PRESSING PAST PENTECOST: ELEVEN
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
“Pressing Past Pentecost: Eleven” is taken from The Feasts of the Lord, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries
Loaves Offered with Leaven
Table of Contents
A “Halfway Point”
Anointing for Priestly Service
The Promise of the Father
Turn You Northward!
Rebels from Heaven
Loaves Offered With Leaven
The feast of Pentecost came at the end of the wheat harvest. Two large loaves made from wheat flour were “waved” before the Lord. The harvesting of grain had been completed.
The wave loaves contained leaven. (Leviticus 23:17).
We have noted previously in our study that the feasts of the Lord commenced with Passover, during which unleavened bread was eaten. There was to be “no leaven found in your houses” throughout Passover Week (Exodus 12:19).
The prohibition was strict: “for whoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger or born in the land” (Exodus 12:19).
Leaven typifies sin, in the symbolism of Passover Week. The stern prohibiting of leaven teaches us that God is exceedingly strict concerning the sincerity of our repentance, our turning away from the world, when we accept Christ and are baptized in water. The disciple must enter the crucifixion of Christ so the old leaven of sin can be destroyed out of him (Romans 6:6).
Now we find the Pentecostal bread—loaves waved before the Lord as an indication they were intended for His use alone—being baked with leaven. The Pentecostal experience is holy. The priestly anointing is intended for those people whom God has reserved for Himself among the nations of mankind.
When we first come to Christ we must repent and turn away from all sin (leaven) of which we are aware. We identify ourselves with Christ on the cross in order that the body of sin in us may be rendered powerless.
At the same time, we identify ourselves with Christ’s resurrection so we can give undistracted attention to walking in newness of life with Him. By this dual identification (with His death and His resurrection) we become free to choose to be a servant of righteousness, to act, speak, and think in a righteous manner.
We are to consider the old leaven as being gone permanently, having been left by faith in the waters of baptism with everything else of the world and of our first personality. Such is our position in Christ.
In actual experience we must deal with the actions of our flesh. The Holy Spirit leads us in putting to death the deeds of our body (Romans 8:13). The Day of Atonement, the sixth of the seven feasts of the Lord, portrays the provision God has made for forgiving our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).
Now there is a new leaven working in our life. The new leaven is the Substance of Christ in us.
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Matthew 13:33)
A little leaven will work in a loaf of bread until the whole has been affected and rises into the shape and texture the baker desires. When we first come to Christ a Piece of Him is placed in our nature (Luke 8:15). As we move along in our discipleship we come into situations where it seems we are surrounded by never-ending problems and getting nowhere. Yet, though we are not always aware of it, the Substance of Christ is working as leaven in us and governing the “shape and texture” of the new creation being formed in us.
Some scholars teach that the leaven in the waves loaves of the feast of Weeks typifies the fact that there still is sin in Christians even though we have been filled with the Spirit of God. This is true and is, we believe, a proper application of the type. The sin which is in us is not purged from us until we pass through the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, which comes after the feast of Pentecost.
There are two leavens at work in the Spirit-filled Christian. The leaven of sin still is present and the leaven of Christ is present. It is the responsibility of the believer to make sure that the leaven of Christ is nurtured and that the leaven of sin is put to death by the Spirit of God. Our eternal destiny depends on our diligence in supporting the leaven of Christ and, through His Spirit, destroying the leaven of sin.
The two wave loaves of the feast of Pentecost represent the Church of Christ, which is a firstfruits to God of the harvest of the earth. The loaves are two in number because the Church will receive a double portion of His power and glory before the Lord returns, as symbolized by the two golden lampstands of the Book of Revelation (Joel 2:23-32; Revelation 11:3).
The resurrected Christ is the first of the firstfruits. Then follows the Church, which is His Body. The Body of Christ is leavened with Himself. Next will come the “nations of them that are saved” (Revelation 21:24). This pattern is revealed in the three areas of the Tabernacle of the Congregation: the Most Holy Place, the Holy Place, and the Courtyard.
