BY: LARRY HODGES
“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.“
– Matthew 26:39
Have you ever read a passage of scripture that was so high, so exalted that you felt it just could not mean what it actually said? Whether we will admit it or not, there are more than a few such scriptures which reveal the truth that “…as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my [God’s] ways higher than your [man’s] ways and my [God’s] thoughts than your [man’s] thoughts” –Isaiah 55:9. One such scripture is, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” –I Corinthians 15:22. Also, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.“ –Matthew 4:10
We have at times stood with as much religious pride as any Pharisee has ever had as we have censored those Israelites in the wilderness (who had not the baptism of the Holy Spirit to their credit or help) for not entering into their inheritance because of unbelief. Yet we have often been as carnal as they and sometimes even more so – even though we have had the Holy Spirit to aide us and guide us. We have wondered that they could be so hard-hearted, so stubbornly resistant to His claims upon them, to His ways, to His purposes. But they were only in the wilderness of divided affections for 40 years as compared to our 2,000 years!
At the end of that dreary sojourn they were brought to much the same place in type as we, in reality, find ourselves today. They must find entrance into that land promised them so long ago. At this time there were many courageous words said, contrary to what had been uttered 40 years before. Most of these words of courage and encouragement were from the Lord Himself to the new leader, Joshua. “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn notfrom it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.“ – Joshua 1:5-9
The Lord made some startling and amazing statements to Joshua at this juncture, and we need to realize that He did so for our benefit. For it is just here that the type of Christ shifts from Moses to Joshua, the Old Testament name for the New Testament Savior, Jesus. What was spoken to Joshua also applied to the person of Jesus and I’m sure He believed this word as being to Himself and took courage in it.
We are told explicitly that we are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live, yet not us, but Christ now lives in us: and the life we now live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God. As I have said before, it is not merely a little us and a big Christ. Now, by virtue of the work accomplished at Calvary, in place of us there is Christ Himself. All that is in Him is now ours. All that applies to Him in His person, now applies to Him in His members – to US. All those scriptures which declared that God would not suffer His body to see corruption, now has application to us, the members of His body. Christ has suddenly, miraculously shifted from Christ in the singular expression only, to Christ in the corporate expression. So what God is saying to Joshua/Jesus, He is saying to us at this time and it certainly applies to us in Him.
When He was crucified, so were we. When He overcame death and rose from the tomb, we did also, for there is no difference between Him and His body. He did not rise from the dead without His body. We are as much, if not more, united and identified with Christ Jesus in His life as we once were united to and identified with Adam in his death. Thus we are encouraged by no less than the Lord God Himself that as He was with Moses (a type of Christ), so will He also be with us as we also go into death and find that it has no more right to lay hold upon us than it had to lay hold upon Christ Jesus Himself. This is not a claim that we will not die, for many have made such claims and have died anyway. It is the claim, the declaration, that even though we die, death cannot hold us! We are the body and members of Him who is the resurrection!
Many stand this day before Jordan, river of death. We are told that at this time (harvest time/end of the age Matt. 13:39) Jordan overflowed all his banks, meaning that death was in everyone’s back yard. It was a time wherein it was impossible to cross. Everywhere we look today, throughout the body of Christ, we see sickness, disease, infirmity, decrepitude and death. It has overflowed all its banks and is in everybody’s backyard. Unlike the children of Israel, we have sought to use the inventions of men to cross this surging tide. We have sought to the medical technology of the day to stem the flow of this threatening stream. This has been perfectly alright in Pentecost, but not so in Tabernacles. To attempt to stem Jordan‘s muddy flow by the devices of men today is analogous to Israel attempting to stem Jordan‘s waters with their Corps of Engineers rather than by God’s miraculous intervention. We somehow find it easier to trust men than God.
Three times we are told to be strong and of good courage. I do not need such courage to cross a bridge, even if it is man-made, or to believe a man-made dam will continue to hold back Jordan‘s waters for me. In such an instance I do not need faith at all. The chances are good that all will hold. God is not telling us to be strong and of a good courage while doing what the whole world does without faith every day. He tells us to be strong and of good courage because to all outward appearances we have no help! None but Him, that is.
