Wisdom and Revelation Part 1

About thirty years ago, yes I am getting old, I wrote an article about the importance of Ephesians as a template for the end time church. I still believe that. While I won’t cover all the areas here, I will focus in on Paul’s two great apostolic prayers in chapters 1 and 3. In chapter 1 Paul focuses on the need for ongoing wisdom and revelation to know the Father’s heart and in chapter 3 he focuses on the need for a strengthened inner being to be able to know Jesus love in an experiential way.

We start with Paul’s two prayers.

17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Ephesians 1:17 (NKJV)

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14–19 (NKJV)

To begin delving into these verses a couple of points need to be made. Paul was praying that the Ephesian believers would have experiences he had already had. He wasn’t presenting a theory. Secondly, his message and prayers were for a corporate body. He wanted the congregation to have these encounters.

To understand Paul’s prayer for wisdom and revelation it is helpful to see the importance of each. They can be compared to the gifts of a word of knowledge and a word of wisdom in 1 Corinthians 12:7-8. Most people that I know who embrace the spiritual gifts for today place a high value on words of knowledge. A revelation of something about an individual. Note however that Paul places wisdom first. The significance is that revelation is a ‘what’ while wisdom is a ‘how.’ Think of it as going to the doctor and receiving an accurate diagnosis but no treatment. If I have an undiagnosed affliction it is helpful to know what it is, it is even more helpful to know how to treat it.

I will share an example. A few years ago in a small group I was helping to lead I had a sense that a young lady had a prophetic gift that needed to be released (revelation). I took my friend Ivan and explained what I sensed and asked if we could pray for this gift to be released in her. She had no grid for what I was sharing but was open. We prayed for a prophetic release then I asked her to join us in praying for someone else, which we did. I then asked if she had received anything. She said no. I sensed she had so asked her to simply share what was on her heart. She did and gave very accurate details about the other person’s life.

In breaking this encounter down further there was revelation, a what, about something inherent in her but not yet released or activated. The wisdom came in both praying for the release of the gift followed by an opportunity to exercise it and see it released. Paul knew that on an ongoing basis we as the church needed to know both what and how to fulfill Jesus calling and purpose, in every age. Hence his prayer.

In our present hour there is much that is happening politically and culturally. We need wisdom and revelation to navigate what is taking place within the church and our culture. However, to do this effectively we also need to walk in the love that Paul prayed for in Ephesians 3. I will cover that in my next post.

Living out of Scripture

In Proverbs we are told that hope deferred leads to faintness of heart. In Hebrews we are told that faith brings substance to our hope.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV)

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

We can look at this pithy proverb and conclude that Solomon is merely letting us know that we can get excited when we receive what we want after initial disappointment. Alternatively we could go a little deeper, which I will do here. If we have been alive any length of time we have experienced disappointment, the sense of loss when we failed to realize something we desired. Whether tied to relationships, material things, a job opportunity or a myriad of other examples, the end result is we are negatively affected by how we feel as a result.

Hope deferred needs to be acknowledged and dealt with if we are to get to the substance of things hoped for. That means facing pain or loss so that we can move past it. While this is important on an individual level, it is deeply significant on a cultural scale. Let’s look at the situation when Israel was living in a state of ‘hope deferred.’ When Jesus appeared on the scene they had no actual control over their own nation and were functionally a province of Rome. Look at the verses below.

20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?”  And he answered, “No.”

22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”

23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. John 1:20–26 (NKJV)

There are a few things here. The religious leaders, in fact the nation, was expecting the Messiah, a deliverer as promised in scripture. The Old Testament had closed with a promise of Elijah coming (Malachi 4:5-6). This Elijah figure was to prepare the way for the Lord (Isaiah 40:3). The delegation from the Pharisees asked John why he was baptizing if he was not the Christ (Messiah in Hebrew), Elijah or the Prophet. They expected a Messiah King (see Psalm 110 for example) and a Prophet like Moses to lead them (Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Acts 3:22-24). They did this while not recognizing that the Messiah and Prophet were one person.  

