By Samuel Clough
15For he will be great in the sight of the Lord…He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:15–17 NKJV)
The angel Gabriel described four facets of John’s ministry that will be characteristics of the laborers that must be sent to complete the witness of the gospel to all nations (Matthew 24:14). This witness will ultimately result in the return of Jesus.
22Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:22–23 NKJV)
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord… (Luke 1:15 NKJV)
Messengers at the end of the age must be committed to greatness in the eyes of God. Greatness by any other definition is going to crumble in the face of the challenge that is before us. Only those who live for greatness in His eyes will be able to finish the task. God will expose the shallowness of living for greatness in the eyes of men. The principles of the Sermon on the Mount are critical to understanding greatness in God’s eyes.
…He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:15 NKJV)
17‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17–18 NKJV)
Secondly, they must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Though the church was given the gift of the Holy Spirit, God endues the church with an increased measure of power in times and seasons of revival. The end of the age will see the greatest release of power in history on the church. The challenge of the end of the age will shatter all human strength and the glory of God will be put on display through weak vessels who are endued with the power of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can resist, confront, and overcome the darkness at the end of the age.
And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. (Luke 1:16)
16Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls… (Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV)
Thirdly, these messengers will turn many, both Jew and gentile, to the God of Israel. Their preaching will provoke men to repentance and there will be a great turning from wickedness to righteousness among those who respond. Their message will not be new or novel. It will be the message of repentance and of a turning to the ancient paths (Jeremiah 18:15).
He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)
These messengers will live their lives before the Lord and will also go, or be sent, before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah. They will live their lives before the eyes of God and feel His gaze on their ministry their entire lives. They will go to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. The church worldwide will require preparation for the return of the Lord and these messages will disciple believers so that they will be prepared for the Lord’s return. It is the most disruptive event in human history and will require the church to prepare for it. These messages are God’s gift to prepare the church worldwide for that great day.
Posted in Day of the Lord, Eschatology, Forerunner Messengers, John the Baptist, Luke, Missions | Tagged forerunners, John the Baptist, messengers, Sermon on the Mount, Spirit of Elijah | Leave a response
By Samuel Clough
The Unique Relationship of Jewish and African Peoples at the End of the Age
When we speak of the black community we must clearly include all black believers, both those in Africa and those throughout the earth due to the African diaspora. The call to the black community to take leadership in the prayer movement is a global call because of the immensity of their role at the end of the age.
Many leaders are feeling a prophetic urgency that the black community must take a place of primary leadership in the prayer movement and this prophetic urgency must not be seen as a prophetic whisper, but as a prophetic shout due to the urgency of the hour. It is critical that we understand that this is not a good idea or another man-made attempt at reconciliation. This is a critical issue and there will be massive repercussions in the years ahead based on how we respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit
The prayer movement at the end of the age will be from intimacy, with music, and for the harvest. The Lord has placed a unique gift and divine authority on the black community relating to music and to worship. At the end of the age the prayer movement will be in the context of worship and this unique gift is specifically designed to build the house of prayer.
From the end of the earth we have heard songs… – Isaiah 24:16 NKJV
We must respond both in the place of intercession and in action. While action is necessary, intercession is more necessary. We fail to intercede over this issue because we fail to understand how truly critical it is. Man-made attempts at superficially uniting the races have caused many to ignore the call to unity. We must understand that, in this hour, the call for black leadership in the prayer movement is not a fad, a trend, or another man-made attempt at reconciliation, it is a critical once we understand the prophetic context that we are living in and the context in which the events at the end of the age will unfold.
While we are going to primarily consider the eschatological issues surrounding black leadership in the prayer movement, we must be clear that the Lord strong desires racial unity in the church. The racial separation in the church is a serious concern before the Lord regardless of the eschatological implications we will examine. The conflict between Jew and gentile is the origin of all racism, and from the beginning, the church was intended to be a miraculous demonstration of unity between the Jew and Gentile.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! – Psalm 133:1 NKJV
…where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. – Colossians 3:11 NKJV
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28 NKJV
One of the greatest blights on the church is the initial racial divide that occurred as the gentile community of believers outgrew the Jewish community of believers and began separating from them and persecuting them as early as the 3rd century. This racism had profound implications for the church. This separation is felt to this day in Jewish distrust of the very people that carry their own Scriptures. Beyond the blindness spoken of in the Scriptures, there is a resistance to Christians due to their experience of racism.
Even Christian theology suffered tremendously from this divide as the gentile church divorced itself from the Jewish context of the Scripture and sought to synthesize the Scriptures with other philosophical ideas. In light of our past, While we want to examine the eschatological issues that surround black leadership in the prayer movement, we must acknowledge that the Lord truly desires unity in His church and our separation grieves His heart.
The Purpose of the Prayer Movement
Because we are considering the prayer movement specifically, we must understand why the prayer movement is exploding at this particular time in history. The prayer movement does serve the purpose of unifying the church, laboring for revival, and demonstrating the worth of Jesus; however, those are not the only reasons for the unique night and day prayer movement that is spreading rapidly throughout the earth. Without understanding the full context of the prayer movement, we will not have vision or strength to continue.
A primary purpose for the night and day prayer movement is the crisis that will fall on Israel at the end of the age. The Scripture is very clear that night and day prayer will precede the end of the age. This contending prayer movement is both Jesus’ global welcoming party and will also be required for the events that befall Israel at the end of the age. See Psalms 96:1-13; 98:1-9; Isaiah 30:19; 24:14-16; 52:8; Zephaniah 2:1-3; Zechariah 12:10; Luke 18-8; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-5; 22:17.
