Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Date: 30 September & 07 October 2012
For more sermons and other writings check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org
Revelation 17 – The Seven Spirits of God
According to the Bible – John was taken to heaven and this is what he saw:
Revelation 4:2-5: At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it ... In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
What is strange about this vision? What is strange and unexpected information about the Holy Spirit? Two observations: 1) We know that he is a person – like God the Father on the throne and Jesus, the Son (note also the strangeness of Jesus appearing in the form of an animal – a Lamb that looked as if it had been slain) – one person of our God who is three in one – but here John sees the Spirit as an impersonal – inanimate – lamp. How can this be? The Holy Spirit is more than a light-giving object. He is a person who is dwelling inside of us and among us:
1 Corinthians 3:16: Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
John 14:16-17: ... the Father ... will give you another Helper, that . may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth ... you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
2) The second strange information is contained in the number of the lamps. Why are there seven lamps for the one Spirit? The Holy Spirit is one person – not seven. [Therefore, many Bible translations say: “sevenfold Spirit” rather than “seven spirits”.] I give you some more references:
Revelation 1:4-5: ... Grace to you and peace from Him [God, the Father] who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits [God, the Holy Spirit] who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ [God, the Son] ... who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood ...
Revelation 3:1: ... These are the words of him who holds the seven Spirits of God ...
The first strangeness may be resolved by recognizing that the lamps seem to represent the Holy Spirit in his absence. When Pastor Jesse Duplantis was taken to heaven, he asked about the Holy Spirit:
Jesse Duplantis: Heaven. Close Encounters Of The God Kind, Tulsa: Harrison House 1996): In this book I share some of the events that have happened to me personally in my relationship with God. I call them close encounters of the God kind. One of the events I share about in this book is my trip to heaven in 1988 …
I was still lying on my face and getting weaker. In that mass of energy and power I could see God, Jehovah—His feet—sitting. There is a huge platform in front of the Throne like a stage. It seemed level to me, but actually it was raised. Everything in heaven is raised. The topography of the land goes up toward the Throne. Then out of that massive energy of Light and love and power I saw Jesus come in human form. There He was, like I had seen Him in Paradise. What seemed to be millions of people at the Throne of God fell down before Him.
For the first time in my life, I could understand the Trinity in physical terms. Jesus came out of the cloud and the power of the Father. Jesus literally came out of the very existence of Jehovah God, and when He did, the people shouted. Jesus and the Father were One, yet They were Two. He was in the Father and the Father was in Him. He was at the right hand of God. When He came out of that power, He was in human form—something we could touch.
All my life as a minister, I thought of Jesus as a teacher, a mild-mannered, calm person. When He came out onto the platform of that Throne, I could hear a sound from the Father, Whoosh! Whoosh! It was the sound of power! The Jesus I heard that day was not a teacher, even though obviously He can teach; He was a dynamic preacher.
I had always thought of Jesus as being a quiet teacher, but He was full of power and preached with authority. All the people there were listening. Jesus preached with great emotion. I could see that He was torn with compassion for those who were still on earth.
Jesus preached of His coming to earth. He said, “I am going to get My Body, and My Body shall reside in this place that My Father has created for us all.” There was a stirring among the people, and they began shouting and praising God.
He began to shout: “I’m going to get your brothers! I’m going to get your sisters! I’m going to get your family! I’m bringing them back to this place to live with Me forever and ever!” He was a preacher full of victory, shouting and hollering! He was excited, and the people were screaming and hollering, too.
As He preached, people—even though they were in new celestial bodies—fell under the power of God. Even in heavenly bodies they fell under God’s power!
Then I heard Jehovah’s Voice, saying, “I am well-pleased.”
I was lying on the floor, trying to take in all that was happening. It was the most amazing, powerful experience I have ever gone through.
I couldn’t look at Jehovah’s face, but I could look at Jesus. You see, the heart of God is the Father; the face of the Father is unveiled by the Son, Jesus; the Voice of God is heard through the Holy Ghost; the Hand of God is laid open through the Church.
