Report From The Tower
The apostle Paul spoke of being "pressed beyond measure" during his time in Asia (modern Turkey). During this time, he said that he even despaired of life. Many times, our emotions can swing back and forth. Events that we find bearable when they find us in good company and enjoying a blue sky, sunny day may reach us in a solitary time, on a rainy and cold day and the combination of those stressors may be more than can be borne. What is your reason for living? Are you finding your purpose for life in Christ, or something else? When I was a young father, I found joy and my reason for living in the raising of my children. As I have grown older, my reasons for living have changed, until recently, I found that my wife and I were alone, with really no fellowship other than the Lord. We were enduring a host of other, accumulated adversities. We might have thought that we were quite alone in it, but I began to be made aware through email messages from a few that they were going through the same "strange thing". Peter spoke of a "strange thing" that all disciples must go through during the time of their enlightment, and we went through that time many years ago, but something different is apparently going on right now. With that framework as the context, I will continue on, discussing how God's light has come and helped me to also pull together a few visions and revelations that I have received, down through the years, that only now seem to make any sense. First, I will begin just where this article began: my reaction to reading a prophetic article.
"Pressed Out Of Babylon", the title of this article, is the meaning given to the name Zerubbabel by the Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary The whole issue regarding the meaning of this name arose quite ordinarily out of my efforts to be a good Berean in the study of the word of God. Joseph Herrin has written an excellent article, dated November 1, 2015 and entitled Why So Downcast Oh My Soul? where he brings forth a revelation regarding Zerubbabel and the allegorical comparison to the present called out apostolic/prophetic remnant of which I am a member:
Joseph Herrin writes:
"Yahweh is primarily working among a first-fruits group at this time. This first-fruits group is small in comparison to the vast numbers of humanity. The beginning of Yahweh's great work of fashioning mankind into a living temple for His presence seems quite meager and inconsequential at this time, yet we need to consider the words Yahweh spoke through Zechariah. Zechariah 4:10 For who has despised the day of small things? The context of these words, and the lesson they hold for us today, is quite profound. Following is the question above in its context. Zechariah 4:9-10 "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent Me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of Yahweh, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth." Zerubbabel was one of the Jews who returned from captivity in the land of Babylon to find Jerusalem in ruins. The scene before him must have been very similar to our own vision of the church and the world today. The walls are broken down. The precious things have been destroyed. The enemy has free access to every quarter. Ruin is everywhere to be seen. The name Zerubbabel means "Called out of Babylon." We are among those who have been called out of Babylon."
So, it is time for me to take up again at the work of being a Berean. I had quickly tried to verify what I previously thought: that the term meant "son of Babylon", but brother Joseph was saying that it meant one who had been "called out of Babylon". Initially, all of the quick references for name meanings backed up my understanding, but I searched a bit more deeply. What I found really convinced me of something that goes even a bit farther. I realized that I had that God spark in hand with which I could begin to write those things that Jesus has been speaking to me about for about the last ten days. For, you see, some fall on the rock of Christ. It is those "Zerubbabels" who are "called out of Babylon": those who hear the Lord and who come willingly and joyfully. Then, there are those who are like I was in 1987. I was drafted by Jesus into His army: "pressed out of Babylon" really describes how it was for me. Yes, I was called, pressed into service, by the Lord Jesus. My life was very much fine, or so I thought, when I met Christ. Shortly thereafter, the Rock of Christ began to fall and had completely crushed me by 1992 and I was being ground into powder by that work of the hand of God. Every part of my life was enduring a long lasting crucifixion and Jesus let me know that I had better follow Him carefully out of this Babylon or else!
From the beginning of my walk with the Lord in 1987, I knew that I was different: different from almost all of the other believers I knew. I did not know just quite where I was meant to fit and Jesus was content to allow me to simply study His word exhaustively. I was a Christian businessman with no following: a nobody in Christ. Early on in 1987, I began to get a special understanding about the "restitution" spoken of in Acts 3:20-21. I knew that apostles and prophets and the true church would be restored, just as I knew that all the churches that I was investigating failed the test of being the true church in one way or another. I knew that the true church would function with great power and would have complete authority over devils. Signs and wonders would follow all such who believed and I did not see that happening, let alone the "greater works" that Jesus said that believers would do that would exceed even His own.
