Facing 2009….

Facing 2009…. A backward and forward look.

At the beginning of last year (2008) I sought the Lord more determinedly than ever before for clarity of the year ahead and understood only that it was time to hold back words in anticipation of signs, but that it would be a difficult year in many areas.  It was why there was some quietness in the prophetic, less from lack of sight, but perhaps more from a slowness of heart to hear things predicted from a less than jubilant perspective? Described as ‘a year of hope’, it was always likely to be a challenging time, for ‘hope that is seen is not hope’, so perplexity or ‘futility’ is the logical context for supernatural hope to be cultivated[1] . The Lakeland sign arrived from God, in my opinion not a new thing, but rather further evidence of the fullness of the three great moves of the Holy Spirit, the result of which should certainly be to expect that healing and miracles are fully released in the earth and available as part of a grassroots movement of the people of God.[2] But a more significant sign of something truly new was the run on the Northern Rock bank, which triggered some memories and sight from the collapse of the Baring Bank back in 1995 and which together highlight the scope and significance of the changes now breaking upon us. It has been a year of death, a year of breaking (hearts and hopes included), severe disruption and the implications of 2008 are not over by a long way! It was also termed ‘the year of the gate’, but not a gate many would have sought nor welcomed. It will however, I believe, have proved to be a door of deliverance, a moment of great potential and one we need to gladly walk through, if we are to be prepared for supernatural change.

Given the significance of 2007 and 2008, I suggest we can read them and the next two years in the light of THE FOUR DAYS OF THE CROSS: a narrative journey for the years 2007-2010.

2007: The day/year of Passing Over: an end and a beginning.

As Jesus faced the cross, he spoke to his disciples about earnestly desiring to eat with them the Passover meal. We know the significance of the Passover, remembering the day when the Lord led his Old Testament people out of severe captivity in Egypt.  Their time there was at an end. It was over. That lifestyle, mindset, expectation and behaviour was passing away for ever. Obviously as Christians we see that Jesus fulfils the Passover motif in delivering his people from the captivity of sin and death, but prophetically I believe we can also apply it at a corporate, systemic and epochal level. Reading it in such a way suggests that at times, the Lord would alert us (even earnestly desire to awake us) to there being a specific moment when some prophetic words, some preparatory experiences, some behaviour and some long held world-views will have been filled up and therefore be about to radically pass away, so we should be ready to pass over into a new season, a fresh mindset, a hitherto unexplored experience.

I (among others[3]) suggested that, as we might have expected with the number seven in it, 2007 marked such a fullness of times, a time of completion, or as I develop it here, of passing over.  Times, words and creation signs aligned remarkably during this year. The year marked 60 years from the prophecy of Smith Wigglesworth in 1947[4], 40 years since that of Jean Darnall in 1967 and 20 years since the comments of Clifford Hill on the sign of the hurricane in 1987. So 2007 opened with the huge Hurricane Kyrill which swept through our islands and whipped on right across Europe. Both the prophecies of Wigglesworth and Darnall referred to a move of God, subsequent to an earlier initiative, flowing from these islands out into mainland Europe and this second hurricane took that route. It was also a year of a total lunar eclipse, the trajectory of which also travelled from these islands into Europe and I read this as symbolising the ‘waning of the new church movement’ referred to as a time marker by Smith Wigglesworth. As an earthly body in the heavens whose only light comes from the reflection of the sun’s, I see the moon as a picture of the church which in this sign is darkened.  The new church movement of the 70s onward is definitely waning, not because of her own plight, but as a sign of the whole church which rises in strength and falls into the earth in times and seasons according to the Lord’s purpose. These are not signs to be resisted or regretted but read and embraced as they speak of a time or an era fulfilling its given purpose, in order than a new time and new possibilities break open in the earth! Both Darnall and Wigglesworth spoke of separate phases of the Lord’s restoration of the body of Christ to then be followed by its purpose:  the release of a movement of his people both here in the UK and on into mainland Europe which would be marked by signs (2007 seems to me to fulfil them) when the phases of preparation would give place (pass over) to something greater! The greater is that the society and not the church is the focus of God’s activity, the repositioned church now being the hidden agent or ‘river bank’ for the river of his activity.