There also is a “firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb,” a “Tabernacle of David,” that is being born through the travail of the Church in the present hour (Acts 15:16; Revelation 12:55 and 14:4). The holy remnant is associated with the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle, according to our understanding.
Pentecost was not the last feast of the harvest season. There was more to the agricultural season after the grain had been harvested. The oil, nuts, fruits, and wine still had to be gathered and processed. It was the feast of Booths (Tabernacles) coming at the end of the agricultural year that announced the completion of the harvest season.
The believer who has received the baptism with the Holy Spirit has been partially harvested, so to speak. There remains much of his personality, including his mortal body, that has not as yet been harvested by the Lord.
A “halfway point”
Of the seven feasts of the Lord, Pentecost is number four. Since four is halfway between one and seven we may conclude that the person who has “arrived” at Pentecost is at a critical point in his or her spiritual journey. He is about to pass the “point of no return” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
The believer at Pentecost still feels the world attempting to pull him back, and he always must keep his body under discipline and guard himself with vigilance against deception.
Now there is an ever-deepening yearning in his heart to pass on to the richer joys of the Spirit of God. God has spoken plainly concerning His will for us to press forward to the fullness of our inheritance: “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38).
Anointing for Priestly Service
Another aspect of the outpouring of the Pentecostal “rain” is the anointing for priestly service to the Lord:
And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. (Exodus 30:30-32)
There are spiritual responsibilities attached to the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the Christian disciple. Note the importance of the ideas contained in the following statements:
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:21-23)
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ [Messiah, the Anointed One]?… (I Corinthians 6:15)
The baptism with the Holy Spirit anoints the Church, the Body of the Anointed Deliverer, for its priestly service to God. The saints are to bring the words and graces of God to mankind. They are the “seed of Abraham” through whom all the nations of the earth are to be blessed (Genesis 22:18).
The Presence of God, healing for the body, the knowledge of how to receive forgiveness of sins through the offering of Christ on the cross, moral direction, peace, wisdom, the remission and retention of sins—all these Divine blessings, guidances, and judgments come to the nations of the earth only through the priestly services of Christ, usually working through Christian believers.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit sanctifies (sets apart as holy) the believer for his priestly service and endues him with the wisdom and power to bring the Presence, power, love, mercy, and judgment of God to people who are bound by the fear and power of the devil.
The Promise of the Father
The word Pentecost is more familiar to us than are the names of the other feasts of the Lord, with the possible exception of Passover.
Pentecost is an Anglicized form of a Greek word referring to the number fifty. The feast of Pentecost is observed on the fiftieth day after the feast of Firstfruits.
The Lord Jesus rose from the dead during Passover Week. He visited the earth for a period of forty days after His resurrection. Then He ascended into Heaven. Following His ascent was a period of ten days of waiting.
The Lord Jesus had commanded His apostles to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the “promise of the Father.” Finally the fiftieth day arrived, the day of the Jewish feast of Weeks.
There were present in Jerusalem thousands of devout Jews from different parts of the Roman Empire who, in obedience to the Law of Moses, had come to the holy city to observe the feast of Weeks (Pentecost).
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty: (Deuteronomy 16:16)
It was on this never-to-be-forgotten day, while the faithful of Israel were gathered together by the word of the Lord, some in obedience to Moses and some in obedience to Jesus of Nazareth, that the promised anointing of the Holy Spirit of God fell as a hurricane from Heaven, filling with the Glory of God Almighty the room in which the one hundred twenty disciples of Jesus were sitting.
Suddenly from Heaven the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Weeks came down upon them bringing the virtue, energy, and wisdom necessary for bearing witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The course of world history was changed on that day of days.
