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I’ve been trying to share with you, especially in the sessions in the seminar, that our destination in God is the throne. How many of you were here in the seminar meetings, would you just raise your hands? Well, praise God. So I’ve got a lot of people who have heard what I’ve been saying. I tried to, as it were, map out the spiritual progress that leads us to the throne which is in the Holy of Holies.
I’d like to take that further this evening, quite briefly and simply. I also want to make this message complimentary to the one that I brought last night about the vision of the church and its outreach. I believe the two meet at this point.
I’d like to go back and just take some scriptures that cover this whole purpose of God that we should share the throne. I’ll turn, first of all, to Exodus 19 and read from verse 3 through verse 6. In these words, the Lord instructs Moses as to His vision for Israel, what He had in His mind when He redeemed Israel from Egypt. In fact, it’s very clear as I’ll show you in a moment or two, this vision is reaffirmed for the church. So, it’s not something that’s just remote and related only to the history of Israel, but it’s something that is for every one of us who are believers today.
“Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself...’’”
I never can read that verse without pausing to point out the primary purpose of redemption is to bring God’s people to Himself. Everything else is secondary. God had a law, He had a covenant, He had a Promised Land; but all that was secondary. I believe the same is exactly true in the redemption in Jesus Christ. God has many wonderful blessings and privileges and inheritances for us. But, His primary purpose is to bring us to Himself. And it seems to me in the Old Testament that Israel, for the most part, never appreciated that. They were very interested in the Law, in the covenant and various other things. But I think very few of them ever really saw that the primary purpose of redemption is a personal relationship with the Lord.
And I’m inclined to think the same is true of multitudes of Christians. They’ve been redeemed, they know the Lord, they’ve experienced many of His blessings; but they haven’t really grasped the fact that His primary desire is for a personal relationship with each one of us. He brings us to Himself.
Then He goes on in verse 5:
“Now therefore if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant...”
And there again, those are the two basic requirements of God from His people in every dispensation. To obey His voice and to keep His covenant. That hasn’t changed, it’s precisely the same in the New Testament. Those are the two basic conditions. Jesus said in John 10, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” That’s the mark of true Christians. Jesus doesn’t speak about Catholics or Protestants or Baptists, he says, “My sheep.” Who are “my sheep”? They are those who hear His voice and follow Him. That’s the primary requirement of the Lord in all dispensations. And then to keep His covenant—be faithful and loyal to our covenant commitments. God says if you will do that, then going on in the middle of verse 5:
“...you will be a special treasure to me above all people. All the earth is mine, and you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
That was God’s vision for Israel. After He brought them to Himself and laid down the basic requirements for an ongoing relationship with Him: to hear His voice and keep His covenant, then He said, “You will be a special treasure to me, you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Now, there was some wonderful saints of God in Israel who entered into that inheritance. But I would say the nation as a whole failed to enter into what God offered them. However, in due course, when Jesus came and initiated the New Covenant, those purposes were reaffirmed. I’ve said sometimes that sin and Satan can delay the outworking of God’s purposes, they can never ultimately frustrate them. I like that statement that Job made at the end of the dealings of God with him. At the beginning of Job 42 he said very simply:
“I know that you can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
That’s good news. I think it would be good if we said that. It’s very simple. Don’t say it with me, say it after me. We’re addressing it to the Lord. “I know that you can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. The devil may rage and roar, the world may oppose; but God’s purposes will be fulfilled.” I really didn’t expect you to follow me on all that but I’m glad you did!
All right. So we look now in 1 Peter 2:9. And you’ll see that Peter is quoting from Exodus 19 but he’s applying it to New Testament believers.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation...”
Where Moses said “a kingdom of priests,” Peter says “a royal priesthood.” But “royal” is kingly, it’s the same vision reaffirmed.
So tonight I want to dwell on this aspect of being a kingdom of priests. What is the job of kings? To rule, that’s right. Or, to reign. Everybody knows that. Let’s just look at a few affirmations of this. For instance, we look in Revelation 1:5–6, the salutation at the beginning of the book of Revelation—or rather, shall we say, the doxology or the benediction. Revelation 1:5–6, starting in the middle of verse 5:
“To him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests to his God and Father...”
Notice the same affirmation, kings and priests. The modern translations will say “a kingdom and priests.” But whichever your translation, the truth is the same, we are to be a kingdom of priests. It was stated by Moses, reaffirmed by Peter and confirmed in Revelation.
Now we’ve all agreed, we know, the responsibility of a king is to rule. Let me just give you three scriptures, I don’t want to be stingy. Colossians 1:13, speaking about what God the Father has done through the death of Jesus:
“He has delivered us from the power [or domain] of darkness, and translated us [or transferred us] into the kingdom of the Son of his love.”
