IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD
By Johannes Facius
"Break up your fallow ground. For it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you". (Hosea 10:12)
If there ever was a time where we needed to seek the Lord it is most certainly now. The signs of the rapid approach of the final stage of the end-time trouble are becoming more and more manifest. Despite this, there is not much evidence in Christian circles of the need to watch and pray, though the Lord warned us of the need to do so:
"Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man". (Luke 21:36)
The strong emphasis the New Testament puts on the need to pray and fast, as practised by the early church, seems to be vastly ignored by the modern church. A suggestion I made some time ago to a group of prayer leaders to set aside time for prayer and fasting was dismissed as being unnecessary. They had already fixed their agenda. In such a case we risk running our own agenda based on our natural understanding and opinions.
To seek the lord to hear from Him requires that we are willing to break up our fallow ground. My bible dictionary explains fallow ground this way: "An idle ground not in use, crusted over and hardened, so that it cannot receive the seed any more until it has been broken up".
This speaks about a heart being hardened by its own habits, traditions and opinions. It cannot receive something new, but is firmly set in its own ways. Such a heart may try to seek the Lord and hear from Him and to know His ways, but it cannot. It needs first to be broken up. This is a word from the Lord:
"On this one will I look; on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word". (Is.66:2) Or as Psalm 34:18 puts it:
"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves those such as have a contrite spirit."
Seeking the Lord without breaking up the fallow ground is useless, because that means we are just seeking the Lord to have our own agendas and opinions confirmed. God will not respond to that. To meet with the Lord in seeking Him we need to lay down our own will and desires, due to the fact that we cannot possibly find His ways by our natural understanding. This is what the Lord declares:
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Is.. 55:8-9)
THE SOULISHNESS OF MAN
Many believers donít think it important to seek the Lord, because they trust in their own understanding, and donít know the difference between soul and spirit. They believe that since they are born again their thinking is Godís thinking almost by default. They are not heeding Paulís word in 1.Cor. 2:14:
"The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to them, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned".
If we do not know how to separate soul from spirit we are bound to make wrong discernments that lead to wrong decisions. This is made clear in Heb. 4:12:
"For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart".
This is not just about knowing Scripture after the letter but understanding it according to the Spirit. How would we ever be able to get this separation in experience unless we seek the Lord? A recommended book on this subject is Watchman Neeís book: "The latent power of the soul." Brother Nee also teaches that 90% of the answer to how we can find Godís will is to lay down our own will before God. This is based on Paulís word from Romans 12:1-2:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
It should be clear from this that we cannot have the renewed mind that enables us to discern what is from God or not, unless we are laying down our own opinions, desires and natural understanding before Him. Without that we are left with the natural man conformed to the thoughts and ways of the world.
DELIVER US FROM SOULISH PRAYING
If we should ever wonder why there are so many unanswered prayers, both individually and corporately, it is mostly due to praying out of the soul. James, the apostle, makes this point:
"You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your own pleasures." (Jam.3:15)
I wish we would all be honest enough to admit than when we do not receive any answers to our prayers it is because we prayed out of our own desires and agendas instead of having given time to discern what might be Godís will and agenda. But so often we just continue as if nothing happened, because we do not have the courage to break up our fallow ground.
Soulish prayers are a major problem in the body of Christ. They lead us nowhere, being born of the flesh. Did not Jesus say that "What is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6) and that "the flesh profits nothing" (John 6:63).
Paul hits the mark when he speaks of what true prayer is all about:
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Rom. 8:26-27)
That we donít know how to pray as we should is a fact, but it is not acknowledged by many. What we should realise is that without having received the burdens of the Holy Spirit and His direction, we are left with non profitable prayers of our own making. How would we ever come to know and carry His burdens, unless we lay down our own opinions and seek the Lord until He moves by His Spirit.
At my very first íSitting at the Feet of Jesusí gathering in 1992 in Canberra Australia I was taught a lesson. I participated as the international co-ordinator for the International Fellowship of Intercessors and my entire mind was focused on praying for the nations. We spent 3 weeks before the Lord waiting on Him. The first week was used to empty ourselves of all our own ideas, agendas and expectations as to what should happen. The second week we very much managed to come to a place of availability, waiting on the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. The third week the presence of the Lord filled the place and began to illuminate our hearts. As I said, I thought we had come together to pray for Australia and other nations represented at the gathering and engage in spiritual warfare. But the Lord had another agenda than mine. He most clearly revealed to me in this intense manifest presence of His Spirit, that His burden was His body in the nation. That has changed my priorities ever since. I remembered Jesusí prayer priority:
"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours." (John 17:9)
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word:
that they all may be one, as You Father are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me." (John 17:20-21)
Is there any more important prayer agenda than that of the Messiahís?
And what about praying for Israel? . The believers Jesus prayed for in the garden were none other than Messianic Jews. The burden of the Messiah for His chosen people of Israel was and still is that they might turn to Him and get saved:
"Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying: If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes." (Luke 19:41-42)
There is no other answer to the trouble in Israel than this. They need to get saved. And all the necessary circumstances, however painful and difficult they may be, will be used by God to bring them to the point of salvation, just as the following verses 43-44 speak about.
What was the prayer priority of the apostle Paul, who more than any other in the New Testament reveals Godís plans and purpose for the Jewish people?:
"Brethren, my heartís desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved!"(Rom 10:1)
For this to happen, Paul was willing to perish (Rom 9:1-3).
