The Kingdom

There is a tremendous difference between the spiritual realm and the physical realm.  The physical realm is experienced by the five senses.  We see, touch, taste, hear, and smell and this gives us information about the physical realm.  The spiritual realm is the invisible realm around us.  It is the unseen world where God reigns supreme.  God is Spirit (John 4:24) and His Domain is in the spiritual realm and there He is King.  The Jews took Jesus to Pilate to have Him crucified.  Their accusation against Him was treason according to Roman law.  He says, “He is a King” and Pilate asks Jesus if He is a king and Jesus replies, “My Kingdom is not of this world.  If my kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:37)  God’s Kingdom is a Spiritual one.  The Kingdom of God is not currently a place that you can travel to.  It is not a physical destination in the physical realm and won’t be until the millennial reign.  Nevertheless, Jesus tells us He is King and that His Kingdom is not of this place, implying that it is of the spiritual or invisible realm around us.  This is where the Kingdom of God exist today.  In the unseen realms of the invisible supernatural spiritual place.

There is also a tremendous difference between religion and spirituality.  Religion is focused on the physical realm while spirituality is focused on the unseen invisible realm.  Religion tells us what we can and cannot do in the physical realm.  It tells us what to eat, what to wear, how to dress, how often to pray, and how often to read scripture.  Religion is very focused on behavior and not focused on faith or belief.  Spirituality is focused on the unseen realm of faith and belief and relationship with God.  Religion advocates that we can behave our way into stronger belief.  Spirituality teaches that we believe our way into better behavior.  Religion promises holiness but it can only produce death because it is focused on self-driven power which will ultimately fail.  Its works will only produce sin, and reveal sin, but the only promise of overcoming sin is in self power which will ultimately fail and lead into death.  Spirituality promises holiness as a work of grace (unmerited favor and the ability for God to do through me what I am incapable of doing myself) and faith (confidence toward God) when I trust in God to sanctify me and not myself.  It is based upon relationship with an inner dwelling God of my soul who guides and empowers me to overcome areas of sin by administering inner power greater than the sin.  In essence, God works in my heart to produce holiness through my relationship with Him.  Spiritual disciplines are driven out of a heart that desires to be obedient because of an experiential love through relationship.  When I experience God’s love for me and when I know that to sin would be to break God’s heart, I desire to not grieve Him who loves me so much.  Religion cannot teach it.  Relationship and experiencing the presence of God produces sanctification by the Spirit.  Jesus Christ never died to give us religion.  Religion existed long before the time of Jesus.  It was Judaism.  If Jesus only wanted religion, then we could have all become proselyte Jews or perished without it.  But, what Jesus accomplished is much greater than religion, it achieved the relationship that was lost on account of sin.

The barrier that separated us from God was sin.  The perfect fellowship with God was shattered in the garden by a man-made attempt at spiritual self-promotion.  Humans have been separated from God since that day.  Sin cannot be in the presence of God.  He is way to Holy.  Jesus removed the sin barrier and this has enabled us to again have fellowship with God.  How is this possible?  By removing the sin barrier from us, by our faith and trust in His accomplishments, our sins are forgiven through His Sacrifice (Lev 17:11).  The shedding of His blood is the giving of the life that is required for my sin.  The Bible says that the “the day that we sin we will surely die” (Genesis 2:17)  The penalty that we all deserve for sin is death.  Jesus has taken this penalty for us; thus, He has set us free from sin and death, and alive to God.  This allows the Holy Spirit to invade our hearts and awaken us to see and enter into the spiritual Kingdom of God.  This Holy Spirit invasion births us into spiritual beings connected to His Spiritual Kingdom.  Thus, I can now have a spiritual relationship with a Spiritual God and can move and operate in His Spiritual Kingdom.  This spiritual re-birth by the Spirit release the Kingdom of God into our lives.  Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is around you (Matthew 4:17) and inside of you (Luke 17:20-21).  With this spiritual invasion, God births us into His Kingdom.  The Presence of God lived behind the huge veil in the temple.  When Jesus died, removing the sin barrier, the Presence of God burst out of the Holy of Holies like a football team running through a banner on Friday night.  Thus releasing the Kingdom of God to be available for all people. (Matthew 27:51)

