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I think it would be appropriate to go back to Exodus 19 which has been our basic scripture and just read verses 5 and 6. This is God’s purpose for his redeemed people.
“Now therefore if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (NKJ)
In our last talk we focused on the specific promise, “you shall be a kingdom of priests,” and we saw that this was carried over into the New Testament and restated again by the apostle Peter to all the believers in Jesus Christ in 1Peter 2:9. Also, if you care to turn to Revelation 1:5–6 or Revelation 5:9 you will find the same promise repeated twice. Kings and priests or, a kingdom and priests. This is a continuing theme that runs through the whole revelation of scripture for God’s redeemed people; to be a kingdom of priests. They’re to be kings and priests.
Actually I’ve come to the conclusion that we only have two options. Before redemption Israel were slaves. After redemption it was God’s purpose to make them kings. And my understanding is that really you only have two options. You can live like a slave or you can live like a king. If you’ve been redeemed through Jesus Christ, God purposes for you to live like a king. But if you don’t live up to that purpose, you will continue to live like a slave. There are many children of God whose destiny is to be kings who are still living like slaves. They haven’t been renewed in their minds, they haven’t apprehended God’s will, they haven’t made the personal commitment and surrender which opens up the way. And although potentially they are kings, theologically they are kings, experientially they are living like slaves.
I always turn to a passage in Deuteronomy 28 which describes two things. This is a long chapter, 68 verses. It has two themes; blessings and curses. The first fourteen verses describe the blessings for hearing God’s voice and doing what he says. The next 54 verses describe the curses that come on those who do not hear God’s voice and do not do what he says. I think it’s important for all of us to read through that chapter and determine whether we are enjoying the blessings or enduring the curses. And I think you’ll find lots of God’s people who are supposed to be enjoying the blessings are actually enduring the curses. But in the list of blessings Moses says two simple statements. You shall be the head and not the tail; you shall be above only and not beneath. And I’ve thought many times what does that mean in practical terms and living? Well, where are you living in your circumstances? Are you above or are you beneath?
I’m reminded of the story of two Christians who met and the first said to the second, “How are you doing Brother?” The second replied, “Well, under the circumstances I’m not doing badly.” And the first said, “Well, what are you doing under the circumstances?” See, we are not supposed to be living under the circumstances. We’re above, not beneath.
And then Moses said you’ll be the head and not the tail. I really sat down and reasoned with myself what is the head and the tail. And I came to this conclusion. The head makes the decision, the tail just gets dragged around. It makes no decision. Well I’ll ask you which way are you living? Are you in the decision making part or are you in the part that just gets dragged around by circumstances and pressures, forces that you don’t control? One is to live like a king, the other is to live like a slave. And I really suggest to you that there’s no middle ground. You’ve got to be one or the other. We have invented so much middle ground in our thinking and in our church life which doesn’t exist in the Bible. Jesus said he that is not with me is against me. There are just two relationships. You can be with him. If you’re not with him you’re against him. He that is not gathering with me is scattering. There are two activities. You can gather, you can be bringing in that which is positive. Or you can be scattering, squandering your time, your talents, your energy, all that God has given you in unproductive, unworthwhile activity. Every one of us is in one category or the other.
Now I want to go on and speak further about what it means to be a kingdom of priests. I believe that’s our destiny, I believe not only God but the world is waiting to see God’s people become the kingdom of priests. I really think the world is disappointed in the church, do you know that? I think the world in some ways knows pretty well what the church ought to be like. And they can point out its failures and its inconsistencies better than we can. And in a sense, they are saying to us by that, why don’t you people become what God intended you to be? Let’s see it work. We don’t want theory. We want something that works in daily living. And I believe when the church becomes that in experience, we will experience what I believe the prophetic promises are; an inrush of people into the kingdom of God. Because the world knows really that what it has doesn’t work. But it doesn’t see any alternative.
Well, I’ve pointed out the two functions; the king rules, the priest offers sacrifice. In order to be kings, we have to learn to be priests because the kingdom is the kingdom of priests. If you don’t know how to function as a priest you will not have the privilege of ruling as a king. That’s the great barrier to the manifestation of the kingdom of God is the fact that God’s people have not learned to function as priests. And I pointed out that there are three sacrifices spoken of in the New Testament. The basic sacrifice, the placing of your body on the altar of God’s service. Then the sacrifice of your lips; praise, thanksgiving. And then the sacrifice of your service to do good and share. Those are the three main areas of sacrifice. When we operate effectively in those three areas as priests, we qualify to rule as kings. Or to say it more simply and to bring it down to the basics, God has destined us to rule by prayer. When we pray, then we can begin to rule.
