“Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar…(Joel 2:17a).”
I must admit that I would much prefer reading what someone else has to say about this particular time in history as opposed to writing about it myself. Yet I am compelled to write, due in part to my frustration that no one else seems to be saying the things that need to be said. I do not want to be an echo, but a voice; as such, I am constrained to put forth, as clearly as I can, what the Lord is saying to me. This is done with fear and trepidation, but woe upon me if I do not speak the things which, I believe, the Lord has entrusted to me as a stewardship to the Body of Christ. May God give us grace.
DISCERNING THE PRESENT TIME
For over a year now the Lord has been dealing with us concerning issues related to prayer for God’s Kingdom and God’s Will, and we have likewise presented these themes to the Body of Christ. We have sensed a call to a higher dimension of prayer than is commonly alluded to, and we have responded to that call – haltingly at first, and more vigorously as time passed. Meanwhile, we have repeatedly called the Church to view prayer, not as a means towards our own ends, but as THE means through which God’s End is achieved: and that End is “in the dispensation of the fullness of times to gather together into one ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, whether they be things in heaven, or things in earth, even IN HIM (Ephesians 1:10).”
Last year  I began writing a book.
“When we begin to pray for God’s Will and God’s Kingdom we are standing on behalf of the entire Church as overcomers. We are doing two things. On the positive side, we are joining together with God and agreeing with Him, praying in line with His eternal purpose in Christ. “As in heaven, so on earth.” On the negative side, we are asking for the elimination of this present evil age, this rebellious generation, and all that fails to give Christ the preeminence – both within the Church and outside of the Church.”
I did not release what I had written next, but as I go back and look at it again it seems very appropriate to the season we have entered, so now I will share it with you:
“This [praying for the Will and the Kingdom] is not a frivolous thing. It is calling for a revolution in the way things are. It is commanding all that IS to make room for all that IS TO COME. It is calling for the end of all things pertaining to man, this present world, and the defeated devil. “Thy Kingdom come.” In this Kingdom Christ alone has authority and power. Think of the implications. For this to be realized it will mean either the elimination or the subjection of every earthly government to Jesus Christ. It will mean the eradication of every religious institution, denomination, movement, group, cult, false religion, doctrine – anything which fails to give the Son the preeminence, and certainly those things which misrepresent, malign, distort, or bear false witness to the Lord Jesus. It will also mean the abolition of everything pertaining to the kingdom of darkness, every principality, power, and eventually, satan himself. The souls of men that refuse to submit to Christ must also be judged and dealt with once and for all. The Creation which groans and travails in pain must be purified by fire, liberated, and recreated again. We are talking about a major upheaval.
“I wonder if we really grasp the import of this kind of praying. I doubt if we really perceive how critical this sort of prayer is to God’s purpose.”
Friends, that word was too strong for last year, or last month, but it is dead-on for this present moment. It is the kind of word that will be easily misunderstood and misconstrued, the sort of thing that can get me into trouble with some people, but it accurately reflects what I perceive is happening and is about to happen now.
On September 2, 2001, nine days before the September 11th attack, I wrote the following to our mailing list:
“To get to wherever we are going will require a deeper pressing in to the Lord than what we have experienced up until now. It is too easy to become familiar with the Truth and reduce it down to a system or a teaching instead of Life and experience. It has to be pressed into, taken violently, and held tenaciously so that it will become part of who we are, not a commodity that we purchase at wholesale and distribute to others at retail.”
I said all of that to say this: it certainly seems that we are now thrust into a situation in which we will have to put into practice everything the Lord has been saying to us, whether we like it or not. IF WE WILL NOT PRESS INTO THE LORD, HE WILL PRESS HIMSELF UPON US. The Lord has very definitely been preparing us as Esther, bringing us into the Kingdom “for such a time as this”, when there is so much at stake. We are shocked and saddened at the terrible events which have exploded onto the world scene, but we are also aware that the Lord has been preparing us spiritually well in advance of this season. He has given us something to say, and a means through which it can be communicated to a large number of believers scattered across the face of the earth. Thus, our own calling and mission has been crystallized by these events, and more than ever we reaffirm our commitment to seek the Lord and bring revealed Truth to the Body of Christ as He quickens us to do so.
