THE WITNESS, the codes or the cloud?
by Bola Olu-Jordan
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“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us” (Heb.10:15)
As the children of Israel left Egypt for the Promised Land through the divine leadership of Moses, the Lord instructed them not to mingle with the people they meet on their way; marry their sons and daughters, practice their religions, culture or ways of life and also not to build permanent structures on the way. They were to dwell in temporary houses, movable tents and make-shift tabernacles of worship (Num.9). This means that they should not acquire land or own possessions which would attach or identify them to the place they were passing through.
God did not initially give them any law to guide or lead them throughout the journey, but He gave them a witness: a pillar of cloud by the day; to provide shade, leading and direction, and pillar of fire in the night; to light, guard and protect them. Their utmost duty was to watch the cloud and follow it: to move when it moves, and stop when it stops. That cloud is the presence, power and glory of God that will take them to the Promised Land and anyone who did not move with the cloud would be cut off from Israel forever (Ex.13:21-22; 14:19,24; 19:9,16; 33:14; 40:38).
But while in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, Israel rebelled against the leadership of Moses and challenged his authority to lead them and did exactly what God warned them not to do. They were carried away by freedom mentality and became fascinated with the culture, people and ways of life of those they met on their way. They married their children and also gave their own children away in marriage to the people and worshiped their gods, instead of destroying them.
Soon, they forgot about God’s presence above them, the witness to lead them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. When the cloud moved, they were too established, successful and had become chiefs in foreign lands that they could not afford to let-go their achievements. They watched the cloud move, but they stayed. Thus, the presence, power and glory of God left them, but a remnant still followed through to the Promised Land through the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness given to Moses (Acts 7:44).
The Old Testament is New Testament concealed and the New Testament is Old Testament revealed. In Kingdom typology, Moses, the deliverer of Israel was a type of Jesus; Egypt was a type of the world system and sin, Pharaoh represent Satan; the wilderness that the children of Israel passed through represent the world we live in as pilgrims, while the Promised Land is the Kingdom of God we are pressing in to. Believers are thus Israel, rescued from Egypt (sin and Satan) by the deliverer (Jesus), but passing through the wilderness (the world), heading to the Promised Land, heaven!
The church today is the spiritual Israel and we have done exactly like the children of Israel did: we have made friends with the people of the world, mingled with and married them; served their gods, practice their culture, religions and ways of life, build permanent structures, and even permanent place of worship instead of make-shift tents of meeting such as can be easily dismantled when the cloud moves. We are no longer being led by the presence of God: we have been indigenized, indoctrinated, attracted and carried away by the allure the world we pass through offer us.
The end time church has lost track of the witness: God’s manifest presence, the Shekinah glory of the Most High, the evidence of His power, which alone can deliver His people from Egypt. She is busy acquiring wealth, trying to fit-in and become relevant to the world system, competing for titles and positions. When she is supposed to build tents of meeting, she is busy building cathedral of marbles. When she is to build people and prepare them for the kingdom, she is building empires and institutions. When she is to preach the kingdom of God, she is busy distributing miracles, breakthroughs, blessings, appropriating the opportunities and befriending natives of the wilderness. Thus, the Church is producing hybrid offspring, instead of godly sons and daughters. She is now being led by denominational codes, instead of the manifest presence of God!
But in every generation, there is always a handful of remnant: those who would not be deceived and hallucinated by the magic of the wilderness with its delusion of riches. Their motto is ‘watching and waiting’; not ‘busy, but guilty’. They know that they are pilgrims on earth, which is a wilderness and their land of nativity is heaven, the Promised home; a land with better things than the fleeting allure of freedom and the mirage of gold. How true it is that many Christians do better in poverty than in prosperity!
WORST THAN HARLOTS
Lot was a perfect example of the church. As the Lord enlarged him, the need to break away from his uncle, Abraham became apparent because their servants were constantly fighting on where their herds would graze. Abraham gave Lot liberty to choose where he desired to go. Lot looked around and chose the plains of Jordan which was lush, green and well watered, to graze his cattle. He did not choose by The Witness of the Spirit, but by calculation of sight. That place was Sodom (Gen.13:10-11).
Many Christians have chosen churches to belong and graze from, not by inner witness and direction of the Spirit, but through mental judgment, mere calculations of benefits, marketing promo and miracle advert of the church to ‘deliver’ breakthrough within certain time. They are lured-in by fantastic programs and importing of special guests to desecrate the holy altars with strange music to energize their flesh to the rhythm of demonic songs with copyright from sons of Belial; and then, prophetic words are released to the gullible victims that it is their turn to shine, when they are supposed to be confronted with their sinful lives.
