Archive for the ‘Cloud of witnesses’ Category
Recently I had another encounter with the Cloud of Witnesses. (Heb.11,12) This brought more understanding while (as always) bringing even more questions at the same time. This is one of the Lord’s ways of nudging us along the path, gently luring us into the deeper things of God. The more we discover of Him, the more we want to know. The more we know Him, the more we love Him.
Jesus took my hand and immediately we were flying. He carried me away to a place I’ve come to call ‘the great high mountain at the edge of eternity’. The wind of the Spirit is always moving in this place, blowing our hair and our garments. It is a fresh wild wind filled with creative purpose and destiny. At times one can look down from here and view eagles soaring. Gazing even further, far away below, there may be a glimpse of tiny forests and mountains and oceans. At other times the view reveals another realm, quite unknown. It seems to be a place where He can reveal whatever He chooses, whether past, present or future, in this realm or beyond.
This time there was a large crowd of people assembled that I immediately knew was the cloud of witnesses – my witnesses. My Mother was there along with an old friend of hers that I remembered from decades ago. I also saw Rev. and Mrs. Shumway, missionaries in Nigeria that the Lord brought back to the U.S. to pastor a small church in Oklahoma. This was not even their home State but God brought them there to plant the seeds of Africa and missions in my little 6 year old heart. Others watered and tended those seeds and they grew.
In this large crowd were some I recognized and some I did not, but all played a part in my life somehow. There were writers whose works had mentored me and others whose prayers still affect me. They were individually speaking to me but not with words. This was spirit to spirit communication. As I looked in their eyes I saw all they had endured and overcome in this life and I felt a great deal of shame at my laziness and discouragement. I saw what my Mother had endured and overcome. I always felt that one day in Heaven she would have a chest full of medals. But here, the medals and battle scars were internal and worn with grace and humility for all to see.
Looking at all of them now I had a very strong sense that they were depending on me! The way I finish will add to their “perfection” there (that without us they would not be made perfect … Heb. 11:40). I felt I had let all these people down and I was ashamed.
But they were not condescending. They were encouraging me and also warning me. “Get up, don’t stop, don’t be lazy… you must fight and win and overcome the things in your own life that need to be overcome. Pick up the torch and finish what we began.” Then each of them laid their hands on me to impart things to me. As they filed past, Jesus was standing beside me with His hands on my head. I was humbled and overwhelmed.
In an effort to understand this experience further, I found this in Rick Joyner’s book Torch and the Sword (p. 139). Jesus led Rick into a great hall with a line of people on either side as they passed. They were all dressed in various clothes from different eras. The Lord said “These are the ones who helped to prepare you for your purpose. You have received from their teachings or stories. They are your witnesses. You are representing them as you are Me, just as those you have a part in preparing will also represent you. We are all one in the great purpose of the Father – the restoration of man and the earth to their purpose. They are not complete without you. Neither are you complete without them. This is also true of those who are to be called through you and the messengers in your time.”
And one more quote from Rick’s new book The Path, which I highly recommend. On page 60, Rick is being challenged by one from the cloud of witnesses who says to him, “I am but one of the ‘great company of witnesses’ who have been watching these times unfold and watching those of you who have been given the honor to live in them. The righteous and prophets of old desired to see these days and they are now seeing them. You live before an audience far greater than you can imagine. If your eyes were open as they should be, you would see the great host of Heaven that is with you. Right now you could not bear the gravity of these times, but you will grow in stature and vision until you can.”
May God strengthen us and give us wisdom to be the over-comers He has destined us to be in this age.
This entire company of people is relying upon us to become everything God called us to be so that they are made perfect. That is a huge responsibility!
We have been studying the great cloud of witnesses spoken about in Hebrews chapters 11 and 12. (See the previous 2 postings for more on this subject.) This group is composed of all the over-comers who died in the faith from Adam to the present time. They fought and ran the race but did not receive the promises. They only saw and embraced them from afar. (Heb.11:13) The last 2 verses of chapter 11 always puzzled me. It says they “received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (complete).” While I don’t pretend to fully understand this, recent prophetic experiences along with study and revelation have begun to shine some light on it. Let’s look at some other scripture passages referring to this group.