If there was ever any doubt before, there is no doubt now: we are at war, and not just in a literal sense, but in a much deeper, spiritual sense. Of course there has always been a war between God and satan, light and darkness, good and evil. We do not want to minimize that. But even more now than ever we are at war between things the way they have been up until now, and things the way they will be. In other words, overcomers will be raised up during these days, and others will stumble. Some will grow in the knowledge of God and get aligned with His Kingdom, and some will become offended and fall away altogether. These are “perilous times” (II Timothy 3:1).
We are in such a time as spoken of by the angel of Revelation 22:10-12:
“Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this Book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
We see here a further polarization between the righteous and the unrighteous, a very pressing conflict between those who will stand for God’s Will and God’s Kingdom, the preeminence of Christ, and those forces at work that would render powerless the Testimony of Jesus by keeping the saints focused on the natural, the flesh-and-blood, the carnal, and the temporal; particularly those elements and factions within the Church itself that do not accurately represent the heart and mind of God, but claim to. Organized Religion claims to represent Christ in the earth, but if that representation is faulty then it is almost as bad as having no representation at all, and in many respects it is preferable to the enemy, for now he is able to distort God as God and reduce Him down to the level of our own vain imagination. The Testimony of Jesus does not consist of what we think or say about Jesus; it is the revelation of Christ as He IN FACT IS. To manifest HIM as He is, in life as well as words, is to properly bear the Testimony. The problem is that the Church claims to have the Testimony of Jesus when they are in fact representing something which is NOT Jesus, but is actually far removed from the revelation of Christ.
We must be ever jealous over the Revelation of Christ and the Testimony of Jesus. Those who know their God will be strong, and do exploits (Daniel 11:32b), while evil men and seducers, in the Church and outside of the Church, will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (II Timothy 3:13). Thus, because the days are evil, we as the Church must be diligent to watch and pray:
“See then that you walk perfectly and straightly, not as fools, but as wise, and make up for lost time, because the days are evil. No longer be ignorant, but understand what the Will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17, paraphrased).”
I see three applications for us here:
1. “Walk perfectly and straightly, not as fools, but as wise.” A cursory study of the Book of Proverbs tells us quite a bit about a fool, and there are basically two things that characterize a fool – he believes everything he hears, and he speaks everything he thinks. According to this definition, the Internet, the news media, and the Church are full of foolish people. By way of contrast, a wise man does not listen to everything, and does not take anything to heart without deliberating over it first. The way you see the world today: is it based upon what everyone else is saying, or have you heard from God yourself? “Circumspectly” could be defined as “leaving no margin for error; exact.” It is not just a happy-go-lucky, “whatever will be will be” walk.
2. “Redeem the time,” which I have paraphrased as, “Make up for lost time” could be alternatively paraphrased as “quit wasting time” or “make the most of the time that remains.” We have needed an adjustment in our priorities for a long time. We have majored on minor things. The various demands made upon us in an evil day need to be triaged and classified into urgent, important, and not important. We do not have the luxury of doing as we please with our lives. If we mean business with God it will require some upheaval in our schedule and daily “to do” list.
3. “No longer be ignorant, but understand what the Will of the Lord is.” We have steadily proclaimed to the Church God’s Ultimate Intention of “all things in Christ”, which involves a decreasing of all things so that He may increase, thus having the preeminence of all things. I am absolutely distressed at how few saints comprehend this. In an evil day we cannot afford to be ignorant or in the dark as to God’s Purpose and Desire. There is enough material on Watchman.Net to keep you occupied in this study for the rest of your life. It is THERE, waiting for you to take full advantage of it. More importantly, the Holy Spirit WITHIN and the Anointing, Who is Christ, is ready to teach us all things, if only we will listen (I John 2:27)! There is no excuse for being willfully stupid or ignorant. Furthermore, if we have not grasped God’s universal, strategic Will, we will find it next to impossible to cooperate with His specific, tactical Will for us individually.
