Derek Prince - It Isn't The Sheep That Divide The Church. It Is The Shepherds
This is an excerpt from: Self-Humbling Through Fasting
So, let’s look at some of the people that did it. Turn to the end of 1 Samuel, the last verse of 1 Samuel, it’s very interesting. I was already a pastor in England, in London, and I decided I was going to fast for a week. Then I thought to myself, "Has anyone ever fasted for a week and survived". I thought, "Will I live through it". And let me tell you Americans if you’ve never been to England, the English people warm their bodies, not their houses. So I knew it was going to be chilly and it was. So I was thinking you know, could anybody ever fast seven days and survive. And I happened to look at the last verse of 1 Samuel and it says about the men of Jabesh Gilead: "Then they took down their bones", that’s the bones of Saul and his sons, "and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh Gilead, and fasted seven days". Those are the last words of 1 Samuel.
I said to myself, "If they could do it, I can do it". After all, they were farmers. They had their cattle to attend to, their other agricultural duties. They weren’t able to just sit around and do nothing. And they fasted seven days. And God opened my heart and understanding to see how revolutionary this is, this little three or four words at the end of 1 Samuel. Because 1 Samuel in the history of Israel is the book of decline, division and defeat. And at the end of 1 Samuel, the Philistines had defeated the Israelites and driven them out of their cities so that they fled over the Jordan eastward, and David whose the one hope of the nation returns to Ziklag and finds that the Amalekites have taken the city and burned it and taken away all the wives and the children of David and his men.
You couldn’t choose a moment of greater disaster. But if you look in 2 Samuel it’s the reverse. It’s a book of recovery, reunion and victory. And what was the turning point? The men of Jabesh Gilead. I don’t think it’s possible to overemphasize the significance of fasting. That’s what brought the change, the turning point. So let’s look at some others. Let’s look at that well-known character Jonah. Jonah 3. I’m sure most people here know the story of Jonah. He was a prophet, and God told him to go to Nineveh, east. And he got up and went west. The exact opposite direction. I’ve analyzed every step that Jonah took from then onwards was a step downwards. He went down from the mountains to the plain, from the plain into the city, from the city into the ship, and from the ship into the sea.
So let that be a warning to you. Don’t backslide. Because from that moment onwards, every step you take will be a step downwards. Jonah is rather a favorite character of mine. I think I want to relate something that happened in I think 1970. It could be 1971. In the sort of dewy early days of the Charismatic Revival when the dew was still fresh on the grass, which has now evaporated. I had become associate with three well known preachers; Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson and Don Basham. I mean we were very simple, but we let it be known that God had put us together. Well that was a threat to everybody else in the body of Christ basically. And so at that time, Dennis Bennett the rector of St. the rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington, was one of the sort of star leaders of the Charismatic movement.
So the people, the leaders in Seattle, and I had been a pastor in Seattle for a short while, decided they had to do something about it because there was so much discord, and division, and misunderstanding. So they invited all the known charismatic preachers who were traveling crisscrossing America like ships that pass in the night and never meet, to come to Seattle for I think three or four days of being together. They said we don’t have any money to pay for your fare, but every evening we’ll send you out in pairs to a local church and that way you can raise the money for your fare. It was not a very spiritual reason for sending us out, but that was what it was. And they guaranteed us that you will never go out twice with the same preacher.
Well, the first night I want out with Larry Christensen. The second night I went out with Larry Christensen. The third night I went out with Larry Christensen. Well you have know, and Johannes and Erna will understand this, for my wife’s background as a Danish former Lutheran, the Lutherans, well actually a Lutheran pastor was like a red rag to a bull to Lydia. It took her almost to the end of her days to overcome that. So I didn’t really believe there were any good Lutherans. I have to say it to my shame. But after I had been three nights together with Larry Christensen, I said to myself, "I have to agree there’s at least one good Lutheran". And we’ve been friends ever since.
But, anyhow, we sat there about thirty or forty people gathered in a large room and looked at one another, and we didn’t know what to do. Eventually one of the Catholic brothers said, "I have to tell you, brothers, the truth. I’m afraid of you all". Everybody said the same. I don’t know what was accomplished. We spent one full day discussing water baptism, and that particular scenario where you’ve got Catholics and Episcopalians and Presbyterians and Baptists and Pentecostals and what have you, water baptism was an extremely controversial thing. They spent half a day on demons where I was really the focus of...
Anyhow we went through it and I made friends that have lasted for the rest of my life, and I thank God for that But, anyhow, at the end I had been a pastor there briefly, so I knew some of the pastors, and they were talking amongst themselves and they said, "You know, we didn’t arrange these meetings to impact the city of Seattle. We arranged the meetings to pay the preacher’s fares. But in actual fact, they’ve made more impact on the city of Seattle than any meetings we arranged to do that".
So I was in the plane, now this is very subjective, but I was in the plane flying back to Fort Lauderdale and I was kind of meditating, "How come that meetings that were not arranged with the purpose of impacting the city made more impact on the city than meetings that were arranged for that purpose"? And I felt I had a little conversation with the Lord. This is subjective. Well, I felt the Lord said to me, "Tell me with whom did I have more problems? With Jonah or the people of Nineveh"? So, I thought it over and I said, "Lord, when you got Jonah straightened out you had no problems with the people of Nineveh". And I felt the Lord said to me, "When I get the preachers straightened out, I’ll have no problems with the people". And he did not say "the other preachers".
I want you to know this. I think there’s a profound truth in that. Later on, together with Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson and Don Basham and Ern Baxter, we were to bring the body of Christ together. It was easy. You can get God’s people together. You know what is difficult to get together. It’s the preachers, the ministers. But we realized this and I say it without any attitude of criticism, it isn’t the sheep that separate the body, it’s the shepherds. You can get sheep together, but to get shepherds together takes a miracle. Anyhow that’s my little introduction to my story of Jonah.