Seven Lamps of Fire - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 6 - THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD
The number seven speaks of completeness, fullness, consummation. Here in the Book of Revelation our High Priest is on throne, empowered with all the graces and virtues and powers of God to bring His purposes to a conclusion -- in His Church, as well as in the world. As Genesis is the book of beginnings, so the Revelation of Jesus Christ is the Book of endings, and He Himself is called The Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega. And so this Book has many sevens in it. We will just cite a few examples of the usage of the number seven in scripture:
Naaman the leper must dip seven times in Jordan, to receive his healing. There had to be complete obedience. If he stopped at dip number six .. he would have gone back home a bitter, disillusioned man .. accusing the God of Israel for not healing him. He must explicitly obey the word of the prophet. (see 2 Kgs. 5:10-14).
"The words of the LORD are pure words;" the Psalmist said, "as silver tried in a furnace, purified seven times" (Ps. 12:6). He starts by telling us "the words of the LORD are pure words". Then why the sevenfold refining process? Because the words He puts in our hearts are pure words from His heart; but once they lodge in us, the Word becomes mingled with our own thoughts; and we are shocked to discover a revelation of the heart, with all its uncleanness, its wrong motives, its hidden agendas. But as we keep the Word, it will produce its own furnace in our hearts, causing a purging and a refining -- if indeed we let the Lord repeat the process again, and again, and again .. seven times -- or until the trial of our faith has accomplished that perfect work in our lives that God intended.
Now I want to speak of the Fullness of the Spirit, which John sees as the Seven Spirits -- but which he identifies in a functional way as:
Seven Lamps of Fire .. Seven Eyes of the Lamb
"And lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts (living creatures), and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6).
Daniel in vision had seen the same Man that John saw: "a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with the fine gold of Uphaz: His body was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude" (Dan. 10:5, 6). By this we understand He is the same Man that John saw on Patmos: "Clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters" (Rev. 1:13-15). But here in the Holiest of all John sees Him in the fullness of Light, and it is this Light that we want to emphasize in the remainder of this writing.
"And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne,
which are the seven spirits of God" (Rev. 4:5)
"..a Lamb .. having seven horns and seven eyes,
which are the seven spirits of God" (Rev. 5:6)
The Seven Spirits are manifested in Fire, as well as in Light and we want to consider both of these aspects of the Light of God:
Seven Lamps of Fire
We recall how Abram was about to cut a covenant with his God, and how God kept him waiting till it was dark before He came on the scene. And then instead of Abram and his God walking together between the pieces of the sacrifice (in the usual ritual of cutting a covenant in those days), God caused Abram to fall into a deep sleep, and God took complete charge of the covenant. In the darkness of the night, "behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces" (Gen. 15:17). God would not allow Abram to interfere with any of this. Abramís part was simply to be the vessel in the Potterís hands -- and yield to what God would do. His part was to drive the birds of prey away, as they sought to consume the sacrifice before the covenant was ratified. His part was to experience the horror of great darkness, for God would allow great affliction on His promised seed, as they endured 400 years of suffering and bondage in the land of Egypt. Godís promise was sure .. but in His own wisdom, this was the way His promise would be fulfilled. This was His way of preparing the people who would become a living testimony in the earth of the might and power and glory of the God of Israel.
Many teach that the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, that John the Baptist spoke about, is not for the church -- because it speaks of Godís fiery judgments, and the consuming of the chaff in the Day of the LORD. But Jesus identified this mighty baptism as the promise of the Father that would take place not many days hence (Lk. 3:16 cp Acts 1:5). Certainly it is judgment, for God must consume the dross and the filth from our lives -- and this is a painful process, for the God who fills us, is a consuming fire. When He comes to us in fire, His purpose is to make us the clean vessels He wants us to be in the House of God. This mighty baptism has nothing to do with that fiery preacher who can stir up the emotions of the people, and get them excited. Isaiah prophesied that God would wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purge the blood of Jerusalem by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning (Isa. 4:4). When this happens, and not until this happens, will His glory return to our assemblies. For the same fire that consumes the filth of Zion will be the Light and the Glory that will dispel the darkness. And then the prophet tells us that Zion will have the guidance and protection of the cloud of His glory .. reminding us of the cloud that led the children of Israel through the wilderness: as a Cloud by day, and a pillar of Fire by night. "And the LORD shall create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense (or, a covering)" (Isa. 4:5). The fire that consumes is only to consume the dross from our hearts, and the darkness from our minds .. that we might henceforth be motivated by right desires and impulses, and clearly see the way in which God would have us walk. The fire of God has almost been extinguished in our midst, because as a church we have not walked in the Light that God has shone forth in our midst. And our Lord has cautioned us, "If therefore the Light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23).
The Seven Eyes of the Lamb
"In the midst of the throne and of the four beasts (living creatures), and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6).
When we see One like the Son of Man walking among the lampstands with Seven Eyes .. God wants us to look at Him, because He wants to change us. We canít look into those eyes and not be changed. I recall looking into the eyes of a prophet, whom the Lord used in fellowship with other members of the body of Christ, to bring forth a new prophetic movement in the middle of the last century. When I was called forward to receive prophesy and the laying on of hands, after a brief time of waiting he said Look at me! As I looked up I was very much aware of light in his eyes .. as he began to prophesy. I will never forget that moment, and I know it was from that time that I began to see the Word of God in a new light. I feel strongly it is time for a new moving of God in the earth. He desires to bring His people into still higher realms of the Spirit. We must have the Lamb look upon us, with those seven eyes.
What was the Latter Rain all about?
The movement I mentioned became known as the Latter Rain .. a name that people gave it a year or two later. But in the beginning it needed no name, and they simply referred to it as this move of the Spirit. God was graciously pouring out His gifts on the church. These gifts are intended for the edifying of the body .. gifts of healing and miracles and other wonderful operations of the Spirit -- besides gifts that impart spiritual wisdom and understanding. But it was not Godís intention to start a new denomination with this prophetic movement, and I think it is for this reason that those in later generations wonder what it was all about. And they ask, Where is it now? Multitudes of people in all parts of the earth, partook of the blessing of this movement -- and the impact of it has carried on in succeeding generations, as any real move of God should. But as far as I know, it never became a denomination known as The Church of the Latter Rain -- at least not prominent enough to make its mark in history. And for this reason it is considered by many to have been a little shower that soon evaporated. This has also made it difficult for the critics to analyze and judge it. They cannot just write headquarters, and get a copy of the Latter Rain doctrine, like you can with an established denomination .. for there was no official leadership that could speak for all those who had become involved. So the best some of them can do (or should I say the worst) .. is to pick out salient remarks in the writings of different teachers whom they know had a part in the movement -- and then tell the world, "This is what they taught in Latter Rain". Consequently very often those who enjoy reading about heresies are feeding on material like this -- getting a mixture of information according to the perception of those who write their critical reviews. But we really do not come to know the Truth, by studying the different shades of darkness. We must walk in the Light, abide in the Truth -- if we are to be fortified concerning them that seduce you (see 1 Jn. 2:24-28).
