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WORSHIP MATTERS

TIME TO WORSHIP IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES

Mention the word “worship” in Australia today and what do you think of? Does your mind go to the descriptions of heavens worship found scattered throughout the book of Revelation? Do you think of it in terms of “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”? Or perhaps King David’s contribution to worship? Or maybe your mind goes straight to Australia’s contributions from Hillsong, Planet Shakers and the like?

One day in the early 90’s, while worshipping the Lord at the piano, I had an impression of the rent veil in heaven. Standing outside the rent veil were multitudes of God’s people. They were rejoicing. Some were dancing, some shouting, some with tears of joy because of the victory Jesus had obtained at the cross and that now the veil had been sovereignly split in two. As I looked I noticed that although so many were rejoicing and celebrating the victory, they were not entering into the throne room of the Lord. Most had stayed celebrating outside the veil and there were only a few that had actually entered into the throne room. Those who had entered were on their knees before the Lord whose outstretched scepter was towards them. In Hebrews we are told that because of the blood of Jesus we can have confidence or boldness that we will not be destroyed when we enter into the holy of holies. As I saw the vision unfold I asked the Lord why His people were staying outside when Jesus had provided the way in? The Spirit of the Lord spoke that the way into the Holy of holies was through the cross and few were willing to pay the price of applying the cross of Jesus to their lives or to take up their own cross.

It is one thing to rejoice because of the victories Jesus has won, it is quite another to apply that victory so we can benefit from it. The major benefit of entering the Holy of holies or the throne room is to enter into deep and intimate communion with the Lord.



DRAW NEAR

The writer to the Hebrews says “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…”

(Hebrews 10:22) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7 )

In our human relationships there are some people we know just enough to say “hi” to and not much more. With others we may enter a conversation, but this remains at a surface level where we discuss the weather, sport and perhaps some of our everyday activities. But those we are very close to we will trust with the depths of our heart. It is only in intimate relationships that we dare make ourselves vulnerable to reveal our inner thoughts and feelings. God desperately wants a people for Himself with whom He can have close fellowship. God does not want to relate to His people at arms length. He doesn’t want us to say “hi” and then keep walking. He is not looking for mere acquaintances or business associates. He is looking for a bride. He wants to be closely and intimately involved with His chosen. He wants to share His heart and His thoughts with His people. He wants us to draw near. The heart cry of God is revealed from Genesis to Revelation. Adam and Eve walked and talked with the Lord in the cool of the evenings. “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex 33:11)

When in the garden Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us..” (John 17:20, 21)

The one spirit that Jesus prayed for is not obtainable in a relationship that is at arms length. It is a bond, an intertwining and a connection that is very personal. It is a relationship that is fully involved, fully committed and extremely close. Earlier Jesus had told His disciples to “Abide in Me, and I in you.” (John 15:4) The apostle Paul says that “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17) In this passage Paul is actually speaking about a level of intimacy and oneness comparable with that of sexual union, and the reasons why immorality and adultery is a problem for believers. The love song of Solomon and the allegorical picture of Jesus and the church, his bride, clearly reveal the heart of God. “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away…in the secret places…let me see your face, let me hear your voice.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-16) God clearly wants to draw near to us and has provided a way for us to do that.

STANDING AFAR

Deep in the heart of humanity is a desire to connect with the Creator. And the Lord so desperately wants to connect with His creation that He paid a high price so that it could happen. So why do we withdraw? Within the church there is a groundswell of those desiring to draw near in intimate communion with the Lord. Yet the reality is that many hesitate, struggle, are afraid and find themselves drawing away. Some years ago I was ministering in a church where I taught the song I had written, “Whom Shall I Fear”. As I sang this song people began weeping as the Lord began to do a powerful and supernatural work in the whole congregation. The teaching session got “interrupted” by people being set free. People were hungry to enter into the presence of the Lord, but fear had overtaken them, and this unnecessary separation had caused deep sorrow in their hearts.

If we were really honest we would acknowledge that in the western church today many have the desire to be near to the heart of God, but it is not being realized. We worship, but from a distance. And if we can be bluntly honest, it is this “distant relationship” that has had such an impact upon the way we worship the Lord. It has affected our passion for God, our priorities, our commitment to Him, the things we do and yes, the sounds we produce in worship. Many ungodly things happen within the church when we worship from afar.

If we desire to be near to the Lord, why are we content to rejoice at the rent veil without entering in? Why do we keep our distance from Almighty God? What is preventing the church from entering the holy of holies? It seems so sad. God wants to be near us. We want to be near Him. Yet for some reason we push Him away. Perhaps the difficulty for us is the same as that for both Adam and Israel.

ADAM

The dialogue between Adam and God in the garden is very revealing. “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Gen 3:8-10) Adam knew the greatness of God. The work of creation had just been completed and God had given Adam instruction about it. Yes, he knew God was powerful, mighty, majestic, just, holy and righteous. Adam did not have to be told that his sin had now placed him in a very dangerous place. He had good reason to be afraid. Adam’s solution was flimsy and inadequate. First Adam and Eve grabbed some fig leaves. Realizing these were inadequate they hid. Previously Adam had been naked but he wasn’t aware of it because he was actually covered. Previously he had been clothed like the Lord, in honour, majesty and glory (Psa 104:1) Sin had stripped him of God’s covering. Very quickly the products of sin are revealed: shame and fear. Nobody had to tell Adam his failure. He knew. Sin brings such shame that we do not want anyone to know about it, we just want to run for cover and hide. And the fear it brings is crippling. Adam had previously had an intimate relationship with the Lord. Although a man he had been able to come near God without any fear. Now there was a deep divide in their relationship.

ISRAEL

In Exodus 19 & 20 the Lord revealed Himself to Israel in a way they had not seen before. In his book, “Gleanings in Exodus”, Arthur Pink speaks of the way Israel had seen Jehovah up to that time. “Previously, they had seen his judgements upon Egypt; they had beheld his power displayed at the Red Sea, they had witnessed His guiding hand in the pillar of Cloud and Fire; they had experienced his mercies in the providing of the manna and the giving of water form the smitten rock; but they were now to behold His exalted majesty…” Israel witnessed the “thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.” (Ex 20:18) “So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex 20:21)

When Israel was confronted with God’s awesome majesty their fear was legitimate but their solution was more appropriate than Adam’s. “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex 20:19) Israel had asked for a mediator! The Lord’s answer to Moses may surprise us, “what they have spoken is good.” (Deut 18:17) Their request was in agreement with God’s ultimate plan of salvation. So God appointed Moses as a Prophet or spokesman for Himself. Moses was not any “better” than any of the rest of Israel but God appointed him as mediator to demonstrate what a mediator can do and the need for one, thus preparing the way for Israel to receive and understand Jesus as the one true mediator between God and man. (1 Tim 2:5,6 Deut 18:15-18).

NOT JUST AN OLD TESTAMENT PROBLEM

A revelation of the Lord in His majesty and glory was not just a problem for Old Testament people. John was the close friend of Jesus yet when he had a vision of Jesus in all His glory, he fell down as dead. “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” (Rev 1:17)

It is an awesome thing to behold the fullness of the glory of the Lord. The apostle Paul exhorts the Romans to consider both the “goodness and severity of God”. (Romans 11:22) It is much easier for us to embrace the Lord’s love, mercy and grace than His righteous, just, holy and majestic attributes. The struggle for us is the same struggle that Adam had, and the same struggle that Israel had. When confronted with the manifest presence of the Lord, Adam and Eve hid, Israel stood afar, and John fell down as dead. How do we respond? Do we hide, run away, stay at the distance or come near and fall prostrate at His feet?

GOD’S SOLUTIONzz

The character and nature of God has not changed since the Old Testament was written. What has changed is how sinful man can get near to a holy God. Just like a flame will consume paper, so God’s Holy character consumes anything that is not holy. When Adam and Eve believed the serpent, God was faced with a dilemma for which He had long had a plan. How could He who is holy, holy, holy get within cooee of sinful man? We know the wonder of the Gospel is that at great cost, God provided a way for mankind to come near to Him. Jesus was able to make a way for the two incompatible natures to be able to be intimate. That is a high price to pay for a relationship. What love. What passion. What commitment. Can we see in the Gospel the heart cry of the Father to commune with His people? He has paid such a high price for us to come near.

Before exhorting us to “draw near” the writer of the Hebrews says we now have “boldness to enter the Holiest” (Heb 10:19) He attributes this new found boldness to the blood of Jesus. The moment we confess our sin, the blood of Jesus cleanses us of our sin and God can then safely look upon us, because He sees us covered with a “robe of righteousness”. He removes the sin and covers us. He covers us with His honour, His dignity, His splendour, His righteousness. That is why we now have boldness, courage, and confidence to draw near to him without shame and without the fear of being consumed by God’s holiness and majesty.

So why do shame and fear still cause us to either hide or draw back from the Presence of the Lord? Even as New Testament believers, shame and fear still affect multitudes and are obstacles to coming “within the veil”. But this does not need to be so. The Lord has promised to deliver us from all our fears. It seems somewhere we have missed something. On one hand there is sin and shame and on the other hand is the access Jesus has provided. So why don’t we appropriate it and enter in?

THREE VITAL KEYS TO COMING NEAR

1. EMBRACE THE CROSS

(a) Repentance. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The promise of forgiveness and cleansing is conditional. The word “if” reveals a condition. Unconfessed sin is not removed and shame and fear rule us. Many confess their sin at conversion and leave it there. Repentance is unfashionable but it must become a part of our lives. We are affected not just by our sin nature, but also sins before we were saved, sins of the generations as well as current sins. Some are so deep it takes time in the Lord’s Presence for the Lord to get us to a place where we can confront them.

(b) Dying To Self Is Not An Option. “No flesh shall glory in His Presence.” We have two choices. We either co-operate with the Holy Spirit to deal with our flesh or else when we try to come near the Lord we die. It happened to Uzzah when David brought the ark without the Lord’s protocols and divine order. It also happened to Ananias and Sapphira. If we want to live in the power of the New Testament church, then we need to understand it could happen again.

2. BELIEVE IT IS FINISHED

Faith receives what God’s word has said about us. If we have confessed our sin it is removed. End of story. Don’t rationalize it or try to understand it. When the devil tries to steal it from you declare that “it is written”. “I am cleansed”. “It is finished.” We come near by faith.

3. LEARN THE PROTOCOLS OF THE KING

Royal families have very clear procedures and codes of etiquette for those meeting, dining and especially for those marrying the King or Queen. Are we aware that the King of kings also has a clear procedure for coming near to Him? The Lord wants us to come near, but we must learn the acceptable way to approach His Presence. We must not be presumptuous or casual.

Tommy Tenney in his book, “Finding Favour with the King” says, “Some who come to a king’s front gate are merely onetime visitors…these master only the most basic procedures of protocol…a second group …guests of the king, come for official business of a more extended nature…these individuals must master much more of the protocol of the palace…then there are the intimates…these are few in number but great in privileged access. They understand how to treat a king or queen with the proper respect and honour.” The King of kings also has procedures by which we must approach Him. As the bride of Christ we must learn how to treat the king of kings with honour and respect. Tommy Tenney’s book is about Queen Esther, a peasant girl who becomes educated in the king’s protocol. In his book he goes on to say, ‘we find ourselves awkward and poorly equipped, needing to regain the long-lost art of elevating a monarch and magnifying a king. Even the language of honour seems foreign to us…You cannot worship what you dethrone!” In honouring the King we need to know what pleases Him and what displeases Him. We need to love what He loves and hate what He hates.

God’s protocol is found in the Tabernacle of Moses and David. When the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us to draw near, it is in the context and language of the tabernacle. In Hebrews 8:4 it says “…brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus”. The “Holiest” refers to the Holy of holies found in the Tabernacle of Moses. In the previous two chapters the writer is explained how Jesus fulfills the requirements of the tabernacle of Moses. He says that the priests in the tabernacle of Moses “serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things…” The tabernacle (or tent) is a picture of heaven itself. God used the tabernacle as an object lesson by which He could teach us heavens protocols. The Lord is very practical. He gave the Jews clear objects to teach them spiritual concepts. Jesus taught using parables. And this picture of “God’s tent” is used throughout the whole Bible.

In His instructions to Moses, the Lord made it clear that the tabernacle was the place He had chosen to meet with man. (Ex 25:22) The tabernacles of Moses or David are not the imagination of Old Testament writers dreaming about something vague, remote or long time gone. No, in every case God Himself gave them the blueprint. Why? To help us ordinary folk understand heaven, the place where all believers hold their true citizenship. While we live on this earth in these temporal bodies we cannot fully grasp a place we have not seen. If Moses had been an Aussie the terminology would probably be close to talking about the procedures and etiquettes needed to go camping with the King of kings. The tabernacle was not just a place to meet and “have coffee”. It was a place where God wanted to permanently live and to be able to connect with His people in a very personal way.

The spirit is wooing the bride to come closer, to draw near. Jesus paid the price; He doesn’t want His bride standing outside the door!!! The wedding feast will take place in heaven, INSIDE the Holy of holies. He wants us to enter in and dwell with Him, to “tabernacle” with Him. In John 1:14 it says of Jesus “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. The word dwelt is skeônooô in Greek (G4637) and basically means to tabernacle; to tent or encamp, or to reside. When you live in the same residence as someone you certainly get to know them – even more so if you are camping in a tent! Aussies love going camping. It is relaxing, friendly, sociable and great for bonding. Normal barriers to communication seem to disappear. God used the tabernacle as an illustration to help us get a glimpse of how we, ordinary people with a sinful nature can enter into heaven and how we can come near to the King of kings. Even more amazing it is a picture to help us comprehend and grasp how we mortals can have intimate communion with the Creator of the universe who is oh so holy. It is a picture of the protocols needed so we can safely enter into the very throne room in heaven.

The psalmist says “let us come before His Presence with thanksgiving…For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:2,3) Almighty God is no ordinary King! Tommy Tenney says that “worship is the protocol that protects the King and qualifies the visitor.” While we are to come near the King with a song of praise and thanksgiving, worship is not just about music. Worship is about offering our whole lives to the Lord – not just our vocal chords. We are to present our whole self as a “living sacrifice”…which is our “reasonable service” or, worship. (Romans 12:1) Jesus said we are to love the Lord with our whole heart, mind and soul. The protocols for coming near the King of kings as outlined in the tabernacle will have an impact upon our whole lives. When we offer the whole of our beings [body, soul and spirit] to the Lord our songs of praise and thanksgiving will be affected by the depth of our surrender to Him. It will affect every part of our lives; our behaviour, our speech, our attitudes, and yes, even our music.

THE TABERNACLE – HOW TO DRAW NEAR

The tabernacle has three areas: the outer court, the holy place and the Holy of holies. An 8 foot curtain established a line of demarcation around the entire tabernacle area and it only has ONE gate! Jesus is THE only way we can enter into heaven. When we repent, believe and trust in Jesus we walk through that gate and into the courtyard of His presence.

There are two interesting comparisons between the three areas. One involves the space, and the other the lighting.

The outer court has a much larger space than the Holy place or Holy of Holies have. (Exodus 27:9-13)

The outer court is 150’ length by 75’ width. The holy place is 30’ x 15’ but the holy of holies is a cube of 15’ x 15’. This is a picture of our walk with the Lord that as we progress it is more restricted but much more glorious. The restriction is upon our flesh. He must increase and we must decrease. As He increases so does the glory!

Light is needed for direction and life. The outer court uses natural light sources; it is lit by the sun and moon. The holy place is lit by the Lampstand of the Lord which represents Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in agreement. The Holy of Holies has no light. But it is the place of the ark which represents the Presence of God. “The city [heaven] had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Revelation 21:22) The glory of the Lord lights the Holy of holies. As we progress we will have more direction, more revelation and more life. These facts will impact our personal lives as well as our musical expression of our walk with the Lord. We will see changes in our lives and our relationship with the Lord as we progress from the outer court to the holy of holies. If we have a heart to “come near” we will want to know and implement these protocols. We should also expect a change in our approach and sound of the worship we present, yes even to the music we use in worship.

If we have ever wondered about the different levels of worship experienced in various places, understanding the three areas of the tabernacle can assist us to comprehend what is taking place. Some churches are in the outer court, some are in the holy place and other are operating within the holy of holies. While it is important to recognize these three stages, the Lord’s intention is for us to progress until we come into the holy of holies. It was never His intention for us to stay in the outer court.

THE OUTER COURT

The outer court represents the start to our relationship with God, in other words our salvation experience. We are not intimately close, but we are in. It is a place of beginning. But God never intended for us to stay here. The new and living way provided by Jesus was so we could draw near. If we stay here our walk with the Lord will remain shallow and distant.

It’s a good thing that the outer court has lots of space because when we first get saved we come with all our excess baggage. Most of us bring suitcases, even truckloads of junk. And all strapped to our souls. Some of it we have inherited from our families, some are attitudes and beliefs we have collected from daily life at school, university or wherever we have been vocationally. Some excess baggage we have even collected in religious organizations like church or even Bible school. Other stuff we have collected by things we have digested through the media and the popular channels of communication: TV/ newspapers /magazines /internet /films /music. The sad thing about all this junk is that most of us are oblivious to it hanging off us. Considering how much space is need in the outer court for it all, it’s a miracle any of us make it through the narrow gate!

To proceed onwards to enter the Holy place and then the holy of holies, the priests had to first be thoroughly cleansed in the outer court. If they did not comply they did not go any further, or if they did they would die. Likewise the New Testament priesthood of all believers needs to be thoroughly

cleansed or else we too will either go no further or die trying. For a variety of reasons many believers stay in the outer court. For some it is a lack of understanding. Some think they have “arrived” and the good becomes a thief of the best. For others the clean up process is too hard or too frightening. Fear, shame and the pain of dealing with it can keep some believers here all their life. Yet in the outer court the Lord has made provision through the altar of sacrifice (appropriating what Jesus did on the cross) and the laver of washing (being cleansed and renewed by the Word) for us to get the chains cut off and to lose our excess baggage. The mediator has been provided so we can come near. The Holy Spirit will comfort and help us to face up to the tough things. Healing and deliverance bring freedom. We all need to deal with stuff. Let us not allow fear and shame to steal our inheritance.

It is necessary for the excess baggage to be removed so we can get into the smaller areas of the holy place and the holy of holies. Many people have tried to enter in and have become frustrated when they have got “stuck” at the doorway. This is why the Lord has raised up so many healing and deliverance ministries in the last decades, to help the church deal with the baggage and be properly released and prepared to enter the Holy places in God. And what impact has this had on worship?

At the outer court our songs will probably be “raw” expressions of gratitude for our salvation, this can include “testimonial” songs. Here the volume is also often turned right up, not because God is deaf, but because He is a distance away. He abides in the Holy of holies. For musicians creating these songs of praise, they will probably be very much influenced by the style, techniques and sounds they have learned while developing their skills outside the kingdom of God. This has had a huge impact upon the sounds in the church. Non-musical believers in the outer court relate to this because it is also the sounds they are used to. While this is an appropriate starting place, it creates a serious problem if the church does not move on from the outer court. Australia and the western nations are saturated in outer court worship. While this first step is good, there is more, much more for us to discover. For various reasons it seems the church has got “stuck” in this place. Yet the full potential of the church will never be realized while staying in this place. The Spirit of the Lord is calling the church of Australia to move right into the Holy of holies. Let us not be content staying afar.

If we embrace the cleanup process of the outer court it will also have an impact upon our songs of praise. Even though at this stage one is still within the outer court, going through the processes of cleansing brings a greater depth of gratitude. Songs of praise become more refined, distinguished and much deeper. Songs will reveal a soul that is learning to walk in victory and to be an overcomer. Songs will begin to proclaim specific details of the victory of Jesus over the world, the flesh and the devil. Some of the worldly attitudes and approaches to our songs begin to drop off. Our motivation for singing and playing music will be thoroughly tested. Even our vision or dream about our ministry will probably have to be subjected to death – maybe even nailed to the cross. Worldly jealousies between worship musicians and other ministries and church groupings have to die. One cannot enter the holy place with fat egos and selfish ambitions – they won’t fit into the confined spaces of the sanctuary (the name given for the building that housed both the Holy place and the holy of holies.) Our flesh must be crucified with Christ.

THE HOLY PLACE

The outer court is a place where we begin to establish our relationship and walk with the Lord. The Apostle Paul encourages us to grow and mature in God. To progress from “milk” to eating meat. Moving into the Holy Place is where we enter into deeper communion with the Lord. However we cannot enter here without having first offered the appropriate sacrifices in the outer court. Between the outer court and the holy place is a curtain or veil. It is possible to remain outside of this veil too. There are three pieces of furniture in the Holy Place, which for the sake of space these descriptions will be brief and summarized.

THE LAMPSTAND

The priests had to place fresh oil in the lampstands twice a day and trim the wicks. Oil represents the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Many see this representing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us in our walk with the Lord. One aspect of that assistance is to reveal hidden sin, to help us deal with things that may appear okay to us but are offensive to God – those areas that remained hidden and got missed in the outer court. The light exposes the hidden works of darkness. Ouch, things that are close and very personal – things that can be hard to let go of. More trimming. The light speaks of Jesus. The more we allow the Spirit to work in us the more Jesus will shine through us. The more we let the light of Jesus show us the way to go the more we will be prepared to co-operate with the Holy Spirit.

The affect upon our worship is that here we learn to be led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the true worshippers would worship in Spirit and truth. To be led by the Spirit we have to deal with that which opposes it, i.e. the flesh. Therefore this is not an easy place to be. The apostle Paul said that our flesh and the Spirit are at war. While a lot of our flesh is dealt with in the outer court, at the Lampstand we discover the war that exists between the flesh and the Spirit. It is here we discover which part of our flesh is not dead yet!

The impact of the Lampstand upon our worship is that we start to follow the promptings of the Spirit in worship, to sing and play beyond our “normal” understanding. The Apostle Paul talks about “singing in the Spirit” as well as singing with the understanding. In the learning process of living and walking and worshipping in the Spirit we can easily “cross over” from the spirit to the flesh. One time I was speaking at a church in one of our capital cities and during one particular song the worship team which had been flowing beautifully in the spirit, suddenly changed rhythm and immediately we crossed over to the soulish realm. I took note but decided not embarrass anybody by mentioning it. Later on I had a private session with the music team and they began to ask questions – and yes, they asked about the moment the ‘cross-over” had occurred. The soulish realm is led by our thoughts, our feelings and our wants. As music affects our emotions so much, worship music is particularly vulnerable to becoming soulish. Dealing with the flesh is a critical key to progressing any further. The refusal of many in the contemporary church to deal with soulish, carnal and fleshly manifestations is a significant reason that many are staying outside the veil.

Musicians are sensitive people, and the soul plays a large part in that. If our flesh has not been crucified with Christ we play music how we like it. What appeals to us. Everyone, musician or not, is an “expert” in their opinion of music. As long as the flesh is alive and well, opinions about music will always create war among musicians and congregations alike. James says that the wisdom that releases trouble is “earthly, sensual [soulish], demonic”. This is a big struggle area for the music ministry. When music in the church is decided by what “I want, I think, I feel,” we are headed for trouble. We can only avoid the soulish realm by being heavenly minded.

The flesh wars against the Spirit of God. Paul says that the answer to the flesh is to crucify it!!!! Most of us excuse it or pacify it! While many are still at the outer court, there are just as many churches in Australia today that are stuck at this very place of starting to worship in the Spirit but hampered by soulish music. We must allow the Spirit to win this war if we are to proceed any further. Some of the struggles are because the soul desperately needs healing (another subject altogether). Some of it is because we choose to listen to our wants and desires rather than listening to the Holy Spirit. One fruit of this is that many “Pentecostal” churches no longer have any “free, spontaneous” worship in the spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are limited if at all. It is as though the Spirit of God has been musically silenced. This impedes the release of other gifts and the ability to live and walk in the Spirit. Paul admonished the Galatian church for starting in the Spirit and finishing in the flesh.

TABLE OF SHOWBREAD

This is often called the Bread of His Presence. Jesus is the bread of life, the substance of our fellowship and communion with God. Bread was always used to establish covenant. Jesus the provider of the new covenant is remembered at the table of communion. Here we have to totally trust in and totally commit to the covenant relationship. When we eat at the table of showbread we are totally dependant on the Lord for every part of our lives. This total dependence upon the Lord exposes and deals with any further aspects of our flesh that still needs to be crucified. Total dependence upon the Lord is not easy. Try going without a job, welfare payments or superannuation and you soon discover it is not so easy. If any of us had embarked on an expedition like Moses when he led Israel out of Egypt, we would have taken years in planning, an army of semi-trailers filled with supplies with the logos of very rich sponsors on the side of the trucks! But Moses and Israel had to trust the Lord for all the strategies and the provisions! The provisions we need are not restricted to financial. It can be in health or in many other circumstances that affect our families, our occupation or our church life that can be way out of our control. In all these we have to trust the Lord.

Worshippers who have such a profound trust in the Lord have a very keen focus that is centered firmly upon Jesus. One cannot trust Him implicitly and still be looking at or exalting self. One cannot trust Him implicitly and still have faith in the plans and schemes of man. Regardless of what gifts and talents we have, at this place we know that our total dependence is on the Lord. At the table of showbread we have come to realize that unless He provides, we are left wanting, we are lacking so much; in fact we are in trouble. Here we realize that without Him we are nothing and can do nothing. It is at this place of total dependence and total humility that we start to really exalt the Lord. We must decrease and He must increase. It is here we discover who God really is. Things we have known in our heads become a reality in our lives. Yes, he is faithful to His word. We can not only say that he is faithful, but we can also rely on it our everyday lives.

The impact here upon our songs is that everything that distracts us from focusing upon Jesus must be removed. Self-focused songs are no longer appropriate. At this place we must be singing the “high praises” which are songs that lift Jesus to the very highest place. These must be songs that in both the lyrics and the melody accurately portray the character and nature of the Lord.

ALTAR OF INCENSE

The golden altar was the only piece of furniture that was designed for man to do something for God. This altar speaks of the combination of both worship and intercession. The altar of incense is the last piece of furniture before the ark. We cannot enter the holy of holies without ministering at the altar of incense. We cannot come near the throne of God without the joint ministry of worship and intercession. In his video series on the tabernacle, Dick Reuben states that worship and intercession are the highest call of the church age. The ministry of worship and intercession comes with governing authority. In Psalm 149 King David speaks of worship and intercession when he says, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand”. The Psalm goes on to reveal what happens when these two things take place together.

“ To execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples; 8 To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron.” It is at the altar of incense that God and man join together to overcome the powers of darkness. Before this, it is only the “work of God” that is permissible in the tabernacle. Authority for do anything is only released to man when he is redeemed, cleansed, fully trusting in the Lord’s strength, revelation and wisdom and not his own. We are not able to effectively contribute to “ruling and reigning with Christ” before reaching this point.

HOLY OF HOLIES

Here contains the ark which represents the full manifestation of the presence and glory of the Lord. This is the throne room of heaven. The Holy of holies is a confined space; there is only room for God and us. Finally sinful man and holy God can embrace face to face without man being destroyed. It is a place of our relationship with the Lord coming to maturity and completeness.

In using the metaphor and language of the royal court, you would say this is the King’s bedchamber. Here the communion becomes much more intimate. In the outer court one had to shout to be heard, hence the volume was turned up, but in the holy of holies a whisper is all that is needed. Here man is no longer expressing just gratitude but the deep emotions of the heart. It is here we join the Psalmist in wanting to “behold the beauty of the Lord” and respond to the Lord with “My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:4, 8) Those who enter here have learned the protocol of the palace. But this code of behaviour is no longer “rules to get near the King”. Somewhere in the process we fall in love with the King, we have come to like what he likes and hate what He hates. It is here that our song becomes a love song to the Lord. This song has become refined, it has become gentle and quiet. This reflects the soul that has drawn so near to the Lord that quietness and contentment has permeated the soul of the worshipper. It is a song saturated in purity, love and holiness. Such intimate worship is breathtakingly beautiful. No wonder the Psalmist encouraged us to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”.

As we draw near to Him and come “within the veil” we hear His voice and His heartbeat. This is the place where He divulges the secrets of His heart. It is also where we see His face and behold His glory. In the throne room there is also a different sound. The sound is pure with no contaminates at all. There is no residue left from when we lived outside the perimeter of the tabernacle. Such a purity of sound is hard for mortal ears to comprehend. It is the sound of heaven. “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” (Revelation 19:6)

If the church remains outside the veil it is in fact remaining in the “outer court” and although there is a measure of relationship, anointing and authority, it is only partial. The Lord wants His church to enter into her full inheritance; the fullness of relationship, anointing, authority and blessing. This is not just a “nice idea”, but very necessary for the days ahead. The end time battles will become fiercer. The darkness upon the earth will increase. But the Lord has provided a place of protection and strength for His people. His glory will cover the whole earth. Jesus paid the price. Let us draw near.

[Many aspects of this article do not cover the subject adequately. Of particular note is the altar of incense. This article contains a condensed version or “summary” of parts from a new book being worked on.]



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WORSHIP MATTERS

FATHERLESSNESS - Obstacle To Worship

How many Christian parents have been faced with the heart wrenching situation of children telling them about a child due out of wedlock, an abortion or perhaps that they are homosexual? One of the hardest things to do as a Christian is to “love the sinner while hating the sin.” To keep the balance is sometimes like walking a tight rope that is suspended many feet in the air. To be merciful, kind and loving to someone without compromising the truth is very difficult. Proverbs says to bind mercy and truth around your neck and write them on your heart. “And so find favour and high esteem in the sight of God and man.” (Provbs 3:3,4)

Jesus is our perfect example. To the woman caught in adultery He was both merciful and truthful. Jesus did not reject and condemn the lady because of her sin. However, He reinforced the truth in God’s Word when He told her to “sin no more”. Mercy loves the person and reaches out to them in acceptance and love. Truth however does not compromise righteousness. Jesus expressed both mercy and truth and He offered her a second chance. We need the Holy Spirit to help us in these difficult situations because our flesh will quickly oscillate between the two. If we see people only through our natural eyes of mercy we will not only accept them and care for them but very often compromise the truth and tell them that they AND their lifestyle are okay. On the other hand if our hearts are filled only with legalistic truth we will speak of the ways of the Lord but often condemn and even reject the person. It is too easy for us to project our hatred for a particular “sin” onto the sinner. Hence in Ephesians we are told to “speak the truth with love”. The apostle Paul reminds us that “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers…” (Ephesians 6:12) How often do we end up fighting one another and even denying the existence of principalities and powers?! To have both mercy and truth operating we need to love the person/s and wrestle with the principalities and powers so that the persons have the veil removed from their minds so they can hear and receive the truth for themselves.

The reality of the wrestle between mercy and truth particularly affects us when we discuss emotive issues. This pull is there regardless of whether the issue is teenage pregnancy, abortion, drugs, homosexuality, pornography, rock music or any of the other controversial aspects of modern life. Yet it is when we are “wrestling with the principalities and powers” that we begin to understand the root cause of such lifestyles.

