BRINGING HEAVEN DOWN
By Fleeing to Freedom
“Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken about by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place (let the reader use discernment), then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains.”
– Matthew 24:15-16
This was the instruction given by Jesus to his apostles and disciples in the 1st century. They were to pay attention to the development of events within Jerusalem, and when they ‘caught sight of the disgusting thing standing in a holy place,’ they were to ‘begin fleeing to the mountains.’ As explained in the prior article in this series, Bringing Heaven Down – Discerning the Time of Inspection, there are striking similarities between the modern day organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses and 1st century Jerusalem. And we expressed the need for Jehovah’s Witnesses to use their discernment and begin their flight to freedom. We directed this message to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but we know there are other religious associations, large and small, who are also following the fateful pattern of 1st century Jerusalem.
Because these groups exist all over the globe, there is no ‘mountain of safety’ for those fleeing international religious organizations. Our refuge is in the Father Himself, as the Apostle Paul wrote:
“And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: “I will reside among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “‘Therefore, get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’”; “‘and I will take you in.’” “‘And I will become a father to you, and you will become sons and daughters to me,’ says Jehovah, the Almighty.”
– 2 Corinthians 6:15-18
We gain our protection and freedom by our consciousness of sonship with God. By our knowing that we have been set free and truly liberated from religious ignorance and oppression. (Luke 4:18-21) And such a flight begins in the mind – breaking away from the mental bonds that hold one in servitude to men.
In preparing for our own flight to freedom and its associated responsibilities, let’s take a closer look at Jerusalem’s demise and see if we can discern any further patterns and parallels. Doing so may highlight the urgency of ‘fleeing Jerusalem’ to the mountain of refuge by ‘becoming sons and daughters to the Father.’
A Pattern of Destruction
Jesus gave the above instructions to flee Jerusalem because he realized that the rejection of the spiritual concept of the Messiah – their determination to cling persistently and blindly to a fleshly mission of the expected deliverer – would bring the Jews in direct conflict with the powerful Roman armies, and that such a contest could only result in the final and complete overthrow of the Jewish nation. When the Jews rejected Jesus’ spiritual ministry and message, and refused to receive the light of heaven, they thereby sealed their doom as an independent people with a special spiritual mission on earth. The Romans were fully aware of the Jewish expectation that a Messiah would appear who would crush the Roman rule and govern from the seat of David in Jerusalem. More than anything else, it is this secular idea of the Messiah that directly led to the turbulence which eventually brought about Jerusalem’s destruction.
Since his apostles and disciples were to become the cradle of the early gospel movement, Jesus did not want its teachers and preachers to perish in the terrible overthrow of Jerusalem. For this reason, he gave the instructions to his followers to flee. He was no doubt concerned that some of his disciples might become involved in these soon-coming revolts and perish in the downfall of Jerusalem as a result. So he advised that they could remain in the city for a time, but at the very latest, when they finally see the Roman armies encamped about the city, they must flee and not return:
“Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house, and let the man in the field not return to pick up his outer garment. Woe to the pregnant women and those nursing a baby in those days! Keep praying that your flight may not occur in wintertime nor on the Sabbath day; for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”
– Matthew 24:17-22
About 30 years after Jesus gave these instructions, the Jews found themselves in direct conflict with Rome, ostensibly over the matter of taxation. In about 66 C.E., in response to the Jewish protest against taxation, Roman troops boldly entered the temple and took money directly from the temple treasury to pay the taxes. The city thereafter fell into turmoil and open rebellion against Rome. This invasion of the temple was the sign that watchful Christian Jews were awaiting, and in response, they fled the city.
During the next 4 years, the Jews in Jerusalem engaged in numerous battles against the Roman army, even killing about 6,000 Roman soldiers in one skirmish. This short-lived victory served to embolden the Jews and give them a false sense of security and an atmosphere of peace, as the Apostle Paul prophesied nearly 16 years earlier:
“Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying, “Peace and security!” then sudden destruction is to be instantly on them, just like birth pains on a pregnant woman, and they will by no means escape. But you, brothers, you are not in darkness, so that the day should overtake you as it would thieves, for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We belong neither to night nor to darkness.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5
Finally, in or about 70 C.E., the Roman army encircled the city as Jesus foretold, trapping all those who remained inside, and laid siege for 7 months:
“Because the days will come upon you when your enemies will build around you a fortification of pointed stakes and will encircle you and besiege you from every side. They will dash you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you, because you did not discern the time of your being inspected.”
