The Doorway to Restoration
Derek Prince
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The Doorway to Restoration

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Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

In this classic teaching, Derek shows how we can walk in God's promise of restoration and identifies the proper doorway into that fulfillment.

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This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.

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I want to recapitulate very, very briefly the material that we have already covered. In our first study we laid the basic fact that God desires to hear and to answer our prayer. We are not praying to an unwilling or a reluctant God. God wants us to pray and to get what we pray for. We also laid down seven basic conditions which are revealed in the Word of God for praying in this effective way. I am going to give you the list of these seven conditions without going into them in detail.

First, that we pray in the name of Jesus. We have no other claim, no other basis of access.

Secondly, that we come with praise and thanksgiving. For this is the way into God’s presence.

Third, that we come without condemnation, boldly.

Fourth, that our motives are right. And the great motive for praying is God’s glory.

Fifth, that our relationships are right. That when we stand praying, as Jesus said, we forgive if we have ought against any.

Sixth, we need direction and the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the one sent to help us in our infirmity, in our inability to pray right by ourselves. God has sent us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and our helper.

And seventh, we need to pray in accordance with the will of God revealed in the Word of God. Thus we bring together God’s Spirit and God’s Word.

And this leads us into what I call the “prayer symphony” in which the Holy Spirit is the conductor. The Word of God is the score, and the praying people are the orchestra brought into unison and harmony by the conductor interpreting the score. The conductor: the Holy Spirit, the score: God’s will revealed in His Word and the orchestra: two or three or more brought together by the Holy Spirit into the name of Jesus and brought together in unison in one accord on the revealed will of God. For Jesus said,

“if two of you shall agree [symphonize, harmonize, be in unison] on any thing that you should ask, it shall be done for you.”

And then in study the last time we took certain passages of Scripture as the score and considered how we could be united in harmony praying according to those Scriptures. And really, the central thought was the responsibility of Christians to pray for the government of their nation. And we have a special way of illustrating this which I just want to introduce to you briefly in this simple bumper sticker. I expect you can read it but the Scripture reference, the score, is 1 Timothy 2:1–4. The statement is: “We pray daily for our government.” Normally, in our family, we pray twice a day for the government of this nation. At least. Because I believe that this is what God’s Word teaches—that we pray first of all for all that are in authority. What do we pray for? Good government. We discovered out of the Scripture that good government is the will of God. And if we ask for anything according to God’s will we know that God hears us and we know that we have the petition that we desire. So the responsibility for insuring good government rests not with the government but with the praying believer. And rather than criticize the government which points out our failure in prayer, we should pray for the government and we’ll have less to criticize. This was really the theme of our study last time.

Now I want to go on further in this theme of effective praying today. I want to open with a thought from Ezekiel 36. If you have your Bibles, turn there with me to Ezekiel 36. The latter part of this 36th chapter is a promise from God to restore Israel to their own land and inheritance. Now I am not speaking specifically on the theme of Israel’s restoration, but I have pointed out many times that God is working a work of parallel restoration for His people: a national restoration of Israel, the fig tree, and a spiritual restoration of the church, the vine, as predicted in the book of Joel. And there are many things in the natural restoration of Israel which are patterns and examples for the spiritual restoration of the church. I have to say to you, as I said to a group in a capitol building where I was speaking earlier today, that probably the greatest single objective proof that the Bible is an up-to-date and reliable book is the fact that God is restoring Israel to their own land. If there were never any restoration of Israel, we would have to take our Bibles and throw them away as worthless, unreliable books. Because the entire Bible is committed to the fact that God will restore Israel to their own land. Now the fact that this is taking place should be to any intelligent person very strong evidence that the Bible is not out of date, that it is an up-to-date, reliable book which still applies to the situation in our world today.

I’m going to take a principle stated here in this 36th chapter of Ezekiel concerning the national restoration of Israel and I’m going to give it an application to us in God’s purposes for the church. If you look in this prophecy starting at verse 24, going through verse 30, if you care to count—and I wouldn’t advise you to do it right now—you will find that God says seventeen times in those verses—which is seven verses—“I will do [certain things] for the house of Israel.” And He states them without any qualifications. He has said already in verse 22, “I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake.” In other words, it’s nothing in Israel which merits God’s intervention, but it’s God’s faithfulness to His promises and God’s concern for the glory of His own name that moves Him to intervene in this way. Having said this, He goes on to say seventeen times what He will do for them. If you’d like to look just briefly in verse 24, we don’t need to read more than the first two verses of this passage.  

