Monday, April 21, 2008

Explorers and Pioneers to Serve as Guides - Part 2

Explorers and Pioneers to Serve as Guides - Part Two
Joseph Herrin (04-18-08)

In part one of this writing we observed that Yahweh has been signifying in many ways that He is sending forth His Son to perform a flesh cutting work among the bride candidates. This work was recently testified to in the phenomenal celestial sign that occurred in the constellation Bootes. If you have missed reading the article relating to this sign, you can find it here:

I mentioned that there have been an abundance of signs that the Lord has used recently to speak to His children about what is coming. As I have been in a time of camping and seeking His face I have been made aware of a multitude of these signs and their pending application. In the second part of this writing I will share more of these that you might make yourself ready for that which the Lord is set to accomplish. There is wisdom in discerning the hour we live in, and understanding that which the Lord will accomplish in this precise hour. Truly, that which is coming is momentous.

Moses, My Servant

While I was camping in West Georgia I was made aware of a news item of significance for many Americans and others familiar with Hollywood and its icons. This was the death of Charlton Heston. Heston was a leading actor in Hollywood for many years and garnered some of the biggest roles ever to come out of the film industry. One such colossal work was the Cecil B. Demille film The Ten Commandments. It was in its day the grandest undertaking ever attempted by Hollywood, being released in 1956 at a cost of thirteen million dollars, an astronomical sum at the time. The movie ended up being 3 hours and 40 minutes in length, and it utilized over a thousand props and employed hundreds of movie extras in its scenes.

The Ten Commandments was hugely successful and was broadcast on ABC annually for decades during holy week, despite its great length. Charlton Heston played the main character Moses, whose life was depicted from birth through his leading the children of Israel out of bondage, and it culminates at Mt. Sinai where Moses is given the Law on tablets of stone written by the finger of God.

Bob Schlenker also noted the significance of the death of Charlton Heston and he sent out the following comment in an article he posted.

Joshua 1:2
“Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.”

As you may know, this past Saturday night, April 5, 2008, marked the passing of the man known as Charlton Heston. Aside from being a man of extraordinary character, he was an iconic movie star. Known for playing several popular roles, he is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Moses in the 1956 film called "The Ten Commandments." In the minds of many people, he truly represents Moses.

Although Bob and I differ in our understanding of what the Lord will accomplish next, we both agree that this event was given as a sign from God. The days of a man are in Yahweh’s hands. He appoints the times of our birth and death. Charlton Heston could have died decades ago, as many in Hollywood have perished at an early age. But he did not. He died this very month. Why was this so, and what does it signify?

The verse above from Joshua 1:2, I believe, holds the key to understanding. Yahweh is declaring that a work similar to what occurred in the days of Joshua is to occur in this hour. What is this work? After Moses died, Joshua (a type of Yahshua the Messiah) led the people of God across the Jordan. When the Israelites passed through this body of water they were acting out the rite of baptism. It was in this very same river, possibly at the same spot, that Yahshua was baptized by John at the beginning of His earthly ministry.

A Baptism of Fire

Baptism symbolizes death and resurrection, and truly this was the reason for which Christ had come. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, yet the Son of God had nothing of which to repent. The Father in heaven testified at this occurrence, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” Yahshua had no need of repentance, yet He did have a baptism to undergo, and it was acknowledged at the very start of His ministry as John baptized Him in the waters of the Jordan.

Luke 12:49-50
"I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!”

The baptism Yahshua referred to was a fiery baptism. It was a baptism of suffering ending in the cross of Calvary. This was His own passage through death into resurrection life. The church has abandoned the concept that she was called to experience the same fiery baptism. John the Baptist spoke of Yahshua baptizing the people of God with fire.

Matthew 3:11
As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

What is this fire? Some have wrongly concluded that it is the Holy Spirit, relating it to the fiery tongues that rested upon the 120 gathered in the upper room at Pentecost. Yet the baptism of fire is much more than a synonym for being baptized in the Holy Spirit. These are two distinct baptisms.

Malachi 3:2-3
But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to Yahweh offerings in righteousness.

In the Greek, the word for fire is pyr, and this is the same Greek word that our English word pure is derived from. Fire is the greatest cleansing agent in the world. If you wish to purify something then put it in the fire until all that is impure is consumed. Even metals are purified in this way. They are heated by the fire until the impurities are released and arise to the surface where they can be skimmed off. It is through a baptism of fire that Yahshua also cleanses His people. The prophets of the Old Testament prophesied of this coming fiery baptism, and they declared that it would come to the people after it came to their Shepherd.

Zechariah 13:7-9
"Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it will come about in all the land," declares Yahweh, "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'Yahweh is my God.'"

