|by David Wilkerson | November 20, 2012|
The history of the Jewish festival of Jubilee is found in Leviticus 25. This observance begins with the Lord's command that Israel allow the land to rest from cultivation every seventh year. The seventh year was to be a sabbath year, in which the land would lie fallow. During that year, the people were to do no planting, picking of fruit or harvesting of any kind: "Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; but in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard" (Leviticus 25:3-4).
God was literally shutting down all agricultural activity for an entire year. That meant Israel would have to live for that period without any visible means of support. They would have to put their lives completely into God's hands, trusting Him for all supplies.
Of course, this required a lot of faith. Think about it: For an entire year there would be no intake of crops for food . . . no harvest of grain to feed cattle . . . no work for farmers . . . no labor for vineyard keepers. Most Christians today would panic after only a week of this, much less a year. Indeed, the Israelites wondered: "What are we going to do for food during the seventh year? How will we feed our families, our cattle? We'll use up everything we have in the sixth year, just prior to the sabbath year. Are we supposed to sit idly by while our children go hungry? Does God really expect us to watch the grapes rot on the vine? "
Yet God had a clear purpose in commanding a sabbath year for the land. It was meant to reveal His faithfulness to His people. "If ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years" (verses 20-21).
What an incredible promise! God was guaranteeing Israel a triple harvest (see verse 22): "If you will just step out in faith and trust Me, I will give you a harvest during the sixth year that will provide you with enough provisions for three years."
I believe the Lord is saying something important here. And that is, no matter what our circumstances, He always provides for those who trust and obey Him.
|by Gary Wilkerson | November 19, 2012|
The city walls of Jerusalem were being rebuilt but Nehemiah saw sin, bondage and discouragement beginning to captivate the hearts of the people.
“As soon as it began to grow dark . . . I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath” (Nehemiah 13:19, ESV).
In this passage Nehemiah is a type of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God is saying, “I know your propensity, I know the pulls. I know the temptation will be to take the Sabbath and make it unholy . . . and you will forget Me.” So even before it was dark, Nehemiah closed the gates.
Your heavenly Father is on the move in your life to solve your problem even before you know you have a problem. God is on the move on your behalf even before the sin sets in, even before it takes hold. God is working! The old Puritans called this a prevenient grace—grace at work before the temptation comes. Even before Adam and Eve got out of the Garden, even before sin began to take hold in the fruit, God said to the serpent, “The Son (He was talking of His Son, Christ Jesus) will crush your head” (Genesis 3:15, paraphrase mine). After deceiving Adam and Eve, before Satan slithered out and began to move throughout the whole world to deceive the sons of Adam and Eve, God said, “I have a plan in action.”
This is not God standing on the sidelines saying, “If you fall into that sin, come to Me and repent and I will forgive you again.” Yes, He does that, but it is so much more than that. God is working on your behalf even before that temptation ever comes to you, building up a wall in your life. He is building up grace and maturity in you, leading you through the spiritual process of your growing to where you are strengthened—line upon line, precept upon precept.
God is already planning for your victory!
|by David Wilkerson | November 16, 2012|
Most of us think of Sodom as a type of modern-day wicked city such as San Francisco, New York or New Orleans. But the truth is, we need only to look at our own hearts to find Sodom. We are all born with a Sodomite nature—a heart that is exceedingly wicked, full of every evil thing. “Yea, in your heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth” (Psalm 58:2)
I believe the following passage reveals how God delivers us out of Sodom:
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:3-4).
God comes to us in our deluded, bound condition with powerful promises of full and complete deliverance. He says, "I pledge to deliver you and keep you from iniquity. I will give you a heart to obey Me, so now let My promises lay hold of you."
What a wonderful, freeing truth. We are led out of our sin as we lay hold of God's promises. Think about it for a moment. Peter says the believers he was addressing in this epistle had "escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (verse 4). How did these Christians escape sin? They were given divine power—life and godliness—through their faith in God's promises.
Beloved, your Father wants you to know fullness of joy in Christ. That joy will break out only as you are freed from the power of sin. So, allow the Holy Spirit to go into the womb of your lusts and remove everything that is unlike Christ. Pray to the Lord right now:
"Oh, Father, I agree with You about my sin. The stench of my compromise has reached into heaven and I know it has to go immediately. Lord, I receive Your loving, divine ultimatum and I lay everything down before You. Set fire to everything wicked in me and let Your promises take hold of my heart. Lead me to the mountain of Your holiness."
|by David Wilkerson | November 15, 2012|
Lot would have died in Sodom had God not taken matters into His own hands. The Lord literally grabbed Lot and his family and pulled them out of the city: "While he lingered, the men [angels] laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city" (Genesis 19:16).
What a glorious picture of grace! As Lot lingered on the brink of destruction, with no strength or will to deliver himself, God hand-led this confused, deluded, sin-bound man to safety. He was telling Lot, in essence, "I love you, and I'm not going to let you die in this holocaust. You're a righteous man, Lot, and I warned you. Now, come!"