The significance of the Passover motif for us today is to be sure that, by the end of and as a result of this glorious period of preparation, training and restoration by the Holy Spirit, we can stand on the same ground as Jesus our great forerunner and, knowing ‘that we come from God and are going to God’ we fully embrace the calling here and now to pour ourselves out, empty ourselves of our own reputation or glory and become the servant of all, because He is again in direct confrontation with unclean power first in the people of God but also in society at large! We see Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet in John’s account of the Passover meal in direct counterpoint to ‘the dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be the greatest’ in the Lucan account because these are the choices to be made and it is time to pass over from one to the other. This preparation season has all been about becoming truly like Christ in this confrontation and to be ready finally to take up our cross and follow him. We should be able to face the day and whatever it holds, because our identity in Christ is sure, our commitment is fully to him and the values of his kingdom[5] and we are truly ready for the surgery required to the deep systemic dysfunction of our former personal and cultural mindsets!

2008: The day/year of Preparation: an end AND a beginning!

Jesus died on ‘the day of Preparation’.  Yes, he was completing the triumph over sin and death, but this was always to prepare for something else to take its place.  Called the day of Preparation for the Sabbath, certain tasks, jobs, rituals had to be fulfilled by sundown to get them out of the way because the next day, this time a High Day, was for something else! Jesus had to be dead and off the cross before sundown because this was the Day of Preparation! 2008 was a year of preparation where Stuff had to be shaken (and some wonderful things were caught up in the shaking as well as awful), completed and over in order to make room, to clear the ground for something else to grow into being. It had to be a personal and corporate shaking, individual and systemic, because what needs room to rise is individual and community. The earlier words of this century, notably about the ‘rolling up of the Roman way’[6], gave us some clues as to the scope of changes we were and are about to face.  The era of Imperial Rome and its ongoing re-inventions is draining away and something new must grow up from the ground. Fertile space is being created.  For the work of God to fill it again in Europe will require a resurrection, not a renewal. It will be the day of the Kingdom of God or the day of a new empire.

So even as he died and carried natural goodness as well as heinous sin into death, Jesus lived the new. He was preparing the new humanity, choosing the resurrection motivation and drive. So even in the filling up and passing away of an old life and lifestyle, there emerged something new, different and resurrectional!  In sum, passing away was a power/law motivation and being birthed was a love initiative and they are chalk and cheese. The difference impacts us at an individual level and at a systemic level.  Could Jesus have exercised righteous, legal power and left the cross? Of course, as the innocent son of God, he had the right, the power and innocence in the sight of the law on his side to do exactly that. But he came to deliver AND to prepare a new dynamic of life, of freedom from the ‘domination systems of this world’[7], which is what will start now to grow up in our lands, in our day, if we can receive the scope of what is passing away.  Not just individual judgement, but systemic injustice which is based in and resourced out of power and might, through their use of law. Now what must rise? A grassroots people who truly do love and not count the cost (because there is one), who eschew power and influence methods of engagement though they totally embrace society and creation at every level. Those in whom death and powerlessness is at work, so life and love can be at work in others and who flee from celebrity but not from responsibility. A people we don’t yet recognise though we know them so well[8].

The warning at the end of a day of preparation comes from the women who arrive with their embalming spices.  We grieve loss and try to make it look and smell OK rather than celebrate the cleared ground, the emptiness, the impossible potential for something truly new. It is not a time to grieve but a time to sow!

2009: The unmentioned Sabbath: a time of stillness, developing faith.

After Jesus died and before the encounters in the Resurrection, the only activity mentioned is that of the Pharisees and Pilate making the grave secure against the suggestion of a resurrection plot.  Nothing is said about the disciples save that ‘they rested according to the commandment’. Obviously the Sabbath and ‘the first day of the week’ have merged in Christian ritual and understanding, but even though the resurrection marks the availability of the eternal Sabbath of God for us as believers where we can again walk and talk with Him, there are developmental stages in the narrative which, rightly noticed, might help us avoid age-old deceptions.  One is an over-realised expectation of the fullness of his resurrection life immediately here and now which takes no account of the corporate and systemic realities around (still in?) us where we don’t ‘yet see all things under Jesus’ feet’ and the other is expecting nothing really to change temporally (except perhaps for everything to go from bad to worse) until Jesus instigates the second resurrection and we get delivered individually once and for all by his return.  If the Sabbath quietly passes in the narrative, it nevertheless is a time span where a great deal is happening progressively. Firstly Jesus is in the grave, or in Hades, where he continues his confrontation with the deepest roots of the powers of that and this age. He really goes deep.  And here is the genius of a day/year where we may seem to do little but wait. We have to contain our souls in patient faith and urge the Lord to go deep this time round too. The desire of many to see this present shaking in the nations and the financial turmoil shortened is understandable but short-sighted. This shaking has to go deep – right to the foundations – to dislodge the very roots of injustice. Our task is to hold the ground and ourselves in readiness while God does what the time has been prepared for. Religious and national powers will be busy when they should be humbled. There will be huge shifts in national and international alignments this year, many of which will be in secret and only revealed much further on in this journey. And there will be some more weeping and gnashing of teeth, but the people of God must ‘rest according to the commandment’ and in this time sow to and live out of the freshly growing kingdom of love that Jesus prepared in his dying.

