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    152
    ONWARDS TO JERICHO!

    The Annual Solemn Assembly Address to the
    New Covenant Church of God in Bergen, 15 October 1995

    Greetings to the Participants

    My beloved brethren and sisters, I welcome you here to Bergen in the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in whose honour we are gathered here today in order to petition Him for grace and to chart our way forward.

    Everybody here will agree that this year has been an extraordinarily difficult and trying one. We have experienced much persecution and are much in need of the spiritual rest the Lord has promised us. We have passed through what has come to be called the Second Wave in which the world has tried to unsuccessfully destroy us. Praise God we are all here, spiritually and physically intact.

    Seventh Anniversary of the Norwegian Church:
    A Year of Praise

    To begin with, I need to explain why we are here in Bergen at this particular time because I know many of you are unclear. Today I shall attempt to explain why. To begin with, we, as the Church of God, have been called to live the Gospel more fully, and that includes observing the Lord's Holy Days. The Church is seven years old in Norway and has passed through many siftings and many tests. Though these will continue until we have all reached perfection, it is true to say that we have now crossed a very important spiritual boundary which we term a veil. To put it simply, the Church is being reborn.

    This year, 1995-6, is our year of praise to the Lord. This is the year in which we have been commanded to give thanks for all his blessings and to offer back to Him all the spiritual fruits He has given us. We are giving Him our spiritual tithe, as it were, by giving Him the firstfruits. When this period of praise and celebration is over, then we shall be entitled to pick the fruits for ourselves.

    A Prophetic Review

    As you know, the Lord has given us many, many revelations and visions this year to help us meet the difficulties and persecutions we have faced. A few weeks ago we met up together in RÝmskog and we studied all that the Lord had told us. I think we were all astonished just how much the Lord told us prophetically. Today, we are going to continue to look at the prophetic Word of the Lord and to prepare ourselves for what is to come.

    Beginning this autumn we, as a Church, shall observe all the festivals and holy days of the Lord. We shall not do this as a legalistic observance but in order to tune ourselves to the spiritual cycles that the Lord has ordained for this material plane. These festivals, which are found in the Old Testament, were anciently closely tied to the annual agricultural cycle. In the dispensation of the New and Everlasting Covenant, these festivals have been elevated into that spiritual realm where Christ is in, and through, all things. For these festivals were all pointers towards Christ and hidden revelations of His mystery.

    Festivals of the New Covenant

    Very briefly, I want to tell you about the Festivals of the New Covenant. The first is the Festival of the Passover which we celebrate on the anniversary of the Lord's atonement and death. The second is the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The third is the Festival of Firstfruits, the day our Lord was gloriously resurrected. The fourth is the Festival of Trumpets. (Having heard Terje play the trumpet a few weeks ago, I think I know who our chief trumpet blaster will be!) The fifth is the Festival of Pentecost. The sixth is the Day of Atonement; and the seventh is the Festival of Tabernacles which we celebrate during harvest time over an 8-day period in the autumn. These are the seven major festivals of the New Covenant.

    So why are we here today on 15 October? We are here because on this day, or the nearest Sabbath to it, is the Annual Solemn Assembly of the Church of God. This is also our Sabbath Year which the Bible commands we celebrate once every 7 years -- this year, 1995, is our first Sabbath Year. The next will be in the year 2002. Finally, we are to celebrate a Year of Jubilee every fifty years; the first we shall celebrate will be in the year 2038 which I shall not live to see but which the younger generation will.

    A Reorganisation of the Church

    We are here, brethren and sisters, for three principal reasons, and several other minor ones: (1) Because this is the Church's Annual Solemn Assembly in which we are called to rededicate ourselves to the cause of Zion; (2) Because this is the Sabbath Year -- the year given wholly to the Lord which we began last August when the Church was reorganised and received the first of its spiritual endowments. This Sabbath year is a Festival of Tabernacles -- not an 8-day feast, but a 12 month one; and (3) We are here because the whole Church, from top to bottom, is being reorganised, and especially the Holy Order which has not really functioned now for a year, in fulfillment of another prophecy in which we were told that this would especially be a time for the NPKF. A little over three years ago the Church of Christ, as it was then, was dissolved and the NPKF created. Over the next week, the Holy Order, which was then known as the Chevra B'Qor, passes away completely like the old Church of Christ and a new Holy Order appears [1].

