In praying about this upcoming year of 2018, I felt that this was going to be a year of tremendous opportunities for the Kingdom of God to make significant advancements at the gates of culture. We often talk about the culture shaping gates in our society such as Government, Business, Arts & Entertainment, Family, Religion, Education and Media as being key to territorial and national transformation. A key Scripture for this season is found in 1 Corinthians 16:9 which states, “a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” I believe that this door is going to swing wide for many this year for kingdom influence in these gates, but there are menacing adversaries, ‘giants’ if you will, stationed there that we must overcome and defeat to accomplish the mission God has for us in this season.
THE BATTLE IS AT THE GATE!
In Isaiah 28:6, the word declares that God will be “a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.” I believe that is the call and the challenge in this season: to turn the tide of social injustice, unrighteousness, immorality and evil in our culture today. The Gate is always where the battle rages to see who will control a city, a nation, a region and the culture of a people. This passage in Isaiah goes on to say that those who are called to battle at the gate have lost their battle to influence the culture, because as Scripture puts it, “But they also have erred through wine, And through intoxicating drink are out of the way; The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, They are swallowed up by wine, They are out of the way through intoxicating drink; They err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filth; No place is clean.” Wow, what an indictment! Those who are called to battle at the gate for the land are “out of the way” or out of position for what reason? It says it is because they are intoxicated or drunk on the world system. They have imbibed the current worldly culture around them so much that they no longer are holy, different, righteous or influential for the God’s cause anymore. They have negated their own call to bring change for God into the land. And if they are not actually removed, then their judgment and vision has become faulty so that they are unable to rightly discern the issues of the day or offer God’s solutions for them.
LOSING OUR WAY AND LOSING OUR INFLUENCE…
The Word laments that because of this condition in the pastors and prophets of the day, those called to operate in these spheres of society and gates of the marketplace are not able to affect these spheres rightly for the Kingdom of God. In fact, it says just the opposite is taking place. Because the Church is not rightly doing its job, then corruption is rampant in the land. It says all the tables are full of vomit and filth and no place is clean. What a grave condition for any people. Then in Isaiah 28;9, the question is posed. If the church is currently in this condition, how can we begin to shift things for God? Who can we begin to teach the right principles and convey the message of the transformation? The question is asked, “Those just weaned from the milk? Those just drawn from the breast?” It is as if the prophet is suggesting that we may have to intentionally turn to a new, younger generation to get the job done! And to start over, in a sense, teaching the principles of the full purpose of the Church to display God’s eternal purposes and the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers, the mandate for subduing and having dominion, the call to bring territorial transformation, the strategy to heal the land, the heart to restore people but also to restore all, the mission to cause the kingdoms of this world to become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ. It says in this passage that we will have to build precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little. We have to systematically change the culture of the Church to be a ‘Kingdom Culture’ in order to effectively change the culture in our land! So that we might break the covenant and agreement with death and hell in our land as described in Isaiah 28:15. So that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church but the Church will prevail or overcome by operating with the Keys to the Kingdom to shut down the Gates of Hell and open up the Gates of Heaven over people’s lives and in our land as described inMatthew 16.
God always has a strategy to win in every generation, and He has special times, called ‘Appointed Time’ or Kairos moments for His people to advance in amazing ways. I believe we are living in that kind of time right now! Another key passage for advancement in this hour of storming the gates is found in Psalms 24. We know that at the end of this passage the powerful declaration is made that the gates of a territory should lift up their heads to the ‘King of Glory’ and the ancient, everlasting doors should also open up to this Great King and welcome Him with open arms! Of course, Jesus is the King of Glory, and He is described in powerful terms as the Lord of Hosts (the Angel Armies) who is strong and mighty in battle! This is the nature of God that we must embrace if we are to see the transformation in our nations that God wants to bring. Jesus, the Mighty Man of War who will fight for us! The King of Glory is described, but who are these gates? I believe these ancient doors refer to the gates of our culture in our land, but also directly relate to God’s people, the church. The Church is called to be the determining factor of what takes place in a nation not just the government or these other gates. Scriptures says, “if My people” will turn, then the nation can be saved, healed and transformed!