Now I’d like to give you just two pictures. The first from the epistle of the Hebrews once more. Hebrews 12:22–24. Then I would like to go to an Old Testament picture in the book of Psalms. Hebrews 12:22–24:
“But you have come [I want you to notice it’s the perfect tense. It’s not something that’s going to happen, it’s something that’s already happened as far as God concerned.] to Mount Zion, to the city of the Living God; the Heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born who are registered in heaven; to God the judge of all; to the spirits of just men made perfect; to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant; to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
That describes where we are located spiritually. Physically we’re located in the majestic house in Christ’s church which is a real good location, I would say, for an earthly location. But spiritually we’re located in Mount Zion. Here in the Body we’re located in Christ’s church. But in the spirit we have come, not we’re going to come. Just as it says in Ephesians 2, God has made us alive together with Christ. He has resurrected us and he has enthroned us. Not he is going to enthrone us but he has enthroned us. Do you understand? The principle is when you’re identified with Jesus in his death and when you identify with him by burial through baptism, then you have the legal right to follow him in every successive stage. You’re made alive, you’re resurrected, you’re enthroned. It comes back to the same principle in the tabernacle. Our destination is behind the second veil which is ascension to be kings and priests on the throne. Understand? Whatever way you approach this mystery you end up the same destination.
Now in this scene in Mount Zion we have actually nine different elements portrayed. We won’t look at all of them, but we’ll simply look at the three groups of created beings. At the end of verse 22 is an innumerable company of angels. I like that word innumerable. What I like about the Old King James is it has some very powerful words. Like there’s no substitute in modern English for the word innumerable. You just say it and it portrays something. When we were in Belfast in Northern Ireland at the end of October and the beginning of November, we had six days of intercessory prayer with international intercessors from all around the world including New Zealand. The sixth day I was talking to a small group of leaders who sponsored my meetings there and as I was talking to them Ruth saw heaven opened and an innumerable company of angels. And she said there was no way to estimate the number of angels. They were all passing overhead going from north to south and she looked at the clock and this passage of angels lasted ten or eleven minutes. So I mean, the word innumerable is just about the only word you can use to describe it. What was more exciting still was some of them took a short stop over in Belfast to visit our meeting.
Anyhow, the King James says, “to the general assembly and the church of the first born.” But I think you find the NIV takes the word general assembly and tacks it on to the angels. And I’m inclined to think that’s probably the right translation. And it says in festal array. So just get this. We have come to an innumerable company of angels in festal array. I mean when angels are just in their ordinary clothing that’s impressive. But think about angels in festal array.
This is a great celebration that we’ve come to. The celebration of all of God’s people who are destined to rule with him. There’s the angel, then there’s the church of the firstborn whose names are recorded in heaven. That’s those who are born again through faith in Jesus Christ. And then there’s spirits of just men made perfect which I understand to be the Old Testament saints who were not suddenly transferred from one kingdom to another by rebirth but who were gradually made perfect by a lifetime walk of faith. So those are the three companies of created beings in Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem in the very presence of God himself. It’s a very glorious, majestic, powerful, authoritative assembly. And none of us could count the millions and millions of beings in that assembly.
See, if God’s people could realize that when we meet together in faith in the name of Jesus and in divine order, we’re part of that total assembly, you’d have a different attitude about going to church. Sometimes it is just going to church, that’s all it is. But it can be taking our place in that assembly in heaven.
Now with that in mind I want to turn back to Psalm 110 which is one of the key passages about the high priesthood of Jesus in the order of Melchizedek. This first verse of Psalm 110 is quoted more times in the New Testament than any other Old Testament passage. And Jesus actually applies it to himself. So we’re not left wondering what is the application.
“The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.”
All right. The Lord, God the Father, said to the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Son, sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool. That’s where Jesus is now. He is seated at God’s right hand. The scripture lays great emphasis on the fact that he is seated. Why is he seated? Well, the writer of Hebrews contrasts the Levitical priest with Jesus. And it says of the Levitical priest they never sat down, they stood offering again and again the same sacrifices which could never take away sin. Why did they stand? Because their job was never complete. Then it goes on to say of Jesus, but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin forever, sat down at the right hand of God. Why did he sit down? Because he was never going to have to do it again. So there’s a tremendous emphasis in the fact that he’s seated and he’s seated on a throne. He’s a king but he’s also a priest. That’s verse 1. Now verse 2, I believe, is a key verse for us.