So we’ve been taken out of Satan’s kingdom and transferred into the kingdom of God. As I’ve said once or twice, the bridge from one kingdom to the other is the cross. Once you get on the bridge, you’re saved. But don’t hang around on the bridge, that’s not your destination. That’s the way out and the way in, but your destination is the kingdom of God. And you frustrate the purposes of God until you move in that.
If you look in Romans 5:17, which is a very rich verse—it’s also a very complicated verse but the essence of this passage in Romans is a contrast between what was achieved or what resulted from the disobedience of Adam and what resulted from the obedience of Christ. So, Paul says in Romans 5:17:
“For if, by one man’s sin [one man’s offense], death reigned through the one [that one man is Adam], much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.”
Notice the end of the verse is that we shall reign in life through Jesus Christ. Not in the next life but in this life. We are to reign in this life. It’s made possible because we received abundance of grace. Not just grace but grace more than all that we could ever need. And remember, grace you can never earn. It’s received freely by faith. Anything you can earn is not grace. So, don’t stop at what you can earn because that’s not what God’s purpose is. God wants to pour His grace upon you in overflowing measure. “Abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness.” This is a vital truth, that we receive righteousness from God through faith in Jesus Christ as a gift. We cannot earn it, we’ll never achieve it by our efforts. We receive it as a gift by faith.
2 Corinthians 5:21:
“God made him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”
Notice not our own righteousness but the righteousness of God. That’s the only thing that’s good enough for heaven, it’s the righteousness of God. That’s by faith. Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that in return we might be made righteous with His righteousness. And, it’s a gift. So, when we receive overflowing grace and the gift of righteousness, we are qualified to reign as kings in life.
The way to it is identification. We turn now to Ephesians 2:4–5:
“But God who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. [Notice, you didn’t earn it.] And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly place in Christ Jesus.”
You’ll see there that we are identified with Jesus Christ in three successive experiences. First of all, we have to be identified with Him in His death. We have to acknowledge that He died our death, He took our place, He paid our penalty and, as Paul says in Romans 6:6:
“Our old man was crucified with him.”
When we accept that identification, then the door is open to be identified with Him in every subsequent experience. We are buried with Him by baptism into death. And then in these verses in Ephesians we are made alive with Him, we’re resurrected with Him, and we’re seated on the throne with Him. God has made us alive together, He has raised us up together, He has seated us with Jesus. And remember, Jesus is seated on a throne. The New English Bible says, “God has enthroned us with Him.” This is on the basis of our identification with Him. So, whatever way you look at it, our destination is the throne. God doesn’t want us to stop short.
But, not only are we to be kings, we are to be a kingdom of priests. So, the only people who qualify to be in the kingdom are priests, it’s a kingdom of priests. Like if I talked about a society of botanists, to be in that society you would have to be a botanist. Otherwise, you wouldn’t qualify. Or, if I talked about a race of giants, to be in that race you’d have to be a giant. So, when we talk about a kingdom of priests, to be in the kingdom you have to be what? A priest, that’s right. The thing is lots of people know what the job of a king is, comparatively few people know what the job of a priest is. There is one key word that absolutely distinguishes the priestly ministry. What is it? Sacrifice, that’s right. The only people entitled in the Bible to offer sacrifice to God are priests. So, brothers and sisters, this is very practical. If we’re going to reign, first of all, we’re going to have to learn to offer sacrifice. And if we don’t learn the sacrificial ministry, we don’t qualify for the kingly ministry.
If you turn back to 1 Peter 2, briefly, you’ll see that in verse 5, Peter speaking to believers in Jesus says:
“You also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood [What’s the next word?], to offer up spiritual sacrifice.”
If you’re a priest you have to offer. Why does Jesus say “spiritual sacrifice?” He’s contrasting it with what? With the Old Testament where they offered physical sacrifices, the bodies of animals. They were Levitical priests. We are not Levitical priests. We offer spiritual sacrifices.
Now the great pattern of our priestly ministry is Jesus. If you look for a moment in Hebrews 5:1, it says:
“For every high priest taken from among men, is appointed for man in things pertaining to God, that he may offer [notice the key word ‘offer’] both gifts and sacrifices for sin.”
And applying this to Jesus, the writer goes on in verse 7 of Hebrews 5, he describes the sacrifices that Jesus offered.
“Who, in the days of his flesh [while he was still on earth], when he had offered up [See that sacrificial word? What did He offer up?] prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears.”
His sacrificial ministry while on earth was to offer the sacrifices of prayer.
Then came the time when He offered Himself. For instance, we read in Hebrews 7:26–27:
“For such a high priest was fitting for us—who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens. Who does not need daily as those high priests [the Levitical order] to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the peoples’. For this he did once for all when he offered up himself.”
At the cross He was the priest and He was the sacrifice. He offered up Himself. Hebrews 9:14 returns to that theme:
“How much more shall the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God?”
Notice that He did it through the Holy Spirit.
