(The following experience happened to me on, January 1, 2001. Since then, my friend mentioned in this story has been going through a process of restoration and is presently pursuing God. I wrote this experience down shortly after it happened.)
I was talking on the telephone with a prophetic friend, just a few days before New Year’s Day 2001. And during our conversation, he said that his wife had a word for me. She simply said; “Emancipation Proclamation and Abraham Lincoln.” In the past, I’ve felt like God has given me spiritual insight through my studies of the Civil War.
I believe God can speak to us through historical events in such a way that we can apply them to our present circumstances.
During that time, I was doing a study on deliverance from spiritual bondages. I felt like God was conveying a message to me through my friends phone call. But little did I realize at the time, just how important those words would be.
I woke up on January 1, 2001, to see beautiful snow on the ground, and it would certainly proved to be an eventful day. A new day and a new year with the possibility of a fresh new start. So, I put my coat on and thought it might be nice to take a walk around the neighborhood. As I was walking through the snow a friend of mine came to my mind. My first thought was to walk to his house which was not that far away, but I decided against it. I thought it would be fun to walk the mountain trail near my home and enjoy the beauty of the day. I went back into my house, got my Bible, and began my walk.
As I was thinking about my friend, I remembered that we had climbed that same mountain a couple of years earlier, back on Jan. 1, 1998. As I started up the mountain, I decided to look for a stick, because I always like to carry one while I am walking in the woods. I broke off a limb, and I had a funny thought, that my stick looked like the type of staff that Moses might have used. And, I began to think that I might see my friend on the mountain today.
Well, believe it or not, there he was, walking straight down the mountain trail in my direction. You see, my friend had been in a spiritual wilderness, he was a man of God-feeling like a sheep without a shepherd. He told me that the stick I was carrying looked like Moses’ staff. And by the way, I’m not comparing myself to Moses!
But, I do think God has given authority to ordinary believers to pray for, and to proclaim freedom to those in captivity.
So we talked for a little while, and as he made his way down the well-traveled path, I walked on up to the top of the mountain, alone. When I got there and began to pray, I soon sensed that the Lord had led me there to speak to my heart. I felt His presence as I opened my Bible with no particular scripture in mind – I was amazed to read the following Old Testament passage.
“My people have been lost sheep;
their shepherds have led them astray
and caused them to roam on the mountains.
They wandered over mountain and hill
and forgot their own resting place.
Whoever found them devoured them;
their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty,
for they sinned against the Lord, their verdant pasture,
the Lord, the hope of their ancestors. – (Jeremiah 50:6-7 NIV)
Jeremiah Chapter 50 is about judgment on Babylon. I believe that much of the church in the west is presently in Babylonian (spiritual) captivity. I read the whole chapter out loud. I prayed the Beatitudes over the shepherds (Pastors) in our county, and also prayed the Model Prayer, that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. And I proclaimed the words, Emancipation Proclamation, from the top of that mountain. (I know all that sounds weird but prophetic experiences are quite often VERY strange!)
I believe God’s heart is to set the “Bible Belt” free from a cultural Christianity, which lacks a laser-like focus on genuine discipleship. I was amazed to find out later that; The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863! Three of my friends reminded me that Abraham Lincoln only freed slaves in the slave-holding states. One of those friends didn’t know about my experience on the mountain but just brought it up in a random conversation soon after my experience.
Jesus wants to set his people free, and I think he wants to start with his under-shepherds (Pastors), giving them, and his sheep, his nature. Let’s all seek to humble ourselves, and repent of a critical spirit, and to pray for and serve one another. So that God may bring renewal to his Church.
(Could 2020 be the year that we walk away from the things in our lives that are hindering our spiritual growth? Those things that are keeping us in spiritual chains? I pray that it will be.)