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Now, I have some announcements, but before I do that we’ll have our proclamation. So last night we did a proclamation that started with “The Lord is good...” and this morning we’re going to do another proclamation that starts with the same words. It’s taken from Nahum 1:7, and especially in the light of what Johannes was saying, it’s a very timely proclamation.
“The LORD is good, He is a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”
How about saying that after us? “The LORD is good, He is a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” All right, now we’ll all say it together. It brings us into unity. Are you ready? “The LORD is good, He is a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Thank you so much.
I did say last night, or whenever it was, I had to have some announcements. I need to tell you a little bit, very briefly, about how I got involved with IFA [Intercessors For America]. I am probably one of the few people who immigrated to the United States by accident. Furthermore, because I was born in India, I came in under the Indian quota. At the end of 1962 I had concluded six years of service with a missionary organization in Canada and I didn’t know what to do next. I had with me Lydia and our youngest adopted daughter, our little African daughter, named in those days Joska, now we call her Jesika. I had, in doing service in the war in the Middle East—I had made friends with an American soldier who had become later a pastor of an Assembly of God church in Minneapolis. He had sent me a standing invitation any time to come spend six months with him in his church. So I said to Lydia, “We’ve nowhere else to go and no money, so let’s go down to Minneapolis.”
Well, we started in Vancouver, took the train to Winnipeg, and then down south from Winnipeg to Minneapolis. When we got to the border at Pembina, North Dakota, the immigration authorities checked us. They said, “What are you coming for?” I said, “I’m coming for a visit.” “How long is the visit?” I said, “Six months.” So he said, “That’s too long for a visit.” So I said, “Well, maybe you can help us.” I’ve learned not to argue with people like that.
So he said, “Come in, and we will arrange for you to immigrate in Minneapolis.” That’s not my idea at all. And it really was a miracle because we had with us this little African girl aged four, who had no papers, nothing. But she’d been put on my British passport. That’s the only identity she had. Had I ever applied to emigrate from outside, they would never have accepted us. So we came to Minneapolis, and we duly immigrated. Later, in 1970, I took American citizenship. So you see, I’m an American by choice. Most of you just happened to be born that way.
So now this is an anniversary celebration for twenty-five years of IFA. It also happens to be a number of other anniversaries this year. Ruth and I will be celebrating our twentieth anniversary and this book, Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting, is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. I want to say a little bit about it. The theme of this book—you should all have been supplied with one, complimentary—the theme of this book is that Christians can influence the course of history by prayer and fasting. And incidentally, John Beckett brought me a typed manuscript of the book that had been typed in Russia, with four carbon copies, to try and get it translated. I really would have treasured that but he gave it back to the person who gave it to him—the Russian. When the Berlin Wall came down, three different East European countries sent me more or less the same message, that was Russia, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany, because of this book. They said, “You have a part in what has happened. Because if you hadn’t taught us to pray, we don’t think it would have happened.”
But another very exciting thing about this book is, and I want you to listen carefully, on page 95 I’m speaking about historical situations in which we saw history change by prayer and fasting. And on that page I speak about a meeting when I was principal of a college for training African teachers in Kenya, and we were having a convention of our students and teachers, and there was a breakthrough in the Holy Spirit, and I went forward under the impulse of the Holy Spirit and told those young people, “The future of Kenya is in your hands. You’d better pray.” Because Kenya was facing the very real possibility of a Marxist takeover. And I had with me a young man, who’s not so young now, interpreting into Swahili, and when I said this we all began to pray and after a while he stood up and said, “God has given me a vision.” And he described the vision which indicated an attempt by the Communists to take over Kenya. We prayed against that vision and they never succeeded. But what is exciting is, that young man is here today. Not by my appointment. So Wilson Mamboleo, where are you? (Applause) There he is. It’s wonderful to have you again. God bless you! That’s living proof! You understand! So that’s one book.
Oh, then we have another anniversary this year. The seventieth anniversary of our family. In 1928, my first wife Lydia took in a little dying Jewish baby and the other missionaries said, “What’s the point of taking in a baby? You should be preaching.” Well out of that has come a family which numbers almost 150 persons today. I always think of the Scripture, “Who has despised the day of small things?” Lydia obeyed God, and God blessed her. Some of my family are here. I won’t embarrass them by asking them to stand up.
