Disarming the Irregulars
Almost exactly two years ago, I attended a seminar about the prophetic and apostolic in Toronto, Canada. It was held in the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, the internationally renowned ex-Vineyard church led by John and Carol Arnott. Starting in 1994, millions of people gathered there to experience "the Toronto blessing". Up to 5,000 people attended the almost daily evening services. Observers spoke of one of the longest-lasting revivals in history, and when I wrote a Friday Fax report in 1999, they had just celebrated the 3 millionth visitor.
On this November evening in 2003, I sat in the empty hall, waiting for the seminar to begin in one of the upper rooms. (The seminar was only held there for logistical reasons.) A question started to nag at me as I watched the church's musicians routinely setting up their instruments for the evening service, to which only 20 people showed up, lost in the large hall. Where did all those millions of people go? And where did God go? So I asked him. "How do you see what happened here, God, and why it stopped? What does the church scene look like from your perspective?" Over the next few minutes, I experienced that which prophetically-inclined people would call an 'open vision': not only did I see a film in my Spirit, but felt myself a participant, in the midst of the film. For many, this may be an astonishing new perspective on how God is moving right now:
The three booths
I saw a long line of newly-saved people entering the Kingdom of God. Everything was new for them, so there were three booths set up for them to pass through. At the first booth, they would sign up for God's army and pledge total loyalty to God. From then on, they were under orders, no longer their own, and were given a uniform and boots. At the second booth, they were given a sword, and at the third, a scythe - a harvesting tool. Astonishingly, only around one in a thousand of the new arrivals even went to the first booth; almost everyone went to the second stand, and almost everyone also ignored the third stand. Almost nobody went to all three stands, as God explicitly intended.
Everyone hurried directly to a huge plain full of people and activity. Under an enormous dust cloud thrown up by the many feet, small groups quickly formed and were joined by the new arrivals. These countless groups made themselves banners, flags and uniforms decorated with very creative logos and emblems. It was an incredible colourful confusion of thousands of small militia. In other words, an irregular army. The chaos was complete; some blew for attack, others for retreat. Some acted out bizarre rituals, others sat around the camp fire laughing. Some practised sword fighting, others gathered their weapons and spoke of peace. Some of the groups even attacked each other. It was a scene of hectic activity, but without any recognisable order. Generals cooked, cooks were pilots, pilots dug trenches. I was horrified, and saw clearly that this army would never win any battle. Everyone was terribly busy, but all the zealous action came to nothing in the long term.
Suddenly someone shouted "The Angels of God are coming!" They were right: some way off, I could make out a huge number of God's white warriors; powerful, almost larger-than-life angels. The people broke out in an ear-shattering shout and cheer, "Hallelujah, the angels are coming. At last, it's about to begin!" The cheering was indescribable. But the excitement slowly faded, and the shouts of 'hallelujah' died out. Finally, silence descended. Then I looked at the angels more carefully. Standing close together, they looked like a police cordon in front of a crowd of hooligans, with set, sad faces. Step by step the white phalanx slowly approached the motley crowd. Consternation spread, and some of the banners began to retreat. Pale-faced, the people stumbled backwards, shocked and unable to comprehend what was happening. In their shock, some even lost their swords and pennants. The mass of people were driven back into a large valley without exits as the rows of angels slowly but deliberately advanced. The people were finally trapped in the valley like sheep. Some began to cry, others called out to God for mercy, yet others called for help. Most were simply silent.
At last, a huge angel stepped forward and said in a voice loud enough to be heard in the farthest corners of the valley, "That is enough! You have done as you please for long enough. End the war you declared yourselves. Submit to your God. Lay down the banners and flags you made yourselves. Take off the uniforms and boots you were given, as well as the insignia you created. Repent, because you have been disobedient. Lay everything on the ground beside you and kneel to ask your Father to forgive you. In His mercy, he will grant you a fresh start."
The people froze. Astonished disbelief spread through the crowd. Some started to talk, some even started shouting "Pay no attention to them! Listen to me!" But some began to understand. A few sobbed. One or two started to remove their insignia, lay down their banners and flags, take off their uniform and kneel in the dust, asking God for forgiveness for their disobedience. Whenever another person knelt - or even an entire group - an angel left the phalanx, took what the person had laid down, and carried it out to the plain, slowly creating a huge mound of banners, flags and uniforms. The angel then returned to the kneeling person, both as a sign and a guard, because some of the people who had not yet understood what was happening were angry, shouting "Traitors! Deserters!" at those who knelt, ordering them to return to their militia. The number of stubborn rebels and militia leaders shrank continuously as people recognised that they had been incredibly misguided and laid down their uniforms and weapons. Finally, after a long time, everyone was kneeling. The angels set the huge mound of uniforms, banners and lags alight, and everyone watched transfixed as the once so precious possessions vanished in the flames. When the fire had burned down, the angel spoke again in a very gentle voice, saying "Now stand up and follow us. Let's start over again."
A new start
The people stood up, naked, without a uniform, but their shame covered by the angel at their side who led them back to the point at which they had entered the Kingdom of God. This time, each person went slowly and deliberately to the first booth to write their name in the army register before receiving a new uniform and boots with no insignia. The angel then took them to the second booth, where they received a sword, symbolising the Word of God. They then went on to the third and final booth, where they were given harvesting tools and a clearly-defined task and position. The angel then took them to a clearly defined position on the plain, where he instructed "his" person to assume his personal position and obey God's battle orders. The angel then left. With time, an incredibly powerful army formed. Everyone was in the right place and knew exactly what his job was. Nobody did what seemed right in their own eyes, but paid great attention to their own task and function. I saw joy, but also wild determination, written on the people's faces. That was the end of the 'film' for me. I had tears in my eyes, and was both horrified and thankful. At the end of my talk that evening, I decided to recount my vision just as I have written it here.
Clint Toews is a Canadian prophet and author from Winnipeg. He stood up at just that moment, explaining that he had planned to speak at another church in Toronto, but that God had redirected him, telling him to be where I would speak, and that he had a prophetic word for the moment. I do not allow just any 'prophet' to take the microphone, so checked with my friend Dr. Ken Stade, also from Winnipeg, who led the meeting. He agreed that Clint should speak.
Clint said that God has a very simply message to us all. It is written in Joshua 5:13-14. Shortly before conquering Jericho, Joshua encounters an unknown man armed with a sword. He approaches the man and asks "Are you for us or for our enemies?" The man answered "No!". Clint exclaimed "This 'NO!' is God's answer to our unspoken question about when he will join our project, our plan, fellowship, church, outreach, even our war. God will not join our human plans, and particularly not our church. It is He who builds His church. So, 'No!' But if we repent, confess our pride, our pitiful denominationalism and favouritism, and kneel down and remove our shoes because we recognise that Jesus is standing before us, the Commander of the Lord's army, then he will again assume the command which we have usurped. If we then take the place he assigns us and follow His commands, victory will come quickly; Jericho is a historic example. The honour for God's victories will then no longer go to some banner, flag, denomination, missions agency or terrific plan to save the world, but to the Lamb of God alone, Jesus Christ."
Source: Wolfgang Simson, The Friday Fax, www.bufton.net/fridayfax.