How more specifically can this happen? Well, going back to the beginning of Psalms 24 we see the answers unfolding. First it starts with a decree out of our mouth of ownership. The decree goes like this,
‘The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters’
The Psalmist is decreeing that the world does not belong to its inhabitants or definitely does not belong to Satan, no it belongs to it’s Creator, Almighty God, and all the people belong to Him as well. This is the only mentality that will cause the Church to understand it’s call and destiny…to be the Rulers of the Earth! …to Subdue and have Dominion! …to fill the earth with the Glory of God! …to Rule and Reign on the Earth with God forever! This is a Mentality Shift that will bring a Power Shift!
WHO CAN BE USED TO OPEN THE GATES?
But again, a question is posed! Who can ascend to the hill of the Lord? Or who can operate at the gate rightly to truly welcome the King of Glory and His Kingdom? And the answer is given. God says I need those who have ‘clean hands’ and ‘a pure heart’. Here He is talking about one’s deeds and motives. God says I need those who have not sullied themselves with the world’s ways and who have a motive of love toward God and His Kingdom Purposes first: Those who seek His kingdom first and not all the other things first like money, power, position, fame, pleasure, etc., and those who are motivated by God’s heart of love and live by His Word. It goes on to say that they must not be those who have lifted their soul to an idol or sworn deceitfully. It can’t be those who have made a secret pact with the powers that be to advance or who have chosen to serve other gods or interests in order to achieve their goals. These kinds will never be able to operate at the gate for God and see the King of Glory come in. However, those who choose to allow God to clean their hands and purify their hearts can be used powerfully! And the promise to them is that God will release His righteousness to them, He will save and rescue them in every circumstance and He will bless them continuously. God is saying that what He is looking for is a generation that will seek Him and seek His face so they will know their God and do mighty exploits and know how to turn the battle at the gates!
THE GIANTS YOU WILL FACE AT THE GATE
I felt there were 8 distinct foes that we would face at the gate of influence that God has called us to that we would have to overcome in order for us to impact our culture in this generation. We can term these adversaries ‘Giants’ for the sake of this word.
THE GIANT OF INTIMIDATION
This giant is waiting at the gate to negate your influence. It is becoming more and more prevalent in our world today. It is bit more of an outward force of persecution than an inward attack of perversion, but its affect can be devastating. It’s purpose is to release a spirit of fear that will undercut your faith and cause you to run from your post at the gate or keep you from ever attempting to operate there in the first place. It wants to make a coward of us all! It says, “You better not stick your head up above the crowd, or I’ll take it off. You better not let your voice be heard, or we’ll attack you and silence you.” One of its tools is to isolate you, make you feel alone and afraid.
This is what happened to Elijah after his powerful confrontation with Jezebel and the prophets of Baal where he proved who the real God was and broke the curse for the drought in the land. Yet, we know that it was long after that that he found himself hiding in a cave, feeling alone, isolated and abandoned and afraid. In his downcast condition God’s voice spoke strongly to Elijah saying, “What are you doing in this cave!” And “Son, you are not alone. I have many others who are believing and fighting as well.” This spirit of intimidation is real, and its goal is to take you out of the fight. David faced it with Goliath when he looked at a giant twice his size, armed in battle away, trained in the ways of war and much older than him.
Goliath shouted, bellowed and purposely intimidated this young man, David, but David had to choose what was going to rule him: His Fear of this very real, ugly giant standing in front of him or His Faith and Relationship and Covenant and Experience with a God that he couldn’t see physically at that moment. Praise God faith prevailed, because it was a turning point for a nation to either go into oppression and bondage or victory and freedom. We have to choose out of Fear and into Faith to battle at the gate and not abandon our post. In some parts of the world, people face the intimidation of physical violence and confiscation of goods and imprisonment. Daniel had to brave the prospects of a “lions’ den” experience, and his three sons in the faith had to face the “fiery furnace” in order to fulfill their duty as Gatekeepers for God in their generation. Jeremiah said concerning his experience at the gate,
“For I heard many mocking: “Fear on every side!” “Report” they say “and we will report it!” All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying, “Perhaps he can be induced; Then we will prevail against him, And we will take our revenge on him”. (Jeremiah 20:10). What an environment to work in to try and fulfill your assignment from God. However, this is not the end of the story, because the rest of the declaration goes on to say in vs. 11.
