The Good Wine & His Hour

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, “They have no wine.” Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.”
John 2:1-4

O, that Christ were so formed in us, in such an hour of thick darkness, when the wine has all but run out, that the travailing cry of those still carrying Him might likewise proceed heavenward to bring forth His hour! For she who once bore the Christ child still walked expectantly of Him in His manhood, as one interceding to the end that His hour might at last come; and it was her persistent faith in this one thing which at last birthed His giving of the new wine. How much more should we ourselves be found in such watchful intercession at this hour!

A mere pointing out the fact that there is no more wine has nothing to do with Him; but when the servants of the Bridegroom are ready to do whatever He says, His hour is come. Just as with the persistent woman whose daughter was oppressed by a demon, He awaits faith to arise of such substance that He may at last bring forth the ministry of His Spirit (the wine):

His mother saith unto the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, “Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.” And they bare it.
John 2:5-8

What do we bear of Him? Is it the thing we bring forth of ourselves, or is it of heavenly conception? It is quite appropriate that there were six water pots, (the number of man), since this washing was an added tradition of the elders, for which Jesus another time rebuked them (Mk 7:1-9). For the six waterpots of stone used after the tradition of the Jews could only be partially filled in order to serve man’s purpose. So it is in our lives when we are not filled with the things of God: man-made and self-made traditions are the empty portion. Jesus first commanded the servants to fill the vessels with water – just as we are exhorted that the word should dwell in us richly by the admonishing of one another (Col 3:16), so that we are thoroughly washed by His ministration through one another as by water (Eph 5:26-27). It is by this consecration that the vessel is increasingly made able to receive the things of the Spirit of God, the heavenly wine. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…” (Eph 5:18-19)

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew); the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse:
but thou hast kept the good wine until now.”
John 2:9-10

This pictures the day of which we find ourselves standing at the threshold. It is the Day of HIS hour! It is day for which He has saved the best wine until last, just as the enemy has saved the worst. It is the day of the good wine ready to be brought forth by the calling of our Bridegroom, by His vessels consecrating themselves to be thoroughly washed by His water – and it need not take much time, O we of little faith! It is the day to forsake the old wineskin of man’s devices and traditions so that the new wine of the Holy Spirit might be received. For contrary to man’s way, this new wine of God is the only GOOD wine for such a time; it is the consuming fire which He sends upon the earth by the prayers of those who will settle for nothing less than to be filled with all the fullness of God. For He comes forth from His chamber to receive only such a holy and spotless bride, one who has mourned the absence of HIS voice and fasted of all but HIM.

And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound…
Revelation 8:4-6

At the cry of a bride made ready shall He stand and come; and all that is not of His making is shaken into pieces, and the earth melts before Him. Will HIS faith be made ours? Will the bride at last be in perfect unison with the Spirit, saying, “Come”? Will He find HIS faith still upon the earth? For He Himself still says, “Surely I come quickly.”

Even so, come Lord Jesus…

The marriage supper of the Lamb is both His and our calling fulfilled.

“…and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.”

Holiness Through Surrender

...My brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another’s, to One raised from the dead, so that we may bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin were working in our members through the law for the bearing of fruit unto death. But now we have been set free from the law, having died to that in which we were held, so as for us to serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter.
(Romans 7:4-6, LITV)

Holiness is not merely a way of living, it is the very Life of God reigning freely in a man who is given over to Him. We shall only authentically live like Christ from the inward parts to the degree that His impending Life is at last allowed to replace our own. To seek for anything less from God in light of our sins reveals the pride of life that is born of the self-deceived sinful flesh. “I am simply too weak Lord” is the inevitable cry of the man who has evidently tried to accomplish by the fleshly nature the holy Life which he himself can never live. But the proper cry of the new creature is, “Lord, you are all that I have, my very Life: as I bring nothing except what You work in me.”
For the “weakness” of God cannot even be lowered to comparison with the “strength” of man: it is a comparison of the very nature of God with the nature of that which cannot but oppose and fall short of His glory. The strength for which we must cry is not strength of ourselves, but rather the strength which is His very Life; because except for Christ, I do not even have life before God! Yes, even the new creature is not mine to operate: it is HIS vessel, meant to be operated by the power of His Spirit.
No other is able. Not I, but Christ – Christ in me.

