Our Father – Part I
The Work of the Holy Spirit in Rebuilding the Wall and Gates (Nehemiah – Chapters 1-6: Part II)
Nehemiah – Chapters 1-6: Part I
Risking to Speak the Truth
God’s Authority in Rebuilding the Body of Christ
Satan’s Attack on Love
Satan’s Attack on Hope: Part II
Satan’s Attack on Hope: Part I
Satan’s Attacks: Part II
Satan’s Attacks: Part I
The Pay’s the Same
Stirring the Spirit
The Arrival of the Holy Spirit to Restore the Body of Christ II
The Arrival of the Holy Spirit to Restore the Body of Christ I
In Nehemiah: The Holy Spirit’s Equipping
Nehemiah’s Roadmap to Restoration
Prayer that Prevails
Walls and Gates II
Walls and Gates I
The Second Revelation
Notes on the Wheel of Fire
A Different Way of Healing
Receiving A Family Mantle
Side Two Of The Father’s Mantle
A Mantle From The Holy Spirit – Side Notes
A Surprise Gift
Notes on the Betrothal Garment and the Crown
Receiving The Spiritual Of A Natural
Living Patchwork Quilt
The Under Secretary To Truth
Seeing Our Heavenly Father
The Final Attack
The Filthy Vortex
Notes For My First Visit To The Second Heaven
Prepare For The Ride Of Your Life
(He Will) “Wear Down The Saints”
False Doctrine Or (All The Pretty Little Liars)
Calibrating Christ Within
The Angel Gratitude
For There The Lord Commanded The Blessings (Psalms 133:3)
Does the Lord Use Angels To Help Move Us Forward?
Standing On The Promises
The Risk of Love
God Teaching One On One
Side Notes For: Do Angels Teach Angels?
When I Am Weak Then I Am Strong
Notes On The Angel You Who Hear Prayer
The Witches’ Destruction Of Our Home And God’s Salvation
The Unseen Spiritual Phenomena
The Angel Elijah’s Teaching
Notes for the Teaching on All Time is Present Above
God’s Show And Tell
Notes for the Teaching on Starting the New Year Right
How Does He Teach The Young?
Notes For The Teaching On Paradise
Notes For The Revelation Of The Angel Of Obedience
The Gift – Side Notes
Bob Jones’ Interpretation Of The Dream Of June 30th, 1995
Bob Jones On The Root Of Bitterness
Interpretation Of The Vision Of June 28
The First Of The Transcriptions: Bob Jones
Teaching On The Mountain Of Spices
Looking At Something In A Different Way
Notes On Sense And Nonsense
Revelations Concerning Crystal Clear
A New Day For Angels Also
Angels As Signposts
Teaching By Seeing
Angels Helping Angels
And What Of His Heart’s Desire?
Revelation Feeds Revelation
All Creatures Great And Small
Teaching On Future Duties
The Journey From Salvation To An Intimate Walk With Christ
A Different Way Of Teaching
Other Ways Of Teaching
Our Father – Part I
There is an eternal gospel that is being proclaimed in these latter days of this present earth, John the apostle said, “And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters’” (Rev. 14:6-7).
The eternal gospel is one that will be declared forever also on the new Earth joined to the new Heaven (Rev. 21:1-4).
ABOUT OUR FATHER
All of the “goodness” we know, is about our Father God, for He alone of the Holy Trinity has been revealed to mankind on earth. The Son of God and the Holy Spirit have always made known the Father rather than themselves. Jesus said, “…No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Luke 10:22).
“But when He, the [Holy] Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13).
Therefore, there is only one disclosure of the three divine Persons of the Trinity on the present earth, and that is of the Father alone. All the goodness in the love that Jesus manifests on the earth and in the centuries that followed, were of the Father Himself.
“IN THE BEGINNING…”
“The glorious gospel of the blessed God” our Father, began on earth with the first man and woman (1 Tim. 1:11). The Bible begins in chapter one of Genesis with the Father as the central figure, the Creator. All of scripture is a revelation of God the Father in His self-sacrificial love. The heart of the eternal gospel is the awesome reality of His goodness and love in His coming down, time after time, from Heaven to be with His children throughout their history on earth.
OUR FATHER IN THE FIRST ACCOUNT OF CREATION
“Then God [the Father] said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26). “Our image” is what God the Father and the Son look like outwardly. “Our likeness” is how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are alike inwardly. A major part of this inner resemblance of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity is the same inner-life of the spirit and heart.
In the second and third chapters of Genesis, the Father [Yahweh] walks and fellowships with Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:8). From the beginning of the human race, the Father has desired to have His children on earth close to Him.
The Holy Spirit was the first Person on the scene (Gen. 1:2). The eternal life of God’s Son was represented by the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9). Also growing in the garden was the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” representing merely human understanding in the soul life of mind, emotions and will. These trees represent the same foundational choice by all humans. God did not create human beings to manifest either human good or evil, but as His children, to show forth the Person of the Father through His Son by the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to be a child of God. It is the choice between human reason or revelation concerning the life of God’s Son.
Some believers try to eat from both trees which cancels out all of the fruit, and they remain undernourished.
The Father’s coming to earth in person to be with His first two human children was also a prophecy of God in a future, renewed Heaven coming down to a renewed Earth, which will take the place of the old Heaven and Earth. In this final Heaven on a final Earth, Our Father God will reign with His Son forever in the midst of His children and the angelic host (Rev. 22:3-4).
From eternity past, the spirits of Adam and Eve had been foreknown by God – “Just as He chose us in Him [Jesus] before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him…” (Eph. 1:4).
After they sinned, the Father spoke the gospel of His Son’s coming victory over sin, Satan and death to them on earth, and they believed His word: “He [Jesus] shall bruise you [Satan] on the head, And you [Satan] shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen. 3:15).
Adam witnessed to his faith in God’s word by naming his wife Eve, a word meaning “life,” as the mother of all who would come after, including the Seed, Christ Jesus, who would be our salvation (Gen. 3:20).
Our Father God forgave them and clothed them in the skin of innocent animals as a sign of their salvation in the coming sacrifice of His Son on the cross (Gen. 3:21). [Remember that after His death He went down to Sheol and preached the gospel to those who had lived before His death (paying the price for mankind’s original and subsequent sins), so that everyone would be given the opportunity to receive salvation through Jesus Christ.]
It was also a sign of the future grace after His Son’s resurrection and ascension – for believers to be clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27).
The glory of the Father’s goodness is such that the Son and the Holy Spirit initiate nothing of their own in word or deed but manifest only one life and Person – that of the Father (John 8:28 and 16:13).
PUT ON THE NEW SELF
When we believe unto salvation, we are exhorted to “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God [the Father] has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24). (Also Col. 3:8.) Note that this is not a better human self but the self-life “in the likeness of God.”
Throughout the Old Testament our Father God sought those who would “Walk humbly with our God,” (Micah 6:8) i.e. to walk in His presence and ways. He found such a one in Enoch who lived continually with God on earth for three hundred years and then was carried bodily into Heaven (Gen. 5:22-24). It may be that God could not bear to have him be as distant as earth any longer, and therefore, brought him closer.
Others in the Old Testament who walked on earth with our Father God were: Noah (Gen. 6:9); Abraham (Gen. 17:1, 24:40); Isaac (Gen. 48:15); Samuel (1 Sam. 2:35); Moses with Joshua (Ex. 33:11); Levi (Mal. 2:6); and King Josiah (2 Chr. 34:31).
THE GREAT LONGING OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
Our Father’s deepest yearning is to have children among whom He would walk and have His dwelling, and who would walk with Him (Lev. 26:11-12).
Part II of Our Father next month
(Continuing the Great Longing of God)
The Work of the Holy Spirit in Rebuilding the Wall and Gates (Nehemiah – Chapters 1-6: Part II)
Continuing Nehemiah from last month – chapter 3.
Within this chapter, the names of the households are given – those who rebuilt the wall and the gates. Three key understandings are put in place:
1) Everyone had a place. We are all important in the rebuilding of the wall. No one is more important than another. Although some rebuilt great sections and some just rebuilt right in front of their houses.
2) The whole circumference was covered so that there was not a gap in the wall . . . that is, the whole wall was being rebuilt. The Holy Spirit comes to see if we are willing that the whole of our lives should be examined and scrutinized by the Holy Spirit in order to begin building . . . not just in some areas that we ourselves think we need help – but the whole of our soul life and in the whole of our congregational life.
3) They were interdependent. Twenty-five times it mentions “this one next to that one,” showing the interdependence and interrelatedness of everyone on the wall.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE DEFENSE OF THE CITY
Chapters 4, 5 and 6 – half of these three chapters are devoted to God’s way of overcoming the attacks of the enemy. All of us know that if you have set your heart to follow the Lord wholly and allow the Holy Spirit to heal, restore, build-up, change and focus your soul upon God, the opposition of the enemy will come against you. That is why the Lord has given us a blueprint in the book of Nehemiah to show us the major ways that Satan can oppose us as individuals and as a congregation that sets its heart to be restored and become what Jesus Christ wants. It is of utmost importance that the children of the living God know how to deal with the enemy. There are five ways that the enemy comes against God’s people as described in the 4th, 5th and 6th chapters of Nehemiah:
1) FAITH – How does Satan attack our faith? The five questions that Tobiah and Sanballat asked were indications of the enemy’s sly attacks:
a. What do these feeble Jews think they are doing? (Questioning your strength.)
a. Are they going to restore it for themselves? (Doubting your motives.)
b. Can they offer sacrifice? (Questioning commitment.)
c. Can they finish in a day? (Questioning perseverance.)
d. Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones? (Can the Lord really use you? Can God do anything with the useless material – which is you?)
When the enemy gets us to look at ourselves and away from Christ, then faith begins to wane. The defense against that attack is the knowledge that Jesus Christ is our adequacy in every situation. Wherever we are weak, He makes up for us in that area, and then we are strong in Him.
2. HOPE – is looking forward, with great desire, for the fulfillment of the things that God has promised. We do not see them yet, but we expect to see them one day. “For in hope we have been saved,” Paul said. That is to say, we do not see our full salvation now, but we expect to see it one day. How was the enemy destroying the hope of the builders? He was getting them to doubt that “the job” would ever be completed . . . and the enemy was spreading this kind of sabotage inside the walls when the builders were weary. There was so much rubbish, and understandably, the burden bearers were weary. Those are the times all of us need to be on guard. The devil whispers that it will get done, but you won’t get to see it . . . someone else maybe, but not you. The enemy uses those old memories that each of us have regarding the times we have failed. He whispers to us: “Well, you failed all those other times, and you will fail again. It will break down sooner or later either in yourself or in the body of believers to which the Lord has called you.” He would drive the thought home. What is the antidote to that? Three answers to that attack:
A. Vigilance – standing guard, in families, working with a tool in one hand and a weapon of the word of God in the other – ever alert.
B. Responsibility – looking beyond ourselves to what God has promised, putting our eyes on the Lord, and on our responsibility to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and to our natural family. There are others that depend on us.
C. Support for the Brethren – our need to come together, rallying to one another in times of need or points of attack. Support of brothers and sisters . . . holding one another up.
3. LOVE – In chapter 5 we saw the lack of generosity between the richer brothers and the poorer brothers among the Jews in terms of some being indebted and even enslaved to others. Putting one another under bondage is so easy to do. If you do not forgive that brother or sister of one little thing, you have put him in bondage, and we are not to do that. We are to be generous in our time, talents and money – but also in our forgiveness and in our love.
We are not to withhold anything in love. Owe no one anything but to love one another, Paul says.
A. And not with the level of love where if I love you, I expect you to love me back . . . that “reasonable return” love, or “I want a reasonable return for my investment” (like the Jews who were charging interest in Nehemiah).
B. Nor are children of the living God meant to live by the second level of love where you say, “I will do my share of the work and give my share of the money: ‘tit for tat’ or ‘even Stephen’ – doing my part.” We must rise above that if we are ever to be restored . . . made whole in our soul or see the body of Christ restored.
C. We must get to the level of Jesus Christ which is an unreasonable level; which knows no limits to what we will give, and give, and give. For our Savoir gave of Himself bountifully and still pours Himself out for us – ever living to make intercession for us.
4. COMPROMISE – The last securing elements were the gates that needed to be hung. They were the last openings to be covered, and what was the device that the enemies of God used to try to prevent that? Compromise.
“…Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono…” (Nehemiah 6:2).
In other words: “Come down and let’s talk about this thing. I am sure we can work out some agreement where our merchants can come in and your merchants can go out.”
But Nehemiah said: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” They sent messages to Nehemiah four times in this manner, and he answered them in the same way.
How does God have us defend against compromise of the authority of God in our lives and in the body of Christ? How did Nehemiah stand against it? Stating the truth out of a life that lives it and a heart that has accepted it. You speak the truth.
God’s authority is the truth of Himself and His word. That is all Jesus did when He stood before Pilate. He just spoke the truth, and it was so
powerful that He alone was in control there. He alone was reigning, and all the rest of them were running around like “chickens with their heads cut off”. Confused! Threatening! Fearful! But Jesus was simply “the Truth”. That is all we need to do . . . stand on the truth of God’s word, speaking the truth in love.
5. SAVE YOURSELF – False prophets tried to get Nehemiah to come into the temple and have a prayer meeting at nighttime. They said: “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.” In other words: “Every night let us go have a prayer meeting and you will be safe.” And what did Nehemiah say? “I will not go in.”
The devil came against four supernatural things to begin with. He came against faith, hope, love and the authority of God. And then the very final thing he came against was that very natural thing that God gave you – that you were born with – that is, to keep yourself alive. Staying alive is a major, if not the most major natural instinct. The antidote to that is the cross of Jesus Christ. Everyone around Jesus at the cross tried to get Him to come down, to save Himself, but He would not.
He would not save Himself against betrayal by His closest friends. He would not save Himself from His ministry coming to an abrupt end and seemingly, to fall. He would not protect His own life. The cross is the defense against self-preservation – always the cross with the hope of resurrection.
Whatever God allows to die in His service, He will raise up in some other way. It may not be in you, but it will be in some other way with resurrection power. Anything that is allowed to die upon the cross will be resurrected. That is God’s promise.
“Your labor is not in vain in the Lord,” Paul says. You cannot lose with Christ when you lose it through the cross. He will raise it up. But if He doesn’t, through you, just remember, we who are children of the living God are here on this earth by His design and for His purposes. Our work down here should be by His selection and for as long as He desires us to apply ourselves to that job. It really comes down to “Who’s the boss?” You or Him.
All of us need to reach the same place before our God, the angels and mankind as the three Hebrew children in Daniel. They said in effect: “We know God will save us; He will deliver us out of your hand, O king (representing the devil) but if He doesn’t – that is to say, if we do not see the deliverance, we are still not going to sin by turning our back on God and falling down to worship the golden image. Our trust is in our God. Our hope is in the resurrection.”
This concludes our study of walls and gates from the book of Nehemiah. All nations must have secure borders and ways to open and close those borders to allow in those rightly selected and to keep out those who will cause harm. This is true, not only of a nation but of ourselves. May the Lord help us to rightly choose for Christ’s sake and for His kingdom.
Nehemiah – Chapters 1-6: Part I
Since we began teaching on the book of Nehemiah to show God’s view of walls and gates in a city, nation or person, we will complete this over a year and a half long look into Nehemiah with a review – summing up the main points on the subject of walls and gates through these first six chapters.
I. Historical and spiritual aspects of Ezra, Esther and Nehemiah.
II. The need for rebuilding the walls and hanging the gates.
III. The work of the Holy Spirit in preparation for the work.
IV. The work of the Holy Spirit in rebuilding the wall and gates.
V. The work of the Holy Spirit in the defense of the city.
I. HISTORICAL AND SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF EZRA, ESTHER AND NEHEMIAH
These are the last three books of the Old Testament period. Ezra, historically, is the story of the return of the first remnant from captivity in Babylon to rebuild the temple. The remnant finished it 70 years after they were exiled. Also, the book of Ezra describes the establishment of worship in the believer and the spirit of the believer being quickened so that he/she is alive to God.
The second book; Esther, historically is the story of the Jews in captivity in Persia and under an edict of extermination by the wicked Haman. Esther, the queen who is Jewish, reveals herself to the king, and saves her people. The spiritual aspect of this allegory has to do with the victory of the spirit in each of us over the flesh: the spiritual man triumphing over the fleshly man.
The third book; Nehemiah, spiritually, is about the restoration of the individual believer into wholeness as well as the restoration of the body of Christ into the fullness God intends.
II. THE NEED FOR REBUILDING THE WALLS AND HANGING THE GATES
The rebuilding of the wall and hanging of the gates was an actual, physical and historic occurrence. The walls were broken down and the gates were burned, and although the remnant that had returned under Ezra had rebuilt the temple, still there was no order in the city. The city itself was still a reproach and in distress because the enemies of God just walked back and forth through the town, and the holiness of God was being profaned. So Nehemiah (the cupbearer to the king) was informed of the condition of the walls and gates.
Walls represent separation in two directions… the outside of the wall and the inside of the wall. The wall of Jerusalem, spiritually, means separation from the spirit of the world and the enemies of our God unto what is inside: the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ and His holiness unto God.
The gates represent authority. Within the gates, the business of the town was conducted, and the town carried out its legal affairs at the gate of the city.
Spiritually, this represents exercising the authority of Christ in His “body” – not only in the church, but in the believer. There are two aspects of each truth: the truth applies equally to the body of Christ and to each believer.
The church is but a gathering together of those called by God. However, each separate child of God within the grouping is at a different place or growth pattern amidst those brought together. Therefore, within the church, we are no greater than what God is doing in each one of us.
III. PREPARATION FOR THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In chapter one of Nehemiah (the Holy Spirit in the believer and in the body of Christ), what was the one major response made by Nehemiah when he heard the news about the sad condition of the remnant in Jerusalem?
He prayed. In chapter 1, the main thing he did was pray. He prayed in three ways:
1) He confessed the sins of the people around him as the sins of the people in Jerusalem.
2) He confessed God’s word that God had promised to restore the people if they repented.
3) He prayed and besought the favor of the king and did so every day for four months. “Today, oh Lord, give me favor in the eyes of the king.”
The king, in this allegory represents Jesus Christ in His worldwide authority; Jesus is not represented in His moral character but just in the authority He has.
B. HEART SORROW
In chapter 2, the king (knowing Nehemiah’s trustworthiness) also saw his perseverance due to prayer, day after day for four months and his heart sorrow.
It was heart sorrow that touched and changed God Almighty’s heart too, for it is heart sorrow that the Holy Spirit needs to work in us. All rebuilding of each of our souls and the rebuilding of the body of Christ begins with prayer and then with heart sorrow for the reproach that is being brought upon the name of God because of the sad condition of the body of Christ today. “The church” is not what she is supposed to be, and ideally, could be.
Historically in the story, the king saw this sorrow and said: “What do you want?” Then Nehemiah received three things from the king in order to go and rebuild the city of Jerusalem:
1) Time – he was granted twelve years, this showing that God is patiently and painstakingly working with each individual, and collectively, with the body of Christ.
2) Letters – he was granted letters of authority that he might pass on through the various provinces. The body of Christ is granted the authority of Christ to bring others into kingdom life and raise them up. Jesus Christ will sovereignly cause unbelievers to be born again, but He will not sovereignly mature them or defend them from the enemy… as that must be done by the body of Christ. In other words, He has delegated that authority to “the Church” … to pass right on through to the goal of mature, kingdom life, even as Nehemiah passed right on through and arrived at Jerusalem with the full authority of the king.
3) Wood – the king gave Nehemiah all the supplies he needed for the work. Wood here, represents Jesus Christ. He is all our need. When we are filled with the Lord, our needs are so few that it is not hard for God to fill them. When we are not walking in the Lord, our needs are many.
When the Holy Spirit intends to begin the restoration of an individual or a body of believers, He starts with a survey. This is depicted by Nehemiah going around the walls at night. He paid particular attention to the two gates: the Refuse Gate and the Fountain Gate.
1) The Refuse Gate – the Refuse Gate shows the authority of the Lord to allow us to repent of our sins and dispose of them by covering them with the blood of Jesus Christ – thereby washing them away… we need to examine ourselves as Nehemiah did when he looked at that gate and saw the condition of it. The Holy Spirit – first in His survey – requires us to take a good, hard look at ourselves and at the body of believers into which He has called us. Is the way unhindered through that gate for the authority of the blood of Jesus the Christ to work so as not to accumulate any sinful garbage within “the body”? Or are we – as the Jews – burning our sinful garbage in the Valley of Hinnom.
2) The Fountain Gate – the Fountain Gate represents fresh life from the Holy Spirit. You remember King Hezekiah’s pool that he dug? He directed the spring of Kidron (a little brook up north) 150 feet underground, diverting the water through solid rock for 2000 feet through a tunnel that came up inside the walls of Jerusalem. This represents the Holy Spirit asking us to look and see what may be hindering that flow of fresh life from the Holy Spirit in us.
These two gates were examined first.
E. THE HOLY SPIRIT STIRRED UP THE PEOPLE TO BUILD
It had been over 70 years since they built the temple. The walls and the gates had laid waste all that time. However, now the Holy Spirit comes in the person of Nehemiah. There is no body of believers, but when the Spirit comes and the people respond, there can be a miraculous rising up. There are three ways the Holy Spirit rouses us to labor for Christ and inspire zeal in us.
1) That we not be a reproach unto God’s name before the enemies of God. We do not want to cause Him dishonor.
2) Because we honor God’s word and all He has opened to us in His word. He has also spoken to us directly and as a congregation of believers in each and every one of our fellowships. We cherish these words as Nehemiah recalled the king’s words to the people. These words gave them heart. His words to us give us heart, also.
3) God’s works – least we forget what God has already done for us and for others. We remember His graciousness, His generosity, His lovingkindness to us in leading us individually and as a people – all the days of our life . . . but especially since we have been adopted by the Living God and have been made co-heirs with Christ.
Part II next month
“The Final Offering on Nehemiah” featuring the Walls and Gates
Risking to Speak the Truth
How amazed I am that most of us are living through the attacks and tests right now that were demonstrated by the trials of Nehemiah.
The enemies of God, as represented by Sanballat (a type of the devil) tried to get Nehemiah (in these first verses of chapter 6) not to hang the gates so as not to put into effect the authority of God. They wanted to consult with Nehemiah hoping he would compromise, or weaken, or settle for something less than the fullness of God’s authority.
Nehemiah confronted this nefarious attempt to side track God’s work when he said: “I cannot come down!” He could not come down from the high calling that God had upon him and he refused to compromise the authority of the truth as it is in Jesus.
THE FINAL ASSAULT
In the final assault by the enemy, Nehemiah also gives us a mighty sentence: “I will not go in.” Previously he said, “I cannot come down,” and now he says: “I will not go in.”
In this period of time, prophets were held in high regard. Therefore, when a prophet – who was among them – came to Nehemiah, he listened for the word of the Lord through him. The prophet said:
“…Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night”
It sounded so good. What they were saying in effect was: “You need to save yourself. You are very important. What if something were to happen to you; what would happen to the work on the wall if they killed you, Nehemiah?”
The temptation from the enemy was to protect yourself. Use God and His house to protect yourself. That, dear children of the Living God, is the final and the most heinous attack of the enemy. It is the one final thing that will keep the glory of God from reaching fullness in the body of Christ: “Save yourself; protect yourself.”
Using that which is of God to hinder the establishment of God’s desires and purposes through others is a perversion of the gospel of Christ. If we apply ourselves to hindering others so as to maintain our position or to preserve ourselves in power when the scepter has been extended to another – therefore preserving ourselves at the expense of others and of God, we are actually daring the Almighty to challenge us. The gospel of Jesus Christ says in effect, Jesus did not come that we might save ourselves but that we might risk ourselves as He did. There is a “going the whole way” with Christ and it usually involves laying down our soul life for Him and for others.
We often do not rightly discern “the body”. In so doing we hold on to an assignment given to us as if that which was entrusted to us is ours – not God’s. We forget that we may be given only a part and that others are meant to receive the hand-off of the baton to run their part of the race and hand it off again. We do not rightly discern the “body”. We want to preserve ourselves . . . and believe me there is risk involved in “going the whole way” with Christ.
In the 27th chapter of Matthew we read that Jesus was assailed with this final temptation. Paul and John tell us that those who say they abide in Christ ought to walk as He walked; for as He is, so also are we in this world, the Bible tells us. What happened to Jesus will happen to us if so be we want Him to be fully manifested in us – and there is no way of escaping it. Satan, through everyone who was around that cross, said the same things to Him before He died: “Save Yourself!”
At that time, two robbers (Matthew 27:38) were crucified with Him . . . one on His right and one on His left; and those who were passing were hurling abuses at Him, wagging their heads and saying:
“You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40).
The same thing was said by the chief priests, along with the scribes and elders. You see, it was not only the “common” people passing by, it was the religious leaders, also who were mocking Him and saying:
“‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, “I am the Son of God.”’ 44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” (Matthew 27:42-44 NKV).
A version of the same temptation will come to each of us. We may believe that each temptation will come only once and then the enemy will be bested by Christ and leave us alone. Just because we have been tested on faith, hope, love and God’s authority in our lives, the tests do not go away.
Quite the opposite. The first temptation comes and keeps coming back. Then the second one is added and the third one and then the fourth and the fifth one until Jesus Christ’s wall and the security of His salvation, and the gates of His authority are built up securely in us.
There are three aspects of risking yourself and I will begin these with the example of Jesus Christ . . . for He is the beginning and the ending of our faith. There were three things that He risked by living the truth so that the authority of God, His Father, would be fully manifested in Him at all times. Whatever the consequences of Jesus following and doing all that He heard from His Father, He was willing to accept – because the reasons “why” this was allowed, and the “outcome” were in the hands of His Father.
1. BETRAYAL BY HIS FRIENDS
The first thing that Jesus risked was the betrayal by His friends. We all realize that when He chose those twelve disciples the Father told Him which ones to choose. He knew from the beginning that one of them would betray Him. From the beginning He knew that Judas was to be the traitor, and He loved him so much that they never knew which one was to be the betrayer.
Jesus knew that these men had been given to Him by the Father; but did He try to protect Himself from Judas? No! Even when Judas was stealing from Him or superciliously undercutting Him by saying an offering of love should have been sold and the money given to the poor. We must risk our heart being broken because some friend, some brother or sister – as David said – “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” We must risk that for our Father’s sake – even as Jesus did. It certainly happened to Nehemiah when the prophets were hired by the enemy to proclaim a false word of God to him to come to the temple and pray with them. If it happened to Jesus and it happened to Nehemiah, are you and I exempt? No, of course not.