Let me state briefly just as a matter of interest that every major phase of redemption involves all three persons of the godhead. It’s like they’re jealous of one another, not one of them wants to be left out when it comes to blessing humanity. So, the incarnation: God the Father incarnated the Son by the Holy Spirit. It’s very clearly stated, it was the Holy Spirit that did the work. The ministry of Jesus says in Acts 10:38:
“God the Father anointed Jesus the Son with the Holy Spirit... [the result was] ...He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil, for God was with him.”
It’s very interesting to me to see that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all in the ministry of healing.
And then we come to the cross and we just read the Son, through the Spirit, offered Himself to the Father.
We come to the resurrection: the Father by the Spirit raised the Son.
And then we come to Pentecost, the last act of that particular drama, it says, “Jesus, being by the right hand of the Father exalted, and having received from the Father the promise of the Spirit, poured it out on His waiting disciples.” So, every major phase of redemption involves all three persons of the godhead.
And here we have, as I’ve said, Jesus the Son offered Himself through the Spirit to the Father. So, that was the climax of His earthly priestly ministry, that He offered Himself. He was the priest and He was the sacrifice.
Then in eternity He still ministers as a priest. In Hebrews 7:24, speaking of Jesus:
“But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood [one that does not pass from Him to another]. Therefore [in this unchangeable priesthood] he is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him, since he ever lives to make intercession for them.”
So what is His priestly ministry in heaven? It’s to make intercession. Here we have Jesus, the pattern high priest. On earth He offered up prayers and cries to God. On the cross He offered Himself. And in eternity He offers intercession. I pointed out, I think this morning, the time phases of the life of Jesus are rather instructive. Thirty years of perfect family life, three and a half years of active ministry, and 2,000 years of intercession. In that, Jesus is our pattern. We are called to the same ministry: to prayer, to the offering of ourselves, and to a ministry of ongoing intercession.
Just to state this so that we base it on scripture, turn to Hebrews 13:15.
“Therefore by him [Jesus] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God; that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. For with such sacrifices [the next verse says] God is well pleased.”
So our sacrificial offerings, our praise and thanksgiving; but we’re also called upon to make the same sacrifice that Jesus made, the sacrifice of our own body. Many, many Christians have never seen this but in Romans 12:1, Paul writes to Christians on the basis of the redemptive plan of God that he’s unfolded in Romans and he says:
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.”
So what is the sacrifice that God requires there? Just the same as that of Jesus, that we present our body. And our body becomes holy when it’s laid on the altar of God’s service. It’s very important to understand how you can have a holy body. Jesus was talking with the Jewish priests in Matthew 19:26, and they were saying, “If you swear by the altar, you’re not bound. But if you swear by the sacrifice on the altar, you’re bound, you have to keep it.”—which was ridiculous. Jesus said, “How silly can you be? Which is greater? The sacrifice or the altar that sanctifies the sacrifice that’s placed upon it?” So you see, the altar sanctifies what’s placed upon it. When you place your body on God’s altar in a sacrificial offering, it sanctifies your body. That’s very important because lots of us in different ways have defiled our bodies in the life of sin. Today there are millions of young people who’ve defiled their bodies by illicit sex, homosexuality, drugs and so on. It’s a wonderful revelation that if you repent and return to Jesus, you can have a holy body. Because, when you place it on the altar, the altar sanctifies the gift.
And then God calls us to the ongoing ministry of intercession. I believe that worship and intercession are perhaps the two highest ministries of which Christians are capable. The word intercession means literally “coming in between.” So intercession is coming in between God and somebody who needs God. It’s totally unselfcentered. It’s where we get released from our selfishness. You’ve probably heard somebody describe the typical prayer of the average church member. “God bless me and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four, no more. Amen. Acts 2:4.” That’s not intercession.
Now, Jesus is the perfect intercessor. But, like everything, He wants to share with us. So intercession is not thinking of what you should pray about, intercession is opening yourself to the Lord through the Holy Spirit and letting Him share His burden with you. And in real intercession, burden is a true description. God places a burden upon people.
We had a visitation that I’ve spoken about briefly in our little church in the spring of last year. And first of all, God called us to self humbling and repentance. That went on for days on end, and we spent most of our time on our faces on the floor. I got to know the smell of the carpet in that church very well, I had my nose so close to it for so long. Praise God it was a moderately clean carpet! And then God began gradually to release intercession and He chose the most improbable people. Not always the ones that you’d consider super-spiritual.
There was one young man, God did something in him and for days you wouldn’t hear him pray and then suddenly he’d open his mouth and he’d go on half an hour at least. I remember one morning he prayed for the people of the Soviet Union as if his heart would break. I doubt whether he could really find the Soviet Union on the map but he got this supernatural burden. He prayed for the KGB, the secret police, for many of them to be converted. It’s interesting that we know from reports that the KGB listen pretty regularly to Christian radio! Interestingly enough, it was very shortly after that, within two weeks, that the nuclear disaster took place at Chernobyl. The Holy Spirit knew what was coming.
