Voice of the Kingfisher speaks out …from a different perspective
by Elinor Montgomery
June 22, 2004
Where do we place this chapter on the time chart? It is after the seventh hour has come, and the nobleman’s son has been delivered of his fever. The church is at the beginning of the twenty-first century and the seventh millennium; it is beginning to come to life again.
It was feast time in Jerusalem, so Jesus journeyed from the Galilee to Jerusalem. The location specifically spoken of in Jerusalem was by the Sheep Gate at the pool of Bethesda, which was a pool with five porches. It was considered to be a pool of healing. At a certain time, an angel came down to stir up the waters, and whoever stepped in first, after the stirring, was made well of his disease. There was a multitude of sick people in the pool at this particular time, who were described as being blind, lame, paralyzed and waiting, perhaps desperately hoping for a changing of the waters.
We have learned from chapter three of the book of John that the changing of the waters in our lives only comes with the infilling of the Holy Spirit. A spiritual move was about to take place affecting one man’s ability to move out of his infirmity, which had kept him captive to his bed, and actually rise up, pick up his bed and walk. What is the importance of his picking up his bed?
So far, the book of John tells us that he was writing about the wedding time, when the bride will be taught in the spirit like Paul, but her teaching will take place on her bed, which will provide the basis for teaching the others. She will be a woman who has had an infirmity for a period of time, approximately thirty-eight years, and has been singled out from the multitude at this gate who were in need of one kind of healing or another.
The words, blind, lame and paralyzed tell us that we are dealing with a church in religious bondage, which has been unable to walk her calling, commissioned by the Lord. Though her numbers are greatly increased, she is found to be behind confining walls in a sick state without teaching, which prevents the voice of truth from being heard in the nations. Jesus bypassed the crippled man’s need for the stirred waters, for He is the living water and the bread of life.
The angel’s stirring of the waters was simply symbolic of what Jesus imparts of Himself to the spiritually sick. This paralyzed man lay before the Creator of all men, not knowing who He was and that all healing comes only from Him who is the living water, which gives life, coming only from heaven above. Obviously His power was the equivalent to that which was sent by way of angels to men. Healing this one person, chosen from among the multitude in need of healing, shows how He will choose one person upon whom He will bestow His own, personal intervention in the healing plan for the church.
Whenever this one man hoped for the healing of the waters, there was never anyone there to help him. How could an apostate priesthood help the church to carry out her commission? In point of fact, the institutional church was mesmerizing the multitudes into apathy, and a weakness that prevented her from carrying out her walk.
The Lord asked the key question of the paralyzed man; “Do you want to be made well (John 5:6)?” I wonder how many would actually answer “Yes” to this question and really mean it. How many are willing to give up all – friends, family, homes, comfortable religions and even the material things, which they possess, unlike the rich, young ruler? The requirements of the bride are stringent and unrelenting for she must come into perfect obedience and submission to her Beloved Lord and Savior. She must want to get well very badly.
This man with the infirmity had taken many years to come to the knowledge that, if Jesus could not save him, there was no one else who either would or could save him. The man had reached a place where he was ready to take up his bed and walk. His infirmity of the past, which he had endured for so long, had prepared him for the question, and he was ready for the task, which lay ahead of him.
It would require a special meeting with the Lord in which there would be a direct confrontation with Him, such that the glory of the Lord would be revealed in the healed life of the paralytic when he arose and obeyed Jesus by carrying his bed. It would also produce a dramatic change in his lifestyle, whereby he would be perceived by all to be a changed man, and one no longer afraid of the claim, which any priesthood might hold over him. There was a new power in his life, to whom he would give all of the glory.
The stirring of the waters represents judgment, for Satan is found in the sea, and when God looses his power, evil spirits, which destroy, are released from the seawaters, as they are stirred up, causing them to come in over the land. God allows these satanic forces to be used to discipline His children, for he is Satan whom they have chosen in place of Himself to rule over them. Nationally speaking, the Lord has allowed five empires to have ruler-ship over both Judah, the land of inheritance within the nation, and the spiritual nation. They would both be subjected to the water judgment of the Babylonian system of empires.
The spiritual nation of Israel would enter into her own religious captivity to the religion of Roman Christianity. Both nation and spiritual nation, or church, would ultimately come to the point of needing a change of the waters in their lives, and a Redeemer who would be the only One willing and able to do the job. Discipline would be needed for their lack of obedience to the Word of the Lord, as they moved toward perilous and paralyzing idolatry with the gods of the gentile world. The five covering porches surrounding this pool, speak of the five empires of the Babylonian system.