Thou shalt give worth-ship and value to the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve, is the standard for Tabernacles and for the Kingdom of God. Pentecost is represented to us as the wilderness of divided affections, and much, which went on there was overlooked the same way we parents make allowances for our teenage children. But when they become adults, they are held to a somewhat higher standard. Passover is the realm of little children. Pentecost is the realm of young men (teenagers). Tabernacles is the realm of fathers (maturity) and fullness. It is not a matter of do’s and don’ts at all. It is a matter of where we are. We simply cannot continue to live that life which is the expression of Pentecost and call it Tabernacles. Doctors, medicine, all things are lawful, but not all things are appropriate.
There has been a tendency to so smear the distinction between Pentecost and Tabernacles to the point of the complete obliteration of any distinction. But we are either in one or the other. We cannot be in both. It pays to know which. I recently read something from the anointed pen of Preston Eby wherein he pointed out a distinction where one is seldom made. He very clearly and distinctly points to the difference between the Church and the Kingdom of God.
“The Church of the living God must remember that it is not the whole thing; that men must press into the Kingdom of God, through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom, and through qualifying we may be accounted worthy of the Kingdom, but there is no need to press, suffer tribulation, or pay a high price to enter the Church. The Church is, after all, only an Ecclesia, a people gathered out of sin and the world unto God through faith in Jesus as Savior. Just as the true Church births the Manchild, so is our experience in the Church a prerequisite for entrance into the Kingdom. Is not this the very reason why the Holy Spirit testified to each of the seven Churches in the book of Revelation, ‘To him (in the Church) that overcometh will I give power over the nations…to him that overcometh shall I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I am set down with my Father in His throne.’ It is the processing of the Lord in the Church realm that qualifies one for a place in the Kingdom and the Kingdom is greater than the Church. The Kingdom can be the outcome only of a Church which has followed on to know the Lord, purged and purified, changed and transformed, growing up unto a Perfect Man, unto the measure of the stature of the Christ. The Churches on earth comprise forgiven sinners. The Kingdom of God comprises new creatures. The Church consists of all unto whom the righteousness of Christ has been imputed by faith. But not every one that saith “Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom, but he that doeth the will of my Father in heaven.” End Quote by Preston Eby, P O Box 371240, El Paso, TX 79937
Just as there has been a misunderstanding by some as to the difference between the Church and the Kingdom of God, there has also been a misunderstanding by some as to the difference between Pentecost and Tabernacles. There is nothing wrong with Pentecost. It is glorious and has much to offer those needing it. But Pentecost is the wilderness, and we don’t want to stay there but move on to the fullness of God’s purposes for us.
There have been those who in times past in Pentecost have attempted to place God in what they thought was an ironclad obligation to heal them. They used all the right scriptures, refused to see the doctors, would not take medicine or even vitamins – and died! We must first of all see the difference between the standard of Tabernacles and what unadvisedly went on in Pentecost. We are not saying or even hinting that to see a doctor is a sin or even wrong for you. We simply believe that it is not Tabernacles, for Tabernacles is God only. We are not saying that if you refuse to see a doctor about your condition that God will surely heal you. You may well die! (I think hospital records will prove that you may well die if you do see the doctor, too). We have no condemnation or blame to place upon anyone seeking to the doctors and we would be ashamed to place rules of law before anyone serving Christ. But we do declare that to depend upon anything other than God, or to seek God and anything else, is simply not the standard, which identifies Tabernacles. Not everyone is in the same place at the same time. We each come through in our own individual order and ordination of God.
What we are saying is that we stand in this hour under new constraints that did not apply in Pentecost. We are saying that if there is to be a people who overcome death, it will be a people who are willing to confront death with nothing more than that with which David confronted Goliath – faith in the name of the Lord. One person wrote saying that those who are sick today are not in the same category with those who offered their lives in other ages and then followed it up by saying that her life was “His and He is free to do with me as He will. He can kill me, or allow me to live. As His people, we have no rights. We are totally in Him.” That is precisely the point I seek to make in this hour. Are we so His that we will not save our life from death, even though it is not being required at the mouths of lions? Remember, we can live the lie; it doesn’t have to be spoken in order to be a lie.
There have been those of every age who so trusted God that they wholly resigned themselves to whatever He ordered in their lives. This is faith and without it, it is not possible to satisfy Him. Enoch had the testimony that he pleased God. We are told that there were some who quenched the violence of fire, not by man-made asbestos suits for which we might justifiably laud men, but through faith in God! Those three Hebrews who were about to be cast into a burning fiery furnace were quite a piece of work. Who among us would blame them for obeying the king’s edict? After all, we are told to be subject to the higher powers, to obey magistrates and the laws of the land, for the powers that be are ordained of God. In a crisis, we have the tendency to become very creative with God’s word and to apply it evangelistically.