So, intercession is being so related to Jesus that He can share His burdens with you. And it’s sovereign. He places upon you the burden for a person, for a nation, for a church, for a Christian leader. You have to be extremely sensitive. It’s not a matter of “When it suits me Lord, I’ll pray.” You probably heard the old Negro spiritual, “Every time I feel the Spirit moving I’m going to pray.” Well, that’s the intercessor. You may be in the middle of cooking lunch, you have to stop. You have to get down on your face. And who knows how long you’ll be involved?
Now, when we’ve learned to pray—and that means praise, thanksgiving, intercession, worship, the whole of the priestly ministry—then we’re qualified to start ruling. For those who don’t learn the priestly ministry never qualify to be kings. They’re potential kings but it’s never developed.
I want to turn to a picture of this combined ministry of king and priest in Psalm 110, which is what they call a Messianic psalm. In other words, it’s a prediction of Jesus as the Messiah. I think the opening verse is quoted more often in the New Testament than any other passage in the old Testament. I want to deal first of all with the two first verses. Now we have Christ’s own application of the first verse:
“The LORD said to my Lord [And remember, it’s David who is writing]: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’”
And Jesus challenged the Pharisees and he said, “Who is the Messiah?” They said, “He’s David’s son.” Which, of course, is orthodox. Then Jesus said, “If he’s the son of David, how does David in the Spirit call him Lord?” And he said, “The LORD said to my Lord.” So we know the first “the LORD” is God the Father, “my Lord” when spoken by David is the Messiah. So, God the Father said to the Messiah after His death, resurrection and ascension, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
Some years back Ruth and I were briefly in the city of Cairo in Egypt. We went to the museum there which I’m prepared to say I only want to visit once. We saw some of the footstools of the Egyptian kings. The interesting thing was painted on them were the faces of their enemies! So you make your enemies your footstools. See, that’s a Middle East concept.
So the Lord said to Jesus, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
Now we move on to verse 2:
“The LORD shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion; rule in the midst of your enemies.”
Now Zion is the meeting place of all God’s redeemed people. Keep your finger in Psalm 110, turn to Hebrews 12. Those of you who have been here in these sessions, you’ve learned to find where Hebrews is. Hebrews 12. You see, when you’re on the priestly ministry, Hebrews is the main source. Hebrews 12, beginning at verse 22 and reading through verse 24. This is addressed to believers in Jesus. And the writer of Hebrews says:
“But you have come to Mount Zion...”
Notice the tense. Not “when you die you will get to Mount Zion,” but “you have now come to Mount Zion.” Not in your physical body but in your spiritual relationship. So those of us to whom those words apply have two locations. The physical body, we’re sitting in the assembly of God at Tauranga. Praise God for the comfortable benches. But, if we understand our position in Christ in the Spirit, we have come to Mount Zion. And it’s not the Mount Zion on the south side of Jerusalem, but it’s the heavenly Mount Zion because the next part of the verse says:
“...the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”
Those are our headquarters, brothers and sisters. Our headquarters are where our head is.
“But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. To an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, who are registered in heaven.”
I prefer the NIV translation which makes it really exciting because the NIV takes the phrase at the beginning of verse 23 and puts it on with the end of verse 22. To try and explain that it’s just a matter of punctuation is rather complicated. But the NIV says, and this really blesses me:
“To an innumerable company of angels in festal array...”
That thrills me! To think that the angels put on their best because we’re coming.
“Then to the church of the firstborn, who are registered in heaven.”
That’s the church of all those who have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ. And through the new birth we have now come already to the heavenly Jerusalem, to Mount Zion.
“To God, the judge of all...”
Thank God there’s something there besides God the judge because otherwise we’d never make it.
“...and to the spirits of just men made perfect...”
I understand that to be Old Testament saints who, after a lifetime’s walk of faith, at the end came to Mount Zion. Whereas we through the new birth get there now. That’s why Jesus said of men born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he because we’ve been born again. The new birth takes us into a new realm which was not open to the Old Testament saints until after death. We enter there now.
Let’s go on and we’ll go back and explain it.
“...to spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant...”
And that’s important because if Jesus wasn’t there, we wouldn’t get there. And the next thing is also very important:
“...to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
Or, to the sprinkled blood of Jesus. We’ve been looking at this in the seminar sessions, that Jesus sprinkled His own blood as the way into the holiest of all. And something that many Christians don’t realize is the blood of Jesus has life in it. It has the life of God in it. And it speaks on our behalf. And it’s contrasted with that of Abel because there are three differences. Abel’s life was taken from him by force. Jesus willingly laid down his life. Abel’s blood was sprinkled on the earth. Jesus’ blood is sprinkled in heaven. Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance. Jesus’ blood cries out for mercy and forgiveness. And brothers and sisters, when you’re under real pressure and you just can’t even get a prayer out, just pause for a moment and think that even when you can’t pray, the blood of Jesus is speaking on your behalf in the presence of God.
