A Jehoshaphat Mission
During a spiritual 'time out' at the end of last year Clifford Hill who has a ministry based at Moggerhanger Park in Bedford felt that he was receiving a fresh word from the Lord concerning the state of the nation - a vision and strategy for action.
The battle is the Lord's
Amongst the key Scriptures through which Hill and his wife Monica felt that God was speaking to them were Deuteronomy Ch. 8; Isaiah 43:14 - 44.5; 2 Chronicles 20; Romans 8 and John 5.
The following is the text of a paper entitled 'A Jehoshaphat Mission' which went out at the end of last year.
A Jehoshaphat Mission
by Clifford and Monica Hill
We believe the Holy Spirit is alerting believers in Britain to the need for a radical change of mindset. The past 20 years has witnessed a change in the whole socio/political dynamic of Britain that has produced a paradigm shift in the spiritual climate of the nation. The significance of this has not yet been recognised by many Christian leaders. The consequence is that older Christians are living in an unreal environment in which they have not yet grasped the extent to which legislation over the past 10 years culminating in the Equalities Act of October 2010 has changed their legal status and removed their time-honoured rights and freedoms.
Change of Mindset
Most adults in Britain have grown up in a social environment where Christianity is the legally established religion and the assumption is that all citizens have rights in accordance with the biblically-based heritage handed down over hundreds of years. This is no longer the case and God is sending an urgent warning to Christian leaders calling for a change of mindset. He is reminding us of some essential biblical principles that he revealed to the prophets of Israel when that nation was a minority community in a hostile social environment immersed in polytheistic beliefs and practices during the exile in Babylon. There is much that we can learn from the teaching of the prophets relating to that period, but most of all we need to learn from Jesus.
The Judaeo-Christian heritage of Britain is rapidly being dissipated with the consequent undermining of the foundations of the nation. Secular humanism is rampant and Islam is crouching at the door ready to exploit the spiritual vacuum as Christianity retreats and surrenders the land. But the Lord is saying that he still has a faithful remnant in churches throughout the land as well as many believers who are isolated and lonely. The Holy Spirit is already at work linking believers together in home-based groups where they study the word of God and pray together.
Watch and Pray
These small groups are springing up all over the nation as increasing numbers turn to God in prayer in response to the growing anxiety regarding the state of the nation. This turning to prayer is a move of the Holy Spirit and God is calling his people to watch what the Father is doing. This is what Jesus did. His testimony was, "The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it." This is a tremendously important statement through which Jesus is showing the way to transform the nation by calling his people to watch what God is doing and to align with the Holy Spirit.
The Battle is God's
2 Chronicles 20 gives an inspiring example of what God can do with a nation where the people fully put their trust in him. Jehoshaphat was alarmed when he heard of an international threat to Judah from a United Arab army. He called the whole nation to prayer and ended with an acknowledgement of powerlessness and trust, "We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." God's response was "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's." They were then told to go out and face the enemy; specifically to "take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you".
Take a Position
The command "take up your positions" is a key to understanding what God was requiring of his people. But they could not have responded positively to this command if they had not already been prepared through the word of God. This had been accomplished through two missions undertaken by Jehoshaphat. The first mission is recorded in 2 Chronicles 17:7, "In the third year of his reign he sent his officials to teach in the towns of Judah." This would no doubt have been Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, but very likely also Deuteronomy 8 which includes the instruction "to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." The second mission followed a time of backsliding when Jehoshaphat had foolishly entered into an alliance with King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in which Ahab lost his life. Jehoshaphat repented of this and undertook a second mission. "He went out again among the people from Beersheba to the Hill country of Ephraim and turned them back to the Lord, the God of their fathers". (2 Chronicles 19:4)
Mission tothe Nation
The Lord is urging us to undertake a similar mission around the country teaching the people to understand what is happening in Britain today and what God is saying through his word. He is calling for an Issachar people who understand the times and know what should be done. He is also calling for mobilising believers through linking together scattered prayer groups that are springing up all over the country and giving them vision and purpose - enabling them to 'take a position and stand firm' in their neighbourhood. The Lord is looking for a people who are 'not ashamed' of the gospel and are prepared to witness within their sphere of influence which is what he means by 'taking a position' as the watchman did on the walls of Jerusalem. In the time of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls each one took responsibility for the part of the wall in front of his own home and this has significance for us today.
Through Deuteronomy 8 God is reminding us not to forget the Lord our God and all that he has done for our nation. In times of prosperity we say to ourselves "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me. But remember the Lord your God for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.... If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed" (Deut 8:17-19). This is a strong word of warning to Britain today and is part of the message that has to be taken to the people through the believers. But the believers themselves have to be taught how to handle this word in relevance to the current socio-economic situation in the nation. We have had a period of great prosperity which has been squandered because we did not acknowledge God. Now we are suffering and only repentance and turning will change the situation.
The Time is Right
Romans 8 reminds us that only through Christ Jesus can we be set free from the 'law of sin and death'. "The mind of sinful man is death but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God" (Rom 8:6). Paul reminds us that "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" (Rom 8:19), he says that we don't even know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us. If we are prepared fully to trust God, he can do amazing things to transform our nation in these days when people are now realising that the nation is in great trouble and they are longing for good news. The time is now right to take the word of the Lord to the nation.
