Joseph Herrin (04-16-08)
Many of you know that I have been camping in recent weeks in order to seek the face of God and to hear from Him concerning the days ahead and the character of the coming ministry. I have not been disappointed in my expectation of hearing many specific things from the Father. What I have received has a tremendous bearing upon the church at large, as well as for a pioneering group of saints who have been walking in wilderness places for some time as the Lord has worked a death in them to all the ways of Egypt.
I ask all of you on this mailing list to read this writing patiently as what I share here I have the greatest confidence will come to pass. The Lord has signified what is to come through numerous testimonies. I have found Him ordering my steps marvelously during this season of pressing in, and every detail of circumstance seems pregnant with revelation and affirmation of those things to come.
Some have written to ask me if the recent writing sent out on the sign in the constellation Bootes points to the imminent return of the Lord to remove His bride from the earth. I have shared with them that I do not believe this to be the testimony of this sign. Yet the sign does stand for a work to begin quickly, and one which will have the greatest bearing upon the preparation of the bride of Christ. I will share more specifics on this sign and what it forecasts throughout this writing, which will be sent out in two parts due to the volume of the various testimonies the Spirit has been providing to attest to what will prove to be a very momentous work.
The Valley of Hope and Jubilee
Over a month ago, while still residing at the Macon Rescue Mission and actively involved in writing the book Overcoming Addiction by the Spirit of Christ, I prayed and asked Yahweh if I might be granted a time to go visit Callaway Gardens in West Georgia. I shared with my friend Randy Simmons a short time later that I sensed that the request was in accordance with the will of God and it would be granted.
From March 30 – April 11 I camped in West Georgia. I arrived at Pine Mountain Campground and was assigned site 50B. In his book Number in Scripture, E.W. Bullinger states the following concerning the significance of the number fifty.
FIFTY is the number of jubilee or deliverance. It is the issue of 7 x 7, and points to deliverance and rest following on as the result of the perfect consummation of time.
What I will share relating to this number fifty is profound, and it may seem tenuous to draw forth so much from the number of a campsite assigned to me, yet the Spirit of Christ doubled this testimony. After a week camping at Pine Mountain Campground I moved to F.D. Roosevelt State Park to complete my time of camping in West Georgia, and remarkably I found myself once more in campsite number 50.
Bullinger refers to “the perfect consummation of time” as the number fifty follows directly after the number forty-nine, which he identifies as the product of seven multiplied by seven. Seven is a number given specifically to mark time, and even as there are seven days in the divine week, seven marks a fulness of time. Seven is also a number of perfection being related to Yahweh’s own being, for we read that there are “seven spirits of Yahweh” (Revelation 3:1, 4:5, 5:6,etc.).
This number of perfection and completion is found throughout the symbols Yahweh has given to man, including the seven lamps of the golden candlestick and the seven feasts of Yahweh. Therefore, when we find seven multiplied by seven we can agree with Bullinger that this points to more than a fulness of time, but to a perfect consummation of time. The Spirit is testifying that we stand at the end of the ages since Adam, and the return of Yahshua is fast approaching. At this critical moment many acts of great importance are set to occur. Jubilee stands as a symbol of much of this work. In the Old Testament Yahweh delivered to Moses the laws of Jubilee.
Leviticus 25:10-12 You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
Jubilee was marked by the following features:
• A release to all inhabitants of the land of Israel (Christ said, “I have come to set the captives free.”)
• It was to be a Jubilee (Hebrew yowbel: the blast of a horn – from its continuous sound; specifically the signal of the silver trumpets).
• All people were to possess their land once more (I Thessalonians 4:3-5 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is… that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.).
• It was also a Sabbath year where the land was not to be worked, but that which sprang up naturally in the fields was to be eaten. Fruit was not to be taken from untrimmed vines, nor from the aftergrowth.