As Jesus was preaching, I saw Him turn around several times and look into that massive light. But I realized that I couldn’t do that. I had to keep looking down, but I could look up long enough to see glimpses of what was around me, and I could see Jesus’ face. I could hardly bear the Father’s power. Jesus would look back at the Father, sometimes just looking over His shoulder, as if they didn’t want to be separated even by sight very long. I could sense the love of God in Jesus, and I could see the affection and love flowing back and forth between the Father and the Son. I had never before seen love like that. It seemed magnetic.
Jesus would walk in and out of the power, the fire, that massive amount of energy. When Jesus walked back into the energy, as He got closer, I would have to put my head down again, because I couldn’t handle the Light. But that form of a Man as He walked toward that energy would transform back into Spirit.
I understood how the Trinity are Three, yet They are One. Still lying on the floor, I turned my head toward that angel and asked, “Where’s the Holy Spirit?” “He is on the earth,” he said. Of course! Later when I thought back to the incident, I felt so stupid to have asked such a dumb question at the Throne of God. I’m still embarrassed about it ...
The Holy Spirit is on the earth. When Jesus left the earth – ascended to heaven – (after he had died for us and conquered death by rising again from the grave) – he sent us the Holy Spirit in his stead:
John 14:16-18: ... the Father ... will give you another Helper, that . may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth ... you know him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans ...
John 16:7-15: ... It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you ... I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come. he will glorify me, for he will take of what is mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine. Therefore I said that he will take of mine and declare it to you.
The Holy Spirit is on the earth and there is confirmation even in John’s own vision:
Revelation 5:6: Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
The Holy Spirit is “sent out into all the earth”. If you are a Christian, he is dwelling in you and our church community. He is here among us. Therefore – in heaven – John saw him represented as seven lamps before the throne and also seven horns and seven eyes on Jesus.
Before I continue, pick up on the close connection between Jesus and the Spirit. The Spirit is the horns and eyes of Jesus because the Spirit is not pursuing his own agenda but serves Jesus. In a sense, he is equal to him – not inferior in being – but the Spirit serves Jesus. He is operating on his behalf. He magnifies Jesus – glorifies Jesus – communicates his strength and power and instructions to us.
The Spirit connects us to Jesus and John – in heaven – had this happen to him in the extreme. I read again the Bible account:
Revelation 4:2-5: At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it ... In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
As John was “in the Spirit” – as the Spirit took over his senses – John saw the throne and – in due time – Jesus himself (cf. Revelation 1:10-18). In the same way – as the Spirit takes hold of you – as you allow him to move you (mind, senses, emotions, will) – you will grow in your relationship to Jesus. [As the Spirit ministered to John, he was also with him in heaven. The lamps, horns and eyes represented him in his absence but he was present through John.]
We have now covered the first strangeness of John’s vision. In heaven – the Spirit is represented by seven lamps before the throne of God (and seven horns and eyes on Jesus, the Lamb). The lamps are inanimate objects – “placeholders” – because the person of the Holy Spirit is not in heaven but on earth – among us – in Jesus’ stead. [I am talking here about his manifest presence rather than his omnipresence.]
Now we come to the second strange information of John’s vision, that is: the number of the lamps, (horns and eyes). Why are there seven Spirits? Why is there a sevenfold Spirit? Numerous Bible commentators connect the image of the sevenfold Spirit with the Bible verse of Isaiah 11:2: “(1) The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, (2) the Spirit of wisdom and (3) of understanding, (4) the Spirit of counsel and (5) of might, (6) the Spirit of the knowledge and (7) fear of the Lord.” [Notice also the connection to the lampstand of seven lamps in the Holy Place.] Then, more people of God had prophetic visions confirming the sevenfold character of the Spirit.
