By Rachel Toland / 2020-03-15
It all started with a seemingly harmless joke – a really punny one about Saturday Night Fever, Coronavirus and Stayin’ Alive.
It was actually the only joke I even thought to tell because the punch line spoke life, and it didn’t actually make fun of anyone – or so I thought.
Humor is a valid part of the human experience, and I do believe God has a sense of humor and even uses laughter to heal us. But when does it wind up insulting the Spirit of Favor?
Earlier that morning, when I was spending time with God, I heard Him whisper to me Psalm 74. So I turned there, and something incredible leaped out at me I had never seen before.
It says in verses 13-14:
“You divide the sea by Your strength; You break the heads of the sea-monsters in the waters. You cracked open the heads of leviathan, and gave him to be food to the people living in the wilderness.”Psalms 74:13-14
As I was letting that sink in and ruminating upon it, three other references flooded my heart.
The first was Exodus 12:12 because this Psalm clearly is linking us back to the Exodus.
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt.”Exodus 12:12
God’s plagues were judgments against the gods of Egypt, and I believe that Leviathan was behind many of the gods in Egypt. He is the twisting and fleeing serpent in Job – a twisting serpent that twists truth.
The next scripture that came to me was Isaiah 43:3-4:
“For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.”Isaiah 43:3-4
Again we are back in Egypt realizing that nothing in God’s Kingdom – not His freedom, favor nor forgiveness – was free. There was always a price for everything. And I honestly never knew it. I used to treat God’s Kingdom like a limitless trust-fund kid who never bothers to count the cost. Aside from the sacrifice of Yeshua and all those martyred and persecuted for their faith, I didn’t consider any other outside costs.
But that verse brought a whole new perspective on the cost of even my daily bread. The thought that our provision comes at a price was not something I thought of, and I believe God wants us to recognize that, even if that price is paid at the cost of our enemies.
So how does one obtain the spoil of the enemy camps?
If we end up with a transference of wealth, it’s usually the result of God’s judgment in His courts just like the courts here on earth. Two sides go to court, one sues the other for “x” sum of money; both are heard, and when a judgment is rendered, one party has to pay something. And, I believe that’s how it works in God’s courts as well.
But how does God feel about judging the wicked and laying out our enemies as our footstool? And, if we obtain a Spirit of Favor through a judgment, what attitude should we have towards it?
Ezekiel 18 23-32 asks us that question and gives us very clear response. God says a lot in between His question and answer, and it’s a really important perspective so I put the whole discourse below.
Have I any pleasure in the death of the wrong?” declares the Master יהוה. “Is it not that he should turn from his ways, and live? “But when a righteous one turns away from his righteousness and does unrighteousness, according to all the abominations that the wrong one has done, shall he live? All his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered. For his trespass which he has committed, and for his sin which he has committed, for them he shall die. “And you said, ‘The way of יהוה is not right.’ Hear now, O house of Yisra’ěl, is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? “When a righteous one turns away from his righteousness, and does unrighteousness, and he dies in it, it is because of his unrighteousness which he has done that he dies. “And when the wrong turns away from the wrong which he has done, and he does right-ruling and righteousness, he keeps himself alive. “Because he sees and turns away from all the transgressions which he has done, he shall certainly live, he shall not die. “And the house of Yisra’ěl have said, ‘The way of יהוה is not right.’ Are My ways not right, O house of Yisra’ěl? Is it not your ways that are not right? “Therefore I judge you, O house of Yisra’ěl, every one according to his ways,” declares the Master יהוה. “Repent, and turn back from all your transgressions, and let not crookedness be a stumbling-block to you. “Cast away from you all the transgressions, by which you have transgressed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Yisra’ěl? “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” declares the Master יהוה. “So turn back and live!”Ezekiel 18:23-32
There it is. He takes no pleasure in the death of the one who dies. In fact, He warns us in Proverbs 24:17 not to rejoice over our fallen enemies:
“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. “Proverbs 24:17
So where does that leave me and my little joke? Well, the joke I thought poked more fun at the ’70’s Saturday Night Fever movie than it did at the current Coronavirus situation was still hurting God’s heart.
How many times when we see someone who hates us fall do we get a little happy inside? Or do we look at them like, “I told you so.”
It seems God isn’t really a fan of that kind of attitude and wants us to know when He issues a judgment in our favor that the judgment came at a cost. It seems He wants us to count the cost it has on Him and His heart. It’s the same type of situation I think when a parent has to punish one of their children for the sake of the other. The parent still loves both children, but in order for there to be peace and teaching, when one of them is wronged by a sibling, the guilty one must be disciplined – and many times this hurts the heart of the parent.
