Qualifying for the third church by hearing
Feb 08, 2012
In October of 1995, I learned that there were three churches in succession throughout history. The first was established by God through Moses. Acts 7:38 says of Moses, "This is the one who was in the church in the wilderness." That church continued even to the time of Christ, for He too speaks of it in Matt. 18:17,
(17) And if he refuses to listen to them [witnesses], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.
But in Matthew 16, Jesus prophesied of a new church that would be established, telling Peter,
(18) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.
This church was to have a new foundation, a new "rock" as opposed to the rock that followed the tribes of Israel out of Egypt. In both cases, "the rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4). Peter, whose name means a "stone," was a type of Christ, even as was the rock in Moses' day. Of course, we know that neither Moses nor Peter were the actual founders of their respective churches. In both cases it was Jesus Christ, appearing first to Moses under the name Yahweh, and to the NT disciples under the name Yeshua, or Jesus. But yet God used these men in a governmental manner.
Actually, when Jesus spoke those words to Peter, He had taken them to Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13) in order to illustrate this revelation. This was the site of the "Grotto of Pan," known to the locals as "the gates of Hades." It was a cave in the side of a huge rock, and the Temple of Pan stood in front of it. This was the center of pagan worship in that part of Galilee, going back at least to the golden calf that had been placed there (Dan) in the days of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:29). Watch this 3-minute video of the place as it stands today.
Note that there was a well of water near the mouth of the Grotto, and a stream flowing out of it. It was the pagan version of the rock from which water flowed to the Israelites under Moses.
Moses struck the rock in his day to give water to the people, prophesying of Christ who was "smitten" (Is. 53:4). The second time, however, Moses was supposed to speak to the rock (Num. 20:8). The rock was supposed to HEAR the word and bring forth living water. However, Moses struck the rock, as if Christ should die twice. This broke the prophetic type and disqualified Moses from entering the Promised Land.
The two rocks speak of the two comings of Christ. He does not need to die the second time, as we see with the second dove (Lev. 14:7) and the second goat (Lev. 16:10). The point is that the second rock was a HEARING ROCK, and this is where Peter fits the prophecy. He was Simon Peter, the "hearing rock," because Simon means "hearing."
The second work of Christ began, then, with Pentecost and ends with the feast of Tabernacles. Pentecost could not do it alone, for it was a leavened feast (Lev. 23:17). So Peter, too, denied Christ three times according to the three measures of leaven that was still in him. Nonetheless, he was led by the Spirit through much tribulation in order to bake the Pentecostal loaves in the fire, according to the Pentecostal prophecy. Only fire could stop the leavening action within the people being presented to God as the firstfruits of Pentecost.
Those qualifying as true Pentecostals, having gone through the fire of God, are made ready for the feast of Tabernacles and are able to make the leap into the third and final church. These are the "hearing rocks," prophesied by the name of Simon Peter. Such people are the source of living water, fulfilling the word of Jesus in John 7:38,
(38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water."
Even as the water flowed out from the rock in Moses' day, so also shall those in the second church receive the Holy Spirit and see "rivers of living water" flowing out from them to give drink to the people. Under Pentecost, we see only a downpayment of the Spirit (2 Cor. 5:5), a mere trickle compared to what is yet to come. Nonetheless, the trickle must be the precursor to the flood of the Holy Spirit that is coming through Tabernacles. Those who do not achieve this trickle can hardly expect to see the rivers flowing out of them.
Jesus gave that prophecy on the 8th day of Tabernacles, "the last great day of the feast" (vs. 37). The feast of Tabernacles always occurred in the 7th month of the Hebrew calendar. It was the month of Ethanim, which means "flowing waters."
In my early years, I was taught that this prophecy was about Pentecost, even though it was actually spoken on the last day of the feast of Tabernacles. No one in my family or denomination seemed to know much about the feast of Tabernacles, so they missed some very important revelation.
I know now that Pentecost was a beginning point for these "rivers of living water," and it certainly prepares our hearts for a greater anointing; however, it is insufficient in itself for what is now coming. Pentecost can bring us to the brink of the Jordan River, but only Tabernacles can bring us across the river into the Promised Land.
Hence, we need a vision that goes beyond Pentecost. We need to view Pentecost as a time of training and preparation for the real goal of the Kingdom that comes through Tabernacles. Even the Israelites were supposed to dwell in tents during their Pentecostal sojourn in the wilderness (Lev. 23:43). In fact, they left Egypt from a place called Succoth ("Booths, Tents, or Tabernacles"). See Ex. 13:20.
All of this was designed to teach us first that we are the second church in the wilderness. The first spent 40 years in the wilderness; the second spent 40 Jubilee cycles in the wilderness. Both have been wilderness training exercises before coming fully into the Promised Land. And yet in both cases, the people were to dwell in tents, or tabernacles, so that we, like Abraham himself, should seek a better country, a city built without hands (Heb. 11:16). We too are "strangers and pilgrims," not settling in either the Passover nor the Pentecostal churches, but looking for something greater to come.
Unfortunately, each of the historic churches--Moses' Passover church, as well as Peter's Pentecostal church--has seen people build houses in those realms. In the big picture, Judaism continued on as if Pentecost had never happened. And today we see much of Christianity continue on as if Tabernacles does not exist.
Some Christian denominations have refused to go beyond the revelation of Passover--Christ crucified. Others refuse to go beyond Pentecost. The problem is HEARING. They have not heard the call to move on when the pillar of fire moves to a new location. They are satisfied with the water at the previous encampment and see no reason to move on.
Hence, there are Christians who live at every water hole from Egypt to the Promised Land. In the end, only those who have followed the pillar of fire all the way to the Jordan River are qualified to enter the realm of the third church and to receive its Tabernacles anointing.
Dr. Stephen Jones