1989-1990: Released From "Egypt"
After I had been in Memphis for nearly a year, I went to a Chinese restaurant during a lunch break. While I was there, I had a talk with the Father. The date was Sept. 29, 1988.
“Lord,” I said, “my heart is not in my work. I am no longer able to do a job worthy of my salary. And yet I have to make a living somehow. What shall I do?”
“To My Word. It shall be manifest when the time is right. Has it not always been so?”
“Yes, of course. You know I've already long since put this whole situation into your hands.” Then the waitress came with the bill and a fortune cookie. As I looked at the fortune cookie, curious as to what it might say, the Lord said, “Definitely NOT My Word.” I opened it and read,
“Any rough times are now behind you.”
Since this was NOT His Word, it was apparent that I still would have some rough times ahead of me. This was a bit discouraging, but He had already told me that the time was not yet right for my release from “Egypt.” Finally, I said, “Well, Lord, what do You want to talk about?”
“My Word can try men's hearts severely, as you know. I told you to hold fast to My Word, for it may be all you have for seemingly long stretches, as I remove you from this world and its understanding.
“You are to move back to Arkansas now very shortly. You will know the time, for I will send you My servant who shall be led of Me to offer you a job. You shall take it, though it seem strange to you. And I will bless that work abundantly, for I have spoken.
“Now go back to work here until the time is right. Be watchful, for it will appear to be very unusual to you and will come from a quarter you are unfamiliar with. Yet watch how I will work all things out for good and prepare the way before you.” [Sept. 29, 1988]
I had often seen things happen on yearly anniversaries of specific events. Since it was approaching a year since we had moved to Memphis, the thought occurred to me that perhaps the Lord would move us back to Arkansas to a new job on November 29—the one-year anniversary of our move to Memphis. After all, the Lord had given me the Word above that He would “very shortly” move us to Arkansas.
So I began to seek the Lord about this. On Nov. 21 I prayed about this, hoping that God would see fit to release me before having to train in for another job in Memphis. He then spoke: “I call you now.” This sounded hopeful enough, but from past experience I had learned to be suspicious of a Word that sounded too good. I responded,
“Lord, I do not doubt your Word, but I don’t know when ‘now’ is. I need a sign to know when. . . Is this acceptable to you?”
“Yes. Put your finger in your Bible.”
I closed my eyes and opened the Bible, flipping the pages until it “felt right.” Then, with eyes still closed, I put my finger upon a page and opened my eyes to see what verse I had picked. It was Luke 9:28, “And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings.” Well, eight days from Nov. 21 was Nov. 29—one year after we had moved to Memphis. I knew then that this would be the date of my release. Of course, nothing happened on that date in 1988. Instead, the telephone call offering me a job in Arkansas came one year later on Nov. 29, 1989.
We are getting ahead of ourselves, but I want to make an important point here. It is so easy to make assumptions when God speaks to us. Even a true Word from God is not always easy to understand. Too often we interpret His Word according to the desires of our heart, which is heart idolatry. That is, when we are under stress and want relief, we tend to interpret His Word according to what we desire, rather than by what is actually true. Often it is as important to know when to ask a question as it is to know what to ask. Timing is important. Many times we ask things that we ought not to know at the time, and so we get a Word that we cannot possibly understand correctly. Hence, we become discouraged, and many conclude that hearing God’s voice can be dangerous. Yes, it certainly can be dangerous. But for those who are persistent in prayer, it is a tremendous learning experience.
I had been through this sort of thing many times and found it often exasperating to know the mind of God in this area of Timing. God’s timing was obviously different from mine, and we thought differently. I certainly did not have the mind of God and was still struggling, rather than just resting in Him and flowing naturally with His plan.
Back to our story, two days after the revelation of “eight days,” I decided to pray again to see if I could squeeze any more details out of God. I asked again if He was going to release me from this “Egypt” on November 29. Instead of answering directly, He said this:
“Call your son [Ryan, age 8], and I will give you the Word through him. I will give him two numbers, by which you will know My Word, chapter and verse, beginning with the book of Joel.” [Nov. 23, 1988]
I called my son Ryan to my office and explained in simple terms that God said He was going to give him two numbers that I needed to know. I laid hands on him and prayed that God would reveal these to him. Ryan listened attentively. (He always took the Lord's Word very seriously.) Then he gave me the two numbers: 54 and 40. I thanked him and sent him back out to play.
Then I began counting 54 chapters beginning with the book of Joel. It came to the first chapter of Matthew. From there I began counting 40 verses. The first chapter of Matthew has only 25 verses in it, so the 40th verse was Matt. 2:15, which says,
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son.
Here was my answer. Was I soon coming out of Egypt? Yes. But God said, “Call your son . . .” He was showing me the hidden meaning of moving out of Memphis. Egypt is the place of Sonship training. We learn the liberty we have in Christ by submitting to the bondage of Egypt. In learning the contrast, we—like Jesus—learn by experience how NOT to misuse spiritual authority, how and why we are NOT to put other men into bondage.
At the same time, God gave me a further revelation that was to have great meaning to me in 1993. He said:
“Behold, I do a new thing. No more shall My people slumber or sleep. They shall awaken, for I have called My son out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Call My people to prayer, that they may find unity in their diversity by hearing My Word with one accord.”
When I received this Word in Nov. 1988, there was nothing I could do at the time to fulfill it. I was still in the time of “bondage in Egypt,” and it was soon evident that God was not going to release me, as I had hoped, on Nov. 29, 1988. Even a year later, when I was released with a new job in Arkansas, it was only the beginning. Not until 1993 was I actually commissioned to call God's people to prayer and spiritual warfare. And it was not until seven years later, on Nov. 29, 2000 that the goal of these battles was fully accomplished.
But back to our story. I remained in Memphis for a total of two full years. In Nov. 1989 I found myself out of work once again. This time I knew I would be moving back to Arkansas soon.
On the morning of Nov. 29, 1989 I received the expected telephone call. It came from Derek, a Christian brother with whom I had worked in Batesville, Arkansas a few years earlier. We had not communicated for a number of years. At the time he called, he was working for a company in Leachville, Arkansas. He told me that they were looking for one who could manage the graphic arts department and teach the typesetters how to set type. That was, of course, what I was well qualified to do.
“I don't know why I didn't think of you sooner,” he said.
“Oh, I know why,” I replied. God did not allow him to think of me until the appointed time.
I drove there immediately for a job interview, knowing that this was God’s answer. True to His Word, God had sent His “servant,” a fellow Christian, to offer me a job. I had never been to that part of the state, so now I understood what God meant when He said it “will come from a quarter you are unfamiliar with.” What had been so confusing and unclear a year earlier was now crystal clear.
My personal history of bondage in “Egypt” follows the same general pattern found in Scripture. God put Israel into bondage in Egypt for a time and then called His son out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1). Though I did not realize it at the time, God was using me as a type-setter, or pattern setter, for I was literally typesetting at my job. In that He brought me to Memphis, Tennessee, whose “sister city” is Memphis, Egypt, God was revealing to me that the Church had gone to Egypt on Nov. 29, 1947 and was going to begin to be release His Sons on Nov. 29, 1993.
This release would take the form of the Jubilee Prayer Campaign that would continue for a full seven years. Then on Nov. 29, 2000 the Sons would begin to be placed into their positions of authority, whereby they would begin to make divine decrees that would change historical events and ultimately manifest the Kingdom of God on earth.
But in order for all of this to happen, God would first have to raise up a new prayer army to conduct this seven-year prayer campaign. Our next chapter shows how God accomplished this.