ASCENDING – MOVING ONWARDS
Penned in 2000 at 87 years of age.
Deut 2:3 You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.
At this point, Israel is in the land of Edom which is Esau country and they appear to have halted on their march toward the Promised Land which lies to the north. They have been circling Mount Seir for some time when God gives the instruction to move.
This is a picture of Christians individually or Churches collectively who remain in one place, going through the motions of Church activity - living a good and upright life but actually making no progress.
This position is not to be condemned as there are probably thousands of Christians who did this prior to the Charismatic Renewal until they encountered the Holy Spirit. There have been times in Church history when it has seemed that there has been no life anywhere; nevertheless there has been a faithful adherence to doctrine and practice awaiting the time when the Holy Spirit would say “enough” and vision would be renewed to enter the Promised Land.
Yet, while the posture of tracking over old ground is not to be condemned, neither is it to be accepted as all there is for the believers who have their hearts set on a higher place.
POINTS OF THE COMPASS
They were to “turn northward” which was the direction of Jerusalem, the Holy City.
We discover a point of confirmation in Ps 48:2 It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. The focus has now come not only on Jerusalem (Mount Zion) but on the great King who abides there. We immediately sense:
So we see that when God says to stop going round and round the mountain, He has a purpose in view. For the children of Israel, the point of the compass was north. For the believer, the new points of the compass brought about by a new move of God will be those five points listed. That is, advance will be seen in heightened activity or stature in the areas of authority, government, order, purpose and dominion.
While circling the mountain was, indeed, activity, there was no progress. The question was and is, “How do we get that progress?” From the position of no progress and, knowing that we should be moving northward, i.e. ascending, we must first be clear about the matter of the temple in which God establishes His presence. Ezek. 41:1, as one example, commences with the words “Then the man brought me to the outer sanctuary...”.
At that time, the temple was a tangible place.
From the establishing of the Church age, the temple shifted from a tangible, geographically located place. Paul describes it well in 2 Cor 6:16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
“How do we get that progress?” By realising that all progress in this age must be spiritual. The woman of John 4 thought that worship could be experienced at the correct mountain but Jesus dismissed this idea and gave the mighty unchanging principle that worship of God must be “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
Remember we commenced the study with the circular motion of the Israelites around Mount Seir and then the command to leave that safe position and to advance toward the city of the great King.
Now, it is imperative that we look to the Holy Spirit for revelation in discerning the hidden teaching of Ezek 41:7 for a moment or a season where we have a sense of advancement or progress is not the destination. Our search is not over, because after the experience of personal enjoyment and satisfaction, we are faced with the fact that the outside world is not by any means subject to “the city of the great King” - the description from the Psalm already quoted - and this must be our goal. The rendering of Ezek.41:7 by the Amplified Version will reveal some wonderful truths. We quote it here with added comment on some highlights.
“And the side rooms became broader as they compassed the Temple higher and higher, for the encircling of the house went higher and higher round about the Temple, therefore the breadth of the house continued upward, and so went up from the lowest story to the highest one by way of the middle story on a winding stairway”.
Every comparison of this description with the encircling of Mount Seir shows a superior revelation.
1. It had a winding stairway compared to a ground level walk that was never raised.
2. The progress was always upward, again compared to constant ground level experience.
3. There was to be an encircling of the house - a similar action to their Mount Seir experience - but, with each encircling, they rose higher.
4. As they went higher, instead of a narrow apex as with usual elevations, the rooms around the temple were wider at each successive level. In other words, revelation is an ever expanding experience.
Let’s revisit our question, “How do we get progress?” Perhaps it is best, within this brief study, to describe the look of progress and thus create our monitor.
• It will be an ascension, not a descending.
• Each “lap” will see us at a higher plain of life and spiritual maturity.
• The end result will see us in a wider place, rather than a place of confinement. (Ref Isaiah 54)
Even with the spiritual freedoms that came into the western world with the Charismatic move and with subsequent season of refreshing, we must not think that we are free from the Mount Seir Syndrome. Great movements born in revival have eventually succumbed to this malady. In Britain, giant figures like Alexander Boddy, Smith Wigglesworth, the Jeffrey brothers and W.F.P.Burton spearheaded the new Pentecostal move.
Eventually denominations were formed to establish sound doctrine and right behaviour but within the second or third generation it became evident to many that they had arrived back at Mount Seir.
The same could be said of America with names like John G.Lake, Mrs Woodward-Etter, Charles S.Price, William Seymour, Alexander Dowie and many others who broke the ice in a great new move.
However in time it became evident that a degree of stagnation had been reached.
Many break-away movements were formed but, unless they were established on true revelation, they only repeated the Mount Seir position.
The cycle of the Mount Seir Syndrome seems to come around in both individuals and movements from time to time and can only be broken by a further revelation such as the Ezekiel vision where we circle situations but make elevation as we go, or in the words of Psalm 24:3 we “ascend into the hill of the Lord”.