The church will most certainly need a change from the waters of this world, to which she has attached herself. Most definitely a move from on high is needed to stir her up from her Laodicean nature in which she finds itself trapped today. This must take place, just before the judgment is released, in order to separate the true church from the counterfeit, which is presently masquerading as church.
The church’s captivity to sin, which resulted in her submission to evil governments, was the result of her own lack of wisdom leading to disobedience to God and a firm refusal to follow His dictates and His Law. She has become a prisoner to her own building programs, which have paralyzed her spiritually and have prevented her from walking, every bit as paralyzed as the man who lay by the pool before Jesus, a prisoner to his own dead legs of the flesh.
The Lord knows how long it will take for each one of us to reach a state of brokenness, when we finally become ready spiritually for our walk with Him in our own Bethesda, or place of healing. We must finally come to know that man does not have the answers for us, which cannot be found in religion of any sort, therefore requiring Jesus to heal us of our spiritual infirmities. Only Jesus can change the waters of our lives, by taking us out of the seawater and into the living water so that we might thirst no more.
We must have a personal relationship, which will take place on our own beds and not in a church pew, based on relationship with God, in which we worship only Him in spirit and in truth. What He will require of this particular man or woman on his/her bed, will be to take up his/her bed, where the revelation of Jesus is given in visions, dreams and spiritual encounters, to begin a walk, which will challenge religion to its core, with the truth.
It could be said that this was a Sabbath day healing, in relation to the seven days of creation and the prophesied Sabbath day rest of the seventh millennium, in which the Lord rested from His labor. He was about to place a bomb at the center of religious practices, and the ritualism, which accompanied them. Looking to the future, it will appear as an attack on the concept of church, being a Sunday or Sabbath day meeting house, which serves to make one comfortable in a community of religious men and women, the so-called Sabbath-keepers, but within the context of a religious system of practices.
Jesus is about to show that the Sabbath is intended for man. He would challenge the legalism of the Pharisees’ religious laws, which actually served to deny a man healing in the face of death. The Sabbath had become but a day of ritualistic practices. Was the Law of God so stringent that Jesus should not heal man of his sin, because it would interfere with the legalism of the Pharisees? Was this, in fact, not the purpose of the Law – to heal man of his sin?
Coming into community, week after week, with the same people doing the same religious things, does not make anyone a part of the Lord’s church. Jesus would turn all of the misconceptions within the religious system up-side-down by releasing the power to this crippled man to walk the walk and talk the talk. His healing of this man was symbolic of the healing of the bride in the last hours of time, which coincide with the seventh day Sabbath. She will witness to a church moving into action by becoming, foremost, a voice for the truth in the authority of Jesus, and not under the authority of any man-made priesthood.
The radical route, which Jesus will take with His bride, is most certainly going to upset the religious applecart of the priesthood, just as did the healing of this man upset the Pharisees. How could a woman, without seminary training or credentials, possibly be a messenger and teacher whom the Lord, Himself, would equip? There will be a strong argument against her, like that of the Pharisees against Jesus, to suggest that she is of the devil. They will believe her to be a woman of no legal authority, somewhat like a loose cannon, if she does not ascribe to the system’s ‘old boys’ society’ of the priesthood.
If the truth were to be known, not even Jesus could meet the ‘old boys’ standards of today. The priesthood is so steeped in its own traditions that it actually believes that being outside of the Christian, institutional church system means the same thing as being outside of the will of God. This same priesthood finds that it has nothing in common with the original apostolic priesthood, which was totally outside of the religious system in its witness to the truth. Judaism simply did not want to hear what this healed cripple had to say, nor will Christianity be at all interested in what the healed bride has to say.
How does one explain a relationship with the person of Jesus? He is not visible to the eyes of those in spiritual blindness, found within a huge, religious multitude of people, some of whom call themselves the church. They are unable to understand what it means to be born again, or healed by the living water and the Spirit. Jesus healed His early church and then looked for His healed church, only to find her in the temples of man, when it was time for His bride to make her appearance.
Jesus’ warning was strong to this man He had healed. He had spent years with His apostles, washing them spiritually with the truth, freeing them from all religion. When Jesus looks upon His church in this age He sees it in a state of relapse, and is saying to her that once His church has been set free of religious spirits, to turn around and return to the temples of man for feeding would be disastrous. Many more spirits will attack the place from which the evil spirits have departed, if the door is re-opened by religion for them to return. From the moment of her healing, only truth must rule the life of the bride. She must not allow any of the religious cancer to remain.
