I became acquainted with the writings of George H. Warnock through my wife, Janice, after we married in 2008. Jan was given a copy of “Feast of Tabernacles” by her mentor, Pearl Meeks, who had a 20-year relationship with Jan until Pearl’s death in 2004. Jan found out Brother Warnock had other books available, and when she later met him in person at a camp meeting, he graciously sent her his entire collection. That collection became a catalyst of spiritual growth in Jan’s life as he became her mentor from afar.
By the time I met Jan, she was well versed in Brother Warnock’s writings. What especially held her captive was his use of types and shadows in explaining deeper Biblical truths. To this day, Jan has a wonderful grasp of this because of the countless hours she spent with him in his books.
I found the following statement about Brother Warnock, which says, “The core of Warnock’s message is that God desires above all else that his Church walk in the fruit of the Spirit—in perfect love. Everything else—spiritual gifts, five-fold leadership, evangelism—is but an intermediate state designed to lead us into the exercise and infilling of perfect love. He demonstrates repeatedly that God intends for the Church to attain this perfect love on this earth, in this dispensation—and that this is the fruit for which God is waiting before the earth is “ripe” for his coming. He also compellingly shows that the “end times” are not to be a time of escape for the Church, but instead a time of purifying—a time in which the Lord completes and perfects his Church, often through perseverance in suffering.”
Brother Warnock was an early influencer of the Latter Rain Movement with his writing of “Feast of Tabernacles,” in 1951, but distanced himself as extremes in some camps of the movement became apparent.
Brother Warnock died May 23, 2016 at the age of 98. From his obituary we learn that, “George was the third of five children, born in North Battleford, SK. He was married to Ruth (passed away Nov. 2011) for 55 years. He was a quiet man, a carpenter, author, bookkeeper, gardener, father and had strong convictions and a love of God.” A memorial service was held on Saturday, May 28, 2016 at McPherson Funeral Home in Cranbrook, BC. Jan remembers him as a soft-spoken man that carried a mighty anointing.
I begin here with “Feast of Tabernacles” (1980 edition) because of the need of the hour to understand the truths it contains. The approach I decided on is to move through the book in bite size morsels, with commentary on my part, to create an annotated teaching that I pray is a blessing to those who join me on the journey.
I titled this project “Wrestling with Warnock” because to read and digest his writings is akin to Jacob wrestling all night with the angel of the Lord. In the morning, Jacob gets a new name, Israel, and he names the place Penuel, meaning “facing God.” Brother Warnock’s writings will change you. Like Jacob, you will have a limp, but your destiny will be changed forever.
Rev. Dr. J. Patrick Bowman
Wrestling with Warnock Round 1
From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Preface
This book was first written in the spring of 1951, and published a few weeks later. It seemed to lay almost dormant for a number of years, for great revivals were sweeping the country, and the spiritual drought of many decades had given way to times of refreshing. God had much more for His people, but as long as the blessings continued to flow very few seemed to be interested in anything more. But then there came a famine in the land, and once again God was able to speak to the hearts of His people. In spite of all the wonderful things that were taking place in the Church, God’s people were beginning to realize that something very vital was lacking; and many began to lose interest in the spectacular. The big tents were folded up and the people began to gather together just to “hear” what God was saying. There had developed a new hunger to know God’s ways, and a new thirsting after God and righteousness.
This is not to say that God stopped working in the realm of the miraculous, for He has indeed been faithful in pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh even as He promised He would do in the last days. But in spite of the miraculous many of God’s people have become aware of the fact that we have not been able to meet the challenge of this hour. And for every victory that we may seem to have entered into, there remain evident areas of great distress and great defeat on every hand. The Church has still not become that vital, living manifestation of Christ in the earth that she should be. Our prayer is that God’s people everywhere might quickly come to the overwhelming realization that we are still far, far from God’s desire for us, and that there might come into our midst a genuine spirit of repentance before the Day of the Lord breaks forth upon us. For truly we are very close to that hour. It is harvest-time, and the Husbandman walks through the fields, examining the fruit to see how good it is, and if it is ready yet for the sickle. For in this hour He is looking for one thing, and for one thing only… and that is, “the precious fruit of the earth.” That is why He is faithful to send the “latter rain” where it is needed, and faithful also to send the sunshine and the heat and the drought, to hasten the maturing of “the full corn in the ear.” In harvest-time He desires one thing, and one thing only, and that is the FRUIT. In harvest-time everything else is chaff!