– Luke 19:43-44
During this time, factions within Jerusalem began warring with each other – some wanted to negotiate a surrender, but the zealots wanted to fight on. In an attempt to encourage fighting, the zealots burned the food supplies which resulted in a large number of inhabitants starving to death.
Finally, the city fell. The Romans ransacked the city, again entered the temple and took away, not just the outstanding taxes, but the entire temple treasury. Over 1 million Jews were killed, most of them at Jewish hands or due to starvation, and nearly 100,000 were taken into captivity.
But that was not the end of matters. Recall Jesus additional warnings against being misled by ‘false messiahs’ who claim to have God’s backing:
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. Look! I have forewarned you. Therefore, if people say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.”
– Matthew 24:23-26
There was no need to find another Messiah. Jesus explained that, by means of spirit, he was with everyone who gathers together in his name (Matthew 18:20):
“For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
– Matthew 24:27-28
Or as Luke stated it:
“Where the body is, there also the eagles will be gathered together.”
– Luke 17:37
Yet for another 3 years after the fall of Jerusalem, other Jewish settlements outside of Jerusalem carried on the false proclamation of divine backing, and continued the insurrection against Rome.
Some zealots who had previously fled Jerusalem did not go to Pella in the north. They chased the retreating Roman army to Masada in the south where they overtook the Roman garrison and settled in that city. But, in time, they too were wiped out. The renowned battle, known as ‘the Siege of Masada,’ ended in mass suicide of over 960 Jews. And by 74 C.E., the Jewish revolt was put down. But the watchful band of Christians who had heeded Jesus warning, found safety in the mountains of Pella and survived to continue spreading Jesus message of peace and good will.
Is there a pattern or parallel for us in this 21st century? What can we glean from the events that befell Jerusalem and the surrounding insurgents? Let the reader use discernment! History has a way of repeating itself, especially when the players model themselves after historic figures. A religious organization that chooses to sow the same seeds as 1st century Jerusalem, will reap the same crop. That is a divine law. They cannot flout their disrespect of Jesus’ kindly and light load, and then expect divine favor.
“Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap; because the one sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but the one sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.”
– Galatians 6:7-8
Like the 1st century Jews, many Christian associations today reject the spiritual mission of Jesus and fully expect Jesus to physically war against modern day governments and set up a kingdom on earth. Many of these groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and other prophecy-based ministries, have been rather vocal in their condemnation of various secular governments, and these governments have taken note. Despite the fact that these same religious groups enjoy constitutional protections, tax exempt status, and freedom to practice their religion without governmental intervention, they are determined to bite the hands that supports their right to exist. By placing themselves in direct conflict with the secular governments, and refusing to submit to the spiritual ministry of Jesus and the heavenly kingdom of God, we can expect that they will suffer the same fate as ancient Jerusalem. It is likely this factor, above all others, that will bring about their downfall.
It is imperative that those who claim to follow Christ ‘learn war no more’ (Isaiah 2:4) and find ways to ‘be peaceable with all men.’ (Romans 12:18) Jesus did not contend with the Romans. He paid ‘Caesar’s things to Caesar’ (Matthew 22:21), and went about his ministry. We too must stop contending with others and ‘be about the Father’s business’ of raising the spiritual conversation and expanding the consciousness of sonship with God worldwide. The task of a Christian is to ‘bring heaven down’ by preaching the good news of the heavenly kingdom (Matthew 24:14) so that ‘God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ (Matthew 6:10) This is no time to be entangled in a self-created controversy by supporting a religious organization that is determined to cause its own destruction. Jesus did not want his teachers and preachers to be any part of the conflict that led to Jerusalem’s demise. He surely feels the same way about his brothers today.
If we find ourselves entangled in a religious organization that looks to Jesus as a warrior king who will do battle with his own creation and bring about the worst catastrophe imaginable, then it is time to flee. It is time to run to the Father as His children – His sons and daughters – and let Him ‘take us in.’ (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
Fleeing to the Father
Fleeing the comforts of a religious authority is scary to some. They wonder: How will I know what is right? How will I know what to do? Indeed, how will I worship God without the direction and guidance of men? The key to fleeing to safety lies in developing the art of self-governance. Jesus prepared his followers for self-governance by changing them from slaves to sons of God. Paul explained this to the Christians who gathered together in Galatia:
“Now I say that as long as the heir is a young child, he is no different from a slave, although he is the lord of all things, but he is under supervisors and stewards until the day set ahead of time by his father. Likewise, we too, when we were children, were enslaved by the elementary things of the world. But when the full limit of the time arrived, God sent his Son, who was born of a woman and who was under law, that he might release by purchase those under law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons. Now because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, and it cries out: “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, then you are also an heir through God.”