“The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion; rule in the midst of your enemies.”
Now I interpret it this way and I want to make very clear this is my individual understanding of this. We had in those two verses all three persons of the Godhead. God the Father said to Jesus the Son, sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool. Then God the Holy Spirit will send the rod, which is the emblem of a ruler’s authority, of Christ out of Zion to enable him to rule in the midst of his enemies. Now that’s what Jesus is doing right now. He is ruling in the midst of his enemies. He’s on the throne, he’s never going to abdicate, but his enemies have not yet all been made his footstool; they are still very active, very hateful, very vociferous, the earth is full of them, they are increasing in number and in activity and in malice. But Jesus is still on the throne. And he is still ruling even in the midst of his enemies. But the way he has chosen to rule is by the rod of his authority sent out of Zion by the Holy Spirit. The Lord, the Holy Spirit, will send the rod of Christ’s authority out of Zion to enable him to rule in the midst of his enemies.
Now Zion is God’s people assembled in divine order. So Jesus is ruling out of his assembled people. And that includes, but is not limited to, the church. We are part of that assembly. We are not the only part. Angels have a part to play but we are one of the main elements in the assertion of Christ’s rule in the earth today over his enemies. It is our responsibility to bring Christ’s enemies into subjection to the will of God so that God’s plan for the nations may be worked out on earth and Christ is not going to do it in person. He has sat down. God the Father says I’m taking over now and I will establish your authority in the earth, but I’ll do it through my assembled people. So that the authority of Jesus Christ over the nations is going forth by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit from God’s people met in divine order. Is that a clear picture? Have I communicated that?
So you understand we have a tremendous task. Our task is to be co-rulers with Jesus, to share the throne with him. And there are various passages that speak about this. Romans 5:17 says that we shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ. Not after death, but here in life. We are to reign with him. We are to share his authority.
But it’s the rod, that’s the emblem of a ruler, that is sent forth. And there’s a lot of interesting things about the rod in the Old Testament. I’ll only mention perhaps one or two. When God called Moses to go back to Egypt and deliver Israel and be his messenger to Pharaoh, Moses said, “I can’t do it.” Suppose Pharaoh says who sent you? He said, “I don’t have anything.” (This is my paraphrased version.) So the Lord says, “What have you got in your hands?”
Moses looked and said, “It’s just my shepherd’s rod, that’s all.”
So the Lord said, “Moses, you don’t realize what you’ve got in your hand. Just throw it down on the ground and see what happens.” And he threw it down on the ground and you know what happened? It became a snake. And Moses ran from the thing that he was holding in his hand. He didn’t realize the potential of what he had in his hand which was just a shepherd’s staff.
So the Lord said to him, “Now pick the snake up by the tail.” And I know you don’t have snakes here in New Zealand but where they do have snakes let me tell you one thing, you never pick a snake up by the tail. You pick it up right behind the head so that it can’t bite you. Well, I’m sure Moses reached out his hand rather gingerly and grabbed hold of the snake by the tail. And when he picked it up it became a rod again. So in essence (this is condensed and paraphrased), the Lord said to Moses, “All right, that’s all you need, the rod you have in your hand, your shepherd’s rod. Just go back and do what I tell you and you will have all the authority you need to redeem my people out of Egypt.”
He went back and he stood in Pharaoh’s court with his brother Aaron and he said, “The Lord told me that you’re to let his people go.”
And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord? What evidence do you have?”
So the Lord said to Moses, “Throw the rod down.” This is a very vivid and a very interesting scene. Moses threw the rod down and it became a snake.
Well you would have thought that would have convinced Pharaoh. But it didn’t. Pharaoh said, “I’ll call some of my magicians.” And the New Testament reveals their names were Jannes and Jambres. And he said to them, “This is what Moses did, what can you fellows do?”
And they said, “We can do the same.” Isn’t that amazing? And they did. They threw their rods down and they became snakes. Believe me, the devil has supernatural powers. Don’t be under any delusions about that. But there was a difference. Do you know what the difference was? Moses snake ate up their snakes. Now you can just read that but not picture the aftermath. So when they walk away from the first encounter the magicians have no rods and Moses rod is thicker and stronger than it ever was before.
But you see, that didn’t satisfy Pharaoh so he said to Moses, “What else can you do?”
He said, “Well, I can turn the water into blood.” And he did.
And Pharaoh said to his magicians, “What about you fellows?”
