Note: This article originally appeared on charismamag.com in March 2013.
What could an ancient mystery more than 2,500 years old mean to the future of your ministry? To understand its relevance for today, let me set the stage and go back to the last days of ancient Israel.
Before Israel's destruction as a nation, nine harbingers appeared—nine warnings of destruction in a biblical template of national judgment. These same nine harbingers of judgment are now reappearing in modern America in specific detail. Some have appeared in New York City, some in Washington D.C., some have involved the highest leaders of the land, even the president of the United States. The manifestations of the harbingers involve such things as the Stone of Judgment, the Sign of the Sycamore, the Tower, the Utterance, the Prophecy and more.
The pattern begins with a national wake-up call: The nation's hedge of protection is breached in some way. Years before the judgment, an enemy is allowed to strike the land. In the case of ancient Israel, that assault took place in 732 B.C. with the Assyrian invasion. In America, it happened on Sept. 11, 2001. After Assyria's attack, Israel did not repent or turn back to the Lord. Neither has America. In fact, both nations descended deeper into apostasy. And in both cases, the first strike led to further shakings. In America, we saw the second strike as the U.S. economy collapsed. Behind this modern-day collapse was a stream of ancient mysteries, some of which actually identified and ordained the very dates, days and hours of the greatest economic crashes in American history.
A Nation at War
To understand what these harbingers mean for your ministry, we have to understand the biblical context. The backdrop is that of an ancient nation, founded on the Word of God and dedicated to His purposes. Yet over time Israel begins to drift away, departing from His ways more and more rapidly. It becomes a civilization at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a nation in spiritual schizophrenia. Even in the wake of God's warnings and shakings, Israel hardens itself against Him, a defiance that ultimately leads to its destruction.
We're witnessing the same scenario happening to America. This nation, too, was founded upon and dedicated for God's purposes. But like Israel, America has departed and is departing from God and His ways. It has become a nation at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a civilization in spiritual schizophrenia. What this means is that as God's ministers, we now find ourselves in the same position as the righteous who lived in the days of Israel's apostasy. We are living and ministering in a culture increasingly set against our witness and ministry. As I write this article, America's departure from God and His Word continues unabated and ever more rapidly.
When I began to write The Harbinger, the words flowed out like a stream, as if the book had already been written before I wrote it. The book released in the very first days of 2012. I believe there was a reason for that. In The Harbinger I wanted to voice a prophetic warning, sound an alarm, offer a wake-up call.
National Tipping Points
Last year (2012) was critical in America's trajectory away from God. He warns before judgment. The year marked the first time in U.S. history when a sitting president publicly spoke against the biblical definition of marriage. It was the year that America re-elected the first president to take such a stand, not to mention a radically activist stand on abortion.
Many believers sensed that these political moves represented a tipping point. They did. The year wasn't just about the presidency, as 2012 marked the first time that three states voted to end the biblical definition of marriage by popular vote. In each of these elections, the number of people seeking to protect the biblical definition of marriage was just under 50 percent, while the number seeking to end it was just over 50 percent—a tipping point. Among those voters aged 18 to 35, the percentage opposed to the biblical definition of marriage is now a stunning 70 percent. By the next presidential election, these statistics will represent virtually everyone up to 40 years old.
Moreover, these statistics parallel another sobering finding: Of those Americans under age 30, one-third of them do not consider themselves Christians—not even nominal ones. Other polls have revealed this to be more like 40 percent. Last year America witnessed an event that shocked many who witnessed it: At the 2012 Democratic Convention, a good half of the delegates vehemently booed when God and Jerusalem were mentioned. And this was the convention that won the presidential election.
Tipping points are, by nature, critical. Whether they happen in the physical or spiritual realm, a tipping point represents the moment of critical mass—when momentum dramatically increases and motion dramatically accelerates. It also represents the moment when movement and direction become dramatically clear and manifest. So it was that shortly after the election, the issue of redefining marriage reached the Supreme Court.
This past year was also a milestone of a different kind. Though the media strangely avoided the story altogether, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the year that America made a critical decision, its first dramatic step in removing God from its national life—the removal of prayer and then of the Bible from schools. That, too, was a landmark. It resulted in the transformation of American civilization.
This transformation has been so radical and complete that the America where virtually every major TV/radio station once closed its broadcasting day with Bible-based sermons now seems light years away. Can you imagine if someone from 1962—expecting to find TV shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best—turned on the television in 2013? How would today's popular culture strike him? As nothing short of apocalyptic—much the same as the apostasy of ancient Israel would have struck the righteous of that day.
This is exactly what has happened. And if we are not as shocked as a viewer from 1962, it is only because we have become desensitized, step by step, by a civilization's moral decay.
Yet all these things, as critical as they are, are merely symptoms, consequences of a larger phenomenon. It was the same in ancient times. Israel had also removed God from its public life, redefined morality and killed its own children. These were all visible symptoms of an ancient nation descending away from God and His truth, and rejecting the faith of its foundation.