The people of Sodom welcomed Lot to their land and gave him enough room to expand and he became successful and wealthy with flourishing business and gained respect of the people. Although, he did not identify or contaminate himself in Sodom, but as long as God’s testimony of Sodom was that it was a land of exceedingly wicked people: homosexuals, who went after ‘strange flesh’ and who would even molest angels (Gen.13:13; 18:25), Lot’s effort in preaching and converting them was irrelevant. It is not about who you are, but where you are at. We must not be unequally yoked. The land you are and the anointing you are under matter most, because the anointing flows from the head. If the headship is wrong, there is nothing the righteous can do. Lot did not leave there with a single goat, despite the herds of cattle he went there with. He lost everything, including his testimony. His own virgin daughters made him drunk and had sexual relationship with him and gave birth to Moab and Ammon, who later became cursed nations to Israel (Gen.19:30-38). We are not only to run from evil, but its appearances (1Thess.5:2).
Jacob pitched his tent in Padan-aram, bought parcels of land and erected an altar to God (Gen.34:19-20) when he was supposed to move forward. The son of the prince of the land raped Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, and the Prince told Jacob that they were ready to pay any price to marry her and promised to give them large fields to stay and dwell, so that they could ‘trade therein and get possessions’. They even agreed to circumcise every of their own male in the city just to have Jacob stay. Satan can offer you any amount, position, fame, etc, to tie you down as long as it will make you forget your destination. He can give you the world to get your vision (Mt.4:9). The altar Jacob erected didn’t matter. God didn’t ask us to build a cathedral but tents and people. When we begin to have possessions in the wilderness, regardless of any altar we erect, there would be good reasons to stay.
Among those stranded in the religious wilderness are some with natural ability to rule and such have assumed religious leadership among the people, using the bait of breakthrough, miracles and blessings to make pilgrims forget their destination. They burdening them with excess weight of commitment to their vision and various interesting programs, activities, doctrines, and creeds to keep them in their nest and prevent them from discovering that they are lost. These men hide under the ‘collar’ to fulfill personal ambition, manipulating innocent followers to fund their wild dreams: their God is their belly and with strange words and fair speeches, make merchandize of the people (Rom.16:18). They peddle facts instead of speaking truths, retailing miracles for fame and lowering standards to accommodate crowd. They are anointed with seducing spirits to teach doctrines of the devil, turning believers into pigs to wallow in filth of doctrines instead of the power of God.
LOST LOT, LEADING LOST LOTS
Lot knew the Lord like his Uncle, Abraham and both were on the journey to the ‘promised land’, but Lot sincerely missed it along the way because of the allure of Sodom, but Abraham went on still with the cloud of witness above leading him through. Lot became the religious advocate in Sodom, leading a congregation of goats, who can never be led into pasture, but by putting shackles in their necks. He became the lost Lot, leading the lost lots of people, just like many religious leaders today are lost themselves from God’s presence, but leading people by shackles of doctrines. God was not in Sodom despite the righteousness of Lot. How can we be in sin and ask that grace should abound (Rom.6:1) or can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? (Psa.137:4).
The church has lost tract of The Witness of the Spirit, but rather embraced codes, laws and doctrines as the witness to lead her to God. She has lost track of the presence of God and also the testimony of those who have successfully walked the true path and triumphed: those whose lives and testimonies are to be a living testament and encourage us to do-away with all the excess weight that the Lord has warned us not to carry on our journey through the wilderness of this world, knowing that our destination is heaven. We no longer listen to the witness of the cloud, to stop when it stops and to move when it moves.
Jesus warned His disciples: “provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves; for the workman is worthy of his meat” (Mat.10:10). Even mere purses should not be too heavy! But today, we carry excess weight of titles, church growth strategies, certificates, systems, membership, and we lose track of His manifest presence.
When the seventy disciples returned with joy, saying: “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name”. Jesus LOOKED UP and rejoiced that God has hidden these truths from the wise and prudent, but revealed it to babes and warned them only to rejoice in that their names are written in heaven! (Lk.10: 18-21).
God would never lead and leave His people without a witness. When Israel could no longer follow the cloud in the wilderness, He gave them the codes of laws, but only to lead them back to Himself (Gal.3:19,21,24), because the letter (law) kills, but the Spirit gives life (2Cor.3:6). Even the law could not judge the people under Moses without the witness (Heb.10:28-29).
