Three to Get Ready
Archives For September 2006
Ordination & Installation Service
Celebrant: Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
All: And blessed be His kingdom, now and forever. Amen!
Celebrant: The Lord be with you!
All: And with your Spirit!
Celebrant: Let us pray: O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Hymn: Come Holy Ghost Our Souls Inspire
Charge: Toby Sumpter, you have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Do not shun to declare unto your charge the whole counsel of God. Take heed to yourself, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost has made you an overseer, to feed the church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood. We charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; preach the Word; be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. Be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Celebrant: Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
Answer: I do.
Celebrant: Do you sincerely receive and adopt the doctrinal standards of this church, being set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith as amended and explained in our Constitution, as your own confession of faith, and as a faithful statement of the doctrine taught in the Scriptures?
Answer: I do.
Celebrant: If at any time you find yourself out of accord with any point in our Constitution or Confession, will you, on your own initiative, make known to your Session the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of these vows?
Answer: I will
Celebrant: Will you be diligent, with God’s help, to frame and fashion yourself and your household, according to the Doctrine of Christ; and to make both yourself and your household wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ?
Answer: I will.
Celebrant: Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of this church, in conformity with the general principles of biblical polity?
Answer: I do.
Celebrant: Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord, unto whom is committed the charge and government over you; following with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and submitting yourselves to their godly judgments?
Answer: I do.
Celebrant: Do you now in the presence of the Church commit yourself to this trust and responsibility?
Answer: I do.
The Celebrant addresses the congregation
Celebrant: Do you, the people of the Lord, receive Toby Sumpter as a ruling elder in this church, commissioned to be a Minister of the Gospel among you?
Answer: We do, God helping us.
Celebrant: Will you uphold him in his ministry and submit to his leadership in the Lord?
Answer: We will, God helping us.
Celebrant: Let us pray: God and Father of all, we praise you for your infinite love in calling us to be a holy people in the kingdom of your Son Jesus our Lord, who is the image of your eternal and invisible glory, the firstborn among many brethren, and the Head of the Church. We thank you that by his death he has overcome death and, having ascended into heaven, has poured his gifts abundantly upon your people, making some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry and the building up of his body.
(The elders lay hands upon the ordinand.)
Celebrant: Therefore, Father, through Jesus Christ your Son, give your Holy Spirit to Toby; fill him with grace and power and make him a ruling elder in your church.
Celebrant: May he exalt you, O Lord, in the midst of your people; offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you; boldly proclaim the gospel of salvation; and rightly administer the sacraments of the New Covenant. Make him a faithful pastor, a patient teacher, and a wise councilor. Grant that in all things he may serve without reproach, so that your people may be strengthened and your name glorified in all the world. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(The elders extend the right hand of fellowship to the new elder.)
(All stand to sing)
You are God’s possession. He has purchased every one of you with the blood of Jesus, and He has placed the renewed image of Christ on your heads and named you with His name in baptism. But it is sometimes tempting to come to this table as the prodigal son returned to his father, believing that a place among the slaves would be most deserved. And yes God does own you, but that thought never crossed the mind of the Father of the prodigal son; the Father was looking for His son. He was looking and waiting for His son. And this is all to say that you are His sons and daughters. And He rejoices over you and he kills the fatted calf. This is that feast. This is the feast of forgiveness. So do not come in disbelief; your sins are forgiven. Rejoice and give thanks. You are the family of God; so come. You are the sons and daughters of the King; so come and eat.
Mark 12:1-17: Whose Image, whose property, whose fruit?
Here, Jesus begins speaking in parables again, signifying further judgment on the priests, the scribes, and the elders (Mk. 4:11-12). Jesus has just finished enacting judgment: the triumphal entry, cursing the fig tree, clearing the temple, and instructing His disciples to pray for its destruction. His authority has been questioned, but He has authoritatively answered their quibbling. Jesus authority is from John the Baptizer, who received his authority from heaven.
