Train of thought
It's not just God and yourself
First posted: October 11, 2009
Word received by: Noe Leon
The following train of thought comes as a consequence of various emails that we have received since we posted the "Should we continue?" word on 1 June 2009. Our intention here is to clear up some misconceptions that we have noticed many believers have with regard to the believer's spiritual work whilst he or she is on this Earth. To some of you, the ideas below will seem as a repeat of principles we have shared many times on this website, but, given some of the responses we have received in reaction to the 1 June posting, it becomes evident that the concepts below need to be enunciated once again. In fact, it is the Church's inability to truly comprehend the concepts below which has led to the latter-rain revival being delayed and to America (and the world) being on the brink of losing the manifestation of the latter-rain revival during this generation. The concepts detailed below are contrary to traditional "Christian" thinking due to the fact that man's traditional paradigms have refused to align themselves completely with what the Spirit of God reveals in Scripture.
In some of their responses to the 1 June 2009 posting, visitors have emphasised that God is faithful and that this writer sounded too hopeless, concluding, therefore, that I was not trusting enough in God's faithfulness. God is indeed faithful; however, the issue that the Lord had us raise in the "Should we continue?" post was not related to His faithfulness. Instead, it was related to the faithfulness of those who bear His name. This writer knows that God is faithful, and I even touched on it in the 1 June post, but the problem is that God has placed my future in this world in the hands of others. Why? Because, when we yield our lives completely to God's purposes, we become living sacrifices on behalf of others. Unlike what most Christians tend to believe, our existence on this Earth does not revolve around the question of how we can live a happy and blessed existence. Instead, it revolves around the goal of furthering God's kingship on Earth, and that furthering involves the submission of human wills unto God, given that "conquering the Earth" is an empty victory unless the "earth" of men's flesh has been conquered as well. God has given man the prerogative to decide what will happen on Earth (Psalm 115:16), meaning that God cannot reconquer the Earth without passing through man's will. This is the reason why God asked Moses for "permission" to deal with the rebellious Israelites (Exodus 32:10). When we go beyond level-1 righteousness and enter into God's level-2 righteousness (the righteousness that furthers His Kingdom), God makes our lives susceptible to the rejection of others, and we are vulnerable to having our lives radically altered, and even terminated, by others. This is the reason why Jesus had to go through the process of standing before the people and being rejected in favour of Barabbas.
When Jesus would send the disciples in two's to a city or town, their future became susceptible to the town's acceptance or rejection of them. If the town accepted them, they were to stay in the town for days, executing God's spiritual purposes there. If the town rejected them, they were to leave and go somewhere else, meaning that their future (in the short term, in this case) would have been affected. Instead of living inside a hospitable home inside the town for the next few days and weeks, they would be travelling on the inhospitable road. In a sense, you can say that, where the town was concerned, the two disciples were "dead" because they were no longer there, no longer visible and walking amongst them. The "town" in this case can represent a literal town, and it can also be projected to represent the entire Earth or an entire generation of human beings. Therefore, a believer's existence on Earth can be terminated by others, regardless of what God may or may not desire.
Just to illustrate this principle even further, consider the case of Naboth. As indicated in 1 Kings 21, Naboth was murdered by Jezebel for refusing to sell his vineyard to Ahab, Jezebel's husband. Naboth was sentenced to death by the councilmen of his town, who chose to cooperate with Jezebel in accusing Naboth of a false crime, and, to seal the deal, they even brought up false witnesses who testified against Naboth. When Naboth was being killed by the people of his town, God did not send an angel to rescue him. He did not send Elijah or any of the 7000 remnant believers to rescue him. The termination of Naboth's time on Earth was decreed by the people of his town, and God did nothing (in the natural) to "overturn" that final decision. As you and I would agree, it was not God's will for Naboth's life to be terminated at that point, but, given that the townspeople didn't want Naboth around anymore, Naboth's life ended right then and there. The townspeople preferred to be in good standing with the royal family than to be in good standing with God, which meant that there was no reason for Naboth to remain alive in that town any longer.
When Lazarus, the poor man described in Luke 16:19-31, lay at the rich man's gate, full of sores and hungry, God did not send an angel to give him food. No group of people sent by God ever appeared with food and bandages for his sores. He died at the rich man's gate without God rescuing him from his situation. Why? Because it was up to the rich man and those around him to decide whether Lazarus lived or died. Was God unfaithful to Lazarus? The only way to answer "No" is to admit that Lazarus' continued existence on Earth hinged on the willingness of others to feed him and care for him. This is why Jesus says, "You saw me hungry, and you did not feed me; you saw me naked, and you did not clothe me; you saw me in prison, and you did not visit me". In other words, God allows those who have the Jesus anointing to be in need, and He gives the responsibility of those needs being met to others. Why doesn't the Father just feed Jesus when He is "hungry"? Why doesn't the Father simply "clothe" Jesus when He is naked? Why doesn't the Father just send an angel to visit Jesus when He is in prison? Why does He allow Lazarus to die at the rich man's gate without doing a thing? Because the continued existence of the people who carry the Jesus anointing hinges on the willingness of others to embrace and enable them. It hinges on the desire of others to embrace that anointing and walk in it themselves.
