Theocratic Government and the Kinsman-Redeemer
Sabbath Day Sermons: Saturday 2 & 9 August 2003
I would like to especially extend a warm welcome to our brethren from Malaysia who are visiting with us this morning and sharing in our worship and fellowship. Your presence here as both brethren in Christ and old family friends is appropriate to the theme I wish to speak on this morning which I hope you will find interesting and enlightening.
As you look around the Christian denominations you will find various forms of ecclesiastical government. In the Presbyterian system, the Church is ruled by Presbyters or Elders. In the Catholic system, by a Pope and Cardinals. Various ruling conferences called Synods determine Church policy. In the Mormon system, the Church is ruled by a so-called 'Prophet' together with 14 other apostles, and in the Jehovah's Witness system, an invisible, faceless 'Governing Body' at Brooklyn, New York. And more recently, we have what is called the 'independent church' where a Pastor is head and each congregation is completely independent of all others.
As Christians we are in a dilemma because the reality of life is that we find ourselves under the rulership of at least three governments simultaneously. The first, which one dare not ignore because of the power it wields, is the state. Every government has its own rules and laws which it enforces, sometimes violently, sometimes with the power over life and death. The second government is the family, with the father as its head. Finally, we have the Church with its own heads, be they popes, bishops, elders, pastors, or whatever. And frequently there is conflict between these three systems. The fracturing of authority in our lives is, I believe, the cause of many of our conflicts.
As we study the Bible we discover, in the Old Testament system, that all three of these authorities are rolled together into one. Israel is what we would call a Theocratic State. Before it became a monarchy, it was a Federal Republic of sorts consisting of 12 tribal entities ruled over by Judges. Family, church and state were fully integrated so that the conflicts between them did not exist when everyone was living Torah as they ought to. One of the reasons that Islam is so strong - especially in countries like Iran that practice Shariah or theocratic law - is because it is an integral system, however deviant. The reason the exiled Jews were able to maintain a separate identity for so long was because family and Church were fully integrated. Christians, like the Jews, are in dispersion. We have no earthly country at present. Contrast this with the revelation of John and you will immediately notice something very interesting:
"And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth"" (Rev.5:9-10, NKJV).
"And we shall reign on the earth." Here we have a picture of Christian theocratic government on the earth at some future time. Believers are to be gathered from every tribe, language, ethnic group, and nation and are to rule as both priests and kings - as both ecclesiastical leaders and rulers of state - not in heaven, but on earth. And yet state rulership is a future millennial event. How, then, can we be both priests and kings whilst in dispersion? And what kind of government should we as Christians be under?
I wish today to talk about a largely forgotten ministry which was central to Israelite government, a ministry which defined the whole mission of Yah'shua (Jesus). This ministry in the Hebrew is called ga'al and literally means 'kinsman-redeemer'.
As we know, the doctrine of redemption lies at the heart of our faith. Without it, Christianity is meaningless. We speak of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as our 'Redeemer' as Paul said to the Ephesians:
"Blessed be the Elohim (God) the Father of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) ... by whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of trespasses, according to the riches of His favour" (Eph.1:3,7, ISRV).
By becoming our Redeemer, Yah'shua (Jesus) became our Saviour. It often surprises many Christians that the words 'redemption' and 'salvation' are not the same, and indeed some translations wrongly insert 'salvation' instead of 'redemption' in the passage I have cited (cp. HRV). This being so, what then do we mean by 'redemption'? And why is it necessary to salvation? An illustration will help.
If you are a grocery shopper, you know what it means to 'redeem' a coupon. Here are some coupons from Statoil [shows congregation]. Statoil issues coupons in advertisements such as this one. And as you know, this is a very common practice today. Housewives read the advertisements and discover these attached coupons which offer free or discount items if they present the coupon to the merchant during purchase. This one here offers four bars of chocolate for 20 Swedish crowns. When you hand the coupon in to the merchant he 'redeems' the coupon by exchanging it for the product promised on the label.
This is what we mean by 'redemption'. 'Redemption' is a term which describes a money transaction (though not necessarily on an equal exchange). Theologians tell us that the Biblical doctrine of Redemption pretty well means the same thing, i.e. 'to buy something back that once belonged to you.' In the case of the grocer, he buys back the coupon that he paid a printer to make. The coupon may - as in this one - bear the image of the product he wants to sell. He doesn't really need the coupon. But he needs the customer's business. He wants the housewife to buy that product so that he can make a profit and stay in business. Redemption becomes the means to this end for the advertiser.
I hope you are following me so far. Let's make this biblical now. Man was made in the image of Yahweh-Elohim. He is Yahweh's property. We belong to Him. No doubt you will all remember the story Yah'shua (Jesus) told Caesar's coin. The Pharisees questioned Him about government taxes and whether we should pay them or not (Mt.22:20; Lk.20:24). So can anyone remember how Yah'shua (Jesus) determined that the coin was Caesar's property? He did so by identifying the image on the coin. The coin I am holding here has the image of the King of Sweden on it and the coupon has the image or logo of Statoil on it. Caesar wanted some of his coins back as payment for the privilege the taxpayer had in circulating them in his monetary exchanges.
We as human beings bear the image of Elohim (God). We are His property. Satan, however, wants to deface that image by getting us to sin so that Yahweh will not want it back or so that it cannot be recognisable as Yahweh's property. But Satan's attempts do not work. Our identity runs too deep. Yahweh still wants us back, no matter what we've done.
Now, although Yahweh wants us back, He doesn't really 'need' us. Personally, there is nothing we can offer Him that He needs. He has no dependency on His creation in the sense that He must have it in order to exist.
However, He has a genuine Father's heart-love for us and He has a plan. He is a Creator. Creating is something He takes great pleasure in. And we know He is still creating in the universe because we know the universe is expanding still. To this very day, Yahweh is creating stars and planets, and for all we know perhaps even people in far-off galaxies.
He created us for a purpose, which He related to King David, which may surprise you: He created us so that we might learn how to govern the terrestrial universe in His place (Ps.8) as well as our own passions. He created us to be the managers of His Creation. And He wants us back on the job. That's what we were made for. And that is why we in our turn have this abiding creative instinct - men as builders and women as conservers - men building homes and women looking after them.
