Discerning Tribulation

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. We will all go through tribulation, but let us never neglect to understand the purpose. Could it be that it is because God is jealous over His possession? Can tribulation be punishment, or a way to draw us back to Him?

Does God have a right to be jealous? After all, everything has been made by Him and for Him. He created it all and has the absolute legal documents: “The Word”, for total ownership to everything that is. When God sees a nation or people walk away from Him he does not close His eyes with blindness. He has a plan for redemption that might come into view as a detour to man at times. We must not forget His jealousy for His people and for everything that is intended for Him. Deuteronomy 4:24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. Within that jealousy there is a fount of love that consumes and a desire so deep that He was willing to see His dearest Son, martyred; providing a way to get back a creation that had gone off completely into a fallen kingdom of destructive evil, right from the presence of God.

At times, God offers ways to bring back those who abandon faith and faithfulness that seem so difficult. At other times, it seems God just lets them go. A backslidden child of God goes through much deeper things than that which meets the eye of the saint. He goes through a long period where he feels so rejected by God. He strengthens himself with blame and imaginations to justify his own failure. Things get gloomy within the heart, so dreadfully that there is almost no sense of God anywhere. Sin now becomes a way of life. Guilt and sorrow are covered over with new desires to satisfy the abandoned presence of God. Some throw themselves deeper into work and things to entertain their troubled heart.

Many seek for hope everywhere except turning back to God because Satan has caused them to believe there is no hope of returning. This form of tribulation is a torment that blinds spiritual trust found only in Christ. This loneliness of false hope found in things other than Christ sustains nothing but difficulty in the midst of deteriorating adversity. Backslidden mankind must at once be honest and declare an end to this destructive path. This path is filled with sorrow and abandonment from God’s presence. We must wake from our sleep and take responsibility for what is happening. Blame cannot rule our life nor can hurts be nurtured any longer.

There are two kinds of tribulation. One “worketh patience” as well as endurance and will draw you closer to God, enriching your faith – though it is also very difficult. This kind will never drive you from God. Oh yes, it will cause you many questions and deep despair at times. My observation for many years is that Christians don’t care much to have an understanding of why they go through tribulation. It is extremely important to recognize which one is being experienced. There is a world of difference between the two. The one is an endearment to Christ; the other tribulation is a form of punishment that is not chastening from the Lord.

One of the ways to gain understanding as to which one we are experiencing is to recognize its origin. Was it after a spiritual breakthrough or great move of God where this all began?  Was there a violation committed of any principle in the Bible? I have observed many times that people do not discern what God is saying while going through tribulation. Some battle and strive to conquer while it continues to fall apart all around them. These are people in disobedience that have caused their own demise, insisting on their own folly. This is a brutal condition and it will take the form of a brazen gloomy cast of helplessness and darkness over the person. This type of tribulation is often the result of us causing trouble against God’s people.

In the following verses, we read about the two different kinds of tribulation. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: V.5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: V.6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;   

The holy and spiritual kind is designed to bring patience and faith, and is mostly accompanied by persecution for right doing. It is one thing to suffer for righteousness sake and completely another thing to suffer for wrong doing. As we go through so many difficult things in our lives, let us always seek to be clear on why we face tribulation. Is it because of obedience or disobedience?

The Emanation of the Heart

God has been teaching me to walk with greater carefulness in the company of people who have tendencies to tear down the character of fellow believers. I have been very careful with what kind of friendship I nurture. Someone having a constant expression of complaints under the disguise of sharing a burden contains a poison too dangerous for me to interact with. If the fingers always point out you can be assured that there are problems within that are self-justified and toxic.

I understand that there are times of such despair in difficulty when a person shares his heart. It is when these tendencies are constant and the patterns are continual that I find a nature very destructive to the life of the Holy Spirit within. Most have learned to recognize this emanation and to either guard against it or embrace it. Some people have very little genuine wholesome encouragement to emanate. Others are overflowing with strength that brings joy, hope, and blessing. Sometimes meeting someone in a store and sharing a short conversation can change your entire day. Why is this so influential?

Things spoken from the heart are vastly more effective. There are those who have their knowledge encased in the book of intellectualism that they convey only with the desire to impress. The effectiveness of such content seldom builds up spiritual health for the man of God. It is designed to impress the weak and grieve the Holy Spirit within the believer.

Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah and stated that He will judge a righteous judgment. Isaiah 11:2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; V.3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Christ’s example of how the Holy Spirit manifests His true judgment, is also the method that every believer needs to have confidence in through faith and not by sight. This truth of being an active participant through such depth of holiness within the character of mankind is the element of transformation we all must experience before there can be any accuracy in judgment. Here it becomes apparent that man cannot conclude by merely seeing or hearing.

This wonderful truth is a great challenge that every believer needs to embrace with sincerity and zeal. The Spirit of wisdom and understanding with counsel and might has to be given residence in our heart. Not the spirit of imagination and exploration. When the Holy Spirit has such powerful preeminence and protection within the believer, his imaginational judgment and perception of others is concealed. Oh, may this be found in me lest I think falsely of others redeemed by the same blood of Jesus.

Many times, I have prayed: God, set a watch on my lips. But now I pray: God set a watch on my eyes and ears. We know that the mouth speaks that which is in the heart, so the heart needs fervent, attentive protection! Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Now we understand that life’s issues are within the heart. We also know that the heart is desperate to be wicked and is ranked as the most fraudulent tool that we have. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? This fact as described by God must be the perfect understanding of our God toward mankind. This needs to invoke a sobering dilemma within the saint of God! Oh, how desperately I need a deeper work of the Holy Spirit within my heart! I cannot live one minute without Him!

If I am deprived of His greater presence, than I have become a monster of judgment toward everyone by what I hear and see. Seeing and hearing are the daily functions of many who are professors of Christianity. Oh, Spirit of grace and love, may you lead me into the darkness of eyes and deafness of hearing from the tongue of man, lest I know not that which you want me to understand. I long for your presence in my eyes and in my ears lest I curse and not bless! John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Oh, Lord, change within me daily that which pollutes your work and word. Remind me of the more important things heaven wants me to know and be. Let me not despise those who you accept. Cover my eyes with love and my ears with your holiness lest my heart becomes defiled and I emanate hell and not heaven, life and not death.

Romans 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

Do My Prophets No Harm

Psalm 105:15 Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.     

It seems that the church at large has not benefited much from the gift of the prophets in the last 60 years. There is, however, a multitude of pastors who have made mega-profits in today’s churches. When the true prophets are harmed, the church turns into a social club where sports become the excitement—replacing the Holy Spirit’s presence and the thirst after righteousness. A place filled with many programs for every class of persuasion where everyone can be at ease. The church has to be responsible for everyone now.

The home has lost its calling to raise and teach its children because we spend our spare time benefiting our own affections in activities that are self-extolling. We have designed our lives to be proactive for our self, and passive with God. It is easy to criticize God’s people, and yet we idolize corrupt sports figures without hesitation. We praise and admire the wicked and pass judgment on the holy. The wicked can easily be praised and the holy can be willfully debilitated with glee.

It is in the middle of this unreceptive environment called “church” that the true prophet calls people back to God. He speaks with his life first, and refuses to entangle himself with the activities that require no cross. He is on unfamiliar territory where Jesus is not the theme. His clumsy conversation offers no thrill to the popular trends of personal attainment among that which is highly esteemed among men. Why is he so out of touch with the stars of Hollywood and sports? Because he is in touch with the holiness of Heaven. The gift of a prophet is hidden in his burden.

I have met many people in my 30-plus years of ministry who have called themselves prophets; but I have never met a prophet of God who called himself a prophet. Many of these self-proclaimed prophets are not gifted from God but have a natural untamed ability to be reckless and bold with their own preferences. The modern church-world has accustomed themselves to calling a certain bold untamed personality a prophet. These are not prophets from God. The prophets of God do not fit this description at all. Being a true prophet of God is not based on a natural gift or weakness of character. It is based on a gift that comes from the Holy Spirit. New Testament prophets are not accusers or finger pointers. They point us to God with the anointing of conviction and wooing.

Let us be aware of prophets that seek to disrupt and to undo the workings of God in clever ways. The Bible is quite clear that these can even do miracles and that there are many of them. Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. These prophets are false and they have agendas like wolves. They create chaos; they tear up the sheep but are disguised in clothing that appears mild and humble. The clothing is fashioned in the disguise of burden-like substance. The word “ravening” means they are excessively rapacious to disrupt, destroy, and undo that which God has done or is doing. All we are asked to do with such is to be aware of them. They can become your enemy in a second!