Jesus has  a discussion with a very religious man that solidifies all these points.  We read in the gospel of John, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. (John 3:1).  Nicodemus was a very religious man.  One might say that he was the ultimate religious guy.  He was a Pharisee, and they were regarded as the most religious sect of Judaism at the time of Jesus.  Furthermore, he was on the ruling council.  Only 70 of the most religious men in the entire nation were appointed to this council and Nicodemus was one of them.  Nicodemus, therefore, represents the ultimate expression of religiosity at the time.  He comes to Jesus at night.  Why?  Because to be seen with Jesus during the day and be seen with the people Jesus hung out with, would not have been very religious.  Nevertheless, Nicodemus has some question for Jesus.  “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God for no one can do these sings that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Nicodemus is really asking, “We don’t know how you are doing all these miraculous works because you are not as religious as us.”  Another way of saying it would be, “You are doing miracles being less religious than us and we want to know why.”  Nicodemus can’t see the spiritual because he is so focused on the religion of the physical realm.  Jesus begins to teach Nicodemus about His Kingdom.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that without a spiritual invasion of the God that births one into the spiritual realm one can’t see the kingdom of God (John 3:3)  This really freaks out the religious man.  He doesn’t understand.  He states, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (3:4)  Nicodemus is so focused on the physical realm that he can’t see the spiritual truth that Jesus is illustrating.  Jesus begins to explain the difference between the physical realm and the spiritual realm.  He states, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes,  So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6-8)  We can’t see the wind.  We can see the effects of the wind but not the wind. (Interesting side note: often time the word for “spirit” and the word for “air/wind” is the same word).   The same happens with the spiritual Kingdom.  People will see the effects of God in our lives; oftentimes,  before we will realize it.  People only focused on the physical realm can not see the spiritual kingdom at work around you, they see the effects that it causes and they wonder where it came from .  This is the quandary that Nicodemus was in.  He saw the effects of the Kingdom, but not the Kingdom itself.  Nicodemus still doesn’t understand, “How can these things be?”  Nicodemus is dumbfounded because it has nothing to do with religion and the physical realm.  Jesus counters, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?  Most assuredly, I say to you, we speak what we know and testify what we have seen and you do not receive our witness.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:10-13)  The only person on earth that was ever qualified to teach about Heaven or the Kingdom of God was Jesus.  He was the only one who had ever been there.  He relates a spiritual experience from the Old Testament to illustrate a Kingdom principle about how He would remove the sin barrier. (John 3:14-15).  Then, He gives us the motive behind the Divine Intervention.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

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Fasting and the Kingdom Sacrifice

“I will not sacrifice anything to the Lord that cost me nothing.”  1 Sam 24:24

The Biblical sacrificial system demands that only the best animals are to be sacrificed.  It was designed to cost the worshipper, set up to put the worshipper in a position of dependency upon God.  When one considers a fast, it should be done prayerfully and it should cost the worshipper.  Sacrifice demands faith and faith is the currency that releases the Kingdom.

“The Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.”  (Luke 4:14)

If sin is the willful taking of that which is unlawful; then fasting is the willful sacrifice of that which is lawful.  Jesus learned obedience by willfully sacrificing that which was lawful when He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, the beginning of His 40 day fast.  The Bible says that Jesus was filled with the Spirit when He went into the wilderness, but something happened upon His return.  “He returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).  The willful sacrifice of fasting, led to an increase in “power.”   Jesus illustrates this point with the disciples.

“Assuredly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “move from here, to there” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.’” (Matthew 17:19-21)

The willful sacrifice of fasting (obedience and sacrifice), leads to a faith that can move mountains.  “Faith needs fasting for it’s full growth … In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in his need for, and enjoyment of, food.  It was the fruit with which man was tempted and fell in Paradise.  It was with bread that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.  But He triumphed in fasting … The first thought suggested by Jesus’ words in regard to fasting and prayer is that only in a life of moderation and self-denial will there be sufficient heart and strength to pray much … Without such voluntary separation, even from what is lawful, no one will attain power in prayer.  Such power comes only through fasting and prayer” (1).

“Blessed are those who hunger … for they shall be filled” (Mat 5:6).

There is a certain humility that comes with hunger.  It’s a good thing to know what it means to be hungry.  “Hunger is a mighty good thing.  It’s the greatest persuader I know if.  It’s a marvelous mover.  I wish we all had it spiritually.  I wish to God we were desperately hungry.  Wouldn’t it be glorious?  Somebody would get filled before this meeting was over” (2).  The hungry get fed.  The exercise of fasting is birthed from a spiritual hunger for more of God and His world.  It is a sacrifice of lawful things, a physical hunger.  This hunger impacts the soul with desperation for feeding.  Heidi Baker, a missionary in Africa, speaks of the power of the desperation of hunger:  “The people there are so hungry that when it comes time to eat, they literally stomp on each other.  They are so desperate that they push and shove each other out of the way in order to get to the food first.  It does not sound nice, I know, but the ones who scream the loudest and push the hardest get fed first.  The ones who press in always get the bread.  I have witnessed this happen time and again, so I asked God, ‘what is this, God?’  He said: ‘the ones who are hungry get fed.  The ones who are thirsty get to drink.  It is as simple as that’” (3).  When we get desperate for an increase of God, and that desperation leads to sacrifice and we will not be disappointed in God’s response.  We will be filled.

1.)  Murray, Andrew, With Christ in the School of Prayer; Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA; 1981; pp 100-103
2.) Liardon, Roberts, John G. Lake, The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings; Albury Publishing; Tulsa, OK; 1999; p 452
3.)  Baker, Roland and Heidi, Expecting Miracles; Chosen Books; Grand Rapids, MI; 2007; p 48

Teruah: The release of spiritual power.

Teruah:  The release of spiritual power.

