their sect was continued on by the adoption of children. There was an expectation of an impending apocalyptic battle between good and evil. Evidence of a soon to emerge Messiah is in their writings also[23].

Even less was known of the Qumran community until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) which were first unearthed in 1947. The Qumranians are likely a sect that broke from the Essenes. This extremely sectarian group rejected the Jewish leadership referring to them as “sons of darkness” and “men of the pit” while referring to themselves as “sons of light” and “sons of truth.” They firmly believed they were living in the end times[24].

From the DSS it is evident that the Qumranians were highly legalistic with a commitment to study the Torah. The Qumran group believed they were living in the end times and accepted the guidance of a certain teacher of righteousness [ed: probably based at least in part on Malachi 4:5] who was presumably preparing them for the Messiah. Their own writings about this “righteous teacher” are too sketchy to determine the exact role of this figure; however, it is apparent that the community accepted his interpretations of the prophetic OT books regarding eschatology. Since the Qumran believed in a resurrection of the dead, it may be assumed in studying portions of the DSS that they expected the “teacher of righteousness to be martyred and eventually raised up[25]. Their Messiah figure, on the other hand, was more of a human son of David concept rather than a divine apocalyptic Son of man[26]. Some scholars construe that the Qumran belief system supports two or three Messianic figures[27,28].

As supernaturalists, the Pharisees believed in angels, demons, bodily resurrection [Acts 23:8], and immortality with reward for the righteous dead[29] in contrast with retribution for the unrighteous[30]. They were legalistic to the point of going beyond the Scriptures in attempting to adhere to the Torah; and, to this end added their own oral tradition to keep various points of the law. A good example of this is their view of the Sabbath [Mark 2:23-28]. The Pharisees “neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness” [Matthew 23:23 NIV] creating a more works-based religion than one with a personal God.

The Pharisees believed both in man’s free will and the sovereignty of God yet thought neither would cancel out the other. Ethics such as human equality were emphasized in their teachings but not necessarily from a theological standpoint[31]. They expected the Messiah to restore Jewish freedom[32].

One credible source stated outright that the Pharisees believed in reincarnation[33]; yet, the general consensus among Christian scholars is that Pharisaical belief regarding immortality adhered to orthodoxy instead. However, in the Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphic literature there are references to reincarnation[34]. In some camps, the Kabbalah was thought to be in use as early as the time of Moses as part of an oral tradition and reincarnation is one of the tenets of Kabbalistic doctrine[35]. While there are certainly some Jewish sects who currently espouse reincarnation[36], it is not clear when this doctrine first came about. The Apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus, or Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach[37], contains a warning against such esotericism [Sirach 3:20-22].[38]

The common people were predominantly middle class and identified mostly with the Pharisees in part because this party was of the same class[39]. It should be noted that not all Pharisees were of the same ilk as those represented in the NT. Some contemporaries within their own party recognized their hypocrisy and rebuked them for it[40]. Gamaliel appeared to try to honor a personal God with his words [Acts 5:33-41]. Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, would, of course, become the Apostle Paul.

The Sadducees, more than any of these groups, had an interest in Temple ceremonies and sought a literal interpretation of the Torah. They appeared to reject extra-canonical sources for doctrine. As the most affluent of the religious groups, the Sadducees wielded political clout disproportionate to their relative size[41]. It is assumed that they held a large percentage of seats on the Sanhedrin.

The Sadducean view of eschatology was quite simplistic and widely divergent from the other sects as they did not believe in a resurrection [Matthew 22:23, Mark 12:18, Luke 20:27] or an afterlife and even denied the existence of a spiritual world altogether [Acts 23:8] attributing everything to free will[42].

