“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see….He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Rev 3:18, 20)
As I was trying to understand the word of the Lord in the present financial crisis I sensed Jesus clearly saying, “Buy Gold”. Whilst many Christians instinctive response to this may be to take the words literally, this is not what the Spirit is saying. He is speaking the same wisdom to us he spoke to the comfortable self – opinionated Laodicean church. We need to buy from Jesus. The Holy Spirit who is poured out by the glorified Lord is orienting us once again to Christ. Any deviation from this absolute centre is an idolatry that shall sadly intensify the judgment that has come upon the whole world.
Remember the Poor
I am also sensing the Spirit passionately appealing, “Remember the Poor”. Whilst we may be focused on our shares and retirement funds, the ones who will suffer the most from what is going on are the impoverished. As the world economy grinds down those at the bottom of the heap will be hurt the worst. The lives of millions of precious human beings are at stake. This is a matter of great concern.
More pointedly, since “the poor man” in scripture is usually someone economically depressed because of his/her faithfulness to the LORD, the global credit crunch points to more severe persecution for the church across the globe. As the economic clout of both the U.S. and E.U. decline, their ability to influence the policies of non – Western nations in the direction of religious tolerance will wane. From leftist terror in Columbia to nationalist repression in Tajikistan, things are going to become worse for our brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, the Saudis will continue to pump billions of petrodollars into their global expansion of fanatical Islam and nationalist Hinduism will increase.
This is a very serious matter that groans the heart of God. Can you hear an echo of Jesus words, ““Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”” (Acts 9:4). When the Body suffers on earth, its Head cries in pain from heaven. Christ himself is in agony – how important is that!! It demands total engagement in spiritual conflict.
Holocaust – that which ascends
When Israelentered the Promised Land, “they devoted all in the city (Jericho) to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.” (Josh 6:21). In the holy war against the Canaanites, supernaturally assisted victory depended upon obedience to the divine command for total annihilation. Such destruction was not a mark of military aggression, but the offering up to God of everything of value that fell intoIsrael’s hands. It signified total dedication to the LORD.
This paralleled the highest regular Old Testament sacrifice, the “burnt offering” whose distinctive feature was the destruction of the whole beast by fire. Nothing was left for the worshipper to eat. The essential meaning of the Hebrew word translated “burnt offering (olah) seems to be “that which ascends”. As the smoke and flames ascended towards heaven the worshipper affirmed that everything belonged to a God who possessed supreme dominion over all creation. Only the best animals would do for God, for the sacrifice of what was most materially valuable tested the purity of the worship motive.
The fulfillment of every offering is found in the death of Christ. Whether we think of the God- pleasing offerings of Noah , the command to Abraham, ““Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering” (Gen 22:2), or the animals of the temple cult, all is fulfilled in the offering of the cross for us.
The uniqueness of Jesus’ sacrifice is that he freely wills to lose all that he has ever valued most in life, this is his enjoyment of the Father. By willingly taking separation from God into himself, Jesus becomes the object of the holy war. His conscious relationship with Fatherhood, which he infinitely values, is completely destroyed for our sake. ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark15:34). As the fullness of the burnt offering, the preciousness of Jesus sacrifice ascends to the Father. His heart is filled with an absolute satisfaction concerning his Son and all that he has done. “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:2).
As the cost of this sacrifice is increasingly revealed to us, Jesus blood becomes more “precious” (1 Pet 1:19) than any earthly thing. Through it, we are offered a share in the perfected joy of Father and Son.
We become so overwhelmed by the love of Christ that our only possible response is adoration. In the atmosphere of adoration our wills come increasingly to oneness with the will of God, however costly this may be. Even if we lose property, possessions, family or health, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job13:15). This creates a truly apostolic atmosphere, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts20:24).
It is through the cultivation of such devotion to Christ such that the church reaches a maturity of understanding, it really does begin to believe – “all things work together for good” (Rom8:28). If we discern the stocks must go down under the chastising hand of God, our adoration will rise up all the more. Such a purified church becomes increasingly powerful in intercession. Ascending to heaven, the prayers of the saints fill golden bowls (Rev 5:8) moving the hand of God to mighty deeds of judgement and grace upon the earth. This is how God is working out his kingdom purposes through the crash of ‘08.