This story is not foreign to his listeners. Jesus is taking up a well known story from Isaiah 5 (cf. Ps. 80). But Jesus has told it all wrong. And His enemies feel the force of His words (12:12). We understand the parable as well as His enemies did (v. 12): the owner of the vineyard is God, and His servants that He sends to tenants of the land are His prophets. The tenants are the established Israelite authorities: the priests and Levites, the elders, and the scribes. What is the owner seeking? He is seeking fruit (v. 2). What do the tenants want? They want the inheritance (v. 7) which presumably is the vineyard. Therefore their plan, to some extent all along, has been to kill the heir. To wound and kill the servants of the Master is already to set the course.
This parable reminds us of the story of Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard where Ahab is consumed with greed and lust for Naboth’s real estate. Through the instrumentation of Jezebel and her political manipulating, he kills Naboth and steals the vineyard. One of the striking things about this event is Ahab’s response when he is confronted. Elijah comes down at the word of the Lord and confronts Ahab, declaring his destruction and the destruction of his house. And Ahab repents! (1 Kg. 21:27-29) We often remember Ahab for his great wickedness (and that’s fine), but it should be remembered that he repented (of this sin, at least) and God forgave him. But notice the striking difference of the priests, elders, and scribes. Unlike Ahab, when they are confronted with their sins of murder and theft, they “sought to lay hands on Him”.
Not Regarding Faces
So they send some philosophers and logicians in to try to tape Him saying something treacherous, talking like a zealot—because that would take care of Him quick. Like Jezebel, they hope to manipulate the system so as to rid themselves of this pesky upstart. So they come to Jesus and address Him as a teacher, but not just any teacher, a teacher that doesn’t care (v. 14). We know you don’t care about anybody except for God. We know you don’t give a rip. But this is all the lead up, the set up for the pitch. They want to load Jesus up with a reputation for not caring about anyone which by their estimation should include Caesar or it will turn the people against Him. But Jesus shoots through their rhetoric. Notice that He seems to not be familiar with a denarius or the image of Caesar. We trust that Jesus was educated enough to be familiar with these basics, and so the “lesson” is for the men who have asked the question—as though this is a “no-brainer”. Whose image and inscription is this? The humor or irony in this question is what has come before: The priests and their groupies are afraid of everyone: they fear Jesus (11:18), they feared the people who followed John (11:32), and they fear the multitude that is following Jesus (12:12). And this is the very thing Jesus refuses to do: he does not regard the “face” of any man. And with a subtle bit of wit, Jesus asks, who’s face is this? I don’t remember.
Of courses they know because they do regard faces. And Jesus answers, speaking the truth: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s. This is a question about taxation, and therefore this is a statement about private property. Just as Jesus has just indicted the Jewish Leaders of murder and theft, so He is demanding that those things which bear the image of God be rendered unto Him, and those things which bear the image of Caesar are to be rendered unto Him. Given the political and cultural climate of the era in which Jesus ministered and taught, it is unlikely that the people listening would have missed the force of His statement. Every faithful Hebrew knew that man was made in the image of God, but every faithful Hebrew should have also had some conception of the Fall and restoration of that image (Gen. 5:1-3). The promised “seed” would restore the image fully, but until then, the descendents of Adam and Seth would carry the “image” until God raised up the “Seed”. In this sense, Israel itself, as God’s Son (Ex. 4:22-23) collectively bears the image of God. This explains the faithlessness of worshipping idols; it was an inherent claim that the image had been restored before it actual had. Look, here it is! Christ is the Seed; He is the restoration of the image. In Him we are being conformed to His image, being changed from glory to glory.
Therefore when Jesus tells His questioners to render unto Caesar and to render unto God, perhaps one of the central demands, Jesus is making is that they hand over the people of God. He is implying, to some degree, that these Jewish leaders are Pharaoh, enslaving God’s people and refusing to allow them to worship their God.
Conclusion and Application
This passage has a lot to do with property. Who does the vineyard belong to? Who lays claim to its fruit? Who’s people are you? Who are you to be rendered to? One of the lies that confronts us in this culture is the lie of autonomy; the lie that people are completely unfettered and therefore deserve to be free just because. But this is an irrational claim. Men, women and children do not have a natural, inherent right to be free. They are dust. Rather, it is the image of God in man that demands justice. It is the ownership of God that compels us to give freedom. But slavery is inescapable: the only question will be, ‘who is your master?’ Whose image and inscription do you bear? Slaves have always been branded by their masters, and it is no different in the Church.