How Abraham must have rejoiced to see God fulfilling magnificently the promise made to him two thousand years before, as he held the knife over his “slain and resurrected” son: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
Pentecost! The term draws our spirits to the Spirit of God. The word inspires to the core the true saint. On the Day of Pentecost the dynamite of the Spirit of God was given to the followers of Jesus so a witness may be borne to every nation of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Here is the baptism with dynamite for service. The tongues of flame abiding on the waiting believers signified that the word of judgment had been put into the mouths of Christ’s heralds.
We see the effects of the word of judgment in the ministries of anointed saints, whose words caused people to be gripped in an agony of conviction as the Holy Spirit spoke of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.
Smith-Wigglesworth of England, Aimee Semple McPherson, Dr. Charles Price—these saints and others who have borne the harvest-rain anointing encourage us by their example to turn away from the useless strivings of the flesh and to wait on the Lord for the enduement of power from on high.
Pentecost! Pentecost! Pentecost! How desperate is the need for Pentecostal power in the world today. Sin-burdened, sick, frustrated people need the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—the Gospel of power that brings miraculous healing and other supernatural working of the Spirit of Christ.
Let us cry unceasingly to the Lord for “bread” to feed the friends who have “come to us in their journey.” Harvest time is here now.
In the present hour there is a widespread moving of the Holy Spirit among the members of the historic denominations. Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics—all are experiencing the speaking in tongues and miraculous healing. The current moving of the Spirit has been termed “charismatic.” Speaking in tongues is a help to our individual and collective praise and supplication.
The Christian “in the Spirit” speaks directly to God (I Corinthians 14:2). Speaking in tongues makes possible an ease and fluency in worship. There are times when spiritual pressures become greater than the ability of the disciple to frame and utter words sufficient for the burden. How blessed it is to be able to yield to the Holy Spirit so He can take up the burden and carry it through to the answer.
Speaking in tongues always remains subject to the judgment and will of the saint. The Christian himself always remains subject to the judgment and will of the Lord Jesus as given through the Holy Spirit of God.
There is a grievous error creeping into Pentecostal thinking. It is that Christ has given to His disciples the wisdom and authority to administrate the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of the prophet indeed is subject to the prophet, but it is not true that to man has been given the administration of the ministries and gifts of the Spirit of God.
It is the Holy Spirit who gives the gifts.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the administrator of the ministries and gifts. It is the Lord Jesus who alone decides when, how, where God is to be served. He, not, man organizes the ministries of His Body (I Corinthians 12:5).
It is God the Father who gives the power to operate the gifts, to perform the miracles.
It is not up to us to organize the Body of Christ. Those who attempt to do so will bring confusion into the Kingdom of God.
It is Jesus who is Lord and Administrator. The historical error of Christendom is to put a human being (ultimately Antichrist) in the role of administrator. The error is more dangerous today than in time past because of the spiritual enablements available now.
Let us flee from all who are attempting to organize the Body of Christ. Only Jesus is authorized to do this. Let us wait on Him and receive His directions through the Holy Spirit.
And then we come to the other side of the coin.
The Lord Jesus gives various administrations through men. There are God-given elders whose responsibility it is to oversee the Christian assemblies.
It is never proper for a meeting of Christians to engage in manifestations of the Spirit of God apart from the diligent supervision of godly elders. Sometimes there are a great number of manifestations of the Spirit in a given service. As soon as this occurs Satan will stir up the fleshly nature of immature believers. Then there will be a mixture of true manifestations of the Spirit and manifestations of the flesh.
The elders will perceive beneficial things taking place but also be uncomfortable with other aspects. They will be reluctant to step in because they do not wish to offend the Holy Spirit.
The elders must step in and stop those actions with which they are uncomfortable. All manifestations of the Spirit are to be under the control of the saints. The Spirit is God. The manifestations are separate from Himself.
If the elders do not prevent Satan-inspired flesh from expressing itself the meeting itself will “take over.” Pretty soon the people will “sit down to eat and drink and rise up to play” as they did when Aaron made the golden calf.