The Scripture is particularly clear that night and day prayer exists for God’s purposes in Jerusalem. Isaiah 62 is very clear about the connection of day and night prayer with the urgency in God’s heart to see all His purposes regarding Israel and Jerusalem come to pass:
For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns…I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem [for the cause of Jerusalem]; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. – Isaiah 62:1;6-7 NKJV
Contending day and night prayer, which includes day and night worship and singing is a part of the end of the age. As the earth groans, so too the people of God will corporately groan in faith for His appearing.
The Significance of Israel and the Coming Crisis
Not only is night and day prayer significant for Jesus’ appearing, it is required because of the magnitude of the events that are going to befall Israel, and the entire globe, at the end of the age. Much of the church has little or no awareness of the magnitude of the trouble that is coming for Israel. Many assume that Israel’s troubles are mostly over because they are back in the land. The reality is that Israel’s troubles are only about to escalate. The terrors of the day ahead should cause us to have difficulty speaking about these things without weeping.
Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble… – Jeremiah 30:7 NKJV
Jeremiah 30-31 describes the time of Jacob’s trouble, an unparalleled time of difficulty and suffering for Israel. Many assume this is past, when a careful study of Scripture reveals that the most terrifying days of Jewish suffering are in front of us. Jewish suffering will not only affect Israel, but it will become an issue throughout the entire earth. The issue of Jerusalem will affect the entire earth as the Jews are persecuted and driven throughout the nations of the earth. Throughout the earth Jews will be on the run and in hiding. What was seen in Nazi Germany was a graphic illustration of what is coming again as the end-time scenario unfolds.
And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples… – Zechariah 12:3 NKJV
In the hour of their greatest suffering, God will be looking at the gentiles, the “wild olive branches that have been grafted in to the natural olive tree” to make provision for and suffer with the Jewish people in order to display His own unending love for Israel.
I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles…For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? – Romans 11:11,25 NKJV
The Preparation of a People that Can Endure Crisis
As the hour of trial for the entire earth approaches, the church must be prepared to endure crisis and pressure unlike any point in human history.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. – Matthew 24:21-22 NKJV
Since the prayer movement exists specifically for this time of great tribulation, and the many decades leading up to this time as the pressure begins to build, the Lord will prepare a people for this hour of suffering that are capable of enduring with strength. Particularly in the preceding centuries, people of African descent throughout the earth have endured great suffering and great trial. Because of this suffering, they have a unique history that the entire church is going to need in the hour of suffering to come.
Amazingly, the history of the African people contains unique parallels to the story of Joseph. Like Joseph they have endured persecution, slavery, and being cast aside as a people group. Yet, like Joseph, in the moment of national crisis there are significant consequences if they do not rise and take their place of leadership on behalf of others to prepare for and endure the crisis.
If the church is going to be prepared to endure the hour of suffering, it is critical that the black community take a significant leadership role to begin to prepare the church at large to endure the type of suffering that the black community has experienced over the last several centuries. The entire community of believers around the earth will soon experience the suffering that they endured simply because of skin color.
At the end of the age, this racism will come to its zenith and we must understand that the root of all racism is the divide between Jew and gentile. However, persecution will not be limited only to those that are Jewish by blood though they will take the brunt of the suffering. Those who join themselves to Jacob in that hour will endure the suffering as well. The African people have uniquely experienced the suffering that comes from racism on a global level and therefore have a great understanding of the suffering that will come as anti-Semitism reaches its height in all of history.
Believers of all backgrounds, who join themselves to the Jewish people in this hour of suffering, will begin to experience the full weight of suffering that comes from racism. In this hour, believers of African ancestry have been uniquely prepared to lead the church with strength. Because they have borne the weight of suffering rooted in racism, they will be equipped to lead the entire church as it comes under the weight of racial suffering through faithfulness to the Jew.
This is the hour for the black community to give the entire church strength to endure the persecution that is coming. If they do not their place of leadership the entire church will be unequipped for the eschatological suffering that is coming.
We are bear responsibility to see these things come to pass. There is a call to black believers to receive the love and warmth of other areas of the church who are genuinely repentant towards the history of racism that has existed in many countries of the earth and was effected by many of their ancestors. Just as Jesus forgave those who persecuted Him, so too the black community must forgive so that they can take their rightful place of leadership across the entire church.
There is also a clear call to non-black believers to have genuine love and sympathy for the suffering that the black community has endured. There is a tendency for non-black believers to over simplify the suffering endured by the black community and the issues it has subsequently faced because of centuries of slavery. This over simplification creates a barrier that prevents the black community from coming into their place of leadership over the entire church. Love must become the preeminent value of non-black believers towards their black brothers and sisters.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal…Though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing…the greatest of these is love. – I Corinthians 13:1,3,13 NKJV
The African Witness to the Jews at the End of the Age
Even as the black community is called to strengthen the entire community of believers at the end of the age, they are also uniquely called to minister to the Jew in the hour of suffering and trial. The African history of diaspora, suffering, and slavery has uniquely prepared the black community to minister to Jews in flight at the end of the age. Their shared history of suffering will enable them to minister to the Jews in a unique way.