“It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat.” (Joshua 6:5)

The Hebrew word “teruah” is the word translated as “shout”.  It’s meaning is difficult to convey into English because not only does it denote a human voice but also the sound from the “shofar”, or ram’s horn trumpet.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament defines it as, “The primary meaning is to raise a noise by shouting or with an instrument, especially a horn (Numbers 10:7) or the traditional ram’s horn, the shofar.” (1).  The noise that is transmitted is invisible.  It is a spiritual force similar to language.  One cannot see the sound because it is invisible, and because it is invisible and its  mode of communication is spiritual.  A good sense of the word, in our culture, occurs at sporting events when the favorite team scores, and “the crowd goes wild”.  They release shouts that transmit spiritual energy that can be sensed.  In the Kingdom of God, it is a “war cry” that releases the power of heaven and opens spiritual doors.

In the destruction of Jericho, God’s weapon of choice to destroy this great city was the “Teruah”.  We read, “So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat.  Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20).The Teruah released in unity of the shofar and the human voice opened heaven and God crushed the enemy. ( Isaiah 64:1).  There are several other biblical examples of this action.

Abijah was king of Judah.  He went to war with Jerobaom the king of the Israel.  Jeroboam had set up idolatrous worship in the northern kingdom.  Abijah, being obedient to the commandments of the Lord, took the shofar into battle against the enemy. (Numbers 10:9).  He knew the power of the Teruah as a weapon of warfare.  We read, “And when Judah looked around, to their surprise the battle line was at both front and rear; and they cried out to the Lord,  and the priest sounded the trumpets.  Then the men of Judah gave a shout; and as the men of Judah shouted, it happened that God struck Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.” (2 Chronicles 13:15-15).

A similar example exist in the book of I Samuel.  Israel goes to war with the Philistines.  When the ark of the Lord enters the camp, the Israelites release a “Teruah”.  This force strikes fear into the demonic realms and into the camp of the enemy.  We read, “And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook.  Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, ‘What does the sound of the great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?’  Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp.  So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, ‘God has come into the camp!’  ‘And they said, ‘Woe to us!  Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods?  These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.” (I Samuel 4:5-9).  The teruah opened heaven and the enemy perceived the entrance of a great power.

When we release a Teruah into our circumstances, we are inviting the armies of the Lord of Hosts to invade our situation.  We are also imitating God, who on occasion, releases a teruah Himself.  (see Joel 3:16, Hosea 11:10).  Todd Bentley explains, “Sometimes the Lord calls us to roar just as He does.  At God’s leading, we can release a roar by faith just as we would a victory shout.  A roar like this often releases holy indignation within our spirits, as a declaration to the enemy that ‘enough is enough!’  Roaring not only looses tied-up promises but it also tears down demonic principalities.  When we roar like a lion something happens in the spirit real.  Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and sometimes He cause His Spirit to rise up on our hearts with a groan or a roar of judgment on principalities.” (2).  This roar that Bentley is referring to, in a Hebrew context, is a teruah.  Once this is released, it drives out the demonic and heralds in the angelic forces of the army of the Lord of Hosts.  The Bibles says, “When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the LORD you God, and you will be saved from you enemies.” (Numbers 10:9).  Dominick Zangla explains further, “On one occasion, at the beginning of a congregational meeting, I struggled to blow the Teruah and only succeeded after three tries and the Spirit of God girding me up.  The cries that came for immediately were, ‘Did you feel the atmosphere change?’  Later three different women asked if I had continued to sound the shofar outside the building and how was I able to blow all those different notes!  I had not touched my shofar since the opening of the service,  I suddenly realized God had sent His angels to do battle on our behalf as He honored my call for help!  At the end of the meeting about 25 people raised their hands saying they had heard shofar sounds during the praise and worship.” (3)  This is a great example of the power in the Teruah.  In my personal experience, my wife and I have both felt like everything “got brighter” after blowing the shofar.  It is an instrument of breakthrough to victory!

As stated previously, voice is the medium to release the teruah.  Evangelist Todd Bentley gives an example, “But suddenly I felt something like a deep groan and cramp in my belly, as though something was going to erupt.  I had heard about some meeting s where people would roar like lions, and I thought it ridiculous, but my hears said, ‘Do it…do it!’ and my mind said ‘Don’t!’  But my heart won out, and all at once, it was as thought a river came out of my mouth, and I fell to my knees and roared!  I fell under the power, and the Steve did!  His arm flew into the air, still holding the sandwich, the lettuce flying everywhere.  Now picture Steve-the humble, soft spoken-nice guy who’s hardly ever noticed, now turned old time, turn-or-burn revivalist!  Even his voice gained an attention-getting edge, ‘IF YOU DON’T CHANGE YOUR WAYS, YOU WILL GO TO HELL!’ he yelled at the top of his lungs.  Well, the spirit of fear hit that place, I’ll tell you.  The clerk and his friends dove behind the counter, cowering.  Finally, the clerk stood and pointed over the counter with one finger shaking and said, ‘Is….is that your God?’” (4)  That is how the teruah works.

If we can raise a teruah and open heaven from here on earth, than God can do the same thing from heaven.  In fact, we read in scripture that when Jesus returns, it will be accompanied by a Great Teruah.  The Bible describes the event as such, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God…” (I Thessalonians 4:16).

Furthermore, God is so impressed with the Teruah, He ordained an entire feast day solely devoted to spending the day worshiping Him with Teruah’s.  The Feast of Trumpets is the first fall feast day and is a day of joyfully worshipping God with shouts of victory, triumph, and adoration.  The Bible says, “Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. Raise a song and strike the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the lute.  Blow the trumpet at the time of the New moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day.  For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.  This He established in Joseph as a testimony.” (Psalm 81:1-4).