The fear and trembling with which we work out our salvation is the sweet fear and trembling of surrender; for it is only God Himself who can work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The law of sin and death is set aside by the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus – and by no other means. And these two laws, which work in their respective subjects, were spoken of by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians…

For through law I died to law, that I might live to God.
(Galatians 2:19, LITV)

By faith’s surrender to the law of the Spirit of Life, we are released from the law of sin and death that is at work in the sinful flesh. That which causes us to walk against the will and pleasure of the Spirit may truly be done away with to continually receive the Life that is in Christ Jesus! “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
Without Christ, I lived after the flesh and was dead to God. But by faith, although still living in the flesh, I died in Him; so that my only Life may now be securely hidden with the risen Christ in God. For the righteous shall live by faith! And by a faith which has no motive except God’s own glory at every expense, we may lay hold of His Life in actual experience…

I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness is through law (that is, apart from the Spirit through faith), then Christ died without cause.
(Galatians 2:20-21, LITV)

Christ is the end of that which ministers condemnation through the fleshly attempts of outward observance: He is the very law God’s Life at work in those who keep HIS faith in themselves. The great sin of disobedience which caused the children of Israel to fall away, according to the writer of Hebrews, was unbelief. It was this bitter root of dissatisfaction with the original and unchanging promise of God by which they kept themselves from entering His rest. In other words, they judged God by what their carnal eyes saw rather than walking after the Spirit by faith which is the substance of things hoped for. Those who kept no faith in the promise instead longed again for the bondage of Egypt: rather than looking for the city of God, the heavenly kingdom, in which we now may be immersed by the Holy Spirit. For the King of glory has arrived to His people: let Him come in and reign! Is not the kingdom within His own? Are they not His temple? But when we have no trust in Christ to be our present sustainer and only strength, we shall likewise come short of entering that rest (Heb 4:1). Meanwhile, the promise of entering still stands, waiting to be reached by the steps of faith that can only be made in the very Spirit who labors graciously to that end. Let us therefore not insult Him by disallowing His rule in and over the entirety of our being.

“This is the work of God: that you believe into Him whom that One sent.” – Jesus spoke of faith as the key to the very powerful working of God. It cannot the work of a man; for the best that any man can do is revive the old man to rule over the new and so deceive himself. “You cannot serve two masters…” It is only by God that all things are possible, and this is given to those who actively believe. The key to holiness is surrender – nothing less. “It is finished” must become an ever-nearer reality in our lives, bearing the righteous fruit that can only be apprehended by unfeigned faith, trusting in God to increase in us as we ourselves decrease. All we can bring to the table is surrender on all fronts. It is finished: and by the grace of God through faith not pretended, let it continue to be finished within the purchased possession! For by blood of His covenant we are sanctified; as the the Spirit actively works even in the present moment through our faith – faith which surrenders the whole being to the refining fire of God. We take hold of Him as we let go of our own ways and things, knowing the love of God toward those who so believe Him with their lives. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.” (Heb 4:9-10) Today, let it no longer be we who live, but CHRIST!

…for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them to be trash, that I might gain Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness of law, but through the faith OF Christ, having the righteousness of God on faith: to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, having been conformed to His death, if somehow I may attain to a resurrection out of the dead. Not that I already received or already have been perfected, but I press on, if I also may lay hold, inasmuch as I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-12, LITV)

Joshua 9: Pretenders & Discernment

 

As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel. But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.”
(Joshua 9:1-6)

 

No sooner had the children of Israel revisited Mount Ebal and, had God’s Word reiterated to them, that pretenders from the world entered into the camp, coaxing them into an earthly covenant. So it goes with the children of God today.

As in the days of Joshua, these pretenders among the brethren still put themselves forward as having traveled far and having seen many things, and find need to make a show of their purported experience to make up for their utter lack of the fruit of truth and sincerity in them. They came in to the midst only for fear of man; for if they had feared God, they would have truly repented of their wicked hearts and been grafted in. But because they could not bear the Word of the Lord cutting open and exposing their hearts, they instead came in by another way: tempting God’s people to merely pity their estate and be impressed at their outward showing of humility.

The obedience of God’s children in love for one another is the key displaying the wisdom of God on the earth; but men of the earth demand their own unspiritual covenants with God’s people – and those who lack in vigilance make compromises with the world through a fleshly love, at the expense of men’s souls. Comforting men in their Godless estate replaces calling them to repentance, and so the holy love of God is adulterated and lost to human sentiment: a hindrance to men being truly regenerated by the Spirit of God.

 

But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”
And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?”
They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth.

So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, “Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, ‘We are your servants.'” Come now, make a covenant with us. Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.”

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord.
And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

(Joshua 9:7-15)

 

This is how wolves are introduced to the flock, and tares to the wheat field. When the sheep are not listening to the Shepherd’s voice, they are drawn by another and become lost; and while the tillers of the field sleep, the enemy plants his own harvest. The particular deception here was one of a false servanthood: they put themselves forward as having a “servant’s heart,” and were even indeed willing to do many earthly-helpful activities among God’s people – but it was all for self-preservation so that they may remain as they are, still expecting God to accept their own sacrifice; for HE was not their treasure.

