On December 7th 2015 Pipeline Church, the church I pastor, had the privilege of hosting the 7th Day of Doug Stringer’s 21 Day Prayer & Fasting Appeal to Heaven. I was eager to participate and was not fully aware of how significant this date would be for our fellowship.
This was a busy time in the city of Houston. The city was preparing to host the Reinhard Bonnke Crusade and Doug was honorary local chairman for that event. Doug was also preparing to facilitate the Response Louisiana, a solemn assembly in the spirit of Joel 2 called by Governor Bobby Jindal. In the past few years there has been an prophetic resurgence in understanding of ‘the Appeal to Heaven’ flag. Key Apostlic leaders have been released with this historic flag and are carrying it across the nation, reminding any who will hear of its urgent message. The phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” connotes that when all resources and justices on earth are exhausted that only “An Appeal to Heaven” remains. The flag is white with a single green pine or “evergreen” tree. Earlier in the year Doug had been presented one of these flags in Philadelphia, the nations original capital city. In the spirit of the message of this flag, Doug called a 21 day city wide time of prayer & fastedness at the beginning of December. Each night he and his team would visit a different congregation in the city and together they would ‘appeal to heaven’. Day Seven was at Pipeline.
Each of the 21 days were very significant. Infact I started to see a pattern in each day that represented each of the successive letters of the original 22 letter hebrew aleph-bet, but that is a story for another time. In an attempt to paint the picture of my understanding of Somebody Cares roll as a plumb line ministry, I will key in on Day 4 & 7. Day 4 was scheduled to be hosted at New Covenant Church in Humble. This was the same day that the 2nd of 4 regional prayer events mobilizing the city in prayer for the Reinhard Bonnke Crusade was scheduled to be held, also at New Covenant Church(NCC). Pastor Frank Mazzipicca, pastor of NCC is a friend with a sincere burden for awakening and transforming revival in our region & nation. I was aware of the preparation that had taken place in local prayer before this time & had a great sense of anticipation that in the convergence of these mighty streams, God was going to break through and show us something important.
In our own personal journey towards transforming revival God had begun to give us a much much deeper understanding of 3 important keys. The keys of covenant, personal consecration & prevailing prayer. It has been shown that every civilization in history has had an understanding of Covenant, unfortunately almost every trace of this covenant understanding has been removed from our modern cultures. This is very sad because Covenant is the language God uses to speak to us in the scriptures. Our authority as believers is established on the basis of Covenant, and it is enhanced with a fuller understanding of what a Covenant relationship gives us access too. The night before our prayer meeting at NCC, I received a phone call from Connie Fisher, a strategic intercessor in our city. I had called Connie regarding the Bonnke prayer meeting in Humble and she was returning my call to share some of her research regarding the spiritual significance of the Humble region. A conversation with Connie is always rich, but one thing she mentioned in the call struck me deeply, she mentioned the seven levels of Covenant. I was intrigued and asked for more insight. She shared it was connected to the Jewish marriage Ketubah, so I asked if she could recommend additional resources* so I could understand this better. What I began to see fit like a pattern over what was happening in our city.
Marriage is a covenant, it is one of the few remaining traces of covenant in our culture. The Hebrew Ketubah or marriage agreement is established around the drinking of 4 cups, these 4 cups represent a deeper dimension of Covenant. As the Bride & Groom and their families work through the agreement details they share a meal centered around these 4 betrothal cups. The first cup is drunk by the bride & groom & their families. It is the cup of servanthood. If the Bride is interested in the Groom when he arrives with his Father at her father’s house this cup is drunk together by everyone when her father opens the door and welcomes the groom and his father. The 2nd cup is the cup of friendship. This cup was drunk by the bride & groom and their parents as they vigorously worked through(darashed) the respective details & obligations in the ketubah. The final 3rd cup, is the cup of inheritance. This cup was drunk by the bride and groom only at the end of the meal when the details of the ketubah had been agreed upon. Drinking the 3rd cup was a seal on the agreement. The groom would then leave with his father to prepare a home for he and his bride to be. The completion of the home would be the signal the wedding day had arrived. The bride & her family would prepare her garments remaining ready for the unannounced return of the groom for the wedding supper. Only at the wedding ceremony would the final 4th cup be drunk together by the bride and groom. The 4th cup was the bridal cup.
