I want to share with you a second message the Father is bringing forth through the book Endurance, and through the experiences He has been bringing me through of late. The story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his voyage with 27 other men to the South Pole is clearly a parable of this last hour and the wilderness journey that the church must go through. In my second reading of the story I have paid much more attention to the details of the story, and they are clearly infused with divine symbolism.
The ship Endurance was 144 feet in length from bow to stern. This is a number pertaining to the overcomers in Christ. Shackleton was 40 years old when he began this trek, and forty is a number relating to trials and testing, being the same number of years that Moses led the people of God through the wilderness, and the number of days the Lord spent fasting in the wilderness (a symbol of putting the flesh underneath the spirit) and being tempted of Satan.
In the previous post I mentioned that it was 522 days from the time Shackleton left South Georgia Island until he returned. This indicates grace (5) and flesh cutting (22). When Shackleton left South Georgia Island, he did so in a ship 144 feet in length. When he arrived back he did so in a much smaller open boat which was 22 feet in length, and six feet across. This again points to flesh (6) and flesh cutting (22). Not only this, but there were six men in the boat that made this perilous crossing, while 22 men of the crew were left behind on Elephant Island to await Shackleton bringing back a ship to rescue them.
After Shackleton arrived on South Georgia Island with six men, he left 3 of them on one side of the island, while he and 2 others attempted the perilous overland crossing of the island, a feat that had never been accomplished before, and has been done only one time since. Amazingly they made the trek successfully, and it is one more heroic account of endurance in this epic story.
Upon arriving at the whaling village on the island, Shackleton arranged for a ship to be sent around to pick up the 3 men left on the far side of South Georgia Island. Appropriately, the name of the ship sent after the three men was the Samson. The Samson arrived back with the 3 men on May 22nd, which once more brings forth the testimony found in the numbers 5-22. Only God could have orchestrated all of these details with such perfection.
I would like to look at another great challenge that confronted Sir Ernest Shackleton throughout this incredible expedition. This is something that the Spirit is bearing witness to, which will play a tremendous role in coming days. This is the challenges that arose from the personalities of the men who were all participants in this struggle for survival.
In reading the book Endurance, it becomes evident that dealing with the men on the voyage was a very major concern and weight upon the shoulders of Shackleton. For the most part, the men maintained very good attitudes, but there were a few trouble spots that had to be guarded constantly. Two men in particular, the ship’s carpenter, a 56 year old Scottish man named McNeish, and a man with the last name of Orde-Lees, who was the most physically powerful man among the crew, but also the laziest, caused Shackleton to have to remain ever vigilant against rebellion and insubordination.
Throughout the book one discerns that McNeish was an exceptionally skilled ship’s carpenter. His services were widely needed, and everything he did was done well. Yet at the same time, being the oldest member of the crew, and having served on ships a long time, he considered himself something of a sailor’s lawyer. He had the worst attitude of any crew member when it came to murmuring and complaining. The thought of this murmuring spirit influencing the other members of the crew, so alarmed Shackleton, that he had McNeish share a tent with himself and two other trouble makers. Although Shackleton had no fondness for these troublesome men, he wanted to keep them away from the others, and therefore accepted their presence in his own tent.
This was perhaps one of Ernest Shackleton’s greatest weaknesses. In choosing his crew mates, we are told that he had over 5,000 applications for the 27 positions on his crew. The beginning of the book speaks of his approach to choosing crew members, and it seems to have been very capricious. We are told that there is no evidence that he spent more than five minutes in interviewing any of the crew members. This seems to have been a glaring deficiency, especially knowing that they were to face perilous conditions, and even risk their lives. With so much at stake it would have been prudent to be very cautious in the selection of crew members.
Some of Shackleton’s choices came back to bite him. He very much rued the selection of certain individuals whose character became known when the trek became difficult. After one particularly grueling experience where McNeish became very insubordinate and intransigent in his behavior, Shackleton wrote in his journal that he would never forget this man and the trouble he caused him. I am reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy concerning Alexander the coppermsith.
II Timothy 4:14-15
Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.
I have entreated the Lord to reveal to me that which He wants me to discern concerning these things. The Spirit bears witness that He wants me to consider deeply this matter of the trouble that lies ahead which will be caused by difficult people when they are cast into times of trouble. God has reminded me of Moses as he led the people of God through the wilderness.
Back in April the Lord spoke to me about Moses being a symbol and pattern of those who will lead His people through a wilderness experience in days ahead. God had led me through two forty day periods of camping in the wilderness under extreme conditions some four years earlier. He showed me that this was a pattern of those who would be called to lead His people through the wilderness in the approaching days. Like Moses, the first experience was for their own humbling, and emptying of all reliance upon the power of the flesh. The second wilderness experience would contain its own trials, albeit somewhat different for those who were entering upon a second experience.
If you are familiar with Moses’ experience of leading the people of God, you will certainly recognize that his greatest trial was not with the physical elements, but with the difficult, complaining, murmuring, fearful, and often rebellious spirit of the people he was guiding. The Spirit is testifying that this is also that which His appointed leaders will have to contend with in coming days.
