Separation and Reunification: Part 2

John Plunkett

October 12, 2017
Last Great Day

Today, we are going to continue and develop with the same subject that we started on the first Holy Day.

Just to give you a refresher, back in Part 1, we talked about various kinds of separation, we went through some Bible examples of separation.  Specifically, we considered separations in Israel and post-exile Judah. Then we finished off talking about separations for bodily safety.

Today, on the Last Great Day, I would like to continue under these headings:

Some Separation is Caused by Sin

We are reminded each year at the time of the spring Holy Days – and on the Day of Atonement – that humanity is separated from Jesus and His Father due to its sins:

Isaiah 59:2:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.

As we look through the scriptures, we find many, many accounts of painful separations that have been caused by sin. 

Let's look first at Abram and Lot.  It is very interesting to note that throughout the Feast messages this year, we have read about Abram and Abraham a lot (no pun intended).  

Abram and Lot were separated due to the sinful strife between their herdsmen:

Genesis 13:
8:  And Abram said unto Lot, “Let there be no strife, I pray you, between me and you, and between my herd-men and your herd-men; for we be brethren.
9:  Is not the whole land before you?  Separate yourself, I pray you, from me: if you will take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
11:  Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

As we go quickly through some of Abram's descendants, I will just quote the chapters where we find the relevant accounts.

Due to the sinful deception of the aging, blind Isaac by young Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, Jacob needed to separate himself from the wrath of his brother Esau (Genesis 27).

Later, Jacob again found it necessary to stealthily separate himself and his growing family – this time from his Uncle Laban after Laban continually, sinfully out-deceived him! (Genesis 31).

The young Joseph was violently separated from his beloved father, Jacob, due to the sinful jealousy of his brothers (Genesis 37).  However, God turned this painful separation into some great blessings at the time of the great Egyptian drought;

Many, many years later, fast-forwarding to the very end of Jesus’ human lifetime on the night of His illegal arrest, He foretold that, because of His separation from His disciples, they would also become scattered – separated from one another.

Matthew 26:31:
Then said Jesus unto them, “All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, ‘I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.’”

One reason for Jesus’ great agony at Gethsemane that same night was that all the sins of the world – the sins that He hated so much – the sins which He was so averse to – the sins which He was so careful of maintaining a wide margin of separation from – every one of them was brought close and laid upon His sinless head.  

Another major cause for Jesus’ incomparable agony that night was because of a separation that He did not want – His separation from His Father – a separation that was very necessary because His Father could not be present wherever sin was, and is – even if it was on the head of His holy, beloved Son:

Matthew 27:46:
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The word "forsaken" comes from the Greek verb egkataleipo, the meaning of which indicates that Jesus, in the distress and delirium that preceded His death, was crying out to His Father, "Why have you deserted me?  Why have you separated yourself from me?  Why have you left me behind in this place?" 

Because of all the planning that had gone before this, Jesus knew, of course, that because of all the sin that had been laid upon His head, it was painfully necessary for His Father to separate Himself from His Beloved Son. 

Was this, perhaps, one of the reasons why "Jesus wept," "groaned" and was moved and "troubled in spirit" at the death of His friend Lazarus just a week or so before His own death? (John 11:33, 35). 

He knew that Lazarus would be resurrected just moments later; but did Jesus perhaps experience, first-hand, the pain that a person's loved ones feel when they are separated by death?  

Also, although He knew that He would be unconscious during the three and a half days of His own death, perhaps at His weeping at Lazarus’ death, He foresaw the pain His Father would go through when separated from His beloved Son for those seventy-two hours.

The LORD's Separate Place

When designing His earthly house, our sinless God (specifically the LORD/YHVH) knew that He would need a kind of "visiting room" in it that was separate from His sin-prone subjects. 