Whenever those in authority of an assembly become uncomfortable with what is taking place they should stop the proceedings until they are certain the Lord is present. They may have to tell one brother to proceed and another to sit down and be quiet. This is perfectly proper. We are commanded to test the spirits. If we do not, things soon will get out of control and bring reproach on the Gospel.
We realize by teaching spiritual oversight we are opening the door for a fleshly elder to drive the Presence of God from an assembly until there are only human activities that please those who do not know the Lord. However, the greatest revival of all time is at hand. During the outpouring to come the elders must take charge of the assembly of saints; otherwise strange and unfruitful manifestations will occur simultaneously with the genuine demonstration of the Holy Spirit.
It is the responsibility of the leaders of the assemblies to pray until they know the mind of the Spirit! They will be held accountable to God for the administration of their office.
Antichrist and the False Prophet will seek to persuade the believers to use their ministries and gifts to better the condition of mankind. The ministries and gifts are not given by the Holy Spirit to better the condition of mankind but to bring to maturity the Body of Christ.
The true, cross-carrying saint will resist all pressure, whether from the outside or from his own ambition, to use his gifts to support a humanly-organized endeavor, even though the objectives of the endeavor may be worthy and honorable, or even religious in character. The ministries and gifts are always to be administrated by the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The saint can continue to move under the administration of the Lord Jesus by continually presenting his body as a whole burnt offering to God.
If we have experienced speaking in tongues and other spiritual enablements, and have learned to yield to the gentle influences of the Holy Spirit at all times and in every instance, in matters great and small, listening for the voice of the Lord Jesus, let us press forward. A door has been opened before us that leads into the place where the Holy Spirit does not come occasionally but is an abiding Presence, an eternal fountain of resurrection Life.
Let us go through the door that has been opened before us by the Pentecostal experience and enter the life lived in unhindered communion with and absolute obedience to God through Christ.
Turn You Northward!
The person who has come to Pentecost is neither in Egypt nor in the land of promise. He ought not to look back toward Egypt (life in the spirit of the world). He must press toward maturity in Christ. The land of promise has been attained when our whole personality is in accord with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have discussed the protecting blood of Passover, the repentance of Unleavened Bread, the inner rebirth of Firstfruits, and the spiritual law and power of Pentecost.
Three more feasts are ahead of us, three observances that stand between us and the fullness of redemption. Most of us have not passed this way before. Christ surely has been in all that we have experienced to this point, and Christ surely is in that which lies ahead.
We never are to stop in our pilgrimage until maturity has been attained. There remains much land to be possessed. There remains a spiritual rest for the people of God.
“Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.”
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:24)
And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God. (Numbers 10:9,10)
So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. (II Samuel 6:15)
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; (Joel 2:1)
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (I Thessalonians 4:16)
It is our understanding that Joel 2:1 (quoted above) describes the burden of the Lord in the heart of the Christian who has experienced Pentecost and who now is ready to move on with God. “Sound an alarm in my holy mountain.”
The blowing of the trumpet is associated with warfare. As we press forward with the Lord we enter an understanding of Him as the “Lord of Hosts.” The Old Testament in numerous passages speaks of God as the Lord of Hosts. The warrior is one of the most important roles of God, according to the Scriptures.
There is a fighting aspect of God’s nature. God is the Lord of tremendous forces. The Day of the Lord is a military engagement, a battle involving many personages and that will be fought with terrific fury until the Lord Jesus has destroyed His enemies totally.
At Passover we are spiritual babies, just having been born again. At Pentecost we may have gone a step further. When we come to the Blowing of Trumpets, God shares with us His concern for spiritual warfare and the destruction of His enemies. The Spirit of the Lord of powerful forces cries war! war! war! in our soul.
My bowels, my bowels. I am pained at my heart, my heart maketh a noise in me, I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war (Jeremiah 4:19).
Rebels From Heaven
The Lord Jesus Christ always is a fighter against evil forces. One of the outstanding characteristics of His ministry is the casting out of devils. The unclean spirits, who were so upset by the Presence of the Lord Jesus as He ministered on the earth, are God’s enemies against whom God wages war.
