Helping the Church to Respond to the Lord in “The Time of Trouble”
by Jonathan Boegl
All Nations House of Prayer Southwest, Pinetop, Arizona
2019: THE INVITATION
In October of 2019, the Lord told our little house of prayer in the mountains of Arizona, the Church in America was about to enter into “the time of trouble” (Psalm 27:5).
Through the month of November we began to engage in an in-depth study of Psalm 27; unpacking God’s strategy for a people who were profoundly in need of the Lord’s light, strength and salvation. (Psalm 27:1) The more we studied and prayed, the more we felt the Lord’s unction to prepare ourselves for what was soon coming upon the earth.
In December we began to invite hundreds of pastors, worship leaders, intercessors and believers to join us for some portion of 180 days (January 1 through June 30) of prayer, fasting and inquiring of the Lord. We had no program; no conference speakers. The Lord Himself was inviting individuals from all backgrounds to “seek His Face” (Psalm 27:8) in a “tent of meeting” (Exodus 33:11); a pure atmosphere of worship, watching and probing of His Word.
As we wrote letters explaining the experience, and the Lord encouraged us to use the phrase, “the time of trouble,” I thought to myself, “many will think we’re being sensationalistic’.”
Now, in the final days of 2020, we’re no longer concerned about being seen as “alarmists”. The Lord’s insistence to use this term for this hour of history has been well-warranted. 2020 has ushered us into an intensified “time of trouble,” and we continue to blow His trumpet unapologetically.
180 DAYS INTO THE TIME OF TROUBLE
Through the winter, the onset of COVID, weeks of sheltering-in-place, ZOOM prayer-meetings, Presidential news conferences, Easter, Passover, Pentecost, the American Church produced a spate of prophetic words and theological explanations for what was happening across the globe. Many of these messages emphasized that our world was being taken over by clandestine operatives who wanted to inflict their nefarious agenda on our society. Others dismissed the collection of coinciding calamities as mere happenstance, urging the church to remain generically undisturbed and morally benevolent.
When a second wave of trouble hit our nation, charging our nation into deep racial pain and hostility, our House of Prayer was already in our fifth month of corporate prayer with fasting. The Lord was faithfully giving dozens of us grace to “seek His Face” through what was turning out to be a very very calamitous start to the year. By the end of June, numerous other cultural storms had broken across our nation; rulings by a society blind to death that supported abortion; overt antisemitism; new levels of LGBTQ intolerance toward the gospel – all issues that begged for the people of God to bring our weak and insufficient ways before the generous wisdom of God.
Through COVID, church closures, being deprived of many civic liberties, economic indigence, family separation, race riots, deceitful reports, signs in the heavens and the earth, and raging anarchy the Lord was saying “You’re in trouble that’s over your head. You don’t have the capacity to sort out all the issues. You need Me. Furthermore, the way you are processing these issues is fraught with fear and anger and lust and distortion and hatred and misplaced loyalties. These are all compounding your trouble, and leading you further away from Me.”
Throughout the weeks, the Lord visited us again and again in His tenderness; touching our hearts with His one-of-a-kind presence. We would frequently experience angels present in our prayer room; dreams almost every night; prophetic words and visions; and tears, both of joy and His goodness and weeping over the Lord’s heart for His people. In forty years of giving myself to the Lord in prayer, I’ve never personally experienced such a condensed period of intense heavenly activity.
Over these six months of “seeking His Face”, one thing that profoundly gripped us was the sense of grief and concern in God’s heart over the insensitivity of His children to what He was accomplishing in this season. The Church felt deaf and breathless to the trouble that suddenly encompassed us. It seemed that the heart of the Bride was dull to the reality that the Lord was making the entire earth humble and vulnerable – at the same time – for the first time since Noah. It perplexed us that wonderful leaders in the household of God could not comprehend how we were being confronted by His presence and being invited into His light, salvation and strength.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Instead, the Church looked and sounded confused and angry. We seemed to have no united agreement about the trouble we’d been plunged into, the security the Lord was offering, or the message that He was, and still is vividly proclaiming to a vulnerable world.
On June 30th we completed the assignment the Lord had given us: 180 days, and more than 1700 hours of corporate prayer, seeking, worshipping and fasting. We were exhausted, but also exhilarated and strengthened to boldly pray and proclaim a message that had been birthed between the porch and the altar; a message we’ve now also heard emerging through many others in the international Body of Christ.
THE MESSAGE : JESUS IS RETURNING TO RECEIVE HIS BRIDE AND CONFRONT THE NATIONS
It’s vital that the Church understand why and how the Lord is moving on the earth in this hour. In a very condensed format, this is the narrative that the Lord wants us become familiar with. Throughout this year, the Lord has been calling the Church to reconstitute all that she is doing in light of the following realities.
I. The Holy Spirit is emphasizing the Psalm 2 storyline to the people of God throughout the world, in preparation for the return of our King. Very soon the glorious Son of God will return in the clouds to receive His promised Bride to Himself; millions of individuals who have said “yes” to His covenant-government of righteousness. At the same time, He will physically contront the unrighteous nations who repudiate His ways, destroying them with the Word of His mouth. This event will commence in mere minutes.
II. With the view of preparing His Son’s Bride for this monumental transition, the Lord is currently judging, purifying rewarding, and encouraging us in righteousness. He is graciously exposing key unChristlike issues in the hearts of His children; issues that, when adjusted, will enable us to all the more magnify the beauty of the reign of His Son. (The Lord is specifically highlighting seven issues – which follow below – within the heart of the American Church.)
III. He’s giving His children marvelous space to seek His face and adjust ourselves to become wholehearted champions of the administration of His Son. He’s calling the Church to embrace and deploy a new paradigm of beholding Jesus in a spirit of worshipful prayer, humility, repentance, and fear of the Lord.
IV. As we respond to the Lord’s judgements, He will do 3 things:
1. He will release a viral end-time harvest built on humility and repentance.
2. He will strengthen the Bride to faithfully resist the mounting anti-Christ spirit that is already infecting the Church and growing on the earth.
3. He will prepare the heart of the Bride in holy, first-commandment love and the fear of the Lord so that we joyfully magnify and herald the return of our Bridegroom-King.
Unless the people of God understand this as the plot for what’s happening in our world, we will misunderstand both the events of this year, AND what kind of response the Lord is looking for – and blessing.
UNDERSTANDING THE LORD’S END TIMES’ PURPOSES
We’re in a phenomenally unique hour of human history; an hour that can only be compared to the moments before the first coming of the Lord – but with one enormous difference! Instead of the earth preparing for One Who is coming to save and deliver (Luke 19:10), now, the church and the earth are being called to prepare for One Who is coming to shatter and destroy (Psalm 2:9).
Most of Christianity doesn’t have a paradigm for this aspect of the Lord’s character, nor this critical episode in His end-times schema.
In His first coming, the Lord came to make great propitiation. Before the Lord comes again to make great peace, the Lord will come to make great war upon all those who oppose His ways.
Before He comes to reign on the earth in the glorious description of Isaiah 2, when the redeemed “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4b) Isaiah tells us He must first “judge between the nations, and rebuke many people.”
The Lord calls to the rebellious people who are raging against the ways of righteousness; who insist on ruling and relating in (Matthew 7:23) contra-Beatitude lawlessness “Proclaim among the nations; ‘Prepare for war!’ Wake up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.” (Joel 3:9-10)
Essentially, He’s saying, “You’ve been warring against My heart all along. You’ve despised my judgements (Ezekiel 22:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:20), now prepare to war against Me, Myself. (Micah 6:2) The time for reasoning together is finished. Enter into the valley of judgement and let us see how Your self-empowered ways fare against the eternal ways of My Word.”
It will be by His mouth; the adjudication of His Word of judgement that He wields His (Revelation 19:21) sword. The arguments and lives of “many” will be “dashed to pieces” (Psalm 2:9). Can you imagine? By the breath of His mouth He gave life to His creation. Now, by the breath of His mouth He pronounces death and the flesh of real human beings will instantaneously fail.
This is a holy, terrible reality that will take billions (not an overstatement) by total surprise.
…But it is not His will that it take His friends by surprise. He is adamantly increasing the pressure on our world so that we come to Him to fix our hearts on His righteous ways. For this reason, because of His love and the Father’s foreordained determination, the pressure in our world is only going to increase!
Beloved, something more important than getting our voting ballot right is currently hanging in the balances – it’s the work of getting our hearts right before the Lord! Again, Isaiah 2:4 declares: “He will judge between the nations, and rebuke many people.” His rebuke will fall on many who sincerely believe they have all their theological ducks in order; pastors, leaders, prominent and obscure, educated and poor, intercessors and laborers, wise and simple.
Simply put, we want to do all that we can now to not be among the company of those who receive His rebuke then.
Psalm 2 warns: “Now therefore, be wise… Be instructed… Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and YOU PERISH IN (your unrighteous self-justifying) WAY, when His wrath is kindled but a little.
Real people are going to perish. Real people who have put their hearts in the moth-balls of self-justification rather than the sure justification of the Lord’s adjudication.