I will take you from among the [Gentiles], and will gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land [there’s three I will’s in that verse]. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

There are two I will’s in that verse. Go on, I think you’ll find them right. There are seventeen. So here is a sovereign intervention of God on behalf of Israel that is not due to the merits or the desserts of Israel but is provoked by God’s own faithfulness to His own covenant and promises and by God’s concern for the glory of His own name.

Now I want you to read on to verse 37 where God says:  

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them;”  

God has told us what He will do. And He said it without qualification. And yet, when He comes to the close of this great prophecy, He says,

“I am yet going to demand of the house of Israel that they inquire of Me, that they seek Me.”

The Hebrew word means “to seek God with great earnest.” That they seek Me with great earnestness to do this for thee.

Now this brings out a principle in God’s relationship and dealings with His people. And I’ve stated it in this sentence which it seemed to me the Holy Spirit brought to me: God’s predestined purpose provokes man’s free response according to God’s foreknowledge. God says at a certain time He’s going to do this for the house of Israel. Not because they deserve it, but because He is gracious and faithful.

And He says precisely what He will do. He says, in effect, “When you see Me intervene on your behalf in this way, when you see My promises coming into fulfillment, I expect a response from you. Of your own free will I expect you to return to Me in humility, in repentance and to seek Me earnestly in prayer for the fulfillment of what I have promised and what you have already seen begin to take place.” In other words, when God begins to move in sovereign grace on behalf of His people, fulfilling the promises of His Word, and when God’s people see these promises coming into fulfillment, then we do not sit back and say, “Isn’t that wonderful, look what God is doing.” This is not the response. The response is, “God is moving on our behalf; let us seek Him with all our hearts that He may fulfill the good word which He has promised.” You see, the grace of God, the faithfulness of God provokes a response of man’s free will to turn to God and to seek Him with all earnestness. In other words, the revelations, the promises, the prophecies of God’s Word are not an excuse for spiritual indifference and laziness. But they provoke us to a new measure of spiritual earnestness and seeking God.

Have you ever heard people talk about divine healing like this way: “Well, I guess if it’s God’s will, He’ll heal me.” Have you ever heard people talk like that? Well, that’s as far from being in line with the mind of God as a person could possibly be. If God has stated that it’s His will to heal you, if He’s given you the promise of healing, that is not an excuse for you to sit back and say, “Well, I guess if it’s God’s will He’s going to do it anyhow.” That is not the appropriate response. The response is, “God, if You’ve promised, thank You, I’ll seek You with all my heart for the fulfillment of what You’ve promised.” This is the response that God desires when He moves in His faithfulness to fulfill the promises of His grace on behalf of His people.

Now this applies not merely to Israel but to the church and it is the application to the church that I am now going to consider. We have to ask ourselves what is God’s purpose for us? Now I’m talking about the believers of the church of Jesus Christ. We are leaving Israel on one side now. What is it that God has revealed He will do and what is it that we see Him doing at this time for the church? I say that we can take two Scriptures. The first is Acts 2:17 where we have a sovereign declaration of what God will do for His people in the last days. It says this:  

“It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, that I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams;”

Now God does not qualify this. Thank God He didn’t say, “if the churches unite,” or “if the theologians concur,” or “if the bishops permit, I will pour out My Spirit.” Because you know it would never happen. God says, “No matter what happens, I’m going to do this. This is My sovereign grace. This is My predestined intervention on behalf of My people. I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams.”

Now, when Peter made that statement on the Day of Pentecost, he linked it directly with the prophecy of Joel concerning the restoration of God’s people in the last days. Acts 2:17 is actually a quotation of Joel 2:28. And I believe if you turn to Joel 2 and look in verse 25 you’ll find the key word that describes what God is doing in the outpouring of his Holy Spirit. God says in Joel 2:25 in connection with this outpouring of the Spirit:  

“I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.”

