My friend Darren is a man after God’s Heart, and he’s also after Revival. Not just a small tent ‘revival’ like they do in the States, but a full-blown move of the Spirit in this day that will bring healing, blessing and righteousness to countless numbers of hurting people. He and I both want revival and, each in our own ways, we both work with God towards that end.
Yesterday, Darren shared a vision he was given while praying in the Moriah Chapel in Loughor, Wales, where the 1904 Welsh Revival began.
Here’s Darren’s post in full:
“I have something that I feel is very important to share with the Church…
“This morning as I was praying and soul-searching at the back pew in Moriah Chapel, God gave me a message in the form of an image in my head;-
“I saw an old steam train sitting on some tracks. It was not moving forward or backward but was just sitting there, unfulfilled in it’s purpose. Scattered in between the wooden sleepers that were supporting the rails were great weeds and the wheels of the train had rusted up and had probably also seized up too. It was clear that this train had not moved for a long time.
“The scene was then shifted and I was in the driver’s cabin of the train. I noticed that the water gauge indicated that there was no water in the reservoir. I then saw the door of the coal furnace open, revealing cold, long-burnt out coal. All of a sudden a shovel appeared out of nowhere and started to dig deeper and deeper into the coals, turning them over and over. I noticed that there were very dim ambers still barely alight right at the bottom of the pile and as the coal was being turned over and over, the ambers started to gradually heat up and ignite the cold coal. What seemed to be quite a long time went past but eventually the whole furnace was ablaze again. The heat was immense and the doors had to be slammed shut as the heat was unbearable.
“I then saw streams of water pour down from above and fill the reservoir until the needle on the gauge was indicating that it was full. Then the whistle blew louder than the loudest sound I have ever heard and thick black soot started to ascend until all was clear and clean steam was bellowing out of the chimney, to be seen for miles and miles.
“Then it happened! The rust fell off and the train broke free and start to slowly move forward. Then it picked up pace… faster and faster! Until it was speeding ahead at full speed, unstoppable! My heart was pounding.
“After seeing this, the Spirit spoke into my heart. He said that the coal furnace is the heart and the coals are the Word. He said that the Word needs to become a blazing fire within our hearts again. The water is Him. ‘What of the shovel Lord?’. His answer… prayer! For so long we have been thinking of ‘re-digging the wells’ in the sense of re-digging the ground but the reality is that we are re-digging the coals of the Word within our hearts!
“Then it hit me! His words… ‘The moment the water and the coal come together, the train will come alive! The water – the Spirit… and the coals – the Word… Wow, I’ve heard that before! Smith Wigglesworth prophesying in 1947. ‘When the Spirit and the Word come together…’ I always wondered what he meant! What a parable of revelation!
“Prayer is the key folks! Prayer is the key!! Turn over the coals of your heart! Use that God-given shovel! Pray that coal into a blazing furnace again and watch what happens when the Spirit ‘fills the reservoir’! Set your Bride alight again Lord for Jesus’ sake!”
Here’s a profound prophecy from Glasgow Prophetic Centre. I don’t treat prophecy lightly, and naturally we must weigh prophecy; Paul says in 1 Cor 14:29 that “… the others should weigh carefully what is said.” Well, I did just that, and this prophecy struck an immediate bright chord in my heart; I’m confident that God spoke to my heart with this today, He did the same for many people in my Church, and it may also be for others out there too. So I’m sharing it now; if you feel the Spirit speaking it to your heart, then grab it with both hands! Here we go:
“You are being empowered to bring restoration, reversal and restitution into situations that seem irreversible, permanent and hopeless. God is equipping you to speak words of turnaround, ‘enough-is-enough’ and words of finality over prolonged issues, attacks and problems that have sought to paralyse you, slow you down and drain you financially, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
“Terminal illness will be reversed as you speak a word of ‘enough-is-enough’. Brain damage will be undone as you release a turning around. All manner of blood disorders and issues with the lymphatic system will be unwound and removed in an instant as God releases His reversal.
“There will be a reversal of debt and bankruptcy for those who feel like they are trapped in a downward financial spiral. The business that you thought you were going to lose will be resuscitated and brought back to life as a turnaround is released.
“Depression, bi-polar, anxiety and extreme OCD will be healed as reversal is released. God is reversing, turning around, restoring and undoing circumstance that have encroached around you and a brought with them a weight of hopelessness and despair. Yet, He is doing this work through you and He requires your participation, with the leading of His Spirit, to release words that bring restitution into desolation.