This room is commonly called “the Holy of Holies” or “the Most Holy Place”; but the prophet Ezekiel repeatedly referred to it as "The Separate Place": 

Ezekiel 41:
12:  Now the building that was before the separate place at the end toward the west was seventy cubits broad; and the wall of the building was five cubits thick round about, and the length thereof ninety cubits.
13:  So he measured the house, a hundred cubits long; and the separate place, and the building, with the walls thereof, a hundred cubits long;
14:  Also the breadth of the face of the house, and of the separate place toward the east, a hundred cubits.
15:  And he measured the length of the building over against the separate place which was behind it, and the galleries thereof on the one side and on the other side, a hundred cubits, with the inner temple, and the porches of the court;

Ezekiel 42:
1:  Then he brought me forth into the utter court, the way toward the north: and he brought me into the chamber that was over against the separate place, and which was before the building toward the north…
Verse 10:  The chambers were in the thickness of the wall of the court toward the east, over against the separate place, and over against the building…
Verse 13:  Then said he unto me, “The north chambers and the south chambers, which are before the separate place, they be holy chambers, where the priests that approach unto the LORD shall eat the most holy things: there shall they lay the most holy things, and the meat offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering; for the place is holy”…
Verse 20:  He measured it by the four sides: it had a wall round about, five hundred reeds long, and five hundred broad, to make a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place.

The "profane place" was where the regular priests could enter; but the "sanctuary" was the room of the Most Holy Place, which Ezekiel called "the separate place."

Separations in the Early Church of God

Let’s move forward again – to the early church era, and let's look at some separations that happened then.

As Jesus had prophesied, not so very long after His death, resurrection and ascension, the members of His young church would be separated and scattered due to a great persecution:

Acts 8:1:
And Saul was consenting unto his
{Stephen’s} death.  And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Acts 11:19:
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

James wrote his letter to members of God’s church who had been separated and scattered to all the locations where the twelve tribes of Israel were dwelling at that time:

James 1:1:
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

It is interesting to speculate as to whether James knew the various locations of those scattered tribes (which are often referred to by the unscriptural term, “lost tribes”) and whether or not copies of his letter ever actually reached them. 

Peter wrote his first epistle to other members (various opinions exist as to whether they were Israelites or Gentiles) who had been separated and scattered to the various areas listed in his greeting:

I Peter 1:1:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 

Separations in the Modern Church of God

In more recent years, we are all very painfully aware that many of our former Church of God leaders followed the example of Old Testament Israel by separating themselves from God’s truth and way of life, preferring the comparative comfort of joining themselves to some of the mainstream professing Christian organizations of the world, along with their many heathen trappings.   This sin led to other separations:

John 10:12:
But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. 

Faithful members who formerly dwelt together in the relative unity of good-sized congregations were separated and scattered into tiny groups under various corporate banners.

As alluded to earlier, there are circumstances in which it is good and right for us to separate ourselves.  Jude refers to the warnings of some of Jesus’ apostles who warned the brethren against false brethren he refers to as lustful, sensual “mockers” who separate themselves for all the wrong reasons: 

17:  But, beloved, remember you the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18:  How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19:  These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

Many faithful brethren have had this scripture targeted at them.  But I don’t believe that this scripture is applying to what we might call “independent, or "non-aligned" Christians (which is what we basically are now).   For what I honestly believe to have been good, valid and righteous reasons, we have chosen to separate ourselves from the larger Church of God groups.  I sincerely believe that God’s Word allows for – and even strongly recommends – such separations under certain circumstances.  This is not completely separating ourselves from the greater Church of God – the spiritual Body of Jesus Christ, of course.  But rather, when necessary, separating ourselves from corporate church organizations who are clearly, to a great degree, departing – separating themselves – from “the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Perhaps worst of all, because of the church apostasy in the 1990s, many members and unbaptized young people became totally disillusioned and did separate themselves from the Church of God – the Body of Jesus Christ – altogether.  We need to pray for those who you love, and those that you have known who have left, and if it is God’s will, that He will bring them back, according to His will (I John 5:14-17).