Although we do not really belong to the devil, he nevertheless has some legal claims on us. In the beginning, Lucifer the Archangel was created, before he fell, to be Yahweh's 'Rod of Discipline'. If mankind got out of line, it was his calling and power to punish us. But he got out of line. He was insulted that Yahweh would use such a pathetic creature as man for dominion. He wanted man out of the way. So he tempted Eve with sin that he might have the justification to destroy him.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, Satan could triumphantly declare: "Look, Yahweh! I told you they were useless as rulers of creation. They can't even rule themselves! You gave them one little law - to not eat a certain fruit - and they couldn't keep it! You must give me Your permission to destroy them! That is what Your Law requires. They are unworthy. They no longer bear the image of Your righteousness!" (Job 1)
And so, that is the claim of public justice. Yahweh said they would die on the same day that they ate the forbidden fruit (Gen.3). And Satan, as the great cosmic law-enforcement officer, demanded the sentence to be carried out. Yet Yahweh knew Satan's duplicity. He was not to be manipulated. He had a greater Plan. And that Plan was the Atonement - the sacrificing of a worthy substitute. He would thereby nullify the claims of public justice and reclaim His property: fallen man.
Why was the Redeemer a Kinsman?
We cannot understand Redemption without understanding the Torah. It is a bitter irony that Christians reject this ethical system in the Old Testament where this doctrine is found and is one reason why the Body of Christ is so fragmented. The Church has been corrupted by a heresy called Antinomianism which basically teaches that through faith we are released from the obligation to adhere to any moral law. This same false teaching - that we do not need any kind of moral law - has also affected their understanding of Redemption, as we shall see. The Torah teaches us how Redemption works. For most Christians 'redemption' is one of those many clichés we have recently been talking about like 'being saved'. It is one of those pious terms which rolls of people's tongues as a mantra of 'church-speak' but which few of them undersand.
Redemption has always required - and will always require - a kinsman. Redemption could not be made by just anyone. Only certain people had the legal right to be someone's 'redeemer', and that was the next of kin (Lev.25:25,48-49).
Let's return to our analogy of the grocery store coupon again. Let's suppose that this coupon issued by Statoil is being used by a customer to buy a product at another petrol station like Esso. Is the Esso owner legally required to honour it? No, of course not. The promise on the coupon was made by Statoil, not by Esso. However, perhaps Esso has the authority to honour it anyway. Some companies have arrangements to do this sort of thing. But that is their prerogative, not ours. We have no business complaining if Esso refuses to cash a Statoil coupon. They are not obligated to honour someone else's coupon.
The use of coupons may have other restrictions too. They may have quantity limitations and dates of expiry. This Statoil one says you can't cash it after 31 August and you can only use it for the brands of product mentioned, in this case Marabou chocolate. If you want Cadbury's chocolate - assuming they stocked it - you would be refused. The merchant wants you to buy Marabou.
What this analogy teaches us is that redemption has conditions which must be fulfilled before it can be put into effect. In the case of the redemption of mankind, it requires a man worthy enough to be the Redeemer. This explains the Incarnation. This is why Paul tells us in Hebrews that the Son of God had to become a man. He had to become our kinsman - related to us by blood - according to the flesh - so that He would have legal standing to buy us back (Heb.2:14-17).
This point is critically important. In economic exchanges the seller retains sovereignty over his property if it is not for sale. Just because I offer to buy your house, it does not mean that you are required to sell it to me. Likewise in the Torah, if a man offered to buy a servant from his master and he was not the servant's relative, the offer could be rejected. But if the offer was made by the servant's next-of-kin, the master had no other option but to agree to the transaction. When Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) offered His blood as ransom to Satan for the world, it was a transaction Satan was compelled to accept! Had Yah'shua (Jesus) not become a man, had He not been our kinsman according to the flesh, Satan would have retained sovereignty over the transaction for the souls of men and women. He could have rejected Yahweh's offer. But because of the Incarnation - because we have a kinsman to redeem us - Satan has lost all legal claims.
Of course, the servant must ask to be redeemed! This is what the Torah teaches us in the Book of Ruth. Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer, could not force it upon her. Ruth had to initiate the process. She had to make a legal claim to the right of redemption. And so it is in the case of eternal salvation. We must "plead the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus)" - we must each make our claim to a Redeemer. Only then do Satan's claims come to nothing. And this is why the proclamation of the Gospel is so important. Satan's hostages - those who have not received Christ - must be told that they have a Redeemer. Left to their ignorance, they cannot attain their freedom. Sadly, some people prefer Satan as their master - they love their sins and do not want a Redeemer.
Do you see now, from this perspective, why every single living soul needs Christ? We have all had the image of Yahweh in us defaced by the world. Since Yahweh is no longer recognisable in us, Satan has a legal claim, because it is his image that has replaced the divine one. All behaviour - all lifestyles - all morality and ethics - which are out of harmony with Torah is in the image of Satan, however good it may seem. And as a result Satan has the legal grounds to drag a soul down to hell for eternity unless the Redeemer is called upon to deliver them.
The doctrine of redemption is an eternal principle which is written into our very beings. It's a part of our design. Why is it, do you imagine, that mothers are willing to redeem their children in acts of great sacrifice? And it is a part of the requirement of public justice. It is an immutable principle of Yahweh's moral government.
Yah'shua (Jesus) is our kinsman-Redeemer in terms of eternal salvation but the principle by no means stops there. It operates in our earthly life too. Why do you suppose that prospective borrowers are required to give the name and contact information of their nearest relative to the creditor? It is because the creditor wants accountability. He wants to know of someone who might come to your rescue and pay the note on your behalf should you falter.
Sometimes, especially if you do not have a credit history, the lender wants a co-signer on the note. The co-signer becomes the 'kinsman-redeemer' should the borrower fail to repay the loan. My mother-in-law was co-signer to my first mortgage when she offered her own home as collateral. By signing the note, a redeemer relationship is created.
The Redeemer in the Government of Israel
We read in the Lord's Prayer: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt.6:10, KJV).
Because the theology of the Churches is so infected with gnostic doctrine, it often 'spiritualises' this text and fails to realise that the kinsman-redeemer is a priesthood office for the government of mankind upon the earth, just as it is in heaven. Gnosticism teaches that our time on earth is of no account. It is merely a springboard from which to escape. To them, the issues of this life are unimportant to eternity and the physical body is an impediment to the spirit within us.
The Apostle James, who became the senior apostle or presiding patriarch in his day prior to John's successorship, thought otherwise. He taught that "faith without works is dead" (Jas.2:3, KJV). Eternal life does not begin in heaven: it begins when we are spiritually born again down here. Our life in the flesh is meant to be a manifestation of the glory of Yahweh, not a prison (although our pain and suffering makes us long for a better body to live in). It should matter to us how the people of Yahweh have governed themselves in the past, because they will govern again in the future as we saw in the Book of Revelation. That's right, every believer is called to be a governor.
