Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’”. And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:9-10 NASB
What does it mean to have the testimony of Jesus? What does this testimony mean to God? Who are these ones who hold this testimony? And what does this testimony have to do with prophecy?
First, a brief Biblical history lesson. You may recall the Ark of the Testimony, also known as the Ark of the Covenant (not to be confused with Noah’s Ark). The Ark of the Testimony had a long history, including being carried out before Israel during the wilderness years, and later being brought by David with great celebration to Jerusalem (Ex. 25:10-22; Ex. 40:20, Num. 10:33-36; 2 Sam. 6:12-17). It was a wooden vessel overlaid with gold, built according to God’s instructions to Moses. Over the ark was placed the pure gold Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat was where God would meet with humanity’s representative – at first Moses and later the High Priest.
At God’s instruction the Ark of Testimony held three unique items bearing witness to His dealings with Israel: the two stone tablets containing the Law that Moses received on Mt. Sinai; a remnant of the supernatural manna (bread) with which God had fed Israel in the wilderness; and the rod of the first High Priest, Aaron, from which almond buds, flowers and fruit had supernaturally sprouted (Heb. 9:1-5; Ex. 16; Num. 17:8-10)
Throughout history the Ark of Testimony has been the subject of numerous expeditions, books, films and all manner of speculation – remember Raiders of the Lost Ark? People seem endlessly curious about what has become of this ancient vessel and where it could be today. But for those of us who follow the Lamb, such speculation is foolish. We know that the material artifacts revered by Israel in the Old Covenant were only earthly shadows, or patterns, of eternal, spiritual truths revealed in Christ under the New Covenant. Whatever eventually became of it, The Ark of Testimony was merely an imperfect physical vessel used by God to teach an eternal, unchangeable principle (Jer. 3:16, Heb. 8:13; Heb. 10:19-22).
Each of the three items held within the Ark of Testimony also testified prophetically of Christ. The Tablets of Law testified of His perfect righteousness before God (1 Jn. 2:1); the manna, or bread, testified that Christ is God’s provision and spiritual sustenance without Whom humanity cannot live (Jn.6:35); and the High Priest’s rod which supernaturally brought forth buds, flowers and fruit simultaneously from a piece of dead wood testified of Christ our High Priest as Resurrection and Life (Jn. 11:25).
God Himself has testified that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son by raising Him from the dead:
If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 1 John 5:9-12 NASB
“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.” This testimony – that Jesus is God’s own Son who defeated sin and death and shares His eternal life with those who trust Him – this is the testimony you and I have been entrusted with. It is the testimony of who Jesus Christ is that we have, or more accurately, hold within us individually and corporately. Each of us who follow Christ unreservedly and unconditionally bear this testimony within our spirits, our souls and even our bodies (2 Cor. 4:10).
You may have, as I did, come through church circles that encouraged you to “’share a testimony’’ of the wonderful things God was doing in your life. Or you may have been encouraged to ‘’testify’’ to non-believers about the gospel of salvation and how Jesus saves from sin. Such experiences may have informed your concept of what that word ‘’testimony’’ means. I’m asking you to go beyond such useful yet immature ideas and understand that you personally are the vessel which houses the testimony the world is searching for.
You are the eternal proof of God’s testimony concerning His Son – a testimony that cannot be silenced, constrained or destroyed. You are the living evidence of the testimony the principalities and powers fear. While it’s true you as an individual may be cut down in this temporal life, the testimony continues to live and supernaturally reproduce wherever the Holy Spirit desires to impregnate another with the seed of the Kingdom. Together, this great company of testimony bearers known in Heaven as Christ’s Bride, is now the holy corporate vessel that holds the Testimony of Christ here on earth. Christ, our covering Mercy Seat, guarantees our righteousness before God the Father and throws open the way for us into the very Presence of God. Though the secular world may pass laws to limit public prayer, forbid believers gathering, and impose many other legal restrictions, nothing in heaven or earth can keep us from the Presence of God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord.