I believe the key word is restoration. There is a national restoration of Israel. There is a spiritual restoration of the church. So God’s purpose at this present time, as revealed in Scripture, is restoration of His people through the outpoured Spirit. Acts 2:17: “I will pour out my Spirit.” Joel 2:25: “I will restore.” We see this happening. In the space of about two and a half years from February of l967 until sometime in l969, the number of Roman Catholics who received the baptism in the Holy Spirit through one single intervention of God grew from two to more than 30,000. That’s a 1,000 a month. Now, that is a sovereign intervention of God. That is not anything that man can take any credit for. It isn’t because we are such wonderful preachers today or such wonderful Bible teachers that now we see these results. No man can take the credit for that. It is God’s faithfulness to His Word, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” Some people wonder what will be the limitations of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Will the Lutherans receive? Well, the answer is the Lutherans have flesh. Praise God. They may differ from us in other respects but they certainly have flesh. Will the Jews receive? Well, the Jews have flesh. What about the Roman Catholics? Well, they have flesh. God says “all flesh.” Every section of the human race without an exception is going to experience this last day outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Now, what is our response to God’s move? God said to Israel,

“‘I will take you from the heathen, I will put you in your own land, I will sprinkle clean water upon you, I will cleanse you from all your sins and all your idols and our filthiness.’ But He says, ‘I will yet be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it.’ Now God says concerning the church, ‘I will pour out My Spirit upon every section of the church, there will come a tremendous supernatural visitation.’ But God says, ‘There is something for you people to do.’”

Now we’re coming to our response to the move of God’s Spirit over all the earth. I want to suggest to you that God is calling His people with new emphasis to prayer and fasting. You know what that means? It means deliberately going without food for the sake of prayer and spiritual accomplishment. And do you know that is the revealed will of God for every professing Christian? I’m going to be showing you. But it is particularly the will of God for us at this time of the outpouring of God’s Spirit.

Now let’s take the book of Joel as the great outline of this outpouring. I’ve often said the outline of Joel is simple. Desolation, restoration, judgment. Basically chapter 1 is desolation. Chapter 2 closes with the promise of restoration. Chapter 3 contains the warning of judgment.

Now let’s look at what God requires of His people in order to be delivered from the desolation and to enter into the restoration. I want you, if you will, to follow with me in the book of Joel. Joel 1:14, having described in detail the desolation, the Lord says this:  

“Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD.”

“Cry unto the LORD” is desperate intercessory prayer. But God says to unite fasting with prayer. Not privately but publicly, collectively. “Sanctify a fast.” Set aside a time of collective fasting for God’s people. Gather the people of God into the house of God and then cry unto the Lord. Then in Joel 2:12 it says again:  

“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: [And then in verse 15:] Blow the trumpet in Zion [this is the most public proclamation to God’s people. The blowing of the trumpet is always a sign of warning and calling God’s people together.], sanctify [or set aside] a fast, call a solemn assembly [a solemn gathering of God’s people.]: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts . . . [Verse 17:] Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, . . .”

While all of God’s people are included, notice there’s particular emphasis upon the leaders: the elders, the ministers, and the priests. And here is one place today in the church where if a man is going to lead, he’d better go ahead. I talked to a man who was a spiritual leader in a certain area and he said to me very frankly, “I have to run to keep up with the people I’m supposed to be leading.” And this is a situation in many areas where the eager lay people have gone ahead of their official leadership. And I want to challenge every leader, if you’re a leader, you better lead. And lead means “go ahead.” And so when this call to fasting comes forth from the Word of God, there’s this special emphasis on the priests, the ministers, the leaders. This is where they have an obligation to take the initiative and to show real leadership.

Now God says when we move on to the promise of restoration, Joel 2:28:  

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; . . .”

Now where Joel says “afterward,” Peter says “in the last days.” That’s permissible because the Holy Spirit gave him that application. But I want to tell you that Peter’s “in the last days” does not set aside Joel’s “afterward.” So when you say “afterward,” then you have to say “after what”? And the answer is “after you’ve done what God tells you to do.” What did God tell you to do? Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Turn to Him with all your heart with fasting and weeping and mourning. And God says, “It shall come to pass after that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” All that we have seen hitherto of the outpouring of God’s Spirit is just a little sprinkle in relationship to what God desires and has declared that He will do. But God says, “Now you have seen Me move. You know that this is the hour. The time has come for Me to pour out My Spirit. Now,” He says, “it’s up to you to respond. It’s up to you to move in and unite yourself with what I’m doing that my purposes may come to complete fulfillment.” What are you going to do to move in? Prayer and fasting. This is our response to the move of God’s Spirit. It’s prayer and fasting.