In reality, we ourselves have no idea what it costs to see each of us built up strong in our souls in Christ or to see a fellowship of believers established where Jesus Christ is truly Lord. It may very well cost us the betrayal of our dearest love, our dearest friend or even members of our families. It cost Christ everything.
2. THE TERMINATION OF YOUR MINISTRY
When we go all the way with Jesus Christ, we give Him all rights to ourselves and to our work. Sometimes we lose sight of the calling given to us by God. Not only does the success of such a ministry depend upon God Almighty – but the termination of work for Him is also in His hand. He decides how much and how long. Not only this, but we are called by God to be used as He needs us. Suppose the work is ripped away from you and you are branded a sinner – although you are innocent and blameless. Nehemiah was so slandered, but he said:
“… Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in”
I am sure he said in his heart that if he was killed, God would raise up someone else to complete the work.
In the book of Esther when Mordecai in effect said to her: “If you do not step forward and risk it all at this time and tell King Ahasuerus that you are Jewish and that your people are condemned under an edict of extermination by the wicked Haman, then you and your family will perish and God will raise up deliverance for His people from another source. Who knows whether you have obtained royalty for this very purpose?”
You and I are sons and daughters of God. We are royalty. Did Esther say, “I’m sorry. I can not go in. It is a royal law that if you go in without being summoned by the king, you die. I must protect myself”? Did she say that? No, she said, “I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” Are you ready to say that about your work, your ministry and your ideas about how you think God must bring His glory forth in you and in this nation?
3. THE LAYING DOWN OF YOUR LIFE
Not only did Jesus risk betrayal of His tenderest love for His friends, He risked the termination of His work. Also, He risked suffering and death. For He said:
“… Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”
The three children in Daniel refused to bow down; and there was that fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than it ought to be, and the king said that they were going into it unless they bowed down at the sound of the music to worship his image.
The three Jewish children said:
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
In effect: “King we do not need to worry about answering you. Our God is able to save us from that fiery furnace and He will save us from your hand but if He does not, we will never bow down to you.”
CAN WE SAY THAT?
If God does not rescue us, will we still go all the way with Him? Can you imagine the Christian martyrs in the first three centuries who were sentenced to go to the lions saying, “Look at all those devout Christians that were eaten by wild beasts. I am going to turn back from Jesus for it looks like He has forsaken those who believe in Him”? Dear children of the Living God, we do not know how much it is going to cost.
What will it cost to see the body of Christ rebuilt? What will it cost to see each of our souls made whole in Christ? We cannot possibly know.
We do know that we are going to risk betrayal by friends, we are going to risk destruction of all we have worked for in Christ and to risk our very lives.
WOULD WE ABANDON CHRIST?
Having gone as far as each of us has gone, would we back off from standing for Christ if our friends were into false doctrine (the doctrine of demons)? Would you stand for the truth as it is in Christ and lose your friends? Would you profess Christ if you knew it would mean death… slander or isolation?
In Nehemiah’s day, even when the walls were rebuilt and the gates hung, there were still some Jews writing letters to denounce them as the enemy. There was still division and lack of commitment among the Jews there. But Nehemiah risked all for God… in the middle of continued attacks and disappointments over lack of commitment by others and lack of righteousness. He continued to risk all.
Others have risked all to finish the race and stay the course, going all the way for Christ. The baton has been handed to us in this relay race of life. What says our generation to the great cloud of witnesses? What says each of us to Christ?
God’s Authority in Rebuilding the Body of Christ
We have been looking at the way the walls and the gates were restored around the city of Jerusalem. Zechariah 2:5 says:
“‘For I,’ declares the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'”
This one verse describes the purpose of the walls and the gates, God being a wall of fire to protect us from the enemy and to enclose us in a united “body” where He will be the glory in our midst. We have seen the strategies used by Satan and his evil hosts to thwart the work of restoring the body of Christ.
The first of these strategies is to weaken our faith; and in Chapter 4:2-3 we are shown that the enemy does this by getting us to look at ourselves and question our inadequacy to be able to go the full way with God.
The second strategy the enemy uses is to weaken our hope by getting us to look at our situation and be tempted through weariness and fearfulness to think that the job will never get done.
A third strategy of the enemy is to damage the love between the brethren. In chapter 5 we are shown some of the Jews were holding their brothers in bondage; and Nehemiah, representing the Holy Spirit, moved to correct that sinful behavior and to set the example for exceeding generosity by feeding 150 Jews at his table daily. In all of these temptations by the enemy, God’s way of overcoming them is always to look away from ourselves, away from the situation, and instead, look to Jesus Christ – so that He is whatever our need may be at the time.
AN ORIGINAL PURPOSE
The walls have been completed, but the gates have not been hung. Gates represent God’s authority exercised by the body of Christ and also exercised by the individual believer within Himself – i.e. taking authority for God within one’s own self and within the body of Christ. This authority represents God’s purpose, stated when He first created man.
We know that in Genesis 1:26-28, God ordained that man should subdue the earth; that is to say, to take it back from the devil and to rule over all creatures on the earth. Man was to rule in God’s name. Instead, man fell and therefore was not able to rule this earth. Therefore, it remained in the hands of Satan until Jesus Christ won the victory over the enemy. He will return, in the fullness of time, to fulfill that victory by establishing God’s reign over the whole earth.
This is described in Revelation 20:4-6.
“…They (saints in the first resurrection) will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
So, God’s authority will be established here on earth finally. Not only here on this earth, but on the new earth when it will take the place of the old. We read in Revelation 22:14-15 that there are gates in the New Jerusalem and there will be the exercising of God’s authority about who goes in and who goes out of those gates. In other words, God’s authority will be exercised eternally. It is an eternal part of His being.
THE TEST OF COMPROMISE
In Nehemiah chapter 6, Satan knows how very important and decisive it is when God’s authority begins to be exercised by the body of Christ or by an individual believer. The enemy’s temptation, his way of trying to get us to destroy God’s authority is to get us to compromise.
We read in Nehemiah 6:2 that Sanballat sent a message to Nehemiah:
“…Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono…”
But Nehemiah, though they kept sending him such messages, refused to go.
He replied in verse 3:
“…I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”
So Nehemiah refused to even discuss the matter of the exercising of God’s authority as represented by the gates. Nehemiah was determined (because he represented the Holy Spirit) to secure God’s best for the body of Christ.
There were other dedicated leaders of Israel, in fact two kings – Asa and Jehoshaphat who reigned not long before the time when the Jews were taken into exile in Babylon. Asa, in 2 Chronicles 15, truly sought to serve the Lord, and he restored the temple and removed the idolatrous practices; and even entered into a covenant with the Lord and had all the people to enter into a covenant to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul. 2 Chronicles 15:15 says:
“…He (God) let them find Him…”
But look at verse 17:
“But (that one word; when something good is occurring and then you run across a sentence which begins with ‘but’) the high places were not removed from Israel…”
In other words, Asa did not go on to God’s best. These high places were idolatrous locations on hills and mountains where sacrifices were made to the false gods of the land.
As far as Jehoshaphat – Asa’s son – was concerned, he too followed in his father’s footsteps and God helped him against his enemies; and we read in 2 Chr. 20:33 –
“The high places, however, were not removed; the people had not yet directed their hearts to the God of their fathers.”
So, Jehoshaphat did not go on to arrive at the highest calling that God had for him.
ONE WHO DID
Abraham did, though. In Genesis 22:15-18, God’s authority in Abraham’s life reached the highest point when he was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on the altar and the angel of God stopped him just before he accomplished that, and told him that because he was willing to sacrifice his son, God was going to greatly bless him and greatly multiply his seed. Abraham and his seed were going to have God’s best, for Abraham would not compromise as far as God’s authority upon him was concerned.
In Numbers 14:6-9 and verse 24, we read about Caleb and Joshua, the two spies who returned with a good report from spying out the land of Canaan and urged the people to go in and take it. Their hearts were wholly set to follow the Lord; they wanted God’s best.
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In Acts 5:29, Peter and the apostles were brought before the council of the Jews and told that they were given strict orders not to teach in the name of Jesus Christ; and Peter and the apostles answered:
“…We must obey God rather than men.”
Peter and the apostles put the authority of God first and would not compromise.
Jesus, when He was here on earth, did not compromise His Father’s authority. In Matthew 4:4, when He was in the wilderness being tempted by the devil, the first temptation concerned turning stones into bread; and Jesus answered:
“…It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”
He held to the authority of God. God had spoken to Him saying that He was the beloved son in whom the Father was well pleased, and He accepted the authority of that word. Jesus was going to live by that word, no matter how weak He got from fasting or being out there alone in the wilderness. Our Lord’s whole life was lived in accordance with the authority of God’s word.
In Matthew 26:24 Jesus said of Himself:
“The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him…”
In other words, God had preordained the events of the Savior’s life, and He accepted that. When Jesus was brought before Pilate it was the authority of the truth – what Jesus said and lived – that made Him a king . . . but not like the kings on earth. In John 18:36-38, Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world but that He had come into the world to bear witness to the truth.
The authority of God through Jesus Christ’s life here on earth was primarily through the truth He spoke and lived. In John 8:44-47, Jesus told the Pharisees that they were of their father the devil who does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Jesus said that the devil was the father of lies but that He (Jesus) spoke the truth yet they did not believe Him.
They could not believe Him because they were sons of the father of lies – the devil. In John 8:26, Jesus said that He only spoke the things that He heard from the Father, that word which He spoke – in other words – was truth from the Father. In John 8:46 Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?”
In other words, “You are seeking to kill Me; a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.” His authority was the truth.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE TRUTH
In Nehemiah chapter 6, Sanballat sought to kill Nehemiah because Nehemiah spoke the truth and that was Nehemiah’s authority in dealing with the enemy. In verse 5, Sanballat sent his servant with a letter opened in hand which said that it had been reported that Nehemiah and the Jews were planning to rebel against the king and that Nehemiah was going to be their king. Sanballat also said that Nehemiah had appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning himself and that the king was going to be told about these things. But Nehemiah simply replied in verse 8:
“…Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind.”
Nehemiah just resorted to the authority of the truth of God the way Jesus did. This is the way we overcome the enemy when he tries to get us to compromise. We rely upon the authority of the truth of God’s word. That was the kind of authority that God told Joshua to rely upon. In Joshua 1:8, we read that the Lord spoke to Joshua saying:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
In other words, Joshua was to rely upon and keep in his mind and in his mouth and heart the authority of God’s truth.
TRAINING TO CARRY GOD’S AUTHORITY
In order to carry this authority of God’s truth with us at all times to use against the enemy, we must be trained by God day by day in the Word. The prophet Isaiah said:
“The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. 5 The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back” (Isaiah 50:4-5).
In other words, we must hear the word of truth from God daily and act upon that, carry it in our hearts, and rely upon it, even as Nehemiah did.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
In Ephesians 4:14-15, we are told that the body of Christ is to be built up strong and stable so that the sons of God:
“…Are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.”
That is the way we grow up into Christ – by speaking the truth about the authority of God’s truth. In verses 22 and 23, the first manifestation of our putting off the old man and being renewed in the spirit of our mind and putting on the New Man. In verse 25, we are instructed:
“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.”
It is the truth that sets us free and keeps us free from the temptation of the enemy to compromise with God’s authority over us.
May it be so of us.
Satan’s Attack on Love
As God has restored our spirits when we were born again into Jesus Christ, He also wants to restore our minds, emotions and wills so that we are whole and functioning for Christ. Then together we become a body of Christ that is whole. In Nehemiah’s day, the walls had been erected where the enemy was breaking in and the gates were ready to be restored and hung so that there was control over all that came in or went out. After securing both the corporate body and the individual, the work of the Lord was ready to proceed.
Within the walls, we are united to seek Christ – not doctrine, nor denominations, but Christ only. His body – together – is given the same opportunity to address everything on earth in order to see Him brought forth in the midst of His people. Individually and together we set our hearts to see His name, and His honor and His glory restored to this earth.
When the enemy attacked Jesus in the first temptation in the wilderness, he said: “If you are God’s Son, order these stones to turn into bread” (Matthew 4:3 GNT).
The devil tried to get Jesus to doubt so as to weaken His faith. To make us doubt, the devil tries to make us look at ourselves and our own inadequacy. Of course, if we do that, we will always come up short. That is because we are weak and inadequate; but Christ is our strength, He has called us.
Paul said that there are not many mighty, not many noble, not many wise in this world who are called, so that no man could boast in the sight of God. Our faith is not in what we are but in who He is… and that He has called us to be in Him.
Not only that, but the enemy tries to discourage us in order to make us doubt if we will ever see the fulfillment of this internal building process and the same within the body of Christ. It is as though the enemy is some demonic Pac-man that follows Christians around to eat up all that has been gained.
He tries to wear us down and make us fearful by looking back at situations, relationships and callings that may not have been fulfilled in the way we had hoped they would be brought about. He also tries to keep before our eyes, past failures in order to weaken our hope. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
God has shown us the plan for overcoming the enemy’s attacks upon our faith, hope and love. Nehemiah (a type of the Holy Spirit) – gets very angry when love is attacked.
“Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words.”
That is because love is so crucial. We may pass through the tests of faith and hope; and then falter in the area of love.
THE “SITUATION” IN NEHEMIAH
There were those among the Jews who were rebuilding the walls and hanging the gates under the direction of Nehemiah. Many who were working had large families. There was a famine in the land, for the crops failed that year. Also, the authority’s tax upon the people was very, very heavy so that they had to mortgage not only their houses but their land. They had even begun to sell their children as slaves in order to get money to live.
Those who were doing the lending of the money would charge interest – usually of 12 % a year, i.e. 1% a month, which was rather high interest in those days. Nehemiah, (a type of the Holy Spirit) gets very angry at this. “What are you doing?” he asks.
“I said to them, “We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us…?”
In other words, “Here I and my brothers and servants have come from Persia back here to rebuild (the body of Christ) and we are lending and giving grain and money, and also, redeeming our brothers out of bondage; and you are selling them back into slavery. So, we will have to buy out more of them. What are you doing?”
Therefore, he called an assembly and put them on trial before the entire city and said:
“And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury. 11 “Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them.”
In other words, Nehemiah was saying: “This is wrong. Give them back their fields, their children and their grain. Also, stop taking this 1% interest a month.”
Amazingly, the nobles and the officials agreed to the demands. Then all the people began to praise the Lord. Worship, again, came forth in the midst of God’s people.
Three levels of love are described within this narrative.
FIRST LEVEL OF LOVE: REASONABLE
The first level of love was that some of the Jews who had money were lending it (with interest) to their fellow Jews. That seems reasonable. Someone has money. That person is able to invest it elsewhere – but if you want to borrow it, that person will lend it to you at the same interest the person could get elsewhere. That’s fair and reasonable.
However, nowhere in the Bible does the Lord say we should ever love on that basis. That is fleshly love; that is the way the world thinks. Nowhere does God say to deal with others in this way. That is the reason the Holy Spirit was so angry. This level of love – the reasonable love, says: “I will do my part if you do yours.” We should not even identify with that level of quid pro quo, naming it love of any kind. It is a worldly deal.
THE SECOND LEVEL OF LOVE: EQUITABLE
The second level of love is that which Nehemiah was able to get from the officials. He moved them to equitable love: where they gave back the lands and people in a sort of: “Well, we are willing to do our part. It’s my fair share.”
We might say, “I’ll do a certain amount of the work.” In other words, “I’ll do my part.”
That is Old Testament love . . . not New.
THE THIRD LEVEL OF LOVE: THE HEART OF THE FATHER
What is New Testament love? We have a glimpse of it here in the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah (though a high official) worked on the wall right alongside his servants, who also gave themselves to the labor (and attended to nothing else). Nehemiah fed over 150 Jews each day, plus visiting officials. That is really the third level of love – the Christ-like love, that goes beyond what is expected, far beyond what is reasonable and what is equitable. It is a love that lays aside its rights. There was no requirement on Nehemiah’s part to feed all these people. There was an allowance from the king for Nehemiah (who was the governor) and for his household… and that allowance was collected from the people as a tax. All previous governors had collected it and used it for their own upkeep.
Instead, Nehemiah feeds this large number of people from his own pocket. Remember, Nehemiah is a type of the Holy Spirit. He demonstrates a love that goes over and beyond what is expected and right. This over and abounding love proceeds from the heart – because that is what is in His heart.
We are called to be sons of God. We are to be perfect, as He is perfect. What Matthew means by being “perfect” in this instance is to be as generous as He is. If someone strikes you on your cheek, turn the other. Is that fair? Is that equitable? Love your enemies and do good to them and lend expecting nothing in return. Be abounding in generosity to those who hate you, for Jesus Christ came to love us that way (while we were yet sinners and hated Him, He gave us all He could give, His own life upon the cross), and dear children of the Living God, we also are called to be sons of God – displaying His character.
If our Father has this kind of love, how can we claim to be His sons if we do not, also have that kind of love.
Nehemiah was a greater governor by getting out with the others and working on the wall than if he had stayed in the governor’s palace issuing orders. Jesus was among the people. If you would be first, you must be servant of all… and last of all. This is God’s way. We come into God’s authority through being a servant, not by lording it over others.
Jesus laid down His life for us and we are called to lay down our soul lives for one another. We are called to be the least, as Paul said he was, that our God may be all in us; and then be as humble as Christ for it is He Himself being humble within us; and then allowing our Father to use us as He wills.
Satan’s Attack on Hope: Part II
We have seen Satan’s attack through his many strategies to weaken our faith.
Then he moves in to weaken hope also:
A. Satan’s devise of infiltration.
B. Satan’s device of playing upon our weariness.
C. Satan’s device of the influence of the world.
But God has a counter “punch”.
THREE ASPECTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S PLAN TO OVERCOME THE ENEMY
“Then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows.”
The Hebrew does not say that “I stationed men.” There is no word there for anyone he stationed. The King James Version says:
“Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall …”
The “I” is referring to Nehemiah, who is a type of the Holy Spirit; and I believe that this spiritually means that the Holy Spirit will station Himself in the weakest places in our personality and the weakest places in the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit Himself will be on guard for us with His supernatural powers of perception and vigilance to discern the enemy.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SMALLER UNITS
He also set the people into their smaller and natural units to do this watching.
2. The widowed or single – He set in fellowship with those who are like their natural family.
Our Heavenly Father gives these to one another so that they may help one another.
I, myself, cannot see all of the enemy. If I were helping to build the wall in Nehemiah’s day, I could not see the entire wall (in and out) both night and day. The Lord provided others to do what one alone could not. So it is today. One person is not the whole body of Christ. We need one another.
ASK FRIENDS OR SPIRITUAL LEADERS
Ask friends or husband or wife to honestly tell you when or if they see “something” that they believe is not of the Lord happening in you. Do they see some habit that is returning? Is there some other “slippage” that needs to be dealt with?
You see, the person who tries to walk by himself, does not walk very far.
Also, God sent His servants, the angels, to keep watch.
“From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah.”
The weapons represent the Word of God in prayer. The angels are working in the body of Christ and, believe me, they are on guard. When the enemy tries to threaten our unity and love, the worship of our God, or keep us from studying the Scriptures, or praying, or being drawn together by the grace of God – the angels that are assigned to each of us individually, or to groups of believers or churches will gather in that location and fight against the enemy for us.
We have amazing supernatural help in all we are doing. Also, in verse 16 (where we read that the captains were behind the whole house of Judah) the captains represent archangels. For in Joshua, chapter 5:13-15:
“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’ He said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.’”
We need to ask the Lord to open our eyes in order to see the mighty angels – not only guarding – but fighting for us.
B. HOLDING TO HIS WORD AND CALLING
“When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: ‘Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.’”
Remember Jesus Christ who won complete victory on the cross for us and has risen to carry that victory into the heavenly places so that He can minister it to us here on earth with all the power of God. Not only do we need to hold to Christ’s word of victory over Satan, but we need to hold to our calling to serve one another.
We must look beyond ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ and to those who depend upon us, both our loved ones and those in the body of Christ.
In times of great fear and distress those who can hold to faith in Christ and belief in His saving power will keep many from panic and resultant possible harm. At some time in our near future there may be brothers and sisters in Christ who will look to us and would need grace that our Father would flow through us.
“When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work.”
All of them had stopped work on the wall. Does it not feel like that in your own life at times? Does it not feel that you have come to a standstill in your spiritual growth? How about in your calling? At those times you honestly feel as though nothing is happening – it is more like treading water . . . or less.
All of this is Satan’s plot to weaken our hope through feeling everything is going to collapse. This is to cause us to fear that all we’ve worked for is going to end in frustration and disappointment. All of us have had heartbreaking collapses of major directions in our lives. These directions have vanished like smoke in our hands. Heartbreak and years of wasted time have made us fearful and tenuous when we see or hear of a cave-in of another project to which we have given large portions of our lives and hearts.
We need to remember that our lives are not our own. We belong to Jesus Christ and when He only allows us to go a certain distance on a work of His, that, dear children, is His business. He decides.
We are here to serve in the building of His kingdom; but how little or much is up to Him.
C. GATHERING TOGETHER
“I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another.’”
This statement is becoming more relevant as time goes on. We now have cell phones, Skype, and emails. We now are able to lightly connect while staying at home. We don’t need to go anywhere to attend college, see the latest films or even buy a car. We are able to benefit from all manner of information and acquire all manner of knowledge without gathering together. But being human, the “gathering together” is part of our maturation . . . it is a large part of our rite of passage in life. We learn from the spirits as well as the minds of mankind, so that the “gathering together” is a major part of that growth and, when necessary, protection.
“At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
As the times become more dangerous, all of us need to have a “gathering” plan in the natural. We are unable to watch north, south, east and west at one time. We need those people to “have our backs.” We will need help.
All of the gifts were never meant to reside in great power in one human (other than Christ). We are a body made up of parts. Each part fulfilling his or her calling is a huge witness to mankind and to the angels. For when we hear the call to come together; when we stand together in unity, our God is in the midst.
When our God stands in the midst of His unified children, everything needed is supplied. Our God does fight for us. This applies to each individual, also. When Satan attacks our soul, the Holy Spirit supplies support for that area under attack through a stronger area in our development to “shore up” the weaker part of our attacked soul. Internally, the Holy Spirit rushes to our aid, as physically, brothers and sisters in the Lord rush to fight in our behalf when we are under personal attack.
“At that time I also said to the people, ‘Let each man with his servant spend the night within Jerusalem so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day.’”
This means that we and the angels must be on the job for our Lord, Jesus Christ, all the time.
Christianity is not an on and off proposition. It is a consuming life-changing lifestyle.
“So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water.”
None of us would think that Nehemiah never changed his clothes, nor took a bath during those 52 days. It does mean that he and his party kept their weapons right beside them when they worked and slept. Also, they did not take off their clothes to sleep.
Day and night, they remained in the covering of the righteousness of Jesus Christ – the New Man. Our Father is full-time. He does call to us to follow His example. He gives Himself fully and calls upon us to do the same.
For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” (Deuteronomy 20:4).
“The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:14).
A life fully yielded to the Lord is glorious.
Satan’s Attack on Hope: Part I
Last month in the Angel Section of the website, we showed you the arrival of the angels Faith, Hope and Charity (or Love) to the top of Prayer Mountain. These representatives from the choirs of the same names are assigned to this location to establish a strong scaffolding for the angelic “helpers” of those who will come to this blessed “mountain” to pray.
In the book of Nehemiah, the enemy is shown to attack these three areas in the lives of those who were the returned diaspora. By doing so, the enemy wished to destroy work already begun or to stop further work from beginning. The three-fold chord which our Lord sets up in the initial stage of a work gives strength both to angels and to mankind alike to withstand violent attacks from the enemy.
7 “Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. 8 All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it.
9 But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.
10 Thus in Judah it was said,
‘The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
Yet there is much rubbish;
And we ourselves are unable
To rebuild the wall.’
11 Our enemies said, ‘They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, “They will come up against us from every place where you may turn.’”
NEHEMIAH AS A PARABLE
Jesus taught in parables. This however, was not a new way of teaching – for all of scripture is full of parables. Nehemiah is a parable. It’s true meaning can only be understood through faith in Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. The book of Nehemiah is not simply the story of rebuilding a wall and rehanging the gates of Jerusalem 444 years before Christ. It is far more than that. Nehemiah is a word that means “the comforter” – a type of the Holy Spirit, or spirit-filled believer or group of believers. In this book, we are given clear directions for the restoration of the body of Christ – for Jerusalem is a type of Christ’s bride.
NEHEMIAH AS A ROADMAP
Within the book of Nehemiah, a plan is laid out whereby we can come into the fullness of Christ as His body. In this book we are shown how Satan will attempt to entrap us. We are also shown how we may pass through victoriously and come into that wholehearted dedication to Jesus Christ, that He may be fully manifested in us. In order to accomplish the goal of the high calling in Christ Jesus, we must take care to remember that which we have learned as we pass through each trial.
So – let us review the first of Satan’s strategies along with the strategy of God to overcome the enemy.
I. THE FIRST STRATEGY OF SATAN
The first strategy of Satan is to weaken our faith.
In Nehemiah 2:17 Sanballat (who is a type of the devil) and Tobiah (who is a type of the devil’s army – or demons) mocked the Jews and said in effect: “What are you doing (being different)?” “Are you rebelling against the authority (the established order)?”
Satan tries to get us to doubt ourselves as far as the geniuses of our following the Lord. When the wall was started in chapter 3; the people were around the whole circumference working on it. In chapter 4:2-3, we saw the first strategy of questioning – raising doubt – getting us to look at ourselves and away from God (to examine and assess our own adequacy instead of God’s). If the enemy can get us to concentrate on ourselves and consider each situation in relationship to our human weaknesses, he has begun to weaken our faith. Our faith will always suffer if we look at ourselves and judge our adequacy to go on into the fullness of Christ. Though we are indeed inadequate, the truth is, that Christ is more than adequate in us.
There are six questions in chapter 4:2-3 that Satan uses to try to “trip” us. We need to be on guard for these, for if you have set your heart to go on to become all that Christ Jesus has for you through His death, resurrection, ascension into Heaven and then sending back the Spirit to enable you to become all that He desires for you – you will be attacked. But our God always provides the strategy for overcoming.
Very simply, overcomers are those who are attacked by Satan and overcome him. If we are not involved in the battle, then we cannot be overcomers. We will not be attacked if we do not set our hearts to truly follow the Lord. All of us have lived part of our lives just drifting along. But when we set our hearts to go on with the Lord, we also have experienced the devil coming against us. It is not pleasant, but at least we know that we are having some impact. When the enemy comes against us, God uses those attacks to raise us higher.