Eschatological Views of the Pre-Christian and Immediate Post-Resurrection Era

With the exception of the Sadducean view, the predominant Jewish belief of the pre-Christian era included the imminent arrival of a Messianic figure (or figures assuming one of the viewpoints regarding the Qumran group) to deliver them from their Roman oppressors and immediately establish the Kingdom of God. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stewart, in their book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, describe the Jewish eschaton (view of the end of time) as the belief that the Messiah’s coming would usher in the “Age to Come” to be “characterized by the presence of the Spirit, righteousness, health, and peace.”[43]

Since Jesus Christ’s disciples/followers came directly from Jewish heritage or were familiar with Jewish eschatological beliefs, they were also expecting Him to soon usher in the Kingdom and overthrow Rome[44] while He was still on the earth. Consequently, Jesus’ arrest and subsequent death on the Cross was met with immense disillusionment among His disciples in part because of this assumption [Luke 22:61-62; 23:27, 48-49; 24:17-21]. However, their sorrow turned to joy with His Resurrection and Ascension!

Yet it was apparent that the end of the age had not come in full:

“Very early, beginning with Peter’s sermon in Acts 3, the early Christians came to realize that Jesus had not come to usher in the ‘final’ end, but the ‘beginning’ of the end, as it were. Thus they came to see that with Jesus’ death and resurrection, and with the coming of the Spirit, the blessings and benefits of the future had already come. In a sense, therefore, the end had already come. But, in another sense the end had not yet fully come. Thus it was already but not yet. [45] [emphasis in original]

First century Christians had to adjust their eschatological thinking to fit the events of the Resurrection and Ascension. However, apparently some were expecting the imminent return of Jesus Christ prompting the Apostle Paul to write the two Thessalonian letters to provide markers of what first must take place before His return. They still had a “kingdom now” mindset. This expectation of imminency with regard to Christ’s return continues in the mindset of most Christians today.

This “tension” between the already but not yet is an important hermeneutical tool in interpreting the New Testament[46]. Passages such as Colossians 3:1-2 illustrate this quite well:

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. [NIV]

We are already raised up with Christ, yet we are still physically here on earth. However, since we have the future expectation of being raised with Christ, we are to already set our hearts and minds on heavenly things. Similarly, when Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is at hand” He was using this same principle. The Kingdom era has already begun; but, the consummation is yet to be fulfilled.

There are those today who are attempting to hasten Jesus Christ’s return by taking the not yet into their own hands. It is the doctrines of some of these which will be compared to the doctrines of the groups above in the second part of this article.

See Part II here.

Endnotes:

[1] Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stewart “The Gospels: One Story, Many Dimensions.” How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. second edition, 1993; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 131

[2] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 164-174. This section features Bruce M. Metzger as contributor.

[3] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “Between the Testaments.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 179-192. This section features Harold W. Hoehner as contributor.

[4] Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. “The Time between the Testaments” NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 1424-1425

[5] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 161 Metzger

[6] ibid. pp 162, 170

[7] Marshall, I. Howard; Millard, Packer “Pseudepigrapha” New Bible Dictionary. third edition, 1996; Intervarsity, Downers Grove, IL; p 985

[8] Gaebelein, Op.cit. pp 173-174 Hoehner

[9] Richards, Lawrence O. “Apocrypha” Richards Complete Bible Dictionary. 2002; World Bible Publishers, Iowa Falls, IO; p 76

[10] ibid.

[11] Marshall, Op.cit.

[12] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 162

[13] Richards, Op.cit.

[14] Barker, Op.cit. p 1425

[15] Richards, Lawrence O. “Ezra” Richards’ Complete Bible Handbook. 1987; Word, Inc., Dallas, TX; pp 233-234

[16] Wikipedia The Second Temple <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Temple> para 1; as accessed 10/17/10

[17] Richards, Op.cit. “The Second Temple” Bible Dictionary p 967

[18] ibid. “synagogue” pp 957-958

[19] ibid. “Sanhedrin” pp 894-895

[20] Gaebelein, Op.cit. pp 184, 189-191 Hoehner

[21] ibid. pp 192-193

[22] Richards, Op.cit. p 895

[23] ibid. “Essenes” pp 346-347

[24] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “Dead Sea Scrolls.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 395-398. This section features William Sanford LaSor as contributor.