    Bergen: Birthplace of the New Covenant in Norway

    We are therefore here for many important reasons. And we are here in Bergen because this has been the birthplace of the New Covenant in Norway. It began here in 1986, was dissolved and partially reborn here in 1992, and now, in 1995, it is to complete is rebirthing process. Bergen is the place, therefore, from which the Lord has ordained that this Church be launched. It is also the home of our worst persecutors -- it is from here that the greatest evil has been spawned against us, and from here that Satan has tried to destroy us. Like the boy David, therefore, we are in Bergen to proclaim the Lord God of Israel as the Saviour of mankind in defiance of the Goliath who has sworn to slay us. Goliath is already lying with a stone in his temple -- nothing, I repeat, nothing is going to destroy this Work of God. Praise the Lord!

    Yes, we have faced what we thought was a terrible giant but we have seen that Goliath was nothing before the Lord. David, who represents the Covenant, cast a single, polished stone. And who can tell me what that stone represents? [] It is Christ, "the stone the builders rejected" (Ps.118:22; Mt.21:42). That has been our only weapon. What, therefore, is the sling? []. It is the means by which people come to hear of Christ, namely, our testimony. Like David, we have gone forward to meet out enemies in God's strength, not our own. Our testimony of the truth is the greatest weapon we have. What does the Bible say of those who do not give their testimony of Christ? In Proverbs it is written: "Like tying a stone to a sling is the giving of honour to a fool" (Prov.26:8, NIV).

    Brethren and sisters, what will now happen to us? And what must we do? As the Israelites were led out of Egypt by Moses in the Old Covenant and established by the Law, so the New Covenant Christians were led out of the world by a modern Moses by means of the Covenants and Commandments. But neither Moses's led their peoples into their spiritual rest, their Canaan.

    Moses died. He never saw Canaan. Likewise, the Mosaic phase of our history has passed away too. Now we are entering our "Joshua Phase". When Moses died, God appointed a new leader, Joshua. Moses conquered the east bank of the river Jordan but never crossed to the west. We, as a Church, have conquered our spiritual "east bank" -- or Gilead -- but we have not taken our west bank yet. That is Joshua's task.

    Who is Joshua? What is so special about this man? Can anyone tell me who our Joshua is today? [Christ] Yes, it is Jesus. In fact, the name Joshua is identical to that of Jesus. In the Hebrew, they are both pronounced Yeshua (Yahshua). The prophet has led us into Gilead, but only Jesus can take us into the Promised Land.

    Jesus Christ, Our Prophet-Leader

    Does anyone know what the name Joshua means? [Salvation]. Yes, the name Joshua means salvation. It is written in the Gospel of John: "For the law was given to Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (Jn.1:17). The Law of Moses was, as we know, incomplete. Grace and truth through Jesus Christ brought it to completion. Similarly, the old Church of Christ, which we laid to rest in 1992, was incomplete. Today, through Jesus Christ as our prophet and leader, it is being brought to completion.

    For the first time in our New Covenant Church history we are beginning to taste the Canaan rest promised in Scripture. I know that some of your are still struggling because there is still the need to accept that the old has passed away and that the new has come. We are experiencing victory in our spirits -- persecution has taught us that. We must now simultaneously experience this victory on the material plane as the Lord by His grace extends to us ownership of our physical Zion, Kadesh.

