1986: Moving to "Egypt"
In July 1986, after five years of spiritual warfare in the NOP, God spoke to more than a dozen friends in Batesville, Arkansas that we were all to leave the NOP. One such Word was given on July16 and 17 to my brother, David. It was a lengthy Word, detailing the reasons why we were to leave. It is not appropriate to give those reasons here, of course, but we will quote a portion of the Word:
“What you see now is not complete, but is only the beginning . . . The time has come for them [of the NOP] to be separated from you. This is what has been and is being done. My blessings will come with overflowing soon, but not until the final separation is made.
“Call the New Net of Prayer to prayer.
“A restoration and transformation of My people and My land must start with My own. Now that you have been separated, the work begins. When most thought the work was over, now it begins. There is much to do and little time to do it.
“What do we have to do? What work?”
“Start the restoration process.”
Looking back at this Word years later, the meaning became clear. The separation process had only just begun in 1986. It would not be complete until October 1989. Only then could the real work of “restoration” begin. When God finally brought me into the full-time ministry in late September of 1990, it came just as I was publishing the first part of a bulletin dealing with the topic of the Restoration of All Things. This series was updated, and eventually it was published as a book, Creation's Jubilee. This book became the primary foundational teaching of the present ministry work.
This “restoration” work, the above Word said, could not begin until “the final separation” had been made from the NOP. I believe the reason for this was because the NOP as a whole (including the leadership) did not teach the Restoration of All Things. As long as I was under its authority, I was prevented from doing the work of this particular ministry wherein I was called.
When the Lord told us to leave the NOP in July of 1986, I was firmly entrenched in it and well satisfied with the work that they were doing in spiritual warfare and intercession. I had seen the hand of God clearly moving in them even though they believed differently from me in some areas of Bible understanding. For this reason my ears were not tuned to hear any Word about leaving. While the others in our local fellowship did hear the Lord say to leave, I did not get that Word myself, because an idol in my heart prevented me from hearing such a Word. I was content to stay in the NOP for the rest of my life.
The others knew this, and so they appointed James, the bravest among them, to tell me the revelation. James then asked me “to pray about something.” He would not tell me immediately what it was, but I agreed. For a few days I inquired of the Lord, and the more I did so, it seemed, the angrier and upset I became. Then the group called for a special meeting to bring these things to a head.
As I drove to James' house, I began to feel a great deal of disturbance inside, and suddenly I caught a glimpse of Apollyon, the Prince of Persia. I knew immediately that this demonic prince was behind my anger and that he was “the opposition” in this situation. Then God spoke to me clearly and simply: “Do as they say; I have purpose in this.”
At the meeting, they told me the revelation that I was to leave the NOP. Further, the Lord said that if I did NOT leave the NOP, God would break up the local group, I would lose my job, and He would remove me from Batesville, Arkansas. Because of the Lord's Word to “do as they say,” I agreed to leave the NOP. For the next three days I felt as though I were dead. I was not in a daze, but it was hard to function at work, because it was as though I were not in this world. Having never experienced anything like this in the past, I did not know what to make of it. During that time, it was if I knew everything. It was as if I had access to the heavens never before experienced, and when people asked me difficult questions, I immediately knew the answers.
Unfortunately, it also felt like my flesh was dead. After three days of this, I begged God to lift this from me. He did so. Looking back at this experience, I realized later that I had begun to experience the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. The “transformation” was beginning in me, even as the Word had come to my brother David, quoted earlier.
The bottom line is that I was not prepared for this transformation in 1986. I did not know that much about the Feast of Tabernacles, and I certainly had no idea that it would involve the death of the flesh. Years later, in contemplating the meaning of this experience, I have wondered how many of us will be ready and willing to experience Tabernacles and the fullness of the Spirit at the appointed time. Every Christian who knows anything about it certainly wants it and longs for it; but the real question may be whether or not they are willing to pay the price to receive it. It seems that the purpose of our present sufferings is to prepare our hearts for the coming transformation.