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). The literal meaning for without strength here is "without an ability or will." God says He is willing to act for us because we have nothing to give.
The Lord had one more directive for Lot: "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee . . . escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed" (Genesis 19:17). The mountain here represents God's presence, a place alone with Him. We see this image repeated throughout Scripture: It was on a mountain that Moses was touched by God's glory . . . that Christ was transfigured before His disciples . . . that Jesus sought His Father in prayer. All these things happened on a mountain.
"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness" (Psalm 48:1). "Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths" (Isaiah 2:3). The message here is: "When God delivers you by faith in His promises, run straight to the mountain of His holiness!"
Lot still was not willing to run to God's presence; instead, he asked God to let him take a detour to Zoar. He said, "I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die" (Genesis 19:19).
God allowed it and Lot eventually came to the mountain, but once he was there, something worse than Sodom happened. Lot got drunk and was seduced by his two daughters, who bore sons from the incestuous acts. What a tragic picture! And it all happened because Lot—though delivered—would not move on to fullness in God.
|by David Wilkerson | November 14, 2012|
"And they called unto Lot . . . Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them" (Genesis 19:5). Lot's day of reckoning finally came. A wild mob of Sodomite men surrounded his house, pounding on the door and shouting obscenities. They demanded that Lot send out the two angels who were staying there so they could rape them.
What a horrifying scene! Yet Lot's reaction was to try to strike a deal with the men. It appears that Lot was a judge in Sodom, because he sat at the city gates. He had a reputation to protect so he tried to reason with the mob. He even went as far as calling them "brethren"—proving he had taken Sodom's sin too lightly.
"I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing" (verses 7-8).
One theologian writes that Lot knew his daughters were not in danger because these men were homosexuals. Perhaps Lot reasoned to himself, "These men are partying sodomizers, looking to fulfill their perverted lusts. They're no threat to women. If I send my daughters out, they'll come home tomorrow morning unharmed."
How foolish! Even if that were true, Lot would have been trying to replace one sin with another. It is impossible to bargain with lust!
Lot, an example of what hidden sin can do to a righteous man, clearly was deluded. His sin had produced in him such a dangerous condition that he would give up everything—including his beloved family—to save face.
This man was not ready to face reality. He was dragging out his moment of reckoning, still wheeling and dealing, trying to delay God's deliverance in his life. And, beloved, that is the attitude of many Christians today. They convince themselves, "My God is a God of mercy. He delivered me from my sin before, and He'll do it again."
No! God is saying to you through this passage, "No more bargaining. No more trading a lighter sin for a heavier one. It all has to go!"
|by David Wilkerson | November 13, 2012|
"The Lord said . . . the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and . . . their sin is very grievous" (Genesis 18:20). We all love to hear about God's mercy, grace and longsuffering. But we do not want to face the fact that someday soon He will come against everything that is of Sodom.
God revealed His nature to Moses this way: "The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:6-7). Yet in the very next phrase, God added: "[I] will by no means clear the guilty" (verse 7).
The Lord was saying, "I will not wink at sin! Yes, I am merciful and longsuffering, but the time is coming when my patience with your sin will end. And that is when Sodom will burn!"
Two angels came to Lot and warned, "Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city" (Genesis 19:15).
Apparently Lot did not take this warning seriously because he slept in the next morning and the angels had to rouse him. His sons-in-law must have thought, "If he really believed the warning, he'd be on his way out of here right now. He doesn't believe it, so why should we?" This should be a lesson to us all. We need to live as if Christ is about to return so that others will listen to our witness.
I believe in what are called "divine ultimatums"—times when the Holy Spirit knows your sin is about to bring you to ruin. The Lord comes to you and says, "I am the God of grace, and I want to deliver you out of this. Now, turn from your sin. Obey My Word!"
These ultimatums are found throughout the Bible. For instance, Acts tells us Ananias and Sapphira were warned not to grieve the Holy Ghost by lying to Him. But they disobeyed and lied—and instantly dropped dead (see Acts 5).
It does not matter how much you pray or fast, or how faithful you are in doing God's work; if you do not believe God will deal seriously with your sin, you are deceived!
|by Gary Wilkerson | November 12, 2012|
I want to talk with you about how to stay free from bondage and captivity. How can we stay in victory? How can we walk in a constant flow of not having to return to the things that once plagued us? And I am not talking just about sin. Sometimes the emotional baggage that we grew up with can cause us to have certain patterns of living. For instance, some might have experienced a series of disappointments that must be fought against.
Is there a way not only to break free but to stay free? Is there a way not only to gain the victory but to keep the victory? Is there a way for us to find glorious, overcoming, sustained, powerful, lifelong victory in Jesus Christ?
You might think it will take ten years of counseling to attain victory, or twenty years for the maturation process to take place in your life, but Jesus can come in and instantly set you free. He will not only set you free but He will keep you walking in that freedom.