They were living in hope deferred when Jesus arrived on the scene. What is significant for us is John’s statement, ‘there stands One among you whom you do not know.’ The answer to their hopes and dreams was there. He had been living among them for three decades and now was about to be revealed in power.

Perhaps some of you are like me. I have been living in an expectation of a significant move of the Spirit for decades. I am too young to have experienced the Jesus movement and too old to wait decades longer! I have been to many conferences. I remember over a decade ago going to one promoted with great promise. I was deeply disappointed in what actually took place but when I read the subsequent write up describing the conference I said to a friend, “I wish I had been there.” I remember going to a conference in another country in 2008 with my wife. What took place at one point was described as ‘revival.’ There were some very good things that happened at the conference but after experiencing some of what was described as revival I said to some friends that if that was where the church was going I didn’t want to be part of the church!

I won’t belabour my point. I have also over the years had deep and profound encounters with Jesus among His people, yet nothing that I would describe as revival, and I have studied a number of them. I have like many lived in hope deferred concerning a significant move of the Spirit. Now I have far fewer years ahead of me than behind me so I look more closely. This leads me to ask some questions. Is revival now standing among us? Is what many of us have interceded for among us and we do not yet see it? Are there indicators and signs? I don’t want more reports of something happening elsewhere, I want to be one giving reports of what is happening among us. I want vision like Elijah to see a great outpouring in a cloud the size of a man’s hand.

My present response? I continue to pray and look for revival and cultural transformation. At the same time I need to live out of what He has spoken to me. In the fall of 1995 while praying with some friends He spoke to my heart and said, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). So I seek to do that. I want revival but I can’t make it happen and He has His timing. Jesus came in the fullness of time and I believe the coming move of the Spirit that so many have prophesied for decades will come. What can I do while I wait? What can you do? Be found faithful. I know His relationship with me isn’t dependent on revival. It depends on my willingness to draw near to His heart on a daily basis. So while I wait for a hope deferred I can also live in the substance of continued intimacy with Jesus and knowing His heart. I can live out of something else He spoke to me decades ago, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (from Isaiah 30:15). Reflecting on what He has done and spoken while waiting for more brings my heart to a place of peace and rest with the one who stands among us. Please join me in that state.  

Shifting the Burden

Back in 1990/91 I read a book by Peter Senge called the Fifth Discipline. I have reread parts many times and focused on it in my major paper on leadership when I did my Master’s degree as I found it to be a very significant book. His focus is on the broad application of Systems Theory, more particularly in a business context. In my career I also studied Family Systems theory and decades ago in a theology course discovered that Systems Theory goes back to the early Greeks and predates Christianity. Systems theory looks at patterns that play out over time and the interrelationships between the different parts of a system that lead to these interactions.

One of the tenets of Family Systems theory is that all behaviour is positively intended, similar to the idea that people are doing the best they can with what they have. I believe neither of those tenets as life experience, history, and most importantly scripture, demonstrate them to be false. However it is clear to me that all behaviour is goal directed. Knowingly or unknowingly we are trying to accomplish something through our efforts.

Given our behaviour is goal directed I want to look at a behaviour that Senge describes as “Shifting the Burden.” The idea in shifting the burden is that we put our efforts into managing symptoms rather than addressing the real problem. Shifting the burden is a behaviour that tends to exacerbate the original problem and it shows up all through scripture. We see it in Genesis 3 when Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent and the serpent has no one to blame. In fact Adam blames both Eve and God when in Genesis 3:12 he refers to ‘the woman You gave me.’

Another example of the pattern is with Ahab and Jezebel in 1 Kings 16 and on. Ahab worships Baal and marries Jezebel, who also worships false gods. How does Ahab respond when he sees the prophet Elijah who has confronted his idolatry?

17 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.” 1 Kings 18:17–18 (NKJV)

Ahab shifts the burden and blames Elijah rather than acknowledging his own culpability. Later in 1 Kings 21 Ahab pouts because Naboth refuses to sell him his ancestral land containing a vineyard that Ahab wants. So Jezebel schemes to have Naboth killed so Ahab can take possession of the vineyard. Elijah confronts their evil and pronounces judgment on both of them. Nowhere in the story do Ahab or Jezebel ever take responsibility for their behaviour. It is always someone else who is the problem.  