2020, above all else, is an hour to give ourselves, our corporate prayer meetings, our Bible studies, our board meetings, our family gatherings and our Sunday services to “seek His Face” and cry out: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me, judge me, purge me, and know my tensions in my heart; and see if there is any wicked way in me.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
THE LORD JUDGES HIS PEOPLE
In order for the Bride to prepare herself, and then help the nations respond appropriately to the Psalm 2 realities, we must yield ourselves to the purifying work the Holy Spirit is bringing upon the household of God in this hour. This is what 2020 has been all about. The Lord is intensifying His judgements upon us as a people so that we become a Christlike, first-comandment-loving, tender-hearted, mercy-rich, God-confident and evangelistically fruitful people at the end of the age. If we are to walk effectively in these realities we must let Him purge us of our self-serving and self-asserting ways, and conform us and empower us to His Christ-exalting and Christ-reliant ways. We need the attitudes, the focus and priorities of the Lord to be firmly anchored in our hearts for this unique hour of human history.
Over the last 9 months the Lord has brought His Church into real-time “trouble” in order to show us our need to be adjusted, and His singular ability to sustain us. As we’ve prayed through these issues over this past year, the Lord has identified these episodes as seven discernable categories of judgement in which the Lord is urging us to set aside holy space to seek His face and hear His perspective about our ways.
These issues serve as true-life context that display bodies of evidence of what is actually coarising through our hearts. As troubling episodes erupt in our world, we respond to them with emotions, reactions and attitudes that are either “righteous” (pleasing to the King) or “unrighteous” (unpleasing to the King). Much like the seven Churches in Revelation the Lord is keen to highlight both the good and the bad in the Church so that we’re encouraged all the more resolutely in the righteous, and discouraged and chastised from the unrighteous. This is the way we learn what is pleasing to the Lord, and how we learn to find shelter in the Lord. This is also the way the Bride makes herself ready for His return.
The objective of this message is to bring the unction behind these seven issues of 2020 to the Church in a way that helps us see ourselves from God’s perspective and aids us in responding faithfully to His judgements. He is committed to bringing us through these times of tribulation, but we must humble ourselves and “seek His face” for the answers and insights that only He can provide.
WHY GOD JUDGES HIS PEOPLE
One of the reasons why we, the people of God “resist” the judgements of God is because we don’t understand the judgements of God. We live in a generation that has theologically, and practically marginalized the Biblical theology of God’s corporate judgements upon a people.
Examples of God judging His covenant people are found from the beginning to the end of the Bible. He blesses, protects and releases plagues and armies upon the children of Israel all throughout the Old Testament. In Revelation Jesus affirms, rewards and warns the 7 New Testament Churches (Revelation 2 & 3).
The Lord judges His own people for five reasons:
A. To curb and contain the harmful effects of sin and unrighteousness. If God didn’t contain sin it would quickly overrun and destroy His family, and His creation.
B. He judges to refine the heart and ways of the Bride, so we learn to operate in righteousness.
The word righteousness literally means “the right order of the King”. Through His judgements, analyses and corrections, the Lord is training us to live, act and think the way the King does.
Isaiah 26:9 tells us “When the Lord’s judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”
As we respond to His judgements, we are actively making ourselves ready for the day of His Son’s return. On that day the apostle John declares, “we shall be like Him!” (1 John 3:2). John is saying, “On that day, the attitudes in our hearts will look like the attitudes of our Bridegroom.” In preparation for that day, the Lord is judging and purifying these attitudes in our heart now. This is what Paul meant when he said the Lord is preparing a Bride for Himself who is “glorious – not having spot or wrinkle – but holy, and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27)
C. The Lord judges the Church in order to reward His sons and daughters who are embracing His way of righteousness. This element of the temporal judgments of God is largely ignored. The Lord is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) (Proverbs 8:17 and Lamentations 3:25)
D. The Lord judges the Church first so that the world will learn how to respond to a God they have not known.
The apostle Peter observed: “Judgement must begin with the house of the Lord, and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?.” (1 Peter 4:17)
Judgement must begin with the people of God so that when the Lord’s judgements fall on the nations, (and they will) the unbelievers, whom God loves, will have seen living examples of how to respond appropriately to this God they’ve never known.
Our response to the Lord displays two important dynamics to the watching world:
1. Our response displays the nature of God’s heart (ie. He is holy and merciful; gentle and zealous; filled with long-suffering and tender toward the humble; He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.)
2. Our response displays how one is to come before this God. (ie. We enage God with honesty, humility, fear, rejoicing, exaltation, reverence, hope, intimacy, prayerful expecation and faith.) This gives those who do not know Him, a paradigm for understanding how to engage God for themselves.
E. The final reason He judges is to punish those who are perpetuating the way of sin and unrighteous within a community or region. If they don’t repent, and they influence others to not repent, scripture tells us the Lord will deal with them in His wrath.
“in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:5)
It’s vital that we understand that there is a great difference between God’s judgement and God’s wrath. God’s judgement isn’t the same as God’s wrath. If we confuse the two we will forever respond incorrectly when the Lord brings His judgements into our lives. After God judges we may experience His wrath. But we also may experience reward and/or increase.
The Holy Spirit is like a good football coach who sees; analyzes; strategizes with us personally; prescribes an improvement regimen; evaluates; praises; disciplines; reevaluates; encourages; cheers etc.
When, however, we’re intolerant of His correction, rebuffing His good advice; (from God it’s perfect advice) it’s within our Creator’s holy right to punish us. And, after we push through every “perfect” hurdle He puts in our way, ultimately to even cut us from the team on account of our insubordination.
Unless we understand that this year has been a year of the Lord judging His people, we will misunderstand the nature of the episodes we’ve encountered, and we will offer God, ourselves and our world insufficient, and even detrimental solutions. Over these months He’s been allowing the “trouble” into our world to produce pressure in our lives, in order to show us where our hearts need to be strengthened in His grace. Through each episode of “trouble” He is ssuing a summons to His people: “Come to Me! Humble yourselves before Me! Inquire of Me! Let Me show you where your heart is in trouble. Give yourselves to My perfect and loving probing analysis.”
“Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Blow the trumpet in Zion. Consecrate fasts. Call sacred assemblies. Gather the people. Sanctify the gathering places. Assemble the elders. Gather the children and nursing babes. Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar. Let them say, ‘Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them.” (Joel 2:12-17)
THE JUDGEMENTS OF THE LORD ARE INCREMENTAL AND PATIENT
God’s judgements are gentle to begin with, but gradually increase in order to counter our natural resistance, in order to give us maximum space to respond (He is amazingly merciful and slow to anger), and in order to bring forth the maximum manifestation of Christlikeness and first-commandment love.
“The Lord always uses the least measure of pressure to produce the deepest level of response unto the greatest expression of love and faithfulness.” Mike Bickle
Every one of God’s judgements are issued to amplify love, life and righteousness. Even the Lord’s most severe judgements are focused on bringing forth good on the earth and in the Church; not evil. As we respond in humility to His judgements we actually repent away from the puddles of unrighteousness into the ocean of exhilarating righteousness. Every bit of our repentance empties itself into increased intimacy with the Lord!
The late Leonard Ravenhill observed, “In his mercy, God will produce a new race of Christian, anointed with a new zeal, a new passion, a new love. They’ll say: ‘I’m going to live from the crown of my head to the souls of my feet – on the altar, in His glory and for His glory.”
The reality Ravenhill envisions is also the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic declaration of first-commandment love in the Church. “You SHALL love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
Halleluia! This is where we’re going, friends! Through all the shaking and refining the Holy Spirit is producing a Bride who has “made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7) who is filled with wholehearted, faithful and sacrificial love for Jesus.
With this in mind, we can actually embrace His judgements and declare with David: “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:9-11)
Throughout this year, the Lord’s invitation has been filled with unending mercy. Though prophets and politicians have promised visions of quick relief, and many in the household of God have become side-tracked, protesting our right to have our lives, schools, economies, amusements, politics, and Sunday mornings return to normal, the Lord is graciously providing His people with ample time and space to seek His face and adjust our ways.
THE LORD’S JUDGEMENTS ARE ALSO INCREMENTAL AND ZEALOUS
While we understand the Lord to be patient and filled with mercy, it’s also critical that we know that the Lord’s open invitation will not always remain. The judgements will increase in severity, and it will require more and more for us to respond faithfully to the Lord. We don’t want the Lord to speak like He did over the unfaithful elders of Israel: “Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me… they did not walk in My statutes; they DESPISED MY JUDGEMENTS, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’… Then I said I would pour out My fury on them…to consume them.” (Ezekiel 20:13)
Should the Bride continue to resist responding to the Lord, she will not learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:9) She will not prepare herself for His return. And the world will see no pattern for how to respond to the Lord when His judgement fall on the whole earth.
Furthermore, if we don’t engage in this deep repentant work, the hearts of millions of our American sisters and brothers will be hardened by the strong delusions, fear, animosity and the mounting cultural rage that’s swelling around us – many unto the shipwreck of their faith. (1 Timothy 1:19)
If we do not respond to His judgements in our rest, He will purify our ways in unrest. He’s made a promise to His Son. He will not relent from preparing the Bride. It’s important that we keep this portion of the Psalm 2 narrative central in our minds.
The Lord knows the depth of our innate desire to control our own circumstances and our resistance to His intimate leadership. Today He’s saying to the self-determining Church, “I’m not asking you to put your hope in sacred assemblies, or secret warfare tactics in order to stave destruction from the Church, and your land. Beloved, the truth of the matter is you needed the Joel 2 model two decades ago. I’ve been holding out His blueprint for corporate prayer in the Church, conference after conference; ministry strategy after ministry strategy; building project after building project; new fangled format after new fangled format…”
Yes, this is stark. But is this not where we are in 2020? If the rolling sequence of calamitous events have not convinced us that we’re in a desperate hour of intensifying judgement; an hour for which the Church has no clear and united answers, an hour that demands the wholehearted deployment of corporate prayer, what will?
