Being a Prophetic People: Learning Righteousness in an Hour of Judgment

“When Your judgments are on the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)

The people of God were always meant to be a “prophetic people”.

We were called to interact with the Word-speaking God through the events of our lives for the purposes of discovering a.) the intimate, redemptive nature of our God, and b.) our great need to be intimately redeemed to God.

When God reveals Himself into human circumstances; through great blessings, war, plagues, rewards and even supernatural punishment Isaiah 26:9 states, “…the inhabitants of the world LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS”; that is, we learn how God wants us to relate to Himself. We learn that God’s heart is much more personal, and His ways much more powerful, and we learn the very opposite about ourselves. We learn that we are much more content to relate to God from a distance, and we learn that we vastly overestimate our ability to successfully live within a fallen world.

At the core of every prophetic event in our world, from the blessing of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, to Babylon, to the restoration of the nation of Israel, to 9-11, this is the root lesson that God intends for His people to receive: “A.) I Am trustworthy. I want you to come close to Me so that I may extend My faithful leadership over you. B.) Your hearts and your laws, and your customs, and your economics and your politics and your wisdom are not capable of navigating the evil and the threats that are in your world apart from being deeply dependent upon Me.”

When the Philistines were vexing the Children of Israel and they began to cry out for a king, YHWH spoke judgment through the prophet Samuel. The Lord said to Samuel, ‘It is not you that they have rejected, but it is Me that they have rejected as their king.'” (1 Samuel 8:7) In that moment both people and prophet learned a.) how deeply the Lord desired to personally administrate the affairs of His people, and b.) they learned how profoundly bent the covenant people of God were toward rebellion and independence.

When the prophet Jeremiah relentlessly issued the Lord’s messages of restoration year after year after year to the obstinate house of Judah Jeremiah learned a.) the long-suffering, grieving nature of the heart of the redeeming God, and b.) he learned just how hard-hearted the peoples’ attitudes were toward God’s tender and far-reaching mercy.

When the crowd on Pilate’s portico screamed “Crucify Him!” while appealing to the Roman governor to release a violent insurrectionist instead of their own long-promised Messiah, we all learned just how a.) meek and devoted to our salvation our God is, and b.) how hostile, self-reliant and deluded humanity can become.

We, the household of God, were always meant to be a “prophetic people”. We have a perpetual need to be reminded a.) how passionately our God longs to live with us in scandalous friendship, and b.) how grossly we miscalculate our ability to captain our own souls.

I say all this because for the last several years the Lord has been escalating the prophetic events in our American evangelical culture. I know it’s not popular to state this but 911 was a wake up call from God to a slumbering American Church. He even numbered the day, beloved! He was alerting us to the fact that a.) He wanted to be the center of our economic and military might and b.) we had become profoundly proud in our self-power to chart our own course in the world. Billy Graham, at the National Memorial service days after the catastrophe summed up the prophetic lesson in one phrase: “We have ALWAYS needed God!”

Cut to 2016. Our nation, and more importantly, the household of God (1 Peter 4:17) was about to enter into yet another level of prophetic judgment from the Lord. In an hour when social darkness was ravaging the land, would we elect a woman who was focused on endorsing unrighteousness and duplicity? Or would we campaign for a man who’s entire life had been a testament to the opposite of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? The choice seemed impossible. Millions of Christian leaders and believers haggled over the axiomatic, Biblical thing to do, as if we could attain circumspection without engaging the prophetic Voice of the Lord Himself. We chose to operate by principle, not prophecy, and in the end 82% of the people of God elected a Saul.

In the days before the 2016 election, several quiet prophetic voices in our nation heard the Lord weeping to us: ‘It is not you that they have rejected, but it is Me that they have rejected as their king.'” (1 Samuel 8:7)

The Lord had been calling His household to transcend the wisdom of the nations, and to a.) invite Him to intimately administrate and reign over our incarnational and intercessory assignment to America. Instead, like restless Israel we b.) chose our champion, who would fight for all the liberty that we said we could handle rightly. And in so doing, we dreadfully miscalculated our aptitude to achieve the Lord’s definition of greatness.

Six short years later… In spite of all our assemblies, our protests, our votes and our cursing the Church in America is much more divided, alienated from truth, adamant about our conspiracies, explosive in our dialogue, and determined in our rebellion. We are no closer to greatness. We do not have the harvest. And we are adrift from the Presence of the Lord.

In the fall of 2019, our little House of Prayer in the mountains of Arizona began to hear the Lord calling His people to “seek His Face” (Psalm 27:8); one on One; where we could see a.) the degree to which our God wanted to be our Present Help in the time of trouble, and b.) where we could discover how genuinely impoverished and unprepared our ways were. We weren’t the only ones. Other believers and Houses of Prayer around the world were hearing the same summons: “Seek My Face!”