“Begin to make faith-filled, reversal decrees now in the name of Jesus Christ, the miracle worker. Execute royal decrees just as in Esther 9:1. Watch as God begins to move in you and through you in a completely different manner than you have ever known before.”
(Esther 9:1 – Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.)
Here’s a most encouraging quote from ‘Jesus Calling’, given here for your upbuilding:
“I am with you and for you. You face nothing alone—nothing! When you feel anxious, know that you are focusing on the visible world and leaving Me out of the picture. The remedy is simple: Fix your eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. Verbalize your trust in Me, the Living One who sees you always. I will get you safely through this day and all your days. But you can find Me only in the present. Each day is a precious gift from My Father. How ridiculous to grasp for future gifts when today’s is set before you! Receive today’s gift gratefully, unwrapping it tenderly and delving into its depths. As you savour this gift, you find Me.”
Today I want to talk a little about God’s promises, both in a general sense, and in a specific sense – that is, how they apply to you.
The Old Testament promises of the advent of the Messiah/Christ are well-known: the Daniel 7:13 prophecy and the Isaiah 7:14 verse, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel“; and Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace“, being good examples.
The promise of the Holy Spirit in Joel 2:28 – “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” and in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and … to the ends of the earth”
These promises happened. And once they had happened, nothing would ever be the same again. Once Jesus the Christ had come, it was historical fact – and nothing could undo it. Once the Spirit had been given at Pentecost, that was it. The Spirit had come, and nothing would ever be the same again. Once something which has been prophesied has actually happened, it becomes an historical fact – and it is now part of history.
I’m saying this to encourage you, because if God has spoken a promise to you, either from the Bible, through another believer, or even simply directly into your spirit, then it will happen. But it will happen in God’s time. In Daniel 8:26, it says, “The vision…that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” You see what I mean? God’s promise to you is true, and even though it hasn’t happened yet it is still true even though it’s in the future. For Daniel, the promise would not be fulfilled in anything like his lifetime. Some of it hasn’t happened even now. But for you (since it’s quite likely that your promise is not related to distant, end-time apocalyptic events, as Daniel’s was!), the promise will be fulfilled in your life – in God’s good timing. And in the way He wants to do it; all you need do is be patient!
But, of course, until the promise actually happens, it will appear as if nothing has changed. Because, of course, from our point of view nothing has changed – except that you have the promise. But as I keep saying, once the promise happens, nothing will ever be the same again.
The promise could come true for you in a split second, or it could take time to get to you. Nobody knows the time or the minute – but yet suddenly everything changes, and nothing will ever be the same again, once that promise happens. For example, some years ago I had my gallbladder out. Until that offending bit of kit had been removed, I would be prone to gallbladder attacks. But once the operation had been performed, nothing would ever be the same again – the bladder was gone and that was it. Fait accompli. And now that is an historical fact, and I never need to think about it hurting me ever again.
And in June last year, I received a totally unexpected healing. I’d was in the middle of processing some music tracks and all of a sudden, God started doing something in my spirit. I got Fiona to pray with me and I was in floods of tears, followed by the usual uncontrollable Holy Spirit giggles that usually follow when I’ve received a deep healing from God. And, although I can’t really tell you what the healing was about (because it’s too personal), I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am healed from that particular affliction – the fruit of it has been seen regularly in my life and my son even said, “What’s happened to Dad??” and took photos proving what had happened. Those of you who know me well will know what I’m talking about…but the thing is that I did not expect that to happen; it came completely out of the blue – but now nothing will ever be the same again in that area of my life. Once a healing – whether supernatural or medical – happens, nothing will ever be the same again, because it’s now an historical fact. It actually happened. And it’s like that with God’s promises; once fulfilled, they are real, but also because He has promised, somehow they’re already real because it’s God Who said it.
Now I’m not suggesting you simply read a random Bible verse and claim it as a promise; I believe that usually God has to speak something to you in order that you can own it for yourself. But there are exceptions, as we have seen in that example of my healing described above, and the thing is that the Bible is full of good promises of God that I believe all we have to do is simply to get hold of, in order for them to apply to us. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people perish through lack of knowledge“, and I believe it is vital to get hold of an important key to accessing God’s promises – the knowledge that we need in order to avoid missing out on what God has for us.