    The Lord said to Joshua: "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them" (Josh.1:6). Paul completes the picture: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Eph.1:3). Note those words -- we have been blessed with "every spiritual blessing in Christ". Do you see that? Every blessing has been given us. So why don't we have it? Why aren't we in Kadesh today? Why have we had to go through this painful period of persecution, which is even now not fully resolved? And why must we go through a Third Wave of difficulty? [2]

    Hinting the Third Rebellion

    Well, brethren and sisters, the answers are already in the Bible -- to every single one of those questions. They're there for anyone who can be bothered to search for them. Now, tell me, did Israel ever fully possess the land of Canaan? [No]. No they didn't. Why not? [Faithlessness]. Ah, faithlessness. You are right, of course, but was that the whole reason? Can we turn around and blame ourselves for our faithfulness? Unscrupulous leaders might do so, in order to cover up their own failure, and that happens all the time. The ordinary people often get blamed by unrighteous leaders for the woes of churches and groups. Yes, unfaithfulness is part of the answer -- I won't pretend it isn't. We have all been unfaithful in so many areas. Even now one or two are flirting with the world still.

    Let us first be realistic. It is true that the Israelites never possessed all the land God had promised them but, sad to say, it is also true that Christians have not possessed all the blessings that God has promised. Some of this was because of unbelief, as we all readily agree I am sure, but some of it was by divine design.

    If you read Exodus you will understand what I mean. It is written: "But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land" (Ex.23:29-30).

    Let me repeat that -- Israel was not given Canaan in a single year because the land would be destroyed and there would be problems with wild animals. In those days there were alot of lions in Canaan. Also, there weren't enough Israelites to occupy Canaan. In short, they would have been overwhelmed.

    Reviewing the Saints' Preparedness for Kadesh

    Well, let's look at this on the spiritual plane. Are we ready for Kadesh? [Partly]. When the announcement was made in revelation seven years ago that the Lord wanted us to gather to Zion, what was the initial response? [Scepticism]. How long has it taken us to work up the point where we are so enthusiastic that we are now willing to quit our jobs and homes for it?? [Years!]. Yes, these things have taken many years. Should we surprised? No, we should not. We have been only too painfully aware just how long it takes to reform a soul. Sanctification takes a long time. The prophet Isaiah said it succinctly: "Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there" (Isa.28:10, NIV). Frustrating, isn't it? But that's human nature. Seven years on and we are standing by our Jordan but we haven't crossed it. So do you imagine that Kadesh will fall instantaneously out of the sky? [No]. No, it will take time.

    Brethren and sisters, there is much land to possess, both spiritually and physically. The blessings are all there, but we haven't reached out to grab them all yet, probably because we're unconscious of them.

    Now, if we were all to gather to Kadesh tomorrow, how many of us would there be? [Less than 2 dozen]. How big is Kadesh supposed to be? [For 200-300]. Why wasn't Israel permitted to take over all of Canaan in one go? [There weren't enough Israelites]. So what is our priority now? [Missionary work]. Yes, evangelism. We must build up the Church. That is our greatest call right now. Does that mean that we can't go to Kadesh immediately? [No]. No, it doesn't. We can go to Kadesh, but we must build it up little by little. What, do you think, are the "wild animals" mentioned by the Lord to Moses, on the spiritual plane? [Our passions]. I agree. Were we, as a tiny group to take over the whole of our Promised Land at once by driving the enemy out, it would be ruined, inwardly and outwardly. Outwardly, we wouldn't be able to manage a large area of land without involving unbelievers or those not properly spiritually endowed. What would that mean for Kadesh? [Spiritual destruction]. What if all our opposition in the world were to cease at once? [We would become careless]. Yes, our opposition is there is keep us on our guard so that we don't become careless. You may remember that I saw a vision of a pyramid contained by a large cuboid, save for a small part. Though I accept there may be other interpretations, I believe that the small part that was not contained by the Lord is the opposition the Lord will permit us to receive in order to keep us spiritually alert. We must therefore learn to thank Him for our difficulties in the knowledge that they are given to us to perfect us. That's easier said than done, I know, but it will become easier as we learn to trust Him in all things.

