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 Photo Tricks

Deep in my meditations a while ago, I heard the words “vacant thrones” as the picture of some kings played on the screen of my spirit and other words began to come.  I jumped out at once like a bee-stung child to start to write.  Every throne is not necessarily occupied by the one who sits on it. 

      If a child should run into the father’s office, for example, and jump into the Manager’s executive seat, does that make that child the Executive Manager?  No.  Therefore, even in spite of the accolades of office that a person might get from people who honour the throne, every throne is not necessarily occupied by the one we see on it.  Being ‘in office’ does not always mean being in charge; and not being ‘in office’ does not always mean not being in the picture.  What we see, and seem to see so well, might not always be real. Visions could be illusions and images a mirage.  It used to be said that photos never lie.  Not true.  Even pictures sometimes lie.  In some quarters, it is called “photo trick.”   I shall later tell a little praying girl’s significant throne-room encounter with an angel; a little girl who sometimes followed her mother to our weekly prayer meetings for the land.

Case 1: A Figurehead ‘Absolute Ruler’

      Pharaoh the king of Egypt once had a huge personal crisis that had the signs of something bigger, something national.  It was a repeated ominous dream to which he had no answer.  His advisers found him a gifted prison-boy to solve the prized puzzle.  That done, hear Pharaoh’s ‘Thank you’ speech to the dreams-decoding young man, and notice the speaker’s careful clause about the throne:

40 “You shall be over my house, and ALL my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:40-41, NKJV).

      My little problem with that thankful speech is this: if someone had rule over “ALL the land” – meaning the entire territory or geographical space; if “all” the people – which means entire ethnic nationalities and all population groupings in spite of geographical location – were to be ruled according to that person’s orders; if that person’s “word” had suddenly become law and could determine death or life for any or “all” the “people,” would we not say that such a person had already become the absolute ruler?  Logically, Yes, but not according to Pharaoh.  He ensured that there was this clause in the ‘swearing in’ provisions: “only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”  

      Joseph was going to be ‘in office’ with powers over “all the land” and “all my people,” but he still would not have the final say.  Joseph’s position was therefore not as powerful as it had seemed, or as the ‘press’ might have reported it.  Miracle or mirage?  I leave that to you, but is the Joseph-module a possible contemporary political scenario?  I hear your answer.  You might say, however, that this case does not exactly match the preliminary proposition I had raised about vacant thrones.  In that case, let’s see the next slide.

Case 2: Thrones in Custody

      Sometimes someone is on a throne merely as a custodian, until another person should come for whom that person had been ‘holding brief.’  One day, God announced thus to Prophet Samuel the verdict of Heaven about the king incumbent of his nation: “I have rejected him from reigning over Israel” (1 Samuel 16:1).  Note the finality in the simple present tense: “I have…,” not “I will….”  In spite of that very clear notice of sack, Saul remained ‘in office’ for many more years, continuing to savour the respected title of “the LORD’S anointed” (1 Samuel 24:10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23), and also ‘righteously’ chasing witches in the name of the God that had already declared his throne vacant, of which he probably remained willingly unaware (1 Samuel 28:9).  If that announcement from Heaven is to be believed, then Saul ceased at once to be king, or became merely a keeper of the throne on which he still sat, the title of “King” then being only a decoration.

      Did Saul’s ‘kingly’ functions cease with the announcement from Heaven?  No. He still wore the crown and the robes; he still fought ‘national’ battles, and he instituted a holy decree against evil witches.  However, while he publicly chased witches, he secretly consulted them – very like some politicians of our day who are the greatest secret patrons of the vices they publicly condemn (1 Samuel 28:7-10).

      How long did the ‘custody’ tenure of Saul last?  It lasted well over three decades.  How did I arrive at that?  This is how:  It is told in 1 Samuel 13:1-2 that in Saul’s second year on the throne, he chose 3,000 soldiers. The same chapter, which puts the date of those and subsequent events at about his second or third year, “when he had reigned two years,” says in verse 14 that he was in that same season rejected by God: “But NOW [which means ‘immediately,’ not in the far future] thy kingdom shall not continue…”  In case that did not make sufficient sense, the ‘electoral’ prophet was instructed, three chapters later, to ‘swear in’ the replacement that had been found.  In my country, that prophet would have been called or acronymed INEC.

…I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king [note: a king, not a ‘representative’ or an ‘acting’ regent] among his sons (1 Samuel 16:1).