Now that’s the end of my announcements. I’m afraid I went on too long, but I don’t think I’ve had a more difficult message to deliver than the one I have right now. I quoted in my message last night from 1 Peter 4:17, “Judgment must begin at the house of God.” And I believe that’s true here in America today. Judgment must begin at the house of God, and I’m going to illustrate it from two Old Testament examples. Then I’m going to give some contemporary illustrations of why judgment has to begin at the house of God.
There are two passages in the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel has always been one of my favorite prophets. He’s a very interesting and exciting person. Not many people are caught up by a lock of their hair and transported from Babylon to Jerusalem. He was. And this records things that he experienced after that. We’re going to turn to Ezekiel chapter 8 and then to Ezekiel chapter 9, and then we’ll go on to Ezekiel chapter 22. All of them, I believe, are very relevant messages for the state of the United States and the church in the United States today. In Ezekiel chapter 8, God shows Ezekiel in a very vivid way as if He were personally present, the abominations that were going on inside the Temple of Jehovah. Terrible idolatry and heathen practices. Well, they’ve been going on in the world for many, many centuries, but the awful part about this is, they were right inside God’s own sanctuary, and they were being performed by the people who should be the ministers of God. So I just want to give you a little picture of some of the things. In Ezekiel 8:10 and following. He was led into the inner court of the temple and he says:
“So I went in and saw, and there—every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. [Think of this. This is the temple of Jehovah.] And there stood before them seventy men, of the elders the house of Israel and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up.”
You know what the incense is? It’s worship. So there were the leaders of God’s people inside His temple, worshiping these hideous, demonic figures. And the Lord said, “You haven’t seen everything yet. So He said in verse 13:
“Turn again and you will see greater abominations that they are doing. So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the LORD’S house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.”
Tammuz was a pagan fertile fertility god that certain seasons of the year, the women used to weep—that is in the fall season when he was apparently dying. Then he was to be resurrected in spring. So they were acknowledging this fertility pagan god right there in the temple. Then He said, There is still more to see:
“‘Turn again, and you will see greater abominations than these.’ [verse 16] So He brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house; and there at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east.”
All these things were taking place inside God’s temple and the leaders of His people were practicing them. And then the Lord says in the last verse:
“Therefore I also will act in fury, My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”
Now we go on to chapter 9 and we see the judgment.
“Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice saying, ‘Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly [or destroying] weapon in his hand.’ And behold six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar. Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been to the threshold of the temple.”
God was about to withdraw His glory, and He’s never yet returned it.
“And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the LORD said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of all the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’ To the others He said in my hearing, ‘Go after him throughout the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.’”
See, judgment must begin at the house of God. And so we have the one man in linen with the inkhorn, went out first and he put a mark on the forehead of only one category of persons—those who sighed and cried for the abominations that were taking place. And after him there went the destroyers and they killed everybody; man, woman and child, who did not have the mark on their foreheads.
Now I believe that is very relevant to the United States, to the Western World, but we’re in America so let’s talk about America. I believe the church, the church, the visible church, the professing Christian church, has been as much infiltrated by spiritual filth and abominations as the temple of Jehovah in the time of Ezekiel. I don’t necessarily believe you’ll love me for saying this, but the forefront of this movement has been led by feminists and homosexuals. And not apologetic, but bragging about it and flaunting it, aggressive about it. And these are people who now have really, almost a decisive influence in the established churches in places such as the heads of various denominations, bishops and others, in the seminaries and in the theological colleges, in the main universities of this country. If I were to name the names they would be ones that are known to everybody, world known.
There came into my hand just recently I believe by divine appointment, a book which analyzes what has been taking place. It’s written by a Brit incidentally. A Brit like me who settled in the United States. So Britain has something to contribute still. And he’s a theologian. He’s got all sorts of degrees after his name. And he says in essence and this is what is so pointed, the rebellion of the 1960s and we all remember that rebellious generation, and thank God for many of them who have turned from their rebellion. But he said, it hasn’t ended. It’s just become respectable. It’s infiltrated the corridors of power including the White House. And this is my little extra comment, I hardly read a newspaper more than once a week. I understand the newspapers have been filled with scandal about what’s going on in the White House. We, most of us, who talk about immorality but not they. For them this is the new morality. It’s a matter of personal preference. If you want to be immoral, be immoral. If you want to be a homosexual, be a homosexual. If you want to be a pedophile, be a pedophile. This is the new morality, and it’s based on personal preference, and it is vividly demonstrated today in the White House. You don’t understand. They won’t come out and say this openly because it would cost them votes. But this is the process that’s at work. It’s infiltrating the top levels of civil government and of church authority with abominations that are even more abominable in a way than those described by Ezekiel.