Thus Jubilee was marked by deliverance from bondage, the announcement of the coming of the King with great pomp (blowing of silver trumpets), sanctification, spiritual rest, and faith in Yahweh’s provision (for it took faith to not plant and harvest, trusting in Yahweh’s provision). Each one of these things holds tremendous import as it bears upon the nature of the spiritual work Yahweh will perform now at the consummation of the age.
Consider that Yahshua will return for a bride who has made herself ready. This bride cannot be in bondage to the flesh, to the world, or to Satan. She must be sancitified, set apart wholly for her Lord, manifesting a pure devotion to Him. The bride must possess her vessel (she cannot be a harlot in her affections). The bride must attain to true Sabbath rest whose spiritual substance is revealed in the words of Yahshua, “I never do anything of My own initiative. I only do the will of the Father.” The bride must produce fruit from a well trained, pruned, and tended vine, which points to a submission to the cross appointed to all the disciples of Christ.
It is only AFTER all these things have been accomplished that the Bridegroom can return for His bride. It is these things which are appointed to be accomplished at this hour, the perfect consummation of time.
As I was camping at Pine Mountain Campground I came across some historical information on the area. I found that Pine Mountain Valley was formerly called The Valley of Hope. What Jubilee points to is the great hope of the church. A purified remnant will come forth in readiness for the return of the Bridegroom. All bondage will be broken. All filth will be washed away. A bride without spot or blemish will stand ready when the Lord Yahshua returns.
People, do you see what a great hope this is? Have you fallen short of the hope that you will be completely set free from all that has had you bound? Have you dared to hope that you will be able to rule over every appetite of the flesh, and to walk daily as a spiritual being after the pattern of Messiah? Interestingly, it was just a short time before this time of camping that Yahweh brought this hope to my heart in a profound way.
A few months ago I wrote of experiencing a heart attack brought on by improper diet, a love of too much food, and the wrong kinds of food. Yahweh had disciplined me in this area of my life, yet a stronghold remained, and this area of natural appetite had not come under submission to His rule. I doubted that I would ever know a complete victory over this fleshly lust, for it had been unconquered since childhood, despite many attempts. In the article Yahweh Speaks Through a Heart Attack I shared the following revelation that came to me at the time.
This chastisement of the Father has actually given me a hope that I previously lacked. Formerly I had doubted that Yahweh would give me victory over every area of my life that has been a source of trouble, leading to sin. Now I am confident that He will not rest until He brings me forth into complete victory, and that no enemy in the land of this flesh can stand before me as I follow Yahshua into battle.
He has also let me know that this is the message that He wants proclaimed in these days. He wants His children to walk holy and perfect before Him. He is not content for any area of our lives to remain in willful disobedience to His leading. He will judge His people, and He will chastise all who are allowing strongholds of sin to remain in them.
In the months since experiencing a heart attack I have been able to consistently choose profitable foods to eat, and I have been walking nearly every day. I have gotten back on track with losing weight, and I feel better now than I did prior to experiencing this crisis in health. Furthermore, I have the peace that comes from knowing that every area of my life that Yahweh has put His finger on is under submission to Him. I have no consciousness of disobedience, and this is something that cannot be valued too highly. It has often been my prayer that Yahweh might establish me in a daily walk where my conscience is clear before Him and before all men. Such a prayer is in keeping with His desire for us, for He has called His children to holiness.
A Complete Deliverance
The Spirit is testifying that a time of great deliverance is coming. The Bride will be set free from all of her earthly bonds. As I camped in West Georgia, I often went to Callaway Gardens. At the gardens is an exhibit called The Day Butterfly Center. Inside a glass atrium are a variety of tropical plants, and the atmosphere is maintained at a constant 80 degrees which is ideal for butterflies.
At the Day Butterfly Center a film can be watched that was produced by Moody Institute of Science, part of Moody Bible Institute. Some interesting facts concerning caterpillars and butterflies are related through the film. It is stated that one nickname for a caterpillar is “the stomach with legs.” Caterpillars are eating machines. They consume constantly, and it was stated that in a matter of a few weeks that some caterpillars increase in weight by as much as three thousand times. If a baby were to increase at the same rate, byt its first birthday a baby would weigh twenty tons.