They said, “We can do the same.” And they did. They turned the water into blood.
So then Pharaoh said to Moses, “What else can you do?”
He said, “I can bring the frogs out.” So he did.
Pharaoh said to his magicians, “What about you fellows?”
They said, “We can do the same thing.” And they did. The first three supernatural signs that Moses could, the servants of Satan could also do. Please bear note.
Then Pharaoh said, “What’s the next thing?” Moses turned the dust on the Egyptians into lice. Pharaoh turned to the magicians and said, “What about you?” They tried and they couldn’t.
Then they said, “This is the finger of God. Now we know we’re dealing with the real God.” And if you then follow what happened in the Exodus, you’ll find that it was the rod in Moses hand that enabled him to take dominion over Egypt, over the gods of Egypt, and over Pharaoh. And it was the exercise of that rod that opened the way for the redemption of God’s people out of Egypt. And I believe that in putting Christ’s rod into our hand, God has authorized us to do the same. To take dominion over this world, over its gods and over its government. Not to do arbitrarily anything that we feel disposed to do but to see the purposes of God for his people brought to fulfillment.
And I want to suggest to you that if Moses had not learned to use his rod, Israel would never have got out of Egypt. I want to suggest to you that until the church learns to use the authority committed to it in Jesus Christ, the purposes of God for the church will never come to fulfillment. It’s the rod that makes the difference.
Also, if you read in the 17th chapter of Numbers, there was this dispute as to who was to be the high priest. And the leaders of the other tribes said, “Why should it be Aaron? We’re rulers too. We have rods.”
And the Lord told Moses, he said, “I’m going to settle this question once for all. Tell every prince of every tribe to bring his rod, write his name on it, then take all the rods and put them in the tabernacle in front of the Holy of Holies and leave them there.” Twentyfour hours later the Lord said to Moses, “Now go back and collect the rods.” And when he did eleven rods were completely unchanged but the twelfth rod had budded, blossomed and brought forth almonds in twentyfour hours. And what was the name on the rod? Aaron. So God said, “Now we all know who is high priest.”
That budding, blossoming and fruit bearing of the rod in twentyfour hours is a type of the resurrection. And by the resurrection God vindicated the name of Jesus to be Messiah and Son of God. If you read in Romans 1 just for a moment, Paul says in verse 1:
“He was an apostle separated to the gospel of God, which he promised before through his prophets in the holy scriptures concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness by the resurrection from the dead.”
The Spirit of Holiness is a Hebraism for the Holy Spirit. In Hebrew the word for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Holiness. It’s interesting that Paul wrote in Greek but thought in Hebrew. So the Holy Spirit was the power that raised Jesus from the dead, bear that in mind. Jesus did not raise himself. God the Father raised him from the dead by the Holy Spirit. And by that act he declared him to be the Son of God. That was the budding of his rod. That settled forever the issue of who was to be high priest.
If you look also in Revelation 1 for a moment you’ll see a beautiful succession in verse 5. In fact, we get all the truth in the two verses 5 and 6. This is the greeting and it’s from God the Father from the seven spirits, the Holy Spirit in verse 4 and:
“From Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.”
Notice the three successive phases. Jesus was the first faithful witness. He always spoke the truth of God without compromise, without adding to it, without taking from it. And because he was the faithful witness God vindicated his witness by raising him from the dead and he became the firstborn from the dead. And as the firstborn from the dead he is also the ruler of the kings of the earth. Think of it in that order, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. And then Revelation 1:6 goes on with this:
“To him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood and has made us kings and priests through God and his Father.”
We enter into the same ministry of king and priest that came to Jesus when he was resurrected from the dead and exalted at God’s right hand. So, the authority is in the name that’s on the rod, do you understand? So when we, by the Holy Spirit, stretch out the rod that has the name of Jesus on it, we’re exercising his authority over the nations.
Let’s go back to Psalm 110 and read those first two verses again. Psalm 110:1–2:
“The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool. [that’s where he is] The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion.”
The Lord, the Holy Spirit, shall send the rod of your authority which has your name upon it, out of Zion, the assembly of God’s people met in divine order. And thus, Jesus Christ will rule in the midst of his enemies. Do you understand? He is seated, he has finished his task for the time being. Now to use a secular idiom, the ball is in our court. It’s we who have to exercise the authority which has been vested in him. You remember he said in the end of Matthew 28, “All authority has been given unto me in heaven and in earth”. That leaves out nothing and no one. And then he says, “go ye therefore.” In other words, on the basis of the authority that has been given to me, you have to go. Do you understand? We go as his representatives with his authority, demonstrating his authority. The world doesn’t know the authority that he has until we go and demonstrate it. He already has the authority but it’s exercise and demonstration is our responsibility. This again is portrayed in scripture in many different ways.