    We see this principle of "here a little, there a little" almost everywhere. Our inter-personal relationships have taken a long, long time to develop, and there will yet be difficulties to overcome, especially as new people join the Church who don't know the keys that we do and who are impatient and worldly. We must be prepared for that. Remember when you get frustrated with them how long it took you to reach the position you are in today -- remember that it will take most people many years to ready themselves for Zion. Therefore we must build up Kadesh bit by bit.

    There is much land to possess, inwardly and outwardly. Many will come to us who will not make it. Expect a very large percentage to fall away. Why will they fall away? Because they won't have the knowledge, strength or perseverance to take the land. The flaws we see in Israel are also visible in us.

    One of the things that drives me crazy is when we are on a long journey and one of my children asks over and over again: "How long before we get there, Daddy?" And I get really irritated. But really I shouldn't because that's exactly what we do to the Lord in our requests. So many times during this recent period of difficulty I have asked God: "O Lord, when will this be over?!" I have really nagged the Lord, and He has patiently borne with me.

    Well, I don't know how long it will be before we come to Kadesh. Personally, I believe it will be very soon [3]; but I also know that that will depend on us. Remember, that the weakest link in a chain tells you how strong the chain will be when put under stress. Similarly, we as a covenant people will be as strong as the weakest member, because we are a communal covenant. Therefore everyone who is of the 12 must give his or her all and not procrastinate.

    So, what of the immediate future? What must we do now? Remember, that the land cannot be possessed until it is cleared. As I have already told you, every one of the 12 has got to wrestle with God and obtain the name Israel. Every one of us has to wrestle with our fallen natures, petitioning the Lord to heal us through the blood of Christ. As yet, we are still a Jacob people. We must next obtain the name Israel.

    The Four Steps to Receiving Zion's Blessings

    I am now going to suggest four steps that we must individually and collectively take if we are to inherit our blessings, spiritually and physically, and they are these:

    • (1) We must have the courage to know the truth;
    • (2) We must have the courage to pursue the enemy, i.e. the land must be cleared;
    • (3) We must have the courage to take possession -- our physical inheritance of Kadesh, and our spiritual birthright to become sons and daughters of Christ; and
    • (4) We must have the courage to ENJOY the land, for God's gift or inheritance to us is one of JOY.

    The key word here is courage. We must be brave. It is no easy thing invading and taking over another country. Satan rules large areas of our inner, spiritual country, and we have got to invade it and drive him out. No question. That's what we must do. We must write in our diaries in big letters: Destination PENIEL. That's where Jacob wrestled with God. And that's where we've got to go too. How are we to do it? In God's strength. How do we do that? In faith. How do we know we are going to win -- what was our theme for the last spiritual year? []. We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Christ. Not in our own strength. But in His.

    Spiritual Spring-Cleaning

    We have to clean the land out. We have got to sort our lives out. We've got to change our habits, root out false expectations and hopes that are not centred in Christ, and become wholly Christ-centred. Not everyone is going to do that, or course. When Israel conquered the Promised Land, three tribes remained on the east bank, in the land of Gilead. Does anyone remember which tribes those were? []. They were the half tribe of Manasseh, the tribe of Reuben, and the tribe of Gad. Though they joined in the fight to take Canaan, they never settled there. Likewise, though many will join us in the call to build Zion, many will never settle there, but opt for an exclusive life in the NPKF. In short, they will choose to be where we are at this point in time. Their reasons will be many, just as ours have been in the past for not wanting Kadesh. The eastern tribes faced continual invasion from their Syrian, Ammonite and Moabite enemies -- the enemies we face today. The rest were troubled by Philistines, who will represent the tendency of human nature to revert back to worldly thinking and behaviour patterns when we are in Zion.