Brothers and sisters, it is time to seek the Lord. I believe the urgency of the situation is real. We truly are living in a different world today than we lived in just less than two weeks ago. This is a different world, and a different Church, when the hearts and motives of many will be revealed by the Lord Himself for who and what they are (Luke 2:35). Now a time has come in which we are being weighed in the balance, when things that need to be shaken will be shaken, when silver will be purified from the dross and wheat will be separated from chaff. It is true of the world in general, but I am mostly talking to the Church right now. We just see it more evidently and clearly in the world, but there is much more to be judged within the Church than there is to be judged within the world. These are, indeed, “perilous times” for all concerned.
OUR RESPONSE TO WHAT HAPPENS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN KNOWING WHY IT HAPPENS
Many within the Church are saying, “This happened because. . .” and then they go on to postulate their theories. Some say God did it, some say the devil did it, some say man did it. May I suggest that understanding why it happened is not the issue we should be concerned with. Instead, the Church should be saying, “This happened! Now how are we, as the people of God, going to conduct ourselves? How are we, as the Body of Christ, going to respond to this?” You see, our response to what happens is much more significant than the events that trigger our response.
To illustrate, consider the situation David faced when he and his men returned to Ziklag and discovered their village was burned and all their wives, children, and possessions had been carried away by the Amalekites (I Samuel 30). The Bible says, “David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters.” In our grief, we want to know why, and we want to hold someone – God, the devil, our leaders, or our enemies – responsible.
But this is a defining moment in David’s life. It is what makes him a king even though he does not yet have a throne or a crown. David could have begun to analyze the situation by torturing himself with paralyzing questions like we have been asking: “Why did God allow this to happen? Is God punishing us for something we have done wrong? Is this His judgment? Is this just a random case of man’s inhumanity to man? Or is the devil trying to come against us?”
No! In the midst of his own grief, distress, pain, and uncertainty, the Scripture says, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord His God.” This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture, because it lets me know that my encouragement is in GOD, and I am not dependent on someone giving me all the correct answers; I do not have to have someone come along and help me process the situation and restore my faith. I am thankful for encouragement when I receive it, but my strength is not based on the praise or the criticism of man! I do not need a prophet or oracle or minister or pastor or anyone else to analyze and interpret WHY a tragedy occurred. THE LORD IS THE STRENGTH OF MY HEART. And the Lord is your Strength as well, a Rock, and a High Tower.
David consulted with the Lord, and basically told God, “You have my attention! Now what do I do? What’s next? How do You want me to respond to this situation?” And the Lord gave David His marching orders, and eventually everything was restored. We are not saying that understanding why things happen is unimportant, only that knowing why they happen is of secondary importance; of primary importance is how we respond to what happens. We can still see the Lord at work in all things, even if we do not have all our questions answered (Job 42:1-6).
GOD REMAINS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL NATIONS, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
God is indeed at work among the nations of the world today. Nothing escapes His attention. Every promise God makes to a nation, whether it is for blessing or cursing, good or evil, is conditional on how that nation responds to Him (Jeremiah 18:7-10). God is sovereign, and even though all authority in heaven and earth belongs to Him, He allows the sons of men to have the run of the earth (Psalms 115:16). Yet, this is still within the realm of His authority. He can permit, or He can not permit. He can allow, or He can not allow. When He opens a door, it will not be closed. When He closes a door, it will not be opened. When He determines to bless a nation, you cannot curse it (Numbers 23:11,12). And when He determines to curse a nation, you cannot bless it, or even spare it, without bringing down a curse upon yourself (I Samuel 15:17-19).