In the history of revival, we also see the joyful shout used to open heavens and birth revival. At the beginning of the Red River Revival (which sparked the second Great Awakening in America), we read the report of a minister who used a teruah, unbeknownst to him, to begin the revival.  John McGee was a Methodist preacher attending the communion service at the Red River congregation.  At the end of the service. A solemn presence came over the congregation and McGee stood to make a final appeal to the lost.  He writes, “I exhorted them to let the Lord Omnipotent reign in their hearts and submit to Him, and their souls should live.  Many broke silence.  The woman in the east end of the house shouted tremendously.  I left the pulpit to go to her…Several spoke to me:  ‘You know these people.  Presbyterians are much for order, they will not bear this confusion, go back and be quiet.’  I turned to go back, and was near falling, the power of God was strong upon me.  I turned again and losing sight of the fear of man, I went through the house exhorting with all possible ecstasy and energy.” (5)  When McGee turned around to look over the church, he states that, “the floor was covered with the slain; their screams for mercy pierced the heavens.” (6)  It was the shout, that opened the heavens and began a revival that shook the nation.

Endnotes

1.  Harris, R. Laird; Archer, Gleason L; Waltke, Bruce K.; The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1980. Page 839.

2.  Bentley, Todd, The Reality of the Supernatural World, Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA 2008, page 79.

3.  Zangla, Dominick, Jewish Roots, Part One, Shofar and Prayer Shawl; Messianic Vision Press, Brunswick, GA 1998, page 7.

4.  Bentley, Todd, Journey Into the Miraculous; Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA, 2008, page 150.

5.  Marshall, Peter, Manual, David, From Sea to Shining Sea, Revell Cp, Old Tappan New Jersey, 1986, page 62.

6.  Ibid

Open Heavens: Spiritual Portals and Places

Open Heavens:  Spiritual Portals and Places

“Oh that You would rend the heavens!  That You would come down!  That the mountains might shake at Your Presence.”  (Isaiah 64:1)

There is a difference, geographically speaking, between the physical realm and the spiritual realm.  The spiritual realm is the invisible realm around us and the physical realm is the realm that we live in, that is experienced with our five senses.  On the second day of creation, it would seem that God established some boundaries that separated the higher lives of heaven from lower spiritual levels that exist here on earth.  We read, “Then God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the water from the waters.’  Thus God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.  And God called the firmament Heaven…(Genesis 1:6-8).   The word that is translated “waters” is the Hebrew word, “mayim.”  The word literally means “to flow” and is difficult to translate.  It is translated “waters” as water comes the closest to the exact meaning of “to flow.”  Oftentimes, water, in scripture, denotes the spiritual realm. (Ezekiel 47, John 8:38) .  If this be the case here, then God is making boundaries within the spiritual realm.  A firmament is placed to separate the lower spiritual levels (in which live devils, demons, and in which angels operate here on earth) from the higher spiritual levels which contain the abode of God.  This is evident by God calling the firmament, “heaven.”  This Hebrew word for heaven, is the word “shamayim” which is a combination word of “sha” meaning “lofty” and “mayim” meaning “to flow.”  In essence, a higher spiritual place.  It divided the lower levels from the higher spiritual realms.  This may be Paul’s reference to the “third heaven” that was experienced in vision. (2 Corinthians 12:12)  So, when God “rends the heavens” (Isaiah 64:1) a hole is ripped in the dividing partition and an open heaven is created over a certain geographic location.  Therefore, what is free to roam in higher levels of heaven has freer access to the lower spiritual realms here on earth.  In fact, there are times when heaven comes crashing into the physical realm.  Perhaps, this is the essence of revival.

There are three biblical locations that illustrate this point.   Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah.  A survey of when the open heaven occurred and the spiritual legacy of each location should provide sufficient evidence.

First, Bethel. (the meaning itself suggest an open heaven, it literally means house of God)  We find Jacob “on the run” from his brother Esau shortly after stealing Esau’s blessing and birthright.  Jacob is a deceiver and is reaping what he has sown.  Prior to his departure, his father Isaac releases some prophetic blessings over Jacob and sends him on his way.  Isaac states, “May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples; and give you the blessings of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.” (Genesis 28:3-4)  Isaac’s prophetic blessings caused a shifting in the spiritual realm.  The covenant blessings of Abraham have just been unleashed over this boys life, and God shifts His Spiritual Kingdom into motion.  Because of the nature of the covenant and the nature of the blessings, God must act.  Jacob now has the right to be a potential covenantal partner with God.  God moves to meet Jacob.  In Genesis 28:11, the meeting takes place.  “So, he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun and set.  And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.”  The Hebrew word for “the place” can also mean “to make intercession.”  This is no ordinary place Jacob has come upon.  “The place” is the physical location where the prophetic blessings, declarations, and prayers that have moved the heavenly realms into action, come crashing into the physical realm.  The firmament is “rendered” and an open heaven exist.  A portal or door between the higher levels of heaven and the lower levels here on earth has been opened.  Jacob then has an encounter with God that changes his life forever.  The spiritual door is opened and that door impacts Jacob’s life so that he would never be the same.  Years later, Bethel would remain spiritual center for Israel.  Access to the spiritual realm is readily available at the spiritual door at Bethel.  Later, under Jeroboam, it becomes an idolatrous center, but it remained a place of spiritual activity.

