Have We Ever Been This Way Before?
by Lonnie Lane
What if we really are in the last days? What if God is taking the true church into a time of preparation and sanctification such as the church has not experienced before? Might we not be somewhat like Israel who wandered around the desert for at least one generation who, upon the death of Moses, were now finally, by God’s grace, ready to enter the Promised Land of rest and of milk and honey? To a generation who only knew the taste of manna, what was promised by God could only be imagined; it had never been experienced. They could only wonder what milk and honey would taste like. Perhaps we, like they, “have not passed this way before” (Josh 3:4). I’m not making a prophetic statement here (necessarily); just musing. Trying to put more pieces of the present puzzle together.
While the earlier generation of Hebrews experienced the deliverance from Egypt and the miracles that took place early on, those who would be the ones to enter the Land had only heard about those miracles, experiencing less of them themselves. Like us today, if we are Yeshua’s we have tasted and found that God is good (Ps 34:8). He has sustained us with manna while we are yet not fully experiencing kingdom life. Some of us, however, have experienced His presence and power first hand, and more so lately. Many of us though have only heard about these experiences, or have read of them in the Bible, but they may not be our own. At least not yet. They will. In time. He promised.
There are reasons to believe that God is at work here and there in the earth to bring about the culmination of the age. We could actually be entering into the time where God is saying, “Prepare…to possess it.” (Joshua 1:11) Well, one thing is for sure, we’re closer than ever before. If, in fact, there really are signs of the Lord’s soon coming, if we are truly hearing the Spirit say to make sure your lamp is filled with oil for the Bridegroom cometh (See Matt 25:1-13), should we continue to pray as we have been for God to bring us into more of Him, or could it be that we should look at what He has already given to us, to what His Word already says, to what’s in front of us, or in our hands? Could He be here with us already and we have just to enter in by faith and “experience” Him now, to approach Him in faith that we can know Him deeply now, rather than always looking for more later, tomorrow, or yet to come, but not looking at what we have now? When my faith and my prayers are for later, I don’t experience Him now but when I come to Him as if He is with me here and now He lets me know He’s pleased with my faith and my desire to be with Him in the moment.
When Israel could have entered the Promised Land years before, they were overwhelmed and terrified because they were not prepared (See Numbers 14). They were still thinking like slaves, not conquerors. They were still oppression-minded and, even with the miracles that got them out of Egypt, they still could not comprehend how great was their God that He could keep them and lead them into what He had promised them. And so the wilderness. For forty years. A whole generation.
What have we been praying for in our generation? Surely our prayers today are for God to bring us into fullness, into the glory of His presence. If I recall correctly, the prayers during the early Charismatic days weren’t the same as they are today. Then we prayed for spiritual gifts and healings, for salvations (we always pray for salvations), and for tongues and interpretations. Then Renewal several years later brought cries for “More, Lord” as we entered into experiences of great joy in the Spirit which also served to bring down doctrinal, denominational and racial divisions in the church to a great extent. Recently, there have been a Spirit-inspired stirrings to see His Glory, and to enter into His presence, even into heavenly realms. Angels have often been present and have been visible in some of our meetings and with individuals in unprecedented number, not seen since the days preceding the birth of the Lord and then to assist the Infant Church. When God is doing something, angels appear! Check out your New Testament and note the times angels interact with people to accomplish God’s will. It’s happening again!! It’s supernatural!
A number of Sid’s guests have told of having been taken by God to heaven or to hell and living to tell about it. God sent them back to tell His people that heaven and hell are real places and that we must prepare for eternity as He is coming soon!!! Some people embrace these testimonies as being of God; others are skeptical. We must ask ourselves, Do I have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying? Am I seeking God to see what He would say to me in His Word about what’s going on these days? Are our ears being tickled with these things which we find interesting but they are not changing our lives? Is skepticism keeping us from being open to what God might be doing? If we do not properly interpret the signs of the times we can miss, or misinterpret, what He is saying to us and doing in our day.
On the other hand (for stranger things will come about, I suspect), we must be careful of just accepting anything that comes along unless it passes the tests: John said, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out in the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (1 Jn 4:1-4). Yeshua must be at the heart of whatever takes place. Does what takes place give the glory to Yeshua? Is the minister giving the glory and credit all to Him? Does it evoke worship of Him? Or is the man drawing people and attention to himself, for them to follow him rather than Yeshua in which case, flee! Look at the fruit. If Yeshua is being honored as our Lord and our God, and lives are being changed for the good, if wholeness, healing and peace is coming to them, if people are being saved and, as is recently being reported, resurrected from the dead (Hallelujah!), then we can be pretty sure this is of God.