Act 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Act 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
The Greek word for "restitution" as we find it above is "apokatastasis", found in the Strongs Greek dictionary at G605, where we find that it is derived from the root Greek word at G600 "apokathistemi". That root word, translated as "restore", is a verb and our word for "restitution" in Acts 3 is a noun. We find the Lord Jesus has used that root verb in Matthew 17:10 where it is translated "restore":
Mat 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? Mat 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
The "restitution" noun of Acts 3:22 is referring to exactly the same event as the "restore" verb of Matthew 17:11. Both express the same thought in the Greek, both share the same Greek root and whether it be Peter's "restitution of all things" or the reminder from Jesus that Malachi had prophesied that BEFORE THE GREAT AND DREADFUL DAY OF THE LORD, Elias will come and "restore" all things, this restoration/restitution will occur before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ on the clouds of glory.
Once we see the intimate connection between Malachi 4:4-5, Matthew 17:10-11 and Acts 3:21-22, we see that the event is the same and we know when it is slated to occur. This is important, because many, such as bible commentator John Gill, express a hope that the churches of Christ will be restored "to purity of doctrine, discipline, and conversation", but they do not even believe it to be remotely possible to be accomplished prior to the millenial reign of Christ. They see this "restitution of all things" as primarily referring to the Old Testament prophecies regarding the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in the land.
The Holy Spirit would never allow me to exclude from this "restitution" the prophecies of the greatest prophet who ever lived: the Lord Jesus, for He prophesied great things for His bride, to be done by her BEFORE His arrival. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. Surely, the most important thoughts on the mind of a bridegroom have to do with His bride. I have always believed, by the Holy Spirit, that the heavens will retain Jesus until all things have been restored to the bride of Christ: including the power, the authority and the proper governmental structure as Jesus gave it to His disciples. We lack so much at the present time that we cannot even glimpse a biblical pastor. All that we presently have in view are some foundation stones of this new temple of the Lord that is under construction: the prophetic remnant is just about ready to bear the load of the temple that is to rest upon it. I do have some additional revelation to bring forth about these things, as I have received several words and visions about this process over the last twenty years. These have been "on the shelf", awaiting the day for their release. I can now release them as I have confirmation through Joseph Herrin as he has spoken about Zerubbabel and the allegorical connection to the work that Jesus has been performing with His modern day apostles and prophets, who are the first-fruits foundation stones, even the "head of the corner" of this new temple He is building.
I saw a vision of myself in 1994 and the Lord spoke to me about myself in it. He said that He was going to make me the head of the corner. I have kept quiet about it until now, as I thought that, perhaps, it referred in some way to me alone or that it meant something other than it implied. I do not ever wish to exalt myself in any way. I now realize that it is a prophecy about the current and future activities of this pressed out remnant of prophets and God has been shaping us to be the chief cornerstone of this new temple of the Lord. In the vision:
I was dressed in the robes of a Jewish high priest, with the Urim and Thummim affixed to my chest. I was leading worship in front of an altar on the right side of a church podium as you would view it from the seats as the singers and players of instruments were on the left side. By leading worship, I was lifting my hands, facing the altar and dancing before that altar, as the singers brought forth their worship. The glory of God was going up and coming down on the congregation as I ministered in this way. As all of this transpired, the Lord spoke Psalm 118:22 to me: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner."
The vision I recounted above of myself as high priest was given to me, showing me that in a church that had rejected me as a prophetic minister and as a worship leader, God had an intention to make me the chief cornerstone. I did not even begin to understand just what this meant when God spoke this to me and showed me the vision in 1994. How could I, after having been sent by the Lord to Cornerstone Church and after having endured complete rejection there, ever be the head of the corner in that place? It just seemed too incredible to believe. I had no idea how much one would have to suffer to qualify as a chief cornerstone of a new temple of the Lord. Things are now much clearer in 2016. I now have more understanding about the complete rebuild that God is at work with just now. That 1994 vision shows these three things together in the image I was shown: elements of a temple, a Christian high priest and a prophet of the Lord in the middle of those activities.
