As the old year was winding down Wenda read a devotional to me and the scripture text at the head of that reading really spoke to me. I went back and read the story around that text, the story I just read to you. I want to present that text – 2 Kings 3: 16-17 from “The Message”:He then said, “God’s word: Dig ditches all over this valley. Here’s what will happen—you won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water and your army and your animals will drink their fill. This is easy for God to do.
Before announcing my theme let me provide just a bit of background. Perhaps the darkest period in the history of the Old Testament was the reign of Ahab and Jezebel. At the time of this story they have been removed and Ahab’s son is on the throne of the Northern Kingdom. Although the Bible notes that he was less evil than his father the truth is that difference was minimal. This explains Elisha’s response to him. For the sake of Jehoshaphat, who despite his many faults and weaknesses was a righteous leader, Elisha agreed to give this trio of kings the word of the Lord.
For seven days these three armies along with all the animals needed to support them (which would have been a huge number) had moved along to the staging area for the pending invasion of Moab. But there was a huge problem facing them at that point; they were entirely out of water and there was none to be had anywhere. The only positive thing about this is that God seems to work His miracles at the point of our greatest need. The stage was now set for the demonstration of the supernatural.
Into all of this the prophet speaks the word of the Lord and what a strange word it is: “Dig ditches all over this valley.” What could this possibly have to do with a miracle? This was not a suggestion; it was a prophetic directive or command. Based on this command I want to bring you to the theme of this first message of this New Year. I thought about calling this – “Preparation for the Manifestation of the Miraculous in 2012” – but decided something a bit shorter might help make the point. I have settled for a two word theme: “Keep Digging.” Or for the “redneck” in us: “Keep Digin.”
According to the message of the prophet there were two actions called for; one on the part of the people and the second on the part of God. The people would dig ditches and God would fill the ditches with water. The nature of the action on the part of the people was obedience. The nature of the action on the part of God was miraculous provision. Note also the sequence of these actions. The act of God would come after the ditches were dug. The obedience of faith precedes the miracle and prepares the way for the manifestation of the supernatural.
But why did God have them dig ditches? Was there not some other form of obedience he could have called for? Was this just some random idea that God pulled out of the air, or was there real purpose in what He required? To answer that let me ask one more question: What purpose does a ditch serve in relation to water?Its purpose is to provide a structure that enables water to be brought into a disciplined direction and flow in relation to the need it is designed to meet. The banks of a river are not there to restrict and hinder the flow of the river – they are there to direct that flow toward a specific destination.
I hail from a background that viewed structure as the enemy of the Holy Spirit. “Freedom in the Holy Ghost” equated to a complete lack of structure, discipline, direction and focus. Structure equated to quenching the Spirit. The success of a meeting was determined by the lack of control and order.
Notice in this story that the place of the ditches was a valley. Without those ditches to govern and direct that flow of water that entire valley would have become a flood zone and there would have been incredible loss and damage. I believe that in these days we are going to experience unprecedented outpourings of the Holy Spirit. We need to understand that God moves in and through structure. There is direction, discipline, focus and purpose in all that He does.
Do you think that, while we are waiting upon the manifestation of the supernatural, there is a possibility that God is waiting upon us to get the ditches dug – to get the essential structures in place to accommodate what He has set Himself to do among us? Jesus did not just talk about wine; He talked also about wineskins. Wineskins play a vital role in relation to wine and without them there is a loss of wine.
What is the particular ‘obedience of faith’ God has called you to right now? Is it digging ditches or is it climbing a mountain? The point is this: whatever that act of ‘obedience of faith’ is it is not just some random thing; it totally relates to the nature of God’s promise concerning your future. Be faithful in that obedience and God will be faithful in manifesting His supernatural provision in relation to that obedience.
The next thing we note from this text is this: ‘you won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain.’ This is a vital detail; it explains why the obedience of faith is such a difficult reality. These soldiers along with their animals have been without water for some time. The conditions are near drought state. The location is a valley in which stale and stagnant air tends to get trapped. The day is long; the day is hot. And throughout this long hot day they are to spend their energy digging ditches. All the while they are digging there is not a single sign anywhere of what God promised. There is not a single manifestation to support the promise of God.
To remain faithful in our obedience of faith when there is no evidence, no sign, no manifestation of God’s promise, is not an easy thing. Instead of wind and rain everything in your experience flies in the face of and contradicts the promise of God. The day just gets hotter and your thirst becomes greater.
As you follow along in this story it becomes clear that at some point in this “ditch digging obedience” – and I suspect it was later rather than earlier – but there came this moment when the obedience of faith was full; the last spade of dirt was removed from the last ditch. This is critically important to understand: night fell upon the scene bringing with it a cover of deep darkness that covered all the works of their obedience of faith. As long as the works of our obedience are central to our consciousness and conversation we are not ready to receive the manifestation of God’s miraculous supply. When the focus is our works we begin to boast of our ditch-digging. We start comparing ditches. “My ditch is bigger and better than your ditch; mine is wider and longer. Yours is shallow while mine is deep. I just know God is more impressed with my ditch and because of the superiority of my ditch I have earned the manifestation of His miraculous manifestation.”
The same attitude of pride that boasts in our grand obedience will claim the glory that belongs to God alone when the miraculous begins to manifest. To prevent that from happening God brings a period of darkness over all those works and hides them from our view. But something wonderful is happening during that same period of darkness.
