By: Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong
The following is a continuation of A Vision of Zion Part I. Click here to catch up on your reading.
Matthew 1:17 is a divinely inspired outline of History: “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon is fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.”
This verse is an outline of the history of Israel from God’s perspective. These men represent the key demarcations in the history of Israel, and it begins with Abraham and culminates in Christ. This is the genealogy of redemption.
Let’s begin with Abraham. How many of you think that Abraham is really important in the whole equation? He is the father of our faith, and without him, there is no Israel. Abraham is the key that unlocks the whole mystery of redemption.
The next person in the equation is David. God had to wait 14 generations for this man to appear. My personal opinion is it takes 14 generations for God to produce someone of calibre like King David. David was the man after God’s own heart and even Jesus is called the Greater David. David was such a great man.
Then we come to the captivity, 14 generations later. But let’s skip captivity for a moment and let’s come to Jesus. Is Jesus important? Everything in the Bible leads to this Man. He is the fulfilment of all the prophets, and He is what it is all about. He is the Redeemer and Saviour. Everything in history leads up to Him.
But what is this thing called captivity? Who is captivity? Why is it even in this list? When we were young, we used to watch a program called Sesame Street. There was a song they used to sing. “One of these things doesn’t belong here. Can you guess which one doesn’t belong here?” So, can you guess which one doesn’t fit into this list of luminaries?
Here’s a synopsis of the Captivity.
The prophet Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would be taken into captivity and for 70 long years, they would be in Babylon. About three years before the 70-year period was up, Daniel, the prophet reads this prophecy, realising that the time was almost up. So, he set himself to fast and pray, and his prayers were heard in heaven.
God answered by raising a great king called Cyrus. At the end of the 70 years, a decree was made by Cyrus for the Jews to return. We find this edict in Ezra 1.
Ezra 1: 2-6 is a record of Cyrus giving a decree for God’s people to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the City and the House of the Lord.
There were two groups of people here:
1) There were those whom the Spirit of God had stirred up to return
2) Those who helped them return (By financially supporting them).
Let’s look at the first group. Because I want you to consider what this would cost them. It would mean uprooting from Babylon, which incidentally was the wealthiest city of the ancient world, also the most idolatrous.
By this time, the Jewish community had become a well-established business fraternity in the city. They had become bankers and merchants. So just think about it for a few moments. They had to uproot themselves from all that, journey into the howling wilderness, to a future that was uncertain.
Would you do that? Would you trade your security, your comfort, your home to return to build a ruin? Unless God has done something in your heart first, unless He has placed Zion in your heart, you probably won’t. This is a supernatural thing.
But God stirred up the remnant to return, just slightly over 50,000. The KJV says God “raised up”. Another translation says God “awakened”. They gave up everything and the only reason is, they had been prepared for such a time as this. God has to awaken you to His purposes.
Would you trade your security, your comfort, your home to return to build a ruin? Unless God has done something in your heart first, unless He has placed Zion in your heart, you probably won’t.
Then in verse 6, we find the second group. They too had a good heart. They too recognised the time and season. They too supported the work of God. But they didn’t return with the remnant. Their hearts were not stirred, and they chose a lesser calling in life. For whatever reason, there was no compulsion to give up the comforts of Babylon and return back to homeland.
It is so much easier to give financially than actually uproot. So, they remained where they were and plateaued and you don’t hear of them any longer. That was as far as they could attain to in the spirit.
But those that chose to return continued in the progressive purposes of God, and we must keep pressing forward and not be satisfied where we are. We must not plateau, because if we do, we can stagnate and eventually die. I want to go on with God and I want to have a part to play in the next great move.
We must keep pressing forward and not be satisfied where we are. We must not plateau, because if we do, we can stagnate and eventually die.
In Hebrews 6, the writer to the Hebrews tells us in verse 1 that we are to leave the discussion of the elementary doctrines and move on to perfection or maturity. But in verse 3, it says that we can only do this if God permits us.
There is a sovereignty of God in this whole thing. But this must not stop us from desiring. Our prayer ought to be, “Lord permit me to go further with you, don’t let me plateau in my walk with You. I don’t want to sit on the bench while the team is playing, I want to go on further with you.”
We are entering into times of great revival and we cannot presume that everyone is going to be chosen to be a part of what God is doing. We must seek Him, right here, right now, in order to have a part to play in this next great move of God.
We must seek Him, right here, right now, in order to have a part to play in this next great move of God.
In 2007, we had one of the most amazing conferences ever in our church. My mentor, Brother Bailey was speaking at our Convention and he told one of the most remarkable stories concerning a vision that had to do with Cornerstone. Dr. Bailey was about 81 years of age at this time.
In the vision, he saw an angel whose garment was so white, but Brother Bailey wasn’t allowed to see his face. He said the angel was white hot with anger. Now, Brother Bailey was a prophet and he had met many angels before, but he said this one caused him to tremble in fear. The angel had two nameplates with him, and they were suddenly put before Brother Bailey. They read - Elim & Zion. And the angel said, “What are my people doing, turning back to Elim? They are offending the Majesty on High.”
Then the angel said, “Hebrews 12, we’re not come unto Sinai, but we are to come to Zion.” In an instant, he saw the angel take flight with great speed. He landed in Singapore, came right into Cornerstone, and puts his nameplate at where our current screen is, speaking to Brother Bailey to tell the people that - “My people are to come to Zion. They are not to turn to Elim.”
Elim is a place where you camp, get refreshed along the journey, and then you move on. Unfortunately, lots of Christians end up settling down in the wilderness and they never attain to their destiny.
Now Elim was an oasis in the wilderness, and it was a place of refreshing. There were 12 wells and 70 palm trees. But you don’t build a city in the wilderness. Elim is a place where you camp, get refreshed along the journey, and then you move on.
Unfortunately, lots of Christians end up settling down in the wilderness and they never attain to their destiny. We must not turn back to Elim or Mount Sinai. If we do, then we are going to offend the Majesty on High. We are not to provoke Him.
It was the Lord who told Brother Bailey that this angel was the Angel of Zion in Heaven, and he was far greater than any other angel that Brother Bailey had ever seen. He kept saying he had never in his life ever been so frightened as he was by the appearance of that angel.
We must press on ahead towards Zion. We must not be satisfied with anything else.
Understand, an innumerable company of angels surrounds us, and the closer we get to spiritual Zion, the more it brings us into contact with those angels. Zion is the goal.
I close with two significant verses on Zion.
Psalm 132:13 - “For the Lord has chosen Zion, He has desired it for His dwelling place!”
Psalm 87:2 - “The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.”
In Israel, there were many dwelling places, many synagogues, assemblies and each had their own emphasis of worship. But God says, I love Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob. Shiloh was the first place where the tabernacle was erected, but God did not choose Shiloh. He did not choose Gibeon either. But He chose Zion.
It is loved by the Lord above all, and that’s why we must press on ahead towards Zion. We must not be satisfied with anything else.