So man is free to do as he wills to a certain extent, but God still retains His authority. If necessary, God will intervene in the affairs of men to bring about a major course correction if they get too out of hand. The Flood of Noah was just such an event. So was the confounding of the languages at Babel. So was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
God personally led the Hebrew exodus out of Egypt, established them in Canaan, ordered their exile into Babylon, their restoration, and the ultimate destruction of their nation in 70 A.D. But Israel is not the only nation God dealt with (Jeremiah 25:15-33). He had quite a lot to say and quite a bit to do with nations like Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Rome as the world’s first superpowers, not to mention the countless nations and people groups, such as the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Midianites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Ishmaelites, the Jebusites, the Canaanites, the Ethiopians, the Arabians, and scores of others, too many to name. It should be noted that most of these nations are now extinct, because God will not deal with them forever. Is it not reasonable to think that God is as involved in the nations of this world today as He always has been?
Jesus Himself says that there will come a time in the future when, apart from God’s direct intervention, man would totally annihilate one another and destroy all life on earth (Matthew 24:22). So while it is true that God has “given the earth to the children of men” it is also clear that, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof: the world, and they that dwell therein (Psalms 24:1).” Given the extent of man’s inhumanity to man, this should be of great comfort to all of us. Ultimately, GOD IS IN CONTROL.
A RESPONSE IS REQUIRED FROM THE INNER COURT
So where do we go from here? How does this apply to us as Christians scattered among different nations around the world, being the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16)? If we believe the Lord is sovereign among the nations then we must discover what He would have us to say and do as His ambassadors to the particular nation we find ourselves in. Our purpose for writing is not to speak to the political situation, but the spiritual situation. We have done everything possible to communicate to the Church why and how it must leave the outer court and come into the inner court to meet God (The Priests of the Lord). Now do you understand why? Wars and rumors of wars, death, destruction – it is all very frightening, but it all pertains TO THE OUTER COURT; and there is little we, the Church, can do if we meet with the conflict THERE on some carnal, fleshly, and may I say, emotional, zealous, or political level.
Here is our opportunity to see God’s Will and God’s Kingdom brought forth. The question is: who dwells in the Secret Place of the Most High? Who will go into the inner court, minister to the Lord, and become a friend of God? Who will linger before the Lord with prayer and fasting until these issues are settled? Who will cooperate with God in prayer so that His Will is accomplished in the earth and His Son is revealed?
I am continually drawn to the power of the ONE. God can save by many, or by a few (I Samuel 14:6). Sometimes He will do it with ONE – an Enoch, a Noah, an Abraham, a Moses, an Elijah, a Daniel. “The effectual fervent prayer of A RIGHTEOUS MAN avails much (James 5:16b).” It is good to have prayer chains and to bring the Body together for corporate prayer, we need more of it and it ought to be encouraged. At the same time, God would have us pray as if no one else is going to, in full assurance of faith that if we are in alignment with His Will, His Ultimate Purpose, we cannot help but see our supplications come to pass (I John 5:14,15). We can have a million Christians praying together but if they are praying according to what the “outer court” is telling them instead of the “inner court”, it is not effectual. In days to come, if we pray according to the reports we see on television or read in the newspapers we will be misled. True prayer has its source in God, and we cannot pray according to the MIND of the Spirit unless we are praying BY the Spirit and not according to OUR mind (Romans 8:26,27).
“I sought for A MAN among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none (Ezekiel 22:30).” Listen! The land was destroyed, not for lack of a remnant, or a group, but for lack of A MAN. One righteous man (or woman), making up the hedge, standing in the gap before God on behalf of a nation, would have made a difference.
Moreover, to pray in one accord with the Body of Christ is to pray as ONE MAN (Acts 4:24). It is time to seek the Lord, to search the Scriptures, restore relationships with one another, and begin to pray REAL prayers: effectual, fervent prayers that avail much, not “God bless me” prayers. We must be about our Father’s business.