You see, our God does not mean for us to just overcome the devil. He means for us to overcome and rise higher in the Lord. God uses all of Satan’s strategies for good. If, when you are tested by Satan, you draw back from the Lord (thinking that by withdrawing from the field of battle you will be sheltered from attacks and this will give you peace) you are in great trouble. Satan’s power is limited, but he can tell when the wall is going up and the breaches are beginning to be closed as in chapter 4:7. Stepping back to get away, or worse, turning and fleeing from the field of battle simply whets Satan’s appetite and emboldens him and his demons.
HEALING THE SOUL
However, by taking a stand so that one’s own individual walls and gates begin to be repaired means that healing is coming to our soul life (mind, emotions and will) so that there are no breaches or openings where Satan is able to bulldoze through and hinder the flow of God’s life in us.
II. THE SECOND STRATEGY OF SATAN: WEAKEN OUR HOPE
Chapter 4 – Verse 7: “Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry.”
This was the first time a large number of enemies had come against God’s people. First there was Sanballat and Tobiah; then there was Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab; and now there were also the Ammonites and the Ashdodites: all old enemies of Israel.
WHAT IS THE LORD SHOWING US?
The Lord is revealing that the devil’s strategy is to bring back against you all of the old enemies – many of whom you thought were either gone or replaced with the mind, emotions and will of Christ. But, lo and behold, something unforeseen happens and it “hits you the wrong way”. Suddenly the old fleshly feelings surface again, and you say: “What is this in my heart? I thought that particular reaction was taken care of. I didn’t think I could ever feel anger like that again.” But here it is; for Satan tries to bring back the old nemesis multiplied. If you can withstand one, he will bring two. If you can withstand two, he will bring three. If you can withstand three, he will not only add but he will multiply the attack. Satan is trying to break you. All the while the Lord is building spiritual muscle. This, of course, makes the enemy angrier.
Often people start to do something in the Lord, run into a great deal of difficulty, and therefore, begin to believe it must not be God’s will. In these times of personal opposition, we tend to forget the opposition to our Lord that He encountered once He began His ministry on earth.
In our case, the enemy becomes angrier when he sees the breaches in our soul begin to be closed. When more of Christ occupies our soul, we change.
After all, Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation but to be of good cheer for He had overcome the world. Therefore, the popular belief that if you are in God’s will, everything will go smoothly; is more of an “urban myth” than Christian reality.
SO HOW DOES THE ENEMY WEAKEN OUR HOPE?
If by the grace of God, we have begun to withstand attacks by the enemy from the outside, what is his next strategy?
A. SATAN’S DEVICE OF INFILTRATION
Verse 8: “All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it.”
Verse 11: “Our enemies said, ‘They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.’”
The first aspect of Satan’s plan to destroy a work of God, or to disrupt a gathered group of God’s children or to hinder an individual’s upward call to God (if he cannot succeed from the outside) is to infiltrate and then undermine from within. This is particularly painful. That means someone or a cluster of someones begin to undercut you or to undercut a particular work of God.
These are usually those you trust and also that you love. On your part, you have stood with these and often poured yourself out for them, and now the person or group has turned on you and stabbed you in the back. This has happened to all of us. All of us have experienced this painful rite of passage in life.
King David said: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9).
Usually, we are in shock over these betrayals. However, as we get older, we begin to see God’s hand behind the division.
The Lord gives us all repeated opportunities to grow in Him. Some do and some do not. But the Lord will bring us into relationships that will assist that growth. If an individual or group balks, that person or group may justify their resistant action by talking to others and then by gathering those they are able to convince that, in truth, they are dealing righteously and reasonably. Subsequently these “behind the back” actions will drive a wedge between believers. This happens in churches, prayer groups, between friends and so on and so on.
Instead of allowing these ungodly actions to stop you from going on, look for the reasons God Almighty has separated you from these people.
If you will look for the good that the Lord is bringing out of such painful actions, you will enter into the “new day” the Lord has for you.
How is this accomplished? Well not on our own, that’s certain. Our Lord must accomplish this. But if at first, we can see the rightness of the dropped plumbline dividing the relationship, then we can begin to forgive. If the Lord allowed such a division to occur, it is for the betterment of each party. Though the circumstance may be painful, the division allows each to grow at his or her own pace and perhaps, even branch out into different directions. In other words, look for God in these painful divisions.
It is not that our Lord wishes that we are all stuck together like one, big popcorn ball of love. It is that we need to grow up into the mind of Christ – seeing others at different stages of spiritual growth and not allow ourselves to be both judge and jury over some other person’s life. If that occurs, we harden into unforgiveness and eventual bitterness. That certainly is not the mind of Christ.
But if we embrace His mind, we grow in wisdom and genuine love, even as with Christ, we know what is in mankind (John 2:24).
The only unshakable rock in our lives is the great and Holy Triune God. Hope in God. He is our hope.
B. SATAN’S DEVICE OF PLAYING UPON OUR WEAIRINESS
Verse 10: “Thus in Judah it was said, ‘The strength of the burden bearers is failing, yet there is much rubbish; And we ourselves are unable To rebuild the wall.’”
In this aspect of Satan’s devious works upon our flesh he attacks through weariness.
If we have set our hearts to follow the Lord (no matter the cost) then we will bear burdens. Not only will we need to be a burden bearer; but we will need to be a rebuilder of the wall. Anyone who really sets himself to go on with the Lord will bear this kind of responsibility – and it becomes wearisome, day after day. The more rubble there is uncovered not only in our own lives but in the corporate life of Christ – the more work there is to do.
We close one breach only to discover another. After a while we begin to think that it will never end – and that is correct. For once the Lord lays these burdens upon our hearts, they become a “constant”.
For twenty-four years I have prayed the burden of a prophesied chapel on top of Prayer Mountain. Why has it not been built? The Lord is holding it until He has accomplished all He wishes to correct and to endow before He builds. Is it wearying to wait? Of course. Do I lose hope? No. God is not a man that He should lie. Would I like for the chapel to move ahead more quickly? Oh yes.
But I realize that the forward movement, depends upon how quickly I allow the cross of Christ to work in my life. And since the chapel on Prayer Mountain is destined to be a corporate work of God, it also depends upon how quickly the cross of Christ is worked in the lives of all who will be foundation stones brought together by the Lord Himself.
But waiting the long period of time that is often needed for the Lord to accomplish His word, is a difficult test. The balance between anticipation and rest, at times, is strained – especially with Satan leaning heavily on the scale.
C. SATAN’S DEVICE OF THE INFLUENCE OF THE WORLD
Verse 12: “When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, ‘They will come up against us from every place where you may turn.’”
In other words, saying: “They are too strong for you.”
Verse twelve shows how worldly believers are sent in to repeatedly weaken the resolve of those “going on” with the Lord. The carnal Christians may express over and over again (10 times here) the unbelief and fear in their hearts because they have one foot in the world and one foot following Christ.
Worldly Christians try to make the best of both worlds. They compromise with the spirit of the fleshly world system. If a truly dedicated believer allows himself to be influenced by the “limping between two opinions” walk before the Lord, he will find his hope waning. We are to follow the Lord completely – not 99 percent.
If we follow our Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength we will find that it does not matter where we live nor how long we are called to labor. We are doing everything with and for Him. Dear children of the Living God, we have Him. He is our exceedingly great reward.
HOW TO DEAL WITH SATAN’S ATTACKS IS IN PART II NEXT MONTH
Satan’s Attacks: Part II
We have seen the five questions Satan used through his mouthpiece, Sanballat, to weaken God’s people:
1. “What are these feeble Jews doing?” or in other words: questioning your strength.
2. “Are they going to restore it for themselves?” or in other words: insinuating that your motives are for personal gain and aggrandizement.
3. “Can they offer sacrifice?” or in other words: can you stay the course of being totally given over to Christ with the sacrifices it will require.
4. “Can they finish in a day?” or in other words: do you know how long it will take to restore all those ineffective and even destructive parts of your soul?
5. “Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?” or in other words: look at yourself; there are areas of your soul that are nothing but heaps of rubble that have caused you problems for years. You think that trying this now, is any different from all the other times you have tried?
AFTER THE BATTLE
These battles have been emotional and spiritual, and Christ has won them all. It is as though you are now standing on the battlefield among the slain, as it were, weary, leaning on your sword. With a sigh of relief, you are grateful that the struggles have ended. So you let down your guard. It is then that Satan strikes at you again. In Nehemiah’s day, Satan called in his reserve warrior: Tobiah the Ammonite, who is rested – and has been “warming up”. He is dancing back and forth on his toes, eager to “have at you”.
Tobiah (Satan’s reserve warrior) says: “Even what they are building – if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down.”
ONE LAST STRAW
The Tobiah’s of this world are sent in to “whack” you at the back of your knees with a force that is meant to crumble you to the ground. When you have gone through so much already, the Tobiah’s are meant to cause you to doubt whether you can “hold up” under the added pressure.
It is like the “one last straw” – the “little thing” that can cause you to crack. When that “one last straw” is dropped upon the overburdened soul, Satan hopes that he will goad you to lash out in anger or impatience or resentment.
If you respond, the enemy then gloats and taunts you: “See, you didn’t hold up. I told you that you wouldn’t have the guts to persevere.” Do you really think that you – you of all people – can withstand the pressure of what it takes to see the soul rebuilt in Christ and fortified for Him? Come on! Be honest with yourself. When have you ever had the guts to stick it out for the long-long-long haul? Don’t make me laugh. It’s not in you.”
Actually, the enemy is right. It’s not in you. Nor is it meant to be.
The response, then, is the same as it is today. They prayed – Nehemiah 4:4-5:
“Hear, O our God, how we are despised! Return their reproach on their own heads and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity. Do not forgive their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have demoralized the builders.”
The difference today is that we have Christ and would forgive their sins against us and pray for their salvation. Such mockers are lost to the family of God and need forgiveness and salvation. We, who are the body of Christ, want no one to be lost to our Lord. The redeemed are His inheritance and, as the Word says, He desires all men to be saved.
So, how do we deal with Satan when he comes against us seeking to make us doubt our adequacy, or to evaluate ourselves in terms of that inadequacy, or to look at ourselves so as to evaluate ourselves in terms of our potential to go on with the Lord (that is, of seeing something really significant done in our lives – not just a little bit of change; but a great change along with a drastic remolding.) How do we answer those questions from Satan?
Ah – we look away from ourselves unto Jesus. By doing so, we affirm the truth of Him, because what is true of Him is actually true of us. Only a Christian can say that. What is true of God; in Christ is true of us.
THE TRUTH OF BEING IN CHRIST
On the cross, our old “life” came to an end in the plan of God, (for He is the Creator and sustainer and therefore has the right to say who and what is alive to Him). When we came to Christ our “old” selves were put in the grave with our sins and we were born again of the Spirit. For when Jesus died and rose again to new life, we, in Him, rose from the dead with Him. For we are now in Him and He in us. That is truth!
The devil always uses half-truths. It is not that what the devil says about us is completely false. He throws up to us the weakness and inadequacy of our “old” selves. He talks about pre-cross days, before we exchanged our “death” for “life” in Christ. Satan talks about the Adamic nature in us. Of course, that is weak. It doesn’t have zeal; it has impure, selfish motives; it cannot persevere; the past overcomes it – for the Adamic nature cannot get rid of the past.
However, all of that is the lesser part of the truth. The greater truth is Jesus Christ in us. Oh, it is wonderful not only to have the power to command the enemy away, but also the power to affirm Jesus Christ in us.
When the enemy begins to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, we are able to say – as did Paul in I Corinthians 1:26:
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.”
“Yes, that’s right, devil, I was not wise, mighty or noble; in fact, I was despised. But my God has chosen the base things of the world and the despised. The foolish things He has chosen to shame the wise; the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong, that no man should boast before God.” Or again, we say and affirm before God as Paul did in II Corinthians 12:9:
“…Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
Yes, I am weak, but He is strong. Power is perfected in my weaknesses! Now, I do not mean for that to be an excuse for our weaknesses. Oh no.
TWO STEPS TO OVERCOMING THE ENEMY
1. Affirming the truth of Christ and ourselves:
– Christ in us.
– He is our strength, our zeal, our perseverance and our love… whatever our need – He is that.
2. We must acknowledge where there is such a weakness and be willing for that weakness or obstacle in our soul to be dealt with.
Some people say that they have affirmed this scriptural truth; but nothing seems to happen in their lives. Ah, but is your heart wholly given to the Lord? Scripture is not what we think of as magic. What I mean is, scripture is not a magical formula. Those of us redeemed by Christ, affirm in words what is true in our hearts about our Lord Jesus Christ . . . but it must be worked out in our hearts. We must be willing for Him to be All in All in us.
THE SEVEN SONS OF SCEVA
Let me give you an example. Sons of Sceva, the Jewish chief priest, presumed to use the holy name of Jesus to cast out demons (Acts 19:13-15). They said to the demons (within a man who was demon possessed):
“I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”
The demon replied, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
YOU CAN’T TRICK A TRICKSTER
You can’t deceive a deceiver. Satan knows if some part of a person’s heart has not been given over to Christ. How does he know? Because that part belongs to him. It is not easy to give our whole heart to Christ. But that is exactly what He wants. In fact it is vitally important to our God.
THOU SHALT LOVE
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
He is a God of wholeness; He wants all of us, and – when we are actually willing, He will do it: He will fulfill His promise in His word and give you a new heart. Ezekiel 36:26 was promised to the Jews, but to those of us who are in Christ – this promise has been fulfilled:
26 “Moreover, I (God) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
If Satan questions your motives, tell him that, “The love of Christ controls us . . . One died for all, therefore all died . . . that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (II Corinthians 5:14-15).
If you are living for Christ, the devil will know it . . . for he has lost all hold on you. However, at the same time, if the Holy Spirit shows you some aspect of self-centeredness – all you need to say is: “Lord, I want this ‘seeking my own fleshly desires’ to be dealt with. Please deal with this selfishness.”
Zeal and perseverance are to be dealt with in the same way. Affirm that, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
He will complete it as long as we are willing.
THE DUSTY RUBBLE
As far as the past is concerned and the dusty rubble, you can quote to the enemy:
“By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30).”
Jesus Christ has been made all of that to us – and in holding on to that truth, our God will build us up. Therefore, we (when standing under pressure) may boldly affirm II Timothy 1:2:
“I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”
THE NEW HEART
Nehemiah 4:6: “So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”
You might as well transpose “mind” for “heart” for after battling through these six attacks, the believer is freed from the shackles the enemy seeks to impose on those who follow Christ. The answer to Satan is always the same. We are to rely upon:
1. The word of God.
2. The truth of the cross.
3. The resurrection of Jesus in each one of us.
God allows Satan to challenge us to make us stronger. When Satan tries to demoralize us by having us look at our own inadequacy, God our Father puts on display the absolute “adequacy” of Christ.
If we were not challenged in our own adequacy how could we know how to grow strong in Christs adequacy?
Remember, we are in training down here. Therefore our Heavenly Father wants to turn all that the devil throws at us into that which glorifies the Lord and strengthens us. But the victory must begin in the heart. Anyone can say the right words but if we truly want Jesus Christ and Him only to be seen through our souls; all of Heaven will be marshalled to bring us aid. Christ will be the victor through us.
Satan’s Attacks: Part I
1 “Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews. 2 He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?’ 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said, ‘Even what they are building—if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!’”
We have in the above scriptures a full description of the first tactics Satan uses against us. But within these scriptures, we do not have answers to such attacks. We must go to the New Testament and to our Savior, Jesus Christ for that.
The most the Hebrews could pray at the time of building the wall in Jerusalem was for God to frustrate the enemy and turn their remarks back upon them. But believers have been given greater weapons than that. We do not need to say: “Lord, do something!” but rather we stand on what He has done in Christ against the enemy.
TO BE AND EXPRESS
Up until now we have looked at Nehemiah as a type of the Holy Spirit and also a type of the Spirit filled church, the Spirit working in the body of Christ. We have explored God (the Holy Spirit) coming to raise up the body of Christ so as to restore the honor and ministry of Jesus Christ upon the earth. That is the spiritual significance of Jerusalem. A wall and gates are needed in order that God’s people might not only “be” but also “express” Jesus Christ here on earth.
RESTORATION OF THE SOUL
Let us look at another side of this restoration. It is not just the body of Christ that needs to be restored. Nehemiah also describes the restoration of each one of us individually.
When the Spirit builds up the walls, He is demonstrating the separation from the spirit of this world unto a consecrated life for the purpose of exalting the Lord Jesus Christ. The gates represent the authority of Christ in the midst of the body.
However, in each of us there are walls and there are gates.
WHAT ARE THE WALLS AND GATES THAT NEED RESTORATION?
The Holy Spirit is speaking through the restoration of the wall about those aspects of our soul (mind, will and emotions) that have been damaged – that have been broken down and damaged – where now there is “rubble” in our personalities (the outworking of our souls) like the stones and the dusty rubble were left in piles in Jerusalem. Our soul needs to be restored, to be built up in Christ under the direction of the Holy Spirit so that the enemy cannot come back and forth into us and toss us here and there or knock us about. We need to be able to stand firm in our soul even as we stand firm in our spirit. There are areas in our souls that need building up again, so that we are no longer controlled by the spirit of this world, the flesh or the devil.
THE WALL WITHIN EACH OF US
That is the significance of the wall within each of us. The gates in the wall represent the authority of Christ – so that there is no area in our lives where He does not have authority. But because of the things that have happened in the past, we have (in the past) chosen habits of thinking and of feeling where Christ does not have the authority.
We say we want Him as Lord of our lives. We say that we wanted to follow Him, completely surrendered to His will in our lives. We know that by example, He showed us that He only did and said what He saw and heard from and of the Father.
Therefore, as our Lord, the gates within us need to be rebuilt so that His full authority may fill each one of us. We want no hindrance to His coming forth. We need to have the heart’s desire to remove any hindrance to His coming forth in full power. We need to have the heart’s desire to change anything that obstructs the Lord in our souls. There is a restoration in our souls that God wants to work through the Holy Spirit – and that takes time.
We are born again in an instant, but the healing, the building up and the fortifying of our souls in Christ takes a long time. It takes honesty; which is painful. God grant that we see the necessity of the Holy Spirit emptying the “rubble” from our souls and replacing it with Christ.
THE WALL AROUND THE CHURCH AND THE INDIVIDUAL
We have seen that all around the wall’s area there were families and individuals building so that every place on the wall there was someone. There was no unguarded place. Some did more than others, but that was not the point at this stage. The important thing, at this point, was that the wall was being built all the way around the city.
We can see how this applies to the body of Christ (that each take his or her place on the wall). But how does this apply to each of us individually? When we begin to see the need to have our soul-life restored and even more, when we set ourselves to say: “Lord, show me anything in my soul that obstructs You. Show me where the enemy is coming in. Show me where the devil needs to be kept out,” – then the devil gets angry.
THE DEVIL RAISES UP
Chapter 4:1 reads:
“Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews.” We need to take seriously the matter of allowing the Holy Spirit to rebuild the authority of Christ within each of us through healing and through the building up of the damaged areas of our souls. It’s is serious work and requires the whole heart to be given to Him.
This restoration is not a part-time occupation. It is a constant job, day and night, sleep and awake, but how our Lord Jesus longs for this restoration. Our Heavenly Father also desires that Christ be shown forth without obstacles. As passionately as our Heavenly Father longs that we would show forth Jesus; in that direct level of passion the devil will fight against our revealing Him.
What then, is Satan’s plan? We have seen that the Holy Spirit has a plan to rebuild the walls and set up the gates. So, how does Satan counter the Holy Spirit’s plans?
We see through Sanballat (who is a type of Satan, as the leader of the opposition) that in verse 2 he begins to speak to his friends. In spiritual terms, Sanballat’s friends would be demons.
Through speaking to his friends, (the demons) Sanballat (Satan) begins to set forth his plan as well as reveal the major tactics that he will use against those whose hearts are set to allow the Holy Spirit to build within themselves for the sake of the Lord. In essence, his major tactic is to have us look at ourselves and doubt.
Unbelief is what the enemy tries to bring. That is different from disbelief. Disbelief is just not believing what the Word says is true. Unbelief means believing that the Word is true for others but that it is not true for me. I am too weak, or I am just not gifted, or I can’t “hold out” like other people, or I don’t have the temperament for total commitment to the Lord’s grace in us – whatever the enemy can plant into you and me to get us to look away from the Lord to ourselves – and begin to question adequacy for the task.
FIVE QUESTIONS RAISED BY SANBALLAT FRONTING FOR SATAN
Satan uses the unsaved and the saved (that have serious areas of their souls that have not been given over to the Lordship of Christ) to stand against the Lord’s people and the Lord’s work. Let us look at the examples given to us in the book of Nehemiah.
Five questions by Sanballat:
1. “What are these feeble Jews doing?”
Here, the devil is getting you to look at yourself and question your strength. He will point out some area weakness (and each of us have areas of weakness). We question our own abilities: “I don’t understand the Bible as well as some people,” or, “I don’t have the perception to see what is going on, as this or that brother or sister does.”
Whatever is weak in you, Satan will get you to turn your eyes on yourself (to cause you to doubt yourself) in that particular area. The enemy drags us away from the One who actually has the gifts and the power. We need to turn eyes upon Jesus who not only wants to do everything through us, but is, the only One capable of doing it all. When you are weak, He is strong.
2. “Are they going to restore it for themselves?
Sanballat is talking to his friends of Samaria (Samaria has always been referred to as a place of mixture: partially worshiping the God of Israel and partially worshipping Pagan gods). This slander gets back to the Jews working on the wall . . . (as gossip always does).
But the enemy does not need to use gossip against us. Satan is able to insert these thoughts right into our minds. Just what does he mean when he says, “Are they going to restore it for themselves?” He is trying to get us to doubt our motives. He is saying in effect: “Are you really doing this for the glory of God . . . or yourselves?”
How many of us have been accused of wanting to be well-known or famous? The reason this stings (as well as has some ring truth in it) is because when we were in the devil’s kingdom, those showy but shallow desires were indeed the goals of our lives.
3. “Can they offer sacrifices?”
What is Satan doing now? He is attacking our zeal and commitment. The enemy is saying – in effect – “Can they keep it up?” Will your zeal continue to be totally given to Christ and the sacrifices that it entails? How long can you continue? Can you be sure your first love will not wane? How sure are you that you will not go back to the way you were before salvation? You have seen others fall away and return to their old, corrupted lives – why not you?
Therefore, here in this question, he mocks us as he goads us to doubt our continuing zeal.
4. “Can they finish in a day?
The enemy is saying in effect: “Do you know how long it is going to take for God to restore and heal all those hurts to your broken down, ineffective and even destructive parts of your soul?”
Satan continues: “Do you think God will do that in a day? Are you really willing to spend all that time before the Lord – day after endless day to finally see this restoration done and finished?”
As we look at this, we realize that the devil is taunting us by questioning our perseverance. If we are honest with ourselves, we question our perseverance as well.
5. “Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?”
Satan digs deep to wound us. Here he is smirking as he says: “Look inside of yourself. You know there are areas of your soul that are just like heaps of dusty rubble (heaps of dust the Hebrew says) and what can the Lord do with a pile of dust? What can be helped or formed from that? Can the Lord really use you? It is not as though you have not tried. You have made New Year’s resolutions and given yourself starting dates again and again and again.”
With a sigh, now, you find yourself once again on the starting line. Help, Lord!
Satan’s Attack on Faith – Part II next month – “Answers”.
The Pay’s the Same
Here is the wall in Nehemiah’s day:
Why is there a listing of the names of those who rebuilt the wall?
Remember, the Bible not only shows a national history, it also shows family histories.
The Gentiles may feel that we have no part in the Jewish family history – except that now, science has made it possible to track our DNA. These markers indicate that many, many Gentiles have in their DNA, Jewish ancestry. They are accurate enough to show which tribe is part of each person’s heritage (if so be we have the marker).
However, if no trace of Jewish blood is found in our DNA test – still the word says that we have been “grafted” into The Family: therefore, when we read of those families that helped build the wall we can no longer see it as a history that has little effect on our lives today – but as a history of our own family members that fulfilled a heroic task that God Himself has memorialized.
EQUAL PAY FOR UNEQUAL TASKS
Several places in the Bible, God’s justice is demonstrated. He gives equal pay for what seems to be unequal work.
Remember the story of the day workers in the Bible. Some were hired in the morning who had “borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day”. Some were hired shortly before the workday finished; but all were paid the same.
Here is another account of God’s justice. Many built large portions of the wall and some built little. However, each is recorded with equal memorial in this historic and eternal listing. Why?
Our Heavenly Father gives certain tasks to each of His Children to fulfil for His purposes. Whether it is a big task or a small task, if we fulfill what He has assigned to us, we have completed our particular task. That makes a small task of equal importance to what seems to us a larger or more important task. As Bob Jones used to say: “The pay’s the same.”
NEHEMIAH: CHAPTER 3
I am showing you a picture of the wall of Jerusalem, so that you may see its various portions in the time of Nehemiah. The dark black line represents the wall that Nehemiah built. The openings are the eight gates that are mentioned. The small black blocks represent towers. The numbers represent the number of feet between each point or dot. It is approximately two miles around.
The chapter begins at the temple area.
1Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They consecrated the wall to the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel. 2 Next to him the men of Jericho built, and next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.
3Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. 4 Next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz made repairs. And next to him Meshullam the son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel made repairs. And next to him Zadok the son of Baana also made repairs. 5 Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters.
6Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars.
(Verses 7-11 cover the area 800 feet from the Old Gate down to the next tower.)
7Next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, also made repairs for the official seat of the governor of the province beyond the River. 8Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths made repairs. And next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah made repairs. 11Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of Furnaces. 12Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.
13Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and a thousand cubits of the wall to the Refuse Gate.
(They built the Valley Gate and the next 1500 feet down.)
14Malchijah the son of Rechab, the official of the district of Beth-haccherem repaired the Refuse Gate. He built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars.
15Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, the official of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He built it, covered it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and the wall of the Pool of Shelah at the king’s garden as far as the steps that descend from the city of David.
(The King’s Garden is at the tip 100 feet of wall by the Pool of Siloam.)
(Verses 16-26 cover the portion from the Fountain Gate, 1500 feet of wall, up to the Water Gate.)
