A heavy burden and responsibility falls upon a person whom Yahweh has marked to deliver a prophetic message especially if that message is to prepare people for major life changes some of which may be traumatic and even possibly lead to death if they fail to respond properly. I am aware - accutely aware - of how careful one must be in communicating anything in the Name of the Most High particularly if one is not absolutely, 100% sure of the message's source. Having made one major error in my ministry in running ahead of Yahweh, I have learned to treat prophetic matters carefully and to seek one or more witnesses, and at least two if the matter involves the possible death of people (Dt.17:6).
I shall never forget a woman I knew who resisted her husband's call. She joined one of our congregations but dogged and opposed her husband all the way, refusing to come under his headship. The more she opposed Yahweh's calling in his life, the more fearful I became for her well-being. She was a young mother and so we were all shocked when she was suddenly diagnosed with cancer and died shortly afterwards. I did warn her but I never dreamed that Yahweh would clear this man's path in so radical a way. What is even more tragic is the man also resisted his call, married a woman even more hostile than the first, and faded away into spiritual obscurity busily engaged in works but not necessarily the ones Yahweh had called him to. It is easy to confuse busyness with doing Yahweh's will.
You may have noticed that in the last few days I have raised the topic of death more than once. This is not a topic I usually touch on because I am more concerned about preaching the truth of resurrection life to people. But of late I have been receiving warnings about terrible things shortly to come. Just before the big BP rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico I saw a vision of a dead dolphin at the bottom of the ocean and a fish trying desperately to get out of the sea. This at first baffled me since the fish was trying to escape its natural environment. Since then the world has watched in horror at the aftermath of the BP oil rig explosion. Unlike the scam that was the Mexican 'Flu Virus, and the Avian 'Flu Virus before it (to enable Big Pharma to make a killing selling useless vaccines to gullible governments), this ecological disaster may well be the worst in recent history and have far reaching consequences for us all. What's going on has been covered up by government in their usual manner but only now are we learning of methane clouds that are poisoning people in the southern states of the USA. Could this be the death cloud Yahweh showed me last year or has that yet to come?
Then recently Yahweh told me that something 'big' was going to happen in October of this year and that it would be "the end". Another brother independently was told the same thing about this month too. I still do not know what "the end" actually means and I have hesitated to speculate. We will know soon enough. I doubt very much it will be the 'end of the world' but it may be the end of a way of life, the end of a political system, the end of the freedoms we have left, the end of the 'church age', the end of economic prosperity...who knows. What I do know is that this weighs heavily upon me, and has for some time now, and is not something I have experienced before. Certainly the €uro is in trouble and possibly the EU itself. Perhaps the long prophesied economic collapse made in 1996 is imminent.
Today, though, I want to ask the question: what makes people listen to Yahweh? I have been skimming through a number of books and publications that try to interpret current events in terms of the prophetic literature of the Bible. Tim McHyde's, Know the Future: A Bible Prophecy Breakthrough springs to mind which I had looked forward to based on the recommendation of a friend but when I got it I saw that it perpetrated many of the common evangelical Christian errors about the State of Israel as does the United Church of God's periodical, The Good News which has replaced Armstrong's The Plain Truth as the vehicle of the Armstrongite message. I should have known that those coming out of the spirit of Herbert W. Armstrong, who made so many false prophecies, should be treated with caution. The interpretation of Biblical prophecy is a notably thorny discipline. I myself have long trodden warily around it.
So what makes people listen? What is it that arouses ordinary people out of their spiritual slumber and to start paying attention to Yahweh? In the past, was it events like terrors, wars, pestilence and natural catastrophes that got people turning back to Yahweh? Actually not, though it's common to think so. Not even the famous march of Yahweh through history was noisy enough to make people listen in the past. No. What finally got people to listen and turn to Yahweh was the Ruach-filled patriarchs and prophets who were able to correctly interpet that march and those events. People listen only when everything is made to harmoniously fit together, when they can see that the Divine Hand is the only explanation for what is going on around them. Then meaning emerges out of the chaos and they can see that Someone greater than them is controlling events and calling them to make a choice.