Now the Gibeonites in our own day have learned to become teachers, and teach God’s people in such a way that conveys the outward sacrifices of their insincerity to always automatically be accepted by God as true spiritual obedience, so that the falsehood of their ways eventually cannot easily be discerned by God’s children; and no longer does any man have the fortitude to cast them out. In such an atmosphere, the distinction between those who merely honor God with their lips and those who truly obey Him from a heart exposed by the Light of Christ becomes blurred as men draw teachers unto themselves who speak great swelling words that their itching carnal ears want to hear. Their goal is to appeal to the world and unite with it, rather than to lift up Jesus Christ, the divider of all men. Mixture between the kingdom of God and the causes of men rules the day. Caesar is expected to further God’s kingdom and propagate the tenants of the faith; and the kingdom of God which delivers men from the bondage of the world is lost to a gospel of earthly utility at the expense of transcendent heavenly truth, where distinguishing between what is spiritual and what is unsanctified becomes touted as “judgemental” and “unchristian”. In this “gospel”, dying to self becomes achievable through outward actions of showman’s humility rather than by the Holy Spirit’s sword of conviction, and the ego is applauded for outwardly sounding more humble than those faithful few who cry against this great evil.

But separation from the world and its causes unto God and His heavenly kingdom is not careless or selfish as these carnal men have declared: it is actually an all out declaration of spiritual war against Satan’s devices and will get you despised by all men. For they have been deceived by him into sympathizing with mere outward human justice in order to avoid submitting to God’s justice upon their own idolatrous hearts that they might be saved.

The apostle Paul spoke of the falsehood of deceivers who would permeate the landscape of the last days, saying of them,

“…always learning, but never being able to come to a full knowledge of truth. But in the way Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so also these withstand the truth, men having been corrupted in mind, found worthless as to the faith.”
(2 Timothy 3:7-8)

The two conjurers who opposed Moses appeared to perform many of the same signs as he did – so it is with the false spirit of a false gospel. The greatest counterfeit is the one which shares as much possible resemblance to what God’s people currently deem to be authentic; therefore these men also learn much after the words of respected teachers so that they may improve the effectiveness of their deception. Therefore, only those who instead walk with God and are taught by God Himself through His Word rather than only by men: only they can fully see through these deceivers and walk in true substance beyond that which pretenders can imitate.

But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men (Jannes & Jambres). You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
(2 Timothy 3:9-11)

The “form of Godliness” (2Tim 3:5) which these men display consists of the outward works of sacrificial devotion to man’s agendas; yet it is only the divinely empowered obedience to God of a transformed heart which alone produces steadfastness and unwavering obedient faith in the eternally unchanging Word of God. The pretender’s appeal is to man’s wisdom under the pretense of it being God’s Word, and to man’s emotion in the name of God’s Spirit. Only the Word of God and the Spirit of God are directly and specifically described in scripture as TRUTH; and they are the two witnesses of God which in these days of apostasy are being killed before the eyes of all men, who celebrate their death and persecute the faithful, even supposing themselves to being doing God Himself a favor.

Truth and has fallen in the streets of man’s city and is rejoiced over, for it has not been allowed to divide and conquer the hearts of those hearing. Even the children of Israel had just heard the Word of God preached to them on Mount Ebal; yet their leaders lacked mature discernment of the good from the evil, and all Israel would now suffer the ongoing consequences of allowing evildoers into their midst upon false pretenses. Nowhere were the Gibeonites required to give up their idols to serve the true and living God; but they were allowed in to partake of the blessings of God simply out of earthly convenience and worldly human pity. No repentance from dead works or faith in the God who saves was required; and thus many a soul was “loved” to damnation. This was also one of many occurrences setting the stage for God’s people to be drawn away to other gods even from within the camp, so that during times of great apostasy, the faithful remnant and the true prophets in their midst became the greatest outcasts at the hands of those who falsely claimed to love God.

And, indeed, all desiring to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
But evil men and pretenders will go forward to worse, leading astray and being led astray. But you keep on in what you learned and were assured of, knowing from whom you learned, and that from a babe you know the Holy Scriptures, those being able to make you wise to salvation through belief in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 3:12-15)

The earnestness of conviction in the pretender’s cause does not justify its propagation in the household of faith. Those who deceive others do so because they themselves are being willingly deceived. They must be warned as men whom the Lord desires to have mercy on; but as it pertains to the assembly of faith, if they continually refuse to stop teaching things contrary to the sound doctrine of Christ and His first apostles then they must be marked and avoided until they truly repent. Do not sware oaths to any man, lest you throw in your lot with an evildoer and be held to your oaths by God, who desires for you true liberty through death – death both to yourself and to all men – that you may live unto God and serve only HIM.

 

At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders.

But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.”
And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them. Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.”

They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you – so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.”
So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place that He should choose.

