It’s been a while since the last blog entry about God’s desire to dwell in the midst of His people, and I continue to find this strongly on my heart. Our need for Him is beyond words these days. How I long for Him—that is, that we His people be characterized not by the doctrines we hold or the churches we go to, but by this One Thing—that He Himself dwells in us, and so those around us are aware of His Presence!
No one has to prove the existence of God to me; I know by first-hand experience His Presence in my heart. “Know ye not,” says Paul, “that ye are the temple of God, and that His Spirit dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3.16). Yes, I do know. The Holy Spirit dwelling in me means that I am a temple of God. But oh for that same Presence I love so dearly to go forth so that others might know Him! Surely if others could sense His Presence as I do they would love Him as I do. Surely if others could see Him… I remember years ago listening to an old taped message by Pentecostal preacher John Wright Follette. He was an old man at the time, and he said with broken voice, “I don’t know why they didn’t love that young Man.” It struck me that Follette called Jesus a young man. But He was young. He was only 33 when they crucified Him. It pains me to think I as a young man actually had a hand in that. He is so precious to me now. One day in His Presence is better than a thousand years elsewhere.
Yet, there is something further to His Presence than this preciousness. Isaiah cried out for the return of The Presence that would melt the mountains and make the nations tremble (Isa. 64.1-3). This is what it meant, Moses’ cry, I mean—that the Presence of God Himself would go with them, that He would forgive their disobedience and not abandon His great desire and plan for a tabernacle in their midst so He could dwell with them on the way to Canaan.
And he said unto Him, If Thy Presence go not with me, carry us not up hence (Ex. 33.15).
God hearkened to Moses, and before long the tabernacle was prepared and set up, and the cloud of glory filled it, and they were on their way to Canaan together—the people and their God.
But what does this look like—God dwelling in His people and marching through the wilderness?
LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
The mountains melted from before the LORD, [even] that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. (Judges 5.4,5).
This is how the prophetess Deborah described the people coming through the wilderness of Seir on their way to the promised land. “When thou wentest out of Seir…” Yes, there was a vast multitude of people involved, but her prophetic eye was fixed on the One who had now taken up His habitation in their midst. It was GOD in His people coming through the wilderness and entered Canaan the promised heritage. And the earth was shaking, mountains were melting.
And remember—this is from the Song of Deborah the prophetess; this is a prophetic word for you and me.
Here is more from another prophet—the psalmist David.
When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah was His sanctuary, and Israel His dominion.
The sea saw it and fled, Jordan was driven back.
The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.
What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest, thou Jordan that thou wast driven back?
Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams, and ye little hills like lambs?
Yes, David, tell us; what was it? What caused all this shaking?
Tremble thou earth at the Presence of the LORD, at the Presence of the God of Jacob,
Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters (Ps. 114).
Is your heart as hard as a rock at times? Hard as flint? That’s what His Presence can do—it can turn that dry hard wilderness place into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of water!
It (that is, He) can make a way through the sea—a way where there is no way. His Presence—He Himself—can cause the Jordan waters of death to part and make a way over on dry ground!
His Presence can—and will—cause the mountains and hills (all the kingdoms of men) to shake!
Oh, to see this! Oh to see these shakings! But this is what the Presence of the Lord does! Here is Israel coming up out of Egypt and becoming God’s sanctuary, the people in and from whom He rules and has dominion. He dwells in them and is enthroned in them. It is not just a rag-tag band of former slaves coming into their promised land. God dwells in them. And so another prophecy:
God came from Teman (in the wilderness) and the Holy One from Mount Paran.
I will just quote bits of it here, but read that whole prophecy, Habakkuk Chapter Three. It’s awesome. (How I wish the word awesome hadn’t become so trivialized! It means that something is fearsome, and fills you with trembling and awe.) Habbakuk calls this prophecy a prayer. Let it become our own prayer, then.
God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the Heavens, and the earth was filled with His praise…
Before Him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at His feet.
He stood, and measured the earth: He beheld, and drove asunder the nations, and the everlasting mountains were scattered, and the perpetual hills did bow…
The mountains saw thee and trembled…
The sun and moon stood still in their habitation…
Thou didst march through the land in indignation…
…All these great shakings taking place! It is the prophetic imagery of the coming of the Lord… who dwells in His people, and together they dispossess the wicked inhabitants of Canaan from the land which is to become His people’s own inheritance. This whole picture is highly prophetic of God’s intent in our lives—to accompany us into the heavenly realm and dispossess the principalities and powers of darkness who rule there over the hearts and minds of men in the earth.
But this will not happen apart from His Presence with us! And so… oh, to see God’s people begin to hunger for His Presence in our midst! And seek Him earnestly for this! This is to be what characterizes us as the people of God. And nothing less will do what needs to be done in this hour! Nothing less will vanquish the forces of darkness, nothing less will break the bondages these forces of darkness hold over the inhabitants of the world and set them free. Nothing less will remove the veil from their eyes so they can see openly the One who dwells in His temple—you and me!
I assure you, no one will be doubting the existence of God in that hour. They will have all the proof they need right before their eyes. And this is just how Habbakuk introduces his powerful prophetic prayer:
But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him (Hab. 2.20).