Publication: Pastoral Letter, February 2001
Dear Friend in Christ:
Where do you think the Church is going? It seems to be going in many different directions. Is there a destiny – a purpose, or are we just meandering through history? I believe that there is a time and space and destiny for the Church in this world, and the one to come. There is a place to which God is calling His people.
The swallows return to Capistrano and the salmon swim against the raging currents to return home. And what about us…the Christians, and the Church? Where is home? Where are we going? What a question!
Thirty-five years ago, I sat in a room after everyone had left. It had been a great gathering; the room had been packed with seekers, worshippers, and listeners; several people had been filled with the Holy Spirit. I meditated in the warm afterglow of God’s powerful presence. The Lord began speaking to me quietly, but clearly. It went something like this:
As the Church went away from Pentecost and apostolic unity, the message of the Kingdom, and great miraculous power, the Church went into eventual division, decline, and darkness; the Church will return again and be restored. Lost truth will be restored in reverse order. Things lost first will be the last to be restored. In the deep darkness of the Church’s apostasy, the simple truth of “justification by faith” was recovered and it began the road home. Then My Word was restored to it and the truths of evangelism; the power of the Spirit and the Kingdom are being restored. Finally, the ascension gifts, God’s glory, and apostolic unity will also be restored. And the Church of the end will be as it was in the beginning, only it will fill the earth in a great final harvest. Then Christ will return.
I was overcome with excitement, awe, and praise. It was more than I could take in. The Church would return “home” to its destiny. It would end in apostolic unity and power with Christ’s return.
Soon after, I was meditating on Luke 15: “The Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Son.” Suddenly, I saw that the prodigal was like the Church. The younger brother went into a “far country,” came to himself, returned to the father, and was restored with robe, ring, shoes, and celebration. The Church also would return home.
My entire message changed after that to one of restoration and victory. I entered into a new worldview and new hope and purpose. It was no longer a matter of reminding the Church of the works of Satan in the world, but declaring Christ’s victory and our destiny.
In 1972, I saw the covenant nature of God and His people, and then I saw the Kingdom. I do not have time or space to tell how it happened, but praying in a hotel room with friends, I prayed “The Lord’s Prayer.” When I came to the phrase, “Thy Kingdom come,” I realized that not only was I praying for a future event; I was praying for Christ’s government to come more fully into my life, and the lives of His people.
Soon after this milestone moment in my life, the Lord drew my attention to the word, “Zion.” “We’re marching to Zion,” the old hymn said. That is where we were going, but where is Zion?
1 Chronicles 11:5 says that David captured the stronghold of Zion. Zion was the last fortress of enemy territory in the Promised Land. The Jebusites held out even through Saul’s reign in Israel, but David finally defeated the Jebusites and took the fortress. Then David dwelt there and it was called, “The City of David.” The City of David was built on Zion. (Zion is a type of the Kingdom; the city is a type of the Church.)
David had made a long God-ordained journey before he built Jerusalem on Mt. Zion:
Each step was a progression toward the peak of God’s purpose.
Zion was a place of power, authority, reign, and leadership; a place of praise and strength. It was at Zion that David established his kingdom. And nearby, the temple became the place of pilgrimage to which all Jews resorted to learn the ways of God under David’s reign. Israel was anointed, united, and victorious. Nations came to see the glory of Israel and their God.
Alas, as Israel became distracted in its prosperity, we Christians are often distracted and lulled to sleep in our prosperity. We assume and presume that it will always be, and forget the grace that brought us to the pinnacles of power. History becomes a faded memory and principles are sacrificed for false prosperity; we trade gold for brass. Both Israel and the Church are the “Prodigals” who lost their way.
For more than 2,500 years, Israel has been scattered among the nations. Yet they have remained a race, a people, and a religion. In 1948, they began to return to Zion and even as I write, the battle for Jerusalem rages. Like Israel, I believe that the Church will return home to Zion and the place of Christ’s Kingdom, even through many battles.
Whatsoever one might believe about the Jews, about their relationship to Jesus, the Church, or the rest of the world, they have remained a mystery – and even now they are at the center of the world’s cauldron of conflicts. Whether one thinks it is fair or even relevant, they have once again become a sign to the nations.
Isaiah 11, among numerous chapters, promised both scatterings and regatherings. In fact, it promises two regatherings. Remember that Isaiah prophesied Jerusalem’s destruction during his tenure as a prophet, sometime around 700 BC. This destruction occurred, beginning in 605. Isaiah also prophesied a regathering; this occurred about 535 BC. (Jeremiah later prophesied accurately that the captivity would last 70 years.)
But Isaiah also saw another scattering. This occurred in 70 AD, and he prophesied a second regathering (see Isaiah 11:10-12). This began in 1948.
Isaiah and Jeremiah both foretold scattering and restoration (See Isaiah 51:11, and Jeremiah 31.) In Jeremiah 31:21, Jeremiah says, “Direct your heart to the highway by which you went, O virgin of Israel.”
In Jeremiah 50:5, he says, “They will ask the way to Zion, turning their faces in its direction.”
So what has Israel to do with us? They are God’s parable to us. David brought Israel to the pinnacle of Zion, then he ruled there and built his city. And the Son of David came and conquered the high places for us, and He calls us back to the place of His reign. He rules in Zion (see Psalm 2; Psalm 110; Galatians 4:21-31).
Where are the leaders who know the way to Zion? Will God restore true prophets and apostles who can find unity in the spirit and in apostolic doctrine? Will we see a worldwide Pentecost? Will there be a great worldwide harvest? The answer to each of these questions is “Yes.”
Hebrews 12 speaks prophetically – “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses; we are on a journey; we must fix our eyes on Jesus, and consider Him as they did. We must consider His endurance, endure His reproof, make a straight, sanctified path, avoid bitterness, and approach a mountain far greater than Sinai – Mt. Zion. There we will encounter the City of God, not a natural Jerusalem (see Galatians 4), but a heavenly city; the city of God Himself and His unshakable Kingdom.”
To be sure, all who seek the road home will err at some junction, stumble on some hard truth, or even “lose Jesus” as Mary and Joseph did; but we must remain pilgrims. Like little children on a long trip, we keep asking, “Are we there yet?” No, but the Lord is taking us on toward Zion, and we are not of those who draw back (see Hebrews 10).
No one says it better than David’s inspired words, “How blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of weeping, they make it a spring. The early rain covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength. Everyone of them appears before God in Zion” (see Psalm 84:5-7).
By God’s grace, I’ll see you there.
P.S. Next month I will continue this subject. In the meantime, would you keep CSM in your prayers and in your giving? We need your support in order to continue to share Kingdom teaching in more than 70 nations worldwide.
We are getting wonderful testimonies from leaders, in places such as Kenya and India, who are receiving this Kingdom teaching, and “multiplying” it among their people. Such teaching will affect history in these nations. Please help us to continue…our resources are tight, but the opportunities are great. Also, for the first time in many years, we are offering my tape series, “Moving Toward Zion,” which I believe will encourage you as you hear it. Please call CSM at (888) 811-2CSM to order the series.
Scripture Reference: Luke, 1 Chron., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hebrews, Psalms, Galatians
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.