THE PINNACLE From: Three Deaths and Three Resurrections Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Before we can move ahead to God’s fullness we must have our pinnacle experience. We must be brought to the place of helplessness.
We may be placed in God’s prison of weakness and futility after we have had the vision of the needs of the world and God’s plan to meet those needs, and after we possess an understanding of what the Lord will accomplish in the Church. For many saints, the prison of seeming uselessness may be the most difficult test of their faithfulness to God.
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle [gable] of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. (Luke 4:9-3)
The three temptations of Christ represent the three ways in which all men are tested.
We are tested concerning material survival (turn the stone into bread).
We are tested concerning sin and the lusts of the flesh (the kingdoms of the world).
We are tested concerning obedience (the pinnacle of the Temple).
The third test, that of the pinnacle, is a difficult experience for some of us. The devil brings us to Jerusalem for this test, to the arena of church activity. The three temptations are not ordinarily experienced one-two-three (although they were for the Lord Jesus), yet it is true that the pinnacle test is for those who already have been saved and now are anxious to serve God.
The pinnacle of the Temple was a wing, or gable, on the southeast corner of the Temple, overlooking the Kidron Valley. There was a drop straight down of 450 feet or more. Jesus was perched on top of this gable. What a foolish and useless place to be! How ridiculous!
The Mosaic ordinances were being conducted beneath Him in the Temple, according to the statutes He Himself, the Lord of Glory, had given Moses on Mount Sinai. What a contrast between Sinai and the pinnacle of the Temple! What a contrast when we are removed from the place of glorious revelation and brought into the prison of weakness and futility!
On top of the Temple, Christ could see the horizon, symbolizing the scope of God’s plan for the redemption of the earth and the needs of the people laboring in chains therein. In the Temple below Him were the priests observing sacraments and rituals He understood better that anyone else, He being the Author and Fulfillment of them all. Yet He was sitting on a gable without the opportunity to do one thing. What a temptation!
The pinnacle: God’s prison of waiting. Before we can move on to God’s fullness we must have our pinnacle experience. We must be brought to the place of uselessness. This comes after we have had the vision of the needs of the world and God’s plan to meet those needs, and also when we possess an understanding of what the Lord will accomplish in the Church.
Now that we understand to a certain extent what should be brought into being, and God’s anointing is upon us, can the world, the devil, or our own ambition or fears get us to act? Can we be tempted, cajoled, worried, frightened, or otherwise pushed into "stepping out in faith on God’s Word" apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus was so obedient to God that He would be sitting there yet if the season of temptation had not come to a close. Are we that obedient? Will we remain perched on the pinnacle of futility until God brings us down?—until the angels minister to us?
There are times in our Christian experience when we must walk in faith. Then there are seasons when God says, "Wait!" It is not always clear to us what we should do, whether to wait, or to take a step and observe what happens.
We must be cautious but not overly cautious. Each of our moves should be preceded by prayerful attention to the mind of the Spirit, as far as possible, and also to the actual results of what we are doing. We must present our body a living sacrifice in order to prove the will of God.
Sometimes God acts very slowly it seems. At other times He moves like a flash of lightning. Meanwhile the world, the adversary, and our own self-willed nature challenge us to do something, to come down from the cross.
The three temptations of Christ followed Him throughout His ministry just as they follow us throughout our ministry. Finally, as He hung on the cross, the ultimate pinnacle, the voice of temptation cried out to Him: "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. Do something. If you are what you claim to be, demonstrate that fact now!"
The Christian churches have never, to any great extent, faced and overcome the temptation of the pinnacle. This is because the motivation of each denomination is to "get to work and do something for the Kingdom of God."
The concept of being put into a place of helpless waiting on God for direction may be difficult to work with in an organizational framework. Yet, the only path to the fullness of fruitfulness and strength is by way of the pinnacle.
William Branham, a Baptist preacher with an outstanding gift of knowledge and of miracles and healings, was an excellent example of the Christian who endeavors to wait on the leading of the Holy Spirit. We heard Branham minister in Long Beach, California in about 1950 and witnessed his sincere desire to follow God in every detail of ministry.
An incident occurred during a visit to Africa. The Spirit of the Lord forbade Branham to go to a certain town to minister, while the members of his party urged him to go to that town. The Spirit warned him he was to go to another place and rest. Branham, following the advice of his associates, went on to the town and became quite ill (described in Footprints in the Sands of Time, Jeffersonville, Indiana, Spoken Word Publications, 1975).
William Branham’s concern was that of the Christian who possesses a gift of God and then must avoid all pressure that would divert the will of the Spirit as to how and when to use the gift. People run to anyone who receives power from the Lord and attempt to persuade him or her to utilize the gift in some desirable or predictable fashion.