Why are we not to harm the true prophets of God? Firstly, they operate and function under God’s authority. They are not roaming lions. They are subjected and balanced with wisdom that is alone from God. God will never let the Holy Spirit’s call and gift become unauthorized. The submission is why it carries so much power and authority. It is the order that God chose to operate all His gifts and callings under. Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. V.2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

If we harm the prophets of God, we harm the message they share concerning returning to faith and love toward God. A harmed prophet will no more have the message to bring back that which is lost. That sound of heaven that draws the church back to persistence is gone. When the prophet of God is harmed, the church will love the world. The love and fear of God will vanish quickly without the people even knowing until it has become a dreadful situation. It is easy to quote God’s prophets of the past and just as easy to destroy God’s prophets in our presence. The anointed we do not touch, the prophets we do not harm!

Matthew 23:30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. V. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

Touch Not Mine Anointed

Before we can fully understand the commandment to not touch God’s anointed, we must understand what the anointing of God is and how it operates. Many have a vague understanding of the anointing of God upon certain people. One of the more general ideas of what the anointing of the Holy Spirit is and how it operates is the way it presents itself through public speaking. Most define the anointing of God as a phenomenon that emanates a thrilling presentation with charisma. To some it is thought of as the way someone handles his voice with efficiency and pragmatic presentation. While this may be a small fraction of wisdom from the anointing, it is not even close to the depth of its significance. The anointing by God upon someone’s life has a position and assignment of servanthood to His specific function: to accomplish and retain His purpose and glory to mankind.

If our understanding on the anointing is as shallow as a specific way the Word of God is presented, then we do not understand the way God sets His order in His kingdom on earth. There is a dire need in the church of our day to understand God’s order in the body of Christ. If we have no clear understanding on what the anointing of the Holy Spirit is, then it is easy to violate in touching of God’s anointed and feel justified. The misinterpretation and natural understanding of God’s anointing will often result in a violation, by touching God’s anointed in times of personal annoyance or offense. With a shallow concept of what the anointing of the Holy Spirit is, we can easily understand why so many people can fearlessly bring tragic impairment to God’s anointed.

The anointing of God upon someone’s life goes extravagantly deeper than the way someone presents themselves in public speaking. The anointing of the Holy Spirit comes from a fountain so deep that most could not contain its responsibility without falling into utter despair. The anointing of God is a decision that the Godhead made in the election of a person for divine service and spiritual authority; to operate and propagate God’s word, will, and influence among a people.

The kingdom of God is in the divine hand of the Heavenly Father operating as King over all. Jesus operates as the Head of the church and the Holy Spirit emanates the life of the Father and Son upon the servants of God. This anointing upon the life of a person will convey and maintain truth, righteousness, holiness, and the miraculous power from God. It will bring and maintain a healthy fear of God among God’s people. This is the order of God from the Garden of Eden until now. This order was resisted when Lucifer challenged Almighty God while in His very presence. The fallen angel Lucifer has not ceased his resistance or his rebellion to this day. Just as the anointed Lucifer influenced one third of heaven’s angels against God, similarly he will achieve his influence upon some on earth. Just because someone has had a certain anointing, this does not make him unsusceptible to the resistance of God’s true order.

When someone touches this anointing which God has placed upon His servant, they break the hand of God upon His order and there is instant chaos. Truth will fall in the streets. Now unrighteousness is considered righteous. Holiness and the love of God pass like a fleeting shadow. The absence of God’s miraculous power becomes the accuser’s song. The presence of God will be replaced by the natural activities of the mind.

The penalties of touching God’s anointed include many terrible consequences. Once Satan executes a successful attempt to touch and wound the purpose of the anointing, things will in most cases never return to being as before. The one whom Satan uses to touch God’s anointed will suffer with inner issues and spiritual fallout that is blistering with condemnation and insults so destructive that some desire to die. Can someone ultimately recover from such tragedy? I cannot answer. There is a reason that we are taught by God not to touch His anointed and walk with carefulness among them.

Somehow there is a sense of reason that everyone is on the same platform of service unto God. Let us not forget the reasoning of Lucifer. He offered the same thoughts; he actually thought himself to be higher than God. Miriam thought she was just as spiritual as Moses, but disguised herself with the fault she found in the woman Moses was married to. Perhaps Miriam was a very spiritual woman; however, she was not called nor anointed to walk where he walked. Korah had spiritual insights until a hole opened beneath him. After the anointing of God upon a person has been touched and the unction broken, God often uses that servant for some other work for His glory. In my studies I have found it is here that God gives them a ministry in a place where the anointing will be jeopardized no longer. These are His anointed and they are His prophets. They are not ours. God has placed a trust in these fellows that only His foreknowledge could secure.

1 Chronicles 16:22 Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

Psalm 105:15 Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.