For the purposes of this article we are particularly examining the issue of music in the church, perhaps one of the most contentious issues. In our publications we have been very clear that rock music has a spirit attached to it that manifests itself in rebellion, immorality, sorcery, idolatry and pride. The Lord showed us that the “spirit of rock” entered the church, attached to the music, and that this spirit wars against and seeks to destroy true worship.

While that view remains unchanged, we feel it is important to highlight God’s MERCY towards those who love, promote or play this music and not to condemn the individuals involved. We need to see them as God sees them and to understand why this music is so attractive to them. In response to a letter printed in our last issue, an intercessor sent this following letter that highlights how God would have us view these people, and in particular the young people..

“I was in an evening service run by the youth and the music was so ROCKY I couldn't stand to praise, so instead I just prayed in tongues. Whilst I was praying the Lord spoke to my heart...which was saying to God this music is so rebellious Lord, how can you accept it as praise.....He said.. yes, this music is so rebellious but its not the music but the hearts of this generation, their music filters through their hearts and their hearts are in rebellion....this generation is in the darkest of times ever and he showed me their rebellion stems from rejection....He began to make my heart aware of the rejection this generation has endured through abuse of one sort or another, from the break up of families and the degeneration of the role of mother, The Lord broke my heart for these kids and I wept and wept for them....He said to me.... As I sanctify their hearts and heal them from deep wounds of rejection their music will change and come through a purer vessel.....Then the Lord challenged me. “Will you pray for this broken generation, will you intercede for these kids? Don’t stand in judgement and reject them any further ...but intercede in love so they may be healed and purified and made whole.” I have been changed since this incident and have joined our intercessory prayer team during the week and also a Friday night prayer team that prays for our nation, city, and church.....including our youth.”

Personally the Lord has challenged me in a similar way in the past couple of years. In particular, this was brought home to me last year when back in the class room. On a couple of occasions certain rebellious kids (and every class has one) began to manifest in class (and it had nothing really to do with rock music). The Lord showed me that I had rejected them and even despised them. This was an awful realization. On repenting I cried out to God for His love so that I could love them as He loves and to see them as He sees them. He then began to show me rejection, fatherlessness and many similar things over their lives. In the last couple of years as I have asked the Lord what has birthed rock music (of all varieties) I felt He said its “parents” were fatherlessness and unbelief. (Don’t get too worried about which gender fits which – that isn’t the issue). The Lord has had me weep in intercession for the fatherless generation that are all around us.

Rock music was birthed as the dust from WW2 began to settle. All around the globe, the two world wars had left millions of children fatherless. Many millions of fathers were killed. Many more came home and were so wounded in body or spirit (many in both) that they were unable to be the fathers they would otherwise have been. This was not the choice of those brave soldiers – they too needed the healing balm of the Lord. Consequently, the “baby boomers” were a generation robbed of fatherhood. Children do not understand and very often neither do the adults. Consequently fatherlessness leaves a huge wound of rejection. The discipline and love of a father provides a child with security. A father is also an important role model and provides identity to his children. When these are removed we end up with children that lack discipline and are filled with insecurity and a lack of identity. This is the soil in which resentment, rebellion and lawlessness are born and consequently such people find it impossible to relate to Father God who cares, loves and nurtures them.

When the Fatherhood of God is removed from the psyche, then the protection that He provides is removed. The lack of protection makes people vulnerable to the lies of the devil and thus unbelief is unavoidable. No wonder Satan had a field day in the 60’s with lies like “God is dead”. And no wonder opiate and sex became false comforters to a generation seeking a way of escaping the pain.. If God is dead, there is no standard of righteousness, laws and standards lack meaning and there is no hope.

The 60’s saw young people expressing their sense of alienation or rejection from society. With the sexual revolution came the increase in family break-ups and so the iniquity of rejection and fatherlessness was perpetuated. Added to this we then experienced the Vietnam War which added yet another layer to the rejection and fatherlessness. The Vietnam veterans were not only scarred from war but rejected by society on their return home. Those who have managed to keep their marriages in tact, are still fighting their own battles of rejection. Without the healing of Almighty God they accelerate the cycle of rejection and fatherlessness to their children. (And that is apart from all the physical injuries and deformities passed on.) Statistics bear this out. The children of Vietnam Veterans have a significantly higher than normal incidence of suicide, relationship breakdown and ill health. The youth of today are the children of the baby boomers, some of whom are survivors of Vietnam. Even if a father is physically in the home, he can be emotionally and spiritually “absent”. Thus the iniquity of rejection and consequently fatherlessness has passed to and increased in the next generation.

Music always reflects the heart. Its is like a barometer of the soul. Rock music was not only a new style in the 50’s & 60’s but many musicians asserted that it was the “perfect vehicle” for them to express their anger, frustration, hurt and resentment of society. In other words, the musical style referred to as “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” was a true reflection of their rejection, fatherlessness, hopelessness and rebellion. Not only was some of the music inspired by a drug induced state, to many the music itself became a drug or a false comforter. Those who have experienced rejection and fatherlessness (in its varying degrees of intensity) identify with the music – it is their story. This is one reason why so many young people are attracted to it. Yes, they are culturally conditioned to it, but it also expresses for them what is deep within their souls. In an uncertain and confusing world, this music has become a false comforter and a false saviour. Even many Christian young people who have come from godly homes can still be affected by the subconscious battle with rejection and fatherlessness that not only affects individuals, but even our whole society. Australia as a nation has battled with the rejection and “fatherlessness” of mother England.

Many people believe that because young people identify with this music, we therefore need it in church. Yet it is for these very same reasons that I believe rock music is not appropriate for worshipping the Living God. Our Heavenly Father delivers us from rejection, fatherlessness, abuse and rebellion and by His grace, transforms us into His own glorious image. Rebellion and abuse are the very opposite of the love, comfort and obedience found in the kingdom of God. Hence in our worship that we offer to the Lord, our music should reflect His character and nature. And yet this is where the “dilemma” comes in this whole discussion. The process of healing and deliverance takes time. While this process takes place we do not want to alienate these very same young people by removing everything that they identify with. Yet as they grow in God we must somehow be able to encourage them to address these issues. At the same time the Lord is calling His church to worship Him in the very holy of Holies and music that is birthed in rebellion defies that holiness.

Many maintain that the church needs to use music that the youth can identify with so that they will come to church and feel comfortable. This appears to be a very plausible argument. However, what is drawing them? Is it the spirit of rejection, fatherlessness or rebellion? Or is it the Holy Spirit? If they are drawn by a spirit or rejection or rebellion then we have an uphill battle to disciple them in the ways of the Lord. The crucified life is not a favourite topic amongst those needing deliverance from rebellion. The spirit of God not only draws, but prepares and teaches of HIS WAYS. He convicts of sin, righteousness and judgement. In His mercy He teaches and leads into ALL truth!!

Please understand I am NOT advocating dowdy music. The music of the Spirit of God is filled with life. However, I am suggesting that when it comes to worship, our priority should be in providing a place where OUR HOLY GOD feels welcome and at home. The Psalmist says to worship the Lord in the BEAUTY of HOLINESS. (Psa 29:2) Holiness is beautiful. If our worship is reverent and holy, if we worship the Lord according to the Biblical pattern so that the Lord Himself FILLS the house with His glory, then we are also providing a place where the hurt and rejected feel welcome. God’s presence is a place of healing and restoration. Is our priority to draw man or God? Do we seek to provide churches that are user friendly or God friendly? If we prioritize with man we will always struggle because the flesh profits nothing. No amount of programs and entertainment will heal the broken hearted – only the spirit of the living God can do that. If we prioritize with God, He who is full of mercy and kindness will also provide the comfort, healing and reconciliation that our destitute generations need.

Personally I am convinced that one key is that we have not distinguished between worship and evangelism. (See Praise Alert August 2000 Volume 3 Issue 2)

We also need to understand that fatherlessness is in itself a stumbling block to worship. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about worship, He introduces us to the Father. Jesus said the “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:23,24) Without healing from rejection and fatherlessness it is very difficult to relate to God as a Father. If a person cannot relate to God as Father then offering intimate worship to the Heavenly Father is at best arduous if not impossible. No wonder many opt to be entertained instead! It is definitely an area for much intercession and the wisdom of God. In the natural it is not only difficult but impossible to operate in both mercy AND truth. We need the Spirit of God to help us. We need the wisdom and counsel of the Lord. Due to the controversial and emotional nature of this dilemma, I have always called for God’s people to PRAY in regards to this issue. It is a spiritual battle. As the Lord spoke to our reader let it be a word to us all, “Will you pray for this broken generation, will you intercede for these kids? Don’t stand in judgement and reject them any further...but intercede in love so they may be healed and purified and made whole.”

PRAYER IS SUCH A KEY.

We not only need to pray for the young people but also for the pastors and spiritual leaders in this very difficult balancing of mercy and truth. Most Pastors have a deep and godly compassion for the huge pressures upon teenagers. However the knowledge and understanding that they have of the deep underlying principalities behind this stress can vary greatly. We need to pray for a greater awareness and understanding so that the issues of fatherlessness, rejection and abuse can be addressed and healing brought, not only to the young people but also their parents! Derek Prince makes the comment that very often delinquent children have delinquent parents. Rejection and fatherlessness are generally passed down the generations. Very often in the church we sweep such uncomfortable subjects under the proverbial carpet instead of dealing with them. Denying their existence will not cause them to go away. A holocaust survivor who spoke on a TV documentary, said that, “the pain does not diminish as you get older it actually gets worse.” Rejection and fatherlessness do not just “go away” because we ignore it or even because we are born again. Deliverance and healing are huge needs in the body of Christ. We also need to pray for the release of godly fathers in the house of God. Men who can love, care, discipline and provide security and comfort to our youth. Men who can provide positive role models thus giving our youth a righteous picture of fatherhood. And with this we need to pray for the release of the understanding of the fatherhood of God. Pray that all those affected by fatherlessness will understand the wonderful and loving character and nature of Father God.

Not only do pastors have the difficulty of balancing mercy and truth but there is also a very personal factor that often blurs this issue and needs to be undergirded by prayer. It is a cold and sad fact of life that most church denominations today evaluate pastoral “success” by statistics. I recently read a church report where the highlights of the year were described as the number of people attending the church and the size of the offerings. It is sad that these statistics are the highlights! How much better to read that the glory cloud fell and none could stand to minister! Or that a spirit of repentance fell and the whole congregation wept before the Lord and then went and made restitution to one another! Praise the Lord that God does not evaluate our success by statistics! God is concerned as to whether our hearts are HOT, COLD OR LUKEWARM! (Revelation 3:15,16) In Matthew 7 Jesus warns that not all who have prophesied or performed wonders will enter the kingdom, but only those who have done the WILL of the FATHER. Jesus did the will of the Father by dying at the cross. The natural man considers that a failure! The Lord measures success with a very different measuring stick to mankind. More than ever before, spiritual leaders are under huge pressure from their denominations and their peers to appear successful. This pressure mixed with a godly burden for the youth makes it difficult for them to ignore the fact that rock music will draw a crowd, especially of youth. So it is a very brave and very discerning pastor who will take exception to any wild music being played in church. But it also takes a very wise leader who is filled with mercy and truth to walk the tight rope discussed in this article.

I appeal to intercessors to not only pray for the youth but also for the spiritual leaders. They need the wisdom and knowledge of God. “The FEAR OF THE LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) Thus we urgently need to pray for the fear of the Lord to be released among the spiritual leaders of all churches. Without the fear of the Lord they will not have the wisdom of God that they need. Mercy without truth ends with compromise and truth without mercy results in rejection. God wants us to have both mercy and truth. Pray for the COURAGE to stand against the pressures to conform to man’s standards.

A graphic example of the dire consequences of such pressure being exerted upon a spiritual leader is what happened to Aaron in Exodus 32. Moses was on the mountain with the Lord and Israel was growing impatient. These millions of Israelites asked Aaron to make them a god that they could see. Imagine the pressure upon Aaron to provide action – to show that he was doing something. It’s a bit like our modern day statistics! The Israelites were possibly getting ready to stone Aaron if he did not comply. It takes a lot of the fear of the Lord to stand in the face of redundancy and ridicule to say no to building the idol that satisfies the immediate need for success. This is not to excuse Aaron in any way, for he was accountable for his actions. He would have needed a good dose of the fear of the Lord to have said NO to millions of angry Israelites! We need to understand what sort of pressure was exerted on Aaron that caused him to do such an abominable thing as build the golden calf. Let’s not criticize the spiritual leaders but let us pray for them with a renewed urgency and vigor and with understanding.

BAROMETER OF HEART

If music is a barometer of the heart, and some music in the church reflects rejection and fatherlessness, then we need to pray for the brokenhearted to be healed. Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance! Jesus was not just rejected by society or His earthly family, but His Father in heaven rejected Him in His crucial hour. Jesus cried, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:45-47) It wasn’t crucifixion that killed Jesus, it was a broken heart. Jesus endured the worst possible rejection so that we can enter into the blessing of the Fatherhood of God. He has made us accepted in the beloved. (Eph 1:5,6) Let us pray that those affected by rejection and fatherlessness will have a revelation of the Heavenly Father’s acceptance and love. Let us also pray that they can appropriate the provision Jesus has made for their healing. In the meantime it doesn’t mean that we have to like or even compromise with the music born out of rejection and rebellion, we just have to press more into God for hearts to be mended.



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WORSHIP MATTERS

ANGELIC VISITATION

As we worshipped the Lord at our meeting in August 2007, the presence of the Lord was growing stronger and stronger. We then began to sing “ Hallelujah”. This is a simple but most beautiful song written by Irene Swan from T.O.D. in Malaysia. When Irene wrote the song she had been at meetings in Sydney, and was worshipping the Lord back at the motel. She tells me she heard angels singing as she wrote the song. Since our meeting, I believe it is a song that the angels respond to.

On this day in August we had sung the song through a couple of times when all of a sudden it was like the heavenly hosts invaded the room. Suddenly the room was filled with a sound that had not been there before; it sounded like there were multitudes singing. At that time there had been many winter flus and colds “bugs” around and some of our voices were a bit “croaky”. Despite this we had all been giving all that we had in worshipping the Lord, but now we were empowered from on high. It sounded like hundreds and hundreds of voices singing even though there were just a handful of us. Personally I can only describe it as though I was able to suddenly sing with double the strength normally possible.

And it was like we couldn’t stop singing as there was wave after wave of God’s glory filling the place. The worship leaders “textbook” went out the window as the waves just kept rolling in and very person in the room kept singing and singing with more and more gusto! It was a moment of singing as ONE. Thsis one sound was huge. Wow!

Later an intercessor said she saw three angels assigned to each person. Another person saw myriads of angels and the hosts of heaven. Everyone present heard and was aware of the presence of the angelic hosts. It was the most awesome sound I can recall.

Testimonies.

  • An intercessor who attends regularly and who travels 100 kms to get to the meetings said: “what a wonderful day on Saturday…you know everyday after "our Saturday's" life is wonderful, work is great, teaching Sunday school is great, it is like I have the presence of God surrounding me in His fullest, and the difference is remarkable.”
  • A “seeker” who is not yet in relationship with Jesus came and was so touched: “The most beautiful songs I have ever heard. But it was not just the songs; the whole experience was peaceful and moving.”


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>> PROPHECY

PROPHECY

AUSTRALIA’S CALL Holiness & Worship

The call of the Lord for the nation of Australia is both in holiness and in worship. We and the islands of the Pacific were “named” or “called” to be lands where the Holy Spirit dwells. The Spirit of God is “Holy” and leads us into true worship. Many Pacific Islanders have seen a large angel over Australia. This angel is called “holiness”.

While holiness and worship have different characteristics, yet they cannot be separated. As in heaven, true worship on earth takes place in the environment of holiness. King David exhorts us to “Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:1-2)

Considering our roots, our destiny is amazing.

Who else but God would choose a nation that was conceived on a seedbed of rejection, fear, convict chains, indigenous bloodshed, crime, prejudice, injustice and mixed with segments of strong Christian faith to produce a people who will build a highway of holiness and worship Him in the beauty of holiness? Only God could choose nations that have been rejected to be a place where His Spirit will dwell. Australia has been identified as having a “Joseph” anointing.

Joseph was rejected and despised by his family but was chosen by God to have a vital destiny that would eventually save Egypt and Israel from famine. As with Joseph, the enemy had evil intent to destroy BUT GOD has meant it for good, in “order to save many.” (Genesis 50:20)

BUT GOD….

There is no better time to use the word “but”. Considering our roots; except for… save for… without God…..we stay in chains. Who but God can reverse the shame and pain of our past and turn it into a glorious victory for our future? Who but God can pre-empt the enemies work and boldly proclaim that this nation and the surrounding islands would become the southern lands inhabited by the Holy Spirit?

There are aspects of the Aussie culture that contain seeds which once redeemed will highlight and draw attention to God’s power, grace and mercy. What a miracle it will be for a nation known for its rebel larrikins to become a people who will passionately “follow the Lamb wherever He goes”. And you can see how God can take a people who rebel against injustice when it is dispensed by those in high authority. What a miracle that when the Aussie demand for a “fair go” is redeemed and harnessed by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will align with God’s throne (built on righteousness and justice) and fight immorality, wickedness and injustice. This rising up will not be in rebellion but through the fire, zeal and passion of the Holy Spirit consuming us.

And when we grasp that the command of Jesus to worship in truth really means to be “fair dinkum”, our worship will take an amazing shift. Godly “bulldozers” carving out God’s Highway of holiness will remove hypocrisy and pretense and ensure that transparency and sincerity are the foundation of our worship. And for a nation where the Holy Spirit is to dwell, our worship must be inspired by and flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are we there yet?

No. But change is on the way. There are small signs and indicators of this change. First the natural and then the spiritual. The drought across Australia has finally broken and the floods have come.

Spiritually, we are awaiting the floods.

The nature of our destiny has been recognized and is being proclaimed.

In 2006 the 400 year celebration since the Southlands were proclaimed as the lands of the Holy Spirit. In celebrations in Cairns and Vanuatu, this destiny was prophetically re-affirmed.

Intercessors have been proclaiming the building of the highway of holiness – all the way to Jerusalem! Those who are panting and hungering to sit in His presence are steadily increasing all the time. Gatherings of God’s people are beginning to move from well planned meetings to spending much time just waiting upon Him. And there is an increase in the number of people testifying where worship has been accompanied by angelic choirs.

The Call in Worship: “but there’s more…”

It is a miracle of God when an oppressed people can sing, not “blues” or “laments” but, songs of joy and praise. New Zealand and Australia have both contributed significantly to the release of praise songs that have impacted the nations. While these have been significant contributions, yet they are still a “starting place” because there is so much more that the Lord wants released. This more is not just “more songs” or more of the same. The Lord is calling His church to move to another whole level of worship, to a place of far greater intimacy with Him.

In response to this call the bride of Christ is starting to hanker for Him. She is increasingly becoming dissatisfied with worship experiences that only touch the soul and not the spirit. External experiences that only scratch the surface are no longer satisfying. Services containing froth and fluff do not connect us with the power of God. Just as our soil has been thirsty for rain so the church has become like the psalmist panting for the waters of life. The bride is becoming desperate to connect with the lover of her soul, spirit to Spirit. This shift will impact our worship gatherings; what we do and how we do it. Instead of worship filling a restricted time slot as a warm-up to whatever else; there will be no restriction to how long we sit at His feet. This shift is already taking place around the nation as the hunger is growing.

The intimacy involved with this new level of worship impacts the sounds that come forth. Instead of the sounds of earth, the sounds of heaven are heard. Instead of having to make a loud noise, an intimate whisper is all that is needed. And the themes of our songs will change. Instead of Australia being known for singing “Shout to the Lord” we will become known for singing, “Holy, holy, holy.” Please understand that shouting to the Lord is a very important aspect of praise. It is just that moving to a place where we join the angelic hosts in proclaiming “holy, holy, holy” is a very different experience and requires a higher level of intimacy with God. The Lord is moving His church onward and upward.

We are coming to a place where we recognize how big, how awesome and how great our God is and how small we are. As Lui Giglio says, understanding how amazing and how “indescribable” God is. This new position of worship recognizes the absolute truth about who He is, the absolute truth about our finite, small and corrupted disposition. From this place of reality we honour Him not because of what He can or has done for us but simply because like the Apostle John on the island of Patmos, we are overawed by what He is really like. He is no longer the figment of our religious imagination and His magnificence and grandeur hits us so we become “like a dead man”. Out of awe and the fear of the Lord (which is both clean and prolongs our lives) we are willing just to follow the Lamb wherever He leads us.

The new level of worship is about humbly and obediently following Him. It is where we are prepared to step aside and allow the Holy Spirit room to move; more of Him and less of us. This is a shift from seeing man as being big and wise, whose thoughts and ways had to be obeyed.

When God is viewed as small and man as big, our focal point is self, our vision is selfish and we end up with rituals, hierarchies and self-focused worship that restrict both God and man.

This shift will see us no longer seeking the “approval” of man, but seeking the anointing and presence of the Lord. He will share His glory with no-one. His glory and presence will not be shared with our Christian “superstars”. Psalmists and worshippers will not be displaying their talents with a complexity that excludes many of the congregation from participating. Rather they will forego their dazzling displays of talent to provide simple music that facilitates the worship of every believer regardless of age, race or church background.

Holiness – His nature formed in us

He is moving us into a place where we worship Him in the beauty of holiness. A holy people focused upon our holy God. Unfortunately, the waters of holiness have been rather muddied in recent decades with memories of legalistic teachings that have stifled genuine liberty in Christ. Simultaneously there has been an ever increasing attraction to worldly licentiousness whereby the teaching of holiness is unwelcome and seen as a “killjoy”. Both extremes are wrong. Legalism is the counterfeit of holiness and licentiousness is the counterfeit of liberty.

Holiness describes God. It is the essence of His nature and character. When the angelic hosts cry “holy, holy, holy” they are proclaiming that the Father is holy, the Son is holy, and the Spirit is holy.

The command of the Lord for us to be Holy as He is (1 Peter 1:16), is requiring our nature to become like His. This is not just an invitation but a requirement to see Him. (Hebrews 12:14)

This holy nature of triune God is not formed in us by fulfilling certain regulations. As we spend time with Him and surrender to Him we become like Him. Holiness is about God’s holy nature being formed in us as we abide in Him. What a miracle that it is even possible for sinful man to have the nature of God! Holiness involves overcoming sin. Both Jesus and Paul stated that sin brings bondage. Therefore holiness is genuine liberty. As such we should not shun holiness but run to it and embrace it with arms wide open.

Holiness - Preparation of the bride

The nature of God being formed in us is progressive. It develops from one level to another. That is why, as we grow in the Lord, some things that were okay yesterday He will not allow us to do today. And things that were okay yesterday, we no longer have any interest in. We are being sanctified and purified as we co-operate with the Holy Spirit and appropriate the blood of Jesus.

The best analogy of the process and correlation between worship and holiness is that of courtship and marriage.

There are different levels of relationships. The steps of intimacy with God are very much like the development we experience from acquaintance to marriage.

When I first met my husband we were just acquaintances and had a distant relationship. After quite some time we became friends and spent more and more time with each other and shared more things. This developed into a romance that led us down the aisle to enter into a marriage covenant. This very normal sequence of events does not happen instantly. It develops over time and the relationship becomes more and more intimate.

The relationship of a traditional Jewish couple is an even closer parallel to us as believers as we begin our journey as His covenant children. These couples often enter into covenant at the acquaintance stage. At the point of engagement or betrothal a man and a woman are set aside for each other by making a marriage covenant. For the betrothed couple no-one else and no other priorities can come between the two. They have one focus in mind, to be ready for the marriage. When we are born again we enter into covenant with Him. “Sanctification” means to be set apart. By the salvation covenant we are set apart exclusively for Him.

The couple then go to their separate homes to prepare for the wedding. Scripture says that Jesus’ bride makes “herself ready”. In this time apart the bride prepares. Brides like to make sure everything is just right. Within their financial capacity the bride ensures she has the finest outfit, that everything is clean and “perfect” so that she when her beloved comes for her she is radiant, beautiful and pleasing to Him. Holiness is the bride earnestly getting herself ready for her wedding day. It is not a chore or a set of rules or regulations. She is motivated by love. Her desire is to please the bridegroom. She finds out what pleases Him and she prepares according to His likes and desires. A glowing bride in her splendour is something that we get so moved by because it is so beautiful. We obviously think so because the wedding industry is very big and very wealthy!

An aspect of holiness that is vital to remember is this; it is about us taking on His nature. You become like those you live with. The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we get to know Him, the more we prepare to be joined with Him, the more we shall be like Him.

Like a natural bride, holiness for the bride of Christ is beautiful. The end-time message about holiness is vital as the time for the marriage of the Lamb is drawing closer. Worshipping in the beauty of holiness is when the preparing bride draws nearer to her beloved and honours and reveres Him and gradually becomes like Him.

Highway of Holiness

A highway is a main road or thoroughfare between two places. It leads from one place and takes you to another.

Isaiah 35 speaks of the highway of holiness. The destination of this highway is Zion “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, And come to Zion with singing”(v10) Those who walk on this highway are the redeemed of the Lord. “But the redeemed shall walk there” (v 9)

There is a call to every believer to be holy. While this scripture speaks specifically of the millennium, there is an application that we can give. The Lord is calling His bride to focus upon her preparations to be ready for His coming. As we spend the time and effort to prioritize holiness and intimate worship, we provide an example for others to follow. Once others have gone ahead and done the hard yards, and removed the major obstacles it is easier for others to follow. In this way it is like preparing a road or building a highway for others to travel on.

Australia’s call is to build such a highway. To build a roadway that is paved in holiness, so that the redeemed may walk to Zion singing all the way!



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PROPHECY

HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL

In his book “Knowing God by Name”, David Wilkerson (of Cross and Switchblade & Times Square church) says that “Every time God revealed a characteristic of His nature to someone, that person was in a time of crisis.” When God discloses fresh information, it is usually needed for survival and victory.

In the first article (Spring 2009) we focused upon the shorter term, “Holy One”. Among the twenty two times it’s found in Scripture, notably it was used by the angel when he told Mary that she was with child, “that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 4:34 NKJV) Here in Part 2 we will consider the extended title “Holy One of Israel” which is found thirty three times in Scripture. God uses this name to address His people. In Isaiah 30:12 & 15 He says; “thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel”.

God uses this name to reveal Himself as Creator, Bridegroom, Lord of heaven’s army, Redeemer and Saviour! Isaiah 54:5 & 43:3 “For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” Isa 54:5

Every name of God is powerful and important. However, there are significant reasons why in the end times we need to know Him as “Holy One of Israel”. These are two questions to consider:

“What” is the current crisis that requires God’s people to have a revelation of His name, “Holy One of Israel?

Why is His Holy name and nature attached to Israel?

Both Israel and the church have two crises; Israel is blind to their Messiah and is the object of Anti-Christ hatred. The church is also struggling to be a holy, faithful Bride and her attitude to Israel is not always in agreement with God’s.

And we face the conditions of the end-times. They are with us now. This period of history will become increasingly tough for God’s people.

The Lord is bringing history to a culmination. Regardless of the evil we see, all in the church, all Israel and all nations, will clearly see and know that “God of the whole earth” IS “the Holy One of Israel”. There will be no doubts! No debates! As a result, neither man nor demon will be able to mock God any longer.

1. WHY THE CHURCH NEEDS TO KNOW HIM AS “HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL”

a) UNHOLY PERILOUS TIMES

When believers are in the “fire” of adversity, faithfulness to God is tested. Trust is a critical foundation in any relationship, but particularly if you depend on the other person for your life.

We will need rock-solid and unshakable confidence in the Lord if we are to align with and play our part in His end-time purposes. When we are surrounded by an unholy world we really need to know the depths of His holy nature and how valuable it is.

The first crisis for the church is presented in 2 Timothy 3:1 where the apostle Paul identifies that in “the last days perilous times will come”. He identifies a list of situations that will be dangerous and hazardous for every believer.

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2Tim 3:1

In a time when the love of many will grow cold, we need the flames of our first love to be stoked, provoked and stirred up with new zeal and passion. The times ahead will test that love. Will our love be strong or will it falter?

Because we live in a time when ungodliness is flaunted and holiness is mocked, we need to know what a treasure holiness is. It is not just a religious phrase, it is His divine nature.

Like an exquisite gemstone, holiness is precious, valuable and beautiful. Its display is majestic, mighty, formidable and powerful. It also has much joy and liberty. It has so many benefits and blessings it should be desired and sought after like a rare treasure. It summarises all that God is: He is love, pure, true, just, faithful. One of the strongest defining hallmarks of Holiness, in contrast to legalism, is genuine liberty of the Spirit and the joy of celebration that follows. No wonder the Psalmist said to ‘worship in the beauty of holiness’.

An accurate comprehension of holiness will cause us to want to pursue it at all costs. Without that insight we are easily lured to gratify self, thus making it difficult to resist financial and sexual greed and lust.

We are all desperate to see miracles to be the norm in the church again. Yet we are often reluctant to challenge religious structures that confine and restrict the Holy Spirit. These structures might appear godly but when they lack the power of God, they are just empty edifices. How we need a revolution in our understanding to see the link between holiness, God’s power and miracles.

Sadly, multitudes of spiritually hungry people search within the New Age movement because they often see the church void of power when a vibrant experience with God is substituted for rituals and rules.

Even demons know the power of holiness. They identified Jesus as the “Holy One” and begged Him to leave them alone. Jesus was pure and without any defect. Only a perfect sacrifice had power over death and hell. Holiness is inextricably linked with beauty, glory, power and true authority. As history rushes to its conclusion the urgency for us to comprehend and embrace His holy nature increases. Our wrong views and perceptions about holiness must be corrected.

Time is running out for the bride to be ready for Him. Yet, she will have His holy nature and be without spot or wrinkle. And she will love Him absolutely and completely. Jesus will have a Bride with whom He can be equally yoked.

OUR HUMAN STRUGGLE

Yet despite the beauty and power of holiness, it remains one of the most difficult aspects of God’s character for our fallen nature to grasp and comprehend.

For starters we are short on role models. We have only had one on earth — Jesus.

So we often try to measure our “holiness” by comparing ourselves to friends, relatives and those we consider to be “spiritual giants”. But the bench mark for holiness can only be found in the Lord Himself.

While holiness involves morality and purity it also involves us being exclusively set apart for Him.

A good example is how we ladies use our best china. The one item I ever had in my “glory box” was an English dinner set. Because of its value I not only keep it radiantly clean and try to protect it from cracks and breaks, but it only comes out for special occasions. It is “set apart” for those times of celebration and definitely not used for everyday meals.

Sometimes we struggle with being “set apart” for Him when it means being different to the crowd. Many Jews have also struggled with that aspect of God having marked them for Himself.