What I want to emphasize right now is we have come to Mount Zion. We’re not going to come, we have come. Now back to Psalm 110.
“The LORD shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion; rule in the midst of your enemies.”
I believe this is a tremendous revelation of the kind of ministry that we can have as a kingdom of priests. I believe all three persons of the godhead are referred to in those two verses. God the Father said to Jesus the Son, “Sit at my right hand.” The Lord the Holy Spirit sends the rod of Christ’s authority out of Zion, the assembled company of God’s people. So, when we meet under the headship of Jesus and in divine order, then the Holy Spirit out of our meeting, out of our ministry and out of our prayers, sends out the rod of Christ’s authority. And as a result, Christ rules in the midst of His enemies. That’s where He is now. He is now at the right hand of God and we can exercise His authority on His behalf and affirm His rule even in the midst of His enemies. We are certainly aware that His enemies are numerous, they’re vociferous, they’re getting angrier and more violent every year. But don’t let their cries and their activities cause you to overlook the fact that Jesus is already on the throne—and He’s never going to give it up. He is ruling now in the midst of His enemies. In spite of all the rage and all the evil forces, Jesus is ruling. But, we have the privilege of being the instruments of His rule. Out of our assembly, God’s people gathered in His name in divine order, led together by the Holy Spirit, for Jesus said, Where two or three have been led together into my name, there am I in the midst.” We have the privilege of thrusting out the rod of His authority over the nations and bringing the nations into line with the purposes of God. Not imposing our will on the nations or telling God what we think ought to happen, but becoming instruments for God to reveal and declare His will over the nations.
Now, I told you that the title of this was going to be “The Rod of God.” You may have wondered how I was ever going to get there—and I was wondering myself for awhile! But, we got there. The rod. All right. The rod in the Bible is the emblem of a ruler and it’s the mark of his authority. I want to speak just about two examples of the rod. First of all, at one point as I said, I think, in the seminar, Aaron’s authority as high priest was challenged by the other tribal leaders. They said, “Why is it only Aaron, why not we?” And God said, “Let’s settle this once and for all.” He said to Moses, “Take the rod of every ruler of each tribe, tell him to write his name on it and put it in front of the Holy of Holies and leave it there.” So Moses did that. Twentyfour hours later he went back. Eleven rods were just the same, the twelfth rod had blossomed, budded and put on almonds—in 24 hours. And they checked the name on the rod, it was Aaron. Aaron the high priest, a type, a figure of the Lord Jesus. The blossoming of the rod in 24 hours is a type of the resurrection which established forever His identity as the Son of God and the high priest.
So, the rod has the name of the ruler on it. This has become so very, very real to me in periods of prayer and intercession that we can extend the rod of Christ’s authority which has His name upon it over the situations that we’re praying for. But the authority is in the name.
Then the other case of the rod was Moses. You remember, at age 40 he was confident he could deliver his people Israel out of Egypt. He ended up spending 40 years in the desert looking after his fatherinlaw’s sheep. At age 80 God appeared to him in the burning bush and told him he was to deliver his people out of Egypt. And at that point Moses was totally devoid of self confidence. He said, “God, just try to find somebody else.” In the end the Lord actually got angry with him. Moses said, “Well, if I’m to deliver my people, what can I do it with?” And the Lord said, “What have you got there in your hand?” And this is a little bit of the amplified version. Moses said, “It’s just my shepherd’s rod.” The Lord said, “Throw it down on the ground and see what happens.” He threw it down on the ground and it became a snake. And Moses ran from his own rod. See, the lesson is we oftentimes have something in our hand, we don’t know the power that’s in it. The Lord said to Moses, “Pick it up by the tail.” Now anybody who knows anything about snakes knows you don’t pick snakes up by the tail. You pick them up just behind the head. But Moses obeyed the Lord and it became a rod in his hand. So the Lord said to Moses, “That’s all you’re going to need. Just take that rod.” And it’s called from then on the rod of God. He said, “But if you have any problems, I want to give you two other signs.” I want you to notice that God sovereignly appointed these signs. Moses didn’t say, “God, I need signs.” My conviction is God has never sent a messenger with supernatural revelation without giving him supernatural attestation. It is unscriptural. So, the Lord said to Moses, “Put your hand in your bosom, and pull it out.” And it was completely leprous. He said, “Put your hand in again, pull it out.” It was completely whole.
I was meditating on that today and I think the Lord said to Moses, “I kill and I make alive. You can put your hand in there and it comes out totally dead with leprosy. You can put it back again and it comes out alive.”
