It’s ‘time out’ on Planet Earth. Trains, planes and automobiles have ground to a screeching halt. The pause button has been hit on Hollywood, rock concerts and fancy weddings for right now. How long will this go on? Will society be able to endure?
Scripture verses which we’ve used countless times all of a sudden are taking on a deeper meaning:
- Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth (Proverbs 27:1)
- Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow (Psalm 144:4)
- Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
The rapid increase of social temblors (pandemics, rioting, cultural upheavals, etc.) is not abating. Like the carnival/video game whack-a-mole, it seems that new problems are just going to keep popping up. The dynamic in that game: repeated efforts to solve a persistently occurring problem are frustrated by the problem reappearing in different forms. All attempts at a solution result only in temporary or superficial improvement. Can we make sense of these troubling events? How are we to connect the dots here and discern patterns or solutions? What does the future hold for us?
Wisdom leads to discerning our future
Moses was not only a scribe, a military general and Israel’s national leader. He was also a great singer (see also Revelation 15:3). One of his last prophetic messages was in song:
Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song –
“For YHVH’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance . . .
You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth …
For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them.
Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future!
How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight . . .” (Deuteronomy 31:30; 32:9, 28-30)
Two bedrock principles are declared here – when Israel remembers God and His word, she will be able to discern her future.
Nearly 700 years later, King Uzziah came to the throne at the tender age of sixteen. “He continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God. And as long as he sought YHVH, God prospered him” (2 Chronicles 26:5). Uzziah’s prosperity was directly connected to his paying attention to the Scriptures (see Deuteronomy 17:18-20) and to the words of the Prophets.
Asaph the prophetic minstrel explains to us: “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked . . . [But] if I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children. When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God. Then I perceived their end” (Psalm 73:3, 15-17). When Asaph meditated on the hard issues of life in the presence of the God of eternity, he was given prophetic insight into the future.
God’s hand is outstretched to every believer. He invites us to follow Him and receive both wisdom and prophetic insight (Proverbs 3-4). If we immerse ourselves in the Scriptures and invest time with Him, He will speak to us, lead us and direct us. He will even show us what is on His heart and His agenda for the future.
Not all that glitters prophetically is gold
The God of Israel has raised up men and women to speak His counsel to the Jewish people as well as to the nations of this planet. These prophets spoke directly to the nation, and some of their words have been enscripturated in the Bible. They sometimes described their experience as ‘standing in the council of YHVH.’ A man or woman who had that experience carried the purposes of God’s heart deep within. The reality of those visions, dreams and prophetic experiences affect us even today.
But there were others who prophesied visions only out ‘of their own imagination.’ God had not sent them but they ran and shared a message. God had not spoken to them but still they prophesied. These were false prophets who flourished like thorns in a wheat field.
- Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing . . . Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility. They speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of YHVH. They keep saying to those who despise Me, “YHVH has said, ‘You will have peace.’” And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, “Calamity will not come upon you.” But who has stood in the council of YHVH, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened? Behold, the storm of the Lord has gone forth in wrath, . . . the anger of YHVH will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart. In the last days you will clearly understand it. I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds (Jeremiah 23:14, 16-22)
In our day the same principles hold true. All that glitters is not gold, and not all that is declared as a prophetic word is birthed from the council of God (see 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).
Getting immersed in God’s word and getting pickled in His presence – these are biblical keys to hearing YHVH’s heart and discerning what He has to say about our future. Yeshua challenged the spiritual leaders of His day on these two points. He noted that some of them understood neither the Scriptures nor the power of God (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24). Today believers often choose to align themselves with one of these two camps – either the Scriptures or the power of God. Messiah wants us to choose both wings of the eagle.
Those who aspire to speak forth the heart of God are reaching for a high calling. This requires getting in harness and remaining yoked to God’s word and heart.