Let me just read you one brief section from this book. Speaking about the new way of exegeting or interpreting Scripture, it says:
“The new style exegesis is popping up everywhere lately in more or less radical forms. One of note comes from the scholarly British publication, The Journal For the Study of the New Testament published at the University of Sheffield and known for its conservative evangelical leanings. Its present editor, Francis Watson, from London University, publishes an article in which he finds the biblical text, New and Old, hopelessly patriarchal and hierarchical. [And you know the dirty word today is Patriarch. You know that? This wicked domination by men over innocent women, it’s hopelessly patriarchal and hierarchical.] Watson considers quite unconvincing, no doubt correctly, all attempts to save these texts by recovering between the lines a sort of pristine egalitarianism. [Egalitarian is everybody is equal to everybody else.] He leaves the reader with what he judges the more appropriate strategy, resistance. [That is, resistance to the truth of Scripture.] Such resistance, according to Watson, would take the form of a counter-reading, reading the text defiantly against the grain. [And then the writer gives a little quote.] In practice this would involve seeing ‘the serpent’ [and remember what they are really attacking is Genesis chapters 1, 2 and 3. That’s the source of this whole patriarchal unjust system of authority. I use the word ‘unjust,’ you understand, in quotes.] This interpretation would see ‘the serpent’ as liberator, ‘Eve’ as heroine in her courageous quest for wisdom, and ‘the Lord God’ as a jealous tyrant concerned only with the preservation of His own prerogatives.”
Now this is the in theology of the day in the highly-acclaimed universities and colleges where I never go. I came from one and I left it. I don’t think Cambridge is quite as bad as some of the others, but I’m sure it’s pretty bad.
Somebody told me in Cambridge they have four theological colleges, and seven churches. And out of them, all the theological colleges and six of the seven churches espouse the doctrine of replacement of Israel by the church. And these are the people that are training the ministers of the church in Britain. But that is comparatively mild compared with what we are talking about here.
Actually, to tell it like it is, God is cast in the role of Satan, and Satan is cast in the role of God. So when I think back to Ezekiel and the seventy elders worshiping those demonic things on the walls, that’s where we’re at today. It’s a very vivid picture of what is taking place.
There’s only one kind of person who is going to be spared from God’s judgment according to this. Those who sigh and cry for the abominations that are being done. So let me ask you a frank and personal question. Do you qualify? Are you sighing and crying for the abominations? Because otherwise the judgment that falls on the abominators will fall on you. God requires a very specific reaction—sighing and crying.
Let me give you a little text from Amos which I think illustrates this. Amos, of course, was a somewhat earlier prophet than Ezekiel. But in Amos chapter 6 we have (forgive me if I seem sarcastic), we have a picture of the charismatic movement. Amos 6:3: Now this is definitely not true of all charismatics. People ask me today when I go to see a doctor, “What denomination are you?” And I have difficulty in telling them. I used to say, “Well, if you know what the word charismatic means, [and they don’t], that’s what I am.” I don’t feel free to say that any longer today. Because so much as become mixed in that I totally disagree with. Anyhow this is a cry of the Lord through the Prophet Amos. You know “Amos” means a burden. So he’s the man with the burden, just beating you down.
“Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, [which reminds me of what Johannes was saying in our first meeting. Are you putting far off the day of doom? I don’t believe it’s that far away. I really believe it’s pretty close.] Who cause the seat of violence to draw near; [In other words, they exercise violent control over the poor.] Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall; [They are living, as they say, high on the hog. They are really having a good time.] Who chant to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; [They’ve got a real big orchestra, very talented musicians.] Who drink wine from bowls, [that’s probably not true of most charismatics] And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, [they really are living it up, having a good time. Just one problem...] But you are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.”
You see, it’s the same message. Are you sighing and crying? Are you grieved, are you concerned with what’s happening? Or are you just out to enjoy yourself? The number one problem of our age is love of self. And you can be very charismatic and very self-loving. And you can go to all the best conferences and listen to all the best music and spend much more on music than you do on teaching materials, which is true of the church today. But you’re not grieved for the sufferings around you in the world. That’s not the spirit of Jesus. It’s far from the spirit of Jesus. And Paul says in Romans chapter 8, “If any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” The Spirit of Christ is a humble, compassionate, loving, sacrificial Spirit.