What is needed from the Church in this time? A response is required: not an “outer court” reaction to what we see and hear, but an “inner court” response to God Himself, and it must be a response that goes further and deeper than mere human compassion towards the victims, anger towards the killers, and fears about the future. As human beings there is a natural reaction that we cannot help but have when we see catastrophe and death. It is pointless to deny our feelings, or lightly dismiss them. It is even unhealthy to do so. We feel compassion for the victims; anger towards those who perpetrated these acts; desire for retribution against those responsible; anxiety and tension over the general state of things. THAT we would expect from anyone. THAT is flesh and blood, and that is understandable, but that is NOT Spirit and Truth.
Jesus says, “The flesh profits nothing” and “the flesh is weak (John 6:63; Matthew 26:41).” Paul says, “They that are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8).” There is a certain bravado about the flesh that gives the illusion of strength, but it profits nothing, and it is weak, and it cannot be pleasing to God in spiritual matters. It is the flesh that says, “We’re going to get them!” and “We’re going to rebuild bigger and better than before!” Now we give allowances to the Natural Man that he will react as his flesh dictates, but we dare not allow the Spiritual Man to react in this manner, and by this of course I mean the Natural Man as the person without the Spirit of God, and the Spiritual Man as the person within whom the Spirit of God resides.
There is an element which calls itself “prophetic” which operates from the flesh as well, and we must exercise due diligence in making sure the words we proclaim or the words we listen to are truly from the inner court, and not just the shallow, hollow rantings of someone’s opinion – even if it is a good opinion. We cannot take the time to listen to someone talk out of their own imagination and then tack a “thus saith the Lord” to the end of it to add credibility to their speech. It sounds right to the outer court worshippers, Scriptures can even be produced that seem to validate what is said, but those who stand before God in the inner court will immediately detect the defilement of the flesh (especially if they dare to challenge the one who so speaks).
Invariably, “prophetic” words from the outer court will be imbalanced, e.g., words of doom will lack grace and mercy, and words of blessing will lack warnings of judgment and calls to repentance. A word of “certain” blessing that does not give any incentive to deny Self and take up the Cross falls short of the mark. A word of “certain” judgment that does not offer a promise to the obedient or give hope to the repentant is either totally false or prophetically immature. A vision of destruction or calamity which is proclaimed as a certain, unavoidable fact fails to take into account that the purpose of the revelation was to inspire us to make intercession against that very thing, to stand in the gap and avert that very destruction we are proclaiming. The failure to understand this constituted the whole problem with Jonah’s attitude over Ninevah (Jonah 4). The grace of God intervened in spite of Jonah’s objections that it would make “him” look bad when “his” word did not come to pass.
What better way to get the Church to cease praying than to deceive her into thinking that all hope is lost, and the Day of Grace has ended! In the end, Abraham could not save Sodom, but he still prayed: and the fact that he prayed for mercy in the midst of pending judgment is what truly made him a prophet (Genesis 18:17-33).
THE SORT OF PRAYER GOD REQUIRES
We are not the first saints in history to be called upon to pray in this manner. When Japan invaded and raped China in World War II, a Chinese brother named Watchman Nee gave us some perspective that very much speaks to our present situation and call to prayer. He attended a believer’s convention, and by accident was seated next to a Japanese brother. The tension was palpable among the onlookers. But brother Nee was unruffled, and when asked to offer prayer, he prayed as follows:
“The Lord reigns. We affirm it boldly. Our Lord Jesus Christ is reigning, and He is Lord of all; nothing can touch His authority. It is spiritual forces that are out to destroy His interests in China and Japan. Therefore, we do not pray for China; we do not pray for Japan; but we pray for the interests of Thy Son in China and Japan. We do not blame men, for they are only tools in the hands of Thine enemy. We stand for Thy Will. Shatter, O Lord, the kingdom of darkness, for the persecutions of the Church are wounding Thee. Amen.”
