When God spoke through his prophets to his old covenant people he repeated the same message many times and in many different ways: “Return to me or face the consequences!”
The same God speaks through his prophets today. He continues to say the same thing to different people in different ways. His heart of love for His people has not changed: He continues to say “Return to me!“ And the call hasn’t changed: He said to the first Adam “where are you?“ and today, although the context may be different, He still says to us, the brothers and sisters of the second Adam: “Where are you?“
Because He still is longing to walk with us in the garden of His promises, and many in His church are still nowhere to be seen. He has a plan and a purpose, and He wants to see that plan and purpose fulfilled in our lives; but this will not happen unless we walk with him, close to him, yoked to him.
The message that He is giving to many of his prophets today is clear: the vision is “written on tablets so that he may run who reads it!” (Hab 2:2) There is a great shaking coming on the world; and there will be much upheaval; but in and through this we will find safety under the shadow of his wings; we will be a light in the darkness as we walk in his light, and as His light arises on us so many will come out of the darkness to seek Him. There have been pictures of earthquakes, of storms, of avalanches; there have been words of the lion roaring, of light shining, of a strong tower standing, but the message is fundamentally Isaiah 60: 2-3, and ultimately the deepest symbolism of the Book of Revelation:
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
And His glory will be seen upon you.
Nevertheless there is a new emphasis now, a new note that hasn’t been heard before. In summary, what I feel the Spirit is saying to the Church is this:
“Buckle up for a bumpy ride, because this really is about to happen soon. Buckle up the belt of Truth, because this is what will keep you safe. But pay attention, because it will be the new thing I am doing, and not the old thing that you have been doing. Listen to me and learn from me and you will tread the high places of the Earth in my presence. But if you refuse to listen you will seek me but you will not find me; you will see my light shining over the mountains but you will continue to stumble through the undergrowth of the valley that I want to lead you out of; and your heart will be in danger of growing bitter and critical towards those who are experiencing my glory.”
Prophesy requires a response. When Agabus prophesied a famine, “ the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea” (See Acts 11: 28-30) So how do we do to prepare for what is coming? Here are a few suggestions.
Intimacy with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells us that His sheep hear His voice – but it’s only through the Holy Spirit that He speaks, whether this is directly into our hearts or via the Bible, so unless we are familiar with that voice we will not recognise it when it comes, and we will miss His directions. This doesn’t just mean spending a fixed period of time every day praying and reading the Bible; it means staying close to Him all day so that we can hear his whisper as we walk, that “voice behind us, saying this is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)
Openness to change.
God is doing “a new thing.” This doesn’t mean that it’s not in the Bible, because it is. It will either be prophesy that is now coming to fulfilment, or aspects of new testament church life and ministry that God is only now restoring to the church. We need to make sure that our openness to what God is doing today is is only shaped by what He did when He first established the church 2,000 years ago. and just not by what we, our fathers, or our Bible teachers saw God doing yesterday.
Are we free and generous in our giving? As the financial systems of the world become more shaky, the best place to invest our money is in the Bank of Heaven, where “moth and rust do not corrupt, and thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matt 6:19) As we shovel out, God shovels in – and His shovel is bigger than ours.
Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). Jesus is coming for a bride without spot or blemish. God judged idolatry and compromise among His Old Covenant people and He has not changed today. We all need to ask the Holy Spirit if we have any idols ourselves, and what we need to do for our “houses” to be an acceptable dwelling place for Him. We must recognise that when Peter meant what he said when he wrote “Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”.
None of these – or other principals of discipleship – are new ideas. I think that the “new thing” that God is doing today is to allow unprecedented erosion of the sandy foundations that the world’s civilisation is built upon, so that what is build on the Rock of Jesus Christ is the safe haven that can be seen by all, more clearly than ever before. His call to us today is to make sure we are in it and are not wandering around outside.