The government of Israel, prior to the time of Moses, was that of family elders. We see them mentioned in the Book of Exodus as already a governmental structure which existed prior to the one established by Moses (Ex.3:16,18; 4:29; 21:21). Synonymous terms to describe these 'elders' might be 'patriarchs', 'chieftains', 'sheikhs', 'lords', 'magistrates', and so on. But prior to Moses, and continuing throughout the history of ancient Israel, these family elders continued to exist in family succession.
These men served as the most basic governmental unit in Israel. And they were not leaders of tiny nuclear families! In fact, there is no such equivalent term for a 'nuclear family' in the Bible or in the Hebrew language because they did not exist. Please remember if it's the only thing you remember about this sermon. There were no nuclear families. The Hebrew word for family is mishpachah and always refers to a clan or tribal group. If you carefully study the Israelite census reports in the Book of Numbers (I bet you skip over them when you read that book!) you will discover something very interesting: the average Israelite 'family' had 27 sons born of one father (cp. Num.1:46 with 3:40-43) and no doubt an equally numerous amount of daughters. That's right, an average family had over 50 children! Abraham could field a fighting force of over 300 men, from servants and concubines born in his own house (Gen.14:14). Consequently, a 'family' or mishpachah in Israel constituted perhaps as many as a thousand people sharing a common ancestor (probably a great-grandfather), or as few as a hundred, but certainly far more than our modern concept of the family. This was the most basic governmental and societal unit in the Hebrew Republic.
It is worth noting that almost every culture in every part of the world and in every time period has had similar tribal governments. Whether the Amerindian cultures of North and South America, the Celtic and Nordic Cultures of Europe, or the aboriginal cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, or of Asia, we find the same pattern. Even to this day, cultures untouched by our Western civilisation practice this way of life. It seems to be a social structure organically connected to our biology.
The concept of 'state' and 'empire' is a more recent development in societal evolution (or, if you believe as I do, 'devolution'). States are rarely formed voluntarily. They come from outside a culture when another culture conquers them militarily, yet does not want to assimilate them. A new level of government of an imperial nature is superimposed over the existing tribal government to provide control on behalf of the conquering tribe, army, or nation. This is what we call the 'state'. Empires or super-states called 'nations' are additional layers of imperial government that are added to pre-existing layers of provincial government which have occurred from previous conquests. Whatever word you want to use to describe this system - 'colonialism', 'federalism', 'liberationism', 'patriotism', and so forth, it is really a structure designed to enforce slavery. And as such its origin in not of Yahweh but of the first antichrist whom we have come to know as Nimrod. You will remember he built the first city states and introduced the system of commercial weights and measures.
For example, the ancient Celtic cultures of pre-Saxon Britain were tribal. When the Anglo-Saxons invaded, they dispossessed the Celtic Britons of lower England and used them as slaves. The Celts lost their tribal and family identities and became chattel to the Saxons.
At that time, the Anglo-Saxons were tribal also. So there was an assimilation which gradually occurred during the early centuries of the Middle Ages. However, when England was invaded by the Normans in 1066, they imposed yet another layer of government over that of the Saxons. And it was not tribal, but imperial. There was little mingling or assimilation. The Normans became an aristocracy, isolated from the people they ruled.
This is the same sad story of mankind everywhere, repeated over and over again, until we have got so used to it they we never pause to think whether this system is remotely connected to that which Yahweh has ordained in the Bible or not. We can try to dismiss it by saying that we have 'moved on' and yet the truth remains. Like the small fish being eaten by the large fish, which in turn is eaten by an even larger fish, the conquerors of the world have been themselves the conquests of new and greater conquests. So it is that the Celts were conquered by the Anglo-Saxons, the Anglo-Saxons by the Normans, and today the Normans by a new entity called the 'European Union', which in turn is to be swallowed up in the one world dictatorship colossus of the Antichrist. The pattern repeats itself. And it's ungodly.
If we want a society which is not founded on conquest, but rather upon the consent of the governed, we must return to this primeval and organic pattern of social organisation. It is worth noting for our American friends that the American system of government, while ostensibly based on the consent of the governed, is really a system of consensual slavery, because once the governing institutions are empowered, they become uncontrollable by the organic unit of government. Only the very rich and powerful can use these institutions to their advantage. Individuals can to some extent when they represent voting blocks, but that is only because they belong to special interest groups. Never are people - organised as families as I have already described - represented and defended by any of these other levels of government. Indeed, large family groups are viewed with suspicion as potential rivals to the state - and the 'Church' - the handmaiden to the state, is quick to label such groups as 'cults' to justify state persecution.
One thing we do have to remember in considering the principle of the kinsman-redeemer, is that prior to Moses, these patriarchs or family elders were a spiritual and sacerdotal (priestly) ministry as well. The Levites and the Aaronic Priesthood did not exist then. Indeed, the rite of circumcision, which you will recall was replaced by baptism in the New Covenant (Col.2:11-12), was administered by the clan chieftain, just as I shall be baptising one of my sons in a few days' time. Sacrifice, prayer, and spiritual instruction found their source in this family leader. Perhaps he delegated some of his tasks, but in any case, he was the spiritual overseer of the clan.
And it was all-encompassing. Ritual, liturgy, education, vocational instruction, health care, courtship and marriage, business planning, military training and battle, social entertainment, conflict resolution and matters of justice, as well as the usual needs of sustenance, were all under his purview. It sounds frightening to the Westerner who is accustomed to different institutions which control him, but it is really a better system. In the West, the individual is just a number and a file in someone's computer, whether it is at a university, a charity, or in the EU headquarters in Brussels. In the name of a pretended efficiency, the West has created a very cold, abstract, and sometimes inhumane system of social philosophy. And this appeals to some people, who don't want to be personally involved with the important matters of a community. They are the kind of people who don't want to confront problems. They want friends and buddies to play with, but they don't want the responsibility and burdens that go along with it. When times are tough, they want to take their chances with the government and similar public institutions when their friends need help, rather than to get personally involved.
In the East, where tribal ties still linger, there is a face to the person to whom you are accountable. And that person knows who you are. In this system there is loyalty. To the Westerner, the concerns of tribal groups seem trivial and complicated, impeding progress. The Westerner is impatient with this system and it often leads to war. At the moment, the West is trying to bomb Muslim radicals into oblivion. Failure is probably because the family and tribal ties between the groups are inextricably and organically tied to even larger family and tribal groups.