I’m going to be honest with you. I receive invitations from time to time to conferences, big conferences. And I love the people that lead the conferences, they’re my friends. But I have to say I no longer feel free to go and live it up in these big conferences. You can see them advertised in Charisma, page after page. I met the editor of Charisma (he’s a friend of mine) once years ago, by chance, and I said to him, “You know, the articles in your magazine I find good. But when I read the advertisements I felt afterwards I need a bath. So much self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, pride.” “If any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” You can speak in tongues, you can perform miracles, but if you don’t have that Spirit you don’t belong to Jesus. Remember, speaking in tongues is a gift. Performing miracles is a gift. Casting out demons is a gift. I’ve exercised those gifts. But you remember what Paul says, “When you’ve received a gift you’re not better afterwards than you were before. It hasn’t changed you a little bit.”
You could receive a gift of a million dollars, have all the opportunities to do what you could do with a million dollars, but it wouldn’t change your character the least bit. If you were selfish, and greedy, conceited before you received the gift, you know what you would be after you received the gift? Selfish, conceited, and greedy. The real problem, I think, with the charismatic movement is that we have put the gifts in the wrong place. They are not badges. They don’t indicate a tremendous achievement in character. They are tools to be used in the service of the Lord.
When I think of those conferences, and I didn’t plan to say this, I think of all the money and the effort and the preachers—ten preachers. And there are millions of people in the world that never see one preacher. My heart is for the lost. My heart is for the people who don’t have. The motto of our ministry is “Reaching the Unreached, and Teaching the Untaught.” I don’t feel free any longer to indulge in these occasions where we sit on couches and write the music of violins. I mean thank God for worship music. Please understand me. But if it’s all self-serving. It’s not good.
I’ll take you back to 2 Timothy 3, the number one problem of our age is love of self and then Paul says in the 5th verse, if people can’t get over that, don’t waste time on them. That’s the “Prince Version.” You can check it for yourself. Personally, as far as I am able and there are many ways I’m not able, I do not waste time on ministering to people who will not change. I hope some of you have changed. I trust that some of you may change. But if you haven’t changed and won’t change, this conference for you is a waste of time.
Let’s go on to Ezekiel chapter 22. This is a declaration of God’s final judgment on Israel at this time. And beginning at verse 23:
“And the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Son of man, say to her: [that’s the land of Israel] ’You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’’”
And my mind goes back, how many years, nearly 40 years, when Wilson Mamboleo was a student in the college of which I was the principal, and I heard him say and I don’t suppose he even remembers saying it, but he said, “The only thing that can cleanse a land is the rain of the Holy Spirit.” And it stuck with me all those years. The only thing that can cleanse a land is the rain of the Holy Spirit. And this land of Israel had not received that rain and it was not cleansed. And then the prophet goes on and we deal now with four groups of people. It so happens by an accident in the English language, that all four begin with the letter “P,” so it’s easy to remember them—prophets, priests, princes, and people. But notice that God does not begin with the people. He doesn’t even begin with the princes. Actually He doesn’t even begin with the priests. He begins with the prophets and that is the source of the problem. The prophet is the one who interprets to God’s people God’s will and God’s ways. And if the interpretation is false, the people will go astray. Shall I just read for a moment.
“The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion... [reading in the next verse, verse 26:] Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and the unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; [How true that is of the contemporary church.] Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey... [Then we come back to the prophets.] Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar...”
They were patching things up to make them look good and spiritual but they wouldn’t stand the test. Elsewhere it says in the Bible, “The wall that is plastered with untempered mortar will fall and its ruin will be great.” And finally we come to the people and the land. But you see very often as Christians we’ll focus on the people, and we can list all their problems and they have many. But that’s not where God starts. He doesn’t even start with the princes, the rulers, the government. He starts with the church. That’s where the root of the problem is. And He starts with the prophets, the ones who claim to represent God and portray the will and the way of God, who speak on behalf of God. Brothers and sisters, it’s a very great responsibility to claim to speak on behalf of God.
I want to take you just briefly through some Scriptures about prophets. If you go to, and I don’t go but I’m sure it’s true, to a gathering of the New Age, you know what you’ll meet? A gathering of false prophets. They’re abundant. It’s very interesting. In the time of spiritual decline, false prophets multiply. In the time of Elijah, in the latter part of the reign of Ahab, there were four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of Asherah, a pagan immoral deity. So that’s 850 false prophets. And we only know one true prophet. His name was Elijah.