I see a lot of evangelical and messianic leaders sticking their necks out again making bold prophetic pronouncements. Most of them will be blown away when what they say doesn't happen. They will be shown not to have discerned the times and indeed not to to have been listening to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) at all, but to have been listening either to their own flesh or to false spirits. One particular ministry, which claims to major in the apostolic and prophetic, is emphatically stating that it knows Yah'shua will be returning within the decade because of all the calculations they have made in the Bible texts. How many others have done the same in the past? Charles Taze Russel (1901 changed to 1918) springs to mind, Joseph Smith, Ellen White (1844 transmuted into the 'Investigative Judgment'), and others too. They still have their mass followings only because they managed to twist the scriptures and re-spin their prophecies into invisible spiritual events rather than literal physical ones. Excuses. They're not to be trusted and their modern-day followers will certainly have no clue what is happening in the present since they operate under the same spirits as their founders.
The promises that have been given to us are attached to the Word of Elohim (the Bible), not to Elohim's march. At best, the promises accompany the march only in such a way that Yahweh must speak if His march is to be distinguished from the logical progression of events and from the seeming miracles performed by His human instruments as they stride brazenly across the face of our planet. The flapping of Yahweh's cloak, a corner of which we would like to snatch, can leave man quite unaffected unless He sends along with it the Wind of the Ruach.
Men and women are not converted by disasters, wars and terrors. They may be awakened by them but their hearts are rarely changed by them. What changes a man is a kindling by the Ruach haQodesh of what is already planted in his heart.
Theologian Helmut Thielicke, corresponding with Hans Felix Hedderick a university student of his convalescing in a hospital during the last war, recalls what his pupil had once written to him concerning the generation of men who fought in the trenches of the First World War:
We are, after all, planters of seed and waterers of it. But only Yahweh can break down the encrusted soil of a hardened heart and frequently the only way He can do that is through disaster. That is one reason He permits it. And while some will continue trusting in "luck and fate", others - recalling the words of biblical Emet or Truth planted into them by faithful parents, teachers, friends or acquaitnances - will experience awakening and conversion!
"Regardless of how dead their Christianity may have been, how[ever] conventional or falsified by liberalism...at least they had once learned a few hymns by heart, or knew a psalm or two, or a few Bible verses, which in the hour of their extreme personal peril actually began to resound for them in a marvelous way. The seed long hidden finally sprouted after all, once the sharp plowshare of war had torn open the hardened soil. But is there any such dormant seed left at all in our soil (the Third Reich) today?...Without this seed events remain incomprehensible, and the best way to get by is just to close one's ears, and with that part of one's soul which he can control just trust to luck and fate" (Helmut Thielicke, Death and Life, Fortress Press, Philadelphia: 1970, p.xviii).
I am always more impressed by those who are converted because they choose to break down the soil of their own heart-resistance than by those who have to be cornered and receive a beating before they will respond. I admit that is my bias. Either way, it is the result that is important. The fact that the prodigal repented and got home is more importantant that the long, agonising route of repentance itself. The elder brother in the parable, after all, had his own issues that needed resolving too - unforgiveness and a lack of generosity of heart. Though we are not told, it seems his issues had to be taken care of after the younger one had dealt with his and had come home. So we can't be proud or cocky and claim that we didn't do what the prodigal did in his sinning. We sin perfectly 'well' all on our own. And we all learn somewhat differently from one another. Each cross and each beating seems to be tailor-made by heaven for our particular condition.
I am a great admirer of Otto von Bismarck, as some of you may know, who was Prussia's and Germany's Winston Churchill, who, speaking of what statesmen should do, said that they must "listen to the footsteps of God, get hold of the hem of His cloak, and walk with Him a few steps of the way". Unlike statesmen today, Bismarck knew not only the cloak but also the Ruach. Had he been Germany's Emperor there never would have been a First World War or a Second, I dare say. He accurately predicted the First World War but the Kaiser would not heed his advice.