Transformation – that which descends
For years we have heard much about the transformation of cities and nations, but in the West we have seen it very little. All this can change. In the order of God, “What goes up must come down.” In costly worship we participate in the transformation of the humanity of Jesus that flowed from his cross into his glorious ascension and led to the outpouring of the Spirit. As pure adoration ascends to God from his suffering children the transforming power of the Holy Spirit pours down from heaven.
I believe that whenever the church lives in the manner of maturity I have described, a foretaste of heaven comes down to earth (Rev 21:2) and holy fire falls (Acts 2:3). As this happens, God can entrust “the true riches” (Luke 16:11) to a faithful people. Primarily, this is his own presence, bringing with it all the signs of grace we see in the ministry of Jesus and the early church. Additionally, in the context of some places, among which I include Western Australia, I believe this will involve the transfer of economic wealth in the hands of Christians. Such persons will function more than a pipeline than a barn – instead of laying up for themselves, resources will flow through them to those in need.
Beware the Babylonian Garment
Here is a warning for excitable believers from a foundational Old Testament story. After crossing the Jordanthe Israelites total destroyed the fortress city of Jericho. Then to their shock their troops were slaughtered at the tiny town of Ai. The judgement of God fell on the people because of the sin of one man, Achan, who had kept back what should have been annihilated for the LORD. In stern rebuke God said, “I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.” (Josh7:12). Confronted, Achan confesses, ““I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Babylon, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them.”” (Josh7:19 – 21)
For generations the Western church has generally known the absence of the presence of God. For God surely disciplines any people that take for itself things that should be wholly devoted to him. In our prosperity we have grown accustomed to closing our ears to the cry of the suffering world and come under a dread judgement, “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” (Prov21:13).
Today is a tremendous opportunity for repentance and growth. A remnant is about to emerge from the refining fire of the Lord. “I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”” (Zech 13:9).
Let us praise the cruciform wisdom of God who has found a way for us Laodiceans to turn us back to him. Today he is offering us one of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the adoration of a heart purified through pain. All that he has spoken to us over the years about restoration and revival is possible, but only along the path indicated in this article.
Under the leading of the Spirit let us resolve to enter into the mindset of the Lord Jesus and the apostolic church. If we have to lose our comforts for the sake of God’s kingdom let us choose to adore him like never before. The choice is clear, the consequences are plain.
 What was your first thought when you saw the title of this piece on your In box?
 E.g. “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:39) Compare Acts 2:33 etc.
 Compare Revelation 9:1- 21.
 “Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” (Gal 2:10).
 E.g. Ps 34:6; James 2:6
 I have deliberately used these nations to highlight ignorance of global persecution on the people of God.
 “Holocaust” means a total burning by fire.
 E.g. Num 21:1 – 3; Deut 2:34; 3:6; 7:2; 20:17; Josh 6:17; 10:28; 1 Sam 15:3.
 E.g. Ex 20:24; 29:18ff; Lev 1:3ff. etc.
 See for example Haggai 1:6 -14 about sub standard sacrifices “cheating God”.
 Gen 8:20 -22
 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;” (Heb 10:4 – 5)
 ‘I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me…’ (Heb 10:7). Compare Matthew 26:39.
 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet 1:8 cf. Heb 12:1- 2)
 “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died” (2 Cor5:14)
 This is a major theme in John’s Gospel e.g.7:37 – 39;12:27 – 31.
 “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Heb 13:15)
 “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matt 11:5). Compare Acts 4:32- 34.
 In this case, “the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.” (Prov 13:22) will prove true. However, this is not a general rule, compare Esther 9:15/8:11 with 1 Sam 15:17 -19.
 “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you”(Luke 12:18 – 20)
 Joshua 6 – 7:9.
 Compare 1 Pet 1:6 – 9.
 Cross – shaped.
 The theme of Revelation is based on this understanding e.g. 1:9; 2:9 – 10;7:14;12:11;13:10.