We have a great need to set aside our ecclesial rhythms in order to give ourselves to seeking the Lord and examining His Joel prescription for a people in crisis. If we did, we would see that through all the plagues, cultural, agricultural, economic, political and ceremonial calamities of Joel 1, the Lord Himself identifies with the enemies of Israel, and not with His own covenant people. And we’d tremble at the degree to which we, like Israel, have developed arguments against the prophets of God, and worn long furrows in our ways of self-justification:
“Alas, for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty… The earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble… The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One Who executes His Word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?… (Joel 1:14-15; 2:10-11)
A mature analysis of the heart of the Lord found in the Word of the Lord regarding the Day of the Lord should produce within us a great fear of the Lord.
REPENTANCE UNTO THE LORD
Humility and repentance are God’s solutions for a people who are living in “a time of trouble”. If the Church is to find refuge in the Lord in this hour we need to understand the Biblical concept of repentance.
Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him. (Joel 2:12-14)
As the Day of the Son’s appearing approaches earth will offer Him one of three responses:
1. We will rebel and resist the coming of His reign.
2. We will reach for our self-exalting rights
3. We will repent and rejoice at Who is arriving and what His reign will look like.
What is our response when the holy God comes to sinful humanity and illuminates our minds with the need to adjust our ways? Are we offended that we’re called sinful and deficient and imperfect? Are we ashamed to have our unrighteous ways pointed out? Do we console our soul with a doctrine of righteousness that shuns accountability for the way we live our lives, the values we embrace, and the attitudes that fester in our heart? Those who see, repent. The humble yield into His gracious reign.
Repentance is the appropriate response of a sinful, vulnerable, impaired, unfinished, and wise people.
It’s the Lord’s kindness (Romans 2:4) to expose our weakness and the poverty of our ways. His call to repentance is an invitation for us to shift our thoughts, actions and paradigms from that which is insufficient, to that which has the capacity to remain and prevail. The Holy Spirit ardently wants the Church to be strengthened to prevail through the great hour of testing that’s coming, and fully prepared to embrace the Bridegroom God. Repentance is our beacon to heaven signaling that we’re aware that our own will and instincts are flawed, that we’re yielded to the Spirit’s good and perfect management, and we’re earnest about living under the loving reign of the King.
The Lord’s call for the Church to repent is His gracious space for us to prepare ourselves for His Son’s arrival. No one is as committed to our preparedness as the Father is. All of our hearts have room for more glad-hearted agreement and yieldedness to the marriage and He has in mind. Our “yes” to His call to repentance is our joyful RSVP to His invitation to His Son’s wedding supper. And it is the manner in which redeemed humanity declares our willingness to live under the reign of this perfect and everlasting King.
Jesus’ Bride must be prepared for His return. And our preparation is accelerated in the context of tribulation. As the Lord approaches, the unrighteous kingdoms of this world will naturally resist the dawning light of His return. His presence spells a new order to this planet. Just as Jesus’ first coming produced great conflict, rage and opposition, His second coming will produce all the more. His first coming came with a call for humanity to align themselves with the order of His government. Forgiveness was granted. Grace was extended. Power to live in righteousness was released. But residents of the earth had to purposefully divest themselves from the tyranny of the old order, and ally themselves with God’s approaching government. The call to submit to a new Kingdom was the central message of John the Baptist’s ministry. It was also the opening line to both Jesus, and the apostle’s public ministries:
Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)
From that time, Jesus began to declare, “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
Then Peter said, “Repent each one of you, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 2:38)
This same exhortation heralds the Lord’s second arrival today. The return of the Lord Who will rule the nations in love and righteousness is at hand. This time He’s coming to rule and reign over us forever.
Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)
Here’s the “trouble”. Our world isn’t ready for Him to rule. And the Church isn’t ready for the way He’ll run the Family. When we turn our eyes from the poor, oppressed and needy; when we wink at gross sin, tolerate hostility, make excuses for operating outside of the Sermon on the Mount, coddle bitterness, idolatry and malice in our own hearts; when we harbor faithless and unloving accusations in our heart against Him, Himself, the evidence is in. Our hearts are still invested in an old, anti-Christ order. We’re guilty of not being in love with Him, not trusting Him, and unprepared to live in agreement with His administration of the earth.
Will the Bride make herself ready? Will humanity yield to the King Who has already been installed upon Zion (Psalm 2:6)? Everything in God is focused on making sure that the inhabitants of the earth acknowledge the goodness of His decree: “Jesus Christ is Lord!” (Philippians 2:11)
Consequently, as the day of His return grows closer and closer, any word of direction, or exhortation to the Church, (no matter how eloquent, popular or zealous) that doesn’t come with an appeal to bow before the King in humility, and repent of our contra-Kingdom ways is an undisguised deviation from the way of the Lord.
Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth. (Isaiah 40:3-4)
The greek word for “righteousness” is dikaiosune: the etiological meaning of the word is: “the right order of the king”. When the king reigns over a realm his laws and attitudes are what govern the people of that region. Righteousness is nothing but the reign of Jesus over His creation as He intended it. His heart is love, so His Kingdom and those in His Kingdom are expected to love and live in love. His heart is holy, kind, noble, joyful, peaceable and meek and so as we live in His realm, under His reign, we manifest His qualities. Concurrently, unrighteousness are all those behaviors and attitudes that are in opposition to the reign of the king.
Jesus said the Holy Spirit would convict us of “unrighteousness” (John 16:8), meaning He would show us those places and ways in our life that are in opposition to the ways of the King.
Isaiah 40 makes it clear: the supreme-motivation for human repentance is not revelation of the the depth of our sin, but revelation of the approaching, inexpressible depths of His glory…
Sadly, the American Church has spent a generation marginalizing this foundational dynamic and finds herself with few leaders and teachers who understand the deep wisdom and power of Biblical repentance. The Biblical concept of repentance is made up of four words – two from the Hebrew and two from the Greek.
• Metanoeow – Think new thoughts about God. Let Him renew your mind and give you His worldview.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
• Hupostrepho – Adjust your course and return to the Lord
For He will turn many in Israel to the Lord their God. (Luke 1:16)
• Nacham – Share My heart
O that these people might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, their hearts might understand and they might repent and be healed. (Isaiah 6:10)
• Shubv – Burn your house down and leave with Me
Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. (Ezekiel 14:6)
THE SPIRIT OF REPENTANCE WILL BE ON THE EARTH
The Lord’s call to repentance in this hour isn’t a call to a monolithic act. He’s calling us, the Church and our culture, to a spirit of repentance.
The civil rights movement wasn’t a 30-minute prayer. It was years of addressing the inequity of what our culture had become; borne out of the spirit of honestly, humility and contrition. The degree to which we’re out-of-kilter with Jesus’ Kingdom is even greater than our dis-alignment with civil justice. The call to repentance is a call to a new, humble, self-crucifying, life-altering paradigm until – “justice (the right order of the King) runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24)
We must establish New Testament communities that teach it; that train the people of God in it; that contextualize it; that celebrate it, and that live repentance.The church doesn’t know the dimension of repentance and prayer that the Lord is leading us into right now. It’s a foreign paradigm. It’s not merely a eccentric experience that a few of us engage in. It’s a whole new way of relating to Him that’ll require a reestablishing of our corporate paradigms. It’s putting public prayer and repentance ahead of everything else in the Church. It’s what the Church does when it gathers for Sunday worship, women’s groups, social-service activities, board-meetings, conferences etc. and ultimately it’s the wineskin the Church invites new believers into – not merely at a single point in time – but a lifestyle – now until He returns. This is where the Lord is leading His Church in the seconds before He returns – into the same “over-the-head-waters of repentance” that John the Baptist proclaimed to the multitudes in the days before Jesus’ first arrival. Repentance is humanity’s appropriate response to the cry: “Behold the Bridegroom!”
Throughout this last year, the Lord has been “hemming us in” until the only solution is for the Church to succumb to His new normal – to seek His beautiful face and repent into our abandonment unto His increase. The repentance that’s in the Holy Spirit’s heart in this hour is a rich, magnificent fanfare to yield everything that resists the glory of the coming King and our alignment to His earthly government of perfect love!
O Beloved, how deep COULD BE our repentance!?
“Come, and let us repent before the Lord… that we may live in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.” (Hosea 5:1,2,3)
Holy Spirit, give us a repentance that’s filled with the vision of what our Bridegroom King is worthy of.
THE 7 JUDGEMENTS OF THE LORD
As the events of 2020 unfolded, through our weak prayers, our House of Prayer gradually began to recognize that the Lord was speaking to us about distinct issues – all related to the events of the year. He was allowing flashpoints of judgement in our land to impact the Church, and then watching, reproving and rewarding the Church for the way she was responding to these real-time events.Like His analysis of the seven Churches in Revelation, a portion of His instruction was loaded with exhortations to repent, while other parts were filled with great encouragement. Week after week, as the troubling events unfolded: through COVID, church closures, being deprived of entertainment & recreation, economic indigence, death, family separation, race riots, deceitful reports, dissension in the Church, signs in the heavens & earth, loss of freedom, decapitation of unrighteous leadership, anarchy, and the incursion of godless leadership we went before the Lord, ardently examined the scriptures, engaging Him in dialogue in prayer, often through late nights and days of fasting. Eventually we condensed the list to the seven issues that are listed below; seven issues that the Lord has underscored through national events, signs and prophetic acts. We can truthfully say, these seven exhortations have emerged from “between the porch and the altar”. (Joel 2:17)
The Lord not only identified seven issues that He was judging within the Church in America, He confirmed them through prophetic words, supernatural signs, and natural events in our society. Each of these seven issues form the foundation of the way our hearts are, or are not aligned to the “order of the King”. If not addressed, they also possess the capacity to exponentially corrupt whole people groups.
