Flirting with Death
As He began concluding His mission as the Son of Man and Jewish Messiah, Jesus foretold a number of signs that would mark the end of the age. One of those key indicators, tied to His return, would be the spiritual atmosphere approaching as it was during the days of Noah.
The days of Noah contained the impact of the rebellion of a host of angelic beings who copulated with earthly women. A race of hybrid spiritual super-humans known as the Nephilim spread, perverting the mysteries of God, impacting the cultures of God’s creation… marked by the presence of the dark angelic, together with the occult, triggering a depravity and vileness with rampant anti- and ungodliness at its core. Scripture indicates that this degenerate state of mankind caused God to regret having created man. Yet, within this context Noah found favor in the sight of God.
Scripture clearly expresses that Jesus came that we might have Life and have it more abundantly. In the beginning, the Word of God indicates that having made the heavens and the earth and all it contained, that God formed man and breathed into him, the breath of Life. What is implied in that passage of the purpose of Jesus’ coming is that there is much more to the Life that God intended for His people.
There is only one Creator and giver of Life. Being made in God’s image, God’s original intention for man’s function was marred in the Garden. Then as time progressed that function was further undermined, through the defilement and perversions brought in by the fallen angels cohabiting with the daughters of man.
The Ages of Darkness and God’s Standard Bearers
Yet, as the rebellion against God spread, God has always had those who upheld His standard and walked unequivocally with Him: Enoch, Noah … then ones like Abraham, Joseph and Moses. Still later, during a time in which the gap with God had increased, there was Elijah and Elisha.
Moses made it very clear to those delivered from Egyptian bondage, that the issue of what was before them was the choice between Life and death. Deuteronomy 30 expresses that God has set before His people Life and death, blessing and cursing …. with the admonishment to choose Life and blessing. Our twenty-first century mind-sets don’t have a realistic grasp of either the significance or reality tied to this admonition. It bears on the state of things during the days of Noah. These were days represented by a spiritual darkness and a flirtation and a perversion of God’s order of things, with death.
The Days of Noah
While it had been centuries prior, a glimpse into what the history of the Middle Ages has been referred to as the Dark Ages might come closer to revealing the reality of what it was actually like during the days of Noah. In short, it was a world marked by death at every corner. Fortified communities came together, as well as monasteries being built as protection against the array of lawless bands of vagabonds. Outside those boundaries, life was in peril. The days of Noah, unlike the media images, were that and more. The angelic and supernatural, both good and bad were commonplace. Combined with threats of what scripture notes as giants and Nephilim, Life was fragile and uncertain.
Yet, during those times were ones whose alignment with and walk with God tapped the power and authority uniquely derived from the Creator. It was a pre-covenant time when the primary basis of believers’ faith incorporated oral history with interactive communication with the angelic and with God. Getting it right was Life itself. It wasn’t about a doctrine, as it more often involved realities tied to the choices between Life and death.
Scripture describes Enoch as one who walked with God, then was no more because God took him. Not surprisingly, Enoch was known as the prophet of judgment. Spiritual darkness during those days had amassed into every corner of the earth. However, death had no power over Enoch, both during his 365 years on the earth and then as God translated him from his earthly state into a role in eternity. In like manner, Elijah’s walk with God embraced these powerfully dynamic dimensions of God’s presence, those evidenced in his cave encounter with God: the earthquakes, the winds and the fire. So it was that God also took Elijah without him experiencing death.
In grasping a glimmer of the time described as days of ones who walked with God and continually confronted death, the implication is that both Enoch and Elijah had gained the authority to restore Life, as did Jesus.
Restoration and the Authority to Confront Death
Just as in the days of Noah, so it will be with the return of the Son of Man: Lawlessness abounding with the lines blurred in the choices between Life and death, blessing and cursing; along with supernatural manifestations coming from the presence of the angelic and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the days of Noah, so there will be a recognized and respected power that releases a dimension of God’s presence and power to abruptly counter the power of those flirting with death. It will require maturity, discernment and discipline on the part of those with this authority. It will be a time marked by a clamor of voices.
Isaiah, in confronting the household of faith regarding their blended religious practices made reference to their spiritual condition which had crossed the line of Deuteronomy 30. Isaiah described their condition as having made a covenant with death. It was not unlike the children of Israel’s response to the alluring but dark enticements while Moses was in God’s presence on Sinai …. a response which undermined their protection from God in their spiritually dark surroundings.