The gold standard for discerning the future is connected to understanding Israel
Micah makes the same point to the leaders of the nations:
- “And now many nations have been assembled against you who say, ‘Let her be polluted, and let our eyes gloat over Zion.’ But they do not know the thoughts of YHVH, and they do not understand His purpose. For He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor. Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion! For I will make your horn iron and your hoofs I will make bronze, that you may pulverize many peoples, that you may devote to YHVH their unjust gain and their wealth to the Lord of all the earth” (Micah 4:9-13)
The calling of Israel and God’s destiny for that people is one of the most important issues for the nations of the world to understand. Even as they raise their hand to strike and divide Jerusalem, they have no idea how the God of Jacob sees matters, and how YHVH will soon use the mighty Hebrew army of Ezekiel 37 to pulverize unjust nations (see Zechariah 12:6-9 et al.).
These are the Days of Noah
A popular song sung among believers over the past 20 years is ‘These are the Days of Elijah.’ Perhaps even more timely right now is the fact that we are living in what Yeshua called “the Days of Noah.”
God spoke to Noah, a righteous man – blameless in his time – who found favor in the eyes of YHVH (Genesis 6:1-18). He shared with him that the earth was filled with violence; that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. God revealed to Noah that He was about to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, along with the entire planet. Only Noah, his sons, his wife and his sons’ wives would survive.
When Yeshua spoke to His disciples privately on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:3), He also revealed something: “the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away – so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:36-39; Luke 17:22-36).
The Messiah’s emphatic point here is that most people will not understand that judgment is about to happen until it kicks in, even as the world’s population in Noah’s day did not grasp the extent and severity of God’s Flood judgment until it began to rain (Genesis 2:6; 7:4).
Yeshua challenged His disciples and He challenges us to be ready, to be on the alert – even today:
- Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will (Matthew 24:42-44)
- Remember Lot’s wife.Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33)
The writer of Hebrews tells us that “by faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in godly fear prepared an ark for the rescue of his household” (Hebrews 11:6-7). Noah’s faith was manifested in two ways – in believing God that judgment was at the door, and then in preparing the ark over the course of months or even years. He is an example for us of what faith involves when the rubber hits the road.
Peter tells us that God “did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly . . . The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:4-9).
Let’s sum up those principles:
- Judgment on the world’s wickedness is at the door
- Trust God to rescue you and yours
- Prepare for the coming challenges in faith, listening to God for His specific strategy for you
The God of Israel adds a special note of encouragement aimed at the Jewish people. On the day that He sweeps the world with fiery judgment, He will never forsake His covenant promises to the sons and daughters of Jacob. His covenant with Israel will never be shaken:
- “For YHVH has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected, says your God. For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting covenant faithfulness I will have compassion on you, says YHVH your Redeemer. For this is like the days of Noah to Me, when I swore that the waters of Noah would not flood the earth again. So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you nor will I rebuke you. For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My covenant faithfulness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken, says YHVH who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:6-10)
The sons of Issachar knew
In days of great trial, Israel’s mighty men of war “came to Hebron with a perfect heart to make David king over all Israel. And all the rest also of Israel were of one mind to make David king” (1 Chronicles 12:38). Among them were the warriors from the tribe of Issachar, “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). What an amazing description is given in the Scripture to these men! They discerned the times – what was going down around them – and they had received from God’s council a knowledge of what needed to be done.
When God fed Israel with manna, He commanded the head of each household to daily gather enough for the total number of persons each man had in his tent (Exodus 16:16). In the same way, each one of us needs to get with God and with His word, receiving the manna of discernment and strategy for our own individual household. We need to gather this for ourselves and not depend on ‘big name’ suppliers of manna. We need to be like the sons of Issachar at these times of shaking so that we can receive knowledge of what our families should do.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for God to speak to us through His word and in times with Him with discernment and strategies concerning these times
- Pray for revelation to be given to the Jewish people about God’s heart and strategy for Israel concerning these times
- Pray for YHVH to pour His resurrection power out on the Jewish people
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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