The Household of Faith – 3

Part III – The Feast of Clouds

“But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.”’ (Acts 3:6)

Israel consistently failed to keep the final feast, the Feast of Sukkot, because she took her calling to be elitist rather than priestly. She thought her calling, gifts and purification were for herself, rather than for the healing of the nations.

Part I   Part II

This brings us to the New Testament, and the final years of the Mosaic Law. Jesus was dealing with the house of Israel but also with Gentiles, as a precursor to the ministry of the apostles. His ministry, like that of Moses, included the appearance of the glory cloud at significant moments. Through Jesus’ atonement for sin, Israel was about to enter into God’s rest. This time, it was the heavenly country perceived by all the saints, not a temporary house of branches like Canaan. However, this Feast of Clouds would require temporary shelters to become “houses of fire,” as a witness to the glory of God in His people.

The first sign was the Day of Pentecost. A single house was filled with a mighty, rushing wind, signalling the presence of God, just as His presence moved into the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple once His instructions had been obeyed. The Spirit anointed human lampstands with oil and tongues of fire measured out Yahweh’s architecture not in gold or silver (Acts 3:6) but in human character restored to health.

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. (Acts 3:6-8)

However, this Pentecostal house was but a single house. A greater sign was required to indicate that the third promise to Abraham was finally being fulfilled: the blessing to all nations. After Pentecost, Acts records four events where entire households were visited by God. These correspond to the four “Altar horn” corners of the Land, whose territory was later expanded into four Gentile beasts as guardian cherubim around God’s throne. It appears that they correspond these four Gentile empires, but also to the four gospels, which are the horsemen of the apocalypse. Now that Christ had ascended, the four horns of atonement had become four winds of the Spirit.

Creation (Genesis – Light – Ark of the Testimony) Peter sees a vision of animals let down from heaven, in a vision on the roof of the house of Cornelius, a devout Gentile “who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.” (Babylon, the conversion of Nebuchadnezzar)
Division (Exodus – Waters – Temple Veil) On the Sabbath, by the river in Philippi, Lydia (a seller of purple, signifying the Veil), is converted and her entire household is baptized. (Persia, the witness and conquest of Esther)
Ascension (Leviticus – Land & Fruits – Altar and Table) Paul and Silas are beaten for destroying the “hope of gain” of some fortune tellers, and thrown into prison. After a miracle, the jailer calls for “lights.” All who were in his house heard the Word, all believed, and all were baptized. “Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them.” (Greece, the witness of Daniel leads to peace with Alexander) [1]
Testing (Numbers – Ruling Lights – Lampstand) Paul tells unbelieving Jews that their blood is on their own heads. He stays with Justus, a Gentile whose house is next to a synagogue ruled by one Crispus, who “believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.” (Rome, the house of the Jew and the house of the Gentile united in the kingdom of Christ) [2]

This final “household” sign is also the point at which Paul completes his official witness to Jewish synagogues. Maintaining their allegiance to Herodian worship, they have become houses filled with demons, strange fire. At Maturity, the Bible Matrix pattern moves from head to body, from Israel to the nations, from heaven to the filling of the sky and the sea.

These “household conversions” were clearly not the norm, because the fact that all believed before they were baptized is specifically mentioned in three of the four instances. (The fact that it is not mentioned in the case of Lydia is beside the point, since Acts makes clear what were the qualifications for baptism, and it was not membership in a believing household.)

Moreover, the normal effect of the Gospel was a house divided. Jesus had stated that the Gospel would be a sword: “…a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36) To claim that these miraculous events are the norm to support an unbiblical agenda is akin to claiming that the apostolic gifts continued unabated after the destruction of the Temple (which was also heralded with miraculous signs), or that all babies in the womb are filled with the Spirit as was John the Baptist. If a signpost is the norm, it isn’t a signpost. It’s a fencepost.

So, what was the purpose of these four “household” events?

The movement in each is from a faithful household head who believes to an entire body of believers (including family members and servants), just like the initial “house-filling” of Pentecost was being measured out “architecturally” across the empire. Each event also incorporates a Jewish witness and Gentile “sponsors,” Graeco-Romans who bring their glory into the Church. The first and last are vindications of prior belief of entire households (Day 1 and Day 4), and the other two are conversions of entire households.

These believing households were four horns which put the old Israel, the Jewish rulers who rejected Pentecost, on the Altar, ready for the fires of the Roman armies.

These believing households were also four compass points on a new Israel, four Tabernacles at an empire-wide Feast of Clouds. They were a Pentecostal sign to the Jews that their Abrahamic ministry to the nations had been fulfilled. The transformation of these signature Gentile households into “booths” meant condemnation for Herod’s “Tabernacle.” As it was with Peter’s speech on the Day of Pentecost, and the miraculous apostolic gifts, these new hybrid (mixture) houses were a warning to Jews during the “overlap” of Covenant administrations between AD30-70. This was the final stage of the Abrahamic Covenant before it was finished. It could at last be seen that all of Israel’s history was prefigured in her festal calendar (see Bible Matrix).

We don’t hear about household conversions after Acts 18. It was an “Abrahamic” sign, but the end of Abraham, not a new beginning. Israel was finally purified, the ungodliness banished from Jacob (Romans 11:27) and she had completed her ministry. The only “household of faith” mentioned after this is the gathering of believers.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… (Ephesians 2:19)

As Revelation 2 shows us, every Church is a household with its own fire, a Lampstand de-centralized and able to multiply across the world. But these lamps are trimmed and oiled by Jesus, who judges them first, nipping their sins in the bud, and then judges the house where they were allowed to become full grown.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

The Black Sabbaths were over for everyone except the old tent of God, whose priests and kings had kindled a strange fire and become a new Egypt. She would lose her lampstand be burned with fire. The gloom of utter darkness had been reserved for her wandering stars. The day had dawned and the entire world was now filled with light. And all Jerusalem, once the Abrahamic navel of the world, was a barren womb shrouded in the darkness of an empty tomb.

[1] Ascension concerns the blameless man bound and exalted, like Joseph or Daniel. The correspondence for Greece might have something to do with the rescue of Jerusalem from an invading Alexander.

Flavius Josephus in “The Antiquities of the Jews” Book XI, chapter VIII, p 350. Tells this story of Alexander the Great arriving in Jerusalem:

“And when he (the High Priest) understood that he (Alexander the Great) was not far from the city (Jerusalem), he (the High Priest) went out in procession with the priests and the multitude of citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations … and when the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans that followed him (Alexander the Great), thought that they should have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high priest to death, which the king’s displeasure fairly promised them, the very reverse of it happened; for Alexander, when he (Alexander the Great) saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed in fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his miter on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of G-d was engraved, he (Alexander the Great) approached by himself, and adored that name (the name of G-d), and first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did altogether, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about; where upon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind (They thought Alexander was crazy for bowing before the High Priest). However, Parmenio alone went up to him (Alexander the Great) and asked him how it came to pass that, when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, “I did not adore him, but that G-d who hath honored him with his high-priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit (high priestly garment), when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself, how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he (G-d) would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians; whence it is, that having seen no other in that habit (high priestly garment), and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.”

There is a tradition that says when the high priest met Alexander the Great outside Jerusalem that he took with him the book of Daniel and showed Alexander the prophecy concerning him. It is said that this so moved Alexander that he went to the temple to offer a sacrifice and worship God. [link]

[2] Justus means “upright, just,” and Crispus means “curly headed.” Perhaps the combination of priesthood and kinghood in the Great Shepherd (Revelation 1:13-14).

Share Button

Comments are closed.