It is critical that the black community does not see its suffering only through an Afrocentric lens. Yes, God cares about the unique suffering the black community has endured, but the black community must see their own suffering as a unique preparation that allows them to minister at the end of the age in the way that others cannot. (This, of course, in no way justifies the suffering perpetrated on the African people, but rather it is God’s glorious redemption of the wickedness they have endured.)
The black community will only find full healing from the suffering they have endured as they see the incredible gift they now have that will be required at the end of the age. Though there are real issues within the black community that all believers should labor for, the black community themselves cannot allow their own suffering to cause them to lose sight of their call which extends fall beyond their own community.
A primary tool of the enemy at the end of the age will be to make the black community entirely self focused so that they cannot give their unique gift to the Jew and the church at the end of the age. The enemy knows how significant their role is to be and this is why he consistently wars against them coming into true freedom and releasing the power of their history of suffering to the church and, in a coming hour, to Jews in flight.
It also cannot be overlooked that both the African people and the Jewish people are known as a musical people. Isaiah 24:14-16 is very clear that, at the end of the age, amidst all the destruction songs will be heard from the ends of the earth.
From the end of the earth we have heard songs… – Isaiah 24:16 NKJV
As Jews are persecuted throughout the earth, the Lord will cause them to be sheltered by gentile believers who will be singing the very songs of Zion throughout the nations of the earth. In the very hour when the Jews feel least like singing, they will be sheltered by a singing people singing their own songs from the Scripture. This global singing will be a primary witness of Jesus to the Jews at the end of the age. The black community has a unique gift and anointing for song and for music. Not only does the Lord intend to use this gift to fill the earth with prayer and worship in preparation for the Lord’s return, He also intends to use it to minister to the Jews at the end of the age.
We must always be clear that no one knows the day or the hour of Jesus return, but the Scripture is also clear that we will know the signs of the times as the end approaches. It is unbiblical to act as though we should not anticipate the end of the age or even watch for specific, biblical signs that the end is drawing near. The clear tone of Jesus’ and Paul’s writings is that we are actually in error when we do not recognize the times and seasons.
When you see all these things, know that it is near-at the doors! – Matthew 24:33 NKJV
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42 NKJV
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. – Luke 21:28
The Pharisees…came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven…Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. – Matthew 16:1-4 NKJV
Concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you…But you, brethren, are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief…Therefore…let us watch. – 1 Thessalonians. 5:1-6 NKJV
Virtually all of the church recognizes the significance of Israel’s return to the land beginning in 1948 and their occupation of Jerusalem in 1967. After 2,000 years of absence from the land, this was a stunning development that shows us very clearly that we have entered a different prophetic season on God’s timetable. While most of the church recognizes there is great significance to the state of Israel, most of the church is still ignorant of the fact that the current state of Israel is not the full fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel and a great suffering exists between what exists now and what God will establish at Jesus’ return.
As we have already noted, the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30-31) is still future and almost no one is preparing for it. History did not crescendo during World War II. It is building to a crescendo.
The current state of Israel will not endure as it is and the Jewish people will experience another disastrous season of suffering that both the holocaust and the previous diaspora were precursors to. While the understanding of Israel’s future suffering has been considered by many to be a fringe idea in the last few decades, not only is the church now growing in understanding of the coming crisis but the actual events that must come before the crisis are beginning to occur with frightening speed.
In the last twelve months, virtually every Arab state around Israel has become embroiled in revolution. While these revolutions are often presented as movements for democracy in the western media, everyone knows that the end of these revolutions will always be a strict Islamic government. The phrase “Arab spring is becoming Sharia fall” is an apt description of what is happening.
Both of Israel’s great allies in the region have suddenly shifted course in the last year. Turkey has gone from a quiet presence in the region that allied itself with U.S. interests to become very vocal against the state of Israel. Egypt, a close ally of Israel, now exists without a real government and, barring miraculous intervention from the Lord, is set to transition to an aggressive Islamic government. Protests in the nation have included calls for a military march on Israel and an attack against the Israeli embassy.
Other surrounding nations are also rapidly positioning themselves to participate in an attack against Israel. Iran has been very clear about its intentions to wipe Israel out of the land. The Palestinians have repeatedly refused moderate land swap proposals and are instead pushing for an internationally recognized state that will be one step to their plan of annihilating Israel. Palestinians have been very clear about their refusal to recognize Israel as a legitimate nation.
Smaller Arabic nations surrounding Israel are all in the midst of turbulence and revolution. As the dust settles in each nation, it will be the radical Muslims who will be in charge of each nation. The current turbulence in the Middle East is very clearly setting up a situation where Israel is surrounded with a hostility that is far more overt than what it has experienced in the last 20 years.
When Israel begins to be overrun by Arabic nations and Jews again flee into the nations of the earth, most of the church who will have no understanding of what is happening will retreat into fear and confusion. Many will even lose their faith and fall away entirely because of unbiblical ideas they had about Israel and the end of the age.
We cannot know if these events are months, years, or decades away, but it is very clear that the Middle East is rapidly transforming to the point where the future suffering of Israel is no longer just an idea, but a reality.
Very little remains, except for the actual military invasion, to set up the final scenario of Jewish suffering. This is no longer just a theological or eschatological idea for us to wrestle debate-it is reality on our evening news.
At this point, it only takes one nation to pull the trigger and a unified Arab coalition in the region could easily unite in military action against Israel. When we understand the reality of our condition, we should tremble at the lack of understanding and, even great, the lack of day and night intercession for the issue of Jerusalem.
