Discipling a Nation:  The Israel Template

I want to put the vision of the city church in a wider context.  The context is that it is a critical step in God's long term plan to disciple nations into the Kingdom of God. And He has provided a template or instruction manual on how to do this: Israel.

Let me give you two critical scriptures to set the context of "nationhood".

Acts 17: 26 "And he has made of one blood all nations for to dwell on the face of the earth and has determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation."

Throughout history God has raised up nations and torn down nations. He sets the times for their beginning and end. He sets the boundaries of their territory. He created nations as organizational entities for mankind to fulfil His prime directive of Gen 1:28 to be fruitful, multiply and take dominion over all His creation.

However as you look across the world stage today we are witnessing the breakdown of the nation state. National identities and national borders are in flux.  Refugees are streaming into the EU by the millions, the United States for the last 30 years has taken in more than 60 million immigrants legally and illegally changing the entire national character.  Russia consists of 140 different nationalities.  The boundaries of the nations of the turbulent Middle East are disappearing as people regroup along ideological lines. And here in Southern Africa millions of Africans are on the move with a half of Zimbabwe's population having emigrated.

What is the significance of this turmoil of people's and boundaries? What is God's plan for nations and peoples and the concept even of the nation state?

Now here is the second critical scripture:

Gen: 35:9-11 "And God appeared to Jacob and blessed him...and God said unto him Your name is Jacob: your name shall not be called any more Jacob but Israel shall be your name and he called his name Israel. And God said to him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of you..."

Now note the plan of God here:
First a nation was to come from Jacob and then many nations.
The nation was Israel.  And the "company of nations"?
Here is where the dispensationalists and Christian Zionists get all confused. They get caught up with the one nation: Israel.  All prophecy centred around one nation. Everyone rejoicing to see "Israel" restored. But what ever happened to the many nations that God prophesied would come forth?

Now here is the idea I want to introduce to you:

God formed the nation of Israel with all their history and covenants and victories and trials and tribulations as a sort of template, a guide, an instruction manual as to how to form all the coming company of many nations to come.

Now while He was busy forming the Israel template He placed all the other peoples of the world under temporary rule by all sorts of other governments and placed times and territory restrictions on them.

But His ultimate plan was that all peoples would eventually come under His rule. This is clearly stated in Rev.7:9 "After this I beheld an lo a great multitude which no man could number of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues stood before the throne and before the Lamb clothed with white robes...."

Don't let anyone tell you only a handful are getting saved.  In the generations to come you cannot count the multitudes of nations and peoples coming under His Kingdom rule!

But God is a wise builder. He does all things by order, discipline. People need to be saved, discipled and brought into new covenant relationships using the Israel template as a guide. What do I mean?

Let me give you the growth order of how Israel was formed:

It starts with a man: Abraham
Then a family: Abraham, his wife Sarah and his son Isaac and grandson Jacob.
Then a clan: Jacob and his extended clan of 70 who enter Egypt.
Then the clan grows into tribes: The twelve sons of Jacob grow into 12 tribes.
Then the tribes come out of Egypt and claim a land for themselves and form a nation: Israel!

That is how you grow a nation. Now here is a very important idea:

God has not called us to "win a nation for Christ" as in "Lets win South Africa for Jesus"!  That is not going to happen. He has called us to "Grow a nation for His Kingdom".  National boundaries are falling away as are notions of "nationalism", race divisions, language, culture etc.  People around the world are losing their national and cultural identities. Most corporate people have no national loyalties anymore. They consider themselves world citizens and will move and operate wherever profit is to be made. Same with international labour mobility. You go where the best opportunities are for you and your family.

This has created a wonderful opportunity for the Kingdom of God to create new covenant relationships based on new identities, new ties, new goals. Here is the critical idea to understand:

God has given us work to do in this world.  You can accomplish more work if you work with other people. The more people you gather around to accomplish goals the bigger your goals can be, the more work you can get done.

In the Kingdom of God there is spiritual work, social work and physical economic work that needs to be done.  Every person is called upon to do work in God's Kingdom.  Your are responsible before God for the talents He has given you. You are required one day to stand before God and give account for your life. Jesus said, "Father the work you have given me to do I have finished". You need to be able to say that one day before the Lord.

