The Last Great Reach of God's Spirit
...will it touch members of the present day Church?
YEARS AGO A FRIEND WROTE ME of going to a meeting where he'd seen the Holy Spirit move. He said, "I wish I could tell you what the Spirit said in those meetings. But I can't. He told us we're not to speak what He said, but what He is saying."
This gripped my heart and planted the idea in me that we're called to move with the Holy Spirit, listening and watching day by day for what He is saying and bringing to pass. I believe this is especially so as we move toward the great Day of the Lord when the Government of Christ takes its extension over every nation.
The thought that the Holy Spirit is ever speaking, and moving, toward that great Day increased in me when I saw what Jesus said to each of the Seven Churches of Revelation 2 and 3. Seven times He said, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches... (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13 and 22). Saith in each verse is from the simple Greek word légei, the Present Tense form of a Verb meaning "is saying, and saying, and saying." This is a kind of saying that ever goes on, never ceasing, always moving forward with light and revelation. I believe this is that to which He has called the church: to always listen and respond to His voice.
With the Spirit's saying, there also comes His doing, for out of the Word that He brings from the heart of God there comes a release of divine energy for the accomplishment of God's work--whether it be a work in the heart of an individual, a community, or a nation.
Since the time of Martin Luther in the 16th century, there have been notable movements of the Holy Spirit that have brought restoration and enlightenment to the Church. There is an unusual thing about these movements. There are generally those who embrace the movements only to crystallize them into some form of a denomination with a name and a governing body. With this, many cease hearing or moving with the Holy Spirit, giving instead their loyalty to a religious system, or a building, or a congregation that settles into some spiritually remote place, far from any fresh word or work coming from the heart of God.
FOR YEARS MY HEART'S DESIRE has been to listen for the Father's voice and embrace what He's saying--both through the prophetic voice and through His infallible written Word. This has sometimes been painful to our carnality and has often left us outside of what is popular.
About four years ago I told the Lord I wanted to be in the fore of what His Spirit is doing in the last hour.
He spoke simply to me: "Watch the streets and watch the children."
This laid hold on me. The desire hasn't left, nor has the word spoken to me, in spite of the fact that we've continued living--under a mandate from the Holy Spirit--in a rural setting where there are few streets and few children. Recently, desire to move with the Holy Spirit has only grown stronger. I believe it's because we're being drawn hard to be with Him in His last great movement of this age.
Two Scriptures have also laid hold on me and will not let go. One is Luke 14:12-24; the other is Isaiah 61:1-3. The first is a simple parable from the Lord Jesus; the other is a word from a Prophet. They both converge on the end of the age and give us insight as to where and when God's Spirit will move most powerfully.
We began our look at Isaiah 61 in How the Holy Spirit is Preparing a People to Inherit the Kingdom with the Lord Jesus. We'll take the Luke passage now, then go back to Isaiah. Luke recounts a simple story from the Lord Jesus illustrating the Father's end-time reach for those who have suffered. Isaiah always held a concern for deplorable economic and social conditions and for those who suffer. He saw that conditions could only be bettered by the working of God's Spirit through godly people. We see this movement of the Spirit toward the destitute and hurting illustrated in the Luke 14 passage. Certain words in it are very important and reveal much to us.
16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made • a great supper, and • bade many:
In a similar parable--Matt 22:2-10--Jesus used another example of a feast to which those who were called refused to come. That parable had reference to the refusal of Israel to accept Him as Messiah. There He said, I have prepared my dinner--Mt 22:4. Dinner is from the Greek áriston which means "the first meal of the day." In this Luke passage He tells of a great supper. Supper is from deípnon which means "the last meal of the day." How this begins to speak to us!
Bade is from the Greek ekálese, the Aorist Tense form of the Verb kaléo. It means "he made a one-time call." The Greek Aorist Tense gives it this meaning. It was not a call that extended long. Along with the Preposition ek ("out of"), kaléo helps form the great word ekklesía, "the church." This means a "called out company."
17 And sent his • servant at • supper time to say to • them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
There are five significant words for servant in the Greek New Testament. It is significant that the one used in this verse is doúlos, "a bond servant," one who is in a permanent position of servitude, whose will is altogether swallowed up in the will of his master. Thus, this servant could offer no hesitancy or refusal toward obedience. What a striking picture he is of a company of believers who will find themselves in submission to the Lord in the final days before the great supper!
I believe this is where the desire of my heart was calling me when I said I wanted to be in the fore of what He is doing in the last hour.
Supper time is literally "the hour of the final meal." All the preparations of the ages will find their culmination in this great hour. This includes the work of the final days in which tribulation and persecution have done their works in pressing believers into the bosom of the Father--indeed, to become the servant-sons of the last hour.
Them that were bidden means "the called ones." (This is also from that word kaléo.) Thus, the bond servant was sent to call the called ones. What a fearful and awesome picture this presents. It is apparent, just as the call of Matthew 22 went out to Israel, so this is the end-time call that will go out to the church, "the called out ones" who call themselves the body of Christ--but who refuse the last call.
TAKE NOTE NOW of the response of those to whom the invitation is first extended at the beginning of this last reach.