I received another direct word from the Lord on October 24, 2009 that I have, thus far, said or written nothing about. The word was given after three days of deep despondency that I endured after I had received a series of words that culminated with the prophecy called Final Words. That time of despair was just what Joseph Herrin described above: I was in despondency because the Lord had spoken to me that He was sending the entire church of my age into the wilderness of great tribulation and that I would not see the true church operate with full power until the time of the adulthood of my children. We had just experienced a church failure, where one of the elders desired the pre-eminency. The Lord had told me that He would grant no special measure of His presence: no refuge protection, to that church. Now, this was compounded by this word that our opportunity to build the true church would not arise again for many years. That news was sad news to me, but at the end of three days, the Lord spoke another word...this a word of encouragement. He said:
"Why are you so downcast? This is the hour of the prophet. You will wield the iron rod"
I now realize that Jesus was not referring only to me but to all of the prophets and the prophetic company who are currently suffering affliction and despair during this present hour. That 2009 word ended with an encouragement that in this difficult hour, God would work through His prophets with great power, as He gave forth the word image of the iron rod from Revelation 12:5. Sixteen years earlier, I had gone through a prophetic experience where, a few months after I had completed a forty day fast on water, I was hit with fire from heaven in my left hand. I had thought at that time that the fire from heaven was the anointing of Elisha that I had fasted for not even one year prior to that time, but the power of God faded on me until after five days, the power had almost left me completely. When I complained, the Lord spoke and told me that "the anointing that you seek will come upon you later in your life and will abide upon you at that time. Much time passed and brought many life events my way over the next ten years. There was not much to indicate that this might ever come to pass. I might have assumed that the Lord had pretty much forgotten about that bolt of fire He hit me with in 1993, but suddenly, with no advance warning, on the night of September 17, 2004, God caused a four foot long, 2 inch wide bolt of lightning to leave my left hand as I stretched it forth to pray for a Kenyan woman in Webuye, Kenya. Fire Came Out From The Lord By doing that thing, the Lord convinced me that He had been serious with me back in 1993. He will come again to me suddenly and this type of dramatic power will be manifested on the Earth. Now, it is getting easier to understand just why we will need this great power and why the Lord will give us a shepherd's rod of iron. He is going to build His real assembly: His real temple on a true and powerful foundation of apostles and prophets. Once again, I do not believe this prophecy or this event refers only to me and my future, or I would be still silent about it. Recent events and revelation suggests to me that there will be several who will wield this type of iron rod power in the name of the Lord!
This has been a most unusual time, especially the last nine months of the current season. Last Sunday, during a time of study and prayer, the Lord quickened 1 Corinthians 13 to me. In short, this is the present season when nothing is working. All things are being rendered of none effect. The bible has it that prophecies will cease, or be made of none effect, and we know that will happen when the perfect, Christ Jesus, makes His appearance, but just at present, we are seeing that prophecy and teaching are of none effect in the edification of the believer. There is an unprecedented level of apathy toward the word of the Lord right now: unprecedented in my lifetime! What reason do you have for continuing on? What is your reason for living?
Just consider it, as I have long considered it. I lost everything when I began my walk with Jesus: I entered the kingdom through the eye of the needle, just as a camel in olden times was stripped of its' burden so that it could only enter a city on its' belly. During those early days, it was enough for me to hear the Lord's voice. I had no ministry, but I had what I thought was a good church and I could worship my God and hear His voice: it was enough that the voice of His love was all I needed. That was really my reason for living in those early days: just hearing His voice. Down through the years, I entered into years of popularity when the website was getting upwards of 500,000 hits per month. During those years, I had no good church and had rejection by family but I had that internet ministry to encourage me. Perhaps, that ministry even became part of my reason for living, and that is wrong, for as Joseph Herrin has written, God has not given us ministry as some primary, end destination nor is it intended to be a reason for our existence. No, our primary call is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Now, internet ministry has dwindled almost to nothing and we have a church of two souls. Prophecy and teaching have, in a sense, become of none effect. Even ministry seems to have become of none effect. Our children do not desire the deeper things of the kingdom of God. From whence shall we now draw our reason for living and our purpose? Once again, the voice of His love must be all that I need. Each of us must find our life in Christ Jesus and we must endure this present time by obtaining and holding on to the mind of Christ, for I have the sense that God is putting His finishing touches on this foundation just now.
I hope you are hearing what I am saying. Just now, all other reasons for living are being stripped away. We are even being tested in some ways that are almost unbearable, in that, at times, we are praying for the needs of the saints and their suffering continues unabated. Yet, as Peter told the Lord, where else do we have to go Jesus? You alone have the words of life.
We are in a special, excruciating time, yet we know that this season of extreme difficulty will not last forever and will give way to another season. We await severe troubles to come, yet we expect to prosper and do exceedingly well during these times of trouble. God has promised that to us: that we will be a type of reverse barometer in the Earth. There has apparently been an unsealing of much revelation just recently. We now see clearly that God has had His hidden purpose in this unusual time that was not foreseen by anyone whom I know. Everyone expected a much larger remnant and when that failed, I wondered what God would do. God is working a plan, and it certainly has had a strange feel to it. Yet, I know now that it will culminate in a body of believers who are walking in a unity of Spirit: in faith and in the power of God. Jesus will yet have His bride, without spot or blemish.
Stephen L. Bening
HUNDREDS OF CONFIRMING PROPHETIC VOICES
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"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" Matt 4:4
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