Every time we shift the burden we exacerbate the problem and drive the roots deeper. Our goal in shifting the burden is to avoid responsibility or avoid dealing with the consequences of our behaviour. We have two types of issues, sins of omission and sins of commission. One is not doing the right thing and the other is doing the wrong thing. In either case the burden of responsibility rests in the wrong place. Those of us engaging in commission or omission need to step up. When we fail to do so we allow sin to infect or affect our lives and the lives of others. Hence it is systemic.  

The key to change in this area if it is an issue in our lives, home or work culture is to turn to and address roots not fruits. A good example of addressing the roots is Jesus messages to the seven churches in the first chapters of Revelation. Jesus speaks to some symptoms but then addresses the roots. Here is one example.

20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Revelation 2:20–23 (NKJV)

The fruit here is sexual immorality and false worship. Jesus addresses the issue and His main concern is not the behaviour of Jezebel. It is the behaviour of the rest of the church. He says, ‘you allow that woman.’ The NASB says ‘tolerate’ rather than allow. The word can also be translated as ‘permit.’ In essence Jesus was telling the church in Thyatira that the root of their problem was allowing this behaviour in their midst as they gave blatant sin permission to operate. He was also clear that if they didn’t deal with the problem He would. Note, the issue of ‘Jezebel’ operating in the church isn’t about gender. It is about people allowing themselves to be led astray to false worship through seduction and manipulation.

A final example that addresses the same behaviour as the problem in Thyatira takes place in Corinth. Paul writes the following.

1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly – and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! 2 Corinthians 11:1–4 (NKJV)

Paul’s concern is the Corinthians being deceived. What opens the door to deception? Putting up with something they should not be tolerating. If we read all of 2 Corinthians we discover that some in the church were challenging Paul’s authority and apostleship, instead of testing and rejecting false teachers they shift the burden to Paul. He responds by speaking to the root. Their tolerance and acceptance of falsehood.

Given the current state of the church in North America this is a major issue. Much of the church tolerates false teaching because it is comfortable. The most outrageous example I recently encountered was something posted in an Apologetics Facebook I follow. A story was posted of a recent church plant in San Diego with a couple who co-pastor. They claim to preach the gospel but the husband is in business and seems to be promoting hype rather than truth. His wife is in an ‘actress’ in the ‘adult entertainment’ industry. A fancy euphemism for the pornography industry. I thought it was a joke, sadly it isn’t. Yet they claim to be “Christians.” Just like in Thyatira however, I think the issue is the congregation. They have shifted the responsibility for discernment elsewhere and have abandoned any commitment to the scriptures.

In this current season in the church let’s embrace the burden of following truth and reality by taking to heart Jude’s exhortation.

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 3 (NKJV)

The Quality of His Presence

I want to look at our interactions or encounters with His presence. Not to create some type of spiritual hierarchy but rather to look at our ongoing relationship with Him. In recent years I wrote a manual on Hearing His Voice and looked at the ways He speaks to us. In the introduction I made the point that while some have detailed prophetic dreams or visions that is not the norm for most of us. I also noted that not having these experiences does not make us less spiritual. At the same time I believe we are all called to an experiential relationship with Jesus. Which means we are all called to encounter Him at some level in some way.  

An important qualifier in looking at presence is Paul’s comment that we see dimly.

12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV

We need to keep this in mind as we pursue and reflect on His presence. Jesus made a way for us to come before the throne of grace but we still live on this side of eternity and cannot fully see or know the realm where the Father dwells. John described some of our limitations here.

2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2-3 (NKJV)

Knowing that in our walk here we will never see clearly or fully there is still the opportunity for an experiential relationship, one we can have here and now. I know many, myself included, regularly encounter His presence in worship. At the same time, many years ago I met a fellow who was a very solid and faithful believer who did not like singing and worshipping. He said it did nothing for him. While I personally have no grid for that I never doubted his faith. I just assumed he encountered Jesus in a different way.