God has been moving his people through this 4 cup pattern of restoration since the fall. In each of these stages their are two parts; God initiates and then man responds, the result is seven stages. After the fall God immediately began to restore covenant with Adam & Eve. He provided skins to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. To get the skins animals had to be sacrificed. Our approach to God is possible, but not without blood because God is holy. This is the first cup or servant cup, signified by blood. We see the response to this stage coming through Noah who demonstrates his love for God through his obedience in building the ark. Noah’s blood sacrifice after the flood & the subsequent sign of the rainbow transition mankind into the next phase of covenant. The 2nd cup of friendship is between God and Abraham. This covenant is sealed with a meal. Salt signifies this level of everlasting Covenant. Jacob responds to this friendship level of Covenant when he wrestles with the Angel of the Lord and receives a name change as a sign of the blessing. The 3rd cup is the cup of Sonship or Inheritance. The symbol for this stage is the sandal. When Moses is invited to remove his shoes for the place he stands is holy, he is moving man into this restored revelation of sonship. Moses is entrusted with the Torah. King David responds to the Lord at the level of a son. Forever Jesus’ throne will be called the throne of David, this speaks of inheritance. In all of these Covenant God has been progressively moving us towards this beautiful bridal dimension. All of these covenants are fulfilled in the New Covenant or Bridal Covenant. At the last supper when Jesus serves the cup(servanthood), eats the bread dipped in salt(friendship) and then washes the feet of the disciples(sonship/inheritance), he moves them through these 3 stages and then goes to the cross to pay the penalty only a lovesick groom might be willing to pay if he discovered his bride was unchaste before their wedding day. Giving his life in exchange for her guilt, rendering her righteous. Interestingly, Jesus also committed himself not to drink of the vine, (the 4th bridal cup), until he returns to collect those who accept his betrothal invitation.
This pattern can also be seen in the Lampstand that was in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of Moses. This Lampstand was made out of a center shaft and then on each side were 3 branches. This resulted in a total of seven lamps. The central lamp is called the Shemesh, in the sequence it becomes the 4th or central lamp each of the other lamps are connected to it and draw their oil from this center Shemesh. The Shemesh light represents Jesus. It is called the servant light. When you begin to understand this pattern you see its significance in so many things. For instance the Sun in our solar system, is a servant light and it was created on the 4th day.
So what does all of this have to do with Somebody Cares and the Appeal to Heaven? This Prayer Meeting at New Covenant was the fourth on Doug’s circuit, this insight began to open to me on the eve of the 4th day, as we pressed in together at NCC, we tasted an open heaven. By the 7th day, which we hosted at Pipeline, I had started to see the many connections. That Day we presented Doug with gifts representing these 4 Covenant Stages, we even gave him a gift certificate for shoes signifying inheritance. Doug has asked for the nations as an inheritance. Plus we made a Lampstand out of “pipes” signifying these seven stages and also presented it to Doug. We also gave him a towel, plumb line & hammer. The plumb line & hammer are tools of master craftsmen. The original lampstand was hammered by a master craftsman out of one shekel (about 100lbs) of gold.
All of this may seem disconnected, but my heart and mind were in overdrive seeing many connections. Here on this 7th day, Doug had included our little “hole in the wall” fellowship on the path of this historic appeal to heaven. This 21 day Appeal was not only important for our city, but it was a time of consecration for Doug as he prepared for the Response Louisiana. I saw “The Response” like an answer to “The Call”, preparing all those who were thirsty in our generation/nation to move deeper into this bridal dimension of covenant. In the last decade God raised up Lou Engle to issue “The Call”, were we watching God raise up Doug Stringer, to lead us in “The Response”? Could these complimentary intercessory solemn assemblies be an important piece of our bridal preparation in our nation.
The other verse that helps tie everything I believed the Lord was doing on December 7th is from Zechariah 4:10. Here God gives a picture of two olive trees, a golden lamp stand, some pipes and a plumb line. Zerubbabel, whose name literally means “pressed out of Babel” is working closely with the high priest Joshua to lay the foundations that will usher in a time of restoration. The statement is made, “But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel— these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth”. When a righteous governor emerges in the land who understands that like the standard of a plumb line, the eternal standards of heaven are relevant to every generation on earth, their is great rejoicing in the heart of God.
We presented Doug the hammer and the plumb line because he is among those we recognize who operate with a mantle of grace, humility and understanding that is able to bring people together where agreement seems beyond reach. I have watched Doug use “the hammer” to delicately and masterfully bring form and connection to “the Lampstand” of the church in seasons of crisis & polarization. This is the hour where the world desperately needs to see the church shining together in all of our seven fold beauty. We are brighter together, and the ministry of Somebody Cares is like a center servant Shemesh or plumb line that keeps us focused on those things that must not be overlooked in the light of eternity.
For further study on these Covenant perspectives;
* Rediscovering the Hebrew Roots of Our Faith (Lost in Translation Book 1), Klein, John; Spears, Adam; Christopher, Michael, Selah Publishing Group, LLC, 2007