What are we Establishing? Part 1

In this series I am going to look at what can be established through our prayer and worship so that we can be more intentional in what we do. I will start with what David established in Jerusalem after he brought the Ark of the Covenant into the city and set up worship before it. I will then connect this to the New Testament pattern that we can engage in.  

The passage below contains a number of important spiritual principles related to worship and prophetic intercession which I will address over a series of posts. However, opening up the implications of this passage requires some history and context.

1Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals. And the number of the skilled men performing their service was: Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah; the sons of Asaph were under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied according to the order of the king. Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp to give thanks and to praise the Lord. Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamti-Ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth. All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer in the words of God, to exalt his horn. For God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.

All these were under the direction of their father for the music in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, stringed instruments, and harps, for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the authority of the king. 1 Chronicles 25:1–6 (NKJV)

Frankly, it isn’t clear in this passage whether they were to prophesy before the Ark of the Covenant, as David had set it up by itself, or were being set apart for the temple Solomon was yet to build. Yet if we look further in scripture there is an answer to our question.

And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the Lord God of Israel: Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, and Obed-Edom: Jeiel with stringed instruments and harps, but Asaph made music with cymbals; Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God.

On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord: 1 Chronicles 16:4–7 (NKJV)

What David was instituting was a continuation of what he began when he brought the ark to Jerusalem. There was open ongoing worship before the ark without the daily sacrifices and other aspects. We know this because the rest of the Tabernacle of Moses was still set up at Gibeon. We see this in the passage below.

37 So he left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord to minister before the ark regularly, as every day’s work required; 38 and Obed-Edom with his sixty-eight brethren, including Obed-Edom the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah, to be gatekeepers; 39 and Zadok the priest and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the Lord at the high place that was at Gibeon, 40 to offer burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of burnt offering regularly morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the Law of the Lord which He commanded Israel; 1 Chronicles 16:37–40 (NKJV)

So, we have worship before the ark in Jerusalem and sacrifices being offered on the altar at the tabernacle of Moses about 10 kilometers away at Gibeon.

This background sets the stage to see the significance of the Ark of the Covenant as Yahweh’s dwelling place. I will delve into this in my next post so we can begin connecting it to prophetic intercession and worship.

Standing with Peter

Recently I was listening to a podcast and the speakers referred to Peter giving up his calling and going back to fishing after Jesus death and resurrection. I have heard sermons say the same thing. However, I think that rather than leaning on human opinions we need to look at what the scriptures actually say. The fishing story takes place in John 21 at the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. The Sea of Tiberias is the Roman name for the Sea of Galilee. This is where Peter, Andrew, James and John were from (Matt. 4:18-22).

1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. John 21:1-3 NKJV

Was Peter in Galilee because he had abandoned Jesus and his calling? Was there some other reason he may have been there? Actually the scriptures are clear. We know from verse 1 above that this was not Jesus first resurrection appearance to the disciples. In fact 21:14 tells us it was Jesus third appearance to them. We also know that they were told to go to Galilee, Jesus had an appointment with them there.

10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” Matthew 28:10 (NKJV)

So, a quick review. Peter and the others are in Galilee because Jesus directed them to go there. They didn’t know where or when Jesus would meet them in the area but I think it is fair to assume there was some anticipation on their part. After all they had gone through the devastating loss of their mission and their own abandonment of Jesus. This was followed by His resurrection and appearance to them in Jerusalem. These were not normal times. Now he and the others had just walked 125 kilometres from Jerusalem to Galilee to see Jesus. I hike in the mountains a lot and they hiked through mountains and desert to get to see Jesus. No trivial task and one with plenty of time to think and discuss.

It is evident from the text that to accuse Peter of abandoning his calling is to both impugn his motives and ignore scripture. It is also evident from later in the chapter that while Peter needed his heart healed (21:15-19) he wasn’t trying to avoid Jesus or his calling. When he knew it was Jesus on shore he jumped out of the boat and into the sea in his eagerness to get to Jesus (21:7). This suggests that out of obedience he had been waiting for Jesus in Galilee, not giving up on his calling.  

Now back to the waiting. None of them knew what to do as they had received no instructions in that regard. We know from numerous examples in scripture that Peter was a man of action not contemplation. So instead of waiting he announced he was going fishing and the other six there joined him.

This all took place prior to the upper room prayer meeting in Acts 1. It is easy to embrace ideas that aren’t in scripture and the idea that Peter abandoned his calling and went back to his old way of life is one of those. It may make for some good sermons but they are sermons based on human opinions not on scripture. I happen to believe that what scripture has to say is important just as Paul wrote in the following verse.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (NKJV)

Scripture trains and profits us when we properly interpret and apply it. There are a number of things we could focus on in the rest of John 21 but I think the main lesson we can learn from our fishing story is that obedience to Jesus releases us into our calling. Instead of passing judgment, as has often been done with Peter, let’s stand with him and embrace his example of obedience to Jesus and see His purpose in our lives come to pass.  

Partakers of a Heavenly Calling

Hebrews 3:1 refers to us believers as partakers of a heavenly calling.