I have shared in numerous writings that the caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly is a parable given by Yahweh to reveal that work which He will perform in the life of man. Man is born subject to the beast nature. Man goes on his belly, and is ruled by his appetites. Yet Yahweh has determined that man should be transformed into a spiritual creature, even as a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. The transformation that occurs in the life of this insect is so remarkable that they have been given two different names to describe the insect before and after the miracle of metamorphosis. So too, the transformation from a being enslaved to the lusts of the flesh, to a being who seeks things above and lives to do the will of the Father can only be described in the words of Paul.
II Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
To become that which God intends, the church must allow Yahweh to deal with her flesh. The flesh must be crucified, for it is not possible to walk as spiritual and fleshly beings at the same time. The old must pass away and new things must come. The church has confessed these things for many years, yet there has been little in the way of practical outworking of these truths. In this last hour the confession and life of the church must come into harmony with one another. A new, glorified bride must arise in readiness to meet her coming Bridegroom.
The Method of Deliverance
My time camping also came after a long period of deliverance. For the past nine years Yahweh has led me through a protracted stripping process. The old nature has been dealt with. Lusts and fleshly passions have been brought to the cross. Appetites have been brought under the rule of the Spirit. I have lost almost all things of the world, even having to bear the departure of my wife and son. Houses and furnishings and material possessions have been relinquished. My place of ministry among the established church has been taken away. Family and friends and Christians have all been surrendered as the cross has done a deep work.
Yet through it all a new freedom has emerged. I am free to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. I do not find a desire for worldly things intruding upon a pure devotion to Christ. There is a peace that comes from surrender, and a joy that is found in submission to the will of God. This is the great hope set before the children of God, that everything within them can be brought under the rule of Yahweh, effectively establishing the Kingdom of God.
Luke 17:20-21 He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say,’ Look, here it is!’ or,’ There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
The method of deliverance seems bleak to one who is a caterpillar. If you asked a caterpillar if it wanted to die, it would certainly say that it did not want to do so. If you asked a caterpillar if it was willing to give up eating, it would wonder what else it could possibly do with its life. To consume is all that it knows.
The same is true with mankind. We read about a cross that is appointed to every disciple of Christ, yet the church does not teach about the necessity of bearing the cross anymore. The church has instead come up with doctrines that glorify consumption. The prosperity gospel has everywhere taken hold of the church. Pursuing wealth and possessions and ease and pleasure and being fully satisfied with the things the soul and flesh desires has become the foundational doctrine of the church.
Why this is so should be evident. Fleshly creatures do not want to die. Creatures that live to consume do not want to hear about denying themselves, and taking up the cross. Yet a caterpillar will never arise to be a glorious butterfly unless it dies to what it was born as. We too must die. As we do we also come forth transformed. We are no longer bound to the earth. We are given a new glory. We find that we have appetites for things altogether different than that which we had before. Old things have passed away. All things have become new.
We must surrender to the crucifixion of the flesh if we are to become a bride prepared for Christ. None who undergo the transformation ever look back with regret to what they once were. No butterfly ever envied the life of a caterpillar. Through the working of death to the flesh we are transformed from glory to glory.
A Cutter of Grass
While at Pine Mountain I was at the very back of the campground and had a view across a country road where a few large houses rested in the midst of a large grassy field of pasture land that contained a lake. During my stay I watched a tractor mowing the grass in the fields. The view of the land, all well manicured, was very pleasant. So too, when the flesh is cut away in our lives, the appearance is very lovely to God. The Spirit reminded me of that which He had spoken to me nine years earlier.
At the end of 1999, having recently been put out of my place of ministry by my fellow pastors, I went to my sister’s house in Mississippi. She and her family have a house in the country and I would daily sit on her front porch and look out across a country road to a field that had recently been planted as a sod farm. I would watch the farmer mowing the fields with his tractor, and I told the Lord that I longed for an occupation as serene and peaceful as mowing grass, for I had come out of a period of much turmoil and conflict.