16After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, official of half the district of Beth-zur, made repairs as far as a point opposite the tombs of David, and as far as the artificial pool and the house of the mighty men. 17After him the Levites carried out repairs under Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, the official of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18After him their brothers carried out repairs under Bavvai the son of Henadad, official of the other half of the district of Keilah. 19Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the official of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the ascent of the armory at the Angle. 20After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the Angle to the doorway of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21After him Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz repaired another section, from the doorway of Eliashib’s house even as far as the end of his house. 22After him the priests, the men of the valley, carried out repairs. 23After them Benjamin and Hasshub carried out repairs in front of their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, carried out repairs beside his house. 24After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah as far as the Angle and as far as the corner. 25Palal the son of Uzai made repairs in front of the Angle and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king, which is by the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs. 26The temple servants living in Ophel made repairs as far as the front of the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27After them the Tekoites repaired another section in front of the great projecting tower and as far as the wall of Ophel.
(This covers from the Water Gate to the Horse Gate 2000 feet of wall.)
28Above the Horse Gate the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house.
(Verses 29-31 cover 600 feet from the Horse Gate to the Corner Tower.)
29After them Zadok the son of Immer carried out repairs in front of his house. And after him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, carried out repairs. 30After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah carried out repairs in front of his own quarters. 31After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, carried out repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, in front of the Inspection Gate and as far as the upper room of the corner. 32Between the upper room of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants carried out repairs.
(This verse covers a 400-feet section between the corner and the sheep gate where we started.)
(The Inspection Gate was a gate of the temple which the sheep coming in the gate of the wall had to go through and be inspected.)
Let us review the purpose of the wall and the gates. The wall is that which keeps out and keeps in. The wall of the city, the invisible wall of being in Christ, and the wall that is within us, keeps out the spirit of the world and consecrates us to the Lord within the body of Christ. The gates represent the exercise of God’s authority to bind or to loose; to forbid or to allow.
Three points about this chapter.
1. BEING AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW
Verse 1: “Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests…” The account begins with a religious leader and the priests. What did they do, those men who had charge of the temple area, the worship in Jerusalem? They first built the Sheep Gate. This was the gate through which the sheep came – the sacrificial animals to be offered in the temple. That was the first thing that was done, and it was done by the priests. What does that symbolize spiritually? That leaders (including any leader in God’s congregations), must keep the way open and must be an example so that others may offer themselves in sacrifice as the leader is doing. Not only did these priests build the Sheep Gate but they built 600 feet of wall. This north wall of Jerusalem was the most vulnerable. The east, south and west walls were almost impregnable. Almost every enemy that came against the city of Jerusalem came from the north. There were deep valleys around these three sides but here it was fairly level. This was the wall that always had to be the strongest. In fact, over a period of history there were three walls built on the North side so that if the enemy came over the first one, the people on the second wall could defend the city. If they got over two walls, the people on the third wall would defend the city.
The priests and the leaders chose the most vulnerable position next to the place of worship to defend it. They did not pick the easiest spot. And they consecrated that wall. It doesn’t mention anywhere else that the wall was consecrated except right here. Why? Because it was right next to the temple. That wall was important, and it was to be strongly built so that the worship of God might go on uninterrupted and against any attack. Thirdly, these leaders were willing to work with their hands.
Anyone in leadership among those assembled had to be willing to get his hands dirty. And not only did the priests work with their hands but they were able to teach and preach God’s Word, as well as hear Him, and make decisions, and be examples to the flock.
Also, those leaders, beginning with Eliashib, the pastor, took this section of the wall and the Sheep Gate despite their houses being down further. They didn’t run first to their houses and say, “Well, we’ve got to take care of our houses first.” No! They put God’s business first. They had the right priority and put God first in their lives. They didn’t neglect their households, but they were mindful of God first.
2. WORKING TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR FULL CALLING
You will notice that some persons and groups did a great deal of work on the wall. Others did very little. Let me give you a few illustrations.
Verse 12 – This verse deals with the section from the Tower of Furnaces to the Valley Gate; 1200 feet (which is four football fields long) which a man and his daughters repaired.
Verse 13 – This deals with the Valley Gate and 1500 feet down below it. Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah did that.
You can see from the map that two groups did practically this whole west wall.
Again, there were people who repaired one section over here and another section way over there. They doubled their work. Look at the Tekoites in verse 5. The Tekoites made repairs in one area, and in verse 27 they came down to another area (when they saw that there were not enough people to do the work) and they began making repairs to 2000 feet of wall up to the Horse Gate even when their nobles did not support them in the work.
Therefore, we are shown that some did a great deal of work and some did very little.
3. TAKING YOUR PLACE
In building the wall around the body of Christ – (the spiritual wall that will keep out the spirit of this evil world system and of Satan) will also unite us in the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone on the wall is equally important in the eyes of God. The man who only built in front of his own house is equally important as the Tekoites who built 2,000 feet or that man and his daughters who built 1200 feet; because if they hadn’t taken their place the enemy would have come in through that section in front of their house or along that whole area. It only needs one little area for the enemy to come in. As far as keeping and building the wall, all are equally important. Therefore, we don’t have to judge one another as to how much this brother did and how much that sister did.
God has assigned each of us a place, a spiritual place to occupy. I Cor 12:18 says that “God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” Each one of us is called to accept our place on the wall. And if some have to do more, remember that the main thing is that the wall be entirely encompassed so that the enemy be kept out and that we be given the freedom to truly rely on one another. More that 25 times in this third chapter it says, “Next to him… next to him… after him…” it is always about how we are inter-related and interconnected with one another. We need to see the importance of this to our Heavenly Father. He wants us to support one another; especially those on either side of us as they did on this wall.
In today’s Body, if we assume our place, hold out the enemy and work together, the power of God will come! He cannot but come!
They were well arranged on the wall in Jerusalem after Pentecost and, of course, the power of God came and spread. It was as if they were lined up and lightning came down. They were the conductor to allow it to go all the way around the city. Therefore, great healing, deliverance and miracles happened with tremendous numbers of people coming to Christ! Whenever this happens, even if for a moment, the power of God shoots down from Heaven. That’s how important it is that each one of us be where God has us on the spiritual wall.
Stirring the Spirit
17“Then I said to them, ‘you see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach.’ 18And I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me, and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, ‘Let us arise and build.’ So they put their hands to the good work. 19But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard it they mocked us and despised us and said, ‘What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?’ 20So I answered them and said to them, ‘The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right, or memorial in Jerusalem.’”
We have said that the word Nehemiah, means the “comforter”, and that Nehemiah is a picture of the way the Holy Spirit restores the body of Christ for His coming in power and glory. In the last lesson, the Holy Spirit (in the figure of Nehemiah) waited three days after He arrived in Jerusalem, telling no one why He was there, choosing just a few men to ride out at night to survey all the circumference of the outer wall, paying particular attention to two gates: the Refuse Gate and the Fountain Gate that led to the King’s Pool. (In this pool, running water was carried from outside the wall at the brook Kidron more than 150 feet underground through solid rock. They cut the rock out and brought that stream up inside the walls of Jerusalem.)
The Holy Spirit – before He begins outwardly rebuilding the wall has us look within ourselves at the Refuse Gate and the Fountain Gate. We who have heard the call to offer ourselves for the renewal and the raising up of Christ’s body, begin by examining ourselves whether there be any blockage to the dealing with sin in our lives so that the garbage is carried out to the Refuse Gate . . . and that the Fountain Gate, the entrance to the pool of the living water of Jesus Christ, is free to allow life to flow within us and on to others.
Now we will look at a second step that the Spirit works in the inner man before the outer building of the wall begins. The Spirit stirs up our hearts.
In Jeremiah and Ezekiel God told what it was going to be like to be born again… (what it would be like when Jesus Christ came, and people received Him as their Savior and were born again of the Spirit).
God told them they would receive two things: A NEW SPIRIT and a NEW HEART (Ezekiel 36:26). God knew that we needed more than a new spirit, which is basic, but also a new heart. The Holy Spirit within us gives the confidence and the faith to know that our sins can be dealt with through the blood of Jesus Christ and that Jesus is our new life from Heaven to meet our needs and the needs of others. But, God said we would need a new heart. Why? Because the Father knew that His redeemed children needed zeal and fire in themselves to do His work; to offer themselves to endure the hardships and to wait in faith believing – no matter what comes.
In verse 18 the people say, “Let us arise and build.” When they heard the words of Nehemiah, they said, “Let us arise!”
This means a spiritual awakening . . . being stirred up!
“Now in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah,” (he had prophesied that a remnant would return seventy years later). “The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus…” (The king was an unbeliever, but the Lord stirred his spirit.)
“So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God.”
This is referring to the very first remnant that returned 50 years after the captivity under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua. Zerubbabel was the governor, and Joshua was the priest. This band of people took 20 years to build the temple, but they began the work because God had stirred them up.
“Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of the Lord; awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago.”
The prayer here is for the Lord to wake up. This doesn’t mean He has been sleeping; but it means to beseech the Lord to do something, something extra, to send forth a mighty moving from Heaven. It’s a way of saying, “Move, Lord!” In the 17th verse that same Hebrew word is translated “rouse”. Rouse yourself! Arise, Jerusalem!
“Awake! Awake! Clothe yourself in your strength, Zion; clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the Holy City.” 2“Shake yourself from the dust, strong>rise up captive Jerusalem, loose yourself…”
Do you see the different ways God is saying this? Rise, loose, awake, rouse.
III. THREE WAYS GOD CAN STIR US UP
A. GOD’S NAME
First – because of who He is, for the sake of His name or character; for His glory and honor, that God may be magnified and vindicated before all creation through Jesus Christ. It is for God’s sake. It is not even for “the church’s” sake but for God’s sake first and foremost.
Nehemiah 2:17 – That we be no more a reproach.
Nehemiah 1:3 – People are in a great distress or reproach.
As above, the people were to “be no more a reproach”. To be “in a state of reproach” may be caused by the devil, or it may be caused by God. There are certain reproaches that we are in, that God doesn’t want. He did not want the state of reproach that Jerusalem was in at that time, with the gates burned and the walls down and the enemy mocking and making fun. They were in a state of reproach which was from the devil. In other words, there is a state of reproach which is from the devil. However, there is a state of reproach that God initiates – that God allows and does not remove. That is the reproach we bear for the name of Christ:
I Peter 4:14 – “If you are reviled for the name of Christ…”
Romans 15:3 – “The reproaches of those who reproach Thee fell upon me.” When God is reproached, we bear it too.
Hebrews 11:26 – Moses would rather bear the reproach of Christ than enjoy the pleasures of Egypt.
Hebrews 13:13 – “Let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach,” not being afraid of being different because you bear the name of Christ.
There is a difference in the reproach that the devil brings us as opposed to bearing the reproach that God wants us to bear for being a Christian – for the sake of Christ.
The latter means being the cause of God being reproached by others because of you and me. This is being a reproach unto God. That is the first reason God wants to stir us up so that we will not be a reproach to Him. Examples of God’s people being a reproach are:
II Samuel 12:14 – David was the cause of God’s name being blasphemed through his sin. That was why David had to be punished.
Isaiah 52:5 – “My name is continually blasphemed all day long.”
The people of God were all scattered, separated, lacking power and authority, which is cause for God’s name being mocked.
Ezekiel 36:20 “…they profaned My holy name…”
The Hebrews being led into captivity were a source of reproach to God.
The first reason we must be stirred up is in order that God may demonstrate and prove Himself holy among His people; that the truth of God may be affirmed before the world. It is for God’s sake that the wall must be rebuilt.
Psalm 69:6 – “May those who wait for thee be not ashamed through me, Lord God of hosts and those who seek thee be not dishonored through me oh God of Israel.”
We must also not be a reproach to the other brothers and sisters, that they not be ashamed or dishonored through us and our witness.
B. GOD’S WORKS
Nehemiah 2:15 – “And I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me…”
The “hand of God” represents His works. All through the Bible, the hand of man or the hand of God represents that which is done – for good or for ill. Examples of the Hand of God are:
Genesis 49:24 – This scripture is speaking about the power against the enemy that the tribe of Joseph has from the hands of God, the Mighty One. Hands here represent God’s might “to do”.
Exodus 33:22 – This scripture speaks of the protection of God by His hand:
“I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.”
There are times also when the hand of God is for judgement and for bringing punishment. The hand of God can be upon us for good or for ill.
Exodus 3:20 – “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after he (Pharaoh) will let you go.”
This is the hand of God against the enemies of God represented by Egypt.
Deuteronomy 2:15 – “…the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them…”
This again speaks of God’s hand against His rebellious people.
We are fortunate to be stirred-up by God, whether it is to rebuild the wall (as in Nehemiah’s day) or any other of God’s works. We don’t want to sit on the sidelines in this exciting end time “game”. We want His hand to be upon us for good. For all of us – there have been times in the past when His hand has been upon each of us for discipline. But now, the Lord is moving so quickly to bring all of us into – not only the location – but into the work for which He has been training us; that we may truly say that the hand of our God has been and is being favorable to us.
C. GOD’S WORD
Nehemiah 2:18 – Nehemiah says: “I told them… about the king’s words which he had spoken to me.”
This, then, is the third reason that people were stirred-up enough to say: “Let us arise and build.” This is not the word that you read out of the Bible. [That is logos – the written word.] But it is rhema or the present word that God speaks from Heaven to us for now! It is that word that is based upon the Bible, but which the Holy Spirit quickens to us at this particular moment in our history. We are not told what the king’s words were to Nehemiah, but he must have told Nehemiah particulars which Nehemiah shared with the people. The people were encouraged to arise and work.
The Lord has been speaking to many of His children lately. The main thing that He has spoken is, “Behold, I am coming quickly.”
Now, what does that mean? It does not mean the second coming of the Lord to rule the Earth; but rather a moving of the Holy Spirit or a manifestation of the Lord here among us. Even more possibly, it could mean a revelation of the Father.
He has said to “GET READY – BE NOT FOOLISH OR TARDY”. As Noah and his family acted upon God’s word and went into the ark, the Lord has said to His people to, “Enter into Me and what I am doing.” Don’t stand against it nor try to hinder others from entering in.
We are only on the fringe of what God is getting ready to do. Not only that, but we only have a faint outline of what it is or how to go about it. But God requires that we get ready and even, to act upon what He has said so far.
With that which He has shown us already, if we are negligent or unfaithful, He may not move us forward. If we are not diligent enough to follow His prescribed path, He just might delay the next step until we are able or willing to make the decision to follow where He leads.
He says that He is ready to come quickly, and I know we all want that word to come to pass. In the meantime, we need to act in faith before we see it. Noah had not seen the flood. However, God said to build a huge boat, get in it (along with representatives of all the animals and his family). Amazingly, he did just that before any water came.
Now – most of us have not seen the Lord come in great power. But He is saying to take Him at His word and prepare for such an arrival. May this pronouncement stir us all.
Not only does the Lord say He will come but also that the lost will come. The power of His Spirit will draw other people – those who need restoration, those “burned out”, the ill and the heartsick. He wants us to be ready to provide not only for their spiritual needs, but – where possible – to supply for their physical needs.
Let us pray that the Lord stirs us up to get ready to build our own “wall” that will separate our spirits from the seductive spirit of the world unto Him and His purposes.
The Arrival of the Holy Spirit to Restore the Body of Christ – Part II
13“So I went out at night by the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon’s Well and on to the Refuse Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire. 14Then I passed on to the Fountain Gate and the Kings Pool, but there was no place for my mount to pass. 15So I went up at night by the ravine and inspected the wall. Then I entered the Valley Gate again and returned.”
Nehemiah went out by the Valley Gate, went around the western and southern part of the city, and then up the eastern part, back around the northern part and returned back through the Valley Gate. The Valley Gate is mentioned to show that he went out there and came back there, and that he made a complete circuit. But in his journey around the wall, he mentions two other gates: The Refuse Gate and the Fountain Gate. These two gates have much to teach us about the quiet, unhurried work of the Holy Spirit when He comes to establish the authority of the Lord among us. Nehemiah (the Holy Spirit) paid particular attention to these two authorities in us and what they mean in our individual lives and in the life of the body of Christ.
THE REFUSE GATE:
The Refuse Gate was in the southwestern part of the city wall. There was the Valley of Hinnom that came along the western wall and then turned and came south. The Refuse Gate was where the garbage from the city was taken out and burned in the Valley of Hinnom. There was fire burning there continually. It was the city garbage dump. From the Aramaic form of the Hebrew word –– Gehen Hinnom, meaning “the valley of the son of Hinnom”, that word was transliterated into the Greek and became Gehenna, (transliterated means that the sound of the Greek word was made to sound like the Hebrew word). Jesus used the word as a symbol of “hell”, where the fire burns continually.
The Refuse Gate (the ash heap and the burning) represented the authority of the body of Christ to deal with sin, in His name, and Him (through us) to get rid of spiritual garbage (through repentance and His blood).
That is the first gate that is mentioned here. And, that was the first area of authority that the Holy Spirit established for Christ when He began to raise up His body. He established the authority of God among the people to deal with sin.
He moves in two ways:
The Holy Spirit, Jesus says in John, comes to convict of sin. Being convicted of sin is not only done by preaching against sin; but by the brothers and sisters who believe in Christ, their faith, their commitment and by the example they live in Christ. When those among us who are in sin, come into the midst of the multiplied power of the Holy Spirit among the brethren, they are convicted of sin; He does this. The Holy Spirit in us. When one is convicted, sin cannot harden within – like garbage that accumulates outside a person’s house in Jerusalem and begins to smell and breed foul things. When the Holy Spirit is among us, He moves to keep sin from becoming “hard”. He keeps stirring it up and stirring it up and stirring it up until the one in sin is moved to repentance.
Or the Holy Spirit confines the one in sin. He works spiritually as the body works naturally. The body confines an infection. If you stick a thorn in your finger and it becomes infected, cells gather around the infected area to keep it from spreading.
In the same way, the Holy Spirit moves to confine sin. He applies “the cross” to it. He applies forgiveness and mercy to it. The Holy Spirit moves in multiple ways to keep “sin” from spreading and infecting the body of Christ.
But it is only confined until the person in sin is convicted of acting in the flesh and repents.
Do all repent? No. The Bible itself cries out to not “harden your hearts”. If we repent, we fall upon the Rock for mercy. If we do not repent, eventually the Rock will fall on us, painfully cracking us open to release the soft heart encased within the “hardened heart”.
It is “the cross” on one side and “the resurrection” on the other side. In other words, it is the Refuse Gate on one side, and the Fountain Gate on the other side.
THE FOUNTAIN GATE
Nehemiah went around the southern part of the city wall and came to the Fountain Gate. Inside that gate there was a beautiful pool called Siloam. That was the King’s pool. Hezekiah built that 700 years before Christ.
Assyria – the great empire – was threatening Jerusalem; and Hezekiah, a godly king, took the brook Kidron which was flowing fresh water and brought it up into the city of Jerusalem. The enemies of Jerusalem in past years had been able to do anything they wanted to the city because they would come and shut off that water supply, and then the people could not get enough water inside Jerusalem. King Hezekiah took workmen up to the source of that spring and he dug over 1,300 feet through solid rock, down 150 feet below the surface. There was 150 feet of rock above them, and they made a tunnel underground and brought that water inside the city walls. That is what Psalm 46 is about – “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.” That Psalm was written when the conduit for the Pool of Siloam was opened. There is an inscription today in a museum that describes the moment when the workmen from one side could hear the workmen from the other side; and they burst through solid rock and water flowed into the city.
THE NEW LIFE
Do you see what this means? This represents resurrection; the new life in Christ that the Holy Spirit will raise up. The Brook Kidron always flowed. Hezekiah not only brought it into the city, but he also built a cover (a protection) over the source of that stream. He directed all of the water into the city. It was a secure source of life! Water in the Bible means LIFE, LIFE FROM GOD. It was secured; it came up into the city. They did not need to go outside.
Jesus told the woman in Samaria: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Living water means fresh water from God: Life from God. Jesus also promised: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink … From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). That is the inner life and supply of the Holy Spirit.
WATER IS ESSENTIAL
Water is essential to life. We can go without food for a long time and we can go without sleep for extended periods of time, but how long can we go without water? Three days usually. The Holy Spirit comes to secure in us the authority of the life of Christ, to satisfy us and to strengthen us – no matter what we face, even as that pool was within the walls of Jerusalem – secure, constant fresh water.
But do we know that ourselves? Do we know that within ourselves . . . in the secret place? Is the water of the life of Jesus Christ flowing within us and satisfying us?
If so, we will not complain, we will not criticize, and we will not get offended. We will not be impatient, for the life of Christ will satisfy us.
THE DRAGONS WELL
There was a Dragon’s Well near the Valley Gate (Nehemiah 2:13). A well is a reservoir. It is good water but there is a difference between drinking from a well and drinking from a spring.
Jesus lets us drink of the well of eternal life when we are born again and we are able to cast out the refuse of sin – but we are to then begin to let that river of living water, that inner spring come forth so as to know the authority of the Holy Spirit in each area of our lives.
A well, a spring, a pool, but God is not going to be satisfied with that. In the new Earth there is going to be a river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God in the midst of the street of the new Jerusalem. In Revelation 22:17 – “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” …And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”
All of us want the Lord to call forth and raise up the body of Christ. We want Him to raise up this Jerusalem so that, then, He can send whosoever He wishes into our midst to drink of this water of life freely: that it will be more than just a pool. It will be a river!
The Arrival of the Holy Spirit to Restore the Body of Christ – Part I
11“So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. 13So I went out at night by the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon’s Well and on to the Refuse Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire. 14Then I passed on to the Fountain Gate and the Kings Pool, but there was no place for my mount to pass. 15So I went up at night by the ravine and inspected the wall. Then I entered the Valley Gate again and returned. 16And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; nor had I as yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the rest who did the work.”
Historically, this is an account of the coming of Nehemiah to be governor of Jerusalem and to rebuild the wall with the authority of Artaxerxes, king of Persia.
Spiritually it is an allegory of the Holy Spirit coming with all the authority of our King, Christ Jesus, to restore the body of Christ
Nehemiah represents the work of the Holy Spirit. The name, Nehemiah, means “comforter”. He also represents the Spirit-filled individual Christian, he also represents the Spirit-filled body of Christ that is being raised up.
Nehemiah comes with three things from the king:
1) Adequate time to do the rebuilding (12 years) . . . a remarkable amount of time for Nehemiah to be away from his post. It takes time to raise up the body of Christ.
2) He came with orders, written authority, to pass right on through, to get to Jerusalem. The body of Christ has delegated authority to keep out the enemy and to bring us into Kingdom life.
3) Nehemiah (the Holy Spirit) has the authority to supply the body of Christ with whatever it needs to be raised up and renewed.
THREE THINGS NEHEMIAH DID NOT EXERCISE IMMEDIATELY
Those in Jerusalem did not know:
1) How long he was going to be there.
2) They did not know he had authority to get all the wood he needed and all the needed supplies.
WHAT THEY DID KNOW
They did know that he had the authority to pass through; and the enemies of God; Sanballat, Tobiah and their servants heard that there was a man who had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel . . . and that he had the king’s authority.
HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT ESTABLISH THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS?
When the Holy Spirit comes to raise up the body of Christ, first He establishes the authority of Jesus. At first, He must overthrow so that the authority of Christ may be seen.
Gates represent the authority of Christ. The wall of the city represents being in the world but not of the world – separation from the spirit of the world; and also a joining together of those within the city walls.
However, walls without gates do not help very much. A city cannot carry out its business without gates – because the official business of the city was carried on in the gates. Gates, spiritually, represent the exercise of the authority of the Lord in the body of Christ.
ESTABLISHING THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST
Verses: 11 and 12
These verses show the way the Holy Spirit begins to establish the authority of Christ: quietly; with a few; secretly – that’s what night means. The work is done quietly, with a few; without fanfare and without attracting a lot of attention. Unhurriedly – he was there three days. The enemies of the Lord, and others, and the Jews were probably asking themselves: “Well – what are they going to do?” They were there three days, but as far as anyone could see, had done nothing.
However, after three days, Nehemiah arose in the night and took a few men with him to make a survey of the condition of the wall.
We are tempted to say: “Oh Lord, I wish You would begin to show us Your plans for whatever group of believers we are a part of. It seems as though we are just going along week by week, doing this or that to serve You, but Lord, how do You tie it all together? How do You bring us into focus? We do not see the direction of the work and the mission that you want for us.
We may have an ultimate vision; but it does not seem as though we are making much progress. Do we think at times that those who just move out in the flesh instead of waiting for Him seem to “get things done”?
GOD’S CONSTRUCTION JOBS
With our Lord, as with work in the natural realm, time must be given to careful consideration and then to lining things up, like a construction job. A building contractor does not go right out and begin repairs, etc. at his first sight of a house. First, consideration needs to be given to ascertain what actually needs to be done. Then there needs to be talk about the materials required, the cost of all of this (materials, how many workers and what to pay each, etc.), when to start, and how long this particular job will take, etc.
In other words, any job, in the natural or in the spiritual requires time to line up everything. Therefore, the Holy Spirit, like any good contractor does not hurry to establish the authority of Christ. There is “ground work” that needs to be done.
AS WITH JESUS
This was true in the life of our Lord. Jesus, for thirty years, lived His life in Nazareth as a simple carpenter’s son. He did not appear to be any different from the other young men in the area. Later they would say of Him: “Well, who is this man – and how is He any different from the rest of us. His brothers and sisters are with us; this is Mary’s son, the son of the carpenter. Why should He be any different from the rest of us?” And they did not believe in Him.
After Jesus was baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit, did He rush out to proclaim the gospel – this man upon whom the salvation of the world depended? No! He went away all by Himself for forty days and forty nights. When He came back it was in the power of the Holy Spirit. When He returned in the power of the Holy Spirit, did He rush out to proclaim the gospel – this Man upon whom the salvation of the world depended? No, He did not!
The first year of His ministry was one of trying this and changing it, and then going in this direction and then changing that. He began first in an informal way, gathering some disciples around Him. Then He went down to Jerusalem with these disciples. He saw Nicodemus; cleansed the temple and then went out into the countryside around Jerusalem and His disciples began to baptize. Then the people began to compare Him to John the Baptist and his disciples (for Jesus’ disciples were baptizing more than John’s disciples). Therefore Jesus retired and went back through Samaria. He stopped at the well where the woman was, and when He got back to Galilee, He dismissed His disciples because He saw that was not working . . . that God, His Father, did not want that.
Then, He went around by Himself and after a year had passed, He went back down to Jerusalem to the Passover by Himself and healed the lame man, which caused a great stir. This miracle stirred up the hierarchy, and they tried to kill Him.