The Lord led a handful of us to give Him 100% of our focus – for 180 days – from a time of darkness and blindness, into a new hour of righteous light and prophetic vision. Through this 6 month season He led us through the prophetic lesson: A.) I am a faithful and trustworthy leader and I want you close to Me. B.) You don’t have the ability you think you have to guide yourselves through the calamity and tribulation that has now come upon you.

Now, a scant three years later – and as I look around at the Body of Christ, I lament that we not only have not given ourselves to learning the A’s and B’s of righteousness, I marvel that we (the covenant people of God) can look back over the last 36 months and ascribe no prophetic significance to the season at all!

Rather than see the hand of the Lord in our events, we are hell-bent and content to credit plagues, riots, signs and stolen elections to nebulous and nefarious forces, an attribution and pursuit that teaches us a.) nothing new about Who our redeeming God is, (in fact it diminishes His intimate power in our lives), and b.) calls for no new understanding and appropriation of the nature of our weakness and vulnerability in the world. It’s as if we’ve had our eyes plucked out and dine on delicacies while the people languish in unrighteous captivity.

Our family has given ourselves to seeing much evil and conspiracy, and little eternal and even less contrition in the events of the last three years. With this in mind, it’s vital that we ask ourselves several remedial questions:

  1. What did we learn about the zeal of the Lord as He brought 195 nations to a complete standstill in one Passover week in 2020? What did we learn about our own ability to handle a world-wide plague?
  2. What did we learn about the nature of our God when both President and prophets falsely predicted the end of the plague at Easter, and then Pentecost, and then once the warm weather came? What did we learn about our own hearts to throw off forces that were out of our control?
  3. What did we learn about the justice and compassion of our God for the marginalized and the poor in our nation as millions rose up in lament, anger, protest and violence over the inhumane treatment of numerous black individuals in our culture? What did we learn about our own self-justifying nature?
  4. What did we learn about God’s jealousy to be honored in our political activity when He suddenly struck down the very first evangelical leader who openly and resoundingly endorsed our former President? What did we learn about how quickly we can be raised up, and brought low under the hand of God?
  5. What did we learn about God’s truthfulness and integrity when thousands upon thousands of evangelical leaders incorrectly predicted that our former President would be reelected (many promising in “a landslide”) in 2020? What did we learn about the willingness of our hearts to be deceived and to operate with no accountability?
  6. What did we learn about the redemptive ways of our God as we gathered on the steps of our capital to protest an election that our champion had lost? What did we learn about our own rebellious hearts?
  7. What did we learn about our God’s gentleness when millions of us refused to mask and/or be vaccinated against a disease that was killing our weakest neighbors? What did we learn about our own self-determined liberties?
  8. What did we learn about our God’s attitude toward generational sin when thousands of Native American children’s graves were unearthed? What did we learn about our own theology of self-justification and American principle of “manifest destiny”?
  9. What did we learn about God’s fervor to reverse decades of unrighteous laws, when Roe vs. Wade was overturned? What did we learn about a people who give themselves to unceasing prayer and justice in the land?
  10. What did we learn about the steadfast reliability of God when “the red-wave” failed to materialize earlier this month? What have we learned about our incessant desire to run to false-prophets for salvation and consolation in an hour when we desperately want relief from the pressure of God’s judgments upon us as a people?

These questions aren’t ancillary to our walk with God. They tackle the brass-tacks of what we really believe, and where and how we place our faith in a real God Who earnestly wants to govern us through real threat and danger. These are questions that the Lord has eagerly wanted us to bring to Him in His tent of meeting. In many cases He’s prearranged the pressures precisely so we would come into His Presence and inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)

He’s not relenting. He’s promised His Son a Bride without unrighteous spots, wrinkles or blemishes. (Ephesians 5) He’s promised His Son that when He returns His Bride will look and act and think and speak like Him. (1 John 3) If we don’t learn righteousness under the aforementioned conditions, He’s committed to having us satisfied in righteousness through more arduous conditions.

Rest assured. The more arduous conditions are about to come upon us – in order to teach us two things: A. The strong, glorious and redemptive character of Who our God is, and B. the great great need we have to live in vibrant righteousness under His Wings.

____________________
JSB • November 27, 2022

POSTSCRIPT: In the few days that have followed the original publishing of this article the Lord has released yet another level of judgment upon the Church in our nation. The issue has been brewing for years. The headlines of this past week, and our many comments and opinions on the subject tell us the Lord is inviting us into dialogue. The issue centers around our heart-attitude toward the Jewish people. Will we embrace the Father’s heart for covenant Israel? Or will we put our own self first, protect our idol and allow 1930’s Germany to come to our nation – into our churches? Have we really learned the lesson of our fathers? Or will we, join the spirit of the age and exalt ourselves in our own eyes?

We are in the process of being weighed, beloved. It’s a real judgment with real reward, and real consequence. It’s fraught with deception and temptation to alienate. As in the previous judgments in recent years there’s one road home. It’s the road taken by those who choose to be broken in an hour of self-exaltation; who see the wisdom of embracing contrition, and trust that repentance is what will (continue to) lead us deeper into the heart of our King.

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