That being said we are called to encounter and I use the term ‘Quality of Presence’ not as a measuring stick but as a barometer. I know the scriptures and Jesus’ commitment to always be with us. My faith rests in that. At the same time my experience of His presence varies. In that variation I continue to seek His face desiring not only an ongoing relationship, but a deepening one.

I have shared before that I encounter Him most deeply while sitting in His presence worshipping Him and focusing my mind and heart on Him. I also experience Him when hiking in the mountains or out in the woods, which leads to prayer and worship as I walk. I encounter Him reading His word.

What are your experiences and do you have things to share that will help others?

What are we Establishing? Part 4

Having looked at what David established we can now turn our gaze to what we can or are establishing. I frame it this way because there is no neutral ground. Decades ago, the Holy Spirit highlighted something to me in Galatians that is critical to how we live our lives.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8 NKJV

Now, you may have read these verses many times and in doing so may have noticed that there is no third field. In all that we do we are either sowing to the flesh or the Spirit. Our actions are not neutral, we are always establishing something. In terms of what to establish Jesus gave us The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and He gave us The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). So, we know what we are to establish. We are to live, share and teach the gospel and pray for His kingdom and will to be manifest in our lives and world as they are manifest in heaven. These things are the primary calling of all believers. Which brings us to the how.

I focused in my previous posts on what took place with the worship David established before the Ark of the Covenant and how the prophetic psalms released there established the future. The current prayer movement around the world frequently combines worship and intercession. I believe that done with wisdom this further establishes His kingdom on the earth. We may think that everything is set regarding times and seasons but this is not what scripture teaches. Look at what Peter wrote.

11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:11-13 (NKJV)

Catch the key phrase, ‘hastening the coming of the day of God’ preceded by ‘what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.’ Our behaviour influences the timing of the manifesting of His kingdom in His return (see also Titus 2:11-14). Given that what we do influences the timing of His return we need to exercise wisdom in all that we do.

Now back to worship and intercession. My ongoing experience is that focused meaningful worship stirs something up inside of me. As I give my heart in worshipping Jesus, I find myself more sensitive to His voice and more attuned to the spirit realm. I find scripture passages rising up inside of me. I find myself more aware of what He wants to speak into the lives of those around me. This happens because I am merely continuing what David established. I am before His throne of grace, the real Ark of the Covenant in heaven, I am being internally stirred and drawn by His Spirit and I have the opportunity to release life into the lives of those around me and into my culture.

I am convinced that if we engaged in worship with focused hearts and an expectation of doing what David did, establishing the future, we would have a far greater impact on the culture we live in. This is the history of the Welsh Revival, which was marked far more by worship than preaching. Evan Roberts, the human leader, would sit in His presence in worship then share what he was sensing, seeing or hearing. It changed a nation and sparks from the fire fell at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles and spread around the world, and that flame is still burning in many places. Every revival movement I have studied has been marked by fresh worship, transformed lives and cultural engagement.

I think key to seeing the scriptures below fulfilled is connected to intentional worship married to prophetic intercession.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 (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)

10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 (NKJV)

Look at the last phrase, ‘Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ Let us embrace this and reflect on the question I started this series with. Individually and corporately, what are we establishing?

What are we Establishing? Part 3

As is clear from the scriptures previously presented in this series, David established two things that are relevant to what we are looking at. The Ark of the Covenant at Zion (Zion is the high point in Jerusalem) and open ongoing worship before the ark. Now we will look at what flowed from these two things.

I previously referenced David being given and giving a psalm when the ark first arrived in Jerusalem. Now I want to look at what some of the prophetic worship released. Our scriptures showed that David set people before the ark to worship and prophesy (1 Chronicles 16:4-7, 25:1-6). In the book of Psalms there are numerous prophecies regarding Jesus that have their fulfillment recorded in the New Testament. We will look at some representative prophetic psalms. An important note is who wrote these psalms. We have them mainly by David, then Asaph (Psalm 50, 73-83) and the sons of Korah.

We start with David. He wrote numerous prophetic psalms, one of which was Psalm 110. Here are the first two verses.

