The world may be swirling in every direction, but God’s plan, purpose, mercies, and faithfulness will prevail. ALWAYS. Here are the words and scriptures that unfolded before and within me at the stroke of 2023’s entrance and shortly thereafter.
“I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what He will say to me.” —Habakkuk 2:1
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READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.
WATCHWORD GIVEN: January 1, 2023, 12:01 am through God’s appointed third watch (midnight to 3 am).
As midnight released 2023, my soul began to grieve for the state of the world.
The coldness, self-centeredness, vanity, violence, ethnic divisions, deepened darkness, escalation of Christian persecutions and persecutions of all kinds.
The false religions and lies about God’s Word and our Messiah Jesus, and the twisted mindset and reversals in global culture that have wormed their way into the souls of humanity on every level—calling good evil and evil good.
And the sins stirring within each of us. Sins that we gloss over, accept, and daily commit before Him, our holy, powerful God.
I thought: Lord, if you hadn’t written yourself into our human story . . . where would we be? You alone are our hope, our salvation, the very life breath of our soul.
An image flashed, leading me upward. Over the next three hours, I would experience a message with moving parts:
(1) various scriptures
(2) interwoven teachings
(3) a holy-fire vision (regarding our 2023 Call)
(4) a dream with 1 Samuel 3 prominent, a dream He’d first given me in mid-November and then brought forward during this special third-watch prayer time.
HIS NAME, HIS CHARACTER, HIS PROMISE
Random worship softly played in my room, then one word rose within me.
In Hebrew, Eli Shuv (אֶלְיָשִׁיב, My God Restores). This is who God is. This is what He will show Himself to be in 2023 as we humble ourselves before Him and call out, surrendered to His glorious, supreme being.
“Shuv” (שוב) is the Hebrew root found in teshuva (teh-shoo-vah), a critical word during the High Holy Days—the Judaic Days of Awe beginning with honey-kissed Rosh Hashanah (Head or First of the Year) and ending with the somber Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur—calling us to turn back from our offenses and return to God for restoration.
It’s also the beginning step to God’s ABC ROADMAP TO HEAVEN. His redemption plan from the beginning through Yeshua (Jesus), the Messiah.
That first word He’d impressed on me—RESTORER—and 1 Samuel 3 (from that dream I mentioned earlier) are hinged, forming the crux of this 2023 word. (And I couldn’t help but think how this “restorer” had already begun its unfolding with Bibi Netanyahu being restored as Israel’s Prime Minister.)
I’ll get to that I Samuel 3 scripture shortly, but keep reading because the following scriptures link everything together.
Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV). In the latter part of 2022, God had laid the groundwork for these moving parts and in the third watch of January 1, 2023, he brought those parts forward. This psalm was among them, confirming His words, confirming Himself on an even deeper level than before as the mighty, compassionate RESTORER.
The One we need as 2023 unfolds.
The LORD is my SHEPHERD (tending to me, pasturing me).
I shall not want (He’ll tend to my needs, my soul won’t be lacking).
He makes me (causes me to) lie down in green pastures (refreshed).
He LEADS ME (leads me to a watering-place or station that He’s ordained for me and causes me to rest there), beside STILL waters (rest, quietness, refreshment).
He RESTORES (refreshes, repairs, returns to a better condition) my soul.
CHOSEN, REDEEMED, RESTORED, SENT OUT:
YOU, ME, IN MESSIAH
I then was reminded of the spiritually moving scene at the end of The Chosen’s Season 3/Episode 2. The disciples were being sent out two by two to teach what Jesus had taught them and to heal the sick and cast out demons.
Gulp. The disciples were shocked, scared, baffled, and felt totally inept. Rightly so. And yet . . . although the mission—and its timing—made no sense to them, they chose to trust their Messiah and stand as one with Him and each other.
Locking arms, they prayed Psalm 3, the psalm of David when he was fleeing his son Absalom . . .
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
—Psalm 3 (ESV)
THE RESTORER’S PROMISE: EZEKIEL 34:16 (ESV)
Ezekiel 34 targets Israel and is a Messianic promise as well (verses 23-24)
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God.
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back [אָשִׁ֔יב, restore, return] the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak . . .
and the fat (stout, robust, rich) and the strong I will destroy; I will pasture it with justice.
THE DREAM, THE HINGE, THE CALL
Sometime during the night of November 17/early morning November 18, 2022, the Lord gave me a dream. There were different elements to the dream, but here’s the critical part to share with you—a scripture that was on a board in front of a congregation: 1 Samuel 3.