Second, Mizpah.  Jacob is now leaving Haran, again on the run, only not his fault this time, and comes to a place.  Laban, his disgruntled father-in-law, is in hot pursuit of him for stealing his gods, and catches up to him in the mountains.  Jacob and Laban work out the differences largely because God opened a door at Mizpah and moved to meet Laban so as he would not harm Jacob.  God tells Laban to “speak neither good or bad to Jacob.”(Gen 31:29).  Again, the spiritual door is opened and what is free to operate in the higher levels of heaven, now has easier access here on earth.  The next day, Jacob verifies the opening of this spiritual door as ,”the angels of God” were following him. (Genesis 32:2)  Likewise, Mizpah enjoyed a long spiritual heritage in Israel (more on this in a moment).

Third, Gilgal.  The faithless generation of Israel has died in the wilderness and God is moving His People of faith into the Promised Land.  Joshua leads Israel across the Jordan and comes to a place which would later become called Gilgal.  God instructs Joshua to circumcise the children of Israel.  As they move in faith and obedience, the forces of heaven again prepare to assault the earth.  Joshua meets the “commander of the army of the Lord of Hosts.”  This preincarnate appearance of Messiah opened a spiritual door  and Gilgal remained a spiritual center for years.  (Judges 2:1)  Of course, a door is also opened shortly thereafter at Jericho and we will also see how it remained a spiritual focal point.

Years later, there remained something special about these three places.  Something existed there that prophetic people could sense, especially Samuel.  The Bible says that, “And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.  He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. (I Samuel 7:15-16)  When the seer/prophet became the judge of Israel, he judged from the places where spiritual portals had been opened.  Throughout his ministry he assembled Israel at these places.  (I Samuel 13:4, I Samuel 76:5-7)  Could it be that the prophet knew where access to the higher realms of Spirit were easily accessed and he purposed to go there to obtain the wisdom and knowledge that he needed to rule Israel?  There is no clear cut verse of scripture that states it.  However, it seems likely.  Especially since the ark of the covenant (over which the presence of God was to remain) was in Kirath-Jearim and there is no record of Samuel ever visiting it.  Perhaps he was receiving revelatory knowledge through the open heavens that already existed.

It is also a point of interest that Elijah, when passing the mantle to Elisha, visits both Bethel and Gilgal.  It is of further interest that at Bethel there existed a “school of the sons of the prophets” or a community of prophets who chose to live there.   Perhaps it became a prophetic center as the open heaven made practicing the prophetic much easier.  Elijah also visits Jericho, and likewise, a center for the prophets existed there as well.  Could it also be that prophetic activation was readily available from the doors opened at both Gilgal and Jericho?  It seems more than mere coincidence.

There is also a New Testament example.  When Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan an open heaven is established.  Matthew describes the event as, “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.” (Matthew 3:16)  When the heavens open, what is free to operate in higher levels of heaven moves readily into earth.  We see God Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, coming to Jesus, and this time, the presence stays with Jesus.  He has an open heaven wherever He goes, as the higher abode of God is now abiding in Him.(it should be this way for us as well)  Be that as it may, Jesus may have operated under that baptismal open heaven while in ministry.  The disciples of John the Baptist stay to John, “And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan to whom you have testified–behold He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” (John 3:26)  Perhaps Jesus was ministering under the open heaven  that was created at His baptism and revival was breaking out as “all were coming to Him.”  The open heaven experience sparked a revival among the tax collectors and sinners, and Jesus knew how to exploit the breach.

This is relevant to our times.  If these doors or portals exist, then they must be open.  “The implication is that we can visit these geographic locations and participate in an open heaven experience.  These are not just specific to Israel.  Everywhere that a revival or renewal has taken place is a door that has been opened.   The Red-River Revival was birthed out of prayer, fasting, and intercession.  Reverend James MacGready was a man given to prayer and a pastor who encouraged parishioners to pray for revival.  He encouraged them to join him in covenant to pray for revival in Logan County.  He wrote on the covenant:  “When we consider the Word and promises of a compassionate God to the poor lost family of Adam, we find the strongest encouragement for Christians to pray in faith–to ask in the name of Jesus for the conversion of their fellow-men.  None ever went to Christ when on the earth, with the case of their friends, that were denied, and , although His people, He has left it on record, that were two or three agree upon earth to ask in prayer, believing, it shall be done…With these promises before us, we feel encouraged to unit our supplications to a prayer-hearing God for the outpouring of His Spirit, that His people may be quickened and comforted, and that our children , and sinners generally, may be converted.” (1)  Those who joined him in covenant agreed to pray every Saturday night and Sunday morning for revival. Furthermore, they devoted the third Saturday of each month for fasting.  They continued in prayer despite the worsening of conditions, they remained faithful.  God always honors covenant , commitment, and humility expressed through prayer and fasting.  Those who remained faithful would not be disappointed.

