Mark 11 needs to be treated as a seamless narrative, connected and significant. The chapter begins with the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem. In our series on the “Marturia/Martureo” we have since the New Year been studying the importance of the “witness” which God gives to His People for them to live and carry out His Ministry in an age where the world and the Church enter into a season of greater conflict and persecution. I believe this series in the context of the pandemic has shown that through political changes throughout the nations, that a transition is taking place where the Church is becoming the target of draconian measures and punitive policies to try to shut down the Church and its various missions. In this context globally, we need to prepare the saints for a greater pressure that will come to bear as the world is preparing a greater globalist world view, and a centralised style of government providing a platform for a one world economy, a one world religion and a one world government. We know that technology is propelling us to that culmination. Hence for that reason we need to be clear that the Word of God and the Church will be the enemy of these world transitions.
The Temple: two separate visitations
Mark highlights something in this narrative that both Matthew and Luke do not. Mark sees the distinction between two distinct visitations of Jesus to the Temple. One was to observe and the other was to expel. It seems that in our emphasis on the “witness” that God gives to His people, we see the religious system somewhat bypassed and even Jesus attacks the religious system for its performance and yet lack of character and consistency. It is here we see a conundrum where it seems that “religious service” goes on unhindered. Here the Temple has allowed a “merchandise” to enter its walls. There is a great trade in sacrificial animals, where rich people buy animals for the priests to sacrifice. Here we see Jesus enter both Jerusalem and the Temple, and in the Temple He observes and leaves. In between the first visitation and the latter, we see the image of the fig tree in between, for which we will come to. In the moment of writing we are seeing now an upsurge in false doctrines and false teachers, including misconduct by so called preachers, which has left ministries and Churches decimated by such abuses and practices. It seems that the Church has become like the Temple, with “merchandising” in the midst. We can be merchandising because we put maintenance of ministry before operation and obedience of service to God. Our first ministry is to God Himself. We must “minister to Him” first, then minister out from that point. However when through whatever pressure and corruption of principle we start to maintain the ministry by selling or asking for provision for us to continue to operate.
On this site we have left the references to Paypal and bank accounts where people can support, and support is needed, but rather than a tireless pursuit for provision we must first pursue Him, because He indeed is a greater provision for our lives. This Temple we cannot forget is a Temple that Herod constructed having taken down Zerrubabel’s Temple of Ezra’s day, and built a more majestic house, that took 46 years to build. Yet the Bible is silent, it was not a House that God designed or destined. It was a human Temple, with no glory. In fact within 110 years this temple is demolished, the Temple veil being rent from bottom to top at the time Jesus died on Calvary having exposed the House as being a Gloryless House. And from this root of self ambition from Herod, to impress and to inspire, built a Temple that God did not ordain. And for this it needed the merchandise for it to operate and for its priests to live comfortable lives. The witness, the “marturia/martureo” deals a death blow to this pursuit, and brings us into projects which God ordains and which God provides.
So whilst Jesus is observing in the first visitation, all is going on as normal. Yet in the second visitation Jesus comes, with the zeal of God, eating Him up, with a righteous indignation, expelling all the people who sold. I believe there has been a season where Jesus has observed, but we are in a season now where He is coming TO His Church to purify. We have in times past referred to the Suddenly of His Coming of Malachi 3. This passage refers to the suddenness of His Coming to purify. The ones who were purified first were those within God’s House. We also read “Judgment begins in the House of God” which means a refining and a confronting.
I believe we have come to this season, with so many pressures, so many fires, that God’s sudden visitation will come to bring us to a purification. Jesus then states that “My House is a House of Prayer for all nations.” This must be a watch word for a revival in our day. That God’s House be established in His People, and for the purpose of Prayer. Let us be ready in this hour of His Second Visitation.
The Fig Tree: the leaves and the fruit
I have had the privilege in Portugal, where I lived for 15 years, to know about the fig tree. When there are leaves, and abundant leaves, there will be little fruit. Jesus examines the Tree in a time when the season was yet afar off for harvest. Yet the signs are, when there is an abundance of leaves, that there is no fruit. It is a wasted year. This is what Jesus examined in the fig tree. He saw the fact that so many leaves that year meant the tree would bear no fruit. Is that not the picture of the Temple of His day? Was that not the picture of so much activity but no glory in the house?
How many decades have we gone in seasons where we have been like this fig tree, where we have been so busy with travelling, teaching and preaching, yet our Temple has been built by own hands, majestic and awesome, but in the Holy Place, there is emptiness. No glory! Jesus discerns this condition in the fig tree, so Jesus speaks to the tree, curses it and it dries from the roots upward. Jesus when He speaks to our lives, He speaks to our “roots”, which is our motivations. Those He finds rooted in self and in idols, will be “cursed”, that is spiritual death will come into those things. From the heart will our dryness spread. Until we are no longer living.
It is interesting to note that in eternity this Fig tree is replaced with the Tree of Life, which Grows by the River of God, whose leaves heal and its fruit nourishes. (Read Revelation 22), the Tree of Life grew from the seed (the Word) by the River (the Spirit) to substitute that which leaves outweigh fruit, to a tree whose leaves also bring fruits every month. It is coming that kind of existence, that our works coincide with our motivations, and our motivations will flow in the “river” of the Spirit from the “seed” of the Word.
Speaking to the Mountain is not just about faith but a change of season and the New Things God will bring into being
How exciting preaching has brought us to faith to speak to mountains. We have taken this passage from Mark 11 and made a message that was never its true context. The passage harks back to Isaiah 40 when the mountains are BROUGHT LOW, and VALLEYS are lifted up. Speaking to the mountain speaks to the spiritual landscape of our generation. It means as much as those people in Luke 2, who were given the “witness” (marturia) that a Messiah was coming. They prayed against the “obstacles” (mountains) so they would be removed. So for Jesus this Temple, its merchandise, its lack of Glory meant it was an obstacle for the next part of His plan, which was to send the Holy Spirit. He could not send the Holy Spirit to this Temple because it was rooted in man’s desire. Jesus would ask the Father to institute a Temple not made with hands. It would be a Temple that Jesus would construct whose building blocks were lives, and the Holy Place would be hearts surrendered to Him.
When God sees obstacles He will lower, those obstacles, those mountains today are 3, 1) Pride 2) Arrogance 3) Wrath. This is the characteristic of Moab in Isaiah 16. God wanted to plant His Throne, with a foundation of David’s Tender Mercies, yet these 3 mountains existed in the midst of the nation. They exist today. Pride is a government, a religion that exists without God, making its own god. Its arrogance is the deception that it can prosper this way. And wrath is a cancel culture that silences the prophetic voice that sees through the pomp and ceremony, to the heart.
We can have mountains today, which God will lower in His new thing, “Behold I do a new thing…” He will lift up the valleys, “He exalts the humble”, those who have hidden in the shadow of the mountains, He will raise up. Of Jesus Simeon the prophet, said He would be a sign for the falling of many and the rising of others. There is a season that the mountains tower over the valley, but in the day of His New Thing, the mountains crumble and fall and His Valleys, His humble ones, prepared ones are lifted up.
I believe we have come to this day, a day of reversals. A day when the most impossible things will occur. ” For God nothing is impossible” has been repeated when God brings to birth.
This is a hard hitting message, but it marks the change, for those who are “marked with the marturia” shall be like the valleys lifted up. There is a strong message in Mark 11, that Jesus entry into our “Jerusalem” marks change. How we respond to that will determine if we are a tree of fruit or a tree of leaves, or a mountain or a valley.