They had no precedence by which to proceed. No one had ever been placed in such a predicament before them, nor had any been delivered from such. There is a widespread idea that when and if trouble comes, God will protect us, and what is meant by protecting us is that He will preserve our life. Because, after all, we are in the secret place of the Most High, therefore a thousand shall fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand but it shall not come nigh me. I fully believe God can do that... if He so chooses! In the case of almost all of the prophets He chose not to. In the case of John the Baptist He chose not to. In the case of Paul He chose not to. In the case of His own Son He chose not to. In the case of innumerable of His choicest vessels, He chose not to. But in each of these cases, the subject of His care and protection had made the will of God his abiding place and so was preserved in the most essential way – in his well-being, in his peace, in his joy, in Him. Millions of His own ones have been fed to lions, to the flames in the will of God! It is not the manner in which our life is required that is important, but whether or not we count our lives dear to us.
These Hebrew men stood resolutely given to God’s will whatever that might be. Even though, as it turned out, they were delivered from the flames, they had, in effect, given their lives up in the will of God. They could never have known the fourth man anywhere else but in the flames, in the crisis. Every thought that a loving God has is toward a loving purpose. He is worthy of our trust and praise. Our choices and the lives of others who have gone on before us will either give us cause for satisfaction or accusation.
Indeed, if we are the true Ecclesia, the called-out ones, separated unto God and peculiar from all others, what has happened to that peculiarity? The Ecclesia seems pretty much in lock-step with the rest of the entire world. Doctors and medicine are as natural to us as breathing, while truly placing ourselves in and leaving ourselves in the hands of our loving and capable Father is considered to be altogether radical and by some, even irrational. Must one’s death be at the mouth of a lion, a burning stake or the rack before we can feel that we may resign ourselves to God in meeting it?
There are those who preach and teach the theory that the Kingdom of God will be introduced and advanced through politics and legislature. It will not, but it will not come in us by the helping hand of medicine and doctors either. For those seeking to keep the spiritual feast of Tabernacles to continue looking to man to patch up the earthly booth of their natural body, is quite like hiring a brick mason to brick up their booth and even add a nice ceiled roof to it so that the elements do not intrude or cause discomfort. This is not truly keeping the feast.
There is a strange and peculiar thing about Tabernacles as it relates to fullness. We cannot have that fullness of the Spirit wherein God is all except as He is given a-l-l. Tabernacles is entrance into the Kingdom. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Notice how the coming of His Kingdom is synonymous with His will? Can His Kingdom come in us where there is a will contrary to His Kingdom? It is obvious that it cannot. Can one come into the rest of God without finding that rest in His will? No, the only place any shall ever come into His rest is in His will. Therefore there must be a complete yielding to Him in all things – even in sickness, in pain, in discomfort and in death.
There are very few who are ill in some way who have not had a great hand in that illness or physical condition. More men are killed with the spoon and fork than with the knife and bullet. God gave the Israelites the dietary laws, not because He simply wished to place constraints upon them, but because He wished to do them good. And, no, I am not saying that we ought to begin to keep a carnal dietary law. I am saying that if we ate better, we would feel better. I am saying that if we let God lead us in our diet we would find less need of the doctor, the hospital, and the funeral home. I am saying that the more sugar, fats, and dead food we continue to eat, the more likely we are to continue to have this body fail us.
“I am not going to change my diet!” I heard a fellow minister, a dear and very precious brother in the Lord, utter those words and when I heard them, I thought to myself, “You will change your diet or be buried.” For it is not the diet that God is interested in, but the complete yielding of our wills. If we continue eating to satisfy our lusts, we can expect to continue in our present physical condition. I am not saying that we are not free to eat whatever we wish and however much we wish. There is no condemnation whatever in Christ. What I am saying is that if we do not eat according to true wisdom we can fully expect to perish like fools.
We are free to go out into the freeway and stand in the path of a large, fast-moving eighteen-wheel semi. We’re free to do that. But if we choose to do so, we have no right to believe that God will preserve our life, and we ought to expect the result that most would deem to be automatic. Death. I have found myself actually in a situation where I could not, in good conscience, bless the food I was about to eat. I knew it wasn’t good for me. I knew that if I continued to eat such food, I could not continue to live. So, like most of us, I simply gave thanks and ate it anyway.
