The Seraphim: Part 14: The Great End Time Church Rises out of a Stump!
Isaiah 6:13 – But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
In the previous two verses we saw that the natural mind of human beings (cities) was going to have something removed from it. That which was going to be removed was the part of the will (houses) that has been in opposition to God. This part is the sin nature (man-adama) as inherited from Adam.
This has all come about through the seraphim/ministry of the Christians who first came into the fullness of Christ and then went forth in ministry helping other Christians up into the fullness of Christ. Those who come into the fullness will each minister to others helping them up into that fullness as well. To be in the fullness of Christ formed within is to be perfected in Christ no longer having a sin nature. It is to be as Jesus prayed we would be in John 17:
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, 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 sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 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 (John 17:20-23, NKJV).
What we see here in Isaiah 6 is a depiction of how the kingdom of God is going to come on earth. Christ is coming in his people. He is coming in his church. By church, I don’t mean that building on the corner or a temple in Jerusalem. He is coming all over the world in his people. There are people right now who have been in preparation for this ministry all their lives. They will soon come into the fullness of Christ without a sin nature. This will enable them to minister even as Jesus ministered. They will do the works Jesus did and even greater works as Jesus promised us in John 14:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12).
They will come forth in a time of great darkness all over the earth.
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you (Isaiah 60:1, 2 NJKV).
From all I am hearing prophetically in our churches, seeing in the Word and observing in society around me, I believe this time of darkness is upon us and rapidly intensifying. Soon it will be evident to all that we are disintegrating as a society, our freedoms are rapidly evaporating and things will never be the same again.
Be that as it may, this final verse of Isaiah 6 will show us where we as the church will be. We will be right here in the midst of it all, and we will be the only light people will have. Inside we will be in the kingdom of God enjoying Jesus and the glory of his presence, but outwardly our physical bodies will still be on earth ministering to suffering humanity and leading as many as are willing into a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s look at this verse again and begin to unpack it.
Isaiah 6:13 – But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
But yet in it shall be a tenth
Our first question might be, what is the antecedent for the word “it?” The answer is to be found in the previous verse about the land in which we saw the land as being a type of the church, and that the church as we have known it will be devastated meaning reduced to ruins.
Here, however, we see that something of that former church will remain. It will be a tenth. At this point it would be good to remember that in this kind of spiritual interpretation, numbers are not to be understood according to their numerical value but according to their spiritual meaning. In other words, let’s say a church had 1000 members and after the devastation occurred, 100, in other words a tenth, remained. That is NOT what this verse is saying.
What would remain would be all that is meant by the spiritual meaning of ten. According to E. W. Bullinger, ten is “one of the perfect numbers signifying the perfection of divine order.” Therefore, what would be left of this church after the devastation would be everything that is in the perfection of divine order. In a church of 1000 members, fifty or a hundred or more might remain after the devastation or only one or two persons might remain. However, what remains will be in the perfection of divine order.
With this understanding, we can now look a little deeper into the spiritual meaning of the number ten or tenth. It is not only the perfection of divine order but it is also “completeness of order. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect, that the whole cycle is complete.”
The cycle, I believe, is referring to the church down through the ages. Churches rise up in unity and love for the Lord, but eventually fall into idolatry. At this stage it disintegrates and God gathers from it a small remnant and begins all over again. This cycle will be no more because the people of God will never fall back into idolatry ever again. Once their sin nature is gone, then the unity of the Spirit will finally be possible. We will experience what Paul taught in Eph 4:4-6:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
We will be like those whom the heavenly messenger told Daniel were to come:
Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.
