Shepherd’s Rod 2020 Bob Hartley
For many years now the Lord has visited me on and around the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) with a word for the church, just as he did for my friend and mentor Bob Jones. The Shepherd’s Rod (Lev. 27:32) is a time when the Good Shepherd would individually check each sheep under his care for their health. The Lord wants to speak to his church, lovingly communicating his heart for them, where they are at, and where He will be leading them.
The Mushroom Cloud 2020
Before diving into this year’s word, I want to summarize what I saw last year. Many of you may recall in 2019 I shared about a visit from the Lord concerning the upcoming year 2020. I saw a giant mushroom cloud (like you might see from a nuclear bomb) coming up from earth, covering the entire planet. I was greatly alarmed. But I have learned, when I see something apparently negative, I am to keep looking – the negative is often what we see first, but it is never the full story, because God always has a hopeful, wise and loving solution.
As I continued looking, the mushroom cloud turned orange and the bright orange. My soul leaped! Orange signifies hope to me, and I knew something good was coming. This orange cloud began to cover the whole earth, and to displace the layer of dark smoke of hopelessness and despair that I have seen covering the earth in visions and dreams since 2008.
As I kept looking, Jesus Himself stepped out of the cloud, and He was larger than the whole earth. He began handing to individuals a scroll, a key or an unusual, intimate, but powerful gift (He gave me a little red wagon).
Many of the individuals I knew and many I didn’t know. I now know the mushroom cloud was the virus, the economic hardship, and the civil unrest. But that hand has been played, and now is the time, and throughout 2021, the Lord will step out. The Lord did not cause the evil, but He is now dramatically meeting us in the midst of it, and will use it mightily for his purposes. “God works all things together for good, with those who love Him” (Rom 8:28).
The Lord’s Invitations are Going Out
Now for this year. I saw the Lord was personally delivering invitations into our mailboxes. We each had to choose to go to out to our mailbox and open it, but the effort for people to get out of their front door and down to the mailbox was difficult. Most could barely get out the door and many were trapped in their homes. But Jesus wasn’t upset with them – He could see the invisible opposition arrayed against them and He just wanted to have mercy and see them really be helped on a different level.
When I opened my invitation, it asked me to change my posture and perspective. The invitation clearly spelled out my next season, and probably the next several years of my life. The harvest was ripe and I saw the barns were ready to be filled with the harvest.
I saw that we had a real heart for Jesus, and a lot of zeal – but a lot of worry too, little faith for the hour, little wisdom for conducting our lives, and a limited view of Jesus moving in all the affairs of this life and the planet as a whole. Because of these limitations, we were eking out our days, just surviving. It was time to address these things. The invitation was to overcome them by changing our posture and perspective. Whoever got to their invitation, and responded like Daniel with resolve to seek the Lord with adoration and action (Daniel chapter 9), He would fill with authority and creative solutions beyond our comprehension.
Before moving on, I want to recall one of the most impacting encounters of my life. It took place 20 years ago on January 1, 2000. Y2K had just happened, and I was something of a survivalist, and I was relieved (and maybe a little disappointed!) that the system didn’t implode. I asked the Lord to show me the year 2020 – this year – but then it was 20 years in the future. That night I had a dream. I was on a spaceship with many people that I would meet over the next 20 years, and the Lord was standing next to me. We landed on the earth, the hatch opened, and we looked out at a city and a scene of utter apocalyptic devastation. It was as bad as anything I had ever seen in a Hollywood movie. I knew it!! This is exactly what I expected, as did all the others on the spaceship. But before I could respond, the hatch closed, then opened again, but this time to a radiant city of great beauty, filled with the presence of God, joy, and life everywhere! I was stunned and confused.
The two views couldn’t be more opposite. I turned to the Lord and asked, “Which is it?” The Lord turned to me, lifted his finger and pointed at me, and said, “You choose.” I saw the desire in His eyes for me to choose life. Instantly, I heard new names for cities and nations and people groups, and I saw Jesus’ beautiful, original design for them. My heart suddenly burned with desire to bring forth His purpose and intent in them.
“You choose.” I knew instantly what He meant. If I believed in apocalyptic devastation, I would not apply my faith, but apply my fears, and I would separate myself from building His kingdom here on the earth as in heaven – and apocalyptic devastation would be the outcome. But if I believed in a city filled with light, and glimpsed His heart, His intent, and His original design for it, I would apply my faith, and labor toward that – and it would happen.
Our vision of the future matters. Our vision determines our destiny.
Each one of us will choose and come into agreement with one or the other of these perspectives. We will choose life, and bring life to the planet, or we will choose death and bring death to the planet. I had a powerful sense that this was the year of the choice. Each of us will choose this year, life or death.