[25] ibid. pp 399-401

[26] ibid. pp 400-403 [The bulk of this information on the Qumran is from the work of William S. LaSor titled The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972]

[27] Barker, Op.cit. p 1427

[28] Hanson, Kenneth “The Wicked Priest” Dead Sea Scrolls: the Untold Story. 1997; Council Oaks Books, Tulsa, OK; p 82

[29] Richards, Op.cit. “Pharisees” p 782

[30] Barker, Op.cit. “Jewish Sects” p 1473

[31] ibid.

[32] Richards, Op.cit.

[33] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 192 Hoehner

[34] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 165 Metzger

[35] Wikipedia “Primary Texts” Kabbalah. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabbalah> para 2, also “History: Origin of Terms” para 1; as accessed 10/17/10

[36] Rich, Tracey R. “Resurrection and Reincarnation” Olam Ha-Ba: The Afterlife. <http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm>  Copyright 5759-5760 (1999); Tracey R. Rich; para 4; as accessed 10/17/10

[37] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 166

[38] Confraternity of Christian Doctrine “Sirach” New American Bible. <http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/sirach/sirach3.htm> 2002; Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC; Sirach 3:20-22; as accessed 10/17/10

[39] Richards, Op.cit. “The Common People” Bible Handbook p 443

[40] ibid. “The Pharisees” p 442

[41] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 192 Hoehner

[42] Richards, Op.cit. “Sadducees” p 885

[43] Fee, Op.cit. p 132

[44] ibid.

[45] ibid. pp 132-133

[46] ibid. p 133

“Signs That Make You Wonder”

Following is a transcription of a YouTube video[1] from early 2008 with Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California surmising that angels “have been bored for quite a few decades.” Johnson’s words begin at about 1:13 after an introduction by Patricia King of Extreme Prophetic[2] who refers to him as an “apostolic adviser” and “apostolic covering:”

Heaven is invading Earth; and, it’s happening through all different kinds of unusual manifestations. It’s happening through much more angelic encounters – those kinds of things are much more frequent.

And, I know people get nervous when you start talking about angels and this. It’s foolish to worship angels; but, it’s equally foolish to ignore them. God sent them to assist us in our assignment. We’ve been commissioned because we embrace His mission.

And, Jesus needed them. They came, ministered to Him. He cooperated. Paul cooperated with them. There wasn’t this praying to them – there’s not that sort of thing; but, they are there to assist us. And, quite frankly I think they have been bored for quite a few decades in this country and they’ve been looking for a generation that will live with some risk ‘cause that gives them something to back up. Because their whole deal is to enforce the Word of the Lord.

And, the Word of the Lord in Psalms 103 comes in two ways. It comes from God declaring a matter and it comes from Him speaking to His people and His people declaring a matter. And, they can tell when a word has originated in the heart of the Father ‘cause it carries that fragrance of the Throne Room with it and they recognize, “This is my assignment.” And, they jump all over that and enforce it. I’ve watched it; I’ve seen this happen where a word comes from the Father it’s declared in a room in a setting and instantly there is the absolute, most impossible situation reversed simply because of a declared word. And, I know there’s angelic assistance in enforcing them.

So, that’s, uh, it’s just increasing all kinds of manifestations. It’s the angelic realm; it’s just the supernatural breaking into this one: the gold and the oil and the wind. We’ve been having gusts of wind that just come out of nowhere. And, uh, ya know, it’s all good. It’s all signs that make you wonder and it’s just good to be in awe again. It’s not healthy to not be in awe. It’s not healthy to live accustomed to what’s going on around you. It’s really important that we live with that sense of awe and that appreciation for God’s unusual ways of working with us.