Then He went home to Galilee – realizing that being by Himself was not working. Then, over a year after He was baptized in the Holy Spirit and had been tested in the wilderness, God showed Him the final plan for establishing God’s authority on the earth. God said to choose twelve men, and He did and that was it. Then He had less than two years left before He was crucified. God is not in a hurry. He is moving in many lives at one time and all “pieces” on the chess board need to have been moved into place when He is accomplishing a mighty work.
This, of course, does not mean that we just amble along. We should expect God to be moving; and He is moving . . . although it may appear that nothing particularly is coming into focus, God – the Holy Spirit is making the necessary survey during the night in each one of us.
9“Then I came to the governors of the provinces beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.”
THREE ASPECTS OF ENEMY OPPOSITION TO THE RESTORATION OF GOD’S PEOPLE
We begin to see the destruction the enemy has bought to this world, when we ourselves move into greater dedication of our lives to Christ. When we find favor in God’s eyes, as Nehemiah found favor with the King, we need to understand what happens in the spiritual realm:
Verse 9 – shows us what happens in the realm of good angels.
Verse 10 – shows us what happens in the realm of evil angels.
Verse 9 speaks of the officers of the army and the horsemen. Chariots and horses are often a Biblical symbol for angelic hosts – such as:
A) II Kings 2:11 – In which Elijah went up to Heaven by a whirlwind and there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire – angels coming to get Elijah. Horses represent strength, power and ability to move quickly.
B) II Kings 6:17 – Elisha and his servant see the mountain full of horses and chariots as a reassurance to them of the angels who stand against the enemy hosts.
C) Zechariah 6:1-5 – The vision of the four chariots and horses representing four spirits or angels from Heaven.
ANGELS GOOD AND BAD
Revelation 2 & 3 speaks of seven angels for the seven churches, each church having an angel. There are angels assigned to each congregation. When the Holy Spirit comes, as Nehemiah did with the officers and the horses, this is a symbol of the Word going out from Heaven; then the good angels come, and the evil hosts are “agitated”.
In Daniel 10:12-13 the angel came to David as he was praying for the restoration of “the church”. The angel stated that he would have arrived two weeks earlier but the evil angel over Persia held him back, and Michael the archangel came to help him. He got through finally. As we see in this example, the good and evil angels contend with one another when the word goes forth for the believers (“the church”) to rebuild. But praise the Lord, there are twice as many good angels as there are evil angels. Although there is a ruling evil angel over each of our territories, there is also a good and mightier angel over each territory.
Verse 10 deals with the enemy opposition in the spiritual realm. Satan’s followers (hosts) try to prevent the rebuilding of the “church” (body of Christ). Satan has been about this “business” ever since Eve ate of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan knew that Eve was to be the mother of the living. Out of one of her seeds was to come a Savior. He realized the importance of this woman in God’s plan. Eve being a symbol of “the church” – as well as all the great women of the Bible – Satan attacked her first. Satan knows he cannot get to Jesus, but he does the next best thing to hurt Jesus, he goes after His body… those for whom He died. His beloved.
In verse 10 of Nehemiah, we see Sanballat and Tobiah were grieved that someone had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. These two enemies of God represent the evil work of Satan trying to stop the rebuilding of God’s “church”.
THREE ASPECTS OF THE ENEMY’S OPPOSIITION THROUGH SANBALLAT
i) A WRONG BEGINNING: (Illegitimate)
Sanballat is a name that hides evil intent within it. The name means “the god sin has given life”. True to his name, Sanballat was a person in whom Satan was working. Therefore, he is symbolic of an evil spirit.
He was a Horonite (from Horonaim – a town in Moab). Sanballat was a Moabite who was living up north in Samaria. In verse 20, Nehemiah says to Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem that the God of Heaven will prosper them; (the Jews) “therefore, we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.” He was telling them that they had no inheritance with the Jews as they were illegitimate.
Another example of the enemy opposing God’s work was in Ezra in the rebuilding of the temple (Chronicles 4:1-3) when the people living in Samaria tried to join the Jews in rebuilding, and they were refused.
Also, see the story in Genesis 19 where in the two daughters of Lot bore children by him; one child called Moab – who is the father of the Moabites – and the younger daughter bore a son and called him Ben-Ammi who is the father of the Ammonites. Because of that wrong beginning – or illegitimate beginning (not sanctioned by God, their Maker) Sanballat could have no fellowship because he was a Moabite. According to the Law, a Moabite could not enter into the congregation of the Lord (Deut. 23:1-6).
SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF A WRONG BEGINNING:
A. There are some people who believe they are truly born again, but they are not. They are deceived about what it means to be a Christian.
B. There are some people who believe they are filled with the Spirit, but Satan has imitated the experience; and they bear no recognizable fruit for Christ.
C. Some Christians begin a work that is not of the Lord. It has an illegitimate beginning. Satan will urge us to do many things that the Lord is not really a part of.
ii) WRONG MEANS AND METHODS TO ACCOMPLISH CERTAIN ENDS:
In chapter 4:2 Sanballat mocked the Jews when he heard of the rebuilding of the wall… speaking before his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria. Sanballat was using worldly means, worldly power and manipulation to gain his ends.
The book of James states that when a wealthy man comes into the congregation you should not treat him with special honor and let the poor man sit at your feet.
Another example is in Nehemiah 6:11-12. A prophet who was confined to his house summoned Nehemiah and counselled him to meet with him in the house of God because “they” were coming to kill Nehemiah. Nehemiah perceived that God did not send this prophet but that he uttered this prophecy against him because Tobiah and Sanballat hired him.
Another example of using wrong means and methods is in Nehemiah 2:19 where Sanballat and Tobiah mocked Nehemiah for rebuilding the city and accused Nehemiah of rebelling against the King.
In Nehemiah 13:28, the grandson of the high priest, Eliashib, married the daughter of Sanballat; and Nehemiah drove the grandson out of Jerusalem. This is an example of how Satan can come against the work of God through family ties with his influence of infiltration. Sometimes it is hard to take ridicule from members of your family when you stand up for the Lord.
SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF WRONG MEANS AND METHODS:
1. We use wealth to gain certain ends
2. Worldly ways and methods to gain worldly power
4. Preference over another according to riches
5. Slandering to get gain
6. Attachment to one’s family over attachment to Christ
iii) IMPURE FRUIT
As we said before, the grandson of the high priest, Eliashib, married Sanballat’s daughter (a Moabitess) and Nehemiah drove them out. He went to Samaria and became the high priest in a temple which Sanballat – the governor of Samaria – built for him. This was the beginning of present-day Samaritanism. Jehovah was just one of the gods that they worshipped. They had a touch of the true religion; but it was a mixture, an impurity, and the Jews refused to acknowledge the Samaritans.
Also, the temple that Sanballat built for his son-in-law was destroyed. Then Herod built them a new temple 25 years before Christ, but they would not use that temple. They worshiped on Mount Gerezim because that was the site of their first temple.
SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF IMPURE FRUIT
The mixture in Samaria was impure, and therefore, not acceptable to the Lord. They may have the right words, but salvation was not from the Samaritans, (John 4:22). As now, many can call Jesus “Lord” and say the right words but not really know Him and therefore of necessity – be unable to speak with real love for Him.
The Lord says for us to “be perfect” because He is perfect. We, too, are to be without mixture as is our Lord.
CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE
Both sides of the “invisible” world are highly engaged at all times. We have our friends, the angels, not only fighting for us, but teaching us and guiding us. The fallen angels, of course, fighting against us, luring us into false doctrine and guiding us to take dead end paths.
Each day we, the children of the Living God, stand before the two mountains: Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal to choose. Even as the Israelites were called to choose: we too are called to choose a life filled with either cursing or blessing.
9 “ …This day you have become a people for the LORD your God. 10 ‘You shall therefore obey the LORD your God, and do His commandments and His statutes which I command you today’” (Deut. 27:10 NASB).
As with the children of Israel He urges us also to choose a life of blessing.
In Nehemiah: The Holy Spirit’s Equipping
The equipping of the Holy Spirit for the restoration of the Body of Christ.
5“I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” 6Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time. 7And I said to the king, “If it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, 8and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go.” And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.”
REVIEW OF NEHEMIAH’S PATH SO FAR
In studying the book of Nehemiah, we have seen that one of the three conditions for Jesus Christ (represented by King Artaxerxes), to answer our prayers for the restoration of the body of Christ today is to allow the Holy Spirit to work heart sorrow in us. The Lord looks for sorrow in us for the condition of the body of Christ today; where many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are neither “of the world” or “in the kingdom” (neither fish nor fowl). They are in a no man’s land. They know Jesus Christ and hear the gospel – and yet they do not go on to begin to live the kingdom life. There is great loneliness in that. Many know that they have been called out of the “world system” and should not have their hearts in it; but still, are so conflicted that they cannot enter whole heartedly into the fulness of Christ. Yet they know there is something more.
Let us pray that God works “heart sorrow” in us for our brothers and sisters in Christ so that one day His compassion for them will move the Lord to say to us as the king said to Nehemiah: “What is your request?”
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?
What, then, can we expect from our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He is ready to restore the body of Christ? We have talked about the body of Christ (the church) that is under reproach – whose gates are burned and whose walls are broken down. This is the church where the enemy comes in as divisiveness, hatred and bitterness. The body of Christ in this condition has no real power to carry out the plan of God. When we look at our King – the head of the church – we need to know what He wants the body of Christ to be. We need to know – if He has His desire – what He will do with it . . . what to expect from our praying and the offering of ourselves as Nehemiah did?
In chapter 2:6,7 and 8, we see three aspects of our king, the Lord Jesus Christ, as He responds to the prayer of heart sorrow for the restoration of the body of Christ (the church).
VERSE 6: THE DIVINE TIME
“The King said to me, ‘How long will your journey be and when will you return?’”
It took Ezra and his party some four months to go from Persia back to Jerusalem. Nehemiah, however, was mounted. He did not have women and children with him; therefore, they made it in less than three months. After their arrival, it took them less than two months – 52 days – to rebuild the wall and set up the gates. Assuming that it took three months to arrive in Jerusalem, then six months to rebuild the walls and hang the gates, and then three months to return, the task could have been completed in about a year. But did he ask the king for a year? No. He asked the king for twelve years.
If it took 52 days only, to build the walls and hang the gates, why did Nehemiah ask for so many years? Because it is not the physical manifestation of His body that is important, it is the time Jesus takes with each one of us and then all together as He rebuilds His church (the body of Christ).
It took our Lord twelve years to establish the people in His word and properly place and train each person in their position of stewardship and for the “body” to be cleansed and walk in that cleansing.
It was truly amazing that King Artaxerxes, a Persian, would allow his cupbearer – whom he loved deeply – to be away twelve years to rebuild a city so far away. Only the Lord could have moved him to do so.
ARE WE BEING RESPONSIBLE?
To handle lives responsibly takes time and patience. It takes wisdom and understanding along with much grace. We long to see great leaps forward in all we are doing because we want the thrill of seeing it done and the satisfaction of it being done on our watch. Forward movement encourages us and should. But if we wish to jump from high to high like a bullfrog leaping from one lily pad to the next, we are on something like a “sugar high” – for if (for instance), many new converts come to Christ, then what do we do with them? Many people just want to fill their churches. But are we helping them to grow in the Word? Are we demonstrating godly Christian living? Are we helping young marrieds walk through their inevitable bumps in the road? Are we correcting sparks from iron sharpening iron? There is a lot of work involved in being responsible in raising up the Lord’s children. Nehemiah knew this. The amazing revelation is that the Persian king also comprehended the time it would take.
At the end of twelve years, Nehemiah returned to King Artaxerxes and asked to go back to Jerusalem because he had to do over again many of the things he had done before. He had to recleanse the priesthood and the people (for they had intermarried again) and they were not supporting the house of God, had fallen away from the word of God and also allowed the enemy to live in the very house of God. (Tobiah the Ammonite had a room there. Nehemiah threw his goods out in the street and cleansed the house of God.) Even today our Lord must cleanse His “church” continually – AND THAT TAKES TIME.
The reason movement seems so slow to us is that we are weaving the threads of our lives only. The Lord is coordinating everything . . . and He is long suffering; giving us all every minute possible to repent and relent and embrace full partnership in His kingdom life.
VERSE 7: DIVINE AUTHORITY
“And I said to the king, ‘If it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the river, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah…’”
Authority seems to be the least understood of our Lords endowments. This may be – here in America – because we have never had a king. We are so free; we are losing all sense of protocol. For hundreds of years the “church” provided a type of hierarchy. But since the widespread teaching and training in the Lord’s gifts, (since the late 1960’s and on until now), the ability to minister rests upon “the many”. All of us seem to understand the general authority delegated to us from Christ: i.e. the authority that Jesus delegates to His church.
However, there is “special” authority – such as:
1. The parent’s spiritual authority over their children.
2. Landowners over their legally deeded property.
3. Specific authority over one’s own dwelling.
4. If one owns a company – authority spiritually over that company.
5. Spiritual authority over delegated positions (under the watch of the primary authority) – i.e. positions in the “church”, etc.
6. Spiritual authority over wider spheres such as pastor of a church, head of an organization, governor of a state, etc. and up and up in rank.
With all authority resting with God actually, then all authority is delegated authority really. However, there is temporary delegated authority – which, for a certain period is given for the task ahead.
SUCH AN EXPERIENCE
When my husband and I were in Kansas City, we had been asked by a respected ministry to assist in bringing together the pastors of that city for prayer. The population at that time was about a million and a half. I am surprised that we did not run the other way, but we asked the Lord if He wished to use us in this blessed task and when He said He did then we asked Him how to accomplish this (even as Nehemiah did).
He told us to go to the Fathers of the city and allow them to lay hands on us and to give us their authority to pray. This particular long-standing Christian ministry had worked for many years with the pastors of that city and, being righteous, was respected. (However, with many years of ministry in the city the Lord had not given the ministry the anointing – at that time to call the whole church together for prayer.) The timing needed to be His timing and the revelation of the place of the fathers of “the church” needed to be given to put it all in the right order.
We simply labored for the Lord and for the body of Christ with the authority given to us by these senior pastors. Representative pastors from all 72 denominations came together monthly for prayer in that great city. The Lord brought great unity among the churches in the metropolitan area – all because the Lord had given His delegated authority through the spiritual fathers of the city.
These fathers had authority because of:
A. Years of service
B. Years in the city
D. Their relationship with and their respect from other pastors in the city.
E. Wisdom and knowledge and understanding.
F. God’s anointing.
Christians function constantly with authority given to us by Jesus Christ, the King – even as Nehemiah received a pass to travel through the provinces beyond the river.
VERSE 8: THE DIVINE SUPPLY
“‘And a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, for the wall of the city, and for the house to which I will go.’ And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.”
THE ALL-SUFFICIENT CHRIST
Nehemiah is asking for wood to rebuild the fortress by the temple, to be used in certain parts of the wall and to be used in the house where he will live. That covers all of life, doesn’t it? Worship, social life or defense of the city, and one’s own private dwelling. How many things did he ask for? Only one thing – wood. If he had wood, he could build.
Wood, in this instance, represents Jesus. Wood in those days was the foundation and supply for all their needs. Phil. 4:19 – “My God will supply all your needs through His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.” If we are sufficiently in Christ, every true need will be met.
Paul states that he knows how to be in prosperity and how to be in want. He says, “I can do all things in Christ Jesus who strengthens me.”
If we have Christ in all situations, the needs just seem to diminish. He overshadows needs. They just don’t seem important compared to having Christ.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS TRUTH
When the Arkansas witches’ coven burned down our home up here on Prayer Mountain, the fire took out our dog, family keepsakes, all my clothes, the book I was writing, all of my research books and our car. It took everything except what I had in my purse.
We had nothing, but I was full of joy.
Why, with such loss, would I have such unspeakable joy? Because, having been left with nothing I realized that because I had Christ, I had everything. Everything.
Rarely is someone reduced to zero – thankfully.
But at “rock bottom” there was Jesus. He truly was and is our all in all.
Actually, experiencing this truism, that, we read in the Word and proclaim in theory, was a profound landmark moment in my life: joy was given to me out of ashes. It was defining . . . not the tragedy of the fire – but the profound revelation of the all-sufficient Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters in Christ. We are truly blessed.
Nehemiah’s Roadmap to Restoration
In Nehemiah, our Lord actually discloses the inner workings leading to revival. After showing that we need restoration in the body of Christ, He lays out the spiritual map to follow to ensure revival awaits us at the end. He might as well say: “This is the way, walk ye in it.”
1“And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2So the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.’ Then I was very much afraid. 3said to the king, ‘Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?’ 4Then the king said to me, ‘What would you request?’ So, I prayed to the God of heaven.”
These first four verses of chapter two of Nehemiah give the conditions for restoration of (the Lord’s) Body on earth.
God’s problem is not with unbelievers. God’s problem is with His church. Revival is easily accomplished once He has His “church” where she needs to be. The process by which the remnant of the Jew’s were restored before the coming of Jesus Christ to earth for the first time is the same process that God will use with the church today to prepare her for the second coming of the Lord. We believe this return of Christ to be imminent. So, this is a very relevant book.
The news came to Nehemiah of the great distress and reproach of the remnant of Jews which had returned from exile years before to rebuild Jerusalem. Jerusalem had been laid waste when all of the Jews were taken out in 586BC. The last Jews were removed from the Holy Land and went into exile in Babylon. At that time, the temple and the gates to the city of Jerusalem were razed to the ground. Some 70 years later a remnant returned and finally rebuilt the temple. But then in the year 444 BC Nehemiah receives word that, though the temple had been rebuilt, the gates and walls had never been rebuilt. The enemy surrounded Jerusalem and walked in and out of the city any time they pleased. Therefore, the remnant of Jews that had returned to rebuild the “church”, (Jerusalem being a figure of the “body of Christ”) were in great distress. The walls were not up.
THE REMNANT MOCKED
The people surrounding Jerusalem mocked God’s people. And now this little, pitiful remnant had returned and had managed to build a small building called a temple; but the town was in shambles. So, this was the state of Jerusalem where God’s presence was to dwell continually. Therefore, the people surrounding Jerusalem, (the enemies,) reproached God’s people: “Is this the way your God treats you?”
Nehemiah begins (as the Holy Spirit always begins with discipline of the individual). This work of restoring the “church’ begins with prayer. Prayer begins in three parts:
1. With a confession of sin.
2. Confessing faith in what God has said that He will do (if His people truly turn to Him).
3. Petitioning, pleading with the Lord.
As Nehemiah prayed that he would have favor in the sight of the king, we, His people, pray that the Lord Jesus will have mercy and pour great grace upon His “church”. If our Lord does not build, the church will not be built. We, His people, are called to pray. “I will build My church,” He says.
THREE CONDITIONS FOR RESTORATION
There are three conditions for restoration of God’s “church” or the “body of Christ” as represented in this relationship between Nehemiah and the king.
Four months Nehemiah prayed until the day came. Now, what were the conditions that needed to be fulfilled for the king (who represents Jesus Christ) to look with favor upon the spirit-filled individual, Nehemiah (or any group who is called to plead and pray for the restoration of the “church”)?
The first of these three conditions is faithfulness. In the “good things”, this is represented outwardly by the cup. Nehemiah was a cupbearer. The king put his life in the hands of the cup-bearer. And so, we have said that we who have the Holy Spirit within us in our relationship with Jesus Christ, He puts His life in our hands. We are His eyes and nose and mouth and feet. He entrusts Himself to us as the king did Nehemiah. Why did the king entrust himself to Nehemiah? Because Nehemiah was a trustworthy person. He was faithful. The king had already found him to be so. He tested him. He tried him. I will give you three scriptures under this first condition for restoration. God must find us faithful in the “good things”. The three scriptures are to point out this matter of faithfulness. The first is in Luke 16:9-13 where Jesus is teaching and says:
1. “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.” 10“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. 11Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? 12And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Mammon is riches, primarily money. He says there is a purpose for money. It is to be used rightly. After one has satisfied one’s own needs then it is to be used for the needs of others. There will be a time when we die, and money will have no part in our lives. On earth we pray that we use mammon rightly.
2. “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions” (Matthew 24:45-47).
The right use of that which God gives to us is making use of it for His sake, under His direction.
3. “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents” (Matthew 25:20).
There are certain common things in all of these scriptures. Some part of them deals with faithfulness in the “good things” of God. God would like to give us so much more but there is a great temptation for us to misuse His “good things” and get carried away. Paul said I have learned both the secret of how to be abased and how to abound. There is a secret in learning how to have plenty as well as a secret in learning how to have very little.
THE COMMON THREAD
Now what were some of the things that were common to all three of these illustrations about faithfulness? Being responsible with that which is entrusted to us that belongs to another.
Here are a few “good things” belonging to God: money, food, talent. What happens if the person entrusted with these is faithful? There is a reward. And what is the reward? More. You begin with a few and you get more. So, as we are His body, praying for restoration and renewal, if we are faithful in a few things – that is in the “good things” that God gives us – He will give us more for which to be responsible. Anything good or evil is capable of being placed ahead of God. That is the first condition represented by the cup you see in Nehemiah – the cup being a “good thing” (a symbol of joy and the good life). Nehemiah was found faithful in this? He was found responsible. So, when he asked the king to grant him more favor, the king was willing to do so.
The second condition is that of “steadfastness”. There is a difference between faithfulness and steadfastness. The King James version of the Bible translates “steadfastness” as “patience”. It is endurance. It the Greek word Ukomana – meaning to “remain up under”. The Greek word meaning to “stand up” under pressure. It is almost always translated as steadfastness in the New Testament when faced with tribulation – (with suffering – with trials).
The following scripture in Romans 5:3 shows that this word “steadfast” is used with tribulation:
1. “And not only this, but we also exult in our t¬ribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.”
In Roman 5:3 the Greek word is translated “perseverance”. In this verse it is referring to the fact that it is a necessary step in the process of coming into “hope” – that sure expectation of the fulfillment of that which we desire, and which has been promised to us: (that one day we will know Him fully face to face). We know Jesus in part and now we see Him through a glass darkly but one day, face to face. Now that “hope” that does not disappoint, it says in verse 5, comes only as we learn to stand up under tribulations.
2. In 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 there is another scripture relating to this second condition “steadfastness”:
“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.”
Here, the perseverance, the “steadfastness” in the midst of persecutions and afflictions has a purpose – to prepare us for the Kingdom, to mature us so that we may reign with Him during those 1000 years. That is only one of the purposes of hardship, but it is an important one to teach us steadfastness.
3. Another is in James 1:2-4:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
“Trials” is not the same word as “temptations”. Trials are that which God sends. “Temptations” come from the devil. The devil tempts us to sin. In trials – God does not tempt us to sin. He shows us the wealth of His life in us, putting us into trials and hardships. We could never know the staying power of Jesus Christ within us unless it were tried the way gold is tried to prove it is gold. If it is not gold it will not pass through the fire. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (meaning “steadfastness”) and let endurance or “steadfastness” have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing (in maturity or perfection or completeness). There is to be a complete and mature “steadfastness” at any one point in our Christian walk. Trials are necessary to bring that about.
Now the following three scriptures deal with persecution that comes upon us to produce steadfastness as a result of our weakness – even though Christians.
1. The author of Hebrews reminds Christians of what it was like when they first came to the Lord and how they were willing to have their possessions taken away and endure all kinds of hardships and how easy it was to suffer in those days:
“But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated” (Hebrews 10:32-33).
2. Jesus in Matthew 10:22 says to the disciples that they were going to be persecuted now and not to be surprised:
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”
3. In Matthew 24:9 Jesus told the disciples that before He comes again, during the tribulation, there would be great persecution but he who endures to the end will be saved.
“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
The one who has “steadfastness”, both in the past – when we first became a Christian – and now, but also in the future.
Dear children of the Living God, you know we are not going to get away from tribulation which produces “steadfastness”.
There is also the tribulation and the trials of discipline. Let me give you that scripture:
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7).
It is for discipline, this verse says, that we endure. God sometimes needs to correct us and train us in a way that hurts. However, this is required, it seems, if we are to learn steadfastness. Steadfastness is represented by Nehemiah praying for those four months, day after day. Do we realize that was difficult? Do we think he was not afflicted? Do we think he was not tired? Do we think the devil did not try to persecute him during that time? Each day he prayed, “Lord give me favor today with this man,” day, after day. He did not know he would need to pray for four months. It could have been 20 years that he would need to pray that prayer, but he was steadfast – and God saw that steadfastness had been wrought in him.
3. HEART SORROW
Faithfulness in the good things, steadfastness under difficult things and now the third. The third condition is “heart sorrow”.
Chapter 2, verse 2 Nehemiah’s heart is sad when he learns of the condition of the “church” or “body of Christ”. The King says: “Why is your face sad though you are not sick?” The King, then, correctly discerns the answer himself: “This is nothing but sadness of heart”.
The King represents Jesus in this historical retelling. When He sees that “sadness of heart” is truly wrought in us, He also discerns that we are ready to be used in the restoration of the body of Christ.
The Hebrew word for “sadness” in verse 2 is from the Hebrew root of the word, “distress” in chapter 1:3 – meaning “evil” or “wickedness”. It means Nehemiah had a sense of the “wickedness” that Satan was bringing against the remnant in Jerusalem, and sorrow had entered his heart. Nehemiah felt the condition of “the church” and had compassion for it. But the deeper heart sorrow was for God’s name – which was being dishonored by the pitiful condition of His people.
HEART SORROW FOR UNBELIEVERS
Paul had heart sorrow when in Romans 9:1-3 he expressed:
“I am telling the truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit; 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”. This heart sorrow is for those who do not believe.
HEART SORROW FOR BELIEVERS
There is also the sorrow for believers who are in sin:
“This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice, having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have specially for you” (II Cor. 2:3-4).
HEART SORROW FOR THE WORLD AROUND US
There is sorrow for sin in the world around us:
“…and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men. 8(for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day, by their lawless deeds), 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgement” (II Peter 2:7-9).
HEART SORROW FOR THOSE WHO TURN BACK
There is the heart sorrow for those who turn back from following the Lord:
“But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property” (Matthew 19:22).
There is also great sorrow for those who long for riches and lose their faith:
“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Timothy 6:10).
HEART SORROW OF THE PROPHETS
I often think that heart sorrow may be a “gift” that tags along with the prophets. They “see” but often when they “speak” what they see, they are despised. They have “heart sorrow” for that which they see (which pleases God) but they are like an irritating horsefly to leadership in the “church”. The body of Christ often swats them away because the message and the sorrow are annoying.
