From Acacia Wood to Gilgal (Or Where Our House Church Is Going)
Part of the joy of participating in a house church is you never know what any given night will bring. Sometimes you plan to the best of your ability and try to hear the voice of the Lord and the total opposite happens—something so bad that you don’t even want to admit to the next day. Other times you’re just a mess before you gather with other believers. You bring the little bit of desire to seek Jesus to the gathering and despite your lack of planning and prayer, Jesus shows up. Sunday night was no exception.
We started with the usual meal together. The kids were full of energy and enjoying getting together again for their normal “play date.” I wasn’t feeling well at all. In fact, I was pretty surprised that I hadn’t puked by the end of the night. We had our normal conversations…sports, politics, the economy. You know…same old stuff. Chris mentioned the Jehovah’s witnesses that came to his door and asked if anyone was interested in going to a Kingdom Hall meeting next week. We all came together and Christy lead us in worship to sing a few songs.
Surprisingly, during worship our door bell rang. I snuck out of my living room and down the stairs to find Dick Speight setting outside on the front porch of our step. He had decided to come and spend the night with us and had called Chris earlier to find out where we were meeting. I asked Dick how long he had sat outside. He said not long, but later he ended up telling us that the Lord had spoken something to him for us while he was out there, so I suspect he may have been out there a little longer than he wanted to let on.
Worship ended not too long after Dick arrived. Dick said “Hi,” and then told us that the Lord had spoken something to him for us on our front porch. Earlier in the day I had prayed about whether I should share something with the church. The Lord pretty clearly told me not to be the primary speaker that night and not to worry about what we would do. It was definitely a relief to have heard the Lord correctly. After some brief adjustments (Dick had a call from his son and one of the girls threw up) we settled down to hear the word the Lord gave us. The Lord spoke to Dick out of Micah 6:5-8
“O My People, remember now
What Balak king of Moab counseled,
And what Balam the son of Beor
From Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
That you may know the righteousness of the Lord
With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with your God?”
Dick said that at first the Lord really highlighted verses 6-8 that describe the weariness of the people in their attempt to serve God. They expected God to want everything from them and they were weary in giving it. The Lord had already spoken during the worship time that some of us were feeling weary and because of that weariness we felt like we didn’t love God. The Lord’s answer to us is that the Lord only requires us to be just, to have mercy toward one another, and to walk together with humility.
But then Dick felt the Lord back him up to verse 5. Verse 5 (in Dick’s prophetic paraphrase) was about remembering where God had led us in the past. In the passage God called the Israelites to remember God’s faithfulness in their wilderness season and how he proved Himself faithful to them in enabling them to take the land. Acacia Grove (or Shittim in some tranlations) is the place where Israel gathered just prior to their second attempt at taking the Promised Land. It speaks of a place just prior to breaking into the vision and destiny God has for a people. It was a place of purification (the men of Israel defiled themselves with the Moabite women there but Phinehas struck down one of the women and turned back the judgment of the Lord) and a place of strategizing for conquest. Moses spoke the law from Acacia Grove.
Gilgal is a similar place. It is the launching place for the invasion of Palestine. It was here that the people celebrated the first Passover feast in the land of Canaan. The Israelites set up memorial stones there and consecrated themselves to the Lord again by circumcising a new generation. In our context, it again speaks of us looking back to the mighty exploits the Lord has done so that we do not forget what He has done for us. It also speaks of a new generation arising and putting off the deeds of the flesh, denying ourselves, and joining the Lords’ army (Joshua met the “Commander of the Army of the Lord” there).
How does all of this apply to us? God has a corporate promised land he has called us to reach. We must be people who see past the giants of the land and have faith to fight for it. (Bryan has been telling us this for a number of weeks now.) Dick spent time emphasizing to us that what we are doing was initiated by the Lord. We didn’t just come up with a good idea. He also was clear that even though this was initiated by Jesus, we are free to fail. If our house church just looses energy and dies, Jesus will still be ruling the universe and He will still come back to set up His Kingdom on earth. But, if we can be free to fail at what we’re doing we will also be free to succeed. He said we should spend time reviewing where we’ve been and where God has taken us to encourage ourselves for taking the land in the time ahead.
But Dick also said this is the time to begin to prepare for going into the land. It will be a season of consecrating ourselves to the Lord. He said the men especially will need to be careful to rid themselves of anything close to sexual immorality. This will be a time of cleansing ourselves of any idolatry, especially as it relates the model of church that we are attempting to pull off. We cannot make an idol of the house church movement.
We also must begin to prepare for going into the land by taking positive steps. We must develop strategy for going into the land and destroying every idol and every high place. I believe this speaks of our need to be clear about our DNA and our discipling process, which is something I will talk about more at a later time. God also uses the time between Acacia Grove and Gilgal to order the camp. He births tribes and orders people skilled in their individual gifts to their place in the camp. We’ll need to use our short window here to find everyone’s place in the camp and get them functioning there. I also think we need to look at ways to do justice, exercise mercy, and walk with God in a humble way. This is a season of great change for us, both in shifting away from the bad and realigning ourselves for the task ahead.
So house church is fun because Jesus shows up. We didn’t expect Dick to come. We didn’t expect a massive encouragement to prepare for what’s ahead. But Jesus sent someone into our midst with a message for where we are going. I think we would be wise to hear it.
Amen, let’s stand.
(Note: We talked a lot Sunday night because the Lord was doing a lot of things through this message. In a very general way, the Lord was doing what we talked about the week before. He sent someone with the word of the Lord to declare that God is with us and encourage us to go forward in what God has called us to. I’m going to try and summarize our discussions in a few paragraphs. Please feel free [especially if you were there] to leave a comment in the comment field below about any aspects I’ve missed.)