By Mike McClung (adapted from his book Restoring the Ruins)
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God (1 Cor. 2:9-12).
Limited vision produces limited people and limited fulfillment of purpose. Mike Bickle, Director of Friends of the Bridegroom Ministries and the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, once told me that he believed that imparting vision was the key to dealing with rebellion and lack of discipline in the lives of God’s people. I believe this is a profound insight. We become what we behold: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). Anyone who has ever driven a car knows the feeling of something catching their attention off to one side of the road, only to look back to the front to see their vehicle swerving in the direction they had just been looking. One of the tragic things that has happened to the bride of Christ, especially in western society, is the lack, or inconsistency, of leaders in the church focusing the vision of God’s people on the Person and purposes of the Lord Jesus Christ. These purposes entail more than winning the lost, although this is a primary objective. The purposes of God are always kingdom purposes, with a view of exercising the dominion mandate man was originally given. (Gen. 1:26-27.) We are to exercise the authority of the Lord in every dimension of life and society: family, socially, politically, economically, music and the arts. But we have, in many ways, become Laodicea – focused on this present life and materialistic in our desires, habits and activities…even in church! Instead of getting the people of God ready for a final outpouring and resulting harvest of the glory and power of God in these last days, we have in many ways developed a “bunker” mentality. We sit around waiting for a rescue in the nick of time, while letting the powers of darkness run rampant, plaguing, afflicting and destroying the lives and destinies of people and nations, and releasing and enforcing curses on the very land itself. Proverbs 29:18 states: Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint…. Lawlessness, carnality and purposelessness mark the present generation in western society. We have become what we have been beholding! But a new generation is beginning to arise under a new kind of leadership that will impart vision of the Person of the God-Man. This will, 1) reveal to us our identity as lovers and sons and daughters of God, and, 2) reveal a vision of destiny – that to which God has called and destined us for in these last days. That destiny is to fully possess the promises laid up for us. (1 Peter 1:3-5.)
God is infinite, so there can be no limit to experiencing all He is or has. The only limitation we have is fear and unbelief. The Holy Spirit desires to lead the church past anything we have ever known so that we might receive the full release of His glory and power in these last days.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:13-14).
The word “guarantee” could be translated “down payment.” What the church of the first century experienced was only the “down payment” of what God intends to fully manifest in these last days before the Lord returns. Our inheritance includes receiving a resurrection body that cannot die and is completely dominated by the Spirit. Jesus received this kind of body after His resurrection. That perfect body will only come at death or when He bodily returns to earth. By “fully” possessing the inheritance God now intends for the saints to have, I mean that there will be a body of Christ on this earth that is fully joined in abiding communion with the Head, apart from receiving their resurrection bodies, where His glory, power and authority will flow into the earth. The Son will be “manifest” in His body.
The Lord Jesus lived and ministered in a flesh and blood body, just like ours, and that body experienced the glory of God (Matt. 17) and could not die unless He allowed it (John 10:17-18). Through it He performed miracles: healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons and destroying the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8.) Jesus fully entered into the original purposes for man (Gen. 1:26-27) with His final act in laying down His life as the once-for-all sin offering for the sins of the world. This is the life to be fully entered into by the body of Christ. We will be joined to the Head in unbroken communion before He returns, beholding His glory and abiding with Him where He is (John 17:21-26), and doing even greater works than He did. (John 14:12.) This is a part of the blessing that flows between generations, connected through the power and promises of God. With each successive generation, the promise/inheritance should be expanded and gain momentum and scope. Abraham passed it to Isaac, the child of promise, and Isaac subsequently had a double portion – Esau and Jacob. Esau despised and forfeited his inheritance and it came to Jacob, who then released it to his twelve offspring. The twelve eventually became a mighty nation that threatened even the most powerful kingdom on earth at the time – Egypt. The twelve became a nation that was called to dispossess and execute God’s judgment upon the demon-worshipping nations in Canaan, and possess the land originally promised to Abraham, thereby revealing even greater glory of God. Each successive generation should be gaining more kingdom ground, operating in more power, experiencing more of His presence and glory, seeing more peoples and nations turning to the Lord, and destroying more of the works of the devil than the previous generation. The only thing that stops this spiritual, generational synergy and expansion, is when there arises a generation that “does not know the Lord.”