[Harold Armstrong Baker (1881–1971), known as H.A. Baker, was an American author and Pentecostal missionary to Tibet from 1911 to 1919, to China from 1919 to 1950, when forced to leave the mainland, and then in Taiwan from 1955 until his death in 1971. With his wife and co-worker Josephine, Pastor Baker began the Adullam Rescue Mission for street children in Yunnan Province, China. The children in the home, mostly boys aged from six to eighteen, began to have spiritual experiences, claiming to have seen Heaven through a series of visions. These visions were recounted in Baker's book “Visions Beyond the Veil.”]
H. A. Baker: Visions Beyond The Veil: Visions, Minneapolis: Osterhus Publishing House, (12th edition), p17: At times of special outpouring of the Holy Spirit these seven lamps of fire were seen let down from heaven into the room in our very midst. At other times in the visions of the throne of Christ in heaven, children saw the "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God" (Rev. 4:5). We all knew that the seven lamps meant the Holy Spirit in our midst.
In the first days of the outpouring of the Spirit one small boy spoke in pure prophecy when in the Spirit he seemed to be in heaven at the feet of Jesus. The Lord spoke through him in the first person clearing up many things the children did not understand and telling them how to tarry and how to seek the Spirit. At that time the Lord said, “When the Spirit is in your midst do not open your eyes, for that will hinder; the Holy Spirit will descend to give you power to preach the gospel, to cast out demons, and to heal the sick; the Holy Spirit is in seven colours, red, blue, and other colours.”
One of the older boys then said that when the Spirit had been upon him he had seen a great, red light and other colours. The word from the Lord explained this to him and others who had seen different colours. Of course I know light is made up of seven colours but I had never thought of the seven lamps before the throne of God, the Holy Spirit, as seven colours. All light comes from God, and God is light.
Keith Miller: Surrender to the Spirit, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2006, p22-23: After that experience in September [2002, see below], I was invited to preach at seven days of meetings. During preparation, I spent time down on the floor of the pastor’s office. I asked the Lord for the counsel of Heaven for the meetings, the church, and the region. Instantly, I was caught up before the Lord’s throne. It was massive, full of energy, majestic, filled with glory, and white. It was an incredible experience to see the Lord. Power! Glory! I do not have the words to adequately describe the magnitude of power that radiated from him. It was just so intense. It took my breath away – literally.
The same angel was there again and I saw the Lord pass an envelope to him. Then the angel came to me and handed me the envelope. Now I was totally blown away. I took the envelope but was in such awe that I dropped it. The angel picked it up and handed it back. You have got to understand that I was totally flipping out the whole time. I opened the envelope. Inside were written two Scriptures: Revelation 4:5 and Isaiah 11:2
And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thundering, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God (Revelation 4:5).
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
Since this encounter, I have been on an intense journey with the Lord to learn about the Seven Fold Spirit of God, which are the seven manifestations of the one Holy Spirit. I now teach and minister out of a deep flow of this revelation, which many Christians have never heard of. The last few years have been a time of awesome spiritual growth.
God showed me that he is calling his people to a new level – a place where these seven Spirits of God are activated and flowing within each of our lives through deep communion with the Holy Spirit...
The angel in Keith Miller’s prophetic encounter confirmed the commentaries. Revelation 4:5 and Isaiah 11:2 are connected and – as Keith Miller further learned – something was coming to the church in this current season that would intensify the Spirit’s presence in power:
Todd Bentley: The Reality of the Supernatural World, Ladysmith: Sound of Fire Productions 2005, p172: The seven Spirits of God are seven expressions, each one an aspect of the Holy Spirit ... The Holy Spirit isn’t split; it’s just that sometimes he manifest himself in different ways ... The seven Spirits of God are seven functions, manifestations, or expressions of the Holy Spirit ...
Todd Bentley: The Reality of the Supernatural World, Ladysmith: Sound of Fire Productions 2005, p175-176: There is a difference between the nine gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 (word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healings, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, differing kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues), and the seven mantles of the Spirit in Isaiah 11 (Spirit of the Lord, Spirits of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, and of fear of the Lord). These mantles are the seven Spirits of God that rest on Jesus.