There is, of course, a place to pray for the world, for the nations. That is clear from 1 Tim.2:1-8. The overall purpose here though is to make a way for the gospel to be preached and for people to get saved, because "God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." There is no evidence that Israel will reach her divine destiny through politics. Some seem to believe that God cannot do anything in Israel under a bad prime minister or government. Strange, when you think about the early church triumphing under the Roman occupation and bringing the gospel to the ends of the ancient world. And in more recent times, an estimated 100 million souls were saved in China under an anti-Semitic and anti-Christian government. When God brought His chosen people of Israel out of Egypt it happened in spite of a tyrant called Pharaoh, who would not let the people go. This is what the Almighty God had to say about Pharaoh: "For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh : "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, And that My name may be declared in all the earth." (Rom. 9:17)
Israelís problem is not its battle with hostile neighbours. It is its struggle with the God of Israel. This is much more a spiritual battle than it is a natural one. Like it was with Jacob at Peniel. Before he could have his life saved and be transformed into Israel, his own strength had to be broken. All attempts to try to strengthen Israel by supporting it in its self-confidence and power could very well turn out to work against Godís plan to bring Israel to its knees, so that she might call upon the God of Israel to be saved. According to the prophetic word Israel cannot be saved until its own strength has been broken.
Dan.12 speaks about Godís promise to save His people. Daniel is wanting to know when this will happen, and the answer is: "When the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished."
Or as Deut. 32:36 puts it: "For the Lord will judge His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone."
In our eagerness to comfort Godís people we should know what the Lord meant by that. Otherwise our comfort would only serve to confirm the Jewish people in their own ways. From Is.40:1-9 we learn what God means by comforting His people: that is to prepare a way for Him by removing the flesh and any other obstacle in the way for the people to see their God in His glory by bringing the good tidings of His salvation. To me that speaks of the removal of the veil, that they may see their Messiah who was crucified for them.
With all our good intentions in trying to preserve Israel from the troubles and sufferings lying ahead, we might just delay the day of their redemption. Peter was upset when Jesus spoke of going to the cross to die. He even rebuked the Lord and said: "This shall not happen to You, Lord!" Jesus turned around to face Peter and responded: "Get behind me Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Surprisingly, behind this well-intentioned desire of Peter was Satan moving through Peterís flesh (soul) to prevent what was Godís will and way for His Son. Whether we like it or not we need to realise that our adversary has access to our soul life and might be able to lead us astray into deception.
THE FOUNDATION OF SALVATION UNDER ATTACK
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Eph. 2: 8-9)
Extremism seems to be rearing its head within the Body of Christ. This has been a problem for a long time within the Gentile church. Now it is hitting the Messianic body in a major way. One problem here is the lack of balance. Among Israel lovers, both Gentile and Jew, there are those who are focusing so much on the roots of our faith, that they become blind to the tree growing above the ground, the one new man in Christ. Then there are those who focus so much on the tree, that they become blind to the Jewish roots of the faith. Must we be so extreme that we cannot embrace both? In the prayer alert from "Arrows from Zion" from Oct.8 this was written:
"Pray for the blinders to be removed that causes the spiritual eyes of the Church to be blind to the Body of the Lord Jeshua in Israel:
1) Those who have dismissed Israel as insignificant to the gospel of the kingdom.
2) Those who are so obsessed with natural Israel they fail to see the spiritual Living Temple being built up in Jeshua preaching the gospel of the kingdom in Israel.
Break through the veil that keeps Christians from seeing that Jesus is again walking through the land of Israel among not only Arabs, but also among the Jews."
How some can love natural Israel more than spiritual Israel is beyond me. Are the physical stones of the land more precious than the living stones? I would admit that is much easier to relate to dead stones than to the living ones!
Different streams of wrong theologies are now being presented and promoted. They are additions to the one and only biblical truth of salvation, namely: saved by grace alone.
A recent report from Sweden tells that hundreds of evangelical/pentecostal believers have left their churches and joined one of two Israel ministries, "Shalom" or "The Messianic Torah group". These ministries have been convinced by Messianic leaders in the US and Israel, who claim that the Trinity is not biblical and that Jesus is the Son of God but not God. This heresy is supposed to make it easier for the Jews to accept Jesus. The fact of the matter though is, that if Jesus is not God, then we could never be saved.. Strange that these people have never read or understood the first verses in Johnís gospel: " In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word WAS GOD." All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." And the Word became flesh! Who could this speak about except the Lord Jesus?
Another stream claims that Jewish believers are obliged to accept and keep the teachings of rabbinical Judaism. Because it is made an obligation to follow this teaching it is a violation of the word of God and is designed to rob believers of their freedom of choice concerning certain days, feasts and foods. Recommended readings are: Gal.5:1-4, Col. 2:14-17, Rom. 14:5-6, just to mention some of the scriptures dealing with this matter. Some have told me that these scriptures are only for Gentile believers, not for Messianic Jews. They claim that Paul is the apostle only to the Gentiles. It is a very long time since I have been presented with such nonsense.
Then there is another "revelation" under way: believers who do not have their blind eyes open to the mystery of Israel, are now in danger of losing their salvation. This concerns nothing less that the majority of believers and their pastors and leaders within the evangelical, pentecostal and charismatic churches worldwide. Their time is up. It is no longer sufficient to be saved by grace through the finished work of the Lord Jesus.
In order to get saved no one needs to have a revelation about Godís agenda for natural Israel. And nobody who is saved will lose their salvation because of not having such a revelation. We are saved by grace and only by grace!
All this is nothing else but the enemy trying to split apart the new man in Christ, the Body of Christ. His aim is to try and destroy the foundation of our salvation and the unity of the body. No wonder Paul is crying out:
"I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified"! (1.Cor.2:2)
If there ever was a time where Godís people needed to break up their fallow ground and to seek the Lord, it is now! Shalom!