Daniel’s messenger also described what the earth would be like when these people would come forth:
At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
This trouble must be a reference to the great darkness that is even now beginning to envelop us. In the midst of this great darkness there will be the people of God who have spent a lifetime seeking him and coming into a place where the sin nature can be removed and the light of Christ can shine through them like never before. This light will never go out because it will shine out of them like the stars forever and ever. They are not going to fall back into sin such that their light goes out because it clearly shines forever and ever.and it shall return
Here “it” is still referring to the church. The Hebrew word for “return” is shoob. Shoob occurs over a thousand times in our Bible and is translated several different ways. I am finding my interpretation for shoob based on the context of this passage. It can mean the following: “to be returned, be restored, be brought back, reverse, revoke” among other definitions. I believe this is saying that when we come to this state of perfection in Christ, we will return to Paradise. The curse will be reversed and revoked. We will be restored to sinless perfection even as Adam and Eve were perfect before they sinned. However, there will be one big difference. We will know what they did not know because we have seen evil and its effects. We know about the Devil and we have withstood him and beaten him down by the power and strength of Jesus Christ who indwells us.
In other words, we will be mature. Adam and Eve, although perfect in their creation, were naïve about many things that we know and understand. We have been proven. We have followed the path of our forerunner Jesus Christ who gave up his life so we could have life. We have not suffered physical death on a cross, but we have died to self and chosen to suffer in whatever ways the Lord deemed necessary that we could be delivered of our self-love and have Jesus in his fullness.
and shall be eaten
This Hebrew word for eaten, baw-ar’, is most often translated as “burn.” In fact it is translated “burn” 41 times and only twice translated as “eaten.” In some translations of this verse, baw-ar’ is translated “consumed.” In the context of our spiritual study here in Isaiah 6, it makes perfect sense to translate it as “burn” or “consume by fire.” Love is often likened to fire because we burn with passion for someone or something. This kind of love can consume or overtake us such that it is all we think about and all we live for.
And it shall be eaten (or consumed) is therefore to say that this church that returns to the state of sinless perfection shall be comprised of people with an all-consuming love for God and for their fellow human beings. This all-consuming, burning-with-passion love is the motive for all they do and think. No longer is self on the throne of their life. The temptation to minister for their own gain will be gone because their sin nature is no more.
as a teil tree, and as an oak
This tells us more about this church. It will be like a teil tree, also called a terebinth tree in Scripture. One important characteristic of this tree is that it has a very long life. Also this church will be like an oak tree that is noted for its strength. So we see that this church is not going to rise up and fall in the cycle that churches have been in all through history. This church will remain and will be strong.
whose substance is in them, when they cast (their leaves)
This word substance, mats-tseh’-beth in Hebrew, means “pillar” and also “the stump of a tree.” The stump of a tree fits best in my spiritual interpretation. In fact, many other translations of this passage have translated it as the stump of a tree:
But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land. (NIV)
But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed. (NLT)
Like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump. (ESV)
As a terebinth tree or as an oak, whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump.(NKJV)
The King James Version of the Bible, used throughout this study of the seraphim, added the words “their leaves” here in their attempt to make sense out of this enigmatic verse. However, you can see from the above translations (and there are more), the other translators did not add those words.
so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
The holy seed signifies the love of God that is predominant in the lives of the seraphim ministers and all those who follow them into the fullness of Christ. It is God’s love that makes this a strong church—love for God and love for their fellowman that fills the hearts of these persons who come into the fullness of Christ. God is love and those who become like him are able to love even as God loves. It is this love that makes a church strong and holds it together. It is like the mortar between the living stones of God’s spiritual temple holding the whole thing together.
This stump, comprised of people who are filled with God’s love, is what remains after the tree has been cut down. The tree that is cut down is the church as we know it today which is far from what the Scriptures say a church should be. The church as we have known it has been a poor representation of God to the world. Christians are considered to be hypocrites by many. We have not been the salt and light that would attract people to Christ. In fact, the church today looks very much like the world around it.
To be sure, there are still some true believers in the institutional churches but more and more of them are leaving these churches to meet in homes. In short, the church has been marginalized by our society such that it has very little influence on our government, our educational institutions, our courts, the media, etc. Everything around us appears to function without any need for God and his church, but I believe this is only an illusion. God has been there in some measure holding things together, but he is going to completely withdraw (2 Thes 2:7) and when he does, I cannot imagine what it will be like.