In the beginning of the movement there was a certain emphasis on coming out of the old systems -- coming out of Babylon. But it soon became evident that many would come out of the visible Babylon, while bringing some of the system along with them. I recall a few years later what one of the leaders said about his own experience. He said the Lord spoke to him one day, "You are trying to get the people to come out of Babylon, but I want to get Babylon out of you". I am afraid this continues to go on in the church, and because one has left the mainstream of the denominations, and has set up his own organization -- is no proof that he has come out of Babylon. The Babylonian desire for greatness and enlargement, and wanting to make a name of renown, and keeping the whole system well under control -- is strong in the hearts of men. And God must deal with all those inward desires that continue to plague the church.
Another of the early leaders who had prophetic insight, mentioned that this movement would go into all the denominations of the church, but that it would not change the nature of any of them. This began to happen within a few years. By this time the cisterns of the denominations were almost dry, and many of them welcomed the opportunity to receive the rain of Godís Spirit. But they were not prepared to forsake their credentials, nor was their much incentive to become part of a movement that had no big-name leaders at the forefront. Besides they discovered there was really no need for that. Many prominent leaders in the different denominations were receiving the gifts of the Spirit, and found they could comfortably stay right where they were. All they had to do now, was to add Charismatic to their old titles .. a name that took away their reproach as a dead church. With this new anointing there was an infusion of new life which they realized they badly needed. And so their churches grew and prospered.
God was indeed meeting the needs of those who hungered and thirsted for more of God, and I am not denying that. But there was no change in the denominational systems. Some, of course, would come out -- often because of the opposition they received from within. Others remained, who had sufficient support to stay there. I am often reminded of what happened in the Kingdom of Saul. The system was wrong to begin with .. but the people demanded a king, and God went along with the desires of their hearts. Many true men of God stayed with Saul to the bitter end. Others resorted unto David, and had fellowship together apart from the Kingdom. And when the whole thing came tumbling down, there were many true hearts in Saulís kingdom that realized it was not Godís way -- and allied themselves with David.
Consequently in the mainstream of the Charismatic movement, you can get all this blessing, without changing the nature of things too much. You can still be Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentecostal, Episcopalian, Catholic -- you name it. And I am in no way saying that all these people in the denominations are false. Many of them sincerely love the Lord Jesus. But the main thrust in the Charismatic realm seems to be renewal, not revolution. They may recognize there is need for adjustment here and there, but no need for radical change. They still want those showers of blessing, but not the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. That would be altogether too devastating. I believe what happened is what Isaiah spoke about: "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach" (Isa. 4:1). In other words, we donít like the reproach of our emptiness and barrenness; nor do we want to surrender our heritage in our traditional denomination. We want to retain all this -- but we want to be called by your name, Charismatic. But notice something else that happens --
"In that day shall the Branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel" (vs. 2). Side by side with all this ecumenicism, and yet entirely apart from it -- God is bringing forth a true Branch of the Lord, which we want to talk about later in this writing.
There was a lot of the Fire of God in the earlier movement of Pentecost, at the beginning of the last century. But the prophetic movement in the middle of the century was primarily the blessing of rain that God poured out on the dry ground. It was not Godís intention to renew the denominations, but to bless and enrich those who were hungry for more of God .. regardless of their denomination. For it has been evident all through church history, that when God moves His people forward into new things, they either come out .. or eventually they are thrown out, if indeed they are seeking to move on with God. The new wine simply will not survive for long in the old wine-skins.
And so the rain falls on Godís field -- watering and blessing whatever seed is there in the ground -- whether it be the seed of wheat, or of tares .. or multitudes of other kinds of weeds. Godís intention is to water His Garden, and He wants to dig out those injurious weeds that grow in our lives. But according to the parable of the wheat and the tares (professing Christians who are false but who resemble the wheat) .. God said we must leave it up to Him, and He will deal with it at harvest time, lest we root out some of the good wheat in our ignorance. (see the writing, The Garden of God, Chapter 7)
It appears that the ecumenical movement is proceeding quite successfully in their plan to get all the denominations together in bundles. But the gathering of the tares into bundles .. though it might look like wonderful UNITY -- it is not the unity of the Spirit. It is rather the binding together of the false and the unregenerate, who know nothing of the cleansing of the blood of Jesus, and the good seed of the Word of God. But the Lord knoweth them that are His, and there will yet be a mighty work of separation between the wheat and the tares, in the day of Godís harvest. In the meantime the tares are partaking of the rains of the Spirit, along with the wheat -- and they have various manifestations in their assemblies to confirm it -- with miracles and signs taking place in their midst. But the rains of blessing will not change the nature of the seeds that are planted. Rather they will nurture the tares, and the thorns, and the thistles -- the same way they will nurture your corn, your carrots, and your apples. God help us all now, by His grace, to submit ourselves to those burning cleansing flames of God, lest our good works go up in smoke in the day that shall be revealed in fire.
Perhaps what we have said will give a little insight to Godís people, many of whom are perplexed and confused about what is going on in the church. People look here, and look there -- and go here, and go there -- hoping to find the true church, or a new move of God. Then they confess -- "Well, yes .. I saw God working and doing good things .. but I saw other things that troubled me.." Many are not sure if they should accept it as a move of God, or from the Devil. I just encourage such people to consider what I have said: God continues to pour out His rain from Heaven on His church. And the Devil continues to sow tares in the same fields. If you are going here and there looking for that pure working of God in the earth -- do not be surprised when you find this mixture. And it will continue to be this way until the day when the Seven Lamps of Fire burn the weeds and the chaff, and purge away the blood of Jerusalem, by the Spirit of Judgment and by the Spirit of Burning (see Isa. 4:4). We must continue to cry out for a pure working of God in the earth, and for this mighty baptism of Fire -- for God Himself cannot find rest in His people until His righteousness shines forth as brightness, and His salvation as a lamp that burneth" (Isa. 62:1).