In his ministry, Jesus didn’t operate in the word of wisdom, one of the gifts of the Spirit; He operated in the Spirit of wisdom. He didn’t operate in the gift of healing. The Spirit of the Lord anointed him with the Holy Ghost and power and it remained on him. It was a mantle that didn’t lift. The gifts of the Spirit are distributed evenly to each one as the Spirit wills. What does that imply? They come and go. The seven Spirits didn’t come and go on Jesus. They were always abiding with him.
This is what one Bible commentary says about Isaiah 11:2:
Keil & Delitsch commentary on the Old Testament: ... The Spirit of Jehovah” (ruach Yehovah) is the Divine Spirit, as the communicative vehicle of the whole creative fulness of divine powers. Then follow the six spirits, comprehended by the ruach Yehovah in three pairs, of which the first relates to the intellectual life, the second to the practical life, and the third to the direct relation to God. For chocmâh (wisdom) is the power of discerning the nature of things through the appearance, and bı̄nâh (understanding) the power of discerning the differences of things in their appearance; the former is σοφία, the latter διάκρισις or σύνεσις. “Counsel” (etzâh) is the gift of forming right conclusions, and “might” (gebūrâh) the ability to carry them out with energy. “The knowledge of Jehovah” (da‛ath Yehovah) is knowledge founded upon the fellowship of love; and “the fear of Jehovah” (yir'ath Yehovâh), fear absorbed in reverence. There are seven spirits, which are enumerated in order from the highest downwards; since the spirit of the fear of Jehovah is the basis of the whole (Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge ...”; Job 28:28: “ ... The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”; Psalm 111:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ...”), and the Spirit of Jehovah is the heart of all. It corresponds to the shaft of the seven-lighted candlestick, and the three pair of arms that proceeded from it. In these seven forms the Holy Spirit descended upon the second David for a permanent possession, as is affirmed in the perf. consec. וְנָהָה (with the tone upon the ultimate, on account of the following guttural, to prevent its being pronounced unintelligibly; ...
Let’s take a look at Isaiah 11:2 ourselves. What can we observe? What insights can we gain?
(1) The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him,
(2) the Spirit of wisdom and (3) of understanding,
(4) the Spirit of counsel and (5) of might,
(6) the Spirit of the knowledge and (7) fear of the Lord.
According to this list, what do we want from the Holy Spirit the most? There is one direct reference to might – power – (what enables miracles, healings, signs and wonders) – but otherwise knowledge – wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge – is paramount. Even the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). Why is knowledge – wisdom and understanding – so important? [The seven horns and seven eyes on Jesus, the Lamb, also point to power and knowledge – all-seeing and all-knowing.] [In other Bible references, the Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of truth: John 14:17; 16:13.]
1. Salvation is by faith which requires knowledge. (Without knowledge, there can be no saving faith.)
This morning, if you are not a Christian and want to become a Christian, you need an answer to the question: “How can I be saved?” You need knowledge and understanding.
Acts 16:16-34: Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
Mark 10:17-23: As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
1 Corinthians 1:18-25: The message about the cross doesn’t make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power at work. As God says in the Scriptures, “I will destroy the wisdom of all who claim to be wise. I will confuse those who think they know so much.”
What happened to those wise people? What happened to those experts in the Scriptures? What happened to the ones who think they have all the answers? Didn’t God show that the wisdom of this world is foolish? God was wise and decided not to let the people of this world use their wisdom to learn about him.
Instead, God chose to save only those who believe the foolish message we preach. Jews ask for miracles, and Greeks want something that sounds wise. But we preach that Christ was nailed to a cross. Most Jews have problems with this, and most Gentiles think it is foolish. Our message is God’s power and wisdom for the Jews and the Greeks that he has chosen. Even when God is foolish, he is wiser than everyone else, and even when God is weak, he is stronger than everyone else.
Ephesians 4:11-14: So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
Colossians 2:2-4: My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
[By the way – miracles do not guarantee understanding or a wise response – Matthew 11:20-24: Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgement than for you.”]