In addition, it should fill our hearts with urgency for black believers to take their place in the prayer movement. It is the enemy’s scheme that black believers do not come into their place so that Israel will not be ministered to as the Lord intends in the final suffering. The black church and the Jewish predicament at the end of the age are intertwined and this is why the enemy wages such war against black believers coming into a place of leadership in a unified praying church at the end of the age. If he can prevent black believers from standing in their place and strengthening the church and ministering to the Jews at the end of the age, then he can affect far more damage in his rage against the church and the Jewish people.
The issue of black leadership in the prayer movement then is not just an issue of racial unity, which is extremely precious to the Lord, but it has great eschatological significance. The consequences of black believers not coming into the fullness of their destiny are massive. The scenario in the Middle East should make us tremble with urgency. The events of the end, though they may take decades to unfold, are upon us and yet black believers have still not been brought into their full place of leadership at the end of the age.
The situation is not accidental, nor is it isolated. Let us labor with sobriety to see the black community come into their fullness and to see other believers recognize the awesome responsibility that believers of African descent have in the events of the end of the age. Let us labor with great love to see the fullness of God’s calling for black believers come to pass.
If we do not give ourselves to intercession and to action, whether we are of African descent or not, to see that the black community is established in her place of leadership we are ignorant of the times in which we live and lack understanding of how our actions now will have massive repercussions as the end of the age unfolds with greater intensity.
If you are not familiar with this issue, I would like to encourage you to prayerfully read through both The Holocaust: Where was God? by Art Katz and The Controversy of Zion and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble by Dalton Lifsey.
Posted in 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Eschatology, Intercession, Isaiah, Israel, Jacob's Trouble, Luke, Persecution, Prayer Movement, Psalms, Romans, Significant Posts, The Coming Crisis, Zecharaiah, Zephaniah | Tagged African, black community, Eschatology, holocaust, Israel, Jacob's trouble, prayer movement, suffering | 1 Response
By Samuel Clough
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51-54 NKJV
Jesus’ Approach to Jerusalem
Luke’s record of Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem in Luke 9:51-54 is set in the context of Jesus’ personal journey to the cross. Earlier in the chapter Luke recorded Jesus’ prediction of His own crucifixion and suffering (Luke 9:22) along with a clear admonition for the disciples to embrace the same determination in their own lives if they want to follow Him (Luke 9:23-27). When we come to Luke 9:51-54 it is clear that Jesus is going to Jerusalem and no man can turn Him from that goal and that He is going to suffer and die in Jerusalem.
The Messianic backdrop is clear when Luke records a calculated approach to Jerusalem. There was a lot of expectation for the day when Messiah approaches Jerusalem and executes judgment on the nations, but the shocking thing that Luke records for us is that the Judge will approach Jerusalem in mercy before He comes in judgment. In understanding the context of Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem, Luke gives us a full picture of the heart of the Messianic Judge.
The King subjects Himself to humiliation before He takes His rightful place as king in Jerusalem. This humiliation reveals the tender heart of the Judge and that the Judge desires mercy before judgment. The shedding of His own blood and the humiliation of His own body reveal the tenderness of His heart and the depths of His desire for and commitment to mercy.
The reader should clearly understand then that Luke is describing this approach to Jerusalem in such a way that it parallels the approach to Jerusalem at the end of the age when judgment will be executed.
The two approaches are remarkably similar. The difference is that the first is to open a window a mercy before the second in which the window of mercy is closed and judgment is executed. That window of mercy was unexpected by Jesus’ contemporaries.
Luke also gives us a very clear picture of the forerunner ministry when Jesus desires to approach Jerusalem at the end of the age. Jesus sent the disciples as forerunners but, like John the Baptist, they were a picture of a much larger sending of forerunner messengers that will precede and accompany His approach towards Jerusalem at the end of the age.
He Set His Face
…when the time had come…He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51 NKJV
Luke 9:51 must be understood in the context of Luke 9:21-27. Jesus had already embraced the suffering and rejection that would come when He entered Jerusalem. He knew what was going to happen when He entered Jerusalem and He was determined to enter the city.
The suffering and agony of the cross could not deter Him from His Father’s will. Doing His Father’s will was His primary consideration, not the shame and suffering of the cross. Nothing could deter Him. This is why He called His disciples to have this same sort of resolution in their hearts and follow His heart posture (Luke 9:23-27). He did not just follow the Father’s will fatalistically, but He approached Jerusalem with determination.
Jesus understood the shame of what He was about to do. In this context, He called the disciples to not be ashamed either of Him or His words. He knew His words about embracing the cross were offensive to men. He knew that what He was about to do in Jerusalem would be humiliating and that men would be forever ashamed of the idea of God hanging naked and humiliated on a cross as the means of cosmic redemption. In that context, Jesus spoke very direct and serious words – we are not to be ashamed either of Him or His words. Instead we are to set our face like Him (Luke 9:23).
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed…” – Luke 9:26 NKJV
Luke’s description of how Jesus set His face and His heart (Luke 9:22,51) reveals how fierce His dedication was to entering Jerusalem and securing mercy on the cross. It is not a passive commitment to mercy, but a fierce commitment to enter the city and fulfill His Father’s will. When Jesus approaches Jerusalem at the end of the age for judgment, His dedication to His Father’s desire will be just as fierce and terrible. He will execute judgment with the same tenacity that He secured mercy with. The same fierce dedication that caused Him to embrace and run towards the cross will also empower Him to enter the city in judgment and destroy all unrighteousness.