So this is, uh – I love it, I just welcome all that He’s doing.

While the exact vintage of this video is unknown to this writer, it should be noted that this upload of February 3, 2008 predates the Lakeland ‘Revival’ by a couple months in which Todd Bentley claimed all sorts of things regarding angels. In this video[3] of Lakeland from April 25, 2008, Bentley speaks of forthcoming ‘revivals’ and he states that a ‘revival’ was already taking place at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church:

…Denny Cline,[4] are you watching me in Albany? Bob Jones[5] told me it’s coming back to Washington, Oregon, California… …Ya know Albany, Oregon was the first healing outpouring that I had in America. Ya know why it broke out? Because I was in Shreveport, Louisiana and the angel of the Winds of Change was released. I went all the way over to Grant’s Pass, Oregon and I went all the way to Albany, Oregon and the healing revival broke out and it launched our ministry. And that Bob [Jones] told me that same Winds of Change angel had come all the way back to Lakeland.

We know it’s already happening in Bethel – in northern California. It’s happening in Redding, California…”  [emphasis mine]

So, did the Bethel ‘revival’ rival the Lakeland ‘revival’ regarding angels? Did the same “Winds of Change angel” visit Bethel at the same time as Lakeland? Are angels omnipresent?

Todd Bentley stated back in 2002 or 2003 that it was an “angel called Healing Revival” that came to him in Grant’s Pass; whereas, above he says it was the “Winds of Change angel” who launched his ministry. Perhaps the angel changed his name later to “Winds of Change” because of a change in the wind? In the following, Bentley mentions that this “Healing Revival” angel was the same one of John G. Lake, William Branham and John Knox:

I first saw the angel called Healing Revival on December 5 of 2000 in Grant’s Pass. The angel came to me again in Albany the next February. He stood in the church service with his body going through the ceiling of the church. Then the Lord told me the angel’s name and that he was the same angel I saw in Grant’s Pass earlier. God also revealed to me that this angel was involved in the ministry of John Lake, William Branham, and John Knox in Scotland. This angel, the Lord said, is from the North West Healing Revival and is manifesting again as a sign that God is restoring the Voice of Healing revival and opening up the ancient wells.

In our ministry over the last year, this angel has come frequently and on many different occasions… …Many other people have also seen or had contact with this angel in the meetings. And whenever this angel shows up the miracles go off the charts. Instead of a few healings, we’ll get three blind eyes in one night or maybe a cripple guy gets out of a wheel chair.

I believe the angel showed up in Albany as a sign that God was endorsing what was taking place and that it was opening up a healing well. Everywhere I have seen this angel the miracles continue after I leave and a healing well is established in that church and in that city… [6]

From Scripture we know there are angels who minister to us. And, according to Psalm 103:19-21 – the verses Johnson must be referring to in the video above – we find another function of angels:

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will. [NIV]

In this context, it is made evident that angels obey the Word of God and are commanded by God [see also Psalm 91:11]. It is the Father who dispatches them; they do not, as Johnson states, “recognize” their “assignment.” Rather, they obey their assignment.  They do not act on their own accord. 

Quoting Johnson from the transcript:

 And, the Word of the Lord in Psalms 103 comes in two ways.  It comes from God declaring a matter and it comes from Him speaking to His people and His people declaring a matter.

With the latter part of the second sentence above Johnson sets up a straw man argument which is incumbent on him to defend as it is extra-biblical.  For more on the function and nature of angels, here’s the Hebrew word from which we get “angel” — mal’ak — as defined by Strong’s:

 messenger, a human representative; angel, a supernatural representative of God, sometimes delivering messages, sometimes protecting God’s people; the “angel of the LORD” sometimes shares divine characteristics and is sometimes thought to be an manifestation of God himself, or of the preincarnate Christ [Theophany]. [7] [bracketed comment mine]  

Even Satan, a fallen angel, is constrained by the permissive will of God [see Job 1:12; 2:9]. To quote J. Hampton Keathley, III from his article Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels:

Surely it is comforting to know that God may protect, provide, and encourage us through His angels, but this fact does not always guarantee such deliverance, and certainly we should never presume on this provision of God. … we should keep in mind that God does not always deliver us from danger or supply our needs in miraculous ways whether by angels or by His direct intervention. For His own sovereign and wise purposes, the opposite is sometimes His will as life clearly illustrates and Scripture declares (see Heb. 11:36-40).