Now the healed man departed from the religious priesthood, as must the church depart from the system of religion today, in order to witness only to Jesus. The focus was centered on Him and how He was the only Healer of the paralyzed man. It is Jesus in the bride’s life, which likewise will cause the religious to strike out and attack her, and for no other reason. They have no desire to give up the compromised life of the Sunday, religious legalism, which has been the method of traditional salvation within Christianity.
Rarely is salvation ever spoken of; for traditionalists hate the salvation message of Jesus, seeing it to be a narrow one, which will separate them from their path leading to ecumenicalism. Religion always has Satan at its source, with all paths leading back to Babel, where there was one tower, one tongue and one focus on the works of man to build a tower of his own making, which could reach up into the heavens without the Son of God.
Most people want to stay in darkness with their sin unexposed to the light. They don’t want release from the ways of the flesh to start a new and changed life. They can reach a compromise in a religious community, which is properly attired and respectable, according to man’s standards. It is there that they can carry out their self-serving, good deeds in order to receive the accolades of society generally. “But please, no salvation message of fire and brimstone in our midst!” they will cry.
This certain person chosen by the Lord to be the one who would carry his bed had a very heavy responsibility. For, like Jesus, he would become a son of God by adoption, similar to Jesus, yet different, in that Jesus was the only begotten Son of the Spirit. John explains the requirements of son-ship, so that the bride will be seen as a mirror image of her Beloved. The Son does nothing in and of Himself, but does only what He sees the Father do. This person, the bride and Paul, have a unique calling, which allows them access into the heavenlies to have direct teaching from the Lord in a face to face relationship. They do nothing but what Jesus tells them to do.
The Son tells us that He will show us greater miracles than this, which will cause men to marvel. For, as the Lord who visited Abraham said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him (Genesis18:17-19).” The covenant now comes to rest with the child of the woman birthing him/her to become the witness and voice of light for Israel, which both the nation and the spiritual nation failed to be.
For as the Father has the power to raise the dead, so, too, is the power given to the Son to raise the spiritually dead to life. The dead church will come alive, when it fulfills the great commission to testify only to the truth of the gospels, and declares salvation only in Jesus. He is equal with God, and any religious doctrine, which ignores the equality of Jesus with the Father, is nothing other than apostate. A nation that no longer honors Jesus does not honor God.
Jesus’ strong words declared who His bride is. She hears the Word and believes in Him who sent Jesus, not in Allah or in Buddha, only in the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For the bride, there is no judgment; there is only a passage from death to life; outside of this is judgment and death. The way is very narrow, and few are they who find it. The great miracle is the blessing that God can give life to a repentant people who once had no life in them. Who can stand at death’s door and be unwilling to accept this gift, so incredibly more wonderful than any other possible gift one could ever receive? Yet there are millions among us who will say “No thank You,” as they reject the miracle of the salvation of Jesus Christ.
In this chapter is found the message of the Passover, which points us back to the first Passover of the nation: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John 5:24).” By hearing the Word and believing on the Lord, it is already a done deal – no death and no judgment, but rather everlasting life with the Passover of man from this world into the kingdom of God. Is it not sad when a beautiful flower eventually wilts? What Jesus is saying is that His Garden of life is different. In the Lord’s Garden, a rose is a rose and shall remain a rose for ever more. So too, shall all the other flowers bloom throughout eternity.
Jesus promised that the day would come when His voice will be heard making the call for His own to come up and meet Him in the cloud, in the same manner as He ascended. That means His chosen people, His church, will be killed as the final witnesses of Israel only to be seen raised up, as was the Lord, to meet Him in the cloud in their glorified bodies, the same kind of body as was His, when His apostles saw Him depart in like manner.
She will be known, at this point in time when these witnesses will die trying to save others by sacrificing their own lives so that they might live. Can one even imagine the sadness, the shame and the complete desperation, which those who are condemned will feel, as they see the bride taken up to her reward, which was available to all, just for the taking? But they refused the invitation.
Man must hear the voice of God, either directly, like the prophets, or as spoken by them in their authority as His messengers to be witnesses to His truth. Yet Jesus says that when He makes the call, all who hear His voice at this Passover time, will go from death unto life. Surely if we are to hear Him, we must be part of the flock, which knows His voice, as the good Shepherd of the truth who is the Word made flesh. How will the religious be able to hear if they refuse to listen to the voice of truth and to separate from religion, while they have the opportunity?
The call of His voice is like the voice of God, heard by Moses in Egypt, before the angel of death passed over the land, killing all of the firstborn. These firstborn are the symbol of those in the grave who are born once and required to die twice. They will be resurrected to condemnation, to die a second time, but it will be for all eternity without a second resurrection. Yet, Israel had eaten of the lamb, representing the truth, and had removed all leaven, which refers to religion, or the leaven of the Pharisees.