Dan. 7:21,22 says that the horn of the adversary will wage war with the saints and overcome them … until … the Ancient of Days comes and renders a verdict in favor of the saints and they take possession of the Kingdom. For thousands of years our enemy has been waging war against us. Millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ have been martyred along with all their gifts and callings. All that they would have done for the rest of their earthly lives was stolen from them and those acts of injustice by the enemy were recorded in the God’s books.
Rev. 8:3-5 ( the vision of John for a future time) talks about a great angel who has a golden censor in his hand. Much incense was given to him so that he might add it to “all the prayers of all the saints.” And the smoke of the incense, which is the prayers of the saints, went up before God. Then the angel took the censor with the fire from the altar and threw it to the earth and there followed peals of thunder, flashes of lightening and an earthquake. All the prayers of All the saints – this cloud of witnesses that prayed and prayed and did not see it in their time. All their prayers have been captured in Heaven along with their tears and God will repay. He will render a verdict in favor of the saints and they will take possession of the Kingdom forever. (Dan. 7:21,22)
This is the eternal perspective of the cloud of witnesses. The enemy will be judged and they will be rewarded. But how do you and I fit into that picture now? How do we help to make them perfect or complete?
What God is in the process of doing in these days is amazing! We are going to be the beneficiaries of things we haven’t even sown, of centuries of prayers of martyred saints and those who didn’t see the fulfillment. God is pouring out all the gifts and anointings and commissionings that have ever been stolen from the Body of Christ back into this generation! Jesus said in John 4, those who sow and those who reap rejoice together. Millions of our brothers were sown like a seed and now that’s coming to harvest and we will reap the very things that the enemy stole from them.
Saul of Tarsus and the stoning of Stephen is a good example of this principle. Stephen was a member of the early church who was full of faith and of the Holy Spirit and did great wonders and miracles among the people. (Acts 6 and 7) He was falsely accused and stoned to death. Saul, who was holding the coats of the people who were throwing the stones, was wrecking havoc in the church at that time, persecuting them and casting them into prison. So as he was consenting to the death of Stephen, God picked him out for an object lesson. It was as if the Lord said to the enemy, “You took one of my best men so I’m going to take one of your best men – and turn him into the Apostle Paul.” When Saul was converted he began to make 10 times more trouble for the enemy than Stephen had. If satan had understood that principle he might have left Stephen alone. Can you imagine Stephen, who had now joined that great cloud of witnesses, watching Paul do great exploits for the Kingdom of God and cheering him on? Paul was now operating under the same anointing that Stephen carried and finishing what Stephen began to do when his life was cut short. Now Stephen would be ‘made perfect or complete’ by what Paul was able to accomplish. Stephen would reap the reward along with Paul. “Those who sow and those who reap rejoice together.” (John 4:35-38)
Of course we also have our own callings to fulfill, not just to finish what someone else began. But the point is that it’s pay-back time now and God is freely giving us all that we need to finish this great task. Ask and you shall receive! He can take the anointings of the great men and women of old and multiply them and then pour them out on a body of people so that when they achieve the fullness of that mandate the cloud of witnesses will share in the fruit of it.
Remember that they surround us and have a vested interest in what we do. (Heb. 12:1) May we run this race and finish well, accomplishing all He put us here to do … for them, for our children and grand-children, but most of all for Him.
* Much of this weeks posting has come from the studies of Paul Keith Davis. I am including the link to his archived webinars where you will find more on this topic and many others as well. http://www.whitedoveministries.org/index.cfm?zone=Docs/WebinarArchive/WebinarArchivePage.htm&page=LiveStream
In the previous post we began to look at the cloud of witnesses that Paul describes in Hebrews 11 and 12. Let’s take a closer look to see who they are, who they are not and what role they play in the times we are in and the times to come.
The first thing necessary to understand is this … it is God alone that we are to seek. While He often chooses to minister to us in many different ways through people or angels, our focus is to be on Him and not them. Just as we do not pray to angels or worship them, the same applies to the cloud of witnesses. 1 Tim. 2:5 tells us that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Christ Jesus. He is the only one worthy of our worship and He is the only one to whom we pray. But this does not mean that there is no interaction with them. There are times when we are permitted to see angels, to receive the messages or the help they come to bring us. The same is true of those in the cloud of witnesses. They can be used as messengers as well. These are not people you are apt to see on a regular basis even though Paul tells that we are ‘compassed about’ or ‘encircled’ by them. But there are times when the Lord chooses to just let us have a glimpse of them as I did in the experience I related in the last post. This was crucial to my understanding at the time and very precious to me. It gave me courage to know I had made the right decision.