What follows is meant to be brought before the Lord in prayer. Each “judgement” includes a brief explanation, a cultural context, scriptures and a practical prayer example to help lead the humble in repentance and agreement with the Lord. It’s not enough to say we agree. We need to allow our agreement to bring us into a mutual, prayerful embrace of His ways so we may declare with David: ”The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:9-11)
The Creator God is calling the American Church to be encouraged in her fight against the national sin of ABORTION. The Lord loves our zeal for the unborn in the midst of a culture of death. He wants to reward and strengthen us for the prayers and righteous intervention on all levels of the pro-life work. Abortion is murder. And it is humanity’s capital crime against our Creator God’s most fundamental assertion of human life. It’s the primal transgression of the Genesis 3 garden: independent self-determination.
The Lord is also calling our evangelical family to repent of the subtle ways we contribute to the spirit of abortion in our society: through apathy, politicization, pornography, the sexualization of women, and the abortion of the Word of God.
(On June 28, the United State Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have required abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital, dealing a blow to anti-abortion efforts. In September President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barret to serve on the Supreme Court; a conservative judge whose influence will likely shift the legal standing of abortion in our nation.)
Father, we live in a culture of death. We’re facing a giant that is bigger than our collective power. We need You to supernaturally intervene, Father. We’re asking for You to end abortion in America. Raise up winning arguments, pro-life agencies, welfare leaders, laws and lawmakers that will protect the life of the unborn. Bring down demonic strongholds, confound the plots and strategies of the enemy. Strengthen Your daughters and sons who have stood for Your life-purposes against the tide of unrighteousness for decades. Release fresh heavenly strength to stand in the gap for this issue.
Forgive us as a people, for where we have grown apathetic, and where we have succumbed to unbelief in our fight against this holocaust.
We also repent of the many other direct and indirect ways the Church has contributed to the social factors that support abortion. Forgive us for treating pornography and the sexual exploitation of women as slight things in our midst. Forgive us for accusing people groups of sin without entering into the plight of our neighbor to bring them Your hope of abundant life. Give us the fear of the Lord, and a whole heart to turn from these ways. Forgive us for the many places we’ve also preferred our own ways and rights and aborted Your Word in our lives. We pray this for the sake of Your glory Father, and in the name of Your Son, Jesus.
The Father of the Bridegroom is calling the Church to walk with renewed wisdom and redemptive faith regarding living in a culture that increasingly embraces the curse of HOMOSEXUALITY. Just as abortion is hostile to God’s fundamental act of creation, homosexuality, same-sex-marriage and transgenderism are self-exalting acts of sedition against God’s sacred design for our identities, and our most intimate covenant relationship: marriage. It’s no disconnected coincidence that our culture’s increasing normalization of homosexuality has come during a 40 year period when the Church has also almost entirely forsaken the way of the cross. The Lord wants to embolden us as we proclaim “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) to a culture that encourages every man to embrace the curse and all the appetites that accompany the uncrucified self. He also warns us to not be deceived by a gospel that does not call the person to take up their cross; leaving the old Adam intact and filled with pride.
(In June, the Supreme court also decided, by a 6-3 vote, that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars job discrimination because of sex, also must now be applied to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The threat of a federal ban of “conversion therapy” has also significantly grown over these past six months. For only the second time in our nation’s history, in 2020 both the Democrat and the Republican candidates curry the LGBTQ vote and favor same-sex marriage.)
Father, we repent before you for elevating a self-retaining Christianity in our generation. We’ve not embraced, taught or trained our sons and daughters in the way of the cross. Consequently, our flesh has ruled the church, and our gospel invitations have called an accursed world to the shallow end of the pool. Forgive us for creating our own gospel, built on the exaltation and not the crucifixion of self. Baptize us, Father into the Matthew 10:38 way of Jesus. “Unless you take up your cross and follow after Me, you are not worthy of Me.” Give us boldness to proclaim the uncompromising power of the cross to all segments of our sin-entrenched society. Forgive us for where Your sons and daughters have succumbed to unbelief in bringing Your hope to those trapped in the lie of homosexuality, transgenderism and same-sex-marriage. Forgive us for increasingly adopting the world’s faithless view of this issue, and treating homosexuality as a slight thing in our midst. Forgive us for accusing people groups of sin without entering into the plight of our neighbor to bring them Your hope of abundant life. Give us the fear of the Lord, and a whole heart to turn from these ways. Release fresh heavenly vision in the place of intercession for this issue. We pray this for the sake of Your glory Father, and in the name of Your Son, Jesus.
The Lord of the Nations is calling His children to humble ourselves, seek His face and take the cross to our centuries-old sins of racial hostility. He’s calling us to thoroughly turn from our self-justification, and hear His heart for the ethnos in our communities. He’s also empowering us to live in meekness with those affected by the generational sins of our fathers. We need a thorough appreciation of the mercy He’s extended (and extending) to us re: our father and forefather’s sins of RACISM, slavery, dehumanization, murder, and genocide. And He’s calling us to engage in the hard, Kingdom work of celebrating and championing His Kingdom purposes for black, native, hispanic , etc., individuals and cultures. Racial insensitivity is an abuse of God’s sacred design for human community. He loves the diversity of nations, and the multifaceted ways they express His glory.
(The riots that rose from the race-based murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery , etc., served as stimulants for a tsunami of protests, debates and demonstrations that have exploded, in both unrighteous and righteous ways, across the United States and the world. The enemy continues to use the fire of ongoing racial flashpoints to ignite unholy responses within both politically conservative and politically liberal segments of our society. The Lord is calling the Church to cultivate her voice to call an racially angry, wounded and fractured nation to the way of the cross.)
Father, we need You! We need Your heart and Your wisdom to know how to navigate our relationships with sisters, brothers and neighbors from different races. You’ve established us as a country made up of vastly different histories, cultures and backgrounds. Thank You for the beauty of the diversity. Forgive us for the many ways that we’ve not valued what You have blessed us with. We ask You to forgive us as a nation for abortion and sexual immorality, now, also forgive us as a nation, for the official policies and personal proclivities of subjugation, genocide and dehumanizing discrimination. We acknowledge that the centuries of unrighteous attitudes and cultural ways have left deep scars on millions of native, black and hispanic lives and families. Forgive us for attempting to distance ourselves from our nation’s sins, and our neighbors’ pain and brokenness. We repent of this sin against Your intent for us as Americans, AND as Your spiritual family. We repent and wholly turn from our nation’s history of racial sin. Forgive us for attempting to justify ourselves with unloving and critical arguments that only further poison the well. We ask for the shed blood of Your own Son to cover us, and the pure water of Your Word to heal us and unite us. Your righteousness is the only way to heal the maze of wounds and relational paradigms. Give us grace to show compassion to one another. Give us grace to walk humbly with one another. Give us grace to champion and celebrate one another. We pray that You will, in all manner, be glorified through our racial relationships – under the authority of Your Son, Jesus.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is calling His gentile sons and daughters to be strengthened for the days ahead when Israel, and the Jewish people will be in need of our prophetic understanding, advocacy and material support. There’s a great blessing that He is ready to pour out on His Church for the many ways she can continue to honor Israel and God’s leadership through the nation of Israel.
He is also calling believers to amplify our prayers for Israel, and take the cross to our self-centered view of the Kingdom, and our laissez-faire attitude toward God’s covenant promises regarding the Jewish people. These are sins of arrogance against God’s Word and His promises. It’s also passive (and sometimes not-so-passive) toleration of ANTI-SEMITISM – an unrighteous dynamic that will tragically only increase on the earth in the months and short-years ahead.
God’s heart for Israel was most vividly underscored when the height of the world-wide lock-down coincided with the feast of Passover; a time when the Jewish people celebrate God’s jealous protection from the judgments on the earth, and His faithful leadership into the land of blessing.
(On June 28th of this year, a growing network of anti-Semitic governments and organizations united to observe a world-wide protest of the existence of the nation of Israel. Remarkably, this protest is officially dubbed “The Day of Rage” – a blatant reference to the nations raging against the Lord’s sovereign leadership in Psalm 2. “Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing?” (Psalm 2:1) This portentous day, passed, barely noticed by most believers.
Israel was also thrust to the forefront of the world stage in 2020 when President Trump initiated and signed a controversial peace accord with a growing league of nations and Israel on September 15th.
In addition to these events, many of the theological arguments denouncing ethnic diversity that were launched against the cries for racial justice over the Summer of 2020, also overtly violate the distinctive beauty of the Jewish people – especially Messianic followers of Y’shua – and harbor a self-aggrandizing spirit that works in partnership with replacement theology.)