God honored the perseverance, the faith, the prayers, and the fasting of His People, and He moved.  The prayers in the  physical realm moved the spiritual realm and God’s Kingdom, once again, began to move.  There was going to be a place where the hevens were rendered and God would invade earth.  He came crashing into Kentucky in June of 1800, and this open heaven experience sparked a nationwide revival.

In June of 1800, another communion service was scheduled.  The event was scheduled for three days with not much happening till the last service on the last day.  In fact, many of the ministers MacGready had invited to participate had already gone home.  At the end of the last service, which was preached by William Hodge, “a solemn weeping fell over the house” (2).  John McGee, a Methodist minister who was attending the meetings, composed himself for a final appeal to the lost.  McGee explains, “I exhorted them to let the Lord Omnipotent reign in their hearts and submit to Him, and their souls should live.  Many broke silence.  The woman in the east end of the house shouted tremendously.  I left the pulpit to go to her…Several spoke to me:  ‘You know these people.  Presbyterians are much for order, they will not bear this confusion, go back and be quiet.’  I turned to go back, and was near falling, the power of God was strong upon me.  I turned again and losing sight of the fear of man, I went through the house exhorting with all possible ecstasy and energy.” (3)  When McGee turned around to look over the church, he states that, “the floor was covered with the slain; their screams for mercy pierced the heavens.” (4)  God had poured out His Spirit and MacGready described the effect on the lost as, “As multitudes were stuck down under the awful conviction the cries of the distressed filled the whole house.  There you might see profane swearers, and Sabbath breakers pricked to the heart, and crying out, ‘what shall we do to be saved.’  There frolickers and dancers crying for mercy.  There you might see little children of 10,11, and 12 years of age praying and crying for redemption, in the blood of Jesus, in agonies of distress.  During this sacrament, and until the Tuesday following, 10 persons we believe were savingly brought home to Christ.” (5)  This was the beginning, a year later, another meeting was scheduled at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, and the response was overwhelming.  To put this into perspective, the closest city to Cane Ridge was Lexington and it was 100 miles away.  Its population in 1801 was around 800 people.  At the Cane Ridge revival, it was estimated that 10,000 people came with God pouring out His Spirit similarly to what happened at Red River.  This was the beginning of the camp meetings and the beginning of the Second Great Awakening.

A spiritual door must exist at Red River.  This summer we will travel there and sit under the open heaven that was created by the prayers of the saints and the response of a Loving, All-Powerful God.

Endnotes

1.  Jarboe, Frank, The Red River Revival, http://www.goodshepherdfarm.us/1800/redtext.htm.

2.  Ibid.

3.  Ibid.

4.  Marshall, Peter, Manual, David, From Sea to Shining Sea, Revell Cp, Old Tappan New Jersey, 1986, page 63.

5.  Grider, J.S.  The Red River Meeting House, http://www.cumberland.org/hfcpc/churches/RedRivKY.htm.

Prayer for Revival

While I was disappointed with the cancellation of our Red River Revival trip, I have been impressed by God to continue in prayer and fasting for revival.  A recent study I have done of past revival demonstrates that great moves of God have been birthed through prayer.

The Welsh revival in the early 1900’s was birthed out of prayer and intercession.  Evan Roberts was the individual whom God used to bring about this movement.  “Evan gave himself to frequent prayer and intercession” (1).  His early meetings were characterized by prayer and intercession.  Those meetings are described as follows: “strong moves of intercession flooded the room during each service and many times the services would go past midnight.  Once, Evan prayed all night with a congregation and didn’t return home until the next morning.  This small group of intercessors led by the young evangelist transformed the entire community.  Some meetings lasted until 4am with crowds gathered outside for 6am prayer” (2).

Similarly, the Azusa street revival was birthed out of prayer.  The revival was led by William Seymour, but Frank Bartlemann and others birthed it through prayer and intercession.  He writes: “the Spirit is breathing prayer through us for a mighty, general outpouring.  Great things are coming.  We are asking largely that our joy may be full.  God is moving. We are praying for the churches and the pastors. The Lord will visit those willing to yield to Him” (3).

Lastly, the Red River revival was likewise birthed through prayer and fasting.  Three years before the revival broke out, James MacGready, (the pastor of the Red River congregation), enlisted the help of interceding Christians who would sign a covenant of prayer.  Once they agreed, they covenanted to pray every Saturday evening and Sunday morning for revival in Logan county.  Additionally, they agreed to spend the third Saturday of the month fasting for revival.  Things in Logan County didn’t improve immediately, actually they got worse, but MacGready encouraged them to continue in prayer.  He wrote on the covenantal agreement: “when we consider the Word and the promises of a compassionate God to the poor lost family of Adam, we find the strongest encouragement for Christians to pray in faith — to ask in the name of Jesus for the conversion of their fellow men … with these promises before us, we feel encouraged to unite our supplications to a prayer hearing God, for the outpouring of His Spirit, that His people may be quickened and comforted, and that our children, and sinners generally, may be converted” (4).

Hence, let us continue steadfast in prayer that God will open the spiritual door at Red River.  Let us pray for revival in Kentucky that will shake the nation, and eventually the world, standing on the promise of God which says: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8).