Will we set ourselves apart for Him? Personally one example of being set apart has been the challenge in regards to “where” and “how” I use my musical gift. I am only free to use it for worship of Him. It may not be the same for other Christian musicians, but it is for me.

And then, because we don't fully grasp holiness, like some giant pendulum we oscillate between legalism and licentiousness. We either seek it through rules or give up all together and indulge the flesh. It is so easy to be un-holy. The world, the flesh and the devil pressure us to be conformed to the world rather than to God.

To overcome our human struggles we need a fresh unveiled vision of Jesus. “Through His glory and integrity He has given us His promises that are of the highest value. Through these promises you will share in the divine nature”.(2 Peter 1:4 God’s Word) His example is key for us to be able to be like Him as we share the divine nature.

For His divine nature to be formed in us we also have to be willing to receive some Holy Spirit “chiropractic” type adjustments. If we take the hand of the Holy Spirit He will enable us to be “holy as He is holy”. He will teach us. He will help us love what He loves and hate what He hates. He will help us to be available for our Saviour rather than for ourselves.

WHEN EVIL SURROUNDS: LOOK UP

However, we will not become the pure bride if we imitate or look at the world around us for inspiration. In Colossians we are encouraged to “look up” rather than look down.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col 3:2

This is where worship and soaking in His Presence is so vital. It is here that we can “look up”. It is in His Presence that we “see Him”. You cannot spend time in His presence and stay the same.

When we want an “assessment” of how we are doing in the holiness stakes, we must look up, not around. Compared to society around us we may be okay. Job, Isaiah and John probably thought so too, until they dramatically experienced the Lord in a way they hadn’t before.

When Job encountered the Lord out of the whirlwind he saw himself as “vile”. (Job 40:4) When Isaiah “saw the Lord” on His holy throne, he was overwhelmed by His unclean mouth. When John saw Jesus in His majestic glory, he fell down at His feet as if dead.

When they compared themselves with their peers they were doing okay. But when they saw themselves in the light of God’s true nature and glory, they were undone! They realized that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” and “all our righteousness are like filthy rags”. (Rom 3:23, Isaiah 64:6) Like Isaiah, we need to worship Him where we can see Him upon His throne in holiness and majesty. This is the only thing that will bring us a fair dinkum reality check about ourselves.

Looking up will keep us stable in unstable times. As things get worse in the world, we must not look “around” but “up”. Jesus taught us to pray to be “delivered” from evil.

So when we see the church lurching between religious legalism and licentious harlotry, can we look up and see Him who sets the captives free? When society honours and celebrates the “unity” flaunted in multi-faith compromise, let us look up. Can we see the unique, pure, powerful and precious union of the godhead? Can we see the powerful example of true unity by the “Holy One” as the Holy Father, Holy Son and Holy Spirit are one? Not just in agreement or in alignment, but ONE.

When we see a former church going Prime Minister thank God “whoever he or she is”, can we look up and know that the Lord HE is God? When we see the church excusing and covering up sexual sin, can we look up and see Him who, with all the temptations known to man, knew no sin? At this time of “crisis”, regardless of our disappointment, grief or disgust at what is around us; can we look up and allow His holy nature to fill our vision? Can we be encouraged, motivated and inspired by His purity, beauty and glory?

As the old chorus says, “turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” Sometimes we need to do this just to cope with what is around us.

At such a time as this His nature is a vivid contrast to what we know around us. What better time to really comprehend what He is like? Light shines brighter against a back drop of darkness.

PARTAKERS OF HIS HOLINESS

In 2000 Cindy Jacobs prophesied over Australia that there would be a “new holiness movement”. Therefore, the Lord would “expose every dark corner there is to expose.” The word that followed was “Repent! Get right with Me while there is yet time.” The prophesy warned of a coming season when the Lord will “rip the covers off every unholy thing.”

ALL things will be shaken so that “the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:27) Is the shaking over? Not until there is nothing left to shake! The shakings will not stop until the Lord has completed His work. What work is that? “…that we may be partakers of His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10)

DEFILEMENT OF SEXUAL SIN

In August 2009 I had a recurring dream four nights in a row. It was to do with sexual immorality and perversion within the church. On the fourth morning the Holy Spirit clearly said; “very soon I am going to judge sexual immorality and perversion in the church – harshly.”

Before going further I need to clarify an often wrong perception. Judgment is not God wiping us out by annihilation because of hostility toward us. Rather He is like a loving parent disciplining a wayward child. God’s judgments are acts of love and mercy to help us wake up to reality. God never forces us to obey Him but He will help us to want to walk in His ways of blessing.

But why is the Lord singling out sexual sin? Paul addressed the seriousness of sexual sin to the church in Corinth.

In 1 Corinthians 6:13 Paul says “the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord…” He then reminds us in verse 19 & 20 that our bodies are “the temple of the Holy Spirit”. Our bodies are to be set apart for Him as living sacrifices.

Paul states that sexual sin dishonours God. So much so that in verse 9 & 10 he uses seriously tough language and states that those who practice such things “will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

So what about grace? Again our humanity struggles. We often mistake grace for compromise and holiness for legalism.

Jesus showed us how to deal with these two extremes when the woman was caught in adultery. Jesus did not condemn her but told her to “sin no more”. Grace was extended but sin had to stop. Let us be clear. Cheap grace says you are forgiven and can keep sinning. Legalism says you can’t be forgiven. Mercy, forgiveness and grace do not dismiss sin as “nothing”. It cleans the slate so we can have a new start; so we can be changed and be like Him! When we grasp the gravity of Christians indulging in sexual sin, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is a plea to “sin no more”.

In 1 Corinthians 6: 17 Paul states that when we are joined to the Lord we are one spirit with Him. In the context, Paul is drawing an analogy between sexual union and spiritual intimacy that occurs in the spirit realm. Derek Prince wrote that he believes that union with God comes in true worship.

As such I believe that true worshippers who worship in Spirit and truth should especially pursue sexual purity; confined to marriage. It is my conviction that Christians committing sexual immorality are violating the union with Holy God. In 1 Corinthians 6:15 Paul bluntly asks them “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot?”

Paul’s “Certainly not!” reveals the real damage that sexual immorality causes for members of Christ’s body.

The Lord often equates Israel’s idolatry with “harlotry”. Jeremiah wrote “My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me...And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) There is a strong connection between forsaking the Lord, idolatry and immorality.

We do not need statistics to know that we have a crisis of sexual sin in the church today. While many still support the institution of marriage, sadly, even believers blithely engage in premarital sex, co-habitation out of marriage, adultery and divorce as “normal” practises. The root is forsaking the Lord. While holiness is not achieved by rigidly fulfilling codes of conduct, sexual immorality is nevertheless hated by God and defiles those who practice it. When there is sin in the church, we are no longer salt or light, and society follows suit. The recent rise by the Greens Party in the Australian parliament is an example of this. The Greens are a party that is aggressively seeking gay marriage to be legalised. It is my conviction that when sections of the church endorsed gay ministers and the homosexual lifestyle, a spiritual door was opened for that sin to flood our nation.

Shaking our head will not fix the problem. We must pray and repent.

As I wrote in my first book, “Restoring True Worship”, there is a strong relationship between true holiness (as opposed to legalism), worship and the release of God’s glory in revival. A fully fledged “holiness movement” will first need to grasp and comprehend the holy nature of the Lord.

b) HOW WE SEE ISRAEL

The second crisis that the church faces is in regards to our attitude to Israel. The title “Holy One of Israel” reveals that God has linked His name to the nation of Israel. But does the church have that same affinity?

In Romans 11:1 the Apostle Paul asks and answers a question that is just as pertinent for us today as it was for the church in Rome. Paul asks, “…has God cast away His people [Israel]?” This is a question we need to ask ourselves too. What is God’s attitude to Israel? Has He dismissed them as His people? Paul’s answer was a definitive; “Certainly not!”

Jesus came as a Jew to preach to the Jews. The early church was all Jewish. The ancient argument that says God has finished with the Jews is because of a wrong understanding of verses that speak of them rejecting and crucifying Jesus.

Yet it was AFTER the crucifixion that the Spirit fell exclusively upon Jews and birthed the church! The Lord had to sovereignly move on Peter to get to him to preach to the Gentiles. Why would the Spirit have descended upon the Jews if God had forsaken them?

Jesus’ disciples were Jews, the first Spirit filled believers were Jews, and the leadership of the early church was Jewish. But within a short time the Roman Empire had expelled all Jews from Rome. (Acts 18:2) So the church and its leadership became fully Gentile. Later though, the Jews were allowed to return to Rome.

In the meantime, Gentile leaders had changed some practices because the Gentile mindset is different to Jewish thinking. Conflict arose between the way Jews and Gentiles did things, especially the tension between Old Testament laws and the walk of faith in Jesus. Addressing these differences and “conflicts” is the background to Romans 9-11 and many other parts of Paul’s writings.

Today the Messianic church is arising to its prophetic destiny and these passages are again very relevant.

At the time of the 1967 war in Israel, there were just a few hundred Messianic believers, i.e. Jews who recognise Jesus as their Messiah (Christ the anointed one). In that war Israel re-claimed Jerusalem and could again worship the Lord there. Today there are some 20,000 Messianic Jews in Israel. Space does not allow us to write about the amazing and wonderful things the Lord is doing among the Jewish people throughout the world and especially in Israel.

As revival sweeps the Jewish community there are again “issues” between Jews and Gentiles that need to be resolved. While there are differences between Hebrew and Greek thinking and a divide over Jewish and Gentile celebrations or “feasts”; the first critical one is for the church to relinquish its belief that we have “replaced Israel.”

In October 2010 a Catholic synod at the Vatican was led by Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros. He declared “that the promise made by G-d to Abraham and his descendants to give them the land of Israel was abolished by Jesus.” Specifically, Archbishop Bustros declared that “For Christians, one can no longer talk of the land promised to the Jewish people…. There is no longer a favored people, a chosen people; all men and women of every country have become the chosen people,.” [Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, “Catholic Cleric; Jesus Cancelled Biblical ‘Chosen People’, Arutz Sheva, October 24, 2010.] This view is unfortunately common, not just in the Catholic Church but also in much of the Protestant and even Pentecostal churches. This is a view that says that the church has replaced Israel because they rejected their Messiah. This “doctrine” is known as Replacement Theology, and is based on false and wrong notions. Such a view suggests that God’s promises to Abraham have been annulled, quashed and rescinded.

Unfortunately a spiritual confusion arises when Replacement Theology is advanced simultaneously to claiming and proclaiming that by faith we are of the seed of Abraham.

God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12: 3 states that the Lord “will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Those who bless Israel will be blessed by the Lord and those who curse Israel will be cursed. Will we bless or curse Israel? Will we theologically approve, endorse, support and comfort Israel or do we spiritually annihilate her?

How we treat Israel will determine our future. The Abrahamic blessing is conditional upon Gentiles blessing Israel. When the church thinks it can take the place of Israel, or can hold anti-Semitic attitudes, the church loses the blessing of God that comes via the Abrahamic covenant. While this may sound harsh to our ears, God’s Word does not change to pacify our “political correctness”.

Paul’s question about God “casting away” His people Israel addresses not only the situation in his day but also the issue of Replacement Theology today. Some believe that the faith and morality issues currently facing the church are a direct consequence of the church separating itself from its Hebraic roots. Any attitudes, doctrines and practises in the church that excludes or replaces Israel, will not only lead to a crisis of faith and morality but also an identity crisis.

Our identity as sons of God is found in Jesus. But Jesus was not born into a Gentile family but a Jewish one. He was born a Jew and died a Jew. The sign above His cross read “king of the Jews”. As joint heirs with Jesus we need to have the right attitude to the Jews.

Tabernacle of David

As stated above the early church were all Jewish. Once the Lord moved among the Gentiles, certain disputes arose. So the Apostles met in Jerusalem to seek the Lord as to how to handle the issues. Finally James had a revelation that the Lord would “rebuild the tabernacle of David… so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things.' Act 15:16, 17

Later in Ephesians 2:12 Paul calls the Gentile believers to remember the time they were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel...13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 ...who has made both one...15 so as to create in Himself one new man...”

The miracle of the cross and the power of the blood of Jesus is that those of us who have been foreigners to Israel can be one with them! We are “grafted” into the Olive tree. Knowing the centuries of enmity and animosity between Jews, Arabs and Gentiles, such unity demonstrates the power of the cross!

That miracle is happening in Israel today. In the midst of a rise in anti-Semitism across the world, the Holy Spirit is currently releasing worldwide revelation about Jews and Gentiles being joined in Christ to be the one new man.

Understanding and embracing the one new man is so important, because the Bride of Christ is made up of both Jews and Gentiles who have been redeemed by Yeshua’s blood. Heaven awaits “the marriage of the Lamb”.

One of the most emotional times I had at Mt Carmel was to not only witness, but to participate in worshipping the Lord as the one new man. Hundreds of Jews, Arabs and gentiles of every tribe and tongue and nation gathered and worshipped the King of kings! And the liberty of the Spirit and sense of joyful celebration were breathtaking. A holy united Bride is Scripture being fulfilled as the Tabernacle of David is being rebuilt today.

2. WHY ISRAEL NEEDS TO KNOW HIM AS “HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL”

As I began writing this article on the 14th October 2010, the Iranian president visited the southern towns of Lebanon and again called for the eradication of Israel. The media said it was the closest this man had ever come to Israel. With arrogance, pride and lies he proclaimed that there was “no power that could help Israel to remain on earth”. The Iranian president, rather reminiscent of Goliath’s mockery and taunts, is in fact displaying contempt for the power, might and majesty of the Holy One of Israel.

Two weeks prior, we held 3 days of worship within “cooee” of where the Iranian presidents taunts were made. Mt Carmel is just 20 kilometres from the border with Lebanon where some 40,000 missiles are stockpiled and aimed ready to fire at Israel. As we worshipped the Lord on God’s mountain, war planes roared above us. Today the nations of Syria and Iran are supporting and inciting Hamas, Hezbollah and several other groups and nations to wipe Israel off the map.

Ezekiel prophesied that the Holy One will reveal Himself to Israel in the midst of a seemingly devastating crisis – when all nations turn on them. Ezekiel 39 tells us that Gog, Magog and nations of the earth will surround and attack Israel and that He will deal with them. Mt Carmel provides a “grandstand view” of the place named by the prophets as the site where the nations will soon gather to attack Israel: Armageddon. God Himself will lead the nations there. In the midst of this scenario the Lord says through Ezekiel; “I will make My holy name known among My people Israel, and I will never let them dishonour My holy name again. Then the nations (gentiles) will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.” (Ezekiel 39:7)

Just as the nations gang up on Israel, God will powerfully and dramatically reveal His HOLY NAME so that Israel will never again dishonour His name. Although God has done many amazing miracles for Israel throughout its history, yet they, like us, have continually gone astray, forgotten His goodness and gone their own way.

In the midst of the worst of situations God will proclaim, publicise, broadcast, assert, affirm and emphasize His holy character and nature to His people. In that day they will be delivered from dishonouring His name through rebellion, idolatry, unbelief and immorality.

In the midst of their greatest crisis, Israel’s eyes will be opened to the Holy One of Israel. At the end of Ezekiel 39 the Lord promises that He will not hide His face from Israel any more because; “I WILL have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:29)

Paul declared; “ALL Israel will be saved…” (Rom 11:26) The veil will be lifted and Israel’s other dilemma will also be addressed. They will recognize Jesus as their Messiah.

Isaiah prophesies to Israel that the Lord, the Holy One, is their Saviour. “The Holy One of Israel, YOUR SAVIOR” (Isa 43:2) Israel will recognize Jesus their Saviour and Messiah. "...the inhabitants of Jerusalem...will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will ... grieve for Him ... Zec 12:10

Also, every nation will also discover that the Lord is the Holy One of Israel. No man, woman or child, Jew, Arab or Gentile, Christian, Moslem or Buddhist will be able to hide from this fact. All men will know that the Lord is God and His Holy name is linked to Israel.

Throughout 2010 the heat has kept being turned up on Israel, not just by Iran and other Arab and Moslem nations but also Turkey and even one of their best “friends”, the United States of America. In the midst of world pressure and animosity, God is currently in the process of revealing Himself to Israel as the HOLY ONE. God has not cast them aside; they will worship Him in spirit and truth and the church will be one with them.

3. WHY HIS HOLY NAME IS LINKED TO ISRAEL

By revealing Himself as the Holy One OF Israel, the Lord is making a strong and profound statement. He is linking His holy name and character with the nation of Israel. The Lord is telling every Gentile and every nation that He is covenantally committed to Israel.

He is saying they are My people. Regardless of what they do or don’t do, I will stand with them. I will employ all My authority, glory and power on their behalf. They are the “apple of My eye”.

They may have rebelled and forsaken Him but He is their faithful husband. He has given His name and all He is to them. Every aspect of who He is, and all that is represented by His Holy name, is available for their benefit. He is their provision and protection. So what pride, arrogance and foolishness for any man, national leader or not, to say that “no power can save Israel”. Equally foolish and tragically sad is when the church believes that God has finished with Israel.

DOES GOD BREAK COVENANT?

Quickly and emphatically we say NO. But in the light of Replacement Theology we need to ask that question.

Paul’s question in Romans 11 about whether God is finished with Israel, indicates this was a contentious subject. If God could forsake and ditch Israel in favour of the Gentiles then He would have to have broken the covenant He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Such a suggestion undermines and brings into question God's character. It also raises the unthinkable, that if God He can break His covenant with Israel He can break it with us.

Thankfully God does not, and cannot break covenant. He is the Holy One. Being unfaithful to and breaking covenants is a violation of holiness. Regardless of what we do, God is faithful to His Word and to His covenants.

Holiness and faithfulness to covenant are inextricably linked. This is an aspect of holiness that we need to grasp and embrace. Breaking covenant is serious. It is also disrespectful to and profanes His Holy name. A holy Bride will be faithful.

When God made covenant with David He even invoked His holy name. “Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David…” (Psa 89:35 ) Like someone guaranteeing a bank loan, the Lord placed His holy name as the guarantor. He “risked” the reputation of His name to give assurance that the promise would be fulfilled.

If God were to default on His promise to David, then His holy nature and reputation would be undermined and in ruins. In other words, if God broke His Word, then He was not holy! But there was no risk. Faithfulness is a characteristic of Holiness! They go together.

This fact is as important for us today as it was for King David. In our recent trip to Israel, this was one fact that stood out above everything else to me. Before my eyes I could literally see God’s faithfulness to the Word He had given to Abraham thousands of years ago. This so encouraged my faith I came home with a new measure of hope and trust.

In a world influenced by Anti-Semitism, it is hard for our human intellect to grasp the fact that God is committed to Israel and that He has attached His name to that nation. Is there something they have done to deserve this favour? No. God chose them. He said He gave them the land, not because of their righteousness but because of the wickedness in the nations and His Word to Abraham. (Deut 9:4,5)

When Replacement Theology suggests that God has forsaken Israel, it is actually challenging God’s faithfulness to His Word and the eternal covenant imbedded in His name. It should not be surprising then that Replacement Theology eats away at faith and causes us to doubt God and thus enter into unbelief.

If God cannot break covenant, and if He has not changed His mind about His promise to the Jewish people, then it is the church that must change its view and attitude. God has chosen Israel and will remain faithful to them.

God is faithful to all His covenants. He is faithful to perform His Word. If we are going to be “holy to the Lord” and be joined as a united “one new man”, then we must recognise and celebrate our Hebraic roots.

If we are going to have a full and complete revelation of the Holy One of Israel then we must understand God’s end-time purposes for the nation and land of Israel.



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Worship blog

NEW WWW. WORSHIP, WISDOM, WEALTH

Now you are probably wondering what the connection is between worship, wisdom and wealth?

 “The starting point for acquiring wisdom is to be consumed with awe as you worship Jehovah-God…Unending wealth and glory comes to those who discover where I (wisdom ) dwells…” (Proverbs 9:10, 12 The Passion Translation)

We all desire long life, success, increased effectiveness, contented living and even wealth. Governments and business are built and driven by society needing these. But wealth is not necessarily gold and silver. The wealthiest person may have no money in the bank but to be loved and have a contented life is wealth money cannot buy. And did you know these actually come from wisdom?

 “To live in the worship and awe of God will bring you many years of contented living…Wisdom will extend your life, making every year more fruitful than the one before.” (Proverbs 10:27  9:11 TPT)

But it is not the wisdom of governments or business savvy. The wisdom that produces a long contented life and wealth actually begins and start with the worship of Almighty God!

Traditionally Proverbs 9:10 reads, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. The word often translated fear actually means to revere reverence and be in awe of.

When we read fear we think of the negative kind which paralyses you, stops you from being yourself and from living your dreams. But the fear of the Lord is totally different. It is good. It means to respect, admire, look up to, and be in awe of.  It is a healthy, clean, positive, life giving and life changing fear. It may be a kin to having a fear of sticking a knife into a live electric socket is a healthy fear that gives life. Having fear of a rip current in an ocean is out of respect for the force of nature. The fear one would have in having an audience with a member of the royal family is out of reverent fear for who they are.

Worship and “fear of the Lord” are very close in meaning. The Greek word used in the New Testament for worship is proskuneō and it means to prostrate oneself in homage in respect and reverence (even flat on the face) and to adore. Worship is about responding in awe to the splendour and majesty of God who is beyond our comprehension. We respect Him because He is so big, so powerful. He holds the whole universe in the span of His hands. Holding planet earth in your hand would be amazing…but the whole universe? (Isaiah 40:12) Yet we similarly love and adore Him because His love, mercy and kindness are also beyond our comprehension. What Father would allow His Son to die for millions of ungrateful and rebellious people?

Wisdom begins with worship. Worship has a triple A rating – it begins with awe, amazement and adoration.

The real wealth from worship and wisdom is not measured in a blessed life but the privilege that the Creator of the universe loves us and provided a way for us to have an intimate relationship with Him.

Now that is awesome!



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WORSHIP MATTERS

GOD'S LOVE IS LIKE THE BENDIGO POSTCODE!

We live in Bendigo, a regional city in central Victoria, Australia and about 195 kilometres north of Melbourne. Recently the Lord spoke to me about His love—that it is like the Bendigo postcode! Hold that weird thought and I will explain.

I grew up in a Christian home and an evangelical church and intellectually knew all about God’s love. But along the way, some of life’s challenges made it clear that the knowledge of God’s love had not seeped down into my heart. Rather, like a target board at a rifle range, my heart was full of love holes. These holes had been made by jealousies of my gift, severe criticisms and judgments by church leaders, misunderstandings and many rejections from family and friends. As a ministry group we have been slowly and methodically working through much healing with the help of material from Jack Frost in relation to “Embracing Father’s Love” and dealing with the orphan heart to be His sons and daughters.  

On the day of the postcode revelation the Holy Spirit exhorted me to open up my heart to Him and to absorb and take on board His love. He compared this with when someone speaks criticism of us, or rejects us with thoughtless actions; we so easily “take on board” the hurt. Conversely, when a complement is paid, how often do we struggle to receive it without embarrassment or else question its sincerity and accuracy? We know in our heads that God loves us. But what about deep in our hearts in those spaces that are tender and vulnerable because we have actually absorbed the wound or offense? He said we are to take His love “on board” and let it soak into those deep and raw places.

I then saw the Bendigo postcode flash before my eyes and He said, My love is like the Bendigo postcode, 3550. At first I thought this was a bit odd or that I had heard wrong. But His explanation not only made sense, but was quite amazing.

3 = Love of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit
Three is the number of the trinity and of unity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One. God is love. Agape love is unconditional love and it is His nature. A threefold cord is not easily broken.

He said, “Receive my love. It is a gift. Embrace it, take it on board, and take it into your inner being. Where you easily take into yourself criticism and condemnation, it causes grief upon grief. “Gossip is so delicious and how we love to swallow it, slander is easily absorbed into our innermost being.”  (Proverbs 26:22 The Passion Translation)

 He said to me, “It is better to take My love into your soul because it gives life and rejuvenates the soul. Take in the truth of how I see you. Take in the truth of who you are in Me. Take in My forgiveness and freedom for I have absolved you of blame, condemnation and guilt. Take in My peace and joy. Absorb My love into your whole being. Absorb the reality of My love. Let My love fill every vacuum in your life. Let My love touch every wounded area of your body and soul. Let My love fill every deficit of love you so wanted from loved ones but did not receive. Love is a gift from Me to you—receive My gift. You do not have to strive for it, you cannot earn it, just receive it, take it on board. Love is a fruit of the Spirit, so let it flow through you.  Receive My love.”

5 = represents grace
In Scripture five is the number of grace.

“My grace is sufficient to get you through whatever challenge you are struggling with. Grace is something I do for you; it is not something you can do for yourself. Grace is not initiated by man. Grace is My ability. Jesus came to earth full of grace—full of love, truth and divine ability. Jesus came as an act of love—an act initiated by Me to reveal the Father’s glory and love.

The first deposit of grace you need is My ability to receive and absorb My love and favour—even, and especially when you fail. Criticisms, failures and disappointments make it difficult to receive My love. These question the validity and authenticity of My love. My grace will help you grasp and take My love into your innermost being. Grace will make My love real to you.

5 x 2 = Double grace
We need double grace to live in love, especially to love one another.

“Once you have absorbed My love, the second portion of grace you need is the grace to live in My love so you can give it away to others. Grace is needed to love people, especially when they have hurt you and you do not think or feel that they deserve grace. You need My grace to receive My love and you need My grace to give away My love—grace to receive and grace to give.

Double grace is an essential and a missing key to heal the many divisions and hurts in My body. Many divisions have been caused because My people have, in reality, felt unloved, by Me or by one another. Double grace is needed for My body to be healed to walk in unity and to honour one another.”

0 Agape love has zero flesh.

“Agape love is all of Me and nothing of you. There is nothing you can do to be more loved by Me. You cannot do anything to be more worthy of My love. And there is nothing you can do to make yourself love another person.

Only when you are one with Me can you receive and give love. You are one with Me when your flesh is really crucified with Me. It is then that My agape love will flow in My body. Agape love and flesh cannot co-exist. When your flesh is zero there will be no impediment to My love flowing freely among you.”

  10 “This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love each other. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.” 1John 4:9-12 

 

 

© 2013 Ruth Webb
Tabernacle of David (Bendigo) 



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WORSHIP MATTERS

ANGELIC VISITATION

As we worshipped the Lord at our meeting in August 2007, the presence of the Lord was growing stronger and stronger. We then began to sing “ Hallelujah”. This is a simple but most beautiful song written by Irene Swan from T.O.D. in Malaysia. When Irene wrote the song she had been at meetings in Sydney, and was worshipping the Lord back at the motel. She tells me she heard angels singing as she wrote the song. Since our meeting, I believe it is a song that the angels respond to.

On this day in August we had sung the song through a couple of times when all of a sudden it was like the heavenly hosts invaded the room. Suddenly the room was filled with a sound that had not been there before; it sounded like there were multitudes singing. At that time there had been many winter flus and colds “bugs” around and some of our voices were a bit “croaky”. Despite this we had all been giving all that we had in worshipping the Lord, but now we were empowered from on high. It sounded like hundreds and hundreds of voices singing even though there were just a handful of us. Personally I can only describe it as though I was able to suddenly sing with double the strength normally possible.

And it was like we couldn’t stop singing as there was wave after wave of God’s glory filling the place. The worship leaders “textbook” went out the window as the waves just kept rolling in and very person in the room kept singing and singing with more and more gusto! It was a moment of singing as ONE. Thsis one sound was huge. Wow!

Later an intercessor said she saw three angels assigned to each person. Another person saw myriads of angels and the hosts of heaven. Everyone present heard and was aware of the presence of the angelic hosts. It was the most awesome sound I can recall.

Testimonies.

  • An intercessor who attends regularly and who travels 100 kms to get to the meetings said: “what a wonderful day on Saturday…you know everyday after "our Saturday's" life is wonderful, work is great, teaching Sunday school is great, it is like I have the presence of God surrounding me in His fullest, and the difference is remarkable.”
  • A “seeker” who is not yet in relationship with Jesus came and was so touched: “The most beautiful songs I have ever heard. But it was not just the songs; the whole experience was peaceful and moving.”


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PROPHECY

AUSTRALIA’S CALL Holiness & Worship

The call of the Lord for the nation of Australia is both in holiness and in worship. We and the islands of the Pacific were “named” or “called” to be lands where the Holy Spirit dwells. The Spirit of God is “Holy” and leads us into true worship. Many Pacific Islanders have seen a large angel over Australia. This angel is called “holiness”.

While holiness and worship have different characteristics, yet they cannot be separated. As in heaven, true worship on earth takes place in the environment of holiness. King David exhorts us to “Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:1-2)

Considering our roots, our destiny is amazing.

Who else but God would choose a nation that was conceived on a seedbed of rejection, fear, convict chains, indigenous bloodshed, crime, prejudice, injustice and mixed with segments of strong Christian faith to produce a people who will build a highway of holiness and worship Him in the beauty of holiness? Only God could choose nations that have been rejected to be a place where His Spirit will dwell. Australia has been identified as having a “Joseph” anointing.

Joseph was rejected and despised by his family but was chosen by God to have a vital destiny that would eventually save Egypt and Israel from famine. As with Joseph, the enemy had evil intent to destroy BUT GOD has meant it for good, in “order to save many.” (Genesis 50:20)

BUT GOD….

There is no better time to use the word “but”. Considering our roots; except for… save for… without God…..we stay in chains. Who but God can reverse the shame and pain of our past and turn it into a glorious victory for our future? Who but God can pre-empt the enemies work and boldly proclaim that this nation and the surrounding islands would become the southern lands inhabited by the Holy Spirit?

There are aspects of the Aussie culture that contain seeds which once redeemed will highlight and draw attention to God’s power, grace and mercy. What a miracle it will be for a nation known for its rebel larrikins to become a people who will passionately “follow the Lamb wherever He goes”. And you can see how God can take a people who rebel against injustice when it is dispensed by those in high authority. What a miracle that when the Aussie demand for a “fair go” is redeemed and harnessed by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will align with God’s throne (built on righteousness and justice) and fight immorality, wickedness and injustice. This rising up will not be in rebellion but through the fire, zeal and passion of the Holy Spirit consuming us.

And when we grasp that the command of Jesus to worship in truth really means to be “fair dinkum”, our worship will take an amazing shift. Godly “bulldozers” carving out God’s Highway of holiness will remove hypocrisy and pretense and ensure that transparency and sincerity are the foundation of our worship. And for a nation where the Holy Spirit is to dwell, our worship must be inspired by and flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are we there yet?

No. But change is on the way. There are small signs and indicators of this change. First the natural and then the spiritual. The drought across Australia has finally broken and the floods have come.

Spiritually, we are awaiting the floods.

The nature of our destiny has been recognized and is being proclaimed.