But there is another truth regarding angels that needs to be kept in view.  Just as people usually do not think of the punitive ministry of angels, so people, in their popular ideas about angels, often ignore the Scripture’s teaching about the deception of Satan’s evil angels (2 Cor. 11:14-15). [8]

Here[9] is a post on an angel named “Breakthrough Revival” in which Randy DeMain claimed this angel came to him while he was in Nigeria. While the YouTube video from which the transcription is taken from has been removed by the user, the bulk is verifiable as the contents are referred to both on another blog and in a ‘prophetic word’ which will be quoted from later in this article:

“All of a sudden I realized there was a presence of God that I had never experienced before upon my life. And in that moment of time, I heard a voice say this: ‘I have a gift for you, will you receive it?’ And it stunned me. And I looked up and it was like a veil between the natural and the supernatural opened, just an opening of the veil.”

It needs to be pointed out that the ‘veil’ DeMain speaks of sounds suspiciously like what is known in the New Age Religion as a “portal.” The author here[10] defines portals as “‘…inter-dimensional doorways, two-way tunnels, curtains of light’” and “’are a recurring concept in our cultural tradition allowing for travel between worlds and a means of transcending time and space.’” She states further:

“Some people say they can travel physically through portals, but most of those who visit the portals in Sedona move within their minds, as in meditation. This is commonly known as an out-of-body experience as they project their consciousness into an astral realm…

“There is an awareness that entities exist beyond our third dimensional existence, and that it is possible that there is movement between dimensions at portals…”

Going back to Randy DeMain’s account of his “visitation:”

And when this opened, the light became very bright, and as I looked up that living Lord Jesus Himself walked through that veil and stood before me just as a couple of feet in front of me and began to speak to me. He said, ‘An angel has come to me and asked to be assigned to you. His name is ‘Breakthrough Revival.’ He has seen in you the same heart and perseverance as the ones he has formerly served who have since died. He has new assignments since that time…”

Jesus Himself, in speaking of signs of the end of time gave this warning, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.” [Matthew 24:23 NIV] Therefore, it is very doubtful that DeMain actually saw Jesus Christ. In fact, given that we have no photos or verifiable representation of what Jesus actually looked like, how could DeMain be sure?

Continuing on with DeMain:

“…And then He said this: ‘What you saw tonight, what you experienced tonight is what the angel does. He goes before you and he opens up the realm of the area you’re ministering in and he drives back all the power of darkness. And, he creates an atmosphere where it is on earth as it is in heaven.’ And, as you say… …the word of God manifests instantly just like there is in heaven, there’s no hindrance; and, I was just overwhelmed at what the Lord was saying…

“…One of the things I said to the Lord, ‘…Why would I take this mighty angel… … from Nigeria, that’s causing all these things to happen, and take this angel from here back to America?’

“…And, immediately the Lord said, ‘because his work is done, it’s now the work of gathering and reaping angels. They will go forth now into the harvest and partner with men in the harvest just like they did with Philip in the New Testament…’ I come to find out historically that this is also true because to this very day the born again rate exceeds the birth rate in that nation of Africa; so, indeed, its work was done.

“The second thing really stunned me though. The Lord said to me, ‘It’s America’s time’ and I knew that all of a sudden the gaze of God had come to America.”