Still, Isaiah’s insight in addressing the covenant of death embraced by the household of faith not only posed the alternative of the covenant of death being annulled, but of the restoration of the protection lost that would result from God’s covenant of peace. Again, we must confront our twenty-first century watered-down grasp of “peace” or shalom.
Representing so much more than the absence of conflict, the restoration of God’s shalom … and more so with it being a covenant of shalom … represents God’s order that will be evident with His presence. Moses’ spiritual insights in the Torah represent the dynamics needed to maintain that shalom or order.
Not surprisingly, David’s life reflected a series of confrontations with death. There was his dramatic encounter with Goliath, followed by the years of being pursued by Saul. The battles that followed David becoming king included encounters with giants. Coupled with his insights throughout the psalms mirroring God’s intent for His covenant-bearers, there is a grasp to the depth of both the problem and the solution.
The Cost of the Chosen
Indeed, the eyes of the Lord roam to and fro throughout the earth to find those whose hearts are faithful to Him … like these forerunners just noted. These are the chosen, the ones referred to in Hebrews as the ones who “spoke to the fathers in times past.” These are those who were examples and voices to their generation and the ones to come, who in reality lived outside realm of time with their response to the Holy One … reflecting an unequivocal identity that embraced the cost that was totally immersed in Him.
To use the example of the days of Elijah, these have been the ones whose encounters with death actuated the ones God had hidden, in reserve; the 7000 that even Elijah didn’t know about until he had accomplished his mission in emasculating the prophets of death in calling down the fire of God’s presence.
“Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’” 1 Kings 18:39
Enoch, Noah, Joseph, Elijah … paid a cost. Their actions in confronting death silenced the clamor of voices of both the dark side … and those of the household of faith, whose adherence to a blended faith had in reality been flirting with death.
The cost for these chosen was far, far beyond the superficialities of those blinded by a blended faith. The cost of the chosen reflected lives that penetrated the spiritual depths required for the authority to confront death.
Responding to Deadly Spiritual Atmospheres
Flirtations with death and confronting death are mutually exclusive. God was intimately involved in revealing the needed strategies for men of old, the ones He used to confront death, reshape the spiritual atmosphere and release restoration.
What has been scribed concerning the life of Elijah provides unique clues. Both the days of Elijah and Elijah’s mantle were extreme. Yet, the days of Elijah point to the deadly nature of the persecution already manifesting today in various ways in different points around the globe. Likewise, because of the infiltration and influence of evil within top levels of Israel’s government and military during Elijah’s day, Elijah’s response had to be extreme, strategic and with precision-timing. They required God’s unequivocal guidance in determining when to be bold and when to stay behind the scenes.
Elijah was addicted to and driven in his thinking and decisions by God’s presence and word to Him. His oneness with the Lord was so complete that there was little that bled into him being a man-pleaser. Yet, he was not a loner; his most significant relationships being the direct result of God’s guidance. From this came the unshakeable authority to confront death.
However, there was more, strategies that provided the foundations for the times that surrounded his dramatic exploits. Understanding these foundations from which Elijah confronted death provides wisdom for responding to extreme persecution and deadly spiritual atmospheres in the season now emerging.
Establishing Safe Places. Scripture tells us that God hides us in the secret place of His presence. Elijah understood his human limits, along with the reality of the context of his mantle in being a prophet to Israel’s leadership. He grasped the importance of and adhered to the timing of safe places … places God sent him to keep him apart from those who would seek to harm him, but also places where he knew he could draw strength from the presence of the Lord: the brook, his time with the widow and his retreat in the cave.
Defining Trusted Relationships. God sent Elijah to the widow in Zerapath. God kept him in places of safety and provision. God made clear to Elijah the relationships he could trust: the widow in Zerapath, Elisha.
None of His Words Fell to the Ground. While this verse is ascribed to Samuel the prophet, it certainly marks Elijah’s pathways and relationships. From the words God gave Elijah to speak to Ahab; to the glimpses we have of his relationship with the widow; to his encounters with the three military commanders sent by Ahazia, Jezebel’s son; to the mentoring of Elisha … the words of Elijah carried the authority and power of Adonai.