(Joshua 9:16-27)

 

In our day, many in God’s house have entrusted themselves to those who ought not to be in their midst, and have made covenants with them. Therefore, as God marks those who are His unto the preservation of their souls on the day of slaughter, let us rather choose the wisdom of the fountain of life – which is the fear of the LORD; and let us be sure that we have given ourselves over to be judged and slain and raised again to life anew by the Word of Christ unto the clear vision of His holiness. We will remain befallen with the growths of that which does not belong in the body and the absence of that which does belong, until mature discernment is obtained through the continual exercise of faith’s obedience both in and to the word.

Every scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be perfected, fully furnished for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Lord works in this day of separation to deliver unto life those who trust in Him, to try the substance of their faith so that it may result in praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged. But being judged, we are corrected by the Lord, that we not be condemned with the world.
(1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

Come Out, That You May Hold Fast

Brothers and sisters:

If you will stand for holiness and separate yourselves from this world and its demands upon God, then those who keep trying to preserve that which God shall soon destroy will call your behavior heartless and unchristian in their lack of understanding.

So be it. Those whose great concern is supposedly not to judge others have hated you and judged you unrighteously; for you are a holy temple of the Living God, who is jealous for that temple. And He will defend those who hold fast; but He will take no pleasure in the one who draws back in faithlessness. It is only the consecrated who enter His rest. It is only the obedient and steadfast in whom His word is proven.

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

(Psalm 18:30)

Jesus’ call to not judge lest we be judged is a warning against unrighteous judgement, stressing that “with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured again to you.” But if our eye is single, and if that in which we do judge is free of hypocrisy (which is actually possible, as we are in fact called to this), then we being full of light do indeed see clearly to remove the speck in our brother’s eye. “For the spiritual man judges all things, yet is himself discerned by no one.”

But the one who judges those in whom God’s law is truly being fulfilled by the Spirit of life is speaking against the Law and judging the Law. And as long as such do not repent, they have sided themselves with the accuser and serve the purposes of Mystery Babylon, which we must remove ourselves from in order to remain in all the abundant mercies Christ. You cannot partake of two spirits. For Jesus has condemned us to righteousness and holiness, to remain unspotted from this world of iniquity.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up by your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to everlasting life.
(Jude 1:20-21, LITV)

There is no true functioning body of Christ where each member is not first able to stand alone with HIM. Unity in God is predicated upon separation unto God by the whole of the body. That which is not comprised of consecrated parts cannot be a functioning body.
We do not comfort men in the world, nor do we condescend the gospel of Christ into human terms; rather we call men out unto God who provides spiritual comfort to those whom the truth has first slain and regenerated into a kingdom that is not of this world. For those who belong to His kingdom are free to have confidence before Him, as nothing else need hold mastery over their soul.

And, indeed, all desiring to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and pretenders will go forward to worse, leading astray and being lead astray. But you keep on in what you have learned and were assured of, knowing from whom you learned, and that from a babe you know the holy scriptures, those being able to make you wise to salvation through belief in Jesus Christ.
(2 Timothy 3:12-15, LITV)

The tares are becoming manifest to the ones being awakened; and they hope diligently for the coming harvest of separation. The slandered and misrepresented sheep of Christ’s fold who are grounded in the unchanging truth of His word are not ashamed even before His coming; for they know whom they have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep what they have committed unto Him until that Day (2Tim 1:12).

Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
(Daniel 12:10)

Revelation 13 – Warnings & Meditations

And I stood on the sand of the sea.
And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns,
and on his horns ten diadems, and on its heads names of blasphemy.

And they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast;
and they worshiped the beast, saying,
“Who is like the beast; who is able to make war with it?”

…And all those dwelling in the earth will worship it,
those of whom the names had not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb having been slain from the foundation of the world.
If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

(Revelation 13:1,4, 8-9)

Those who are finding no rest in God through Jesus Christ the sacrificial Lamb are ultimately found following after and rendering their worship to the spirit of this present evil age. Where the blood of the Lamb and the word of the testimony of His holy ones is not held up and walked in by faith to thwart the Devil’s onslaught of accusation and temptation, it becomes replaced by the carnal devices of man and flesh unto the enthroning of ourselves and our self-will. And in this arrogant self-deception, even the bringing about of the appearing of Christ’s kingdom becomes a work that we ourselves must accomplish through political means and social actions; rather than a bride being cleansed from all such worldly mixture by He who gave everything so that she might be made ready BY HIS OWN MEANS for His return.

The Spirit goes on to warn:
If anyone gathers captivity, into captivity he goes.
If anyone will kill by a sword, by a sword he must be killed.