Those people who totally and permanently separate themselves from the New Covenant Israel of God are making the very same mistake as those Old Covenant Israelites who separated themselves from the nation of Israel, as many did in order to follow their own sinful desires.  In separating themselves from Israel, they were separating themselves from God.  This next scripture was written originally to the Old Covenant Israel of God; but as we read it, please apply it to the New Covenant Israel of God – the church:

Deuteronomy 29:
18:  Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood;
19:  And it come to pass, when he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, “I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:”
20:  The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.
21:  And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law:

That is a dire warning when applied to the Old Covenant Israel of God; but applying it to the New Covenant of God is even more stern and important.

When a person commits spiritual adultery by separating himself from God, His people and His ways, that person is allying himself to one or more false gods, with Satan right up at the top of their pecking order!  False gods and their ways are what we call "idolatry."  Spiritual adultery is idolatry.

Let’s go over and read God's Word from our friends Ezra and Nehemiah.  Let’s start with Ezra.  In the book of Ezra, where we were last time on the first Holy Day in Part 1, we were thinking about the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s ruined wall.  That account contains all kinds of  very valid symbolisms.  We see, for example, that there is a very real danger in the separation from our fellow brethren if we allow ourselves to get totally cut off from one another:

Ezra 10:
7:  And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;

That is actually a reunification verse...

8:  And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.

We can apply what Ezra is saying here to ourselves: "If you don’t regather yourselves with the brethren in the proper place, then you will be separated permanently from the congregation!"

Nehemiah 4:
18:  For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side and the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.

The returned Jews were still on something of a "war footing."  There were still enemies who wanted to stop them building the wall, the temple and all Jerusalem, in God’s name.

19:  Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.
20:  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us.”

Can you imagine them all, spread around the walls of Jerusalem, trying to get it built up as quickly as possible?  If any group of the builders is attacked, they sound the trumpet, and all their brethren come together to their aid.

I read into that that, if we spiritual Israelites are also blessed with good, close friends and relatives in our local congregations, we should value those friendships and we should strive to maintain our affinity that we have with one another, and fear to jeopardize it. 

Separation in the Proverbs

One of the most common ways of separating good friends, both within the church and outside the church, is through gossip and rumour:

Proverbs 16:28:
A froward
{perverse} man sows strife: and a whisperer separates chief friends.

Proverbs 17:9:
He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separates very friends.

How many times have we seen this in the church?  Staying with the book of Proverbs for a little longer, we can see that poverty can be another cause of separation:

Proverbs 19:4:
Wealth makes many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

Inclusion of this item under our heading of "Separation due to sin" is not to suggest that poverty itself is a sin; I don’t believe that it is.  However, if a sin – or a series of sins – for example gambling, excessive drinking, were to cause one’s poverty, then the threat of separation from friends and loved ones certainly is an additional reason why such sins should be avoided.  Some of such people end up being homeless.  We see people with drug and alcohol addictions who end up having no one to turn to.  Again, poverty itself is not a sin.  But what is the cause of the poverty?  

Future Separations Prophesied

Now, let’s look into the future a little bit, to the time pictured by the Last Great Day, when the unrepentant will be separated at the time of the Second Death and the Third Resurrection:

Matthew 25:
31:  When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory:
32:  And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats:
33:  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34:  Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”…
Verse 41:  Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”:
Verse 46:  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Which group do we desire to be a part of on that day?  The sheep?  Or the goats?  We know which group we want to be in, don't we? 

The apostle John was inspired to describe the "great separation" of the Great White Throne Judgment in different words than Matthew's:

Revelation 20:
11:  And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and
there was found no place for them {i.e. the Beast and the False Prophet}.
12:  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13:  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14:  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.
15:  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

That is the bad news! That is the ultimate separation!  A lot of the separations are bad news.

Regathering and Reunification

All that we have read last week and this week are just drops in the bucket!  There is so much more in the scriptures on the subject of separation.

