When God breathes the breath of his Spirit, everyone knows he has come. Luke, the author of Acts, writes, “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2). I like a different translation of this last phrase, calling it “a strong wind, a blast.”
According to this verse, God’s breath came at Pentecost with a “sound from heaven.” Luke says this sound was mighty, rushing, filling the whole atmosphere: “It filled all the house where they were sitting” (2:2).
Something else also happens when the Holy Spirit comes: he shakes up everything in sight. At Pentecost, the religious rulers in Jerusalem were upset at what they saw taking place among Jesus’ followers. They tried shutting down the effect of that mighty blast from heaven.
But the Holy Spirit moved on Peter, anointing him to say, “You can threaten us and jail us. But you can’t stop the mighty wind that is blowing through the land. You can command us to shut up, but we cannot stop speaking. God has breathed upon us, anointing us, and we have to speak the word he has given us.”
The believers at Pentecost then gathered in a great praise meeting and prayed: “Now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29–31).
I want to examine what the prophets say about the final outpouring of the Holy Ghost on his church in these last days.
The Bible says in the last days everything that can be shaken will be shaken. This shaking will include the church, the very elect of God: “Whose voice then shook the earth… Yet once more I [will] shake not the earth only, but also heaven” (Hebrews 12:26).
Peter and the disciples saw that what took place at Pentecost was this prophesied outpouring from heaven. Peter immediately stood up and declared, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel… I will pour out in those days of my Spirit” (Acts 2:16, 18). Likewise today, we are able to see in Scripture what the Holy Ghost is doing in these last days — indeed, in this late hour.
The Old Testament prophets spoke of a “former rain” and a “latter rain,” outpourings of the Spirit described by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the minor prophets. Malachi — the very last book of the Old Testament — describes the “latter rain” as an earth-shaking event to come. And Malachi offers proof that the greatest work of the Holy Ghost — this “latter rain” outpouring — is happening right now, in our generation.
Malachi’s message is a two-part prophecy. First, he speaks to the ungodly, materialistic, secular, pleasure-mad world. And second, he speaks to those who love and fear the Lord.
1. Here is Malachi’s warning to the godless nations.
“Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble” (Malachi 4:1). I see evidence all around that we are living in the very time Malachi describes. If ever there was a day like a burning oven, when everything is “hot” the world over — economically, socially, spiritually — it is today.
According to Malachi, a fiery holocaust is coming that will leave the ungodly nothing to protect themselves: “It shall leave them neither root nor branch” (4:1). Every safe haven will be consumed. Who is going into this fiery holocaust? “All the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly” (4:1). This means not just those who indulge in addictions and perversions. The great wickedness Malachi speaks of here suggests an arrogant fist-shaking at God.
We see a modern example of this fist-shaking in the European Union. It proudly boasts itself to be a secular society. According to its constitution, God has no place in its society, no recognition, his name wiped out completely. As far as the leaders of the European Union are concerned, God is dead.
Right now America is headed in the same direction. We are slowly pushing God completely out of our courts, our schools, our society. We refuse to acknowledge his blessing on our nation, saying instead, “We have accomplished everything in our own strength. We are the greatest, mightiest, wealthiest nation on earth, and we have achieved it all on our own.”
I love America, but I shudder that this nation has stuck up its nose at God, shaking our fist at him and daring him to act. The Hebrew word for “wicked” in Malachi 4:1 means “arrogance.” It is the worst kind of arrogance to flaunt sin before heaven and say, “God doesn’t see. He can’t do anything. He has nothing to do with us.”
It is arrogance to trample his holy Word, mocking everything that reflects his heart. Consider the mockery being made of marriage by the glorifying of sexual perversions. It is total arrogance to legalize marriages between two men or two women and allow them to adopt children, an issue now before the courts in California. Meanwhile, man-boy movements are demanding rights for men to have sexual relations with children.
As this wickedness unfolds before our eyes, we seem helpless to stop it. Yet I wonder: how long do the wicked think God will wink at such arrogance and not judge it?
Malachi’s prophecy has been fulfilled in the past when wicked societies crossed the line.
It is clear from Scripture that America has now out-sinned backslidden Israel, out-sinned Sodom and Gomorrah, out-sinned Noah’s violent and wicked society. Isaiah prophesied, “Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isaiah 60:2). The Hebrew word for “gross” here means “gloom.” Isaiah was saying, “A dark gloom is coming that will cover the whole earth.”
Jeremiah spoke of such darkness when he cried out to backslidden Judah: “Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness” (Jeremiah 13:16).
Malachi also speaks of that day to come, a time of darkness and gloom when God will humble the proud and arrogant. When that day comes, the prophet says, all roots and branches will be totally consumed, meaning there will be nothing left to rebuild upon. Before that point in history, the Lord had never destroyed the roots of recovery completely. But now the prophet says God will dig up everything and “leave them neither root,” meaning no way of recovery.