This eternal testimony we speak of is more than a testimony of the things Jesus does for us, it is more even than the knowledge of Jesus as Saviour. That which issues forth from Jesus to us and is held solidly within us is Christ our righteousness written now on our hearts, Christ our spiritual Bread, eternal nourishment and sustenance, and Christ our Resurrection Life. Did you realise you have been chosen as the keeper of such holy and unspeakably precious testimony? Did you know that is why the world hates you, just as it hated Jesus, and it is why your spiritual enemy seeks to render you impotent?
This testimony we hold is the essence of all true prophecy.
You may have noticed we are living in a day when false prophets and false prophecies flourish and attract followers by the multitude. But this is not the first time false prophets and their imagined ‘’words from the Lord” have been fashionable among the people of God. For example, in the days of the prophet Jeremiah, most preferred the soothing words of the false prophet Hananiah to the true word from the Lord brought forth by Jeremiah. After many years of calling for repentance Jeremiah had prophesied that the people of Judah would be taken captive by Nebudchadnezzar of Babylon for 70 years, and that they should submit to their captivity as God’s plan for them (Jer. 15:1-11). The result was that the priests and false prophets demanded Jeremiah be executed – yes, you heard right, the priests and the false prophets (Jer. 26:11). Hananiah, a false prophet, challenged Jeremiah’s credibility, prophesying that within two years God would break Nebudchadnezzar’s power over Judah (Jer. 28:1-11). At this point Jeremiah withdrew to wait on the Lord.
There is an important point we should take away from this account – false prophets often have their hour. False prophets are useful for testing and exposing the hearts of God’s people as to whom they truly trust. In Jeremiah’s case, the scripture tells us he withdrew when his word was rejected and Hananiah’s false word was accepted. In God’s time, however, Jeremiah was again sent with a true word, one even stronger than before, and the false prophet Hananiah was removed dramatically from the scene (Jer. 28:12-17). False prophets are not new, but those who hold the testimony of Jesus are equipped to discern the true from the false. God is not without his true prophets even today who do not seek the limelight and the popularity, but speak forth a true word from the Lord only when God releases them to do so.
Prophecy that is initiated and empowered by the Holy Spirit will always embody the testimony of Jesus Christ in some form. The righteousness of Christ, the sufficiency of Christ, the resurrection Life of Christ are intrinsic to authentic prophecy because the testimony of Jesus IS the source from which the spirit of true prophecy flows. Even when a prophecy is not what we are hoping to hear, if it is true it will still bear witness to who Jesus is and will draw us to the Father, which is what Jesus does.
As bearers of the testimony of Jesus we are not therefore at the mercy of false prophets and their false prophecies. The whole world, including professing Christians, may be swept away by prophecy that gives people what they want to hear, but if that word does not line up with the testimony we bear in ourselves of Who Christ is, it should be discarded. Does it witness to His righteousness, or puff us up in our own sense of righteousness? Does it identify Christ as our sufficiency and source of provision, or does it lift up a man, a woman, a movement or organisation in the place for us that belongs to Christ? Does it encourage us to place our hope in Christ or in someone other than Christ? Does it glorify Jesus as the Resurrected One without whose indwelling endless Life we are spiritually dead? Or does it make promises that may seem to meet our temporal earthly need while ignoring our need for a repentant, Cross-carrying life here on this earth as we seek to live as Kingdom dwellers?
Dear friends, the testimony of Jesus we bear is the greatest thing we own. And from it our every breath is prophesying Jesus lives eternally and is establishing His Kingdom. Let us not settle for a lesser testimony or be found endorsing prophecy that does not flow forth from the testimony of Jesus we have been elected by God to hold and carry.
It is the pure and unmatched testimony of Jesus, flowing from the knowledge of Him that lives within us, that we are here to uphold, nothing less. That testimony of our Beloved will never glorify human flesh in any form. If we do not know Jesus in ever growing relationship, we do not, cannot, hold His testimony. But if we do have an active, growing, living relationship with Jesus, if He is truly our Lord, Bridegroom and King, we cannot but bear that testimony, spoken or unspoken. It is who we are – the holders of the testimony that Jesus Christ is risen and the evidence that He lives and reigns eternally.
Picture from Jeremy Park, Bible-Scenes.com
© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2020 and beyond. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.