‘But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten. But, O Lord of hosts, You who test the righteous, And see the mind and heart, Let me see Your vengeance on them; For I have pleaded my cause before you.” (Jeremiah 20:11)
Praise God, currently in America most of our persecution is not seen in these terms, but more in the power of pressure, restrictive laws, fines and in the power of words in our Media, Facebook, Friends, Fellow Workers or even misguided Christians. The spirit of political correctness and peer pressure is real, but we have to overcome it if we are going to operate at the gate for God.
THE GIANT OF HUMILIATION
This brings us to our next Giant you will face at the gate called Humiliation. This is also called a ‘Mocking’ spirit. Another tactic of the enemy to negate your influence at the gate is to try and make fun of you so that you will be shamed, marginalized and demoralized. If the enemy can dehumanize, demonize and shame you then he can justify almost any action against you and try and shut you down. This was one of Goliath’s tactics against David as he scoffed at this young man coming against him, acted insulted about it and then called him a dog and boasted that he didn’t stand a chance against him. If you listen to the enemy’s taunts, you will become disheartened and give up on the cause God has called you to champion.
Nehemiah was called to rebuild the Temple (the Church) and rebuild the foundations and walls of the Jerusalem (the city and the nation), but he faced fierce opposition of true intimidation and warfare as well as a clear strategy of humiliation. (Nehemiah 4) They intimidated through hiring lawyers against them, and tried to change laws and decrees. But they also tried to humiliate them by laughing at them. They basically said, “Who do these Jews think they are? Will they be able to rebuild these things in a day? And if they do, even if a fox jumps up on it then it will fall down and not last? Will they rebuild the stones that have been burnt and broken? Will they offer sacrifices in this land again? In other words, they mocked their purpose, their strategy and ability, their chances, their God and their character. The enemy’s tactics have not changed, and we are seeing it play out today again as anti-Christ forces seek to delegitimize any efforts by Christians in our generation to rebuild the purpose and power of the Church or to dare to believe to rebuild the righteous foundations or culture in America in our day.
Joshua was mocked from the walls of Jericho. The Children of Israel had to decide whether they were “grasshoppers” or “giant killers”. Jeremiah was mocked for his word of warning to his generation. Jesus was mocked by the religious crowd of his day. David was mocked by Goliath and his brothers.
Sometimes mocking comes from human voices, but other times it comes from the voice of the enemy as he mocks us as we walk through difficult circumstances. Maybe your bank account is mocking you or your church size or your pain. Maybe it is your friends or coworkers or society as a whole. You have to choose what voice you are going to listen to and let guide you and not allow the spirit of humiliation to move you out of your appointed place of influence at the gate.
THE GIANT OF ACCUSATION
The devil is described as the accuser of the brethren, and he goes about accusing us both day and night. The giant of False Accusation and even True Accusation is waiting for you at the gate. If the enemy can’t find something that is true, then he will just make something up to attack you with. False Accusation hurts. Many times, it is hard to defend yourself against it, because it is harder to prove something isn’t true than to prove it’s false. Scripture implores us to live above reproach, blameless and to have a good reputation. That means we need to work hard not to give the enemy something to work with to take us out of our position at the gate. But we also have to guard our hearts against the pain of false accusations that want to cause us to get bitter or hopeless about the call to operate at the gate of influence.
THE GIANT OF DEPRESSION
Some giants are more external, outward forces of opposition, and others are internal. Depression is a real enemy that will try and stop you at the gate. Some of the greatest men in the Bible had to contend with it. Men, as great as Elijah and Moses prayed to die or lamented that they were ever born at one point in their lives. The enemy wants to emphasize your failures, your faults, the difficulty of the task and the delays in our lives to try and make us feel hopeless and abandoned. Depression in rooted in grief, and one of the stages of grief is anger. Anger is the result of unresolved loss. And if anger stays in our life, it will either be turned outward in Aggression or inward in Depression. The key is to work through our grief to get to the other side where we can resolve by God’s love and help to live again and hope again after whatever loss we have walked through in our life.