While at my sister’s I sat with paper and pen in hand, waiting to hear from God, and He told me, “I have indeed called you to be a cutter of grass, for all flesh is as grass. But first you must allow Me to remove the flesh from your life.” As I sat once more looking over a similar scene, the Spirit spoke to me that the time for this ministry of cutting grass was at hand. I had sat patiently under His hand for nine years as He had dealt with my flesh, mowing my grass, and the time was at hand for Him to use me in this occupation with others.
The very last writing I had sent out before going camping was on the heavenly sign in Bootes. Included in that writing was the following illustration of this constellation.
Notice that Bootes, the Shepherd, has a scythe in his uplifted arm. This is the ancient instrument for cutting grass and mowing fields. It is my belief, as I have considered those things that the Spirit has testified during this season of seeking Him, that the Lord is coming to His people at this time to perform a work of removing the flesh from their lives. He must prepare a Bride who will be without spot or blemish.
This preparatory work of the Bride is pictured in Esther, who was one of the virgins selected to replace Queen Vashti when she refused to do the king’s bidding. All of the virgins had to go through a year of preparation before they could be brought in to see the king. This work is described in the book The Remnant Bride, from which I will quote.
Once selected, these beautiful young virgins were not immediately ready to go into the king’s chamber. A preparation process was required first. For these young women the process lasted an entire year.
For the days of their beautification were completed as follows: six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and the cosmetics for women–
It was only after the virgin went through a year of preparation that she was ready to be presented to the king. The first six months of this process was marked by the pronounced usage of oil of myrrh. Myrrh should be recognized by most believers as a spice that was used in preparing bodies for burial. After Christ’s crucifixion we are told that His body was prepared for burial and myrrh is especially mentioned.
I think it is significant in the description of this event found in the book of John that it repeatedly states that Christ’s body was taken away and prepared. The Bride is a remnant portion of the body of Christ, and, as is seen in the book of Esther, a preparation with oil of myrrh is an important part of her being made ready.
38 And after these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Yahshua, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Yahshua; and Pilate granted permission. He came therefore, and took away His body.
39 And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night; bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.
40 And so they took the body of Yahshua, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
John 19:38 – 40
Myrrh, for the virgin bride candidates of the king, represented death as well. The one chosen to be the bride of the king was to live for the king’s pleasure. She was to respond to his summons with quick obedience. No longer was her life her own, she belonged to another. Essentially, she was to die to her own life. In the same way the scriptures tell those betrothed to Christ that they are no longer their own, “For you have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Death is the first step of preparation that those who would become the Bride of Christ must go through. Salvation is not an end. It is a beginning. Our salvation was purchased with the blood of Yahshua. The purchase price was exceedingly high, but it was paid. We are now no longer our own. We must die to our own desires, goals, and ambitions. Christ’s life must become our life, His will our will, His desires our desires.
This death process doesn’t come all at once, nor in a single moment of time. The flesh’s desire to seek after self is firmly entrenched in our being. It takes considerable time just to identify all of the ways in which we have sought our own welfare. Some forms of selfishness are very subtle. The scriptures teach us that even our righteousness, that which we deem to be good, is as filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6).
It is in this death process that obedience is learned and an end of personal initiative is brought forth. This time of preparation is designed to produce a suitable and compatible Bride for Christ. She must become like Him, conformed to His image.
Death to personal initiative was a characteristic of Yahshua. It was exemplified in His words at Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy will be done” (Luke 22:42). This was a characteristic which Vashti lacked, and it cost her that which was most precious to her. It is appropriate that this failure was the first thing addressed among those who would contend for the opportunity to replace Vashti. It will likewise be the foremost issue addressed among those who are called to be the Bride of Christ.
For the past nine years Yahweh has had me walking through the process described here.
We must die to our own desires, goals, and ambitions. Christ’s life must become our life, His will our will, His desires our desires.