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
(Revelation 13:10)

Such is the landscape of today: where those in God’s house, who should be at peace in Him, enduring with patience and faith unto the day of salvation, are instead being seduced to seek and to give honor unto men that they might see their perceived image of heaven take shape upon the earth through the captivation of men’s agendas and by the sword of their own arms – not realizing that such is the very essence of the second beast…

And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth.
And it had two horns
like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon.
And it executes all the authority of the first beast before it.
And it causes that the earth and those dwelling in it should worship the first beast, of which was healed its deadly wound.

And it does great signs, that it even causes fire to come down
out of the heaven onto the earth before men.

(Revelation 13:11-13)

“…coming up out of the earth.
– This false spirituality, which seeks to build the kingdom of God rather than to receive it through meekness in due time: this is of the earth, not of Heaven. For His kingdom is not of this world; and its unveiling before all is not until HIS unveiling before all when all the kingdoms of the earth are judged. Until then, it is within those who follow the Lamb wherever HE may go.

And it executes all the authority of the first beast before it.
– The faithful should not distinguish between the evil of the world’s first beast, which rises out of the sea of all men, and the evil of the second beast which is born of a church that has become earthly. For its authority is equally carnal and its power equally satanic. Its venture to influence the world in its greatness is equally as blasphemous as the very world which it desires to take unto itself.

And it causes that the earth and those dwelling in it should worship the first beast, of which was healed its deadly wound.
– This wound being healed may very well speak of specific future or current events surrounding this first beast; but it is also at the very least a parable of the political and false religious outcome of a worldly ‘gospel:’ a gospel which declares righteous that which has not been cleansed by Christ’s blood, declares mended that which has not been healed by HIS wounds, and declares anointed that which heaven has not ordained. It is the call of the wicked one upon all men – and especially God’s people – to render spiritual honor and obedience to world powers, under the claim that such have suddenly been sanctified and anointed to have authority in the household of God – much as we see rampant today. The signs which wicked carnal men seek are conveniently being provided to them by devils who lead them further astray into their own worldly desire.

And it deceives those dwelling on the earth, because of the signs which were given to it to do before the beast, saying to those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the beast who has the wound of the sword, and lived.
And was given to it to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak, and might cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
And the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the slaves, it causes that they give to them all a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads, even so that not any could buy or sell, except the one having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name. Here is wisdom: Let the one having reason count the number of the beast,for it is the number of a man and its number is six hundred and sixty six.
(Revelation 13:14-18)

The image and mark and number of the beast is the image and mark and number of A MAN! The abomination which causes desolation is that very image being set up in God’s temple as the object of worship – for His children are that temple! Therefore it causes desolation because it is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, who upon being replaced by another cannot abide in it. And they are slain by the sword of the mouth of He who could have been Life to them, because they worshiped the image of that beast (Rev 19:20-21).

It is clearly Satan’s objective to cause God’s children to fall away into worshiping the creature rather than the Creator, to esteem themselves so that they esteem Him not, rejecting HIM ALONE from truly ruling over them.

“He was despised… and we esteemed HIM not…”

“He came unto His own, and His own received HIM not…”

The gospel of self-ascension and worldly-kingdom-building is preaching well today, and it will lead many astray into destruction. Deliverance from all evil is found only in slavery to Christ, who came to destroy the Devil’s work. Anyone not regenerated by the Spirit of Christ nor abiding in Him IS indeed the Devil’s handiwork, they themselves carrying it out even further; but praise be to God for the blood and cross of Christ, by which we die with Him so that we too may walk in the newness of HIS Life through the mighty work of His indwelling Spirit!

The Devil is not rebuked in our own names, but only glorified. Let only the Name above all Names be esteemed in the conduct of His people. All other names are flowing into the beast, and we must cut ourselves off from them in order to keep the faith of Jesus. The only mark we can afford to bear in this world is the mark of God, even the marks of Jesus Christ crucified; unto which end we have many sufferings yet to endure. We are supposed to be dead in the Lord, the only place of resting in the labors of His Spirit, by the obedience of faith. HE alone is our peace and our only rest. HE is our only strong tower against the enemy, and the Rock higher than I. Only HE is that which is truly good – all else is the path to self-seeking and blasphemy.

And a third angel followed them, saying in a great voice,
If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead,
or in his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the anger of God which has been mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb.

And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.
And those worshiping the beast and its image have no rest night and day,
even if anyone receives the mark of its name.

Here is the patience of the saints;
here are
the ones keeping the commands of God,
and the faith of Jesus.

And I heard a voice out of Heaven saying to me,
Write: Blessed are the dead, the ones dying in the Lord from now.‘”
Yes, says the Spirit, “they shall rest from their labors,
and their works follow with them.