Now I would like to summarize my interpretation for Isaiah 6:13 and then share two examples of my explanation that we have personally experienced in our lives—one in our last institutional church and one by an amazing oak tree in our front yard.
But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast (their leaves): so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
This is signifying the church that has finally come into the perfection of divine order. It is completed and there is nothing lacking in the ministry and function of this church. Everything about this church is perfect, and the whole cycle is complete (Yet in it shall be a tenth).
These people will spiritually return to the Garden of Eden within while they are here on earth ministering to others (and it shall return). They will be consumed with love for God and love for their fellowmen (and shall be eaten).
This church will be a very long-lasting and strong church (as a teil tree and as an oak). It will be like a stump that is left after the church as we have known it has been judged (substance and cast). It will be comprised of people whose chief motivation is their love for God and their love for their fellowmen (holy seed shall be the substance).
In 1996 we were called to pastor an established church in a state in our nation with which we had very little familiarity. The previous pastor of that church was retiring after over two decades of ministry there leaving behind his devoted few, others who were considering leaving the church and the rest that didn’t seem to fit either category.
Into this group we brought what everyone called “change.” The former pastor was more formal and ritualistic while we were more casual and unconventional. Over our fourteen years there, things happened from time to time that were upsetting to those who were lukewarm or who were stuck on the previous pastor’s way of doing things. When this happened a few people would leave the church.
This would have been extremely upsetting to us had we not had a marvelous prophetess in our midst who helped us understand what God was doing.
The Lord showed her a tree that represented our church. Then God would say, “I’m drawing a line in this church. Those who refuse to cross over this line will not move forward with this church.” Then for one reason or another a group of people would leave, and God would show her the tree and say, “I have just cut off one of the branches of this tree.”
This happened a few times. I can’t remember how many, but each time God would say, “I’m drawing a line,” we knew we would lose a few more. This would have been devastating to us had we not understood that God was at work.
At this point, by way of illustration, I would like to give one example that caused one of our larger groups to leave.
The husband of one family in the church and the wife of another family in the church were caught in adultery. A relative of one of them actually saw them in a mall parking lot “necking” in one of the cars. Others knew about it. We found out and offered to help them do the right thing. They refused. Therefore our church council, headed by my husband, said they would have to leave the church. They left and took nineteen people, mostly their relatives, with them.
Another branch was lopped off the tree.
Of course, the church’s income fell again and again until we could no longer afford to heat the building. A few more branches were removed and the tree had become a stump.
The “stump” moved into homes for meetings. Over time a few more of those who had seemed to have the motivational love for God and their fellowmen, got critical of others or missed the conventional church setting and left too.
What we were left with was a pure core of people who are fully committed to God, to us and to one another. It has been so restful to be in a church, although very small, that does not criticize us or each other. Hearts are open and transparent. No one tries to control anyone else. Everyone is totally committed to daily devotions, to each other and to helping others in their neighborhood and community.
These people are daily being conformed to the image of Christ and growing in their gifts and ministries. In other words, this is not a group turned in on itself. These are people involved with others and committed to being conformed to the image of Christ and coming into his fullness. They know this can only happen in community. We have learned together what the church is truly supposed to be:
… a whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Eph 4:16, NLT)
As of this writing we have two other churches that meet in homes in other towns. We believe there will be many, many more as other institutional churches get their branches lopped off. Change is coming but many will be surprised to see that God is really at work in the midst of it all.
We live in the woods on the side of a small mountain that overlooks a valley and the other mountains across from us. We have woods on three sides and a farm field in front. The lack of trees in the field affords a magnificent view that gives cause for visitors to our little cabin, even just to deliver a package, to pause and look and often comment on the beauty. Truly, we have “the little cabin with the million-dollar view.”
Just to the right as we look out of our glass front doors, is a colossal red oak tree with seven full-sized trunks whose branches frame our view. We fondly refer to it as “the eighth wonder of the world.”