As God brought the scripture and dream again to mind in those wee hours of January 1, 2023, I had to ask: Is there a link between RESTORER and this 1 Samuel 3 dream? Plenty, as it turns out.
For the foundation, I was led to an older teaching from East Hill Baptist in the UK that highlighted 1 Samuel 3. (I’d never heard of that church prior.)
Then God stirred my inner waters from that point, knitting all the moving parts (RESTORER, scriptures, dream, vision, etc.) together. It went something like this . . .
LAMP OF GOD. As the light was physically waning in the temple of the LORD, where the ark was, the WORD of GOD was also waning among the people and the priests—i.e. Eli’s sons. As you might recall, even Eli hadn’t taken a hard line with them.
There was no word or vision from our Lord. No ear open to hear, no heart willing to receive, no one surrendered.
Until God called Samuel.
THE CALL OF GOD. In 1 Samuel 3:1, Samuel was ministering to the Lord under the tutelage of Eli. Per the Hebrew text, at that point, Samuel was a na’ar, a young man or lad, defined by age (teen through twenties) or of marriageable age, and sometimes, rabbinically defined as not yet ready to fulfill his duties/position.
Side note: You can read about another na’ar in my Soul Remodeling Series: A Wilderness Call [Jeremiah] Actually, Isaac, Joseph, Samuel, and Jeremiah were all called na’ar, not yeled (boy, child).
Still growing in things of the Lord, Samuel at first (or even the second or third time) didn’t recognize the Lord’s voice. But then he got it, saying “Here I am” (ready to serve), and from there obeyed the Lord regardless of the cost, speaking what God said to speak, doing what He said to do.
I like East Hill’s application of this chapter (my paraphrase about that in the paragraph below):
God calls us again and again until He gets our attention. He’ll call when we least expect it—any year, in any circumstance, at anytime, at any age. Remember that Caleb [who “wholly followed the LORD” per Joshua 14:14] had a new call at 85 years old to take up the high mountains of Israel. God will stir something within us, allowing situations to call us into something more.
My precious fellow believers in Messiah, this is where we are. A New Year, a new calling, regardless of circumstance or age.
There’s work to do and a way for us to be and walk before the LORD. Wholly surrendered, carriers of His Presence. That begins and ends with . . .
WORD OF GOD. Verse 19 tells us that Samuel “grew and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” The LORD revealed Himself to Samuel by the “word of the LORD.”
THE VISION. Fire flashed before me at this point in my third-watch prayer time. It started at the center, then spread out in every direction like a huge circle. That fire is God’s holy fire of Truth, His Word, in us. It’s not meant to be contained. It must be released.
No matter the cultural mindset, oppositions, persecutions, or the enemy’s divisive tactics . . . we must carry the LORD’s words to others: His truth, His redemption plan, His love for the lost, His love for Israel, His love for fellow believers in Jesus, and our testimonies of what He’s done for us: His faithfulness, mercies, goodness, holiness, and might.
It’s our souls breathing Him in and exhaling Him out onto an increasingly dark, troubled, stubborn, dying world.
In this late hour, like never before, we are to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:10-14)—standing against the tide of secular lies and mindsets countering God’s way. Standing unafraid, boldly calling sin for what it is . . . rebellion against our most holy God.
Silence is no longer an option. Not to worry. We can do this together in Him. Psalm 3 reminds us: The LORD is a shield about us, our glory, the lifter of our heads, our Sustainer. We will not fear.
So let’s turn from (shuv) the world noise/distractions and from any self-focused, lethargic living to walking how Jesus walked: spending time alone with the Father, saying/doing as led to glorify our LORD, continually lifting the Lamp of God high for all to see and know.
A holy fire that cannot and will not go out.
Then we will stand and watch as our king, the great RESTORER, the loving Shepherd, refreshes, repairs, restores, and heals our souls, bringing us to pastures of spiritual rest—as well as restoring the souls of those we’ve lifted His lamp to.
May the whole world know of His glory and truth and bow before the majesty of our King.
Behold—hinnêh, הִנֵּה—He is doing something new. May you and I lock arms and humbly answer the call like Samuel: Hineni . . . Here I am.
Lighthouse by Michael Krahn on Unsplash.com
Person kicking back with boombox by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash.com
Man looking up at starry sky by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.com
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