You have been set apart in your baptism, in baptism, you were anointed, christened, made to be an image of the Messiah. And at that time: The Name of the Triune God was placed upon. Therefore you are now free from everything that restricts you from faithful worship of God. That bondage has been broken for ever, and you have been summoned to bear the image and name of God with all honor.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!
What are you praying for? What are you expecting any minute now, any day now? The Bible teaches very plainly that God uses the prayers of men, women and children to accomplish His ends. God used the prayers of Abraham to heal Abimelech and save Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He used the prayers of Isaac to open the womb of Rebekkah. He used the prayers of Moses to save Israel from the wrath of Yahweh. He used the prayers of Hannah to bless Israel with Samuel. God used the prayers of David to defeat the enemies of Israel. God heard the prayers of Jesus and the Apostles and healed and restored many people in Israel. And the Bible no where gives any indication that prayer has ceased to work the same way as it always has. Prayer is standing in the great assembly and court room of God as a member of the royal priesthood and prophets and prophetesses pleading our case before the Master of the Universe. So what are you praying for? Proverbs says that Yahweh hears the prayer of the righteous and James agrees, saying that the prayer of the righteous man avails much. And that the saints have not because they have not asked. How should things be different in your life? What needs work and fixing? Start praying for it now. And imitate the prayers of Scripture, particularly paying attention to the prayers of the Psalmist. Pray fervently, with every ounce of strength you have. Jesus sweat blood He prayed so hard. Call out to God, cry to Him, argue with Him, plead with Him, present Your entire case to Him. Of course He is God and He knows all things: But He is your Heavenly Father and He delights to give good gifts to His Children. Our reluctance and half-hearted praying is a Trinitarian heresy; it’s hyper-Calvinism fit for deepest pit of Hell. You serve the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who has stooped down to be with His people. And when we do not pray, when we do not seek His face, and wait expectantly for Him to hear and answer, we scorn the Incarnation, we scorn the Father, and we do not believe that the Spirit who is in us, is waiting expectantly to perfect our prayers to the King.
The Church as Body and Building
We know that the Church is a divine institution. In fact it almost seems sacrilegious to even call the Church an “institution”. The Church is just the Church, and the New Testament analogies fall largely within the categories of architecture and anatomy. The Church is the Body of Christ with Christ as the head, and the Church is a new Temple building with Christ as the chief cornerstone. One analogy seems to emphasize the organic nature and diversity inherent in the Church while the other stresses the permanence, stability, and unity of the structure. The temptation has always been to lean toward either one or the other conception at various points in history. In many ways these analogies reflect the simple reality of both one and many within God’s people. But consider how these conceptions might be reflected on issues of discipline. A more organic/anatomical leaning church or theologian would probably tend to be more flexible and forgiving to lapsed Christians who denied the faith and/or sacrificed to the emperor during persecutions in the early centuries of the Church. Other tendencies might be that ceremonies (while important) might vary to some extent, and polity/government/authority may be conceived of in broad terms, a succession of offices of leadership flowing down from Christ and the apostles. A modern ‘anatomist’ would be fairly catholic, liberal minded, perhaps emphasizing things like open communion, the inherent goodness of diversity, perhaps celebrating doctrinal development, and stressing lifestyle piety and morality. On the other hand, the ‘structuralist’ –the church or theologian with a more architectural view of the Church—might see apostasy with an eye more toward the damage caused to the church, generally considering repentance with more skepticism. These might also emphasize the details of ceremony, the mechanisms of spiritual transformations (e.g. the sacraments, and other sacramental rites), and doctrinal purity. A modern ‘structuralist’ might tend to emphasize things like apostolic succession, the longevity and significance of doctrine and dogma, and the inherent authority of the Church. Notice that with these two tendencies there is also an inherent picture of healing: the ‘structuralist’ sees deviation as an automatic problem and one doesn’t tend to reuse old materials. The ‘anatomist’ assumes difference in the body and a more natural self-healing mechanism in cases of harmful deviation with the necessity of amputation or surgery only in extreme circumstances. Where the problems are real or lethal, one hopes for the pessimism of the ‘structuralist’ approach, but where problems are perceived or transitory one hopes for the patience and optimism of the ‘anatomist’.