– Galatians 4:1-7
These early Christians needed to be reminded that they were a free people, whether they were Jew or gentile, and no longer under the stewardship of so-called priests and reverent men. The ‘full limit of time’ had arrived. It was time to reveal to all men that they are all children of God and heirs to the heavenly kingdom. They were released from spiritual bondage to men and freed to worship God uninhibited. It was their Jubilee!
That the Father expects us to learn self-governance is made clear by the words of the Apostle Paul to the Hebrew Christians. After explaining how inadequate the ministry of earthly priests are, he said:
“But now Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry because he is also the mediator of a correspondingly better covenant, which has been legally established on better promises.”
- Hebrews 8:6-9
The earlier covenant based on laws and strict religious observances served its purpose of organizing a people in anticipation of heavenly things, but it was not capable of creating free sons who were to experience the realities of heavenly things. So the Father promised that, in time, he would make a new covenant, mediated by Jesus:
“‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ says Jehovah. ‘I will put my laws in their mind, and in their hearts I will write them. And I will become their God, and they will become my people. And they will no longer teach each one his fellow citizen and each one his brother, saying: “Know Jehovah!” For they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful toward their unrighteous deeds, and I will no longer call their sins to mind.’”
– Hebrews 8:10-12
And when that time came – when Jesus arrived – God removed the old covenant and the requirement to worship Him by way of ‘types and shadows,’ or laws and rituals:
“In his saying ‘a new covenant,’ he has made the former one obsolete. Now what is obsolete and growing old is near to vanishing away.”
– Hebrews 8:13
When man learns to worship God through faith in Christ Jesus, they become free sons – free from laws and rules and rituals. They learn to worship God from the heart by means of spirit, and they are on equal footing with all men, including so-called priests and reverent men:
“However, before the faith arrived, we were being guarded under law, being handed over into custody, looking to the faith that was about to be revealed. So the Law became our guardian leading to Christ, so that we might be declared righteous through faith. But now that the faith has arrived, we are no longer under a guardian. You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”
– Galatians 3:23-28
Self governance is made possible by our faith in Jesus who lived as a free son of the Father in a world that did not understand nor favor true liberty. By his ministry, he removed every obstacle that was placed before us and he showed how simple it is to live free – by the law written in our hearts. The things he taught and the life he led were designed to show us the way so that we can prove to ourselves that we, too, can live successfully as free people if we would only accept his kindly and light yoke.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild- tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for yourselves. For my yoke is kindly, and my load is light.”
– Matthew 11:29-20
This liberty, and its corresponding self-governance, continues down to this day as the sons of God awaken to their true identity. Even if we once viewed ourselves as slaves of God and wards of men, the truth remains that we are free sons of the Father. We are to break free from the shackles of religions of authority and turn to a religion of the spirit, guided by spirit, not by laws and not by men.
“Moreover, the holy spirit also bears witness to us, for after it has said: ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,’ says Jehovah. ‘I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.’”
– Hebrews 10:15
We become a people who are without a written law, but we are not lawless. We become a law to ourselves – self-governed:
“For when people of the nations, who do not have law, do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them, and by their own thoughts they are being accused or even excused.”
– Romans 2:14-15
But such freedom carries with it certain responsibilities. Since we are ‘no longer under supervisors and stewards,’ we become responsible for our own salvation. We are required to walk by faith in God and Christ Jesus, not by what we see standing before us, as Paul wrote:
“So we are always of good courage and know that while we have our home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we are walking by faith, not by sight. But we are of good courage and would prefer to be absent from the body and to make our home with the Lord. So whether at home with him or absent from him, we make it our aim to be acceptable to him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ, so that each one may be repaid according to the things he has practiced while in the body, whether good or bad.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Here is where faith comes in. Here is where we ask ourselves what we truly believe. Here is where we test our faith in Jesus’ life example and his promises. Remember, he said:
“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”
– Matthew 18:20
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”
– Matthew 28:19-20
Do you believe that? Do you have the confidence of knowing that when we get together with others of like faith, whether it is 2 or 200, Jesus is with us? We do not need to be part of a large ‘organized’ congregation in order to fellowship with Jesus. Even in a small Christian family of husband and wife, Jesus remains there and rests in that home. So how much more so when we invite others of like faith over to share a meal and spiritual conversation!