If we put together the message of Deuteronomy 8 and Romans 8 we have a powerful message about the consequences of sin and turning away from God. The secular humanists have spread their message that there is no God and nobody need worry about the consequences of their own personal morality or behaviour. Millions of people in Britain today are totally ignorant of the teaching of the Bible. We have to tell them that Jesus constantly talked about hell and there is nothing in the Bible about our being wiped out after death but more about facing the consequences of this life in the life hereafter. The time is now right for just such a message.
Towards the Dawn
In 1980, 30 years ago, I published a book called "Towards the Dawn" in which I said that in the Western world we were coming to the end of the age of Christendom and ahead there lay a period of immense conflict and social disintegration. At that time I believed that I had been given a revelation of what would happen in our nation in the coming decades, the evidence of which can be seen in the daily newspapers today. I was also given a command from Habakkuk Ch. 2, "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." This was the spur to write the book.
Shaking the Foundations
I was shown the consequences of the Western nations turning away from God and what was going to happen to Britain, a nation with a rich Judaeo-Christian heritage which had been greatly blessed by God. I was shown how the forces of secular humanism would combine with the arrival of other religions to undermine the faith of the people, destroy the biblically-based value system of society and shake the foundations of the nation. I was also shown that judgement upon the nation for deliberately rejecting the word of God was inevitable and that this judgement would continue to intensify, bringing both economic and social catastrophe, until a point was reached where the whole population recognised that the nation was in great trouble. At that point there would be a new search for truth and openness to the gospel. The big question was whether or not the church, by this time, would be strong enough to respond to the opportunity for communicating the word of the Lord to the nation.
Holy Spirit Outpouring
God is never taken by surprise; he knew what was going to happen and as Amos says, "The Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets." God had begun in the early days of the 20th century to equip his church in preparation for the onslaught of the forces of destruction. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit that gave birth to the Pentecostal movement followed by the charismatic movement in the second half of the century was part of this preparation. But instead of recognising the significance of what God was doing to equip his people to meet the demands of the times, the spiritual gifts were not understood as being given to equip the church for fulfilling the Great Commission. The spiritual gifts were misappropriated for personal power. God's purposes for church and nation in the 20th Century were thwarted.
The history of the charismatic churches is littered with un-biblical teaching, with false prophecies and shameful practices, but our God – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – is loving, forgiving, generous and gracious. He understands our weaknesses and our proneness to go astray through enthusiasm untempered by careful study and quiet reflection. He is constantly willing to forgive and to allow us to start again when we come before him in humility and penitence.
An Issachar People
That is the situation today. God is not rejecting his church but large parts of the church have turned away from God. He is saying, "I have called but you have not responded. I have spoken to you but you have not listened". His word now is to mobilise the faithful remnant and equip them for the task of taking his word to the people. God is looking for a people like the tribe of Issachar who understood the times and knew what should be done (I Chronicles 12:32). He is calling for a team to go through the land county by county; a team with different skills but a shared message, commitment and calling to teach the believers how to listen to the Lord with discernment and how to respond to the opportunities for taking the word of God to leaders in each locality.
Every believer has a sphere of influence and God is looking for each believer to take responsibility for their own sphere of influence. But most believers have never been taught how to share their faith or how to listen to the Lord. God is also looking for greater boldness among his people which comes from the confidence of having a personal relationship with the Lord whereby you know that he is with you and speaking to you and giving you the words to speak in each situation into which he has led you. Helping believers to find this close relationship with the Lord is the task God is setting before those who will go on this mission to equip believers as Jehoshaphat taught the people of Judah the word of God and "turned them back to the Lord, the God of their fathers".
The time has come to equip the people of God for a mission to the nation, to reach every community where people are reeling from the impact of the problems that have hit the nation. The gospel is good news for the poor and needy. It has the power to turn this nation around in the next five years if we are prepared to align our lives with what the Holy Spirit is doing and allow him to lead us. We will surely see the fulfilment of what God has promised - an abundant harvest. Now is the time! The fields are ripe. God is looking for the reapers!
This paper is a preparation paper for a nationwide tour of the UK in response to the State of the Nation. It was piloted at the State of the Nation Day of Prayer at the Emmanuel Centre in London on 27 November 2010.
For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org An Action Programme and papers on 'Listening to God with Discernment' and 'An Issachar People' will be available early in 2011. C and M Ministries Trust: Tel. 01767 641006 and Website
The Rev Dr Clifford Hill MA BD PhD is a sociologist and theologian. His pastoral ministry has been in inner-city areas of London including a long ministry in the East End during which he also held a Senior Lectureship in the Sociology of Religion in London University.
Clifford is the author of more than 30 books, covering a range of subjects including race and community relations, socio-political studies, biblical commentaries and research studies on the family, as well as many journal papers, tapes, CDs and other resources, including some written jointly with his wife Monica.
The Christians Together site policy is to encourage believers to 'weigh' all that they see, hear and read. It is important also to note the distinction between what God may be saying generally and then discerning how to respond (particularly and individually).
Clifford Hill, 28/03/2011