Of course having both of these principles explicit in Scripture indicates that the two are equally necessary conceptions of the Church. And we can see that no one church has only tended in one direction. Most traditions of the church have leaned in different directions on different issues. While we might point out that the East has leaned toward the anatomical picture of the church and the West has leaned toward the structural picture of the church, exceptions abound. One view may be that Protestantism has been an attempt to steer a middle course, certainly not without failings. But the earliest reformers and protestants were Christians who felt the weight of necessity to be connected to the Church of Jesus Christ and His Apostles and yet the simultaneous obligation to preserve faithful practice and doctrine. These tendencies are witnessed in the tendency for some traditions to highlight the work of the Holy Spirit while others underline the centrality of the work of the Jesus Christ, the Son. Other segments of the Church have accentuated freedom while others have stressed the proper forms. And the list could go on an on. But the fact that this discussion has been around since the time of the apostles is encouraging. It means that this is a constant part of the conversation. The on-going call of the Church to be the Church means living, worshiping, thinking and arguing with an awareness of these two realities that the Church is called to reflect.
I bought gas
… for $1.99/gallon yesterday. And then I saw another station with gas for $1.97/gallon.
Obviously, these a signs of the immanent end of the world.
Fibonacci Poetry and Covenantal Streakers
The following are a few thoughts generated by my Old Testament class last week. Naturally, beginning with Genesis, there had to be some discussion of Genesis 1-2 and what the Biblical answer is to Evolution and more generally, modern science.
Dr. Schwab, the Old Testament professor at Erskine, graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He earned his Master of Divinity and his PhD there, doing his dissertation on the Song of Solomon. His presentation was quite good, drawing somewhat (or heavily as the case may be) from Meredith Kline’s Images of the Spirit, Schwab outlined the biblical world as created to be the throne and glory of God. He demonstrated that throughout Scripture, light and fire and clouds are the glory that surround Yahweh, and that the thrones or habitations of this glory (e.g. the tabernacle and temple) were designed to mimic and display that glory. And in a glorious climax, Schwab point out that Genesis 1 is also designed to picture the cosmos as God’s dwelling place, His house and throne.
Unfortunately, for all of Dr. Kline’s insight and scholarship in this, Dr. Kline is also the originator of what is called the “Framework Hypothesis”. On this reading of Genesis 1, the creation narrative is a highly developed poetic device which only intends to picture the world in three tiers, and these tiers are “framed” by the days 1-3 running parallel thematically with days 4-6. The first three “days” are merely the spheres: heaven, earth, seas, and the last three days are the filling of those spheres with their proper rulers: Sun, Moon and Stars, birds and fish, and finally animals and man. In other words, Genesis 1 is not intended to describe the actual sequence or time involved in the work of creation but rather merely an extravagant spatial demonstration.
Now just so I’m being fair, it is quite true that I was a bit taken with this hypothesis a number of years ago. For about a year between my senior year of high school and the first half of my freshman year in college, I found this theory appealing and fascinating. But I repented!
But the real unfortunate thing is that all of Kline’s (and Schwab’s) insights on the tiers, the spheres, and symbolism can stand perfectly good and worthwhile without the conclusion that the “days” aren’t days. Why pit history and poetry against each other? Why undermine the very argument for the reflection of God’s glory by assigning meaning to words foreign to the text and context? Sure, we might point out that Gen. 2:4 uses “day” in a more general sense, but all through Gen. 1 we’re told how long these days are: they consist of one morning and one evening. It’s the context that determines that day means a week in 2:4, and it’s context that determines that a day means 24 hours in 1:2ff.