Abiding Outside the Realm of Time. In abiding in God’s presence, Elijah’s perceptions tapped the arena outside the realm of time. Seeing into the dimension beyond time is foundational to discerning God’s perspective. It also represents the key to precision timing. Elijah’s role in subsequent generations has continued despite his earthy departure, being evidenced by his presence being with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. During his days, Elijah discerned and adhered to God’s priority of the restoration of His people.
Obedience to Being Hidden or Confronting. There is a range of actions tied to being protected by the Lord. Likewise, that of being hidden can have as its purpose being unseen, under the radar … or it can mean being sidelined because of timing and/or preparedness issues. Being under the radar is clearly a modern-day military term denoting ones whose activities are so vital that they require being cloaked.
Because of Elijah’s grasp of God’s perspective and priorities, he was always at the right place at the right time doing the right thing. Abiding in the consciousness of God’s presence and obedience defined Elijah’s walk with God. He came forth when God told him to do so. Likewise, he adhered to the times that God kept him hidden.
Having outlined these very vital points, there is a need to pause to ensure balance. Scripture tells us that during the time of Noah, when the ark was being built that despite the impending judgment … that God waited patiently. God’s intent was then and is now not for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
Despite the vile antics that resulted from Ahab’s weak leadership and the level of control that constantly bled through Jezebel’s influence, God’s response when judgment was required was always accompanied by mercy. The issue is within the context of free-will. Even after severe judgment was spoken following Ahab getting Naboth the Jezreelite killed to get his vineyard, Ahab seriously repented with God speaking to Elijah of His pleasure in seeing this change. Yet, it didn’t stick and Ahab continued his practice as that of the weak leader controlled by his control-freak of a degenerate wife.
The Change in Season and Activation of Maturity
Isaiah also aptly described the days like those of Noah that Jesus foretold as coming. It reflected darkness covering the earth and deep darkness covering the peoples. Yet with that would be the glory of the Lord arising over those who were truly reaching for Him. Specifically, it relates to the time seen in the Spirit by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, of days of judgment, when the household of faith grows gloriously to the extent of embracing the authority commensurate with becoming spiritually mature.
Daniel wisely observed that those who know their God would be strong and do exploits. He did not say those who know ABOUT God would be doing exploits. There’s a sharp difference. That difference is pertinent to the 7000 who had not been defiled in bowing their knee to Baal. Whether these 7000 were hidden or simply on the sidelines or both, doesn’t matter. What matters was what Elijah’s confrontation, calling down the fire and judgment unleashed on the prophets of death.
It brought to the plate the activation of the 7000.
Despites Jezebel’s threats, the spiritual atmosphere shifted following Elijah’s dramatic face-off with the prophets of death. Paul’s insights give us a closer glimpse into this shift. It relates to what we refer to as sin …. which operates alongside that of death. Paul described this spiritual correlation as far more than moral slippages and misfires, but rather sin being the seductive gateway into the realm of death, describing it as the law of sin and death; of conscious sin representing flirtations with death.
Jude offered a still deeper glimpse into today’s times and this dynamic gaining momentum within the household of faith.
“Yet there are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” Jude 1:12-16
Prevailing in the Face of Death
Jude’s sobering words describe today’s clamor and are a wakeup call to the spiritual realities manifesting in this season. With a similar wakeup call, Jesus shocked his disciples with his response to the Centurion, who from their perspective was one of the oppressors of their people. Indeed, it is a time for not only such wakeup calls, but to get out of the box of the ruts of our frivolous religious and political mindsets and responses to the world around us. God is bigger and the timing of the assignments of this generation has never been more strategic.
What Jesus shocked his disciples with was the observation that the Centurion was responding to Him with a level of faith He had not seen from any of his followers, which he described as any of the chosen of God’s people. The Centurion was a man who had experience in facing and operating under the threat of death … who understood the discipline, mindset and authority underlying the response of a militant faith in God to the realities of the circumstances around him.
The book of Hebrews strongly taps this dimension we sometimes so lightly refer to as faith, yet is the very substance of not only facing death, but prevailing in the face of death. Faith is indeed militant and the very substance connecting the seen world with the unseen. On this level, Hebrews illustrates faith with the examples of those who had been recorded as game-changers, who faced the Life and death realties, whose presence in this world, the world was not worthy of. These are our examples for the season now upon us. These are those who have paved the way for the serious assignments now coming from on High.
“…who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trials of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy.” Heb 11:33-38
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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