As you might already have guessed, that key is found in Jesus. The promises of God, especially those in the Old Testament, are often ‘conditional’, in that it looks as if we have to fulfil certain ‘criteria’ before we can access the benefits of the promises. For example, Exodus 15:26 says, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any … diseases … for I am the Lord, who heals you”. So the condition for this healing is that we obey everything God has commanded us. Everything! But whom do you know who can claim to obey the Law in all cases? Nobody! Nobody is that perfect! So, the promise appears inaccessible to us.
But it says in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in Him are yea [yes], and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” [King James Version]. All God’s promises to us are Yes – in Jesus! Jesus has already done the perfect obeying of the Law, on our behalf. So all the promises of God in all of Scripture are YES in Him. This means that you can claim all the good things that God has for you, all the great promises of Scripture, because in Jesus ALL of God’s promises to you are ‘Yes’, and ‘Amen’!
Now isn’t that good news? All God’s promises to you are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’, His promises always come true, and once it’s happened, nothing will ever be the same again.
And behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, And came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, And a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, And his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” – Daniel 7:13-14 (KJV)
This is one of my favourite passages in the Old Testament (OT). Around 600 years before the birth of Christ, a humble man – the prophet Daniel – saw a colossal vision, part of which predicted a Man Whose destiny would be breathtaking in its scope.
Most believers will know of the OT prophecies concerning the promises that Jesus would come. But this is one of the best, because not only does it refer to a man (‘one like a son of man’ means ‘a human’) who would be able to go into God’s Presence, but it also refers to his final coming at the End of the Age too. It refers to His Kingdom, which did come with Jesus, and is here now in His people by His Spirit, and will come into its completion when He comes back again. And it speaks of that Kingdom as being an eternal, everlasting Kingdom. Awesome!
And for those who didn’t know about these prophecies, isn’t this simply brilliant? That it should be predicted 600 years before Christ that there would be a Man like that, Who would not only declare the Kingdom, but would also claim the Kingdom in His own Name?
It is so well worth studying the OT prophecies concerning Christ’s coming. Because, very often, they not only tell of His coming, but also of what will happen later. One of the features of predictive prophecy is that, from the prophet’s perspective, he sees the things of the future at such a distance that they all bunch together into one image. So, for example, although two future events may be separated by a couple of thousand years, from the prophet’s point of view, he cannot distinguish between the two events in terms of their separation in time.
And this Daniel passage is a classic example of this. The Kingdom given to Jesus exists right now. Jesus has been ‘led into God’s Presence’ (Heb 4:15). These things have already happened. And the Kingdom, even now, consists of people of all nations and languages who serve Him (and this concept would itself have been inconceivable to the Jews of the time). So far, so good. But the ‘everlasting’ part of the Kingdom is in many respects yet to come – but because the first part of the prophecy has already been fulfilled, it suggests very strongly that the rest of it will come true also. As, of course, many of us believe that it will.
So, just as I have already recently shared with you the concept of Hebrew parallelism, please accept this little piece as an insight into another Bible study discipline – the interpretation of predictive prophecy.
Just one caveat, though – remember that some prophecy has already come true. So, when Jesus predicted the downfall of the Temple in Jerusalem (Matt 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-4), this actually did happen in AD70 when the Romans destroyed it. So, unless you know the history of the times, don’t rush into interpreting certain prophecies as if they are still to happen, or that they will happen today. In fact, a study of the Matthew 24 passage might be a fascinating way to begin on this discipline….. I will leave it up to you!
May you experience the joy of hearing God’s Voice as you read the Scriptures!
Note on header image – The Clouds of Heaven, taken by me at the controls of a Cessna 152 light aircraft over Cornwall, UK, in June 2015.
I remember being in the congregation one evening at the 1983 Dales Bible Week in Harrogate. Everyone was singing ‘in the Spirit’ when, completely spontaneously, a chap called JD Lawtum (who was up on the stage) began singing a prophetic solo. After a few seconds (you can hear it on the track) he stepped up to the microphone and continued the prophecy accompanied by the band, led by David Hadden on the piano.
Bear in mind that none of this was pre-arranged, none of it was made up beforehand. This is purely God singing to His people, with JD simply singing the words as they came to him.