The fierce resolve that covered Him in His own blood on the cross will also cover Him in the blood of the nations when He enters Jerusalem again (Isaiah 63).
He Sent Messengers Before His Face
…sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. – Luke 9:52 NKJV
Luke gives us one of the clearest examples of the forerunner ministry. Jesus was giving a foretaste of the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3. Once Jesus set His face towards Jerusalem, He sent messengers, or forerunners, before Him to announce His coming.
In ancient times, a king would send an envoy before him to prepare the people to receive the king. This messenger would be entrusted with the authority of the king and command the people to prepare the king. In the same manner, Jesus will send messengers before Him to command the nations to receive Him as the ultimate King and Judge of the nations.
When Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem again at the end of the age, He will release a forerunner ministry of messengers that will be sent to proclaim His coming with clarity and authority.
Once Jesus had set His face to enter Jerusalem, He sent these messengers to prepare the people for His arrival.It is very likely that we are entering that period of history when Jesus is again beginning to set His face towards Jerusalem and we will begin to see the forerunner ministry released on a global scale to declare to all the nations that Jesus is coming as bridegroom (because of love), king (to rule from Jerusalem), and judge (to judge sin and wickedness).
When Jesus decided to approach Jerusalem, He sent messengers before His face. This has two very clear implications. First, the messengers were sent from the place of intimacy. Jesus will commission messengers that are before His face. He does not send random messengers but those who have sought His face. Those who will be sent as messengers are not those who have sought ministry, but those that have sought Jesus Himself. He will send those who are “Friends of the Bridegroom” whose chief delight is not in their ministry or power, but in Jesus Himself (John 3:29).
One of the primary purposes of the prayer movement in our generation is to prepare these messengers by putting them before Jesus’ face in the place of prayer and fasting. Houses of prayer are incubators where messengers are being formed “before His face” that they might be sent before the earth sees His face.
Forerunners choose to give their life to proclaiming specific messages before the church at large emphasizes them. In the same way, they begin to live before His face in order to prepare the church to live before His face and the nations to experience His face.
Secondly, messengers carry a very serious ministry of preparing the earth to receive Jesus. This is a great and a terrible calling. John recalls that when Jesus sets His face to enter Jerusalem again that the nations will cry out in fear and terror because of the glory of His face.
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?” – Malachi 3:2
…said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come and who is able to stand?” – Revelation 6:16-17 NKJV
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. – Revelation 20:11 NKJV
These messengers both live before His face and are sent out before Jesus’ face appears to the nations to prepare the earth to receive Him. In the kindness of His face towards believers and the terror of His face towards wicked nations we see the fullness of bridegroom, king, and judge.
For some His face will be great comfort, for all it will be great glory, and for many it will be great terror.
Jesus focused most of His ministry on Israel though He interacted with and responded to gentiles that sought Him out. Jesus had previously sent out His disciples and specifically commanded them to only go to Israel and not to Samaria or the nations (Matthew 10:5-6).
However, when He set His face for the confrontation with the enemy in Jerusalem, the messengers He sent went through Samaria. A forerunner ministry not just in Israel but also in the nations precedes the confrontation in Jerusalem, both the first confrontation on the cross and the second one with the nations that is coming.
At the end of the age, the forerunner ministry will not just go to Israel; it will be throughout the nations of the earth. This ministry will take a significant amount of time to unfold because God is going to release a witness in every nation. Not only will every nation hear the gospel of salvation, they will hear the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14).
At the end of the age, that gospel will be that the King is coming. It is very possible that this ministry will occupy the better part of a generation to announce Jesus’ return and prepare the people for it.
The modern missions movement is going to have to establish strong eschatological foundations for the final missions thrust of history.
Many are focused on fulfilling Matthew 24:14 but few are emphasizing the context of Matthew 24:14 and it is an eschatological context. The gospel is going to the nations is for salvation, but it is also for the preparation of every nation to respond to the return of Jesus. This preparation ministry is to prepare both men individually and nations for His return. It will meet much opposition but it is a required ministry.
They Did Not Receive Him because of Jerusalem
But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51 NKJV
The messengers He sends will face incredible opposition. There will be a harvest as many will turn in repentance, but the kingdoms of the world will reject them. The messengers He sends will have the same experience as John the Baptist who turned many to repentance, but also faced stiff opposition.
Many in the church will reject the proclamation of the messengers just as the town in Samaria rejected Jesus’ disciples. Samaritans were an ethnic mixture of Jews and people who had settled in the land. In the same way, those in the church that have tolerated mixture will reject Jesus at the end of the age.
Samaria also represents the nations of the earth that surround Israel. Governmentally, the nations of the earth will reject the proclamation of Jesus as a real, political King and surround Jerusalem to extinguish the city that is Jesus’ desire. Jerusalem will be the divisive issue at the end of the age. It will be a stumbling block to all people.
And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth are gathered against it. – Zechariah 12:3 NKJV
Israel has always been a stumbling block to the nations and so too at the end of the age. The people of the earth will literally be divided over the issue of Jerusalem and the Jewish people.The controversy that surrounds Jerusalem and the Jewish people is entirely because He has set His face on them.
Jerusalem will be the stumbling block of the nations precisely because Jesus has set His face on it.
