Introduction. Naftali introduces for us the 10th of the 1948 Embryonic Revival Principles. It was this 10th principle that occasioned the most puzzlement, confusion and finally persecution for this Move. Under Section 4 we will examine the heart of this teaching, and find that it is entirely Scriptural, but subject to abuse. It will be best understood and appreciated under title of an article written in 1972 – “A Historical Analysis of Two Concepts of Presbytery.” I believe you will find this enlightening, helpful and challenging.
One. Naftali: Relationship with the City Presbytery. Naftali is the 6th son of Jacob, the 2nd of Bilhah and the 2nd surrogate son of Rachel. Rachel named him, “My Wrestling.” Her thought was “I have feared losing the love of my husband, and in receiving Naftali, he affirms that my wrestling to retain his love has not been in vain” (Genesis 30).
Again, the very name wrestling is interesting from the prophecy of his father Jacob. “Naftali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns, or, that says beautiful words” (Genesis 49:21). Both interpretations are true. One has said that a doe was caught in a hunter’s trap. In the morning she heard the hunter coming to check his catches. She realized it was now or never, -- so like Rachel, with tremendous last minute wrestling she broke loose, bounded up the mountain to rejoin the other deer, and shared her wonderful words of deliverance. Then she had the joy of bearing beautiful fawns.
But note, wRESTling – REST flows forth from the arena of wrestling! It is costly to produce beautiful words, beautiful fawns and wonderful results. Rest comes only after travail and wrestling.
Of Naftali Moses declares by the Spirit, -- “You, Naftali, satisfied with favor and full of blessing from Adonai, take possession of the sea and the south” (Deuteronomy 33:23). To be an overcomer, a possessor of your inheritance, a person full of God’s blessing – one MUST go through the travail of the wrestler. Naftali’s father Jacob did – he wrestled with the angel of the Lord all night before finding reconciliation with his estranged brother Esau, and a new name. No battle – no victory! The placid, apathetic unmotivated believer will never know the joy and victory of the overcoming Naftali.
Naftali’s precious stone is the striking jasper, the last one on Aaron’s breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:19). But remember the words of Jesus – The Last shall be first and the first last. Though Naftali took up the rearguard of the tribes of Israel in their march, yet Jacob placed him number 10 in giving out his patriarchal blessings.
And then note again the jasper stone in the Heavenly Jerusalem: First the one sitting on the throne in Revelation 4:3 was like a jasper stone. The whole heavenly city was like a jasper (Revelation 21:11`); the wall was made of jasper (Revelation 21:18); and the first foundation of the city wall was jasper (Revelation 21:19. So though Naftali might be listed number 12 in the march – his stone in heaven is number one. Indeed, the last shall be first!
Two. African Nations: An Illustration of Presbytery. Africa is like a picture of the wheat and the tares at the end of this age. These ripen together. The angels gather the ripened tares into bundles and burn them, and they gather the wheat into God’s garner. So good and evil rise together into maturity at the end of this age. Just so, great revivals have blessed Africa with countless tens of thousands coming into the Kingdom. And great evil and suffering have risen at the same time.
Yet thru it all a unity has developed among national leaders and missionaries in many countries. They have functioned together in an eldership concept that has tremendously enhanced the Kingdom of God. They serve as a challenge to us that in spite of great persecution and trouble, God’s Kingdom can rise above it and see triumph over satan. If God can do it in Africa, He can do it anywhere. He can do it in North America!
Three. E. W. Kenyon and his writings: An Introduction into the Overcoming Life of Naftali. Jesus recognizes and points out the blessedness of this “overcoming” concept. In Revelation 2 and 3 He writes to the seven churches in what is now modern Turkey. To each of these 7 churches He has specific promises to the overcomer. Ephesian overcomers have the promise to eat of the Tree of Life. Overcomers of Smyrna will not be hurt by the second death! Those of Pergamos will eat of the hidden manna and receive a new name written on a white stone. The Thytira overcomers will share with Jesus authority over the nations. They of Sardis will dress in white, have their names in the Book of Life, and the Father will acknowledge them before the angels. Philadelphia “of little strength” will nonetheless have overcomers who become pillars in the house of God and experience Jesus writing on them the name of God, the New Jerusalem and Jesus’ new name! Even luke-warm Laodicea will have overcomers sharing the throne of the Father with Jesus!
