Brothers and Sisters,
I post this not to teach anyone anything, but rather to send a message to all of those who might read these words and recognize that they wear this garment or are being prepared to wear this garment.
When you read this, you will know who you are. To all others, just disregard this message, you will eventually hear it spoken in another form by lips that have been consecrated wholly to God Himself.
a bondslave in Christ Jesus, Dirk
The Hebrew word for Samuel's and Elijah's mantle is as follows:
OT:155 Mantle: 'addereth (ad-deh'-reth); feminine of OT:117; something ample (as a large vine [notice Jonah], a wide dress); also the same as OT:145: KJV - garment, glory, goodly, mantle, robe. OT:117 'addiyr (ad-deer'); from OT:142; wide or (generally) large; figuratively, powerful: KJV - excellent, famous, gallant, glorious, goodly, lordly, mighty (-ier one), noble, principal, worthy.
Although this definition refers to a cloth garment (which may have been uniquely colored or embroidered with something pointing to the glory of God or it may have been simple and plain), its spiritual significance exceeds it earthly usage.
First, the mantles worn by these two identified them as men of God. Secondly, as in the case of Elijah's mantle, it was uniquely used and was an extension of the prophet. Thirdly, the mantle was a symbol of power and authority; those who wore it were to speak only what they received from God.
Both Samuel and Elijah literally lived in the presence of God. Their service always acknowledged God's closeness to earth, God's interest in all things they participated in and God's intervention upon their faith. Men quaked at their presence for they displayed an active righteousness that came from the throne of the Most High.
(Even though some would rather have heard the soothing voice of a witch from Endor than the pronouncements of a "mantled" Samuel, it was his dictums that brought kings to their knees.)
The mantled prophet has always struck fear in the hearts of those outside the will of God. Mantled Elijah stood against thrones, pronounced judgment, slew false prophets (while outnumbered 400 to 1). He rode fiery chariots pulled by fiery horses and never tasted death.
The moment he feared, God replaced him. Wearing the mantle is an awesome vocation! God gave Elijah a list of "last things" which required his special touch, however. The wearer of the mantle imparts an anointing that God substantiates.
1 Kings 19:12-18 the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14 And he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." 15 Then the LORD said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." NKJV
Elijah's mantle fell upon the earth and that was of no concern to the man who was moving from earth to heaven. The fact that Elisha took that mantle had been foreordained.
Elisha knew the office before he took the mantle. It was not his to aspire to. It was not Elijah's to give. Once imparted, it changed Elisha's life forever. He bore the multiplied faith of Elijah, took the folded mantle and used it like Elijah. He went further and delivered judgment against mocking children without impunity. He was feared by men and reverenced by all Israel.
Samuel, Elijah and Elisha defined and modeled the prophetic office. Not one Old Testament man of God related to anyone without deference to these three men of God. They were the quintessence for all who would share that office. It was these three that Paul referenced when he taught to "despise not prophecy." Their model of prophecy is the only model; it did not change in the New Testament. The only prophetical references known to Paul were those of the Old Testament. It was their spiritual lineage Jesus laid at the feet of the Scribes and Pharisees charging them forever with the righteous blood of those between Abel and the altar (Zacharias)!
When the only consideration of the messenger is to deliver the intact word of the Lord and his or her only intent is to be faithful to the God of their allegiance, the message just sounds different. To stand before those to whom God has sent and deliver a life changing word while living somewhere between "weeping at the propensity of the message" and "joyous hilarion at having given it succinctly," only then can someone identify with the "mantle." Few preachers and fewer bishops, apostles and prophets of modern turn have ever experienced what it is to minister in the "presence of the heavenly cloud of witnesses" like Paul. Few have ever heard the unburdening issuance of a true word accompanied by angels and ministered before an envisioned throne. Small is the number who without equivocation have as their total concern that they miss not one letter of that which has been revealed to them. Smaller still are those whose main interest is that God be free to execute His power in their midst. Theirs is the "stand aside and see the glory of God" attitude. Theirs is the humble falling to their knees after the message has gone forth, knowing that heaven is pleased and the Spirit has accomplished His work. They know the direction of the Word of the Lord is determined solely by Him. To the mantle wearer, the time, place and the recipient are not his choice.
The energy of the spoken word from the true messenger can be given to a wall or field and the world will hear. It may be as unheralded as an Obadian preachment to a mountain range, but Edom did fall and Petra did become the jackal's lair. The scribble of an Ezekiel is more powerful than the attested joint agreement of priests and kings. (The tears of Jeremiah, bottled in heaven for a remembrance of his mantle while on the earth, are worth more than the weeping morass in the camp of Israel.)