And when the law, too, could no longer hold, He sent Jesus, ‘who is the faithful witness and the first begotten of the dead…” (Rev.1:5), and when Jesus was leaving He said: ‘I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). “I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever, even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive” (John 14:17). And after the rapture of the church when the time of grace would have passed and the Holy Spirit would have left, God will still send two witnesses to the earth to testify of Him (Rev.11:3). Even the TRUE GOSPEL shall be preached in all nations, as a witness against the world, so that no flesh will have an excuse in His sight, ‘that thou mightiest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest” (Psa.51:4). We are to follow a person (Jesus), not a system or organization (denomination). God is not a God of systems or denominations. Our calling is to believe in Jesus, not organization. Our membership is not to institution, but to the body of Christ.
But the church is still embracing the codes as her witness because it is easier to determine our gains by calculations and permutations from the world, than hopes and expectations from God, whose presence we no longer see or feel. It is easier to believe the government and system as the source of our livelihood, than to believe God whom we don’t see for survival. It is challenging to wait on the Lord for direction and leading, because He keeps us waiting in order to kill our flesh. He is rarely early, but He is never late.
MOVING WITH THE CLOUD
In the church ages, we saw the movement of the cloud: from the Church of Rome to Church of England, the Protestant, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and by and by, to the Charismatic / Pentecostal age. But why was the cloud moving and not just stay on one and if there was any problem, rectify it, or why do we have many denominations?
Each of the previous movements enjoyed ‘fire’ before the 'coldness'. (He that is preparing for war should not boast more than he that is returning from war). If the cloud left the previous movements, it can leave the present. The Pentecostal movement that basks in the euphoria of Holy Ghost fire, which is getting dimmer, has fallen into the same 'sin' which she accused her mother of. Now (it appears as if) fire is returning to the orthodox and many who are weary of the excess and rascality of the one-man ingenious idea of building an empire that will even last his unborn generation are returning there. But is the witness there?
Many sincere worshippers are deceived and serving leaders with sugar-coated tongues and those persuasive words flow through their lips like honey to manipulate and deceive hearers through strange gospel of breakthroughs, prosperity and miracles, regardless of peoples’ relationship with God. Such centers, called churches in error, are maintained by codes, doctrines and traditions of the elders, overseers and pastor-founders, who are shareholders and proceeds must return to them as dividends accrued to their investment. Jesus drove them out of the temple in anger, but we are celebrating and decorating them with titles. The Holy Spirit has moved to begin an eternal work with the remnants!
Most Bible schools today are breeding ground for ambitious people who hide under God’s call to develop professional art of oration and manipulation through the power of logic, rhetoric, philosophy and other manipulative techniques using the name of Jesus, lacing it with charismatic displays and prodigal lifestyle to convince victims, presenting facts from the Bible, but withholding the truths of Jesus. They have so much mastery that they would deceive even the VERY elect if the days are not shortened. NO FLESH would have been saved, but for the elects’ sake (Mat.24:22).
Will God’s presence be with the people or the system that people has built for Him, like King Jeroboam presented a system of false priesthood and the golden calf to the people and said to them; ‘behold your God, O Israel, that led you out of Egypt’ (1Kgs.12:28)? Is it the denominational system or membership that saved us, or the power of God? Are we pastors by promotion or through filling a vacancy created by people to meet up with church’s policy of creating several branches within as stipulated time? Is God calling us to join what man is doing for Him or to accept what He did for us?
Jesus said ‘I will build my Church’ (Mt.16:18). He didn’t ask man, with the best sincere motive to build church for Him. He called us to follow Him as individuals and fellowship together as a church and not to build a congregation with human techniques of church growth formula or membership strategy for Him. Denomination with its codes and laws is the church that man built, regardless of how neat and religious.
We are charged to “earnestly contend for THE FAITH which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God unto lasciviousness…” (Jude 4-5). Would the saints who toiled and gave up their lives that we may have the true Gospel be happy to see what we have turned Christianity to today? Would they rejoice that their blood which flowed to preserve the testimony was not in vain? What has bedeviled and bewitched us to embrace a strange Gospel of ‘all other things’, instead of the kingdom of God and its righteousness?
Wonderful programs are now designed to appeal to peoples’ material needs, but not spiritual needs: making people religious, but never spiritual: making them prayerful without a sanctified life! If the Holy Spirit must do a new thing in such places, dead founders of such movement or the elders, many of who belong to different cults must ratify it, otherwise, He must go somewhere else and somewhere else He has gone! If the church truly belong to Christ, then Christians must look up to Him, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb.12:2) and not to constitution, board of deacons, elders, G.O.’s or Pastor-founders whose roles are good as guides, but not God! The “true church” does not belong to them, but to Christ.