Then He said, “The other thing you can do is take the water out of the river, the Nile, and pour it on the ground and it will become blood. So now, there are your three authenticating signs. And if you need help, I’ll let your brother Aaron be your spokesman, go back.”
Now we have to cut this short but I’m building up to the truth about the rod. Moses went back and told the children of Israel that he’s to be their deliverer. They were glad. And then he went into Pharaoh and he said, “God has told me that you’re to let my people go.” Pharaoh said, “Well, I don’t know who the Lord is. Why should I let them go? What evidence can you give?” Actually it was Aaron who did it but it was Moses’ rod. Aaron threw the rod down on the ground and it became a snake.
Well, it’s very interesting. That didn’t very much impress Pharaoh. He said, “I’ve got magicians. I’ll send for them.” And he sent for his magicians and said, “This is what Moses did, what can you fellows do?” And they said, “We can do the same.” And they threw their rods down and they became snakes. Now, that’s the Bible. Don’t ever tell me that the devil doesn’t have supernatural powers. I wonder whether amongst the Mauri people there aren’t what I think you call ?toehoners? that could do things like that if the worse came to the worse. I’m inclined to think they could.
But, the climax of that incident is that Moses’ snake ate up the snakes of the magicians. So, I don’t know whether you’ve ever pictured this scene but Moses went out with a much thicker, heavier rod than he had (too much laughter on the tape to hear the rest of that sentence) And the Egyptians went out without any rods! So, Moses won round one but the Pharaoh wasn’t convinced.
So they had another encounter and Pharaoh said to Moses, “What else can you do?” He said, “I can take the water out of the river and pour it on the ground and it will become blood.” Pharaoh said to his magicians, “What can you do?” They said, “We can do the same.” And they did. So Pharaoh said, “I see no reason to believe that you’ve got anything that my magicians don’t have.
The next, “What can you do now, Moses?” Moses said, “I can call the frogs out of the river and they’ll fill your house, they’ll fill your bed, they’ll fill your ovens, they’ll fill your cooking pans.” And he did. And Pharaoh sent for the magicians and said, “What can you do?” They said, “We can do the same.” And they called the frogs out of the river.
We really need to bear this in mind. Understand? Because I’ll show you in a moment that this is just a preview of what this age is going to be like at the close.
Then the next thing that Moses did was to throw dust in the air and it became either lice or gnats—and we don’t know which—on the body of man and beast. And Pharaoh called for the magicians and said, “That’s what Moses did, what can you do?” And they tried and they couldn’t. Then they said, “This is the finger of God. Now we have met our match.” But it took four supernatural demonstrations to convince them. And three of those supernatural things they could do. Don’t underestimate Satan.
I want you to see that this is where it’s going to be at the close of this age. There are three great patterns of witchcraft, the supernatural Satanic, in the Old Testament. The magicians of Egypt, Balaam, and Jezebel. And the interesting thing is every one of them are referred to in the New Testament in the context of the church. It’s a very significant fact.
Turn now to 2 Timothy for a moment, chapter 3. Paul is talking about people who oppose the gospel and he says in verse 8:
“Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses...”
Jannes and Jambres were the names of the Egyptian magicians.
“[As they resisted Moses] so do these false teachers also resist the truth—men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith. But they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all as theirs also was [that is, the folly of Jannes and Jambres].”
Paul is writing here about the last times. He’s saying in the last times the practitioners of the occult will resist the representatives of the gospel in exactly the same way as the magicians of Egypt resisted Moses. What I want to tell you is this: the ultimate battle is not going to be a battle of theology, it’s going to be a battle of power. Paul said the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
Then a little further on in the same third chapter of 2 Timothy, verse 13, again speaking about the closing period of this age, Paul said:
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Now, all the translations use some phrase like “impostors.” But the truth of the matter is they couldn’t believe that Paul meant what he said. Because, the word that Paul used means “a chanter,” and it was always used of practitioners of the occult who used chanting to invoke evil spirits. So what Paul is saying is that as this age draws to the close, evil men and practitioners of the occult will wax worse and worse. In other words, there’s going to be a steady, dramatic increase of the Satanic occult and the ultimate conflict is going to be like the conflict between Moses and the Egyptian magicians. It’s not a question of which book can you quote, it’s a question of who has the most powerful snake. Bear in mind that’s where we’re going to be challenged.
Sometimes my ministry is challenged, amazing though it may seem, and I’ve learned not to fret. You know, it isn’t our arguments that are going to be decisive, it’s God’s attestation. So I say, “Okay. If somebody challenges, let’s throw down our rod and may the best snake win!” I mean if I’ve got a loser, I don’t want to hold onto it.