In 2006 the 400 year celebration since the Southlands were proclaimed as the lands of the Holy Spirit. In celebrations in Cairns and Vanuatu, this destiny was prophetically re-affirmed.

Intercessors have been proclaiming the building of the highway of holiness – all the way to Jerusalem! Those who are panting and hungering to sit in His presence are steadily increasing all the time. Gatherings of God’s people are beginning to move from well planned meetings to spending much time just waiting upon Him. And there is an increase in the number of people testifying where worship has been accompanied by angelic choirs.

The Call in Worship: “but there’s more…”

It is a miracle of God when an oppressed people can sing, not “blues” or “laments” but, songs of joy and praise. New Zealand and Australia have both contributed significantly to the release of praise songs that have impacted the nations. While these have been significant contributions, yet they are still a “starting place” because there is so much more that the Lord wants released. This more is not just “more songs” or more of the same. The Lord is calling His church to move to another whole level of worship, to a place of far greater intimacy with Him.

In response to this call the bride of Christ is starting to hanker for Him. She is increasingly becoming dissatisfied with worship experiences that only touch the soul and not the spirit. External experiences that only scratch the surface are no longer satisfying. Services containing froth and fluff do not connect us with the power of God. Just as our soil has been thirsty for rain so the church has become like the psalmist panting for the waters of life. The bride is becoming desperate to connect with the lover of her soul, spirit to Spirit. This shift will impact our worship gatherings; what we do and how we do it. Instead of worship filling a restricted time slot as a warm-up to whatever else; there will be no restriction to how long we sit at His feet. This shift is already taking place around the nation as the hunger is growing.

The intimacy involved with this new level of worship impacts the sounds that come forth. Instead of the sounds of earth, the sounds of heaven are heard. Instead of having to make a loud noise, an intimate whisper is all that is needed. And the themes of our songs will change. Instead of Australia being known for singing “Shout to the Lord” we will become known for singing, “Holy, holy, holy.” Please understand that shouting to the Lord is a very important aspect of praise. It is just that moving to a place where we join the angelic hosts in proclaiming “holy, holy, holy” is a very different experience and requires a higher level of intimacy with God. The Lord is moving His church onward and upward.

We are coming to a place where we recognize how big, how awesome and how great our God is and how small we are. As Lui Giglio says, understanding how amazing and how “indescribable” God is. This new position of worship recognizes the absolute truth about who He is, the absolute truth about our finite, small and corrupted disposition. From this place of reality we honour Him not because of what He can or has done for us but simply because like the Apostle John on the island of Patmos, we are overawed by what He is really like. He is no longer the figment of our religious imagination and His magnificence and grandeur hits us so we become “like a dead man”. Out of awe and the fear of the Lord (which is both clean and prolongs our lives) we are willing just to follow the Lamb wherever He leads us.

The new level of worship is about humbly and obediently following Him. It is where we are prepared to step aside and allow the Holy Spirit room to move; more of Him and less of us. This is a shift from seeing man as being big and wise, whose thoughts and ways had to be obeyed.

When God is viewed as small and man as big, our focal point is self, our vision is selfish and we end up with rituals, hierarchies and self-focused worship that restrict both God and man.

This shift will see us no longer seeking the “approval” of man, but seeking the anointing and presence of the Lord. He will share His glory with no-one. His glory and presence will not be shared with our Christian “superstars”. Psalmists and worshippers will not be displaying their talents with a complexity that excludes many of the congregation from participating. Rather they will forego their dazzling displays of talent to provide simple music that facilitates the worship of every believer regardless of age, race or church background.

Holiness – His nature formed in us

He is moving us into a place where we worship Him in the beauty of holiness. A holy people focused upon our holy God. Unfortunately, the waters of holiness have been rather muddied in recent decades with memories of legalistic teachings that have stifled genuine liberty in Christ. Simultaneously there has been an ever increasing attraction to worldly licentiousness whereby the teaching of holiness is unwelcome and seen as a “killjoy”. Both extremes are wrong. Legalism is the counterfeit of holiness and licentiousness is the counterfeit of liberty.

Holiness describes God. It is the essence of His nature and character. When the angelic hosts cry “holy, holy, holy” they are proclaiming that the Father is holy, the Son is holy, and the Spirit is holy.

The command of the Lord for us to be Holy as He is (1 Peter 1:16), is requiring our nature to become like His. This is not just an invitation but a requirement to see Him. (Hebrews 12:14)

This holy nature of triune God is not formed in us by fulfilling certain regulations. As we spend time with Him and surrender to Him we become like Him. Holiness is about God’s holy nature being formed in us as we abide in Him. What a miracle that it is even possible for sinful man to have the nature of God! Holiness involves overcoming sin. Both Jesus and Paul stated that sin brings bondage. Therefore holiness is genuine liberty. As such we should not shun holiness but run to it and embrace it with arms wide open.

Holiness - Preparation of the bride

The nature of God being formed in us is progressive. It develops from one level to another. That is why, as we grow in the Lord, some things that were okay yesterday He will not allow us to do today. And things that were okay yesterday, we no longer have any interest in. We are being sanctified and purified as we co-operate with the Holy Spirit and appropriate the blood of Jesus.

The best analogy of the process and correlation between worship and holiness is that of courtship and marriage.

There are different levels of relationships. The steps of intimacy with God are very much like the development we experience from acquaintance to marriage.

When I first met my husband we were just acquaintances and had a distant relationship. After quite some time we became friends and spent more and more time with each other and shared more things. This developed into a romance that led us down the aisle to enter into a marriage covenant. This very normal sequence of events does not happen instantly. It develops over time and the relationship becomes more and more intimate.

The relationship of a traditional Jewish couple is an even closer parallel to us as believers as we begin our journey as His covenant children. These couples often enter into covenant at the acquaintance stage. At the point of engagement or betrothal a man and a woman are set aside for each other by making a marriage covenant. For the betrothed couple no-one else and no other priorities can come between the two. They have one focus in mind, to be ready for the marriage. When we are born again we enter into covenant with Him. “Sanctification” means to be set apart. By the salvation covenant we are set apart exclusively for Him.

The couple then go to their separate homes to prepare for the wedding. Scripture says that Jesus’ bride makes “herself ready”. In this time apart the bride prepares. Brides like to make sure everything is just right. Within their financial capacity the bride ensures she has the finest outfit, that everything is clean and “perfect” so that she when her beloved comes for her she is radiant, beautiful and pleasing to Him. Holiness is the bride earnestly getting herself ready for her wedding day. It is not a chore or a set of rules or regulations. She is motivated by love. Her desire is to please the bridegroom. She finds out what pleases Him and she prepares according to His likes and desires. A glowing bride in her splendour is something that we get so moved by because it is so beautiful. We obviously think so because the wedding industry is very big and very wealthy!

An aspect of holiness that is vital to remember is this; it is about us taking on His nature. You become like those you live with. The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we get to know Him, the more we prepare to be joined with Him, the more we shall be like Him.

Like a natural bride, holiness for the bride of Christ is beautiful. The end-time message about holiness is vital as the time for the marriage of the Lamb is drawing closer. Worshipping in the beauty of holiness is when the preparing bride draws nearer to her beloved and honours and reveres Him and gradually becomes like Him.

Highway of Holiness

A highway is a main road or thoroughfare between two places. It leads from one place and takes you to another.

Isaiah 35 speaks of the highway of holiness. The destination of this highway is Zion “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, And come to Zion with singing”(v10) Those who walk on this highway are the redeemed of the Lord. “But the redeemed shall walk there” (v 9)

There is a call to every believer to be holy. While this scripture speaks specifically of the millennium, there is an application that we can give. The Lord is calling His bride to focus upon her preparations to be ready for His coming. As we spend the time and effort to prioritize holiness and intimate worship, we provide an example for others to follow. Once others have gone ahead and done the hard yards, and removed the major obstacles it is easier for others to follow. In this way it is like preparing a road or building a highway for others to travel on.

Australia’s call is to build such a highway. To build a roadway that is paved in holiness, so that the redeemed may walk to Zion singing all the way!



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WORSHIP MATTERS

FATHERLESSNESS - Obstacle To Worship

How many Christian parents have been faced with the heart wrenching situation of children telling them about a child due out of wedlock, an abortion or perhaps that they are homosexual? One of the hardest things to do as a Christian is to “love the sinner while hating the sin.” To keep the balance is sometimes like walking a tight rope that is suspended many feet in the air. To be merciful, kind and loving to someone without compromising the truth is very difficult. Proverbs says to bind mercy and truth around your neck and write them on your heart. “And so find favour and high esteem in the sight of God and man.” (Provbs 3:3,4)

Jesus is our perfect example. To the woman caught in adultery He was both merciful and truthful. Jesus did not reject and condemn the lady because of her sin. However, He reinforced the truth in God’s Word when He told her to “sin no more”. Mercy loves the person and reaches out to them in acceptance and love. Truth however does not compromise righteousness. Jesus expressed both mercy and truth and He offered her a second chance. We need the Holy Spirit to help us in these difficult situations because our flesh will quickly oscillate between the two. If we see people only through our natural eyes of mercy we will not only accept them and care for them but very often compromise the truth and tell them that they AND their lifestyle are okay. On the other hand if our hearts are filled only with legalistic truth we will speak of the ways of the Lord but often condemn and even reject the person. It is too easy for us to project our hatred for a particular “sin” onto the sinner. Hence in Ephesians we are told to “speak the truth with love”. The apostle Paul reminds us that “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers…” (Ephesians 6:12) How often do we end up fighting one another and even denying the existence of principalities and powers?! To have both mercy and truth operating we need to love the person/s and wrestle with the principalities and powers so that the persons have the veil removed from their minds so they can hear and receive the truth for themselves.

The reality of the wrestle between mercy and truth particularly affects us when we discuss emotive issues. This pull is there regardless of whether the issue is teenage pregnancy, abortion, drugs, homosexuality, pornography, rock music or any of the other controversial aspects of modern life. Yet it is when we are “wrestling with the principalities and powers” that we begin to understand the root cause of such lifestyles.

For the purposes of this article we are particularly examining the issue of music in the church, perhaps one of the most contentious issues. In our publications we have been very clear that rock music has a spirit attached to it that manifests itself in rebellion, immorality, sorcery, idolatry and pride. The Lord showed us that the “spirit of rock” entered the church, attached to the music, and that this spirit wars against and seeks to destroy true worship.

While that view remains unchanged, we feel it is important to highlight God’s MERCY towards those who love, promote or play this music and not to condemn the individuals involved. We need to see them as God sees them and to understand why this music is so attractive to them. In response to a letter printed in our last issue, an intercessor sent this following letter that highlights how God would have us view these people, and in particular the young people..

“I was in an evening service run by the youth and the music was so ROCKY I couldn't stand to praise, so instead I just prayed in tongues. Whilst I was praying the Lord spoke to my heart...which was saying to God this music is so rebellious Lord, how can you accept it as praise.....He said.. yes, this music is so rebellious but its not the music but the hearts of this generation, their music filters through their hearts and their hearts are in rebellion....this generation is in the darkest of times ever and he showed me their rebellion stems from rejection....He began to make my heart aware of the rejection this generation has endured through abuse of one sort or another, from the break up of families and the degeneration of the role of mother, The Lord broke my heart for these kids and I wept and wept for them....He said to me.... As I sanctify their hearts and heal them from deep wounds of rejection their music will change and come through a purer vessel.....Then the Lord challenged me. “Will you pray for this broken generation, will you intercede for these kids? Don’t stand in judgement and reject them any further ...but intercede in love so they may be healed and purified and made whole.” I have been changed since this incident and have joined our intercessory prayer team during the week and also a Friday night prayer team that prays for our nation, city, and church.....including our youth.”

Personally the Lord has challenged me in a similar way in the past couple of years. In particular, this was brought home to me last year when back in the class room. On a couple of occasions certain rebellious kids (and every class has one) began to manifest in class (and it had nothing really to do with rock music). The Lord showed me that I had rejected them and even despised them. This was an awful realization. On repenting I cried out to God for His love so that I could love them as He loves and to see them as He sees them. He then began to show me rejection, fatherlessness and many similar things over their lives. In the last couple of years as I have asked the Lord what has birthed rock music (of all varieties) I felt He said its “parents” were fatherlessness and unbelief. (Don’t get too worried about which gender fits which – that isn’t the issue). The Lord has had me weep in intercession for the fatherless generation that are all around us.

Rock music was birthed as the dust from WW2 began to settle. All around the globe, the two world wars had left millions of children fatherless. Many millions of fathers were killed. Many more came home and were so wounded in body or spirit (many in both) that they were unable to be the fathers they would otherwise have been. This was not the choice of those brave soldiers – they too needed the healing balm of the Lord. Consequently, the “baby boomers” were a generation robbed of fatherhood. Children do not understand and very often neither do the adults. Consequently fatherlessness leaves a huge wound of rejection. The discipline and love of a father provides a child with security. A father is also an important role model and provides identity to his children. When these are removed we end up with children that lack discipline and are filled with insecurity and a lack of identity. This is the soil in which resentment, rebellion and lawlessness are born and consequently such people find it impossible to relate to Father God who cares, loves and nurtures them.

When the Fatherhood of God is removed from the psyche, then the protection that He provides is removed. The lack of protection makes people vulnerable to the lies of the devil and thus unbelief is unavoidable. No wonder Satan had a field day in the 60’s with lies like “God is dead”. And no wonder opiate and sex became false comforters to a generation seeking a way of escaping the pain.. If God is dead, there is no standard of righteousness, laws and standards lack meaning and there is no hope.

The 60’s saw young people expressing their sense of alienation or rejection from society. With the sexual revolution came the increase in family break-ups and so the iniquity of rejection and fatherlessness was perpetuated. Added to this we then experienced the Vietnam War which added yet another layer to the rejection and fatherlessness. The Vietnam veterans were not only scarred from war but rejected by society on their return home. Those who have managed to keep their marriages in tact, are still fighting their own battles of rejection. Without the healing of Almighty God they accelerate the cycle of rejection and fatherlessness to their children. (And that is apart from all the physical injuries and deformities passed on.) Statistics bear this out. The children of Vietnam Veterans have a significantly higher than normal incidence of suicide, relationship breakdown and ill health. The youth of today are the children of the baby boomers, some of whom are survivors of Vietnam. Even if a father is physically in the home, he can be emotionally and spiritually “absent”. Thus the iniquity of rejection and consequently fatherlessness has passed to and increased in the next generation.

Music always reflects the heart. Its is like a barometer of the soul. Rock music was not only a new style in the 50’s & 60’s but many musicians asserted that it was the “perfect vehicle” for them to express their anger, frustration, hurt and resentment of society. In other words, the musical style referred to as “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” was a true reflection of their rejection, fatherlessness, hopelessness and rebellion. Not only was some of the music inspired by a drug induced state, to many the music itself became a drug or a false comforter. Those who have experienced rejection and fatherlessness (in its varying degrees of intensity) identify with the music – it is their story. This is one reason why so many young people are attracted to it. Yes, they are culturally conditioned to it, but it also expresses for them what is deep within their souls. In an uncertain and confusing world, this music has become a false comforter and a false saviour. Even many Christian young people who have come from godly homes can still be affected by the subconscious battle with rejection and fatherlessness that not only affects individuals, but even our whole society. Australia as a nation has battled with the rejection and “fatherlessness” of mother England.

Many people believe that because young people identify with this music, we therefore need it in church. Yet it is for these very same reasons that I believe rock music is not appropriate for worshipping the Living God. Our Heavenly Father delivers us from rejection, fatherlessness, abuse and rebellion and by His grace, transforms us into His own glorious image. Rebellion and abuse are the very opposite of the love, comfort and obedience found in the kingdom of God. Hence in our worship that we offer to the Lord, our music should reflect His character and nature. And yet this is where the “dilemma” comes in this whole discussion. The process of healing and deliverance takes time. While this process takes place we do not want to alienate these very same young people by removing everything that they identify with. Yet as they grow in God we must somehow be able to encourage them to address these issues. At the same time the Lord is calling His church to worship Him in the very holy of Holies and music that is birthed in rebellion defies that holiness.

Many maintain that the church needs to use music that the youth can identify with so that they will come to church and feel comfortable. This appears to be a very plausible argument. However, what is drawing them? Is it the spirit of rejection, fatherlessness or rebellion? Or is it the Holy Spirit? If they are drawn by a spirit or rejection or rebellion then we have an uphill battle to disciple them in the ways of the Lord. The crucified life is not a favourite topic amongst those needing deliverance from rebellion. The spirit of God not only draws, but prepares and teaches of HIS WAYS. He convicts of sin, righteousness and judgement. In His mercy He teaches and leads into ALL truth!!

Please understand I am NOT advocating dowdy music. The music of the Spirit of God is filled with life. However, I am suggesting that when it comes to worship, our priority should be in providing a place where OUR HOLY GOD feels welcome and at home. The Psalmist says to worship the Lord in the BEAUTY of HOLINESS. (Psa 29:2) Holiness is beautiful. If our worship is reverent and holy, if we worship the Lord according to the Biblical pattern so that the Lord Himself FILLS the house with His glory, then we are also providing a place where the hurt and rejected feel welcome. God’s presence is a place of healing and restoration. Is our priority to draw man or God? Do we seek to provide churches that are user friendly or God friendly? If we prioritize with man we will always struggle because the flesh profits nothing. No amount of programs and entertainment will heal the broken hearted – only the spirit of the living God can do that. If we prioritize with God, He who is full of mercy and kindness will also provide the comfort, healing and reconciliation that our destitute generations need.

Personally I am convinced that one key is that we have not distinguished between worship and evangelism. (See Praise Alert August 2000 Volume 3 Issue 2)

We also need to understand that fatherlessness is in itself a stumbling block to worship. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about worship, He introduces us to the Father. Jesus said the “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:23,24) Without healing from rejection and fatherlessness it is very difficult to relate to God as a Father. If a person cannot relate to God as Father then offering intimate worship to the Heavenly Father is at best arduous if not impossible. No wonder many opt to be entertained instead! It is definitely an area for much intercession and the wisdom of God. In the natural it is not only difficult but impossible to operate in both mercy AND truth. We need the Spirit of God to help us. We need the wisdom and counsel of the Lord. Due to the controversial and emotional nature of this dilemma, I have always called for God’s people to PRAY in regards to this issue. It is a spiritual battle. As the Lord spoke to our reader let it be a word to us all, “Will you pray for this broken generation, will you intercede for these kids? Don’t stand in judgement and reject them any further...but intercede in love so they may be healed and purified and made whole.”

PRAYER IS SUCH A KEY.

We not only need to pray for the young people but also for the pastors and spiritual leaders in this very difficult balancing of mercy and truth. Most Pastors have a deep and godly compassion for the huge pressures upon teenagers. However the knowledge and understanding that they have of the deep underlying principalities behind this stress can vary greatly. We need to pray for a greater awareness and understanding so that the issues of fatherlessness, rejection and abuse can be addressed and healing brought, not only to the young people but also their parents! Derek Prince makes the comment that very often delinquent children have delinquent parents. Rejection and fatherlessness are generally passed down the generations. Very often in the church we sweep such uncomfortable subjects under the proverbial carpet instead of dealing with them. Denying their existence will not cause them to go away. A holocaust survivor who spoke on a TV documentary, said that, “the pain does not diminish as you get older it actually gets worse.” Rejection and fatherlessness do not just “go away” because we ignore it or even because we are born again. Deliverance and healing are huge needs in the body of Christ. We also need to pray for the release of godly fathers in the house of God. Men who can love, care, discipline and provide security and comfort to our youth. Men who can provide positive role models thus giving our youth a righteous picture of fatherhood. And with this we need to pray for the release of the understanding of the fatherhood of God. Pray that all those affected by fatherlessness will understand the wonderful and loving character and nature of Father God.

Not only do pastors have the difficulty of balancing mercy and truth but there is also a very personal factor that often blurs this issue and needs to be undergirded by prayer. It is a cold and sad fact of life that most church denominations today evaluate pastoral “success” by statistics. I recently read a church report where the highlights of the year were described as the number of people attending the church and the size of the offerings. It is sad that these statistics are the highlights! How much better to read that the glory cloud fell and none could stand to minister! Or that a spirit of repentance fell and the whole congregation wept before the Lord and then went and made restitution to one another! Praise the Lord that God does not evaluate our success by statistics! God is concerned as to whether our hearts are HOT, COLD OR LUKEWARM! (Revelation 3:15,16) In Matthew 7 Jesus warns that not all who have prophesied or performed wonders will enter the kingdom, but only those who have done the WILL of the FATHER. Jesus did the will of the Father by dying at the cross. The natural man considers that a failure! The Lord measures success with a very different measuring stick to mankind. More than ever before, spiritual leaders are under huge pressure from their denominations and their peers to appear successful. This pressure mixed with a godly burden for the youth makes it difficult for them to ignore the fact that rock music will draw a crowd, especially of youth. So it is a very brave and very discerning pastor who will take exception to any wild music being played in church. But it also takes a very wise leader who is filled with mercy and truth to walk the tight rope discussed in this article.

I appeal to intercessors to not only pray for the youth but also for the spiritual leaders. They need the wisdom and knowledge of God. “The FEAR OF THE LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) Thus we urgently need to pray for the fear of the Lord to be released among the spiritual leaders of all churches. Without the fear of the Lord they will not have the wisdom of God that they need. Mercy without truth ends with compromise and truth without mercy results in rejection. God wants us to have both mercy and truth. Pray for the COURAGE to stand against the pressures to conform to man’s standards.

A graphic example of the dire consequences of such pressure being exerted upon a spiritual leader is what happened to Aaron in Exodus 32. Moses was on the mountain with the Lord and Israel was growing impatient. These millions of Israelites asked Aaron to make them a god that they could see. Imagine the pressure upon Aaron to provide action – to show that he was doing something. It’s a bit like our modern day statistics! The Israelites were possibly getting ready to stone Aaron if he did not comply. It takes a lot of the fear of the Lord to stand in the face of redundancy and ridicule to say no to building the idol that satisfies the immediate need for success. This is not to excuse Aaron in any way, for he was accountable for his actions. He would have needed a good dose of the fear of the Lord to have said NO to millions of angry Israelites! We need to understand what sort of pressure was exerted on Aaron that caused him to do such an abominable thing as build the golden calf. Let’s not criticize the spiritual leaders but let us pray for them with a renewed urgency and vigor and with understanding.

BAROMETER OF HEART

If music is a barometer of the heart, and some music in the church reflects rejection and fatherlessness, then we need to pray for the brokenhearted to be healed. Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance! Jesus was not just rejected by society or His earthly family, but His Father in heaven rejected Him in His crucial hour. Jesus cried, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:45-47) It wasn’t crucifixion that killed Jesus, it was a broken heart. Jesus endured the worst possible rejection so that we can enter into the blessing of the Fatherhood of God. He has made us accepted in the beloved. (Eph 1:5,6) Let us pray that those affected by rejection and fatherlessness will have a revelation of the Heavenly Father’s acceptance and love. Let us also pray that they can appropriate the provision Jesus has made for their healing. In the meantime it doesn’t mean that we have to like or even compromise with the music born out of rejection and rebellion, we just have to press more into God for hearts to be mended.



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TEACHING NOTES

HOLINESS

There have been occasions we have experienced or heard about from others where people in authority in the church have reacted adversely to the preaching of holiness.

To recoil at the thought of holiness indicates the presence of unbelief in someone. Unbelief is a source of deception. There are two aspects to this unbelief. The first is the attitude that holiness is boring and a bondage. The logical extension of that attitude is that God is also boring and takes away our freedom as God is holy. The second aspect of that unbelief is the attitude that some sin, flesh or the world is needed to make things exciting or interesting.

Holiness and sinfulness are obviously mutually exclusive opposites. There can be no overlap. Holiness has to do with being separated to God for His use. It speaks of having pure motives and an inner purity. In Psalm 29:2 it is referred to as beautiful. Holiness is not severity, legalism, judgementalness, joylessness or isolationism. Those things are religious counterfeits.

Sin on the other hand is ugly and according to Jesus brings into bondage. (John 8:34) True freedom is not being enslaved to sin. It is not casting off restraint (Gal 5:13) or being unaccountable. They are lies Satan tries to sell us. True freedom is being as far as possible from sin and the things of the world and the flesh, not as close as possible. It means not having any addictions or compulsion to sin.

Holiness is therefore true freedom and very enjoyable. If holiness were truly understood it would be pursued relentlessly. In fact we are told in Hebrews 12:14 to do just that.

From A Disciples Packet of Seeds.



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PROPHECY

HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL

In his book “Knowing God by Name”, David Wilkerson (of Cross and Switchblade & Times Square church) says that “Every time God revealed a characteristic of His nature to someone, that person was in a time of crisis.” When God discloses fresh information, it is usually needed for survival and victory.

In the first article (Spring 2009) we focused upon the shorter term, “Holy One”. Among the twenty two times it’s found in Scripture, notably it was used by the angel when he told Mary that she was with child, “that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 4:34 NKJV) Here in Part 2 we will consider the extended title “Holy One of Israel” which is found thirty three times in Scripture. God uses this name to address His people. In Isaiah 30:12 & 15 He says; “thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel”.

God uses this name to reveal Himself as Creator, Bridegroom, Lord of heaven’s army, Redeemer and Saviour! Isaiah 54:5 & 43:3 “For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” Isa 54:5

Every name of God is powerful and important. However, there are significant reasons why in the end times we need to know Him as “Holy One of Israel”. These are two questions to consider:

“What” is the current crisis that requires God’s people to have a revelation of His name, “Holy One of Israel?

Why is His Holy name and nature attached to Israel?

Both Israel and the church have two crises; Israel is blind to their Messiah and is the object of Anti-Christ hatred. The church is also struggling to be a holy, faithful Bride and her attitude to Israel is not always in agreement with God’s.

And we face the conditions of the end-times. They are with us now. This period of history will become increasingly tough for God’s people.

The Lord is bringing history to a culmination. Regardless of the evil we see, all in the church, all Israel and all nations, will clearly see and know that “God of the whole earth” IS “the Holy One of Israel”. There will be no doubts! No debates! As a result, neither man nor demon will be able to mock God any longer.

1. WHY THE CHURCH NEEDS TO KNOW HIM AS “HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL”

a) UNHOLY PERILOUS TIMES

When believers are in the “fire” of adversity, faithfulness to God is tested. Trust is a critical foundation in any relationship, but particularly if you depend on the other person for your life.

We will need rock-solid and unshakable confidence in the Lord if we are to align with and play our part in His end-time purposes. When we are surrounded by an unholy world we really need to know the depths of His holy nature and how valuable it is.

The first crisis for the church is presented in 2 Timothy 3:1 where the apostle Paul identifies that in “the last days perilous times will come”. He identifies a list of situations that will be dangerous and hazardous for every believer.

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2Tim 3:1

In a time when the love of many will grow cold, we need the flames of our first love to be stoked, provoked and stirred up with new zeal and passion. The times ahead will test that love. Will our love be strong or will it falter?

Because we live in a time when ungodliness is flaunted and holiness is mocked, we need to know what a treasure holiness is. It is not just a religious phrase, it is His divine nature.

Like an exquisite gemstone, holiness is precious, valuable and beautiful. Its display is majestic, mighty, formidable and powerful. It also has much joy and liberty. It has so many benefits and blessings it should be desired and sought after like a rare treasure. It summarises all that God is: He is love, pure, true, just, faithful. One of the strongest defining hallmarks of Holiness, in contrast to legalism, is genuine liberty of the Spirit and the joy of celebration that follows. No wonder the Psalmist said to ‘worship in the beauty of holiness’.

An accurate comprehension of holiness will cause us to want to pursue it at all costs. Without that insight we are easily lured to gratify self, thus making it difficult to resist financial and sexual greed and lust.

We are all desperate to see miracles to be the norm in the church again. Yet we are often reluctant to challenge religious structures that confine and restrict the Holy Spirit. These structures might appear godly but when they lack the power of God, they are just empty edifices. How we need a revolution in our understanding to see the link between holiness, God’s power and miracles.

Sadly, multitudes of spiritually hungry people search within the New Age movement because they often see the church void of power when a vibrant experience with God is substituted for rituals and rules.

Even demons know the power of holiness. They identified Jesus as the “Holy One” and begged Him to leave them alone. Jesus was pure and without any defect. Only a perfect sacrifice had power over death and hell. Holiness is inextricably linked with beauty, glory, power and true authority. As history rushes to its conclusion the urgency for us to comprehend and embrace His holy nature increases. Our wrong views and perceptions about holiness must be corrected.

Time is running out for the bride to be ready for Him. Yet, she will have His holy nature and be without spot or wrinkle. And she will love Him absolutely and completely. Jesus will have a Bride with whom He can be equally yoked.

OUR HUMAN STRUGGLE

Yet despite the beauty and power of holiness, it remains one of the most difficult aspects of God’s character for our fallen nature to grasp and comprehend.

For starters we are short on role models. We have only had one on earth — Jesus.

So we often try to measure our “holiness” by comparing ourselves to friends, relatives and those we consider to be “spiritual giants”. But the bench mark for holiness can only be found in the Lord Himself.

While holiness involves morality and purity it also involves us being exclusively set apart for Him.

A good example is how we ladies use our best china. The one item I ever had in my “glory box” was an English dinner set. Because of its value I not only keep it radiantly clean and try to protect it from cracks and breaks, but it only comes out for special occasions. It is “set apart” for those times of celebration and definitely not used for everyday meals.

Sometimes we struggle with being “set apart” for Him when it means being different to the crowd. Many Jews have also struggled with that aspect of God having marked them for Himself.

Will we set ourselves apart for Him? Personally one example of being set apart has been the challenge in regards to “where” and “how” I use my musical gift. I am only free to use it for worship of Him. It may not be the same for other Christian musicians, but it is for me.

And then, because we don't fully grasp holiness, like some giant pendulum we oscillate between legalism and licentiousness. We either seek it through rules or give up all together and indulge the flesh. It is so easy to be un-holy. The world, the flesh and the devil pressure us to be conformed to the world rather than to God.

To overcome our human struggles we need a fresh unveiled vision of Jesus. “Through His glory and integrity He has given us His promises that are of the highest value. Through these promises you will share in the divine nature”.(2 Peter 1:4 God’s Word) His example is key for us to be able to be like Him as we share the divine nature.

For His divine nature to be formed in us we also have to be willing to receive some Holy Spirit “chiropractic” type adjustments. If we take the hand of the Holy Spirit He will enable us to be “holy as He is holy”. He will teach us. He will help us love what He loves and hate what He hates. He will help us to be available for our Saviour rather than for ourselves.

WHEN EVIL SURROUNDS: LOOK UP

However, we will not become the pure bride if we imitate or look at the world around us for inspiration. In Colossians we are encouraged to “look up” rather than look down.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col 3:2

This is where worship and soaking in His Presence is so vital. It is here that we can “look up”. It is in His Presence that we “see Him”. You cannot spend time in His presence and stay the same.