Father, just as we need Your wisdom to know how to navigate our relationships with sisters, brothers and neighbors from different races, we confess our own ignorance regarding Your relationship with the Jewish people; the sons and daughters of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You’ve established Your eternal covenant of love and faithfulness to these people; many of whom are also our sisters and brothers in Messiah. They are our older brothers and sisters in the family. We are the ones grafted in; recipients of Your long-reaching mercy and grace through Your Jewish Son, Y’shua. Thank You for the ways that You display Yourself through Your relationship with the Jewish people, and, in these last days, through Your faithfulness to the nation of Israel. Most especially, thank You for the gift of Your Son through this nation. We are humbled to be brought into Your family through His covenant love. Forgive us for the many ways that we’ve forced ourselves to the center of Your redemptive covenant and excluded, erased, exhibited hatred and devalued Your sons and daughters through whom it came. We, gentile believers acknowledge that the centuries of unrighteous attitudes, policies of persecution, murder and cultural ways have left deep scars on millions of Jewish people and families, and have done great harm to the proclamation of Your gospel of peace. Our catholic and protestant histories stand naked before You, Father. We repent and wholly turn from our pattern of this great racial sin. In Your mercy, teach us the ways of Your family. We humbly ask for the shed blood of Your own Son to cover us, and the pure water of Your Word to heal us and unite us into the one family of Your desire – for the sake of Your glory, Father.
Throughout 2020, the Lord has been no more persistent about any of the 7 judgements than He has regarding His call for His Bride to repent and take the cross to our sins of NATIONALISM and POLITICAL IDOLATRY. It is instructive to note that this sin plagued Israel throughout her long, tumultuous history in the land, and was the target of repeated rebukes and judgements, king after king, and prophet after prophet. It stands to reason that since the Lord has already “installed His King upon Zion” (Psalm 2:6) He takes a dim view of His people clamoring for another administration. For those who “barter after another god” God promises: “their sorrows shall be multiplied.” (Psalm 16:4)
On so many levels we American believers have been exchanging our godly zeal for political zeal, and championing carnal and even “anti-christ” behavior in order to secure the power of government. This compromise is multifaceted and deep. It touches on how we address the sins of abortion, racism, homosexuality and other issues of unrighteousness in our land. Essentially, it is the sin of Israel’s desire for Saul (1 Samuel 8) and it strikes a blow against the heart of the Lord. He is a jealous God Who longs to intimately display His strength to do good one behalf of His people:
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him… Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’
So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them… According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.’
So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, ‘This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you… And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.’
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:4-20)
The close, close parallel between the cultural atmosphere that drove the leaders of Israel to clamor for a king who will “fight our battles”, and the one present among so many Christian leaders in our day is alarming.
The Lord loves our nation. He loves the people and families of our nation. He cares about their needs and hears their cries for justice. In our pursuit of righteousness He is zealous to extend mercy to us for our many national sins, that the glory of our nation would truly be established upon the depth of the mercy that He has shown us. He also loves our passion for righteousness within our communities, in our government, our law-enforcement systems, businesses, schools, medical institutions and our many many works of social justice. He’s inviting us to seek His face and be strengthened in prayer as we take His redemptive stand against the deep sin, injustice, corruption, deceit and the proliferation of godless humanism in our land. He’s also calling us to repent of the inordinate (idolatrous) ways that we’ve put more trust in the power of our vote than the power of our prophetic, intercessory and evangelistic voice to affect His rich, thorough vision for righteousness in our nation.
(It’s no coincidence that 2020 was the year that brought us perhaps the most contentious election in American history; bookended by not one, but two impeachments of the same President, and impacted by an open, armed attempt to take over the United States Capital building. Even the unredeemed soul can feel the storm that has formed over our country. In the middle of this hostile year, the Lord delivered a stern warning to those who would force their own way, and promote the glory of the nation without humbling themselves under His merciful judgement.
In May, the Lord gave me a dream where numerous leaders within the household of God were seeking shelter from a violent thunderstorm. In their desperation, they lashed themselves to the base of the Washington monument, only seconds before a giant lightening bolt struck the tower and brought one-third of the edifice crumbling to the ground. In my dream, I heard the voice of the Lord declare: “Decapitation.” And He indicated that it would commence in 12 weeks – the beginning of August.
Three weeks after the dream, the Washington Monument was actually struck by lightening. [This is the picture attached to this message.] Eight times during the next 12 weeks the Lord had me write about the dream and His word “decapitation”.
Then in the first week of August, exactly 12 weeks from the date of the dream, the president of the nation’s largest evangelical university, one of the first evangelicals to endorse and champion President Trump, and the co-founder of the Falkirk Center, a Christian-nationalist, political think-tank, was caught in immorality, and abruptly removed from his multiple posts. Decapitation had come – at the very time God indicated, and over the very issue He was judging the Church: idolatrous nationalism.
In May, the morning after the dream, I wrote: “The Lord said to me, “Even this will not turn the heart of My Church. A few days after the decapitation, the events will barely be remembered, and many will even be emboldened in their unrighteous ways.”
Note: Many friends and ministry associates, across the nation have asked me a lot of questions about the “decapitation” prophetic dream. They were reading what the Lord had been telling me throughout the summer. Some of them felt a similar sense in their spirits… Some have queried, “What else is the Lord showing you about the future and the social furor surrounding COVID and the political civil war?”
By the grace of God, I can honestly say, I don’t know what’s going to happen. He is our vision. And He hasn’t given me a gift to see into the future. He’s simply called us to be a friend of the Bridegroom, and given our little house this single message to declare; a message He’s literally backed it up with thunderbolts:
Our hearts, like our New Testament forefathers who heard of the Lord’s dealings with Ananias and Saphira should be steeped in the fear of the Lord right now. (Acts 5:5) Instead, what the Lord hears in the camp of His people is revelry, war and open rebellion. (Exodus 32:15-35)
The striking of the Washington Monument, and the decapitation that He brought about in August is the beginning of a punishment that will come upon all who do not repent of their unrighteous alliance with political idolatry.)
Father, we, Your people need You. We need Your divine, intimate guidance in our land; our communities; our churches; among our leaders; and within our hearts. We confess that we have a zeal for righteousness, but it is not in accordance with the truth of Your order. We have sought to establish our own version of righteousness at the expense of Your righteousness. Consequently, our churches are barren, our vineyard is stricken with draught, and there is no revival in our land. We humble ourselves before You, unified in our repentance over our many adulteries. We acknowledge that we have done wickedness. We’ve turned aside from Your ways so often, we no longer know the way of justice, truth and love. Our generation has rejected Your way of the cross. We’ve retained arguments for all the ways of self. And we’ve compounded our blindness with the confusion of our own groping. Lord, we need You. Give us the fear of the Lord that supersedes our fear of liberalism and socialism. Give us a love for Your judgements. Give us a deep humility that cleanses our soul of all pride and pretense, that we may walk in Christ-like love for others, and wholehearted fidelity to You. Above all else, make us Your people, who champion You and Your glory.
There is so much that can be written about this judgement in this hour. This spirit is more ubiquitous, and furtive – and thus has the potential to destroy (like odorless poisonous gas) than any of the other issues under judgements This one toxic dynamic of the soul has become the pre-eminent “familiar spirit” of our age. It can only be driven out by prayer, fasting and the thorough application of the cross.
The Father is urgently calling the redeemed to repent and take the cross to the ways we’ve embraced the anti-Sermon-on-the-Mount spirit of antipathy, hostility, animosity and unforgiveness toward one-another. These sins of bitterness are severe enough to defile the whole body (Hebrews 12:15) and even warrant the punishment of hell. (Matthew 18:21-35) Our casual attitude toward Jesus’ words in (Matthew 5 – 7) are providing a dangerous foothold for the enemy of our soul, the spirit of anti-Christ, and very soon, the influence of the anti-Christ himself.
The tempest of evils that have besieged our world during this season have set our social-media platforms ablaze with cursing, anger, racca, mocking and “unfriending”. With a few strokes of a keyboard, we possess the capacity to fan every social commentary into infernos of untempered hatred and hostility. This firestorm has engulfed our Kingdom family like literally nothing I’ve ever seen. Over the last four years our evangelical culture has swallowed this burning poison with little to no restraint. We have excused anti-Sermon-on-the-Mount behavior as “character flaws”. We have given leaders special dispensation to operate in this spirit for the sake of expediency. (As if Jesus didn’t really know how to establish righteousness in a fallen world.) We have cheered, liked and laughed as leaders have repeatedly repudiated Jesus, word-for-word; refusing to forgive enemies, and mocking Jesus’ admonition to “turn the other cheek”. And we have made no distinction between those who occasionally stumble in their pursuit of righteousness, and those who live their whole lives championing a cursing, anti-Sermon-on-the-Mount spirit, in themselves, their relationships, and in their dealings with the world.
If we could see this unrighteous issue from heaven’s perspective, we’d see a carnage of souls in every direction. If the Sermon on the Mount comprises the constitution of Jesus’ government on the earth, then the abrogation of His Words in this sermon comprise Jesus’ definition of “lawlessness”. This is then, also the spirit that will animate the anti-Christ, (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9) and the spirit to which millions of believers will be blind, and will receive Jesus’ soul-arresting rebuke at the end of the age.