God beckons His people to Come to the Light
We must come into the Most Holy Place. We must have fellowship with the royal priesthood in a heavenly sanctuary. We must see the throne, and the living beings that surround the throne. We must be enlightened to see situations as God sees them. We must come to the place where we have four faces, instead of one, and see with seven eyes, instead of two. We must see by the Light of the Spirit, for only then can we become as He is, and cause others to see Him as He is. We must see the "Lamb, as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6). We know this is a heavenly scene. But God wants to project heavenly scenes into this world of sin and darkness. I would like to encourage Godís people to anticipate, and prepare their hearts, for the trumpet sound that would bid us to come still higher, that we might look into the seven eyes of the Lamb. This is what the church needs, and this is what the world needs. I recall reading how Spurgeon, as a young man, was on his way to the church he usually attended, when a sudden rainstorm came up. He saw a small church nearby and he ran in, to get out of the rain. But he stayed for the meeting, and the preacher was emphasizing again and again this passage from Isaiah: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isa. 45:22). The preacher noticed the young stranger in their midst, and he turned to him and said: "Young man, look and live!" Spurgeon said, "I looked .. and I lived.." There was life in that word, that caused the young man to see. But how far we have strayed away from Him who is the Centre, the Source, and the River itself .. and replaced the Spirit of Life with philosophies and ritual and musical entertainment We are not going to change the world with the Light of God until we gaze into those eyes of the Lamb. Then will the eyes of the Lord travel throughout the earth to bring light and deliverance to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
The Seven Eyes in the Second Temple
We mentioned that the Book of Revelation is full of symbols in the language of the Old Testament. So let us turn to Zechariah, the prophet whom the Lord anointed to encourage the builders of the second temple. Joshua was the high priest of the new temple, and his name is the same as the name Jesus in the New Testament (Jah .. Savior). Zerubbabel was in charge of building the temple; and his name means sown in Babylon. His roots were once there, but now he is involved with the building of the Temple of God in the land of Israel.
We are told that the prophets "inquired and searched diligently" as to the times they spoke about in their prophecies. And God revealed to them that their word was really for those who would be living in the time when Christ would suffer, and enter into His glory -- and the gospel would be proclaimed with the power of "the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven" (see 1 Pet. 1:12). And so we who live in this time following the resurrection of Christ may look back at those prophecies, and see much wonderful New Covenant truth. For Peter tells us that the prophets were really ministering unto us.
God gave Zechariah a vision of the lampstand, with its seven lamps. He saw seven pipes that fed the lamps with oil, from the large bowl above it .. which received the oil from "two olive trees". And the significance of this was very clear: Zerubbabel must not trust in his own wisdom and power, but only in the holy anointing oil: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).
And to Joshua the high priest, the prophet gave this word: "I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH" (Zech. 3:8). It refers to the Lord, in union with His many brethren: "Thou and thy fellows that sit before thee". It is He who said: "I am the Vine, ye are the branches.." and who reminds us: "Without Me (severed from Me) ye can do nothing".
Then the prophet went on to say: "Behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes". Behold the Stone! Zerubbabel was the builder of the house .. but Godís builders must look into those eyes, if they are going to build according to Godís plan and blue prints. All over the earth God must have this quality of vision in a people who have looked into the eyes of the Lamb as it had been slain -- and in seeing Him are transformed into His likeness. With the two eyes of our understanding, we might see the ministration of the Gospel with 20:20 vision. But how different it will be when His people have clear vision, and see with 70:70 vision. Then we will see with those penetrating, illuminating eyes of the Spirit -- and the Spirit will probe the hearts of men, revealing the hidden things of darkness, and causing the Light of Christ to arise and dissolve the darkness.
The Seven Eyes in the Branch of Jesse.
The prophet Isaiah likewise saw the Branch. "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots" (Isa. 11:1).
We want to consider this Branch from the stem of Jesse in the form of a lampstand. Some translations refer to the Branch as a fruit bearing Branch. And so He is the root, as well as the center stem; and out from Him who is the Center, these branches grow and bring forth fruit. And we know our Gardener will not be satisfied, nor will He cease His tender care for us, until He comes to His garden, and reaps "the precious fruit of the earth" (Jas. 5:7).
I said .. "His tender care for us". But we may begin to wonder how tender His care is when He takes His pruning knife in hand, and begins to cut and trim us down to size. We look at our vine that is stripped and bare, and wonder how we could ever do anything pleasing to God after all that. Sometimes when we drive by a fruit orchard in fall, or in early spring -- we might be inclined to think: "O I guess that fruit grower is tired of it all, and heís cutting it all down." But no, he just wants more and better fruit. So the Husbandman cuts it back, and prunes -- not just the dead branches, but branches that are very much alive, and flourishing because of the life in the Vine. But He still cuts it back -- because He wants more and better fruit. Are we sure this great work we are doing for the glory of God .. is really for His glory? Rather than fruit that we are bringing forth for ourselves? Hosea said of Godís people:
"Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself.." (Hos. 10:1).
We insist we are doing it for His glory. But I can do nothing for His glory just because of my good intentions. If He has not authorized it .. if it is not the fruit of abiding union with Him -- He calls it nothing. "For without Me (apart from union with Me) ye can do nothing".
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1. The Spirit of Wisdom ... and Understanding
Apollos, an eloquent teacher of the scriptures, had been to Ephesus before Paul, and had accurately taught the disciples about the Lord Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John. Then Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and explained the Gospel to him, and with this further enlightenment he powerfully preached the Lord Jesus, as the One that John had presented in his gospel of the Kingdom.
Then Paul in his journeys came to Ephesus and found the disciples, and asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. They said they didnít know anything about the Holy Spirit. They told Paul they only knew about Johnís baptism. Paul explained the Gospel further, and they "were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus", the way the apostles had been baptizing ever since the Lord ascended. "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (Acts 19:6).
But writing to this same church later, we find the apostle Paul praying for them, that they might come still higher in the revelation of Christ:
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.." (Eph. 1:17-20).
"Filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Col. 1:9). This wisdom and understanding gives us the assurance and peace, that we are walking in His way. It does not necessarily answer all our questions -- in fact He may answer very few of our questions. But like our understanding of the universe in which we live. We know very little about Godís intricate workings in creation -- but "by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Heb. 11:3). God did not make the worlds out of nothing. He made them out of things we cannot see -- invisible things. Our whole way of life, if we are truly walking by faith -- is full of strange and perplexing happenings -- but He gives us wisdom and spiritual understanding to know that His ways are invisible -- not meaningless nor indiscriminate. He works in our little world as He did in those worlds out there in space, with intent and purpose. And by faith we understand, because we know it is all clear in His eyes. And it is this spiritual understanding that causes us to say with His servant Job: "He knoweth the way that I take, and when He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold".
