It never ceases to amaze me just how often, when I am trying to work out what the next step should be, how God uses the picture of the actual physical Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem to help. This should be no surprise I guess, God is always using pictures of fortresses and rocks, doors and bread & wine – physical things – to describe and help us understand spiritual things.
In our case Hezekiah’s tunnel has always been a picture of God working through our lives collectively to find a way to bring His gifts – prophecies, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, healings, etc. – into the midst of the everyday life of Open Arms. The picture has been one of digging down, removing boulders and rubbish from our lives individually and collectively so that the Holy Spirit can spring up through us individually and collectively for the building up and encouragement of us all.
The real tunnel in Jerusalem was dug underground by two different teams of people and took many twists and turns before the teams finally met up.
When you look at the route the two teams took you can understand why it was such a miracle that they ever met at all. It is no surprise that – 2,700 years ago – no one else, not even the Egyptians, were successful at building something similar. With no guidance technology except people banging on the ground overhead, any tunnel that presumed to go as deep as Hezekiah’s was never going to go in the right direction all the time.
At Open Arms the leadership and many of us in the church have been crying out for God to move more powerfully by His Spirit and He has been answering. The results have been messy and challenging but then we should hardly expect it to be any other way. When Jesus entered His temple in Jerusalem it was sometimes very messy, coins everywhere, tables turned over, people in uproar.
In some ways the group that has been meeting on Monday nights for these last 9 months has been a part of this and in other ways we have been quite separate. The same can be said for the HT WhatsApp groups, in some ways a part of what has been going on in the whole OA community and in some ways separate.
Again, the picture of Hezekiah’s Tunnel should help us understand this. There were two separate teams working on the tunnel until they met up in the middle. The North Tunnel team digging from the Gihon Spring towards the Pool of Siloam and the South Tunnel team digging from the Pool of Siloam towards the Gihon Spring.
Last week I said I could hear the sounds of the South Tunnel diggers. It was very encouraging to me and it meant they were very close. Having talked to PJ and Sean during the week I believe the Holy Spirit is saying that there has been a breakthrough and the two teams have met. I hope you will all agree with me in this.
So what next? Well it won’t be the same as it has been. There are now no longer two teams but one working together for the same end – working with the Holy Spirit to bring the healing, pure waters of the Gihon Spring (His gifts and ministries) into the midst of all that is happening in the church.
There is still much digging to be done. The depth is not right yet in people’s lives for the Spirit to flow. He knows the level that needs to be reached and who, and how many, people need to reach that level.
Over the coming weeks we should all seek the Lord so that wisdom and insight is given to those appointed by the Lord to bring direction to Open Arms as to how to continue the digging. One thing is clear however, it will build on but not be through the existing HT2 or any HT3 structure. Something different and much more integrated with the overall OA program will need to be put in place. There is no longer a separate team digging a part of the tunnel. There is one team working on making the existing tunnel deeper and able to carry the healing waters into the midst of the church.
We will all know that work has been completed when we regularly see God confirming with signs and wonders that He is with us (Acts 2:22, Mark 16:20, Acts 14:3, Hebrews 2:4, Acts 2:43, Acts 15:12, 2 Corinthians 12:12, Acts 4:30, Acts 6:8).
I hope no one thinks we are there yet. That would be a great loss and make all the digging that we have all been doing to date useless. It would be like so many other unfinished projects of a similar nature that have occurred over the years I have been here in OA. Again the physical reality on the ground in Jerusalem shows a similar story:
There have been several efforts to bring the Gihon Spring’s waters to various parts of Jerusalem, the picture above shows at least 6 different tunnels and channels. Most of them have had a limited or little impact on the life of the city itself.
Similarly, in Open Arms, there have been many attempts by different people to bring healing ministries, prophetic teachings, etc. into the midst of the way OA operates. The leadership team have always been supportive of any Holy Spirit led efforts and have facilitated several themselves, including bringing Steve Williams along to give weekends of teaching on the prophetic to us. I have also been involved in several of these initiatives over the last 15 years as have several members of these Monday night meetings and the HT2 WhatsApp group.