But let’s turn now to the good news!  Let's turn from the relatively negative subject of separation to its very opposite – which is very relevant today on this Last Great Day.

The dictionary says that the very antonyms of separation are unification, gathering, combination, consolidation, melding and merging.  To these we can add the word "atonement" or, as we often break it down into its components – at-one-ment.  Together, these words reflect the kind of unity that we all look forward to.

A unification that follows a period of separation is called a re-unification.  And a gathering that follows a period of separation is called a re-gathering.

Referring to the spiritual symbolism of crop harvesting, which the Bible uses so much and so often, God has grouped His Fall Feasts together under the term “the Feast of Ingathering”: 

Exodus 23:16:
And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of your labours, which you have sown in the field
{Shavuot or Pentecost}: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labours out of the field. 

Exodus 34:22:
And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest
{Shavuot or Pentecost}, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

The crop season in what we call "the Holy Land" ran throughout the summer.  The farmers had to have all their crops reaped, threshed, winnowed and in some cases even sold, before they left for the Feast of Trumpets.  The ingathering was to be complete by the time that they came away from their farms to attend the Fall Feasts. 

The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles ansd the Last Great Day were all gathered together in "the Feast of Ingathering."

Historically, at least ever since we first came into the church, the Fall Feasts, and perhaps especially the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day, have always been joyous annual opportunities for regathering and reunification between physical and spiritual family members, who live far apart.

At the beginning of my last sermon on the first Holy Day, we examined the potential for a mother’s sadness after her baby is born.  As we saw then, a new, different, joyous relationship is ignited at the moment of birth – one which immediately begins to grow and blossom. 

In John 16, Jesus points out the tremendous joy when we find that we have a brand-new family member to get to know.  Let’s look at this account again in a little more detail, because, although Jesus mentions the joy at the initial "meeting" between a new baby and his/her parents, His real topic of discussion here was the coming separation and reunification between Himself and His disciples:

John 16:
16:  “A little while, and you shall not see me
{separation}: and again, a little while, and you shall see me {reunification}, because I go { separation} to the Father.”
20:  Verily, verily, I say unto you that you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
21:  A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child
{separation}, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world {unification},
22:  And you now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again
{reunification}, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you.”

Paul adds to Jesus’ last point, that no one will take our joy away from us, by telling us that, once united with Jesus, nothing physical can separate us.  Once we have been baptized and have received the Holy Spirit (at our spiritual begettal), nothing physical can separate us.  We can also apply this to the First Resurrection (our spiritual birth):

Romans 8:
35:  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
38:  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39:  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Shortly after Jesus had spoken the words recorded in John 16 (which we just read), His disciples were, indeed, sorrowful at the violent separation between their beloved Master and themselves.  

Then, just as He had told them, three days later came the first great joy when He and they were reunited after His resurrection. 

There was another minor separation on the "Wave Sheaf Sunday" when Jesus briefly (in terms of human time) returned to His Father.  And that return must have been a most wonderful reunification.  What happened there?  He doesn’t tell us about it, perhaps because our limited human brains probably couldn't handle the glory of what happened there!  Time is nothing to God the Father and Jesus.  To them, all of the wonderful celebration could have been done in a couple of hours of "human time."

Immediately after this, on the very same day, Jesus returned to and reunited with His disciples and remained with them for another forty days.  But then He separated Himself from them again when He returned to heaven, where He has remained ever since. 

This second separation from the disciples was not quite as painful as the first.  For two reasons:

First, Jesus had promised that He would send His Holy Spirit to them and that, through it, He and His Father would be with them.  Actually not only with them; but also in them!:

John 14:
16:  And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He
{the Father} may abide with you forever.

In fact, Jesus had told His disciples clearly that, if He did not separate Himself from them and return to His Father, He would be unable to send that unifying Comforter to them:

John 16:7:
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send it unto you.

