In a time of prayer a while ago I began to think of different ones in Scripture who had an encounter with God. I was crying out and saying, Lord, I don’t want to hear another message. I don’t want to read another Bible passage. I must have an encounter with You!
I thought of Moses.
And Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
Over the years I have loved to read that passage—how he saw the bush that burned with fire yet was not consumed… how he turned aside to see it… and found himself face to face with God.
I thought of Isaiah who in the year that King Uzziah died saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above the throne are the seraphim, the fiery ones, crying one to another, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me, for I am undone: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
I thought of Ezekiel the priest among the captives by the River Chebar; the heavens open and he sees a vision of a storm of wind coming, and out of the storm appear four living beings moving together in fearful harmony and upholding a throne upon which sits One like the Son of man.
And when I saw it I fell upon my face.
I remembered Daniel, who saw the Ancient of Days upon a throne that appears to have been a chariot of fire similar to the one Ezekiel saw. Daniel saw many mysterious and intriguing visions. But there is one he called his “great vision.” What was so great about it? He saw a Man.
… Then I lifted up mine eyes and looked, and behold a Certain Man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and His face as the appearance of lightning, and His eyes as lamps of fire, and His arms and His feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of His words like the voice of a multitude.
This vision utterly devastated Daniel.
Then my thoughts turned toward the New Testament.
Paul on the Damascus Road saw this same One in brightness above the noon-day sun.
John on Patmos saw Him; his description is similar to Daniel’s.
And so I was crying out to God—oh for an encounter like this! Is it too much for a garden variety New Covenant Christian to hope for an encounter with You like You granted those of old?
But… as I prayed along this line, another thought dropped into my heart. I suddenly realized that the only reason God revealed Himself to these of old was for our sake, His intention being nothing less than that we in New Covenant days behold, and become, the reality of what the prophets of old saw in vision–the glory of the Lord.
For, when we come into our New Testament this is the very thing we discover. Yes Ezekiel and Isaiah and Daniel saw the Lord of glory… as did Paul. But what seeing this Man did in Paul… he realized that this Man would not just drop sovereignly out of Heaven. He would grow in the earth, and come into fullness only as the result of the labour and long-patience of God by an operation of the Spirit of God in those who respond to His call. Paul laboured intently to this end; it was his whole life’s work– and ultimately would take millennia to come to full fruition. It is the work actually of Him who was to baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire, the work of Him who died on a Cross to bring one man to an end, and rose again to bring another into being– a new Man in whom God and man are one.
And so I need not envy Daniel and Ezekiel and Isaiah, or Paul and John. God’s intent in revealing Himself to them was for my sake. I too shall see Him–shall see Him with many others who together are participants in the revelation.
This vision is holy ground; we must take off our shoes. But beloved, with our shoes off, let us expect no less than this in the gatherings of the body of Christ. Let us be filled with this anticipation. Let us expect no less than this–the outshining of the Lord of glory Himself–in and among the ordinary members of the body of Christ.
Do you catch that? The body of who?
(Part 2 next time.)