As the Spirit of God comes into our lives .. this is not the capstone. He has come to abide within us, and to lead us further into those realms in God that as yet we know very little about. The children of Israel were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, but most of them failed to know Godís ways, and to enter the land of promise (see 1 Cor. 10:1-5). We are still far from the mighty Baptism of Fire that the scriptures talk about. God does not want us to feel we have attained to some spiritual height of glory, just because of certain experiences we have had along the way. Rather, the Spirit of God has come to be our Helper and daily Companion here on earth, to lead us into all Truth, to explore those unseen realms in God -- the lengths and the breadths, the depths and the heights of His glory and presence -- until we are filled with all the fullness of God. He wants to invade our lives with His mighty presence, until all the dross of our carnal ways are consumed with His holy fire. He wants to purge us with those seven flames that burn before the throne, and look upon us with those penetrating eyes of the Lamb, that our whole body might be full of light, having no part dark (Lk. 11:36).
His gifts are precious gifts from the Father, sent forth to adorn and prepare the Bride for the Son. But like Rebekah, when she catches but a distant glimpse of Isaac, she is off the camel and on her way to meet him. As the day of His appearing draws closer, we are attracted less by the gifts, in anticipation of seeing the Giver. We would not minimize the importance of gifts, any more than we would minimize the importance of the flower on the vine. But when the petals begin to fall off, we know it is time for the fruit to begin to form. Those flowers that adorn your church are going to fade away. Those prophecies sooner or later are going to fail. Many times they are failing even now. Words of wisdom and knowledge cannot stay fresh and vital for long if we continue to pursue the gifts, rather than the Giver. God begins to dry up the flowers, when the season is about to change. There are seasons in God, and He wants us to be aware that a change is coming. Be glad if in your desire for God you are sensing a certain futility in church activities that once were vibrant with life. True prophecy will encourage Godís people to move forward, and to look for something more. And if you sense that hunger and thirst in your walk with Him, be encouraged! He wants to prepare in us a permanent abiding place for Himself. We need to let Him know we desire Him to come closer. Let us love Him more. Draw still closer to His heart. Do those things which please the Father, as Jesus did.
"If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love Him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" (Jn. 14:23). Does this sound far out and strange? It is! But still this is what we must pursue, for we know it is the passion in Godís heart to take up His habitation in the humble and contrite hearts of men and women. He asks us to choose His yoke, and walk in abiding union with Him.
The Double Branch: Wisdom and Understanding
Wisdom is related to understanding, so we speak of them as close brothers. God tells us: "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Prov. 4:7). It is good if we have a heart that is searching for wisdom .. rather than for some kind of gift that might make us popular and famous. Wise men of old sought for it, as a hidden treasure. So let us search for wisdom, as Job did. He writes a whole chapter describing His search for wisdom. He speaks of the hidden treasures in the depths of the earth, with all its precious stones, and sapphires, and gold, and jewels of coral and pearl, and rubies. Yet he is aware that what he is looking for is still beyond his reach. He continues to probe the secret of wisdom. He asks the sea, and the sea says, "It is not in me". He scours the earth for answers, and wonders if it might be found in the lightning and thunder. But it is not there. He does not find it anywhere in all of Godís wonderful creation. But finally he gets his answer from God: "Then did He see it, and declare it; He prepared it, yea, and searched it out. and unto man he said, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:27, 28). O what a let-down, when men filled with worldly wisdom, are faced with a conclusion like that!
The Fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom.
We are talking about that holy fear of God that is always strong within us, if we love Him. And the more we love Him, the greater will be that godly fear, that will guide us in paths of wisdom, lest we get entangled in things that are displeasing to the heart of God.
"The Fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom." If this be so, then we will shun the wisdom of the world. If we truly love God, we will diligently seek His will in all that we do -- and like our Lord, we will love righteousness and hate iniquity. We rejoice in the fact we know Christ. But as we seek to walk with Him, we soon discover that in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). Knowing this we cease our searching in any other realm. But knowing that these treasures are still hidden treasures, then we seek for the key that will unlock the door to these treasures. And we discover the key to be a godly fear of God, lest we stray from the pathway of abiding union with Him, and pursue some course in life that has been laid out for us by manís device. We need Godís mighty purgings to cleanse our bloodstream from all defilement of flesh and spirit.
This old world is in a state of bankruptcy, because they have rejected the wisdom of God that was revealed in Jesus. "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor. 1:20). Jeremiah saw the total collapse of manís wisdom: "The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?" (Jer. 8:9). Then if we sincerely love the Lord and fear Him -- we will not seek to climb the ladder that is called success in manís dictionary, but seek rather to walk in a way that may very well seem to be foolishness in the eyes of men .. To succeed in Godís school of wisdom, is so different than the success you achieve in the schools of men. Jesus makes it very clear, and we must come back again and again to the principles of discipleship which He lays before us: If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me. And of course, if we do this -- it is considered to be foolishness in the eyes of the world, and of a worldly minded church..
God said: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent" (1 Cor. 1:19). Itís all coming down. In the meantime we are in the world, and use what God provides for our physical welfare. But the Lord cautions us not to try to get all we can out of the world, to be content with such things as He provides, and consider ourselves to be but strangers and pilgrims in the earth.
We spoke a little about faith and the spirit of faith. Prayer, and the spirit of prayer. Worship, and the spirit of worship. Prophecy, and the spirit of prophecy. We need all His gifts and blessings to show us His way. But Godís intention is to bring us INTO THE SPIRIT, INTO THE MOST HOLY PLACE WHERE GOD BECOMES OUR HABITATION, AND WE BECOME HIS HABITATION. God will have such a people in the day when the wisdom of man is revealed in its nakedness. He will have a people walking in the fullness of the Seven Spirits of God, which proceed from the Lamb on the throne.
The cross on which our Lord Jesus died is the highest form of wisdom that was ever revealed on planet earth -- for it was there on the cross, in the wisdom of God, that Christ overcame the prince of darkness, and the principalities and powers in the heavens, "triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:15). And this world is yet to see the proof of this, when the Lamb of God shines forth in the world, and is seen reigning on the highest throne in the heavens.
The Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding in Jesus
"The fear of the LORD, that is wisdom" .. because unless we are restrained by the fear of God we can very easily miss Godís way in the trials and temptations of life. Jesus was on trial daily before the wise men who sat in places of authority in the Temple. In their wisdom they looked for an opportunity to trap Jesus in His own words. But the Spirit of Wisdom abode within Him. "Master, they said, is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar or not?" They were no friends of Caesarís .. but they wanted to accuse Him to Caesar. If He said "Yes", they would have grounds to accuse Him before the rulers of the Temple, who hated the yoke of Caesar. If He said "No", they would accuse Him before Pilate, who depended on Caesar for his own power. So they gave him one of two choices -- and either way they would have Him in their trap. But this One walked in the Spirit of Wisdom, and discerned with seven eyes, and He totally rejected the Yes or No question that was devised by the wisdom of men. Yet in His reply He not only answered their question, but He exposed the folly and treachery of their hearts. He took a coin that bore Caesarís name and inscription, and asked them -- "Whose image is that, inscribed there on the coin?" They said, "Caesarís". Then He said, "Pay Caesar what belongs to him, and pay God what belongs to Him".
