“It’s the people who live under tyranny and oppression, the plain, simple people that count, like the multitude of sheep... They’ll want to know what the Messiah wants. They’ll want to know what to do and how to act... People are going to be running to find out about God, and who are they going to run to? They’re gonna run to the Jews, ’cause the Jews wrote the book, and you know what? The Jews ain’t gonna know. They’re too busy in the fur business and in the pawnshops and in sending their kids to some atheist school. They’re too busy doing all that stuff to know. People who believe in the coming of the Messiah live their lives right now as if he was here. That’s my idea of it, anyway.” —Bob Dylan
We agree with what Bob Dylan said back then: Actions speak louder than words. What you do expresses who you are and what you believe. People know you by how you live your life — the work you do, the clothes you wear, what you spend your time and money on, what stimulates and inspires you.
What would it be like to meet the people who live as if the Messiah were already here? When he was here, those who were with him were consumed with love for one another and for him. He was their only preoccupation. They lavished everything on him — their time, their money, even their very lives — lock, stock, and barrel. They loved him, they needed him, they longed for fellowship with him. And he needed them, too.
Our Creator has always wanted to be known, not only through the wonders of creation, but through a people in whom He dwells. He needs a people whom He can call His very own, who will reflect His character and personality by what they do and how they do it. Everything about them should be characterized by love, revealing their Creator’s heart toward mankind.
That’s what He wanted to do with old Israel — express Himself through a holy nation of twelve tribes dwelling together in unity, with no rich or poor, as a light to the surrounding nations. But over and over again their iniquity got the better of them and they were torn apart by inter-tribal wars, degraded by their idolatries, taken captive by their enemies, and dispersed among the nations of the world. The few who managed to retain any sense of identity as Israelites (mainly the “Jews” of the tribe of Judah, and some Levites), were ultimately reduced to a dry and crusty religion of religious ritual and a polarized society of destitute peasants and shrewd merchants. That was the status quo at the beginning of the first century, when Yahshua, the Messiah, first came on the scene.
He was filled with the effervescent Spirit of Love that the Creator longed to pour into the whole nation. When you were around Yahshua, anything could happen. His unbounded love and piercing honesty strained the limits of the religious and political establishment to the breaking point, even as it warmed the hearts of the humble and needy ones in the land.
Rightly did Yahshua say,
“No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17)
His wine needed a new skin, and that is exactly what Yahshua set himself to form while he was on the earth. He stirred the hearts of those who would hear — those who lived under tyranny and oppression, and even some of the tyrants and oppressors. Upon their lives he started building a new culture that would contain the fresh, effervescent life that aroused hope in those whose hearts crumbled under the lifeless, sterile husk that was religion in 30 A.D.
The new wineskin was not a bag, or a building, or even a congregation, but a living, breathing body of believers, knit together, in love with one another, and in love with their Messiah. They rattled the institutions of their day with a radical message of hope and devotion. They were serious about lifting up Yahshua, the Son of God, because they wanted people to know his real character — love. Those disciples of old brought the God who is Love right down to real, human life. You can read about it in Acts 2:42-45 and Acts 4:32-35.
They were governed by a new commandment — to love one another as Yahshua had loved them — and their obedience to that command caused the emergence of a brand new culture: the new wineskin. This brand new culture of love thrived for many years, and grew into a spiritual nation of twelve tribes, serving night and day to bring about the promise made to Abraham. 1
Their life and message shook things up, busting the old wineskin of the status quo with unheard of selflessness and care for others. But alas, after a generation or two, it degenerated, just as the kingdoms of Israel before had waned from a nation that was the apple of God’s eye, the very object of His affections, to the decaying body of organized religion. The fact remains: when life leaves the body, the corpse is all you have left.
“Ok, everyone, go back to your pews. The bubbling life of selfless love is no more.” It was dark. 2 For 1900 years, this institution called Christianity, which supposedly has something to do with God, but nothing to do with true love, has held center stage. Maybe that’s why Bob didn’t stick with Jesus for very long.
Thankfully, there is hope. The prophets from the beginning have spoken of times of restoration — the restoration of all things 3 — and those prophecies have yet to be fulfilled! But the time for that restoration is now. It is unimaginable that the earth would be able to bear much more. In what seems to be “just in time,” God is raising up a new, spiritual nation that will no longer live for themselves, but for Him alone. Amidst a life of love and sharing, they will make Him and His purposes their only obsession. There will be no rich or poor amongst them, and they will share a common life, as God had desired from the days of Moses. 4
There has to be a witness of love that reaches the ends of the earth, and it can’t be handing out Bibles, bumper stickers, tracts, or even soup. It can’t be some sort of mystical unity among “believers” scattered amongst the countless divisions of Christianity and other religions. There has to be a tangible expression of the abundant life that Yahshua, the Son of God, promised to his followers.
That life is being established on the earth right now. It is made up of twelve tribes — and those tribes are constituted of clans, households, and families that you can be a part of. It is an emerging spiritual nation springing up out of the dust in twelve geographic locations around the world. This is the restoration of all things.
Yahshua, the Messiah, is held in heaven, 5 restrained until this twelve-tribed spiritual nation of overcomers puts the spiritual enemies of greed, selfishness, jealousy, strife, hatred (to name a few) underfoot. 6 Only then can he return and bring a final end to the evil that is destroying the earth and its inhabitants. Only when his “bride” is made ready 7 — a people who will love him more than any other love — will he come and put an end to every manifestation of injustice, selfishness, decay, and even death.
We are coming to know this Yahshua, and we love his ways. We are all so grateful that we have found a place where we can live entirely for him, and obey his words. That is the only way to love the One who loved and loved and loved. If you have the same longing to find a place like this, a place to belong, where you can come to know the One who is love, then come — for a day, or to stay. He’s loved us, and we love you. Hope to see you soon!