When we want an “assessment” of how we are doing in the holiness stakes, we must look up, not around. Compared to society around us we may be okay. Job, Isaiah and John probably thought so too, until they dramatically experienced the Lord in a way they hadn’t before.

When Job encountered the Lord out of the whirlwind he saw himself as “vile”. (Job 40:4) When Isaiah “saw the Lord” on His holy throne, he was overwhelmed by His unclean mouth. When John saw Jesus in His majestic glory, he fell down at His feet as if dead.

When they compared themselves with their peers they were doing okay. But when they saw themselves in the light of God’s true nature and glory, they were undone! They realized that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” and “all our righteousness are like filthy rags”. (Rom 3:23, Isaiah 64:6) Like Isaiah, we need to worship Him where we can see Him upon His throne in holiness and majesty. This is the only thing that will bring us a fair dinkum reality check about ourselves.

Looking up will keep us stable in unstable times. As things get worse in the world, we must not look “around” but “up”. Jesus taught us to pray to be “delivered” from evil.

So when we see the church lurching between religious legalism and licentious harlotry, can we look up and see Him who sets the captives free? When society honours and celebrates the “unity” flaunted in multi-faith compromise, let us look up. Can we see the unique, pure, powerful and precious union of the godhead? Can we see the powerful example of true unity by the “Holy One” as the Holy Father, Holy Son and Holy Spirit are one? Not just in agreement or in alignment, but ONE.

When we see a former church going Prime Minister thank God “whoever he or she is”, can we look up and know that the Lord HE is God? When we see the church excusing and covering up sexual sin, can we look up and see Him who, with all the temptations known to man, knew no sin? At this time of “crisis”, regardless of our disappointment, grief or disgust at what is around us; can we look up and allow His holy nature to fill our vision? Can we be encouraged, motivated and inspired by His purity, beauty and glory?

As the old chorus says, “turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” Sometimes we need to do this just to cope with what is around us.

At such a time as this His nature is a vivid contrast to what we know around us. What better time to really comprehend what He is like? Light shines brighter against a back drop of darkness.

PARTAKERS OF HIS HOLINESS

In 2000 Cindy Jacobs prophesied over Australia that there would be a “new holiness movement”. Therefore, the Lord would “expose every dark corner there is to expose.” The word that followed was “Repent! Get right with Me while there is yet time.” The prophesy warned of a coming season when the Lord will “rip the covers off every unholy thing.”

ALL things will be shaken so that “the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:27) Is the shaking over? Not until there is nothing left to shake! The shakings will not stop until the Lord has completed His work. What work is that? “…that we may be partakers of His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10)

DEFILEMENT OF SEXUAL SIN

In August 2009 I had a recurring dream four nights in a row. It was to do with sexual immorality and perversion within the church. On the fourth morning the Holy Spirit clearly said; “very soon I am going to judge sexual immorality and perversion in the church – harshly.”

Before going further I need to clarify an often wrong perception. Judgment is not God wiping us out by annihilation because of hostility toward us. Rather He is like a loving parent disciplining a wayward child. God’s judgments are acts of love and mercy to help us wake up to reality. God never forces us to obey Him but He will help us to want to walk in His ways of blessing.

But why is the Lord singling out sexual sin? Paul addressed the seriousness of sexual sin to the church in Corinth.

In 1 Corinthians 6:13 Paul says “the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord…” He then reminds us in verse 19 & 20 that our bodies are “the temple of the Holy Spirit”. Our bodies are to be set apart for Him as living sacrifices.

Paul states that sexual sin dishonours God. So much so that in verse 9 & 10 he uses seriously tough language and states that those who practice such things “will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

So what about grace? Again our humanity struggles. We often mistake grace for compromise and holiness for legalism.

Jesus showed us how to deal with these two extremes when the woman was caught in adultery. Jesus did not condemn her but told her to “sin no more”. Grace was extended but sin had to stop. Let us be clear. Cheap grace says you are forgiven and can keep sinning. Legalism says you can’t be forgiven. Mercy, forgiveness and grace do not dismiss sin as “nothing”. It cleans the slate so we can have a new start; so we can be changed and be like Him! When we grasp the gravity of Christians indulging in sexual sin, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is a plea to “sin no more”.

In 1 Corinthians 6: 17 Paul states that when we are joined to the Lord we are one spirit with Him. In the context, Paul is drawing an analogy between sexual union and spiritual intimacy that occurs in the spirit realm. Derek Prince wrote that he believes that union with God comes in true worship.

As such I believe that true worshippers who worship in Spirit and truth should especially pursue sexual purity; confined to marriage. It is my conviction that Christians committing sexual immorality are violating the union with Holy God. In 1 Corinthians 6:15 Paul bluntly asks them “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot?”

Paul’s “Certainly not!” reveals the real damage that sexual immorality causes for members of Christ’s body.

The Lord often equates Israel’s idolatry with “harlotry”. Jeremiah wrote “My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me...And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) There is a strong connection between forsaking the Lord, idolatry and immorality.

We do not need statistics to know that we have a crisis of sexual sin in the church today. While many still support the institution of marriage, sadly, even believers blithely engage in premarital sex, co-habitation out of marriage, adultery and divorce as “normal” practises. The root is forsaking the Lord. While holiness is not achieved by rigidly fulfilling codes of conduct, sexual immorality is nevertheless hated by God and defiles those who practice it. When there is sin in the church, we are no longer salt or light, and society follows suit. The recent rise by the Greens Party in the Australian parliament is an example of this. The Greens are a party that is aggressively seeking gay marriage to be legalised. It is my conviction that when sections of the church endorsed gay ministers and the homosexual lifestyle, a spiritual door was opened for that sin to flood our nation.

Shaking our head will not fix the problem. We must pray and repent.

As I wrote in my first book, “Restoring True Worship”, there is a strong relationship between true holiness (as opposed to legalism), worship and the release of God’s glory in revival. A fully fledged “holiness movement” will first need to grasp and comprehend the holy nature of the Lord.

b) HOW WE SEE ISRAEL

The second crisis that the church faces is in regards to our attitude to Israel. The title “Holy One of Israel” reveals that God has linked His name to the nation of Israel. But does the church have that same affinity?

In Romans 11:1 the Apostle Paul asks and answers a question that is just as pertinent for us today as it was for the church in Rome. Paul asks, “…has God cast away His people [Israel]?” This is a question we need to ask ourselves too. What is God’s attitude to Israel? Has He dismissed them as His people? Paul’s answer was a definitive; “Certainly not!”

Jesus came as a Jew to preach to the Jews. The early church was all Jewish. The ancient argument that says God has finished with the Jews is because of a wrong understanding of verses that speak of them rejecting and crucifying Jesus.

Yet it was AFTER the crucifixion that the Spirit fell exclusively upon Jews and birthed the church! The Lord had to sovereignly move on Peter to get to him to preach to the Gentiles. Why would the Spirit have descended upon the Jews if God had forsaken them?

Jesus’ disciples were Jews, the first Spirit filled believers were Jews, and the leadership of the early church was Jewish. But within a short time the Roman Empire had expelled all Jews from Rome. (Acts 18:2) So the church and its leadership became fully Gentile. Later though, the Jews were allowed to return to Rome.

In the meantime, Gentile leaders had changed some practices because the Gentile mindset is different to Jewish thinking. Conflict arose between the way Jews and Gentiles did things, especially the tension between Old Testament laws and the walk of faith in Jesus. Addressing these differences and “conflicts” is the background to Romans 9-11 and many other parts of Paul’s writings.

Today the Messianic church is arising to its prophetic destiny and these passages are again very relevant.

At the time of the 1967 war in Israel, there were just a few hundred Messianic believers, i.e. Jews who recognise Jesus as their Messiah (Christ the anointed one). In that war Israel re-claimed Jerusalem and could again worship the Lord there. Today there are some 20,000 Messianic Jews in Israel. Space does not allow us to write about the amazing and wonderful things the Lord is doing among the Jewish people throughout the world and especially in Israel.

As revival sweeps the Jewish community there are again “issues” between Jews and Gentiles that need to be resolved. While there are differences between Hebrew and Greek thinking and a divide over Jewish and Gentile celebrations or “feasts”; the first critical one is for the church to relinquish its belief that we have “replaced Israel.”

In October 2010 a Catholic synod at the Vatican was led by Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros. He declared “that the promise made by G-d to Abraham and his descendants to give them the land of Israel was abolished by Jesus.” Specifically, Archbishop Bustros declared that “For Christians, one can no longer talk of the land promised to the Jewish people…. There is no longer a favored people, a chosen people; all men and women of every country have become the chosen people,.” [Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, “Catholic Cleric; Jesus Cancelled Biblical ‘Chosen People’, Arutz Sheva, October 24, 2010.] This view is unfortunately common, not just in the Catholic Church but also in much of the Protestant and even Pentecostal churches. This is a view that says that the church has replaced Israel because they rejected their Messiah. This “doctrine” is known as Replacement Theology, and is based on false and wrong notions. Such a view suggests that God’s promises to Abraham have been annulled, quashed and rescinded.

Unfortunately a spiritual confusion arises when Replacement Theology is advanced simultaneously to claiming and proclaiming that by faith we are of the seed of Abraham.

God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12: 3 states that the Lord “will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Those who bless Israel will be blessed by the Lord and those who curse Israel will be cursed. Will we bless or curse Israel? Will we theologically approve, endorse, support and comfort Israel or do we spiritually annihilate her?

How we treat Israel will determine our future. The Abrahamic blessing is conditional upon Gentiles blessing Israel. When the church thinks it can take the place of Israel, or can hold anti-Semitic attitudes, the church loses the blessing of God that comes via the Abrahamic covenant. While this may sound harsh to our ears, God’s Word does not change to pacify our “political correctness”.

Paul’s question about God “casting away” His people Israel addresses not only the situation in his day but also the issue of Replacement Theology today. Some believe that the faith and morality issues currently facing the church are a direct consequence of the church separating itself from its Hebraic roots. Any attitudes, doctrines and practises in the church that excludes or replaces Israel, will not only lead to a crisis of faith and morality but also an identity crisis.

Our identity as sons of God is found in Jesus. But Jesus was not born into a Gentile family but a Jewish one. He was born a Jew and died a Jew. The sign above His cross read “king of the Jews”. As joint heirs with Jesus we need to have the right attitude to the Jews.

Tabernacle of David

As stated above the early church were all Jewish. Once the Lord moved among the Gentiles, certain disputes arose. So the Apostles met in Jerusalem to seek the Lord as to how to handle the issues. Finally James had a revelation that the Lord would “rebuild the tabernacle of David… so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things.' Act 15:16, 17

Later in Ephesians 2:12 Paul calls the Gentile believers to remember the time they were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel...13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 ...who has made both one...15 so as to create in Himself one new man...”

The miracle of the cross and the power of the blood of Jesus is that those of us who have been foreigners to Israel can be one with them! We are “grafted” into the Olive tree. Knowing the centuries of enmity and animosity between Jews, Arabs and Gentiles, such unity demonstrates the power of the cross!

That miracle is happening in Israel today. In the midst of a rise in anti-Semitism across the world, the Holy Spirit is currently releasing worldwide revelation about Jews and Gentiles being joined in Christ to be the one new man.

Understanding and embracing the one new man is so important, because the Bride of Christ is made up of both Jews and Gentiles who have been redeemed by Yeshua’s blood. Heaven awaits “the marriage of the Lamb”.

One of the most emotional times I had at Mt Carmel was to not only witness, but to participate in worshipping the Lord as the one new man. Hundreds of Jews, Arabs and gentiles of every tribe and tongue and nation gathered and worshipped the King of kings! And the liberty of the Spirit and sense of joyful celebration were breathtaking. A holy united Bride is Scripture being fulfilled as the Tabernacle of David is being rebuilt today.

2. WHY ISRAEL NEEDS TO KNOW HIM AS “HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL”

As I began writing this article on the 14th October 2010, the Iranian president visited the southern towns of Lebanon and again called for the eradication of Israel. The media said it was the closest this man had ever come to Israel. With arrogance, pride and lies he proclaimed that there was “no power that could help Israel to remain on earth”. The Iranian president, rather reminiscent of Goliath’s mockery and taunts, is in fact displaying contempt for the power, might and majesty of the Holy One of Israel.

Two weeks prior, we held 3 days of worship within “cooee” of where the Iranian presidents taunts were made. Mt Carmel is just 20 kilometres from the border with Lebanon where some 40,000 missiles are stockpiled and aimed ready to fire at Israel. As we worshipped the Lord on God’s mountain, war planes roared above us. Today the nations of Syria and Iran are supporting and inciting Hamas, Hezbollah and several other groups and nations to wipe Israel off the map.

Ezekiel prophesied that the Holy One will reveal Himself to Israel in the midst of a seemingly devastating crisis – when all nations turn on them. Ezekiel 39 tells us that Gog, Magog and nations of the earth will surround and attack Israel and that He will deal with them. Mt Carmel provides a “grandstand view” of the place named by the prophets as the site where the nations will soon gather to attack Israel: Armageddon. God Himself will lead the nations there. In the midst of this scenario the Lord says through Ezekiel; “I will make My holy name known among My people Israel, and I will never let them dishonour My holy name again. Then the nations (gentiles) will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.” (Ezekiel 39:7)

Just as the nations gang up on Israel, God will powerfully and dramatically reveal His HOLY NAME so that Israel will never again dishonour His name. Although God has done many amazing miracles for Israel throughout its history, yet they, like us, have continually gone astray, forgotten His goodness and gone their own way.

In the midst of the worst of situations God will proclaim, publicise, broadcast, assert, affirm and emphasize His holy character and nature to His people. In that day they will be delivered from dishonouring His name through rebellion, idolatry, unbelief and immorality.

In the midst of their greatest crisis, Israel’s eyes will be opened to the Holy One of Israel. At the end of Ezekiel 39 the Lord promises that He will not hide His face from Israel any more because; “I WILL have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:29)

Paul declared; “ALL Israel will be saved…” (Rom 11:26) The veil will be lifted and Israel’s other dilemma will also be addressed. They will recognize Jesus as their Messiah.

Isaiah prophesies to Israel that the Lord, the Holy One, is their Saviour. “The Holy One of Israel, YOUR SAVIOR” (Isa 43:2) Israel will recognize Jesus their Saviour and Messiah. "...the inhabitants of Jerusalem...will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will ... grieve for Him ... Zec 12:10

Also, every nation will also discover that the Lord is the Holy One of Israel. No man, woman or child, Jew, Arab or Gentile, Christian, Moslem or Buddhist will be able to hide from this fact. All men will know that the Lord is God and His Holy name is linked to Israel.

Throughout 2010 the heat has kept being turned up on Israel, not just by Iran and other Arab and Moslem nations but also Turkey and even one of their best “friends”, the United States of America. In the midst of world pressure and animosity, God is currently in the process of revealing Himself to Israel as the HOLY ONE. God has not cast them aside; they will worship Him in spirit and truth and the church will be one with them.

3. WHY HIS HOLY NAME IS LINKED TO ISRAEL

By revealing Himself as the Holy One OF Israel, the Lord is making a strong and profound statement. He is linking His holy name and character with the nation of Israel. The Lord is telling every Gentile and every nation that He is covenantally committed to Israel.

He is saying they are My people. Regardless of what they do or don’t do, I will stand with them. I will employ all My authority, glory and power on their behalf. They are the “apple of My eye”.

They may have rebelled and forsaken Him but He is their faithful husband. He has given His name and all He is to them. Every aspect of who He is, and all that is represented by His Holy name, is available for their benefit. He is their provision and protection. So what pride, arrogance and foolishness for any man, national leader or not, to say that “no power can save Israel”. Equally foolish and tragically sad is when the church believes that God has finished with Israel.

DOES GOD BREAK COVENANT?

Quickly and emphatically we say NO. But in the light of Replacement Theology we need to ask that question.

Paul’s question in Romans 11 about whether God is finished with Israel, indicates this was a contentious subject. If God could forsake and ditch Israel in favour of the Gentiles then He would have to have broken the covenant He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Such a suggestion undermines and brings into question God's character. It also raises the unthinkable, that if God He can break His covenant with Israel He can break it with us.

Thankfully God does not, and cannot break covenant. He is the Holy One. Being unfaithful to and breaking covenants is a violation of holiness. Regardless of what we do, God is faithful to His Word and to His covenants.

Holiness and faithfulness to covenant are inextricably linked. This is an aspect of holiness that we need to grasp and embrace. Breaking covenant is serious. It is also disrespectful to and profanes His Holy name. A holy Bride will be faithful.

When God made covenant with David He even invoked His holy name. “Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David…” (Psa 89:35 ) Like someone guaranteeing a bank loan, the Lord placed His holy name as the guarantor. He “risked” the reputation of His name to give assurance that the promise would be fulfilled.

If God were to default on His promise to David, then His holy nature and reputation would be undermined and in ruins. In other words, if God broke His Word, then He was not holy! But there was no risk. Faithfulness is a characteristic of Holiness! They go together.

This fact is as important for us today as it was for King David. In our recent trip to Israel, this was one fact that stood out above everything else to me. Before my eyes I could literally see God’s faithfulness to the Word He had given to Abraham thousands of years ago. This so encouraged my faith I came home with a new measure of hope and trust.

In a world influenced by Anti-Semitism, it is hard for our human intellect to grasp the fact that God is committed to Israel and that He has attached His name to that nation. Is there something they have done to deserve this favour? No. God chose them. He said He gave them the land, not because of their righteousness but because of the wickedness in the nations and His Word to Abraham. (Deut 9:4,5)

When Replacement Theology suggests that God has forsaken Israel, it is actually challenging God’s faithfulness to His Word and the eternal covenant imbedded in His name. It should not be surprising then that Replacement Theology eats away at faith and causes us to doubt God and thus enter into unbelief.

If God cannot break covenant, and if He has not changed His mind about His promise to the Jewish people, then it is the church that must change its view and attitude. God has chosen Israel and will remain faithful to them.

God is faithful to all His covenants. He is faithful to perform His Word. If we are going to be “holy to the Lord” and be joined as a united “one new man”, then we must recognise and celebrate our Hebraic roots.

If we are going to have a full and complete revelation of the Holy One of Israel then we must understand God’s end-time purposes for the nation and land of Israel.



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TEACHING NOTES

JEWISH CONNECTION: THE NATURAL BRANCHES

When we read about the early church in the book of Acts it is not hard to notice the rapid growth and abundance of miracles that were characteristic of the church then and perhaps lament the absence of those things amongst us now. Perhaps we also see another distinguishing characteristic of the early church and do not see any obvious connection with those first two characteristics. That characteristic is simply that the early church was predominantly Jewish.

That is not to say that for church today to experience rapid growth and miracles we need to be predominantly Jewish. Nor does it mean that Jewish people do not need to hear and obey the gospel to be saved. What is important is our attitude to Israel and the Jews.

The church has Jewish roots. That is an inescapable historical fact. Jesus IS Jewish. The prophets who foretold his coming were Jewish. The early church leaders were Jewish. All the writers of the Bible were Jewish with the possible exception of Luke. The first Christian weddings would have been distinctively Jewish. The only scriptures used by the early church for more than thirty years were the Jewish Old Testament.

But after a few centuries the church had slid into a state of undisguised, vehement, and even murderous hatred of the Jews.

So what went wrong? There was always tension between the early church and the unbelieving Jewish authorities but there is no evidence that Jews in the early church denied or renounced their Jewishness. Rather, they probably saw themselves as “completed Jews.” The Apostle Paul boldly proclaimed his Jewishness on more than one occasion. (Acts 22:3, Romans11:1)

Briefly, the biggest factor was probably the adoption and adaptation by the church of the pagan practices of the gentiles, particularly after Constantine’s suspect conversion. These practices included things such as the worship of Mary and the saints, steeples, the celebration of Christmas, lent, haloes, confessionals, church conferred salvation, trans-substantiation and others.

And when paganism enters in, hatred of God’s people comes in with it. “God’s people” here can mean either God’s earthly people being Israel or God’s heavenly people being the true church. Down through the centuries the “official” church was the major persecutor of both Jews and Christians. It has constantly blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus as if it was not God’s plan for Jesus to die voluntarily for our sin. The church in effect was saying to God, “Choose between us and Israel.” God did not comply with that ultimatum but that did not stop the church from believing that God had chosen them and rejected Israel. And the church was very much the poorer for believing that idea. Lawrence Hirsch in his article “Connecting To Our Jewish Roots” (Celebrate Messiah News Letter, May 2004) provides some classic examples of the church’s attitude that has come down to us.

One example was the Council of Nicea in 325 AD which separated what we now know as Easter from the Jewish Passover, referring to the Jews as “…this odious people.” This was done deliberately as an act of rejection of anything Jewish. Another example was the describing of the Jews as “poisonous, envenomed worms” by none other than Martin Luther himself. The hatred of the Jews even survived the reformation.

Even the early Bible translators were contaminated to some extent as indicated by their translation of “Passover” as “Easter”, the name of a pagan goddess. (Acts 12:4)

God has never disowned the Jews. Even the New Testament refers to them as “His people”. (Romans 11:1) It also appears that God does not see the church as complete without the Jews. Ephesians 2:15 tells us that God chose “to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace”. The “twain” (two) here being the Gentiles and the Jews. At the moment there is not a great deal of peace between the Jews and the Gentiles although that could change if Israel were to recognize Jesus as their long sought for Messiah and the church stood with Israel. It was also the Gentiles who were taken from the wild olive tree and grafted into the good olive tree, an obvious reference to Israel. (Rom 11:24) A hostile attitude to the Jews still occasionally surfaces in corners of the church today. It needs to be repented of. One way it manifests itself is by replacement theology where the church has supposedly replaced Israel. In Romans 10:1, Paul prays for Israel to be saved. If Israel is now the church then those in the church still need saving.

Each one of us could do well to examine ourselves to determine what our individual attitudes to Israel are. Perhaps this little test could help. Imagine that you have just found out that you are part Jewish. How would you react? Would you freely, even gladly tell others or would you rather not mention it to anyone out of fear of ridicule or embarrassment?

So how does a wrong attitude to the Jews retard church growth and miracles?

First, to be anti Jewish is rebellion against God and the rebellious dwell in a dry land. (Psalm 68:6) The church has no mandate from God to reject or hate Israel. He certainly does not. Instead we are told to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:6)

God has put His name on Israel. (Deut 28:10) The attitude of a non Jew towards Israel is a reliable indicator of that person’s attitude toward God. Second, to be anti Jewish brings a curse. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3 “I will…curse him that curseth thee.” The second word here translated as “curse” is different to the first one used. It can simply mean to “despise” or “be contemptuous of.”

Third, God refers to himself as the Father of Israel. (Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Jer 31:9, Mal 2:10) When the church disconnected itself from its Jewish heritage it in some way also disconnected itself from the fatherhood of God. The resultant absence of a true concept of the fatherhood of God in turn resulted in a distorted concept of fatherhood within the church. This fatherlessness led it to invent for itself counterfeit father figures such as the Pope.

The word “Pope” is taken from the Latin word “Papa”. He was the head of the popular cult of Mithras which Constantine followed and after which he created his version of the church. The birthday of Mithras was celebrated on the 25 December which was then the northern winter solstice. The cult of Mithras was run from a place called Vatican Hill.

Fatherlessness has been a major problem both in the world and in the church. It is a major cause of many of the youth problems we are seeing. Fourth, the rejection of anything Jewish includes the rejection of the Jewish mind set. In that situation the Greek mind set usually takes over completely. The Jewish mind set embraces the miraculous but the Greek mind set has an intellectual basis where the miraculous is often scoffed at. (1 Cor 1:22, Acts 17:22))

Fifth, Jesus is the King of the Jews, an office He most willingly accepts. He does not hate or despise His subjects. He is a perfect king. He identifies with His subjects. To reject and despise the Jews therefore is to reject and despise the Jewishness of Jesus and His kingship over Israel. That rejection has a dangerous side effect on the church. It effectively cuts us, the church, off from the headship of Jesus and from all the benefits that brings. The headship of Jesus to the Church and His kingship over Israel are parallel functions. They are not exactly the same but there are similarities.

Jesus being head of His church means Jesus having His way in the Church. Without His headship being expressed the church is vulnerable to entrenched division, false doctrine and even heresies. With Jesus in control of His church we should see more of a landscape depicted by the last verse of the Gospel of Mark.

And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. The tide is turning. There are now a number of Christian organizations who specialize in ministering to Israel and teaching the church about its Jewish heritage. But there still remains much to be done.

One thing we can do at a local or individual level to identify with our Jewish heritage is not comply with the erroneous Easter decree of the Council of Nicea. Every distinctive about Easter is contrary to scripture. Jesus died on the day of Passover which would have been a Wednesday, not a Friday. Passover is tied to a day of the month. Easter is tied to a day of the week. At Passover red meat and bread made without yeast are eaten. At Easter red meat is banned and fish and buns high in yeast are consumed. This practice honours pagan traditions. The forty days of Lent are taken from the forty days of mourning for a slain pagan god before he is mysteriously “resurrected” each spring. Easter is also observed with eggs and rabbits which are both pagan fertility symbols.

If we were to tell our churches that we would rather observe the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in some way at the time of the Passover Feast than at the pagan named Easter, it is probable that we would rock the boat somewhat. The boat needs to be rocked. There is a mind set in the church that the Easter observance is somehow God’s will and is therefore set in concrete and will not change until Jesus returns. It is not. That mind set needs to be challenged. It is territory to be won back. It is a stronghold that needs to be pulled down (2 Cor 10:4)

Whether we succeed or not is not the crucial issue. What is crucial is whether or not God’s people will take a stand for the truth and refuse to be locked into something devised by poisoned minds centuries ago.

The world will not readily change but that is not important. It is the church’s heart attitude that needs to change. That requires radical repentance. If there are one people on the face of the earth we should not hate, despise or reject but should love and be praying for to accept Jesus, it is the people of Israel. Romans 11:15 tells us this about Israel.

For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead.

Life from the dead speaks clearly of REVIVAL.



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TEACHING NOTES

THE LAST DAYS

Many believe we are in the last days before the return of Yeshua, also known as Jesus. Some believe that we cannot know even approximately when He will return. Others believe it depends on us when He returns so it could be never. Some have believed for a long time that we are in the last days but the days keep passing and they are now wondering if they will live to see the day.

Is there a way of getting some idea of where we are on God’s prophetic time clock? Perhaps there is. It involves constructing a chronological model that incorporatesthe past, the present and the future based on Scripture. It has to be stressed that this is presented as a theoretical model, not as a rigid doctrine. This model goes into some deep detail for the benefit of those with analytical minds who will not accept something without being fully explained. Section 1: History

For the very first Passover God told Moses to tell the children of Israel to take a lamb on the tenth day of the month. (Exodus 12:3) They were to keep the lamb till the fourteenth day of the month before killing it. (Verse 6) The lamb was kept in readiness four days.

Many commentators have pointed out that Yeshua was in Jerusalem for four days before being crucified, thus fulfilling the prophetic pattern of Exodus 12.

There could be another fulfilment of this prophetic pattern. In Psalm 90:4 Moses wrote “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past…” In 2 Peter 3:8 Peter wrote “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

The four days could also represent four thousand years from creation to the time when Yeshua was sacrificed as“our Passover” Lamb. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

A creation date four thousand years before the Crucifixion would be about middle of the range of theestimates of the creation year made by those using the Masoretic Text.

For convenience, this period can be divided into four smaller time periods.

1. Creation to the Call of Abraham.

Using the Bibles own figures in Genesis 5 and 11, Terah the father of Abraham died 2084 years after creation, presuming that Shem was born when Noah was 503, not 500 as claimed by some. The flood waters dried up on the first day of Noah’s 601st year. Shem’s son Arphaxad was born two years after the flood when Shem was 100 years old making Noah 603 at that time and 503 years old when Shem was born.

Some scholars dispute this, claiming that Noah was 500 years old when Shem was born, quoting Genesis 5:32. Because this verse puts Shem first it is assumed that Shem became Noah’s first born when Noah was 500. If that was the case, Abraham became Terah’s first born when Terah was seventy according to Genesis 11:26. The problem with that reasoning is that Abraham would have been 135 years old when his father Terah died at 205 years old (Genesis 11:32). However, according to Genesis 12:4, Abraham was onlyseventy-five years old when he left Haran after Terah’s death.

It seems that Shem and Abraham are mentioned first because it is through their lineage that God chooses to bless all the families of the earth.

(Genesis12:3) 2. Abraham’s Call to the Exodus from Egypt.

Exodus 12:40 states “the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.” In that other Jewish book, (written by Jews, about Jews and to an audience that was either Jewish or were familiar with Jewish scripture) the Apostle Paul gives the starting point of this 430 year period as the time when “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.” (Galatians 3:16) “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” (Galatians 3:17)

The law was given in the third month after the exodus. (Exodus 19:1) It was probably about the time Pentecost is now observed which is fifty days after the Passover.

Paul had been a good Pharisee; he had a good knowledge of scripture and Jewish history. There was no doubt in his mind, or apparently in the minds of the legally minded Galatians, that the 430 year period began with Abraham receiving the promises.

The question arises of when Abraham received the promise. According to Acts 7:2-3. God spoke to Abraham before he moved to Haran which is where his father died. There is however no mention made of any promise in this passage.

In Genesis, the promises are not mentioned before the death of Terah but immediately after.

If the 430 year period began at the departure of Abraham from Haran at the age of seventy-five, the period would have been divided into equal halves of 215 years each. The first half would have been in Canaan up to the departure into Egypt when Jacob was 130 years old. (Acts47:9) There were 25 years to the birth of Isaac and another 60 years to the birth of Jacob.(Gen 25:26)(25+60+130=215)

The second half was the time spent in Egypt. Interestingly, the Greek translation of the Old Testament reads 215 years in Exodus 12:40-41, not 430 years. Perhaps the translators changed it to accommodate Greek thinking, numeracy and linguistic methods which differ from the Hebrewmethods. Western methods of these things are based on the Greek, not Hebrew. The meaning of literal Hebrew is not always immediately obvious to Western minds.

3. The Exodus to the Commencement of the Temple of Solomon.

First Kings 6:1 gives that as 480 years.

Some scholars reject this,saying the figure could not be literal as Paul in Acts 13:20-21 states “And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.” (KJV)

The 450 years from entering the promised land up to the start of Saul’s reign plus 40 years of Saul’s reign plus 40 years of David’s reign plus four years up to the commencement of the temple in Solomon’s reign totals 534 years. That is 54 more years that the 480 years given in 2 Kings 6:1.

However not all translations attribute the 450 years to the time span of the judges but rather to the time span up to the conquest of Canaan. The relevant English equivalent words in the original order of the Greek would be something like “…land Canaan gave lots to them the land of them and after these things as years four hundred and fifty He gave judges until Samuel…”

It is probable that “He gave judges...” refers to a new era which would mean the 450 years referred to the “these things” spoken about immediately before then.