18 And • they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, • I have bought apiece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, • I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused
20 And another said, • I have married a wife, and therefore • I cannot come.
They all with one consent began to make excuse. They begged off; they all declined the invitation. What impudence, what flippancy, what rudeness! This not only showed the shortsightedness of "the called ones," it revealed a major flaw in their character. This is one of the points the Holy Spirit is working on now in the church--to remove this sort of attitude. Note the contrast with the servant who responds instantly to his master's command, offering no excuse. While it is fearsome that there could be people in the church with a brash attitude toward the Lord, it is comforting to know a servant company is being raised up. Do not we have a choice now as to which company we will be in?
Take note of the responses:
I have bought a piece of ground. This speaks of a bondage that comes on those who make house and land a priority. While it is right and noble to have property, in the last days it must not become the all-important thing in one's life. The Lord is drawing us to present all we possess over to Him so we may become free to hearken when He calls. Can bond servants live in houses to which they hold the key? Yes. It is a matter in internal adjustment in which the inner recesses of the heart become given over to the Lord so that no possession rises above His authority.
I have bought five yoke of oxen. This speaks of a bondage that comes because of one's business. And take note of this: both this man and the one who bought a piece of ground lacked wisdom in their dealings. They both bought on speculation without prior knowledge of what they were buying. Oh, the wisdom that could have been theirs in total submission to the Lord! Can bond servants own businesses? Yes. Again it is a matter of internal adjustment so that the Lord becomes the major Partner in the business.
I have married a wife. This man offers no excuse; he simply states an impossibility. I cannot come. "My marriage is such that I cannot properly serve the Lord. The responsibilities imposed on me because of my marriage--and my family--make serving the Lord impossible." Hog wash! We have a tendency to look for reasons that make obedience impossible. Again, it's a matter of the heart and internal adjustment to submit to the Lord supremely.
NOW TAKE NOTE of the response of the master whose invitation was refused.
21 So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house • being angry said to his servant, • Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and • bring in hither • the poor, and • the maimed, and • the halt, and • the blind.
Being angry more exactly means "having been made angry for the last time." It is an Aorist Passive Participle from the Verb orgízo. It points to the removal of God's long-suffering that has waited through the ages for the final hour. Formerly, He has extended mercy to the multitudes who have yielded to His grace. But now, these same ones meet His wrath as they are shut out of the last great movement of His Spirit because of their refusal to obey.
Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city--The attention of the Lord turns outside the called ones. His movement becomes hasty as he bids His bond servant to go quickly into the streets and alleys of the city. There's no time for setting up street meetings or advertising open air campaigns. There is but a command to go without hesitation. The feast is ready. May we not conclude that the time of the feast will be brief? The preparations for so auspicious an occasion have taken long, but the festivity can last but a short while.
Bring in hither is a gentle word meaning "lead or bring them in and introduce them to what is going on." We take note of it because as the time shortens the terminology will become far stronger. This we will see when we look at the word compel in verse 23.
TAKE NOTE NOW OF THOSE to whom the invitation is extended when the called ones refuse. They are the destitute. If an offering were taken from among them, there would be little to count. These are people for whom there is no hope apart from a miracle, yea, many miracles.
First there are the poor. This word is from the Greek ptochós, meaning "one who has been reduced to beggary." These are persons of very low condition who have failed to make it economically and have no hope of survival apart from begging on the street. Their mental condition is such that they have ceased seeing any answer unless it might arise from some benevolent person who perchance might pass by. Probably, as this invitation goes out, all charities have failed and a condition of hopeless poverty rests upon many.
Then there are the maimed. This is from the Greek anáperos, meaning "one who is deprived of some member of the body." This is a person definitely handicapped, who has to find some secondary means of functioning in order to get on with life. For the maimed, life often becomes a drudgery, with little hope of ever achieving all a whole person could achieve. Yet, these people become powerful trophies for the Kingdom of God. In their loss, they discover a greater release of life through the members they do have than those who have suffered no loss.
Next there are the halt. From the Greek cholós, this means "someone crippled in the feet." These are persons hindered in their physical movement, but far greater is the company of those crippled spiritually and thus not able to function in things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. In this great ingathering the Holy Spirit reaches out for these and draws them into the very banquet table that once seemed so remote.
And there are the blind. This is from the Greek tuphlós, meaning simply "someone who has no sight." But, it goes beyond physical blindness to include those who are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually blind. The mentally blind cannot perceive truth or understand wisdom. The emotionally blind cannot feel what others feel and their lives become inward and bound in their own pitiful plight. The spiritually blind cannot grasp the truth of God's Kingdom and, thus, walk in all kinds of spiritual darkness, often prone toward the occult and the darkness it brings.
S0, WE HAVE SEEN the ones who are gently led into God's feast of the last hour. Now, let us see how He reaches yet farther because of a compassion that has not yet been satisfied.
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said unto the servant, • Go out into the highways and hedges, and • compel them to come in, • that my house may be filled.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
Go out into the highways and hedges reveals the farthest reach of God's Spirit. All who have responded from the streets and lanes leave room for yet more. So the word is to go out into the countryside. It is to travel down the highways. It is to take the side roads and the little paths. It is to seek out those who are hidden in the bush. There is no remote place where this last hour call will not reach.