God organizes His people into groupings to do work. He brings man and woman together to do the work of family.  But at every progression of God's Kingdom organization there are goals and work that needs to be done. There is work that you can do alone but most work must be done with others. That is where new relationships are formed, new covenants, new ways of doing things, new motivations.

Now lets look at the Kingdom organization progression to see where the "city church" fits in that I introduced you to last week.

The individual (Abraham)
The family  (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac)
The clan  (Jacob and his extended family clan of sons, children, servants)
The city  (various clans come together to create a city such as Jerusalem)
The tribe (such as the tribe of Judah; various cities form together to create a tribal territory)
The nation  (the various tribes form a national unit).

At each level there are resources available, work to be done depending on the amount of people, the objectives, the resources.

Here is my analysis of where we are at as a church on this journey of discipling nations into the Kingdom of God.

We are good at saving souls and getting the individual into a new covenant relationship with God.
Then we have had in recent decades more and more emphasis on Godly marriage and family relationships which is wonderful.
Then comes the clan level: That is where Jacob takes his extended clan of 70 people into a new place Egypt. That is where our church is now. We have a dynamic leader of a group of people leading them into new places of prosperity and blessing (like Jacob and his clan settling in Goshen in Egypt).

On this clan level there has been valuable work done in the history of the church. We have had dynamic and visionary leaders taking us into new places. We have had shepherd ministries caring and pastoring the flock.

We have even started in recent years to identify new clan formations under the blessing of the Lord and the church...the dynamic entrepreneurs starting new businesses dedicated to the Lord. This has been a wonderful new move of God and a needed emphasis in our local churches.

But now there is a critical need to move forward.  We need to get our local clans (local churches and entrepreneurs and families) to come together in an area and form the new Jerusalem's of the emerging Kingdom of God.  Remember the more we come together the more resources we can create, the more work we can accomplish, the greater challenges we can tackle.

When Israel invaded Canaan and took and formed new cities the Lord said that the Levites were not to own land, they were given 48 cities as their inheritance.  It is in the city that the Levite ministry operated. What did Levites do? Well they were the social workers of their time. They were responsible for education, social welfare, judges, and spiritual ministry. You see to be able to afford a group of people to do that kind of social and spiritual work in the community, you needed to have a coming together of enough people that could support that work.

Today the divided small clan local assemblies do not work together do the Lord has had to give that needed work to government bureaucrats to do paid for with our tax money. And they do not do the work well or efficiently or properly. And yet the work needs to be done.

But if more and more clans are created in a regions, clans of new church assemblies, clans of entrepreneurs starting new businesses, then if these come together as a "city church" then we can start to develop the Levitic ministry of the church. We can start doing our own social work, we can start to do our own schooling, care for the needy, support one another.

And then when we get our city church movement going we can then start connecting regional city churches together into what essentially are provincial tribal identities that can now mobilize large amounts of people and resources for tackling large projects like very large businesses in manufacturing, university level education, mining, banking etc.

This is how you grow a nation for Christ. You start at the bottom and disciple upwards.  I do not believe new political parties are going to win a nation for Christ. I do not believe in that kind of "Dominionism".  I have no desire to rule the ungodly. They are incapable of coming into covenant relationships with the people of God because they do not have the law of God written in their hearts. When you deal with the ungodly you need to have an army of accountants , lawyers, courts, prisons etc to try to keep everyone honest and still they will do everything possible to steal and cheat from you.

That is why you cannot "win South Africa for Jesus" or "win Cape Town for Jesus".  You have to use the Israel template and start at the bottom with one person and get that person saved and discipled and then grow from there as you join more and more people together into larger and larger groupings, each grouping with greater capacity to do the work that God has called us to do: Take dominion over all the works of His hand.

Our next great breakthrough is going to have to be to find a way to bring all our small local church and family and entrepreneur clans together into creating the next level of covenant relationship: The City Church.

When we do that and drop our denominational labels, our one man leader obsessions, our doctrinal differences, our own independent lives and own goals and own interests; then we can start prospering together. Then we can have the same testimony as the Jerusalem city church of Acts of which it was said:

"And they multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul and neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own....and there was none among them that lacked"  (Acts 4:32-34)

Back to Top