       The irony: David was a king not yet on the throne; Saul was a no-king still on the throne.  Not all kings are yet on their throne, and not everyone on a throne is the king there. In other words, the seat does not always define the occupant, neither the vacancy.

      In Acts 13:21, we read that Saul reigned 40 years over Israel.  Here is my simple maths: If Saul reigned 40 years altogether, and if God rejected him in his second (or third) year, it would mean that for 40 minus 2 years, which is 38 years, Saul had merely been keeping custody of the throne, until David would come on the scene and grow to be thirty years, then ‘constitutionally’ mature enough to take up the office.  Note that Saul was already a God-rejected, demons-possessed man in need of potent musical therapy even before David showed up in the palace with his exorcist-harp and on the battlefield with his anti-Goliath surface-to-air granite missile with its launching pad of sling  (1 Samuel 16:1-2, 15-16). 

      If my maths is correct, it would mean that, for all those decades, God did not see Saul on the throne, even though men saw him there, hailed him as king, and gave him all the protocols of the seat he was guarding by sitting on.  I ask, Is it possible to have lost the noble mandate and still be wearing the carcass title?  Is it possible to be so long without God yet be hailed by blind men with the prestigious designation of the very vacancy that God has already announced? Can Earth be sometimes grossly out of touch with ‘breaking news’ from Heaven? 

      Two other regal characters appear to fit into this category: Lady Athaliah the daughter of Jezebel, and Ishbosheth the son of Saul.  

      Athaliah violently took the throne of Judah by killing scores of her heir-apparent grandchildren after the premature deaths of her husband and then her son his successor.  Jezebelic witchcraft?  Six years later, a proper son took the throne after she had been sent off by the same violent route she had come.  Today, her name is not mentioned when kings of Israel are listed.  She had only been a custodian of the throne, albeit a very wicked and bloody one (2 Kings 11:1-21).  Also, Ishbosheth the son of Saul was installed on the throne by selfish and ambitious powerful political opportunists after his father’s death, but who today remembers to mention that name in a list of kings between Saul and David (2 Samuel 3:10)?  He was a succeeding or secondary custodian to a vacant throne of which his father was the first faded keeper.

Case 3: Occupied Vacancies

      A few months back this year, the following scripture had hit me with a newness I had never known. I find it an applicable next file to open.  Again, it is an announcement from Heaven, about an incumbent king; a verdict of which the majority were ignorant, or chose to be vehemently, brutally so, even the man at the centre of the saga (1 Kings 22: 24, 27).   The notice from Heaven came in the discriminated minority voice of a very disliked prophet.

And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace (1 Kings 22:17).

      That was a great indictment.  How could Heaven announce of a nation that still had a king ‘in office’ that God sees them as being without a shepherd (in Hebrew, ra`ah – a carer, a friend, a pastor), and without a master (in Hebrew, 'adown – a sovereign, a ruler, a leader)?  In other words, according to that news from Headquarters, their throne was vacant, in spite of the very powerful Ahab in office, with Queen Jezebel his very newsy wife.  God no more saw that man’s many achievements that the ‘press’ daily reported. As far as God was concerned, therefore, all the glamorous photos that filled the front pages of newspapers and announced him as king of Israel, were a lie; a decorated branded lie that only the coming days would reveal.  Photo lies. 

      As God saw no king over the citizens of that country over which Ahab sat, they were described as “scattered” (in Hebrews, puwts, meaning dispersed, broken or dashed into pieces, cast abroad, scattered, etc.).  The press, certainly, did not share that view, and never published it. 

      As Ahab was not, after Heaven’s announcement, filling the place in wait for another specific prophetic comer, I shall describe his case as occupied vacancy.  All the same, it is another case of a vacant throne – even if men did not see it so.

Case 4: Protected Vacancies

      Whereas a throne may have an occupant whom Heaven does not see in that capacity, the reverse is also possible, that a throne could appear vacant while it is not actually empty.  That was the case with the throne of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  Heaven pronounced on that king a sentence of seven years of isolation in the wild; a Peace Corps mission with beasts; a wild term of practical orientation in humility.  While the king was thus dispatched from the throne, God ensured that it was protected from usurpers; that it was kept preserved for him until he should return a changed person after his seven years of compulsory service.  The throne was apparently vacant, but it was not free – at least as far as the supervising spiritual realm was concerned (Daniel 4:26, 36).