My desires for ministry were placed on the altar. Friends, family and brothers and sisters in Christ were all stripped away. I was led to surrender to the path Yahshua chose for me, even when it led to one loss after another, including that of my wife and son. I was led to live and work wherever God chose for me, for I was truly seeking His will and not my own. All of these experiences were necessary to bring me to a death to living for my own desires, goals and ambitions, and to make me alive unto Christ’s life and will and desires.
This flesh cutting work which prepares the Bride to meet her Bridegroom is the same work that I see forecast in the sign of Bootes. Christ is coming with scythe in hand to remove flesh from His Bride.
A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of Yahweh blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.
Yahweh has been testifying that He has caused some of His sons and daughters to go ahead of the rest of the body down the path of this intense flesh cutting. He reminded me of this as I was camping by bringing to my remembrance the symbolism He had previously shown me in the vehicle He had provided for me a few years earlier. The vancamper that I was staying in had been miraculously provided by the Lord. It is an Explorer custom van and it has a Pioneer sound system in it.
Many times the Lord has shown me that vehicles represent specific ministries, and this vehicle stands as a type of that which He has called me unto. He has sent me forth as an explorer and a pioneer down this path of preparation to meet the Bridegroom. He will now use me as a forerunner and guide to instruct a much larger group of His children who must also go this way. I am to serve by pointing the way, marking the trail, and providing encouragement and sustenance along the way.
One day as I was walking back to my campsite the Spirit brought to my attention the age of my vehicle. It was manufactured in 1986. When I understood that this van is 22 years old, a number that stands for flesh cutting throughout Scripture, I was given a further confirmation of the nature of the ministry before me. I wrote of the significance of this number in the book Evidence of Things Unseen. Therefore, it struck me as very profound when the Spirit brought the age of my van to my attention. Because the van is 22 years old this year, I know that this ministry will be initiated at this time. Indeed, the Father began to show me the firstfruits of this ministry when my friend Randy Simmons came out to join me after my first week camping.
Randy drove down a different road than that which I took, coming down Georgia Highway 22. (Georgia Highway 22 is also Highway 80, a number that points to the butterfly, for it cannot fly until its body temperature reaches 80 degrees. Bullinger points out that the numbers eight and ten relate to the very things that are typified in that which the butterfly spiritually symbolizes – divine perfection with nothing lacking.) Before Randy arrived the Lord had already been challenging him in this matter of bringing the flesh completely under the rule of God. I asked him to consider joining me for three days of fasting, this being something he had never done before. He struggled to commit to this practical experience of the spirit man taking dominion over the clamoring demands of the flesh. In the end, however, he won the battle and was able to join with me.
While camping the Spirit began to deal with Randy about his use of dip tobacco, a common habit in rural areas of Georgia. Randy had been using dip, or chewing tobacco since he was 14, and he is now 41 years old. Since we were together, and the Lord has testified that we are both being called to walk together in ministry, I exhorted him in this matter and the Lord revealed some profound things in the process.
Randy is just like me in that his flesh does not desire to submit to any outside authority. The flesh is driven completely by its appetites, and these appetites are never satisfied. The voice of the flesh clamors loudly whenever it feels its personal satisfaction is being threatened. The flesh will never voluntarily submit to the cross. The spirit of a man must arise and put the flesh to death.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Many arguments arose from Randy’s flesh, seeking a postponement of taking up this cross. The flesh’s opposition to embracing the cross is endless. It will never acquiesce to being put to death. This is why the Lord declared:
The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.
Remember, the Kingdom is within you. We only bring forth the kingdom of God in our members through much warfare. The flesh must be ruled over with violence. This is the same testimony found in the words of the apostle Paul.
I Corinthians 9:27
But like a boxer I buffet my body (handle it roughly), discipline it by hardships and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit (not stand the test), be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit.
Paul understood that our fitness for service in the Kingdom of God is determined by our ruling over the desires and passions of the flesh. The Father also brought this understanding to me on two specific occasions. First was in dealing with a spirit of covetousness. The Spirit made application to my life through the following words of Christ.