There were seven thousand in Israel that would not bow their knee but they were not prophets. So after they descend to the fire, Elijah executed eight hundred fifty false prophets. Do you think about prophets doing things like that? Cutting their heads off? Well, it’s part of the prophetic ministry. So you say, “All right, eight hundred fifty false prophets have gone. That will clear the air.” No. Just a little later, still in the reign of Ahab, Ahab is trying to persuade Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, to up to war against Ramoth-Gilead and he’s got four hundred false prophets. And there again there was only one true prophet. His name was Micaiah. He was the only one who told the truth.
So in that period you have twelve hundred and fifty false prophets, and two true prophets. Do you think the proportion is different today? And if so how different? I don’t think it’s very different.
Now I want to say just a few things about judging prophets. Let me also make this comment. Once upon a time, some of you can remember, I used to be a featured speaker for the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship. And thank God for them. But I really had a problem with them because they encourage people to prophesy, but never checked the prophecies. And they got some very screwy prophecies. I don’t believe it’s scriptural to permit the gift of prophecy without having it checked. That doesn’t mean you clump down on everybody, but everybody knows they’re accountable for what they’ve said. And there should be a leadership there that is capable of checking.
Anyhow, let me give you just two things about false prophets, both from the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy chapter 13, we’re going to look at verses 1–5. This is a very remarkable passage and contains a very important lesson. Deuteronomy 13, beginning at verse 1:
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them.’ You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all you heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”
That’s a remarkable situation. Here is a prophet who gives a supernatural sign, a prediction, and it’s fulfilled. But he’s not from God. How do we know he’s not from God? Because he’s teaching disobedience to the revealed will of God and the Scriptures. You see, people today in many places are so taken up with manifestations, they don’t have time for teaching. You can have all the manifestations, but you will go wrong if you don’t have a sound basis in the Scriptures. And I know very few places today where they take much time for Bible study. I’m not saying they don’t, but I don’t know them. So they are open to deception. You have to know the revealed will of God in the Scripture, otherwise you’re going to go astray.
So that prophet gets put to death. I don’t want to be cynical, but I think if we had the same rules today there would be fewer prophets. Now we go on to Deuteronomy 18:20–22.
“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. [In those days it was a risky thing to be a prophet. You didn’t just trip happily into the situation and come out with a prophecy. You realized it could cost you your life. I wish it was like that today.] And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, this is the thing which the LORD has not spoken: the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
Now, I am not going to do it, but I could give you a list of well known prophets in the charismatic movement who have predicted things that did not come to pass. Is that true, Johannes? And they get away with it, because people are not grounded in the Word of God. It’s not my business to judge them. My business is to keep myself from being deceived. You see, there are two ways you can be deceived. A prophet may make a prediction which comes true, but he’s teaching contrary to the Scriptures, you must not listen to him. Or he may make a prediction which is not true and it’s not from God. In either case, you’ve got to be on your guard. It’s not sufficient that a man makes a prediction which is fulfilled. You have to analyze, is he teaching according to Scripture.
Let me just turn for a moment to Matthew 24. Many of you have heard me say this but I want to say it again. Many, many years ago when I was still in the British Army and a baby Christian, I read a statement by Meyer Pearlman who was then part of the executive of the Assemblies of God in the United States—a Jewish believer, God bless him. And he said this. It’s helped me the rest of my life. He said, “When you want to interpret biblical prophecy it’s like putting together the parts of a body, and you need to be careful where you start. Don’t start with the left hand or the right hand, because you don’t know how to fix the rest of it. There’s one place to start.” He said, “That’s the spine. When you get the spine in place, everything else can fit into it. That’s how it is with biblical prophecy.” And he said, “The spine is the last great discourse of Jesus, which is recorded in three different Gospels, in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.” You need all three of them because they give different aspects of the same truth. If you are really grounded there, then you have something that you can attach the rest of the body to.
But another thing I would say in my own experience, I do not seek to understand prophecy. I don’t have a system. I don’t even have a chart. I just let the Holy Spirit speak to me. I read my Bible twice a day, at least, and I don’t... You know David said in one of his Psalms, “I’m like a weaned child from his mother.” I do not exercise myself in great matters or in things too high for me. Having been a preacher in Africa for five years, it’s very vivid. Wilson Mamboleo will bear me out. But in a gathering like this, the first two or three rows would be mainly taken up by African mothers nursing their infants. I always tried to project my eyes to about row four. Every time a baby would squeal, the mother would nurse it. That’s an unweaned child, you see. David says, “I’ve become like a weaned child.” I don’t squeal in order to get my nourishment. I take my meals when God provides them and as God provides them. That’s, I believe, how we should approach understanding the Bible. Don’t pester God. Don’t bother Him with your little problems. Let God speak to you.