When we speak of God putting down all rule, all authority and all power in us; when we speak of Him bringing down all the kingdoms of our world in us; when we speak of Him becoming All in us, do we actually believe that we can continue in those things, those lusts that rule us, those things that are neither Him nor of Him and still come to a finished work in Him? We need to stop saying “I can’t” and begin saying “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Either we can do all things through Christ, which strengthens us or the Spirit has misled us. Let God be true though every man a liar.
I do not bring up these things in order to place anyone under either condemnation or law. I have no tolerance for either. I, myself, do not profess to be eating entirely as I ought to presently. I’m doing a lot better than I was at one time. But I have set myself, with God’s help, to eat in such a way that when sickness comes, it will not come because I have bid it come. If I am sick, and, like everybody else, I have some serious things wrong with me now, it will be without my aiding and abetting. We ought to be in such a place that whether we live or whether we die, we live or die unto God, because we eat or don’t eat unto God.
When I spoke to a precious group in Winston-Salem, One sister stood and testified how their old pastor who is now gone, would ask “Is there anyone with anything wrong? If there is, come up and be prayed for and be healed.” She said many were healed. But he knew these people and knew about their conditions. He knew what their bodies could tolerate and what happened when they violated their bodies. He would ask, “What have you been eating that brought this condition back?” If they said they had been eating something they knew better than to eat, something which if they ate they were sure to develop a condition, he would say, “I’m not going to pray for you!”
If you think that sounds harsh or unkind, I disagree with you. I think he did them a great favor. I believe he was teaching them that they could not continue in disobedience to the needs and requirements of their bodies, continue violating and defiling it with the very things they knew were certain to cause illness and then ask God to preserve them. He knew that under such conditions prayer would not be answered any more than the prayer of one who knowingly stands in the path of a fast-moving eighteen-wheeler and then asks for protection. This may well be the very reason so many are seeking the doctors rather than trusting God to heal them. They know that God will not heal them for what they have knowingly brought upon themselves through disobedience and carelessness.
“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: and put a knife to thy throat if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat” – Proverbs 23:1-3. Dainties are called “deceitful meat” by the Lord. If we treat “deceitful meat” the same way we treat “deceitful riches” we’re going to die. Notice that it nowhere states that we cannot have dainties. But unless we are completely closed to God we are instructed that if we have dainties, we are not to give ourselves over to them, but have them with discretion and moderation. Personally, I have always found total abstinence to be much easier than perfect moderation.
We are also told that when such things are placed before us and we do not carefully consider them and their consequences, “put a knife to thy throat;” stand in front of a fast-moving eighteen-wheeler; put a loaded gun to your head. Once again, we have found the enemy and he is us. We all have enough history to know these things to be true. It has been said, “Time is a great teacher. The problem is that he kills all his students.” That does not have to be the case with us.
Great and precious privileges are ours in Christ and we are just arriving at the place in Him where these privileges are to be obtained. It is true that in one sense those priests upon whose shoulders the Ark of the Testimony was born represent Jesus Christ as He stood at Calvary in the place of death 2,000 years ago while all the people crossed over 2,000 cubits removed from Him.
In another, more far-reaching sense, that priesthood represents us, those in whom the reality of “No more I, but Christ” has been entered into. We must cease looking at ourselves according to what we think we see and what we think we know. God Himself is on record as saying that we have been crucified with Christ and that there is no longer an “I”. Now, He says, there is only Christ. This is not a matter of semantics or word games. Put simply, it is a matter of whether or not we are willing to believe God. The Israelites did not enter in at the first because of unbelief. They believed what they saw rather than what God had said to them.
Whether you or I ever believe God and live as if we do, God will yet have a firstfruits people who will stand in the Melchizedek Priesthood order upon no other ground than Christ’s (and their own with Him) resurrection by faith alone! Are you willing to be one of those? Then stop looking at what the natural eye can see, stop listening to what the rational reasoning mind thinks about things and begin looking at what only the eye of faith can see and the ear of faith can hear!
A people shall shortly rise up in Christ. He alone shall be the life by which they live and the life by which they live shall be according to the faith of the Son of God, not theirs. These shall so live by His life that they will not, cannot live for or unto themselves. These are always delivered unto death so that life may work in others. They shall stand resolutely in the place of death, as did Jesus, while a-l-l the people pass over. This is the manifestation of the sons of God.