Now, let’s go on to verse 3 and 4.
“Your people shall be volunteers in the day of your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth. The Lord has sworn and will not repent [or relent], you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (NKJ)
Understand this is all tied in with the fact that Jesus is the priest and king in the order of Melchizedek.
Now, going back to verse 3 for a moment and translating it a little more literally: “Your people shall be freewill offerings,” that’s what it says. “In the day of your army.” The Hebrew word is the modern Hebrew word for army. The Israeli army today is called by that word. It’s the same word that’s used in the phrase, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of Armies. So there is a day of the Lord’s army. The day when he’s assembling his troops for the final conflict. And God’s people at that time will be set apart by one fact and it’s not a denomination. It’s the fact that they are freewill offerings. And it’s the same truth that’s brought out in Romans 12:1. God is not after your time, your talents or your money. All he wants is you. And when he has you he has your time, your talents and your money. But don’t offer him any of those until you’ve offered him yourself.
There’s a story that I heard in the state of Oklahoma, and those of you that know the state of Oklahoma will recognize this is an appropriate story for that state. I cannot tell it in the kind of accent that would be appropriate, but it was the story about an American Indian who came to a gospel service and was moved by the Holy Spirit. When the appeal was made he said to himself, “I’d better do something about this.” So he picked up his blanket, walked forward to the front of the church and placed his blanket on the altar. He said, “Indian bring blanket.”
He walked back and found that he still didn’t have peace. So he thought of something else more valuable and he brought is rifle, placed it on the altar and said, “Indian bring rifle.”
But still there was no rest in his soul. So he thought about the most precious thing he owned which was his horse, he went outside, uncovered his horse and led it up the church to the altar and left it there. He said, “Indian bring horse.”
But still peace wasn’t there. So he thought it over and finally he walked up with nothing and he said, “Indian bring Indian.” That’s what God is talking about. Being a freewill offering in the day of his army.
And then it says in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning you have the dew of your youth. But you will find the marginal translation in the NIV says your young men come to you like the dew. And I believe that’s right. So think of the pictures there. First of all, it speaks about the beauty of holiness which I believe must be restored to the church. And it doesn’t come by works, it comes by surrender.
And then it talks about the womb of the morning. A womb speaks about a birth and the word morning speaks about the night that’s gone before. So we have the picture of a period of darkness that ends in a birth that brings forth a new day. And in this new day the Lord says your young men will come to you like the dew. I believe that’s one major emphasis of the Holy Spirit today, it’s the calling of the young people to be freewill offerings in the army of the Lord. I believe the Lord is assembling an army to storm the stronghold of Satan and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to every nation on earth. I believe this is a prophetic picture.
And I see two main elements. There’s the army that goes forth but there’s the assembly that stretches out the rod of authority over the nations. That’s the ministry of intercession. I believe we have a beautifully balanced picture of the two great thrusts of God’s people taking the kingdom. The intercessors who reach out the rod which has upon it the name of Jesus and bring the nations in to subjection to the purposes of God and the young men and women who are freewill offerings to take the gospel of the kingdom everywhere that God sends.
I had a lot to do with the Jesus people in the 1960’s in the United States. And I’ll tell you, there were a lot of things that went wrong, but that was a sovereign act of God. And I got to know some of them. In fact, some of them are now grown up and they’re my close friends and associates. But I’ll tell you, one of their problems is some of them became too respectable. Because in the early days they would do anything and go anywhere. If they felt somewhere in the southern states that God wanted them in Alaska, they didn’t wait for them to have money or transportation, they just set out for Alaska. And you know, that’s the kind of attitude that we have to have.
The problem with the church, there are two problems. Self-centeredness and materialism. And they almost totally hinder the outworking of God’s purposes. We have to have people who are released from both, self-centeredness and materialism. The church already has potentially the resources to finish the job. It’s not the resources that we need, it’s the release of the resources. And that is described here.
Now let me just point out to you that the last verses speak about God’s personal intervention at the close of this age. My understanding, which is subject to correction, is the church is not going to establish the kingdom of God on earth. The church is going to prepare the way for the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. It’s going to take Jesus to establish the kingdom.