When all that generation (the one that followed Joshua) had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies (Judges 2:10-14). This, tragically, is what has happened to the church. Beginning in 312 A.D., Christianity became an institution instead of a living organism joined to the Head. Through institutionalizing the church, the philosophies, methods and systems of men replaced the simplicity of devotion to Jesus. The church should be taking its direction and life only from the Lord Jesus and not from the reasonings and systems of men. Paul stated in Eph. 1:13-14, that the best the early church experienced – Pentecost – was only the “down payment” of what God intended to reveal and do in and through the church in the earth. Sadly, we have not yet experienced the full measure of Pentecost. But, there is a discontented generation that is arising, under new leadership that will not settle for the weak, watered-down, glory-less Christianity for which their predecessors have settled. They are the “Joshua” company.
Joshua was the leader chosen by God to take over when Moses passed away. His primary qualifications for this monumental task were that he hung out in the presence of the Lord all day and ministered to Moses as a servant. Because Joshua voluntarily made himself a servant to Moses, he experienced all Moses did, and became the recipient of his ministry mantle and authority.
So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them.” Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain. Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights (Exodus 24:13-18).
We sometimes forget that Joshua was right there with Moses experiencing the glory and power of God. Beholding the glory of the Lord and learning to serve those in authority are prerequisites to becoming leaders in this end-time generation. To impart vision you must have vision, and vision only comes when we behold the glory of the Lord. Joshua was chosen to be a leader not because of collegiate work, although there is nothing wrong with education. He was chosen because He knew the Person and purposes of God. This came only through spending time in His presence and learning to become a servant to Moses. Spending time in God’s presence altered the very spiritual (and possibly the physical) DNA structure in his life. He and a few others, like Caleb, did not follow the fear and unbelief rife within the ranks of Israel. This was because Joshua made a choice to develop his history with God and Moses.
In Numbers 13:17-33, we read of the experience when Moses sent spies into the land. And they went up through the South and came to Hebron; Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were there. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs. The place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the men of Israel cut down there. And they returned from spying out the land after forty days (Numbers 13:22-25).
The spies brought back a “down payment” of the full inheritance. I’m glad Joshua and Caleb were with them, because I sometimes think it was their insistence on doing this that resulted in a small portion of the produce of the land being brought back as evidence. They knew the people would not believe it without experiencing it. The Israelites had a track record of unbelief and rebellion. We must understand that for the body of Christ to press into possessing the full inheritance of the Lord now, there must be some who will go in and bring back some of the produce of the realm of the Spirit to ignite faith, confidence and endurance. The Lord has been restoring His glory and power in the church over the centuries since the Reformation. But with each subsequent spy who enters the land (such as Luther, Wesley, Evan Roberts and William Seymour), there comes those who are bound in fear and unbelief who criticize, find fault, and listen to the accuser’s accusations against God, dishearten the people of God and shut down the flow of restoration and generational blessings and power.
Just one cluster of fruit the spies returned with was so large and heavy that two men had to carry it on a pole stretched between them. Neither Joshua nor Caleb, nor any of the rest of the spies, ever suggested that this “down payment” was the full inheritance. Numbers 13:20 says that it was the “first ripe grapes,” or first crop of the season. The season’s harvest was just beginning to ripen! The church has never fully possessed the promises of Pentecost, much less the fullness of the end-time harvest, which would begin with the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall. The Lord has been restoring the glory of Pentecost to the church to get us ready for the fullness of the harvest at the end of the age that was symbolized in the feast of Tabernacles. Joshua and Caleb and their generation only experienced a foretaste of what the Lord wants to do and release before His return. Pentecost was a firstfruits harvest, just like the fruit the spies returned with was a first of the season crop. Every generation received a call and mandate to possess the fullness of this inheritance in their time, but they did not. Many individuals experienced it, and several groups began to enter it, but never went far enough. We are living in a generation that will see this land possessed. The Lord is presently raising up leaders, like Joshua, who will be able to lead the body of Christ into the warfare necessary to defeat the powers of darkness squatting on our inheritance.