Then we have the story of the woman taken in adultery. Her accusers thought this would be a good opportunity to accuse Jesus .. whom they knew to be a man of mercy. "Moses" they said, "commanded that this woman be stoned to death .. but what would you say?" Manís wisdom requires a fixed Yes or No decision -- but Jesus did all things according to the Fatherís wisdom. He awaited the Fatherís time -- and the Fatherís answer. Only then do we speak the Fatherís wisdom. We may not even know why we wait, nor do we need to know. Then after a moment or two of writing on the ground, He stood up, raised His head and said calmly: "Let he that is without sin cast the first stone". Again He stooped, and wrote on the ground. And they went away silently, as they considered their own sinful, accusing hearts. (see Jn. 8:3-11).
He was full of the Spirit of Wisdom .. and the Fear of God -- for that is wisdom. It is not enough just to speak words of wisdom. But words of wisdom coupled with the fear of God, are like dry wood kindled with fire. This is why the gifts alone are not adequate for the ministration of the Gospel of Christ. Where is the fear of God that penetrates the hearts of men? We may speak words of wisdom, but without this holy fear there is no fire to burn up the dry wood of manís wisdom, and bring it to ashes. Jesus not only spoke the right words -- but He spoke them in Godís time, and the words were kindled with Godís Fear. Words of wisdom from the heart of God are not intended to answer hard questions, or to satisfy oneís curiosity, but to bring the fear of God upon the disobedient and the ignorant.
But by far the greatest example of the Wisdom of Jesus, was revealed as the guiding hand of the Spirit brought Him back to Jerusalem from Galilee. Wisdom and understanding always worked together in the life of Jesus. It was in wisdom that He took His disciples and departed from Judaea and went to Galilee, after going through much persecution in Judaea. He was not running from trouble, as some may have supposed. But the time came when He must return to Judaea -- and to still greater persecution, in the will of the Father. The occasion of His return to Judaea was the sickness of Lazarus. And though He loved Lazarus, the Father constrained Him to stay two days longer, until Lazarus was dead. Then He returned by the prompting of the Spirit to Judaea. When He raised Lazarus from the dead, this great miracle became the final straw that prompted the rulers of the temple to crucify Him. He had understanding in all that He was doing. He was walking in the Light. He was walking in obedience unto death, even the death of the Cross. And now we see Him high and lifted up, and presented to all the world, and to principalities and powers in the heavens, as the highest expression of the Wisdom of God that has ever been revealed on planet earth. "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:22-24).
2. The Spirit of Counsel and Might.
Counsel .. and Might. These are twin brothers also. And our Lord Jesus whose name is called "Counselor .. the Mighty God" is our example. But we are only capable of following His example, as we abide in Him and walk with Him in His yoke. Then the counsel we give will carry weight .. even the strength and might of the Spirit of the LORD. You cannot get this kind of wisdom and counsel from books. Then why do I write books? Not because I have the answer to the horrendous problems that are in the church or in the world. But because I feel the Lord wants me to encourage Godís people to press toward a still higher plateau than where we are now. Generally we sense no urgency in the ministries in the church to move any higher. We must go higher. We must come to Him who is the Source and Fountainhead of all gift and ministry. He places all these ministries in the church, to urge us to come higher .. where Apostle, and Prophet, and Evangelist, and Pastor, and Teacher -- have served their purpose, and Godís people have come to the full stature of Christ. The ministry is here in the church till we come to that .. and to encourage us to come to that. Then like Moses and Elijah on the Mount -- they must be hidden away in the Cloud, till all we see .. all we hear .. is Jesus only. A true prophet .. a true ministry of any kind .. must decrease, that He might increase.
We think of counsel as good advice, something to toss around in our minds and consider, but not in any way binding. If the counselor gives advice that seems good and reasonable .. we may go along. But the counsel of the Lord is an effectual word from God, that is accompanied with Might. This matter of counseling has, in too many cases, been committed into the hands of professionals who study the philosophies of men to equip them for their task. The Spirit of Counsel and Might is greatly needed in the church. We have become overwhelmed with situations that are so tangled and complicated, that not even a man of Solomonís stature could sort it all out. Where is the power and might of the Spirit of the LORD to make our counsel effectual? We must continue to seek and knock and look for the open door that will bring us higher into the realm of the Spirit, where the Spirit of Counsel and Might will rest upon Godís people.
The Church of Christ is intended to be Godís answer to a world in confusion, perplexity, and distress. But rather than being the answer, we ourselves have become part of the problem. And the reason we are part of the problem is because we have forsaken the fountain of living waters, and hewn for ourselves cisterns -- broken cisterns that can hold no water (see Jer. 2:13). Instead of looking to the Source of all true wisdom and counsel, we turn it over to those who are schooled in the wisdom of man, to our own confusion. Only the Anointing can break the yoke of bondage that lies heavy upon the church. Only the counsel that proceeds from the heart of God by His Spirit, will carry with it the power that is needed to break the bands, and set the captive free.
The Proverb of the Sour Grapes
I know that we inherit much from our parents and grandparents. I know that their sins may inevitably be passed on to us, and from us to our children .. and to their children. But I know also that the sins of every generation from Adam until this present time, are there in our genetic stream. And as surely as this is so, God wants us to know that all the sins we inherited from our forefathers, and all the way back to Adam -- were laid on Christ when He went to the cross. And also, we must know that God changed that proverb they had in Israel, that indicated that the sons would suffer for the sins of their fathers. He changed it once for all at the cross -- but He changed it back there in the Old Testament, long before Jesus came to earth. Itís the Proverb of the Sour Grapes. It was becoming popular in Israel, and took quite a hold on the people, as it is doing today. This is the proverb:
"The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrenís teeth are set on edge" (Ezek. 18:2).