The aroma of heaven is beginning to waft into our midst letting us know the King is on His way! (Selah!) We may just be standing on the brink of entering the fullness of the Kingdom of God. We may be in the last days of preparation before the Lord returns. How in-depth do you think that preparation will be to make us fit for the Master? This could be new territory for us to enter. As has always happened when God shows up and when revivals become evident, things go on that don’t fit in our box of ‘things we know what to do with.’ We are challenged to re-assess what we think is of God and what isn’t. It happened at Pentecost: “They’re drunk. It’s still early in the morning and these guys are reeling drunk!” (Acts 2:14, 15). No, they were filled with the overflowing joy of God. How might we have reacted if we had been there and seen that rag-tag bunch of disciples that morning on a holy day yet and in the Temple of all places? If you’ve ever been in that kind of situation (as the disciples) or even been a little tipsy in the Spirit, you know that you do feel a bit drunk everything is funny and walking or talking doesn’t happen quite normally. Paul evidently had that experience himself presumably more than once for he exhorted the people, “Do not be drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:8). The wording indicates an ongoing sense, not a one time experience. The early church apparently experienced being intoxicated with God’s presence, more than just at Pentecost. To some of us, that is an experience we are familiar with. To others of us, that’s a real stretch to see that as God’s doing. But is it in the Word? My point is not to say we all must have this experience, but to say that sometimes God does what we don’t expect or feel comfortable with. When that happens, what are we going to do with it? How are we going to respond?
Before Yeshua returns He must “revive” His church, “that He might present it to himself, a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, that it should be holy and blameless” (Eph 5:27). We still too often exhibit “envying and strife” (Romans 13:13; 1 Cor 3:3; Phil 1:15; 1 Tim 6:4; James 3:14, 16). Note how many times envying and strife are mentioned among the early churches. Are we any better? Not yet. We are not so surrendered to Him that we are “obedient unto death” (Phil 2:8). I’m not sure how much we “love one another fervently from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22) so that we “cover a multitude of (each other’s) sins” (1 Peter 4:8), committed to protecting and defending “one another” as you would (hopefully) a natural sister or brother. (There are, incidentally, 146 references to “one another” in the Bible. Some have even made reference to how we should be “one anothering” each other.)
So apparently there is still some purifying that’s needed. In whatever ways that purifying may take place, God WILL bring His people into purity. In any revival, there is both a purifying process for those involved in it, and also things happening that may be new to our expectations of what God is like or what we expect He would do among us. How are we to respond? We look to God’s Word. We must always look to God’s Word and ask for the Spirit to grant us revelation. The Psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes, Lord, that I might wonderful things from your law (Torah/Word)” (Ps. 119:18). So what does God’s Word say to us in light of where we are today on God’s prophetic calendar?
Upon looking to the Word for answers to that very question I felt drawn to Joshua. Moses who represented the Law was now dead and Joshua who is a type of Yeshua would now lead them into the Promised Land. (The names of Yeshua and Joshua are pretty much the same in Hebrew as there is no “J” in Hebrew. Both names basically translate as “Yah is salvation”.) It’s not that the Torah which Moses brought us was dead or dead works be careful not to interpret it that way, but just as it took Joshua and not Moses to lead them into the Promised Land, the Torah without Yeshua cannot lead you into the Spiritual Promised Land, that is, into God’s presence. Torah will give you insight into the heart of God and the character and Person of Yeshua, it will show you holiness and what God wants for His people, but Torah alone will not transform you into Yeshua’s image, nor will it cleanse you and bring you freedom from sin as only the Blood of Yeshua can. Torah without Yeshua is law to be kept, but Torah with Yeshua is Life to be lived!
Now, under Joshua’s leadership, God is about to bring Israel into the Land of Promise, into what will be Israel forever more. What happened that we can glean from their experience? We learn that they are about to enter the land where the Hittites are dwelling. If you look up Hittites in your Strong’s Concordance you will find that Hittites means fear and paralysis. The root of the name/word means to break down by violence, confusion or fear; to beat down, discourage, or to terrify. Based on “the law of first mention” in studying the Bible, the order of things is significant. So it is of some significance that what God has the Israelites first confront as they are about to enter into what they have been anticipating for years is no-kidding fear. This was a whole new experience for them, despite looking forward to it their whole lives.