I want to lay particular emphasis in this study on the theme of fasting. Some Christians imagine that fasting is out of date, that it went out with the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fasting is a part of the total provision of God for His believing people and of their spiritual discipline which has never been taken out of God’s plan for us.

Let’s take a look now at the theme of fasting in connection with restoration. I saw some years ago out of the Word of God that fasting has a particular relationship to the work of restoration, which we spoke about already. God said,

“I will restore the years which the locusts, the cankerworm, the palmerworm and the caterpillar have eaten.”

Now the great fasting chapter of the Old Testament is Isaiah 58. We will not have time to go into it in detail, but let me point out that this chapter sets forth two kinds of fasts. In verses 3–5 we have the fast which is not acceptable to God which does not move the arm of God. The reason why this fast is not acceptable is that the attitudes and relationships of the people involved in it are wrong. They’re still resentful, they’re grasping, they’re covetous, they’re legalistic, they’re censorious, critical of others. God says,

“If you fast with that attitude and spirit, don’t expect Me to hear you or to answer your prayer.”

But then in the next part of this chapter, verses 6–12, God outlines the kind of fast that is acceptable to Him. And I want you to follow with me as I read these verses. I’m not going to dwell on them in detail but I would like you to notice, if you can, the number of promises associated with fasting that are acceptable to God. I do not know any passage of the Bible which contains a more condensed list of tremendous promises than this verse that I’m going to read to you now. Verse 6:  

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”

Notice, the motive for fasting must be right. To bring deliverance to the oppressed. And I will tell you, in this ministry of deliverance there are people who will never be delivered until God’s people—and primarily God’s ministers—will fast and pray. There are those who need deliverance to whom it will never come unless somebody is willing to pay the price of prayer and fasting. Then verse 7:  

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

This must be accompanied by an attitude of genuine practical charity towards those who are in need. Some evangelicals are so evangelical that they have forgotten that the gospel includes loving our neighbor as ourselves. And this is a very practical form of love which God requires. God says, “If your motives are right, your attitudes and relationships are right, then I’ll tell you about the fast that I’ve chosen and I’ll tell you what it will do for you.” Now verse 8:

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward [or shall gather thee up].”

Notice verse 8 and notice the promises there. Very close to that is the promise of Malachi 4: “Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” This is a promise that relates to the same period of time that we’re dealing with. To us who fear God’s name, the Sun of righteousness is now arising with healing in His wings. Notice the essence of the promise of verse 8. It is light, righteousness and healing. The two great things that Jesus, the Son of righteousness, came to bring are stated. Righteousness, and healing—righteousness for the soul; healing for the body. God promises when we begin to fast and seek Him in the right way and with the right motives, then will come light, righteousness and healing. Verse 9:

“Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.”  

God will be right at your elbow to answer your prayer. Immediately at your disposal. Then God goes on again to warn against the wrong attitudes that can spoil this. He says in the second half of verse 9:  

“If thou take away from the midst of the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;”

I will sum those up in three phrases. The yoke is legalism. The putting forth of the finger is criticism. And speaking vanity is insincerity. If you’ll give up legalism, criticism of others, and insincerity, then God says, “I’m ready to hear.” And then again He emphasizes the need for practical charity. Verse 10:  

“If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday [light will take the place of darkness]: and the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”

When I read verse 11 I want to know how to get that. I don’t know how you feel about that, but when I read that series of promises, something in me says, “Lord, show me the way there.” And the way there is stated in verse 6. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen?” And we can sum up that promise in guidance, direction, positive clear assurance of God’s presence and leading in every situation. And no matter how dry it may be round about, you will have a fountain in your soul. That’s what it says. “Thy soul shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of waters whose waters fail not.” At the present time in Florida we have a drought and you can surely pick out the people who water their garden from those who don’t. I tell you, the difference is tremendous. And the people that meet God’s conditions, even when everybody else is dry and withered and parched all around them will be like a watered garden.

And then we come to the promise that culminates these promises of God. Here it is in verse 12, it’s the promise of restoration.  

“They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: . . . [You know there’s a lot of old waste places in the church? Did you know that? That need to be rebuilt? And] thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; . . .”  