Worship is a two-way thing. We sing to God about how much we love Him, and how great He is. Prophetic singing is one of the ways in which He can say back to us how He is feeling about our worship. Sometimes, during a time of free worship, a prophetic worshipper, or someone with a prophetic ministry (hopefully one who can also sing!) is given by the Holy Spirit words to sing – either to the tune currently being sung, or to an entirely new tune – in which case the band (also being led by the Spirit) join in, as in this present case. When it’s sung spontaneously, the song is given line by line: as the singer finishes one line, the next comes into their head and they sing that next, and so on. You can imagine that the singer needs to be very brave to step out in faith like that, but God honours it and keeps the words coming! The whole effect is quite beautiful and uplifting, as well as upbuilding too.
Anyway, I’m sharing this one with you now because I want you to know that, even more than thirty years on, this is still God’s heart for His people. Enjoy!
For it is My desire, says the Lord your God
To sing over you this night
My salvation is come, not in part, but in full
And I give you inner peace and sight
So lift up your heads for the gate is open wide And come and sup with Me, says your God I have prepared a table and now you may eat This is an appetiser of what I’ve got for you
So sing with Me now, gently lift your sweet soul It’s your soul, not your voice, I need to hear For each and every one of you is precious in My sight And a sweet, sweet sound in My ear
God has prepared a feast of good things for those who would like to come. And He’s reserved a place at His table, just for you. No need to get dressed-up! Come just as you are. God loves your company! You will love His, too.
In 1993, Hosanna! Music did a song by Dave Bankhead and Ray Goudie called ‘Great Awakening’. 22 years ago, this Great Awakening was longed for by most Christians in my circles, but it simply didn’t happen. But it is happening now, beginning with God speaking to the hearts of His people about His true nature and His love for the broken, hurting and outcasts. People like me and others I know are being changed by God to be able to see and accommodate this new wave of His Spirit.
Here’s the song – ‘Great Awakening’, by Dave Bankhead and Ray Goudie:
All down the ages, God has caused to happen many ‘Great Moves of God’, where the Christian faith undergoes great upheaval which results in huge blessings, healings, miracles and so on. These events happen periodically in God’s good timing, and many believers today feel that we are long overdue such a blessing. I have friends who pray constantly for such a move of God to happen in our time.
And I personally believe that there is another such move coming. Usually what happens is that God brings new revelation and blessing, but what He does and how He does it is completely unexpected – or nearly so. I believe that He reveals His plans in advance to those who are ready and willing to listen – ready and willing, because the move He brings is going to shake the foundations of what was previously thought to be known about God, and many will reject it as a move of the enemy. This is what happened in Jesus’s time – Jesus Himself was the new move of God, and the religious people of the day rejected Him – and even in modern times, it is no different, and it will be no different in that respect the next time either.
People who are so entrenched in procedure – based religious systems will either rail against the move of God, or they may even miss it entirely. Some will of course decry it as being ‘of the devil’, as if he has any say in what God does! (Remember that the devil is not the equal and opposite of God, he is a created being too just like we are, and as such is subject to the rule of God).
But the new thing is coming. Those who can feel it can see the stirring of the first few blades of grass moving in the wind of the Spirit. And you can guarantee that it will be nothing like most people expect. It will not be like the great revivals of the past. Because of the communications capability we have on the Internet, this one will be bigger than any before. There will be healings, miracles, people being raised from the dead, huge salvation, people being brought into the Kingdom – not a kingdom of rules and regulations, but of freedom and power. The powerless will be made powerful and mighty in God. They will realise anew, and indeed some for the first time, just what Jesus has done for us, and they will also realise the loving, calling nature of God as He seeks to draw all people to Him in His love.
This time, the emphasis will be on how much God actually likes us. In the past, there has been too much emphasis on the ‘angry god’ who is distant, cold, and just waiting for us to put a foot wrong so that he can judge us, condemn us, ‘smite’ us (whatever that means) and generally be horrible. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, that’s not the God I know. The God I know is the one exemplified by Jesus in His life and works. He’s loving, kindly, caring, tolerant, forgiving, healing – he’s friendly! People all over the world are even now being shown by Holy Spirit what is going to happen, and they are being primed, trained and set up to work alongside the Master, His Hands on theirs, as their attitudes change towards God’s intended direction for them and for the Awakening.
Maybe this looks prophetic; well maybe it is. Maybe God is showing us what He’s going to do, and it’s exciting stuff!