Consider the following. There has perhaps been no day in which the church has grown more sensual, soft, lazy, and selfish than in this present hour. It will be members from this church who are cast into the wilderness experience ahead. Any who are appointed to shepherd and guide such ones will find the experience fraught with many vexations. A people whose faith is weak, and whose fear is pronounced, will be cast into a time of great trial. A people who are materialistic, and who know almost nothing about “suffering hardship as a good soldier of Yahshua Christ” will be called upon to endure hardship. A people who have been undisciplined and self-directed will enter into a time when to fail to discern and obey the leading of the Spirit will prove very costly.
Those who must lead such people through the wilderness will need not only the mind of Christ, but His character as well. Christ at times expressed exasperation at the slowness of His own disciples, and He picked them out by hand. Christ was well aware that Judas would betray Him, but it was clearly the Father’s will that Judas be chosen as one of Christ’s companions. There is a message in this. Even when we are led of the Spirit in our associations, we will not be spared from those relationships that are difficult, nor from encounters with people we have broken bread with us only to turn and seek to cause us injury.
Moses did not get to choose his companions in the wilderness, and I do not believe those who are called to be leaders in these approaching days will get to choose their companions either. We are to be led of the Spirit in all things, and we should not expect that the Spirit will direct us to relationships with people who are faithful, spiritually mature, and who seek our welfare at all times. There will be unfaithful companions in the wilderness, and we will have to endure them though they plague us like a broken tooth.
The companions the Father chooses for us, both good and bad, faithful and unfaithful, are chosen for our own perfecting as saints. Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered, and a significant part of this suffering was having a close companion betray him, even with a kiss. Moses also was matured and perfected through the trials he encountered in his second forty year experience in the wilderness.
I cannot refuse to accept as traveling companions those whom God has appointed for me to walk with. The selection must be left in God’s hands. He is indicating that He will not put us together only with those who are easy to get along with. He will yoke us to some who will make our way difficult, even as Moses’ way was made difficult.
Moses had to deal with the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, Abiram and On. Moses had to deal with the criticisms of his own brother and sister concerning his Midianite wife. Moses had to contend constantly with murmuring and complaint over living conditions and food and water. Moses had to contend with people who lusted after the things of Egypt that they had left behind. Moses had to contend with a people who were fearful and often churlish and unjust in their accusations against him. And so must the leaders God has appointed for this coming hour.
People of God, especially those called to be leaders in the coming days, are you prepared for the trials of coming days that will be the result of men’s own poor behavior? The Father spoke to me through something as simple as a prize in a bag of Cracker Jacks. Inside my bag was a small picture of Abraham Lincoln. You could fold it one way and see Lincoln as a small boy. When folding it another way you could see him as a man with a beard and stove pipe hat.
Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, and he served during what was arguably the most difficult period of the nation’s history. Brother was set against brother, and more were killed and wounded in that great conflict than all of the other wars of the nation combined. Yet one thing that stood out to me concerning the legacy of Abraham Lincoln is that he refused to vilify the one whom he fought against.
Lincoln was urged on numerous occasions to demonize the people of the South, but he refused to do so, knowing that one day they must all be united again as brothers in one nation. After the war was won, many urged him strongly to punish the South by making them pay reparations, and even denying them the right to vote. Again, Lincoln would hear nothing of the sort. He said that they needed to treat the citizens of the Southern States on an equal footing, and to move quickly past the hurts and wounds of the war in order to foster a United States of America where the citizens truly felt as if they were all members of one nation.
Tragically, Lincoln was assassinated, and those who replaced him were not so generous or forgiving. The South was plundered by Northern carpetbaggers, and her citizens were demonized in the press and by various politicians. When I received this picture of Lincoln, his attitude towards those he had a long struggle with was what came to mind. I believe the same attitude must be adopted by the children of God in this hour. Although we will certainly have conflicts, and in some cases will be called upon to manifest great resolve to see things through to an appropriate end, we must be careful to not demonize those against whom we struggle.
Certainly Moses manifested this same spirit. Although he was often the recipient of the people’s poor behavior and unjust charges, when God spoke of destroying them and beginning anew, Moses interceded for the people. He went so far as to entreat the Lord to destroy him as well, of he were to destroy the rest of Israel. We must remember that the principle of Christ is to love even our enemies. Even while being crucified the Son of God proclaimed, “Father, have mercy on them, for they do not know what they do.”
If our prayer is for vengeance upon our enemies, rather than for mercy, then we have not yet discerned the Spirit of Christ. We are like James and John when they asked the Lord if they should call down fire out of heaven to destroy the cities that had rejected Yahshua.
“You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
I would recommend the book Endurance to any who have not yet read it. The Spirit is testifying that it contains many messages for the coming hour. The copy I have is written by Alfred Lansing and has a Foreword by James Dobson.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.