(Revelation 14:9-13)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not from us; in every way being troubled, but not having been hemmed in; having been perplexed, but not utterly at a loss; being persecuted, but not having been forsaken; being thrown down, but not having been destroyed; always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus in the body, that also the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.
For we who live are always being delivered up to death on account of Jesus, that also the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh…
(2 Corinthians 4:7-11)

I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.
(Galatians 2:20)

“Come to Me, all those laboring and being burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

– Brendan

Joshua 7: It Repented The Lord

And the sons of Israel committed a sin in the cursed thing. And Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah took the cursed thing. And the anger of Jehovah glowed against the sons of Israel.
(Joshua 7:1)

The Lord does not show partiality in His judgement, as though He would blindly pass over ongoing rebellion among His own people. His wrath is kindled against all the sons of disobedience – especially those who trouble His own house from within. It is always assumed in our midst that God is on our side; and it is seldom questioned as to whether or not we are on HIS side. Such is the mindset that allows a people to begin falling away – if they haven’t already fallen greatly. This is the great blind assumption of all spiritual pride, declaring of its self-supposed heavenly estate, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Even Joshua himself had begun to assume the welfare of his fellow brothers when He sincerely questioned God as to why they were suffering defeat on the field of battle; but the Lord corrected him:

“Get up! Why do you fall on your face this way? Israel has sinned, and they also have transgressed My covenant which I commanded them, and have also taken of the cursed things, and have also stolen, and also deceived, and also put it among their stuff. And the sons of Israel have not been able to stand before their enemies; they have turned the back before their enemies because they have become cursed. I will not be with you again if you do not destroy the cursed things from among you.”
(Joshua 7:10-12)

We ourselves occupy a day in which sin is tolerated in the camp, God is not sought sincerely about it, and the wretched state of His house is excused as being due to uncontrollable and external circumstances. Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer shall the Spirit of Christ bear with us? Those who trust not in His power so as to obey Him and tear down the altars of their every idol cannot expect to be graced with His presence. And today He has already forsaken the gathering place only to be found by those who will dwell in the secret place, which often brings isolation; but the fellowship of God is there. The grievous “church” of man is the outer court of our day, and is now fully ruled and trampled underfoot by the Godless. And regarding such a state of affairs, in which the hope of Eden returning seems all but lost, the scripture says,

And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth,
and it grieved Him at His heart.
(Genesis 6:6 KJV)

This astonishing description of God’s heart can be applied not only to fallen mankind as a whole, but even more potently to a backslidden people who were at one time His very sons and in step with the Spirit. Upon these words hang for all of us the balances of judgement and mercy, of redemption and woe. The holy eyes of the Lord cannot look upon the fruit of man’s corrupting ways without His wrath being kindled and His heart pained with exceeding sorrow.

The love of God is pure, therefore He agonizes over our sins because He cannot abide their stench. It “repented” God that He had made man because He is holy and must take vengeance upon the wicked, for He hates all of their evil deeds; therefore it also “grieved Him at His heart” because He is merciful and takes no delight in the punishment of any. It pleased the Lord to crush the Suffering Servant (Isa 53) because that Servant became sin, in order to put sin itself to death with Himself and rise without it for those who would believe into Him, that they might partake of that same newness of Life. Only the One not accursed could take all of the curse upon Himself for all men; but remedies begotten of the sentiments of human pity are powerless to quench its eternal rot. Only the burning of God’s fire in our hearts will remove the dross to keep the gold pure: and dross can be whole persons or even peoples. For He beholds with holy eyes the horror of it all in great anguish and fervent scorn.

“And it repented the Lord…”

All of heaven itself stands aghast at the spectacle of our spiritual famine; yet men are content to continue praying for earthly good with no recognition of their dire condition in God’s eyes, taking no thought that in doing so they only further provoke His wrath. His Ark awaits to lift them above the flood of His fury, yet nearly all stand in mockery; and though claiming to honor Him, refuse to enter in. Most of those who are said to be born-again bear no fruit in keeping with repentance; and most of those who are supposedly Spirit-lead remain as worldly as they ever were. But those who truly see through the eyes of holiness take no delight in the futile matters of this passing earth, and they despair of hope in all but God Himself. These are the only ones possessing anything of worth, for they realize that the Lord Himself is all they truly have. Those who live from such a place of freedom and peace in the Lord Himself will no longer have need to confess, “I saw, I lusted, and I took…” (v 21) for they have allowed the Lord to take them as HIS own possession.