The Five Ga'al Situations
Let us now turn to biblical specifics. The Torah tells us that there are 5 situations when the Ga'al or kinsman-redeemer might be called upon to make redemption. Let's take a look at these:
(1) Firstly, he was a redeemer of a brother's liberty (Ex.15:13; 21:30; Lev.24:35-55; Dt.7:8; 13:5). If the redeemer's kinsman was enslaved or taken hostage because of debt, war, crime, and so on, the Ga'al liberated him by satisfying the claims of the custodial party. This also included issues pertaining to divorce because concubines were classified under the category of maidservants and under certain circumstances they could be redeemed (Ex.21:8; Lev.19:20; Dt.15:17).
(2) Second, he was a redeemer of the widow (Dt.25:5-10; Ex.22:22; Ruth 4). We see this prominently in Ruth. This pertained to the Law of the Levirate identified in Deuteronomy. Here, the kinsman-redeemer would marry the widow to raise up an heir to the deceased. It is a strange custom to Westerners (are we so unbiblical in our world view?) but it was also designed by Yahweh as a safety net. Presumably, the heir would preserve the family that would provide for the widow in her old age. The widow's brother-in-law likely would have been married already. In which case, she would have been forced to share in his estate, rather than that of her deceased husband.
(3) Third, he was a redeemer for the land (Leviticus 25:24-34; Ruth 4). If family estates were alienated - that is sold to strangers - the kinsman-redeemer had the right to buy them back. Unlike the Western practice of treating land like a commodity, the land of Israel had to be restored to the clan every 50 years at the Jubilee. But if the kinsman-redeemer had the resources to buy back the land, he could do so at anytime. This was a forced sale. The kinsman-redeemer had the right to make redemption.
(4) Fourth, he was a redeemer of blood (Numbers 35:12-27; Deuteronomy 19:6-12; Joshua 20:3-9). In our King James Bibles it is translated as 'Avenger of Blood'. Although shocking to modern sensibilities, Biblical law provided a right to the kinsman-redeemer to kill the person responsible for the wrongful death of a relative. This was not limited to murder, but to involuntary manslaughter, as well. There were "Cities of Refuge" to which the guilty could flee and be safe. But they had to stay in them until the death of the High Priest. Then, they were free to go. While this custom seems strange, it does provide precedent for several modern practices.
For instance, since Israel did not have prisons as a part of its penology, the City of Refuge was like a place of banishment, or a prison comparable to a house arrest. Consider also, that our modern laws require some kind of punishment for involuntary manslaughter, whether it is imprisonment or compensation to the family.
Do not forget that the size of these ancient families was between a hundred and a thousand. They were equivalent to many modern municipalities. Thus, the job of the kinsman-redeemer in this task was comparable to the city prosecutor or city constable. He was required to apprehend the guilty party and bring him to justice.
Why was blood revenge permitted? Well, let's look a little closer. Deuteronomy 19:6 tells us that the unintentional killer would be pursued by the avenger of blood "while his heart is hot". The Scriptures are here recognising a fact of law enforcement: those who enforce the law are capable of blind rage which can lead to the abuse of their power. The Cities of Refuge served as a safety zone to protect people from the excesses of the police.
On the other hand, a killer who failed to flee to the Cities of Refuge - which were scattered throughout Israel and easily accessible - did so for one of two reasons: either he was picking a fight or he was guilty of malice. In either case it represented blood lust on the part of the guilty. Yah'shua (Jesus) said there is such a thing as murder in the heart. In other words, if you persist in hating someone, you may passively allow him to die in an accident even though you are not directly the cause of it. Yahweh allows these things to happen to judge our evil hearts. While blood feuds are contrary to the Golden Rule, the law of the Avenger permitted hatreds to be brought out into the open and dealt with.
Every death had to be accounted for and absolved in Israel (Deuteronomy 21:3-6). Without the Avenger of Blood, a society risks sinking into murder and mayhem because there is no officer to demand accountability for the loss of human life.
(5) Finally, the Ga'al was a redeemer of the oath (Leviticus 27). The breaking of vows is a serious offence in Biblical law (Deuteronomy 23:21-23). Sometimes, rash vows were made and were not kept. This led to legal and spiritual problems for the person who made the vow. Perhaps, a person made a pledge to Yahweh or the temple, or made some other kind of promise. In any case, failure to fulfil the promise was considered a sin and indebted the promiser to Yahweh or to whomever the promise was made. If it was made to a person, it created a contract which could result in a claim of tort. If it was made to Yahweh and left unfulfilled, it might result in disease or other calamities indicative of Divine displeasure. The kinsman-redeemer had the right to take the oath upon himself and fulfil it.
In all of these cases above, the kinsman-redeemer was the relative who came to your rescue. He was your saviour, your deliverer.
Who was the Kinsman-Redeemer?
The family elder had a deacon (shamash), an assistant and he was generally the firstborn son. He was his father's right-hand man and successor.
The firstborn as a class performed all of the functions in Israel that were later done by the Levites. The tribe of Levi was appointed to replace the firstborn of Israel (Numbers 3:45) as deacons to the Aaronic priesthood (3:9) and to serve all Israel in the cities as teachers, counsellors, and the professional class in general (35:2-8). Since the cities were cosmopolitan, they served as missionaries to visiting foreigners as well. Thus it is that the Deacons or Shamashim are responsible today for the collection of tithes amongst other duties.
Let us not forget that the Levites were chosen because of the moral failure of the Israelites in the Golden Calf incident (Exodus 32:26-29). Their ministry was meant to be remedial and restorative. The Levitical ministry has now passed away, as has the priesthood, and has been returned to the family and the firstborn as before. This is called the Melchizedek Priesthood and is spoken of by Paul at some length in Hebrews. It was the same priesthood that Abraham honoured when he paid tithes to Melchizedek, King of Salem.
Now this is very different from the church systems we find in the denominations where it has largely been assumed that the clergy have succeeded the Levites. As we shall see that is not the case.
However, many of the functions of the firstborn were retained and never given to the Levites in the first place. Among them was the rôle of the kinsman-redeemer which remained a familial office.
While a man's firstborn son was usually his father's deacon and the leader of his brethren, this was not always the case. There was a succession of this office and it could be passed on to other members of an extended family group. In the case of Ruth, for example, there were no longer any brothers. They were all dead. The responsibility fell to Boaz after an even closer relative declined the option. But they were still related by blood.
With this perspective in mind, I want to draw from our understanding of Yah'shua (Jesus) as our Kinsman-Redeemer and show how it is applied in the life of the Christian and the Messianic Community (Church).
The Procession of Redemption
Failing to see how the principle of redemption operates in human history, traditional theologians want to make the kinsman-redeemer an ancient novelty attached to the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament which are done away in Christ. They see no abiding validity to it as a part of human government. But they are seriously wrong.