Jeremiah expresses this pain and frustration in Lamentations 1:12 when he says:
“Is it nothing to you who pass this way? Look and see if there is any pain like my pain…” (or sorrow like my sorrow).
Jeremiah’s sorrow was for the believers. This was represented by the city of Jerusalem. The “church” Jeremiah sorrows for:
Verse 1: is lonely like a widow, struggling.
Verse 2: comfortless.
Verse 3: no rest in exile – away from her true home.
Verse 4: unattended and bitter.
Verse 5: captive, in grief because of her sins.
Verse 6: without majesty, cowardly.
Verse 7: mocked and without support.
Verse 8: despised because of her sins.
Verse 9: her true condition exposed and no one to comfort her.
Verse 10: the ways of the world have invaded the “body of Christ”.
Verse 11: self-help schemes with no satisfaction.
Oh Lord, as with Nehemiah, let us be faithful, steadfast and be touched by heart sorrow for your people and for the lost.
Prayer that Prevails
We have heard, as did Nehemiah, about the dreadful state of the walls and gates in Nehemiah’s day. They were torn down or, as with the gates, burned by fire leaving the enemy free to walk right into the heart of the city. Jerusalem was vulnerable and exposed. Did Nehemiah have a response to this?
[Remember when David and all the men were away from their camp and raiders pillaged the camp, taking away all of their wives, children, food and animals? When the men returned, all had been stolen and they were ready to kill David. In the middle of what must have been gut-wrenching turmoil, David withdrew and prostrated himself in prayer before God. In other words, he prayed.]
That too, was Nehemiah’s response. He prayed:
4“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5I said, ‘I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 6let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. 7We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, “If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; 9but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.” 10‘They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.’ Now I was the cupbearer to the king.”
The Lord is even now fulfilling the word to the Jewish people, made so many years ago. He is calling them to return to Israel through a deep conviction that they should leave the countries in which they have established businesses and raised families. The French Jews are leaving, and now, the British Jews are beginning to migrate “out”. He is fulfilling His promise to gather them again, back to the land He Himself set aside for them. Much of this is in response to the prayers of His children who long for Him to raise up that “one new man” who is both Jew and gentile.
IN NEHEMIAH’S DAY
Though a remnant had returned some 70 years before and rebuilt the temple, the city walls of Jerusalem were still laid waste and had not been rebuilt. Jerusalem is the biblical picture of “the church.” God had said that in that place, in that city, He would cause His name to dwell; and He established a people – the Jews. He said Jerusalem is His city – and it is going to be His city, not only during this age, but in the Millennial Kingdom. Also, in the new earth, there will be a Jerusalem with gates and walls; for Jerusalem is the city of God. It also represents “the church” of the living God… which is to say: “the body of Christ”.
The book of Nehemiah is a story of a spirit-filled man, Nehemiah. In fact, the word – Nehemiah – means “comforter.” Nehemiah is a picture not only of a spirit-filled man, but of the work of the Holy Spirit in restoring “the church.” The body of Christ must be restored at various times in her history. This is true especially before our Lord returns. Nehemiah is the last book of the Old Testament history. It shows the restoration of “the church” as we look forward to the “new” in the New Testament i.e. the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as very God and very man on earth.
But it is applicable today as we need cleansing and restoration before His second coming. As we clearly look at the corruption of the pure word of Christ and the laxity of morality within the body of Christ itself, we realize that the strength, authority, defense, unity, love, power and faith need to be restored – even as the walls and gates must be rebuilt and hung in the story within Nehemiah.
THE GREAT KING
Now, in the last verse of Chapter One, we are introduced to another major person in the story, that is the king: Artaxerxes. The verse itself is simple, but packed: “Now I was the cupbearer to the king.”
1. In the first place, Nehemiah, a Jew, had been raised to an exalted position. Cupbearers were entrusted with the life of the one they served.
2. He served King Artaxerxes (whose name means “the great king”). In that he is the ruler of a great empire, he is therefore a figure of Christ. This king had all authority and power.
3. Nehemiah is a figure of the Holy Spirit. In those days there were many plots and schemes being made to assassinate the king. Therefore, he had a trustworthy man who tasted and who drank everything offered to the king.
4. The cup bearer was a man who could not be bought, and also, who was dependable.
5. Besides being trustworthy, he had to be a man whom the king would delight in being around him. These tasters had to be with the king (most of the time – certainly whenever he ate). The cupbearer was at his right hand, enjoyed by the king and honored.
6. The cupbearer must have been a desired position, for Nehemiah was a man of wealth and station – if so be his wealth came from that position.
YOU AND I
We are cupbearers to the king. We need to understand our position. Why have we been filled with the Holy Spirit, saved from hell unto Jesus Christ and eternal life?
We, like Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day, are “in distress,” the walls are down, and the gates have been carried away. We, like Jerusalem are vulnerable – with the enemy going in and out. We have little control. (The gates, remember, represent authority and control as to who goes in and who goes out). They were in reproach, according to the Word.
We are as the Jews. They had proclaimed, “God has chosen us and the city of Jerusalem for His name to dwell.” But that place is desolate, and the enemy walks around and says: “Aha! Aha! Where is now your God?” The unbelieving world in this day looks at the bickering church with its compromised leaders and its members as sick and weak as those who worship idols – or make idols of themselves and they laugh at God. They say, “You proclaim that there is a God and that you believe in Him and trust in Him. Well, this God that you trust, is this the way He treats His people? Look at you! You claim to be servants of the Living God. Is this your witness?”
We see this in the body of Christ today and in Nehemiah’s time, he heard the report and wept.
Nehemiah mourned when he heard of this. He wept and fasted – for God’s sake primarily. Why for God’s sake?
He wept for the rebuke of our God because he knew of God’s faithfulness and love. God, having once chosen Jerusalem, He would not “go back” on her. Having chosen the Jews, He would never “go back” on them. Having chosen you and me, He will not “go back” on us.
But we need to honor Him. We need to enter into the power and authority and the place that God has for us. We need to build the walls and hang the gates “of Jerusalem.” For we have been entrusted with the very life of Jesus Christ. You and I hold Him in our hands. We hold Him within us.
THREE STEPS IN THE RESTORATION
The first step is always the same – we pray. We go to the Cross and begin there again on the basis of the precious blood of Jesus Christ. As Nehemiah prayed, we too confess our sins. He not only confessed his sins, he confessed the sins on behalf of the sons of Israel (those back in Jerusalem who were struggling, weak and overrun).
He began to confess to God and pleaded for mercy saying: “We have sinned.” In other words, he placed himself right in the middle of those for whom he was praying. He did not point the finger.
He reminded God of His Word to the Israelites that if they confessed their sins and turned again to Him, He had promised to restore them.
Do we see the application to us today, we who are the cupbearers to Christ through the Holy Spirit? We, like Nehemiah are to begin to confess those things as we see them in ourselves first and in our families. Wherever we see division, rebellion, lack of love, deception and those things that divide the mighty work of God from going forward, our repentance is to begin within ourselves.
To entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ and to love the brethren as He loves us, is to fulfil the mandate of Christ. Wherever in our lives we have not truly yielded to God and loved the other brothers and sisters, we need to confess that daily. Nehemiah prayed day and night, day after day.
REMINDING GOD OF HIS PROMISES
After confession of sin, Nehemiah reminded God of His promises to the children of Israel:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:4).
We pray, lifting this promise before the Lord, reminding Him that He has said “this” and that He is not a man that He should lie. We ask Him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness so that we may go forth and build the “walls of Jerusalem” – (whatever that wall in our own lives may be.)
ASKING FOR HIS FAVOR
Thirdly we, like Nehemiah asked of the king, ask for His favor. It is true that grace abounds, but God wants us to ask for that grace as Nehemiah did. He wants us to ask the Lord for His compassion for His people so that the Lord may pour out that grace on the body of Christ. He wants us to ask that we may be made strong in the strength of “His might.”
That probably is not a real word, but we all understand its meaning. We were raised on the word (most of us). I can hear my father say to me: “You must have stick-to-it-tiveness”.
Thank goodness, Nehemiah had that “pluck”. [I just looked up the word “stick-to-it-tiveness” and wonder of wonders, it is a real word!]
The reason I am bringing up stick-to-it-tiveness is that this quality was required in this challenge.
Do you know how long Nehemiah prayed to God before the king noticed him?
He began in the month Chisleu (approximately December 1st, and it was not until the month of Nissan (approximately April 1st) that he got any idea that God was moving upon the heart of that king. Four full months it took – day and night he says he prayed: “This day give me favor.” And the next day he prayed: “This day give me favor.” And the next day and the next and the next day. Are we that tenacious?
You may not have begun your Christian walk with a tenacious spirit but, by golly, if you are older than one year in the Lord, I bet you are becoming tenacious. We want the Lord to have the desires of His heart – first of all in me, personally, and then in the body of Christ.
There are many avenues of service to our Lord, but one that is possible day and night is prayer. We need to be an army of bulldogs in prayer. We need to clamp down on His desires and not let go.
It is the example of God that is set before us.
“…In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).
“Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34).
The primary work of the Holy Spirit is intercession – and, dear children of the Living God, that is our primary work, also.
No child of God can ever say that we do not have anything to give to the body of Christ. If we follow our Father’s instructions, we pray:
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
AS WITH NEHEMIAH
Using Nehemiah, our Father has laid out for His children a blueprint for godly restoration: begin with prayer.
Walls and Gates II
We concluded the last teaching by saying a strong church or the body of Christ is one where everyone takes his/her place on the wall and is concerned to do his/her part and be alert and not let the enemy slip in through that portion of the wall.
A STRONG CITY
Let us continue with:
Isaiah 26 1-2 “We have a strong city: He sets up walls and ramparts for security. Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that remains faithful.”
Here are described the two main aspects of walls. They are:
1. For security. They are to hold out the enemy.
2. To Separate us unto God – to allow that which is of the Lord to be together in one place. Walls are separation from that which is evil unto that which is godly.
NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE
There is a negative side of the wall and a positive side of the wall. The outside is against the enemy and the inside is to hold us together and unite us into a unit – like a strong city – united by one heart and one spirit.
Isaiah 60:18 – “Violence will not be heard again in your land,
Nor devastation or destruction within your borders;
But you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise.”
You shall call your walls “salvation” and this salvation means deliverance from the enemy unto God and therefore unto peace, unto victory. A city without a wall is open and vulnerable.
Isaiah 60:18 – “…and your gates praise.”
The gates of the city in those times were more than just portals where people went into and out of the city, they were places where public business was transacted. The ruler of the city would hold court at the gate and judges would dispense justice. Also, people would gather for community decisions, wills and deeds were attested at the gate. People would gather at the gate for fellowship and to see newcomers – because newcomers to the city would come through the gate. They knew who came in and who went out. They would exchange news of what was happening. It was the public gathering place. For this reason, where the gate of the city stood, the wall was usually a double, not a single wall. The wall, as it approached the gate, became divided and doubled on one side of the gate and then on the other side of the gate.
The wall was doubled for a considerable distance until it became single again. Now, in that space between the double walls they had rooms. These were meeting rooms; rooms where people could go and have private conversations. Let me give you these scriptures:
2 Samuel 18:24 – “Now David was sitting between the two gates.”
It means that he sat in a room between the double wall near the gate. Above the gate there was a room. The room was mentioned in relationship to King David in 2 Samuel:
2 Samuel 18:33 – “The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept.”
This was a private room where people could have meetings. The king retired to this private room and wept. Also, by the principle gate of the city there were ramparts or towers and there were watchmen in these towers, day and night.
The watchmen were stationed in this location because that part of the wall was the highest point. It had an entrance portal and a room above it and often towers were on either side. At the highest point in the tower there would be a watchman looking out for the enemy or for any news.
WATCHMEN AND GATEKEEPERS
In 2 Samuel 18:24 David is waiting for news of the battle and the watchman sees a runner coming in the distance and describes his running and they feel that they know the man who is bearing the tidings in his mouth by the way he runs. Not only were there watchmen on the top of the gate, but there was a gatekeeper or porter down at the gate itself. Guards were at this location, for the gate was opened in the morning and closed at night. You just couldn’t go in and out of the city when you pleased. You needed to go in during the daylight and go out by evening to keep the city from being infiltrated by the enemy. Therefore, there was a porter or gatekeeper at the gate. This was a very important position . . . spiritually, you understand.
Psalms 87:2 – “The LORD loves the gates of Zion.”
You see the gates were the primary target of the enemy when attacking the city. For this reason, they were doubled . . . and extra guards were present. It was also the center of activity. The people assembled. The corporate life of the town was carried on at the gate.
Spiritually the gates represented praise and thanksgiving. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise;” David said.
The body of Christ is a spiritual organization or organism. As we praise the Lord, the wall against the enemy is being secured. As we praise and thank the Lord and truly honor Him then we hold the body of Christ for God and exercise His authority. This is not accomplished with worldliness, nor with force or threat or anything the world uses to gain power. Ours is a spiritual authority as we truly honor the Lord and His word. In our lives we praise Him individually and also, as a body of believers.
Through the gate we enter into authority and power (that is through praise and thanksgiving). But also, the gate represents in addition to authority and power, it represents an alertness to sense and to perceive what is coming – so as to warn the people (our brothers and sisters). The gate represents “a responsibility” for those who we let in and those who we let out. We have the right to forbid the coming in and the right to allow the going out. Of course, the gate, the true gate is Jesus Christ.
John 10:9 – “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
The walls and gates are important in their spiritual meaning because in eternity we are going to have them both. In Revelation 21:10 John is seeing a vision of the new Jerusalem, the Holy City . . . the church that will be forever: “Coming down out of heaven from God” upon the new Earth that will be here after this Earth as we know it is destroyed by fire.
Jesus will return to set up a millennial kingdom here of a thousand years reign and the overcomers will reign with Him. There will be a Temple here on the earth during that time – a new temple in Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be the center of the earth.
You see, when God says, “My name is going to dwell there,” and He picks a place for His name to dwell, sooner or later it’s going to be fulfilled. Also, when God told man to take dominion over this earth and subdue it and multiply and be fruitful in Genesis – it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen even though man sinned. It’s going to happen during the 1000-year millennium.
God is going to accomplish all that He has wanted to accomplish on this earth. Then, when it has served its purpose it will be done away and a new Earth will come and this time there will not need to be a temple because Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem, will come down and be here on this new Earth. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will all be here. They will be right here on this new Earth, and it will not be some very strange amorphous thing.
FORM AND SUBSTANCE
It will have form and substance to it. It will have gates and it will have walls because there will be nations here on this new Earth that will only be allowed to go in and out of the new Jerusalem – in and out through the gates. Those gates will be shut at night. There will be night outside of the walls. Inside the new Jerusalem there will be no night. For those who dwell there will have resurrected bodies and will not need rest. But the people who live outside will need to come in and go out and to eat of the leaves of the Tree of Life. There will be no death. There will be no sin but there will be weakness. Because those who do not have resurrected bodies will need to be refreshed, they will enter the gates and come into the city.
The kings of the nations outside of the new Jerusalem will bring their glory into the new Jerusalem which will measure 1400 miles long, wide and high. But they will need to go out again at night. However, the saints will dwell in their resurrected bodies inside the new Jerusalem all the time, in the very presence of God the Holy Trinity.
THE HOLY CITY
Revelation 21:10-12 – “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall…”
You see, it had a great and high wall because there will still be separation from that which is very good, but not resurrection life, and pure resurrection life within the city. Therefore, we need a wall and we need gates because of the going in and out.
The city is measured in verse 16 as 1400 miles long, wide and high. In verse 17 the angel measured the wall of the city as 72 yards high. Now the city is 1400 miles high, but the wall is only 72 yards high. That is because the throne of God is high and exalted, but the wall needs only to be 72 yards high because outside are mere men. They don’t need a 1400-mile-high wall, 72 yards high is high enough.
The beauty of it all is that:
Revelation 21:22-25 – “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
Jesus Christ is the victorious Lamb of God. The sun will shine outside but will not be needed inside the city. The nations will need the sun and the moon. There will be night and day outside, but inside it will be the pure light of God and we will live in it continually. All that is within will be so pure that even the streets are transparent gold. The saints in their resurrected bodies will also be transparent, i.e. perfectly open to God and to one another. Nothing hidden. There won’t be any need to hide anything. There won’t be any sin, sorrow or death anymore.
THE NATIONS SHALL WALK BY IT’S LIGHT
Revelation 21:24 – “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”
We are not sure who these nations are. Some think that it is the nations that were on the earth at the end of the 1000-year reign of this present earth. When this present earth is destroyed, all believers will be carried over alive into the new Earth. We don’t know how. And in the daytime for there will be no night, it’s gates shall never be closed. You see, there will be daytime and nighttime outside of the walls and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it and nothing unclean and no one who practices abominations and lying shall ever come in but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Revelation 22:1 – “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life.”
God had a Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. What He started in the garden, He is going to continue. Man had to be denied access to it in the beginning (Adam and Eve). They could not abide in the garden. But you see all that God brings about is never wasted. No matter what man does. The plan of God goes on inexorably. God is going to finish His plan. The only question is, who will be a part of it?
THE TREE OF LIFE
Revelation 22:2 – “On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
We don’t know whether the nations will eat of the fruit. We know that they will eat of the leaves. The leaves will be for healing.
The fruit means eternal life. We know that there will be no death among those nations, (those humans outside). So, you see the body of Christ with its wall and gates (the walls representing defense against any enemy). No longer will our enemy step over the boundaries. No longer will we bear the reproach of unbelievers. But God’s people will have a strong wall to defend them from any enemy and to unite them and to consecrate them unto God as a unit. His body will have gates where the power of Jesus Christ is executed on the earth. Also, the church will control that which comes in and that which goes out. This will go on forever, according to His plan and to the praise of His glory. Praise the Lord.
Walls and Gates I
We will begin a study in Nehemiah on walls and gates. There are, after all, walls in the new Jerusalem and even in Heaven. Therefore, there must be, not only a practical, but also a spiritual need for walls, as well as their gates.
The terms “body of Christ” and “church” are interchangeable. Both (in this study) represent the children of the Living God, bought and paid for by Jesus Christ. When the word church is used, it has no relationship to a certain denomination or congregation… only blood bought believers.
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.”
Verse one, in the twentieth year, means in the twentieth year of King Artaxeres. You will see this in chapter 2, verse 1 where he says it again – in the twentieth year, and this time he adds King Artaxerxes. This is about the year 440BC. Nehemiah is a cupbearer, that is a very high position. He is the cupbearer to king Artaxerxes and he is a Jew. At this point in his life the temple has been rebuilt. Ezra had returned 13 years before this time to purify the remnant of the Jews in Jerusalem; but now Nehemiah receives news about their present condition: that is the present condition of the body of Christ. Spiritually he is given “revelation”. You see he received news of the condition of things – the reality, the truth, now when you and I are given this kind of revelation, hopefully we will respond as Nehemiah did.
He heard that the remnant in the province who survived the captivity was in great distress and reproach and the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and its gates were burned with fire. Those four things: (1) distress (King James says affliction), (2) reproach, (3) the wall is broken down and (4) the gates are burned with fire. This represents the condition of the church/body of Christ today as well. How relevant is the Bible! Therefore, let us examine these four things and ask the Lord to reveal the truth of them to our hearts.
First the “distress”, the great distress of those who represent the body of Christ. The Hebrew word for distress here is Ra and the usual translation of that Hebrew word in the Old Testament is “evil”. The second greatest most popular translation is “wickedness” or “mischief”. It means that which is initiated by Satan. There are certain afflictions that God brings upon the body of Christ to purify her – chastise her, teach her, harden her and strengthen her but this is not one of them. This word here is an evil thing. It is caused by Satan. It is God enclosed – in the sense that God always gives Satan his bounds within which he must operate. But God does not initiate this kind of affliction. It is something from the Devil.
The same Hebrew word ra used here is found in Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” The word afflictions in verse 19 is the same Hebrew word and in the context there (this is 15 through 18) you see that these afflictions are something that the believers cry out to the Lord about, that He may save them from them. They are not something that He originates.
Also, that word is used in Psalm 107:39 “When they are diminished and bowed down through oppression, misery and sorrow,” the word “misery” there is the same Hebrew word and it is linked here with “oppression”.
When the body of Christ is oppressed, burdened and afflicted it is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:17 where God said “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” – that word “evil” is ra. It was never intended by God that we know this kind of evil. It is something that Satan has brought into the world.
Look at Ephesians 4:14. The New Testament explains the Old Testament. Paul is describing the body of Christ and what she is to be, and he says in verse 14 “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine”. The Greek word for wind of doctrine is a word that is always a bad wind, an evil wind. It is the same Hebrew word that describes and was used when Jesus was in the boat asleep and the storm came up and He rebuked the wind and the reason He rebuked the wind was because Satan was behind it; Satan was trying to kill Him and the disciples so He rebuked the wind because this was an evil wind and this word used here is always used in terms of destructiveness and evil. It’s something that blows from Satan: every wind of doctrine. But if you know the Word of God you can see the fallacy of it. It’s from the devil. It’s actually against the Word of God.
Ephesians 4:14 is talking about the doctrines of demons that in these last days we are going to hear more of such doctrines that will deceive even the elect the Bible says. We have got to be so careful. Verse 14, “by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” – that trickery is a Greek word meaning “loaded dice”. Cube, from which we get the word cube, means “dice that are loaded” and with which you cannot possibly win in a game. You see Satan has no honor or integrity. He will do anything, and you can’t win with him. If it is not in the Word of God, you cannot win with it. It is going to end in disaster. It may look good. It may sound good. Outwardly it may seem fine . . . but.
The body of Christ is subject to this kind of distress from the devil – this kind of oppression – this kind of evil teaching. We have seen people drawn away by teachings, that sound inciteful, hidden doctrines that really seem to build interest – if not faith, but go beyond Christ. They go beyond the Word of God, that is the whole witness of the Word. If you take one or two verses anyone can make a system of thought out of them, this is what cults do so often. That is why we need to know the sense of the whole Word of God. There is agreement in “the whole” – there is only one Holy Spirit who wrote this Book. We cannot take out one or two verses and try to load them too much.
Reproach the second matter. That is a Hebrew word cherpah that means shame, rebuke or disgrace and I want to give you a few scriptures that indicate some examples of this. It means that the body of Christ is a disgrace before men. Oppression or affliction that I have just finished talking about is in the spiritual realm from Satan, in the invisible spiritual realm. People getting oppressed, downtrodden and carried away and tossed to and fro. God wants a stable body of Christ built on The Rock. The second reproach has to do with the body of Christ before men, as men see and talk about her and regard her today. She was a laughing stock in those days and to many she is a laughing stock today and it is not us that they are laughing at, it is our God. Because who are we that they should criticize or speak against us? It is ultimately God they are talking about. His name that is being profaned and insulted.
Genesis 30:23 Rachel “…conceived and bore a son and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’” (This perhaps may be the first instance of the Hebrew word reproach, cherpah.) It was a disgrace for a Hebrew woman not to bear a child; and so, she named him Joseph, which means “add to me”. She had one, and she wanted another. The body of Christ is accused of unfruitfulness and barrenness today; and that accusation many times is justified.
Another example of reproach that God wants to take away from His body is that of idolatry. Unfaithfulness. The same Hebrew word cherpah (translated as reproach) is used in Ezekiel 22:3-12 regarding Jerusalem – “A city shedding blood in her midst, so that her time will come, and that makes idols, contrary to her interest, for defilement!” Two things Jerusalem is accused of here are shedding blood and idolatry.
Ezekiel 22:4-6 “You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed and defiled by your idols which you have made. Thus, you have brought your day near and have come to your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations and a mocking to all the lands. 5 Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you, you of ill repute, full of turmoil. (This is part of reproach – being mocked) 6 Behold, the rulers of Israel, each according to his power, have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood. (And then he goes on to describe how shedding blood and idolatry are in the same category. Shedding blood does not mean going out and stabbing people, it means “dealing death”. It may involve murder, but it is all the things that are listed down to verse 12 – oppressing one another, wronging one another, verse 9 – slandering one another, verse 12 – taking bribes, getting gain because of idolatry.
We put these things above God. In the way we treat each other, it shows we don’t love one another truly from the heart. If we loved one another truly and fervently from the heart, we would slap our hands over our mouths the first word that we ever spoke against a brother or sister. To cast any kind of doubt against them, to express any sort of ill will, to express any sort of unlovingness toward a brother or sister; but we do it and sometimes we repent of it and sometimes we don’t. If we loved one another instead of shedding blood, we would tremble to speak against one of God’s anointed, one of the brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. No wonder we are a reproach when we treat one another the way we do.
Ezekiel 36:15 This same Hebrew word cherpah for disgrace or reproach is used in this verse. “‘I will not let you hear insults from the nations anymore, nor will you bear disgrace (Disgrace here is that same Hebrew word Cherah) from the peoples any longer, nor will you cause your nation to stumble any longer,’ declares the Lord GOD.” He is talking here of the disgrace of being desolate and crushed. Having no real authority and power in terms of what happens. Verse 3 in that same chapter “…‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “For good reason they have made you desolate and crushed you from every side, that you would become a possession of the rest of the nations and you have been taken up in the talk and the whispering of the people.”’
Does the body of Christ today stand above the world speaking God’s truth and acting God’s truth or is she captive to the principles of this world? She runs her business much on the same basis that the world runs its business. We were never intended to be an organization like the organizations in the world. Organizations like the Association of Barber Shop Repairman (fictitious) who go around repairing barber shop equipment. They have bylaws and they have dues and they do certain things, they have a certain budget. We are not intended to be an earthly organization. Our dealings are in the realm of the spirit, we are a spiritual organization that is to represent God here on earth before the principalities and powers.
All battles are in the spiritual realm, that is why this matter of oppression, affliction has to do with the spiritual realm – God wants to get rid of that. How we appear before men is secondary. We are essentially a group of sons of God who are reclaiming this earth for God and it is carried on in the realm of the spirit. Our efficiency rating before God is in terms of prayer, the overcoming of sin, the loving of one another, the laying down of our lives for one another, the world cannot judge that, but they can sense whether power is there. They respect it. They don’t understand where it comes from, but they know if they are looking at a weak group of people, who are mouthing things but not really living them.
REPROACH BEFORE MEN
In the first chapter of Nehemiah we are told, in part, of the revelation concerning the present state of the body of Christ and our reproach before men. Why? Because the wall of Jerusalem, the wall of the church is broken down and its gates are burned with fire. What does that picture in our minds? Vulnerability! Defenselessness! People walking in and out whenever they want to. There will be walls and gates in eternity. It is important that we understand this. Walls – we need to understand the spiritual significance of them. Then we will talk about gates.