Now there are some who don’t see it that way, but to me there are abundant scriptures that indicate it’s going to take the Lord’s personal intervention to finish the job off. And I see it here in verses 5 and 6. Jesus has been seated at the Father’s right hand until this moment. Then it says:
“The Lord is at your right hand.”
Now notice, he had been at the Lord’s right hand. So there’s a change. Now as he moves down, the Lord is at his right hand.
“He shall execute [or break in pieces] kings in the day of his wrath.”
There is coming a day of God’s wrath. Don’t have any misapprehension about that. And God is going to judge the wicked. There are people who will not submit to the righteous government of God no matter how clearly it’s explained to them because they’re wicked. Years back when I was a soldier in the British Army I was traveling through the Sudan in a train on a military assignment. And as I was going north from Khartoum I came to a railway junction which was called ?Abarra?. And because I was a British military personnel, I had my compartment to myself. No Sudanese could enter it. And we got to this railway station, and those of you who have traveled in the third world can picture this scene. If you haven’t, you just can’t picture it. The whole platform was alive with living creatures. Men and women, old men and old women, boys and girls, nursing infants, camels, donkeys, chickens. I mean you couldn’t separate one from the other. And as I looked out I said to myself casually, “I wonder what God thinks of all those people?” And I got an immediate answer. As clear and as specific as I could ever ask. I wasn’t even asking for an answer. This was the answer. “Some weak, some foolish, some proud, some wicked and some exceeding precious.” And I have never been able to improve on that classification.
Some people don’t come in because they’re weak. Some don’t come because they’re foolish. Some don’t come because they’re proud. Some are just plain wicked. But in the midst of it all there are those who are exceeding precious. I personally believe it takes God to deal with the wicked. And for my part, I’m willing to let him do it. If you want to be a hero and confront the Antichrist, you do it. But don’t call me in. Because I read that the Lord is going to lead his armies in battle from heaven to the final conflict. I think it’ll take the Lord.
I’ll tell you I’m looking for the Lord’s return. Are you? I think some Christians attitude would be, when the Lord comes back the bride will say, “Good to have you back, Brother!” That’s not my attitude. I welcome his return. I miss him. I long for him. I believe nothing but his return can solve the problems of humanity.
You can talk about the social gospel as much as you like, but with all the talking, forty million people are dying every year of starvation, most of them children. I don’t believe man because of his mixed up, crazy nature has got in himself the capacity to solve those problems. I believe there’s only one person that can solve those problems, that’s Jesus. And when he comes he’ll take the five loaves and two fishes to feed humanity and feed multitudes with it. And he’ll set up a kingdom that will be ordered, righteous and peaceful. In the meanwhile, brothers and sisters, we are the first fruits of the kingdom. We’re the demonstration on earth now of what it is to be the kingdom of God. And we have a task which is to prepare the way for the coming of the king. But we cannot substitute for his coming.
So let’s go back to Psalm 110.
“The Lord is at your right hand. He shall break in pieces kings in the day of his wrath.”
I say praise God there are a lot of kings that need to be broken in pieces. And if I was asked to list anybody I’d put Khadaffi at the top of the list. I may be wrong, God forgive me, God may plan to save Khadaffi, who knows? If he doesn’t get saved he needs to be broken in pieces. And there’s a lot of others, but I won’t name them, it might make me unpopular.
“He shall judge among the nations, he shall fill the places with dead bodies, he shall execute the heads of many countries.”
That sounds to me like divine intervention on a major scale. I say praise God, may it come. But first, brothers and sisters, we have to do our job. This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the earth for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come. That’s as clear as anything that was ever said by the Lord. The end cannot come till we have proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom to all nations. And until we do it we are delaying the return of Jesus Christ. Let’s not think we can substitute for his return but let’s get moving and do the job that we’re supposed to be doing. My observation is that the people who talk too highly about the capacity of the church are not doing the thing the church ought to be doing. We are not a super government. We’re not a substitute for the coming of the kingdom of God. We are sent to prepare the way of the Lord before him. We are to demonstrate now what the kingdom is in our relationships with God and with one another. In our holiness, in our authority, in our love.
The kingdom of God right now is three things; it’s righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And if you’re not in the kingdom and under the king, there is no righteousness, you’re simply a rebel. You may be a polite, religious rebel, but you’re a rebel. You may be an Assemblies of God rebel, you may be a Roman Catholic rebel, but you’re just a rebel. The only righteousness is under the kingship of Jesus. And after that there is peace and joy. Don’t pursue peace. Pursue righteousness and peace will take care of itself. But apart from righteousness there is no peace. God says there is no peace to the wicked.