1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, Hebrews 3:1 (NKJV)

To partake of something is to have a share in it, to take part. It is worth considering the implications of the phrase, ‘partakers of a heavenly calling.’ Our heavenly calling could refer to our final destiny, our purpose here on earth or the perspective we live with and from. I think it refers to all three but I think the first two can be subsumed under the third. We are to ‘take part’ in a perspective that reflects our heavenly calling in all that we say and do. In my blog I use the tagline, “An Eternal Perspective: Living in Time, Preparing for Eternity.” It was a thought I had a number of years ago that I simply put down in words so I would both remember it and seek to live by it.

To embrace a heavenly calling is to embrace an eternal perspective and holding this perspective should affect how we live here and what we look forward to when we step from time into eternity. How we should live from a focus on a heavenly calling was captured by Paul and Peter.

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (NKJV)

11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11 (NKJV)

Having a heavenly calling, having a part in something much larger than ourselves and that affects the rest of the body of Christ should inform everything that we do. It means that our thoughts and actions should be focused on bringing glory to God. Others should see Jesus reflected in how we live.   

This isn’t an exhortation to legalism or examining every behaviour in light of our calling. That degenerates into navel gazing. It is a call to lovingly walk in the freedom Jesus purchased for us and living lives of holiness through Him living in and through us. To partake of our heavenly calling means also partaking of an intimate relationship with Jesus in the context of His body here on earth, the church. It is embracing Christ in us and cooperating with His abundant grace to see Him live through us. It means embracing the truth in the two verses below. Living from that perspective.

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)

Where do Prayers and Proclamations go?

For over a year I have been part of a Sunday evening online prayer meeting that began in response to Covid and has mainly focused on praying for our city. One of my friends has commented more than once, “Prayers have no shelf life.” I think the same is true of prophetic proclamations. So let’s look at where they go.

Years ago in a message I listened to from Larry Randolph. He related how the Lord had him move from the East coast of the US to California. He is a prophetic guy who didn’t want to move. He said in a vision an angel appeared to him with a drawn sword and said, “Move or die.” He and his family moved. While this may not fit with how we see ‘gentle’ Jesus it was how Jesus dealt with Larry. He already had an established ministry so when he arrived he expected to be welcomed somewhere in a church and given a position. Nothing happened.

It is at this point that we would likely concluded we had been deluded and ‘missed’ God. Larry sought His face and the Lord told Larry he was to go out into his backyard and prophesy to principalities and powers. I am sure he could have done that back East. Larry spent about a year doing that before the Lord opened up other things for him.

My story does have a point and comes from reading in Ezekiel. In chapter 25 Ezekiel is directed to release a prophetic declaration against the Ammonites, then the Moabites, then Edom and then the Philistines. This continues. In chapter 29 Ezekiel releases a prophetic declaration against Egypt that continues for chapters. My point has to do with where Ezekiel is doing this from.

1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. Ezekiel 1:1 NKJV

Ezekiel, along with his fellow Israelites, was a captive in Babylon the entire time he prophesised. His prophetic declarations were never actually spoken to the people groups to whom they were addressed. They were however released in the heavens and heard by both the heavenly host and demonic principalities and powers.   

Given they were going to be carried out over time they were directed and retained by Yahweh. I believe the same things happens to our prayers. When our prayers are led by the Spirit as Ezekiel’s prophetic declarations were, they have no shelf life. They are retained and there is a response. We see clearly where they are kept in Revelation 5.

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8

So, whether we are called like Larry Randolph to release prophetic declarations in the heavens or simply sit in a quiet place offering heartfelt prayers, let us remain confident that He sees, hears and retains what we offer and responds rightly in due season.

How Jesus Sees

Recently I was reading Prov. 15:30 and it led to some reflection on how seeing depends on looking. While that is obvious on the surface it does go deeper.

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy. Proverbs 15:30 NKJV

What we see can lead to sadness, joy, indifference – a whole range of emotions. We can see the same things and draw different conclusions. The verses below are taken from the story of Jesus ministering to the Samaritan woman in John 4.

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” John 4:34-35 NKJV

Jesus was clearly referencing a spiritual rather than a natural harvest but His point related to how we see. Jesus experienced joy in seeing the Samaritan woman coming to the well because He saw someone coming to encounter salvation. At this point His followers saw Samaritans as sinners from a despised race that they didn’t want to interact with. Jesus had been resting by the well while the disciples went off to buy lunch. The woman was gone when they returned but she returned with a crowd. Prior to the crowd showing up Jesus had sought to redirect their attention from seeing Samaritans to seeing a harvest for the gospel.

Jesus point is that we can see differently and in many ways what we see depends not just on the eyes we look through but on how our hearts are guiding our eyes. Look at Jesus comments below.

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure [g]of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. Matthew 12:33-35 NKJV

Implicit in Jesus comments is the idea that we are responsible for our heart condition that affects our seeing. So let’s pray that we will see as Jesus would have us see. That in an individual or a crowd we can look beneath the surface and see people who need ministry and a harvest for His kingdom.