The Lord’s invitation for us in our mailbox was to choose life (Deut. 30:19), to make a living agreement with Him to choose hope, confidence in the goodness of God in every area of life, confident in His ability to work in people more than the enemy’s ability to deceive them, confident in His abundant life, solidly anchored to a lifestyle of hope, and able to see the problems but also look past them to the solutions.
Advancing Every Jubilee
The Lord said then to me, “Don’t you get it? Every 50 years I have a Jubilee. I have new freedom and advancement. I have an invitation to a greater grace, for a blindness to lift and for you all to move forward in and change society in a fundamental way for the next generation.” We are now at another such heavenly 50-year mark.
As He spoke, I recalled the late 1960’s and early 70’s. We all remember the social unrest, “free love,” drugs, and the countercultural revolution. But there was also great advancement: the Jesus movement (and out of that came YWAM, Campus Crusade, the Vineyard, and much more), powerful new Christian music like Vineyard Music and Keith Green; there was also great advancement in civil rights including protection for blacks to vote, the striking down of the denigrating “Jim Crow” racial laws, and government programs to help the poor were started. These laws were not perfect, but many were helped and many godly changes resulted. Modern electronics (the transistor and integrated circuit) were invented, spawning the digital age. Work advanced with less torturous jobs.
50 years before that was the World War I era. Of course, we think of the horrors of the war, the invention of the machine gun and poison gas, and perhaps also the “great influenza” – the Spanish Flu that killed millions. But that too is not the whole story. WW I was the last “War of Kings,” where literally 3 kings who were cousins settled their personal scores through war – which had been the norm for thousands of years. But the Kings lost power and their ability to wage a personal war. Women also gained the vote, completely changing the political landscape forever, adding a new dimension of empathy, caring, and kindness to the political climate.
And 50 years before that was the very bloody and divisive Civil War. Throughout the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, nation after nation began passing laws to limit slavery and end the slave trade, little by little. Then during the early-mid 1800’s, Charles Finney preached, and we saw the “Great Awakening,” a revival that ushered in a wave of fiery new converts. They became the driving force behind a powerful new abolitionist movement. It would be the death-knell for legalized slavery across the earth. Slavery was legal in every nation in the earth just 150+ years ago, but today is illegal in every nation. Selah. Slavery, literally has been a part of the human story for 6000 years, destroying lives, ripping families apart. For millennia armies waged war for booty and to acquire slaves for resale. War and enslavement were the greatest way to riches. It is estimated as much as 30% of the Roman empire were slaves. We are still eradicating human trafficking today, but let’s not minimize or forget the incredible victories won by our ancestors at great cost, and with great benefit to mankind.
We could keep going back, to the Revolutionary War, and the Age of Enlightenment, where Christians reformed and reinvented every sphere of life, from politics to education, mathematics, physics, penology, economics – literally, every arena of life. My friend, Robert Fraser, wrote a great book about this with data that actually supports everything I said above. It’s called Kingdom Horizon (https://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Horizon-Reasons-Greatest-Unfolding-ebook/dp/B01DAR1QPM#ace-g6796040015)
The Lord kept speaking about this generation compared to those past, and that we're not better than them. It was this: there was a blindness by the enemy that lifted, and everybody at a certain point suddenly saw and knew that change was needed. In the late 1960’s a blindness was lifted, we saw how the blacks were treated, and how it needed to change. It’s like, all of a sudden, we wake up, and the blindness is gone, and we realize that we were wrong and change must happen. This is exactly what happened with the George Floyd incident. Overnight the national consciousness is brought into a whole new reality by the spirit of God. Everywhere, everyone realized, “this is messed up.” We realized that it benefits us to have blacks being all they can be so that we don't miss the beauty of their contribution.
The Lord is Advancing
We are at just such a point in history. We must realize that death always comes before the resurrection. It’s what Paul said in I Cor. 16:7 “a wide and effective door for ministry is open, but many adversaries stand at the door." So, this is the pattern. At the door, we meet death and adversity, but behind the door is resurrection and victory. It is just like the death of Jesus – what began so horribly ended so wonderfully. The enemy initially comes on strong, but once he has played his hand, it’s over. Then come our victories and advancements.
The enemy wants to distort our memory so that we see only the negative, and miss the advancement. God wants us to recount the many ways He has moved throughout history and to celebrate and bask in it. It is then that our confidence and joy will return, and ability to see past the challenges to the opportunities. Then we will be able to get to our mailbox to get our invitation.
The Lord kept repeating, “We're not going backwards…we’re advancing as fast as we ever have.” It was about expansion from Isaiah 54:2. The Lord said, “It’s happening, we’re expanding our tent pegs. Look again; can't you see? Didn't you get the memo?”
He was awakening us to an understanding that is diametrically opposite to that of many in the church and the world, who see only the apocalyptic devastation. He said it was the greatest delusion in history because we have caused it to be reality for many, but it wasn't God's reality. We choose.
