Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Monday's Messianic Taste of Hidden Manna #51
Leaning Into the Future: The Coming Regime Change
God's Future Turned Me Upside Down
"I spent an early spring weekend at Westminster Abbey resting on a hill over Mission, British Columbia. That retreat constituted a fundamental shift. Time took a 180 degree turn. God's future turned me upside down. The future ceased to be an empty space that I sought to populate with my own dreams and became a gift from God, His homeland that beckons us to journey toward it and let our lives be shaped by it". These are the opening words of Poul Guttesen's book "Leaning into the Future". My only aim in this post is to jolt professed followers of Yeshua the Messiah into the reality of the coming regime change—in order that God's future might also turn you upside down!
What is This 'Homeland' That Beckons Us to Journey Toward It and Let Our Lives Be Shaped By It?
Whether or not we see it, God is currently at work in the world, orienting it toward its future in Him and Messiah Yeshua. The Book of Revelation, in fact, presents us with a visionary extravaganza that is all about this expected future and how it is supposed to shape the way we live in our 'here and now'! The tension between the 'kingdom of the world' and 'kingdom of the LORD and His Messiah' drives the book of Revelation forward. The tension between the two drives history forward! As Guttesen rightly observes, although God is the rightful sovereign over His whole creation, the earth is at present occupied by rebellious forces antithetical to God. Thus, life in the 'present evil age' (Gal 1:4) is oriented toward the resolution of this tension.
Most important, as Guttesen rightly concludes, the coming finale of the Book of Revelation's visionary extravaganza is the descent of the heavenly city Jerusalem as the divine ordering center of the kingdom of God and Messiah on earth forever. The New Jerusalem is, in fact, the Edenic fulfillment of God's future. Thus, it must be emphasized that heaven is NOT the 'homeland' that beckons us to journey toward it and let our lives be shaped by it. That is NOT our ultimate future hope (as N.T. Wright has rightly corrected in his book "Surprised By Hope"). Rather, the coming fullness of the kingdom of God and Messiah with its New Jerusalem in the fullness of the new creation is our ultimate future hope! Yes, we are talking about the central position of geopolitical authority on earth.
The Central Point of the book of Revelation: The Coming Regime Change
The central point of the book of Revelation is found in Rev 11:15, "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet (shofar), and there were loud voices in heaven saying: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our LORD and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever." Thus, Guttesen rightly asserts that Revelation sees the ultimate future as a 'regime change'. It is a time when the struggle against the rulers and authorities that constitute the cosmic powers of rebellion and evil in the heavens will finally end. The present evil age will give way to the Messianic age—inaugurated by the first appearance of Yeshua Messiah as the consummate Suffering Servant of Israel, and ushered into its fullness by His coming appearance as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David. Again, yes, we are talking about actual total geopolitical authority over the entire earth from the center of the kingdom of God in the New Jerusalem.
This Future of God's Kingdom Should Turn Us Upside Down
Catching the vision of this wondrous regime change, in which the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our LORD and of His Messiah, should turn us upside down. It should reorient our entire lives in the direction of the New Jerusalem. In fact, the chief function of the Book of Revelation, which is self-titled "The Apocalypse of Yeshua Messiah", is to open our eyes to the ultimate realities of the kingdom of God and Messiah in the unseen realm. Simultaneously, the chief function of the Book of Revelation is to open our eyes to see the kingdom of 'Babylon' for what it really is—a braggadocious human kingdom that is always trying to make a name for itself, and is characterized by a consumer culture in an exploitative mammonocentric system of economics that facilitates a self-centered way of life. Such a system stands in sharp contradistinction to the God- and Messiah-centered worldview and way of life that New Jerusalem beckons us to journey toward in our here and now!
Once we catch the vision of the kingdom of God and Messiah for real, we are to spend the rest of our lives leaning into that future in our here and now! Leaning into that future in our here and now involves interpreting our here and now according to this ultimate coming reality. This, thereby turns us into the community of those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33). Moreover, our mainstay daily prayer as taught to us by Messiah Yeshua has the following words at its center: Let Your Kingdom come, let your will be done, as in heaven, indeed in our here and now on earth in general, and the in the Promised Land in particular (a full-orbed understanding of Matt 6:10)!
Providing the World with a Foretaste of This Wondrous Regime Change
This 'apocalyptic' perspective, in which we never lose sight of the coming fullness of the kingdom of God and Messiah, produces a corresponding ethos (tone, character, and quality of life) that matches the vision of this wondrous coming regime change. It does not allow us to live like the rest of the world. Quite to the contrary, it equips us to provide the world with a prolepsis of this anticipated regime change now! This word 'prolepsis' is one of the most important words for the community of Messiah followers. I define it poetically as "a profound present foretaste of a profounder promised fulltaste". Are we leaning into the future regime change and providing the world with a foretaste of the coming fullness of the Kingdom of God and Messiah? Or, are we leaning into the current regime of the antithesis of New Jerusalem, namely 'Babylon'? Know that it is our way of thinking, being, speaking, doing, behaving, and living that clearly answers these questions.
In your service always, Henri Louis Goulet