I’ve made a brief study of the men that really moved God and man in the history of the church who laid the foundation of many generations whose ministry extended beyond their own little circle and their own age. I am convinced that every one of them practiced fasting. I cannot find a single exception. John Knox, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Finney, you take the great modern evangelists whose names are known to all of us, every one of these men on their own testimony has practiced fasting. If you want to lay the foundation of many generations, this is what goes with it.

And then we come to the last promise:

“. . . and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of [the] paths to dwell in.”  

There’s many, many breaches in God’s people’s inheritance that need to be built up. God said in Ezekiel 22,

“I looked for a man among them that would make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me, and I found none.”

The prayer of intercessory fasting is making up the hedge and standing in the gap. It makes you a repairer of the breach.

Now let’s look at the men and the women who were associated with the great process of restoration recorded in the Old Testament. There’s one great pattern of restoration recorded in Old Testament history, it’s the restoration of God’s people from captivity in Babylon to the city of Jerusalem to their own land, and the record of the rebuilding of God’s temple in Jerusalem. Now if you take the historical books that relate to this particular phase of the history of God’s people, if you take them in order of time, not the order in which they occur in Scriptures, they are Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. And it was a tremendous revelation to me when I realized one day that every one of those persons after whom those books are named was a person who had practiced fasting. And God showed me again there’s a very close relationship between fasting and restoration as indicated in Isaiah 58:12.

If you turn to Daniel 9 we have another wonderful illustration of this truth; that God’s promises when we see them coming into fulfillment are not an excuse for laziness but a provocation to prayer such as we’ve never prayed before. Now Daniel was in the captivity in Babylon but he was a student of the Scriptures of his day and in Daniel 9:2–3 he says this:  

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books [that is, from the Scriptures] the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”  

Daniel was a student and a historian. And he knew that the seventy years of captivity were just about due to run out. He realized it from the study of the Scripture, the prophet Jeremiah in the 25th chapter and elsewhere in Jeremiah. Now what did Daniel do? Look at the next verse.  

“I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: . . .”  

Daniel did not adopt the attitude, “Well, God’s going to restore us, isn’t that wonderful! I guess we’ll soon be back.” He saw what God was seeking to do, he saw what God has committed Himself to do and he said, “God, I’m in this with You. Count me in. I’ll give myself to prayer and fasting as I never have done before until I see the fulfillment of Your promise in experience.” And that’s the pattern for us. When God says, “In the last days I will pour out of My Spirit . . . I will restore to you the years which the locust and the cankerworm, the palmerworm and the caterpillar have eaten.” When we see God beginning to move, we should react like Daniel—set our face with prayer and fasting for the fulfillment of what God has shown He wishes to do. God’s promise is not an excuse for inactivity; it’s a provocation to prayer.

And then we read in Ezra, you go back in your Bible but forward in time, the book of Ezra, the 8th chapter. Ezra was leading a party of returning exiles from Babylon to the city of Jerusalem. They came to the point where they were about to take a journey of several months through a country that was infested by brigands and hostile tribes. They had with them their wives, their children, and what was even more important to Orthodox Jews, they had with them all the sacred vessels of the temple which were being sent back to the temple from Babylon.

Now they faced the prospect of taking this journey of some months through this area that was extremely dangerous and the question arose how were they to insure the protection of their wives and their children and these sacred vessels of the temple? And Ezra said in the verses we’re going to read in a moment, he said, “I could have asked from the king a band of soldiers and horsemen. But I was ashamed to because I told the king that our God is the true and living God and He looks after those who serve Him.” You see, one thing about testifying to people is you begin to have to live up to your testimony. This is one good reason for testifying. So Ezra had made this bold testimony to the King of Persia. “Our God looks after His servants.” And now they were facing this journey and he thought, “I can’t go back to the king and say, ‘Would you give us a band of soldiers and horsemen?’ because I told the king our God is equal to any situation, any danger, any emergency. He’ll always take care of those who serve Him.

What are we going to do?”

Ezra was faced with the choice between two ways of doing things. The carnal and the spiritual. The carnal would be the band of soldiers and horsemen. But he shut himself off from that by his testimony to the king. He was only left with one alternative. The spiritual. What form did the spiritual take? Prayer and fasting. Now I’ll read these three verses. Ezra 8:21–23:  

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance [and that means the gold vessels of the temple]. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.”