4. The Commencement of Solomon’s Temple to the Crucifixion.

Solomon reigned forty years and construction of the Temple began in the fourth year of his reign. (1Kings 11:42) His death would have therefore been 36 years after the commencement of the temple. Historians are very certain that Solomon died in, or very close to, 931BC. Jesus was born somewhere around 6BC and was crucified around 27AD. Therefore this time period would have been 994 years. (36+931+27)

Putting the four time periods together creates a total of 3988 years. (2084 + 430 + 480 + 994 = 3988) 3988 years before the crucifixion is 3961BC which interestingly is the same year calculated by Martin Luther.

That is twelve years short of being exactly 4000 years. However, in the genealogies, only the completed whole years are recorded. None of the fractions of years above that figure are mentioned. Those twelve years could be made up of the fragments of years of the first nineteen generations, plus the balance of Solomon’s reign plus any fragments from the long periods in the second, third and fourth time periods discussed above. An average fragment of approximately six monthswould make up those twelve years.

Section 2: Present and Future

Some Jewish scholars from ancient times believed that God intended this creation to only last seven thousand years, presumably basing that belief on the seven days of creation where each day represents a thousand years. Non Biblical Jewish custom is not necessarily wrong. For example, Paul confirmed the traditional names of the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses as Jannes and Jambres, even though their names are not given in the Old Testament. (2 Timothy 3:8)

If this belief is true,the first four days would be from creation to the crucifixion of Yeshua and the millennium would be the seventh day. (Revelation 20:2) At the end of the millennium the old creation passes away and is replaced by “a new heaven and a new earth.” (Revelation 21:1)

It would also currently put us near the end of the intervening two thousand year period remaining, sometimes known as the “Church Age.” Perhaps the three days between the crucifixion of Yeshua and His resurrection represents 3000 years from His crucifixion to what could be called the “second” or “final resurrection” at the end of the millennium. (Revelation 20:5,12-13) Perhaps these three days plus the four previous days He was in Jerusalem represents the week of this creation.

Yeshua entered the temple late on the Sabbath (Mark 11:11), died late on the fourth day of the week and rose around sunset on the following Sabbath. The fifth day of the week was a yearly “High Sabbath,” not a weekly Sabbath. (John 19:31, Mark 15:42, e.g. Leviticus 23:32) On the sixth day the women bought and prepared burial spices. (Mark 16:1) On the Sabbath they rested. (Luke23:56) Around sunset, the beginning of the first day of the week they came to the tomb and found it already empty. Some disagree with this timing saying that the women came to the tomb at sunrise or later, quoting Mark 16:2. The word for “sun” in the Greek alsomeans “light” and can also refer to the moon which would have risen about sunset being the middle of the month. John 20:1 specifically says it was still dark.

Tradition says Yeshua entered Jerusalem on a Sunday, the first day of the week. That would have meant that his journey from Jericho to Bethany on the previous day would have been on the Sabbath. That was way further than a permissible Sabbath day’s journey by any definition.(John 12:1, 12, Acts1:12)

Also of note, the post ascension era began with the salvation of 3000 souls on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:41) Again, some scholars have noted that while John 2:1 says “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee,” it does not say what the first day was; there is no reference point, making which day it was apparently meaningless. There are however no irrelevant details in God’s word. What they have proposed is that this is a prediction of “the marriage supper of the Lamb” spoken of near the end of the great tribulation, just before the beginning of the millennium, which would be the “third day.” (Revelation 19:7-9)

Tabernacle of Moses

Some Bible Scholars have claimed that in the Tabernacle of Moses, the Holy Place was two thousand cubic cubits (10x10x20) and the Holy of Holies was one thousand cubic cubits (10x10x10) and these represented the two thousand years of the church age and the millennium.

In this model the Holy of Holies and the Millennium would both represent being in the presence of God.

If the width of the tabernacle was ten cubits those figures would be correct but it does not at first seem obvious that the tabernacle was exactly ten cubits wide. It was at least nine cubits wide. The Tabernacle was certainly ten cubits high and thirty cubits long. (Exodus 26:15-18) It can be determined that the Holy Place was twenty cubits long and the Holy of Holies was ten cubits longas the veil was under the clasps which held the two halves of the first set of curtains together. (Exodus 26:27) The first half reached twenty cubits from the front. Ten cubits of the back half covered the Holy of Holies and the other ten cubits hung over the back of the Tabernacle as did the goats’ hair curtains. (Exodus 26:12)

An argument for being ten cubits wide is that the curtains of goats’hair, each being thirty cubits long, were the right length to “hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.”(10+10+10) (Exodus26:13)

An argument against this model is that it would predict the time of Yeshua’s return and that time cannot be known because Yeshua said “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”(Matthew 24:36)v In response to that argument, perhaps it could be counter argued that “day and hour” does not preclude month and year. Also, as the exact year of the crucifixion is not known, this model could not predict the year of Yeshua’s return. The disciples of Yeshua will however be able to “see the day approaching.“ (Hebrews 10:25)

The Biblical Feasts

It is probable that the events of Yeshua’s return will correspond withwhat is referred to as the Feast of Trumpets “a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a Holy Convocation” (Leviticus 23:24) and with the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Trumpets would represent the Rapture when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The Feast of Tabernacleswould represent the return of Yeshua at the end of the great tribulation. It the only feast of the three main feasts (Deuteronomy 16:16) that has not yet been fulfilled, the other two feasts being Passover and Pentecost.

The only New Testament reference to the Feast of Tabernacles is John chapter seven where Yeshua showed up unexpectedly, perhaps a shadow or type of His return at the end of this age.

There are two conclusions to be drawn from a Tanach (Old Testament) perspective if this theoretical model is true. The first is that Yeshua is the promised Messiah, the real Passover Lamb who fulfilled the Passover Feast by becoming “the Lamb of God.” He was sacrificed for the sin of the world on the same day of the year that the first Passover was sacrificed in Egypt.This is because the Jewish day begins at sunset. It is also the day that a single Passover lamb was sacrificed at the Temple for the entire nation at the ninth hour, the time Yeshua died. As the first Passover was held at night, so to Yeshua died in the dark as “from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27:45)

Second, that Yeshua is God in the flesh that He is “Emmanuel”; God with us, the Son of God. He was “kept,” not just predicted. To have been “kept” for four thousand years he must have existed before His earthly birth. His crucifixion was ordained by God four thousand years in advance, “the Lambslain from the foundation of the world. “ (Revelation 13:8)

A conclusion that can be drawn from a New Testament perspective if this model is valid is that we only we only have limited time before the rapture. Based on the Prophet Daniel’s unfulfilled week, the rapture would be seven years before the millennium. This model contradicts the claims of the adherents of the “Kingdom Now” doctrine which states that Yeshua cannot return until we restore the earth to its original condition.

They base this belief on Acts 3:21, speaking of Yeshua “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things.” Some of this persuasion claim the word “receive” means “to strongly hold onto.” This Greek word occurs 57 times in the New Testament. In the KJV it is translated 50 times as “receive,” 5 times it is translated as “take” and twice it is translated as “accept.” Never is it given the meaning of “to strongly hold onto.” Receiving Jesus is binding on heaven. It does not say that staying in heaven is binding on Jesus. Heaven cannot restrain Jesus as “All authority has been given to me (Yeshua) in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

This verse in Acts is the only place in the New Testament the Greek word translated “restitution” is used. According to Vine’s Dictionary, one of its historical uses was to describe “…the restoration of estates to rightful owners…” This would match perfectly with Revelation 11:15. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.’”

As Yeshua is supposedly returning to a restored earth, Kingdom Now adherents do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. There are also others who do not believe in any Rapture, pointing out the word does not appear in scripture. They also claim the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture did not exist until about the early 1800’s.

The word “rapture” however is based on a word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 of the Latin Bible so it is essentially a Biblical word. In English it is translated as “caught up.” Also the fourth century Syrian church father Ephraemclearly believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, so it was not a new idea but rather a restored truth. Interestingly, it was just after this truth was restored that the first modern era Pentecostal church began around 1836.

God has a history of being methodical and neat and tidy, of not being haphazard in His ways. Although there is nothing in the Bible that directly says God has locked in such a timetable, we should not be too surprised if this is a part of God’s agenda.

Copyright Laurence Webb 2011



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WORSHIP MATTERS

TIME TO WORSHIP IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES

Mention the word “worship” in Australia today and what do you think of? Does your mind go to the descriptions of heavens worship found scattered throughout the book of Revelation? Do you think of it in terms of “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”? Or perhaps King David’s contribution to worship? Or maybe your mind goes straight to Australia’s contributions from Hillsong, Planet Shakers and the like?

One day in the early 90’s, while worshipping the Lord at the piano, I had an impression of the rent veil in heaven. Standing outside the rent veil were multitudes of God’s people. They were rejoicing. Some were dancing, some shouting, some with tears of joy because of the victory Jesus had obtained at the cross and that now the veil had been sovereignly split in two. As I looked I noticed that although so many were rejoicing and celebrating the victory, they were not entering into the throne room of the Lord. Most had stayed celebrating outside the veil and there were only a few that had actually entered into the throne room. Those who had entered were on their knees before the Lord whose outstretched scepter was towards them. In Hebrews we are told that because of the blood of Jesus we can have confidence or boldness that we will not be destroyed when we enter into the holy of holies. As I saw the vision unfold I asked the Lord why His people were staying outside when Jesus had provided the way in? The Spirit of the Lord spoke that the way into the Holy of holies was through the cross and few were willing to pay the price of applying the cross of Jesus to their lives or to take up their own cross.

It is one thing to rejoice because of the victories Jesus has won, it is quite another to apply that victory so we can benefit from it. The major benefit of entering the Holy of holies or the throne room is to enter into deep and intimate communion with the Lord.



DRAW NEAR

The writer to the Hebrews says “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…”

(Hebrews 10:22) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7 )

In our human relationships there are some people we know just enough to say “hi” to and not much more. With others we may enter a conversation, but this remains at a surface level where we discuss the weather, sport and perhaps some of our everyday activities. But those we are very close to we will trust with the depths of our heart. It is only in intimate relationships that we dare make ourselves vulnerable to reveal our inner thoughts and feelings. God desperately wants a people for Himself with whom He can have close fellowship. God does not want to relate to His people at arms length. He doesn’t want us to say “hi” and then keep walking. He is not looking for mere acquaintances or business associates. He is looking for a bride. He wants to be closely and intimately involved with His chosen. He wants to share His heart and His thoughts with His people. He wants us to draw near. The heart cry of God is revealed from Genesis to Revelation. Adam and Eve walked and talked with the Lord in the cool of the evenings. “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex 33:11)

When in the garden Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us..” (John 17:20, 21)

The one spirit that Jesus prayed for is not obtainable in a relationship that is at arms length. It is a bond, an intertwining and a connection that is very personal. It is a relationship that is fully involved, fully committed and extremely close. Earlier Jesus had told His disciples to “Abide in Me, and I in you.” (John 15:4) The apostle Paul says that “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17) In this passage Paul is actually speaking about a level of intimacy and oneness comparable with that of sexual union, and the reasons why immorality and adultery is a problem for believers. The love song of Solomon and the allegorical picture of Jesus and the church, his bride, clearly reveal the heart of God. “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away…in the secret places…let me see your face, let me hear your voice.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-16) God clearly wants to draw near to us and has provided a way for us to do that.

STANDING AFAR

Deep in the heart of humanity is a desire to connect with the Creator. And the Lord so desperately wants to connect with His creation that He paid a high price so that it could happen. So why do we withdraw? Within the church there is a groundswell of those desiring to draw near in intimate communion with the Lord. Yet the reality is that many hesitate, struggle, are afraid and find themselves drawing away. Some years ago I was ministering in a church where I taught the song I had written, “Whom Shall I Fear”. As I sang this song people began weeping as the Lord began to do a powerful and supernatural work in the whole congregation. The teaching session got “interrupted” by people being set free. People were hungry to enter into the presence of the Lord, but fear had overtaken them, and this unnecessary separation had caused deep sorrow in their hearts.

If we were really honest we would acknowledge that in the western church today many have the desire to be near to the heart of God, but it is not being realized. We worship, but from a distance. And if we can be bluntly honest, it is this “distant relationship” that has had such an impact upon the way we worship the Lord. It has affected our passion for God, our priorities, our commitment to Him, the things we do and yes, the sounds we produce in worship. Many ungodly things happen within the church when we worship from afar.

If we desire to be near to the Lord, why are we content to rejoice at the rent veil without entering in? Why do we keep our distance from Almighty God? What is preventing the church from entering the holy of holies? It seems so sad. God wants to be near us. We want to be near Him. Yet for some reason we push Him away. Perhaps the difficulty for us is the same as that for both Adam and Israel.

ADAM

The dialogue between Adam and God in the garden is very revealing. “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Gen 3:8-10) Adam knew the greatness of God. The work of creation had just been completed and God had given Adam instruction about it. Yes, he knew God was powerful, mighty, majestic, just, holy and righteous. Adam did not have to be told that his sin had now placed him in a very dangerous place. He had good reason to be afraid. Adam’s solution was flimsy and inadequate. First Adam and Eve grabbed some fig leaves. Realizing these were inadequate they hid. Previously Adam had been naked but he wasn’t aware of it because he was actually covered. Previously he had been clothed like the Lord, in honour, majesty and glory (Psa 104:1) Sin had stripped him of God’s covering. Very quickly the products of sin are revealed: shame and fear. Nobody had to tell Adam his failure. He knew. Sin brings such shame that we do not want anyone to know about it, we just want to run for cover and hide. And the fear it brings is crippling. Adam had previously had an intimate relationship with the Lord. Although a man he had been able to come near God without any fear. Now there was a deep divide in their relationship.

ISRAEL

In Exodus 19 & 20 the Lord revealed Himself to Israel in a way they had not seen before. In his book, “Gleanings in Exodus”, Arthur Pink speaks of the way Israel had seen Jehovah up to that time. “Previously, they had seen his judgements upon Egypt; they had beheld his power displayed at the Red Sea, they had witnessed His guiding hand in the pillar of Cloud and Fire; they had experienced his mercies in the providing of the manna and the giving of water form the smitten rock; but they were now to behold His exalted majesty…” Israel witnessed the “thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.” (Ex 20:18) “So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex 20:21)

When Israel was confronted with God’s awesome majesty their fear was legitimate but their solution was more appropriate than Adam’s. “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex 20:19) Israel had asked for a mediator! The Lord’s answer to Moses may surprise us, “what they have spoken is good.” (Deut 18:17) Their request was in agreement with God’s ultimate plan of salvation. So God appointed Moses as a Prophet or spokesman for Himself. Moses was not any “better” than any of the rest of Israel but God appointed him as mediator to demonstrate what a mediator can do and the need for one, thus preparing the way for Israel to receive and understand Jesus as the one true mediator between God and man. (1 Tim 2:5,6 Deut 18:15-18).

NOT JUST AN OLD TESTAMENT PROBLEM

A revelation of the Lord in His majesty and glory was not just a problem for Old Testament people. John was the close friend of Jesus yet when he had a vision of Jesus in all His glory, he fell down as dead. “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” (Rev 1:17)

It is an awesome thing to behold the fullness of the glory of the Lord. The apostle Paul exhorts the Romans to consider both the “goodness and severity of God”. (Romans 11:22) It is much easier for us to embrace the Lord’s love, mercy and grace than His righteous, just, holy and majestic attributes. The struggle for us is the same struggle that Adam had, and the same struggle that Israel had. When confronted with the manifest presence of the Lord, Adam and Eve hid, Israel stood afar, and John fell down as dead. How do we respond? Do we hide, run away, stay at the distance or come near and fall prostrate at His feet?

GOD’S SOLUTIONzz

The character and nature of God has not changed since the Old Testament was written. What has changed is how sinful man can get near to a holy God. Just like a flame will consume paper, so God’s Holy character consumes anything that is not holy. When Adam and Eve believed the serpent, God was faced with a dilemma for which He had long had a plan. How could He who is holy, holy, holy get within cooee of sinful man? We know the wonder of the Gospel is that at great cost, God provided a way for mankind to come near to Him. Jesus was able to make a way for the two incompatible natures to be able to be intimate. That is a high price to pay for a relationship. What love. What passion. What commitment. Can we see in the Gospel the heart cry of the Father to commune with His people? He has paid such a high price for us to come near.

Before exhorting us to “draw near” the writer of the Hebrews says we now have “boldness to enter the Holiest” (Heb 10:19) He attributes this new found boldness to the blood of Jesus. The moment we confess our sin, the blood of Jesus cleanses us of our sin and God can then safely look upon us, because He sees us covered with a “robe of righteousness”. He removes the sin and covers us. He covers us with His honour, His dignity, His splendour, His righteousness. That is why we now have boldness, courage, and confidence to draw near to him without shame and without the fear of being consumed by God’s holiness and majesty.

So why do shame and fear still cause us to either hide or draw back from the Presence of the Lord? Even as New Testament believers, shame and fear still affect multitudes and are obstacles to coming “within the veil”. But this does not need to be so. The Lord has promised to deliver us from all our fears. It seems somewhere we have missed something. On one hand there is sin and shame and on the other hand is the access Jesus has provided. So why don’t we appropriate it and enter in?

THREE VITAL KEYS TO COMING NEAR

1. EMBRACE THE CROSS

(a) Repentance. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The promise of forgiveness and cleansing is conditional. The word “if” reveals a condition. Unconfessed sin is not removed and shame and fear rule us. Many confess their sin at conversion and leave it there. Repentance is unfashionable but it must become a part of our lives. We are affected not just by our sin nature, but also sins before we were saved, sins of the generations as well as current sins. Some are so deep it takes time in the Lord’s Presence for the Lord to get us to a place where we can confront them.

(b) Dying To Self Is Not An Option. “No flesh shall glory in His Presence.” We have two choices. We either co-operate with the Holy Spirit to deal with our flesh or else when we try to come near the Lord we die. It happened to Uzzah when David brought the ark without the Lord’s protocols and divine order. It also happened to Ananias and Sapphira. If we want to live in the power of the New Testament church, then we need to understand it could happen again.

2. BELIEVE IT IS FINISHED

Faith receives what God’s word has said about us. If we have confessed our sin it is removed. End of story. Don’t rationalize it or try to understand it. When the devil tries to steal it from you declare that “it is written”. “I am cleansed”. “It is finished.” We come near by faith.

3. LEARN THE PROTOCOLS OF THE KING

Royal families have very clear procedures and codes of etiquette for those meeting, dining and especially for those marrying the King or Queen. Are we aware that the King of kings also has a clear procedure for coming near to Him? The Lord wants us to come near, but we must learn the acceptable way to approach His Presence. We must not be presumptuous or casual.

Tommy Tenney in his book, “Finding Favour with the King” says, “Some who come to a king’s front gate are merely onetime visitors…these master only the most basic procedures of protocol…a second group …guests of the king, come for official business of a more extended nature…these individuals must master much more of the protocol of the palace…then there are the intimates…these are few in number but great in privileged access. They understand how to treat a king or queen with the proper respect and honour.” The King of kings also has procedures by which we must approach Him. As the bride of Christ we must learn how to treat the king of kings with honour and respect. Tommy Tenney’s book is about Queen Esther, a peasant girl who becomes educated in the king’s protocol. In his book he goes on to say, ‘we find ourselves awkward and poorly equipped, needing to regain the long-lost art of elevating a monarch and magnifying a king. Even the language of honour seems foreign to us…You cannot worship what you dethrone!” In honouring the King we need to know what pleases Him and what displeases Him. We need to love what He loves and hate what He hates.

God’s protocol is found in the Tabernacle of Moses and David. When the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us to draw near, it is in the context and language of the tabernacle. In Hebrews 8:4 it says “…brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus”. The “Holiest” refers to the Holy of holies found in the Tabernacle of Moses. In the previous two chapters the writer is explained how Jesus fulfills the requirements of the tabernacle of Moses. He says that the priests in the tabernacle of Moses “serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things…” The tabernacle (or tent) is a picture of heaven itself. God used the tabernacle as an object lesson by which He could teach us heavens protocols. The Lord is very practical. He gave the Jews clear objects to teach them spiritual concepts. Jesus taught using parables. And this picture of “God’s tent” is used throughout the whole Bible.

In His instructions to Moses, the Lord made it clear that the tabernacle was the place He had chosen to meet with man. (Ex 25:22) The tabernacles of Moses or David are not the imagination of Old Testament writers dreaming about something vague, remote or long time gone. No, in every case God Himself gave them the blueprint. Why? To help us ordinary folk understand heaven, the place where all believers hold their true citizenship. While we live on this earth in these temporal bodies we cannot fully grasp a place we have not seen. If Moses had been an Aussie the terminology would probably be close to talking about the procedures and etiquettes needed to go camping with the King of kings. The tabernacle was not just a place to meet and “have coffee”. It was a place where God wanted to permanently live and to be able to connect with His people in a very personal way.

The spirit is wooing the bride to come closer, to draw near. Jesus paid the price; He doesn’t want His bride standing outside the door!!! The wedding feast will take place in heaven, INSIDE the Holy of holies. He wants us to enter in and dwell with Him, to “tabernacle” with Him. In John 1:14 it says of Jesus “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. The word dwelt is skeônooô in Greek (G4637) and basically means to tabernacle; to tent or encamp, or to reside. When you live in the same residence as someone you certainly get to know them – even more so if you are camping in a tent! Aussies love going camping. It is relaxing, friendly, sociable and great for bonding. Normal barriers to communication seem to disappear. God used the tabernacle as an illustration to help us get a glimpse of how we, ordinary people with a sinful nature can enter into heaven and how we can come near to the King of kings. Even more amazing it is a picture to help us comprehend and grasp how we mortals can have intimate communion with the Creator of the universe who is oh so holy. It is a picture of the protocols needed so we can safely enter into the very throne room in heaven.

The psalmist says “let us come before His Presence with thanksgiving…For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:2,3) Almighty God is no ordinary King! Tommy Tenney says that “worship is the protocol that protects the King and qualifies the visitor.” While we are to come near the King with a song of praise and thanksgiving, worship is not just about music. Worship is about offering our whole lives to the Lord – not just our vocal chords. We are to present our whole self as a “living sacrifice”…which is our “reasonable service” or, worship. (Romans 12:1) Jesus said we are to love the Lord with our whole heart, mind and soul. The protocols for coming near the King of kings as outlined in the tabernacle will have an impact upon our whole lives. When we offer the whole of our beings [body, soul and spirit] to the Lord our songs of praise and thanksgiving will be affected by the depth of our surrender to Him. It will affect every part of our lives; our behaviour, our speech, our attitudes, and yes, even our music.

THE TABERNACLE – HOW TO DRAW NEAR

The tabernacle has three areas: the outer court, the holy place and the Holy of holies. An 8 foot curtain established a line of demarcation around the entire tabernacle area and it only has ONE gate! Jesus is THE only way we can enter into heaven. When we repent, believe and trust in Jesus we walk through that gate and into the courtyard of His presence.

There are two interesting comparisons between the three areas. One involves the space, and the other the lighting.

The outer court has a much larger space than the Holy place or Holy of Holies have. (Exodus 27:9-13)

The outer court is 150’ length by 75’ width. The holy place is 30’ x 15’ but the holy of holies is a cube of 15’ x 15’. This is a picture of our walk with the Lord that as we progress it is more restricted but much more glorious. The restriction is upon our flesh. He must increase and we must decrease. As He increases so does the glory!

Light is needed for direction and life. The outer court uses natural light sources; it is lit by the sun and moon. The holy place is lit by the Lampstand of the Lord which represents Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in agreement. The Holy of Holies has no light. But it is the place of the ark which represents the Presence of God. “The city [heaven] had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Revelation 21:22) The glory of the Lord lights the Holy of holies. As we progress we will have more direction, more revelation and more life. These facts will impact our personal lives as well as our musical expression of our walk with the Lord. We will see changes in our lives and our relationship with the Lord as we progress from the outer court to the holy of holies. If we have a heart to “come near” we will want to know and implement these protocols. We should also expect a change in our approach and sound of the worship we present, yes even to the music we use in worship.

If we have ever wondered about the different levels of worship experienced in various places, understanding the three areas of the tabernacle can assist us to comprehend what is taking place. Some churches are in the outer court, some are in the holy place and other are operating within the holy of holies. While it is important to recognize these three stages, the Lord’s intention is for us to progress until we come into the holy of holies. It was never His intention for us to stay in the outer court.

THE OUTER COURT

The outer court represents the start to our relationship with God, in other words our salvation experience. We are not intimately close, but we are in. It is a place of beginning. But God never intended for us to stay here. The new and living way provided by Jesus was so we could draw near. If we stay here our walk with the Lord will remain shallow and distant.

It’s a good thing that the outer court has lots of space because when we first get saved we come with all our excess baggage. Most of us bring suitcases, even truckloads of junk. And all strapped to our souls. Some of it we have inherited from our families, some are attitudes and beliefs we have collected from daily life at school, university or wherever we have been vocationally. Some excess baggage we have even collected in religious organizations like church or even Bible school. Other stuff we have collected by things we have digested through the media and the popular channels of communication: TV/ newspapers /magazines /internet /films /music. The sad thing about all this junk is that most of us are oblivious to it hanging off us. Considering how much space is need in the outer court for it all, it’s a miracle any of us make it through the narrow gate!

To proceed onwards to enter the Holy place and then the holy of holies, the priests had to first be thoroughly cleansed in the outer court. If they did not comply they did not go any further, or if they did they would die. Likewise the New Testament priesthood of all believers needs to be thoroughly

cleansed or else we too will either go no further or die trying. For a variety of reasons many believers stay in the outer court. For some it is a lack of understanding. Some think they have “arrived” and the good becomes a thief of the best. For others the clean up process is too hard or too frightening. Fear, shame and the pain of dealing with it can keep some believers here all their life. Yet in the outer court the Lord has made provision through the altar of sacrifice (appropriating what Jesus did on the cross) and the laver of washing (being cleansed and renewed by the Word) for us to get the chains cut off and to lose our excess baggage. The mediator has been provided so we can come near. The Holy Spirit will comfort and help us to face up to the tough things. Healing and deliverance bring freedom. We all need to deal with stuff. Let us not allow fear and shame to steal our inheritance.

It is necessary for the excess baggage to be removed so we can get into the smaller areas of the holy place and the holy of holies. Many people have tried to enter in and have become frustrated when they have got “stuck” at the doorway. This is why the Lord has raised up so many healing and deliverance ministries in the last decades, to help the church deal with the baggage and be properly released and prepared to enter the Holy places in God. And what impact has this had on worship?

At the outer court our songs will probably be “raw” expressions of gratitude for our salvation, this can include “testimonial” songs. Here the volume is also often turned right up, not because God is deaf, but because He is a distance away. He abides in the Holy of holies. For musicians creating these songs of praise, they will probably be very much influenced by the style, techniques and sounds they have learned while developing their skills outside the kingdom of God. This has had a huge impact upon the sounds in the church. Non-musical believers in the outer court relate to this because it is also the sounds they are used to. While this is an appropriate starting place, it creates a serious problem if the church does not move on from the outer court. Australia and the western nations are saturated in outer court worship. While this first step is good, there is more, much more for us to discover. For various reasons it seems the church has got “stuck” in this place. Yet the full potential of the church will never be realized while staying in this place. The Spirit of the Lord is calling the church of Australia to move right into the Holy of holies. Let us not be content staying afar.

If we embrace the cleanup process of the outer court it will also have an impact upon our songs of praise. Even though at this stage one is still within the outer court, going through the processes of cleansing brings a greater depth of gratitude. Songs of praise become more refined, distinguished and much deeper. Songs will reveal a soul that is learning to walk in victory and to be an overcomer. Songs will begin to proclaim specific details of the victory of Jesus over the world, the flesh and the devil. Some of the worldly attitudes and approaches to our songs begin to drop off. Our motivation for singing and playing music will be thoroughly tested. Even our vision or dream about our ministry will probably have to be subjected to death – maybe even nailed to the cross. Worldly jealousies between worship musicians and other ministries and church groupings have to die. One cannot enter the holy place with fat egos and selfish ambitions – they won’t fit into the confined spaces of the sanctuary (the name given for the building that housed both the Holy place and the holy of holies.) Our flesh must be crucified with Christ.

THE HOLY PLACE

The outer court is a place where we begin to establish our relationship and walk with the Lord. The Apostle Paul encourages us to grow and mature in God. To progress from “milk” to eating meat. Moving into the Holy Place is where we enter into deeper communion with the Lord. However we cannot enter here without having first offered the appropriate sacrifices in the outer court. Between the outer court and the holy place is a curtain or veil. It is possible to remain outside of this veil too. There are three pieces of furniture in the Holy Place, which for the sake of space these descriptions will be brief and summarized.

THE LAMPSTAND

The priests had to place fresh oil in the lampstands twice a day and trim the wicks. Oil represents the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Many see this representing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us in our walk with the Lord. One aspect of that assistance is to reveal hidden sin, to help us deal with things that may appear okay to us but are offensive to God – those areas that remained hidden and got missed in the outer court. The light exposes the hidden works of darkness. Ouch, things that are close and very personal – things that can be hard to let go of. More trimming. The light speaks of Jesus. The more we allow the Spirit to work in us the more Jesus will shine through us. The more we let the light of Jesus show us the way to go the more we will be prepared to co-operate with the Holy Spirit.

The affect upon our worship is that here we learn to be led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the true worshippers would worship in Spirit and truth. To be led by the Spirit we have to deal with that which opposes it, i.e. the flesh. Therefore this is not an easy place to be. The apostle Paul said that our flesh and the Spirit are at war. While a lot of our flesh is dealt with in the outer court, at the Lampstand we discover the war that exists between the flesh and the Spirit. It is here we discover which part of our flesh is not dead yet!

The impact of the Lampstand upon our worship is that we start to follow the promptings of the Spirit in worship, to sing and play beyond our “normal” understanding. The Apostle Paul talks about “singing in the Spirit” as well as singing with the understanding. In the learning process of living and walking and worshipping in the Spirit we can easily “cross over” from the spirit to the flesh. One time I was speaking at a church in one of our capital cities and during one particular song the worship team which had been flowing beautifully in the spirit, suddenly changed rhythm and immediately we crossed over to the soulish realm. I took note but decided not embarrass anybody by mentioning it. Later on I had a private session with the music team and they began to ask questions – and yes, they asked about the moment the ‘cross-over” had occurred. The soulish realm is led by our thoughts, our feelings and our wants. As music affects our emotions so much, worship music is particularly vulnerable to becoming soulish. Dealing with the flesh is a critical key to progressing any further. The refusal of many in the contemporary church to deal with soulish, carnal and fleshly manifestations is a significant reason that many are staying outside the veil.