2. A life of blessing and abundance is by the Spirit’s understanding and wisdom.
Acts 6:1-7: In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” ...
They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly ...
Acts 7:10: ... God made him so wise that the Egyptian king Pharaoh thought highly of him. The king even made Joseph governor over Egypt and put him in charge of everything he owned.
Proverbs 8:11-21: ... for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power.
By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just; by me princes govern, and nobles—all who rule on earth. I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honour, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me and making their treasuries full.
Proverbs 24:3-6: By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
Proverbs 3:16: Long life is in her [wisdom’s] right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour.
[James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.]
3. The release of the Spirit’s power is by understanding, wisdom and God’s counsel.
Mark 6:1-6: Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith ...
David Herzog: The Ancient Portals of Heaven, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2008, p66-67: What does wisdom have to do with miracles? Everything! Wisdom and revelation knowledge are the keys to the miracle realm.
Once when I was praying for a boy with a paralysed arm, the Lord told me to sing the prayer. As I sang, the glory began to come, and the boy was instantly healed.
When a fellow minister was asked to pray for a mentally challenged boy, he asked the Lord what to do. The Lord told him to make the boy run with him. He could not understand how running could heal the boy’s mind, but he obeyed. The wisdom of God is greater than our human reasoning. As he ran with the boy, the boy’s mind was healed.
Later, God explained the principle behind the act. Before a person acts, he or she must think. In this case, however, God made the boy act first, and then his mind caught up with the action.
The key was simply listening to the wisdom or revelation of God and obeying it instantly – whether or not it made sense at the time.
Todd Bentley: The Reality of the Supernatural World, Ladysmith: Sound of Fire Productions 2005, p186: In the realm of healing and miracles, God does everything according to his plan and strategy. The Lord told Joshua, Walk around Jericho for six days. The priests will carry trumpets in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around seven times and the priests will make a loud blast and the people will shout and then the walls will come down [Joshua 6:3-5]. Joshua must have been thinking, Why can’t the walls come down after we just do it once?
When Jesus healed the blind men, He used different methods. He spat on one man, rubbed mud into another’s eyes, and spoke healing to another. It was the same disease, so why the varied approaches? I’ll bet that second guy was really surprised to find mud in his eyes!
We can’t help heal someone who is blind without the counsel of God. Every case is different ...
John 5:19-20: Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.
Ephesians 1:17-20: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. [Wisdom and revelation in order to activate faith in power.]
Ephesians 3:16-19: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. [By the power of the Spirit, understand and grasp the love of Christ to attain the fullness of God.]
Colossians 4:5: Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
Ephesians 6:17: “ ... the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.” => Understand and know the word of God – use it with wisdom – and then experience how it is a sword in the Spirit’s hands.
Not surprisingly, Satan attacks our knowledge of God more than anything else in our lives. This is how it has been from the beginning:
Genesis 2:8-9: Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:15-17: The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Genesis 3:1-24: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! ...” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; ... By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” ...
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Satan attacked the certainty of two key truths of God: 1) God is always good. 2) Sin always curses the sinner and kills. Satan questioned the clear command of God and fostered uncertainty about the prohibition: “Did God really say ...?” Eve then made additions to God’s command by saying that they must not eat – not even touch – the fruit from the one tree. In the end – after questioning God’s command – Satan accused God of evil motives (“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”) and point blank denied that God would punish disobedience with death (“You will not certainly die.”).
To this day, Satan has not changed his strategy. 1) We come up against one of God’s commandments or we seem to suffer from present circumstances and – immediately – we are tempted to conclude: God doesn’t love me. God has withdrawn from me. God doesn’t want to bless me. He is mean. He is not just. He cannot be trusted. I’m on my own and must get things by myself. [This robs us of peace, joy, confidence, rest and faith.] 2) Facing these same circumstances (or at other times) – we are looking for a way out and sinning is often the most attractive – the most logical – option (or so it seems). Satan said to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree and have a better life (be like God). He is still saying: “Lie, steal, pay bribes, overcharge, do drugs, lust with your eyes, etc – these sins – (in moderation) – are not so bad but get the job done, bring enjoyment and are part of modern life.” He is wrong. Don’t believe him. Any sin comes between you and God and – unless it is dealt with – brings death – first the slow retreat of God from your life (the quenching of the Spirit) and then permanent death in eternity.