It is a bittersweet moment, but this passage is taking us right to the door of heaven and the time for the Passover Feast of the Lamb. This is a dramatic moment of revelation in Scripture, when John literally announces the long-awaited wedding list for the celebration. The world will be green with envy and regrets when it discovers it has missed being on the most coveted guest list of history, for having preferred to have the things of this world, which will be of no consequence anymore.
Passover, like creation, is, in fact, the passage from death unto life. Whereas God started with a good substance for creation, He begins Passover with a corrupted substance, which will require the work of the hand of His Son, again, beginning with the advent of light. The light is the life of God given to man. Unless we shine forth the light in our lives, we will have no place with it, but rather will dwell in darkness. One is to do good unto the resurrection of life, and the other is to do evil, unto the condemnation of death.
The Son of Man has been given the authority of the Father, for He did not seek His own will but rather that of His Father. Is there any way that this can be misinterpreted to suggest that our laws should be laws granting rights to man, as opposed to laws, which require our submission to God? There can be no proper judgment when rights rule the day, as opposed to God’s Law ruling over man.
It is the will of man, which is at the root of his problem, with respect to kingdom inheritance. Our wills must be broken, if we are to come into the presence of God, saying, “Not my will but Thine be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When we reach this point we will also have reached the point where we will be able to hear that last call to come up hither.
The bride’s oneness with the Lord follows the pattern of Jesus’ oneness with the Father. Jesus came into this world to witness to the truth. His comparable partner has been given the task of carrying out this witness until the time of His return. This is a wedding made in heaven of one witness marrying another. It could be stated that the bridal party will be a collective group of witnesses who have testified to the truth. There will not be one religious person in the group.
It was as though Jesus were cutting out a pattern for the garments of His bride, which she will wear at the wedding, as He gives the measure of the witnesses. He stated that if He were to bear witness to Himself that it would not be true. Does He mean that it would be a lie? To the contrary, He is stating that many will call themselves prophets and will declare themselves to be the messenger of this time. But Jesus is saying that if such a person comes along without credentials, then it is unlikely that his/her words are true. What John is writing in his gospel, establishes the credentials for which one should look in order to recognize the bride’s credentials.
First of all, John the Baptist is the forerunner messenger who witnesses only to truth, well outside of temple walls. No religious trainee will ever be the messenger of God. John was a burning and shining light, so the messenger will be a messenger of light, challenged by the religious priesthood, while speaking directly into their sins as well as into the sins of the rulers of the nation. John let no one off the hook; one was required to first purify oneself after having repented of one’s sins. Purification meant water baptism for John, but for the apostles it was the washing of the Word, which washed men clean. The bride, standing on her apostolic foundation of the truth of the Word, will follow in John’s footsteps of calling Israel to become washed and cleansed by the Word.
John’s washing was a symbol only of coming out of the evil waters of the world in which one is caught in religion and the spirit of death, and into the living water and the Spirit of Life. The bride is the extension of the clean church, which received the Spirit of Life at Pentecost. Jesus had previously declared that they were washed clean by the truth of the Word, which would change the spiritual waters in their lives. The well is where it happens, where the water Jesus has to deliver to the world is dispersed from the wells of heaven, the meeting place for Jesus and His bride.
Jesus was on a commission from heaven, and greater than John’s witness is the witness of the works to which He was called. John pointed to the One who is the truth, and Jesus claimed to be the truth. How is it that the Father is heard to testify of Jesus? If the Father is the Author and Creator of the Word through the Spirit guiding the hands of the men who wrote it, would it not follow that the same Father created the Son by the Spirit with a virgin woman being called to bring forth God’s only begotten Son? The Word must abide in the bride, if she is to know Jesus, and by this we will be able to recognize the comparable partner. She will have understanding of the Word beyond all others, which she will teach like her Beloved taught, for He will teach her in the spirit.
Now two cuts have been made into the pattern for the wedding garment. There was, first, John the Baptist, sent by God to be a burning and shining lamp. He called Israel to repentance, and to the truth of the coming One, much greater than himself who was of the Levitical high priest line. John was bringing to a close, the Levitical high priesthood of the nation, in order to usher in the spiritual priesthood of the Lord. God is not interested in religious men; He is only interested in those who bear witness to the truth, who entered the world in the form of flesh.
“Get rid of all your religion and come into the purity of the truth,” was his call. “Come into the water and rise up out of it cleaned as a changed and healed man, ready in purity for the Lord.” This was John’s calling from above, to stir up the waters so that man might be healed in due time. Then he turned his disciples over to Jesus placing them before Him, like the paralytic on his bed who could not get into the water and be healed without Jesus.