I am bone weary of hearing some tell us what they are. Show me the life! That life will say it all. That life that is Christ’s is what the whole creation is groaning and waiting to see. Without its manifestation we have no right to boast and make claims. I recently read something written by Bob Torango.
“So many today are growing weary of this Day. I have never heard so many people, particularly those that call themselves ministers of this Day, complaining about this Day. I have heard many say that “they cannot preach a Word that doesn’t work for them”, or, “I’m tired of not getting my needs met”, or “this Word is too lonely, I need fellowship and my children need Sunday School and more kids to play with” and on and on.
“... I have a word for all these young marketeers, those that think us old heads have fumbled the ball and need to bow down to their strategies and schemes to build this Word into a thriving, prosperous, megachurch. Go ahead. Build your churches, change the Word however it suits you, demand titles to be placed in front of your names, subject your people to a government of religious bondage, form your fellowships of like-minded ministry that think this Word has failed them, become the counselors and sustainers of the complainers and backbiters, fill your coffers with bloody money, buy your popularity by selling your birthright, hide this pure truth under the covering of your empty and ambiguous message of Kingdom-Life, a message that has no gender and stands no ground, but kisses the lips of every church that has enough money to warrant it. Go ahead and do it. But know this one thing. It will all fall, in a moment, in an eclipse of your false light, God will not show the works of your hands any mercy, but will move in His determination to bring every throne and dominion under Him.” End of Quote. Bob Torango, The House of the Lord, Messenger, 202 Old Columbia Rd., Dickson, TN 37055
Do you recognize what the issue is in the above? It is about whether we are willing to continue believing the Lord even though the vision tarries. Joseph believed God in the king’s prison and so was taken from there to a throne. Those who are complaining about the word not working for them, about whatever, are doing so because they thought when they entered this race that it would be a dash, a sprint. Brother, this race is the marathon of all marathons. It is a life! The vision and the purpose of God is for an appointed time and no one is going to convince God to adjust His schedule to suit them. God will yet work a work in our day which some will not believe though it be told them. Let us stand upon our watch... For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and will not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.
The body of God’s chosen ones is at this point in such a deplorable, wretched condition physically that if something is to be done, it shall be God who does it. We are no longer able to do anything. I received a phone call just a few days ago and the party on the other end made this statement: “We are losing all our ministers!” He was referring to the fact that another dear brother has found that he has cancer. He was referring to the pitiful condition in which a great many of us find ourselves. Well, praise the Lord!
Beloved, hear me. If God removes J. Preston Eby, Larry Hodges, Elaine Cook, Elwin Roach, Bob and Charlotte Torango and every other writer or minister who ever picked up a pen or turned on a computer tomorrow, in one divine stroke – the kingdom of God would not miss a beat! I dearly love Preston and all these mentioned, but I want you to know, if you don’t already, that the kingdom of God is not built upon men. It is built upon Jesus Christ, the only true foundation. If we all died tomorrow it would continue on toward its inevitable and desired conclusion as if nothing had taken place. These ministries are the Lords, not ours. He has the right to bring them to a close if and when He sees fit. In fact, I believe I can see the handwriting on the wall where The Shofar Letters writing ministry is concerned.
My eyesight has begun to diminish drastically lately. I can still see but with great difficulty. It is as if I find myself looking out through a hole which is getting smaller and smaller each day. I believe it is cataracts. I know that there is a very simple operation for cataracts, and I also know that there are things on the market to alleviate this condition or even remove it altogether. But God has dealt with Betty and I about it and although I am by no means given to enjoying pain and discomfort, I believe with all my heart that all that comes to us comes to us from the hand of a loving and compassionate God. I believe that nothing can come to me that God does not permit and that if something does come to me, it comes in the “will of God.” I accept what has come to me as having come from the loving hand of God.
We have not yet understood how we are going to do things at this point. It means that Betty will have a greater load of responsibility placed upon her little shoulders. When the time comes that I just can no longer see, she will have to do all the driving, all the writing, all the practically everything. We haven’t attempted dictating yet. It may work. But the point is, most of you folks don’t need teaching any longer, you have been taught for years and the time has now come for you to be teachers. There is enough of the Word of God stored away in you by other men who have, by now, passed on, men like George Hawtin, Bill Britton and others, upon whose willing shoulders we have all stood, so that those of us coming after have only needed to confirm what they have so well taught you. “So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” – I Corinthians 3:7-9
It is the time to take the kingdom. Rise up ye strong, possess the land!
CRISIS [Larry Hodges] 1