If someone today could multiply food by the power of the Spirit, can you imagine the social pressure that would be placed on him or her to use that power to relieve the suffering of mankind? What if God gave that gift and forbade the use of it until some unknown future date? This is the pinnacle temptation.
We humans sometimes desire to use the Lord Jesus in a manner tailored to our own fancies. Example: "Lord Jesus, send us a revival of the Spirit. Do not let anyone speak in tongues or be healed, because we do not believe in that. Let us use You in the manner we think will be most acceptable to everyone and therefore of the greatest help in building Your Kingdom."
Isn’t this what the Lord hears every day?
God visited William Branham with one of the several extraordinary ministries that have so blessed the twentieth century. Dr. Henrietta Mears, Smith Wigglesworth of England, Kathryn Kuhlman, Watchman Nee of China, Aimee Semple McPherson—all were "Elijahs" and "Elishas," prophets of the end time who announced the coming of the Kingdom of God. They were forerunners of the outpouring of the Spirit of God that is beginning to come upon the Body of Christ in our generation, revealing the power of the Kingdom of God and calling all people everywhere to repentance in preparation for the Day of the Lord that is at hand.
It appears to be very difficult for the large denominations to understand that the gifts and callings of God are not given to meet the needs of the world. They are for the building of the Body of Christ and are to be used only under the precise guidance of the Spirit of God. They never are to be the means by which well-intentioned believers attempt to ease the pain of the world.
When the Body of Christ has come to God’s standard of maturity the Lord will return and bring justice to the nations. In the meantime, to attempt to help the nations, or to curry favor with them in the hope they will believe in Jesus, is only to prolong their misery.
In numerous instances the people who are coming to the churches for deliverance are seeking to remove the judgment of God from themselves so they can continue to live their lives apart from God and His Christ. To deliver them is to go contrary to the purpose of God. Christians have often worked against the Spirit of God and remain ignorant of this fact.
Are we willing to "sit on the pinnacle" as long as the Lord requires even though we may have the answer to the needs of the Church and the world? Or are we going to go forward in ministry before God’s timing and "fall into the sewage of the Kidron Valley"?
The death of the pinnacle, that of helplessness, futility, weakness, is a difficult test of the servant of the Lord. We may be just one step away from ministry in the power of the Spirit and everything in us may be leaping toward the freedom to move forward in the Lord.
Here we sit, the picture of foolishness.
Meanwhile, everyone who passes by is tempted to be scornful, to mock our inability to do anything of value. We can become quite frustrated and humiliated as we wait on the Lord.
Christ Himself was willing to become nothing, to do nothing. He waited helplessly on God for all things. People attempted to make Him a king but He would have none of it. He remained throughout His ministry on the pinnacle of helplessness, coming down to act only in the express timing of the Father.
It is true there are moments when we must go ahead in faith. If we walk prayerfully and carefully in the Lord, one step at a time, we can move along in Christ. We are to proceed prayerfully and cautiously unless the Lord Himself urges us to greater speed—as He does on occasion.
At other times it appears every door closes. We are on the pinnacle. The temptation comes to do something—anything. "Jump off and God will meet you. This is what the Scripture teaches. Saw through the prison bars. You are supposed to be possessing the good land of milk and honey!"
When God shuts us up in prison we cannot come forth without breaking God’s Laws.
God had Abraham on a pinnacle concerning the birth of his heir. Abraham jumped off the pinnacle and Ishmael was the result. Ishmael, the enemy of God’s people, always results from climbing down from the pinnacle before the Lord’s time.
How we die! What patience waiting on God requires! We are ground to powder as we wait up here on our futile perch. Will we remain here until Jesus comes? Yes we will unless the Spirit of God directs us to do otherwise.
We shall be obedient even though the death is piercing. We must learn thoroughly that God’s work must be done by God Himself and that He Himself must direct us in the use of our God-given abilities. The gift of the prophet is subject to the prophet. The prophet is subject to the Spirit of God.
Why would God waste time by giving someone gifts and then moving him into a place of futility? It is because God is more interested in the spiritual maturity of His servants than He is in their works. In the present hour the manner in which we do things is more important than our success. God is developing sons who will walk in obedience, never being moved by personal ambition, by fear, or even by the obvious needs at hand.
We are not teaching we should be impractical, or insensitive to the human needs around us. If someone is hungry or cold, and we have the means to provide the food or warmth, we are to do so. The Book of James instructs us to be charitable and practical. Good works of all kinds are an important aspect of the Christian discipleship. Rather, we are speaking here of the saint whom God has brought into "prison."
