At this point in history believers are caught in a tug of war between a demonically inspired blanket of fear designed to neutralize us on the one hand, and the time of our lives in joy and power on the other. Negative prophetic words fail to address the real issues and actually weaken us when we need to be strengthened. Now is the time for us to rise. Now is the time of the fulfillment of promise. Now is the time for our destiny and purpose to become real.
The best didn't die with the apostles; the best is yet to come. The gloom-and-doomers are wrong. We must not allow ourselves to become caught up in the fears, woes and worries of the world around us. If we do, we'll blind ourselves to the kingdom of God unfolding before our very eyes, and we won't be ready to participate in the wonders God wants to work through us.
The first thing you want to notice in any study of Scripture with regard to the end-time anointing on God's people is that frightening apocalyptic visions of end-time destruction are just plain wrong. There's one path for the world that leads to destruction, but there's another and different path for us. The truth is that we believers can expect an age of wonder, excitement and favor in the world such as the church has never seen in all its history until now.
Many of the passages of Scripture that apply to this subject were written first for a period of time about 500 years before Jesus, when Babylon conquered Jerusalem (586 B.C.) and carried the population into captivity. Seventy years later, they were released to begin a return to the land in order to rebuild their temple and their city. These passages were first meant as promises for that time, but that's not the end of it.
When a prophecy has been fulfilled one-to-one in history (no leftovers, no foreshadowings) we don't look for it to come again. It's done. But when a prophecy was greater than the initial historical fulfillment of it--in other words, it happened in history, but not in fullness--then we see it as a type of a greater fulfillment to come.
Many of the Old Testament passages we're about to look at contain just that kind of foreshadowing. They were fulfilled in history, but not in fullness. We therefore look for the greater thing yet to come. For this reason, we recognize them as end-time passages. Five strong elements characterize the last days anointing on the people of God, each of them each of them described in the Old Testament and New Testament passages I refer to below.
1. In the end-time anointing of the people of God, the church is renewed in oneness and unity in an unprecedented way.
God breaks down barriers of hate and suspicion and destroys the spirit of Jezebel that criticizes and destroys leaders, dividing people from one another. God gathers us and draws us together.
"‘Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant'" (Is. 60:4-5, NASB).
"‘Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, "Give them up!" and to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made'" (Is. 43:5-7).
"‘Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse'" (Mal. 4:5-6).
The Holy Spirit breaks down all kinds of divisions as He moves to gather and restore His people. According to Ephesians 5, He is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle.
In the church, therefore, young and old will come together. On another level, racism in the body of Christ will crumble, at least in what I call the "lighthouses churches," if not in the wider church. Ephesians 3 speaks of Jesus having broken down the barrier between Jews and non-Jews so that the two become one man, gathered and reconciled. Men and women will come together. Believers of different faiths within legitimate Christendom will unite. We're already seeing it. It's happening. It's been happening.
I don't believe God ever envisioned a church united around agreement on fine points of doctrine (how to baptize, when Jesus is coming back, what communion means, what politics are Christian) but united in their experience of His Spirit and their desperate hunger for more of Him.
"Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4:3-6, emphasis added).
So there will come an unprecedented unity among believers--at least among those whose heart is for the realization of the kingdom of God on earth and the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. It will be based on our hunger for and experience of His Spirit
A reconciling spirit will captivate the body of Christ while the world around us sinks deeper into division. It's already begun. There have been fits and starts. We've moved forward and then stumbled back over and over again, but it's happening.
Hunger after the reality of God has united us and broken down barriers like nothing else could. Pentecostal. Baptist. Catholic. Episcopal. Presbyterian. Methodist. Independent. New apostolic. Black. White. Asian. Messianic. Hispanic. Young. Old. All are hungry for Jesus!
2. There will come from heaven an unprecedented anointing to free people and to heal them inwardly and outwardly. This anointing will be power for signs and wonders.
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified" (Is. 61:1-3).
"‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these will he do; because I go to the Father'" (John 14:12).
"But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall" (Mal. 4:2).
When Jesus sent out the 12 apostles in pairs--and later the 70--to cast out demons and to heal the sick, He told them to heal and then to preach the kingdom of God, as if to explain the meaning of the healings and deliverances. He intended for the signs and wonders of His Father's love, power and mercy to validate the message of the kingdom of God in the eyes of those who didn't believe.
The hearts of the masses in our day won't be won on the battlefield of ideas or in the realm of politics by trying to convince them of the rightness of our system of thought and belief. The time has come to begin to do on a massive, public scale what Jesus did.
When the Holy Spirit comes in power, arguments end. It's a bit like Elijah challenging the 450 prophets of Baal to a duel. "Let's offer a sacrifice, and the God who sends fire on the sacrifice, we'll acknowledge He is God, OK?" When God sent fire to consume the sacrifice, the altar and even the water in the ditch around it, the people fell on their faces and cried out, "The Lord! He is God! The Lord! He is God!" Argument settled.
It's time for a massive confrontation with the prophets of Baal, a growing movement of Christians challenging the powers of darkness in public with healing and prophetic words, unashamed, demonstrating God's power and love. You, the average believer, are an essential part of that.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power" (1 Cor. 4:19-20).
The test of true Christianity--as opposed to the false--is the demonstration of power. Not a doctrinal test, but a power test! Before us right now is a season in which the power of God is being poured out to minister signs and wonders in the public eye as never before. We've seen the beginning. The healings we've seen in church buildings and revival services have been intended to show us what we've been given, but the goal is to deploy us into the world. God is going to validate His word in a way that ends the war of ideas through demonstrations of power.