One of the interesting things about this is the fact that Dr. Schwab pointed out that he came to the text of Genesis 1 with the mind of an engineer. He was an engineer for a number of years before turning to theology, and he explained that he comes to this text with engineer’s questions. And that’s not all bad, but the story is telling. A poet would come to the text of Genesis 1, see the lovely parallelism and symbolism and never doubt for a moment the historicity of the poem, because every real poet knows that poetry is not an escape from the world, but an intensification of reality. Poetry is reveling in the real world with all of its oddness and peculiar ways. But the engineering mind comes to the text notices the poetry and immediately doubts the historicity of the text. And this is a very radical misunderstanding of the nature of symbolism and poetry. The implicit claim is that metaphor is empty. When the Lover says, “My love is like a red, red rose” it will not do for him to explain to his love that when he is speaking poetically he does not mean to be making any claims about whether roses are really red or whether or not there really exits a plant called “rose”. It will not do to say that all the poem is meant to express is the poet’s feelings/intentions of love. Of course that may be the main thrust, but if there is no such thing as red or roses then his metaphor is about as helpful as a glass hammer.
Or take the lines “And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep” from the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. Surely Frost means to say more than simply the distance he plans to travel before going to bed. But he certainly doesn’t mean less than that. Otherwise his poem is meaningless (or at least the last two lines are).
I have a theory of my own that there is a strain of Gnosticism running through some of the circles of the Reformed world that have embraced the Framework Hypothesis. Just to be clear, I’m not accusing anyone of being 3rd century heretics. Nor am I accusing Kline, Schwab or anyone else of heresy. I would be happy to worship with these and the many other dear saints that hold these views. However, what I am suggesting is that there are some similarities in thought between the Framework guys and some of the Gnostics. First, there is a disparagement of creation, and particularly the creation of time. While the Framework folks are not openly denying the goodness of Created matter, they are devaluing the importance of the creation of time: the day, the week, months and years which is ultimately a disparagement of the sun, moon and stars which is a disparagement of matter. Time is part of the created order. Time measures the movements of the burning, whirling bodies of heaven. And how we organize and spend our time is a direct response to the way God has designed the world. Will we live in conformity to His creative pattern or will we turn His poetry into a quadratic equation and mince words until it’s all a big charade with no actual binding force for anyone?
The other strain of Gnosticism is the prioritizing of thought or sentiment over physical reality. This is what their fibonacci poetry does, confusing words with numbers, as though words are merely meant to demonstrate values and dimensions. They do that of course, but they do more than that as well.
Finally, what I find highly interesting is that often the most ardent supporters of the Framework business are also enamored with a dispensationalism-lite, imagining “intrusions” of grace and law popping up here and there running around through the covenants like a couple of streakers at a baseball game. And to top all the fun off, they are usually quite satisfied with an amillienial eschatology because hey, it’s all gunna burn anyway. All the pieces seem to fit: a timeless creation meant only to reflect a greater reality above and beyond and a story with intrusions from the heavenly realm sputtering along like an old beater, waiting for the Last Day when we can leave it all at the junk yard and get whisked up to Elysium—er—I mean—heaven with the other 3 faithful saints.
And as I said before, I say all this with love for these brothers and sisters: just some thoughts and observations and feedback is welcomed.
This is a covenantal meal. This cup is the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus, and this bread is His body for you. Every week when we gather here you are renewing covenant with your God. A covenant is an agreement with stipulations and blessings and curses which flow from obedience or disobedience. And this meal is a covenantal victory meal, this is tasting the first fruits of salvation and grace and blessing. Because of Jesus, God already accepts us as covenant keepers in the midst of our sins, in the midst of our trials and struggles. God invites us to the feast of the New Covenant as though all of the terms and requirements of the covenant have been kept. Because they have. And that only leaves one thing for you to do. Jesus says, “This is the work of God: that you believe in Him whom He sent.” So come and believe, eat and believe, drink and believe, and rejoice because God has already accepted your works.
Mark 11: Royalty, Authority and Faith
The Kingdom of God is established in the person and work of Jesus Christ: not ceremonies, not traditions, not good intentions, and not even right theology.
