Precious in the sight of Yahweh is the death of His godly ones.
Yesterday, April 27, 2011 was a significant day in my life, and I believe it will also prove to be significant to many more in the body of Christ. Around 9 P.M. I received a phone call from a sister in Christ informing me that David Wilkerson had been killed in a car accident. The news is reporting that brother Wilkerson’s car swerved into another lane, striking an 18 wheeler. David Wilkerson was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife Gwendolyn was airlifted to a hospital with injuries. David Wilkerson was 79 years old.
There have been few ministers in this day whom I have admired as much as David Wilkerson. I remember as a youth back in the 1970s reading the book “The Cross and the Switchblade.” This book recounted pastor Wilkerson’s beginnings as the Father led him to minister to the gangs, the prostitutes, drug addicts, and homeless in New York City.
Those who have read the book will be familiar with the humiliating beginning he experienced. David traveled from Pennsylvania where he was a minister, to New York to plead with the court on behalf of some gang members who were being tried in a high profile case. He burst into the court room, asking the judge to show mercy to these youths. The event was caught on camera. Brother Wilkerson was removed from the court room, appearing to all the world to be some lunatic preacher. The event was broadcast on the news, where he was lambasted, looking to all the world as a fool.
Some days later David was on the streets of New York. Some gang members surrounded him, and would possibly have done him harm, but one of them recognized him from the television broadcast. Observing that this was the man who asked the judge to show mercy to the gang members, the attitude of those surrounding him changed. They accepted him, and in time many of them were saved.
David Wilkerson has manifested a spirit of godliness. When many pastors were moving their churches away from the inner city, out to the more affluent suburbs, David Wilkerson heeded the call of God to establish a church in Times Square. He labored, with many others, right among the lowest members of society. He established drug recovery programs, and helped many young women to escape a life of prostitution. Brother Wilkerson ministered among the very ones that Christ went to when He performed His ministry.
Now it happened, as Yahshua sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Yahshua heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
Brother Wilkerson was much more than an inner city minister. He became one of the chief prophetic voices God raised up to speak to America. In 1985 he published the book “Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth.”
The book sounded forth a clarion call, announcing the judgment of God to fall upon the nation, and the church, due to her grievous sins. In an hour when many ministers were preaching smooth messages, telling the saints that God wanted to prosper them financially, and satisfy their lives with many material things, here was a message calling the body of Christ to righteous living and repentance from a self-focused life.
In the year 2000 David Wilkerson published another book. This one predicted the coming financial collapse of America.
I would not be surprised if you have not heard of this book. It was written before 9-11. It came at a time when the prosperity of Americans was increasing. The nation was riding one speculative bubble after another. The message of a coming financial holocaust was out of synch with the legion of prosperity preachers urging the saints to pursue “Your Best Life Now.” In a decade when millions of copies of books were sold telling the saints how to prosper and get rich, brother Wilkerson’s voice was like a whisper in a hurricane.
The book was proven to be prescient, for in 2008 America’s vaunted financial institutions began to experience alarming setbacks. The housing bubble collapsed, leading to tens of millions of defaults on mortgages. The Collateralized Debt Obligations that repackaged these mortgages and sold them as prime investments were suddenly revealed to be junk. Trillions of dollars in losses occurred, and many of the biggest financial institutions in the world began to collapse. Emergency measures followed one after another to keep the entire house of cards from collapsing.
Although the news, the government, and a myriad of Christian writers and ministers are announcing that the worst is over, and America is on the rebound, they are nothing more than false prophets proclaiming that which man’s carnal soul desires to hear. Far worse is yet to come, and it is growing very close.
As I pondered the significance of David Wilkerson’s death at this hour, I sense that the world has reached a time of the changing of the watch. In ancient days, watchmen were set up on towers, and on the walls around a city. They were given three hour shifts, called the first watch, the second watch, etc.. They were to be ever on the look-out, intent to spot any threat to the citizens that lived in the city. If they saw a threat, they were to blow the trumpet.
David Wilkerson was a watchman. He has seen the enemy coming. He has observed the sin that has opened up holes in the walls of the nation and the church. He has declared that calamity is at hand. Many have mocked his message. Some have simply ignored it, being consumed with the pursuit of worldly things.
In the news for the past month there has been one report after another of Air Traffic Controllers who have been sleeping when they were hired to be alert and watchful. This is a profound parable of the condition of the nation and the church. The Air Traffic Control towers resemble the ancient towers in which watchmen were stationed to look for an approaching enemy.
There has been such a rash of reports of ATC employees sleeping that it led to the resignation of a top official at the FAA, the government agency overseeing this area. What is occurring is a parable of the nation and the church. The watchmen have been sleeping.
David Wilkerson was one of the rare watchmen who remained at his post, alert and watchful. Yet, when he blew the trumpet, few heeded. Many mocked. Most continued to slumber. With David Wilkerson’s death yesterday, there is the marking of an end of his watch. He was faithful in his duty. He was not perfect. Certainly he made mistakes, but his heart was true. He sought always to please the One who had appointed him a minister and watchman.