No man may declare himself as anointed without such credentials. No one should be ordained to anything less than this.
What is it like to preach with a song of heaven accompanying every sentence? It is the mantle. It is the mantle when the presences of heavenly hosts stand on each side. It is the mantle when words shoot forth with the accuracy of a gun. It is the mantle when the flow of the river from the Holiest of Holies gushes forth like an endless stream carrying one past every check point of His mercy and judgment. This is that which Jesus described, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Thirsty souls drink deeply and find no end to its resource. There is no sense of time or legend of measure when it is the mantle. From this vantage, the Holy Ghost can take the hearer to deeper places, call forth revelation and perform His work of teaching and guidance.
No one may aspire to such a place in history. It has no succession, no private preening, no 'taking up another's ministry.' Elisha was not Elijah's protégée. Enumerable ministries have dared declare they received the mantle of some famous predecessor. Believe it not! (One's style of ministry may be emulated; the mantle of God cannot be emulated!)
How is it that one may know before addressing an audience, whether it be one or multitudes, the outcome before the delivery? What is it to wrestle with self until self lies prostrate and dead and only one's spirit rises to pronounce that which to some is unthinkable and others untenable? Welcome the mantle.
What is it to write under the steady hand of the Spirit and know that, without fanfare or man's mechanics, that word will be heard around the world? Those words will be illuminated and brought to the heart of those destined for its force. There is no anointing without the mantle. To wear it costs. It costs time, schedule, family, friends and the love of the world. Its embrace is like no other. To wrap it about one's spirit and enter the most difficult of scenes is sufficient covering. It is not man's covering. It has no scent of man's hand or shred of man's reasoning on it.
There is a mantle with man's scent. This is the mantle described by David, which is worn by thousands and rightly so. It is the mantle most commonly worn in Christian circles today. It is the mantle of shame and disgrace. It is the sorry substitute for that which contrasts the truly sacred.
Help me, O LORD my God!
Oh, save me according to Your mercy,
27 That they may know that this is Your hand--
That You, LORD, have done it!
28 Let them curse, but You bless;
When they arise, let them be ashamed,
But let Your servant rejoice.
29 Let my accusers be clothed with shame,
And let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle.
30 I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth;
Yes, I will praise Him among the multitude.
31 For He shall stand at the right hand of the poor,
To save him from those who condemn him.
It is time to look beyond the officialdom of clergy and ministry and determine the mantle. Does the mantle bear shame or sanction; is it from man or God?
One plowing with oxen (Elisha) may not seem the likely candidate for the mantle of God, but his investiture is like that of Zechariah. (See the treatise in Sons of Zadok, Chapter 9.) A deacon named Stephen may have missed the scrutiny of those seeking "the great Ones," but his words became irresistible, and his message cast a net over the whole of Judaism from which they have never recovered-he wore the mantle. The tiny book of Jude seems insignificant when posited among the lengthy works of Paul and the statuesque person of the missionary, but its God-ordained treatise describes the church of the Twenty-First Century to a "T." Although Jude's intent was to write about the good things of the faith, he took the mantle and wrote a charge that echoed through Simon's second epistle and sealed the day.
God knows the masses of Christianity today have no understanding of what is being described in this newsletter, but this word is not to the masses. It is to those unseen and out of view by this author (from whose eyes flow tears that drip across his desk and puddle between his hands even as he writes). God knows who must wear the mantle or mantles for our day. But, Oh, that He would raise up that clear voice crying in the wilderness… "make straight the paths," for every aspect of society and religion is foreign to such a mantle. Let Him swirl past Kings and Priests to one who will stand before Him, preach to Him (not the choir), looking into His face for the smile of approval as His word rolls forth in power and faith. Let him or them be countenanced as God would will, either beautiful to look upon or ugly beyond description, but let us see the mantle.
The whole of Hebrews 12 and 13, exults in the mantle.
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NKJV
Those who have worn the mantle surround those on earth who are to wear it now. In light of their valiance, they command a respect greater than what is currently called, "anointed." They have not lost understanding, and their vision is not dimmed by sin and error. Their cheers are not for the miscreant. Their joy is not buoyed by a new campaign, a catchier slogan or a 2.5 million dollar love offering. They glory in the fact that someone upon earth cares as they cared, loves as they loved, walks as they walked, talks as they talked and wears the mantle in perpetuity of their lives. Not one of this cloud of witnesses lived or died in vain. Not one of them wore the mantle of shame nor did they bring dishonor to the mantle of God. These do not applaud great buildings and munificent surroundings; they applaud their kindred spirits. It is this group who can truthfully declare: "We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat (Hebrews13:10)."
Until Next Month,
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, Jr. PhD.