When the apostle James (brother of John) was murdered by Herod (Acts 12:2), God did not send an angel to rescue him. No army of faithful rose up to snatch James ("Jacob" in the original Greek text) away from the hands of Herod's soldiers. God simply allowed James to be killed by a man whose position as king was the reflection of a nation's spiritual indifference. Soon after James' death, Peter was imprisoned, but, this time, God did send an angel to rescue Peter from the hands of his captors. Why? Because there was a strong group of believers fervently praying for his release (Acts 12:5). In other words, Peter's ministry on Earth continued because there was a group of people who cried out to God for its continuation, fighting off the forces of spiritual indifference in Israel that had led to the death of James. Said another way, there was a battle of human wills when it came to Peter's rescue. On the one hand, there were the wills of the unrighteous and indifferent in Israel (these are the wills that enabled the rise to power of a man such as Herod); and, on the other hand, there were the wills of the believers in the Church who rose up from indifference and decided that they appreciated Peter's fruits and wanted him to continue alive.
Can we say that God was more faithful towards Peter than He was towards James? Can we say that God was not faithful towards Naboth because he left him to die in the hands of the townspeople? Of course not. Therefore, we can safely conclude that God's stalwart faithfulness in no way guarantees that our lives will not be prematurely terminated (figuratively and/or literally) by the unwelcoming will of others.
Thus, the question "Should we continue?" in the 1 June 2009 post was not to be answered by us, or even by God. It was to be answered by the Church, and, in particular, by "America's best". Expressing the possibility that my ministerial and/or literal life was about to be terminated cannot be taken as a lack of faith in God, for His faithfulness is not the final determining factor in the matter.
In the "Should we continue?" post, this writer speaks of a life wasted away pursuing what might have been a "foolish dream". In some of the visitors' responses that we have received, the argument has been made, either explicitly or implicitly, that our investment in pursuing God's wisdom could never be considered a waste, regardless of the price that had to be paid. Even though this is true, this argument does not address the issue raised by God in the "Should we continue?" post. Why? Because my life has not been geared towards the acquisition of wisdom and understanding for myself. In a personal search for wisdom, there is no one involved but God and oneself. One can be hindered by the will of others, but their will is not a determining factor. Had I been concerned about acquiring wisdom for myself, there would be no sense of frustration, no personal sense of loss and disappointment, because God has indeed been very kind and good to me in that regard. He has promised that those who seek Him shall find Him, that those who clamour for wisdom shall receive it (Jeremiah 33:3, James 1:5). Therefore, the only determining factor there is God's faithfulness. However, if I had only been interested in personal knowledge, I would have stayed at level-1 righteousness, and the well of wisdom would have eventually run dry, which is what happens to most ministers in the Church. There is a level of wisdom and understanding that is only given to people at level-2 righteousness, and that level requires an inherent desire to have the wisdom of God dominate the Earth. Level-2 righteousness is outward looking. It is not only interested in acquiring wisdom per se but in having that wisdom manifested in the lives of others; it longs for that wisdom to cover the Earth (Psalm 105:7, 2 Chronicles 1:10). We are not placed in this world solely to bless ourselves but to transform the world unto God (Colossians 1:28-29). If we are not transforming the world because the world is not interested in the transformation, there is no point in us staying around any longer. If the only thing that mattered were our personal relationship with God, wouldn't it be better if we simply went on to heaven to be with the Lord for good, as Paul declares in Philippians 1:21-24? This is why the frustration, disappointment, and sense of loss that the Lord had me express in the "Should we continue?" post is not because of my personal investment in "acquiring wisdom" but rather in my personal investment in seeing that wisdom manifested in the lives of others.