So, take heart. Jesus had no good found for two of these city churches, yet even out of them came special promises to their overcomers!
And – E. W. Kenyon joined Jesus in building up believers to take place among overcomers! He wrote over 20 books in his lifetime, and a few more came out posthumously. After his death great persecution arose against this man and his writings by critics, who were most uncareful about their researching.
Forunately, the Spirit of God raised up Joe McIntyre to write his biography as an apologetic and a defense – “E. W. Kenyon and his message of Faith – the True Story,” Creation House, 1997, ISBN 0-88419-451-5. This is one of the great books of the last century, and parallels Michael Brown’s “Let No One Deceive You – Confronting the Critics of Revival.”
Joe McIntyre took some four years to thoroughly research the life of Dr. Kenyon. Bonnie Dofelmier of Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society opened up unpublished articles and correspondence that greatly helped and enriched Joe’s research. He traces the historical beginnings of Kenyon, and proves again and again how biased were the critics, and how careless their research. The very things they accused this saint unable to defend himself, proved to be the very opposite. The men who mentored him and with whom he fellowshipped in the late 1800’s are of the most notable evangelical names in the church of that day.
Would you be an overcomer like Naftali? A doe that breaks loose and gives beautiful words? Then by all means avail yourself of the treat of reading Joe McIntyre’s defense of this great man of God. Then favor yourself by reading some original vintage Kenyon. Read his smaller, “The Blood Covenant.” Don’t miss his “Identification,” “What Happened from the Cross to the Throne,” and “The Father and His Family.” He being dead yet speaks, and through his writings will lift you into Naftali’s overcoming company!
Four. The 1948 Visitation and the Presbytery Concept. This 10th of the 12 Embryonic Revival Principles occasioned as much controversy as the other 11 put together. It also occasioned more heart-searching on the part of the elders of that revival than any of the other concepts.
In February 1948 God indicated by revelation that what He had promised for 13 years He was about to fulfill! The Father wanted the many-membered body of His Son to be like a bride, without spot or wrinkle! He wanted a Holy Church for His Son, separated from the world, and living according to His Word and Spirit. He desired each member of His Son’s body to know his place in that spiritual body, and receive empowerment to function. He had gifts to bestow (1 Corinthians 12:8-11); offices to set in place (Ephesians 4:11-12) and ministries to indicate (Romans 12:6-8).
To accomplish this He would indicate to the elders from time to time those who had prepared their hearts to receive this enlightenment and empowerment. They would come singly and by married couples and kneel. Following prayer, fasting and worship prophetic elders from the Ephesians 4:11-12 category would lay hands on them. God would turn their prayers into prophetic confirmation and release.
With great trepidation they obeyed God. The first man they ministered to, received confirmation for what God had secretly and previously revealed to him. Immediately the Spirit released a healing ministry thru him that met the needs of those present that historic morning. In the ensuing months and years, the Lord caused to come to pass an apostolic ministry that brought him to many other lands.
But this eldership/presbytery ministry for the above purpose was new and disconcerting to these elders. Like good Bereans they searched the Scriptures diligently that night. They discovered that Paul and the elders had done this for Timothy (Acts 16:1-2; 1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14). By this ministry Timothy became a Naftali! He too by these prophecies became an overcomer and was enabled to persevere in this high calling!
Jacob performed this patriarchal blessing on two of his grandsons and on his 12 sons (Genesis 48 & 49). The ensuing history of these sons acclaims the efficacy of this ministry! Moses by the Spirit performed this upon Joshua, so that not just the gift, but the very spirit of wisdom worked thru him (Deuteronomy 31:14-23; 34:9).
Acts 13:1-3 recounts how apostolic commissioning took place for Barnabas and Saul in this same spirit.