For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you [Zion] touches the apple of His eye.” – Zechariah 2:8
The Heart of the Messenger
“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But he turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” – Luke 9:54-56 NKJV
Even though the messengers He sends will face tremendous opposition and pressure, it is critical that they have the heart of Jesus. Though He is coming as judge, everything He does is rooted in love. It is the fire of love in Him that causes Him to judge and the messengers He sends must know that flame of love. Jesus rebuked the disciples because they wanted to call down judgment on those who have rejected Jesus. They did not have the true heart of the Judge who loves mercy.
Jesus’ heart is revealed in the fact that He entered Jerusalem for mercy first before He enters Jerusalem for judgment. His mercy is also on display in the gap between the two entrances into Jerusalem. He gives the nations time to respond to mercy offered. The heart of the Judge is for mercy first of all. As Art Katz used to say, “It is not judgment that is penultimate, but mercy.”
His intentional entrance into Jerusalem to face the horror of the cross forever declares the nature of the Judge.
In all His glory, He is seen as a “Lamb slain” in the midst of the throne (Revelation 5:6). He is forever, even as Judge, a Lamb slain who willingly surrendered His life to provide mercy for all who would repent.
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain… – Revelation 5:6 NKJV
Jesus’ love of mercy is also in display in the intentional sending of messengers before His face into the nations of the earth before He enters Jerusalem. Before He enters the city for final judgment, He wants every nation to have the opportunity to prepare for His coming. Messengers are sent before His face to prepare the nations to receive Him in repentance so that they will not face His wrath.
Messengers must remain fully rooted in the love of God, or the pressures they face will cause them to become bitter and forget what spirit they are of and lose the heart of the coming Judge in the very act of preparing the earth for His approach.
We will tremble at His tenacity as Judge, but tremble even more at the greatness of His mercy.
By Samuel Clough
Though many in recent times neglect fasting as a discipline, it has been given to us as a gift and it will help develop strength in our inner man if we will simply us it. While there is a purpose and value for targeted seasons of fasting, there is great benefit from a life rhythm of regular fasting every week. Though the idea of fasting regularly every week is foreign to many western believers, throughout history the practice of regular fast days every week has been common.
The first and primary reason to fast is to tenderize the heart. Fasting should be rooted in love for Jesus and out of a longing for His return. Fasting that is rooted in this reality will also serve the purpose of deepening our longing for Him. Jesus set this context for fasting in the Scripture. If you are new to fasting or to this approach to fasting, there are many helpful resources on this topic located here on Mike Bickle’s website.
And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. – Matthew 9:15 NKJV
While our primary motivation for fasting should be out of longing for Jesus’ return, the Lord is also strategically using fasting to prepare a people in this hour for what is coming. God has given fasting to us as a gift in this hour to prepare us. He loves us whether we fast or not, but by embracing fasting we will be better prepared for the coming shaking.
The Preparatory Work of Fasting
The western world has experienced unprecedented prosperity in the last generation, but it is also now on the brink of massive crisis. Everywhere we look there are clear indicators of a coming crisis in every area including the religious, economic, and political components of our world. What has been normal in the last few generations will not be normal much longer. The seasons ahead will not be marked by the abundance that we have known for the last two generations.
While fasting is primarily a tool to strengthen our longing for Jesus, in His kindness God is also giving us fasting to prepare our hearts for the hardships that are coming. Believers who fast now are preparing themselves like wise virgins. They are storing up oil for the hour that is coming by voluntarily developing the muscle of denial before it will be required. The hour is coming when denial and lack will not be an option, but a reality.
The battle that most of us face right now when fasting is the desire to eat what we want, not the desire to eat because our health or survival depends on it. By fasting a day or two a week, most of us do not face actual hunger; we simply battle the desire to eat. It’s not true hunger that is warring against when we fast; it’s the desire to eat the things we want to eat.
For the most part, we are accustomed to the ability to have whatever we want to eat whenever we want it and fasting is uniquely designed to begin to dismantle this mindset.
By saying “no” to the desires of our body one or two days a week, we condition our body to live in subjection to the desire of the spirit. It must be understood that Paul did not believe his body was inherently bad, on the contrary he longed for the resurrection of the body. Fasting must never be the out working of an attitude that despises the body. We must have a healthy view of the body if we are to fast properly. A healthy view of the body begins with the understanding that God Himself, in the person of Jesus, took on a body like ours. Right now a human body sits at the right hand of God with all power and authority. Our body is to be cherished as a masterpiece of design by God, but it is not to dominate us.
Paul disciplined his body so that his appetites stayed within proper bounds and his body did not become a stumbling block to him. He did not despise the body, but he lived so that his body served the purposes of his spirit rather than his body dominating his life and potentially disqualifying him for the things he desired most. The body is healthy and good, but was not made
to dominate a human being.
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others I myself should become disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV
Tragically, the western world is far more dominated by the appetites of the body than most realize. Most westerners see western society as the most sophisticated and advanced society on earth but, in reality, the average western individual lives a life that is completely dominated by the pursuit of the physical desire for comfort, food, leisure, and sex. Fasting is a tool that helps break this addiction and awakens the heart to living for the great pleasure of loving God.
Perhaps the most valuable part of fasting is learning to love Jesus in the midst of self-denial or lack. While most of our lack now is through a voluntary choice when we fast, the day is coming when there will be real lack and, if we have not learned to love Jesus in the midst of voluntary denial, we will be offended with Jesus when we face imposed self-denial.
By choosing lack now, we prepare ourselves to face the reality of the lack that is coming and to be unoffended with Jesus when it comes. Tragically, many believers will be greatly offended with Jesus when they face real lack, because they have not prepared their hearts to love Him in the midst of pressure and lack.