The question then becomes, "Can a believer make an investment in complete obedience to God and still have the investment be in vain?" To answer that, we have to go, not to what our natural minds may think, but to what Scripture has to say about it. Consider the following verse,
"I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." (Galatians 4:11)
Here, Paul is lamenting over the Galatians' spiritual regression, and, under the anointing of the Spirit, he expresses fear that his spiritual investment in the Galatians might have been in vain. Since it is evident (from Galatians 4:6 and other verses) that it was God who sent Paul to invest himself into the Galatians, we can conclude that God can send us into investments that can go sour, even if we are acting in full obedience to His will. Notice also how the verse above (along with its surrounding verses) expresses a great deal of personal pain and disappointment. Is this sense of pain and disappointment an expression of faithlessness? Does it betray the belief that God does not reward those who seek Him? No, because the regret is not over what God has yielded in return for our investment. It is regret over what others have done with what we have so lovingly sacrificed for their sake. God not only does not disapprove of such expressions of regret, He actually expects them. Why? Because God calls us to give our very selves in sacrifice for the sake of others, as opposed to merely giving from the excess abundance in our lives. When you invest your very self into a project, your heart will feel empty and ravaged when the project goes bad due to the indifference or unrighteousness of those for whom the project was created. That pain and sense of utter hopelessness is proof that you actually gave your very self. That pain and hopelessness is part of the sacrifice itself. This is the reason why you can find passages as dark and hopeless as Jeremiah 20 in Scripture, passages written under the anointing of the Spirit by men living in full obedience to the Lord.
Consider now the following passage:
"5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. " (Genesis 6:5-8)
Notice how the Lord expresses a sense of regret over having made man on Earth. If one sits down to study the 4 verses that precede the passage above, it becomes evident that God was intending to reconquer the Earth through "the sons of God", but these male-spirit people were being seduced by "the daughters of man", i.e.- those ruled by the female, earthly soul. He saw how His rebuilding effort was going to waste as man became more and more determined to follow his soulish ways and as those who were of the Spirit were turning their back on the Spirit and acknowledging the soul as supreme. Why didn't God react stoically to what was happening on Earth? If He is in control and everything is up to Him, why would He have any regrets? Why feel sorry for what was happening? Why would God regret having made man, as if to say, "Why did I invest Myself in this vain project?"
Therefore, we can conclude from passages such as the one above that the sense of frustration and "investing in vain" is not only experienced by God's faithful people; it is experienced by God Himself. In fact, it is precisely because of this that God's faithful experience it as well. As conduits of God on Earth, they manifest the emotions and thoughts that God experiences in heaven above.
Notice also that God said what He said in verse 6 even when He declares two verses later that Noah found grace in His eyes. In other words, He regretted having made man on Earth, even when the faithful man Noah was on Earth as well. Said another way, the presence of one faithful man did not prevent God feeling regret over having made man in general. Therefore, if a Spirit-filled believer expresses disappointment over the collective failure of a generation, it does not mean that he or she is not aware of the faithful few.
The following passage further certifies the idea that God's investments can go for naught:
"4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." (Hebrews 6:4-8)
Notice how verse 7 speaks of God's rain being squandered by an unreceptive field. If God Himself can make an investment in vain, His faithful remnant can too. This can happen even without God being unfaithful to us or us being unfaithful to Him.
As Hebrews 4:2 declares, the final success of God's investment hinges on the faith of those who receive it, not on God's faithfulness or the faithfulness of His messengers. It is not just a matter between God and the messenger. This is why a righteous investment can end up being in vain.
As a side note, it is worth noting that the passage above speaks of crucifying Christ again. Thus, it is possible for believers or a group of people to "crucify Christ twice", which speaks of forcing God's remnant to go through totally unnecessary suffering even after they have suffered all that they had to endure. Whenever God's remnant are forced into "gratuitous suffering" because of continued indifference and the continued squandering of God's investment, a cloud of cursing and destruction will be on its way (v8).
Given that we have proved that the life investment made by a righteous believer can go for naught, is it right for that believer to express sorrow and despair over the loss, or is it lack of faith? To answer that, we have to consider words spoken by the Lord prior to His death, when He lamented over how He had tried to gather Jerusalem's children as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings (Matthew 23:37). If it is wrong to lament, why would Jesus invest any time lamenting over Jerusalem's cold reaction (a reaction that led to His literal death)? As we said above, the act of lamenting is a natural manifestation of someone who has invested his or her very life into people who refused to respond. However, the lamentation is more than a natural reaction. It serves a spiritual purpose. Through the lamentation emanating from a righteous, sincere heart, shock waves are released into the spiritual atmosphere that force a change in the circumstances that are leading to the investment being squandered. This is the reason why the Lord says the following shortly before lamenting over Jerusalem:
"32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." (Matthew 23:32-36)
Notice how the Lord makes a reference to the blood of Abel in verse 35. As indicated in Genesis 4:10 and Hebrews 11:4, the blood of Abel cries out from the ground for justice, and God hears that cry. Therefore, we can say that the lamentation of God's remnant after their investment has been squandered by others triggers a vindicating reaction from God. As a result of the cry of Abel's blood, Cain was placed under judgement, and, as we have studied before, the "sons of Cain" listed in Genesis 4 represent the restoration process that Cain was forced to go through to compensate for what he had done. Had Abel's blood not cried out, the restoration process that led to the birth of Seth (from whom Jesus descended in the flesh) would not have taken place.
