vs.4 “Thus says the LORD: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem…Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. vs.5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing” (Zechariah 8:3-5).
The Lord recently began to share some insights about how this might happen. At Perth Prayer many older folk were interceding in a way which revealed a deep heart understanding of fellowship with Christ’s suffering and resurrection power (Luke 6:45; Phil 3:10).
These were those who had been in the “wars of the Lord” and found faithful to the end (Num 21:14; Heb 3:14). But I grieved that there seemed to be no young people present to gain profit from their testimony.
Surprising confirmation of the urgent need to unite young and old believers came as I listened to the radio driving away from the prayer meeting. Two women talking about how millennials (18-35 yrs old) were interested in learning from the life experience of older folk. And they insisted that to create a healthy bond with the young older folk must share not just their strengths but their weaknesses e.g. envy, jealousy, insecurity.
This sounded like a message from God to me.
It’s time for mature age Christians to grasp that whilst sharing strengths may foster admiration and imitation in younger people, only sharing weakness breeds a deep sense of our co-humanity in Christ (cf. Heb 2:14).
One of the most human people in the Bible is Elijah (James 5:17).
Elijah centres in the classic biblical text concerning the reconciliation of generations, vs.5 “‘I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. vs.6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with curse’” (Mal 4:5-6).
The New Testament identifies this last days coming of Elijah with the ministry of John the Baptist (Matt 11:14; Luke 1:17). In trying to understand how the Elijah spirit brings ages together I was drawn back to the commencement of the original prophet’s ministry. He is sent by God to counter the horrible evil brought upon Israel by the Bible’s most wicked couple.
Jezebel is the mother of idolatry and Ahab her submissive instrument.
In the spiritual sphere they are the polar opposite of Christ and his Church for their ambition is to a kingdom at the cost of others’ lives (e.g.1 Ki 21).
The gruesome depths of this attitude are horribly portrayed by a story immediately prior to the arrival of Elijah. “In his (Ahab’s) days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn…” (1 Ki 16:34).
Hiel arrogantly takes upon himself the curse of the Lord uttered by Joshua that whoever rebuild Jericho would do so at the cost of his firstborn (Josh 6:26). When fathers mercilessly sacrifice their children to build an empire God cannot remain silent.
Elijah announces a drought from Yahweh in order to shock senseless Israel into repentance, lest they be totally destroyed (1 Ki 17:1; Deut 28:23-24).
This prophetic power is present in John the Baptist as the end-times Elijah (Mal 4:5-6; Matt 11:14), but in a far greater way because he sees Jesus.
As John prophesied, “‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29), he saw into God’s eternal redemptive plan to redeem humanity as sons and daughters (1 Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8).
He witnessed that self-sacrifice is the core of the divine identity, for as Paul puts it, God “purchased” the Church with “his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
In order to destroy the selfish desire of the human heart to build empires, kingdoms, businesses, churches, families… ,regardless of pain to others, the Lord must sacrifice himself (James 3:14-15).
The Baptist prophetically declares that the curse of God on sin’s selfishness will be removed through the blood of Christ.
Heliel1)hi’-el (chi’el; Achiel). Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho see url http://biblehub.com/topical/h/hiel.htm refounded Jericho by taking the life of his firstborn, the Father recreates a family by uniting in love with his Son to mutually bear the cross of humanity’s ruinous ambitions.
When Christ cries from the cross, “‘My God…why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34) we see that the joint love of Father and Son will lose anything in order to restore us to himself.
The willing self-sacrifice of Father and Son is the selfless eternal foundation upon which God builds his imperishable kingdom (1 Cor 3:15).
All spiritual fathers/mothers know that self-sacrifice is the substance of reality, and this wisdom it is at the core of what they have to impart to a younger generation.
Only a manifestly sacrificial lifestyle can engender respect with culturally conditioned cynical Christian millennials.
If your heart truly bleeds for them they will honour you in Christ!
That’s the power of the gospel.
Death to selfish profit is the substance of the mentoring network between older and younger Christians that the Lord would build in our time, and it is vastly different from our present systems.
The dominant hierarchical leadership structures and passive congregations of Church today cannot be the new wine-skin of the Spirit (Luke 5:37-39).
Young people intuitively “get” this. Genuinely new forms of doing church and outreach will only come from the wildly imaginative vision of millennials.
For new and old treasures to serve the master of the household there needs to be a storehouse of fresh youthful insight, but combined with the aged wisdom of those who know the ways of the wars of the Lord (Matt 13:52).
Without the help of mature sages youthful passion will prove inadequate to resist the devil’s wiles (2 Cor 2:11).
Joshua learned the Lord’s ways through Moses (Ps 103:7), but Saul was no spiritual father to David, so despite his great gifts and zeal for God he crashed!
I believe that Jesus has placed specific keys inside young people to unlock the cultural doors shut against his Church, and when old and young work together in love not a door will remain closed (Matt 16:18-19; Rev 3:7).
Elijah came not as a prophet of destruction but as a prophet bringing remedial judgement on a nation where sacrificing others for self’s sake had already brought a curse.
Looking across our culture and inside the Church I see vast amounts of selfish ambition which have placed us under a severe divine penalty.
In God’s order there is only one way out of this disaster, repentance. In this case the leaders of repentance need to be older more mature Christians.
So let’s start with something that doesn’t seem all that spiritual.
Let’s ask God to forgive us for looking down on the addiction of the young to tech devices, and recognise this behaviour as a symptom of something which we have all contributed to. Bondage to social media is a substitute for the spiritual and relational depth they have rarely seen!
Seen, that is, from us. Thankfully the spirit of Elijah has the power to turn older to younger and vice versa by revealing the glory and beauty of God’s deepest nature through self sacrifice. That’s a long way of saying live like Jesus in the way of the cross and let the Lord build a marvellous unity across the generations. In his fatherly delight such real oneness will be blessed in astounding ways. Not the least being bringing many young people to his fantastic Son (Ps 133).
MESSAGE DELIVERED: 29th March 2018 |
Author: Dr. John Yates
MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: N/A | | |
Related Link: Nil
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||hi’-el (chi’el; Achiel). Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho see url http://biblehub.com/topical/h/hiel.htm|