Right now, the day of reckoning has come upon America and the world. All branches of the U.S. government — including federal banks and financial institutions — will see the crashing and burning of our economy. The old, established corporations — age-old institutions rooted in our society — will be affected, with no visible way of recovery. Gloom will spread with the greatest minds confused as to any way out of the darkness.
Even the secular world sees America is headed for hard times. A recent issue of The Economist shows the Statue of Liberty sitting dejectedly with her face in her hands, her flame lying on the ground. The headline reads: “Unhappy America.” Its editors wrote the following, word for word: “There is a furious gloom sweeping the whole world”…“We have been greedy for so long, and it has caught up with us”…“It is too late. The slide is on”… “America is in a horrible mood. We’re slouching toward Sodom and Gomorrah”…“The economy is tottering”…“The world is cooking” (my italics).
Ten years ago, I released a book titled America’s Last Call, predicting an economic holocaust. At the time I was ridiculed and called a doomsday preacher (though I never preach judgment without tears). Recently, our ministry’s phones have been ringing off the hook with orders for the book.
America isn’t the only nation facing a time of gloom. Recently, our ministry sent a team into a major city of Russia. They came back reporting that economic despair has overtaken that part of the nation. The costs of gasoline, electricity and other basic needs are skyrocketing, with salaries only half of what people need to survive. Our team said they couldn’t find a smile anywhere — except in the churches, where hope was thriving because people’s trust is in the Lord.
You may say, “Things are different in America. Our economy will always right itself. There have been problems like these before, and recovery always followed. It may take five years, but all will be restored.” Yet, what if Malachi’s word is true? What if all roots of recovery are scorched to the lowest point, beyond any hope of recovery?
Now let me suggest something to you: Suppose Malachi were alive today. And suppose he preached this same message next Sunday at your church. Imagine Pastor Malachi standing in the pulpit. As he finishes his message, rehearsing the words of the prophets and detailing the things to come, he closes his Bible. Then he walks off the podium and goes out among the congregation.
The people tremble at what they’ve heard, a coming day of darkness and gloom. But as Malachi stands before them a big smile crosses his face. Suddenly, he spreads out his arms and cries, “Rejoice! This prophecy you have just heard is not for you. It isn’t meant for those who love and fear the Lord. Rather, this word is for the proud, the arrogant, the lawless. It is a holy warning to the ungodly world.
“Yes, there will be collateral damage from the coming day of burning. Christians also will suffer as an effect of it. That cannot be helped. But God has sent a word to you, and that word will keep you through hard times. Let the mountains fall into the sea. Let the economy quake and fall. Let everything be shaken that can be shaken. But for those who fear the Lord, God has given a very different word.”
2. For the overcoming church, there is an entirely different prophecy, a glorious one.
For God’s people, the message is not one of gloom but of gladness. When darkness covers the earth — when men’s hearts fail them with fear over all the dreadful things happening — we’re told that in that moment “shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2).
In the darkest hour, when things look hopeless — when there is fear on all sides, with everything overshadowed by gloom — Jesus is going to rise in greater revelation than at any time in history. And the world is going to witness his saving and keeping power in all its glory. In a world gone mad — when radical Islamics boast they have prevailed, when agnostics cry, “God is dead!” — Jesus Christ will rise up. And he will shine as a healing Sun, brighter than in all past generations.
Something will happen to God’s people as a result of the Son’s appearance. The rest of this verse reads: “And ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Malachi 4:2). The original Hebrew translates this as, “You will go forth leaping as calves released from the stall.”
This speaks of the latter-rain outpouring, the promised fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit, including a greater, mightier sound from heaven. When it comes, the Holy Ghost is going to restore the miraculous: “Grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus” (Acts 4:29–30).
There are three words many Christians do not speak of anymore: signs, wonders, and miracles.
For an entire generation of believers, these three words conjure up memories of many abuses in the church. At a time when so many were looking for genuine works of God, “with signs following,” charlatans were staging fake “holy works.” So-called healing evangelists made a circus of it all — covetous men and women who offered “healings” for a price.
Now whenever many of us hear these three words, there rises up in us uneasy feelings: a fear of fanaticism, embarrassment over the mockeries, painful memories of dear brothers and sisters whose faith ended on the ash heap because of all the fakery. Tragically, many in Christ’s church do not expect God to perform miracles anymore.
Yet, please hear what I am about to say. The devil knows the Scriptures, and he knows that a genuine, Holy Spirit-inspired revival of healing is prophesied. This is why he is even now promoting his own perverted “healing” meetings. In his meetings, Christ is not the center but rather the exalting of angels or an individual.
But what Malachi is prophesying cannot be promoted by man. It won’t be localized, and it won’t revolve around any personality or individual. Rather, it will feature the holy preaching of Christ. And it will happen in the homes of overcoming believers everywhere, as well as in churches. Pastors and lay ministers alike will receive anointing to pray for the sick. Elders will rise up with fresh faith in the power of Jesus’ name to work wonders. All will lay hands on the sick and pray for them to be healed.