There have been tons and tons of jokes circulating lately about this situation, and I get it. There is so much uncertainty, bewilderment, conspiracy, and absurdity at the whole thing, that it’s almost laughable.
But there is one more verse that God brought me to – one that kind of sealed the deal for me on my attitude not just toward this Covid-19 but toward every bit of grace God has bestowed upon me throughout my life. Hebrews 10:26-28 explains that clearly.
For if we sin purposely after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a slaughter offering for sins. (Footnote: This type of sinning is in contrast with sinning ignorantly – Heb. 9:7, Num. 15:15-28.) but some fearsome anticipation of judgment, and a fierce fire which is about to consume the opponents. (Isaiah 26:11) Anyone who has disregarded the Torah of Mosheh dies without compassion on the witness of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think shall he deserve who has trampled the Son of Elohim underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was set apart as common, and insulted the Spirit of favour? (emphasis mine)Hebrews 10:26-29
What does that mean exactly to have “insulted the Spirit of favor?” In Greek, “favor” means grace, prosperity, and being well-off. America, God has given us a period of grace, poured out on us a Spirit of Favor. We have so much to be grateful for, and I had no idea I was hurting my Father with this joke. I was insulting and making light of the Spirit of His Favor.
I believe I’ve mentioned before how much I agree with approaching God in the courts of Heaven. Robert Henderson has had incredible revelation on this matter and has written many books on this which I highly recommend. But yesterday when I saw his article that documented the dream he had about “playing and joking” with the President of the United States on Charisma News, I was floored at the dovetailing messages.
I believe He’s tired of us mocking of our enemies when He has ruled in our favor.
God has given other nations in our place. There has been suffering outside of this country so we can be blessed. That’s a heavy responsibility to steward, but not too heavy! Like God said in Ezekiel 18, we can create a new heart and a new spirit within ourselves so that we can live!
It’s not always easy to listen to someone who is hurt. It takes a lot of humility to just listen to what they are saying without judging yourself or them. And, other times it’s even harder to listen to their heart without injecting or projecting ourselves into the situation.
This is where selflessness is key. (The story of how God used this is coming).
I think God is trying to let us know His heart is hurting, how He feels right now. So, perhaps we can hold the position of our salvation and favor with an attitude of stewardship and responsibility that shouldn’t be shrugged off lightly or wrapped in a sense of entitlement. To everything there is a season, and I believe this message is for intercessors who understand that while God clearly has a sense of humor and even calls for seasons of joy and laughter, there are other seasons where He invites us to carry each other’s burden and calls intercessors to hear His heart which will then help us hear the heart of hurting people around us.
When we do this, that’s when He lifts us up!
“So then subject yourselves to Elohim. Resist the devil and he shall flee from you. Draw near to Elohim and He shall draw near to you. Cleanse hands, sinners. And cleanse the hearts, you double-minded! Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Master, and He shall lift you up.”James 4:7-10
After taking this stance for several days, it was quite humbling to say the least. But that humility led to a conversation with a dear childhood friend of mine a few days later. You see, she and her sister were some of my closest friends growing up. For years, we would play dress up, have sleep-overs and go to Sunday School together, and we even remained friend through college.
We happened to lose touch in our thirties, and then I found out that one of them had died. She was young, 34, healthy and a marathon runner.
The remaining sister and I still kept in contact from time to time. But over the weekend, the night before President Trump declared a National Day of Prayer about the Coronavirus, I had a dream about her and her sister, and I woke up missing them both terribly. So, on the day of prayer I reached out to her via text.
My friend is one that many would consider a “lost sheep.” She grew up in church, in a Christian household, but is angry with God. I love her though, and I know God is passionately pursuing her as well. As we chatted, and I had this message heavy on my heart, it created a humility in me that I don’t think would have been there otherwise. That drove the conversation in a direction I wasn’t expecting.
I started to repent to her on behalf of all the pain believers have caused her and then confessed our shortcomings, sins and failures as a body like in Daniel chapter 9 . . . just humbling myself toward her and ultimately toward God.
I could feel the Holy Spirit on the conversation because I could sense an openness on her end to receive the apologies, to which she replied confirming so. If anything at all, we, the Holy Spirit and I, got to plant seeds of love and restoration that day in a wounded heart.
I believe that’s the point of our humility. If we also confess our sins to one another, the Bible promises us that we will not only be cleansed from all unrighteousness but that we would also be healed. *
*James 5:14-16, I John 1:9