1 The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Psalm 110:1-2 (NKJV)

This is a Messianic Psalm referring to Jesus and is not only the most quoted Psalm it is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the entire New Testament. It is referenced in Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, 16:19 and Luke 20:42-43. It is also referenced in Acts, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians and Hebrews. These references relate to just the first verse! The example below is Jesus using Psalm 110 to silence and confound His challengers.

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”

They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:

44   ‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at My right hand,

Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?

45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. Matthew 22:41–46 (NKJV)

Next we have Jesus’ resurrection foretold by David in Psalm 16.

8 I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. Psalm 16:8-10 (NKJV)

This is the first post resurrection psalm quoted in the New Testament. The source is Peter on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:29-31.

29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.” Acts 2:29-31 (NKJV)

Asaph prophesied the exaltation of Jesus.

17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Psalm 80:17 (NKJV)

We find the fulfillment referenced in Acts 5.

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:30-31 (NKJV)

A last example, Psalm 45. It is a Messianic Psalm by the sons of Korah and is repeated in Hebrews as referring to Jesus.

6     Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

7     You love righteousness and hate wickedness;

Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You

With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. Psalm 45:6–7 (NKJV)

But to the Son He says:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

9     You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;

Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You

With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” Hebrews 1:8–9 (NKJV)

Many more Messianic Psalms could be referenced but I close with a non Messianic one, an honourable mention. Heman wrote Psalm 88, a lamentation and cry for help that has comforted many over the years. I reference Heman because was the grandson of the great prophet Samuel who anointed David as king.

So to our conclusion. David actually established three things. The Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, open prophetic worship before it, and most importantly, David established the future! He and the other prophetic worshippers declared and wrote what was on the Father’s heart and declared and recorded things to come. 

In my next and final post in this series I will look at how we can each answer this question for ourselves – What are we establishing?

What are we Establishing? Part 2

To understand the significance of what David did in establishing the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem we need to do a bit of theological excavation. Our journey takes us back to Exodus. The verses below are the result of the tabernacle first being set up and close out the book of Exodus.

34 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. Exodus 40:34–38 (NKJV)

Here we see the fire and cloud and Yahweh’s glory filling the tabernacle. The Ark of the Covenant within the tabernacle was His resting place on earth. Prior to the tabernacle being built according to exacting specifications, the cloud or pillar of fire went before or behind the people of Israel but not in their midst. There was a significant shift when the tabernacle was established.

In fact, in Exodus 33:3, 5 Yahweh is clear that if He were to come into their midst they would be consumed because they were sinful. We also see that Moses met with Yahweh outside the camp in Exodus 33:7-9 and that the cloud of His glory descended when Moses went to meet with Him.

9 And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. Exodus 33:9 (NKJV)

His glory descended and lifted but once the tabernacle was set up His presence was there between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. In fact in giving the instructions for making the Ark of the Covenant Yahweh told Moses that He would hover over the ark and meet with him there.

21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22 And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel. Exodus 25:21-22 (NKJV)

Having done some theological excavation we need to look at what happened When David set up the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem. I referenced the verse below in my last post.

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)

The psalm David gave is repeated in the Psalms as Psalm 105. We can look at this a couple of ways. One way is to see this as David writing out a song to honour the occasion. Another way is to see this psalm being prophetically released through David as the result of the Ark of the Covenant coming to a resting place in Jerusalem and David receiving a prophetic release, the Psalm. I obviously favour this latter view and think it is the correct one.

David received a prophetic release as a result of being in the presence of the ark, hence his instructions in 1 Chronicles 25 pairing worship with prophecy before the Ark of the Covenant. David knew from his own experience and that of others what happened in worship before the ark. Consider the first few verses of Psalm 105 and compare it to what happened with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.

1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to Him, sing Psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! 3 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! 4 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore! 5 Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth, Psalm 105:1-5 (NKJV)

11 Cretans and Arabs – we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. Acts 2:11 (NKJV)

There was a prophetic release and a glorifying of God at Pentecost and then a prophetic understanding by Peter of fulfilled prophecy. We will look at some further examples in my next post. For now it is important to see the connection between a prophetic release and worshipping before Him.

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)