Teachings that distort the nature of God’s blessing have unintentionally prepared believers to be offended with God because they only know how to love Him in the midst of abundance and have no theological point of reference for relating to God in the midst of pressure or lack. As Isaiah says, “They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward.” (Isaiah 8:21 NKJV)
Loving Jesus under pressure and lack is a legitimate heart test that many in this generation will face, some in very extreme ways, because God will expose everyone’s heart through the pressures of the end of the age
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith-the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:6-9 NKJV
My brethren, count I all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be prefect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4 NKJV
Jesus connected weakness and love in the act of fasting. We embrace the weakness of fasting because of love. Fasting doesn’t earn anything with God nor does it get Him to notice us. It is an expression of love from our heart to His born out of the pain of the fact that He is not physically present with us. It tenderizes us to experience His love more.
But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. – Matthew 9:15 NKJV
Love is expressed most deeply in weakness. As fallen men we spend our lives groping for strength and yet love can blossom most deeply in our weakness. Love from a position of strength is different from love from a position of weakness. Love that flows from strength tends to be self-absorbed as the lover is confident in their own ability and their own person. Love from a posture of weakness is a completely different kind of love as the lover focuses on the one being loved and loses sight of self.
At the end of the age, God will use a combination of voluntary weakness and imposed weakness to both expose our hearts and to tenderize them that we might love Jesus more deeply and long for His return with greater desire. Fasting out of voluntary weakness prepares us to respond correctly to weakness that is imposed on us by forces beyond our control.
We cannot choose whether or not we live in periods of imposed weakness, but we can embrace the process and prepare for the possibility by embracing voluntary weakness through fasting.
Understanding the Process of Preparation
We must understand the crisis that is coming. It is foolish to ignore the signs of what is coming. It is also unbiblical to assume that God will protect us from every form of suffering. All over the earth, believers are suffering some very intensely. We are not immune to the same sorts of things. Many believers do not have a theology of suffering. Because of this they are being setup for a great falling away because their view of God does not include the possibility of suffering. This distorted view of God is ignored both of the Scripture and the experience of millions of believers worldwide. It is a western god that God Himself will dismantle.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 NKJV
We must embrace preparation for the crisis. We are not to look at a looming crisis and be paralyzed by fear. We are to have understanding of what is coming and prepare our hearts before God. He will be faithful to give us what is needed. Some feel that a crisis is coming but they fail to prepare. The key to preparation is to value the small things. Faithfulness in “little things” is the preparation to be faithful under great pressure.
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. – Luke 16:10 NKJV
And he said to him, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” – Luke 19:17 NKJV
Many are aware that trials are coming, but fail to prepare. Some fail to prepare because of a spirit of denial that looks at coming pressure and prefers to ignore it and turn away rather than prepare. This is because the human spirit tends to turn away from suffering rather than embrace it. Others fail to prepare because they are presumptuous. They are either presumptuous that they can already stand, or they are always waiting for a “big event” that will suddenly prepare them to stand.
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. – 1 Corinthians 10:12
When we are not faithful in little things when we have little pressure we will not be prepared for strong pressure. By the same virtue, faithfulness in little things is what equips us. We must value the small things. Many people never make progress or build a strong life in God because they don’t value small things.
We must understand that preparation for big crisis comes in small, daily decisions. Fasting a day each week, giving small amounts of money, and obeying in small things all really matters.
While the vast majority of people do not fast because it can be difficult, it also must always be understood that fasting is simply a tool one can use rather than the end goal. The end goal is loving Jesus more tenderly and more devoutly. For this reason, those with medical situations, children, pregnant women, and those who have struggled with eating disorders should not fast food in the way that other individuals can. While most individuals can fast with no injury if they take care of their body properly, others should be careful and take the proper precautions. For those who cannot fast food, other type of fasts can be entered into in order to work the muscle of fasting.
By Samuel Clough
We were recently discussing some of the ways prayer is misused and it immediately came to me that perhaps some of our error in praying is that we have so mystified it that we really do not have a solid paradigm for exactly what we are doing when we pray. Because our governmental model of the universe is not sound and because we do not see intercession as a primarily governmental occupation, our prayer suffers and is subject to all sorts of frustrations and excesses. We may use a lot of volume and many repetitions (Matthew 6:7) and even consistently “bind satan” and yet our prayers seem to have little effect.
My argument here will be that the lack of a governmental model of prayer is at the root of many of our issues in prayer. Now, while this is entitled “Demystifying Prayer,” I will acknowledge up front that prayer is inherently mystical in the sense that fallen man is communing with the Divine which is a relationship that is beyond human capacity. The issue though is that we have added a mystical layer on top of prayer that makes it frustrating and unfruitful. If we remove the unnecessary mysticism we will find that we begin to pray in a much more Scriptural and far less frustrating manner. Understanding the governmental model behind prayer helps to clear our hearts so that we see prayer less as an ethereal thing and more as something substantial and real.
Rather than seek to examine all the possible errors of our methods of prayer as if we are the proper authority on prayer, let us simply examine the proper paradigm of prayer. When we pray out of the proper paradigm, we will naturally adjust the way we pray.
We obviously do not have the space to examine Luke 18, but let us suffice it to say that Luke 18 presents the model for intercession. We can get a basic grasp of how we are to prayer from Luke 18:1-8. If you’re not familiar with the passage, take a moment now and read it. We learn the following from Luke 18:
- There is injustice, sin, and evil on the earth. It is caused by the adversary working through fallen humans and the systems of this age.