We have in our home church here a man who once was a woodsman in charge of other woodsmen who led groups into forests to “tree them out.” We asked him how this tree could have been formed.
He explained there must have been a stump there that sprouted and out of those sprouts, seven of them became these massive trunks. It is said this kind of oak can live as long as 400 years (like a teil tree!) and that they can be as high as 140 feet. We have several of these oaks on our property and I’m sure some could come close to the 140 feet because many of them have grown up from a deep ravine that is along one side of our cabin. In their quest for sunlight, they had to grow very tall in order to rise up out of the ravine and then tower over our little cabin making it look like a child’s playhouse made of Lincoln Logs.
We can’t help but see our seven-trunked oak as a marvelous example of what God can do when we allow him to prune a church down into just a stump and then let him work in that stump to produce ministers, filled with the love of God, who can go out and minister at God’s direction.
In the summer of 2021 our mighty oak trees as well as all the other trees on our forested property came under a massive attack as the gypsy moths moved into our area. I would like to explain what happened because it gives glory to God and shows how mightily he answered our prayers and how he lovingly showed me in a dream what he was going to do.
For those who don’t know about these strange creatures, let me explain. They are a type of caterpillar that starts out as a thin little worm about an inch long and grows into a two-and-a-half to three-inch-long fat caterpillar with a voracious appetite. It lives in the tree tops, eating the leaves and then daily swings down to the ground on a web only to begin a long climb up the tree trunk back into the tree tops.
During this outbreak, any time we would leave our house to walk outside, we had to wind our way through the worms hanging on their webs. But the worst thing about these pests was that all day long as they continually ate the leaves off our beloved trees, their poop was constantly falling like rain to the ground beneath actually sounding like rain. Therefore it was impossible to use our barbeque grill or even sit on our deck because their poop would fall on our head, in our drink, on our plate, on the food on the grill, etc.
They defoliated our trees to the extent that they were in danger of dying. Our research on the web revealed that healthy trees can survive one year of such an attack, but two years could be fatal for them and that these things run in three year cycles. Therefore we could face an even worse attack the following summer.
We prayed daily, several times a day, asking God to please save our trees and let us have a real summer the following year. During the winter I noticed the gypsy moth egg masses (each containing 500 to 1000 eggs on our tree trunks) had tiny, needle-like holes in them. Then God showed me in a dream a miniature black wasp climbing all over an egg mass continually stinging it. He had sent in the wasps to eat the eggs and the following summer the gypsy moth outbreak was greatly curtailed and really no problem at all!
Our trees are still working at recovering. There were no acorns at all the year of the attack and no acorns the following year. Presently we are facing our third year of drought. The first year in 2020, our well went dry. It has all been an adventure with God as we pray and God answers our prayers. Today we have a well much better than the first one ever was. We were blessed to sell a few things we didn’t need and were able to pay cash for our new well.
We now come to the close of this series of articles about the seraphim. (It is now in book form from this website or from Amazon for those who might like to have a paperback book copy.) I pray it has been encouraging as well as a good example of how to study the Bible for revelation. It is faith building and even fun to uncover the hidden messages lying just beneath the surface of the literal understanding of Scripture. By studying whole chapters at a time, the message comes together in a logical flow of understanding that ensures the genuineness of the interpretation. It is far more reliable than pulling out a scripture verse here and there all through the Bible to prove one’s opinion about an interpretation.
When I begin a new study of a portion of Scripture, I never know what I will discover. It is always a surprise and inevitably it points to some aspect of the second coming of Jesus and the redemption of our physical body. I have found the redemption of the body to be a process, a process that requires our cooperation. It cannot be achieved by following some formula. It only transpires through a relationship with Jesus Christ and no other way. The redemption of our body can only occur in conjunction with the eradication of sin from our lives, and this requires our cooperation. God will never violate our will. We must continually live by the motif “not my will but thy will be done” until the time our will becomes one with his will. Then there will be no more struggle of wills for we will have entered into his rest.