The Scriptures do not go into detail concerning the rebellion of spirits in the heavenlies. There is enough said in the Scriptures for us to understand there was a revolt against the authority and will of God. How and when the rebellion took place is not made clear to us.
As soon as Adam and Eve were placed in the garden of Eden a personality appeared, counseling them to have no faith in God’s Word. It is not true that sin commenced in the garden of Eden. From the account, we know sin existed already in the life of a person or persons who were in rebellion against God. The deceptive counsel given to the two babes in Eden assuredly was a cunning temptation—one that to this day is leading people away from God’s will.
There is a kingdom of wicked personalities. Paul teaches us that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high [heavenly] places” (Ephesians 6:12).
The wicked lords of darkness in heavenly places are God’s enemies. At the present time they are active among people on the earth, counseling them and urging them to defy God, to lust, to murder, to lie, to take part in occult practices, to idolize things and people, to steal.
The actions, words, and imaginations of the peoples of the world are one mammoth illustration of the nature of the evil lords of sin and rebellion against the most High. It is these same evil lords against whom the Church is to wrestle in the Spirit.
Why hasn’t God destroyed the rebels long ago? He has not destroyed them because he is using them to test and perfect the victorious saints whom He is preparing to be rulers of the ages to come.
The Scriptures inform us that God has determined to destroy the lords of darkness through Christ—Head and Body—during a period called the Day of the Lord. This destruction will be accomplished as soon as the Body of Christ has been brought to the required level of maturity, and union with the Head.
God has not forgotten one rebellious thought, imagination, motive, word, or deed that has been formed against Him. In His wisdom He has established a specific manner and time in which he will execute His judgment.
God never is slack, never careless. He is infinitely wise, infinitely patient, infinitely good, infinitely merciful. Sometimes people mistake God’s compassion and patience for indulgence or forgetfulness. This error can be fatal.
The trumpet of the Lord is sounding an alarm in the churches in these days. God is calling His people to war. The warfare is not against human beings. The warfare is against wicked spirits in the heavenlies. The warfare is not against our personal human enemies, it is against God’s enemies.
The unclean spirits are God’s enemies. They despise Christ. They despise the Word and will of God. They despise the image of God in mankind and they pervert that image in every conceivable manner. The Christian churches must be alerted to the fact that the Spirit of God is preparing for the Day of Vengeance.
The Lord Jesus appeared for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil (I John 3:8). He cast out many wicked spirits as He walked back and forth throughout the land of Israel. Casting out devils is the first sign that is to follow Christian believers (Mark 16:17).
We Christians must prepare ourselves for spiritual warfare. Our attention must be shifted away from purely human activities and centered on the things of the Spirit, such as fervent prayer and worship, and continual study and meditation in the written Word of God.
Social gatherings, musical performances, athletic competition between churches—all may have their place from time to time as the occasion indicates. Good works of all kinds are essential to healthy church life. However, it is not the purpose of the Body of Christ to operate or succeed in the realm of human activities.
The call of the Body of Christ is to God’s war of judgment against the armies of darkness. The destruction of the works of the devil is the purpose for the revealing of the Son of God. The destruction of the works of the devil is the purpose for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).
The burden of God’s war against the kingdom of Satan, in many instances, is nearly absent from the Christian churches. Pleasant, entertaining music is sounding in the assemblies in place of the trumpet of God.
However, the trumpet is sounding in the spirit realm. The trumpet of God is sounding in the heart of Christ. He is God’s Commander in Chief. The trumpet of God is sounding in the hearts of the members of the Body of Christ who are growing toward spiritual maturity.
The alarm is sounding. Violent trumpet blasts reverberate throughout the spirit realm as the Lord of Armies prepares His saints for the fierce conflict of Armageddon, for the Day of the Lord.