Now, Moses then proceeded to take over the government of Egypt. And he only used one instrument, what was it? His rod, that’s right. Just that simple shepherd’s staff. Nothing complicated, nothing sophisticated; something that the Egyptians despised because they despised shepherds. And yet, Moses wrested the authority over Egypt out of the hand of Pharaoh and brought it to bear on behalf of God’s people. I’m personally convinced that Israel would never have been delivered out of Egypt if Moses hadn’t won the spiritual battle with his rod.
I personally believe it’s the same today. God’s people will never come into the fullness of their inheritance, they’ll never really be redeemed from the powers of Satan and this world until the intercessors learn to use the rod. That’s the means by which we’ll wrest authority from the god of this age and use it for the deliverance of God’s people. And through that outstretched rod of God we share the authority of Jesus on the throne right now. We enable Him to rule in the midst of His enemies.
Now we’re just going to go on one more verse in Psalm 110 which beautifully ties this in, not merely with the theme of kings and priests, but with the theme of apostolic outreach. I just trust by the grace of God I’ll be able to intertwine these two themes. We’re in Psalm 110:3 which is addressed to Christ on the throne.
“Your people shall be volunteers in the day of your power. In the beauty of holiness, from the womb of the morning you have the dew of your youth.”
That’s very condensed language in Hebrew and there’s a number of different possible ways of translating it. I’m going to follow a different translation, most of which is taken from the margin of the New International Version. But we’ll start with the first verse.
“Your people shall be volunteers...”
That’s not a good translation. See, the problem with volunteers is when they cease to volunteer they’re no longer with you. I am not interested in volunteers. What it says is “your people will be freewill offerings.” Those are the people that God is looking for. And then it says:
“...in the day of your power.”
But the Hebrew says “in the day of your army.” God is gathering His end time army and He’s only looking for one kind of person: people who will be freewill offerings. Not give freewill offerings but be freewill offerings.
I heard years ago a story about a gospel meeting in the state of Oklahoma in the United States. I can’t tell this in the accent of the place but anyhow, according to this story which is probably not altogether true, there was an American Indian in this gospel service. As the preacher preached, he came under a sense of conviction. He felt he needed to do something to get right with God. So he thought, “What will I give God?” He picked up his blanket, went up to the front of the church, laid it on the altar and said, “Indian bring blanket.” But he still didn’t have peace. So, when he got back he thought, “I’m going to give something more valuable than a blanket.” He took his rifle which was a cherished possession, marched up the aisle with the rifle, laid it at the front of the church and said, “Indian bring rifle.” But still no peace. He had one more possession which was still more precious which was his horse. So he went out into the lot outside the church, untethered his horse and led it up to the front of the church and said, “Indian bring horse.” But he still didn’t have any peace so he sat down, wondered what to do. The fourth time he walked up without anything and said, “Indian bring Indian.” And that’s when he got peace. See? Well, that’s what God is saying to you and me. He doesn’t want your gifts, He doesn’t want your talents; all He wants is you. When He’s got you, He’s got your gifts, He’s got your talents, He’s got your money, He’s got your time... He’s a very smart businessman!
So, the army is going to be made up of people that say, “Indian bring Indian.” “Here I am, Lord. No strings attached, no reservations, I’m yours. Do what you like with me.”
Then it says, and I’m going to now give you the Prince Adapted Version from the NIV:
“In the beauty of holiness, from the womb of the morning your youth will come to you like the dew.”
I believe that’s the great translation. It’s a beautiful picture. First of all, it speaks about holiness in its beauty. And then it speaks about dawn and it speaks about a womb. So, it suggests a period of night and darkness and then a dawn which is also a birth. I believe that’s where we’re at in God’s timetable. There’s been a night of darkness, we’re coming to a new phase, a dawn is coming forth, it’s going to come by a birth, it’s going to bring the beauty of holiness. Have you ever seen the first rays of the morning sun strike upon the dew on the grass? There’s nothing more beautiful. God says, “That’s how holiness is going to appear in My people.” It’s going to be the fresh morning dew illuminated by the rays of the rising sun.
And then it says, “your youth will come to you like the dew.” I believe this is the apostolic call. See, we’ve dealt with the ruling and the reigning, we’ve dealt with the intercessors. The other part of the picture is the army. I believe at this time all over the world God is assembling an army of young people, youth. Now, there is much for the older people to do. Many, many different ministries. One of the great ministries is intercession but I’m far from suggesting that that’s the only ministry, because if it were, what would I be doing here tonight?
I’m going to address my closing remarks to young people because I believe that there’s a special emphasis of the Holy Spirit and the scripture on young people at this time. The Lord is saying, “I’m assembling my army. Are you willing to be a freewill offering? Will you give me yourself without reservation, go wherever I send you, become whatever I make you?” This has to be paired with the intercessory ministry, do you understand? One of the great problems of the church is that we’ve often had them separate. But the army of young people is not going to be effective without the ministry of the intercessor stretching out the rod of divine authority over nation after nation and claiming them for God.
