The Bible tells the story of God’s history and future plans for His relationship with mankind. There are three transitional generations recorded in His story. The first transitional generation was the Israelites as they came out of Egypt and were headed toward the Promised Land. The disciples were the second transitional generation as they established the church age after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. The third is our very own end-times generation that is called to begin to establish Jesus’ Kingdom on earth and prepare for His arrival.
The Israelites at Mount Sinai
In Moses’ day, the Israelites had been held in bondage in Egypt for over 400 years. Though they were the people of God, they had become accustomed to the ways of Egypt. In many ways, they had assimilated to Egyptian traditions and thoughts because of generations and generations being raised in that culture. They did not abandon their knowledge of God, but most of the people had, at best, a muddled concept of who God was and what He wanted to do among His people. When God delivered them from Egypt, before He could take them into the Land He desired to give them, He had to put them through His reconditioning program. He had to transform their thinking, removing Egypt and filling them with Him and His thoughts. He called them together at Mt. Sinai and gave them the 10 Commandments. In addition to the 10 Commandments, He gave them details for every aspect of living, social, religious and moral rules for relating to Him and to others. He gave them instructions for building a tabernacle that was meant to show the people how to come into His Presence and connect with a Holy God. He laid out the encampment of each Tribe, grouping them together for specific functions and placing the Tabernacle (Himself) in the center of their lives. He exhibited great patience with them through all their whining, but He showed them the consequences of their bad choices and wrong thinking. God judged their behaviors and attitudes not because He was being mean, but only to show the people that their thinking did not line up with His and that they needed to ‘change their minds’ (repent) and align with Him so that He could abundantly bless them.
This all took place in the wilderness, a lonely isolated place where God would have their full attention. He took away their props, their comforts, their delicacies and let them focus on Him. This process was intended to last slightly over 1 year. Unfortunately, their disobedience cost an entire generation their opportunity to move into the next phase of life that God had planned. Their one year turned into 40 and the next generation had to wait. The blessings were postponed but not abandoned. God is faithful.
When the time came to enter the Promised Land, the next generation had been prepared by the great leader, Moses. He had trained them to fight, both militarily and spiritually. He demonstrated a life of humility and prayer to this generation. When it was time to install the next leader, Joshua, he had been fully equipped to listen to God and lead the people.
The Disciples in the Upper Room
The second transitional generation came after Jesus died and was resurrected. Jesus died to break the chains of sins and bondage and set people free. What God used Moses to do for the Israelites was a picture foreshadowing what Jesus was going to do when He came. To live in the freedom that Jesus provided, though, required a great deal of changing the way people thought. This freedom would only be found ‘by faith,’ not by sacrifices and keeping rituals. The Hebrews were so conditioned by their religious traditions that they had a very hard time recognizing the ‘new thing’ that God was doing. Though their own traditions and teachings passed down through the ages foretold of the coming Messiah, most of them couldn’t recognize this very One when He was in their midst. The miracles He did made them mad rather than making them joyful. Instead of embracing Him, they wanted to kill Him. But God had prepared a Helper to come to their aid. God didn’t expect them to make this transition in their own strength. He sent the Holy Spirit as a free gift to dwell inside every believer in Jesus. The Holy Spirit was poured out and poured into them and He enabled them to ‘see’ things they had never seen before. He brought Light, He brought gifts and miracle-working power that would now be resident inside every believer. He equipped His people to be able to live for Him and work with Him.
Jesus, the disciples and all the Israelites had celebrated Pentecost as a religious feast ever since the time of Moses. This was always a celebration of God’s provision. In Moses’ day, it was celebrated as an agricultural event, a celebration of the early harvest that occurred 50 days after the Passover. God gave the 10 Commandments and His set of instructions, now called Torah, on this day from Mt. Sinai. When the people came into their land and planted their crops, this giving of the law would be celebrated along with celebration for their provision of crops.
The Disciples of Jesus were in the upper room celebrating this feast when God poured out His Spirit and released tongues of fire on them and the 120 that were with them. Instead of preparing one man, like Joshua, to take over leadership of the people, God had now equipped every believer to carry the Presence of God within and lead the way for His Kingdom to be established. God was calling all to be His Kingdom of Priests, as was His original plan. These Spirit-filled believers were called to build the church which would contain both Jews and Gentiles. This new thing would again cause much disturbance to the norm. Between Jesus’ death and resurrection and the pouring out of the Spirit, religious customs were being challenged and those who held fast to their traditions eventually found themselves opposing God. This battle has raged in the church ever since these events in Acts chapter 2 occurred.
The End-Times Generation
We are the third transitional generation, the end-times generation that will prepare for the great and glorious day of Jesus’ return. We find God again doing a new thing. Isaiah speaks of the new and greater things God will do in chapter 43:18-19, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” God is establishing His Kingdom and calling us once again to be ‘the people of God.’ We are moving out of the Church age and into Kingdom. We are not to be bound by traditions of men or church walls. We are people filled with the Spirit of God and the authority to drive out the darkness from the land. Many have been walking through the wilderness. This purifying process has challenged our worldview. To our own dismay, the Lord has shown us that we have held on to many worldly ways and He has released great grace for us to let go and instead, choose His higher ways. He has called us into repentance, the process of changing our mind and replacing it with Kingdom perspective. Just as the Israelites found this a difficult process and were often offended at God’s ways, so too, have we been. Our lives have been turned upside down and everything has been shaken. God has done this for our good and for His glory. But now we have come out of the wilderness and have entered our Promised Land.
It’s time to arise as ‘the People of God.’ Pentecost is always about a change of identity. It’s about coming into a new order under new leadership. This is especially important this year because it is 2011. Eleven is the number of transition. Twelve is the number representing a new administration – a new government. Those who have submitted to being in the wilderness and embraced the NEW of God are being transitioned into new assignments under the leadership of the Lord Himself. As we cooperate with Him, He moves us into new places of responsibility and assignment. We are in a special kairos moment – where time and destiny meet. Those who have resisted this transforming process will be sent to make another circuit in the wilderness as the Israelites were. God loves each one, Jesus died for all and He is the God of many chances, but our choices have consequences and our blessings can be postponed.
We must recognize the hour of our visitation. The Spirit of the Living God is here among us like never before. We are the generation the Lord is preparing for the greatest day in History, His return! We must have our eyes opened to perceive all that God is doing in our day. It is not enough to go to church. We must be the church, the people who are sent out to represent Jesus in the world. God will shake our world until we wake up and align with Him. We’ve got to stop being so concerned with our comforts and our life. Jesus says, “He who wants to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” We are the People of God. Our lives are about Him and His Kingdom. We are blessed in the process of building His Kingdom, not our own. During this Pentecost season, cry out for the King of Kings to open your eyes and let you ‘see’ His Kingdom. Purpose to hear His voice speaking a fresh new sound – the voice of the Lord thunders! Find your place in His Holy array! He is once again positioning Himself in the center of His people so that He can dwell among us. He wants to release greater dimensions of His power so that signs and wonders will confirm His Word and people will stand in awe of Him. Find a new way to worship. Sing a new song to break off old cycles. Let Him transform you and make you new!