I will admit that when I first read this a few years ago I was absolutely dumbfounded. Only after being educated by the Holy Spirit was I able to understand this kind of praying. It is a fine example of what it means to bring God’s Kingdom and God’s Will to bear upon the earthly situation. It raises the bar from the natural, flesh and blood, what-I-can-see-and-hear level, and brings us directly into the throne of God to view things from Heaven’s perspective. Notice that brother Nee specifically said we do not pray for China, or Japan; we pray for God’s Will, for God’s Kingdom, for His Purpose, for His Desire in these two nations. The foremost issue for brother Nee is not what happens in China or Japan; of course that IS important, and he was personally impacted by these events, as were the house churches he served so diligently in China. But he was not praying on behalf of his own will or his own work, but on behalf God’s Will and God’s Kingdom. He had his interests and his concerns, but of greater concern to him was “the interests of Thy Son in China and Japan”, e.g., the preeminence of Christ, the enlargement of His Kingdom. Does this not apply to the present crisis?
We repeat: in order to really come before God and get His Heart for our situation we have to be willing to lay down what we want and begin to pray for what He wants. If we do not want what He wants then we are going to have to either change what we want or stop praying. We cannot force God to do what He does not want to do, but we can very definitely prevent God, at least for a season, from doing what He DOES want to do, through prayerlessness, disobedience, or unbelief.
“TO HIM THAT OVERCOMES…”
As we look at the promises made to those who overcome we should see that God is not establishing some new order or special group which enjoys rights and privileges not accessible to the rest of the saints. This is not the establishing of new promises, but a bringing us back to the same exceeding great and precious promises which are potentially true of everyone who is in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). It is not establishing a new foundation, it is calling us back to the foundation which is already laid. That being said, we point out that the difference between those who overcome and those who do not overcome is a difference in their own PERCEIVED position. We all ought to perceive that in Christ we are seated in the heavenly places. We cannot overcome without this perception, this seeing, this revelation. If our perception is earthly, we will remain earthly. If our perception is heavenly, we will overcome.
The moment one’s perception shifts from the outer court, the natural, flesh and blood, worldly, and earthly realm to the inner court, that which pertains to the heavenly places in Christ, at that moment one enters into the promises which were there all along, waiting to be realized and taken advantage of. Overcomers represent the means through which God may restore the entire Church to its proper position. Their prayers for the saints and their service to the saints is meant to bring the entire Church to the EPIGNOSIS (full-knowledge) of Christ that the entire Church may rise up and fulfill its destiny as overcomers (Ephesians 4:13). In this present time, if we will come into the inner court and stand before God on behalf of His Kingdom and His Will, then no matter what happens, the Lord will be glorified, His Son will be exalted, and His Kingdom will soon be manifest among the nations.
Our Father: may Your Name be hallowed, may Your Kingdom come, may Your Will be done – as in heaven, so in earth. Accomplish Your Purpose, and establish the Kingdom of Your dear Son in us: individually as disciples, corporately as the Church, and collectively in all creation; that Christ may be All in All. As we seek first Your Kingdom, may all that we need be added to us, whether it is daily bread or forgiveness of sins. Conform us to the image of Your Son that we may live as One Body. Deliver us from evil by raising up overcomers who will have the Revelation of Christ and will bear the Testimony of Jesus, demonstrating the preeminence of Your Son over sin, self, and satan; who overcome by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their Testimony, and the laying down of their lives. The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are yours. Of the increase of your Kingdom there will be no end; You have given all power in heaven and in earth to Your Son; and through His Name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess to Your Glory. Reveal the glory of Your Son, that we may know Him, and as He must increase, so we must decrease. We do not pray for the United States, or Canada, or England, or France, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Iraq, or Israel – but we pray for the interests of Your Son in these nations, and in every other nation upon the face of the earth, until Your Kingdom is established. Maranatha! Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.