So, what will we do? Lord, help me. I feel that the first thing we need to do is speak to the younger people. Let’s say 30 and under. All right. We’re not asking for your birth certificate. But if you are here tonight, you’ve been hearing the teaching, you’ve been experiencing the working of God’s Spirit, you sense there’s something new is coming, you’d like to be in the vanguard of it and you’re a young person 30 or under, and you’re prepared tonight to become a freewill offering, okay? You just present yourself to the Lord, no conditions, no reservations, no strings attached. You’d like to do that. Would you stand to your feet right now wherever you are.
Brother, would you come up? Ruth, Carly, would you come up? I always like people to stand by me at this point. I suggest that the others of you near the front turn around and look at that wonderful sight. Isn’t that a beautiful sight!
If you’re over 30, you can turn around and look. Then you can sit down!
How many have we got? Can we gather them at the front here? Do you think we can get them to the front? Yes, I think so. Come on, all of you, come up to the front. We’re going to pray for you, we’re going to commission you. Yes, excuse me, the people in the other auditorium, if you’re 30 and under and you want to become a freewill offering, you better make your way over here because this is where the action is going to be from now on! I hope you know what you’re doing. Move a bit further forward. Some of you can stand on the first steps. I just hope I haven’t stirred their emotions but I don’t think I have. Isn’t that something to thank God for! I really don’t feel equal to this situation, I feel the responsibility is too great. But, somebody has got to do something. I’m going to invite you to say a very short, simple prayer after me. Then if one of the acknowledged leaders here has some prophetic utterance, we’ll be very happy to receive it. I’d rather not have somebody who is not known at all—not that we’re questioning your gifts at all but the Bible says know those who labor among you. So, we don’t want the prophetic ministry unless it’s by somebody who is recognized by the local leaders here. Is that okay?
First of all, I feel God is going to give revelation here tonight, I feel we’re on the verge of a cloudburst. I’m longing for it. So, you that have come forward, may the Lord bless you. It’s wonderful to see you. I tell you, if you’ve made a sincere decision, you’ll never regret it. It may be Biblical, it will almost certainly be exciting but it will be worthwhile. I made that decision when I was really just about 30 and I’ve had a wonderful life. It’s been difficult, I’ve had many challenges, I’ve had setbacks, I’ve had disappointments, I’ve had pressures; but I wouldn’t exchange it for anything this world has to offer. But you’ve got to be wholehearted. Lay down your own preconceptions. God usually chooses the most improbable people, you know that? So, if you’re feeling very inadequate, that’s almost sure that God’s going to do something special for you.
Just say these words after me. You’re going to be praying to Jesus, not to me. I always begin with a prayer that acknowledges salvation before we go any further. “Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you’re the Son of God and the only way to God. That you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead. That with your precious blood you purchased my pardon, you purchased me, Lord. You gave yourself for me. And tonight Lord, I give myself back to you. I lay my body on your altar a living sacrifice. I put myself at your disposal. Do what you want with me. Make me what you want me to be. Send me where you want me to go. From this night forward I’m your bondslave, Lord. Thank you that you accept me, Lord. Not because you need me, not because I’m worthy, but because I pray in your name, Lord Jesus. And in your name I’m accepted. Thank you, Lord. Anoint me now with your Holy Spirit, with a new anointing, with the anointing of power that I’m going to need for what you have for me. I just open my heart, I open my whole being to your Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit of God come upon me now and equip me and empower me for your glory, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Just lift your hands up and receive. “Lord, pour out your Spirit upon everyone that’s prayed that prayer. Let there come a fresh outpouring of your Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Let there come, Lord, a fresh outpouring of your Spirit. In the name of Jesus. Thank you, Lord.” You that are in the congregation, just stretch your hands towards them and pray God’s blessing on them. Amen, Lord. Amen, Lord. Amen, Lord. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. (Praying in the Spirit.) Victory through the blood of the Lamb and through the name of Jesus.
Now, while you remain here standing at the front, and you can go on communing with the Lord, I want to offer one further challenge to those of you who didn’t come forward. There was nothing in your age to prevent you coming forward except we just had to set a limit. But how many of you tonight feel—and I want you to be very clear about this—you feel called to the ministry of intercession? You feel that’s where you belong. In the prayer closet, in the prayer meeting, not so much in the public eye as in the place of private communion with God on behalf of God’s people, God’s servants, God’s purposes. And tonight God has spoken to your heart and showed that’s what He has for you. That may not be the only thing but it’s the thing that He’s spoken about tonight. If you would like to offer yourself to God as an intercessor, without coming forward just stand where you are—if that’s your decision. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus. “Oh God, we just put your name and your blessing now upon these who have offered themselves to you tonight as intercessors. Lord, we lift them up to you. Take them right where they are now and lead them on into this sacred ministry of intercession. We sanctify them in the name of Jesus. We set them apart for this ministry and we give you thanks for them in the name of Jesus.”