“Many 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?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice LAWLESSNESS!’” (Matthew 7:22-23)
(In our little prayer room in Arizona, we have one document to help lead us through a daily pattern of humility and repentance. It’s a line-by-line journal of the 55 injunctions from Matthew 5, 6 & 7: The Sermon on the Mount. As we pay attention to Jesus’ words in these chapters we understand what He longs to see His Kingdom look like within us, in this age. AND we also see pictures of what His Kingdom will highly prize in the next age. We will engage the spirit of humility and repentance no more surely than to intimately dialogue with the Holy Spirit over Jesus’ soul-illuminating words in the Sermon on the Mount. The application of these Words, IS the “washing of water by the word” that “sanctifies and cleanses” us unto being “His glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle… holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26,27)
Holy Spirit, take us on the journey of illuminating our heart with the Words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Give to us a spirit of humility and repentance from our self-ways of unrighteousness that so easily cling to our hearts. Give us a spirit of zeal and hunger to receive the King’s ways of righteousness, that we may be “conformed to His image” (Romans 8:29), and “fully pleasing” (Philippians 4:18) to Him.
The Sovereign Lord Himself is calling us to repent and take the cross to our stubborn, self-driven PRAYERLESS SPIRIT. As the Lord has brought His judgement to every village and continent in the world, the Church must bend ourselves to receive the Lord’s new, “essential normal” for His people: Messiah-enthroning humility, repentance, rejoicing and prayer. Jesus is urgently calling His people to embrace a lifestyle of prayer that is borne on the fear of the Lord, and nourishes a faithful love for the Lord.
This is more than engaging in a few moments of crisis prayer, or attending a prayer rally. It is understanding that we live in an enormously self-reliant culture that’s incapable of navigating what’s about to come upon us on planet earth. It’s also determining instead, that we will build our whole lives upon beholding, inquiring, listening, fasting and interceding for God’s glory in our lives. This, above all else is the magnificent and essential shift that Jesus is calling the Church to make in this hour.
The most intense cultural-political-social-emotional-relational-spiritual confluence humanity has ever seen is building around us, and about to thunder across the earth. This isn’t a “prediction”. It’s a Biblically-educated pastoral word of preparation. This cataclysmic clash will consist of
…whole cultures raging against God in unrighteousness,
…murderous racism and anti-semitism,
…conservative and humanistic ideologies warring for authority,
…false religious prophets and “saviors” deluding and anesthetizing billions,
…the most deceitful, destructive and popular leader to ever live,
…compounded darkness, and intensifying demonic activity,
…economic collapse and restructuring,
…piercing Holy Spirit repentance in the fear of the Lord,
…martyr-like first-commandment love for the Lord,
…the changing of the expression of true Christianity in hundreds of cultures,
…the awakening of billions of hearts to the revelation of Jesus Christ,
…the release of Exodus, Acts and Revelation Kingdom power within the Church,
…signs in the heavens and on the earth
…as well as the Lord’s zealous, perfectly orchestrated judgements in the Church and the world.
Regarding this period of history Jesus warned: “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.” (Mark 13:19-20)
Lifestyles of prayer are the only way the Church will emerge with the wholehearted love and devotion she’ll need for the return of the Bridegroom.
It’s a set-up, beloved. He’s prepositioning His people to need to intimately dialogue with Him so we engage the thorough work of conforming our heart, mind, words and ways to His brilliant image.
(This prayer-shift is more fully explained here in this article: “The 2020 Paradigm Shift – The Year One Thing Becomes The One Thing Needful”)
Father of glory, we confess our great need for You in this hour. We need Your divine, intimate guidance. We also confess that we have marginalized the place of prayer in our corporate expression of the Church. We are not at all like our New Testament forefathers. We’ve gone years without participating in prayer. We’ve not built our ministries, our plans, teachings or small groups on prayer. We’ve attempted to administrate Your church without prayer. Far too often, our pastors, elders and leaders have not even given themselves to prayer. We have essentially said, “We can run God’s business on our own.” We’ve not waited for Your Word, Your resource, Your direction, Your encouragement and Your timing. We are like King Saul who offer the people religious tokens without waiting on the presence of the Lord. Forgive us, Father for being so impetuous. Forgive our arrogance and our push for success at the cost of seeking Your Face and Your sovereign leadership. We have known the way, and we’ve not given ourselves to it. We’ve not only failed to pray. We’ve rebelled against You in our neglect of prayer. Have mercy on us, Father. Crucify our self-willed hearts. Raise up hearts that look like Your Son Who was constantly in prayer – even in the hours and minutes before His death. Make us a lavishly praying people that accurately reflect the heart of Jesus. Thank You, Father.
A SUMMARY OF THE 7 JUDGEMENTS OF THE LORD
With all humility, but with the strength of thousands of hours of prayer over the last 16 months, I submit that if the Church in America were one of the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus’ message to us in this hour might sound something like this:
To the Church in America that I love write these words:
I rejoice that you champion life. Receive My Word, and don’t abort it. My Word is life.
You who see the boundless corruption of the unfettered self; you have need of encouragement in your stance against the compounding curse of homosexuality. Take up your cross with Me, and together we will plunder the camp of all engaged in sexual immorality.
Because you stand with Israel, you stand with Me. I will enrich you with the wealth of My blessings.
Celebrate My heart for the beauty of race. I will give you grace for your many sins and the sins of your nation. Have confidence in My grace; not your excellence. The fact is, you have not been excellent in this. Be zealous with My compassion, and repent.
You have played the harlot and turned a blind eye to great evil for political power. If you continue to find refuge in this idolatry, I will decapitate you from the Head.
Yield and champion My constitution. Love meekness. Champion mercy. Hunger and thirst for righteousness. Love all people.
Pray and seek My Face. Without My breath you will be defenseless against what is about to come.
All who respond to My judgements I will cherish, protect and lead into My promised Kingdom.
THE UNAVOIDABLE NATURE OF THE JUDGEMENTS OF THE LORD
In Exodus 32 Moses and Joshua are upon the mountain, engaging the presence of the Lord. While they are being filled with the glory of the Lord, below, the sons of Jacob, bored and distracted, begin to give themselves to an unholy exhilaration:
“Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” (Exodus 32:5-6)
There are two noteable elements about this story. a.) the people of God, under God-ordained leadership, view their activity as a service unto the Lord”. (v.5) While the Lord looks upon the same activity as corruption (v.7). This discrepancy is at the heart of the judgements of the Lord. We see our lives and ways imperfectly – even under a veil of delusion. We can be deluded into believing that what we are celebrating is good and even holy. We need the clear-eyed judgement of the Lord on our lives to see goodness and holiness from God’s eternal perspective.
The second salient feature of this story is that Joshua, who has been steeped in the counsel of the Lord, even when he hears the “festival singing” and “playing” and “dancing” of the people (v.18) he understands it to be the “sound of war” (v.17) against God.
“When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp. But he said: ‘It is not the noise of the shout of victory, nor the noise of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing I hear.” (Exodus 32:17-18)
When one has been in prolonged periods of prayer and fasting before the Lord, and then returns to the “norm” of the Christian culture, she/he often feels the great disparity between the Lord’s plumbline, and the people’s playing. 2020, and its attendant pressures have been nothing if not a season of carnal clamor in the camp of the Lord.
Bored and disconnected with the pure essence of God, our family has learned to make ourselves merry, measuring ourselves according to the unholy paradigm of our evangelical culture, rather than the unadulterated plumbline of the Lord.
Israel’s idolatry was more than a “one-off” set of dysfunctional behaviors. The people had taken significant time, contributed what was precious, and fashioned a golden calf, undoubtably a familiar deity, one that offered them more predictability and apparent security than this formidable and frightening God of Moses. Furthermore, the lust for this deity was significant enough to keep many from joining forces with Moses when confronted with the folly of their behavior. It had undoubtably become attached to a narrative and a world-view that looked more appealing than remaining faithful to the one who had led them out of slavery and provided them with a way of miraculous escape when the Egyptian army threatened to annihilate them. It was no shallow party. To many, it had grown to be a wholehearted “religion” sufficient to inspire songs, dances, festivals and personal sacrifice wherein which the people authentically believed they were offering service “unto the Lord”. (Exodus 32:5)
In the verses that follow, we discover that the reckoning of the Lord upon His people was painful and clean.
“Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.” Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book…. (and) the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.”(Exodus 32:25-30; 33)
As the judgement of the Lord manifest itself upon the people, there was no bartering with the Lord. One either renounced their idolatry, repented of their sin, and announced their abject fidelity to God, or they were detached from the Exodus that He was accomplishing.
He detached thousands who had covered their doorposts with the blood of the lamb (Exodus 12:13-28), and had sung the song of Miriam at the destruction of their enemies (Exodus 15:1-21). He severed all who opposed His paradigm, though it had not been fully revealed. Those who had reveled in the golden deity rather than trust in the fiery, unapproachable God would proceed no further unto the land of promise. Without humbling themselves before His adjudication and dealing with that which was defiling their relationship with the Lord, Himself, they were finished. Literally.
It should be an occasion for us to tremble to remember that the same God of Sinai is the One Who walks among the Churches of Revelation 1, 2 and 3. The One Who is leading the Church out of this age, and into the next under His authority is the One Who rewards, Who releases pure judgements, and removes lamp stands. He is our resurrected Jesus.
The Lord Who purged the covenant children of Jacob, is the Lord Who purged the covenant people of Thyatira, is the Lord Who is purifying the covenant people in America. This reality should bring every praying assembly trembling to our knees. It should cause every believer to bring every stain of racism, pride, idolatry, hostility, antipathy, indifference and selfishness before the refiner’s fire, in the fear of the Lord.