OA is a significant work of God. It was started in God and has impacted the lives of many people. However the harvest is plentiful and the workers are still pitifully few. If we are to see this country reached for God something much more powerful and impactful will have to be happening than a few hundred people meeting in a shed every Sunday and a few 10s of them meeting in small groups during the week.
When you add together all the efforts of the many good men and leaders of life giving churches in this country together the impact is even more significant. However, you only have to have watched the Late Late Toy Show last week to realise just how irrelevant the character and name of Jesus is to so many of the millions of citizens of this country. If the aim of the Church is to spread the knowledge of Jesus’ name and character like salt and light in this land then it is clear we are failing despite all our efforts. We need to start seeing the impossible done much more often and much more obviously if people are to really believe and be saved.
One thing is clear, we have yet to see the Holy Spirit to move like He did in Acts in this country and I believe there is no other answer to the needs of this country than that.
With that in mind, please pray that the leadership of OA are given all the wisdom, courage and insight they need to work with the Holy Spirit so that His gifts and ministries can be released in a way we haven’t seen before. Seek Him earnestly over the coming Christmas break and let’s see what God does.
As there is no longer any need for a separate HT team I propose we close down the current works including the Monday night meetings and the WhatsApp group and await direction from the leadership of OA. We have done a good work and, though there is much left to be done, the way it will be done is going to be different from here on. That may or may not involve the Tree of Life ministries that we have been watching over the last three weeks.
Bless you all and keep digging!
Augustine wrote: “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.”
When Paul was writing his epistles he didn’t have much New Testament writings to draw from that we know of. He was aware of some of the other apostles writings (as they were of his) but he is clear that the main part of what he wrote was revealed to him directly (see for example Ephesians 3:2-11). In his writings Paul makes allusions to Old Testament types and shadows (e.g. Gal. 4:21-31), reveals the meanings behind many Old Testament prophecies and writings (e.g. Eph. 4:8-13) and draws on the experiences of the people of Israel to warn and admonish the New Testament churches to which he wrote (e.g. 1 Cor. 10:1-11).
Hezekiah’s Tunnel is a physical, Old Testament, engineering work. Like other physical things spoken about in the Old Testament, it is a shadow or reflection of a spiritual reality. Physically and spiritually it exists in the the City of David which is situated on Mount Zion and is part of Jerusalem in the land of Judah and Israel. David is considered the archetype or forerunner of Jesus – he and his rule over Judah and Israel, his reign in Jerusalem, was the OT physical representation of the spiritual truth of Jesus’ current reign in His NT church.
Probably the best place to see how this works out in practice is found in the Psalms. Psalm 87 is particularly instructive. Once you get the pictures and symbols in this Psalm you can apply them all over the OT:
A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song.
His foundation is in the holy mountains.
2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion
More than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God! Selah
4 “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me;
Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia:
‘This one was born there.’ ”
5 And of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”
6 The Lord will record,
When He registers the peoples:
“This one was born there.” Selah
7 Both the singers and the players on instruments say,
“All my springs are in you.”
In this Psalm Jerusalem is called the city of God. The spiritual counterpart is the Church or Body of Christ worldwide. Each local church should also be a mini city of God with the same elements as are described here.
The foundations of what God does (v.1) in the earth are in these holy mountains of which Zion (vv. 2& 5) is the central one, the dwelling place of God’s shekinah glory and the place from which every born again believer is birthed spiritually. It is up to us to ensure that God dwells in the manifestations of Zion that are our local churches. To do this requires maintaining walls and digging tunnels to bring the life giving waters – which are outside the walls – into the healing centre of the church.
Let the Lord teach you these things. They will inform your reading of the OT and bring it alive in a way you may not have experienced before. Read the Old Testament with New Testament eyes.
[Please note that I am not a replacement theologian, there is something very significant happening with the physical current day people of Israel and the believers in their midst. That is just not the subject of this particular teaching.]