The harshness of modern-day religion and religious practices will be missing from the new revival, but it will of course try to resist it and brand it a ‘work of the enemy’ as we have already seen. It will be like nothing we have ever seen before. The main resistance, as in Jesus’s day, will be from those whose power structures, either in terms of money, prestige, reputation or control are threatened by the move of the Spirit. Those working in existing Christian practices may have to change the way they do things – but don’t worry, this is healthy if it’s of God.
I know there will be many people reading this that love Jesus and may well be frightened by this prospect. Maybe it will look like heresy; how do I know this is ‘safe’; how do I know it’s the Spirit that’s doing this and not a counterfeit? I would say that you need to rest in God. You need to lean right back into His arms and hear what He’s saying. You know His promises: He will never let go of you; underneath are His everlasting arms; His Spirit will lead you into all Truth. God will not lead you against your conscience, but He might just re-educate your conscience with His ideas. Please be open to that. Your process of being ‘transformed by the renewing of your mind’ never actually stops; you don’t ‘arrive’ at a place when the transformation is complete, not this side of the veil anyway. So, be open to God’s Spirit breathing His changes and His life into your spirit.
And we need to flow with the Spirit. In a previous post on this blog, ‘Learning the Lessons of History‘, I said that in order to allow the ‘next revival’ to continue, we must be careful to allow the Spirit to flow things along, not to make rules and frameworks in order to try to ‘preserve’ the blessing. That warning still stands – let the Spirit do what He wills!
So, get ready for the Great Awakening. It’s coming. And it’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before!
See also my post on Don Francisco’s song ‘Vision of the Valley‘ for more on the kind of people that God will use in the upcoming Great Awakening.
The other thing is that you will most likely not hear about this on the standard news media. They tend to report only the bad news! But let’s wait and see….
In 1991, the Christian musician Don Francisco published an album entitled ‘Vision of the Valley. The title track, ‘Vision of the Valley’ was a prophetic song depicting God’s feelings against the fake shepherds of the Christian Church; those interested in being leaders only for the money, the power and/or the prestige and social standing that the ‘job’ gave.
Now, almost a quarter-century later, I believe that this song is echoing what Father is doing in this time.
You see, for too long, many (but not all) churches all around the world have concentrated on god’s anger, judgement, ‘holiness’ (in this context, meaning his being ‘set apart’ from, or in other words allergic to, ‘sin’), rules and laws, and other unsavoury aspect of the character of ‘angry god’ portrayed especially in the Old Testament. Churches have been harsh and unbending, they have been unwelcoming to those that don’t fit in. The way they treat their members, at least those who deviate even slightly from the ‘normal’ behaviour, is reprehensible. They have persecuted the minorities – such as gay/lesbian/transgender people, they have rejected the widows and their children (divorcees and remarried people – see my article on this here) and they have shunned those who do not agree with them on absolutely every point of doctrine.
There are people bleeding and broken by ‘heavy shepherding’ – bullying, strong-personality leader types who make their congregation do things without question and order them around in God’s Name, and confront them with their ‘sins’, supposedly ‘in love’.
Love could not be further from these people. They are not being Christ to their people, nor to those outside. Is it any wonder, then, that the world looks in on the Church of today – whether that particular congregation is guilty of this or not; they are all tarred with the same brush by those outside – with contempt. This is the face of Religion – cold, hard, unbending, unmerciful. The Church, generally, is no longer seen as representing Christ to the world – the Christ Who turned the cold face of Religion on its head and redefined how people can relate to God…..
So what Father is doing is that there are many people around the world who do represent Jesus, and He is raising these people up and bringing them out into the limelight. People whom before we ‘…hadn’t noticed’. People in every walk of life who love Jesus and love others. People like me, who have recently ‘come out’ as an affirmer of Lesbian/gay/transgender people. People like good friends of mine, who have realised that the harshness of the Old Testament is not a true reflection of God’s nature, and that proper interpretation of Scripture is essential in determining doctrine, if indeed you even need doctrine as such, but in any event at least where that doctrine dictates how you treat others.
Jesus is in this day reaching out to those who need Him in their lives. The broken, the bleeding, those damaged by bullying religion, those bound up by archaic rules and laws that Jesus came to set us free from.