The other reason that the second and third separations of Jesus were not as painful to the disciples was that, unlike at the time of Hs first departure and separation, they were now totally convinced of the truth of His resurrection.  But also that, by His resurrection, they were also convinced that they would be reunited with Jesus and regathered with one another at the time of their future resurrection – the First Resurrection. 

As they stood on the Mount of Olives, watching Jesus separate Himself from them again as He returned to heaven, He sent them an encouraging reminder of their coming reunion with Him:

Acts 1:
9:  And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10:  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two “men” stood by them in white apparel;
11:  Which also said, “You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven.”

Jesus wants every one of us to be present at that wonderful reunion too! 

Future Reunifications and Regatherings Prophesied

Let's look now in some more detail at the reunifications that are to take place at – and following – the time of Jesus’ return to earth.

Soon after His return, there will be a reunification between the tribes of physical Israel who have been separated and scattered.  Also, God will even bring about a reunification between Israel and the Gentile nations:

Isaiah 56:
3:  Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, “The LORD has utterly separated me from his people”: neither let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4:  For thus says the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
5:  Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
6:  Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant;
7a:  Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon my altar...

There is at least one other scripture that I can think of that also indicates that, for whatever reasons, God is going to reinstitute sacrificial offerings at that time.

7b: ... for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”
8:  The Lord GOD which gathers the outcasts of Israel says, “Yet will I gather others to Him, beside those that are gathered unto Him.”

Even now, we have many Gentile brethren in God’s church.  We look forward to the time when all the nations are gathered under His banner.

There will also be a joyful reunification of spiritual Israel – the Israel of God – the Church of God.  

If an "earnest" of this church reunification happens in a Place of Safety, that will be great, of course.  But all of God's people from throughout the ages are not going to be in the pre-resurrection Place of Safety.  Many brethren have lived and died in the scattered congregations of the Church of God.  But, the primary, major reunification of spiritual Israel – the Church of God – will take place at the time of the First Resurrection.

Not only will the scattered "tribes" of spiritual Israel be reunited; but many individual church members who had been separated from each other by the scatterings, and/or by time and/or by death will be brought together through Jesus Christ:

I Thessalonians 4:
14:  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.
15:  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent
{precede} them which are asleep.
16:  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The unity of God’s people must come through Jesus Christ now!  And when it eventually comes in its total form, it will still be through Jesus!

This account of our reunification – with our Elder Brother and our other fellow-brethren – must rank among the most encouraging in the whole Bible.  Here’s another mega-encouraging statement from Jesus Himself:

Matthew 24:
30:  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31:  And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

What a wonderful time that is going to be!  

I know that these are Feast of Trumpets verses; but let’s continue...  

God’s children will be gathered together, and unified in the very Family of God – never again to be separated by anything.  Not by the separations the we have seen recently – never to be separated by corporate banners or minor doctrinal differences.  God’s children will be gathered together, then with perfect knowledge – unified in the very Family of God.  And we'll be given a new name:

Revelation 3:12:
Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Perhaps our new name will be the equivalent of God’s “surname.”  Jesus’ Old Covenant name was YHVH-Elohiym (LORD-God in English); so just maybe ours will be something like Fred Jerusalem Elohiym – ex-Bloggs; and Mary Jerusalem Elohiym – ex-Smith!  We don’t know what the name is going to be.  We don’t even know what the language is going to be; but likely, the same one that Jesus and His Father converse in.

Perhaps not so much in our modern day; but traditionally, a woman takes on the surname of her husband on their wedding day – the day on which those two people are united – brought together – to become one:

Matthew 19:5:
And said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother
{separation!), and shall cleave to his wife
{unification!}: and they twain shall be one flesh.”

There is a huge unity there!  

Likewise, God’s children will receive our new name when we are unified collectively as the very Bride of Jesus Christ at the Marriage of the Lamb:

Revelation 19:
7:  Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready.
8:  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9a:  And he said unto me, “Write, ‘Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb’”… 

At that time, God’s children will be unified by our marriage with Jesus.  We are not sure exactly when that marriage is going to take place.  (I have some ideas, but that is a whole other sermon!)

