“But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, ‘Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple THE WHOLE MESSAGE OF THIS LIFE’” (Acts 5:17-20 NASB).
“Truth is more powerful than death, and persecution only scatters the seeds of truth over a greater distance”—Rick Joyner
Apparently, the whole message of this life in Christ Jesus had not yet been fully proclaimed, “the seeds of truth” having not been scattered “over a greater distance” yet, thus this command issued to the apostles by an angel of the Lord. Previous to the high priest and the Sanhedrin putting the apostles in prison, two extraordinary things occurred. First, Ananias and Sapphira died at the Apostle Peter’s feet because they lied to the Holy Spirit; second, “at the hands of the apostles many sign sand wonders were taking place among the people,” and “they were all being healed” (Acts 5:12 & 16). The extraordinary power of the evidence of God’s favor on the apostles and the influence that power had to convert people to the gospel truth filled the religious leaders of Judaism with jealously.
“But during the night” (Acts 5:19), that is, during those times of ignorance when everything we thought was going our way suddenly reverses, even implodes upon itself and is destroyed, when enlightenment is gone and we see no way out, “an angel of the Lord” comes and releases us from that which the devil interposed into our stream of life. That which the devil meant for harm, that which had the intent of “to steal, kill, and destroy” behind it, is re-reversed by God, and now the whole message of our life in Christ Jesus is proclaimed. As Joyner said, and I reiterate, “Truth is more powerful than death, and persecution only scatters the seeds of truth over a greater distance.”
The holy atmosphere that the apostles of the Lord created in their day, an atmosphere in which it is not easy to lie to the Holy Spirit (but an atmosphere in which some did), is being created again in our end time day. Those that are glib and divided, half-hearted and luke-warm, are about to be exposed and eliminated from the holy ground of truth. Nonetheless, many signs and wonders will manifest from holy hands, hands only holy by extension of heart purity outward to the fingertips, manifesting Christ in mortal flesh from the innermost to the outermost parts of consecrated bodies. Just as only 300 out of 32,000 made the cut to be in Gideon’s army of deliverance, so God is even now whittling down His forces for the same reason God whittled down Gideon’s, so we do not become proud and say in our hearts, “My own power has delivered me” (Judges 7:2).
A mighty lesson is contained in the story of Gideon, and in particular to the whole message of this life in Christ Jesus: God’s whittling way to large impact. The war between flesh and spirit is both fierce and unending while we remain clothed in this body of death. The Midianites of Gideon’s day represented flesh, the meaning of their name meaning “strife” (a work of the flesh). And it is the constant strife of flesh exacerbated by the satanic energy behind flesh that tends to wear us out; Satan is always trying to worm his way or snake himself into our inner sanctums of first soul and ultimately spirit (his brass ring) through the weakness of our flesh. It is commonly ascribed to the Antichrist, or if not, certainly to a satanically energized man that “will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Daniel 7:25) in the last days.
And such is the experience of many today. First God looked at the 32,000 recruits that responded to Gideon’s call to arms, and said, “The people...are too many” (Judges 7:2); unless God reduces us, we become proud. So God instructs Gideon to make a concession to all those who are “afraid and trembling”; the fearful leave and so too a huge part of God’s army. This reduced Gideon’s arm of flesh tremendously, and likewise, God is today reducing our numbers drastically in spiritual preparation for the mighty signs and wonders that must soon break out. Gideon lost nearly seventy percent of his support to fear and unbelief, but God was not done eliminating that which is contrary to spiritual progress. Finally, God reduced Gideon’s army to a mere 300, less than 1% of his initial number of 32,000. For God to receive the glory, flesh must be entirely removed, and we are always more flesh than we think.
Many years ago The Holy Spirit intimated to me a wonderful truth. He basically caused me to know that Jesus’s parables were better than good; they were perfect! And as an example God showed me that we are more than analogously related to a grain of wheat. Though some grains of wheat are variant degrees different than this, essentially, wheat is about 3% germ, 14% bran, and 83% endosperm comprised by weight. The germ corresponds to our spirit, the bran to our body, and the endosperm to our soul, and each of them in the same proportions as that of a grain of wheat. The reason it is hard to hear God’s voice is that our spirit is small and deeply internal. Our soul, being by far the largest part of us, dominates our attention; our mind, will, and emotions dominate us. The flesh, our body, simply lies dead around us. This is our condition prior to salvation, and even after our salvation experience (but before we die to ourselves to reproduce spiritually). “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” (John 12:24-25).
Gideon’s reduction to less than 1% of what he originally was, is an example of what it takes for us to reach spiritual maturity, the necessary condition to reproduce. Either we become a single loaf of wonder bread, using only our endosperm (soul) to do so, and perhaps delighting a few with our splendidness, or we die to that singular and selfish ambition, perhaps disappointing a few with our seeming waste of soul life, and reproduce exponentially as our germ (spirit) enlarges enough to feed multitudes (with baskets of fragments remaining). The whole message of this life is not about the whole message of our former life, and until it is nearly completely eradicated, to perhaps 1-3% of what it once was, we are not REALLY ready to proclaim the gospel message. Not until liars drop dead at our feet, signs and wonders take place among the people through our hands, and after we incite jealousy in powerless religiosity leading to jail time, are we ready to have an angel of the Lord spring us free to proclaim the whole message of this life.