Case 5: An Angel’s Message to a Praying Girl

      About three years ago, a little nine-year old girl who sometimes came with her mother to our Monday prayer meetings in the gap for our land, had a rare experience.  There had been an election the outcome of which had made many very sad.  That night after the announcement of the electoral results, she and her sisters went to bed weeping that her ‘friend’ had been dishonestly denied the outcome of the elections.  Her mother had also contracted the tears and everyone had cried.  That night, she had a rare dream, as she sometimes does.  (About a year ago, I shared her unique dream about the divinely retributive death – and why – of a gory gubernatorial candidate in a Middle Belt state whose name she had not previously known.  She had woken up announcing, to the disquiet of her mother, that that state governor was dead.  A few days later, the nation woke up to the shocking news that he had died overnight in the process of the counts of an election in which, it is claimed, he was leading.)

       In her dream, she was taken to a Palace that they say is a Rock, and was shown a vacant throne.  She wondered why the sick and dying man in the other room was not sitting in the empty throne into which they had just announced him elected.  The soldier-angel that was guarding the throne from attempting Ishamaelitish sitters informed her that the vacant seat was awaiting the coming David… and on and on.  The angel did not say when the David was coming; whether in two days or two years or twenty or fifty years.  That was probably left to the ‘decision’ of that land’s intercessors. 

      While she watched, while the throne remained vacant, there was an invasion of strange flying stinging creatures, particularly guarding the empty throne. She woke up with a scare on her hand where one of the flying creatures, in the dream, had stung her as she had tried to approach the throne in spite of the cautions by the guarding angel.  That scare on the hand was a significant connection between the dream realm and actual world.  Meanwhile, the dying man eventually died, while his wife kept lamenting how she had warned him against this.

      While Israel’s throne awaited David, Saul went on a killing spree that did not respect even the priests of the Lord, and that was not just for a decade or two.  While Athaliah kept the throne that awaited Joash, the land groaned under that daughter of Jezebel and Ahab; that, too, was not just for one year or two. While…

      Vacant thrones are not always pleasant announcements, especially as the enemy will use the season to try his worst, scheming to steal that throne or fill it with his own.

Case 6: A Message from the Master

      About a year ago, a lady from that same prayer altar had a rare dream where two strange men took her aside from her busy spot and said that they had a message for her from the Master. The Master had told them to say to her that He has heard our cries but did not see whom to put in the palace seat.  She quickly reminded Him that the game seemed simple, according to a previous script: Remove A and automatically constitutionally replace with B.  Strangely, the Messenger told her that they didn’t see it that way.  She then replied, in surrender, “Ok then, please go back to the Master and tell Him to help us urgently any way He knows best, because the suffering is getting unbearable.”  She woke up.

            Pharaoh in the Old Testament was not throwing Christmas parties for the Jews while they awaited Moses.  Herod in the New Testament got murderous when he learned that a Messiah was coming.  In the devilish pre-emptive hope of collaterally liquidating that Messiah, Herod genocidally targeted the defenceless little ‘tribe’ from where it had been prophesied that the Messiah was coming. 

      The promise of a David is not an announcement for retiring thankfully into bed.  It is a call to beseech the Master, “Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD” (Psalm 69:17). Amen.

From The Preacher’s diary,


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      A storm is coming. The torrential rains shall fall. The waters shall rise. The floods shall sweep away all wood, hay and stubble. The violent winds will blow away all that was built irresponsibly.

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      Storms Test the Strength of the Foundation

      Jesus was the Master Builder. When it comes to building people, He is our primary example and pattern. The apostle Paul refers to God's people as God's field and God's building (1 Cor. 3:9), and he calls all ministers his fellow laborers who plant and water the field, and who are to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

      The image of the people as a building under construction is very interesting because it highlights the responsibility of ministers to be faithful in how they build. Ministers are like building contractors who are only permitted to build on the prescribed foundation (see 1 Cor. 3:12-15). There are both wise builders and foolish builders (Matt. 7:24-27). To build on the foundation a building of durable material (gold, silver and precious stones) means not only to teach sound doctrine but even more importantly, to be a godly example and live a sanctified life of fidelity to the truth, thus helping to mature the saints. Ministers and especially pastors/shepherds, because they live with the people, teach more by their life example perhaps than anything else.

      On the other hand, to build with perishable material (wood, hay, and stubble) is to provide inadequate or unsound teaching or to compromise the truth by living a lifestyle that contradicts or falls short of modeling it. It is the quality of every builder's work and not the quantity, as seems to be much of the focus today, that shall be tested by fire, for which every builder shall give account to the Lord.

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