All of creation groans for the unveiling of God’s mystery in His offspring through Christ in them, and the heavens declare His glory even through the dull and miserable tones of the curse; but the exposing Light of Christ is so repulsive to those who continue engaging in the works of the devil, that to satisfy the insatiable appetite of hell is more desirable for them than to dwell in the piercing presence of the Holy One. It is no wonder that nothing short of the travail of the very soul of the Son of God Himself shall alone bear fruit unto God from among men, those of whom His Spirit declares “No one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does any good, not even one.” The agony of our Lord Jesus just before His crucifixion can never be weighed for the dread of drinking the bottomless cup of the eternal wrath of God, being plunged into the fiery baptism of the furnace of that righteous indignation, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.” Yet who in our midst is found agonizing in the Spirit with Him, seeing that there remains only a small remnant of the faithful? If we do not allow the fire to purge us today, what assurance do we have that hell will be satisfied with our absence from it on the day of judgement? TODAY is the day of salvation for every man, especially for those of His own house.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23)

Our trifling day lacks any real sense of the weightiness and urgency of the Lord’s mercy. A true revelation of His longsuffering in light of our stubbornness and rebellion should implant a lasting fear of Him in us which burns out all desire or draw to remain in any measure of idolatry. Those who have not been marked by the near despair of God’s own heart over their rebellious ways have not touched the cross; and those who refuse to continue carrying the burden of the Lord’s heart for today have strayed from it. These are the troublers of the true Israel of God, who grieve and lie to the Holy Spirit as did Ananias and Saphira; and these He will reveal and expel from the true camp of His people as the Day of redemption draws nearer and the faithful remain true to Him.

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and brought Israel near by its tribes. And the tribe of Judah was taken. And he brought the family of Judah near; and he took the family of the Zarhites. And he brought near the family of the Zarhites by men, and Zabdi was taken. And he brought near his household by men, and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
And Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to Jehovah, the God of Israel, and give thanks to Him, and please tell me what you have done. Do not hide it from me.”
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, “Truly I have sinned against Jehovah, the God of Israel, and this I have done: when I saw among the spoil a goodly robe of Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, one of fifty shekels in weight, then I lusted after them, and took them. And behold, they are hidden in the earth, in the middle of my tent, and the silver under it.”
(Joshua 7:16-21)

The futility of all things outside of God Himself must be realized should we make an offering of obedience truly pleasing to Him in this dark day, lest we perish by His own hand untimely for failing to redeem what little time is left. Waiting for a future hour of necessity to consecrate ourselves only reveals a failure to recognize that the hour of necessity is already passing. The hand of the Lord which prevents great evil from entering into His fold is quickly lifting because of their hidden idolatry and spiritual pride. Many have fallen away and many more will continue to drift. The wheat and the tares are also becoming manifest. Today, and today only, is the last day for being made ready to be broken and poured out unto death. The Lord will hear the cry of contrite in heart who tremble at His word, for them He is able to answer with mercy.

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven: “We have transgressed and rebelled, and You have not forgiven. You have wrapped Yourself with anger and pursued us, killing without pity; You have wrapped Yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.”
(Lamentations 3:40-44)

May we no longer tolerate in the temple of God that which troubles the holy progress of the body of Christ: may it no longer repent the Lord that we are called His children.

And Joshua said, “How you have troubled us! Jehovah shall trouble you today!”
And all Israel threw stones at him, and they burned them with fire,
and they stoned them with stones.
And they raised over him a great heap of stones to this day.
And Jehovah turned back from the heat of His anger. On this account, the name of that place is The Valley of Grief until this day.
(Joshua 7:25-26)

– Brendan

Joshua 6 -Part 2: The Zeal Of His House

And it happened at the seventh time the priests blew with the rams’ horns. And Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For Jehovah has given you the city. And the city shall be devoted to Jehovah, it and all that are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you shall certainly keep clear of the cursed things, that you not become accursed by taking from the cursed things, and shall make the camp of Israel become accursed, and trouble it. And all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, they are holy to Jehovah; they shall come into the treasury of Jehovah.”
(Joshua 6:16-19)

The only ground which God will continue entrusting to His people is that which they keep holy unto Him. What has been gained in the passing of former things must be kept by the obedience of faith in the newness of the Spirit. In all that God has freely given, He requires that we continue striving to lay hold of its fullness by submission to Him; for this allows Him to sanctify us fully that we may be kept blameless even as we keep ourselves blameless (Php 3:12, 1Thess 5:22-23).

Now Jericho was still standing before the people even after they had passed from death unto Life through the baptism of the Jordan: a fortress of the enemy’s defiance against what God had begun to work in His people. But God would have that work brought to completion. The stronghold of Jericho must be brought down should the people of God get any further into the land and drive out even more enemies. To lay hold of its treasures or compromise with its idols would be to fall away from the holy commandment delivered; but to be laying hold of what awaits us in God’s promise is to be forsaking what still calls us back to the world, for there is no crown until the cross is suffered. The troublers of Israel are not those who cry for God’s people to be holy as He is holy; but rather those whose cowardly disobedience and hypocrisy prevents that cry from being clearly heard and seen as righteous.