A New Generation Arises
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them– the children of Israel” (Joshua 1:1-2).
A new leadership arose, like Joshua that tasted of the inheritance of the Lord and remained faithful. Joshua is one of my favorite Bible heroes. Until I began to study Joshua, I always pictured him as a kind of “momma’s boy” who stayed behind in church all day and was just a kind of “boy-Friday” for Moses. To me, he was a “white collar” leader who gave orders but would not get his fingernails dirty. After studying his life, I found out that I could not have been more wrong. Joshua was tough as nails and as fearless as they come. This is because he had not only observed and experienced all that Moses did and experienced, but he developed his own history of intimacy and friendship with God. One of the titles the Lord uses of Himself is Jehovah Sabaoth, which means “Lord of hosts.” This is used of the Lord more than any other title in scripture. A better translation would be “God of armies” or the “Lord who sits among His warriors.” The Lord is a Man of war. (Isaiah 42:10-13.) He is full of abundant mercy and grace for weak and broken human beings. He is also a warrior who is bent upon destroying the works and dominion of the enemy, and reclaiming and restoring humanity and creation back to their original purpose. (Rom. 8.) We become what we behold, and we need to see Him as more than the suffering Servant. As Mr. Beaver, referring to Aslan the Lion (a Christ figure in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) points out: “He is good, but He is not safe.” It is vitally important we have 20/20 vision…that we know the heart of mercy and justice the Lord possesses in order to be fully in tune with Him and involved in His purposes. I asked a question once to a group that I was teaching at the Prayer Furnace. The question was “Is the Lord more like Mother Teresa of Calcutta or William Wallace (Braveheart)?” The answer is both. He is the caring, compassionate Lover and Shepherd to the broken, abused, condemned woman taken in adultery. (John 8.) But He is also the fiery prophet driving the desecrating idols, idolaters and religionists out of the Temple. One of the things that qualified Joshua for leading the saints of God to possess the inheritance was that he beheld the Lord as both merciful and just. Joshua was not only a kind, compassionate shepherd, but he was a fearless warrior. I just love this guy!
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him (my emphasis), ‘Are You for us or for our adversaries?’ So He said, ‘No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’ Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so (Joshua 5:13-15).
As Joshua was praying and seeking the Lord, because he was about to lead the children of Israel into mortal combat with a demonized enemy, the Lord appeared in angelic form to him. How many of us have had angelic visitations? Angelic visitations are actually a part of our inheritance in Christ. Well, not only is Joshua having a visitation, but also it is a visitation from the Lord Himself, clad as a warrior, coming to lead them into battle against the powers of darkness. One can only imagine the fierce apparition that is standing before Joshua at this moment! But what does Joshua do? Does he cower in fear, falling on his face? No! He rises, pulls out his sword and is ready to go toe-to-toe with this powerful, otherworldly One standing before him. I don’t think I would call Joshua a wimp. This is the kind of leader that the Lord is raising up to be an example before this generation that is called to possess the full inheritance of God. There is an enemy bent on destroying us and who has no intention of giving up ground in the lives of people or geographic regions. He will have to be moved. It will come through a generation ready to sacrifice and obey at all costs because they have tasted of the fruit of the inheritance of the Lord (only making them more hungry!). They will be trained by leaders who will love them with all their hearts, yet not give an inch when it comes to training them to endure and overcome in these last days. We are a part of a conquering, delivering generation. Other generations may have said something like this:
“It’s okay to enjoy a little bit of our inheritance, but everyone knows that it’s impossible to experience the whole package because that’s only for heaven or the Millennium, after the rapture. It’s okay to be filled with the Spirit, speak in tongues, heal a few sick people, see glimpses of His glory, and occasionally experience His blessings, but everyone knows that because of the giants in the land, it’s impossible to enter that realm and LIVE there!”
There is a generation that will no longer perpetuate such unbelief, but will arise to conquer the land. This last generation will be different. They will no longer just ask, “How much will God give?” They are wanting to know, “How much can really be experienced and appropriated?”
The answer is all that has been given: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… (Eph. 1:3).
Questions for Reflection:
It is true that we become what we behold. What are you beholding?
What spiritual blessings are you experiencing and appropriating?