LOOKING for a CITY
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
DECEMBER 11, 2011
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11)
The other day, I commented to Lenny, “THIS is what IT is.” When he asked me what I meant, I explained to him, as if he hasn’t figured it out after 30 years of marriage, that I am a “task oriented” type of person. If there’s a job, get out of my way and let me do it, for there is no rest for me until I complete it. That worked well for us in Real Estate, because we worked on commission, meaning that if an escrow did not close, we had no money. God honored my personality quirks until it was time to show me Who was in control. That began in 1996, and ended in 1998, when God called us from our home in California to a “far country,” (Neosho, MO). Since that is documented in Faxes From The Fiery Furnace, I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say that my orientation always was to get “this” done, whatever it was, so I could take a deep breath and rest. Sound good? Maybe, but the trouble is that there is always another “this” waiting in the pipeline.
The Lord reminded me that Abraham also was looking for something which he did not have: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:8-10)
When Stephen was speaking before the Sanhedrin, he stated, “God sent him (Abraham) to this land where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.” (Acts 7:4-5) In other words, God blessed Abraham with the fruits of the Promised Land, making him extremely wealthy, without giving him the deed to it. He got the title to his inheritance after he left this life!
Perhaps this is where the idea held by most Christians came from, i.e., that all the goodies God has for us are reserved for us in heaven and we cannot partake of them until we get there, or until Christ comes again, whichever comes first. In one sense, it is, of course true, especially concerning the welfare of our physical bodies, but in a spiritual sense, it is absolutely NOT true. I often quote Eph. 1:11 about God “working all things after the counsel of His own will” (RSV), but the King James Version is also powerful: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Notice the present perfect tense of the verb, “have obtained.” It refers to something already done which we may enjoy now, not after we get to heaven, and more than that, something that is continually, progressively, on-goingly being done. What a glorious thought!
In Col. 1:12, Paul affirmed that we are “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” The verb “has qualified” is also in the present perfect tense, another indication of something which is already accomplished by God in our lives. We are even now, the “saints in light.” John asserted, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) Jesus not only is IN the light, He IS the light, and “in him,” Paul wrote, “we live and move, and have our being.” (Acts. 17:28) It always thrills me that the Apostle was not talking to believers here, but to pagan men who were so confused about the divine presence that they had erected a statue dedicated “to an unknown god.” The New Testament bears witness to the importance and benefits of being “in Christ” some 69 times, making a definite point that LIGHT is where we live, right now!
We hear from many people who because of adverse circumstances they face daily, do not feel like they live in the light. Rather, it appears to them that they are stumbling around in darkness and confusion. No matter what it looks like or feels like to our physical sense, with our spiritual eyes, we look beyond the world, the flesh, and the devil to behold Him who Is Light, and when God opens our eyes to see it, we realize that we are the recipients of the promise Isaiah made so long ago: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isa. 9:2) We are those people, those saints who dwell in light, and in fact, we are the inheritance of God Himself (Eph. 1:18). That is a powerful statement which the Spirit must gently ease us into lest we think we’ve lost our minds.
Isaiah wrote passionately about the day when the glory of the Lord would come upon His people: “My Spirit who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths or your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.” (Isa. 59:21) Looking forward to the day when the “Way,” the “Truth,” and the “Light” would leave the portals of glory and walk the earth in human flesh, Isaiah transports us with him to the very Throne of God, as he soars into the heavenly places with these glorious words: “Arise shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isa. 60:1-3)
The city Abraham was looking for is the Kingdom of God, which is here today. It’s one of those blessed truths which Christians often project out into the future, but the kingdom (the city set on a hill) is here now! Once when Jesus drove out a demon, with the result that the man who had been mute could speak, the Jews accused him of driving out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons. He said to them, “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” (Luke 11:20) Back when I was speaking at Medicalodge, I would tell the old dears that the evidence of the kingdom is the rule of God, and then I would ask, “Is there any place where God does not rule?” Some shook their heads “No,” but one woman held up her hand and said, “hell.” That’s not true either, for the Psalmist declared “If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.” (Ps. 139.8) In other words, there is no place in the Universe where God isn’t, and if He is everywhere, then He reigns everywhere; He is sovereign over every person and every place, whether they know it or not. That is the glory of the kingdom come to earth.
The Apostle John saw the city Abraham sought descending from heaven: “And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2) Abraham, the father of our faith has led us to the city whose builder and maker is God.
Father we worship You for the glorious gift You have given us: Yourself. We thank You for continuously giving us victory over the darkness in our minds, for soothing our weary souls, and healing our infirm bodies. You have done this by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, which is: Our God Reigns! Pour out Your Love, Mercy and Kindness IN us and THROUGH us to all who may still be walking in darkness. At this time of year, when our days grow darker and shorter, may Your Great Light shine brighter and more glorious than ever. In Christ we ask it, Amen.