This spiritualising is unsupportable from the texts which plainly state Christ's mission to the world. Yah'shua (Jesus) had a Divine office and a human office. In His Divine office, He was our Redeemer and Saviour from sin and the author of eternal life. In His human office, He was the Davidic Messiah who promised a Millennial reign of peace and blessing for mankind upon Earth.
Let's consider the words of Zachariah who was the father of John the Baptist and who spoke, not as a myopic Israelite nationalist, but under the direct inspiration of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit):
""Praise be to Yahweh, the God of Israel, because He has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as He said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us -- to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days" (Luke 1:68-75, NIV).
Review the language closely. Verse 68 blesses "Yahweh, the God of Israel". He uses liturgical language drawn from King David's praise in 1 Kings 1:48:
"Also the king said thus, 'Blessed be Yahweh-Elohim of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, while my eyes see it!'" (1 Kings 1:48, NKJV).
Compare it with the words of Simeon in Luke 2:25-32 who looked "for the consolation of Israel" and said upon seeing the baby Yah'shua (Jesus), "Lord, let now thy servant depart in peace . . . For mine eyes have seen thy salvation" (KJV). Anna the prophetess then enters and also praises Yahweh "and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem" (v. 38, KJV).
It should be remembered that Jerusalem was King David's private estate which was passed down in succession to his heirs to the Throne. He acquired it by conquest (2 Samuel 5:7-9). Thus, only a Davidic prince, as the nation's firstborn, had standing to redeem the people of Israel, which explains why Yah'shua (Jesus) was a Davidic heir. This argument is strengthened by a description of the Israelite monarchy in 1 Samuel 8 as the nation's federal head (Dt. 17:14-20) and Psalm 72, which is a Psalm for Solomon by David his father, but is really a description of the Messianic character of the Davidic throne. It uses what we might call 'redemption language'. David and his heirs were Israel's saviours from its enemies. In His Messianic office, so was Yah'shua (Jesus) (Luke 1:73).
While salvation from sins is clearly in view here as the primary mission of the Messiah (v. 77) and its effect in removing "the sting of death" in the promise of eternal life, redemption clearly means a deliverance from bondage - both spiritual and physical - so that the righteous are free of internal and external restraint in their service to Yahweh, that is, in their obedience of Torah (v. 74-75). Since Satan's bondage extends to the soul, where man experiences failure of will to obey Yahweh, and then it proceeds to matters of the flesh, where demonically controlled civil magistrates and rulers forbid obedience to Yahweh's laws (Eph.6:12; Col.1:16; 2:15), it follows that Christ's redemption should proceed likewise: from the heart in a deliverance from sin and then to the realm of government in a deliverance from unbiblical laws and life styles.
Recall Ezekiel 36:25-38 which ties the restoration of Israel with the restoration of a righteous heart:
"And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgements, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your Elohim (God)" (v. 27-28, KJV).
The Israelites of old may have wanted Palestine restored to them for dominion, but they had a global vision, as says the Apostle Paul:
"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (Rom.4:13, KJV).
The Abrahamic Covenant always had world-wide implications (Genesis 12:3), as did, by extension, the eternal Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7, read this carefully, especially David's description of redemption - v. 23-26).
All of this explains why the loss of a redeemer became associated with a vacancy in the throne of David (Hosea 3:4-5) and why Yah'shua (Jesus) announced the Jubilee in Luke 4 as an end of the exile. It was the righteous king who executed Divine law and in his absence, the heathen ruled (1 Samuel 26:19).
The crisis of succession is the central issue of whether redemption is mediated to the earth or not. In Jude, a strange reference to the Assumption of Moses, an apocryphal book, cites a confrontation between Satan and Michael the archangel. Jude tells us that they were "contending for the body of Moses" when Michael prevailed by invoking Yahweh's rebuke (v. 9). Apparently, The Assumption of Moses is a work no longer extant; however, some suppose that another text, The Testament of Moses contains the first half of it. If that is the case, then the issue is clearly one pertaining to succession; for in The Testament of Moses, Joshua, Moses'successor, fears that Moses' death will leave Israel without "a sacred spirit" (i.e. "the holy spirit"), and that the demonically inspired Canaanite nations will overwhelm her. Moses, of course, assures Joshua that Yahweh will be with him, just as He was with Moses (chapters 11-12).
Whether this text is the one from which Jude quoted or not, most Biblical scholars agree that the expression "the body of Moses", while an unusual one, does not refer to the soul of Moses, as if it were a contest between Satan and Michael over Moses' eternal destiny. Rather, the word 'body' ought to be interpreted in the same manner as we would say 'a body of literature' or 'the body of Christ'. In this sense, Jude was referring to the Old Testament Community (Church) which was 'redeemed' by Moses in passing through the Red Sea and saved to serve Yahweh in the sacred mount (Exodus 20:2).
A similar contest occurs in Zechariah, chapter three, between Satan and an unnamed "angel of Yahweh". In this text it appears that Satan was challenging the legitimacy of the restored priesthood in Jerusalem. Again, the angel says, "Yahweh rebuke thee, O Satan . . ." and the prophet encourages the high priest (who curiously is named 'Joshua', 'Yah'shua' or 'Jesus' - the names are the same) with the promise of a future deliverer called the BRANCH (v. 8-9):
"Thus speaketh Yahweh of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of Yahweh: Even he shall build the temple of Yahweh; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both"
This is a clear reference to Yah'shua (Jesus) who is the true Messiah, for He does not need a priest to validate His throne. And unlike the imperfect Aaronic priesthood, the glory cloud of Yahweh does not compel Yah'shua (Jesus) to flee the Temple (1 Kings 8:1).
The fact remains that Michael was Israel's guardian in Jude's account, and whatever it was that Satan wanted with 'the body of Moses', it threatened the very existence of Israel. Ultimately, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) has come and vanquished Satan's legal claims upon wayward Israel, requalified the house of David for dominion, and opened the gates of the Kingdom to the whole world.
Israel's world mission is to conquer the world - that is the constant theme that runs through the Bible from beginning to end. But here we must be very careful, for the 'Israel' that Yahweh here speaks of is not the modern 'Republic of Israel', formed in 1947, but the Israel of Jacob, Moses, David, Yah'shua (Jesus) and the apostles. And again we must be very careful, for the 'Israel' that is being spoken of here is not what we call the 'church' either! We all know how the Catholic Church has tried to conquer the world and how other groups like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses have similar designs. But none of these are biblical Israel. What, then, is the 'Israel' that Yahweh has ordained to conquer the world?
Satan is the accuser - the fallen archangel who has constantly denounced the human race and Yahweh's plan for its dominion over the terrestrial universe. In its place, he has invented his own systems, both secular and religious. We must not confuse these with the New Covenant Israelite theocracy that is to come.
Paul acknowledged the continuing purpose and plan of Yahweh in Israel (Romans 9-11) and in a restored Davidic monarchy (Acts 13:22,34,36 "the sure mercies of David" cp. Isaiah 55:3). Yah'shua (Jesus) came not only to redeem the world but to redeem Israel and to restore Israel to world dominion through the throne of David (Luke 24:21; Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 3:7), mediated through His kinsmen according to the flesh (Jeremiah 33:15-26; Psalms 122:5). As says James, the bishop of the Jerusalem Assembly (Church), to whom Paul submitted himself as the leader of Christianity (Acts 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9):
"After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up" (Acts 15:16, KJV).
In James' ruling at the Jerusalem Council, he defended the conversion of the Gentiles to "the Way" and their admittance to the new Israel without circumcision, justifying it as the fulfilment of the prophecy of Amos. In Amos 9:11-12 the house of David is restored to dominion, but it is no longer confined to Israel. It is a rule which encompasses "all the nations" (Psalm 2).
Thus, as Zachariah in Luke demonstrates, the quest to restore the Davidic monarchy symbolised this yearning for a redeemer and deliverer who would save Israel from her enemies. Yet, the wise knew Israel's enemies were angelic in nature, of whom human enemies, such as the Romans, were merely pawns in a great cosmic contest for the whole world.
Before His Ascension, the Apostles questioned Yah'shua (Jesus) about the restoration of the Kingdom (Acts 1:6). They knew He was the Davidic Messiah. Would He stay to found an earthly dynasty?
Yah'shua (Jesus) demurred, only saying that its time was in the Father's hands.
Nevertheless, the answer was soon to come. Shavu'ot (Pentecost) was just days away. While it was insignificant chronologically, it was light years in terms of the understanding and the spiritual maturity of the disciples. Yah'shua (Jesus) simply promised "the endowment of power" from the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
Thus, Shavu'ot (Pentecost) marks the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom over which Yah'shua (Jesus) presides from His Throne in Heaven. There is no earthly throne worthy of Him (Acts 2:32-36).
We see Peter taking the lead at Shavu'ot (Pentecost) as the spokesman for the Community (Church), but just as we ought not confuse the White House Press Spokesman with the President of the United States, we should recognise that Peter speaks with the counsel and consent of James (Acts 12:17), the brother of Yah'shua (Jesus) and bishop of Jerusalem - also a Davidic prince. So here we find, from the very beginning of the Christian church, a continuation of the house and throne of David manifested in a Christian caliphate consisting of the Lord's kinsmen according to the flesh, and they demonstrate the intention - as James declares in his ruling in Acts 15 - for a procession and infiltration of the ruling bodies of the earth, until "the whole lump is leavened".
Next week we shall be looking at redemption in prophecy, why we need literal kinsmen-redeemers in the Messianic Community (Church), and end by explaining our world mission in NCCG. I pray that this has been enlightening and exciting for you for I know that as you come to grasp the meaning of the Kinsman-Redeemer on both the cosmic and local levels you will come to a crystal clear understanding of what the Kingdom of God and what it is we must now do to build it up. May Yahweh bless you. Amen.
Brethren and sisters, we continue with our study of the Kinsman-Redeemer principle as it related both to our own salvation and to the government of the Kingdom of God. We have talked much about the redemption that has already been secured for us by Christ and now need to look at the Kingdom redemption that is yet to come (Rom.8:23).
Redemption in Prophecy
Yah'shua (Jesus) speaks in Luke 21:28 concerning the "drawing nigh of redemption" (and equates that with "the kingdom of God" v. 31) when the "times of the Gentiles are fulfilled". Is this the redemption Paul speaks of in reference to the physical resurrection? Of course not. If we believe that the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor.15:24-26), then we must expect that the resurrection will occur at the end of history (Jn.11, where Yah'shua (Jesus) repeatedly says the resurrection will occur at "the last day"), after Yah'shua (Jesus) has subjugated all other foes.
What we have promised here is the kind of redemption the people of Israel were expecting: the Davidic kingdom and the Millennial reign. In James 5:7-8, James identified this redemption with the "coming of the Lord" to deliver the oppressed and to restore the Jubilee. It is the Jubilee which inaugurates the Messianic government.
When will "the times of the Gentiles" end? Paul describes it in Romans 11:25 as the consummation of history, resulting in the resurrection (v. 12, 15). What is transpiring during this "time of the Gentiles"? It is their conversion and this progressive Jubilee to the nations who embrace their redemption. And that process ends when kings and rulers of all the nations have cast their crowns at the feet of Yah'shua (Jesus) and have abdicated earthly power to the Melchizedek Priesthood, which represents the Messianic government and enforces these laws of redemption (Psalms 2; Revelation 5:9-10).
The Messianic Community (Church) as the New Israel
As we have seen, the Messianic Community (Church) is supposed to be organised like an extended family group. It is called "the household of faith" (Gal.6:10), the "household of God" (Eph.2:19), and so on. The Messianic Community (Church) is led by the elders, a continuing structure of government inherited from the old Israel by the new Israel (Acts 15:4,6; 14:23; Titus 1:5, etc.) And they were expected to be family men (1 Timothy 3:1-7, where the 'bishop' is the elder).
These texts in Acts are important; for these are the elders of the old Israel who were transferred over to the new Israel by swearing allegiance to Yah'shua (Jesus) as the Davidic Messiah and to James as His viceroy. These family elders were the result of a line of family succession which extended back to the times of the Patriarchs and which we identified in Exodus as antedating the Mosaic government. That Eldership was transferred over to the Messianic Community (Church).
Antagonists who adhere to a spiritualised model for the Church see these references as analogies only. They do not accept the proposition that the Church is coextensive with the family as an institution nor a continuation of the old Israel. In other words, they do not believe that a man can call his family an assembly or church, his household a congregation, and himself its priest or pastor. Nor do they believe there is a continuation of the Davidic Covenant or that Christians may refer to themselves as 'Israelites' in any literal sense. They believe that the Church is a discontinuity in history and that succession has come through the Apostles to the elders which they ordained in an imperial way, not by election or an outgrowth of family government.
They support such views with texts like 1 Timothy 3:5 which distinguishes a man's family from the Church:
"For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (KJV)
Their argument is strengthened by the text on deacons which indicates that the church is a separate institution from the family (1 Timothy 3:8). It is not commanded that the bishop's deacon be his son, as was expected in the Old Testament among priestly families and the Levites. In those times a man's successor began as his deacon or servant (e.g. Joshua was Moses' deacon and Abraham's servant, Eliezer almost became his heir). Rather, it appears that the Pauline pattern follows the pre-dynastic system of judges established by Moses, except that it is a single-tiered (perhaps, double-tiered) system and not the decimal system that we find in Exodus 18.
We would do well to remember that when the Apostles used the term 'church', they were not thinking of the "kirk" or the structure which we use for worship. Indeed, the early Church had no such structures. The 'church' was the 'ekklesia' or 'assembly', which were the people of Yahweh. Wherever they gathered to worship, even if they were few, there was the 'church'. In setting forth ecclesiastical officers of bishops, deacons, and so on, the Apostles were establishing leaders for the people, not custodians of buildings.
And in these texts, it is quite clear that they were non-familial offices (see also 1 Clement 42-44). It ought to be asked why Paul made a departure from the ancient practice of family elders? Or was he simply following Moses and establishing a layer of Divine imperial government over the family elders of Israel? If he was establishing an imperial layer of government, why was it not according to the firstborn pattern?
While we might say they were firstborn in a derivative way, since Paul himself was in submission to James at Jerusalem (as indicated earlier), closer examination of the texts suggest that these offices were provisional. In 1 Timothy 3:14-15, immediately following his episcopal instructions, Paul tells Timothy, "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly" - implying that there was more that needed to be said but that this would suffice for the moment. It suggests that the provisions of 1 Timothy 3 on ecclesiastical offices, and indeed the whole of the pastoral epistle, were temporary, requiring better organisation when the Apostle arrived.
The same is true of Paul's counsel to Titus (1:5):
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee" (KJV)
Here the Apostle tells us that the Christians of Crete lacked leadership. They lacked elders and Titus was required to establish a government for the assemblies (churches) "in every city". Such statements allow the inference that these might be viewed as temporary provisions to meet an emergency. Yet, most commentators overlook these passages which establish the context and assume that the order that Paul is setting forth is the ideal standard for all times.
Thus, the spiritualisers first fail to make a distinction between the Gentile assemblies (churches) and the Jewish assemblies (churches), and that Paul's Apostolic authority (Galatians 2:7) extended to the Gentile assemblies (churches) and not to those of the Hebrew firstborn. We lose all sense of proportion because most of the New Testament was written by Paul. Prior to the Bar Kochba rebellion, the assemblies (churches) of Palestine were filled with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Christians, while the infant Gentile assemblies (churches) were widely scattered and were numbered in the mere thousands, perhaps tens of thousands. The churches of Palestine were organised around pre-existing family elders. The Gentile assemblies (churches), often representing a gathering of fractured families, slaves from the households of unbelieving masters, and unattached men and women, did not have this familial heritage and needed an external source for church government. Thus, these instructions in the Pastoral Epistles were ministerial in character, serving the provisional needs of the Gentile Christians at the time, and not didactic in the sense of setting forth universal principles. (Lest some take issue with this interpretation of the text, let it be noted that virtually no religious group adheres to these standards of clerical candidacy today. If they did, they would have to wait until men completed the successful rearing of their children, which usually doesn't occur until 50 or 60 years of age, and never occurs in those churches which require celibacy. I know of no group which requires its elders to be old.)
Second, they fail to understand the words of James the Just in his ruling of Acts 15. There he identified the eschatological objective of the Church "to raise up the tabernacle of David" amongst the Gentiles. This is a clear reference to the Messianic government of the firstborn Eldership. In other words, Paul's counsel in the Pastoral Epistles was in anticipation of this impending climax: the purging of the unbelieving Jewish Eldership from the life of Israel to make way for the family of Christ. This occurred after Paul's death in 70 AD at the fall of Jerusalem and represents the period from that event to the Bar Kochba revolt.
Third, these Gentile elders, while family men themselves and presumably the priests of their own homes, were receiving the kind of sacerdotal training at home that would equip them to be spiritual leaders of the Messianic Community (Church). The Messianic Community (Church) being the collection of Christian families in a village or city over which he was a general supervisor, required a unifying figure that represented the Throne of Christ. Thus, for the Gentiles, it was an imposition from the outside of an imperial government: the government of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). But it was restorative in character. And because it was not firstborn, it had various limitations and restrictions to prevent the formation of competing, non-Davidic dynasties.
Why You Need a Kinsman-Redeemer
We have established that the Hebrew firstborn elders were the legitimate successors of the old Israel which formed the nucleus of the Messianic Community (Church) and that they retained the office of the Kinsman-Redeemer as a continuation of the Davidic Covenant. One last question remains: why do you need such an elder as your Kinsman-Redeemer? The answer is found in the need for spiritual covering.
Currently, perhaps for most people in the world, the state serves as their covering. The problem with that kind of provision is that the state is a manifestation of the satanic principle in government. The state operates by coercion and the threat of violence. Deadly force backs-up the state's claim to authority. You will recall that the Scriptures teach that Satan is the angel of death. Yah'shua (Jesus) came to destroy him and the principle of death (Heb.2:14).
That does not mean that there is no death penalty and no natural death in the Messianic Kingdom. It still exists, but during the Millennial Period, it is so rare as to be an oddity. Why? Because the principle of sin, which is the cause of death, is destroyed. Yah'shua (Jesus) and His Messianic viceroys nip sin in the bud before it can manifest itself into a deadly force. There is no provocation; there is no temptation. Contrary to this, Satan and his followers in the state encourage sin and crime in order to sustain their positions. It is a kind of perverse job security mentality. They profit from sin and violence and they covertly, if not overtly, promote lawbreaking to justify state violence and policing.
You have two choices: the Messianic government of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) mediated through the firstborn on the one hand or Satanic government mediated through the officers of the state on the other. To reject a firstborn elder is a vote for satanic government.
In saying this, I do not mean to say that satanic government is so evil as never to be obeyed. Indeed, the Apostles and the Fathers are quite clear that we must submit to these rulers "for conscience sake", meaning in submission to their intended purpose, whether perfectly fulfilled or not. If they fail, if they are under satanic influence, we must pray for them, even exorcise them, so that they will do our Lord's bidding. Whether they admit it or not, civil rulers are under the iron sceptre of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). That is why tyrants do not rule very long. Christ destroys them through war, disease or treachery. And if they are good rulers, conscious of their mandate to punish evil doers and reward the righteous, then they are fulfilling the objectives of Messianic government in a de facto sense.
Enthroning firstborn elders in our assemblies (churches) is the first step toward a de jure as well as a de facto government. The officers of state are the deacons of these firstborn princes in the civil realm. A twisted version of this system was copied by Medieval Catholicism, but it failed because it was not organically connected to the family structure. Indeed, it was at war with the family. But that is not what we are talking about here.