Musicians are sensitive people, and the soul plays a large part in that. If our flesh has not been crucified with Christ we play music how we like it. What appeals to us. Everyone, musician or not, is an “expert” in their opinion of music. As long as the flesh is alive and well, opinions about music will always create war among musicians and congregations alike. James says that the wisdom that releases trouble is “earthly, sensual [soulish], demonic”. This is a big struggle area for the music ministry. When music in the church is decided by what “I want, I think, I feel,” we are headed for trouble. We can only avoid the soulish realm by being heavenly minded.

The flesh wars against the Spirit of God. Paul says that the answer to the flesh is to crucify it!!!! Most of us excuse it or pacify it! While many are still at the outer court, there are just as many churches in Australia today that are stuck at this very place of starting to worship in the Spirit but hampered by soulish music. We must allow the Spirit to win this war if we are to proceed any further. Some of the struggles are because the soul desperately needs healing (another subject altogether). Some of it is because we choose to listen to our wants and desires rather than listening to the Holy Spirit. One fruit of this is that many “Pentecostal” churches no longer have any “free, spontaneous” worship in the spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are limited if at all. It is as though the Spirit of God has been musically silenced. This impedes the release of other gifts and the ability to live and walk in the Spirit. Paul admonished the Galatian church for starting in the Spirit and finishing in the flesh.

TABLE OF SHOWBREAD

This is often called the Bread of His Presence. Jesus is the bread of life, the substance of our fellowship and communion with God. Bread was always used to establish covenant. Jesus the provider of the new covenant is remembered at the table of communion. Here we have to totally trust in and totally commit to the covenant relationship. When we eat at the table of showbread we are totally dependant on the Lord for every part of our lives. This total dependence upon the Lord exposes and deals with any further aspects of our flesh that still needs to be crucified. Total dependence upon the Lord is not easy. Try going without a job, welfare payments or superannuation and you soon discover it is not so easy. If any of us had embarked on an expedition like Moses when he led Israel out of Egypt, we would have taken years in planning, an army of semi-trailers filled with supplies with the logos of very rich sponsors on the side of the trucks! But Moses and Israel had to trust the Lord for all the strategies and the provisions! The provisions we need are not restricted to financial. It can be in health or in many other circumstances that affect our families, our occupation or our church life that can be way out of our control. In all these we have to trust the Lord.

Worshippers who have such a profound trust in the Lord have a very keen focus that is centered firmly upon Jesus. One cannot trust Him implicitly and still be looking at or exalting self. One cannot trust Him implicitly and still have faith in the plans and schemes of man. Regardless of what gifts and talents we have, at this place we know that our total dependence is on the Lord. At the table of showbread we have come to realize that unless He provides, we are left wanting, we are lacking so much; in fact we are in trouble. Here we realize that without Him we are nothing and can do nothing. It is at this place of total dependence and total humility that we start to really exalt the Lord. We must decrease and He must increase. It is here we discover who God really is. Things we have known in our heads become a reality in our lives. Yes, he is faithful to His word. We can not only say that he is faithful, but we can also rely on it our everyday lives.

The impact here upon our songs is that everything that distracts us from focusing upon Jesus must be removed. Self-focused songs are no longer appropriate. At this place we must be singing the “high praises” which are songs that lift Jesus to the very highest place. These must be songs that in both the lyrics and the melody accurately portray the character and nature of the Lord.

ALTAR OF INCENSE

The golden altar was the only piece of furniture that was designed for man to do something for God. This altar speaks of the combination of both worship and intercession. The altar of incense is the last piece of furniture before the ark. We cannot enter the holy of holies without ministering at the altar of incense. We cannot come near the throne of God without the joint ministry of worship and intercession. In his video series on the tabernacle, Dick Reuben states that worship and intercession are the highest call of the church age. The ministry of worship and intercession comes with governing authority. In Psalm 149 King David speaks of worship and intercession when he says, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand”. The Psalm goes on to reveal what happens when these two things take place together.

“ To execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples; 8 To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron.” It is at the altar of incense that God and man join together to overcome the powers of darkness. Before this, it is only the “work of God” that is permissible in the tabernacle. Authority for do anything is only released to man when he is redeemed, cleansed, fully trusting in the Lord’s strength, revelation and wisdom and not his own. We are not able to effectively contribute to “ruling and reigning with Christ” before reaching this point.

HOLY OF HOLIES

Here contains the ark which represents the full manifestation of the presence and glory of the Lord. This is the throne room of heaven. The Holy of holies is a confined space; there is only room for God and us. Finally sinful man and holy God can embrace face to face without man being destroyed. It is a place of our relationship with the Lord coming to maturity and completeness.

In using the metaphor and language of the royal court, you would say this is the King’s bedchamber. Here the communion becomes much more intimate. In the outer court one had to shout to be heard, hence the volume was turned up, but in the holy of holies a whisper is all that is needed. Here man is no longer expressing just gratitude but the deep emotions of the heart. It is here we join the Psalmist in wanting to “behold the beauty of the Lord” and respond to the Lord with “My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:4, 8) Those who enter here have learned the protocol of the palace. But this code of behaviour is no longer “rules to get near the King”. Somewhere in the process we fall in love with the King, we have come to like what he likes and hate what He hates. It is here that our song becomes a love song to the Lord. This song has become refined, it has become gentle and quiet. This reflects the soul that has drawn so near to the Lord that quietness and contentment has permeated the soul of the worshipper. It is a song saturated in purity, love and holiness. Such intimate worship is breathtakingly beautiful. No wonder the Psalmist encouraged us to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”.

As we draw near to Him and come “within the veil” we hear His voice and His heartbeat. This is the place where He divulges the secrets of His heart. It is also where we see His face and behold His glory. In the throne room there is also a different sound. The sound is pure with no contaminates at all. There is no residue left from when we lived outside the perimeter of the tabernacle. Such a purity of sound is hard for mortal ears to comprehend. It is the sound of heaven. “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” (Revelation 19:6)

If the church remains outside the veil it is in fact remaining in the “outer court” and although there is a measure of relationship, anointing and authority, it is only partial. The Lord wants His church to enter into her full inheritance; the fullness of relationship, anointing, authority and blessing. This is not just a “nice idea”, but very necessary for the days ahead. The end time battles will become fiercer. The darkness upon the earth will increase. But the Lord has provided a place of protection and strength for His people. His glory will cover the whole earth. Jesus paid the price. Let us draw near.

[Many aspects of this article do not cover the subject adequately. Of particular note is the altar of incense. This article contains a condensed version or “summary” of parts from a new book being worked on.]



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TEACHING NOTES

HOLINESS

There have been occasions we have experienced or heard about from others where people in authority in the church have reacted adversely to the preaching of holiness.

To recoil at the thought of holiness indicates the presence of unbelief in someone. Unbelief is a source of deception. There are two aspects to this unbelief. The first is the attitude that holiness is boring and a bondage. The logical extension of that attitude is that God is also boring and takes away our freedom as God is holy. The second aspect of that unbelief is the attitude that some sin, flesh or the world is needed to make things exciting or interesting.

Holiness and sinfulness are obviously mutually exclusive opposites. There can be no overlap. Holiness has to do with being separated to God for His use. It speaks of having pure motives and an inner purity. In Psalm 29:2 it is referred to as beautiful. Holiness is not severity, legalism, judgementalness, joylessness or isolationism. Those things are religious counterfeits.

Sin on the other hand is ugly and according to Jesus brings into bondage. (John 8:34) True freedom is not being enslaved to sin. It is not casting off restraint (Gal 5:13) or being unaccountable. They are lies Satan tries to sell us. True freedom is being as far as possible from sin and the things of the world and the flesh, not as close as possible. It means not having any addictions or compulsion to sin.

Holiness is therefore true freedom and very enjoyable. If holiness were truly understood it would be pursued relentlessly. In fact we are told in Hebrews 12:14 to do just that.

From A Disciples Packet of Seeds.



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TEACHING NOTES

THE LAST DAYS

Many believe we are in the last days before the return of Yeshua, also known as Jesus. Some believe that we cannot know even approximately when He will return. Others believe it depends on us when He returns so it could be never. Some have believed for a long time that we are in the last days but the days keep passing and they are now wondering if they will live to see the day.

Is there a way of getting some idea of where we are on God’s prophetic time clock? Perhaps there is. It involves constructing a chronological model that incorporatesthe past, the present and the future based on Scripture. It has to be stressed that this is presented as a theoretical model, not as a rigid doctrine. This model goes into some deep detail for the benefit of those with analytical minds who will not accept something without being fully explained. Section 1: History

For the very first Passover God told Moses to tell the children of Israel to take a lamb on the tenth day of the month. (Exodus 12:3) They were to keep the lamb till the fourteenth day of the month before killing it. (Verse 6) The lamb was kept in readiness four days.

Many commentators have pointed out that Yeshua was in Jerusalem for four days before being crucified, thus fulfilling the prophetic pattern of Exodus 12.

There could be another fulfilment of this prophetic pattern. In Psalm 90:4 Moses wrote “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past…” In 2 Peter 3:8 Peter wrote “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

The four days could also represent four thousand years from creation to the time when Yeshua was sacrificed as“our Passover” Lamb. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

A creation date four thousand years before the Crucifixion would be about middle of the range of theestimates of the creation year made by those using the Masoretic Text.

For convenience, this period can be divided into four smaller time periods.

1. Creation to the Call of Abraham.

Using the Bibles own figures in Genesis 5 and 11, Terah the father of Abraham died 2084 years after creation, presuming that Shem was born when Noah was 503, not 500 as claimed by some. The flood waters dried up on the first day of Noah’s 601st year. Shem’s son Arphaxad was born two years after the flood when Shem was 100 years old making Noah 603 at that time and 503 years old when Shem was born.

Some scholars dispute this, claiming that Noah was 500 years old when Shem was born, quoting Genesis 5:32. Because this verse puts Shem first it is assumed that Shem became Noah’s first born when Noah was 500. If that was the case, Abraham became Terah’s first born when Terah was seventy according to Genesis 11:26. The problem with that reasoning is that Abraham would have been 135 years old when his father Terah died at 205 years old (Genesis 11:32). However, according to Genesis 12:4, Abraham was onlyseventy-five years old when he left Haran after Terah’s death.

It seems that Shem and Abraham are mentioned first because it is through their lineage that God chooses to bless all the families of the earth.

(Genesis12:3) 2. Abraham’s Call to the Exodus from Egypt.

Exodus 12:40 states “the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.” In that other Jewish book, (written by Jews, about Jews and to an audience that was either Jewish or were familiar with Jewish scripture) the Apostle Paul gives the starting point of this 430 year period as the time when “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.” (Galatians 3:16) “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” (Galatians 3:17)

The law was given in the third month after the exodus. (Exodus 19:1) It was probably about the time Pentecost is now observed which is fifty days after the Passover.

Paul had been a good Pharisee; he had a good knowledge of scripture and Jewish history. There was no doubt in his mind, or apparently in the minds of the legally minded Galatians, that the 430 year period began with Abraham receiving the promises.

The question arises of when Abraham received the promise. According to Acts 7:2-3. God spoke to Abraham before he moved to Haran which is where his father died. There is however no mention made of any promise in this passage.

In Genesis, the promises are not mentioned before the death of Terah but immediately after.

If the 430 year period began at the departure of Abraham from Haran at the age of seventy-five, the period would have been divided into equal halves of 215 years each. The first half would have been in Canaan up to the departure into Egypt when Jacob was 130 years old. (Acts47:9) There were 25 years to the birth of Isaac and another 60 years to the birth of Jacob.(Gen 25:26)(25+60+130=215)

The second half was the time spent in Egypt. Interestingly, the Greek translation of the Old Testament reads 215 years in Exodus 12:40-41, not 430 years. Perhaps the translators changed it to accommodate Greek thinking, numeracy and linguistic methods which differ from the Hebrewmethods. Western methods of these things are based on the Greek, not Hebrew. The meaning of literal Hebrew is not always immediately obvious to Western minds.

3. The Exodus to the Commencement of the Temple of Solomon.

First Kings 6:1 gives that as 480 years.

Some scholars reject this,saying the figure could not be literal as Paul in Acts 13:20-21 states “And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.” (KJV)

The 450 years from entering the promised land up to the start of Saul’s reign plus 40 years of Saul’s reign plus 40 years of David’s reign plus four years up to the commencement of the temple in Solomon’s reign totals 534 years. That is 54 more years that the 480 years given in 2 Kings 6:1.

However not all translations attribute the 450 years to the time span of the judges but rather to the time span up to the conquest of Canaan. The relevant English equivalent words in the original order of the Greek would be something like “…land Canaan gave lots to them the land of them and after these things as years four hundred and fifty He gave judges until Samuel…”

It is probable that “He gave judges...” refers to a new era which would mean the 450 years referred to the “these things” spoken about immediately before then.

4. The Commencement of Solomon’s Temple to the Crucifixion.

Solomon reigned forty years and construction of the Temple began in the fourth year of his reign. (1Kings 11:42) His death would have therefore been 36 years after the commencement of the temple. Historians are very certain that Solomon died in, or very close to, 931BC. Jesus was born somewhere around 6BC and was crucified around 27AD. Therefore this time period would have been 994 years. (36+931+27)

Putting the four time periods together creates a total of 3988 years. (2084 + 430 + 480 + 994 = 3988) 3988 years before the crucifixion is 3961BC which interestingly is the same year calculated by Martin Luther.

That is twelve years short of being exactly 4000 years. However, in the genealogies, only the completed whole years are recorded. None of the fractions of years above that figure are mentioned. Those twelve years could be made up of the fragments of years of the first nineteen generations, plus the balance of Solomon’s reign plus any fragments from the long periods in the second, third and fourth time periods discussed above. An average fragment of approximately six monthswould make up those twelve years.

Section 2: Present and Future

Some Jewish scholars from ancient times believed that God intended this creation to only last seven thousand years, presumably basing that belief on the seven days of creation where each day represents a thousand years. Non Biblical Jewish custom is not necessarily wrong. For example, Paul confirmed the traditional names of the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses as Jannes and Jambres, even though their names are not given in the Old Testament. (2 Timothy 3:8)

If this belief is true,the first four days would be from creation to the crucifixion of Yeshua and the millennium would be the seventh day. (Revelation 20:2) At the end of the millennium the old creation passes away and is replaced by “a new heaven and a new earth.” (Revelation 21:1)

It would also currently put us near the end of the intervening two thousand year period remaining, sometimes known as the “Church Age.” Perhaps the three days between the crucifixion of Yeshua and His resurrection represents 3000 years from His crucifixion to what could be called the “second” or “final resurrection” at the end of the millennium. (Revelation 20:5,12-13) Perhaps these three days plus the four previous days He was in Jerusalem represents the week of this creation.

Yeshua entered the temple late on the Sabbath (Mark 11:11), died late on the fourth day of the week and rose around sunset on the following Sabbath. The fifth day of the week was a yearly “High Sabbath,” not a weekly Sabbath. (John 19:31, Mark 15:42, e.g. Leviticus 23:32) On the sixth day the women bought and prepared burial spices. (Mark 16:1) On the Sabbath they rested. (Luke23:56) Around sunset, the beginning of the first day of the week they came to the tomb and found it already empty. Some disagree with this timing saying that the women came to the tomb at sunrise or later, quoting Mark 16:2. The word for “sun” in the Greek alsomeans “light” and can also refer to the moon which would have risen about sunset being the middle of the month. John 20:1 specifically says it was still dark.

Tradition says Yeshua entered Jerusalem on a Sunday, the first day of the week. That would have meant that his journey from Jericho to Bethany on the previous day would have been on the Sabbath. That was way further than a permissible Sabbath day’s journey by any definition.(John 12:1, 12, Acts1:12)

Also of note, the post ascension era began with the salvation of 3000 souls on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:41) Again, some scholars have noted that while John 2:1 says “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee,” it does not say what the first day was; there is no reference point, making which day it was apparently meaningless. There are however no irrelevant details in God’s word. What they have proposed is that this is a prediction of “the marriage supper of the Lamb” spoken of near the end of the great tribulation, just before the beginning of the millennium, which would be the “third day.” (Revelation 19:7-9)

Tabernacle of Moses

Some Bible Scholars have claimed that in the Tabernacle of Moses, the Holy Place was two thousand cubic cubits (10x10x20) and the Holy of Holies was one thousand cubic cubits (10x10x10) and these represented the two thousand years of the church age and the millennium.

In this model the Holy of Holies and the Millennium would both represent being in the presence of God.

If the width of the tabernacle was ten cubits those figures would be correct but it does not at first seem obvious that the tabernacle was exactly ten cubits wide. It was at least nine cubits wide. The Tabernacle was certainly ten cubits high and thirty cubits long. (Exodus 26:15-18) It can be determined that the Holy Place was twenty cubits long and the Holy of Holies was ten cubits longas the veil was under the clasps which held the two halves of the first set of curtains together. (Exodus 26:27) The first half reached twenty cubits from the front. Ten cubits of the back half covered the Holy of Holies and the other ten cubits hung over the back of the Tabernacle as did the goats’ hair curtains. (Exodus 26:12)

An argument for being ten cubits wide is that the curtains of goats’hair, each being thirty cubits long, were the right length to “hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.”(10+10+10) (Exodus26:13)

An argument against this model is that it would predict the time of Yeshua’s return and that time cannot be known because Yeshua said “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”(Matthew 24:36)v In response to that argument, perhaps it could be counter argued that “day and hour” does not preclude month and year. Also, as the exact year of the crucifixion is not known, this model could not predict the year of Yeshua’s return. The disciples of Yeshua will however be able to “see the day approaching.“ (Hebrews 10:25)

The Biblical Feasts

It is probable that the events of Yeshua’s return will correspond withwhat is referred to as the Feast of Trumpets “a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a Holy Convocation” (Leviticus 23:24) and with the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Trumpets would represent the Rapture when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The Feast of Tabernacleswould represent the return of Yeshua at the end of the great tribulation. It the only feast of the three main feasts (Deuteronomy 16:16) that has not yet been fulfilled, the other two feasts being Passover and Pentecost.

The only New Testament reference to the Feast of Tabernacles is John chapter seven where Yeshua showed up unexpectedly, perhaps a shadow or type of His return at the end of this age.

There are two conclusions to be drawn from a Tanach (Old Testament) perspective if this theoretical model is true. The first is that Yeshua is the promised Messiah, the real Passover Lamb who fulfilled the Passover Feast by becoming “the Lamb of God.” He was sacrificed for the sin of the world on the same day of the year that the first Passover was sacrificed in Egypt.This is because the Jewish day begins at sunset. It is also the day that a single Passover lamb was sacrificed at the Temple for the entire nation at the ninth hour, the time Yeshua died. As the first Passover was held at night, so to Yeshua died in the dark as “from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27:45)

Second, that Yeshua is God in the flesh that He is “Emmanuel”; God with us, the Son of God. He was “kept,” not just predicted. To have been “kept” for four thousand years he must have existed before His earthly birth. His crucifixion was ordained by God four thousand years in advance, “the Lambslain from the foundation of the world. “ (Revelation 13:8)

A conclusion that can be drawn from a New Testament perspective if this model is valid is that we only we only have limited time before the rapture. Based on the Prophet Daniel’s unfulfilled week, the rapture would be seven years before the millennium. This model contradicts the claims of the adherents of the “Kingdom Now” doctrine which states that Yeshua cannot return until we restore the earth to its original condition.

They base this belief on Acts 3:21, speaking of Yeshua “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things.” Some of this persuasion claim the word “receive” means “to strongly hold onto.” This Greek word occurs 57 times in the New Testament. In the KJV it is translated 50 times as “receive,” 5 times it is translated as “take” and twice it is translated as “accept.” Never is it given the meaning of “to strongly hold onto.” Receiving Jesus is binding on heaven. It does not say that staying in heaven is binding on Jesus. Heaven cannot restrain Jesus as “All authority has been given to me (Yeshua) in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

This verse in Acts is the only place in the New Testament the Greek word translated “restitution” is used. According to Vine’s Dictionary, one of its historical uses was to describe “…the restoration of estates to rightful owners…” This would match perfectly with Revelation 11:15. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.’”

As Yeshua is supposedly returning to a restored earth, Kingdom Now adherents do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. There are also others who do not believe in any Rapture, pointing out the word does not appear in scripture. They also claim the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture did not exist until about the early 1800’s.

The word “rapture” however is based on a word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 of the Latin Bible so it is essentially a Biblical word. In English it is translated as “caught up.” Also the fourth century Syrian church father Ephraemclearly believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, so it was not a new idea but rather a restored truth. Interestingly, it was just after this truth was restored that the first modern era Pentecostal church began around 1836.

God has a history of being methodical and neat and tidy, of not being haphazard in His ways. Although there is nothing in the Bible that directly says God has locked in such a timetable, we should not be too surprised if this is a part of God’s agenda.

Copyright Laurence Webb 2011



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TEACHING NOTES

JEWISH CONNECTION: THE NATURAL BRANCHES

When we read about the early church in the book of Acts it is not hard to notice the rapid growth and abundance of miracles that were characteristic of the church then and perhaps lament the absence of those things amongst us now. Perhaps we also see another distinguishing characteristic of the early church and do not see any obvious connection with those first two characteristics. That characteristic is simply that the early church was predominantly Jewish.

That is not to say that for church today to experience rapid growth and miracles we need to be predominantly Jewish. Nor does it mean that Jewish people do not need to hear and obey the gospel to be saved. What is important is our attitude to Israel and the Jews.

The church has Jewish roots. That is an inescapable historical fact. Jesus IS Jewish. The prophets who foretold his coming were Jewish. The early church leaders were Jewish. All the writers of the Bible were Jewish with the possible exception of Luke. The first Christian weddings would have been distinctively Jewish. The only scriptures used by the early church for more than thirty years were the Jewish Old Testament.

But after a few centuries the church had slid into a state of undisguised, vehement, and even murderous hatred of the Jews.

So what went wrong? There was always tension between the early church and the unbelieving Jewish authorities but there is no evidence that Jews in the early church denied or renounced their Jewishness. Rather, they probably saw themselves as “completed Jews.” The Apostle Paul boldly proclaimed his Jewishness on more than one occasion. (Acts 22:3, Romans11:1)

Briefly, the biggest factor was probably the adoption and adaptation by the church of the pagan practices of the gentiles, particularly after Constantine’s suspect conversion. These practices included things such as the worship of Mary and the saints, steeples, the celebration of Christmas, lent, haloes, confessionals, church conferred salvation, trans-substantiation and others.

And when paganism enters in, hatred of God’s people comes in with it. “God’s people” here can mean either God’s earthly people being Israel or God’s heavenly people being the true church. Down through the centuries the “official” church was the major persecutor of both Jews and Christians. It has constantly blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus as if it was not God’s plan for Jesus to die voluntarily for our sin. The church in effect was saying to God, “Choose between us and Israel.” God did not comply with that ultimatum but that did not stop the church from believing that God had chosen them and rejected Israel. And the church was very much the poorer for believing that idea. Lawrence Hirsch in his article “Connecting To Our Jewish Roots” (Celebrate Messiah News Letter, May 2004) provides some classic examples of the church’s attitude that has come down to us.

One example was the Council of Nicea in 325 AD which separated what we now know as Easter from the Jewish Passover, referring to the Jews as “…this odious people.” This was done deliberately as an act of rejection of anything Jewish. Another example was the describing of the Jews as “poisonous, envenomed worms” by none other than Martin Luther himself. The hatred of the Jews even survived the reformation.

Even the early Bible translators were contaminated to some extent as indicated by their translation of “Passover” as “Easter”, the name of a pagan goddess. (Acts 12:4)

God has never disowned the Jews. Even the New Testament refers to them as “His people”. (Romans 11:1) It also appears that God does not see the church as complete without the Jews. Ephesians 2:15 tells us that God chose “to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace”. The “twain” (two) here being the Gentiles and the Jews. At the moment there is not a great deal of peace between the Jews and the Gentiles although that could change if Israel were to recognize Jesus as their long sought for Messiah and the church stood with Israel. It was also the Gentiles who were taken from the wild olive tree and grafted into the good olive tree, an obvious reference to Israel. (Rom 11:24) A hostile attitude to the Jews still occasionally surfaces in corners of the church today. It needs to be repented of. One way it manifests itself is by replacement theology where the church has supposedly replaced Israel. In Romans 10:1, Paul prays for Israel to be saved. If Israel is now the church then those in the church still need saving.

Each one of us could do well to examine ourselves to determine what our individual attitudes to Israel are. Perhaps this little test could help. Imagine that you have just found out that you are part Jewish. How would you react? Would you freely, even gladly tell others or would you rather not mention it to anyone out of fear of ridicule or embarrassment?

So how does a wrong attitude to the Jews retard church growth and miracles?

First, to be anti Jewish is rebellion against God and the rebellious dwell in a dry land. (Psalm 68:6) The church has no mandate from God to reject or hate Israel. He certainly does not. Instead we are told to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:6)

God has put His name on Israel. (Deut 28:10) The attitude of a non Jew towards Israel is a reliable indicator of that person’s attitude toward God. Second, to be anti Jewish brings a curse. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3 “I will…curse him that curseth thee.” The second word here translated as “curse” is different to the first one used. It can simply mean to “despise” or “be contemptuous of.”

Third, God refers to himself as the Father of Israel. (Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Jer 31:9, Mal 2:10) When the church disconnected itself from its Jewish heritage it in some way also disconnected itself from the fatherhood of God. The resultant absence of a true concept of the fatherhood of God in turn resulted in a distorted concept of fatherhood within the church. This fatherlessness led it to invent for itself counterfeit father figures such as the Pope.

The word “Pope” is taken from the Latin word “Papa”. He was the head of the popular cult of Mithras which Constantine followed and after which he created his version of the church. The birthday of Mithras was celebrated on the 25 December which was then the northern winter solstice. The cult of Mithras was run from a place called Vatican Hill.

Fatherlessness has been a major problem both in the world and in the church. It is a major cause of many of the youth problems we are seeing. Fourth, the rejection of anything Jewish includes the rejection of the Jewish mind set. In that situation the Greek mind set usually takes over completely. The Jewish mind set embraces the miraculous but the Greek mind set has an intellectual basis where the miraculous is often scoffed at. (1 Cor 1:22, Acts 17:22))

Fifth, Jesus is the King of the Jews, an office He most willingly accepts. He does not hate or despise His subjects. He is a perfect king. He identifies with His subjects. To reject and despise the Jews therefore is to reject and despise the Jewishness of Jesus and His kingship over Israel. That rejection has a dangerous side effect on the church. It effectively cuts us, the church, off from the headship of Jesus and from all the benefits that brings. The headship of Jesus to the Church and His kingship over Israel are parallel functions. They are not exactly the same but there are similarities.

Jesus being head of His church means Jesus having His way in the Church. Without His headship being expressed the church is vulnerable to entrenched division, false doctrine and even heresies. With Jesus in control of His church we should see more of a landscape depicted by the last verse of the Gospel of Mark.

And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. The tide is turning. There are now a number of Christian organizations who specialize in ministering to Israel and teaching the church about its Jewish heritage. But there still remains much to be done.

One thing we can do at a local or individual level to identify with our Jewish heritage is not comply with the erroneous Easter decree of the Council of Nicea. Every distinctive about Easter is contrary to scripture. Jesus died on the day of Passover which would have been a Wednesday, not a Friday. Passover is tied to a day of the month. Easter is tied to a day of the week. At Passover red meat and bread made without yeast are eaten. At Easter red meat is banned and fish and buns high in yeast are consumed. This practice honours pagan traditions. The forty days of Lent are taken from the forty days of mourning for a slain pagan god before he is mysteriously “resurrected” each spring. Easter is also observed with eggs and rabbits which are both pagan fertility symbols.

If we were to tell our churches that we would rather observe the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in some way at the time of the Passover Feast than at the pagan named Easter, it is probable that we would rock the boat somewhat. The boat needs to be rocked. There is a mind set in the church that the Easter observance is somehow God’s will and is therefore set in concrete and will not change until Jesus returns. It is not. That mind set needs to be challenged. It is territory to be won back. It is a stronghold that needs to be pulled down (2 Cor 10:4)

Whether we succeed or not is not the crucial issue. What is crucial is whether or not God’s people will take a stand for the truth and refuse to be locked into something devised by poisoned minds centuries ago.

The world will not readily change but that is not important. It is the church’s heart attitude that needs to change. That requires radical repentance. If there are one people on the face of the earth we should not hate, despise or reject but should love and be praying for to accept Jesus, it is the people of Israel. Romans 11:15 tells us this about Israel.

For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead.

Life from the dead speaks clearly of REVIVAL.



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TEACHING NOTES

HEART SURGERY for the BRIDE of CHRIST

The revelation that Isaiah was granted when he saw the Lord caused him to see clearly and be aware of his own unclean lips. Jesus said that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”.

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man…”
All of the important matters and concerns of life come from our heart. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

HEART DISEASE

In the natural heart disease is one of the biggest killers in Australia. What then is the condition of the spiritual heart of the church? We are in a time when the Lord is causing us to see the reality of our hearts. “Revelation” about the heart condition of the bride is not to bring discouragement. Nor is it to be seen as a put down. In the natural an accurate diagnosis usually brings a sense of relief to know why you are suffering. While “knowing” the condition doesn’t immediately relieve the condition, it does bring clarity and understanding and a willingness to co-operate with the surgeon! No doubt about it, Jesus is the best heart surgeon we can have. Naturally and spiritually, heart issues are very serious as disease or irregularities can be the difference between life and death. And there can be various causes. It may be hereditary or maybe bad lifestyle. Spiritual heart conditions can come from wounding (broken-hearted) and some come from sin, either personal or generational. The Lord is exposing the realities and truths about ourselves that we have not realized before. Or perhaps they are things we were not ready to face before. For many of us this has been a journey that has been quite confronting and challenging.



WHO CAN ENDURE THE DAY OF HIS COMING?

We know that a part of this current season is that the Lord is doing a deep work preparing His bride to be ready for His coming. When Jesus comes He is coming in the fullness of His glory as the King of kings and we will see Him in the fullness of who He really is. One needs a healthy heart to cope with a major surprise or something that is astonishing. The fullness of Jesus’ glory caused John to fall like a dead man. What about us?

“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire…” (Malachi 3:2)

The Apostle John said that the face of Jesus shines just like the brightness of the noon day sun. In Revelation 21 it says that heaven has no need of a sun or moon because Jesus is THE LIGHT! His brilliance is more than our humanity can cope with. But God desperately wants to have fellowship, communion and intimacy with sinful man. But if God was to come near our old nature, it would be like us trying to fly to the sun: we would get “fried”. The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus gave His life to pay the bride price and provided us with the only protection that allows us near to Him i.e. His own blood.

God’s light and glory shining on us now removes us out from the shadow of deception and helps us to see our true condition. When His glory shines, everything is revealed. Just like those insects that I could not see before the light shone on them. “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.”( Mark 4:22)

When His bright light shines and penetrates all darkness, the contrast between Him and us becomes crystal clear.

