Peter Brandon, 86, the evangelist who comes from Bedford, Cambridgeshire, is coming to the end of a week of ministry at our little church in England.
He is going through the life of Jacob, the supplanter, the heel snatcher and deceiver, who became Israel, a prince with God, one who not only knew God, but knew him intimately, as a friend.
On one evening Peter went through Genesis 35 with us, when God told Jacob: 'Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there, and make an altar there to God...'
'And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him: 'Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments.'
They gave Jacob their idols (thousands of these little statuettes have been dug up by archeologists in Israel) and their earrings (which were to do with idol worship), and Jacob buried them. Although the people around there hated Jacob and his family, God protected him by putting fear in the hearts of his enemies, so they were not attacked.
God appeared to Jacob, telling him: 'Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.
'The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.'
Jacob set up a pillar in the place where God had spoken to him, and poured wine on it (a symbol of joy) and oil. Peter said that so many Christians look miserable, and he prayed that we would get back our joy, an intelligent joy - not like an evangelical circus.
He said when God's people were journeying to Bethel, they were spiritual; when going away, they were carnal, turning the backs on God. 'Beth' means house and 'el' is God, the House of God, the place where God met with Jacob, first when he saw the ladder reaching to Heaven in Gen 28, and then in Chapter 35 when God confirmed the Land Covenant and Jacob's new name. And in between those chapters, Jacob had had his wrestling match with God at the brook Jabbok, at a place called Peniel in Genesis 32.
'Isn't it time we did an about turn and got back to Bethel, the House of God? That is revival,' said Peter to our fellowship. He said revival meant God being among us, with all His power - and with Him getting the glory, not any man.
He said that the 'house of God' would never be built with a carnal people. Jacob had a personal experience with God, at Peniel, and then a public experience - to arise and go to Bethel. There was a preparation - getting rid of foreign gods and every idol. An idol is anything or anyone we put above God. He has to come first in our affections.
The House of God is no longer a place, but a people - those of us who have accepted Christ into our hearts. He said: 'The apostles never built a single church building or hall as far as we know. The House of God was wherever they were.'
In Old Testament times God set up the Aaronic priesthood, and that lasted about 1500 years, but now 1 Peter 2 tells us if we are born again of the Holy Spirit, we are holy priests and royal priests to praise God. 'We are holy priests when we are born again; we are royal priests when we leave the building and go out to witness to people.'
Peter said that in the Old Testament there were lots of different sacrifices - burnt offerings, meal offerings, peace offerings, sin and trespass offerings. But in the New Testament there is one offering, the Body of Jesus Christ at Calvary. He said: 'Every offering in the Old Testament found its Amen in the death of Jesus!'
He said the church, the body of believers, is God's house, not ours, and it should be according to His taste. 'Never allow modern culture to be in the House of God,' he warned. 'If we have it His way, He will bless us abundantly.'
He said that when God's presence is in a place, it is full of awe. People in the Old Testament prostrated themselves, including King David, 'and we need a renewal of that, but the local church is not an evangelical circus!'
'There should be holy reverence. Every time the presence of God has broken out, I have seen that awe.'
Jacob and his family were told to purify themselves. We are washed clean once for all when we first believe and God gives us a relationship. But after that we are washed by the water of the Word (the Bible) every day, which gives us friendship with God, but it is a friendship which can be broken by sin.
Peter added: 'If this assembly put away the idols, had inward cleansing, put on the clothing of Christ (by doing what He says in the Bible), ...the Spirit of God would start to work. The world outside would get the overflow, as out of your inward being would flow rivers of living water...'
He said if he knocked on every door in the village, he could call on 100 houses 'and it would be dead flat.'
'But if you had some nights of prayer when God cleansed you and filled you with the Spirit, and I went round again, I would find a few with God consciousness.'
Peter prayed that we might each have a time alone with God and deal with the idols in our lives, be cleansed and change the things in our lives that were not of God, and put on the garments of Christ, so people could see the beauty of the Lord in us, His love, His peace and His joy, and that many might put their faith in the Lord. He prayed that God would do a deep work, dealing with shallowness and superficiality, that people here might see a movement of the Spirit that would glorify only the Lord.
In the short time we have left, whether our fellowship will rise to this is not yet clear. And what of all the other fellowships out there? Some have a name for being alive, but they are dead. Many are lukewarm and in danger of being vomited out! Will the King of kings find us busy about His royal business when He returns, ready to hand out rewards to those who are being faithful now?
Watch Peter for yourself on this link below on youtube: