Monday, June 9, 2008

The Powers of the Age to Come

This post continues the chapters of the book The Hope of Glory.

The Powers of the Age to Come

Hebrews 6:5
And have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come...

Yahweh is at this time preparing His sons to walk in the powers of the coming age. What is experienced in this age is but a “taste.” God has given men tokens of the power and authority of the coming age. This power was observed in Moses whom God appointed to be “as god to Pharaoh.”

Exodus 7:1
Then Yahweh said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.”

Moses had an experience beyond any other man of his age. He was given the privilege of wielding the powers of the age to come. Moses took the staff in his hand, and with it wielded the power of God. Moses turned the waters of the Nile into blood. He smote the earth and the dust became gnats. He raised his staff and frogs came up upon all Egypt. He struck the land with plagues of locusts and destroying insects. He called out to Yahweh and great hail with fire and lightning came down upon the land of Egypt. At the word of Moses darkness fell upon the land, a darkness so deep it could be felt, and no man dared to move from his place for three days.

At the command of Moses miraculous events transpired until Moses and the God he served were held in high esteem by all the people. This power continued throughout the journey in the wilderness. Moses stretched out his staff and the waters of the Red Sea parted. Moses prayed and the Lord sent quail. He struck the rock in the desert and water flowed forth.

Why did God choose this man to wield the powers of the age to come? Moses had been prepared for this task.

Numbers 12:3
Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.

In order for you and I to be entrusted with the powers of the age to come, we too must be perfected in humility. This humility was not something that Moses was born with. It had to be fashioned in him. Moses in his youth was not the humble man he would later become. Stephen speaks of the young Moses in this way:

Acts 7:22-25
And Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand.

At the age of forty Moses was at the height of all his natural powers. He had the best education the world could offer. He was a man of power in words and deeds. He discerned that he had been created for a purpose, and the purpose was to deliver his people from the bondage of Egypt. Moses supposed that his people would recognize his ability and call, but they did not recognize it. Using his own power, Moses struck down a lone Egyptian, but he did not free a single Israelite.

Moses at forty is like the majority of mankind. They look to their natural abilities to accomplish every goal and desire. This self-sufficiency causes men to be independent of God. Feeling adequate in themselves to accomplish the purpose of their heart, even a God-given destiny, they do not wait upon God to direct their steps, nor do they look to God to bring it to pass. The result always falls short of the will and pleasure of God.

In order for a man to truly accomplish the will and pleasure of the Father, the man must be broken. He must come to place no confidence in the flesh. He must see himself as totally inadequate to do anything for God in his natural abilities. He must understand that only God can truly accomplish His desires, and He requires nothing from man other complete surrender and obedience. Moses had to come to a place where his pride in his own attributes and abilities was shattered. His rejection by his people at the age of forty was the beginning of this breaking process. The work was continued through the next forty years in the wilderness as Moses tended his father-in-law’s sheep in the land of Midian.

What a breaking this was for one such as Moses. It was the equivalent of a man with a doctorate’s degree from Harvard, who had been a mover and shaker in the corporate world, being sent to a small, backwoods community to flip burgers, scrub toilets, mop floors and wash dishes for forty years. During this period of Moses’ life he was completely emptied of all his former self-confidence. He came to know in a deep way that he had nothing to offer God. He was no prize catch that God should glory in.

How foolish are Christians today who boast of some learned, talented, or wealthy man who has come to Christ, or who has joined their church? They brag that they will now be able to accomplish so much for God because a man of stature has come to Christ. In truth, the opposite is true. Until the man is broken he will never be of any use to God. He must not look at his own abilities as being of any value to God.

Psalms 147:10
[Yahweh] does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.

I Corinthians 1:26-29
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.

What do we have that God has not given to us? What do we have that God needs? The answer to both questions is the same. NOTHING! Does the Almighty Who created man need anything from His creation? Of course not!

Isaiah 46:11
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.

Daniel 4:35
And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, 'What hast Thou done?'

Isaiah 40:15, 22
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales... It is He who sits above the vault of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers...

Moses had to come to a place where he understood clearly his own utter weakness and worthlessness in the eyes of God. Moses had nothing to offer God, though he had the best education the world could offer and was considered a prince among men. Before God he was insignificant. He was a speck. The entire nation of Egypt was as a single drop of water. How much less was one man among the nation?

Until we see ourselves in this same light, we will not be ready to be entrusted with the powers of the age to come. Moses was so reduced in his sight that when God appeared to him when he was now eighty years old, Moses sought to convince God that He had chosen the wrong man, for Moses had NOTHING to offer God.

Exodus 4:10, 13
Then Moses said to Yahweh, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue... Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will."

Moses judged rightly that he had nothing to offer to God. There was nothing within Moses to commend himself to God for this work. This is precisely why Moses was chosen. God was looking for a man who would wield the powers of the age to come, and who would not boast in what was done through him. Moses’ testimony after being used of Yahweh in such a profound and powerful manner was always that it was Yahweh who had done it. Moses did not take credit for the work of God. Moses did not promote himself, nor did he seek any selfish profit from that which God chose to do through him.

Exodus 18:8-9
And Moses told his father-in-law all that Yahweh had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the hardship that had befallen them on the journey, and how Yahweh had delivered them.

Is not our tendency to speak of what we have done for God? Our journey upon this earth is designed to teach us the same humility observed in Moses. Yahweh will lead His sons and daughters through wilderness places in order to teach them how dependent they are upon Him. He will place them in circumstances where they have no answer, no strength to deliver themselves or others, that they might come to look to Him alone. Yahweh will lead all of His elect into circumstances where they are reduced to poverty in every area of life that they might not boast in any ability, gift, or possession. In this way men are taught to reckon upon the strength of God, viewing themselves as utterly detestable in themselves.

II Corinthians 12:9-10
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Although Moses was reduced to the point of being the humblest man on the face of the earth, there was an occasion when he stumbled and misused the powers which were entrusted to him. Toward the end of the Israelite’s forty year journey in the wilderness, the people once more grumbled against Moses, for they thirsted for water. Yahweh instructed Moses to speak to the rock and water would come forth.

Yahweh does all things according to His perfect wisdom and counsel. There were many things signified in this event, and speaking to the rock was a great parable to teach truth to the people of God. Moses, however, being impatient with the grumbling of the people did not carry out the instruction of Yahweh. Instead of speaking to the rock, Moses struck the rock with his staff, and this act was displeasing to God.

Numbers 20:12
But Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you have not obeyed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."

Later when Moses besought the Lord to allow him to enter the land of promise, Yahweh commanded Moses to not even speak of the matter. Yahweh defined Moses’ transgression with the following words:

Deuteronomy 32:51-52
Because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel.

Moses was given as a sign to the people. Repeatedly we see the repetition of the phrase “in the sight of the sons of Israel.” Those who are entrusted with the power of God must also reflect God’s character. They must manifest God to those who observe God’s power in them. The power is a testimony of God’s presence, therefore the action and life of the one yielding the power must be in harmony with the One they are representing. The miracles of God are designed not only to show forth His power, but to reveal His divine nature and to bring forth a prophetic message.

Consider how important a matter it is to be completely yielded to God. There are many ministers today who cry out for the power of God. Men are given gifts of the Spirit, and are entrusted with anointings, albeit relatively weak and small in comparison to that of Moses, or the apostles, or the Son of God. Yet, even with these small anointings these men are not careful to do only what God commands, and to speak only what He places in their mouths to speak. These men are moved by selfish motives, and act out the passions and desires of the flesh. They peddle the anointing, seeking to gain in reputation, or wealth; to incur some favor from those who are wealthy and powerful, or to gain the affection and admiration of the people of God.

Will not God judge these even as He judged Moses? Will they not disqualify themselves from entering into all that God would have granted them? Because these do not treat God as holy in the midst of the people of God, they will not prosper. The anointing will pass to another, and their ministry will be brought to an end they did not wish. Though they cry out to God, He will not repent.

For this reason it is necessary that all those who would be entrusted with the power of God be first subjected to a fiery wilderness experience where they learn to humble themselves before God. They must learn to fear God, and to despise the flesh with its pride and stubborn will. Unless one submits to this difficult preparation, they will find themselves corrupted by the power they earnestly desire. They will become puffed up as they observe God manifesting Himself through them in power.

The apostle Paul was given a taste of the powers of the age to come. Yahweh manifested His power through Paul, as well as granting visions and revelations to Paul that belonged to the age to come.

Acts 19:11-13
And God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.

Can you understand how a man who has not been taught a deep humility and been broken before God would make a shipwreck of his life if he were granted a similar experience of power today? It is reported that there are ministers currently who claim some healing anointing and they are SELLING handkerchiefs to be used to heal the sick. Such men should tremble in terror at the thought of such a diabolical action. Will they take the anointing of God and peddle it for personal gain?

II Corinthians 2:17
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

It is necessary that a man be thoroughly broken in order to be entrusted with power. A man must not desire anything for self.

I Timothy 6:7-10
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

There are Christians in this hour who are falling into temptation which will result in ruin and destruction. They have taken the gifts of God and sought to use them to fulfill “foolish and harmful desires.” If you and I are wise, we will plead with God to withhold His power from our lives until we have been thoroughly broken and humbled before Him. When we are content with whatever He chooses for us, being content to have nothing beyond food and raiment, when we are desiring His will and pleasure above all else, only then will we be ready to receive His power.

