A Season of Profound Encounters and New Authority - Nathan Shaw
There are strategic times and seasons when God encounters His church in unique ways. About twenty years ago God released many profound encounters, strategic destinies and powerful mantles. Many who received these mantles remained hidden. In the intervening years there has been a deep work of maturity. Now is the time when they will begin to walk in the full authority of their mantles. Jacob’s life is a prophetic model.
In Genesis 28 Jacob had a profound dream (Genesis 28:12-17). In the dream three images were highlighted to him:
- A stairway.
- Angels ascending and descending.
- The LORD (Yahweh).
Each of these images is preceded by the Hebrew word hinneh meaning look! Hinneh adds dramatic gesture. It goes with a lifted arm and an open mouth: "There, a stairway! Oh, angels! and look, the LORD Himself!” (J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis). It makes the narrative very vivid for the reader, bringing Jacob’s dream into the present as if it was happening right now (Bruce Waltke, Genesis). God wants to reveal to us the same spiritual realities that Jacob saw. Before Jacob had this dream he was unaware of the spiritual activity all around him. Through the dream:
- He saw a gateway (Genesis 28:17).
- He observed the intense activity in the Spirit realm.
- He encountered the God of covenant.
Above, Upon, Or Beside
The most interesting aspect of Jacob’s dream is the location of God. Most Bible translations say that God was above the stairway, but the Hebrew word can mean above, upon, or beside. The Hebrew text makes four locations possible for God:
- Above the stairway.
- Upon the stairway.
- Beside the stairway.
- Beside Jacob.
Following the model of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11, God would be at the top. But the book of Genesis makes a clear contrast between the ways of humankind—which led to the tower of Babel—and the ways of God—demonstrated through the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the sons of covenant. Yahweh was the God of covenant. Covenant is the most serious and intimate of all relationships.
God being upon or beside the stairway gives a much more intimate picture than Him being above it. The context of covenant argues against God being above the stairway and for God being upon it, beside it, or even beside Jacob. Consider also:
- When God spoke to Jacob in the dream He said to Jacob, rather than called to him (Genesis 28:13). Said favors an intimate picture, whereas called favors God being distant at the top of the stairway.
- When Jacob woke from the dream he strongly asserted, “The LORD is in this place!” (Genesis 28:16). These words convey closeness not distance.
- In John 1:51 Jesus said that He was the stairway.
What Did Jacob Experience?
When I first learned that there were four possible locations for God in Jacob’s dream I sought God for further insight. My prayer was simple: “God, please show me what Jacob saw.” God answered by giving me a vision. In the vision I was traveling through a tunnel of blue light. I came out of the tunnel and before me was a huge blue eye. The eye had infinity in it. I started to travel into the eye. Next thing the scene changed. I was standing in a small room with two mirrors directly opposite each other. Because the mirrors reflected back to each other you could see multitudes of mirrors in both directions. God is multidimensional and infinite. Each subsequent mirror represented another dimension of God and there are infinite dimensions. Even if you climb a mountain to get a better view within one dimension you are still only seeing within one dimension.
The vision left me stunned. Suddenly I saw the depth of our covenant God in a new way. The color blue is often associated with revelation and of course eyes are windows into the soul. When a man and a woman are in covenant relationship they have the right to look into each others eyes in a way that would be inappropriate for others. Jacob’s dream was an invitation to know the depth of covenant relationship with God. Instead of showing me exactly what Jacob saw, God revealed to me the dimension of the revelation. It’s no wonder Jacob woke up overcome with awe! Once again it was highlighted to me that Jacob’s dream was about covenant and intimacy.
The Twenty Year Delay
After having this dream Jacob left the region of Israel and stayed in Haran with his uncle Laban. Twenty years later Jacob returned to Israel (Genesis 31:38, 41). He also stepped into the spiritual gateway he first encountered in his dream. Once again he encountered God’s angels (Genesis 32:1). Once again he encountered God—this time in the form of a Man (Genesis 32:24-30). The encounter was so profound that he actually physically wrestled with God. The deepest issues of Jacob’s heart came to the fore as he wrestled throughout the night. Eventually the Man said, “Let me go, for the day breaks.” But Jacob refused, “I will not let You go unless you bless me!” The Man affirmed that because Jacob had wrestled with God and with man his name would be changed to Israel. Jacob means deceiver. Israel means prince with God. Jacob stepped into a much greater position of spiritual authority.
There are intentional signposts in the Hebrew text that link Jacob’s encounter through the dream in Genesis 28 (scene one) with his encounter in Genesis 32 (scene two). One thing that is immediately evident is the increased intensity of the encounter in Genesis 32. Consider the following differences between the two scenes:
In scene one Jacob sees God.
In scene two he wrestles with God (wrestling is one of the most intense forms of interaction).
In scene one Jacob hears God.
In scene two he speaks with God.
In scene one God is beside or before Jacob.
In scene two God is face to face with Jacob.
In scene one Jacob encounters God.
In scene two he encounters God and his name is changed to Israel.
Jacob had two profound encounters with God—firstly in a dream, secondly wrestling with a Man. Inbetween these two encounters he worked for his uncle Laban for twenty years. Laban continually controlled and exploited Jacob—repeatedly changing his wages (Genesis 31:7, 41). It was a frustrating situation that prevented Jacob from getting ahead in life. Jacob was trapped.
Jacob’s life speaks to our day. About twenty years ago there was a season of profound encounter across the body of Christ. (From 1993 to 2006 God uniquely encountered me again and again. As I look back I recognize that God was mantling me—but this was also true of many many others). Many encountered God in profound ways but then things happened outside of their control. Instead of walking in their promised destinies they spent these years in relative hiddenness, serving in some capacity, but trapped, the profound encounters with God merely distant realities. This is about to change.
There is no time, space or distance in the Spirit realm. The place you experienced in the Spirit realm many years ago is as real today as when you first experienced it—you can go back to that place. Right now we stand on the brink of a new season. Many are about to see spiritual realities for the first time—they will see heavenly gateways, angelic activity, and the God of covenant speaking directly to them. But others are about to rediscover gateways that they first encountered twenty years ago. Not only will they have fresh encounters with God—they will come forth with a profound new authority that will cause dramatic shifts in the earth.
© 2016 Nathan Shaw.
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