With this reassurance that came from these Scriptural moorings, the revival went ahead.
In April of 1948 Ern Hawtin came down from North Battleford to the Princess Elizabeth High School auditorium of Saskatoon on a Sunday afternoon. It was the first outside report of what had taken place on February 12th at the Sharon Orphanage and Schools.
Ern was on the 32nd day of a 40-day fast, and his appearance immediately had our attention. But in the worship time a heavy sense of the presence of God cold be felt. A former student from Bethel Bible Institute of Saskatoon (predecessor to the N. Battleford School) gave a prophecy that was like a Deborah speaking for Isaiah! I thought, “Where have I been all my life? I have never before heard such an anointed word!” And the student who delivered this word of God, 3 years ago was certainly not in a state of spirituality to have been used this way!
I was thunderstruck, and said to God, “Lord, whatever has taken place up there, I want to be part of it.”
At the close of Ern Hawtin’s report, message and exhortation, from among some 600 to 1000 people he called me out first to minister to. As he laid hands on me and prophesied over me, he gave words of confirmation concerning intimations that only God and I knew. A new anointing came upon and within me in a prophetic way, and I can honestly say, “I have never been the same again.”
In 1945 God had led me by revelation to attend Bethel Bible Institute of Saskatoon for one year following my discharge from the Canadian Navy. This year gave me the opportunity to know George and Ern Hawtin and P.G. Hunt, 3 of the original elders used of God in 1948. (It was following the April 1948 meeting that George Hawtin invited me to serve as one of the 7 elders in the July Camp Meeting at North Battleford and the Edmonton meetings in October. On several other occasions I was guest teacher for a week at a time at the Bible School.)
However as the mother movement went the way of most revivals, 8 daughter movements picked up and carried on. But lesser men set the one God used to initiate and lead this move in the beginning aside. And the leaders of the daughter movements failed to carefully research this Presbytery concept, as did the first elders. They added human tradition to the word of God, and other important Scriptural principles they dropped. In other words, the very caution Jesus gave the church, “Do not add or take away from the words of this book,” were not taken seriously.
The original eldership/Presbyteries were city/regional. They were local. Soon traveling elders would come to one local church of a city to conduct “Presbytery.”
All the elders knew Timothy when they ministered to him. Now the traveling Presbytery could not fraternize with those they were to minister to. In the beginning Presbytery ministered to the 5-fold offices of Ephesians 4:11-12. Now every member of a local church received this “heavy” ministry. They tempted God by not permitting Presbytery to know the candidates. One presbytery prophesied a couple to stay as pillars in their local church. Yet the previous week that same church had commissioned this couple as missionaries to Japan!
Confusion and frustration has followed much of this misapplication of Presbytery. Instead of fostering unity in a city, it has tended to create division – for the traveling Presbytery would build up one local church in a city at the expense of the other local churches.
In the beginning there was no traveling Presbytery. Rather the elders of the local congregations in a city were the elders. When they needed to set apart those proving themselves for the Ephesians 4:11-12 ministry, these elders on behalf of all local congregations of that city provided this service. If a Paul and Barnabas were present, they as visitors served with the local Eldership. This built up unity in the city.
It goes without saying that all elders for the first few decades were all Jews. In Acts 13:1-3 the beginning Gentile evangelism came forth. In Acts 15, the Jerusalem Messianic Jewish Presbytery performed Halakhah, and ruled thru James the half brother of Jesus (Yeshua). Gentiles could as non-Jewish believers eat and fellowship with Jewish believers without being circumcised and becoming Jews.
David Stern in his “Messianic Jewish Manifesto” prophecies that the day will come when each city of each nation of the world will have its own eldership/Presbytery, and that they will be composed of both Jewish and non Jewish believers as it was at the beginning.
Are we there now? No – but there is a growing sense that God’s time is at hand to take the Embryonic Revival Principle of City Presbytery that was rebirthed in 1948, and bring it into maturity in this century!
He that has ear to hear, let him hear.