“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.
The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: `If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.” Zechariah 3: 1-7
Many times we find ourselves too worn out to pray or engage in victorious spiritual warfare. We feel accused and sinful. Useless parents, bad spouses and failed missionaries! The last thing we want to hear is someone telling us to fast or conjure up some effort to be free from the oppression, and yet we feel guilty about our lack of zeal.
After more than 30 years in mission I can well identify with Joshua. He represents every person who has tried to pray and minister before the Lord. He is also a sign of a movement (church, region, mission group etc) attempting to be “prayer based”. Every such expression will find itself thrust into warfare, enjoying no doubt the ultimate victory of Christ, but having to cope daily with the evil angel at the elbow! His clothes are no doubt stained by his own personal sin but they may also have become soiled through warfare and work. A visit to a smoky café will leave even a non smoker smelling like an ash tray.
I recently stood before the Lord under a cloud of accusation and discouragement feeling a burnt out failure. Hanging on in there I seemed to hear the Lord say.
“I really love the Joshuas”.
His love expresses itself in His sovereign choice of our lives to belong to Him and bear fruit.
This “divine choice” is the key to spiritual victory. God will honor His choice and rebuke even the most intense opposition in order for His purpose to be achieved. I’m beginning to come to grips with the amazing fact that my spiritual victory doesn’t just depend on my own efforts, but more on my ability to believe and relax into His sovereign choice and love.
Relax into your election!
So the first “prayer” is to overhear the echo of the Lord rebuking the enemy on your behalf!
“The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!”
The Lord’s rebuke opens up an enlarged space, a new field, a fresh initiative and is the ultimate necessity for apostolic advance and experience.
The second prayer ?
“Thanks for forgiveness and new clothes!”
Ever since the fall God has been in the tailoring business clothing His children with redemption and power. From the bloody animal skins which covered Adam’s nakedness in Genesis, to the heavenly bride making herself ready in Revelation, God has been infusing the life of Christ into us by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Much could be said concerning the garments of the high priest and Exodus 28 is well worth meditating.
A renewed and holy mind set anchoring our purpose and identity is found in the turban. The gold bells (noise) and pomegranates (fruit) arranged alternately around the hem speak of the delicate balance between gift and character so essential for Christian ministry.
However I feel that two particular articles are very much on the Lord’s heart to give to us for this season.
The ephod and the breast piece.
What are you carrying? What is on your heart? The people, places and projects that we own are like the precious stones on these garments. Perhaps some have lost their sparkle through disuse or disappointment, while others still lay hidden waiting for their moment to shine. Perhaps our shoulders have grown weak from the constant burden or our hearts have grown strangely cold over the years, as tearless eyes survey mission as a career rather than a passion. Take up your burdens afresh remembering Nathan’s advice to David to do what was on his heart. Christ, like Aaron, is our example as we own anew the prayer life of a priest.
“Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the Lord.”
“Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart.”
Just as God gave new clothes to his priest, so he is wanting to give you fresh strength and encouragement. Your shoulders which have carried so much and can take no more will be given a fresh “ephod”. This miracle will enable you to carry even more weight…and carry on!
And a final prayer to receive a promise.
Extending the Kingdom of God in the world is all about authority.
Can you believe that God wants to open a new season of authority over your life? It may be time to speak to certain mountains rather than continue to journey around, or moan about them. Action without authority is just more empty work. I believe that our various works can know greater authority and breakthrough as we take up our Joshua mantle.
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: `If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.”
Receive a promise to govern. We are called to be the head and not the tail. Not in some cheap triumphalistic mantra, but in the sacrificial exercise of prayer and faith, incarnating itself in a life laid down for the nations.
Govern regions in prayer and worship, creating a favorable environment for men and women to discover the beauty of Christ.
Govern the discipling and team building activities, allowing folks to come free into courage and ministry.
Govern the whole realm of calling into existence new works and initiatives, releasing the workers for the strategic harvests.
Govern the finances needed to glorify Christ in His ministry through us.
“Thank you Lord for calling me to be a Joshua. I receive your promise for greater authority and I choose to walk by grace in your ways. Give me a bigger heart and broader shoulders so that I can carry the responsibilities of my life and be renewed in love. May I, and those who travel with me, and the whole body of the church know a renewed mandate to govern in your Name and for your glory…Amen.”