    Brethren and sisters, we, of the Patriarchate, desire with all our hearts that you inherit the blessings and joys of Zion. That is what we live for. But we must warn you not to become lazy, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Abraham, after waiting patiently, received his promises.

    God's promises throughout time have been witnessed and tested. These promises were witnessed in the past not only by God's people but by their enemies too. The greatest witness we can give is to fulfill God's promises, through faith and patient endeavour, before the eyes of those who are against us, that perchance we may also convert some. Many of our foes will be disarmed in this way.

    The Covenant Key to Possession

    The land of Canaan was given to the Israelites because they were children of promise (Gen.35:12) and not because they were more righteous than anyone else. Likewise Zion will be given to the New Covenant Christians for the same reason. Of course, these promises are conditional, as we all know. We can't just sit back and wait. We must keep our covenants and do the work of the Kingdom. Moses' last words to his people were: "Carefully follow the terms of the covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do". Jesus confirmed these words when He said: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (Jn.3:36). Great blessings come to those who obey. The apostle Peter asks this sobering question, which I am going to ask to you, especially to those of you who know the truth but who aren't acting it out. He asks: "What will be the outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God?" (1 Pet.4:17).

    So I ask in all soberness: what will happen to us if we do not obey? Are you going to test God and find out? If that is your temptation, why not ask some of the people here who have put God to the test and discovered how awful it is to reject the Gospel? In fact I'm going to ask them to come and bear their testimony to you in a short while so that you may be warned.

    Moses said: "The Lord will...delight in you and make you prosperous...if you obey the Lord your God and keep His commandments and decrees that are written in [the] Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach...the Word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess" (Deut.30:9b-11,14-16, NIV).

    Beloved brethren and sisters, everything we do is centred in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is represented by the Ark of the Covenant. You will remember that God's presence was in the Ark, as it is in Jesus. The Ark of the Covenant is the symbol of God's presence. God spoke to Israel between the cherubim on the Ark. Remember what the Lord told Joshua: "When you see the Ark...you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before" (Josh.3:3). The policy in Israel was when the Ark moves, you move. When it stops, you stop and don't you dare move until it moves.

    That is what we must do too. When God says: "Move!", we must move. When He says: "Stop!", we must stop. We have never been this way before. None of us have. We don't know the way save the Lord leads us Himself. No-one else can tell us. If we follow any man, we will be lost. The Lord also said to Joshua: "Do not be afraid or terrified because of [your enemies], for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you." The Lord said to Isaiah also: "..do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous hand."

    The Lord Jesus Christ manifests Himself today in another Ark -- the Ark of the Covenants. The Covenants we enter into with Christ in the House of the Lord are our strength. Over the next two days we shall be preparing that Ark, gathering those of the twelve who are willing to dedicate their lives 100% to the cause of Zion. I therefore invite those who have been called to be the 12 pole-bearers of the Ark of the Covenant, who now desire to consecrate their lives completely to the Lord and to forsake the world, to ask for an interview with the Patriarchate between the end of this meeting and tomorrow at noon. Those who come, and are found worthy, will carry the ark across Jordan and into the promised land, and will begin by entering into new temple covenants.

    May we now use the remainder of this Solemn Assembly to consecrate the new banners as we reorganise the Church, bear our testimonies and to thank the Almighty for His goodness to us as we continue to celebrate with a year of praise! Amen.

    Historical Footnotes

    This was the last major gathering of the Church before the removal to Zion in 1997. Of the total Assembly, only six remained faithful after the revolt of December 1995.

    [1] Briefly renamed the Siddur Kadeshim during the transition phase (1996), it was finally renamed the Chavurah Bekorot in 1997.

    [2] The "Third Wave", prophesied many times, consisted first of persecution from former members and unbelievers (1994-5), and secondly, the Third Rebellion (1995-6) caused by two-thirds of the membership at Solemn Assembly.

    [3] It took place in July 1997, less than two years later

    This page was created on 12 May 1998
    Last updated on 12 May 1998

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