You know how it goes: "My father lied a lot, and my grandfather cheated, and my uncle abused me when I was a child, and this is why Iím in this horrible state Iím in". Now mind you, I know this is very often true, and it is heart breaking to hear stories like this, stories of devastated kids and mothers and fathers -- and often they come to the church looking for some kind of counsel that will set them free. The truth is this: there is healing, perfect healing, for those who receive the forgiveness of Christ, and who are renewed in their hearts and minds with a forgiving spirit towards others. Too often, however, the thought of some one else being to blame appeals to the counselor, and to the victim -- and they pursue that thought, probing the mind of the victim, as they look for a place to hang the blame. Very often the power of suggestion effectively causes the victim to believe the lie, and receive it as truth. But, true or false .. here is a victim that needs help, and only a word of counsel from the heart of God can bring the help they need. The true counsel of the Lord will lead that bruised and hurting one to Jesus, and will encourage forgiveness, even as Christ in mercy forgave them. It is certainly not my intention to minimize any measure of good counsel that Godís people might be giving to those who are troubled; for I know there are many dedicated servants of God, who are doing what they can to help the suffering, the helpless, and the broken. But I am aware that even those with sincerity and mercy in their hearts, are frustrated because their counsel very often is not effective. Why is it? It is because our Counsel is not with Might, nor does it bring the Fear of the Lord. It is because we are not yet abiding in the Spirit of Counsel, and in the Spirit of Might. This is the Spirit that was in Jesus, and God has provided the same Spirit for His people.
God told Ezekiel He wanted the people to know that He is a righteous judge, and "the soul that sinneth it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him". And He told the people that he didnít want them to use the proverb of the Sour Grapes any more. (Ezek. 18:3, 20)
Counsel with Might
Counsel in the Spirit, is powerful in its working. If it is from the Lord, it is not merely good advice -- there is the power of God behind it to make it effective. The forgiveness that we receive from the Lord, ought to make it easy for us to forgive others -- if we remember the terror of Godís wrath that was upon us before we knew Him. And not only that -- but the forgiveness that we extend to others brings healing to ourselves, as well as to the one who has harmed us. I recall the testimony of a friend who once had worked for a certain farmer. It was before he knew the Lord. And one day Nap got mad, and cursed and swore at the man, and walked away. In the meantime he got saved .. and in process of time he understood by his conscience that he owed the man an apology. But the man he had cursed was a hard old man, and he tried to push away from his mind the thought of going to him and apologizing. Besides Nap was very much afraid of him. So he prayed, "Lord, if you want me to apologize, let me walk up to my horse and put on the bridle". Usually his horse would run when he saw his master coming toward him with a bridle in his hand. He could never get to his horse without a pail of oats. "I can tell you," he said, "I didnít take any oats with me that day". But Nap took his bridle, walked right up to his horse, and took off on his errand. He found the man, and apologized to him from his heart. This hard old man broke down immediately .. and they wept together -- for the joy of forgiving, and of being forgiven.
Counsel and Might! They harmonize and work together, when we let the Spirit of the LORD abound within us. Jesus walked in this dimension of the Spirit. And He suffered and died that in His resurrection and ascension, His people might walk in this glorious Spirit of Counsel, and of Might. God will have this kind of counsel in the House of God, and God is preparing such a people, even in this time of their devastation and suffering. As people are victimized and abused, Godís people will have the anointing to come to them with the true message of the Gospel, and with the Spirit of Counsel and Might. Then these who are victimized by the oppressor, and learn how to overcome by the blood of the Lamb, shall be transformed into vessels of mercy to set other captives free. No matter what people have gone through .. men and women, boys and girls, who have known heart ache, devastation, and abuse of many kinds .. by the preaching of the truth in the power of the Spirit, they shall be set free, and their souls shall "escape as a bird from the snare of the fowler". The forgiveness they have received from their Redeemer will have equipped them with might and power, to pour the oil of gladness into others who are still in the snare of unforgiveness .. and still drinking the bitter waters of Marah, instead of finding the Tree that will make the waters sweet.
I believe right now there are many in the church who love the Lord sincerely, but who feel feeble and weak, and lack that special honor from God that they need to be an effectual member of the body. These must be encouraged by the ministry, and nurtured with truth and grace .. that together we might grow into the stature of Christ .. for in the fullness of Christ the whole body merges together on one level. I am speaking of a body that is tempered together, not by discipleship seminars -- but by the holy anointing of God, causing the so-called feeble members to become mighty in the Lord. When this happens, the apostle Paul tells us that the schisms which are rampant in the body of Christ will be healed, because every member is empowered to extend needed care and provision one for the other (see 1 Cor. 12:24, 25).
Godís counsel is accompanied with might, because the one giving the counsel is abiding in Christ, and speaking words from the heart of God. That word will not return to God empty .. for even if it is rejected, the one who receives the counsel will answer to God for his disobedience, if indeed the word that has gone forth, was from the Lord. But may God grant mercy on those who feel, because of the virtue of their office, that they have the authority of Christ to bring discipline and correction as they see fit, whether or not they are moving in the mind of the Lord. I have seen a lot of cruelty in this area. If in your walk with the Lord you know you are fully submitted to His will, and have asked Him to try and prove the reins of your heart -- I would encourage you just to commit it all to the Lord, making sure you have no bitterness about it. A manís office in ministry does not obligate you to receive his counsel .. if in your love and devotion to God you cannot receive it as from the Lord. But by the same token if he has a valid ministry, he may have power to exercise judgments that are not Godís will; and for this reason I caution Godís people to seek God for deliverance from offense, lest the enemy gain a foothold.
I recall a story about William Branham, a prophet of the last century. One time in a large congregation there were one or two in the congregation causing some kind of disturbance. As he sought the Lord quietly as to how to deal with it, the Angel of the Lord said, "Speak the word, and I will stand behind it". He knew at that moment he had authority to pronounce whatever judgment was necessary, and that it would come to pass. But he sought the Lord in the matter .. and suddenly he knew what he was to say. So he turned to the people that were causing the trouble, and said something like this: "The Angel of the Lord told me he would stand behind the word that I will speak. But in asking the Lord about it, I believe I am to say this: I forgive you." He mentioned the tremendous blessing that came upon him that evening when he went home, and how he sensed Godís pleasure in the decision he had made. In the one and only private interview I had with this prophet, he said something like this: "Now no matter what I tell you, or what any prophet might tell you -- you must always go by what the Lord shows you .. because even a prophet of God can be wrong .. you know, Elisha was wrong when he cursed those children, and a bear came out of the woods and killed them .. he shouldnít have done that". I needed to hear this from one whom I considered to have been the greatest prophet of the last century -- because it is often assumed that a prophet who has a powerful prophetic mantle resting upon him .. is infallible, or almost ..
God will vindicate His chosen ones in His own way. For their part, they must abide in Godís anointing to be right. Moses was wrong when he smote the rock twice, rather than speaking to it as the Lord had commanded. He suffered for his error, but God did not hold it against him, for God knew it was really the sin of the people that caused Moses to stumble (see Ps. 106:32).
Urim and Thummim
"And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaronís heart, when he goeth in before the LORD" (Ex. 28:30).