The Christian churches of the wealthy nations slumber on. A little slumber. A little folding of the hands. Be sure and maintain our customary way of living. Don’t rock the boat or the membership will fall out. Will the membership fall out of the boat when the Day of the Lord dawns in fire? If so, the sleepers should fall out now in preparation for the Day of spiritual battle that even now is coming upon us.
The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name. (Exodus 15:3)
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. (Psalms 24:8)
The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. (Isaiah 13:4,5)
Sometimes such passages as the one above (Isaiah 13:4,5) refer to a historical invasion of Israel by a foreign country. Often there is a double reference, one natural and one spiritual.
In this instance, the immediate application of Isaiah may have been to the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. However, the language of the context suggests the Holy Spirit of God, as is true in many other Old Testament passages, is speaking here not only of an immediate physical conflict but also of the ultimate spiritual conflict that yet is ahead of us.
The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. (Isaiah 42:13)
And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)
The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. (Habakkuk 3:11)
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Revelation 19:11)
It is impossible to understand the purpose and working of the Christian salvation, to comprehend what God is doing and intends to do through the Body of Christ, without understanding the warrior dimension of God’s Personality. God’s attention is focused on the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is the day of spiritual battle, as may be seen by the Scripture passages that deal with this subject.
The sum of what we are teaching is that the Christian assemblies must become much more aware of one of the most important of the roles, responsibilities, and purposes of the Body of Christ. This role, purpose and responsibility is the waging of war against the spiritual enemies of God.
The spiritual enemies of God are the wicked personalities who dwell in the heavenlies at the present time. They are the rulers of the darkness of the age in which we are living. God has had a controversy with them for a greater period of time than we know.
It is they against whom God’s anger burns. It is they for whom the Lake of Fire has been prepared. God, the Man of war, acting through the Body of Christ, will break the chains of bondage that these rebellious spirits have wrapped around the inhabitants of the earth.
The days from the Blowing of Trumpets to the Day of Atonement (from Yom T’ruoh to Yom Kippor) are celebrated by the Jews in a mood of introspection and contrition. The other feasts have a more joyful tone. Because these observances announce a time of heart searching they are known as Yomim Noroim, the “Days of Awe.”
The Days of Awe are concerned with the personal moral condition of the individual Jew. Yom Kippor (the Day of Atonement) is the day on which, in Jewish tradition, sin is removed from the heart.
The ten days from Yom T’ruoh (Trumpets) to Yom Kippor (Day of Atonement) were designated as days of penitence. The Days of Awe are associated in the devout Jewish mind with the day when God judges the earth—Judgment Day.
“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion. Sound an alarm in my holy mountain.” We don’t know how to blow the trumpet. We are not people of war. We would rather think of peaceful things and assure our hearts that all is well.
“Blow it! Blow it! Blow it! Sound the alarm!” commands the Spirit of God. “Sound the alarm of war!”
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. (Ezekiel 33:6)
The Holy Spirit of God is sounding the alarm of judgment to come: judgment against the world, against the sins and rebellions hatched from the spirit of the present wicked age. Also—and primarily—against the wickedness that can be found in the churches.
Where lust, the love of money, murder and violence, sorcery, and riotous living are practiced in the churches they will be judged as sin by the Lord of Hosts. Any disciple who is practicing murderous rage, hate, backbiting, jealousy, adultery, fornication, or other wickedness in his deeds, words, motives, or imaginations can expect to be hearing soon from the Holy Spirit.
Today, judgment is being exercised in the house of God. All the actions of the saints are being screened carefully one at a time. The Bride of the Lamb must put away every action and motive that comes from or is in any way associated with Satan.
Every manifestation of the spirits of lust, of the love of money, of hatred, for example, must be driven from the saint, from the Kingdom of God, from the Temple of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is coming now to cleanse His Temple. How shall we receive Him? Shall we allow Him to purge from us the adultery, the murder, the superstition, the riotous living, the covetousness, the foolishness, the unclean speech, the spite, the gossip?
As far as covetousness is concerned, can it be stated truly of us that we are not too involved with the things and spirit of the world? Are we indeed “strangers and pilgrims” on the earth?
