Shalom beloved! I wish to share with you some important notes about the apostolic and prophetic ministries. While the apostle has been set as a wise master builder ‘By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise master builder, and someone else is building on it…’ (1 Cor. 3:10), the prophet has been set as the one who holds the plumb-line, ensuring that God’s house is built according to the pattern provided by the Lord. Apostles govern and teach the doctrine of God in in the church, while prophets are anointed to bring about order in God’s house. When all the graces provided by the Lord are functioning well in His church, the result is that the saints are equipped to do the work of God, the ministry of the Lord Jesus is fulfilled in the world and the Body of Christ is built and matured to reflect Christ for all that He is and does represent.
In light of these things I trust that the things I will share in the next few moments will help you to understand these two graces even better and to be able to relate with them as the Lord has given them to the church.
Now, the Word of God does detail that for the entire time they were in the wilderness, the children of Israel were led by the pillars of cloud and of fire. By the daytime, the cloud led them in the way [and covered them from the hot wilderness heat] and by nighttime, the pillar of fire led them in the way [and kept them warm from the biting night cold that is characteristic of wildernesses]. Therefore, the Israelites were able to survive the forty years they spent in the desert. This was God’s mercy and love being demonstrated to them.
However, there is deeper understanding to the two provisions that God gave to the Israelites, for the Word of God tells us that the things which God did with Israel were a type and shadow of things which were for to come. For example, Christ is defined as the Rock which gave them water… ‘and all of them drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from the spiritual rock that went with them, and that rock was Christ.’ 1 Cor. 10:4. They drank water that came from the rock and were refreshed, but that was not the real thing! It was a pointer to the coming times that God would refresh us by the ‘rivers of living waters’ that would come from the Holy Spirit to refresh our spirit man. I mean, how cool is that?! Anyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit is always carrying the rivers of living waters within themselves.
Many other such things can be said in connection to the wilderness experience of the Israelites, but in this discourse, I would like to share with you what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me about the deeper meaning behind the pillar of cloud, and that of fire. I believe this will forward direct your walk with God in this season.
First let us understand the representation:
The cloud represents the Apostolic Ministry. Its purpose is to cover, protect and move the church forward.
The fire on the other side represents the Prophetic Ministry. Its purpose is to reveal the things which are hidden in darkness and to keep the church from growing cold and callous.
These are front-line ministries set forth by God to bring the church (the ekklesia, the called-out ones) of Jesus Christ into her destiny.
Moses, an apostle-prophet, is a symbol of the apostolic ministry. In the Word, we find him fellowshipping with God in a cloud, but Elijah is the symbol of the prophetic, and the Word tells us how he met God in a chariot of fire.
‘And Jehovah went before their face by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; so that they could go day and night. The pillar of the cloud did not remove from before the people by day, nor the pillar of fire by night.’ Exo 13:21,22.
‘And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent. Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent.’ Exodus 33:8-10
‘And it came to pass as they went on, and talked, that behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire; and they parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into the heavens.’ 2Ki 2:11
These two ministries (the Apostolic and Prophetic), are also represented by the two trees which Zechariah saw and inquired about. Read this:
Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees, one on the right of the menorah and one on the left?” I also asked him a second question: “What are these two olive branches on either side of the two golden feeder channels that carry the golden oil to the seven lights?” The angel replied, “You don’t know what these are, do you?” I responded to him, “No, sir.” He said, “These are the two anointed ones, who continually stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.” Zechariah 4:11-14
Now let’s read Ezra 5:2:
‘Then Zerubbabel, who was Shealtiel’s son, and Jeshua, who was Jozadak’s son, began to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem. God’s prophets were with them and supported them.’ Both Cyrus [who commanded the rebuilding of the temple and of Jerusalem] and Zerubbabel [who actually commanded the work of rebuilding the temple] are apostle types. Remember, according to Ephesians 2:20, 21, the Word of God says: ‘You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. In him all the parts of the building fit together and grow into a holy temple in the Lord.’ In these verses the church is defined as being established on the foundation of apostles and prophets.
Apostles must work with prophets. They cannot build anything without the dimension of God’s voice. For through the prophet God speaks, and through the apostle God builds and establishes His House (the Church). Both Moses and Elijah represent the foundations of the Apostles and Prophets.
Now, are you ready for more understanding on the two olive trees? Yes? Good!
MOSES REPRESENTS THE FIRST OLIVE TREE
He was the Apostle who built the tabernacle of God’s presence.
Apostles are sent to build things that others of God’s children can benefit from; they build the spiritual house of God. The difference between an apostle and a pastor is that serving as an apostle is more than just starting a church and pastoring it. Apostolic ministry is about building a church that extends beyond the church settings; it is about providing a foundation that develops and empowers other churches and ministries. Apostles are fathers, bringing souls into the kingdom and mentoring them, but they are also builders. They must function in order that the church of the Lord Jesus may be established.
ELIJAH REPRESENTS THE SECOND OLIVE TREE
Elijah is the representative of the prophetic ministry. It is a foundational ministry provided by God to get the plan and blueprints from heaven.
The prophetic ministry puts the heart and presence of God into the building process. It is the voice of God.
Through these two ministries, the church is nourished by the grace and anointing that flows from the Spirit of God:
He said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I have seen, and behold, a lamp stand all of gold, with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it; there are seven pipes to each of the lamps, which are on the top of it. Zechariah 4:2
The golden lamp-stand speaks of the church, the Body of Christ. The seven lamps on it speak of the seven churches, which also speak of the different characters of the geographical church from across the world and at the same time the different dispensations of the church since its advent. And finally, the two olive trees are the two chief graces by which God empowers and establishes His church.
Finally, I would want to revisit this verse again… ‘You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone.’ Eph 2:20
That Jesus is described as the Chief Cornerstone teaches us that He has to be the center of all our attention. We must always depend on Him as the one who holds the entire structure together. He is at the middle, the fulcrum, and the most important part of the foundation of the Church. When He was on the earth, He said these words, ‘On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’
Without a proper foundation, it is impossible to build a stable house. This is the spiritual principle we must understand. We need the pillar of cloud to guide us in the daytime, but also we need the pillar of fire for the nighttime. We can never outgrow our need for the apostolic and prophetic ministries. They are God’s provision to establish us while we are yet here on the earth. Receive them, honor them, and celebrate them and you will be blessed more than you could ask, for they are God’s gift to you!
There are many things that can be said about these ministries, but this should inject some thought in us about the workings of God within His church. Shalom.
Apostle Paul A Williams
Mfangano Trade Center, Mfangano Street