Walls are in Isaiah 26:1 “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: ‘We have a strong city; He sets up walls and ramparts for security.’” Are we, children of the Living God, willing to speak the truth no matter who might be offended? Oh God help us to speak it. None of us wish to live a namby-pamby sort of life. When we stand before the Lord, we want to be able to say that we spoke what we believed to be the truth, no matter what happened. A strong body of Christ is where everyone takes his or her place on the wall and is concerned and alert so as not to allow the enemy to slip through that portion of the wall.
PART 2 ON THE WALL NEXT MONTH.
The Second Revelation
Once in Moravian Falls, the second revelation given to me concerned prayer and the angels stationed here. It also showed angels from far and wide coming to carry prayer to those in need.
Moravian Falls, NC (Friday AM)
As I prayed this morning, the angelic beings here on this mountain began to congregate and circle the cabin.
They seemed excited – activated by the prayers I was praying in tongues.
There seemed to be hundreds and perhaps even thousands – not only those here but the angelic beings coming from over the mountains in all directions – joining those here in their circular flight.
My hands were together in prayer. The hands together seem to be an unbroken circle – like making a connection that multiplies the power.
As I prayed it was as though sparks or orts of light were released upward… released in some way by the prayers.
These sparks or orts of light – like fire flies were caught in the hands of angel after angel.
These sparks or orts of light were cupped within their hands. Immediately they flew in the direction from which they came.
They were taking the light to share in some dark areas. Perhaps that which was of God was released through the prayers. These prayers would be used to extend the light of Jesus Christ to someone for salvation or healing, etc.
The longer I prayed the more sparks or orts flew upward and the more were carried by the angels to other areas… each spark or ort cupped within the angel’s hands.
From Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary:
SPARK – a small glowing piece of matter especially one thrown off by a fire or a small discharge from an electric current.
ORT – a scrap of food left from the larger meal.
I felt as though these prayers were serving the purposes of God for His glory.
Jesus flew to me:
“Come,” He said.
I rose to meet Him.
He took me to His nest on earth and showed me the view.
“From here, Anna.”
Prayers Carrying the Light
The second vision from the Lord after we arrived in Moravian Falls, concerned part of our duties to Him on earth: prayer. Here the Lord shows that the prayers from this location will be carried by angels to those in need.
We ask ourselves if that doesn’t happen everywhere? Yes, of course it does. But there are certain locations on earth that allow us to be right in the center of God’s will for us… (Moses being called up on the mountain to receive the tablets from God, etc.
I will give you a modern-day instance of placing someone in a location to benefit the lives of others.
BOB JONES IN FLORIDA
After living many years in Independence, Missouri, the Lord had Bob sell his home and move to Florida. He really did not know people there and the home he found was way out from town. Few people were living out there.
Since he was miles out and connected with no particular group, he visited many congregations and became friends with pastors of many denominations and ethnic backgrounds. Because his mantle came from a holy, African man, he always felt at home in African-American churches.
THE TIME ARRIVES
When the national election for president began their campaigns, Bob Jones prophesied that the Lord was giving America a “burning bush” (for the race was between Al Gore and George Bush).
The panhandle of Florida leaned heavily Democratic. However, because of Bob Jones’ personal relationship with the area pastors and their belief in his prophetic word about George Bush (especially the African American Churches) they voted for Bush.
It was reported by most of the media that Bush won that election because of the vote in the Panhandle. Basically, they reported that it was the African American vote in the Florida Panhandle that won that particular election.
God called Bob Jones into the Panhandle of Florida for His purposes.
BEING A WITNESS
My husband and I were present to witness it all… and were amazed. It was obvious that He had moved Bob Jones into Florida to put His hand on that national election.
Being called to Moravian Falls or any other location is the same. I will speak of this location because it is one I know. Moravian Falls may be “out in the boonies” as they say, but God has a mighty work He wishes to accomplish here. Therefore, each person needs to be called.
Also, one may be called for only part of the time. My husband was such a one. He went to the top and prayed five or six hours a day for God’s will to be done on Prayer Mountain. He is now with the Lord – but he had a part. Others may buy and maintain the land for a period of time. They have their part. As Paul said in 1 Cor 3:6-7:
6. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
After all, we serve the Lord. It is His business we are about. His will be done – not ours.
Also, it is our Lord’s character that we are called to show. If in all of our labors for Him, we cannot also show forth His character we are laboring in the flesh… and works of the flesh will be burned up.
When the Lord said “from here” in the vision, He was saying that I was to live in a place of intimacy with Him (the nest) up high (which is above the “flesh”).
SECOND TRAINING WHEELS VISION
The second most common and often the earliest of the revelations is of riding a White Horse.
Bob Jones would say that the “white horse” symbolized a new move of the Holy Spirit – (I suppose that can be personal as well as national or international.) Always, it is the Holy Spirit revealing the Lord Jesus.
This revelation showed the prophetic trajectory of my future life. I only understood this as I looked back at the vision. A couple of months after “breaking through” as Bob Jones called it the Lord was plainly showing me how I would serve Him from then on and my relationship to Him and with Him.
VISION FEBRUARY 20, 1995
I watched it as we passed and even twisted my head around to watch it as long as I could.
I remembered from my childhood that with great effort, some could catch the ring. If you did catch the golden ring, you got a free ride. I fixed my eyes upon the ring as soon as it came into view. Then standing in the stirrups and holding to the pole on which the horse was suspended, I r-e-a-c-h-e-d for the golden ring.
I caught it.
“What does this mean?” I questioned out loud.
Suddenly, the horse became a large living, white horse. It jumped off the merry-go-round and began to smoothly and powerfully climb toward the sun. I was not afraid, but I did wonder where we were going.
THE HIGH VALLEY
There was a waterfall of sparkling, cold mountain water which flowed into a stream.
The horse stopped by the mountain stream. I dismounted as he began to drink. I looked around. No one was in sight.
The air was cool and sharp. I could see clearly for miles and miles. I filled my lungs with the clean, pure air and looked around. Lavender flowers, like heather were growing from the sheer mountain side. Except for the sound of the water, all was very quiet, clean and pure.
I didn’t know why I was there, but it was as though the horse knew this high mountain valley well and was at home there.
This is a simple vision, but oh so important to the one who receives it.
Notes on the Wheel of Fire
The Wheel of Fire – Side Notes
The ring of gold represents being wed to Christ. The ring of fire is a symbol of the process of sanctification that includes sharing Christ’s sufferings (Phil. 3:10). Not all Christians want to participate in this aspect of union with Him.
The first biblical example of calamus meaning moral uprightness was God saying, “Do what is right in His [God’s] sight” (Exod. 15:26).
In the Song of Solomon, cinnamon grows in the locked garden that Jesus calls “my sister, my bride” (Song of Sol. 4:12-14).
A wall is used to separate and protect that which it encloses.
The skin of Moses’s face also shone from being in the presence of God and His glory (Exod. 34:29-30, 35).
The divine light was made visible in Jesus when He was transfigured. His whiteness was beyond any earthly whiteness (Mark 9:3).
God invites all people to draw near to Him (Matt. 11:28).
The Wheel of Fire – Foot Notes
1. The heavenly host adores God for His mercy, praises Him for His goodness, and worships Him for His holiness as the “wholly Other” of all beings. None of the heavenly ones are more glorious in the burning holiness of worship than the seraphim stationed above the throne (Isa. 6:1-3). They are clothed with awesome fire as witnesses to the absolute purity of the holiness of God that is His alone. Only holiness can exist in such consuming flame. Therefore, the singing of these seraphim is the sweetest and purest known outside of God.
2. Voices from Heaven that are heard on Earth, especially God’s, may at times sound different from earthly voices (Ezek. 43:2; Rev. 1:10, 15).
3. Divine love is “the very flame of the Lord.” It is unquenchable and imparted only by grace. The Lord’s disciples are to set the intense flame of Jesus’s love as a seal over their hearts (Song of Sol. 8:6-7). His love sustains each one while undergoing the burning away of all fleshly idolatry in body and soul (Song of Sol. 8:6; Matt. 3:11-12).
4. The divine fire is for all disciples who will count their old self dead in order to fully embrace God’s purposes. They seek the reality of abiding in spirit “with Christ in God [the Father]” where they were placed by the new birth (Col. 3:1-3). The baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire that Jesus gives will burn away the chaff that is not of Christ in them (Matt. 3:11-12; Dan. 12:10). One is then drawn closer to the heart of the Father and learns to live in the consuming fire of His love (Deut. 4:24, 36; Ps. 50:3; Dan. 7:9-10).
5. A seraph touched the prophet Isaiah’s lips with a burning coal (Isa. 6:6-7). God chose his mouth to be purified because control by the Spirit of one’s tongue is the key to God’s control of the whole body (James 3:2, 6). “No one [human being] can tame the tongue” (James 3:8). Christ Jesus alone has the authority (the right) and power “to subject all things to Himself” (including the tongue) (Matt. 28:18; Phil. 3:21).
6. The Hebrew word for the spice calamus means “a stalk or reed.” It is translated “right or upright” in Scripture. Christ Jesus alone is upright or righteous in His Father’s eyes (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 10:3-4).
7. The primary root of the word cinnamon means “emitting an odor.” The new heart of each Christian is a fragrant garden, enclosed and set apart for Christ alone. It is to be formed in the image of the heart of the Lord Jesus that is undivided in His consecration unto the Father (2 Chron. 16:9; Luke 10:22).
8. God spoke this message through an angel: “Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls… For I,” declares the Lord, “will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst” (Zech. 2:4-5).
The fire of God is a manifestation of the purity of His holiness (Lev. 10:1-3). The seraphim’s song proclaimed that God would be a wall of fire to those being trained in holiness. The Holy Spirit would be the separation and protection for them around their hearts, their minds and their feet (their conduct or walk) (Phil.4:6-7; Gal. 5:25).
9. “Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt. 17:1-2; Rev. 1:16; 10:1).
A heavenly messenger prophesied to the prophet Daniel about the last days: “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).
Jesus said that at the end of the age, “The righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).
10. Christians “see” (perceive) the true reality of the deceptive world system with the eyes of their new hearts first (Col. 2:8). Paul prayed for the Ephesians that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:18-19).
11. Jesus promised the overcoming Christians of the church in Philadelphia to be made pillars (given permanent places) in the temple of God. For He said, they “will not go out from it any more” (Rev. 3:12).
12. The zeal of Christ’s love for His Father (“Your house”) consumed Him (John 2:17). Such love “surpasses [human] knowledge.” It is beyond comprehension (Eph. 3:19).
13. Pure nard is a very costly spice (John 12:3). The word nard (spikenard in the King James Version) is from the Hebrew root meaning “light.”
The figure of the Father is visible in Heaven by the pure, uncreated light of His nature (1 John 1:5).
14. Eternal Life is offered freely to any who will receive and grow up into Christ (John 3:16). Many may accept the invitation (Matt. 22:10). But the “worries and riches and pleasures of this life” hinder the forming of Christ in some of them (Luke 8:14).
[Important announcement in the Personal Section.]
Back to top
A Different Way of Healing
In each of the sections: Angels, Personal and Teaching, I am showing you three different means used by our great God for healing. Our Lord is miraculous and so are His ways.
This experience occurred only two months after the heavens opened for me. Therefore, it is a “young” revelation. You will be able to see the growth in one year of recording the revelations. The longer you exercise a gift, the greater the growth. The Vale of Promises came about one year after the Lord began to give me these experiences.
Exactly what the angels gave me to eat and drink, I have no idea. But they cured me of the flu.
I am going to show you this revelation right from my journal of February 18, 1995 (which was a Saturday).
The silver ball that told a “type” of time, as a sundial might in a Victorian garden, was solid silver – not crystal. My art work leaves something to be desired.
On this Saturday, in Florida, I had the flu and therefore returned to my bed to take aspirin and drink juices and chicken broth. For that reason, the revelation took place at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. Here, then, is a healing brought by spirits and angels in heaven:
VISION: FEBRUARY 18, 1995
Receiving A Family Mantle:
The Mantle Of Lieutenant General George Perry Rains
The Lord wished me to have a mantle from my own family line. He chose my Great Uncle Doc, this was a name I gave my great uncle while growing up. “Uncle Doc” because he was a doctor.
I was the last baby he delivered. I remember his great generosity to the Baptist Church, of which he was a member – and having Thanksgiving at his home that was a block away from the home I grew up in.
He and his wife, my great aunt, had no children but were exceedingly kind to all of the children in our family. I remember well that he gave a whole, large building to the First Baptist Church in my home town.
His doctor’s office was over a building right down town. This made it possible for people at work in the town to drop in for an appointment. Amazingly, he never charged for these appointments. A receptionist was near the entrance. If you wished to pay something for his medical services, you could give a little something to that receptionist. He had a generous heart towards all people.
He and my grandfather, his brother, were two of the quietest and kindest men I have ever known. Since he had no children, the Lord was kind enough to pass his mantle to me… for which I am truly grateful.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL GEORGE PERRY RAINS
(1872 – 1955)
This description is from Historical Archives of Texas.
George Perry Rains, physician and soldier, son of Mercer and Nancy Texas Rains, was born in Marshall, Texas on September 18, 1872. He received his early education at Mrs. Maulding’s Private School and at Marvin Chapel. He subsequently attended the University of Texas, where he received his A.B. degree in 1891 and his M.D. in 1895. After an internship at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, he studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and received a second M.D. degree in 1897. He returned to Marshall and served for a time as a surgeon at Texas and Pacific Hospital before entering private practice. On April 26, 1899, he married Norma Pitts. On December 31, 1890, Rains enlisted as a private in the Marshall Light Infantry. He served on the Mexican border in the years before World War I.
In 1917 before America entered the First World War, a secret communiqué from the German government to the Mexican government was intercepted and decoded, then read on the floor of the United States Congress. In it the German government pledged to the Mexican government to give them Texas if Mexico would invade Texas. After the decoded message was read on the floor of Congress, a vote was taken to go to war with Germany. General Rains was a commanding officer on the Texas/Mexican border. It was said that he rode a white horse while commanding the troops.
In that war he was a colonel in the Third Texas Infantry, commanding officer in the Thirty-sixth Military Police and commanding officer in the Sixty-first Pioneer Infantry.
He was commanding officer at Camp Sheridan, Alabama from February to April 1919. He subsequently was in command of the 144th Infantry Regiment, the Seventy-second Infantry Brigade and the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division. On September 1, 1936 he retired from the National Guard with the rank of lieutenant general and was made honorary life president of the Thirty-sixth Division. He served as the chairman of the board of Marshall National Bank, vice president of Memorial Hospital Board, trustee of East Texas Baptist College and director of Marshall and Sabine Railroad. He was an honorary member of the Texas Medical Association, a member of the Military Surgeons Association and a director of Kahn Memorial Hospital and the Harrison County Red Cross. In 1937 he was president of Harrison County Medical Society. He was a member of the Marshall City Commission and the Rotary Club. He was a deacon of the 1st Baptist Church of Marshall. He died in Marshall on September 19, 1955 and was buried at Greenwood Cemetery. In 1970 the Texas Historical Commission placed a marker at his grave.
(Please go to the Personal Section.)
Side Two Of The Father’s Mantle
Mantle # 4
(Continued from the Angel Section.)
Suddenly, the angels turned the robe inside out – there displaying another garment entirely. The Father’s mantle was double. This side was a drab camel skin – probably as John the Baptist wore in the desert.
I was helped into the double mantle. This drab cloak completely covered everything I was wearing. The cloak left me looking like a wandering vagrant. (It is funny what you think about in times like these. I found myself grateful that the skins did not smell like goat.)
At first, I thought it strange that the ruler of the universe would wear such a drab garment. Then it came to me that our Heavenly Father was as Jesus showed Him to be – humble. Of course – of course, I understood not only the reason for wearing it but also, I understood more about my Heavenly Father’s character. This revelation made me even more grateful to be allowed to wear the mantle – honored and blessed really. Our glorious Father was humble and if I wished to draw near to Him, how desperately did I need to put on the humility of Christ.
I asked the Father: “Are those marquee lights still going?”
“Yes,” He answered with a chuckle, “the bulbs are still giving light. The marquees are rolling. Yet they are but a picture of the true light within. The outside now looks like camel’s hair. Study to see who was thus dressed.
[Turn to the Personal Section to find out how these particular two mantles have changed the life of one of God’s children.]
A Mantle From The Holy Spirit -Side Notes
The sword is the living, moving, powerful, Spirit-energized Word of God concerning Christ Jesus that reveals the true condition of our spiritual hearts (Heb. 4:12-13). It is truth as it is in Jesus, and it overcomes the lies of the enemy (Eph. 4:21; 6:17; Rev. 12:11).
The sword of God’s Word in our hearts can be wielded by the Spirit through our actions (hands) or spoken by the Spirit through our mouths (Matt. 10:19-20; Col. 3:17). That Word wars against the enemy and strengthens the brethren (Rom. 12:21; Eph. 6:17-19; Col. 3:16; Rev. 2:16).
The whirlwind is a visible representation of the powerful moving of the Holy Spirit as on the Day of Pentecost “like a violent, rushing wind” (Acts 2:2). The Greek word for wind in John 3:8 is the same word that is translated “Spirit” in the New testament.
A strong ankle is needed to walk well. A spiritual walk is behavior that rests upon supernatural faith in and manifestation of the Lord Jesus in love (John 6:29; 15:5; Eph. 5:2). Only the Holy Spirit can bring this forth (Gal 5:16). He strengthens us to be able to allow Christ to be and do this in His strength (Phil. 4:13).
1. Scripture describes cherubim with one, two, or four faces (Ezek. 1:10; 41:18; Rev. 4:7). In the vision of a new temple, there were cherubim with the faces of a man and of a lion carved on the walls
(Ezek. 41:19). The Lord Jesus is “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).
2. The sword of God’s Word is empowered by the Holy Spirit who takes that which is of Christ Jesus and discloses it to those who are one with Him (John 16:14; 1 Cor. 6:17).
3. There are many books that God the Holy Spirit has written personally (Exod. 32:32; Dan. 7:10) with His fiery-red pen and golden ink. Examples are the Book of Life (Rev. 20:12), the book of the days ordained for each person (Ps. 139:16), the book of our tears (Ps. 56:8), the book of those recorded for life in Jerusalem (Isa. 4:3), and a book of remembrance of those who fear God and esteem His name (Mal. 3:16).
4. “The Spirit of truth . . . proceeds from the Father” through the Son (John 15:26.) “The Spirit of truth . . . will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak” (John 16:13).
5. The Spirit of truth as it is in Jesus sets us free (John 8:31-32): from bondage to sin (Rom. 6:12-14), self (Rom. 6:6), and the world (Gal. 6:14); from oppression (Isa. 10:27); from the prison of darkness (Ps.107:10-14); from sickness (Luke 13:16); from the Law (Gal. 5:1-4); and from death (John 11:25-26).
6. The two large pillars supporting the roof over the porch of the temple that Solomon built were named Jachin, “He establishes”, and Boaz, “In Him is strength” (1 Kings 7:15, 21). In the spiritual sense, the pillars stood guard at the entrance to the holy place, as cherubim also guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24).
7. David, Solomon’s father, said that God made him understand all the plan for the temple to be built, including the porch, “in writing by His [the Holy Spirit’s] hand upon me” (1 Chron. 28:11, 19). The two cherubim named Jachin and Boaz are assigned to stand guard over the revelation of the words of God in writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
8. At times there is silence in Heaven, as when the seventh seal is broken, with the host there waiting to behold what God would do (Rev. 8:1). “It is good that [one] waits silently for the salvation of the LORD” (Lam. 3:26).
9. The hands of a believer represent the visible work (Matt. 5:16). The feet stand for the walk or conduct that is seen (2 Cor. 4:2). The head is the place of spoken thoughts (1 Cor. 2:11-13). The Holy Spirit reveals only Christ, not Himself, and He does the same thing in the believer.
10. A porpoise skin covering over the tabernacle in the wilderness hid its true purpose from the eyes of the world (Exod. 26:14).
11. Jesus as the Christ was hidden from recognition except by divine revelation (Luke 10:21). The believer’s life is hidden in God (Col. 3:3), so that only Christ Jesus in him may be manifested (2 Cor. 4:10-11).
12. Jesus said that “whoever wishes to save his life [Greek psuche, the expression of his own soul] shall lose it [when he dies], and whoever loses his life [soul] for My sake [so as to express My soul], he is the one who will save it [for eternity]” (Luke 9:24).
13. Everyone in Heaven is without shoes, for all the ground there is holy (Acts 7:33).
14. Jesus rebuked those who justified themselves, seeking to be considered righteous in the sight of people (Luke 16:15) rather than before God, who alone is the One who declares us righteous in His Son (Rom. 8:33).
15. Part of the individual cross, which is continually offered to each believer, works the invisibility to others of one’s self (Luke 14:27; Eph. 4:22).
16. An exposed heel means anything in one’s walk (behavior) that makes one vulnerable to being wounded or tripped up by the enemy (Gen. 3:15; Matt. 18:7; 1 Cor. 3:3; 1 Pet. 5:8-10).
17. Nothing good dwells in or originates from our “flesh”, the earthly person (Rom. 7:18). On the cross God removed all spiritual life support to this old self (Rom. 6:6).
18. The functioning of the natural person can only produce spiritual death (Rom. 8:6, 13).
19. Jesus said, “I do not receive glory [honor or fame] from men . . . How can you believe [trust in God] when you receive [and trust in] glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:41, 44). The rulers of His day “loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:43).
20. God maintains a sufficient degree of freedom in our will to enable us to choose for or against Him in every matter. He respects that freedom and waits for us to be willing. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17, KJV).
21. “I do believe; help my unbelief,” the father of the epileptic boy cried out to Jesus (Mark 9:24).
[Please go to the Personal Section to gain a clearer understanding of how such a mantle affected the life of the one wearing it.]
A Surprise Gift
We now need to zoom forward to Rosh Hashanah of 1994. We had, since going to Spokane in ’90, helped bring together the pastors of the (then) seventy – two denominations in Kansas City for monthly prayer and mounted several city – wide repentance services and organized Kansas City’s first “March For Jesus”. After our work in the city finished, we turned over all that had been established to the pastors of the city (collectively) and took a year off to pray.
My husband had promised the pastors of the city that we would return after a year so that he could fulfil that promise by giving a weeklong convocation on the cross of Christ.
So, we headed back to Kansas City for the weeklong convocation that started at Rosh Hashanah and ended right before Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur we were starting to leave the city; but first, we stopped off for an open prayer meeting being held by the ministry of the friend we had accompanied to Spokane years before. The prayer vigil was held in a sanctuary.
The sanctuary had once belonged to the Catholic Church as part of an extremely large convent. Now the building was part of a rescue facility for unwed mothers; if they wanted to keep their babies or allow responsible families to adopt them.
The church building itself had a high vaulted ceiling, tall windows and an alcove in front where the altar had once stood – (now decommissioned as a Catholic sanctuary). It was a large room, simple and clean.
The prayers had already begun when we arrived, therefore we sat toward the back of the room. It was good to be among some of the friends we had made in Kansas City. Wonderful to pray with them again.
SEEING THE LORD
We had been there for only a few minutes when I saw the Lord, twenty-four feet high standing in the center of the vaulted alcove. He was wearing that mantle I had seen being carried by the two angels in Spokane. The cloak was shimmering with multicolor. It was other worldly – gossamer. Rays of light were streaming from the Lord.
“Oh,” I said to myself, “that’s where the mantle went, back to Jesus.” I thought: “It was His to begin with and it has returned to Him.”
Suddenly, He fixed His eyes on me and said: “Look at Me.” His eyes were piercing and seemed nearer than the considerable distance between us. He continued His piercing gaze.
Suddenly the cloak came through Him and traveled the distance from the alcove to the pew where I was standing. It came around me. Then He periscoped down to a normal size and began to move forward. He passed into me and therefore into the cloak as well. So, He was in me wearing the cloak. It was so odd, for He was looking through my eye sockets.
Then He passed out of my body leaving the cloak and He went back to the alcove/altar site. The cloak remained on me. Once back at the alcove, He turned around and looked at me with the garment on me. I could feel the garment on me, also I could see it.
This time He did not ask me as He had in Spokane the night before we went to the mantle’s location.
I did not understand, but it was like the ancient Biblical rite of a covenant cloak given by a husband to His wife “to cover her”. It was, in some way, given to me as a sign of all the Lord was intending in future. It was the first step that eventuated in the Formal Betrothal.
[Go to the Personal Section.]
Notes on the Betrothal Garment and the Crown
The Embroidered Robe – Side notes
* In time past, the enemy must have argued successfully before God that he had legal right to have the garment of brotherly love.
* To be clothed in the Lord Jesus is to be beautiful in the eyes of the Father (Isa. 62:3; Zech. 9:16-17).
The Embroidered Robe – Footnotes
1. The radiance of the Father upon His throne is compared to the colors in a magnificent rainbow (Ezek. 1:28). The range of colors begins with dazzling white and moves through the full light spectrum (Rev. 4:3).
2. “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12).
3. “Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Col. 3:13).
4. “Beyond all these things put on [divine] love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (which binds everything together in complete harmony) (Col. 3:14).
5. Satan, an expert legalist, primarily accuses believers before God of disobedience to the greatest commandment: to love God (Rev. 12:10; Job 1:9-11; Matt. 22:37). The devil can detect this sin by observing the lack of love between brethren. God’s word says, “The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
The lack of love in the body of Christ has reached a point where there were few Christians who manifested Christ’s love for all the saints (Col. 1:4).
6. The garment is intended by the words, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17). His love is to fill our hearts and overflow into the soul capacity of our will. The will is to steadfastly choose to love others in His name – “to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2-3).
The garment was lost through disobedience to the Lord in His church. It could only be recovered through obedience. Christ Jesus does not act on Earth by the Holy Spirit apart from some obedient member of His body. And the Lord Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).
7. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). It is not possible for human beings of themselves to love God (Rom. 3:11, 13-15). However, when a Christian embraces Christ Jesus as one’s only life, He becomes the new inner garment of ever-increasing love for God and for others (Col. 3:4; Phil. 1:9; Eph. 1:15).
8. “Shepherd the church of God which He [Christ] purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28; Rev. 5:9).
“Then I [God] bathed you with water” (Ezek. 16:9-10; Eph. 5:26).