God in His kindness has given us all good things to enjoy. But immersion in the things and activities of this present world is not of the Father. Are we bound by the spirit of the age in which we live or are we following in the steps of the Man of Galilee, of Paul, of James, of John, of Peter?
No man or woman, boy or girl, can be a Christian without putting his or her hand to the plow and walking straight on in the path set before him by the Holy Spirit. No person can be a Christian without taking up his cross and following Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the same “yesterday, and today, and forever.” The standards of discipleship also are true yesterday, today, and forever.
Sometimes we claim, “We must have beautiful surroundings to demonstrate the beauty of the Gospel. We must adorn the house of God.”
Is the place where Christian assemble actually the house of God? The record shows that Christ was born in a stable. Had the Lord God of Heaven wanted His only begotten Son, Jesus, to be born in surroundings befitting His kingly Person, Christ would have been born in a royal palace, not among the animals of the stable.
God is infinitely more concerned with the condition of the hearts of the saints than He is with the buildings in which they assemble. We are not advocating here that Christian people should meet in a dirty building when there is something they can do about it. (It would not injure the Gospel of the Kingdom if Christians met in a dirty shed.) We must be diligent in everything we put our hand to, and taking adequate care of the place in which we assemble is no exception.
It appears, however, that we continue to refer to the buildings in which we assemble as the “house of God.” We teach our children in Sunday School that the building is the house of God. We attempt to glorify God by decorating and enlarging the assembly halls.
Yet the hearts of the believers, in many instances, remain boarded-up, cobwebbed shacks, hiding places for snakes and spiders, strongholds of stubbornness, rebellion, and gossip.
It is time now for the Lord Jesus to come and cleanse His temple.
Sometimes there is an inverse relationship between the appearance of the assembly building (church) and the condition of the hearts of those who assemble in it. The grander the building the more spiritually destitute the worshipers. This is not always true, but it occurs commonly as we know.
Consider, for example, the Azusa Street mission. Compare the appearance of this former stable with the beautiful contrition and consecration of the hearts of the recipients of the early Pentecostal outpouring. The beauty of holiness and of the Holy Spirit were theirs as they sat on the makeshift pews.
Look at the Lord of Hosts being born among the patient beasts, an environment that would cause our dainty church attenders to shriek with dismay rather than to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Those who are in the flesh covet the things of the flesh while those who are in the Spirit covet the things of the Spirit.
Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways. (Ezekiel 33:20)
The trumpet of the Lord is sounding the alarm in Zion, in the Church of Christ. God has come to judge His people wherever there is sin, idolatry, coldness of heart, and rebellious self-will.
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)
The Spirit of the Lord is sounding the alarm of danger and spiritual warfare. Let us of the churches beware of desiring to hear smooth things, comfortable things. Let us not require of the prophets that they prophesy deceits and tell us how pleased God is with our lukewarmness and our love of the things of the world.
If we are cold and backslidden we want to know about it and not be deceived with lies and hypocrisies. Our eternal destiny is at issue.
We may be waiting for God to pour out His Spirit at some vaguely defined future date, not realizing it is the sin and indifference in the churches that has cut off the flow of the Holy Spirit of God. Now is the time for revival.
Occasionally we have “mercy drops” of blessing in our midst. Thank God for the mercy drops and thank God for the ministries and gifts of revelation and power that are being raised up in these days.
It is the will of the Father that the authority, power, and blessing of the Spirit come upon us every time we gather together. It is now that we are to be beseeching the Father in the name of Christ for “rain in the time of the latter rain” (Zechariah 10:1).
It is God’s intention that we respond to the present-day alarm of the trumpet by getting ready to fight. The battle is against wicked spirits, the armies of darkness, who are the enemies of God. Their unclean nature is exhibited not only in the world but also at times in the hearts and behavior of Christian people.
(“Pressing Past Pentecost: Eleven”, 3911-1)