It says that David learned how to encourage himself in the Lord. David was called to operate at the gate of government, but it was not easy. In Psalms 43 he says, “‘Why are you cast down oh my soul?” (your soul: mind, will, emotions, feelings, thoughts, attitudes). He is asking, “Why are you disquieted, so morbid, so frustrated and upset?” But then he goes on to say, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God,” The message Bible expresses it this way, “Why are you down in the dumps dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God. Soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.”
It says of Nehemiah’s task that the people got discouraged and depressed because of the amount of junk and rubbish they had to deal with and the constant attacks of the enemy and the enormity of the task. These are real issues that we face that the enemy wants to use to depress us, so we will not have faith in God or ourselves, which we must maintain in order to accomplish the mission God has sent us to do for Him at the gate. There is always grace for whatever we face, and if we rightly appropriate it, it will release the joy of the Lord in our call that will elevate us out of every depressive syndrome. An honest, sober minded estimation of ourselves and proper understanding of the God we serve will cause the garment of praise to replace the spirit of heaviness every time.
THE GIANT OF DECEPTION
This is a big issue today. Scripture says that it is possible that in the last days the very Elect of God might be deceived. James 1 says, “Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and the overflowing of wickedness that surrounds you and receive with meekness, the implanted word which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
We are living in a time when people want to decide for themselves what is right or wrong. This prideful approach is the very root of sin found in the Garden of Eden where man wanted to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and decide for himself what were the standards to live by and then man was influenced by Lucifer in to thinking there was no consequences to his sin. “If you eat of this tree, you will not surely die.”
Man, was deceived and ultimately died outside of the blessing and glory that God had intended for him to live in.
We must live by the dictates of the word of God and not just our heart or conscience because they can be deceived. We not only have to know what is right but then we have to choose to do it in order to stay free of deception’s insidious grip. How can we operate at the gate effectively and lead people to the light and life without knowing the truth and living the truth?
THE GIANT OF MANIPULATION
The Bible implores us to “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not to our own understanding so He can direct our paths.” It’s when we choose not to trust God with the issues of our lives and our cultures that we feel the need to turn to manipulation of people’s hearts and life’s circumstances to get our way and fulfill our goals. Unfortunately, this only leads to heartache, pain and confusion. Scripture says promotion only comes from God, and He knows how to promote us in the right season. Self Promotion and Manipulation are approaches of the untrusting heart and cause us to employ man’s tactics and fleshly approaches that ultimately dishonor God and don’t work, no matter how noble the goal may seem. At the gate, the temptation is to turn to manipulation to get the job done but this giant will side track God’s plans every time. The worst of it all, is that it will keep us from receiving the power and blessing of doing it God’s way by faith.
THE GIANT OF POLLUTION
The terrible thing about pollution is that it takes that which is meant to be beautiful and life giving and causes it to become ugly and death dealing. Beautiful, crystal clear, life-giving water, when it is polluted with contaminates, corruption and garbage, begins to cause the water to stink, darken and destroy beautiful, pure and pristine environments. If the enemy can pollute us at the gate then the moment we are positioned to release life, all we do is perpetuate the death, the junk and stinking things that are already invading our world.
THE GIANT OF DILUTION
To Dilute something means that there is a substance or solution that is meant to be potent, powerful and affective because of the active ingredients contained in the solution. However, when it is diluted it means that these active ingredients that are meant to release the power of this solution are overwhelmed by enough inactive ingredients so that the potency and effectiveness of the solution is lost. If the enemy can’t pollute us, he’ll settle for diluting us so that we no longer carry the power of the gospel of the Kingdom in our lives and, so we are not affecting our world by its power anymore because we have become overwhelmed by the busyness and cares of this life, and the lifeless traditioins of dead religion, to the point that we are no longer making a difference at the gate.
This is a season to overcome and defeat these giants at the gate, so we can do the work of transformation that we were made to accomplish at the gate!