Redeeming the Time
Paul Keith Davis
We are going to revisit 1977! That is what I prophesied on December 31, 2009 at a conference WhiteDove Ministries co-hosted with our friends, Steven and Stacy Shelley. Initially, my thoughts returned to key events in the life of Pastor Roland Buck beginning in 1977 with the many prophecies and teachings that followed his supernatural encounters. This is a subject I have spent much time contemplating and absorbing. The Lord has made it emphatically clear this was a true word from Him and essential for our generation. I have written about his ministry in Books of Destiny.
However, what transpired over the following weeks was quite surprising and yet encouraging as it relates to our place in divine destiny. Within days of uttering those words, I was profoundly reconnected with many friends from my college years; some of whom played a significant role in my life both personally and spiritually.
Suddenly, I recognized these friends were all prominent in my life in the year 1977. I even accidentally located an individual for whom I had considerable admiration who first introduced me to the Pentecostal Church. At that time my little exposure to church life stemmed from scarcely attending a very traditional Southern Baptist congregation. Needless to say I was shocked at what I experienced in the Pentecostal service that I attended with my friend. I had no grid for understanding what I witnessed, yet something was awakened in me that spoke directly to my personal destiny. I realized my last encounter with her was in 1977.
Even though it was refreshing to rediscover these former friends and learn the course they took in life, I was still not prepared for what transpired on January 24, 2010.
Revisiting a Turn in the Road
I was scheduled to speak that Sunday evening in a Church just south of London, England. As I normally do when ministering in the UK, I flew all night arriving in London around 7 AM. I was taken directly to my hotel with the hopes of catching a brief nap before preparing for the evening service.
However, no matter how much I tried I could not sleep and ended up praying for approximately three hours. Somewhere around noon I went into a revelatory experience that has changed my perspective on multiple levels and provided enormous encouragement.
When I prophesied on December 31st that we would "revisit" 1977 I had no idea I would literally be allowed to see prophetically a key event in my personal life that transpired in that pivotal year. In the experience I saw by spiritual vision a certain day in the fall of 1977 and a chance encounter with the person for whom I had great respect and affection who had been responsible for first introducing me to Pentecostal Christianity two years before.
I watched in the vision as I walked away from this chance meeting and resolved in my heart to pursue a certain course in life that led away from God’s ultimate design for my destiny. Because of insecurities and emotional scaring resulting from a difficult family situation through my childhood and adolescent years, I didn’t have the ability to work through challenging circumstances at the time to make the best decision. Eventually, this turn resulted in my rejecting the commission God offered at my graduation in 1979.
In the experience the Lord spoke to me and said, "This decision and turn in the course of your destiny was not of Me, but I saw it before you were formed in your mother's womb and I made a provision for you in it." What a profound expression of God's sovereignty and love for His children.
I was about to make a turn in the road that would lead away from my personal destiny of having a voice into the Spirit-filled/prophetic community and instead pursue a business career and the determination to stay within the conservative evangelical movement. Even so, the Lord made a provision for my return to the place of prophetic fulfillment and fruitfulness, although this path proved to be much more difficult.
With those words I asked the Lord for a biblical confirmation. Instantly I was given Jonah. Although I have often read the Book of Jonah I have not spent much time dissecting its meaning, until now. After my experience on January 24th I have looked at Jonah with an entirely new perspective and with spiritual eyes that reflect the loving guidance of our Father and His jealousy for our personal destiny.
We all know the story! Jonah eluded his destiny and God's desire for him to prophesy repentance to an evil and ruthless city that was notoriously antagonistic towards Israel. Jonah was reluctant to offer an opportunity for repentance and mercy to Israel's enemy and ran from this personal calling. I realized, like myself, Jonah made a wrong turn in the road to his destiny.
Even so, that commission was woven into his spiritual DNA and ordained as a pivotal experience in his life. I am certain Jonah had no idea we would still be reading about his life these many centuries later and gleaning insight into God's nature and character because of his journey.
The Bible tells us Jonah boarded a ship and fled to the west towards Tarshish when the place of his destiny
was to the east in the city of Nineveh. Jonah abandoned his destiny by boat, but returned by fish. Through this revelatory experience, the Lord has profoundly changed my perspective concerning Jonah's ordeal. I had always looked at Jonah's "belly of the fish" adventure as God's discipline. However, in my revelation I was shown it was the Lord's PROVISION.
Without the specially prepared and appointed “fish” Jonah would have perished at sea and never accomplished his destiny. Although the encounter was difficult and frightening it was the vehicle by which the Lord returned His prophet to obedience and fruitfulness.