If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
The second time the Lord brought this message to me was as He was speaking to me about an attraction to pornography that had taken hold in my life when I was barely a teenager. After I had become an adult He declared to me one day that if I would not rule over those things that my eyes looked upon that I would be disqualified from the ministry to which He had called me. I had such a fear of falling short of God’s call on my life, that this warning was of great effect in my life and I put away pornography from my eyes from that day forward.
As Randy spoke of his own struggles in surrendering the habit of using dip tobacco, the Lord showed me what my part was in ministering to him. The Spirit revealed that I was not called to badger him, nor to act as a nag, but as a brother that understood the Lord’s determination to establish complete rule over every area of our life, I needed to communicate to Randy the seriousness of obedience and the consequences of disobedience.
Whenever the Lord begins to deal with a man on an area of thought or action, it is only at great peril that we disregard His voice. I could share with Randy from my own experience the consequences of delayed obedience. I need not have suffered a heart attack. I could have responded in obedience by ruling over my appetite for unhealthy food at a much earlier age and been spared. I could also have known a much improved health and increased energy and well-being all the years that I struggled with tiredness and all that goes along with being overweight.
There were other times that God disciplined me severely due to my stubbornness and slowness of spirit. As the Spirit has often reminded me, we need not be as the horse whose trappings include a bit and a bridle (Psalms 32:9). It is not necessary that God jerk our heads around to get us to go in the right direction. If we will respond to the still, small voice of the Spirit then His hand upon us is much more gentle.
It would have been a mercy had a brother come up to me in some of those occasions where I was slow to submit to the voice of the Spirit, and they had taken me by the shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes and told me that things would get very serious and result in much heartache and suffering if I did not heed the voice of God. Yahweh showed me that this is that which I am to do with others. I am to impress upon them the seriousness of Yahweh’s dealings and the importance of heeding when He is still speaking. If we do not respond to the still, small voice of the Spirit, then He will do something severe to get our attention. It was such an admonition that Paul gave to the saints in Corinth.
I Corinthians 11:30-33
For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.
It is a slumbering church that does not perceive the reason for so much weakness, sickness and death among them. A spiritually lethargic church does not perceive the hand of Yahweh’s discipline, and many perish because of it. Those who have eyes to see need to look a brother or sister in the eye and speak the truth to them in love. They need to tell them that Yahweh requires all of us. He will bring each child of His to surrender every area of independence to Him. He will require that we place all that we love on the altar, and should we shrink back He has no pleasure in us.
I have walked down this road with the Father, having voluntarily taken up the cross at His urging. I have seen many of the pitfalls, snares, and obstacles along the way. I have met the enemy’s ambushes, and I have struggled with the rebellion of my own flesh. Yet Yahshua has given me great grace for having presented myself as a freewill offering before Him. He has held me to the course. He has encouraged me when I was discouraged. He has calmed my fears. He has given me understanding when I was perplexed. Now He is calling me to do the same with others, for a great multitude are about to be brought to travel the same path.
A Guide Down Wilderness Pathways
When Randy and I were camped together at F.D.R. State Park we took many hikes together. At least once a day we went on a hike through the mountains of West Georgia. Randy always allowed me to lead, and I felt this was also significant. I had camped at F.D.R. before, and I had hiked some of the trails, while Randy had not been there. This was also true in the spiritual sense. The Lord had led me out into this journey of flesh cutting some years before Randy had gotten his start, and now I was able to act as a guide to him.
I also learned the value of humility in listening to Randy and asking questions of others. One day we took a hike and went down a trail I had not been on before. It turned out to be much longer than I thought it would be, and there were some signs along the way that were very confusing, if not downright deceiving. On previous hikes we had only been walking a couple miles at a time, but it was close to five miles before we completed this hike and arrived back at our campsite. We were exhilarated by having pressed on further than we had gone before. Since Randy struggles with a serious injury to one of his heels, and I am recovering from a heart attack, we both had to exercise endurance. I was able to walk much further with a greater peace knowing that I had a friend walking with me, and I suspect he would testify the same. This will also be true for many who will walk down difficult, and seemingly endless roads in days ahead.