I couldn’t go back to the king and spoil my testimony. So we had to have another way to insure safety. That’s the spiritual way, the prayer and fasting way. So it says in verse 23:  

“We fasted and besought our God for this: and he was entreated of us [He heard our prayer].”  

And the power of prayer and fasting bound every robber, every brigand, every hostile tribesman, every kind of epidemic and disease that waited for them along the way. They came through in peace and in safety without losing a single member of their party and having preserved these beautiful vessels of gold and silver. What was the means they used? The spiritual means.

And I want to point out to you this lesson that runs all through Scripture. If you win the victory in the spiritual realm, you have won the victory—period. Everything else will work out from the spiritual realm. This is one of the great lessons of the Bible. The spiritual determines everything.

In this nation, if we by prayer and fasting win the victory in the spiritual realm, the social, the economic, and the political will all fall into line. This is the truth of Scriptures. That’s why the Bible is such a relevant book. Because everybody is seeking some answer to the political, social and economic problem. I want to tell you, for us who are children of God, the answer is the spiritual. Win the battle in the spiritual realm over Washington, D.C., and stand back and watch the economic, the political and the social fall into line. This is the teaching of the Word of God.

Let’s look on. The next man in this process of restoration is Nehemiah, after whom the next book of the Bible is named. Nehemiah heard from some of his brethren in Nehemiah 1:3.  

“They gained access to the king and obtained a decree by which on a certain day, the 13th day of the month of Adar, all the Jews in the provinces of the king of Persia were to be exterminated.”

And I want you to know that this was a spiritual conflict. The book of Esther has given rise to the Jewish festival of Purim which you’re probably familiar with. And Purim means “lots.” It’s the Hebrew word for lots. And the festival is called that because Haman, the enemy of the Jews, cast lots for a whole year to find the right day on which to exterminate the Jews. The fact that he cast lots indicates that he treated it as a spiritual matter. In other words, he was seeking supernatural direction. And it says he had wise men, or magicians, who advised him (very much like some of the politicians in Washington, D.C., at the present time). Realizing that they needed more than a natural wisdom, they’ll turn to a fortune teller and a clairvoyant and a woman inspired by Satan for counsel. And Haman was the pattern of this. He went beyond the natural into the satanic supernatural to procure the destruction of God’s people, the Jews.

So you see, really, we are not having just a political issue, it is a spiritual battle. And that’s exactly what it is in Washington, D.C., today. It is a spiritual battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of Satan. And both had their agents and representatives right on the spot. And so, the answer to the supernatural power of Satan invoked by Haman was the supernatural power of God invoked by Esther. When Esther heard the news, without going into details, she said to her Uncle Mordecai, “Gather together the Jews.”

And notice as I was saying to the people in the Capitol this morning, when God’s people are threatened with a crisis, we have to gather together. If we stay in our own, each a little Baptist or a little Methodist, or a little Presbyterian, we’ll be cut off on our own. And I tell people, if you’re going to be imprisoned for being a Christian, it isn’t going to seem too important to you then whether you’re imprisoned for being a Methodist or a Baptist. So you better get together before that day comes. God’s people, in an emergency, always have to gather together.

Esther said to Mordecai, “Gather together the Jews, fast and pray three days and three nights [72 hours], neither eat nor drink. I and my maidens, we will fast and pray likewise.” Then she said, “I will go in to the king.” And she told Mordecai, “If I go in to the king and he has not sent for me, the sentence is death unless he stretches out the golden scepter as a sign that he’s received me.” On the fourth day, Esther put on her royal apparel, went into the king’s court and the Scripture says she found favor in the eyes of the king. He stretched out the golden scepter and said, “What will you, Queen Esther?” The situation was changed and without going into detail, the extermination of God’s people was transformed into their greatest and most glorious success in the annals of the Persian Empire. What changed the whole situation militarily, politically? The prayer and fasting of Esther and her maidens and the Jews in the capital city.

What will change the situation for us today. Exactly the same. God has shown us what to do. The question is, are we willing to do it? There’s no question about what to do. The question is, Are you willing to do it?