When Nehemiah went to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding of the walls, everyone seemed to think it was going to be a long process. The people accompanying Nehemiah, mostly slaves and servants, did not have many resources but they set their mind to work. They had a passion in their soul for the things of God and they rebuilt the walls of the city in just fifty-two days. We need to have that same kind of passion, the kind of mindset that says, “It’s not about me, it’s all about Jesus. It’s not about my purposes, plans and ambitions, it’s all about Him.”
Set your eyes on Jesus and He will establish you and cause you to prosper. He will cause you to be raised up and set free and He will enable you to stay free in the things of God.
“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37, NKJV).
|by David Wilkerson | November 9, 2012|
I once heard a minister tell an audience, "The Old Testament isn't relevant to our times so there is no need to study it anymore."
How wrong he was! One reason I love reading the Old Testament is because it explains the New Testament in clear, simple terms. In the Old Testament, for example, Israel is a type of the church and Egypt represents the world. Israel's journey through the wilderness represents our spiritual work as Christians. Also, the tree that healed the waters at Marah is a type of the cross of Christ and the rock that produced water in the desert is a type of our Savior.
Scripture makes clear that all of Israel's physical battles mirror our spiritual battles today: "All these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). Even the tabernacle and its furniture are examples of heavenly things: "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount" (Hebrews 8:5).
All these Old Testament examples are meant to keep us from falling into unbelief, as Israel did. The author of Hebrews writes, "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief" (4:11). In other words, "Study the Old Testament and learn from Israel's example. Do not make the same mistakes they did!"
Whenever I don't understand a truth in the New Testament, I turn to the Old Testament to find it illustrated in some way. For example, let's say I want to learn how to bring down spiritual walls the devil may have built up in my life. I turn to the story of Joshua to see how the walls of Jericho were brought down. Israel's physical battle with those walls provides me with a picture and a pattern, to help me understand how I can bring down all the walls that keep me from attaining fullness in Christ.
|by David Wilkerson | November 8, 2012|
The children of Israel loved to hear the powerful preaching of Ezekiel but they never obeyed it. "They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice . . . for they hear thy words, but they do them not" (Ezekiel 33:31-32).
Many people have approached me after a service, hugged me, and said, "Pastor, that was a powerful word you preached." But as they have walked away, the Holy Spirit has whispered to me, "They didn't hear a word you said!"
The book of Hebrews gives us a powerful warning: "As the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:7-8). "For some, when they had heard, did provoke [rebel]" (verse 16). These passages clearly show that hardness is not connected to atheism, communism or any other "ism" but, rather, to hearing and then not doing God's Word.
Israel gladly listened to the powerful preaching of the prophet Isaiah yet they continually justified their sins, calling evil good and good evil. So God instructed Isaiah: "Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed" (Isaiah 6:9-10).
God knew the Israelites were not willing to lay down their besetting sins. They loved their fleshly pleasures and ungodly companions too much. So the Lord told Isaiah, "These people are never going to change their hearts and from now on, I will not speak a word to them. Instead, I want you to hurry them into their hardness, Isaiah. That way, perhaps some will listen before it's too late!"
Simply put, God was calling for a full surrender from His people. I thank God for the multitudes of Christians who started their walk with Jesus the right way, loving truth and obeying His Word. When they forsook the ways of their flesh, they fell in love with the Lord, and His Word became to them a guiding lamp.
|by David Wilkerson | November 7, 2012|
Take this test to see whether you have already taken the first steps toward hardness of heart.
1. How many times have you heard messages about the danger of neglecting daily prayer and Bible reading?
If you neglect your secret closet at home—if you think praying at church takes care of all your needs—you will never survive the troubled days ahead. If you will not heed the Word that is meant to heal and strengthen you in good times, how will you ever find power to overcome during the difficult days to come? Having a personal knowledge of your heavenly Father is the only way to prepare for what is coming!
2. How many times have you been warned of the awful consequences of gossip?
At times, my warnings on the subject of gossip have been like soft, gentle rain and at other times, they have been like rolling thunder. Time after time, the Israelites were warned of the dangers of this sin. But they persisted in disobeying the Lord and it brought them a lifetime of misery in a snake-infested desert. Gossip and murmuring cost Israel everything.
Have you said something against a brother or a sister during the past week, something you had no business repeating? Or have you listened to any gossip about that person? If so, did you allow a seed of doubt about him or her to be planted in your soul? If you continue to gossip in light of all the warnings you have heard, you have started down the path toward hardness of heart.
3. How many warnings have you heard against harboring a secret sin?
What about that secret sin, the one that God's Spirit has continually spoken to you about? Over the years I have written many warnings about the dangers of flirting with a pet sin. Yet, not only have I preached against sin, but I have taught of God's resurrection power. I have preached that the Lord both endues us with overcoming power through His Spirit, and puts a will in our hearts to do right.
The person who dares sit under loving reproof week after week and yet goes on sinning is heading down the path toward hardness of heart. Don’t be such a person!