The lamentations of the righteous release cleansing judgements that prepare the way for the Lord's full manifestation, as evidenced by the verse that follows Jesus' lamentation:
"37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Matthew 23:37-39)
As shown by verse 39, the squandering of the remnant's investment drives away the Lord's visitation until those responsible for the lamentation have paid in full.
Various visitors have equated the sense of abandonment expressed by this writer in the "Should we continue?" post to Elijah's words as he ran from Jezebel:
"1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:1-5)
As Elijah felt frustrated for being "the only one", he first sat under a juniper tree. This incident in Elijah's life, however, happened as a result of a major flaw in his character. Notice that Elijah first left his servant at Beersheba and travelled for one day before he sat under that juniper tree. This illustrates the fact that Elijah was not interested in imparting the anointing within him to others. Even as he was planning on asking God for a "quick exit" from this world, he had no interest in imparting the anointing in him to someone else before departing. By leaving the servant behind, he was indicating that he did not deem his servant worthy enough to have what he had. The one-day journey indicates "one degree of separation". In other words, he perceived himself to be at a level higher than that of his servant. He did not see the servant as a potential son in the Spirit; he merely saw him as someone under him who could help him with lower-level chores, but who could never aspire to be like him in the spiritual realm. This reluctance to impart the anointing in him and his inability to see others as his equal can be seen in his refusal to obey God's command in 1 Kings 19:15-17:
"14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. 17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." (1 Kings 19:14-18)
After confronting him, the Lord tells him to go and anoint Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha. Scripture indicates that he only anointed Elisha, and, as 2 Kings 2 describes, he did so very reluctantly, seconds before he left the Earth, and only after having had Elisha as a servant for a season. Just as with his previous servant, Elijah planned on leaving Elisha behind and journeying on to a higher level that he deemed Elisha unworthy of. Scripture also indicates that it was Elisha who ended up anointing the other 2 men that Elijah failed to anoint, Hazael and Jehu. Why? Because Elisha had a different attitude from Elijah's. He actually wanted to impart the anointing in him to others, so much so that even his buried bones imparted his anointing to another man after his death (2 Kings 13:21). As opposed to Elijah, Elisha died with his wish unfulfilled of having someone walk in the anointing he had walked in.
From all of the above, we can safely conclude that, in order to be like Elijah, who was too blind to discern the 7000 faithful ones, you must have a subtle spirit of elitism. As I share in the "Should we continue?" post, I have longed to impart the revelation anointing in me to people I have encountered along the way in my personal life, but, once and again, I have always found that they are not completely interested. They have rejoiced in the revelation , but they have shown little interest in producing such revelation on their own. I have tried to take more than one person "under my wing", so to speak, so that they may walk in this anointing, but my efforts have always failed. Because of this, it is wrong for anyone to claim that I am like Elijah under the juniper tree. Elijah was tired of carrying a burden that he felt only he could carry, just like Moses, who quickly grew tired of having to put up with the rebellious people that he had spared (Exodus 32:10-14, Numbers 11:13-15). Moses passed up on the opportunity to have the fullness of the spirit in him imparted to a new nation of people (Exodus 32:10); after the burden became too heavy for his lonely shoulders, he was forced to accept a partial impartation (Numbers 11:16-25). In both Elijah's and Moses' cases, the burden became too heavy because they did not want to impart the anointing in them; in Elijah's case, it was because he felt superior; in Moses' case, it was he knew that such an impartation would imply the deaths of people his soul was attached to. Either way, their groans of "I am the only one" came from a deliberate decision not to impart the anointing in them.
The word "juniper" in 1 Kings 19:4 was translated from the Hebrew word rethem, which is derived from the verb ratham meaning "to bind, attach". This verb is only used once in Scripture, in Micah 1:13, to describe the binding of a chariot to a swift horse or mule. This points to the chariot of fire and horses of fire present when Elijah finally handed his mantle to Elisha. The word for "horse" used to describe the horses of fire in 2 Kings 2:11 is the word soos, which differs from the word ratham. Whereas soos speaks of grace, ratham has more of a connotation of "burden carrying". Therefore, when Elijah sat under the juniper tree and felt he was the "only one", he was doing it under the paradigm that everyone around him was a "mule", a ratham. When Elijah saw Elisha, he saw a "ratham", not a "soos of fire". I do not have such an attitude. On the contrary, I have longed to impart what is in me and to have others walk at levels higher than my own. I feel like there is so much in Scripture that I do not understand, and I would love to have others around me teaching me and explaining things that I have struggled for years (literally) to understand and have yet to comprehend. In short, it is wrong to say that the words in the "Should we continue?" posting are the words an Elijah sitting under the juniper tree.