Love is Patient
Love is Patient, the first of the 16 attributes of Love (or the Holy Spirit) as described in 1 Cor. 13:4-8. The Greek word is pronounced “macro -thume-ia” and literally means “long suffering”. The mind map explains it further and shows some other places in the NT where the same word is used.
And is Kind
The Greek (original) word translated “kind” in most of our English bible translations is pronounced “Chray-stew-eh-tai”. This mindmap shows other places where the same word is used in the New Testament, including Matthew 11:30.
In Matthew 11:30 the word translated “easy” as in “My yoke is easy” is the same word as is used in 1 Cor. 13:4 to say that Love is kind (or easy). His yoke is easy/ kind. We need to work to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:1-13). If you are stressed and worried about a situation, whatever it is, you are not at rest in it. Your aim then should be to enter that rest, find out God’s perspective about the situation and leave it in His hands. Phil. 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing – is a command. We need to take it seriously because if we don’t we will do neither the people we love nor ourselves any good.
Love is Not Striving
This is the third attribute of Love that is listed in this verse. The original Greek word is the same root word as we use for “zealous” and is often translated “envy” by English translators. Paul uses the same Greek word in three other places (1 Cor. 12:31, 1 Cor. 14:1 and 1 Cor. 14:39) and in each case he exhorts us to be zealous for spiritual gifts. So, the conclusion we come to is that we are to be zealous with God but not with each other.
Hezekiah’s Tunnel brings the five fold ministries (the waters of the Gihon Spring) from outside the church (the City of David/Jesus) into it’s centre and collects it in a large healing pool called the Pool of Siloam. If you are not sure what that means, have a read of the Hezekiah’s Tunnel – Vision and the other teachings on this site.
As we start this second season, healing is one of the main aims of this work – healing in the sense of a thorough body, soul and spirit health or shalom. The gently flowing stream of Shiloh is the source of this healing. The Holy Spirit does not come with a bluster.
One of our main passages flowing through the tunnel and unifying us has been 1 Cor. 13:4-8. There are 16 attributes of Love described here which seem to especially apply to the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is:
- patient with us
- and kind while He is patient.
- He doesn’t strive,
- doesn’t put Himself forward,
- nor is He ever arrogant
- or rude.
- He considers others as much as Himself
- and is not provoked or irritable.
- He never brings up our past mistakes
- but at the same time He doesn’t rejoice in evil
- but rejoices when we speak the truth.
- He bears with us through everything we do
- and never stops believing in us anyway.
- He is with us in everything we endure
- and never stops hoping that we will persevere.
- His love never loses its authority and never gives up on us.
Please learn these 16 attributes off by heart, internalise them and ensure you are applying them as you dig. Use the above or your favourite translation.
If we don’t put this into practice, the flying stones and debris, the chore of carrying out the rubble and the stress of digging underneath 150 ft of bedrock will overwhelm us (spiritualise that last sentence as much as you can – but the effort and commitment involved is similar :)).
We are restarting the Monday night meetings at Open Arms Church in the Café area and moving out to the Kidzone this Monday 9th September 2019 at 1915 hours. The format will follow the same as before: Worship for 15-20 mins, Breaking of Bread for 15-20 mins, Open Church with teaching (as per 1 Cor. 14:26-40) for up to 90 mins and healing prayers to close or incorporated in that time as the Spirit leads. Different individuals will lead each part on different weeks.
As we know from all that is happening and what PJ is preaching, God is on the move. I am looking forward to seeing what He is going to do with us!
The teaching on 1 Corinthians 14.
The teaching on the Holy Spirit.
The teaching on the Book of Job.
I was watching a film on Netflix called “The Boy who Harnessed the Wind.” It tells the true story of 13-year-old William Kamkwamba who built a wind turbine to save his Malawian village from famine. From a combination of corporate exploitation and greed, Government corruption and a failed rainy season, the people of William’s village and surrounding areas were starving.
