And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.(Exodus 3:2)
What a broad world to roam in. What a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is eternal, which means He antedates time and is wholly independent of it. To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change. He is immutable, which means He has never changed and can never change in any smallest measure. He is omniscient, which means He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events. He has no past and no future. He is, and none of the limiting and qualifying terms used of creatures can apply to Him. Love and mercy and righteousness are His, and holiness so ineffable that no comparison or figures will avail to express it.
Only fire can give even a remote conception of it. He appeared at the burning bush; in the pillar of fire He dwelt through all the long wilderness journey. The fire that glowed between the wings of the cherubim in the holy place was called the shekinah, the Presence, through the years of Israel’s glory, and when the Old had given place to the New, He came at Pentecost as a fiery flame and rested upon each disciple.
The world is Pershing for lack of the knowledge of God, and the church is famishing for want of His Presence. The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and God is in us. This would lift us out of our pitiful narrowness and cause our hearts to be enlarged. This would burn away the impurities from our lives as the bugs and fungi were burned away by the fire that dwelt in the bush.
A. W. Tozer
“Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah”
The longing of every heart of the true Christian is to experience the manifested Presence of God. Those who enter heaven will be captured not by the place but the Presence of the One who sits on the throne. I suppose there are those here who have a desire to see streets of gold and walls of jasper and gates of pearl. I have no doubt that the reunion with those who have gone before us will be sweet. I’m quite sure that all that God has prepared for us will be beyond our measure of understanding.
“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9
And all these thing will pale in the Presence.
Many believe that they must wait till that day to be in the Presence. Songs have been written about the Marriage Supper, and how we will worship before the throne and how we imagine it all will be. And this is good.
But since God is can we not have the Presence among us, around us and in us now?
As we read the Bible, there are many times that the Presence was seen by men. We know that Adam and Eve saw God every day in the Garden and when they were driven from the Garden they saw the angel with the flaming sword guarding the entrance. We know that Enoch walked with God at such a level that he was carried into the full Presence of God. Tozer reminds us that Moses saw the Presence in the burning bush and the Israelites saw the Presence daily in the pillar and cloud. Peter, James and John saw the Presence fully revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration and later John on Patmos saw the glorified Christ. Isaiah saw the glory of God in the temple.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
Three times the Bible tells of the Presence revealing Himself in such a way that no human could act or move on their own.The first of these is at the dedication of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Let us remember that the Israelites daily have seen the Presence in the cloud and the pillar. They have seen how it stood between them and the Egyptians and how it lead them on their journey. They have experienced eating manna from heaven and drinking water from a rock in the wilderness. They have seen Moses, who himself has seen the Presence in the burning bush, with the glory of God so strong on his face that a veil had to be placed over him. They have heard the voice of God speaking to them audibly. Now they come to the tabernacle they had built as instructed by God. The word tabernacle means the meeting place with God. This place was to be where God visited with His people and made Himself known to them. Every item represented one of the promises and benefits God would provide for His people and their return of worship and adoration. With careful craftsmanship they had built the meeting place and now came the day of dedication. They gathered to say to themselves and to God, this place has a single purpose. It is not to be used for any other purpose than that of God and humanity coming face to face. It is designed to recapture as much as possible the experience of the Garden.
“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
The second time we’re read of this visible Presence was at the dedication of Solomon’s temple. Again the Israelites carefully built a meeting place for themselves and God to meet. It was build according to the blueprints given by God and just as the wilderness tabernacle, every piece of furnishings was designed to connect God and man. In both the tabernacle and the temple, in the Holy of Holies stooge the Ark of the Covenant. Made of acacia wood, covered with gold and it’s lid having the mercy seat where the blood was poured over for the covering of sin overlooked by the seraphim, those six-winged angelic beings bowed in worship over the mercy seat. Two wings covered their face, two wings covered their feet and two wings stretched out toward the mercy seat. Resting between these seraphim and over the mercy seat was the flame of the glory of God, the Shekinah. To this place the priest came yearly to offer the sin offering for the people of Israel and in this place the glory of God met the blood offering and grace, mercy and forgiveness met sin and prevailed. At the completion of this meeting place, as the dedication was made, again the Manifested Presence was seen.
“When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord ’s house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 7:1-3
The third time that the Presence was mad known was on the day of Pentecost. 120 believers gathered in an upper room in a prayer meeting. They were there in an act of dedication of the temple to the Lord. They had been with Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God who had now ascended to heaven and they were longing for the Presence. Their hearts had been prepared through prayed and worship. The temple was purified and waiting.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
No longer would tabernacles or temples built by human hands be necessary, but the human heart and body built by God was to be His dwelling place and if that place was dedicated solely to the purpose of being the meeting place with God, He would manifest His Presence. These were ordinary humans seeking with longing for God to make Himself known and on that day, the Day of Pentecost, God once again visited with His fire and glory.
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
If we make Pentecost about whether or not we “speak in tongues” or not, although that is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and a wonderful gift from heaven, we miss the most important thing-the Glory and Presence. Yes, these 120 believers spoke in languages they had not learned but it was not babble as some might think. It was language with purpose, purpose to make known the works of God.
“And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? …..we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
O church may we have such a visitation from God again. May His Presence be seen and known. May His fire and majesty overwhelm our souls. May His glory be so strong in our gatherings that human ideology and purpose be consumed in the fire and from that fire may there arise a glorified church that has cast away its rags of its own righteousness and is revealed in the righteousness of God to a world sitting in darkness. I know that for many this is a radical concept and might be relegated to the ravings of a fanatical preacher. But if God is always the same and never changes, why can this generation expect for Him to manifest His Presence and Glory again. Certainly in this dark unbelieving world with the church in its weakened and ineffective state, we need God to make Himself known. I believe that this encounter awaits us and if we will allow God to build this temple and cleanse it and furnish it with heaven’s furnishings, we too may be those who see the Presence.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord , And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ” “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.
Dr. John Thompson