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Series: Towards The Kingdom Culture; Seasons Of Refreshing
Sun am 17 February 2013 – Kobus Swart
(Matt. 13:52); Hosea 6:1-3; Gen. 9:13-15; Rev. 14:14-16; Ps. 68 8-17, 32-33; Ps. 72:6-7;
Ps. 104:3-4; Isa. 19:1; Isa. 43:16; Isa. 44:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, (John 17:22); (Heb. 2:10);
Acts 1:9; Heb. 11:39-40; Heb. 12:1-2; 1 Thess. 3:13, Jude 8-14; 2 Peter 2:17-19; Ephesians 4:14;
(1 Kings 18:43-44); Acts 3:19-21
Revivals by definition come and go. True seasons of refreshing impact the surrounding cultures; they cannot be contained, managed or abused. There have been genuine visitations from God in past years, where people were touched in the streets and even on their fishing boats in the ocean without anybody preaching to them! These were genuine “seasons of refreshing”; times of “rain from heaven”.
The rain last week in our province was welcomed and soaked up by a very dry earth, and there is a message in it for us. The church in the broad sense needs drenching soaking rain; in some places the church has become very dry. How is that going to come? Rain clouds are made of millions of little droplets and under certain conditions it will release those droplets to become rain. Come; let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth (Hosea 6:1-3).
One of the most misunderstood subjects in the Bible is the coming of the Lord. He will come to us like the rain. It does not just rain once or twice. Rain comes many times and the parallel is clear: He will come to us like the rain – many times! The name Yahweh refers to Him who was, is and is to come. He is the ever coming One! He has never locked Himself into just a first and second coming. He will come to us like the spring rain watering the earth, many times and in many diverse ways. From Genesis to Revelation we find God in some related or connected to a cloud. To see other associations with clouds read Psalms 68:8-11, 17, 32-33; 72:6-7; 104:3-4; Isaiah 19:1. We also remember that He will never again destroy the earth by rain (Genesis 9:13-15).
From these scriptures we see that clouds are His chariots, His instruments by which He journeys; how He sends His messengers. Clouds always refer to the density of His presence. When we pray, “Lord, send your rain upon us”, we need to get a fuller picture of what it means.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we, who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven in a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. So comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). Here we see “clouds” in plural. We go out to meet Him and accompany Him back to earth because that is where the final consummation of the kingdom will take place.(Cf Matt 13:41-43; Jn 17:15; Matt 6:10; 1 Cor 10:26) The one glory cloud becomes the many clouds in His presence; each elect son becomes a manifestation of one of these clouds. Jesus came to bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10; Jn 17:22)
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9). And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect (Hebr 11:39-40). There is going to be a finishing generation upon whom the ends of the ages have come, that will complete those who have run the race and died in faith without receiving what was promised. Where are they now? Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb. 12:1). He is talking to believers running the race. I trust that you will begin to hear things about the so-called “second coming”. There is a mind shift that should take place in the true seeker in the church of Jesus Christ regarding the final unveiling. So that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints (1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 14). This is a cloud consisting of millions of droplets, myriads of holy ones.
In the above we see that the Bible also calls people clouds (a metaphor). The question to answer is “What kind of a cloud are we?” There are bad clouds too. Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. … Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted (Jude 8-12). They look like clouds but they have no substance!
How does a kingdom citizen evangelize the world? Not by condemning but by spreading the rain of the kingdom, spreading what you carry in Christ. Christ in us is the hope of glory; that is how the world is going to see Him. When the Greeks wanted to see Jesus He said, “Unless the seed falls to the ground and dies it abides by itself alone, but if it dies, it will multiply itself many times over.” (John 12:24) Then the world will see Jesus in you and me.
Clouds without water? These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved (2 Peter 2:17-19). This is talking about the rise of false prophets and we have not escaped this phenomenon in this age. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephes 4:14). What is carried about by wind? A cloud without water! It looks like a promise of rain but there is nothing. Every wind of doctrine can take it anywhere it wants to.
How will the coming(s) of the Lord manifest in the earth? Sons of the kingdom (droplets) will be revealed with Him in glory. We need another refreshing visitation. What finally triggers rain to fall from a cloud heavy with raindrops? The prayer of the hungry, the travail of the serious seeker poking the heavens! Elijah told Ahab that by his word it would not rain for three years. After the Mt Carmel incident – while crouched on the ground – Elijah sent his servant seven times to look toward the sea for rain. Only the 7th time he reported seeing a cloud the size of a man’s hand (1 Kings 18:43-44). This represents the remnant, a little promise, but that was all Elijah needed to know that heavy rains were coming. Can you see a cloud the size of a man’s hand?
Let this word awaken a hunger not for a fleeting revival but for a drenching, refreshing rain from heaven. This is the season of the latter rain. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Acts 3: 19-21).
You and I have the privilege and invitation to become part of this corporate cloud from which can drip the presence of the Lord. He is the Source and we can participate as droplets in this corporate cloud wherever we are and let those around us smell the rain.