What was significant to me was that the village had a well which was not dry, there was enough water in it to supply all their needs. However, because there was no pump they could not draw enough of it quickly enough to irrigate their crops. And so they were starving.
Back in King Ahaz and Hezekiah’s time, Jerusalem faced a similar problem. There was an abundant supply of water in the Gihon spring but it was located outside the walls of Jerusalem. This meant that it had to be laboriously collected in buckets day by day. Its location also left the city vulnerable. If there was a besieging army it was easy for them to prevent the people getting to the spring.
King Ahaz lived around the time Isaiah was prophesying. He started to build a tunnel from the spring into the city and his son, King Hezekiah, probably completed it. You can read more about the inscription found in the 19th century and Isaiah’s softly flowing waters of Shiloah in my other blog on the subject.
This tunnel would have had a significant impact on the lives of the people of Jerusalem at the time. The water from the Gihon spring flowed through Hezekiah’s tunnel into the Pool of Siloam (Sent). Later on Jesus sent a blind man to that pool who returned seeing (John 9).
According to the understanding I have been given (hopefully by the Lord – I will let you be the judge of that) the following is what is represented by the spring, Hezekiah’s tunnel and the pool of Siloam (Sent):
- The Gihon spring represents the 5 fold ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ, His Church. Powerful and upwelling these gifts and ministries supply sustenance and support for any living church. Without them any church will die – or was never living in the first place.
- The tunnel represents a means of enabling the 5 fold ministries and spiritual gifts to function or be channelled into a church. I believe Paul has shown us how this is done using the model of church meetings he describes in 1 Cor. 14:26- 40. Our local church (Open Arms) is facilitating this mode of church expression with meetings on Monday evenings in the main hall (closed for summer break July and August 2019).
- The Pool of Siloam is the healing place for the saints in the midst of the church. The 5 fold ministries and spiritual gifts are functioning in it and people are being healed, set free and delivered.
For any church the application is clear. Just like in Ahaz and Hezekiah’s time there will be some messy work to be done. The tunnel will require work and digging at. The literal tunnel in Jerusalem run for 500m under the wall of the city and the waters emerged, gently flowing, in the centre of Jerusalem. However the work required to build it took two teams of workers coming at it from both directions and meeting in the middle. They didn’t have tunnel boring machines so this was wielding pickaxes and sledgehammers, blow by blow at the rock that underlaid the city’s foundations. There was risk involved. No doubt many said at the time it was too dangerous. Perhaps some lives were lost. But the results made it all worthwhile.
It wasn’t long after the tunnel was built that the King of Assyria arrived with a horrific army and a reputation for flaying people alive. All he could do was lock Hezekiah and his inhabitants up inside the city. He knew the water supply and no doubt tried to block up the tunnel but who knows how much valuable time Jerusalem gained while the waters still flowed. In the end not even the spring could save them but God intervened.
Without Him we can do nothing.
But with Him anything is possible.
Isaiah compares the governance and work of the Lord in Jerusalem to the gently flowing waters of Shiloah in Isaiah 8. Shiloah is generally recognised as being the same word that is translated Siloam or “Sent” in John 9. It is the place Jesus sent the man blind from birth to wash and come back seeing.
The gently flowing waters of Siloam refers to the ebb and flow of the waters that passed through a tunnel in the very centre of Jerusalem. This tunnel had been dug during Isaiah’s time. An inscription has been found dating from the period which uses the same Hebrew word “ ” that Isaiah used to describe the waters flow. The lengthy inscription explains that the tunnel was built from both ends at the same time. One set of workmen started at the Gihon spring and the other started in the centre of Jerusalem. The workmen met in the middle – which wasn’t easy to do.
In the very heart of the City of God there flows a river that makes the Lord glad (Psalm 46:4). It is a gently flowing river of healing and it needs to be directed and revealed by the work of godly men.
Our churches are places of healing but it takes the work of godly men to reveal that. The healing streams are there, we just need to dig and work hard together to meet in the middle so they can be revealed and everyone be refreshed.