I am continuing with the series I began in January: Closures & New Beginnings. I have lost count but I think Ray has kept up, and this should be the ninth part of the series.
I have been telling you that I would eventually get to some prophetic realities that relate to this new season we are moving into. This morning I am going to share three or four of those prophetic indications. In using the word ‘prophetic’ I am not referring to the abuse and misuse that is often seen in the church around this. I am not referring to those wild and undisciplined exercises that occur without reference to authority, covering and accountability.
Upon the death of Pastor Dave, I was strongly encouraged by Pastor Robert to keep this pulpit strong and to lead this church out of a strong and healthy sense of the prophetic. Let me tell you what that means to me. It means I must have a deep and unwavering conviction (and that is the key word) in my spirit regarding the witness of the Holy Spirit concerning the future into which He is taking us.
I do not know the details of the journey into this future. I can’t tell you what the structures are going to be. I do not know what this future is going to look like in its outworking. But I can give you a hint of the prophetic picture of where the Sovereign, Almighty God is taking this Fellowship. I share with you now the deep conviction of the Holy Spirit’s witness to my spirit regarding where we are going.
The first prophetic word I will share is based upon and came out of the story recorded in 2Kings 13: 14 – 20. We need to briefly consider that story because it sets the stage for everything I will share this morning. Based on that story here is the theme of today’s message: Faith Verses Soul-State. And let me say right off the top – the issue is not the state of your soul; it’s the state of your faith.
In this story we are looking at the last act of the prophetic ministry of Elisha. He performs this in the midst of sickness and will die immediately following this act. Joash is the king of Israel, and like all his predecessors he failed to be a Godly leader. The result of this failure was that God allowed (as a matter of discipline) a significant loss of territory to Aram. That loss was the eastern portion of the territory.
Regardless of Joash’s failures the fact that he made this special effort to come to visit the dying prophet indicates that he had some measure of respect for Elisha. But there were other concerns. His lamentation: “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”, was not so much a personal reference to his relationship with Elisha as it was a reference to Elisha’s relationship to and with the nation. Joash was very fearful as to what would become of the nation without the presence and influence of the prophet. We are told that Joash wept over him.
All of this gives us a picture of the soul state of the king. He was sorrowful; he was fearful; he was confused and uncertain.
In the face of the state of his soul and despite his history of failure God gave him a wonderful opportunity in the dying act of this great prophet. The opportunity (as do all God-opportunities) required faith. Suddenly we see two elements on a collision course: 1) the soul state of a king, and 2) the call to faith.
The challenge that emerges out of this sad picture is this: Are we going to live out of the state of our soul, or are we going to live out of the faith within our spirit?
Consider the picture: The king is instructed to open a window
that faces east; remember it was the eastern portion of the territory that had
been lost. He takes up a bow and an arrow. The dying prophet gathers up his
remaining strength, comes to the window and places his hands upon the hands of
the king (which speaks to the whole issue of impartation). As the arrow is
released, the prophet makes a strong prophetic declaration: “The Lord’s arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them.”
But then came further instruction and in this the king’s faith would be revealed. The extent or measure of the prophesied victory now hinged upon an act of faith on the part of the king. It would seem the king had five or six more arrows and he was instructed to shoot those arrows into the ground in front of the window. He shot three arrows and retired. The prophet exploded in anger, and the rest – as they say – is history.
This whole scene begs the question: Why did the king fail to shoot all the arrows at his disposal? Was he lazy? Was he careless? Was he haphazard? I think it runs much deeper than that. I truly believe that the explanation of what happened here has to do with the soul state of the king and the choice (conscious or otherwise) to live out of his soul state rather than his faith.
Faith is not first a reality of the soul; it is a reality of the spirit – created by the Spirit of God and imparted by the Spirit of God into the human spirit. True Biblical faith – this reality of the S/spirit – is always greater than and transcends the state of the soul. The faith within our spirit is designed to rule and govern the state of the soul. And very often we find that the soul-state conflicts with our faith. Our future does not depend upon the state of our soul; it depends upon that state of our faith.
With king Joash, his soul-state of sorrow and fear overruled his spirit and consequently restricted and limited his faith.
That is the background to what I want to share with you now regarding the prophetic future of this fellowship. What we all need to be aware of as this is shared is that this future will never be realized if we choose to live out of and be governed by our soul-state. This will only be realized as we live out of that deep conviction of faith within our spirit concerning what the Lord has said.