Jesus also said:
“And I will ask the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither sees it nor knows it. You know it, because it remains with you and is in you. I will not leave you bereaved. I am coming to you.”
– John 14:16-18
“I still have many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them now. However, when that one comes, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own initiative, but what he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things to come. That one will glorify me, because he will receive from what is mine and will declare it to you. All the things that the Father has are mine. That is why I said he receives from what is mine and declares it to you.”
– John 16:12-15
Do we believe that? Do we have faith that there is a helper for us that we cannot see, but who will guide us into all truth? We learn the preliminary elementary and fundamental matters from men, but when we have come to a basic understanding of our true selves and have entered the race for life by confessing union with Christ Jesus and being baptized into his death (Romans 6:3), we are expected to leave the ‘tutor’ or ‘guardians’ behind and exercise faith in the Spirit of Truth as our helper and guide.
“So the Law became our guardian leading to Christ, so that we might be declared righteous through faith. But now that the faith has arrived, we are no longer under a guardian.”
– Galatians 3:24-25
Really, once we have the fundamentals, the anointing of spirit continues our teachings:
“And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but the anointing from him is teaching you about all things and is true and is no lie. Just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.”
– 1 John 2:27
Those who operate under a fear of men (or the need for the stewardship of men) lack faith in the power of the Spirit of Truth, and are very uncomfortable with this arrangement. They fear that Christians will go wild without strict oversight. That is the same fear that caused Emperor Constantine to convene the Nicaean Council in 325 C.E., which began the downfall of free Christianity into the servitude of men. (This is explained in more detail in Bringing Heaven Down – Regaining Our Liberty, subheading “Liberty Lost.”)
In following the Spirit of Truth, we will not be lost. Our way will not be unsure. Jesus continues to speak through the spirit, and those who belong to him know his voice.
“But the one who enters through the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens to this one, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.”
– John 10:3-4
It will be as the prophet Isaiah prophesied:
“And your own ears will hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way. Walk in it,” in case you should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.”
– Isaiah 30:21
At some point in Christianity’s history, we must trust our Lord and have faith that he knew what he was doing when he freed us and left us to the charge of the Spirit of Truth. We must give the Spirit of Truth an opportunity to lead us and guide us. What do we have to lose? The alternative – failing to trust the Spirit of Truth – is what has gotten Christianity to the sorry state it finds itself in today. If you are unclear as to how the Spirit of Truth works, see these articles: Expanding Our Spiritual Vision, The Bestowal of the Spirit of Truth and The Reality of the Spirit of Truth. And feel free to write us with your comments and questions.
Operating under the Spirit of Truth requires faith – faith in Jesus’ words that we can rely on the Spirit of Truth, faith in the power of Jesus to direct the Spirit of Truth, and faith in ourselves that we can follow the leadings of the Spirit of Truth. This is the foundation of self-governance – the ability of the spirit to live out loud. We will be writing more on the matter of self-governance in future articles.
In the meantime, we must take control of our own salvation, for God will hold us individually accountable for our actions:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ, so that each one may be repaid according to the things he has practiced while in the body, whether good or bad.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:10
We do not need the rules and commands of men to gain salvation. Free people only need to keep two commandments – to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbor as one’s self – and we will have fulfilled all divine requirements. (Matthew 22:37-40) Paul reinforced the simplicity of true worship by the sons of God when he wrote:
“You were called to freedom, brothers; only do not use this freedom as an opportunity to pursue fleshly desires, but through love slave for one another. For the entire Law has been fulfilled in one commandment, namely: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
– Galatians 5:13-14
The first commandment has to do with our relationship with God. If we keep that commandment, we will have a pure and holy relationship with the Father. The second commandment has to do with our relationships with one another. If we keep that commandment, we will have good relationships with all mankind and will have eliminated the need for rules of conduct and laws of men.