Joseph is a scriptural example of such helplessness. While Joseph was in prison the Word of the Lord tried him. When his hour came he was released and set over the land of Egypt. Through the obedient Joseph the Lord brought deliverance to Egypt, to Israel, and to the other nations of the earth.
When Jesus’ hour came He was released from the pinnacle and brought into His ministry in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Later, the Lord was released from another pinnacle—the cross. After paying the price of redemption for mankind He ascended to all authority in Heaven and on the earth.
The cross. The throne of God is reached by way of the cross. The cross is death to our selfhood—to our own way of doing, our impulses, our timing, our own understanding, our eagerness to help God and people.
The world does not understand the cross. The cross is weakness, defeat, shame, disgrace. To Christians the cross is the power of God. But think of what Christ felt as He was hanging there! The cross is arrayed in light and glory until we ourselves are hanging there. Then the cross is seen as weakness, futility, shame, helplessness, pain, confusion.
There is no way to the fullness of God other than through the pinnacle (cross) experience. It is the devil who puts us on the pinnacle, but only in the deliberate will and timing of the Father.
God Himself studies our reactions on the pinnacle, for He is creating sons in His image. He requires obedience in the inner parts of our being. God’s way of creating obedience in us is by taking from us many relationships, things, and circumstances that we embrace, by delaying the gratification of our most fervent desires.
Sometimes physical pain, weariness, and discomfort are our portion. We are brought into situations we detest and are required to face such situations anew each morning for a season. Dread and fear may be the principal actors in the play and fill our future with gloom and seeming doom.
These trials can be exceedingly unpleasant. We may lapse into bitterness and blaming people. If we will keep on praising God instead, trusting in His Word and giving Him glory for the relief we hope and believe will come our way in His time, jewels of patience, faith, courage, and obedience will be created in us.
We may groan in bondage for a while. Then the day breaks and we find ourselves in a larger place with God.
He knows! He knows! Christ Himself has been on that pinnacle. God is mindful of your willingness to suffer in His name. He who upholds the heavens and the earth, and all who dwell therein, will make certain you emerge in victory over all your enemies.
Your prison doors will open by God’s hand. There shall come an end. Just remember that—there shall come an end to your misery! If you die in the will of God you will be raised in the will of God. The deeper your death of obedience the higher your ascension into the glory of the Lord.
Keep your eyes on the reward ahead of you and you will be able, through the wisdom and strength God provides, to remain in the place where He has positioned you. If you are faithful in the lesser He will entrust you with the greater. Keep on looking to the Lord and you will take your place alongside the other saints who also have had to endure their pinnacles.
Total obedience is more of a problem with "self" than it is with sin. In sanctification the Holy Spirit leads us to put to death the deeds of the flesh—the lust, murder, covetousness, idolatry, sorcery, stealing, lying, and all the other manifestations of the nature of evil, unclean spirits.
Obedience, on the other hand, has more to do with our desire to be ourselves, to be noticed, to succeed, to receive honor, to achieve, to have our own way. Such yearnings are not always thought of as being hindrances to pleasing God.
The desire to succeed, to receive honor for an outstanding performance, to achieve—these ambitions are not sin. They are not a violation of the moral law as is true of adultery, murder, lying, stealing. They are self. Why does Christ want to interfere with our right to be our own selves?
The answer to this question lies in the destiny of mankind, particularly the destiny of the Church. The Church is destined to be in the image of Christ, to be united in Christ in the Godhead, to be a coheir with Christ, to be the eternal Temple of God, to be the Servant of the Lord, to be the Throne of God through which God will judge and liberate the inhabitants of the earth.
God will not permit a member of the body of Christ to be saved from wrath, delivered from the bondages of sin, and then arise as a judge of the creation. He would be a monster of pride and self-seeking.
A further step is necessary. This step is the re-creating of his whole being such that he is broken to powder and pounded into the essence of Christ. We are being made part of God Himself through marriage to God’s Son. The process is not always enjoyable, but the final result certainly will be worth the discomfort.
If God’s will for Abraham were only that he be a good man, a God-fearing, honest herdsman, God would not have required the offering of Isaac. If Abraham were to be merely a righteous sheik of the desert, raising livestock by day and dancing to the flute by night, he never would have been subjected to that awful demand.
Abraham was called to be the father of those who believe. His Seed is destined to be as the stars of the heaven and the source of blessing for the nations of the earth. Because of this inconceivably great inheritance, Abraham had to be made obedient to the point of death.
The imprisonment of Joseph, the afflictions of Job, the sufferings of Jeremiah, the persecutions of Paul, were not because of sin or to break the chains of sin. The purpose of these tearings-down were that God might build up His holy dwelling place, that the resurrection life of Christ might supplant flesh and blood.