Who is this cloud of witnesses? Paul describes them in the previous chapter. In fact, if you read Hebrews chapter 11 and keep going into the first few verses of chapter 12 it will be self explanatory. They are those who overcame and died before us. They are from every generation from Adam up to the present. Paul only listed and referred to those up until his own generation but the books were not closed and have been added to in every generation since. They are not angels or other forms of Heavenly beings. They are men and women, flesh and blood who were born and lived on the earth, became over-comers, died in the faith and have now gone to Heaven.
They have been given the right to watch us and see how we are running this race. (Heb. 12:1) It’s like a relay race and it’s now our turn to run. They are cheering us on toward the end but much more than that. They are also messengers whom God will use on occasion. The whole book, The Final Quest by Rick Joyner, is basically about experiences that Rick had with these people in Heaven. They told him about their own failures and cautioned him to avoid the same traps. Many of them explained that they should have had a higher rank in Heaven and why they failed to achieve it. Their messages to him were crucial to help keep him on the right path. And his writings of those experiences have been instrumental in helping us stay on the path as well.
There is a call going out now to “rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way and of the sin which holds onto us so tightly, and to run with determination the race that lies before us” so that we will not be ashamed at the end. (Heb. 12:1 Good News Bible)
This subject will be continued in the next posting.
The scene is like a race in the Olympic games. The sky is blue and the wind is catching the banners and lifting them high. The runners are all lined up and on their marks and you are in line with them waiting for the starting signal. You have trained so long and hard and sacrificed so much to be here and now it’s finally happening. The signal sounds and off you go. It’s your turn. It’s your day and your time to run. Then suddenly as you look up into the grandstands you recognize those you have only read about from another time! Among this great host are the Apostle Paul, Moses, King David … they are on their feet cheering and saying things like,
“Come on! Run! Keep going! You must win this race for us as well as for yourselves! We ran well but we were not allowed to finish. It was not for our time. (Heb.11:39,40) But it is your time now and you are the last of the runners in this relay. You must run! You must finish well! Go!”
Beside them are members of your own family who ran before you and those who discipled you. They are crying tears of joy and calling your name as they wave you on.
This is the reality of Hebrews chapters 11 and 12. Chapter 11 has been called the great hall of faith, describing many who have been over-comers in ages past and have gone on to be with the Lord in Heaven. In chapter 12, Paul speaks specifically about them and all the other over-comers from Adam up to the present day when he refers to them as the great cloud of witnesses. He encourages us to remember their legacy as we run this race and to understand that they surround us, watching us and cheering us on! (Heb. 12:1)
Before we move on to study this subject, I wanted to share an experience I had with them several years ago:
Once again I had fled to the solace of the place where I had met Jesus so often. But this time I could not discern His presence. The agony and confusion in my heart was overwhelming. It was becoming very difficult to discern what was actually being required of me by the Lord as a sacrifice and what was merely being stolen more and more by the enemy. I thought of Israel, continually giving up land for peace.
I began to sob out all the pain in my heart to Him.
“Lord,” I cried. “I don’t understand. I am completely Yours and totally in love with You. I should be able to hear Your voice and know what You are asking of me. Oh God, remove the confusion and bring understanding. Speak to me and show me what to do.”
Finally I had no more tears left to cry. I lay starring up into the afternoon sky, searching that quiet place within me for His still, small voice. But I heard nothing. The only noise was the murmur of the creek nearby and the wind blowing softly in the trees. Now, time in this realm required me to make a decision.
At last I said to Him,
“Jesus, please see my heart. See that I love You beyond all else. If this sacrifice is what You are asking of me, then I am willing. But I will not let the enemy steal from me all that I have. So I give it all to You, my Lord, with all my heart.”
Reaching into His realm, I placed it all within a large gift box and tied it up with a beautiful ribbon and a card that read,
“To Jesus, with all my love.”
Then I lifted it up to Him.
Instantly a curtain was pulled back in the sky above me. Within the large crowd of people I was viewing I recognized my earthly parents, grandparents and my husband’s parents. There were a few others I knew, along with a great many angels who were all smiling, cheering and applauding loudly. A few were crying tears of joy.
It seemed I had made the right choice.