With these hidden gems in the breastplate, God had provided an infallible source of wisdom and understanding for the high priest in Israel. I call them gems -- because in their function they were gems of wisdom from the heart and mind of God for His people. We do not know what they were nor what they looked like -- so we need not waste our time speculating or surmising. But in matters pertaining to Israel that required wisdom or counsel from God -- concerning situations for which they had no established Word -- God was able to give clear direction to His people, through this priestly function. In process of time Urim and Thummim disappeared; but it was no longer needed, for God began to raise up prophets who had Urim and Thummim in their hearts, enabling them to give clear direction to His people.
We already mentioned the spirit of Prophecy, that God will restore to His church. In spite of the uncertain sound that is coming from the church in this hour -- we need to be assured that God is faithful, and once again there will be a clear witness from Heaven, and all men will know -- This is what God is saying. He rides the heavens on a white horse, and He is called The Word of God. He is also called Faithful and True. And He will have an army following Him .. who likewise will be faithful and true, because they follow the Lamb, wherever He may lead (see Rev. 19:11-16.) (For more on Urim and Thummim, see our writing Crowned with Oil, Chapter 6).
The Corporate Testimony
We have already talked about the Testimony of Jesus .. that corporate witness of the Light that shines from His people who are walking in the Spirit. That witness was clear and powerful in Jesus .. and God must have it that way in His people. I recall reading some of the journals of George Fox, and the powerful Light that shone forth upon the people in that day. But as George Fox emphasized that the Light was for all men, and sought to bring others into the Light, the movement that came out of his ministry became a corporate Testimony. They did not idolize him, but they emphasized what their leader emphasized: every man who comes to the Light must walk in the same Light, and there must be an equal brotherhood. And because it was a Light that penetrated a church that was greatly overshadowed with darkness -- there was much persecution from the established church. He and his Friends walked in it together, as brothers. And shared persecution together, as brothers. Repentant sinners as well as antagonistic church leaders would literally quake and tremble as he stood before them. It was the fear of God that made the word of God go forth with might and with power. I used to wonder why it says of the "two witnesses" that they "tormented them that dwelt on the earth" (Rev. 11:10), but I understood when I read in Foxís journals this account of what happened in the house of correction, in Derby (England):
"The keeper of the prison, being a high professor, was greatly enraged against me, and spoke very wickedly of me; but it pleased the Lord one day to strike him, so that he was in great trouble and under much terror of mind. And, as I was walking in my chamber I heard a doleful noise, and standing still, I heard him say to his wife, ĎWife, I have seen the day of judgment, and I saw George there, and I was afraid of him, because I had done him so much wrong, and spoken so much against him to the ministers and professors, and to the justices, and in taverns and alehousesí.
"After this, towards the evening, he came into my chamber, and said to me, ĎI have been as a lion against you, but now I come like a lamb, and like the jailer that came to Paul and Silas tremblingí. And he desired he might lodge with me. I told him I was in his power, he might do what he would; but he said ĎNayí that he would have my leave, and that he could desire to be always with me, but not to have me as a prisoner. He said he had been plagued, and his house had been plagued, for my sake. So I suffered him to lodge with me ..
"When the morning came he rose and went to the justices; and told them that he and his house had been plagued for my sake. One of the justices replied (as he reported to me) that the plagues were upon them, too, for keeping me.."
I believe the two witnesses represent the corporate testimony of Jesus Christ, whose clear witness will shine throughout the earth. Their sphere of ministry is "Sodom and Egypt" (where also our Lord was crucified): not the Sodom that Lot lived in, or the Egypt that made slaves of the Israelites. But those cities speak of the world system that crucified Jesus -- Sodom, which was affluent and wealthy and at ease, and filled with moral corruption. And Egypt, representing the opposition from without, as it was with the children of Israel in the days of their captivity (see Rev. 11:3-11).
The Testimony of Jesus in Gadara
The testimony of Jesus was the clear counsel of God that Jesus brought to the world -- the word that He spoke, and the Word that He was. But it was the Light of God -- which brought fear and confrontation. When Jesus landed on the shores of Gadara -- He didnít go about arranging a meeting. But a demon possessed man came running to Him, out from the tombs which were his home, and said to Jesus "Torment me not". Jesus, a Tormentor? Thatís the view they have in realms of Satanic darkness, for thatís the kind of torment they feel when the Prince of Light and Life begins to invade their territory. Yet the man of Gadara came to the Light, for Light is always more powerful than darkness. God drew the man to Himself, in spite of the power of the Legion of devils that bound him. And that is how it was in the church at Philadelphia. Here was a church that walked in the Light, and Jesus told them that He would cause the people to leave the Synagogues of Satan and come to them, and worship at their feet. The church was not attempting to open the doors of the synagogues, but the Light that shone forth drew them to the open door of salvation, and closed the door to the spirits of evil. I fear we are spending too much time and effort attempting to break down the walls of the Synagogues of Satan, instead of seeking God for the return of the Testimony of Jesus -- the holy Ark of His Presence, the Light of the Seven Spirits that shine from the Seven Eyes of the Lamb.
What was the result of this mission in Gadara? And do you think Jesus was a little disappointed with the results? With only one man finding salvation? O how God desires to go before us and arrange our pathway. He will do that, if we are moving in His Spirit. Jesus spoke .. and the demons were terrified .. no screaming and yelling trying to get them to Ďcome outí. The Legion of demons was terrified, thinking their time had come to be cast into the abyss, and asked if they might go into the swine instead. Jesus gave them permission, and the herd of swine stampeded down the hill and into the lake. The man was freed from his chains, and the people saw him sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.
Then what? Did the crowds come to Him, hoping He would stay around, and have a big deliverance meeting? Not quite that way. "They were sore afraid". As the news spread, the crowds certainly gathered around -- but they "besought Him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear". Jesus started back to the ship, and gave the man that was healed a good word of counsel. He was to go tell his friends and loved ones "how great things God hath done unto thee" (See Lk. 8:26-39).
How will this corporate people of power and anointing deal with the inherent desire in the hearts of men to idolize Godís man of power and might? Here is your answer. The Testimony of Jesus will not make one popular -- if he does not go along with manís systems. When fearful miracles begin to happen that will cause the pigs of our resources to drown in the sea, the pigs that keep our economy alive and well -- this man of God will not be popular. No matter how great his miracles, he will not be honored and respected if he is associated with this clear and powerful Testimony of Jesus. They will tell the man -- "Will you please get out of here.."