I did not leave the NOP in 1986. I could not bring myself to believe that this was actually a Word from God. My loyalty to the NOP prevented me from hearing this Word. Such is heart idolatry. I must give credit to the Batesville group, however, for in spite of all, they continued to love me, pray for me, and did not cut themselves off from me. Eventually, God opened my eyes, but this was three years later.
About six weeks after the Batesville meeting, the group called for another meeting to be held at 7:30 p.m. This was September 2, 1986. About 4:30 that afternoon, while I was at work, I suddenly “knew everything” again. This lasted three hours to the time we met that evening. I came to the meeting with a full knowledge of what was to be done. We disbanded the local group, even as the prophetic Word had said. This was the last time that I experienced anything like a “transformation.” It is almost as though my window of opportunity had ended after 46 days. It would be many years before I came to understand the meaning of the number 46. It is the number of Herod's temple, the temple that was not glorified by God's presence.
Another thing that I did not know at the time is that when we disbanded the local group on September 2, 1986, I entered into a period of “Cursed Time.” Cursed Time is a special time of discipline, where God corrects us and teaches us, bringing us to repentance. It is defined specifically as a period of 414 days or a multiple of 414. Biblical examples are numerous and the concept is explained in my book, Secrets of Time. Many who do not repent will die at the end of this time, although some are merely confirmed in their blindness and may never come out of it this side of the judgment seat of Christ.
In my own case, I spent the next three periods of 414 days under Cursed Time. One year later to the day from the meeting where I entered Cursed Time, I lost my job in Batesville and had to move to Memphis, Tennessee to find work. This was the second half of the prophecy that James had given to me in July 1986, saying that if I did not leave the NOP, I would have to leave Batesville. It happened. I spent two years in hard bondage until October 1989, when I repented of my refusal to leave the NOP in 1985. Then the appointed time arrived (the end of the final period of 414 days). God moved us out of Memphis, back to Arkansas. This happened January 27, 1990.
We moved to Memphis on November 29, 1987. This was the beginning of my “Egyptian bondage” experience, since Memphis in the Bible was a city of Egypt. (See, for example, Jeremiah 46:19.) During my time in “Egypt,” God brought me low, but sustained me and my family in many miraculous ways. You see, even in God’s disciplines, He is still our Father. His disciplines are not designed to destroy us but to correct us. I saw more miracles of provision in Memphis than any time before or since.
While in Memphis, I moved around into five different jobs. Nothing seemed to work well for me. I longed to be in the work of the Lord, but found that this was nearly impossible. Almost all of my time was consumed in trying to make a living. I finally came to see clearly that God wanted me to be content in working for a living and being out of the ministry. I had to learn that God is my Employer, and if He chooses to subcontract my labor to an earthly employer, then I needed to be cheerful in serving that employer.
In fact, I came to see that working for an earthly employer IS ministry work, if this is what God had given me to do. It is very difficult to labor in meaningless work when your heart is not in it, but this is often how God trains us in obedience. We have to learn that He does not desire our ministry, but our willingness to serve Him in any capacity that He chooses for us. He wants us, not our ministries. Furthermore, our ministries are not our own, but His. That is a hard lesson to learn.
In spite of this, God did allow me to do some occasional ministry work, though not on a full-time basis. While we lived in Memphis, God led us to attend the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church there, pastored by Sam Seaman. He was an unassuming, sincere, and humble man, and I liked him immediately. When Sam came to see us for the first time in early December 1987, I asked him what he had been praying about lately. He replied, “That God would strengthen the prayer ministry of our church.” I knew immediately that we were in the right place, for God had told me a few years earlier that someday He would lead me back to the denomination in which I had been raised in order to teach the people how to pray and hear God's voice. This was it.
After a few months had passed, God spoke to me about going into spiritual warfare against the Prince of Persia. This was February 25, 1988. I was led to go to Pastor Sam about this, and he submitted it to the Lord in prayer. The Lord confirmed to him that he and the entire church in Memphis should participate in this prayer campaign. But before we tell the story of the prayer campaign itself, we must give some background going back two years. The Lord began to reveal things about the Prince of Persia in 1986 to prepare me for this prayer campaign.