The Scriptures that relate to this fiery baptism reserved for the people of God are not relegated to the Old Testament, however, they are found in great number throughout the New Testament as well.

I Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.

The saints are purified by fire even as their Savior was made perfect through suffering. Without faith it is impossible to please God, yet this faith is always perfected by fiery trials.

I Peter 1:6-7
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Yahshua Christ...

Christ said He had come to cast fire upon the earth. He had to undergo a baptism of fire, and so too must all who would be His disciples. In part one we looked at this truth through another symbol, that of the vine that must be pruned. Much of Christianity today is awash in false doctrines of ease and prosperity. Suffering is not a part of their theology. When any hint of trouble comes they begin rebuking the devil, not discerning that Yahweh must scourge every son whom He receives. He scourged His Firstborn, and He will scourge all who follow on as His disciples.

Hebrews 12:6
“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you would be accounted as a son who will rule and reign with Christ, then you must endure discipline. Discipline is a fiery process, and it is revealed in the freewill offering where flesh is put upon the fire of the altar to be consumed. It is this precise image that the apostle Paul evokes when he declares the following:

Romans 12:1
I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Present your bodies to the fire for your flesh to be consumed, the apostle urges the saints. Only in this way will you be holy. Only this constitutes your spiritual service before God. Submitting willingly to His purifying trials, and willingly suffering for Christ, is the most profound act of worship.

Multitudes go to church week after week singing their loud songs of praise. They smile and declare that they love God and testify that it is He alone they worship. Yet all the while they assiduously avoid all suffering. They refuse to embrace the cross appointed to them. They request with every prayer that they might be increased in comforts and pleasures and therefore prove themselves to be adulteresses in their hearts rather than true worshipers of Messiah.

James 4:3-4
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

The church has become a friend to the world. The church heaps praise upon the same pursuits that the world chases. Success, fame, prosperity, pleasures, comforts, entertainment, are all made into virtues while humility, contentment, holiness and suffering are shunned. Now, at the consummation of the age, the Lord must return as a purifier of silver and a refiner of gold. He will pour forth fire upon the earth, and particularly upon His own household, for judgment must begin at the house of God.

Some have wisely embraced this fiery cleansing while the opportunity was there to present oneself as a freewill offering. Many will make this choice in days that are pressing down upon us. Yet a great multitude will fall away from the faith. They will refuse the cross, and will be cast away as branches to be burned, absent all reward and glory in the ages to come.

Cutting the Flesh

The sign in the constellation Bootes shows Yahshua coming with scythe in hand and shepherd’s rod in the other, to go to His flock and remove the flesh from their midst. He must have a spiritual people, and this requires that the flesh must be crucified. Immediately after Joshua crossed the Jordan following the death of Moses, he performed a work that revealed this work in a profound and unmistakable way. Joshua had all the people camp at Gilgal, and there he circumcised all the males. This was a second witness to the work to be done, for the first was their baptism in the Jordan, speaking of the death and resurrection appointed to all God’s children.

The name Gilgal indicates a wheel, or a rolling thing. It was there that Yahweh rolled away the reproach of Egypt, which nation serves as a type of the world.

Joshua 5:2-9
At that time Yahweh said to Joshua, "Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time." So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel... Now it came about when they had finished circumcising all the nation, that they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. Then Yahweh said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

Can you perceive the message contained in this parable? We too have a leader whose name is Yahshua. He too must remove the flesh from our lives. The reproach of all the ways of the world must be rolled away from us. A church that is indistinguishable from the world, sharing all her loves, vices, pleasures and pursuits, has not yet submitted to the knife of Yahshua. Apart from this cutting work the church CANNOT enter into its inheritance.

We have an inheritance, glorious and imperishable set before us. Yet our possession of it requires that we submit to this painful work of Yahshua. It requires faith to submit to this work, for it leaves us vulnerable and helpless even as we are surrounded by enemies. Yet our Shepherd is there with rod in hand to guard all who will surrender to the cutting of the flesh. What a marvelous parable is observed in all that occurred at Gilgal!

People, this is what I see Yahweh coming to do in this hour. He is coming to remove flesh from His church. This will be a fiery trial, but the result will be a people who are purified and who will truly be seen as aliens and strangers in this world. The reproach of Egypt will no longer be found in their camp. They will be a peculiar people, devoted to God while all the world goes on its belly and lives to satisfy the appetites of the flesh.

A Humble Occupation

As I have been camping many things have come to me concerning the work of coming days. Yahshua will use many of His sons and daughters in this work of cutting flesh. Every new era of God requires a new flesh cutting. Thus we observe that when Moses was called to lead the people forth from Egypt that his wife Zipporah had to circumcise Moses’ sons. After Moses’ death Joshua had to circumcise the sons of God.