So, here’s the song – Vision of the Valley – by Don Francisco, used here with his permission:
The vision came unbidden, at an unexpected pass Where the winds of change blew colder Whippin’ snow that cut like glass But like an old man in regret For foolish sins and wasted youth The scene that lay before me Had no beauty save its truth For the wind came down the mountains Never slow and never still And the sheep were scattered shepherdless, Alone across the hills They were prey to every beast that roamed, And entrapped by every curse And they stumbled in their sickness, In their weakness and their thirst
Below them in the valley, The polluted waters flowed Where the shepherds that were hirelings sat And argued what was owed And the ambitious and the abusive bragged And they boasted on their might And their profits from the slaughter Of the ones who could not fight
And the wind just kept on howling, As I cried, “Oh Lord, how long Will your people be the victims Of the ruthless, proud and strong?” And at once there came an answer In the quiet of my soul “The time has come for judgement And to make the wounded whole”
“For my heart is still a shepherd’s heart I know each one by name The ragged and the beautiful, The healthy and the lame And I myself will lead them out, And I’ll feed them on the best In pastures by still waters In a place of peace and rest
O, but woe unto the shepherds who abuse my sheep and kill With harshness and severity you’ve bent them to your will And today I am against you as I take them from your hand When the fire of judgement comes The stubble will not stand!”
Then darkness filled the valley And I saw it take up form Screaming winds and fire and lightning More than any earthly storm Where it passed were no survivors For the land was cleansed and bare But the streams flowed clear and purified And the grass grew green and fair
I saw a man come walking And his heart glowed like a flame All the sheep began to run to him, And he called each one by name He spoke to them in gentle words And he soothed their fearful minds And he healed the brokenhearted And the crippled, sick and blind Then many others like him, All with hearts that glowed the same That before I hadn’t noticed, From the farms and fields they came They weren’t famous, wise, or noble But they spoke a common word A word the flock could recognize And follow when they heard
They led them in green pastures, By still waters in the light Standing guard against the wolves And other creatures of the night Going out into the mountains In the darkness and the cold Bringing back the lost and wounded To the safety of the fold And the news went out around the world In every street and town That something wonderful was here, That heaven had come down And millions gave their hearts in trust That long had been betrayed And the bride at last was ready, And the trumpet call was made
And the news went out around the world In every street and town That something wonderful was here, That heaven had come down And millions gave their hearts in trust That long had been betrayed And the bride at last was ready, And the trumpet call was made
The ‘many others like Him’ are those people who, in this time, are spending time getting to know the Great Shepherd’s Heart, and then expressing that Heart to those around them. They are the ones who have forgotten their ability to judge others, and instead have decided to preach the Good News of the Kingdom either directly, or by the way they express the Love of Jesus in their lives.
Are you one of those people? Would you like to be one of those people? Maybe if you listen to ‘Vision’, your backbone feels like there’s electricity running down it right from that opening harp arpeggio right at the beginning of the song? Does your heart burn with the dual emotions of excitement of believing what God is doing today and the deep weeping for those so badly treated by those who should know better? Does your heart weep for those sheep, and long for them to be released into the freedom that Jesus bought for them? If any of these descriptions strike a chord with you, then the Spirit is indeed speaking this to your heart – so be encouraged! He will work this out for you if you ask Him.
What does this mean, then, for the ‘shepherds’? What is this ‘woe’ that the song speaks of, reflecting the passages in Ezekiel 34:2-10 and Jeremiah 23:1?
Quite simply, as people leave the churches of these people, they will be out of a job! Sure, their existing congregations might well stay the same size, since they will probably be made up of people who are equally hard and harsh. But as Holy Spirit works on the hard hearts of those people, and even on the leaders, they will come round to His way of thinking. And the Church will grow, but not the churches that are hardened, at least not with people who know their relationship with Jesus has saved them from the hell of a life lived on the streets without Him. They will form their own groups around those who go out and find them; in short, relationship will win over rules and organisation. Don’t forget that God loves even the harsh shepherds, and longs for them to realise their error and to come into the fulness of His Kingdom in this life. They are missing out on so much!
So, listen to the song again and again. Soak in it; hear its message, and if you are one of these hard-hearted people, then let the Spirit change you into the person you always wanted to be.
Edit: Here’s another version of the song, live by Don Francisco, in the 1989 UK ‘Vision of the Valley’ Tour. The keyboard player is Yorkshireman Dave Bainbridge, of the band ‘Iona’; I played piano at his baptism….