All right. Now, where are we going from here? I want to speak for a little while about intercession. I’ve really come to the end of my time but I think I can say a few things that could help. I think the primary desire of God out of this conference is to bring forth intercession. And if that doesn’t happen, I think this conference will largely have been a failure no matter how many of you may get blessed, stimulated, excited or uplifted. All that is good, but there’s no substitute for obedience. And I want to just make a few observations and then close.
I mentioned that Ruth and I were at the international conference of Intercessors for the various nations that was held in Belfast at the end of October and the beginning of November this year. And we had reports from all the representatives and all areas of the earth were represented except South America. There were none from South America. But they were from Asia, from Europe, from North America, from Australia, from every other area. And they all spoke about the main course that oppose God and his purposes in the earth today. From their different backgrounds. And afterwards I made a little compilation and I listed ten major evil forces that are at work almost universally throughout the earth. And I felt that it would be good for me to share them with you.
I’m not suggesting that I’m giving them to you exactly in the order of importance, although I think at least the first one is really the root of all the other problems. And you’ll be surprised at the first one I mention. It is the resurgence of the old gods, quote, gods. And I’m know you’re experiencing this here in New Zealand because I happened to read an article in a New Zealand airline magazine that spoke about a recent exhibition of Mauri whatever you want to call them, that is now in New York which is the clearest description of exactly what I’m talking about. The resurgence of the old gods. The (quote) gods that rule these islands. They are saying you haven’t finished with us. You’ve driven us back but you’ve not cast us down. And now we’re moving back to take over.
What would astonish you is that the same thing is happening in the United States in Canada, in Britain, in Germany and many other places. In Scandinavia it’s the old Nordic gods. In Germany it’s the gods associated with Wagner’s operas. And the interesting thing is that people investigating are discovering there’s a link up in every case with Babylon who is the mother of harlots and the abominations of the earth. In England, those of you who are not familiar with England, the resurgence of Druidism is astonishing. I mean, having been born British and grown up there, I could not have believed fifty years ago that we’d get Britain actually practicing Druidism. But it’s on the resurgence. Get the picture behind it? These (quote) gods, you understand (principalities and powers Paul calls them), have been driven back by the arrival of Christianity, they’ve never been overthrown. And they’re now exploiting the rebelliousness of modern man to reassert their dominion. And really, when you go to the root of spiritual problems in most nations, that’s where it is.
Number two, apostasy in the church and divisions between believers. I believe we are living in the time of what Paul calls in 2Thessalonians 2 the falling away or the apostasy. We’ve had wicked church leaders through all centuries, but only in the last hundred or hundred and fifty years have we had responsible, recognized leaders of all major denominations declaring emphatically they reject all the basic truths of the Christian revelation: the virgin birth, the deity of Jesus, his substitutionary atonement, his physical resurrection. The latest particular case is, of course, the Bishop of Durham, Reverend Jenkins, who has specifically declared that he didn’t believe any of those things, and thereafter was ordained Bishop of Durham which is the third see in Britain after Canterbury and York by the archbishop of Canterbury who knew what the man believed. And he had to declare on oath that he believed the thirty nine articles. I doubt whether he believed any of them. One of the things you can say is that such a person is a liar. He’s a perjurer. And when Yorkminster was struck by lightning I have friends who were praying at that time that God would manifest his disapproval of this action. The archbishop of Canterbury commented that he didn’t believe in divine intervention. I think that’s one true thing he said. But I just want to point out that this is without parallel in the history of the church until the last hundred and fifty years. And its place of origin is Germany. But it has spread like a cancer throughout the professing church almost all over the world.
Side by side with that, the other problem in the church is divisions between true believers; those who really do believe.
The third force is the overthrow of law and order. Or in one word used by Jesus, lawlessness. Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Expressed in a word that we’ve had to coin in the twentieth century, terrorism. It’s interesting to consider the words we’ve had to coin in the twentieth century with all our progress. We never needed the word holocaust, we never needed the word genocide, we never needed the word terrorism until the twentieth century. They weren’t in the English language up till that time. How much progress do they indicate? The present struggle in England is very clear. It’s a struggle by a political leader to overthrow the duly elected legal government of Britain is what it is. There’s a lot of fancy language used, but that’s the reality behind it. One of Satan’s tactics when he wants to undermine authority is to point out all the weaknesses and failings of the authority. He leaves you with the impression that if some other authority takes over it will be better. But in actual fact it’s usually worse. You see, he doesn’t tell you that in advance.