He wants us to feel, to believe, and know that we have great hope for the rest of our days. We are to see the full tables He set for us and we will help others who are not yet seeing them. Our job now is to wake up each day and thank Him and see Him everywhere. It will require a posture change for all of us. We must remind ourselves daily of what He has done and is doing. We are to internalize the truth that we have “the best view in town” and that Jesus is enough, He is bigger.
The Lord’s invitation was to His reality, His perspective. The Lord showed me how we’d been “fearful reactionaries” and had even identified us as part of the problem. But He was now inviting us to be a part of the solution. In order for us to be who we were called to be, to walk in our original design, there had to be a great posture change, so that we would shift to a calm composure with confidence and joy, and people could feel that, and follow and respond. The Lord then showed me how He would do that.
The Dog Whisperer
This dream then shifted to a new scene and a friend of mine had an angry dog that couldn’t be controlled. He would bite people, attack other dogs viscously. He had tried and tried to train this dog, but he kept getting bit. It was his girlfriend’s dog, so his failure was hurting their relationship, it was stealing his confidence and even his identity; he had become a fearful reactionary to this dog.
Then from the TV show called Dog Whisperer, Caesar Milan came and in 3-4 days was able to completely win over the angry dog. Caesar had a completely different comportment. He had complete confidence, in the divine order of man’s authority to rule over animals, and a right perspective of advancement – he expected to win with this dog.
Then the dream shifted to others who had watched Caesar Milan and were doing the same with wild animals: hippos, lions, hyenas – dangerous animals you would never expect. But again, they expected advancement with the animals.
Then the animals became people we knew. Some were those who we would call our enemies, who had lashed out against us or opposed us. Others were despised politicians and public figures. The Lord spoke that there is to be a harvest amongst these, but we needed to forget the past, and take a new posture in these times to expect advancement. When we saw the goodness of God in history, and in our history, when we saw that the sum of all the evil in history is a tiny dot compared to His goodness, there would immediately be a “clean slate” with these “angry dogs/wild animals.” Becoming like the dog whisperer, we were able to win people and bring in God’s perspective and wisdom.
God is calling us to be unoffended and remain unoffended. The only way we can do this is to view what He is doing and rightly be a part. We are going to grow in hope and then in love for one another. We will overlook faults and personality weaknesses.
We need to see the truth in the things others share, even if we don’t agree with all of what they are saying. They may seem like angry dogs, but in reality, they have some truth and want to be heard. They may react out of pain, but may also have part of the solution. We will grow in hope and faith as we walk in this new lens and remain unoffended.
The Lord said His mature lovers, the ones with the wisdom, will be able to see and know what the next generation is seeing and feeling and help them express it and add in wisdom. We are to show the next generation that they are living in “the best view in town” and that Jesus is enough. The next generation will take us into new places of justice.
The Lord desires the next generation to walk in freedom in their expression in new, wonderful ways they’ve been created to carry and also be linked to the older generation who have walked through many similar things and can lend wisdom. The Lord wants great dialogue and appreciation between the generations, as we need each other so very much to bring forth true and lasting change. We are all called to be peacemakers in this hour of history. We will bring and create peace and context for positive change to happen for the preciousness of all mankind who He dearly loves.
A second Jesus Movement that is now beginning that embodies passion and justice, but this time, it will also embody wisdom. It will also have abundant faith for the hour we are living in, and a complete view of Jesus moving in all the affairs of this life and the planet as a whole.
Social Media Will be Used for Good
In the history of mankind, never has everyone had a voice like this. Social media has given everyone a voice – from the 10-year-old, to the professor, to the elite to the poor, to the star athlete to the person with special needs. Everyone can share their view and this is an incredible gift given to us by God.
There is coming an awakening that everyone needs to use their voice for good. The haters and divisive will be chastised, and love will rise to the surface. Posts that demonstrate love, honor and hope will be the most influential.
Just like in the first Jesus Movement, this Jesus Movement will emphasize love, and love will be the language of the hour, just like 1967, “the summer of love.”
Major Leaders having Encounters with God
The Lord also showed me many political leaders and public figures having encounters with God, those on the left and on the right. He is healing hearts and revealing where people got stuck growing up. He is showing Himself and His goodness to many.
He is desiring for the idealists to rise up and it’s not a fearful thing. As the mature (those who got to their mailboxes) add wisdom to the idealism, many of the next generation will become Solomons with Godly leadership and wisdom, and not become Rehoboams who forsake the Lord. Our role is to have this mindset of how He is moving in hope and victory, loving those different from us, staying unoffended, and watching the greatest move in history flow across the earth.
The one thing that is so super important, that keeps God showing me again and again, is this ingredient called hope that works by love.
Thank you for reading this friends! It is a lot to unpack, but I believe this is the word of the Lord for the hour that we are living in. Be of good courage, for He has overcome the world!
Blessings, Bob Hartley