And I want to say something to save Johannes the necessity of saying it, because I know he would if I didn’t: Please be careful about extra-Biblical revelations. I preached a message on this recently. My final message in Good News Church. You see, there’s one thing about the Bible. You have a guarantee. “All Scripture is given by God and is profitable.” I say, when you go out for an extra-Biblical revelation just find out who is giving you the guarantee. That’s an important question. I would rather stick with that which is guaranteed by God. I hope you understand that I am not talking about people on another planet.
Now let’s turn to Matthew 24 just for a moment to verse 11. This is a picture of the close of the age, and all of us need to know this almost by heart I would say. In this Jesus is asked, “What will be the sign of your coming?” And He gives various signs. And one sign is false prophets, and four times in 21 verses, Jesus warns us against being deceived. Anybody who says, “I can’t be deceived,” is already deceived. Because Jesus said you could be deceived if you’re not careful. But Jesus says in verse 11:
“Then [and I believe that’s basically the period in which we are living] many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” [So how can you guarantee that it wouldn’t happen to you, when there will be many who will deceive many.]
I want to look for a moment at a picture of the true prophet and the false, going back to Jeremiah 23:16–18. Incidentally, Jeremiah had such a problem with false prophets that he behaved almost like a drunk person. Shall we look at that verse? I wonder if I can find it. Oh, yes. It’s in the same chapter, 23:9.
My heart within me is broken Because of the prophets; [the false prophets]...
So Jeremiah was broken hearted because of the false prophets.
“All my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, And like a man whom wine has overcome, Because of the LORD, And because of His holy words.” [The Hebrew says, ‘the words of His holiness.’]
Now some people say the Holy Spirit never makes you act like a drunk man. Well, you can’t substantiate that from Scripture because Jeremiah was behaving like a drunk man. But it was not a blessing. It was his reaction to the false prophets. He was, do you know the word “aghast”? That’s the best word. He could not tolerate what was going on.
I have experienced people being drunk in the Spirit. But I look for the fruit. I want to know what comes out of it. And notice what made him like that was because of the Lord and the words of His holiness. If the word of the Lord is not preached, how do we know what’s causing the reactions? If you study the New Testament you’ll find that supernatural signs are always designed to follow and confirm the preaching of the word. Mark 16, “These signs shall follow those who believe...” and go on and on through the book of Acts into the epistle to the Hebrews. Where you don’t have the word preached, how do you know where the signs come from?
Well, let’s look at this picture of the true and false prophets in Jeremiah 23:16–18. First we have the false. Beginning at verse 16 of Jeremiah 23:
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD. They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, ‘You shall have peace’’; And to everyone who walks according to the imagination of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’’”
You see, that’s a lie. And those people are deceived to their own destruction. A prophet can prophesy all sorts of nice things about you, but if you are not walking according to the truth of God, you don’t qualify. He’s deceiving you. And then Jeremiah goes on about what it means to be a prophet.
“For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it?”
So the true prophet stands in the counsel of the Lord. This is a very vivid picture, because in an Oriental or Middle Eastern setting, the servant stood awaiting direction from his master. And he might stand two hours and nothing happened. Now very, very few people that I know are willing to stand two hours and hear nothing. “Well, Lord, there’s something going on in the galaxy over there. I’d really like to know what that is, or that political movement over there. I think I’ll just take a little time off and go and find out.” That doesn’t qualify. The person whom God speaks to has to stand in the counsel of the Lord. That’s the spirit of a servant and there aren’t many. I hope you don’t think I’m cynical. I’m really speaking from a lot of experience. Thank God for those who are and thank God for those whom God has joined to us in our ministry. But they are the exception and not the rule.
So we’ll go on with a little more about these prophets. Verses 21 and 22, now we are talking about the false prophets. Jeremiah 23, verses 21 and 22:
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. [How many people are busy running yet they’ve gotten no message from the Lord?] But if they had stood in My counsel, And had caused My people to hear My words, Then they would have turned them from their evil way And from the evil of their doings.”