The story reveals that with the coming of morning came the discovery that all the ditches were filled with water. This can only mean that the filling of those ditches was a progressive work that took place during the darkness. And what is important to know is that this took place without any evidence that it was taking place.They felt no wind; they saw no rain – they were oblivious to what was going on in the dark.
What actually happened was this: Far to the west of this valley there was a range of mountains. If you work out the distance between those mountains and this valley you make this vital discovery. During that long day of digging ditches something was taking place in those far away mountains. There was no evidence of it in the valley but it was taking place just the same. And yes, you have guessed it: It was raining. A day’s worth of rain came down those mountains and gathered together to form a flash flood. And while the ditch diggers slept during the darkness that flash flood was silently directed and managed by the ditches (the structures) that the obedience of faith had prepared.
This manifestation of the miraculous resulted in two very different consequences. For God’s people and all their animals it totally supplied their thirst. And for Moab – the enemies of God – it set the stage for their defeat. That part of the story is for another time.
I want to finish by sharing with you the prophetic implications of this story to the life of KCF. I totally believe we can find our history, our present and our future in this story. Seasons come but no season remains forever; they move, they change, they shift – and what is critical is that we know where we are in the presence of those shifting seasons, and that we ourselves know how to move and shift with them.
That night (45 years ago) when a group of people came together in Pastor Dave’s basement God saw this building sitting here in this field – and He saw each one of us in this building as we are this day. In assessing that long season of obedience there are many things that may define it. But fundamentally there is a single characteristic that marks and defines this season: it was a season of “digging ditches.” By that I mean setting in place and establishing those foundational structures essential to the support of whatever God plans to bring to this house in this coming season. I have read and observed enough to know that the longest and toughest season in building the church – a true community of believers – is the season of foundations. In our journey it was only a few years ago that the Holy Spirit spoke to us that God was going to strip this fellowship down to the foundation HE had appointed. And periodically God has to do this because over time there is so much that attaches to the foundation – stuff that God never appointed at all.
This involves two core things: 1)the doctrines, teachings and values of a community, and 2) the people of a community. That was not an easy time, and yet from where we are today we are quick to acknowledge that God knew exactly what He was doing and that what has emerged is a much cleaner foundation both in terms of our doctrines, teachings and values, as well as the hearts of the people in this house.
In the context of 2Kings 3 the ditches are cleaner, longer, wider and much deeper than they were before. The foundational structures of this house are in the best shape they have ever been. And I think it proper that we acknowledge and honour the man and the woman God chose to spearhead this entire long season of “ditch digging.” Beyond this I think it is essential that we continue to commit ourselves to the foundational doctrines, teachings and values of this house.
But this foundational work is not finally about what has been but about what is yet to be. It is not about what has gone by; it’s about what is coming. It is not about where we have been but where we are going. And that brings me to what I am “prophetically sensing” in my spirit concerning this New Year – in fact this new season. God is saying the time has come; the time He has set by His own will and in keeping with His wisdom and purpose – the time to honour the works of that long obedience of faith. God is about to fill the “ditches” with the manifestation of His miraculous provision. He is going to fill the structures that have been built over many years. The focus of this season will not be our particular sense or consciousness of the wind and rain; it will be the deep, know so realization that empty places are being filled with His presence. This season is about the manifestation of Christ in “the fullness of time” as it relates to our place in time.
Let me share some excerpts from the following article: A “Year for the Ages” (The MorningStar Newsletter)
This is the year the Mayan Calendar indicated would be the end of the world. As the Apostle Paul wrote about the Cretans, false prophets can be right about some things. In a way, I think the Mayan calendar is right – this year will mark the end of this world as we know it.
I am not prophesying that this year will be the end of the world, or the end of the age, or the second coming of Christ. I am saying radical changes are coming to the whole world this year. Whether they turn out for good or bad will depend more on the body of Christ than any other factor.
The most critical issue coming upon us right now is that the greatest revival and ingathering in history is nearly upon us, and we are not ready for it.
Several prophetic friends have been hearing this from the Lord: “Small is the next big.” I was told that this is true and was shown one way this applied. When I was given the vision of the harvest in 1987, I saw two waves of revival coming. One began a couple of years later and lasted about sixteen years. Though it swept through South and Central America, Africa and Asia with the greatest ingathering of new believers in history, it just about missed North America and Europe.
I then saw a period of relative quiet before another, much larger wave swept across the whole earth that would be the greatest move of God in history. We are at the end of this period of relative spiritual quiet that I saw, and the next wave is nearly upon us.
In this second wave that I saw, there were congregations of one hundred people that were adding a thousand new believers a week. This sounds wonderful, and it was, but it also brought enormous stress upon the churches. These new believers will need healing, deliverance and teaching in sound biblical truth. Christians who had taught or spoken in a church service were suddenly leading large congregations of new believers.
We might think that mega churches would be adding tens of thousands of new believers a week in such a harvest, but that was not the case. All churches will be adding people, but the mega churches were not adding thousands like the small churches – only a relative few. This was because they were less prepared for the harvest than the smaller churches. The reason they were not as prepared was they had been devoted to building programs rather than people, and the smaller churches had done a better job building people.
We have a short period of time to prepare for the work of a lifetime.