Now let me add a fourth word to this list of terms we don’t speak of anymore: manifestations. We fear manifestations of flesh, where people act in bizarre ways. Yes, there have been many such fleshly abuses that were called “manifestations of the Spirit.” But if the Holy Spirit truly moves upon us, as he has done with his people throughout Scripture, we shouldn’t be afraid of a true manifestation.
And the manifestation that is going to take place in the last-day outpouring of the Spirit will be a Holy Ghost joy. While the world sits under a cloud of gloom, the testimony of God’s people will be one of pure joy. As the very foundations of society are being plucked up, followers of Jesus will be seen praising God in the midst of the rubble, offering help and hope to those in greatest need.
This manifestation of joy is needed more than ever. Day after day I hear God’s people saying, “Is this all there is to the Christian walk? Are we always to be focused on suffering and trials? Doesn’t the Lord still speak? Doesn’t he still heal? Shouldn’t we expect answers when we pray? Where is the miraculous that his Word promises?”
Let me give a very simple response to these questions: Miracles and healings are made possible by and through the power of the Holy Ghost. The book of Acts tells us Stephen was a man “full of faith and power, [who] did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 6:8). If we are honest before the Lord, many of us will have to admit we have lost all heart for such faith.
In multitudes of Christians, the fire of the Holy Ghost is waning.
God cannot answer where there is no faith. And Satan will not flee where there is fear and unbelief. The fact is, we have failed to take our God-given authority over the devil and his demonic empire. God’s Word tells us the enemy is not in control. It is written we have power over him: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Yet many have let Satan run roughshod over their faith with no resistance.
If this describes you, Malachi offers you a most wonderful word: “You will go forth leaping as calves released from the stall” (see Malachi 4:2). What an incredible word to the people of God in these last days. Malachi pictures believers as calves confined in stalls. The Hebrew root word for “stall” here means “tied up,” “circling around and around.”
Have you ever seen frisky calves locked up in stalls? They go in circles, kicking and making noise. Do you get the picture Malachi is giving us? Satan has succeeded in locking up a multitude of believers in little stalls. He has kept them locked out of Christ’s green pastures, away from his cool, refreshing waters. Consider:
- Some Christians are confined in a stall of hopelessness. These believers are bored to death, getting up every day only to circle around and around their tiny world. They are tied up in a spirit of bondage — of self, materialism, their own needs — without a drop of joy. Many such Christians have given up any hope of ever being free. They sigh as they remember the former times when they rejoiced in the Lord. Now they constantly wonder, “God, where are you?”
- Some Christians are locked up in a stall of bitterness. The Bible says bitterness is a deadly poison, calling it “the gall of bitterness.” I must send out a warning here, in Christ’s love: if you have a single root of bitterness — if you have any racial animosity, any unforgiveness, any “righteous” grudge — you are in the bondage of iniquity. And if you remain in this bondage, you will remain confined in a stall. You will live in fear, a stubborn calf, and it will end in spiritual death.
Other confining stalls could be mentioned here: unbelief, despair, unbridled fear, besetting sins. No matter what any confinement may be, the truth is we cannot open our own stalls. We can’t rid ourselves of fear or despair or unbelief in our own human strength. Simply put, we need a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Dear saint, I urge you: do not go another day satisfied with the way things are. The Lord gives his Holy Spirit to those who ask. And your release must come by faith. When God promises, “You will go forth leaping as calves released from the stall,” it means more than release from confinement. When he opens the gate of our stall, we are going to emerge from it leaping with joy. We’ll no longer have a cloud of gloom hanging over us, but will be released into a walk of hope, freedom and abundant life.
In these days of uncertainty and gloom, the testimony of God’s power will be those who have been released from their stalls. They will be seen rejoicing to see the Son rising. And God’s everlasting promise to his people will be evident to all.
We have a part in getting released from our stall.
The Holy Spirit is given only to those who ask. Pray for the Holy Ghost to bring back your fire, to renew your faith, to draw you closer to his heart.
Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. As God’s people, we must sing aloud, making a joyful noise in the Lord. We must praise him, whether we feel like doing it or not. Scripture says God dwells in the midst of our praises.
You may object, “But it’s hypocrisy to leap with joy when you don’t feel like it. That kind of ‘joy’ doesn’t mean anything when you’re depressed and in pain.”
Listen again to Malachi: “Ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 4:3). The moment you accept your release — when you step out of your confinement by faith — you will put the devil to flight. Demons will flee. No matter what news the world brings, no matter what afflictions or troubles come, God’s Word remains true. You can receive a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, leaping as a calf from a stall.
I leave you with these glorious words of promise:
- “The Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3).
- “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1–3).