Beloved, (and we are – Hebrews 12:6) evangelicalism will not experience the fulness of the presence of the Lord in this hour without dealing with our wayward hearts. The Lord simply isn’t going to turn a blind eye to our false-prophecies, idolatries and contra-Kingdom ways. He knows what’s under our rug. They must be addressed, repented of and purged from our camp. Any talk about personal power and revival without talk about a purifying repentance borne on a paradigm of prayer is exhorting us into one more false way, in a year of many false ways. Neither is it being circumspect about the Biblical record of God’s dealings with His people.
The appropriate response of the people of God to the purification of God is corporate prayer and repentance before God.
In this hour, appealing to a sentimental false-grace theology, redacting the past, pointing at our ‘enemies’, justifying self on the curve, counting on the mere passage of time, or promising to do better will fare us no better than they would had our forefathers plied them at the foot of Sinai, or the city of Sardis.
The judgements of the Lord are unavoidable. And while they are an invitation to dialogue, they are not open for debate. His assessments are clean and target-specific. They are altogether true and righteous. He knows the incessant inclination of the human heart to duck and cover. And He also knows how to separate our rhetoric from reality.
Appealing to a sentimental false-grace theology, redacting our past, pointing at our ‘enemies’, justifying self othe curve, counting on the mere passage of time, or promising to do better will fare us no better than they would had our forefathers plied them at the foot of Sinai, or the city of Sardis.
Neither are His judgements optional. He’s promised a Bride aflame with first-commandment love to His Son. I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion… Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for an inheritance.” (Psalm 2:6,8) “Understand what the will of the Lord is… that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:17,26,27) Beloved,He knows how to bring our spots to the surface.
The good news is, He loves us. He wants us. He’s committed to us. And He has an abundance of grace for every cleansing judgement that’s coming.
The sobering truth about our situation is, this grace will only be accessed by much prayer. And prayerlessness is one of the indictments the Lord is currently bringing against our evangelical culture. This means that in order to respond Biblically to the Lord, one will have to engage in a counter-cultural lifestyle; one that won’t be applauded by mainstream Christianity, and will seem “out-of-step” with what the church around you is doing. It will be no less difficult than for you to have said “no” to the revelry in the Israelite camp: “No. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15).
Beloved, the judgement of the Lord is in our camp. Like Moses (in Exodus 32:26) He is separating those who will surrender to His leadership, from those who will only offer more excuses for why the judgement of the Lord shouldn’t apply to the way they’re living their lives.
In the face of charges of social insensitivity, racism, idolatry, political partisanship, compromise, sexual immorality and false prophecy, our evangelical family is launching boat-loads of these arguments. It’s vital that they be seen for what they are – self-justifying defense-mechanisms of the shamed and the desperate that have no power to shield us from the depth of true holiness that the Lord is intent on forging in His Bride.
For all who yield themselve to Him, He offers us the “dead-end” way of the cross. (FYI – It’s supposed to look like a dead-end.) That’s what things look like before “resurrection”.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons…He (chastens us) for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-8, 10-11)
THE WISE RESPONSE TO THE JUDGEMENTS OF THE LORD
How then is the Lord calling His people to respond to these judgements?
A scripture the Lord repeatedly turned our House of Prayer to during he 180 days of focused seeking His Face was Psalm 2. In this short chapter He paints His own fierce perspective of the sweep of human history. In the last few verses of the Psalm, (v. 10-12) He issues several injunctions that tell us how to respond to Him now, so that we are prepared for the great day of His arrival. Every phrase in these three verses is worthy of long meditation, dialoguing, prayer. Heeding these instructions is supremely wise. Obeying His Words in these verses will infuse our lives with vibrant strength for the time that is coming.
Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2:10-12)
A. Realize that these are words of instruction for believers.
These words are not only an exhortation to the unbelieving nations. They’re also an exhortation to the luke-warm Church. Believers are called to be kings and priests. (Revelation 1:6) The redeemed are also to be judges of the angels and the earth. (1 Corinthians 6:3) (Luke 22:30) The Psalmist here is speaking to all kings and judges on the earth, including those within the household of God. The Lord is saying it’s wise for His people to know how to respond to His judgements. Not only do we need to know how to modify our behavior, we need to know how to establish new lifestyles that have the capacity to rejoice in the unearthly ways of the King.
When we perceive His pressure on our world, it is wise to cultivate a way of living that is able to be instructed, so that we learn the attitudes that are pleasing to our coming Lord. (Isaiah 26:10). The seven judgements of the Lord are intended to instruct the Church about her ways, and demand a wise response from the household of God!
B. Develop a life that sees your life from God’s perspective
Serve the Lord with fear is essentially a call to live our lives with a clear understanding of the magnificent majesty of God, and the rightful claim that He has on our lives. We are His people. He calls us to live unto Him according to the sweep of His eternal storyline, not out the littleness of our own temporal perspective. This is living life through the lens of David, of whom Paul recalls in Acts 2: “David served the purposes of God in his generation and then he fell asleep.” (Acts 13:36) David lived his life in radical pursuit of understanding all of Who God is, and what God was doing in his age. The wisest thing a person could do is to give themselves to beholding the magnitude of God, and catching a glimpse of what He is doing in her/his generation, so that she/he may throw her/himself into the Lord’s purposes with abandon. Through the seven judgements of the Lord, He is displaying what He is like, and what He values. He is also summoning those who will lay aside the personal liberties of our culture in order to serve His purposes re: abortion, sexual immorality, Israel, racial relationships and faithfulness in a Sermon-on-the-Mount lifestyle of prayer.
C. Rejoice With Trembling
Rejoice with trembling. This exhortation is simply stated, and is the most vital of phrases in the Lord’s prescription. The Hebrew word for rejoice is “gheel”. It has a 3-fold meaning: It means to REJOICE; to REPENT and to EXALT. Let’s break these words apart even further:
Gheel = REJOICE with trembling
The first element of this phrase entails an command to shout for joy, with trembling.
Our glorious Bridegroom, Jesus is coming! He is the perfect leader our hearts have always longed for. He is majestic in His beauty. He is also more radiant, holy, powerful and “other” than our senses can bear. Though we are filled with exhilaration at Who He is, we, like John in Revelation 1, fall at His feet like dead men because of the density of His glory. If our hearts do not rejoice, they will flee from the presence of this One. There is coming an hour when it will be supremely wise to have learned to rejoice in Him. To cultivate joy-filled confidence in His goodness no matter what the external circumstances look like. This is a muscle that needs to be developed today. We will have great need of this muscle to carry us through the judgements of God as we transition from this age to the next.
This is the reality Paul describes in 2 Timothy 4:8 “Finally there is a crown of righteousness reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day, and not to me only, but also to all who love His appearing.” This rejoicing, first commandment love for Him actually serves as a protection for our hearts, so that we remain faithful to Him through all the shaking and purifying fires that are about to come upon our world.
A rejoicing Bride, steeped in first commandment love is also the great promise that the Father and the Holy Spirit have made to the Son.
Gheel = REPENT with trembling
We spent time unpacking the Biblical dynamic of repentance earlier in this treatise. The type of repentance that David is exhorting us to here is one that is borne from the revelation of the Son, Himself. In the wake of the revelations of His glory our appropriate, trembling response is repentance. He is perfect and holy and filled with glory. And we… well. When we come at repentance from this angle we see an endless ocean into which we may repent – not merely a dank mud-puddle of unrighteousness that we’re repenting out of.
The most sufficient enticement into repentance is the beauty of Jesus. Every bit of repentance empties into His increase. And the closer He comes, the more we’ll see what and WHO we desire to repent into. The longer we prayed in 2020, the clearer it became that the Lord intends to release a viral repentance in the Church, and in our nation that’s borne out of a viral revelation of Jesus’ beauty.
Ultimately, a spirit of repentance brings us to our own cross; the cross we take up daily. When we come to repentance from this angle, repentance is no longer an avenue unto the salvation of self. Repentance is only the avenue unto the utter loss of self, and all that it promises, for the abject purpose of worshipping and being aligned with the arriving King. Though we love Him, as we yield ourselves to Him we nonetheless tremble at the real pain, the real loss and sacrifice that we endure as we do.
Gheel = EXALT with trembling
The true fact of the matter is, nothing will deter the increase of the Son, and His inheritance of this world. The Psalmist exhorts all of humanity to “Be still and know that He is God. He WILL be EXALTED among the nations.”(Psalm 46:10) The Father, and all of heaven will exalt His Son in that day. It is profoundly wise for the inhabitants of the earth to use times of shaking, like 2020 to acclimate ourselves to that reality. Our world is not going to always remain the same. We’re under the guidance of a Divine timetable. We’re transitioning from the age of the curse, to the age of His blessing.
He’s looking for a people who will exalt and herald the sufficiency of Who He is for this hour of human history. He is the perfect lover of weak human hearts. He is also the perfect judge of that which corrupts love, and His reign of love. And He is coming to earth, to save and to separate. The spirit of exaltation is our RSVP to His inauguration over the governments of this world.
“Come. Let us EXALT His Name together” (Psalm 34:3)
Again, as John beheld the One Who was coming, he cried out: “He must increase. And I must decrease.” (John 3:30) Today is an excellent time to exalt Jesus and give way to His increase. The more we give ourselves to His exaltation, the more we see that this undertaking is even worthy of our decrease.
In the book of Revelation, we have a more complete picture of Jesus Christ than we find anywhere else in the Bible. And the revelation of this Man engenders more of the complete nature of “gheel”, than perhaps anywhere else in the Bible.