1.)  Liardon, Roberts; God’s Generals; Whittaker House, New Kinsington, PA; 1996 (pg. 81)
2.) Ibid, pg 85

3.)  Bartlemann, Frank; Azusa Street; Whittaker House, New Kinsington, PA, 1982; (pg 9, 14,15)

4.)  Marshall, Peter; Manuel, David; From Sea to Shining Sea; Revell Company, Old Tappan, NJ, 1986; (p 60-61)

History of the Red River Revival

The Red River Revival began in July of 1800 at a communion service officiated by Reverend James MacGready.  The Red River is located in Logan County, Kentucky, and in the years preceding this revival, conditions were really bad.   “Logan County attracted so many murderers, horse thieves, highway robbers, and counterfeiters that it was nicknamed ‘Rogues Harbor’ by the outlaws who fled there to escape justice back east.” (1) It was on the cutting edge of the frontier in the late 1700’s.  There was no real police force, per se, and locals often attempted to administer justice themselves.  “ So many desperadoes and ungodly people had settled there, that when an attempt was made by vigilantes to run these outlaws out, the outlaws burned the homes of some of the vigilantes, killed others, and forced still others and their families to flee the area. (2)  Reverend MacGready began praying for revival long before he moved to Logan County.  He pastored a congregation in North Carolina and developed intercessory prayer groups who signed the ‘Carolina Covenant’, in which, they agreed to prayer specifically for revival in Logan County (more on this in a moment).

Reverend James MacGready  rode into Rogues Harbor in 1798.  He wore buckskins, like the local frontiersmen, and was a Presbyterian minister.  He oversaw three congregations in the County along three different rivers, the Muddy, the Gasper and the Red.  MacGready was a man given to prayer and a pastor who encouraged parishioners to pray for revival.  He encouraged them to join him in covenant to pray for revival in Logan County.  He wrote on the covenant:  “When we consider the Word and promises of a compassionate God to the poor lost family of Adam, we find the strongest encouragement for Christians to pray in faith–to ask in the name of Jesus for the conversion of their fellow-men.  None ever went to Christ when on the earth, with the case of their friends, that were denied, and , although His people, He has left it on record, that were two or three agree upon earth to ask in prayer, believing, it shall be done…With these promises before us, we feel encouraged to unit our supplications to a prayer-hearing God for the outpouring of His Spirit, that His people may be quickened and comforted, and that our children , and sinners generally, may be converted.” (3)  Those who joined him in covenant agreed to pray every Saturday night and Sunday morning for revival. Furthermore, they devoted the third Saturday of each month for fasting.  They continued in prayer despite the worsening of conditions, they remained faithful.  God always honors covenant , commitment, and humility expressed through prayer and fasting.  Those who remained faithful would not be disappointed.

The first instance of revival began at a quarterly communion service in the summer of 1799.  At the end of the three-day event. God moved upon the congregation,   MacGready described it as, “some of the boldest, most daring sinners in the county covered their faces and wept bitterly.” (4) MacGready knew prophetically that this was not the end of the outpouring but the beginning.   He described the event as “a few scattering drops before a mighty rain-the overflowing floods of salvation that would commence the following summer.” (5)

In June of 1800, another communion service was scheduled.  The “buzz” from last years event had drawn a crowed of over 500 people surprising even MacGready.  The event was scheduled for three days with not much happening till the last service on the last day.  In fact, many of the ministers MacGready had invited to participate had already gone home.  At the end of the last service, which was preached by William Hodge, “a solemn weeping fell over the house” (8).  John McGee, a Methodist minister who was attending the meetings, composed himself for a final appeal to the lost.  McGee explains, “I exhorted them to let the Lord Omnipotent reign in their hearts and submit to Him, and their souls should live.  Many broke silence.  The woman in the east end of the house shouted tremendously.  I left the pulpit to go to her…Several spoke to me:  ‘You know these people.  Presbyterians are much for order, they will not bear this confusion, go back and be quiet.’  I turned to go back, and was near falling, the power of God was strong upon me.  I turned again and losing sight of the fear of man, I went through the house exhorting with all possible ecstasy and energy.” (9)  When McGee turned around to look over the church, he states that, “the floor was covered with the slain; their screams for mercy pierced the heavens.” (10)  God had poured out His Spirit and MacGready described the effect on the lost as, “As multitudes were stuck down under the awful conviction the cries of the distressed filled the whole house.  There you might see profane swearers, and Sabbath breakers pricked to the heart, and crying out, ‘what shall we do to be saved.’  There frolickers and dancers crying for mercy.  There you might see little children of 10,11, and 12 years of age praying and crying for redemption, in the blood of Jesus, in agonies of distress.  During this sacrament, and until the Tuesday following, 10 persons we believe were savingly brought home to Christ.” (11)  This was the beginning, a year later, another meeting was scheduled at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, and the response was overwhelming.  To put this into perspective, the closest city to Cane Ridge was Lexington and it was 100 miles away.  Its population in 1801 was around 800 people.  At the Cane Ridge revival, it was estimated that 10,000 people came with God pouring out His Spirit similarly to what happened at Red River.  This was the beginning of the camp meetings and the beginning of the Second Great Awakening.