You see, a prophet will never compromise with evil—a prophet of the Lord. Never. And a prophet who has a message from the Lord will turn people from their evil way. But the prophets that run without a message from the Lord will bless anybody.
I think I’ve been charismatic too long, to tell the truth. I don’t say I’ve seen it all, but I’ve seen a good deal. “Brother, do you want a word from the Lord? Let me lay hands on you and prophesy over you.” Not on me. I’m careful about who lays hands on me. The Bible says don’t lay hands suddenly on anyone.
Well, you can read this inspiring book. It’s got a little in there about it. Anyhow, I have to go on. We’ll go back to Ezekiel 22, and we look now at some of the saddest verses in the whole Bible. He’s listed the sins of the prophets, the priests, the princes and the people. And then at the end he says, in verse 30:
“‘So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.’ [One man, and God couldn’t find one.] Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath...”
If he could have found one man it would have changed history. Now what did he want the man to do? Two things. To make up a wall, to stand in the gap. Making up the wall, I believe, is restoration. Standing in the gap is intercession. But they must go together. You cannot stand in the gap when there is no wall, and the walls have been broken down. What does a wall do? It divides, it separates, it shuts one place off from another. Basically, in the contemporary church, most of the dividing walls have been broken down. And it’s going to take a man to rebuild them if it can be done. And then it’s going to take intercessors to stand in the gap.
I have heard Johannes say this and I totally agree. Intercession is not just praying, it’s a posture, it’s a stand that you take between God and the objects of His wrath. You say, “Lord, they deserve your judgment, but if you smite them you have to smite me first.” Intercession is a life laid down. It’s not just a few hours of prayer now and then.
Abraham was an intercessor. When the Lord and two angels came to him, the Lord explained to him, “We’re going to go on and check on the situation in Sodom. We’ve had a terrible report.” And the two angels went ahead, but the Lord tarried. And it says, “Abraham stood before the Lord and he bargained for the people of Sodom.” And you remember he brought them down, “If there are 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10. If there are ten will you spare the whole city?” The Lord said, “I will.” But He couldn’t find ten. But Abraham standing before the Lord on behalf of Sodom is a beautiful picture of an intercessor. It’s not just praying. It’s taking a position in God.
Now I just want to briefly state in closing, I want to speak about walls that have been broken down; lines of demarcation and separation that have been done away with. I find in my study of the Bible that God will tolerate some kinds of wickedness an amazingly long time. But I find in reading the book of Genesis, it seems that there are two boundaries which God jealously guards. The one is in the days of Noah in Genesis 6. When the angels began to have intercourse with human women, God said, “That’s it.” And you know those angels are not amongst the satanic angels that are in the heavenlies. They are in Tartarus reserved for judgment in everlasting chains of darkness. You can read about that in 2 Peter and Jude. And there’s plenty about them in classical mythology.
So when that barrier was broken down God said, “One hundred and twenty years—that’s it.” The other barrier, I believe that is so important to God, is the barrier between male and female. And in the time of the other great exemplary judgment of God, the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was that barrier that had been broken down. I believe when that barrier is broken down, judgment is very close.
I remember a good many years ago now passing a hair dresser’s salon. I saw on the glass door just one word “Unisex.” My reaction was we must be near the end of the age. We must be near the end of the age. Now I’m not talking about hair styles, you understand. I’m talking about an attitude to life.
Let me give me give you one last controversial Scripture in case you haven’t had enough. Deuteronomy 22:5.
“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD.”
That Hebrew word abomination, toibah, is the strongest word in Hebrew for something that God totally detests. Now I don’t believe that God is dictating clothing styles. I believe what God is saying, “Men have got to dress like men, and women have got to dress like women.” So that when you meet one of them you know what you are meeting. I’ve come to the place where the only thing that’s a guarantee is a beard. And another mark of the breakdown, is that men by-and-large are not wearing beards. That is a beginning of a trend. And you see I don’t have a beard so I’m not preaching against anything.
I saw a picture of Dwight L. Moody recently, a photograph, and I noticed a fullness of his beard. I thought My, he had a big beard. Then I thought to myself, “All men had beards in that day.” To us it seems strange. But to God, it’s normal. You take away the mane from the male lion and what do you have? A nondescript creature. How do you know what you are dealing with?