Compel is indeed a powerful last hour word. It means "use force if necessary to convince these people they must make a move; constrain them; don't let them refuse." How could the Lord Jesus use such a word? I don't know. He is the One who chose it. Perhaps when the hour arrives to which it points, we will understand why the compulsion is necessary. We can conclude this: it's meaning must be understood in the setting of the hour to which it pertains.
Will the day be so dark and the threat of doom be so ominous that the evangelism of the hour will be like that described in this word of Jude 22 and 23? And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
That my house may be filled is key to our understanding. It is that toward which all the activity of the parable points: the filling up of God's house. This is the last hour thrust of His Kingdom, the most gracious sweep of His grace into the mass of suffering humanity. I believe it denotes something in the heart of God that will have the company complete, to make up those who will rule with His Son on the earth--Rev 5:9,10. (The longer I behold this word in Revelation, the more mercy I see in it!)
WE BEGAN LOOKING at ISAIAH 61:1-3 in the previous. MASCHIL Every day its Word is reaching deeper into my spirit, but I know I've hardly begun perceiving all it is saying. So, let me continue handling it with you, praying over it, looking into it with openness of mind and heart, as we allow the power of it to come over upon us. In the last issue we took note of the seven-fold purpose of the anointing laid out in the three verses. This time we take note of those to whom the anointing reaches. What a company to claim the attention of the great Spirit of God! I believe we can find this company in those the Lord Jesus named in Luke 14: 21--the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind.
1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto • the meek; he hath sent me to bind up • the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to • the captives, and the opening of the prison to • them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort • all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.
The first reach of the Holy Spirit is for the meek. This is from the Hebrew word gahnahv. It was a favorite of David and Isaiah. David, Seer that he was, saw through the ages to behold the company who would inherit the earth. He said, But the meek shall inherit the earth...--Ps 37:11a. Who are these people? Jesus spoke the same regarding them in Mt 5:5. The Hebrew word of the Old Testament for meek is revealing. It means "those who have been bowed down by life and afflicted." It means those whose personal ends have been thwarted, who have been frustrated by life, who are depressed and downcast because of their condition, who have been humiliated and brought to poverty.
The first occurrence of this word is with reference to Moses. Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth--Num 12:3. Could it not be that the task to which this man was called was so extraordinary, that it required a man in whom all the natural strengths were reduced to nothing so that the strength for performance could come from God alone? Does not this give some insight into those who will share the inheritance with the Lord Jesus as His Kingdom spreads in the earth?
Then the Holy Spirit reaches for the brokenhearted. Heart, from the Hebrew word lehv, besides reference to the physical, means "the vital principle of life." To the heart is ascribed thought, reasoning, understanding, will, judgment, design, affection, love, hatred, courage, fear, joy, and sorrow. The Holy Spirit reaches toward this inward part in those who have been broken in their inner man. With malfunction in all of the above functions of the heart, many wait for the Spirit's binding up.
This word to bind up is interesting. While it means to bind up as a wound, it also means to place a restraint upon, to subdue, to govern. What a powerful work of the Spirit this brings forth! Not only will He heal those broken in their inner man, He will bring His restraints within, and release His government there.
Then the Spirit anoints to proclaim liberty to the captives. This is from the Hebrew shahvah. It means simply "those who have been taken as prisoners"--whether they be prisoners behind walls or prisoners to their own condition. To these there comes liberty. This is like the liberty of a bird set free from a cage to soar in the heavens.
The word liberty comes from a wonderfully full Hebrew word that means "to flow abundantly as a stream." It could mean to grow luxuriantly as a tree, or to run vehemently as a horse. It could also mean the giving of light to those in darkness, and thus the opening of eyes for those who have been blind. What abundant freedom the Holy Spirit is ready to release in those who are prisoners! All kinds of prisoners. This is a work of the grace of God that reaches inside the person to bring liberty that can know no restraint.
Then the Spirit's reach is for them that are bound. Almost the same as the above, it emphasizes that liberty will come through the work of God's Spirit. The Psalmist speaks clearly of the bondage and of the liberty that is to come. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron... He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder--Ps 107:10,14.
Lastly it is for all that mourn--This means all that are bound by grief. How many, how many these are! Grief of all kinds takes hold of the human heart and drains the life of strength. It weakens the emotions, enfeebles the mind, debilitates the will, and saps the conscience of fortitude. Grief, if left unhealed, itself acts like a prison-keeper and binds the soul in darkness.
But there is comfort! To comfort means to enter into one's grief with them, feel the pain with them, and walk with them into the release that peace brings. As the divine Paraclete, what a ministry this is of the Holy Spirit! (Paraclete--The Comforter of John 14:16,26; 15:26 and 16:7. From the Greek parákletos, it means "one who is called along side" to give cheerful encouragement to one undergoing affliction.)
At the feast of the last hour, all the abundance of the Holy Spirit will be released to those so desperate in life they have held no hope before. It is the bond servants in the house of the Lord who will serve up this feast. Don't you too want to be in this servant company?
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