More than anything else – Satan attacks the mind to block out God’s knowledge and wisdom from our lives and the more we give in to him – the more we sin – the more we are becoming deceived because we are cutting ourselves off from the source of knowledge and wisdom – God who keeps speaking to us and instructing us through his Spirit (the Spirit of Truth):
[Maybe add some practical examples from parish ministry.]
2 Corinthians 4:4: “The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers … ”
Ephesians 2:2-4: “ … the ruler of the kingdom of the air [Satan] … is now at work in those who are disobedient … [making them follow the] … desires and thoughts [of our sinful nature] … ”
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12: “ … They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion [God allows Satan to blind their minds] so that they will believe a lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
Romans 1:18-32: The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them ...
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie ...
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts ...
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Hebrews 3:12-13: See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. / Romans 7:11: For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10: ... the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
2 Timothy 3:2-4: “ … the time will come when people will not up with sound teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth … ”
At this point, I think that we have established the central importance of wisdom and knowledge – God’s truth – over against Satan’s lies and deception. What are now some practical consequences of encountering God’s sevenfold Spirit who comes with power but majors on wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge?
Maybe there is a new appreciation of listening to God in everything that we do. We want to know his timing, his strategies, his design for marriage, working in business, operating in preaching to the lost, performing signs and wonders and becoming mature. Every new situation calls for the wisdom of God. Have the ears (and the time) to listen to God.
Then, we may grow a new appreciation for experiencing the Spirit in power which looks different from falling to the ground or visible miracles such as healings and the multiplication of food. Sometimes – always – we need knowledge and wisdom through the Spirit more than anything else and even the other miracles are means to this end. They point to the word. They call to repentance. They confirm the message of Jesus crucified (2 Corinthians 1-5). Unless we know the good news of Jesus Christ, we are missing out on the power of God for salvation: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes ... ” (Romans 1:16).
Therefore, we may become more sensitive to the flow of knowledge from the Spirit and value when the word of God connects with us. This is how it happened to the disciples and other people who were listening to the word of God:
Luke 24:32: They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
1 Thessalonians 1:6: ... you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:37: When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Acts 10:44: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
The pastor from before had an angel give him an envelope which contained the two Scripture verses of Revelation 4:5 (“And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thundering, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”) and Isaiah 11:2 (“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”). There was a sense that this meant that the Spirit would operate in greater fullness in his own life and also in the current season of the church worldwide. The Holy Spirit would rest on the church more like he rested on Jesus – permanently – with greater power. [Cf. Isaiah 11:1-3: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord ... ”]
Here at Living Grace – we want this. However, the truth of God remains the same and – at its core – is all about Jesus. Therefore – in agreement with you all – I invite now the Holy Spirit to work his sevenfold power – to increase his might among us – as I repeat the good news:
Revelation 1:4-6: ... Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
[The first session may close here.]
I want to spend more time on the pastor who had this vision of the angel giving him the envelope with the two Scripture verses of Revelation 4:5 and Isaiah 11:2. How did he get into this kind of prophetic encounter? What can we learn from him and his story with God?
Keith Miller: Surrender to the Spirit, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2006, p30-40: For reasons of copyright, I will not include the book excerpt.
There are components of this pastor’s journey which are a reflection of abiding spiritual principles. They also apply in our own lives: 1) God offends us and watches whether we are humble in our response. 2) God is making us desperate for more of him. God is making us cry out for him. 3) God imparts more of the Spirit in us. 4) God asks us to act on the impartation with courage and faith. 5) God wants us to grow in stature and strength because there is always more in him.
1) God offends us and watches whether we are humble in our response.