Through this perfect unity in our marriage to Jesus we will also be totally unified with our spiritual brothers and sisters – including those who have endured tremendous trials – unified as pillars in God’s spiritual temple, in God’s family, in God’s Kingdom, and in God’s priesthood:

Revelation 20:
4:  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5:  (But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished).  This is the first resurrection.
6:  Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years…

But!... we have to careful that our joy and anticipation for the First Resurrection (pictured by the Feast of Trumpets), which God advises us is the "better resurrection" (Hebrews 11:35), we must not forget the additional joy that we will share at the time of the Second Resurrection, when we will be reunified with many, many, formerly-uncalled and unconverted family members and friends, when they are, at long last, called and converted:

Verse 11:  And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them {the Beast and False Prophet}.
12:  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13:  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Once our formerly uncalled and unconverted loved ones are resurrected, called and converted, our level of unity with them will be lifted to a plane that neither they nor we could even imagine during our physical lives.

We saw earlier how sin can be a great contributor to separation We can see now, then, that the level of unity amongst God’s children will increase in a directly proportional ratio to the amount of sin that is removed from the earth:

Partially at the time of the First Resurrection and the return of Jesus Christ,

More so when Satan is imprisoned,

Further at the time of the Second Resurrection,

Even more so at the time of the Third Resurrection and Second Death,

• Then totally, after the Gog and Magog incident, once sin is completely purged from the earth, at which time the new earth that God the Father is going to bring down will be fit for Him to come to earth:

Revelation 21:3:
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. 

This is the ultimate gathering. This is the ultimate anti-type of the Last Great Day.

Revelation 22:3:
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him:

What we are seeing here, is total regathering, one hundred percent reunification, total oneness, and total unity! 

This level of unity is so very hard for us mortals to comprehend now; but this will be the unity which God the Father and Jesus have enjoyed for all eternity.  They have only ever been truly separated for those few, infamous hours in the spring of 30 (or 31) AD. 

John recorded some of Jesus’ prayers which He prayed on the night of His arrest and His subsequent first separation from His disciples.  In one of these prayers – probably the most detailed one – He yearned for the time when His brothers and sisters would be able to fully share in the level of oneness that He and His Father had enjoyed eternally:

John 17:
5:  And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was…
Verse 10:  And all mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11:  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world.  And I come to you.  Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are.

This is amazing!  The Passover and the Last Great Day are kinds of "book-ends" for everything that comes in between.  I believe that Passover and the Last Great Day are the most sacred days in all of God’s sacred year.

Coming back to John 17 when Jesus was asking for this perfect unity, He was not just asking the Father for the unity for the disciples of that time only.  Let’s continue reading Jesus' encouraging words of reunification:

John 17:
20:  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21a:  That they all may be one…

All of us!  Our tiny little group here is to be unified with all of our brethren wherever they are, throughout the world – in whatever organization or non-organization they might be with!  All of them!

21b:… As you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22:  And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

O that it would!  But that unity is not going to totally happen 100% until the fulfillment of this fabulous Last Great Day!

23:  I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. 

God the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father!  How hard it is to believe that God the Father loves us as He loves His own Son!

24:  Father, I will that they also, who you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: 

Sad Separation on the Last Great Day

Every year, God's joyful Feast of Ingathering comes to a sad end.  After eight happy days of being in-gathered together, His children must be separated from our beloved brethren once again.  But, as Walter Johnson, the minister who baptized Trish and me, told us so often, the time is coming – and very soon – when we will never have to be separated anymore!

Once that time comes, we will be able to be together forever. As Jesus tells us in many of the verses we have read today, we will be truly united! 

We will be togetherunited under our new name – in the very Family of God.

We will be united – collectively as the Bride of Jesus Christ – and we will be united with the Great God – our wonderful Father!