We have come into a time when God is increasing the frequency and significance of signs and wonders performed by the hands of His people in order to bring glory to His name and to cause the people of the world to fall down and cry out as the Israelites did when the fire fell after Elijah prayed, "The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!"
3. There will be a spontaneous ingathering of the nations (unbelievers) into the arms of the Lord. They'll be coming to be saved because of the winsome, attractive beauty of the glory of the Lord on His people.
Acts 2:43-47 tells of such a time. Pentecost had come. The church had just been born. Peter explained it as the last days anointing prophesied in Joel 2:28 and following–a time when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all flesh. Because not all of what Joel prophesied came to pass in those early years of the church, we know there is a greater time of fulfillment yet to come. If we will receive it, that time is upon us now. But we must be filled with hope, not caught up in fear.
"Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
"Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:43-47, emphasis added).
We have been invited to be part of a greater version of what happened in Jerusalem so long ago. Part of the reason Christianity is spreading worldwide into regions it never penetrated before is that the Christians going into those regions demonstrate a power that local practitioners of the dominant spiritual system or philosophy cannot. When believers cast out demons, restore sight to the blind, heal the sick and raise the dead, people are made ready to receive what we have to say.
God wants to see a world saved, and His gift of love to us is that we get to be part of it just by being beautiful and filled with His power and love. God is all good all the time, and we are His kids. That's what wins.
"‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising'" (Is. 60:1-3).
"‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, "It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.'" So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, "In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you'"'" (Zech. 8:20-23).
God Himself is going to sweep them into the kingdom because of the wonderful and visible favor that He will shower upon His people wherever His people will receive it.
"‘Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you, because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you'" (Is. 55:5).
4. All that healing and all that love will bring about a season of favor for God's people in the world, during which prosperity will flow into the church, even from unbelievers, and it will affect God's people at all levels.
Because of the good the world sees in us, even unbelievers will favor the church and the people of the church. In my own church, people and agencies that have no connection with us, many of whom are not believers, funnel goods and resources through us because they know that we give them away in integrity to the poor and needy.
Because of the glory of God on believers and the blessing they bring to their work places, Christians will be in hot demand and will be the envy of the world for their prosperity, depending on the attitude we choose. Because the church will become so valuable in the community for the services and the wisdom it provides, the world will beat a path to its door.
Consider the Lord's promises given through the prophet Isaiah:
"‘Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you. A multitude of camels will cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; they will go up with acceptance on My altar, and I shall glorify My glorious house.
‘Who are these who fly like a cloud and like the doves to their lattices? Surely the coastlands will wait for Me; and the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God, and for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you. Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, and in My favor I have had compassion on you. Your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly ruined'" (Is. 60:5-12).
"Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. But you will be called the priests of the Lord; you will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion" (Is. 61:5-7).
"‘For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed.
‘They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They will not build and another inhabit, they will not plant and another eat; for as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people, and My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord, and their descendants with them. It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent's food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,' says the Lord" (Is. 65:17-25).
5. There will be a renewal of favor before kings and governments.
It will be as it was in Daniel's time five-and-a-half centuries before Jesus, when Daniel served in the royal court of the Babylonian king. The king found that Daniel and his friends had the greatest wisdom of all his advisers. He sought them out and made them powerful in his court because of their wisdom and because they had servant hearts to bless him. And trust me, no president we could ever elect would be as godless or abusive as an ancient, Near Eastern king.
The government needed the people of God and granted them favor because their hearts were right and because they used their gifts to serve. The secular government sought out believers because they alone had the wisdom to deal with the problems of the kingdom. God wants to reverse the government's disdain for the church, but we're going to have to earn its respect.
If we will develop the right heart, we will see a time when governments reach out to the church of Jesus Christ with respect and need. Rick Warren's giving the invocation at Obama's inauguration is a prophetic foreshadowing of things to come.
"‘So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord'" (Zech. 8:22, emphasis added).
"Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. ... They all gather together, they come to you" (Is. 60:3-4, emphasis added).
"For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate. You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God" (Is. 62:1-3, emphasis added).
The royal diadem is a symbol of the Lord's rule over the earth. God will rule in the earth through His people, using their gifts to bless and serve employers, bosses, government, and neighborhoods.
"For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19).
"Sons of God" in Hebrew idiom means those who have become like God in their character. We are hidden now, buried under scandals, self-doubt and unbelief concerning who we really are, but God wants us exposed, released, given favor, ruling and reigning, inheriting all the promises and all the destiny the Lord has saved up for us.
The time before us is not one of gloom and doom; it will be instead the best and most adventurous time of our lives. The best for God's people lies not in the past, buried in Scripture somewhere. It's yet to come. We'll receive what has been promised but what we have not yet lived.
Let's not allow fear to defeat us. Fear destroys hope. Hopelessness leads to self-centeredness. Self-centeredness leads to powerlessness. And powerless people don't change the world.
Editor's Note: Two weeks ago we shared a message with you from R. Loren Sandford, founder and senior pastor of New Song Fellowship in Denver, Colorado, which was Part 1 of a two-part sermon given to his congregation in January 2009 titled "Prophetic Words for 2009." Today we bring you Part 2, "The Last Days Anointing." If you missed Part 1, you can click here to read it. Or you can order both parts of the message on CD through the church's Web site at newsongfellowship.org. Sandford is the author of several books, including Understanding Prophetic People and The Prophetic Church (both published by Chosen). In today's word, he once again reminds believers not to be frightened by gloom-and-doom prophecies and shares five encouraging elements that will characterize the last days anointing--among them unity, power for signs and wonders, and favor. No gloom and doom here!