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Most people’s concept of faith is bound up in miracles of healing or provision. I learned very early in life that faith is a way of life. It is a relationship with God and a mindset that we are His children and that He is our Father. He will never leave us or forsake us, and He will care for us because He loves us.
At the same time, as our Father, He is training us for whatever calling we have and for whatever lies ahead. He corrects us when necessary, and it seems that we learn more by our mistakes than by our successes. I think all of us have this in common, but some have more appreciation for God’s corrections than others do.
There are times when God leads us through the valley of the shadow of death, when it would have been much nicer to be led on a safer path. It is difficult to navigate the valley of the shadow of death. We have this idea that if we are obedient to God, our path will be filled with wine and roses. But that is not so. God brings challenges and many difficulties along the way in order to give us experience, which teaches us patience and brings us to new levels of maturity.
The life of faith is where we know that God will take care of us and protect us even while we walk around in the dark. Even turning to the wrong path can only bring us down a detour that eventually brings us to where God is leading us. This is about trusting Him in all things.
My Wilderness Journey
Forty years ago, I embarked on my own wilderness journey, which led through the valley of the shadow of death. I received multiple warnings. Many were alarmed, thinking I was going down the wrong path. But they did not know the purpose of God, nor did they understand the purpose of this wilderness. All they could see was the hardship that I would encounter.
I myself did not know what lay ahead, but I had a vision, a basic revelation of the end of this journey. God often shows us the glorious end of the journey while hiding the difficult path to get there. If He had shown me ahead of time, I may well have refused to go that route. I stumbled in the dark many times, learning the life of faith.
I survived the 12-month ordeal (1981-1982), then the 12-year training period (1981-1993). I am now at the end of that 40-year cycle that was so prevalent in Moses’ life. As the training periods increase, the lessons become greater and often more difficult. I have a few counselors and many friends now, who provide me with revelation and/or a double witness. I take everyone’s revelation and discernment seriously, but in the end, I have to walk the path alone, as we all do.
Differences in Revelation
One of the most important problems is how to deal with differences in revelation. We are all different, having had different experiences in life. Genuine prophets often differ. Prophets can have many blind spots. Many people accept everything that a prophet says without discerning his blind spots. Others go the other way and reject prophets on account of their blind spots. I have learned that we ought to take every word seriously and discern for ourselves what is truth.
When Moses compiled the Torah, he included the prophecies of Balaam, the classic false prophet. To be able to see God and His purpose in all things is a rare quality. Yet God Himself has this quality, for He sees gems buried deep in the darkness of men’s hearts—gems that few people see, on account of the encrustation that has accumulated.
I listen to various prophets today, most of whom are blinded by Christian Zionism. I have found that many of them hear God’s voice clearly in most areas but not in some areas. The main controversy, perhaps, is the issue of modern Zionism. God says that He will destroy Jerusalem, laying siege to the city (Isaiah 29:3)—in essence, siding with the army of invaders! Isaiah was given this vision, but other prophets were blinded to it (Isaiah 29:10), thinking that Jerusalem will never be destroyed.
I have learned to sympathize with their blindness, which is caused by a problem from the distant past. The prophets in Jeremiah’s day refused to hear the word, so God caused a generational blindness to fall upon the prophets and seers to this day.
On Being Slow to Judge
One lesson we must all learn is to be slow to judge any controversial matter. Things are not always what they seem, even if they seem clear to us. We must remember that we judge according to our own experience, which is incomplete. So Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:5 KJV,
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.
Paul was telling them that they should not be so quick to come to a conclusion (verdict) before knowing all of the facts. We tend to think that we know all the facts in a case, but that is seldom the case. It may take years for God to “bring to light the hidden things of darkness.” And who really knows “the counsel of the hearts”? And do we really know the heart of God?
God’s purposes are usually hidden from us while we are being led. So Jeremiah had no idea why God told him to go the potter’s house in Jeremiah 18:1-10. He had to go there to discover the revelation and the purpose of God. Revelation usually precedes understanding, and one must walk it out in order to get that understanding.
The Rechabite Lesson
At one point, Jeremiah was told to “go to the house of the Rechabites and … give them wine to drink” (Jeremiah 35:2). The Rechabites had taken a vow to drink no wine (Jeremiah 35:6), so they refused when the prophet said, “Drink wine!” (Jeremiah 35:5). God then gave them a blessing and a promise in verse 19. Jeremiah’s word from God was true, but it contradicted the revelation of the Rechabites. Unless we know the purpose of a revelation, our understanding is incomplete.
I believe this word to Jeremiah was for his learning, rather than just a test for the Rechabites. By my experience, I believe that the prophet really believed (at first) that it was the will of God for the Rechabites to drink this wine. In fact, he brought them to the temple to offer them this drink. But the lesson was not what the prophet had thought. Jeremiah learned something that day by personal experience.
If we read Jeremiah 35:13, 14, we discover the broader lesson. The general situation in his day was that the people listened to the prophets who contradicted the earlier word from God—the word that they were to have no other gods before Me. Don’t listen to prophets who teach the people to sin and then give them comfort in their lawlessness. The people should have rejected the word of their prophets, even as the Rechabites had rejected the word of Jeremiah.
In essence, God had told Jeremiah to tempt the Rechabites with lawlessness by violating their vow. The Rechabites passed the test and perhaps even wondered if Jeremiah was acting as a false prophet! But the lesson was that the people were doing that very thing in regard to their prophets.
The lesson was not easy, nor did Jeremiah really understand what was happening until the Lord came (as Paul put it) with the full understanding. There is a time for every revelation, and we must learn to “wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). It is often the case that we must watch and see how things play out before we draw a conclusion (verdict) in our minds.
When we see someone going astray or making a mistake, we naturally want to warn him and correct him. If we were following Jesus as His disciples in the first century, would we not have wanted to correct Him when He chose Judas? John 6:70 says,
70 Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”
So did Jesus make a mistake? Obviously not. We today have the benefit of the full revelation. We now enjoy 20/20 hindsight, as they say. We know that Judas had to play his part in the story. Evil had to play its role to show how God is in control of both good and evil. But Jesus’ disciples were still walking in the dark. Put yourself in their shoes. When Judas betrayed Jesus, the disciples were dismayed; but when Jesus was raised from the dead, He explained to them, “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets” how all these things were necessary. Luke 24:26, 27 says,
26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
This illustrates Paul’s words very well, for it shows how the disciples ideally should have withheld judgment until the Lord came with the full revelation of truth. Until that moment, even though Jesus made many plain statements previously that should have told the disciples what would happen, their ears were not sufficiently prepared to hear and understand His words. Only later did they remember. Certain events had to play out before they could understand.
Revelation is thus progressive, and we all need to acknowledge that there are truths yet to be revealed that we are not capable of hearing in our present state. Though we are active participants in the progression of revelation, we are also still learning. As students, we must know how to observe what is happening with a level of humility, knowing that we do not yet know the purpose of God until He comes to reveal it.