So, is it that God’s ‘gaze’ can only be on one nation at a time? This whole idea of angels moving from one region to another contradicts the pervasive belief in charismatic circles that angels and demons are constrained to specific geographic areas. This thought is one of the bases for the ‘spiritual warfare’ known as “spiritual mapping” written on extensively by C. Peter Wagner of Global Harvest Ministries[11]and practiced in the modern prophetic movement. This notion of “territorial spirits” is debunked here.[12]

In the following, Shawn Bolz relates how this “Breakthrough angel” worked through Liz Jones of Guildford Prayer School (UK)[13] while she was visiting his Los Angeles church:

“…Liz Jones, saw an angel, and said the angel’s name was “Breakthrough.” He had come to bring revival to California and breakthrough to us, or city, and the State.

“When she told me I was encouraged, but it did not fully register. In the past ministry I was involved in, WhiteDove Ministries, we did a series of conferences on a similar encounter that Bob Jones and Randy DeMain had reported having about an ‘angel of breakthrough’ who is instrumental in revival…

“…I recently went to a conference with Randy DeMain who had had an encounter with what he also called the “Angel of Breakthrough” in Nigeria while on a ministry trip in 2004. This angel had been involved with Benson Idahosa during the great Nigerian revivals of the 1990’s. Bob Jones had a similar encounter a few months later with similar details about this ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ being released in America… I told Randy about Liz Jones’ encounter when I was with him during a conference held on Valentines weekend in Idaho. He looked surprised. He said the presence of the angel had left him, and that the Lord told him that he was taking ‘Breakthrough’ somewhere else for a while. However, the ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ would be back with Randy in the future! Randy said, ‘So, that is where he is!’” [14] [Quotes (‘ ‘) and capitalization on ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ are mine. All else is as per original]

In a ‘prophetic word’ on the Elijah List[15] from April 4, 2006, Paul Keith Davis of White Dove Ministries relates how Bob Jones had a vision of Randy DeMain’s “Breakthrough Angel” on March 24th of the same year. In this ‘word’ there were to be three “major” moves “soon to take place.” When did they occur? There does not appear to be any specific expression of this particular angel with the exception of the rather minor encounter referenced by Shawn Bolz above. Here[16] Bolz relates in a little more detail the account of Liz Jones and this angel with a claim of 100 people in his congregation, including the homeless, receiving jobs within a month; however, again, it does not seem to be a “major” ‘move.’

There was an account in early 2009 of “Breakthrough Angel” showing up in Harrisburg, PA[17] ; but, it did not seem to materialize into a “major” revival – if one at all. Here’s a snippet from the advertisement:

“…We see this as a time to pull Heaven down and establish the Kingdom of God with every step that you take as the revival breakthrough angel is displacing spiritual forces over this region…” [all as per original]

In this ‘prophetic word’[18] from a March 2, 2010 “angelic visitation” referenced on Bob Jones’ website, Jones speaks of a ‘breakthrough’ in Ohio. No other information on this ‘revival’ is yet to be found as of the date of the writing of this article. Please note some confusing words at the end of Jones’ ‘word:’

“Let’s take an aggressive stand against the spoken word. Don’t give the enemy an inroad. Pray to cancel the power and authority out of the spoken word that is not aligned with God’s destiny for your family, city and state. Stand firm on the word of God and be assured ‘With God All Things Are Possible!’ Welcome the Breakthrough Revival Angel to do that which is necessary to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven…”

According to modern charismatic belief, isn’t the spoken word the rhema, which is the one of ‘prophetic revelation,’ while the Word of God is the written word, the logos, the Bible? How does one know which ‘spoken word’ is “aligned with God’s destiny for your family, city and state?”

It has been since early 2006 that this Bob Jones’ ‘prophecy’ about the three “major” ‘moves’ of the “Breakthrough Angel” were to “soon take place” yet to date they have not come to fruition. With all the different angels of the Lakeland ‘revival,’ “Breakthrough” was not one of them. What happened to the “Breakthrough Angel?” Isn’t the “Angel of Breakthrough” supposed to return to Randy DeMain?