I will just mention that we today are dealing with terrorism. (I wonder who gave it that name?) We too are dealing with the spirit of the Hittites. The Terrorist network is violent and seeks to terrify and terrorize. We must conquer any fear of terrorism. We must overcome the temptation they throw at us to be confused or discouraged by them. You see what was the first “spirit” Israel had to deal with as they entered the Land of Promise. We are dealing with it in some ways as well. And so the Lord says to us, “Be strong and courageous, Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh 1:9).
Maybe that’s why God had to tell Joshua “Be strong and courageous,” three times (1:6, 7, 9). He also told him, “Do not tremble or be dismayed” (: 9). I’m not sure how you choose not to tremble, but dismayed means “to be paralyzed by a real or imagined fear.” Have you ever been terrified to the point of being paralyzed by something that turned out not to be a real threat? That’s what God is saying here: You’re going into territory and experiences you’ve not known before. Don’t let your imagination tell you that there are threats and challenges you can’t handle. Those thoughts will keep you stuck and unable to move forward into what I have for you. He would say to us, I believe, don’t allow the unfamiliar to disqualify you from entering into My blessings for you. That’s what happened when Israel feared the giants in the land forty years earlier. God would have had them overcome those big guys in the land. They weren’t too big for God. They aren’t too big for God and us either.
Revivals serve to bring the church into a cleansing and a higher level of purity, and to bring the unsaved into salvation at this purity level from the get-go. The history of revivals records that sometimes stuff goes on that looks weird and unprecedented in our experience. Ministers of the revivals have often been the target of criticism, but God has done great things and rescued thousands from hell and even changed whole societies through these men and women. What we must be careful of, as I see it, is to “touch not the Lord’s anointed.” If ever someone could have reason to speak against a “minister” of the Lord, it would have been David of Saul who really blew his calling. But David vowed not to speak against Saul nor to “stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam. 24:10-13; 26:23). As a result he reaped a righteous reign as king and God protected him from falling into the same sin that Saul did. He could have reaped the same in his own “ministry” if he had planted the seeds of discontent and bitterness. Perhaps this is why God called David “a man after His own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). Jesus’ exhortation above all is for us to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
We really don’t know what God is up to with this revival in Lakeland, for instance, or other places in the world where His Spirit is manifesting His presence and His glory, and where the angels are showing up and some really “unique” things are happening. It’s too soon to tell what this fresh move of God will lead us to. Hopefully, it will result in purifying the Bride to make us ready for Yeshua’s coming. This possibility makes me wonder: How conformed are we to His holiness? How like Him in purity are we? What, if we can imagine it, will it take for Him to change our thinking so that we think like He does? I suspect something other than we have already experienced in order to become more than what we already are in our present experience. I’m excited about it and intrigued by what is yet to come. You too? Imagine we will become pure as He is pure! Glory!! “The goal…is a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim 1:5) Imagine the depth of peace “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb 12:11). How wonderful!
Relating to moves of God that we may not be sure are of God, in the words of Gamaliel: “Take care of what you propose to do. Let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be come to nothing, but if it is of God, you may even be found to be fighting against God” if you come against it. (Acts 5:35-39 my paraphrase). We surely don’t want to be fighting against God. My suggestion is, should you not be in agreement or at the least not understand what is taking place, or if you are suspicious of it, suspend judgment, refuse to participate in any castigation against it, but in the fear of the Lord wait and see what God will do.
The devil will succeed in thwarting the purposes of God in move of God if he can get us to distrust God in each other. If we see a brother in what we believe is error, if we have a relationship with him in which we have the liberty to bring correction to him, “You who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…so that you too will not be tempted” (Gal 6:1). We are to pray for him in love. Not against him, but cover him, protect him, with the heart of God, jealously guarding his honor, and certainly not contributing to his dishonor. This will bring us more purity in our own lives, and in the lives of those we pray for than any error-watch we might be on to try to protect ourselves. God is able to keep us. Fear not the giants. Let’s enter the Land of promise of His presence and the purity He died to bring us into together. He is near. THE LORD IS NEAR! (Phil 4:5).
May we all pray for truth to prevail, for love to triumph, and for deception to be far from us all. We must have more faith in God to purify than we do that the flesh will manifest or the devil will pervert. If ever there was a time to align ourselves with Yeshua’s, and John’s, and Peter’s, and Paul’s, commandment to “love one another” it is now. John who lived longer than any other of Yeshua’s disciples, and who saw more persecution and error than we can imagine, after all his experiences had these things to say: “Whoever confesses that Yeshua is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God…. Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure…..Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment” (1 John 3:3, 15; 4:16, 17).
Reprints of this article is permitted but must include: Reprinted by permission of Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2008
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.