This age is designed to ready the sons of God for the age to come. God will deal with our flesh severely in order to prepare us to walk in a “taste” of that which is to come. Even this taste can undo a man who has harbored some idol in his heart. If he seeks anything for self, the power of God can be his undoing. Some men, finding that God will not give them this power apart from the cross, open themselves up to seducing spirits from Satan. These unclean spirits will give men spiritual power apart from the requirement of being broken first. The use of this power is always attended with fleshly manifestations. Ministers who have not crucified the flesh offer a fleshly appeal to many. Carnal and immature believers are promised a release of finances, of worldly success, and even of spiritual power, yet apart from the working of the cross.

The apostle Paul was among the most mature spiritual sons of God in his generation. Even so, because of the surpassing nature of the power revealed in his life, and the exceptional nature of the revelations given to him, it was necessary that God preserve him from the corrupting influence of pride by giving him a thorn in the flesh.

II Corinthians 12:2-7
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows - was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak... And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me - to keep me from exalting myself!

Paul does not identify the nature of the revelations given to him. He declares that he “heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.” These revelations were a taste of things to come. In the coming age man will have the honor of being privy to some of the deep things of God that are at this time inexpressible. There is no way to make them known to man in his current sinful state without risk of injury to the man.

What is the nature of the risk? According to Paul, the danger to man is pride. Paul buffeted his body in order to keep it under subjection. Yet the revelations given to him were so great that his own ability to rule over the flesh’s tendency toward pride was insufficient. It became necessary for God to give Paul a thorn in the flesh to humble him. This was an act of grace. The thorn served to deflate the pride of the flesh. The thorn served as a needle to poke a hole in the inflated balloon of the flesh letting the air of pride out.

Once Paul understood the reason for the thorn in his flesh, he no longer asked God to remove it. When we understand the power that Yahweh plans to entrust to His sons, we will no longer shrink back from the working of the cross in our lives. The flesh must be crucified, for it will distort and misuse every gift of God. This misuse of the power of God will always result in harm to others and judgment upon ourselves.

During this age Yahweh has designed our experiences to prepare us to shoulder the powers of the age to come. This is why so many of the Christian’s experiences are humbling, and painful. The flesh recoils at the cross, but it must be crucified. Yahshua said that all who would follow after Him must take up THEIR CROSS daily.

Luke 9:23-25
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”

It was no idle word that the Lord spoke when He prophesied that His disciples would do greater works than He did.

John 14:12
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do...”

As incredible as this seems, Christ was testifying that His disciples would do greater works than walking on water, calming the storm with a word, casting out demons, and even raising the dead. If we are to do greater works, we must first be conformed to the image of Christ. We must be as submitted to seeking the will and desire of the Father as Yahshua.

John 5:19-21
Yahshua therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.”

Yahshua only did that which the Father revealed to Him to be His will. Moses did the same in all of his works, save one. Yahshua ALWAYS did the will of the Father. Yahshua did all things “in like manner” as the Father. He never deviated from the will of His Father. We too must come to this place of surrender.

Man is born captive to sin and the desires of the flesh. Our experiences here in this age are designed to cause the spiritual seed in us to mature and to arise to ascendancy over the flesh. Day after day we are brought to occasions where we must choose to walk according to the direction of the fallen nature of Adam, or the higher nature of the Spirit Who indwells us. As we consistently choose the way of the Spirit, putting to death the desires of the flesh, we will find ourselves fitted to receive power. Yahweh is committed to bringing His sons to a perfect maturity in this regard. We are to be fully conformed to the image of Christ, the firstborn from the dead.

Ephesians 4:13-15
Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ... we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ...

What glory awaits the children of God! We are told that Yahshua endured the cross as He looked to the joy set before Him. What joy is also set before those who share in His suffering? Paul states that our sufferings are not even worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us. The glory that awaits the sons of God is such that when it is revealed none will think it blasphemy to hear the words “Ye are as gods.”

We will be like the Firstborn Son of God. We will be like the Firstborn Son of God in His glory. We will be as gods. We will be radiant in the glory that is bestowed upon us. Yahshua’s delight and hope as He drew closer to the cross was in seeing His disciples crowned with glory, sharing in the glory that was His own destiny. He spoke of this shortly before His crucifixion.

John 17:5
"Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was... The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one...”

The saints’ future is to share in the glory that belongs to Christ; to share an inheritance with Him for ages to come; to share His authority, and to rule and reign with Him. The sons of God are to bear the power of gods in the ages to come. They must therefore be brought to a complete surrender to the will and pleasure of their Father. They must come to a complete conformity to the One who created them. Only then can He trust them with His divine power and authority.

God has determined that all men should come to this place of resurrection life and power. Yet not all will arrive at this state at the same time, nor will all be granted power, glory and authority in the same measure. We will look at what the Scriptures say in this regard in the next chapter.

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