And the people shouted, and blew with the ram’s horns, and it happened, when the people heard the sound of the ram’s horn, the people shouted a great shout. And the wall fell under it; and the people went up into the city, each man in front of him; and they captured the city. And they destroyed all that was in the city, from man even to woman, from young even to aged, and to ox, and sheep, and ass, by the mouth of the sword.
(Joshua 6:20-21)

Where is such zeal of the Lord’s house today? Who will take upon themselves the armory of the Lord and draw the Sword against the foe of His inheritance? Let not a single ruler of the enemy, nor the heads of its houses; let not those who might bear more of its wicked children, nor the wicked children it has already borne; let not one of its wisemen, nor its beasts of burden – let not one unholy thing be left to roam free which perpetuates the works of the devil in the land of the living! If we are a temple of the Living God, then may the Lord Jesus Himself be allowed to turn the tables in His house! It will only cost us what should have already been counted as loss for Him. The authority of Christ is with those who obey Him, and His power is boundless toward those rejoicing in the fellowship of His sufferings. For the first order of our holy warfare is dying to the flesh so that His Life may abound in us;and where there is no longer a mixture of two natures there is complete victory. The Spirit wages war against the fleshly nature if the old man still lives; for in the flesh dwells no good thing, but only evil things dwell therein. The warfare of the heart must be won utterly by the Spirit of God should the Lion of Judah rise up in His people and remain forever. There can only ever be one master served, and this is the day of choosing.

And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the house of the woman, the harlot, and bring the woman out from there, and all whom she has, as you have sworn to her.” And the young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brothers, and all whom she had; yea, they brought all her family, and set them outside the camp of Israel.
(Joshua 6:22-23)

The great enemy of all holiness is mixture. All things that are to remain in God’s house must stop conforming to the world that they might be transformed and become a vessel for honor. Rahab and her household were brought outside the camp of Israel, which is the place of sanctification and of offerings for sin. For she who was plucked from the midst of the enemy’s lair also had need to bear the reproach of Christ outside the camp so that she might enter into His rest. And she was saved with Israel that day, for she did not consider herself to have a continuing city on earth, but instead sought the holy city that is coming (Heb 13:12-14, Rev 21). And so she was honored, being mentioned and recorded as a member of HIS house, even a citizen of Zion, the city of God (Ps 87, Matt 1:5).

And they burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only they gave the silver and the gold, and the vessels of bronze, and of iron, to the treasury of the house of Jehovah. And Joshua kept alive Rahab the harlot, and the house of her father, and all whom she had. And she lives in the midst of Israel to this day. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
(Joshua 6:24-25)

Only fire conducts an assured purge. Our God is He whose answer is by fire. The Spirit, the water, and the blood are the ingredients of rebirth, renewing, and cleansing; but purifying fire signals the very presence of God and is the blazing witness of heaven. Up to this point, the people had the witness of the Spirit, the water, and the blood – which are the witnesses on earth. But these three are together a witness to that which is in heaven: “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit” (1Jn 5). Now these three, which are the Father, Son, and Spirit, are supposed to be our three baptisms: one with water in the Son, one of our spirit in the Holy Spirit, and one of fire, for God our Father is a consuming fire. Now the fire of the Father before His throne is ready to descend upon a ready altar: an altar begotten of the Spirit of Truth, drenched in the waters of repentance, ready for the bloody sacrifice of ourselves, even as the Lamb who has already prepared this very way before us.

The fire consumes all that it is allowed to engulf. Therefore, let ALL the things which are an offense to God be offered for His burning that they may never again hinder His work in His people! And if the Lord Himself is indeed present and known, and if His power and authority is indeed clearly seen and walked in, then woe to those who have truly walked in all such things and yet turned utterly back to walk after the treasures of Egypt and its ways!

For it is impossible for those being once enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and becoming sharers of the Holy Spirit, and tasting the good Word of God, and the works of power of a coming age, then falling away – it is impossible for them again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame.
(Hebrews 6:4-6)

After the Jordan was crossed, it returned flowing into the Dead Sea, along with any who would dare attempting to cross it back the other way. If the foundation was truly laid, it cannot be laid again. If what God teuly built upon it has been destroyed by us, the same things cannot again be built. There are those who will be saved on the last day only as through fire (1Cor 3:11-15). It is far better to have His fire already burning and purging us today then to wait until the last day without assurance. There are indeed few today who have very much to fall away from; but let that not be an excuse for bearing no further responsibility. Those who purposely avoid having much to lose spiritually have already buried their talent and will still receive nothing. Let us instead obey the upward call, for therein is true grace to continue with strength and most assuredly obtain the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

And at that time Joshua adjured, saying, “Cursed be the man who rises up before the face of Jehovah and builds this city of Jericho. He shall lay its foundation in his first-born, and he shall set up its doors in his youngest son.” And Jehovah was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
(Joshua 6:26-27)

– Brendan