Thursday, February 20, 2014

Preparing Our Hearts for Revival

We are to prepare the soil of our hearts for revival. The power of revival can only come from God. The Preparation also comes from God, but God uses people to prepare for revival. Consider two farmers. One prepares his soil for sowing and for receiving the former and latter rain, but the other does not. The farmer who does not prepares his soil gets nothing more than a mud bog. The mud bog is good for wallowing and mud racing, but is  not in any condition to receive either seed or water. The other tills his soil and fertilizes his soil. The soil is in a prime condition to receive both seed and water. The farmer who does not prepare his soil has little to show for his efforts. The other farmer receives an abundant harvest.

Hosea 6:3 teaches that there are two rains of revival. Just as the morning is established to happen at regular and appointed times and seasons, God has established times and seasons in which He reveals His Holy Spirit as the rain.  The text is not referring to the physical rain needed for agriculture, but rather of revival. God comes down as the rain.

Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going is established as the morning. He will come to us like the rain, Like the former and latter rain upon the earth.  - Hosea 6:3

The former rain is the first outpouring of God's Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Peter cites Joel 2:28-32 in his message recorded in Acts 2. There is, however, another rain of revival. A study of the prophecy in Joel 2-3 in its context suggests that the complete fulfillment is accomplished in the same season of time as the return of Christ at the Battle of Armageddon.

Hosea 10:12 instructs us to prepare the soil of our hearts to receive the latter rain. The fallow ground that is being broken up is not physical soil that is useful to agriculture, but the soil of our hearts.  We are to sow righteousness, and the Lord will rain righteousness. We are to prepare our soil for revival.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you - Hosea 10:12

We are to prepare our hearts and minds to receive instruction in God's word and receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  We prepare by studying God's Word, prayer, praise, and seeking God. We are to seek God individually and in sacred assembly. When we do this, we will be ready for the latter rain revival.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Sacred Assembly and the Seven Feasts of Israel

We are currently living in dangerous times. We are living under economic distress, in what may go down in history as the Second Great Depression. We are also living in distressing social times. Dramatic cultural change is on the air, issues like same-sex marriage have the potential to completely re-write the social landscape. America is rapidly becoming a post Christian culture.

America is also rapidly becoming a post freedom culture. issues like NSA spying, indefinite detentions of American citizens  and increasingly aggressive policing tactics raise the specter of a police state emerging in America and other nations of the commonly called free world.  The international scene is becoming increasingly dangerous for Israel and for God's people globally, as hostility and persecution of God's people are on the rise. It is not unthinkable that in a few year that we could see both global pe5rsecution of Christians and the siege of Israel by an international coalition described in Ezekiel 38-39 that will emerge as the coming Islamist Empire.

The good news here is that God has provided a way for His people in all covenants and dispensations to seek Him. He has provided for his people to Seek Him in Sacred Assembly. Sacred Assemblies were first defined under the Mosaic Covenant in Leviticus 23 in the form of the seven feasts of Israel. While these feasts are defined in the Mosaic Covenant, they are fulfilled in the New Testament. A study of these will show that  Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost have already been fulfilled during the year that Christ rose from the dead through His actions and the birthing of the church;  the Feast of Trumpets is about to be fulfilled in the context of contemporary events, followed by the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Seven Feasts
 “‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: - Leviticus 23:4 NIV

Passover is seven days long. The first and the seventh days are  sabbaths and sacred assemblies. Jesus was crucified  during passover, which was  the first day sacred assembly (Luke 22-23). After the Passover meal, they would celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Christ was buried during the first several days of this time.

The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.  On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat t made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’” 

First Fruits is celebrated  when the first sheaves are harvested. The first sheaf was to be dedicated at the temple.This represented the beginning of the harvest. Leviticus 23:11 established thus date as the "day after the sabbath" of passover. This would be the second day of the passover week or the third day when the special sabbath or "high sabbath" of day one fell before a regular sabbath day. This was the case the year Jesus was crucified. Christ rose from the dead on first fruits to represent the very first human being to partake in the resurrection and ascend into heaven. (Luke 24). 

The Lord said to Moses,  “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.  He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.  On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect,  together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine.  You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.

Feast of Weeks, called  Pentecost by Hellenistic Jews,  is a celebration of the harvest. From the day of first fruits, including the day of first fruits, fifty day are counted. Jews call this "counting the omer." A grain offering is offered each of these days. On the day of Pentecost, two loaves of bread that are baked with yeast from the harvested grain of the first fruits, are waved before the Lord. This bread was to be presented along with the grain that was presented each "day of the omer," seven lambs, a male goat, and two young lambs. 

All of the living things offered during this festival represent the great harvest of people into the kingdom of God. The grain represents those who were harvested during the great harvest of people into the kingdom of God. The living things that were destroyed through offering represent those who left the earthly life through the death of the earthly body. They will receive a resurrection body, but the earthly body was destroyed. Except for the loaves of the first fruits, all of the offerings involved the physical destruction of that offering. 