Prepared and Appointed
The Bible is emphatically clear, God prepared and appointed a "great fish" to swallow the prophet and "vomit" him out for a second chance at his destiny. (See Jonah 2:10) Like Jonah, many of us are being offered another opportunity to get it right and fulfill our purpose in life; there we will find true happiness and a sense of satisfaction that comes only from the Lord.
Because of God's posture in eternity and His ability to see all of time in a single moment, He recognized before Jonah was fashioned in his mother's womb, the prophet’s poor and rebellious decision. The Lord in His grace made a provision for Jonah. Long before Jonah rejected this commissioning the Lord had already prepared a great fish to partner with Jonah in his return. Before we got off course with God, He already orchestrated a return route for our ultimate benefit. Before Adam ever transgressed and needed a Redeemer, the Lamb of God was already slain before the foundation of the world. (See Revelations 13:8)
No matter what various scholars and theologians may argue, Jonah’s was a literal experience that had a literal fulfillment. The Lord Jesus highlighted Jonah’s testimony on two occasions as a sign of His three days and three nights in the bowels of the earth before His resurrection. If the Lord's experience was literal, then so was Jonah's.
Furthermore, scientists may argue that various species of seagoing creatures are not large enough to swallow a human being whole and allow them to survive three days and three nights. Nevertheless, a careful examination of the Scripture prominently affirms that the Lord "prepared" and "appointed" this great fish or sea monster for a specific purpose.
Not only did Jonah have a destiny but also the great fish that was designated and empowered to work with God to return His prophet to his purpose. Perhaps it was a one-of-a-kind species that God designed and engineered just for this encounter. In either event, the experience was literal and it was God's supernatural provision to return a rebellious prophet to his God ordained calling.
Likewise, many of us have, either knowingly or accidentally, run from our mandate and calling in life. Even so, the Lord made a provision to return us to the place of our fruitfulness; He made that provision before time began. Perhaps we have looked at the experience as discipline, but in reality it is His provision. That was certainly the case in my experience.
Restoring the Lost Years
Clearly, the journey could have been quicker, easier and less costly, but in the final analysis the end result is the release into personal destiny. Jonah may have come out of his experience a little buffeted and smelly, but he also now had a testimony of God’s supernatural intervention that preceded his message, making it even more powerful than it would have been otherwise.
In my experience I realized that the hardships that I have experienced over a significant portion of my life were necessary to eventually return me to the place of my destiny and fruitfulness. Though I may have looked at it as the Lord’s discipline, it was in reality His provision.
More importantly, I have come to appreciate God’s enduring faithfulness to His Word and His promise to redeem the time. Joel 2: 25-26 declares:
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.
Presently, we are living in a time of prophetic destiny and divine fulfillment through the realization of God's economy that makes up for lost years and redeems the time. The Apostle Paul put it this way in Ephesians 5:15-16:
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
The Word of the Lord returned to Jonah a second time requesting the prophet to prophesy in Nineveh. This time the bruised and battered prophet had a different perspective and agreed to this appointment and proceeded to Nineveh. What was perceived to be a three-day job was accomplished in one. The Bible declares:
So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown. Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. –Jonah 3:3-5
This is an indication of God's acceleration. What we perceive to be a lengthy and arduous commissioning can be accomplished very rapidly in God's economy. He is able to redeem the time, or “buy back the kairos moments” and do in a short period of time what we forecast to take an extended period.
Another Chance to Get it Right
There are multiple applications that can be derived from the spiritual principles outlined in the Book of Jonah. However, I feel it is important to point out that I have come away from my experience feeling a renewed sense of urgency and hope for our own nation. Perhaps God will grant to America another opportunity for grace and repentance as He did Nineveh.
There may be many prophetic voices that are reluctant to prophesy grace and mercy to our nation as Jonah was to Nineveh. Clearly we are in deep trouble as a nation. Even so, I believe there is still a revival on our horizon that will liberate multitudes from the grasp of death and hell. Repeatedly the Lord has emphasized to me that He will finish better than He started; and the Bride’s greatest day is not behind her, but directly ahead. That is what I choose to believe.
Secondly, there is hope for many who are steeped in hopelessness. The Lord has made it profoundly clear that he is returning many of His children back to the place of their destiny and fruitfulness. Though we may return by "fish" and a little smelly like Jonah, in the final analysis we will emerge with a testimony of God's goodness and the empowerment of His Spirit to redeem the time and accomplish in rapid fashion what we might perceive to be a long and arduous battle.
The one thing we cannot afford to do is to give up. After having done all we must stand and believe in God's restorative nature and His redemptive ability.