The Nation You Once Knew
Imagine you were living in ancient Israel in the time of apostasy, harbingers and judgment, and had a ministry there. What would you do? The first thing you'd have to do is face the truth that the Israel you once knew—the Israel that once knew God—no longer existed. You are now living in a post-biblical nation in opposition to God and His ways. In the same way, we must now realize what we are facing. The America we once knew is gone. Our ministries now exist in the context of a nation in deep apostasy and a mainstream culture increasingly and ever more brazenly at war with the ways of God.
Imagine that as you sought to minister in ancient Israel you were told that if you wanted to reach youth, you needed to tone down your preaching of the Word of God, avoid the hard passages, be more culturally friendly, lighten it up, just encourage your hearers, and tell your country how to succeed and how to unleash the divine champion that resides within all of them. And while you were at it, since many of the youth were increasingly turning to the idol Baal, if you could just add some elements of Baal worship, you'd really win them over.
What Would Your Answer Be?
Here's the bottom line: You are a minister, and ministers must minister what is needed. The need of a nation in apostasy is to hear the truth and to hear it loud and clear. Woe to us if we should compromise or remain silent. Woe to us if we should put the success of our ministries ahead of God's will. Woe to us if we should put self-interest or the acceptance of man over what is right. Woe to us if we should tone down or compromise our preaching and teaching of the Word because of the pressure of the current times. And woe to us if we should fail to stand strong and faithful in an hour that requires nothing less.
Imagine you lived in such a time. The reality is that you don't have to imagine it because you already do. In such a time, it is crucial that we not become weaker or softer in our witness, but bolder and stronger. We must now speak with a prophetic voice. We must take up the mantle of the watchman. And for the watchman to fulfill his charge, he must stay separate from the city. Thus, we must all the more be separate from the sins of our nation. We must all the more live all out and holy to fulfill God's calling. Only those willing to be different can make a difference. The watchman must attend his post in his watchtower and dwell more deeply in the presence of God. Finally, we must lift up our trumpets, set them to our mouths and blow with all our might that the city might be saved.
We are called to be the light of the world. Had we truly been that light, America could never have gotten as dark as it now is. We are called to be the salt of the earth. Had we truly been that salt, the culture surrounding us could never have decayed so much. If this is true for God's people, it is all the more true of God's ministers. We have been given a charge. And to whom much is given, much is required.
Is There Hope?
I believe there is. These harbingers are warnings. If there were no hope, there would be no harbingers. I'm often asked what the future holds for America: judgment or revival? My answer is that there can be both. One of the key dynamics of the end times is polarization. As the dark gets darker, the light must get brighter. As the bad and corrupt gets worse, the good and the upright must become great. As the grays disappear from the darkness, they must equally disappear from the light. The light must become more pure, more radically light.
I wrote The Harbinger as a book of hope—a call to salvation, repentance and revival. And that hope is linked to another dynamic of the last days—the dynamic of return. In other words, the age comes full circle. What was in the beginning must return in the end. The fact that this article is being written by a Jewish believer in Messiah is part of that dynamic. The first believers ministered to an un-Christian, anti-Christian, pagan civilization. And so now we do, as well.
But those first believers didn't let the darkness weaken their witness—just the opposite. They became even stronger. They made their choice, they drew their line in the sand, and they ministered all out, uncompromisingly, on fire, unstoppable for God.
The result was the book of Acts, where the disciples put into action all they've learned about and Jesus over the last three years walking and serving with Him. And God anointed it. We must do the same. And I fervently believe God will anoint it.
Time to Stand
No matter what happens in America or in the world, we must never minister on the defense or live in reaction to the darkness. We must, instead, still advance and act upon it. In the end there is only one winning side, and it belongs to those who walk in the will and purposes of God. Evil cannot stop those purposes. Last year was filled with key tipping points in the American apostasy. But it was also the year in which the The Harbinger's warning and call to repentance began to spread across the nation. That message continues to spread through pulpits, church classrooms, Bible studies and word-of-mouth, with reports of repentance, salvation and revival.
In recent days, reports have come back that The Harbinger is now reaching Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are reading the book and taking it to heart. One leader called us to come to Washington to pray. There, inside the U.S. Capitol building, we were taken to a room in which a number of senators and representatives gather to pray. We were told they are praying for you—the pastor, the church leader—that you would proclaim and spread the Word of God uncompromisingly. More critical in the course of history than governments, emperors and kings is the ministry of God's people. How much more must we take it to heart as His ministers. We are called to prepare our people.
The time is late. If there was ever a time to fulfill your calling, it's now. It's time to put away anything that would hinder you in any way from fulfilling your calling—any sin, any fear, any distraction, any entanglement. It's time to take up the mantle of greatness and to become all that God is calling you to become. It's time to take your stand. Time to rise. Time to shine. For God has appointed you for such a time as this.
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