And we can go one step further. We can apply the ‘new commandment’ Jesus gave just before his death – to love one another ‘as Jesus loved us.’ (John 13:34) This was a superior love, higher than brotherly love (philia). It was a fatherly love (agape). If we take that extra step of showing fatherly love to our brothers, we can be assured of pleasing the Father of All and in doing good to the least of Christ’s brothers. (Matthew 25:40) What more is needed? If the Father and Christ Jesus are satisfied with these commandments, who is man to require more of us?
So you see, brothers, we are fully equipped to flee from oppressive religious organizations. We can flee into the care of the Father and not look back. We can shake the dust off our feet and let the dead bury the dead. And go about with our Christian freedom doing the perfect will of God – the best and right thing under the circumstances.
Bringing it All Together
This series of articles on Bringing Heaven Down has come full circle. We began with the “Ninevite Possibility” in Turning Back Destruction, where we propose an alternative future for mankind other than global destruction. We showed that neither the Father nor Christ Jesus are interested in destroying their creation. We showed that the true ‘good news of the kingdom’ is what will save mankind. And we encouraged our brothers to have faith in the power of godly devotion to effect that change.
In Training Our Perceptive Powers, we explained that in order to see the true good news, we will have to learn the difference between a plain teaching and a prophecy. We explained that the failure to make this distinction is why so many Christians have a morbid fear of their future. And we encouraged our brothers to go back to the basics – the plain and open teachings of Jesus – and build our faith on that foundation.
In The Perfect Will of God, we explained that doing the Father’s will is not a difficult or complicated undertaking. We explained that it simply means that we are doing the best and right thing under the circumstances. And we showed that the Christian load is indeed kindly and light.
In Heaven in the Home, we explained that our family members are fundamentally our brothers in Christ, and that home is where we begin ‘doing good to Christ’s brothers.’ We explained that if we can love our family openly and honestly and without hypocrisy, we will develop strong communities and a better world. And we explained that home is where we begin to ‘bring heaven down.’
In A Ministry of Glad Tidings, we countered the view that our world must come to a violent end. We showed that Jesus brought glad tidings of liberty and happiness and that his message has not changed. And we explained that by taking up the true ministry, we can reverse the downward spiral of society and achieve our true destiny.
In An Open and Candid Discussion, we gave a bold response to the idea that our generation is too far gone for repentance and salvation. We showed that the world’s calamities are a result of the good news not being preached properly. And that our world’s relief will come when Jesus’ ambassadors have enough faith to do what Jesus asked of us.
In An Historic Overview, we gave an overview of man’s walk to salvation beginning with the rebellion of Lucifer and ending with the triumph of Christ Jesus. We showed that the efforts of Lucifer/Satan/the Devil to thwart God’s purpose to adopt mankind into the heavens as his sons failed centuries ago. And we gave a glimpse of why the book of Revelation is a story of victory already achieved.
In Regaining Liberty, we showed how Christian freedom was gained and lost, and how it is now in the process of being regained. We encouraged all of our brothers to do their part in regaining their own freedom and liberty and helping others to do the same.
In The Father’s Acceptable Year, we restated and re-proclaimed the ‘Father’s Acceptable Year’ that Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of his ministry. We explained the ‘good news to the poor,’ ‘liberty to the captives,’ ‘the recovery of sight to the blind,’ and how the ‘crushed ones have been freed.’ And we encouraged our brothers to take hold of their freedom and finally enjoy the Christian jubilee!
In Discerning the Time of Inspection, we boldly showed that religious organizations, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refuse to honor Christian freedom, who stifle the development of the sons of God, and who refuse to work with Christ in bringing heaven down, will suffer the same fate as 1st century Jerusalem.
And in this article, we detailed the circumstances surrounding the fall of 1st century Jerusalem as a warning example to those who find themselves in association with organizations that choose to imitate the failed nation. We explained that those who are captive to such organizations must flee to safety lest they share in their bloodguilt and their sins. We showed that we can survive the sure destruction of stubborn religious systems with their dead teachings and antiquated laws, and go on to preach the true good news so that through the message of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, we can finally bring heaven down.
All that is left is for our brothers to take a stand on the side of Christ Jesus and leave all matters of judgment to the Father. We can become a new creation by making our minds over and rebuilding our faith, this time on the solid foundation of the plain and open teachings of Jesus. And we can be the generation that ushers in a new system of religious practice, a new system founded on self-governance and mutual respect, a new system of inclusiveness and tolerance and real faith in the unseen.
We are happy to take this stand. Who will stand with us? We welcome your comments.