Since leaving West Georgia Yahweh has directed Randy and I to go to the coast of East Georgia where we are now camping for a further two weeks. We are camping on Jekyll Island, a place I have a great familiarity with. I once worked at the very campground we are staying at, and I lived on the island for several years. Once more the Lord is allowing me to act as a guide, and I know He has orchestrated all of the events of this period of time to reveal to me an understanding of the ministry of approaching days.
Randy and I have found ourselves discussing many areas of the flesh that the Lord is dealing with. Oftentimes it is something I have faced during the past nine years and I am able to encourage him by sharing from my own experiences. We are very much alike, and I have told Randy on several occasions that the only difference I see between us is that I got an earlier start down this path. He is now making the journey and I am able to encourage him along the way.
On one of my visits to Callaway Gardens I wnet to an area where they have a large fruit and vegetable garden. The thing I was most impressed with at this particular area was the grape vines. They had some very large vines that had been carefully maintained. They had been severely pruned back and the first new growth of the season was just emerging on the vines.
As I looked at the vines I considered the pruning the Lord had been performing on my life during these years. He has been very careful to cut only that which needed cutting. Yet He has not hesitated to prune back severely that which was necessary.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.”
The cutting away of the flesh is never pleasant, yet the results of this work are very beneficial. The great lie of Satan that the church has embraced is that this work of pruning is optional. According to Christ, there are only two options. You bear fruit and get pruned, or you fail to bear fruit and you get taken away. There is no third option where God simply leaves you alone to live as you please and you are not required to experience pruning. What happens to those who do not bear fruit, and do not experience pruning?
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
To abide in Christ we must suffer. To remain in the vine we must submit to pruning. Yahshua was perfected through suffering, and so too are we. Yahshua was made fruitful as He submitted to all that the Father chose for Him, and so too will we be made fruitful by the same process.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
The flesh must be crucified in order for the life of Christ within to be revealed. Yet if the flesh is crucified great fruitfulness will result. If you are troubled by the thought of suffering, perhaps even terrified of it, you need to consider that your Lord is very tender and compassionate. He gives abundant grace to His suffering children. He walks through the fire with all of His sons and daughters, for nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Yahshua is near to the brokenhearted. His compassion does not fail. There is a fellowship in His suffering that goes beyond any other fellowship.
It is appointed to all men to pass through the first things. None can avoid them.
He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
One thing I have learned is that we torment ourselves by seeking to avoid suffering. There is greater torment in seeking to avoid suffering than there is in walking through trials with the Lord by our side. We can entrust our lives to God and know that His thoughts toward us are always of good and not evil, to give us a future and a hope. Peace comes as we trust Yahweh with our entire being. Peace does not come by avoiding suffering. It only comes by accepting and embracing that which Yahweh chooses for us. We can have peace even in the midst of the storm if we trust God. Yet those who do not trust Him will not have peace even when they flee from the storms of life.
At the beginning of this article we read that during Jubilee the people were not to eat the produce of untrimmed vines. Can you see the spiritual parable contained in this admonition? Yahweh finds no pleasure in the fruit that comes from an untrimmed vine, and neither does He want His children to find any pleasure therein. Yahweh only blesses that which comes from a vine that has been pruned. We must submit to the pruning of God or the fruit of our lives will be detestable in His sight.
The Lord is coming with sickle in hand to remove the flesh from the lives of His children. There are many who will see the suffering before them and flee. Many will fall away as the dead branches are taken away from the vine. Yet there will be those who see the necessity of the cutting away of the flesh in order that a spiritual creature might arise, and they will submit to their Lord’s desire. These will be made ready for the Bridegroom. These will be made fruitful, and their fruit will abide to the glory of the Father.
He comes. He comes as a cutter of flesh. Humble yourself before His hand that He might be gracious to you as this necessary work is performed.
End of Part One