The question needs to be answered, “Who will now take up the watch?” In an hour when so many slumber, who will arise to the task, remain alert and sober? Who will cry forth a word of warning? Many of the things David Wilkerson prophesied to be coming forth as judgment are even now at the door. Will his message of warning die with him?
It is a difficult task to be a watchman. Brother Wilkerson’s ministry began in shame and humility, and he was scorned routinely in the decades that followed. He never attracted the following of the messengers of prosperity. He was denigrated, being labeled a “Doom and Gloomer.” He knew much hardship and sorrow in his life. Many of his family members battled cancer, and he lost a beloved grandson to cancer not long ago. His heart was broken over the loss of his beloved grandson, yet he continued to announce the goodness and mercy of God. Because he was a man acquainted with sorrow, he was able to minister to others in their sorrow. He learned compassion by the things he suffered.
The day David Wilkerson died proved to be one of the stormiest days in the history of the nation. The news this morning is announcing that hundreds were killed in the past 24 hours as severe outbreaks of weather have spawned tornadoes, violent winds, thunder and lightning, across many states. Over a hundred were killed in Alabama alone.
At the same time, the news is reporting record flooding in the upper Midwest. Entire towns risk being deluged. In Texas, Oklahoma, and other parts of the Southwest, severe drought has been occurring and wildfires have been burning across vast swaths of land. All these things are indicative of the hour in which we live. The nation is reeling from natural disasters, financial decline, rampant crime, moral impoverishment, and political deception and wrangling. Things are soon to get much worse.
There is a cost to being a watchman. There is an afflicted path all must walk who would stand as overcomers in Christ. Yesterday brought a new trial in my life. An unexpected visitor stopped by around noon. A process server from the local Sheriff’s office delivered papers telling me I will once more have to stand before the judge. My wife, who departed from walking with me six years ago is desiring that I get a secular job to send her alimony. The Father told me clearly in February of 2008 to leave secular employment and to minister full-time.
Eighteen months ago I faced a similar situation. I stood before the judge, and he instructed me to go out and seek employment in the world. I told him I could not in good conscience do so, as God had told me specifically what I must do at this hour. I was charged with contempt of court and spent 60 days in jail at that time.
May 24, I will have to go before the judge again. I can tell him nothing different. The Father has told me to “feed My sheep.” Like Paul, I anticipate that bonds and imprisonment await me. I can only adopt the mindset that he had that I might finish my course with joy.
And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Yahshua, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
I took no lawyer with me last time. I presented no defense. The Father has testified that my life would be like Joseph’s. He too had a woman ask of him that which he could not give her. When she grew tired of asking, she had him thrown in jail.
Are you willing to stand in the place God has called you to be? Are you willing to perform that duty He has entrusted to you? What if it be an unpopular duty? What if it results in scorn and shame? What if you are experiencing suffering, and imprisonment when your brothers are living as free men pursuing the course their soul directs them to? Will you remain steadfast?
The Spirit has testified of my life that the things I have experienced in the past 12 years, and continue to experience, are coming to His sons and daughters who will walk faithfully with Him. The church for generations in America has found her life to be an easy one. Her profession has been a light one. There has been little cost. The time is at hand when God will perfect a remnant by leading them down an afflicted path. Will you yield yourself to follow wherever the Lamb would go?
They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
The words above are spiritual words. To be redeemed from the earth is to be delivered from bondage to the flesh. Being undefiled in the eyes of God is to be espoused to Christ as a pure virgin (II Corinthians 11:2). It is to be devoted to Christ alone, not being enticed by other loves and lovers. The Lamb is a sacrificial animal. It surrenders meekly to go forward to its own slaughter. Yet, therein is the triumph of the saints. It is evidence of placing the Father’s pleasure above our own interests.
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away.
Christ is set forth as the pattern for all the sons of God who would be numbered among the overcomers. All must entrust their lives wholly to the Father. When we seek a way of escape, when we begin to defend ourselves, when we look to the arm of the flesh to save us, we lose our peace. We also fail to grow in the faith and obedience required of those who would rule and reign with Christ. We must follow the pattern of Yahshua.
I Peter 2:20-23
But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously...
David Wilkerson experienced shame and much suffering in his life as he followed the leading of the Spirit of Christ. So too will all who yield to follow Christ in this day. How can Christians live in one of the most sensual, materialistic, sinful societies that ever existed, and not experience judgment, and condemnation if they are living to do the will of the Father? The world has not become more tolerant of godliness. Rather, the church has fallen short of living a life yielded to be led of the Spirit.
II Timothy 3:10-12
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra - what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who live godly in Christ Yahshua will suffer persecution.
The words above contain the message I have been charged to proclaim to the people of God. “All who live godly in Christ Yahshua will suffer persecution.” There is an afflicted path that leads to life, and few there are who find it. Will you also do your part in filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ?
The night is far spent. Let us be vigilant and sober. We do not walk alone. Please pray for me as I set my face to follow the Lamb.
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