The witness of Jesus is greater than that of John’s, for the works, which the Father has given Him to finish bear witness of Him, that the Father has sent Him. The Father’s witness of the Scriptures is true, and the things, which Jesus does, fulfill prophecy. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (see Revelation 19:10). He came to cross over the blessing of Israel for the entire world to receive, as He took man’s sin upon Himself at the crossroads of history and of the cross.
The Way He established was the apostolic Way of the church, from Garden to kingdom. When He comes again, it will be for His bride who must also fulfill Malachi’s prophecy regarding the messenger who comes in the spirit of Elijah, like John, to prepare the way for the second coming of the Lord. The bride’s spiritual purification involves her making an exodus from the waters of religion to enter into the living water of truth.
Now we come to the fourth cut of the wedding garment after the witness of John the Baptist, the witness of the works of Jesus and the witness of the Father. They were the Scriptures, which gave Jesus His authority by means of prophecy. The religious who claimed to know them, would not hear a word that Jesus said without trying to correct or trick Him. They wanted their blessed religion, which had no blessing in it at all, more than they wanted life itself. There was no real love of God in them.
The bride differs from the religious priesthood of today, in that she has a passion for Jesus, which is unquenchable. Her credentials are also found in the prophecy of Scripture, as were all the great men and warriors, whom God raised up. Priests will come in their own name and man will readily accept their authority, but the truth of Jesus, who comes in His Father’s name, they will reject. Their honor is not from God, but rather from one another and from paper, which can grant only license by degree from man-made priesthoods. One can understand the priesthood of today being unable to recognize the bride as the true priest of God, taught at the feet of Jesus, Himself, and not by the carnal minds of men who are often lacking in spiritual understanding.
The priests of Judaism trusted in their Torah, the book of Moses. Oh yes, they knew it backward and forward, but what they did not understand was the fact that it was actually their accuser, which they were quoting so freely. They could not see in their religious blindness that it was really Jesus, about whom Moses wrote, and who was standing there in their very midst.
There was no replacement theology, which they so feared would replace their religion, for it had always been about Jesus whom Moses and the prophets wrote. He would come to Israel with a new covenant that would replace the old one. Jesus was trying to show that the crossover blessing of the covenant was well documented from Genesis onward through every book Moses wrote. Augustine wrote some profound words about this in his time: “The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” It was from a first son to a second son crossover all the way, first going from Adam, the created son, to Jesus, the begotten Son of God in the Spirit, from Ishmael to Isaac, from Esau to Jacob and from the nation Israel to the spiritual nation of Israel.
The bride will know that the Scriptures are made up of diamonds of prophecy. She will bring to life the Old as it intertwines with the New, and, like John the Baptist, she will be the reflecting, burning light, the light of which God spoke in the beginning when He said, “Let there be light.” She will be the final messenger of light as the Spirit and the bride become a single voice calling in unity for men to purify themselves and make straight the way. For the Light is about to enter the world again, bringing judgment upon darkness, which will be expelled from this world of sin and rebellion against God.
We know John, the apostle, is as the marriage planner presenting to us the Bridegroom and the bride. They will be separate and apart from the rest of the world.
Basic to the wedding between two Hebrew people was a dowry. It required both a gift in the form of a payment to the bride’s father from the groom and a gift to the bride from her father, which she would take with her into the marriage. Jacob worked for seven years in payment of labor to Laban for his daughter’s hand in marriage, but she proved not to be the one for whom he had labored. So he labored a second term of seven years in order to also have the bride he desired and loved. In turn, Laban, the father of the brides, gave them each a servant girl, who became concubines of Jacob, earning a place within the marriage arrangement.
One might call this the ‘dowry’ chapter of John. Jesus came to this earth to do the work of the Father who sent Him, so that He might give life to a lost people. He had come down from His throne on high to offer life and love to His bride, His church, as well as a throne for her and a place in the family of God. This was the reason He had paid the price on the cross. The bride, in turn, would offer her love, her faith and her obedience as a servant woman to her Beloved, so that, together in the Spirit, they would produce good fruit for the Father. This was her reward, to be given her beloved Husband in marriage from the Father.
We are reminded that Abraham and Sarah had the same father. It could be said of Sarah that she was sister and spouse to Abraham. The Shulamite is referred to as the sister and spouse of her Beloved: A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse (Song of Solomon 4:12). In the same, miraculous manner as Abraham and Sarah produced the natural son of inheritance, the beloved Bridegroom and His bride will, likewise, produce the spiritual child as an inheritance of the Father through the miracle of the cross.
When the dowry has been fully paid, Jesus and His bride will issue the invitation: And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).