As we enter the year 2009, we expect circumstances which would ideally develop the maturity represented by the number 9 in the Scriptures. Nine gifts [9] and nine fruits [10], they speak a counter-intuitive message. We tend to grow fast in the ‘speaking’ gifts, three of which are listed as tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy and we have grown in ‘knowledge’ during the preparation time of restoration. This is marked by our use and expectation of (words of) knowledge, (words of) wisdom and discernment (of spirits) also mentioned in the list of supernatural gifts. Already said is the expectation of, and now also I believe, the timing for the ‘power gifts’, listed again as three in miracles, healings and faith. Nine then, marks a fullness or a maturity in the provision of God for us in this day and these we will need in the time of turmoil and indeed famine, that is upon us even here in the Western nations.[11] But maturity is measured in more than equipment.  It is fully measured in character. Again in the list of nine fruits of the Spirit, we perceive that three are ‘easier’ and early as we receive love, joy and peace in receiving Christ and his presence.  Growing means that we learn to exercise patience, kindness and goodness in our relationships, beginning to respond in another spirit, overcoming provocation with patience and evil with good as Christ develops us.  In this year and the next, I believe we will come of age in the practice of longsuffering (perseverance/endurance), meekness (humility, not insisting on our rights) and control of the self-life (‘feed me’/’comfort me’). In a time which will be marked by the power gifts, we might expect not to have to endure or be meek, but there’s the rub.  Christ’s power is kenotic, self-emptying, and while he poured out his love to any and all, making himself fully available, he nevertheless resisted every payback for himself, every pedestal and every position but friendship. He took nothing for himself but joy in the release and blessing of others. We will also remember in 2009 that nine lepers received freely given healing for themselves and only one sought the fullness of a thankful relationship with Christ which would cost him opprobrium everywhere else. This is a year for such discernment and hiddenness! This is such a year for developing a rest of faith which has nothing to do with circumstances of breakthrough or ease, but which will form the meekness and responsibility able and willing both to release supernatural help for others and to hide from any reflected glory or return. This is a time when God will, so help us to desire it, destroy the very foundations of power and domination systems rooted in the very depths of Hell and leave space and room in our world for supernatural acts of mercy and provision, of love and compassion and of peace and hope.  So we have to rest and be at peace while convalescing from the ongoing radical, corporate surgery of our culture! And strive to enter it while the shaking around us continues. A ‘nameless, faceless’ people (whose names and countenance are fully known by the Lord) is being prepared to move quietly in loving impact.

2009 begins a four year period of amazing interventions from God not to but through his people into the needs of the world we are given to.  The shakings have only just begun, but this is a year to turn from fear to faith, from immaturity and selfish expectations to mature judgement and supernatural hope and faith.  The circumstances are right, the time is fulfilled. Repent, (change mind and thinking) and believe in the Good news!

2010 (and the early days of not recognising what we thought we knew!) will of course follow ….

No, don’t go there yet, strive to rest now.

Notes:

  • [1] Romans 8:20-24
  • [2] Or the “Saints movement” of which Dr. Bill Hamon has written extensively.
  • [3] Certainly Chuck Pierce commented on the Hebrew symbol for the year number as being a sign of completion and spoke of the danger of being sucked back into old cycles if we failed to break into a new place.
  • [4] You can refer to this prophecy easily if you Google it, as with the others mentioned.
  • [5] So MUCH more to be said, and will be, on this subject, as Rog continues with his amazing, mind-blowing research!
  • [6] Sharon Stone, Martin Scott, Roger Mitchell et al and others….
  • [7] Walter Wink’s exposition of ‘powers’ and ‘dominions’.
  • [8] The analogy is Mary thinking Jesus is the Gardener, or the companions walking with an unrecognised Jesus on the Emmaus Road.
  • [9] 1 Corinthians 12: 8-10
  • [10] Galatians 5:22
  • [11] As Chuck Pierce prophesied in the year 2001 ‘a seven year season of war’, I believe we are now moving from that season to one of famine, now equally among the Western nations which will be at least 5 years long. See Rev. 6.