Conversion comes not about as a result of looking with awe at calamities but in stooping down to clutch the hem of the Master. Our salvation comes from being focussed on grabbing a scrap of cloth and trusting the Wearer of these impoversihed garments - the garments of the Crucified One - and simultaneously understanding that this Messiah - this Christ - is also wearing the mantle of the second apocalyptic horseman. We are trusting in the One who is both nothing as well as everything. And that's the hardest hitting of all truths, I think, that comes with genuine conversion - that the vestments of the Divine Majesty are botha pauper's rags as well as a King's Robe. In seizing the rag we acknowledge that we too must become nothing, surrendering our own will to His, being willing to suffer for the Truth. Only then can we reach up and touch the mantle of the Eternal King! Until a soul is able to see and do these two things - and in that order - his eyes remain blindfolded and he is unconverted, no matter now many Red Seas part, no matter how many other miracles may take place before his eyes.
The exaltation of man cannot come until he has been abased. That is Divine Pattern or Tavnith. It is the form of truth, it is the spiritual building in which we must live. It is the measurement of the saved. And that abasement must be self-abasement...a choice of the heart...or it is false. Those who are forced to be abased will likely rise in revolt at some point until they have chosen it freely of their own heart. You know that "a man convinced against his will remains unconvinced still". So also is this true of a man who is forced into being humbled.
Yahweh not only speaks but He marches, this is true. Why should we not dare to take the risk of speaking about both? Yes, we can seak about His March but it will not profit us until we have first spoken of, and yielded to, the discipline of His Word. Everything depends on us and our brethren taking everything that Yahweh sends, and living and marching through it with that well-known "lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps.119:105, NKJV) which He has provided for our way.
As ministers in these last days it is our task to walk through the metaphorical markers and the dugouts and the lonely command posts, going from man to man, asking questions and answering them, holding our peace while others speak, precisely in order to let this lamp shine into the ambiguity of the events taking place around us. The light cannot shine if we try to use it as a cudgel. You will extinguish it if you do. You see, brethren and sisters, Yahweh's march through the events of life cries out for somebody who will interpret them, and interpret them correctly. Everyone - including those who are mentally slow - notices the footprints of something enormous passing by, but no one has any idea as to who it is: whether it is the men who are making history, or history which is making men - or indeed Yahweh who is the Master of History itself.
It does not matter who is listening to me today but there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain, and it is that every single one of you will be forced to agree with me when I say that everything which we experience, the elevating as well as the terrifying, and above all death, addresses its question to every man. You can't escape them and if you try to, you are a fool. No one has ever cheated death. And you are no exception.
With the exception of Yugoslavia, Europe has not know war on its own soil for nearly 70 years, and America for twice as long since its Civil War. Many of you are not from the West but from Asia or Africa, and already know about war so what I am saying is not strange to you. I don't know what is coming to us in the months ahead, I only know that we have to be prepared for it, and that means getting right with Yahweh of our own free will before we are compelled by events that may spell tragedy for us if we refuse to listen or obey Him. The rhythm of life as we know it will be changed. Many things will be changed. You will look back and see that this was so. But the Emet - the Truth - and the Tavnith- the Pattern - will remain the same. Yahweh will remain the same. The Gospel and its demands will remain the same. Salvation will be given on the same terms as ever. Praise Yah that "Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb.13:8, NKJV)!
Man often dies his death alone at the end of life so why not die the death of the flesh now, of your own free will, by asking Yah'shua to do it for you? You will neither die alone, then, for then you will surroudned by a great company of the redeemed. As a German soldier's song puts it:
Do not think that morbid for there is a truth in it. If we die without Christ we die alone and when we pass into the next world we continue alone without human company but with the company of those beings we would rather not have. You know whom I mean. If we die in Christ we die surrounded by the saved, and by angels, and by Messiah Yah'shua, and Yahweh our Father in Heaven! We pass from a dim light into an even greater one. But that is not what I am speaking of today - I am speaking about chosing to die to the flesh and to arise into new, resurrection life. The decision to die - which must be genuine or it will not work - must be made alone, but once made brings you to the cross of Christ Himself where you cease to be alone. There you are crucified with Him and arise a new man in Him and with Him!
To die at home in one's own snug bed
Is to enter alone the ranks of the dead;
But great is the fellowship here, we say,
In falling together like new-mown hay.
The march of Yahweh is in full swing and it is coming to our nations and doors. Will you be ready? Will you walk on confidently with the New Life in Christ or stumble on, and fall, with the old one in the flesh? The choice is yours. Blessed be the Name of Yahweh-Elohim! Amen.