The two loves of the first fruits that were waved, however, became transformed by baking. Their earthly body did not become destroyed but transformed through the baking process. The believers represented  by these two loaves will not suffer the destruction of their physical bodies, but will experience transformation of their bodies at the time of the general resurrection(1 Corinthians 15:51). Revelation 14:4  describes the 144,000 as the first fruits. They  are "redeemed from the earth (vs 3)." The rapture/resurrection will redeem the people of God from the earth. Verse 4 describes condition of maturity: perfection in following Christ, perfection in integrity, perfection in lifestyle and holiness, and priveleged access to the presence of God. There is is a worship song that no one can learn except the 144,000. The 144,000 are the ones who are raptured at the time of resurrection.  

The church was born  out of the sacred assembly of Pentecost. Jesus instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until  they received power from God to be witnesses. Luke 24:45-52 records that, after Jesus ascended into Heaven, that they went to the temple in  Jerusalem and continuously praised God.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. - Luke 24:45-53

Acts 1 provides some additional information about the nature of the assembly. They met in an upper room of the place where they were staying and "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers (Acts 1:14 NIV)."

On the day of Penetecost they were all gathered into one place - no doubt that would be the temple - as they were Jews. Acts 2:1-4 records that on this day, the Holy Spirit was poured out, beginning the great harvest of souls for God.

    “‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.  Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord.  From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord.  Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the Lord, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.  Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering.  The priest is to wave the two lambs before the Lord as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the Lord for the priest.  On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.

    “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’ " 

- Leviticus 23:15-22 NIV 

The first four feasts were fulfilled by Christ the year Christ rose from the dead. These feasts' fulfillment was part of the former rain. The next three fulfillments are future, tied to the latter rain. There is yet a sacred assembly that will result in God response with His manifest presence

 The Feast of Trumpets was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month. Numbers 10:1-10 lists the designated uses for trumpets.Trumpets were to be used for 
  1. Calling people to assembly (v2)
  2. Signaling when the camp is to move(v2)
  3. Convene Sacred Assemblies (v10)
  4. Call to battle when you are under oppression; God will deliver you.(v9)

The Lord said to Moses:  “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out.  When both are sounded, the whole community is to assemble before you at the entrance to the tent of meeting.  If only one is sounded, the leaders—the heads of the clans of Israel—are to assemble before you.  When a trumpet blast is sounded, the tribes camping on the east are to set out.  At the sounding of a second blast, the camps on the south are to set out. The blast will be the signal for setting out.  To gather the assembly, blow the trumpets, but not with the signal for setting out.
“The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come.  When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies.  Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.”

The feast of Trumpets occurs in close proximity to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippor). The Day of Atonement is where the land is cleansed of sin. The atonement involves two phases. The first is the offering of a blood sacrifice as the recipient of the justice against sin, and the second phase is the removal of sin. In the ritual defined in Leviticus 16, the killing of the bullock was the blood sacrifice, and the confessions of the sins of the people upon the goat and the removal of the goat into a faraway land accomplish the removal of sin. The rituals in Leviticus had no real power over sin; the robbing and raping and maiming and murdering that occurs before the sacrifice continued to occur afterward. The Day of Atonement ritual was a picture that pointed to the actions of Christ. The shedding of the blood  of Christ was the blood sacrifice that has real power to take away sins of those who trust Him. The removal of sins from the land is to be accomplished st His Second Coming, when He comes He  "will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.(Matthew 13:36-43 NIV)"

The Lord said to Moses,  “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.  Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’”

The Lord said to Moses,  “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord.  Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.  Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people.  I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day.  You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.  It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”

In this context, The Feast of Trumpets is both a call to Sacred Assembly  and a call to battle. The New Testament Fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets will occur just before the End-times judgement of God and the return of Christ. during this period, both Israel and God's people of all nations will be undergoing unprecedented distress

The Lord said to Moses,  “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.  Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’”

The call to sacred assembly that Joel 2 describes is a call to the sacred assembly of the Feast of Trumpets that will occur during  a time of trial for Israel just before the second coming of Jesus Christ. Israel would be surrounded by armies from the north threatening disaster.  There would also be a growing movement to inflict persecution on all of God's people all over the world. In addition there would be ecological, financial, and other  calamities that would grip much of the globe on an increasingly apocalyptic scale. According to the Bible, the pandemic sinfulness of the world is the root problem. Because of these impending dangers, God instructs all of his people to repent-seek Him in sacred assembly.

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him— A grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God?

Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly;Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
Then the Lord will be zealous for His land, And pity His people. The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, And you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations. “But I will remove far from you the northern army, And will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, With his face toward the eastern sea And his back toward the western sea; His stench will come up, And his foul odor will rise, Because he has done monstrous things.” - Joel 2:12-20 NKJV

When we seek God in solemn assembly He answers in three ways.He delivers financial blessing in the midst of crisis. He drives out the first invasion of Israel by a coalition of countries described in Ezekiel 38-39 that correspond to nations that will come together as  the Coming Ten Horned Islamist Empire.The third is that a move of the Spirit of God starts the Final Great Awakening.