“In the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Revelation 1:13-18)
The wisest endeavor we could give ourselves to in this hour is to learn to rejoice in, repent unto and exalt the Jesus of these verses.
D. Cultivate a life of intimate worship
Kiss the Son is an admonition to worship Jesus with intimacy and deep honor and affection. This is the believer’s primary and indispensible power-source in this hour.The more we experience the tenderness of His heart toward us, the more our hearts are tenderized toward Him and His ways. Around the world, the Lord is raising up marvelous communities of praise that are steeping the heart of His Bride in intimate worship. The increase in this dynamic is no accident. It’s a bonafide, strategic movement of the Spirit intended to strengthen and exhilarate the Church through the exaltation of the beauty of the Son.
Even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. (Isaiah 56:7)
E. Develop a mature theology of God’s anger and wrath
But the phrase also says, “lest He be angry and you perish in the way when His wrath is kindled but a little”. Why would Jesus be angry? As His reign dawns on the earth, should we not acknowledge all that He is, all that He’s done to show us mercy, and all that He’s capable of, He is right to consider us as rebels to His leadership. There are real reasons to fear the anger of a perfectly loving God Whom we resist. The choice is ours. See Him for Who He is, and let His love overwhelm us, or resist His reign and declare that He is unfit to rule the world, and your heart.
“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!” (Romans 2:5)
Those who resist His love, and essentially make this declaration against God will perish, meaning, they will be bannished from the life-giving reign of the Lord. Many who perish will be real, Church-going, Bible-reading Christians. Many will be leaders who operated in the rhetoric of delusion, who failed to surrender their view of themselves and the world when God revealed His perspective through His judgements. Millions will suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:15; James 3:1) And some will be lost altogether. (Matthew 7:23; Matthew 25:12)
“So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes from the vineyard of the earth and tossed them into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” (Revelation 14:19) “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:6)
Beloved, the Lord’s wrath is about to be “kindled but a little”.
F. Secure the blessing that comes from trusting the way of the Lord
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
As the Lord illuminates our hearts with His judgements, He is inviting us into the way of faith; to trust what He is saying about our lives, our churches, our beliefs, our politics, our society, and our heart attitudes. Putting our trust in Him looks like the Church giving themselves intently to what the Lord is saying, establishing ways of “seeking His face”, listening to His Words, heeding His directions, repenting of everything that is out of line with His heart, and learning to revel in His ascending beauty. Those who relate to God in this way during the time of trouble will experience the blessing of the Lord. Their heart will be kept safe. Their voice will be honored and empowered. They will experience the anointing of the Lord. They will understand themselves to be favored, and smiled upon by their Father in heaven as He is preparing a place for them in His Son’s emerging Kingdom.
The alternative to trusting the Lord is to live under the weight of the flesh-trusting curse described in Jeremiah 17.
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert. And shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness. In a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord… The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart. I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways…” (Jeremiah 17:5-7; 9-10)
The veraicity of our trust should be a matter of great dialogue with the Lord in prayer.
I can’t overemphasize what a vital passage Psalm 2 is for the Church to understand and apply in this hour! As we concluded our 180 days of prayer in 2020, the Lord led us to the narrative of this Psalm again and again. It was abundantly clear that He was telling us: “It is soundly prudent for you to thoroughly respond to these directives.”
Praying and growing in these dynamic realities is how we respond well to the judgements of the Lord. In this way the Bride makes herself ready for His return.
“See that you do not refuse Him Who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him Who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him Who speaks from heaven.” (Hebrews 12:25)
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” (Revelation 21:9-11)
A CORPORATE RESPONSE TO THE JUDGEMENTS OF THE LORD
Psalm 2 details the solution the Lord gives to those who are “In the time of trouble… Psalm 2 is how we Seek His Face!” (Psalm 27:5, 8) This response, more than any other exhortation in this booklet, is the heart of what the Lord is calling us to in this hour. The Lord is faithful. If we were to simply set our face to seeking Him by dialoguing the Word with the Holy Spirit, worshipping and interceeding with Him for our hearts and our world, He would sufficiently lead us into the place of help and prevailing steength.
However, when the Lord called David to “seek His Face”, He was calling him to something more than a singular event. The Lord’s exhortation to David was to cultivate a lifestyle, and then create a cultural vehicle where the people could cultivate a lifestyle of encountering the presence of God.
This vehicle was ultimately the “temple of the Lord”, dedicated by David’s son, Solomon. On the day that it was dedicated, this is how the Lord met His people who were entering into His paradigm:
“When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying: ‘For He is good, For His mercy endures forever’.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3)
Once it was established, the temple shaped every aspect of the way Israel related to God.
In our day the Lord is issuing a similar summons to His people. He’s calling us to adjust our foundational experience of how we relate to Him, so that encountering the intimate, dialoguing presence of the Lord becomes the Church’s essential normal.
This shift is about“seeking God’s face” so that prayerful dialogue becomes the cultural norm in all of our gathering together: within families, churches, small groups, ZOOM meetings, ministry boards, and workplaces.
If we have experienced the calamaties of this year and we are spending no more time in prayer, seeking the Lord, listening for His voice, and beholding His beauty and His sufficiency, we are not following the Davidic model, who routinely “strengthened himself in the Lord”. Without the Lord’s strength on the inside, we must not be deluded; our souls are in danger. We are not preparing ourselves for the increase of trouble that lies ahead. Our minds and our hearts will be buffetted by the storm of accusations, conspiracies and sensationalism that will increasingly fill the world. In this hour of compounding confusion and tribulation those who not develop the primary paradigm of corporate, intimate prayer, will see neither our world nor our God aright, nor will we respond to Him and His judgements as we need.
It’s the people who cultivate the expectation of the Lord’s Word-speaking, life-stabilizing presence who will receive the Lord’s harvest…
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:23)
…and be prepared to receive the Lord Himself.
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matthew 25:13)
The Lord of the Church is astoundingly faithful. The next season of the Church’s life will be filled with the compassionate, healing presence of the Lord, supernatural signs and wonders, miraculous reconciliation of families, races and churches, millions being delivered, saved and added to our number. But this Kingdom reality will break in upon us as humble, united, intimate, God-seeking, corporate prayer becomes our cultural norm.
An Urgent Response to the Judgements of the Lord
The Lord is returning, and He is zealous for the heart of His Bride to be made ready to meet Him.
Beloved, we are no longer in the season of Joel, when the judgements of God may come upon us in the future. We’re in the season of Jeremiah, when His judgements are here, now, entering our gates and confronting our hearts, our relationships, our paradigms and our priorities.
Behind each of these judgements is this one historical reality: Jesus is about to physically return to this world. And His arrival is an event that our Americanized Christianity has not given us a grid for. The perfection of His ability to lead bids us to seek His ways for everything in our lives: the way we love our families, the way we do church, the way we evangelize, the way we engage politics, the way we pursue justice, the way we care for our neighbor, the way we pray for revival – all of it, must be aligned to His ways and His approaching reign.
Just as in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus is walking among His lampstands, analyzing His Church, looking for a turning response to His Words of blessing and rebuke. This is the dynamic that’s presently at work in us through the judgements of 2020.
(Incidentally, this is why the second part of this booklet contains a practical guide to repentance. This section is intended to be a holy stimulant to a prayerful, heartfelt response to the Lord’s judgements. However the prayers in the next section strike you, please do not merely read this first section, and neglect the next. Prayer and repentance before the Lord is what this work is all designed to engender.)
As millions respond to Him in meekness and yieldedness, the Lord will release a supernatural spirit of humility, repentance and tenderness within the Church that will explode across the world, unseat principalities and demonic powers and sweep billions into His Kingdom.
“In that day… I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain. I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.” (Zephaniah 3:11-12)
At the same time, millions will not respond to His judgements well; neglecting His gracious offer to commune with His ways of righteousness. Bound up in the issues of our day, their hearts will be filled with pride, self-justification, and bitterness toward others. Tragically, we already see the lines of this ruinous way of thinking taking shape. So many do not want humility. Millions will not seek Him in prayer. In spite of the barrenness and increased difficulties, millions merely continue in a dead and dying shell of powerless religion.
John the Baptist made this same sobering observation about the people of God, who walked in darkness (Isaiah 9:2), in the days before the first-coming of the Messiah:
“Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:10-12)
Matthew’s very next words were: “Then Jesus came…”
Beloved, this must be the focused attitude we clothe our minds with in this hour: the expectation of the Lord’s arrival. We don’t have multiple seasons of life to prepare our hearts for His return. His judgements are here – now – urging us to make ourselves ready for the Righteous King Who is on the doorstep of our world.
In the end, through all the judgements of the Lord, the Father is producing a people who will stand on the earth and sing these words: “You and all Your judgements and statutes are true and righteous. Every one of them! You knew the way for the human heart to live. We didn’t. You have proved that the way to live fulfilled and blessed is to be be filled with poverty of spirit, meekness, kindness, tenderness, forgiveness, compassion, peacemaking, empathy, love and patience. You alone are our Lord. You alone are worthy to rule humanity, forever!” (Revelation 15:3-4; Revelation 16:5-7; Revelation 19:2)
PRAYER: Father of glory, we declare our preeminent desire for You in this hour. We want to desire You the way You desire us. Take our hearts. Shape our attitudes. Judge our motives. Show us. And forge our spirits for what is to come. We yield ourselves to Your good purposes. Prepare us for Your Son! Amen.
JSB • March, 2021