Let’s look on just a little. We have a few more minutes left. You might say, “What good does fasting do?” I’ll tell you. If God calls you to fast, you have an obligation to fast whether you know what good it does or not. When you’re thirsty, you drink water. You don’t know everything the water does inside your physical system but you still drink water. And God has told us to fast and I’ve found you know the way to get understanding? It’s obedience. I never understood what water baptism meant until I was baptized. Then I found out. The people who say I’ll wait till I understand and then I’ll do it usually never understand. God gives revelation to obedience. And the way of increased light is the way of increased obedience. You’ve received a measure of light. The next step is shown you. If you take it you’ll step into greater light. If you refuse it the light is withheld.

But still, the Word of God does show many basic principles related to fasting. I’ve just outlined four of them here. Self-denial, self-humbling, right priorities and dependence upon God. Let’s look at them briefly. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24:  

“If any man will come after me, let him [what’s the first thing?] deny himself, . . .”

Now fasting is denying your old rebellious ego. Your stomach says, “I want.” And you say to your stomach, “You don’t dictate!” You know what to deny is? In one simple word it’s to say no. And to deny yourself is to say no to that old ego in you that has been used to running you and telling you what to do. I like the way Don Basham puts it when he learned the truth of fasting. He said, “Now I tell my stomach when to eat. My stomach doesn’t tell me.” Most Christians are run from the stomach. And there has to be a time when we assert ourselves and say to that stomach, no. You’re crying out for food. Sure, habit hunger. You let an hour pass and you’ll find that the hunger will go without eating. Because it was habit hunger. You get hungry at certain times regardless of whether you need food. Jesus says the step to following Him, the first step is deny yourself.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:25–27:  

“I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection: lest . . . [after that] I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  

He said, “Those that strive for mastery in athletic contests are temperate, self-controlled in all things. How much more should we be who are striving for spiritual mastery in the spiritual athletic contest? You know well that an athletic professional is careful about what he eats, how he sleeps. Even his mental attitudes vitally affect his prospect of success. How much more with us as Christians do we have to be sure that we’ve brought our body under control? God told me in the year l961: “If you want to go forward there are two conditions. The first condition is all progress is by faith. If you’re not willing to go forward in faith you cannot go forward.” The second thing was, “If you’re going to fulfill the ministry that I have for you, you will need a strong healthy body. And you’re putting on too much weight; you better see to that.” That’s exactly how God spoke to me. And believe me, in the years that have since elapsed I’ve come to see that I do need a strong healthy body. I tell you one thing, standing up here and preaching is a real physical task. It’s not a little thing. And I do everything in my power to keep myself spiritually, mentally and physically fit. For the one thing that matters more to me than anything else is fulfilling God’s calling on my life.

Then again, fasting is self-humbling. You remember what it says in 2 Chronicles 7:14? We spoke about that in our last study. How many of you can remember what 2 Chronicles 7:14 says? Anybody? I never forget it. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves.” What’s the first step? Humble yourself. How do you humble yourself? You read these two psalms. I’ll just give you the reference. 35:13, 69:10. They’re both psalms of David. You know what he said? In each of them he said, “I humbled my soul with fasting.” There is a way to humble yourself. Some people say, “God, make me humble.” That’s not a scriptural prayer. God says, “Humble yourself.” You read it, every place in the Bible where God speaks about humble, he says, “Humble yourself.” God can humiliate you, and He might have to. But the only person who can make you humble is you yourself. And one way to do it is to humble your soul with fasting. Bring that old rebellious ego under. Say, “No, you don’t.” The Spirit is in control. Not the soul, not the flesh, but the Spirit. I’m run from above, not from beneath. That’s what happened when man fell in the Garden. He was run from beneath by his appetites and he renounced the leadership of the Holy Spirit from above. Now redemption reverses the relationship. The redeemed believer must learn to be run from above, not from beneath.

It asserts right priorities. You know what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Lots of people are seeking God’s kingdom second, third or fourth. And the promises do not apply. We have to have our priorities right. And fasting is a way of giving right priority to the spiritual asserting its preeminence.

And then fasting demonstrates our dependence upon God. We’re going to study 2 Chronicles 20 a little further in our next study. I’ll point out to you that in a critical situation Jehoshaphat did two things. It says in verse 3 he proclaimed a fast. In verse 12 he prayed and he said, “O LORD, we don’t know what to do. We have no might against this great army that’s invading us. But our eyes are upon you.” And that’s what fasting tells God, “God, I don’t have the answer, I can’t do it. I’m looking to you.” It acknowledges dependence upon God. And it leads to divine intervention. Innumerable illustrations can be provided from Scripture to prove that when God’s people meet His conditions along these lines, God answers with intervention on their behalf.