God will bring supernatural blessing in the midst of trials. Jeremiah 17 gives a warning against trusting in the arm of the flesh and a promise for trusting God. We are coming into the predicament that is about to happen because we are guilty of trusting in the flesh. We have trusted our bank accounts, our credit ratings and our money. We have trusted our religious and political leaders. Both Republicans and Democrats have behaved lawlessly, tainted with blood on their hands and have corrupted God's church. Now is he time to trust God instead of corrupt man.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.  - Jeremiah 17:5-8 NKJV

Those who trust in the flesh shall not be blessed during the season of blessing but will be impoverished. On the other hand, those who trust God will see blessing even during the time of famine. The coming economic collapse can no longer be avoided but God can supernaturally provide and prosper his people even in the midst of depression. While He will not make every one a millionaire He will provide for every need and for the work that He has called us to do-if we will trust Him.

God's people will be Rescued from Destruction. Why would Israel be instructed to pray Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? (Joel 2:17) It can only mean that Israel is facing an extreme crisis. Israel is at risk of destruction or at least loss of sovereignty to the 'heathen'. At this same time, there is great danger to Christians all over the world. Persecutions of Christians is increasing worldwide. Even in the so-called free world, there is danger of discrimination and imprisonment

God's answer is recorded in Joel 2:19-27. God sends deliverance and prosperity. In particular He will '...remove far off from you the northern army...' (Joel 2:20) God will deliver them from a military threat from the north. Ezekiel 38-39 describes how the Islamist Empire will attack Israel from the far north.

This first attack from the north is defeated by God bringing confusion and division to their armies Eze 38:21 . After this dramatic victory something else happens.

God gives the Final Great Awakening. Joel 2:28-32 is quoted in Acts 2 as the explanation for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. joel's prophecy predicts both a former and a latter rain of revival.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit that started the church was the first fulfillment of Joel's prophecy - the former rain. The context of the prophecy indicates that the complete fulfillment includes a latter rain revival that will occur in the end times.
“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls. - Joel 2:28-32 NKJV

In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit was poured out, resulting in people exercising miraculous and prophetic gifts. The prophecy in Joel also included  signs in the heavens and earth involving fire, blood, and smoke and involving the darkening of the sun and moon. These signs in the heavens did not occur in Acts.  This indicates that yet remains a fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel2:28-32. context clues indicate that this revival occurs near the end of history as  a Final Great Awakening that occurs just before the trumpet judgments and before the Great Day of the Lord.

Blow 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 is coming, For it is at hand:A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations.A fire devours before them, And behind them a flame burns; The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, And behind them a desolate wilderness; Surely nothing shall escape them...

They run to and fro in the city, They run on the wall; They climb into the houses, They enter at the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble; The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars diminish their brightness. The Lord gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?

“For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.
Joel 2:15-32 within the context of Joel 2-3 which includes Joel 2:1-3,9-11 and Joel 3:1, which describes the battle of Armageddon. This times that final fulfillment or latter rain revival as occuring in the time immediately before the return of Jesus back to the earth. The prophecy of supernatural prosperity, God's deliverance from the coming ten horned Islamist empire, and the Final Great Awakening-which is the complete outpouring of God's Spirit that began in Acts 2, will occur just before the great day of God's wrath at Armageddon.

 The Feast of Tabernacles is defined in the Mosaic Law, in Leviticus 23:33-36. Scripture, however, makes it plain that this feast is universal to God's program. Zechariah 14 records the institution of this as an international holiday. The first four verses of this passage are a clear description of the return of Jesus Christ, who will return to the Mount of Olives or Olivet in the same way that He left it for heaven (Acts 1:9-12).

 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. - Zechariah 14:1-4 NKJV.
Following the return of Jesus Christ and the completion of the transformation of His rule to be both spiritual and physical, the Feast of Tabernacles is mandated as an international holiday. Every nation on earth observes this feast and sends a delegation each year to worship King Jesus in  Jerusalem. If any nations refuses, then rain for the following year will be withheld.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.  If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
If The Feast of Tabernacles will become an international feast during the Millennium (and beyond), then it follows that it has an enduring significance that transcends the specific context of the Mosaic Covenant. The remainder of this article will be an exposition of the definition of this feast and then case examples of this feast being observed in real life situations.

The Feast of Tabernacles is defined in Leviticus 23. The point of the Feast is to celebrate God's manifest Presence amongst the people. It is specifically a remembrance of the condition of the Israelites dwelling in tabernacles or booths during the trip through the wilderness. During this time they experienced the manifest presence of God as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (For more info, see Exodus).

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LordOn the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.
The Feast of Tabernacles defines an eight day template. There are seven days of seeking God, followed by an eighth-day Sacred Assembly. Over the centuries there has been a pattern marked by seven days of seeking God followed by God showing His manifest presence on the eighth day.

The Call to  Sacred Assembly
God willed that the Sacred Assembly would bring in both former and latter rains of revival. both the young church of the apostolic age and the end-times church would see revival brought forth by sacred assembly. Let us all convene in Sacred Assembly to repent and seek God in these dangerous times, that He may deliver us and manifest the victory that He purchased at the Cross.

Saturday, February 8, 2014