And the fourth force is self destruction which is a feature of the demonic. It’s what makes some poor children spend hours every day banging their heads against the walls or beating their own faces with their fists. But it’s very clear in many other areas. It’s very strong in Germany and it’s one of the forces in the coal miners dispute in Britain. Because they are destroying themselves. They’re destroying their own livelihood, they’re destroying their families, they’re destroying everything. But there is a spirit of self destruction which grips individuals and nations. And people will plunge themselves to destruction regardless of the consequences.
The fifth force is permissiveness, licentiousness and materialism. And that unfortunately is the dividing line between where the world and the church is very hard to discover. Most countries now in the Western world permit nude bathing. I couldn’t have even conceived that would happen fifty years ago. Divorce is common and in many parts of Western Europe people hardly take the trouble to think of getting married.
The sixth is the upsurge of the occult. Satanism, witchcraft, fortune telling, freemasonry and so on.
The seventh is antiSemitism and antiIsrael. Unfortunately, there is a strong element of theology in the background of Christianity that is very powerfully antiSemitic. And whether you are aware of it or not, over the centuries the church in Europe has been the leader in anti-Semitism. In fact, it wasn’t the Nazis that introduced anti-Semitism, they simply capitalized on what the church had already sown. The church sowed the harvest, the Nazis reaped it. They could not have changed the thinking of the Germans and the Poles overnight. That was the product of seed that had been sown for many centuries. And in many ways, the responsibility of the holocaust lies at the door of the professing church in Europe.
Number eight, secular humanism which is rampant almost all over the world. It is a religion that replaces God with no religion, but it’s just as much a religion as Christianity.
Number nine is Marxism which is a form of secular humanism really.
And number ten is Islam, the religion of Mohammed. It amazes me to discover that it’s penetrated to New Zealand. I mean, you New Zealanders have little idea what a victory that represents in the eyes of Mohammedans because they are committed to reach the outermost part of the earth with their religion, do you know that? Just as much as the Christians. I would say that there is no force in the world more cruel, more wicked and more totally opposed to God and his people than Islam. And I’ve lived with it, I’ve lived among it, I’ve spoken the Arabic language. The majority of Christians have no concept of what they’re dealing with in Islam.
Now, I didn’t list all that to end on the negative. I want to suggest to you that these are the enemies that the church has got to deal with by intercession, by prayer. And I would like to point out, first of all, as a basis, that the unseen is the ultimately real. Until you grasp that you really don’t have the basis for effective intercession. Just look for a moment in 2Corinthians 4:17–18:
“For our light afflictions, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Do you understand what Paul is saying? The truly real is the invisible and the eternal. What we consider real; the visible, the material, is only temporary real. But the invisible is the ultimately permanent real. And the essence of intercession of the kind that I’m talking about is that it’s intervening in the unseen world. And dealing with unseen spiritual realities. Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, the Prince version which I cannot justify now but will simply give you: “Our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies, but against rulers with various areas and descending orders of authority, against world dominators of this present darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies.” That’s where it’s at.
And in 2Corinthians 10:3–5 Paul says though we walk in the flesh, we do not war in the flesh.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. [What’s the opposite of carnal? Spiritual.] They are spiritual, but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
We are involved in a war in the unseen world against unseen kingdom which seeks to dominate humanity with its darkness and deception. And only we have the spiritual weapons that can intervene in that area and change the course of events. We can cast down the strongholds that Satan builds in the minds of men and women. The battlefield, clearly revealed in 2Corinthians 10:5 is the mind of humanity. There is a vast intense conflict raging in the unseen world to capture the mind of the human race.
Another of the key words invented in this century is the word ideology. We didn’t use that. What is an ideology? It’s a stronghold of Satan built in the minds of men and women to prevent the gospel from having its effect. Basically every major dictatorship of this century has been built on an ideology. Their aim has been to captivate the minds of those whom they rule so that no other source of information or direction can influence them. We are dealing with strongholds that have been built in the mind of humanity. We alone have the weapons that can break through those strongholds and expose their minds to the truth of the gospel, and bring them out of the captivity of Satan into the captivity of obedience to Jesus Christ.
Now that’s the beginning of my message. And I think it’ll have to be the end. I just want to leave you with that challenge. The challenge of two things: intercession and evangelism. I believe those are the two key responsibilities of the church in the light of what we are in God which is kings and priests. Amen.