The Triumphal Entry
In this event Jesus is consciously fulfilling prophecy. Zech. 9 foretold of the coming King of Israel who would come riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey, who would fight the enemies of Israel and how Israel would be saved. A colt is a young male horse or donkey and a foal is just another word for a young member of the horse family. The whole context is obviously royal: Jesus sends his disciples, gives orders to the owners of the colt, and is decorated and hailed as a king. The shouts of the people are drawn from Psalm 118: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh.” Psalm 118 is a victory psalm which celebrates an event where God has delivered Israel from her enemies just as He delivered Israel from Egypt. The one who comes in the name of Yahweh is “blessed” perhaps because he brings tidings of victory, or perhaps he is the one who actually accomplished the victory. But at the very least, the name of Yahweh is reason enough, because the victory has come from God.
Cleansing the Temple
Others have noticed the similarities between Jesus’ actions toward the Temple and the instructions for priests in Leviticus regarding leprous houses. When houses were infected it was necessary for the priest to come and examine them first (Lev. 14:33-38). Then the priest would return and see if the leprosy was still there, growing or receding (Lev. 14:39ff). Upon the second examination, the priest would make a declaration of whether the house was unclean or not. In our text, Jesus begins with the initial examination (Mk. 11:11), and then he returns to reexamine the house and declares it unclean (Mk. 11:15-18). Notice also what the priests, scribes and elders ask him: By what authority are you doing these things? (11:28).
Jesus’ words are also fitting. He quotes from Isaiah (56:7) which is a prophecy which describes how God will accept the prayers and worship of outcasts because of the presumption and wickedness of His people. He also quotes from Jeremiah (7:11) which is a prophecy of the coming destruction of the temple. This again fits with the “unclean house” motif: the house is unclean and needs to be torn down. This also sheds light on Jesus’ actions. The “den of thieves” language and the overturning of tables is not a condemnation of selling things in the Temple per se. It is a condemnation of mere formalism. Israel chanted “the temple of Yahweh, the temple of Yahweh, the temple of Yahweh” as though it were a good luck charm, all the while stealing, murdering, committing adultery, lying, and worshipping other gods (Jer. 7:4-10). Israel goes out like a gang of thugs and then returns to Yahweh’s house to divide the spoils. Given the Isaiah passage, Jesus may also be rejecting Israel as the family of God. Jesus is accusing Israel of “breaking and entering” (Heb: “parats”). They’ve been worshipping all the other gods of the world therefore this is not their house: they’re trespassers; they’ve “broken in”. Notice that Jesus’ actions are meant to disrupt the work of the temple: without the ability to buy animals, sacrifices cannot be offered. Jesus is the end of all sacrifice.
The Withered Fig Tree
The fig tree is Israel (1 Kg. 4:25, Joel 1:7ff, et al). Throughout the Old Testament, the picture of an Israelite man dwelling under his own fig tree is the image of Israel at rest, Israel under the blessing of God. And Israel as a whole is Yahweh’s fig tree which he dwells under and from which He seeks fruit. The fact that this fig episode sandwiches the episode concerning the temple is no accident. Israel has been examined (v. 11), found wanting (v. 13), cursed (v. 14), and disrupted (v. 15ff). But if that image is not clear enough about Jesus’ intentions, Jesus gives us another: “this mountain” (11:23). Jesus is not just randomly giving a moralistic lesson about prayer. Jesus is talking about praying for the Kingdom of God to come and for all of the other kingdoms to go (particularly Israel). “This mountain” is Israel. It may refer to the Mount of Olives in particular (11:1). But it is more likely, given the context, that he is referring to the temple mount, Mt. Moriah (cf. 13:1-3). Remember that the sea is also a picture of the gentiles throughout Scripture. Yes, believe when you pray; but pray in and with the will of God and forgive those who wrong you (v. 23-26).
Application and Conclusion
Where does Jesus get His authority? From the same place John the Baptizer got his: heaven. So where do you get your authority? Where do we get our authority? Our authority is also from heaven: God’s Word from first to last. Buildings and vestments are not authority. Nor does apostolic succession, covenantal succession or any other kind of succession automatically bestow the authority and blessing of God. The blessing of God bestows succession. The blessing of God bestows buildings and glory and beauty, but it’s never the other way around. Lively faith in the Triune God is the truest and mightiest authority in the world (11:23-24), and it enthrones us as kings and priests to our God.