... but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear. - 1 Pet 3:15
Habakkuk 2:14 adequately describes the central target of God's will in the earth. "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YAHWEH [the Eternal One] as the waters cover the sea." This is confirmed in Numbers 14:21, where YAHWEH said, "But as truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of YAHWEH." God made this statement in the midst of His people refusing to obey Him and to enter into the Promised Land.
Isaiah 11 is a marvellous chapter concerning Messiah and many wonderful promises, and in the midst of it, the Scripture says, "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of YAHWEH as the waters cover the sea" (v.9b). God has never veered from His grand purpose for His creation and Ephesians 3:11 says, "According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Christ has accomplished the victory, but now the church is to grow up into maturity and come to the knowledge of the mystery and thereby make known "the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in the heavenlies" (v.10).
Way back in the beginning, God told Adam and Eve that they were to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth" Genesis 1:28. How was the earth to be filled? Not just with human beings, but it was to be filled with descendants of our first parents, Adam and Eve, who were created in the image and likeness of God. Today over seven billion people live on the earth, but how many of them are walking in the knowledge of the glory of the eternal God?
What God commanded Adam and Eve to do is now done by making disciples in obedience to the commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:18-20. If we make disciples properly they will come to the knowledge of the glory. If we are fruitful in making disciples, then they will make disciples and there will be multiplication. If the multiplication continues from one generation to the next, as taught by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2, "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men [and women] who will be able to teach others also", then the earth will be filled with disciples who have the knowledge of the glory.
The first step that we must take in order to reach the target is to come to the knowledge of the glory. We receive knowledge by being taught. A disciple is one who is being taught. We need discipleship to diffuse the knowledge of God throughout the earth. Paul prays for us earnestly in Colossians 1:9, "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Again in Colossians 2:1-2, Paul is deeply concerned that all the saints should "attain to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ." We need the knowledge of His will, and we need the knowledge of the mystery of God.
God's goal according to Hebrews 2:10 is to bring many sons to glory! "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering."
God has ordained a hidden wisdom which is a mystery that we are to come to the knowledge of (1Cor.2:6-7). This wisdom "God ordained before the ages for our glory" (v.7). The glory will be known by those who come to the knowledge of the mystery.
Ephesians 5:25-27 reveals that Messiah Jesus Himself, is fully committed to bringing His church into the glory. Jesus is clearly going to hit the target! He will present the church to Himself "a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."
Peter says that "the God of all grace [has] called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus." Coming to the glory involves suffering, but it also involves being perfected, established, strengthened, and settled (1Peter 5:10). God is serious about His church hitting the target.
In Colossians 1:27 Paul says, "God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." We are to come to the knowledge of the glory.
YAHWEH is the name of the Eternal God. Strong's Concordance pronounces the name as YEHOVAH. Unfortunately most English Bibles, including KJV and NKJV, do not translate the name of God, which appears over 6,500 times in the Bible. Instead the English version writes His name as LORD, which is not a name at all. God has been known by His personal name since Genesis 2:4. From this we can deduce that Adam knew God by His name. One of the great restorations that is happening in our day, is the restoration of the Name.
A further important aspect of the restoration of the Name of God is understanding the name of Jesus, which is Yeshua in Hebrew. Within the name of Jesus is the name of YAHWEH. Jesus literally means 'YAHWEH is Salvation'.
It is the knowledge of the glory of YAHWEH that we are talking about. This is the target, to come to that knowledge. YAHWEH is the Eternal One; He is the I AM (Exodus 3:14) . In the coming of Jesus into the world, the Bible clearly says that "God was manifest in the flesh" (1Tim.3:16). "In the beginning was the Word ... and the Word was God" (Jn.1:1). This One described as the Word and who is God, "became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn.1:14). This Word is said to be the Creator of all things (Jn.1:3&10); He is the life (v.4); He is the true light (v.5&8), and He became flesh (v.14). This One who became flesh is "The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father" and He has made God known (v.18).
There is a covering that has been "cast over all people", and there is a veil "that is spread over all nations", but God says that "He will destroy" both the covering and the veil (Isa.25:7). In verse 8, the Scripture reveals that the veil is in place because of death, but Jesus has dealt with death: "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1Cor.15:54b). Jesus "Himself ... shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" Heb.2:14-15.
The covering that God wants to bring across the whole earth is the covering of glory. In Isaiah 4:3-6, the prophet reveals to us that God will deal with all blood guiltiness through the purging by His blood and releasing "the spirit of judgement and the spirit of burning" (v.4). This will lead to a repentant and purified people and then YAHWEH "will create above every dwelling place of Mt Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and a shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering" v.5.
In Ezekiel 47:1-12 the prophet experienced the river of God. It was huge and it began to cover the earth. It flowed into the sea and everywhere it went there was healing and then there was fruitfulness; there was food from the fruit of the trees that grew up and there was healing in their leaves. Truly the knowledge of the glory of YAHWEH will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
To hit the target Jesus has a 'great bow' [this is a prophetic understanding], and with the bow He sends 'arrows' out into the world to hit the target. In Genesis 9:13, God set that bow in the clouds of the sky as a sign of the covenant between God and the earth. God's intention for the earth has never varied, and eventually the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of His glory. This is God's covenantal promise renewed to Noah after the flood.
In Revelation 6:2 Jesus came riding on a white horse and He had a bow, and "He went out conquering and to conquer". The great bow that Jesus had can be seen to be the commission that Jesus gave to the apostles, and through them to the whole church, to preach the gospel in all the earth, making disciples and teaching those disciples the knowledge of the glory.
The commission is given in the four Gospels:
• in Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gives us the apostolic commission, sending us to make disciples of all nations. The disciples are to be taught and so both apostles and teachers are needed to fulfil this commission.
• in Mark 16:15-20 Jesus gave us the evangelistic commission to preach the gospel to everyone in the whole world, baptising those who believe and releasing the believers in signs and wonders.
• in Luke 24:44-49 Jesus shows us the necessity of understanding the gospel from the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament, and preaching the suffering and death of Christ in the light of those Scriptures, so that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" v.47.
• in John 21:15-17 Jesus is giving Peter the apostle a pastoral commission, showing us that the care of God's people by all the ministries is of number one importance.
The arrows that Jesus sends forth are the various aspects of what is essential in making disciples:
For the Great Commission to be fulfilled, we all need to be making disciples. A disciple is someone who is being taught the word. A disciple is a learner. Once the disciple has been taught the word, the disciple needs to be trained to teach the word to others, and equipped to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. When the disciples were sent away from Jerusalem because of persecution in Acts 8:1-4, "those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word". These were disciples who had been taught and trained.
Over recent years we have been seriously making disciples and training ministers and we have learnt that there are three essential boundaries that disciples are to walk in, thus enabling them to be sent out on mission.