Or like it was in Ephesus, they will try to drive him out. When the business men and the craftsmen in Ephesus suddenly discovered why there was no longer a hot market for the silver shrines of Diana -- they had an investigation and they traced it down to a few people who had turned the hearts of the Ephesians away from their idols, and unto the Lord Jesus who redeemed them. Suddenly there was a great uproar by the capitalists as well as the craftsmen. They were very much together on this: "They were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians" (Acts 19:28). Diana was a Roman goddess, and Artemis her Greek counterpart -- supposedly the goddess of childbirth, and of hunting, and of wild animals, and of nature. Ephesus had become a great city of commerce, and very prosperous -- and the center for the worship of Artemis. Can you imagine the people idolizing a miracle worker when the Gospel of Christ goes forth in such great power that people stop buying all the demonic junk that is spewing out of the mouths of men, from books and magazines, from the web, from the musical world, from the world of fashion, from the world of sports and entertainment? Many Christians imagine it is because we are a democracy that we have freedom to worship God, and freedom to send forth the Gospel. Let us prepare our hearts now for the day when the Gospel will go forth in such a brilliant Light -- that the wild beasts in Ephesus will once again rise up and persecute those who love the Truth that is in Christ Jesus.
3. The Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the Lord
Again, these are inseparable branches of truth, in our walk with the Lord. Knowledge without the fear of the Lord is deadly .. as it was when Adam and Eve ate of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". They forfeited their fellowship with their Creator, when they lost their fear of the LORD. The fear they had after they sinned, was not the fear that abides in one who loves God and walks in fellowship with Him, but the fear that is born of disobedience, that causes one to hide from his Creator. May our pursuit be confined to one thing: that we might "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 3:18). For He is that Tree of Life, and the fruit we eat from that Tree will cause us to "discern both good and evil" -- Godís purpose being that we might have grace and knowledge to seek the good, and refuse the evil. In our eating of the word .. may we always be seeking the fruit of the Tree of Life. Only then will we receive the pure knowledge of the Lord that will nurture us in the word, and enable us to walk in life and in holiness, and grow into the full stature of Christ. We do not need to eat any longer from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For as we eat of the Tree of Life .. our senses are exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5:14); for Light will always expose the darkness, Truth will expose the false, and Love will expose the hate.
We honor the scriptures highly; but our knowledge of the scriptures is far from adequate if we are not constrained by the fear of God when we read it. In the days of Josiah, after long years during which the temple of God had been neglected, God had put it in the kingís heart to restore the House of God, and cleanse it. In the course of repairing the House they discovered the Book of the Law. Shaphan the scribe went to the king and read it to him. "And when the king had heard the words of the Book of the Law .. he rent his clothes" (2 Kgs. 29:11). If the Word of God does not bring us to holy fear, it must be because we are not hearing what He is saying. If it is just knowledge, it will puff up rather than build up. Until we settle this issue of "presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto Him" we will not discover the spiritual direction that we profess to be looking for. And the golden opportunity that shines before us might very well be one of those open doors that God allowed in His wisdom, to try the reins and the heart -- rather than the doorway to His perfect will. If we are not sure, why not sincerely ask the Lord to close that door if it is not His will -- and give Him time to do it? What loss there would be were we to discover our niche in life that would give us a certain gratification and sense of fulfillment -- only to discover at the end of the journey that we had not fulfilled the destiny that God had desired for our lives. The true knowledge of the Lord will be accompanied with a holy fear of God -- that will cause us to desire only His will and pleasure, in all our ways.
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph. 1:17-20). We seek to discover our calling in life. And we feel that if we can do that, we will find the fulfillment that we are looking for. But the revelation in the knowledge of Him is designed to enlighten our eyes that we might see the hope of His calling in us, and the glory of His inheritance in us, and the exceeding greatness of His power to us who believe.
If He gives us grace to discover this enlightenment in the eyes of our understanding then we are prepared to put our calling to one side, and trust Him to lead us in any way He might choose, for it is His calling in us that He wants us to discover. And He wants us to know that His inheritance in us is far more precious than any inheritance we could procure in this world, or in any gift or ministry that He might give us. For He says to those in priestly service, I am your Inheritance. And Power? When we discover He wants us to partake of the power that raised Jesus from the dead -- then we can commit ourselves and all our plans to the fires of the burnt offering. For only then is He pleased to come forth in "the power of His resurrection".
The apostle tells us that we need revelation of the Spirit to see this. Paul knew the scriptures thoroughly -- in both the Hebrew and the Greek -- but he knew nothing of the hope of His calling until the God of Glory blazed upon him in a Light that was brighter than the noon day sun. Paul received his gospel by "the revelation (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ", as John did on Patmos. His gospel was there in the scriptures, but the scriptures require the revelation of Jesus Christ before we can see it.
The More Excellent kind of Knowledge
It is a new creation kind of knowledge, requiring an inward working of God in our minds, as we put on "the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that hath created him" (Col. 3:10).
As our love for God and His family increases .. God is pleased to increase our knowledge and perception of truth. Powerful gifts and ministries without the fruit of the Spirit, can be destructive in the lives of those who have them. Lucifer is a solemn example -- graced with light and splendor, but he began to admire his beauty and excellence, rather than keeping His eyes on the One who gave him all that glory. And so the apostle prayed, "that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (or, discernment); that ye may approve things that are excellent" (Phil. 1:9, 10). Here is a pure knowledge that comes forth from abounding love. True knowledge and discernment will be birthed out from Love .. Love in its many facets of faith, truth, righteousness, endurance, patience, kindness, mercy, longsuffering. As we love Him, we will begin to love what He loves .. and fear Him so much that we hate what He hates. Like our Master we will "love righteousness and hate iniquity". It is far beyond the gifts .. for a gift can easily be tarnished with the grime of carnal thoughts and ways. His gifts to us are rays of Light that we need, till we come to the Source of the Light, which is Christ Himself. And therefore we are admonished: "Follow after charity (love), and desire spiritual gifts" (1 Cor. 14:1).
"That ye may approve the things that are excellent".. knowledge and discernment birthed in our love for God will cause us to pursue excellent things. There is no need for us to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil any more, because we discover every good thing in the Tree of Life .. and then we see all else as evil. With love we discern the hate and the enmity. With truth, we discern the false. With righteousness, we know evil, and reject it. Mercy will flow out against cruelty and hate. We do not seek to expose the darkness by studying all the shades of darkness. But the Light will expose the darkness. For "all things that are reproved are made manifest by the Light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is Light" (Eph. 5:13).
This is what the Lord means when He admonishes us to "Judge righteous judgment" (Jn. 7:24). It is a quality of judgment and discernment that comes from abiding union with Him. As we earnestly look for good judgment in situations that we come into, and are not sure how to respond, let us remind ourselves that we must abide in the yoke of Jesus, and walk in the Light of Jesus. For in Him are hidden "all the riches of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3).
Chapter 7 - A Kingdom of Righteousness and Peace
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