Now let’s look at fasting in the New Testament. Bringing it right down to Christian discipline. First of all, fasting was taught specifically by Jesus. Matthew 6:16–18 is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. And almost everybody agrees that’s for all believers. Jesus said:  

“When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites . . . [And then He said:] When thou fastest, . . .”

Jesus did not say “if,” did He? If He had said “if” He would have left open the possibility that you might or might not fast. But He said “when.” And when He said, “When thou fastest,” He took it for granted that you would fast. He uses exactly the same language in this passage in Matthew 6 about three things: giving alms, praying, and fasting. In each case, it’s “when,” not “if.” How many of you believe it’s a Christian duty to give alms? How many of you believe it’s a Christian duty to pray? Well, how many of you believe it must be a Christian duty to fast? All right, you’re witnesses against yourselves from now on. It’s on exactly the same plane. Some people say, “Jesus said, ‘Don’t fast in public.’” Well, He’s used exactly the same words about prayer and fasting. If He meant never fast in public He meant never pray in public. So stop your prayer meetings. People just take that as an easy way out, that’s all it is. It’s an excuse for not doing something that’s painful to the flesh. That’s the only thing.

Mark 2:18, the Pharisees and the disciples of John and the public came to Him and said,

“‘Why do the Pharisees fast, the disciples of John fast, Your disciples don’t fast?’ Jesus answered and said ‘the children of the bridechamber [cannot] fast, while the bridegroom is with them. . . . But the [time] will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast in those days.’”

Now this is how I understand this parable. The children of the bride chamber are the disciples. The bridegroom is the Lord Jesus Christ. While the bridegroom was personally present on earth, the disciples did not fast. But Jesus said the time would come when the bridegroom would be taken from them and in those days they would fast.

Now we ask ourselves, Is the bridegroom now physically present with us or, Is He absent and are we waiting for His return? My answer is: We’re waiting for His return. He has been taken from us and in those days we will fast if we are disciples. And if we’re not, we lack one mark of discipleship.

Now let’s look at the practice a moment in closing. Matthew 4:1–2, Jesus practiced fasting. He not merely preached it, but He practiced it.

Acts 13, five prophets and teachers in the church of Antioch fasted and waited upon God publicly and together. God spoke to them and said, “Send out Barnabas and Saul.” They fasted and prayed the second time and sent them out.

Acts 14:23, Saul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, when they came to the groups of converts that they’d left behind and established them into churches, it says, “In every church they prayed with fasting.” Note, every one of those New Testament churches was brought into being by public prayer and fasting. In other words, every congregation knew that when you earnestly need to seek God, the way to do it is with prayer and fasting.

And then, you study the personal testimony of the apostle Paul. You can find it in 2 Corinthians 6:4–5 and chapter 11:27. We will not turn there but Paul said that he approved himself in all things a minister of Christ. And one of the things by which he approved himself a minister of Christ was by fasting often. Paul was often in fasting.

The leaders of the early congregations practiced fasting publicly. And when their congregations were brought into being with the appointment of elders, it was understood that it was done with public prayer and fasting by the whole congregation. This is the pattern of the New Testament, it’s the pattern of Jesus and it’s the precepts of Jesus and the principle runs through the entire Bible. The call of God through the prophet Joel today is, “Turn ye to me with all your heart, with weeping and with fasting and mourning.

And it shall come to pass afterwards I will pour out of my Spirit.” This is the place where we are in God’s program for His people.

Let’s close with prayer. Dear Lord, I’m grateful for the grace You gave me this day to bring this message to Your people. And I pray, Lord, that Your Holy Spirit will bear testimony to each heart and mind that receives this message that is the truth of Your Word and the call of the Spirit. Lord, let us turn aside from secondary things. Fix our priorities right. Help us, each one of us, to bear our individual responsibility to turn to thee at this time in renewed earnestness and zeal, confidence and faith, with prayer and fasting until that last great deluge of the Spirit is precipitated upon all flesh. Lord, give us grace to be humble and to be obedient in this respect we pray. For Your glory. In Jesus’ name. And all the people said, Amen.

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