And what is “FRUIT”? Let any gardener answer that question. For certainly it is not just gathering what you can in a certain season called Autumn. Certainly it is not just coming to the end of a long, dry summer, and getting ready for winter. From the time He planted the seed the good gardener has been waiting patiently to receive something from His field that will be equally as good as the precious seed that He planted. Now the Lord is a good Gardener, and He is the Lord of the Harvest. And He cannot be satisfied until He comes into His garden and discovers the FRUIT that corresponds to the Seed that He became in the earth when He “fell into the ground and died.”
And so beloved, let us remember that harvest-time is threshing-time. Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you… and let us not be discouraged when we see all the devastation that is taking place, and will yet take place, in the political, the economic, and the religious world. For all must be crushed in pieces in this day when God is shaking “not the earth only, but also the heaven…” And let us remember that He is doing this for His own glory, and for your sake and mine. We have a kingdom which cannot be shaken; and we must be loosed from all the entanglements of this present world system. God has been very patient with us as He prepared our hearts, planted the good seed, weeded the soil, watered it with the showers of heaven, and then sent the sunshine to dry up the stalk and to mature the fruit. “Be ye also patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”
— August, 1980 — The author —
It has been said that hindsight is gained through experience. Reading Bro. Warnock’s Preface to the 1980 edition of “Tabernacles” is interesting in gaining his insight through 30 years of hindsight. He references the sweeping revivals that brought refreshing to the Church after many decades of drought. But as he concedes, lack of intentionality for a deeper walk is often present when spiritual surface watering becomes the norm and complacency sets in. Roots of a tree do not grow deep when there is no need for depth to reach the water. When a drought comes, and things are not easy, people cry out to God, and God can speak to their hearts because they are again listening.
And what does God say? He often speaks of what we know already deep inside but cannot voice on our own. There is a vast difference between knowing God’s acts and knowing God’s ways. When we become satisfied with the “whats” and “hows,” we often overlook the “whys.” Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “8For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Bro. Warnock brings out the faithfulness of God in continuing to pour out His Spirit upon us for His glory and His purposes. He has so much more for us than we even realize. We have lost influence in our society, which has now been overtaken by post-modernism and secular humanistic ideals; ideals that place man at the center and push God to the outer limits of consideration, if not over the edge of consciousness. Even in the Church, a “Christian” worldview is not necessarily Christian any longer. Any fruit that was forming even 20 years ago seems to have become diseased and fallen to the ground.
We live in The Dalles, Oregon, considered the Cherry Capital of the Pacific Northwest. We are surrounded by orchards that produce year after year because of the orchardists’ unwavering care and our favorable growing climate. The optimal environment alone does not guarantee fruit. It takes the yearly pruning of trees, proper water, and nutrients, plus knowing how to protect the trees from frost when budding and rain when the cherries are set. It takes skilled workmen in the orchard to properly get the work done. They work hard for that outcome at harvest time. A lush, ripe fruit is what the Husbandman longs to harvest.
Jan had a vision several years ago as she stood at our dining room window and looked across the street toward the movie theater we live near. She saw an orchard in disrepair with uncared-for trees with scant fruit that was undersized and unappealing. She later asked God about the vision, and He told her this represented the Church’s health. No fruit of life, no leaves for the healing of the nations.
God has given us a climate for growth and harvest through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. But have we lost the zeal for the yield our Lord is longing for? Have we forgotten the basics of evangelism, discipleship, and equipping the body for ministry work? Have we become entangled with this world’s systems to the point our focus has become blurry and our bearings in question?
We need to remember the words of the writer to the Hebrews, chapter 12, verses 1-2, which say, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NASB).