- We are affected by it in a substantial way. In fact, it is the oppression from evil that we experience and observe that becomes the groundwork for our intercession.
- The proper response then to the predicament we find ourselves in is to go to the judge who alone can rescue us and beseech him until He answers.
- The judge may appear silent, but each request is moving him. He will act. In fact, Jesus asks the leading question of whether He will find men interceding with a confidence that God will act. Even if He withholds His action until the Day of the Lord, we are still to have faith that He will act.
If we properly understand the governmental paradigm of Luke 18, it will clear the fog that surrounds intercession and lead us to more effective praying. The problem is that we have so thoroughly adopted Greek dualism that we see God as completely dwelling in another realm and do not see Him in His governmental position over our realm. Some see our job in prayer as trying to get Him to cross the boundary of His realm into our reality and do something. Others see our job in intercession to be attacking opposing spirit beings so that God can do what He desires in our realm. The reality is that intercession can be long, painful, and deep but our model for it does not need to be confusing, nor overly mystical.
In short, to intercede is simply to approach the throne of grace to find help in our time of need. When we pray we are approaching a King. This King is enthroned above all other kings. He presently, at this time, has full authority and dominion over all of creation. When we perceive the need for wrongs to be made right, we simply stand before the King, as did Queen Ester, and beseech Him to act on our behalf and break in.
We must see that prayer is primarily a governmental function. The secret to prayer is not figuring out which spirit is the problem or which language will finally move His heart, but to realize that when you step into the place of prayer the Scriptures tell us that you are standing before a very real God on a very real throne that hears the cries of His people (Exodus 2:23). We do not fully consider the idea of God as a real and present King reigning over the earth, but this is the Biblical paradigm. Just consider some of the most significant theophanies in the Scriptures and you will repeatedly see the revelation of a King upon a throne and the recipient of the vision being undone at the present ruling majesty of the living God over both the recipient of the revelation and the entire earth.
Just the recognition that you are approaching the King of the universe in a governmental capacity should dramatically alter your perspective of prayer. You are beseeching this great King, asking Him to move on your behalf. We are subject to His rule and yet He invites us as men to take on His heart and beseech Him for the very things He desires to do. This is a stunning partnership that few of us really take the time to comprehend, and this partnership takes place in a governmental paradigm where we beseech the King to act.
Beyond the issue of partnership, is the core, fundamental motivation behind intercession and that is the issue of evil. Most of our intercession at this time arises primarily from the problem of evil. The problem is that, absent the proper governmental paradigm, we lose our way and can end up trying to attack evil in our prayers rather than following the Luke 18 model of simply going to the King and asking Him for justice. To better illustrate this, if you were in a kingdom and there was a usurper propagating evil what would you do? Would you go to the usurper and ask him to stop, or would you go to the king, the one who has full power and authority, and ask him to drive the usurper out of the kingdom?
The obvious answer is that we would enter the king’s courts and appeal to the king. Is this not exactly what the Scriptures exhort us to do? What then should be our primary approach to evil and spiritual warfare? Should it be to incessantly bind the devil, which the Scriptures clearly say is bound at Jesus’ coming and not until then, or should it be to appeal to the King to break out in power and stop the infusion of darkness?
Now, as we ask the King to break in, we recognize from Luke 18 that we are also in a place where we are awaiting the ultimate justice of the Day of the Lord. This keeps our hearts in faith with regard to the issue of delay. The question is not whether or not the King will act on our behalf, but rather it is a matter of when. Remember that in the book of Revelation, it is bowls of the saints prayers that sure as the fuel for God’s judgment as He breaks in on the earth. All the intercession throughout the ages that has been delayed, is finally answered in that great day. On that day full justice comes and the usurper is totally destroyed.
Intercession then, seen in its complete context, is to stand before the creator and to ask Him to break in now and demonstrate a preview of the goodness, kindness, and liberation that is coming in His ultimate act of justice on the Day of the Lord. When we ask Him to execute justice, heal, deliver, or liberate men we are asking Him to demonstrate who He is now as a prophetic picture of what He will ultimately do on a global level in the present.
How much would it alter your prayer life if you began to see your intercession as literally standing before the Judge of the universe beseeching Him to break in a rule on a particular issue? What if, rather than searching for more powerful language or new techniques, you merely closed your eyes and saw yourself before the throne of Hebrew 4:16? How would that alter the entire way you approach prayer and the language you use? What if you began to understand that when God delays His justice that He is also filling a bowl in heaven with the cry for justice and that bowl is going to overflow one day when the world is immersed in the justice and judgment of God? Your “unanswered” prayers are not unanswered, but rather assembled by the King into a great bowl of prayers that He is going to answer in His time and in response to His saint’s continued cries.
What if that King not only tolerated your petitions as the king did with Esther, but what if the King had actually invited you to come and beseech Him in your time of need? In our case we are welcomed by the Sovereign of the universe to approach Him and make known our needs, or our injustices.
Read Revelation 4 and consider the throne room of the King of the Universe, the “One upon the throne.” Then, take the thing you need to intercede before the Lord as though you were a subject being welcomed by the King to petition Him for the thing that you need Him to act on. You will find that addressing God in the proper governmental context is far more satisfying than trying to find better language, stir up more volume, or attempting to randomly bind spiritual enemies. Approach and address Him as a just and willing King. You just may see your prayer time transformed.