It is easy to know when the glory has departed the church. When the cloud left Israel, they began to ‘prosper’. They began to acquire, trade, profit, expand and become relevant with titles, etc and they thought it was prosperity, just like we think that proliferation of churches, wealth and political relevance is prosperity. The end time Church says: 'I am rich and increased in goods and needs no need of nothing' (Rev.3:14-22), but sadly, she is wretched, naked, blind and poor, but does not know it. Old habits, styles and patterns of life that has been abandoned by the church through the convincing power of the Holy Spirit is now returning in order to accommodate and justify ecumenism. Titles, diocese, regalia, etc, which have more to do with the status of leaders and church more than that of God are returning. The end time church no longer wonder at ‘much’, ‘most’, ‘very’ ‘right’ reverends, bishops, etc, before, but now, promoting it, for effective monitoring of ‘branch networks’ and ‘postings’, which is not necessary if the church were to be the church of saints and not of business people or miracle seekers.
Where is the zeal and fire that gave birth to Pentecostal movement? Is she still ‘correcting’ and ‘freeing’ the Holy Spirit from legalism and being boxed-in by ‘order of service’? Is she giving the Holy Spirit liberty to liberate souls from religious shackles and bondages or the same monstrous debacle which caught up with the past movements has caught up with her? Denominationalism has been the bane of every movement; when any movement becomes denominationalized, the Holy Spirit moves out to begin a new thing. When that happens, division, which brings denominationalism sets-in, followed by legalism: the codes then, become the witness to prevent ‘failure’ and justify reason for leaving.
When Jesus told Peter to leave the boat and come to him on the water, Peter was not sinking as long as he was looking at Jesus. But when he started to look around, he started to sink (Mt.14:30). Stop looking around, you will sink. Look up to Jesus. Most churches look around to see and copy what others are doing that is making them grow. Exciting words, logic, rhetoric, quotable quotes, etc, becomes the characteristic of a good message. Paul said: “my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and power” (1Cor.2:4). The crowd is now the yardstick for measuring success in ministry: luring them in into our comfortable centers, not reaching out to them in their huts and villages. We labour to meet their needs, not commending them to God to seek Him with all their hearts so they may find Him.
The church is in the last age and the season of the in-gathering, the day of the Lord, when there will be no need for the Holy Spirit to begin a new work, for a ‘short work will the Lord do’ and will perfect that which He has began because time will be no more. Only two people eventually got to the Promised Land out of millions that left Egypt. Others perished in the wilderness; some were lost or assimilated into the culture and traditions of the strange nations on their way.
God is stirring up the hearts of the stranded ones in every denomination with flame of revival and calling them to look up to Him. They are only stranded, not lost. You are probably one of them; maybe that’s why you are reading this as a shout of the trumpet to you. It’s time to trim your light, so that you can be able to meet the bridegroom (Mat.25:7). It is the Holy Spirit that will quicken you for Rapture, not the laws, programs, activities or the messages of your pastor. It is the cloud that leads to the Promised Land, not the codes. At this end time, God is raising prophets who would “turn the heart of the fathers to their children and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:6).
The shout came to Lot by the voice of the angels to get out of the (accursed) place and he was preserved because of the prayers and pleas of Abraham, who followed The Witness. The cloud is moving to its final destination and God is gathering people for the final grace: will the shout meet you following the inner witness or embracing the codes? When the bridegroom comes, will your lamp have oil and your light burning or unrepentantly bound by the laws of your denomination? Only those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God, not those who are led by laws.
Your Titles will not save you because there will be no Title holders in heaven, but servants and bond-servants like the disciples. God did not ask you to begin a church or to save, bless, heal or lead anyone; you usurp His role doing that; you can’t even save yourself. We don’t join or begin a church, we are born (again) into it and we express it in fellowship, not lordship.
This message is another witness to you. Will you also ignore it like the rich young ruler? He had sincerely followed codes all his life, but Jesus loved Him when he saw his sincerity. He told him the truth: codes and laws would not take you to God, follow ME. But he could not, but went away sorrowfully because he had great possessions! (Mt.19:22). What great possessions, permanent structures or excess weights do you have that will not allow you to move with the cloud: title, name, denomination…? It’s time to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” like Jesus “…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross …” (Heb.12:1-2).
The Holy Spirit is the only witness given to us at this dispensation to take us to the kingdom, not denominations, codes and laws which are the sincere inventions of men to guide us. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater” (1Jn.5:9). It is “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom.8:16), not laws, certificates, ordination or church membership. “…it is the high time to awake out of sleep... The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light…” (Rom.13:11-14).
‘He that has ears let him hear what the spirit says to the churches’!
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