Step by step, layer by layer and from glory to glory. Sometimes I feel I am just making progress to be like Him and then some more light shines and, ouch, things are not as good as I thought! This exposure is not to condemn us or to humiliate and shame us but to realign us with His holy nature. Holiness is not about doing but about being. This preparation is about us being like Him as His nature is formed in us! Holiness is about us, little by little, step by step, and from glory to glory; becoming just like Him.

The brightness of His coming will prevent us from hiding behind fig leaves like Adam and Eve. Therefore in His grace and mercy He is preparing His bride now so that we can stand before Him on that day.

THREE RECENT VISIONS

I want to share three significant visions about the heart of the church. Two of the visions were received by intercessors in our ministry. The third was by a prophetess from England and shared when visiting Western Australia. Each of the three visions reveals how God is seeing the heart (and lips) of His bride at this moment.

There are several overlaps in these visions which are rather challenging. But He only reveals things when we are ready to cope with it. And He only brings things to light to the depth we can handle. Like the proverbial onion, He deals with one layer then another. To each layer He lovingly brings healing, restoration, wholeness, holiness and maturity. While it is somewhat confronting, it is also a fresh reminder of His eternal love, the destiny He has for us and the wonder of the Gospel.

1. Vision of a Beautiful bride with Deformed Mouth

While praying and seeking the Lord I saw a lady with her back to me. As I continued to look, I saw it was a bride. She had a veil secured in the middle of her head with a beautiful brooch or stone. The veil was long and beautiful. As I was watching she started to turn around and as I saw her face I was horrified because her mouth was very ugly and it spoiled the beauty of everything else about her. Then I saw the face from the opening of Luna Park. Interpretation
The church is being prepared like a bride. At this point her garment looks beautiful (acts of righteousness) but the mouth is yet to be healed of slander, gossip and ungodly talking and soulish praying. Jesus revealed that the heart directs the tongue and thus the heart is in need of cleansing and healing. The Luna Park face reveals that the Lord sees the heart and mouth as serious issues for the bride to be ready. However, much of the bride currently lacks the understanding of the real condition or the seriousness of it.

2. Vision of Major Heart Surgery to Remove Scar Tissue

I saw a heart that was pumping. On the surface it looked okay but inside there was scaring. Right in the middle, the most central part, of the heart was a V shaped scar. It started from the centre of the heart and V ed out. The bottom of the V started very small, maybe the size of a pin head and extended to a very large area. This pin size is the root cause. The root is: rejection, trauma, devastation, shame, guilt, disillusion, deception.

The scar was thick and difficult to get at. In the natural a surgeon would have to stop the heart to operate in this place. Spiritually it is an area that had previously experienced hurt. It had healed but had caused a thick, hard, unforgiving scar. The scar tissue had no elasticity to move with the heart as it pumped. In the vision the scar affected the function of the four chambers of the heart as it tried to contract and expand, stretch and release.

The Spirit used a sharp sword to cut ALL the scaring away, but delicately enough not to damage the good muscle fibers. Then HE brought the raw edges together and sealed it in His hands, keeping the edges together while the healing was taking place. This surgery was done in secret. Interpretation
The Lord wants to heal our hearts completely so that they are fully functional and with no damage or impediment. Sometimes the root incident or circumstance has happened so long ago, and has been buried so deep that we assume all has been forgotten. God has not forgotten. Life’s hurts and disappointments continue to pile on top of that root that inflicted damage. In life we learn strategies and behaviors so that we can survive. In the process these “coping mechanisms” cause lots of hard scaring to form. Because we can “function” we may think that we are “healed”, until somebody presses our buttons!

The Lord wants to remove all the scar tissue because it hinders the full function of the heart. He wants us to be pliable to Him. To do this, HE has to surgically remove it with the sword of the spirit. He will cut along the borders of the scar, as well as the root cause. This can be painful because the raw nerves are exposed. But what HE is going to do is pull these edges together and seal them in HIS hand, so the healing will be complete, without scaring. Thus our emotions, thoughts and decision making can return to full function. His desire is for His Bride to be able to walk in His ways and utilize our giftings and fulfill the purpose that HE has pre-destined us for.

3. Vision of Beautiful Bride with Death over her Heart

At the Perth City Wide Prayer Breakfast in May 2009, Candace Frances (prophetess from Britain) shared a vision she was given of a beautiful white linen dress, studded with diamonds - she was shown that this was the lovely Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7-8) that is being prepared, and sensed that God was looking at her heart in this season.

This was followed by another vision of a woman on all fours with a chain around her neck with four links attached to a skull and cross bones that was decorating her chest. This was a picture of Jesus’ bride at present.

There are four chambers in the heart, and she said that the chambers she could see holding the woman were 1) Rejection, 2) Shame 3) Unbelief and 4) Hatred.



Interpretation and Understanding.

Jesus wants us to contend for the individual’s heart – it must come from the leadership down. We need to pray for the church to move from rejection to acceptance and sonship, from hatred to agape love, from unbelief to faith and from shame to honour. She noted that the inside of the heart is shaped like a cross. All rejection, shame, unbelief and hatred must lead us to the redemptive power of the cross of Jesus who was and is victorious. His bride is to rise up in righteousness to honour our King and honour one another.

THE BRIDE JESUS IS COMING FOR

“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Jesus is not coming for a bride that is a harlot and He is not coming for a harem. These are not comments to get attention or to be disrespectful; rather they reveal the deep and great work He is doing in our midst. When God’s people do not love Him with all their hearts, He calls it harlotry. And He only has one bride. Different denominations and ministries do not constitute different brides.

He is coming for one united bride whose heart is captivated by Him and who has become like Him. Jesus will present His church as a glorious, splendid, honourable and magnificent Bride who loves Him with ALL of her heart. All “harlotry” will have been removed and her eyes will be for Him only. Her heart will become totally captivated with love for the bridegroom.

Jesus is returning for a bride without blemishes, stains, defects, faults or defilements. She will not be divided, fragmented or crippled. All toxins in her body are being removed and all hormones will be in divine order. She is being healed of every fracture and wound. She is being made whole by the washing of the Word and “swimming” in the healing river of His Spirit.

She will have no shame, dishonour or disgrace, either perceived or real. She is learning to exchange these at the cross and receive His forgiveness, cleansing, glory and honour. She knowingly and lovingly wears His protective and honorable robe of righteousness.

She will be without wrinkles so she will be fresh. Any furrows and creases she gained from walking through the trials and tribulations of life will be removed as her youth is renewed like the eagle. And when He comes she will be pure white, holy and glorious.

THE PROCESS

So how does the Bride get from being crippled by “heart disease” and having a “deformed mouth” to be this glorious radiant bride?

We are being made holy as He is holy. It is a process that takes place throughout our journey of life.

When we are born again we instantly become His possession. Yet, and this is the irony and the hard part for our minds to cope with, the Spirit of God spends the rest of our earthly lives helping us to be “sanctified”. That simply means we are set apart for God. When a bride gets ready for her wedding day, she is preparing to be set aside just for her groom. No-one else can have her. And she spends many hours and many dollars making sure that everything is just beautiful and perfect. Being ready for Jesus is a process just like a natural wedding.

THE CROSS

Ephesians 5:25 points to the work of Jesus on the cross; “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…”

On his DVD, “Guilt, Shame & Rejection”, Derek Prince shares that shame and rejection are the deepest and most debilitating wounds that a human being can experience. But he then proceeds to teach how to apply the cross of Jesus to these significant wounds of life to bring victory and healing. If we do not apply the cross of Jesus to these wounds they can take us into unbelief, rebellion and even hatred of God. At this point the enemy has an open invitation to destroy us. Jesus paid the price on the cross to end our heartache. Jesus came to give us abundant life, not misery.

There is no doubt about it; Jesus is the best heart surgeon we can have. Last year after some personal and ministry traumas I had a dream. In this dream my heart had been ripped in two and I was bleeding to death. After that I experienced the Lord’s surgery over a three day period. It was painful - but life saving! The anointing upon Jesus is to heal the brokenhearted.

Doctor Jesus is also the Good Shepherd who RESTORES our SOUL. Our soul includes our thoughts, our emotions and will. Wounding has a profound affect on all parts of our soul. It can fragment our soul leading to a “divided heart” causing us to be “double-minded”.

A divided heart struggles to rise up in faith. (James 1:6,7) The Psalmist says; “I hate the double-minded the divided in heart or mind” (Psa 119:113) A divided heart impacts on our love and worship of God.

The Lord longs for us to love and worship Him with ALL one hundred percent of our heart. That is every part of our emotions, minds and will. If our heart is “divided” only a part of us will be able to love and worship Him. Allowing Dr Jesus to mend and heal our broken hearts is critical.

THE WORD

Ephesians 5:26 says the change from blemish to purity comes by washing in His Word. We know that Jesus is the Living Word, that His Word is like medicine. He sends His Word and delivers us from destruction. We know His word, being a double edged sword, is like the surgeon’s knife. It divides and separates between our soul and Spirit and it exposes the real intentions of our hearts. We know that the Word that the Spirit brings to us is LIFE and we must soak in it and OBEY it.

We know these things but it is much harder to willingly agree to go under His surgeon’s knife! In the midst of this process the Lord gave a gradual revelation in regards to the heart condition. It is not necessarily “new” but perhaps something the Spirit wants to emphasize and remind us of.

CIRCUMCISION

The revelation began as I experienced a sensation like “God was trying to kill me”. That might sound strange but He then reminded me of Moses after the burning bush. God had called Moses to deliver Israel but as Moses set off to obediently fulfill the task God tried to kill him. Why? Moses had not circumcised his sons. Perhaps this reminder has come as we seek to arise into our destiny and the Lord is revealing these pictures of the heart to ensure that every preparation is in place.

In her book “Fathers Heart”, Irene Swan says; “God prepares us by His word and Spirit. From time to time He opens the eyes of our understanding…He wants us to be well prepared and ready for what He is doing in our midst. He does not want us to be caught unaware and miss the golden moments of our life.” 1

At a similar time, a couple of our intercessors confirmed about the Lord speaking about “circumcision of the heart” especially in regards to rejection, shame, unbelief and hatred as was revealed in the third vision.

One of the intercessors had an experience during a worship time where it seemed God was doing “something with my heart, it was a 'covenant’ thing… it signified something new… A week later I knew that the Lord was circumcising my heart. I thought this was odd in a way because surely God has done this when we have committed our life to Him, nevertheless I knew that this was what God was doing.”

JORDAN

The Lord then spoke to us about what happened to Israel as they passed through Jordan on their way to the Promised Land. Geographically (and spiritually), Jordan is the lowest point on earth – it is 1290 feet below sea level. Yet at this lowest point on earth the priests were required to carry the ark into the river. The nation of Israel was told to follow the ark because they had not been that way before. As the priests entered the river with the ark, the waters receded and they could walk through on dry ground. So at the very lowest point on earth and in the middle of the dry river, the lowest of low points, the priests had to hold the ark while the rest of the nation passed through.

As the Lord brought our attention to this, it described exactly how I was feeling; at the lowest and driest place. Yet it was here in this difficult place that the Lord told Israel to “follow the ark”. And at this lowest point the priests had to hold onto the ark. Despite the circumstances they could not put the ark down.

As the Lord brought this revelation I felt weak and even defeated, yet this new understanding became a turning point. He simply said “Hold onto the Ark”. There are times when all we can do is to say, “Lord I am holding onto Your presence and Your glory”. There are times when in the midst of confusion, insecurity and a “dark place” the declaration to hold onto the His Presence and to follow Him is all that is possible.

Once Israel had passed through the Jordan the Lord then told them to be circumcised. The previous generation that had been circumcised had died in the wilderness from rebellion and disobedience. This new generation, like Moses before them, had to tend to the matter of circumcision before they could fight for and claim their inheritance. Although the instruction in Joshua 5:2-9 was physical circumcision the prophetic word in Deuteronomy 30 speaks of circumcision of the heart.

As Israel obediently sealed covenant with God, this circumcision “removed the reproach of Egypt.” (Joshua 5:9) This act removed or “cut away” the shame, disgrace and all ties to slavery. The root of the Hebrew word used for reproach is to pull off or to “betroth as in surrender”. Had the slavery to Egypt been a type of betrothal or surrender even though they were forced?

Wounding to our hearts, whether as victims or consequences of our own actions, frequently bring with it shame, reproach, bondage, and even cause us to “surrender” to some form of ungodliness. God’s circumcision of the heart is to cut away all shame and any surrender to the tyrannical spirits that emanate from spiritual Egypt.

CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART “Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it... 6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deut 30:5, 6) While the men had to be physically circumcised the Lord was spiritually causing their hearts to be cut. There are vital parallels between physical and spiritual circumcision.

Medically, male circumcision is a cutting away of the foreskin. It takes the edge of the flesh that is hard to clean and subject to infection. Male circumcision involves the most personal part of the body that causes the most pain when surgically cut. Yet it is the organ which is used to seal covenant, to express the most intimate love and through which comes reproductive fruitfulness and inheritance.

Spiritual circumcision is not restricted to gender. The heart is the most important spiritual “organ” for it is the seat of our affections, our thoughts and our actions. To cut away the “flesh” of the heart inflicts immense pain, it is extremely personal and requires delicate surgery. However, circumcision of the heart is also where our covenant with God is sealed, it is where intimacy with Him takes place and where fruitfulness springs from.

In the Old Testament circumcision of males was the outward sign of circumcision of the HEART. Why? The Lord said He was circumcising their hearts so that His people could LOVE Him with their whole heart.

This “heart surgery” was to cut away everything that would be an obstacle to loving Him. It can include the fleshly inclinations to idolatry and witchcraft. Or it can be the grief, stress and wounding from traumas, major incidents, our own sin or sin against us that wounds us. These can include loss of job, divorce or marriage breakdown, loss of significant relationship, death of someone close, change of house, job or church, major disappointment, accident, surgery, major illness, theft, murder or tarnish of reputation by false reports.

Anything that wounds or divides our heart can impact upon us loving the Lord with the totality of our heart. Therefore we are in need of a heart that has been healed, made “whole” and circumcised.

God’s intention for circumcision was so that we could love Him totally. Jesus reiterated that this was the one major purpose of the law; “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. (Matthew 22:34) The Lord said to Israel in Deuteronomy 30:6 that His heart surgery would save their lives and cause them to live. He is the one applying the surgeon’s knife! Being able to love Him without impediment will save our lives! “…the LORD your God will circumcise your heart…to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, THAT YOU MAY LIVE.”

In the natural, heart surgery is sometimes necessary for survival. It can be the difference between life and death. Circumcision of the heart is not just a good idea, a recommendation or a suggestion. It is a necessity for our spiritual survival!!

In speaking to Israel Moses said, “what does the LORD your God require of you?” The answer today is still the same. The requirement for God’s people, Jew or Gentile is;

“…to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes…14Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. …circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome... 20 You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. 21 He is your praise, and He is your God…” (Deut 10:12-14, 16-21)

Circumcision of the heart is to make us flexible so that we can obediently and unquestioningly follow and love Him. Knowing exactly “who” the Lord is, His position in the universe and fearing Him is a vital reason to willingly endure circumcision. [Hence, the first article.]

CIRCUMCISION IS A WORK OF THE SPIRIT – for true worship! The Apostle Paul clearly states that true circumcision is “of the heart” and is not a work of the law but of “the Spirit”. Romans 2:28,29 says; “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh…circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter…” There is such a close correlation between the work of the Spirit, circumcision of the heart and true worship, that these three cannot be separated. The ministry of the Holy Spirit and circumcision of the heart are vital “pre-requisites” for us to be able to worship God in “spirit and in truth.” “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit… and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:2)

There are two manifestations of a circumcised heart; (a) to worship in the Spirit and (b) no confidence in the flesh. Jesus said to worship God we must worship in the Spirit. (John 4:23, 24) Worshipping in the Spirit and not having confidence in the flesh go hand in hand.

A SEAL OF COVENANT

Paul says that when Abraham was physically circumcised, he “received the sign of circumcision”. This “sign” was “a seal of the righteousness of the faith” (Romans 4:11)

The marriage supper of the Lamb requires the bride to be in covenant with the Lord. This covenant is by faith. Circumcision of the heart cuts away our bondage to the enemy and seals covenant with God. All shame is rolled away. While it may be unpleasant, circumcision perfects and enables the bride to love the Lord with her whole heart, totally one hundred percent. It removes every obstacle, blockage, impediment and obstruction to her ability to completely and fully love Him.

Physical circumcision removes the flesh that is subject to infection. Spiritual circumcision deals with both our flesh and the works of the devil that have been blockages preventing us from totally loving God. These have also stopped us from being “true worshippers”. Therefore circumcision of the heart is vital preparation for the worshipping warrior bride.

It is somewhat like the preparations that Esther had before going to the King. The first part of her preparation was removing the toxins from her body. The Lord wants our hearts and eyes to be fixed upon Him and totally satisfied with Him. The second part of her preparation was sweet perfumes so that she was desirable and attractive to the most powerful man on earth.

How amazing is it that the pure, perfect HOLY God who created the heavens and the earth, desires and longs for intimate communion with us weak human souls. His purity is so intense and starkly contrasted by the frailty of our humanity. What good news! The wonder of the gospel is that by the sacrifice of Jesus we are “covered with His robe of righteousness” so we can come near to Him and have intimate fellowship and union. That we can have the closest friendship with the most dazzling person in the universe is nothing less than extraordinary and humbling!

1 Irene Swan: Father’s Heart p 129



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Teaching Notes

WITCHCRAFT: THE ENEMY WITHIN

As the church we face opposition to fulfilling our role and commission. This opposition can come from either within or without. Those doing the opposing from without are those spiritual forces that we sometimes refer to as “powers of darkness” that operate at Satan’s direction. The opposition that comes from within originates in what we know as the flesh, that is, our fallen sinful nature.

When reading through the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21, the one work that at first glance seems to a bit out of place is witchcraft. Why would something that appears to do with the messing around with the dark side of the spiritual world be listed with things that spring right out of nasty fallen human nature? It appears to be mixing something that originates in the spiritual zone with things that originate from the zone of the human heart.

It is plain that it is from the heart that evil springs. In Mark 15:20-23 Jesus itemizes a list of nasties that originate in the heart that is similar to Paul’s list in Galatians. So we can be reasonably satisfied that that witchcraft originates in the flesh and any other spiritual dimension is activated later e.g. occult, sorcery. Being a work of the flesh, witchcraft is therefore something that Christians are not immune from.

Witchcraft can be defined as the use of an illegitimate spiritual power, either human or demonic in origin. The idea that humans can be a source of spiritual power is alien to the western mindset. It should be remembered however that our spirits are a supernatural thing, not a physical thing. Witchcraft can be a subtle, intangible thing. It is not usually obvious as such to our senses. Not many people would get up in the morning and say “I think I’ll practice witchcraft today.”

Witchcraft can be motivated by a desire of the flesh to get its own way, or to control people, circumstances or events, or by inferiority, or by a hunger for power, or by the belief that the perpetrator should have power over others, or by a sense of infallibility.

Witchcraft power is outworked primarily through illegitimate authority in the form of either rebellion or control. Control is about having power over people as just mentioned. Rebellion is the attitude that self should have all final say for itself and rejects any other authority such as parents, government or pastors. Control and rebellion are similar in that they always want the final say, be it for others with control or for self with rebellion. Witchcraft says “I have power therefore nobody tells me what to do (rebellion), I tell others what to do (control).”

Witchcraft control motivates others by fear and guilt. It is usually expressed as manipulation (fear of missing out or offending others) or intimidation (fear of consequences). Control treats others as an extension of self. It is the projection of the will of one person onto another. It is the counterfeit of leadership. It can often be conveyed in the tone of voice used. In both Greek and Hebrew the same word is used for “breath” and “spirit” which would indicate some connection between what is in a person’s spirit and what proceeds out of the mouth. Some people have even tried using witchcraft in this way against God. Occasionally a farmer can be heard on the news during a dry spell saying in a harsh, intimidating voice “If we don’t get some rain soon our crops will fail.” Only God can give rain so that harshness is therefore directed against God.

The prophet Samuel told King Saul that “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft...” I Samuel 15:23 The “as” is in italics in the Kings James version which means it does not exist in the original Hebrew so it really reads “Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft…”

Some signs that witchcraft is in operation are bossiness, empire building, sharpness, fierceness, harshness, anger, accusation, aggressiveness, self willfulness, argumentiveness and a detectable heaviness or coolness without anything being needed to be said. Witchcraft also produces an obsession with getting its own way. Obsession with its own way is therefore a product of witchcraft and a motivation for witchcraft. In a church setting this can be expressed as counterfeit prophesies, visions or words of knowledge. Those who take up overt witchcraft practices such as astrology or sorcery will end up obsessed with their own way if they were not already.

Witchcraft is an occupational hazard to those in positions of authority e.g. police, supervisors, military, teachers etc. The flesh can corrupt genuine authority and turn into witchcraft through control if the wrong motivations take over.

Witchcraft reflects the nature of Satan. Just refer to the five “I wills” of Satan in Isaiah 14:13-14. At its extreme witchcraft can gravitate into an alliance with Satan or even the worship of Satan. It has been said that the heart of Satanism is not that Satan is the highest authority but self is. Satanists have summed up Satanism as “Do as THOU wilt” (emphasis added).

So how does all this relate to the church and to Christians individually?

First of all, witchcraft in a person, Christians included, makes that person vulnerable to the witchcraft activity of others and to the activity of the prevailing local demonic powers. The following example might clarify this point.

Some years back there commenced regular New Age fairs and workshops in Bendigo. Whenever they were held Ruth and I would come under serious attack despite much prayer and spiritual warfare. Then on one of these fair days, the day passed peacefully without incident. So what made the difference? After the previous fair when we had been attacked, we did some serious confronting, not against the spirit powers of darkness behind the fair, but against the witchcraft residing in us. That had many times more effect than all the spiritual warfare we had done previously.

In the wider church witchcraft has gotten a foothold, probably more so in Pentecostal churches than in mainstream or strictly evangelical churches. This would be due to the fact that witchcraft is the counterfeit of the anointing and where there has been no conspicuous anointing there has been nothing to counterfeit.

The book “Unmasking the Jezebel Spirit” by John Paul Jackson (Kingsway Publications) gives a number of examples of this counterfeit anointing at work. Typically someone, or sometimes a married couple, move into a church and impress everyone with their spirituality and the supposed “anointing” on their lives. Subtly they undermine the authority of the legitimate leadership then one day announce that God has anointed them to take over that church. After they do the church promptly dies.

So what motivates people to act like that? Tracing things from the fall the sequence would be:-

1. Satan tells Adam and Eve, amongst other things, that “…you shall be as God…”

2. Adam and Eve believe that lie and that belief (i.e. self worship) becomes a permanent component of fallen human nature.

3. The human heart’s belief in that lie gives rise to sense of infallibility and the belief that self should have power over people, circumstances and events

That is the heart of witchcraft and the source of the control problem. Control is the ever present, telltale sign of witchcraft.

The perceived power of the flesh that self worship produces is misinterpreted as the true anointing and the rest, as they say, is history. Many of those labeled as the “movers and shakers” in the world and in the church are actually operating in witchcraft. The world sometimes refers to them as “control freaks.”

Is there witchcraft in Australian churches? The answer to that question is the same as to the question “is there control in Australian churches? The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” Overseas visitors have commented on the amount of control in some Australian churches.

It is no coincidence that the level of witchcraft control in churches is usually in direct proportion to the use of rock music. Rock music is used to “sow to the flesh”. (Galatians 6:8) That is, it is used to stimulate and stir up the flesh in an attempt to bring forth those perceived “as God” qualities such as life and power that the heart of fallen man subconsciously believes are within the natural man. And what happens when we stir up the flesh? We get more of the works of the flesh including witchcraft.

Witchcraft obsession with getting its own way is very destructive to unity. We have seen dozens of divorces in churches where witchcraft is operating as well as a few church splits. It is also the basis of churches that operate in cult mode. It also seems that those in the world who are heavily into overt forms of witchcraft usually end up living on their own.

Witchcraft also operates through feminism, sometimes blatantly. In the church that can result in men being reluctant to be involved in church life or taking any leadership role.

Witchcraft produces a reluctance to pray because prayer acknowledges a high power than that contained in self. It also hates the true prophetic for similar reasons. Jezebel was a classic example of this.

Witchcraft puts its faith in the power of self. That makes it very difficult for those operating in witchcraft to operate by faith in God or to trust God. The result for a Christian is the folly of an unsurrendered will and life. Lack of faith and trust also result in fear and suspicion.

There is currently a drought in the land and in the church at large. The Bible links drought with rebellion (Psalms 68:6) which in turn it links with witchcraft. This drought could turn out to be the worst ever. I suspect God may choose to prolong the drought just to prove the pagan rain dances are useless. Galatians 3:1 also links witchcraft with disobedience to the truth.

The main effect of witchcraft on others is discouragement. Elijah received a major hit of discouragement when Jezebel sent him a threatening message. It can also produce in others frustration, dullness of mind, poor concentration, indecisiveness, depression, moodiness, confusion and restlessness. Witchcraft is having a stifling, choking effect on the church and on individuals

Witchcraft is a sin the church needs to deal with in itself before it can tackle it in the world. If it does not it will be a sitting duck for any attacks the enemy throws against it if it goes into battle. Like all sin witchcraft does not just exist in a person at the time of its operation but it is something that resides in each of us long term and occasionally (or frequently) reveals itself in some way. (Romans 7:17)

But what about witchcraft individually? James 2:10 indicates that sin is a package deal and it is a case of guilty of one, guilty of all. Notice that the New Testament usually talks about sin singular rather than sin plural. Witchcraft is one more sin that resides in each one of us to some extent.

For the church in this nation to break free and move forward in the purposes of God, witchcraft is one sin that it must in humility confront within itself. If it tries it skirt around it, the church will also skirt around the mountain as Israel did in the wilderness for forty years.



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TEACHING NOTES

WITCHCRAFT: CONTROL IN THE CHURCH

Is the church in Australia under a spell? Is it under some sort of curse? The answer to these questions may be gleaned by considering the following questions.

Does the church hold the ascendancy in its battle with the spiritual forces of darkness? Does it acknowledge such a battle exists? Is it reaping a large harvest, holding its own or losing ground? Is there ever increasing unity within and between the churches? Is it relying on gimmicks instead of miracles to get its message across? Are churches increasing or decreasing their missionary support? Are pastors going from strength to strength or are they burning out and leaving the ministry? Are congregations feeling shepherded or abused? Are the widows and orphans in the church being properly cared for or neglected? Are the prayer meetings, if any, being well attended? Are the saints being equipped and released in their giftings? Is their genuine enthusiasm in the members of all age groups or is there lukewarmness? Are there any generation gaps within the church? Are the members active in service or just pew warming? Is there genuine liberty in praise and worship or is there widespread self-consciousness? Is there genuine fellowship between the saints or is there just a plastic smile, a casual handshake and a routine exchange of greetings? Are the saints stable in fellowship or restless? Is the world persecuting the church or just ignoring it?

If the answers to these questions indicate a problem then the answer to the first two questions is very likely a "yes”. If there is such a problem within the church then the vulnerability to the problem originates within the church, not the world or the devil. That is, if the church is vulnerable to curses or spells then the church has left a door open somewhere. There is no shortage of antichrist people willing to curse the church. Spells and curses are two of the tools of witchcraft.

Witchcraft is the use of illegitimate spiritual power (human or demonic) to gain control of people, events and circumstances. It is a concept alien to the Western mindset. It is motivated by a self-worship based belief that the god of self should have power over these things. Self worship is the ongoing result of the fall when Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie that “...you shall be as God...” (Gen 3:5)

The most obvious outworking of witchcraft is therefore control; the imposing of one person’s will upon another. People involved with witchcraft are always obsessed with getting their own way, which is also an expression of rebellion. Control is the counterfeit of leadership. The next question would then be, “what is the doorway to that witchcraft that the church is affected by?”

People who practice any form of witchcraft, such as control, are much more vulnerable to the effects of the witchcraft activity of others. The same applies to the church.

Witchcraft is a manifestation of the flesh (Gal 5:20) so it is something we are all prone to. We are not exempt just because we are Christians. Witchcraft is the counterfeit of the true anointing and authority.

One doorway by witchcraft has entered the church is Freemasonry, which has infiltrated the church to a large extent this last hundred years. Many Christians are also affected generationally by Freemasonry. Rebellion, the heart of witchcraft (1 Sam 15:23), is also a major doorway. If our churches and communities are in any way influenced by witchcraft from outside sources then the church must break that witchcraft in Jesus name. However if our churches are guilty of witchcraft in the form of control or any other way, the church will not have the authority to deal with it until it genuinely confesses and repents of its own witchcraft first.

In short, the church will not have the authority to deal with the witchcraft “over” it until it deals with the witchcraft “within” it. When it does, chains will break.



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WORSHIP MATTERS

ANGELIC VISITATION

Ruth Webb: 08-Aug-2011

As we worshipped the Lord at our meeting in August 2007, the presence of the Lord was growing stronger and stronger. We then began to sing “ Hallelujah”. This is a simple but most beautiful song written by Irene Swan from T.O.D. in Malaysia. When Irene wrote the song she had been at meetings in Sydney, and was worshipping the Lord back at the motel. She tells me she heard angels singing as she wrote the song. Since our meeting, I believe it is a song that the angels respond to.

On this day in August we had sung the song through a couple of times when all of a sudden it was like the heavenly hosts invaded the room. Suddenly the room was filled with a sound that had not been there before; it sounded like there were multitudes singing. At that time there had been many winter flus and colds “bugs” around and some of our voices were a bit “croaky”. Despite this we had all been giving all that we had in worshipping the Lord, but now we were empowered from on high. It sounded like hundreds and hundreds of voices singing even though there were just a handful of us. Personally I can only describe it as though I was able to suddenly sing with double the strength normally possible.

And it was like we couldn’t stop singing as there was wave after wave of God’s glory filling the place. The worship leaders “textbook” went out the window as the waves just kept rolling in and very person in the room kept singing and singing with more and more gusto! It was a moment of singing as ONE. Thsis one sound was huge. Wow!

Later an intercessor said she saw three angels assigned to each person. Another person saw myriads of angels and the hosts of heaven. Everyone present heard and was aware of the presence of the angelic hosts. It was the most awesome sound I can recall.

Testimonies.

  • An intercessor who attends regularly and who travels 100 kms to get to the meetings said: “what a wonderful day on Saturday…you know everyday after "our Saturday's" life is wonderful, work is great, teaching Sunday school is great, it is like I have the presence of God surrounding me in His fullest, and the difference is remarkable.”
  • A “seeker” who is not yet in relationship with Jesus came and was so touched: “The most beautiful songs I have ever heard. But it was not just the songs; the whole experience was peaceful and moving.”