I don’t know whether you can empathize with what I am saying, but recently we had the excitement of having our youngest daughter, our black daughter, marry. It was a beautiful wedding ceremony, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been in. The reception was held in a country club. When we got there, there was this person, and I looked and I really, honestly, did not know is it a man or a woman. In the end I concluded it was a woman. She was very sweet, very kind, very polite. There was nothing wrong with her behavior. But I thought to myself, Where have we got to?
Then you say (ladies you can be kind to me), basically it’s the women that have changed, not the men. You see, it was Eve that took the fruit. I’m not here to lay down life-style, or clothing styles. But I just want to point to you it is a major element in our contemporary situation. It is a sign of where we are.
In Focus on the Family, I read just recently a little part of one of their productions, and they pointed out that Microsoft, in their new software, they’ve got a little helpful guide how to write the right kind of language. And in this helpful guide they’ve got two hints. First of all, don’t talk about a man or a woman, talk about a person. Don’t talk about a husband or a wife, talk about a spouse. Now you know Microsoft is one of the main trendsetters of our generation. That’s the trend. You see, we are being undermined without realizing that the earth is being dug away from under our feet. That’s why judgment must begin at the house of God, because we, representing God, have not faithfully portrayed Him. We’ve compromised on major issues that God will never compromise on.
I hope that I’ve given you material to pray over. Johannes do you feel like praying? Would you come up? I think we need a prayer for all of us, for the church in America. Come and join me, Johannes. I just love this brother, Johannes. He’s a real Dane and I have a special place in my heart for Danes. My first wife was not only a Dane, she was a Viking. And he says, “Me too.” Perhaps we should stand.
Johannes: Lord we just want to come before You and first of all to thank You that we can still hear a word, a true word, that is based on the Holy Scriptures. We thank You that we have been listening to such a word. Lord, however sharp like a two-edged sword it has been, we will not refrain, we will not go back. We want to hear the word of the Lord even if it is a painful thing and it is, Lord, for all of us who are members of the body of Christ and who are coresponsible with Your people because we are part of that people, and we cannot say ‘they,’ we have to say ‘us.’ We cannot say ‘them,’ we have to say ‘we.’ We have sinned, Lord. We have to say like Daniel on behalf of his people even as he, as an individual, was found pure and righteous in Your eyes, he had to say not just ‘we,’ but ‘I’ have sinned. And, Father, we are grieving and our hearts are full of sorrow when we consider the way that Your church has been going, and how we have already been going the way of apostasy, neglecting Your word and being caught up in this love for the self. Lord, forgive us. What else can we say? Forgive us, Lord. Forgive us that the Holy Scriptures have been pushed aside. We’ve made ourselves judges of what is relevant and what is no longer relevant. Father, we have sinned against Your authority. We have defiled Your word. We have lowered Your standard. Lord, but more than that, we have grieved Your heart. And Lord, it is as if we have crucified Your Son once again. Lord, just forgive us, we ask. And help us, Lord, to return to You so that You can return to us. Give us the gift of repentance, Lord. We don’t even know how to return. And as we think about Your church, we don’t even know where to begin. Lord, give us the gift of repentance. Of true repentance in Your church. And as we stand here before You, we say ‘I-we’ have sinned, but Lord we want to take the position in the gap, by Your grace and by the blood of the Lamb, through the forgiveness of our sins to call upon You on behalf of the body of Christ in America, the church in America, the church that is in so many ways so blessed, so rich that it almost looks like the church of Laodicea. ‘We’re rich, we have it, we don’t need anything,’ and yet we do not know how poor we are, how naked we are, how needy we are. Lord, I pray that prayer, give us eye salve, open our eyes that we may perceive our true condition before You, and repent. And help us to buy gold character, Lord. The character of Christ. Lord, we’ve been moving in the gifts for so long. We’ve been flowing in the gifts for so long, but we need character, Lord. Divine character to be woven into our inner man. Character in our churches. Standards. The authority of Your word. The nature of Christ, the likeness of Jesus. Oh, Father, bring it back we ask. Lord, keep this word in our hearts. Let it not disappear over lunch. Let it not disappear ever. Lead Your church in America into true repentance. You’re still the Lord that can turn us around. You’re still able. This is still the day of grace where we can be saved and we can be turned towards you, and we can become the light of this nation. Do it, Father, for the sake of Your Son. Remember Your covenant with us. Remember the sacrifice of Your Son. Remember the blood of the Lamb, the precious blood of Jesus by which we were bought with such a price. Remember the cross and turn us around. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.