Sunday, 4 September 2016

Embracing the prophetic...

Ezra 3: 8a "In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work.

Reading further down chapter 3, we can see the foundation of the temple being laid.

Some background: Before the foundation of the temple was laid, the children of Israel had been taken into captivity in the land of Babylon, somewhere down the line during their captivity, God had moved the heart of the current king of Babylon - Cyrus to allow the children of Israel to go back to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild His Holy Temple.

As we continue our studies we see that after the foundation was laid, the children of Israel faced a lot of discouragement and opposition.

Ezra 4: 4-5 "Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

The opposition was so fierce that it continued through the reign of several kings, until eventually a stop was put to the rebuilding work.

Ezra 4:24 "Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia."

It is important for us to understand here that as the bible teaches in the new testament - we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, spiritual hosts of wickedness, princes of the air. (See Ephesians 6:12). There is a very real spiritual hierarchy of satan and his demons, with institutions and strongholds they have set up over years on the earth, they outlive human kings on the earth, which is why we see this opposition continuing despite a change in kings. A christian should understand this principle very well so that we can go beyond dealing with things at a very surface level.

The work of God came to a standstill until the second year of Darius King of Persia. After the halt in the work, how it did get started back up again - what was the trigger??

It was the utterance of the prophetic word of the Lord!

Ezra 5: 1-2 "Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Joshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, supporting them."

2 Peter 1:21 "For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

True prophecy is God inspired and by shutting up true prophets of God, you are only trying to shut God up. He has created different offices in the body of Christ - see 1 Corinthians 12: 28 and Ephesians 4:11-12. He never created a one fold ministry but rather a five fold ministry as we see in Ephesians 4 below. He also established an order:

1 Cor 12:28 "And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues."

"Ephesians 4:11-12 "So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up"

Until the prophets spoke forth and prophesied to the Jews, the jews did not set to work again, this only happened after the word of the Lord came. And the prophets continued with them, supporting the purpose of God until it was accomplished - the temple rebuilt!

Acts 13: 1-3 "Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off."

When the bible teaches saying forsake not the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25) - it is not just about a location - but also the coming together of the different gifts and callings of God to fulfil purpose. The scripture goes further to say - as ye see the day approaching - well if there ever was a time that we see the day approaching, it is the times we are in now! 

Hebrews 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

We see also in Acts 13, the prophets and teachers together, seeking God's face together, fasting together, worshipping together and as they did this God spoke and called Barnabas and Saul forth into their ministries.

In Ezra we see clearly the word of God tells us that the prophets were amongst the people, they were with the people, the prophets, priests, governor and people worked together. This kind of unity pleases God. It is OF GOD.

When the various offices come together, there is strength.

Ezra 5:5 "But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.

Ezra 6: 3-11 "In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem: Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be sixty cubits high and sixty cubits wide, with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury. Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God. Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you other officials of that province, stay away from there. Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site. Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God:Their expenses are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail, so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons. Furthermore, I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled on it. And for this crime their house is to be made a pile of rubble. May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem."

Ezra 6 shows how strong the presence of the Lord was with them when they embraced the true prophetic. When the prophets were amongst them, supporting the work, the work flourished.

The enemy often wants to keep the Church from the prophetic grace of God and strives to keep pastors from prophets, teachers from prophets, causing divisions. It will do us well to understand that this is a strategy of the enemy only to weaken the Church. It will do us well to drop the us against them mentality otherwise one will only end up short changing oneself and stifling the flow of the work of God in our lives and community of believers.

There has been a lot of persecution of prophets within the body of Christ, such that some have retreated, however it is time for all parties including the prophets to be open to embrace their rightful place in the church of God.

Earlier in Ezra 3, it is not stated that the prophets were amongst the people at the time the initial rebuilding work started or if they were - they were clearly not taking an active enough role worth a mention. 

The Holy Spirit specifically showed me the trigger which caused the work to flourish, He drew my attention to Ezra 5:1-2 - when the prophets spoke - that my friend was the trigger.

Granted there has been an abuse of this ministry in times past, possibly still going on; however the Bible clearly provides guidelines on how to judge prophecy. There has also been an abuse of other offices but the prophetic has been one of the most persecuted even from "within".

Why does the devil oppose this ministry so much? Because he doesn't want the bride of Christ to see! The prophets also provide part of the function of eyes of the Lord in the body - Jesus said “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" Matt 6:22-23

Prophets have been blessed with an eagle eye, to see beyond. The cherubim who surround the throne have the face of a man, a bull, a lion and guess what - an EAGLE! Eagles have a keen vision. Their eyes are specially designed for long distance focus and clarity.

The prophetic must be embraced by the church if we are to go beyond where we are now.

The Apostolic and Prophetic are foundational to the Church, we see that emphasis in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. If we are to become what we are called to be, the prophetic must have it's rightful place in the Church. Foundational does not mean most important - Jesus taught us that the first must be last, foundational is the base on which something is built - a vision established.