A Southern Baptist pastor had to accept the ministry of a poofy-haired Benny Hinn who said: “You want this anointing, baby?” He and his wife risked their reputation by going to a conference with Benny Hinn.
People were continually offended at Jesus. They questioned where he came from – John 1:46: “Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?” They attacked how he shared meals with people – Luke 7:34: “ … Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’.” They objected to his healings and driving out demons – Matthew 12:24: “It is only by . the prince of demons that this fellow drives out demons.” They objected to his teaching. Even the disciples struggled – John 6:61: “Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’ … “
Jesus offended: A wining and dining healer and preacher from Nazareth and then the worst offense of them all came with his death – a crucified saviour. The apostle Paul summed it up with these words – 1 Corinthians 1:18-25: “ … the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing … we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block for some [original: to Jews] and foolishness to others [original: to Gentiles] … “
Our problem is that as good church people we are no longer offended by any of that. Jesus is now considered to be cool taking on the religious establishment and the cross has become golden hanging on our church walls. Yet, God does not give up so quickly in offending us. I read more verses from the Bible – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – and this is about the people whom God uses: “ … Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
First Jesus, then his followers offend because God once again chooses the foolish, the weak, the lowly, the despised to offend, scandalize, nullify what is left of human wisdom and strength. God offends to humble us. God offends to nullify all pride and boasting. First God did this through Jesus, then through his followers whom he has called by the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit is another great source of offense even among churches. Not only does he move in unlikely people – like us – he also often comes causing strange manifestations. Right in the beginning when the Holy Spirit first came with power on the disciples the outcome was offensive. The disciples came under the strong influence of the Holy Spirit which some mistook for alcohol saying – Acts 2:13: “They have had too much wine.”
2) God is making us desperate for more of him. God is making us cry out for him.
For four months, Keith Miller began seeking God at 5:30am – every morning. He leapt from his chair and pushed people out of the way to get the anointing. He quoted Haggai 1:14: “So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God.”
Luke 11:9-10: So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.
Matthew 15:21-28: ... And behold, a woman who was a Canaanite from that district came out and, with a [loud, troublesomely urgent] cry, begged, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is miserably and distressingly and cruelly possessed by a demon! But He did not answer her a word ... He answered, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ... And He answered, It is not right (proper, becoming, or fair) to take the children’s bread and throw it to the [a]little dogs. She said, Yes, Lord, yet even the little pups (little whelps) eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered her, O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you wish. And her daughter was cured from that moment.
Luke 19:1-10: ... he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” ...
Matthew 9:20-22: Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
Mark 10:46-52: Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Revelation 3:15-16: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. [Cf. Revelation 2:4.]
3) God imparts more of the Spirit in us.
Benny Hinn laid hands on Keith Miller. Later, an angel gave him a scroll to eat (Ezekiel 3:1-4; Revelation 10:8-11).
Romans 1:11: “For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen and establish you.”
2 Timothy 1:6: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
4) God asks us to act on the impartation with courage and faith.
Keith Miller began operating in the healing ministry in his own Southern Baptist church.
Acts 4:31: After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
5) God wants us to grow in stature and strength because there is always more in him.
Keith Miller experienced the burning and purging of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 4:4).
Matthew 4:17: From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Acts 2:38-39: ... Repent ... And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ...
In heaven, John saw the seven lamps before the throne of God – and the seven horns and seven eyes on Jesus, the Lamb – that represent the Holy Spirit that has been sent into all the earth. He is here among us. According to the Bible, we are his temple. Do we want more of him? Do we want him to operate more in all of his sevenfold strength? Can we cry out for him? Much of the Spirit is about wisdom, understanding, God’s counsel and knowledge. Can we cry out for knowing God better – what the sacrifice of Jesus means for us, the preciousness of Jesus’ holy blood which was shed for us, the way he works in healing and performing miracles, what wisdom is for now to save many? Can we ask for an impartation this morning? Do you want the fullness of the Holy Spirit – the seven blazing lamps before the throne of God? In faith, I would like to lay hands on you and pray for you. Amen.