This work of removing flesh from another man is a humble occupation. A person must stoop, or get down on their knees to perform a circumcision. This is a testimony of the lowliness of this occupation. Those employed in this work must be humble. They are humble because they realize that they too are of flesh, and they know the pain of having their own flesh removed. This causes them to be understanding of the pain inflicted upon another when they submit to this same work.

During circumcision of an adult male, such as occurred at Gilgal, one must also observe that which man desires to keep private and hidden. It is an act of greatest humility, almost always causing shame, for a man to expose his private parts to another. Those who are called to serve in this ministry of flesh cutting must be very discrete. They must not add to another man’s shame through ridicule, scorn, or unseemly comment. Nor must they broadcast another’s sin with an intent to harm. Their only intent must be to make another man ready to enter into their inheritance through a life of holiness.

Perhaps you have already been under the knife of Yahshua and He has dealt with your flesh. I have testified of the flesh cutting work He has been performing in my own life. He has been cutting off pride, covetousness, lust, uncontrolled appetites, and He has been purifying my thoughts, passions and affections.

In one sense this work of flesh cutting will never be complete as long as we occupy these mortal bodies in which sin dwells. We will have to die daily to the desires and passions of the flesh until that day when we receive new, glorified bodies created in righteousness with no knowledge of sin. Yet there is a place we can attain to where we can rule over all of the appetites of the flesh while we are still clothed in corruption. This requires a crucifixion of the flesh as the spirit man arises and places the flesh under its feet.

Galatians 5:24
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Yahshua will bring us to face one stronghold of the flesh after another. He will not rest until the entire land of our flesh is conquered. He demands that His people be a holy people, set apart totally for Him, having no other loves that stand in competition against a pure love of Christ. He will lead us to place that which we cherish most upon the altar, even as Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac. What trembling and weakness grips us at such moments, yet abundant grace is poured forth to strengthen those whose hearts yearn for obedience and who fear to fall short of a full surrender to Yahweh.

The hour is late. Yahshua must return soon for a purified Bride. She must be free from spot or blemish. The Bride of Christ must have the stain of the world removed from her garments.

Malachi 3:2
But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.

A fuller was one who laundered clothes by stomping on them with his feet. The Lord came to destroy the works of Satan and to place every enemy under His feet. He will accomplish this work as His church places every work of the enemy under their feet. The church must arise and begin to tread on the works of Satan. The body of Christ must wash itself of all that defiles until it stands purified in His sight. This process is absolutely necessary. It cannot be avoided. We will either make ourselves a freewill offering, surrendering to the purifying flames of trials and suffering while obtaining reward, or we will be made a mandatory offering and suffer without reward.

Truly the choice before all the saints is to fall on the Rock and be broken, or the Rock will fall on them and crush them to powder. Dire things are coming upon this world. I strongly suspect a great shaking will begin this year. The response that will please the Father is not one of fear where provision is made for the flesh. The best path is to come to Him now when we are able and ask Him to judge us that we will not need to be judged later. Submit now to His cutting, His pruning, and look to the marvelous fruit that will arise to the praise of His glory.

Passover, the Bloody Work

Immediately after Joshua circumcised the males of Israel and they were healed, they celebrated Passover for the first time in the land of promise.

Joshua 5:10
While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal, they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.

On the first Passover, on the night before Israel departed from Egypt, the death angel came and slew all the firstborn males in Egypt. Only if the blood of a lamb was seen upon the entryway of the house would the death angel pass over and none would die. In a parallel, this first Passover in the land of promise was accomplished right after Joshua (Yahshua) performed another work marked by blood. A knife was once more applied to a surrendered victim, and blood came forth.

Covenants are sealed in blood. Circumcision is a sign of covenant, and it is attended with the shedding of blood. We are truly in covenant with Yahshua when we surrender our lives to Him that He might cut away the flesh from our lives. Those who refuse this work will not be passed over by the angel of death. All who refuse the crucifixion of the flesh must be cast into the Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death. Is not this motive enough to surrender now to the fiery baptism with which Christ would baptize all His children?

Christ was the Passover Lamb, and we are the sheep of His pasture. We must follow the Lamb wherever He goes. He went to the cross, and there is a cross appointed to each of His children. He will not send us to go alone. He will walk with us every step of the way. He is a compassionate intercessor, for He too has walked this way. He has not ever left me alone, nor will He forsake any who accept His invitation to “come and surrender all.”

May you be granted peace and understanding in these days.

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