Your present pressures, dear reader, may have nothing to do with sin. Instead, they may have come so you may grow in His Substance, in His express image, in His resurrection life, until you become the purified expression of single-minded obedience to the Father.
The Spirit is moving among all Christians, seeking those who will serve the Lord in utter obedience. Christ desires such for His army. The army of the Lord is in preparation now. It will descend with the Lord in awesome power, bringing judgment and deliverance into the earth.
Now is the time for saints everywhere to prepare "victuals" for themselves (Joshua 1:11). There are spiritual treasures coming forth in books, in home prayer meetings, in conventions, in local churches, in Sunday-school classes. Everywhere that Christian people are seeking the Lord the anointing of the Spirit is coming down and the meat of the Word is being handed out.
Days of tremendous revival, and of trouble and persecution, are at the door. Men’s hearts are failing them for fear. Only the conquering saints possess security.
The Body of Christ is preparing to go across the Jordan into its inheritance, and Jordan is rising to flood level. The coming of Jordan to flood level is a figurative way of saying that judgment is about to break forth on mankind, especially on the members of the Christian churches.
The closer we draw to the coming of the Lord the more we can expect the fire of the Lord to test our imaginations, motives, words, and deeds. Judgment always begins with those who are closest to the Lord.
Crossing the Red Sea signifies our passing from the authority of Satan to the authority of Christ. Mount Sinai signifies death to the lusts of our flesh—death to what is demonic in us and resurrection into Spirit-filled life.
Crossing the Jordan River signifies death to human self-centeredness and self-will, and resurrection Life in the Presence of God.
We need to lay up rich spiritual provision in the present hour, strengthening ourselves in Christ, because we must stand firm throughout the turmoil that is increasing upon us.
God is teaching us that we are not to fear what is coming on the earth. It is necessary that the latter-rain revival come, and then that there be the worldwide falling away from the faith, before the Lord Jesus returns from Heaven.
Through it all the godly, Spirit-filled remnant will be the source of deliverance for all who call on the Lord.
The way of the Lord must be prepared. The wall of defense against sin must be rebuilt in the churches. The highway of holiness must be constructed in the hearts of the saints.
There must be created a clear division between the Church and the world.
The high places must be brought down and the valleys raised. The crooked places must be made straight and the rough places smoothed out. The hearts of the fathers must be turned to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
When we witness the disturbances in nature, the turmoil of the nations of the earth, the issuing of authority and power to the saints, the rise of both righteousness and sin until righteousness becomes exceedingly righteous and sin becomes exceedingly sinful, then we are to look up for our redemption is drawing near. All these events must come to pass before Jesus returns.
We are to make straight the way of the Lord. Those who are wise will walk in righteousness and will turn many to righteousness. The love of the majority of those who profess Christ will grow cold. Those who do know their Lord will be bearing witness of the holiness and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not the will of Christ that we live in fear but rather that we turn our attention and faith toward Him. He maintains a solid wall of protection around us, even when it appears as though everything in which we have trusted is falling to pieces.
The Lord remains in control of all persons, all events, all circumstances. Every moment of our life is known to Him—down to the smallest detail. He will provide our every need if we will put our hand in His and bring to Him our every need and desire.
Because the powers of the heavens are to be shaken, because the contest is between God and Satan, between Christ and Antichrist, there is nothing human beings can accomplish while acting in their own wisdom and strength. We are as dust, and the ancient authorities and powers of the spirit realm are perfect in cunning and of tremendous size and strength.
God desires to use us as a man would put on a glove. Because we are given to pride of wisdom and knowledge, being filled with personal ambition, a desire to please people, a sense of obligation put on us by others, sympathy, and other fleshly motives, God must very carefully bring us to the place where we cease acting in our own abilities and begin to wait on Him in every matter no matter how seemingly unimportant. We can do nothing of ourselves!
Such dependence on God, such leaning on our Beloved, can come to us only through much suffering. We must come to the end of ourselves!
God permits Satan to put us in the prison of the cross. Will we attempt to save ourselves or will we put our trust in the Lord?
Christ asks you : "Will you lose your life for My sake and the Gospel’s?"
If your answer is Yes, He will teach you obedience in the school of suffering. He may demand every one of your rights and privileges as a person and as a Christian. Will you allow Him to treat you in this way without grumbling and complaining? Is there any point at which you will refuse Christ?
God will keep on wrestling with you and asking your name until your true identity, your real motives, are clear to God and to you. From the bewildering confusion of the workings of Christ a true love for God will be created in you. You will not be able to explain how such love came about. God is God.
You are learning to have faith in the goodness, truth, and power of God and in the dependability of Christ.