“You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty” (Exod. 28:2; Ps. 29:2, NKJV).
“My soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10).
9. Jesus says here that the whole of our being is to be saved – body, soul, heart, and spirit. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow [the body], and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 5:23).
God alone is righteous. This means that the divine nature is perfectly just (fair and impartial) and right (true and upright).
Human beings were created “that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christians put on the new inner self (heart and spirit) that God created and that is becoming like Christ “in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10).
10. Christ Jesus is the head (Eph. 4:15). Christians are members of His body. We are part of Him and of each other (1 Cor. 12:27; Rom 12:5). This means that a person who is in covenant with the Lord Jesus is also in covenant with all other believers. All Christians are “members [of Christ’s body] belonging to one another” (Eph. 4:25, WUEST)
The Crown – Side notes
* The number twenty-four signifies delegated authority in the heavenly realm (Rev. 4:4).
* There is an old saying about brides: “Something old, something new; something borrowed, something blue.”
* The Hebrew word for the spice henna is translated “camphire” in the New King James Version. It is the same Hebrew word for “ransom” (Song of Sol. 4:13; Isa. 43:3). A bride in the Middle East applies the spice as a paste to her hands and feet on the night before her wedding.
The Crown – Footnotes
1. The Father promises the crown of eternal life to those who persevere under trails and hold fast to their love for God and His children to the end (Rev. 2:10; James 1:12). Also, in Revelation 3:10-11, Jesus appears to refer to the crown of life for the same reasons.
2. The blue color of sapphires represents heaven in the Bible.
3. “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15). The manifestation of Christ involves “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:10-11).
4. Jesus provided something old in the recovered covenant garment. Later He wrote His new name on my forehead. Now the Father allows me to borrow the crown of life for the coming ceremony. He adds to it twenty-four blue sapphires.
5. The Bible calls angels in the third heaven “stars” (Rev. 1:20; 12:4). The Father designates twenty-four angels to accompany this wearer of the crown of life in heaven.
6. For Christians the hands (work) and the feet (conduct) are to give forth the sweet fragrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as our ransom for sin (Eph. 5:2; 1 Tim. 2:6).
7. The union between the Father and the Son is complete and total (John 10:30). They will be satisfied with nothing less than that for those who are “heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Jesus prayed, “As Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us… that they also may be perfected in unity [with Us]” (John 17:21, 23).
Receiving The Spiritual Of A Natural
1 Corinthians 15:46
“However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.”
Mainly, this verse refers to mankind first being a natural (or fleshly) person then becoming a spiritual one. But in the root word from (#5590) in the concordance “thing” is also mentioned. It is this meaning to which the angel refers.
The prayer group that had been praying many years for the Lord’s will to be manifested on Prayer Mountain and for those that make their way to the top, years earlier had received a physical token of transferred authority. We received it together (so that not one of us would mistake the gesture to be personal only). Still, we were unclear as to the full meaning of this “natural” and the extent of the authority it represented.
The Lord, wishing to assist us with these extremely important questions, sent an angel to clarify… and not just any angel, but the first angel I had seen on the top of Prayer Mountain.
RECEIVING THE AUTHORITY AND THE ANNONTING
2014 – (4 years ago)
The Angel Victory stood before me. He wore a silver robe that looked for all the world like liquid mercury. He was blazing with light. I had seen him on the ridge many years ago. He spoke:
“Even as the heathen King Ahasuerus was moved upon to look into the Book of Chronicles of his Kingdom and found there Mordecai’s service to him and to his realm – I have moved upon you to open the chronicles of the ridge in order to see with better understanding my words to you nine years ago. Nine. How many times did the prophet strike the ground?”
“Nine,” I answered.
“You have wondered about the number nine, have you not?”
“It has been nine years since I appeared to you. Twenty-nine years since the prophet called the people to come from the north, south, east and west.”
“Now, Anna, the years have been accomplished for you (which implied a corporate ‘you’ such as those of the prayer group) to be endowed with your further calling. You said that you would receive me. Will you be strong and very courageous? Will you embrace your further calling?”
“What is that calling?”
The angel continued: “To keep the fires burning on the altar of incense of prayers rising into the nostrils of God Almighty.”
“For what purpose?” I asked the angel.
“For the purposes God Himself will reveal – purpose by purpose – immediate and changing purpose by immediate and changing purpose… guided by the nod of His head… guided by the glance of His eye,” the angel said.
“Here,” the angel Victory said “the scepter has been given to you. First the natural, then the spiritual. The natural was extended to you by the one who held it. Now, I victory, have been commissioned to give to you the spiritual of that natural.”
He reached out to me holding a short, (probably 12 to 15 inches long) golden scepter. I reached out my hand and took it. It had some weight to it.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Seek and you will find,” the angel said and vanished.
CORPORATE BLESSINGS AND ANOINTINGS
I had in the past received spiritual tokens to cement the validity of physical markers in my life. However, these were always personal. I had never been the one who received for a group… a corporate anointing… a corporate blessing.
Honestly, I had not thought about such an occurrence. What would it mean? How would it be exercised or used or experienced?
Since the Lord has me stepping out onto thin air often – I run to the Word to confirm or deny spiritual experiences. If the Lord has “done it before” – showing it in the Word, then I know He can “do it again”. I hope I am not so vain as to believe that I alone have been singled out to have such experiences.
Were there corporate anointings and blessings? Well yes – the famous blessing is in Numbers 6:22 – 27 to be placed on all the children of Israel:
22 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
23 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:
24 The LORD bless you, and keep you;
25 The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
26 The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’
27 “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”
What about the anointing? Does the Bible give us an example? It does. Exodus 28:41 –
“You shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him; and you shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve Me as priests.”
The Lord had honored the prayer group by giving to us the authority in prayer for this little mount. The physical token had come from the one who owns the physical acreage and the validation of its meaning and scope of its authority (given in the sign of Esther) from the throne of God. Only God Almighty can give such authority on Prayer Mountain.
Now remember, I and the group had been praying for years before the angel brought the scepter to us. I believe it was bestowed because of length of time in prayer, faithfulness and a desire to hold to purity. Honestly, we were thrilled to be given additional authority and anointing in order to pray for all of you… and to seek God’s will for Prayer Mountain and His timing to fulfill His will.
That is one “spiritual” given by God Himself to confirm a “physical” handed to us some time before.
I am showing you the moment of the transfer of the authority and with it the anointing.
Look for the same in your life. Usually He surprises you with such “spiritual upgrades”. You are going along serving as you have always served and you receive a “suddenly”. It’s glorious.
Living Patchwork Quilt
August 6th, 2006: Sunday
When walking up toward the gazebo, I saw a patchwork quilt laid out all over the land on Prayer Mountain. Its patches were bright primary colors: intense yellow, bright red, electric blue like a patchwork quilt for a child’s room. In each square a living picture was playing. Each held a story or stories.
These stories were playing at the same time. But not all of the pictures were of people. Some were of the fauna on the mount: squirrels, birds, etc. Their stories were being told also.
Every so often, another patch was added to the quilt and began to play its story within its little square. The squares were many colors and sown together with a heavy, red thread – which later all felt represented the blood of Jesus. There was a joy and childlikeness about this quilt.
I thought to myself that the whole earth is full of His glory.
Suddenly a mountain shot up from the top of this ridge. I heard a voice say: “The mountain of the Lord will be chief among the mountains. He will rise and all will fall before Him.”
I asked: “What does mean?”
The voice answered “Prepare!”
This revelation was one of the most delightful and instructive of the visions shared with me by the Lord on Prayer Mountain. On the surface it was like a never-ending story (because it was growing daily.)
Those within the vision included First Nation peoples, Pioneers, birds, bears, rabbits, etc. Moravians, people groups from other lands and a massive – a monumental number of angels.
It was like a “Living Memory Quilt.” It played out the stories of all those who had come to Prayer Mountain… so that, if you have visited, you are also a part of this “living history” – a Memory Quilt.
Suddenly I realized that I was being recorded… that what I did in this place was significant (even if I thought I was alone.) I realized that, by being here, I was part of God’s testimony about His land and Himself. I was not only part of the witness of His faithfulness to this land but to the Moravians and to all His God-fearing children who have prayed for Him to be glorified by establishing a righteous work on that ridge.
How long had He been declaring His intentions over this land? Who knows – probably from the beginning. This ridge had already been pruned and tested. A group of PhD’s from Tennessee were here on this little mount: they were surveying the top. My husband and I went out to greet them (and in true country fashion – find out what they were doing.) I asked why the land had so little soil on the mountain and one of our visitors told us that the mountain had worn down. “The Brushy Mountains,” he told us “was one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.” Over the many, many years the mountain had worn down from a peek which could have been as high as the Himalayas to, now, one of the humblest of land rises.
In the eyes of the world, being “less” high is also “less” desirable – usually – lowly – insignificant – but I felt the Father was preparing it. He was making it ready to receive His presence and His glory in His time… like the manger that received the Baby Jesus – the now, lowly ridge could and would receive the Father’s glory.
Even as the sounds of our praises and prayers are reverberating throughout the universe – on and on – forever proclaiming His wonderful name now I realized that all we do in His name is being recorded whether we realize it or not and all is present before Him to be seen again – it is a testimony to His faithfulness and a spiritual record that is being played before the great cloud of witnesses and the angels… a glorious Living Quilt.
ASSURING HIS CHILDREN
But the most important part of the vision came at the end with a proclamation and a promise.
Right at the end, a mountain shot up from the midst of the quilt. It has been prophesied by many reputable seers that our Heavenly Father will be manifested on the ridge – there to meet with and minister Himself to His children. (He has come down before – as when He came down and ate with the 70 elders on the mountain when the children of Israel were in the desert.)
We need Him again in this tangible way in order that His children may know Him better.
The amazing last part of that vision is a restating and a re-pledging of those prophetic promises.
He is coming and we have been told that we have a part to play: “prepare.”
The Under Secretary Of Truth
THE UNDER SECRETARY TO TRUTH
June 29, 2006: Thursday – Vision:
An angel about 25 feet high appeared. He was translucent. I could see right through him. He bowed at the waist to greet me. Then he knelt as though acknowledging that he was reporting for duty. I respected his time with the Lord. When he rose, he faced me.
I addressed him: “May I ask your name?”
“I am an UNDERSECRETARY TO TRUTH.” I remembered that Jesus said that He was Truth. I then supposed that there are angels that serve as secretaries (like in the president’s cabinet). This must be an angel that serves under the secretaries – one that could be assigned to a location and remain in that location during the assignment. I did not know for sure, however.
“Do you come with authority from Truth Himself?” I asked.
“I do,” he continued, “You have prayed that all that will be brought forth here will be in love and fellowship. But a spirit of truth is also needed for the transparency required to conduct His power.” [It seemed that he was suggesting that truth was a conductor of power. However, I felt that I had known several Christian leaders with “power” that I could not also testify to their personal character as it related to “truth”. * But if the angel was relating my own personal desire to see the truth joined to God’s power on
this ridge… well, he was right. There was a great desire within me to see God’s ways prevail from the beginning to the completion of one of His purposes – uncorrupted.]
He continued: “He who is Truth has sent me to this location in order that His power may have safe passage and drive home, truly “hitting-the-mark”. The path of light will lead many to knowing the One who is Truth. I speak, not from myself, but from the One who sent me to you.”
* “Power” is a gift given by God. As the word says in Romans 11:29: “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Therefore, at times the gift will reside within a Christian that is soulish or fleshly. That person uses the gift, but the gift does not change the person’s character. Character is replacing our fleshly mind, emotions and will with Christ. That, of course, is a “work of the cross”.
A person may have a large ministry or hold authority in a church but still not be maturing in his or her character. This has been one of the greatest stumbling blocks for the body of Christ. When we are younger in Christ we believe that those God-given gifts MUST be springing from a person who has the mind, emotions and will of Christ. They must be embracing the cross and have been rewarded with these glorious gifts that help so many people. The fact that this is not true, may be the most difficult “pill for us to swallow” as we ourselves, mature. It doesn’t seem “right” somehow. Our human mind believes righteousness and the gifts should go together as they do in Jesus. How could God allow the unrighteous to use His gifts? – not only use them, but swindle, cheat, make millions there-by living a life of wealth and ease, all due to God’s “gifts”?
I certainly am not wise enough to answer that age-old question. But I do know our Heavenly Father. He keeps His word. If he has assigned certain
gifts to certain people, He will give those gifts to certain people with the hope that they will be used to benefit His children in their time of need. The gifts are blessings that pass through the person to those in need. No one owns God’s gifts.
WHAT IS OUR HEAVENLY FATHER SEEKING?
You never read in the word that our Heavenly Father is looking for the gifts in anyone. NO – He is looking for the character of Christ.
Character and gifts are two different things.
Gifts are given – as the name implies.
Character is a replacing of our fleshly souls (mind, emotions and will) with Christ. Not with His characteristics, but with Christ Himself. In other words, we do not act like Him, He replaces the fleshly parts of our souls with Himself – just like at salvation we ask Jesus to come into our heart and be our life.
The transformation of the soul is accomplished by “embracing the cross”. What in the world does that mean? It is sort of “Christianize” for the work of the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit orchestrates a series of tests in our lives. We are unable to test ourselves nor even to arrange the time of the tests. The Holy Spirit must accomplish all of this. [Sometimes, also, we must take certain tests (presented in various ways) over and over again.]
We must pass our tests even as Jesus passed His tests in the wilderness. Like Jesus we must choose God over our “flesh” and we pass that particular test.
Now, what does this do? It was difficult to tell with Jesus’ tests because He was uncorrupted by sin. But when He came out of the desert, He came in the power of the Spirit. But for us, our soul has been sullied by sin. We do not tidy up our souls. All parts of the soul must be replaced by
Christ. [We only do this over a lifetime (usually). Some only allow a little of their souls to be exchanged for Christ.]
But this “work of the cross” (called that because it is painful most of the time) determines our placement in His millennial and future work.
Jesus passed the tests originally and now He passes them again through us, if we allow Him. He is all in all. Finally, only Christ passes over (and we in Him) into the Heavenly Kingdom.
GIFTS AND CHARACTER
The word says to seek spiritual gifts (in order to bless many in the name of the Lord.) But live your life to fulfill the high calling in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
For the eventual House of Prayer on Prayer Mountain, (I was musing at the time of the vision that) I hoped to see a work of the Lord accomplished by those with gifts and character – thereby to see it raised up unsullied and clean. (That of course should be the desire of any and all wishing to establish houses of prayer where ever they may be.) The universal truth for all should be that such a sacred trust must be established on a clean foundation: (Psalm 24:3-5) –
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Seeing Our Heavenly Father
The throne of God is resplendent with the most valuable of all: the divine character and virtues of the Father. These comprise His authority and that by which He rules. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne (Ps. 97:2). He is righteous and just (Ps. 11:7; Zech. 9:9). He loves righteousness and justice (Ps 33:5) He works righteousness and justice (Ps. 99:4).
No human being can see the brightness of the glory of God’s face and live through the experience (Exod. 33:20; 1 Tim. 6:16). Angels are able to behold His countenance (Matt. 18:10), and believers in their resurrected bodies will see His face (Rev. 22:4).
Christ Jesus is our hope of drawing near to God the Father and to dwell in Him with His Son even while we still walk the earth (1 Tim. 1:1; Heb. 7:19; John 17:21; Col. 3:3; Rev. 3:12).
One meaning of “waters” in Scripture is “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (Rev. 17:15). Troubled waters symbolize heathen peoples in an uproar (2 Chron. 15:6).
God has ordained that the salvation of the Lord Jesus be carried out on Earth with the free consent and cooperation of those in the one body of His Son, those who have been made a part of the risen Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; 2:16; 3:10; 5:23, 25-27, 30).
The hope of returning to heaven, our true home, to know our true Father, our true Brother, and our true Friend, the Holy Spirit, lies deep within the new, human, spiritual heart (Ezek. 36:26; John 17:3; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23). The resurrected spirit of each believer is already there in Christ (1 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 2:5-6; John 12:26; 17:24).
There is nothing good and trustworthy dwelling in the natural state in which we were born, that is, in our “flesh,” which hates God and refuses to obey Him (Rom. 1:30; 8:7). Christ Jesus is the only good and trustworthy thing in us, for He has been made all things for us from God (1 Cor. 1:30; Col 3:11).
In the end times, God’s family will be restored to Him (Mal. 4:5-6; Eph. 3:14-15; Mark 9:12) from the captivity of a double heart (Ps. 12:2), so that they no longer go limping between two opinions (1 Kings 18:21, KJV).
The trumpets were blown in heaven on this occasion for one of the same reasons that the two silver trumpets in Israel were sounded to gather everyone together: to rejoice in worshiping God in His immediate presence (Num. 10:2-3, 10).
1. True gold, like every created thing in heaven, is transparent because it exists to be illumined by God’s glory (Rev. 21:18, 21, 23).
2. Jesus said that His Father has a “form,” a figure or shape that can be seen (John 5:37). Many people saw His bodily form: Moses alone (Num. 12:8) and again with all the leaders of Israel (Exod. 24:9-11). The body of the Son of God is like His Father’s appearance, for the Son is in His image (2 Cor. 4:4: Phil. 2:6; Col. 2:9). Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
3. The divine light that is of God flashes through His garment in heaven like lightning as an indication of His awesome power (Rev. 4:5; 16:18). The power of the Lord Jesus on Earth also permeated His garment (Luke 8:43–46; 6:19).
4. The primary Hebrew word translated “to worship” literally means “to bow down,” not a matter of words or feelings but an act of humbling oneself. An example is Moses in the presence of the glory of God’s grace (Exod. 34:8). When the glory cloud of God filled the temple, none of the ministering priests were able to stand (1 Kings 8:10-11).
5. The same words translated “lap” in both Testaments are also translated “bosom”. When one sits, the lap is almost the equivalent of the bosom. This represents the intimacy that the Son has “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18).
6. The Lord has made His disciples to be “a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:6). Priests are chosen and brought near to God to dwell in His courts (Ps. 65:4). God gave His covenant of peace to the Aaronic priesthood through Phinehas (Num. 25:11-13). The Melchizedek priesthood of those who have believed into Jesus includes a greater covenant of peace (Heb. 7:17, 24) Christ is their peace (Eph. 2:14).
7. He is “a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where [He] has entered as a forerunner for us” (Heb. 6:19-20). Having entered within the veil in spirit, “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Cor. 4:18). Our desires and minds are set on “things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).
8. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). If we “[desist] from[our] own ways, from seeking our [own] pleasure, and speaking [our] own word, then [we] with take delight in the LORD” (Isa. 58:13-14). He will move us beyond the heights of the earth by drawing us after Him (Song of Sol. 1:4; John 6:44).
9. The Lord God dwelt within a dark cloud when He visited the Israelites at Mount Sinai (Exod. 19:9; Deut. 4:11; Ps. 18:9).
10. “[No one knows] who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Luke 10:22). “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” Jesus said (John 14:9).
11. Jesus said that there would be “dismay among nations, in the perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world” (Luke 21:25-26).
12. The more judgements of God come upon the earth at the end of the age, the more clearly His glory will appear upon His children. They will begin to “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43; Isa. 60:1-2).
13. “Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you” (Ezek. 2:8). “Thy words were found and I ate them; and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). “Write in a book what you see… and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things” (Rev. 1:11, 19). “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words [with understanding] … and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3).
14. The word chancellor is from the Late Latin cancellarius, meaning a doorkeeper or a secretary to a king. God’s chancellor is one who opens the door for others to come to know Him through a written record of proceedings in heaven and their substantiation by the Scriptures. As the risen Lord opened the minds of the eleven apostles and those who were with them to understand the things concerning Himself in all the Bible, now He is opening the mind of His church to deeper revelation of the Father’s heart (Luke 24:27, 33, 45; John 16:12-13, 25).
15. God knew each of us in Christ before we were born into the world (Jer. 1:5; Ps. 139:16). “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the
world” and called us according to His purpose (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29-30; Gal. 1:15).
16. Human wisdom and the reasonings of worldly thinkers are useless nonsense to God (1 Cor. 1:20; 3:20). “God has mainly chosen the foolish people… the weak… the lowly and despised, even those considered nonentities, in order to nullify those who think themselves to be somebodies – so that no one may boast before Him” (1 Cor. 1:27-29, paraphrased).
17. The Father delights in one He has called to fulfil His purposes because of the apportionment of the grace of His Son’s character, life, and ministry that He chooses to allot to that person (Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 12:3, 6; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11; Eph. 4:7, 15-16).
18. The Father has placed His entire trust in His Son, giving Him all authority to bring all creation to completion (John 3:35; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22). The Son warrants this trust because He laid Himself aside from eternity out of love for His Father in order to fully obey and manifest His Father rather than Himself (Phil. 2:6-8; John 5:19, 30).
19. The natural expression of the earthly person in soul and body, called in Scripture “the old self” (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9) or “himself” (Matt. 16:24), must be denied and laid aside as worthless to God. The Holy Spirit will enable us to keep in incapacitated on the individual cross that He provides each of us; as Jesus bears His personal one (Matt. 16:24). The life of God in Christ alone is to be manifested in us (Eph. 4:24; 2 Cor. 4:10-11). The natural or old person cannot be changed, for it is hopelessly centered on itself rather than God. Christians change only by having more of Christ Jesus, the one new man, formed in them (Gal. 4:19; Eph. 2:15; 4:13).
20. God the Spirit causes believers to grow up together in all aspects into Christ (Col. 2:19; Eph. 4:15): in His salvation by the Scriptures (1 Pet.
2:2), in the grace of faith and love and of the knowledge of Him (2 Thess. 1:3; 2 Pet. 3:18), and in being fitted together into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:21).
21. The Father is unveiling more of His heart so His people may know that He has turned their heart back again (1 Kings 18:37) and that He has given them a heart to know and understand Him. (Deut. 29:4; Matt. 13:15) and that they may love Him with all their heart (Deut. 4:29).
22. Whirling wheels accompany certain cherubim (Ezek. 1:15-20; 10:13).
23. When God created the earth, the host of heaven “sang together and… shouted for joy” (Job 38:7; Rev. 12:4, “stars of heaven”; Job 1:6, “sons of God”).
24. The Israelites usually used a trumpet made of a ram’s horn called a shofar, the transliteration of the Hebrew shophar. One of the purposes of their blowing the shofar is the same as that for which it was blown now in heaven: to solemnly prepare everyone for a new revelation or act by God (Exod. 19:13; Josh. 6:5; Joel 2:15).
The Final Attack
This battle had been so long and intense that one of our prayer warriors finally buckled and withdrew from the company of those of us in prayer. Nothing, it seemed, could persuade our friend to stand. As he buckled, he left the area. He confided that for him, he wanted his life to be simpler and gentler, living the type of Christian life that did not make him such a target of the enemy.
We began to realize that the “testings” were to not only cleanse the land but also to confirm those who were called to be here.
Although we were sad to lose him, we understood. Like seeing a fallen comrade on the field of battle, your heart goes out to your fellow prayer warrior but there is no condemnation – only sorrow that all of those who were called at first would not be together to celebrate the Lord’s final victory.
BUT THE DEMONS REJOICED
When the enemy pulls one of God’s children off course [let us hope it is only for a time] the demons celebrate. That happened in this battle. By hindering one of God’s children, their glee was frenetic.
JULY 11, 2008: FRIDAY
Laughing demons were flying around, stopping now and then to rub up against each other – like animals that might put their scent on a tree.
You know, I have never seen demons actually be happy. These were overjoyed – delirious. They were celebrating, it seemed – but manically, feverishly, insanely. Yes, insanely, is the best way to describe their actions and the frenzy with which they persisted. They were taunting me; exulting in their celebration and – according to their attitude – rejoicing at the expense of God’s children.
Suddenly a huge angel – as black as night – with clothing that billowed out from his body – (tattered, ragged, as though the garment had not been cleaned nor changed in thousands of years) –
came screaming into the midst of the celebrating demons. He had color on his head, tail and cloak.
The sound he made was blood curdling and cut through everything. It made me recoil.
The demons scattered like roaches scurrying away from light.
This demonic angel flew around dragging his filthy garment through the air – screaming, screaming, screaming. Oh Lord, it was dreadful.
“Father,” I said, “in the name of Jesus, I ask that You rebuke this emissary from Hell.”
“Punish him for daring to cross Your sacred land. Torment him for taunting your children and return him to his place of darkness away from this beacon of light – this place that You have established for Yourself. You have claimed this place. Pursue him. Drive Your arrows into him. Literally bring him to ruin. I ask this in Jesus name.”
The large demon began to look like it was being pushed or thrust in the midsection by a rail – for time and time again, something invisible was ramming into his stomach, so that as he was punched backward, his legs came flying out in front of him as he received the blows. His arms, also swung to the front of his body and his face looked as though he had received the type of blow that – if so be he was human – would have knocked the breath out of him.
Again and again he received these bows – until he turned suddenly from facing the blows to trying to escape them.
He screamed in pain as he went.
“Oh Lord,” I said, “thank You for helping us.”
JULY 14, 2008: MONDAY
I could see faces looking down from above – watching. I believe that it was the great cloud of witnesses. The angels, also, were standing, watching us.
“Lord,” I said, “help us to know Your ways. Lead us in Your path. Open all doors to Your understanding. Give us your heart in all of this.”
“Also, Lord, would You be so kind as to take up, again, the building of the fortress that will surround (what would be the guest house and the ministry location)?”
The Lord answered: “Work will resume today on that fortress.”
JULY 15, 2008: TUESDAY
Work has resumed on the fortress around the ministry house and what would eventually be the guest house. It seems as though the Lord has assigned additional workers for the labor is moving ahead at record speed.
The Lord, also, assigned more guards to protect the workers.
RELICS OF THE BATTLE
Have you seen stranded tanks rusting beside the road in war footage: relics left behind of old forgotten battles? The same phenomena exist in spiritual warfare, much to my amazement.
Buzzards circled within the dirty vortex – as if there were dead carcasses on the ground and crows perched in the bare trees near the top of Prayer Mountain. These are the same trees where the huge black cocoons are hanging.
Something is gestating within those cocoons. The cry of the crows is almost like a demonic lullaby – as though the crows are nurses watching over the cocoons. Very strange. They guard and train – even while the “what-ever-they-are” inside the cocoons are developing. The whole thing is eerie.
THE FINAL OUTCOME
This spiritual battle was long and fierce. There were many wounded and many victories won. However, the dark sacks hanging in the trees were a
constant reminder of unfinished business – the final blow had not been struck. Without constant prayer, at any time those gloomy sacks could open, letting out God – knows – what.