The Restoration of the Chavurat Bekorot
The burning question that must therefore be asked is this: where are the firstborn sons of Israel? They are not, as some groups maintain, an élite race in hiding. We do not need to trace some genealogical chart in order to find them. Neither do we need some mythical angelic 'authority' or 'laying on of hands' as some churches insist. Satan is terrified of the firstborn sons of Israel and has created numerous counterfeit system from Catholicism to Mormonism to try and pawn off those who are not called. There are even some who believe in tracking down the physical descendants of Christ as though genealogy confers some magical endowment. It doesn't.
We learn from Scripture that the descendants of Abraham would bless all the nations and we have seen how through history that blood has been dispersed amongst all the nations and mingled with them. Some Christians are very excited about the 'Jews' and the 'Republic of Israel', seeing in them the fulfilment of prophecy. This is not, however, correct. Apart from the fact that probably less than 5% of modern Jews have any racial connection to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah at all, the apostles make it plain in scripture that - as we have already seen - true Israel is the original Israel which accepts Yah'shua (Jesus) as the Messiah (Christ). And all those Gentiles who accept the Messiah then become grafted into the vine of Israel and become Israelites by adoption. The New Testament speaks of the restoration of all twelve tribes of Israel, not just Judah.
The simple truth is as follows: all those who respond to the call of Yah'shua (Jesus) as Deliverer and Saviour, and seek to obey His commandments - the New Covenant Torah - with the same passion and enthusiasm the Israelites of old are Israel, are Israel. They demonstrate, by their response to the invitation to receive their Kinsman-Redeemer and obey the laws of Yahweh, their Israelite origin. Every true believer is an Israelite. However, not all Israelites are believers, because even the sons of Abraham have free choice, and can sin, and fall into apostasy as Israel and Judah did of old.
The New Covenant Church of God (B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh) is different from other churches and ministries inasmuch as it has two simultaneous systems of government. The first is the Chavurat Bekorot, which in the Hebrew means "Assembly or Fellowship of the Firstborn", and is also known by us as the 'Holy Order'. It is a gathering of the firstborn sons and daughters of Yahweh who love Him with all their might, mind, and strength, who accept Yah'shua (Jesus) as their Kinsman-Redeemer, and who seek to be faithful to all of New Covenant Torah. It is a Melchizedek Order inasmuch as it is founded on the family system that I have been speaking of. It is in the process of being built right now. It is young, being only in the first generation, so the family system is small but growing, and will take another generation at least to be properly established.
Under the authority and leadership of the Chavurat Bekorot are the assemblies, local colonies, or congregations of NCCG which are organised after the gentile system given to Paul. This, as we have seen, is important in the beginning stages of this work, because the first gathering of believers disrupts the family system built up within a pagan context with its nuclear family principle, though even this is being shattered by Satan making for numerous single spiritual orphans. The calling of bishops, pastors, and elders is a temporary one as the Melchizedek Firstborn Family system is gradually established. As Eliezer was adopted by Abraham as his son, so today firstborn elders are adopting other spiritual sons until such a time as they can be established - over another one or two generations - in their own right as tribal heads.
What we are doing here in Sweden and elsewhere is building up the first of these firstborn communities by establishing true family theocratic government. The apostles serve as firstborn fathers and adopt the various bishops and pastors around the world in the local NCCG congregations as their spiritual sons. This process of adoption extends all the way down to the new member as pastors adopt elders, elders adopt deacons, and deacons adopt unordained members, creating a new family structure that mirrors the Israelite one. Every Elder and Deacon is a member of the Holy Order once they have been trained and have entered into familial covenants. From then on they come under the firstborn system of theocratic government which shall prevail in the Millennium. Thus every new member will have a deacon as his spiritual 'father', and elder as his spiritual 'grandfather', a pastor as his spiritual great-grandfather, a bishop as his spiritual great-great grandfather, and an apostle as his spiritual great-great-great grandfather! By a system of ingrafting we are able to establish, in one generation, a family structure on the spiritual plane that extends back several 'generations'. In time, this adoptive system will be replaced by the same kind of family organisation as obtained in ancient Israel as our families intermarry and create blood ties in addition to the spiritual ones. Hence the warning not to marry outside the faith! We are to marry within the covenant always and strengthen the family ties to Christ.
This is what we have been called to do and we invite you to be a part of it. It is a glorious Kingdom to be part of. It is the true theocracy of Yahweh - not arbitrary or based on unrighteous dominion, but based in fully submission to Yahweh and His Torah. For one who breaks Torah and faith in the Kinsman-Redeemer is cut off from the vine tree of Israel, just as the Jews were who refused to accept the Messiah. Though they still claim to be Yahweh's people - and those who refuse to obey the commandments still call themselves 'Christians' - they are in truth spiritual orphans without any kinsman-redeemer.
This is a wonderful system of spiritual covering that makes the Messianic Community (Church) strong. And it is what Satan hates so passionately because it serves as a wall against him. Just as husbands cover their wives and children, so deacons cover new members, elders cover deacons, pastors cover elders, bishops cover pastors, and apostles cover bishops. Our duties - as in any true family government - are clearly delineated, and we are to provide service as kinsman-redeemers on all of the five levels and more both in the practical sphere as well as in prayer cover.
This is the way heaven is organised, brethren and sisters, and we are to bring heaven to earth. We do not yet have the land of Israel or the planet as a whole to give us a physical nation, but that will be restored when Christ returns. In the meantime we are to build up 12 cities of refuge - 12 firstborn colonies - where such government can be established, and numerous proto-firstborn colonies to train the elders up in the ways of Yahweh; and from these we are to nourish and bring back the local congregations of NCCG into the firstborn life by encouraging them to submit themselves to Yahweh in all things and so prepare to live the familiar structure.
We have been many years in the preparation and have many years yet to go. Our desire is that you should capture this vision and yearn for it with all your hearts. And then, when your hearts are aflame, to step forward and to offer yourself for service as deacons - as shamashim - as servants of the Most High and your brethren, for the foundation of this service is the Deaconate. We are a community of servers, each serving one another in our allotted spheres, bringing to pass the Kingdom in an orderly and loving way as was revealed in the beginning and which we have been empowered now to do by faith in the Empowerer, our Kinsman-Redeemer, the Lord Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Amen.
James Wesley Stivers, The Kinsman
This page was created on 14 August 2003
Last updated on 14 August 2003
Copyright © 1987-2007 NCCG - All Rights Reserved