Is it possible that the unnamed angel of the Bethel ‘revival’ Todd Bentley references in the April 2008 clip above is the elusive “Angel of Breakthrough?” This seems doubtful since if this were a partial fulfillment of Jones’ ‘prophecy’ certainly it would have been promoted as such.

Taking all the above into consideration I would have to agree with this portion of Bill Johnson’s words from the transcript at the beginning of this article:

“It’s all signs that make you wonder…”

 

[1] “fr33info4u,” Bill Johnson – Heaven invades Earth <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdOY42jUeks> February 3, 2008;  as accessed 10/10/10

[2] Extreme Prophetic homepage <http://www.extremeprophetic.com/>

[3] “GodOfElijah,” Todd Bentley Florida Healing Revival 3 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-nwMfOKgXo> April 25, 2008; as accessed 10/10/10

[4] Jesus Pursuit Church home page <http://www.vcfalbany.org/>

[5] Bob Jones Ministries home page <http://www.bobjones.org/>

[6] Bentley, Todd / Fresh Fire Ministries (archived), “An Angel Called Healing Revival” Angelic Hosts <http://www.etpv.org/2003/angho.html> as accessed 10/10/10

[7] Strong, James, Dr. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. fully revised by John R. Kohlenberg III and James A. Swanson; 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; Strong’s # 4397; p 1414 “mal’ak,”

[8] Keathley, III, J. Hampton, “The Ministry of Angels” Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels. <http://bible.org/article/angelology-doctrine-angels> par 18-19; as accessed 10/10/10   

[9] “endtimespropheticwords” Randy DeMain’s Jesus encounter and the Angel Breakthrough Revival <http://endtimespropheticwords.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/randy-demains-jesus-encounter-and-the-angel-breakthrough-revival/> July 25, 2008; as accessed 10/10/10

 [10] “Jocelyn” Portals <http://www.sedonanewagecenter.com/newsletter/html/2005/cnanewsletter5-11.htm> Center For The New Age Newsletter, Volume 5 Issue 11, November, 2005; as accessed 10/10/10

[11] Global Harvest Ministries homepage <http://www.globalharvest.org/>

[12] Stevens, David E., “Daniel 10 and the Notion of Territorial Spirits,” Bibliotheca Sacra. 157: 628 (2000): 410-431 <http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/daniel10.pdf> Stevens is Senior Pastor, Central Bible Church, Portland, Oregon; as accessed 10/10/10

[13] Guildford Prayer School (UK) <http://www.guildfordcommunitychurch.org.uk/Articles/9689/Guildford_Community_Church/GCC_life/GCC_Guildford/Prayer/Guildford_Prayer_School.aspx> as accessed 10/10/10

[14] Bolz, Shawn “The Release of Breakthrough in California (Not another cliché breakthrough word)” blogs.myspace.com/shawnbolz <http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=19410816&blogId=476320097> March, 13 2009; as accessed 10/10/10

[15] Elijah List, Paul Keith Davis and Bob Jones: “The Angel Stated That His Name Is ‘Breakthrough’” <http://elijahlist.com/words/display_word/3959> April 4, 2006; as accessed 10/10/10

[16] “RevivalFiresMedia” “The Angel of Breakthrough” Interview with Shawn Bolz <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kkaq4ZXeLPs> May 24, 2010; as accessed 10/10/10

[17] Life Center Ministries advertisement for “Firestorm 2009” <http://www.lcmi.org/about/firestorm-february-26-28-2009/> as accessed 10/10/10

[18] Jones, Bob “Invite Breakthrough Revival Angel” Damn the Torpedos Full Speed Ahead! Breakthrough is in Ohio! <http://bobjonesnew.unionactive.com/Docs/Words%20of%202010/2010-03_BreakthroughInOhio.htm> as accessed 10/10/10

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