It is important to note that the frontiers people were not schooled in theology.  They placed great value in demonstrations of power.  God would meet them where they were at and they would not be disappointed.  Some powerful manifestations of the revival have been recorded.  A Reverend Stone writes, “ There, on the edge of a prairie in Logan County, Kentucky, the multitudes came together and continued a number of days and nights encamped on the ground, during which time the worship was carried on in some part of the encampment.  The scene was new to me and passing strange.  It baffled description.  Many, very many, fell down as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state, sometimes for a few minutes reviving and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep grown or a piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy fervently uttered.  After lying there for hours, they obtained deliverance.  The gloomy cloud that had covered their faces seemed gradually and visibly to disappear, and hope in smiles brightened into joy.  They would rise, shouting deliverance and then would address the surrounding multitude in language truly eloquent and impressive.  With astonishment did I hear men, woman, and children declaring the wonderful works of God, and the glorious mysteries of the Gospel. (12)  The power of God would come over people so tremendously that it would appear that they were having some seizure-like activity.  It became known as “the jerks.”  Peter Cartwright, the well-known Methodist circuit rider, and himself converted at Red River writes, “To see proud young gentlemen and young ladies dressed in their silks, jewelry, and prunella, form top to toe take the jerks would often excite e my risibilities.  The first jerk or so you would see their fine bonnets, caps, and combs fly and so sudden would be the jerking of the head their long loose hair would crack almost as loud as a waggoner’s whip.” (13)  It baffled the theology of the time.  They called it experimental religion, but today, we would call it experiential religion.  An encounter with the living God who displays the gospel of power.

The revival was not without opposition.  MacGready was never immune to persecution throughout his ministry and even at Red River.  In North Carolina he had his pulpit burned and received death threats written in blood.  AT one point, the opposition at Red River, chained and locked the door to the revivalist.  MacGready, not to be deterred, continued top preach on the steps of the meeting house.  While preaching and gesticulating backwards violently, the power of God upon him broke the lock.  The door was never locked again.  MacGready own denomination denounced him and sent a man from the seminary to debunk and renounce the revival.  Dr, George Baxter of the Presbyterian denomination came to Kentucky to discredit the revival and became, himself, a revivalist.  He writes, “The power with which this revival has spread, and it influence in moralizing the people, are difficult for you to conceive, and more so for me to describe…I found Kentucky,  to appearance, the most moral place I had ever seen.  A profane expression was hardly ever heard.  A religious awe seemed to pervade the country…Never in my life have I seen more genuine marks of that humility which…looks to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only way of acceptance with God.  I was indeed highly pleased to find that Christ as all and in all in their religion…and it was truly affecting to hear with what agonizing anxiety awakened sinners inquired for Christ, as the only physician who could give them any help.  Those who call these things ‘enthusiasm’ ought to tell us what they understand by the Spirit of Christianity…Upon the whole, sir, I think the revival in Kentucky among the most extraordinary that have ever visited the Church of Christ, and all things considered, peculiarly adapted to the circumstances of that country… Something of an extraordinary nature seemed necessary to arrest the attention of a giddy people, who were ready to conclude that Christianity was a fable, and futurity, a dream.  This revival has done it; it has confounded infidelity, awed vice to silence, and brought numbers beyond calculation under serious impressions. (14)  God, by an outpouring of His Spirit, had changed Rogues Harbor into one of the most moral places in the country.  This is the gospel.  Describing the events of the summer, MacGready would write, “The present summer has been the most glorious time that our guilty eyes have ever beheld.  All the blessed displays of Almighty power and grace, all the sweet gales of divine Spirit and soul-reviving showers of the blessings of heaven which we enjoyed before, and which we considered wonderful beyond conception, were but like a few scattering drops before the mighty rain which Jehovah has poured out like a might river upon this, our guilty, unworthy country.  The Lord has indeed shoed himself a prayer-hearing God; He has given His People a praying sprit and a lively faith, and then he has answered their prayers far beyond their highest expectations,  This wilderness and solitary place has been made glad, this dreary desert now rejoices and blossoms abundantly, and rejoices even with joy and singing.”  (15)

This is the spiritual heritage that God has left for us to obtain.  The Spirit breathes prayer through
God’s People and He answers their prayers with miracles, signs, and wonders.  This is the Gospel of power and how genuine revival is hallmarked.  Let us join those who have gone on before us, joyfully expecting and praying for the mighty river to be again, poured out upon us.

Endnotes

1.  Marshall, Peter, Manual, David, From Sea to Shining Sea, Revell Cp, Old Tappan New Jersey, 1986, page 60.

2.  Anzac Prophetic List, The Red River Revival, associate.com/groups/anzac/0::17read.html – 16k

3.  Jarboe, Frank, The Red River Revival, http://www.goodshepherdfarm.us/1800/redtext.htm.

4.   Marshall, page 61.

5.  Ibid.

6.  Ibid, page 62.

7.  Ibid.

8.  Ibid.

9.  Ibid.

10.  Marshall and Manual, page 63.

11.  Grider, J.S.  The Red River Meeting House, http://www.cumberland.org/hfcpc/churches/RedRivKY.htm.

12.  Marshall, page 63.

13.  Grider, page 2.

14.  Marshall, page 69.

15.  Marshall, page 64.