Pursuing His Presence Part 5

I want to further pursue understanding our gifts and callings. There are some different gift lists in the New Testament.

4  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7  or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8  he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8 (NKJV)

6  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8  for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10  to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:6-11 (NKJV)

11  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-12 (NKJV)

10  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11  If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NKJV)

There are a few things to consider here. Generally the five-fold ministries listed in Ephesians 4 are viewed as leadership roles in the church while the gifts in Romans 12 are viewed as motivational, our natural bent. Another piece is that the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 support the callings in Romans and Ephesians. For example, if someone has a prophetic bent or calling they tend to function in the revelatory gifts from 1 Corinthians 12 such as words of wisdom, words of knowledge and the discerning of spirits. These gifts support a prophetic ministry or bent, though they are not exclusive to the prophetic.

As a side note, while many want to view prophesying as preaching, the language used in 1 Corinthians 12 does not allow for it. The Greek word used to refer to spontaneously speaking in tongues is the same word use to refer to prophesying. It is God’s mind in the moment not a planned or prepared sermon that is the fruit of study and research. I am not disparaging these things as what I have just shared is the result of my research. I am simply calling for an accurate application of the scriptures.

The last point to be made here is that Peter says all of these gifts are to be stewarded by the recipient for the glory of God. To that end I encourage you to join me in some things I regularly pray for from a corporate or church body perspective. The supporting scriptures follow each prayer point.

O Holy Spirit

  • Open our understanding, establish our hearts in a flow of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Yourself; enlighten our hearts to see in the spirit, bear Your burdens and discern in love.  Eph. 1:17, Phil. 1:9-11, Col. 1:9-11
  • Release grace and supplication as You intercede in and through us to bring about Your strategic and corporate purposes in the earth. Zech. 12:10, Rom. 8:26, Eph. 6:18
  • Draw our hearts into intimacy and intercession throughout the day, unveil Your divine strategy to make us effective in the demonstration of Your kingdom. Eph. 6:18, 1 Thess. 5:17
  • Release Your fiery grace and the passion and interchange within the Godhead deeply into our hearts – impart a deep, pure and abiding passion for Jesus. Shepherd our hearts into abiding in You. Ezek. 8:2-4, 2 Tim. 2:1, Acts 2:2-4, Jn. 15:7-8
  • Reveal Jesus in His passion, zeal, wisdom, power and purity – to humble us and establish our hearts in Your graciousness, dignity and strength. Phil. 1:9-11, Col. 3:16, Rev. 1:12-16
  • Awaken our hearts, stir up and release the gifts You have placed within us. Awaken within us a passion to fulfill the purposes You have called us to through Your word. Col. 4:17, 1 Tim. 1:18, 4:14-16, 2 Tim. 1:6, 2:1, 4:5

Pursuing His Presence Part 4

I ended my last post saying, “Do we see our purpose and calling in His Word? It is there.” So how do we find it? I love spending time in the mountains and woods and have many times been far from anywhere. In the forest it is easy to walk in roundabout ways and think you are covering a great distance, which you may be, and yet not really go very far because you are not taking a direct route. It is the nature of hills, valleys and trees. Something that can help is a compass, yet I have rarely used one, what I look for is a reference point I can line up or connect with.

So, what is our reference point to identify our calling in the scriptures? How do we know we are responding to His call on our lives? One reference point is understanding the inextricable link between gifts and calling.

29  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Rom. 11:29 (NKJV)

While this verse is about the calling of Yahweh on the nation of Israel, the broader principle is that gifts and callings go together. The Holy Spirit releases gifts in our lives that support our calling. If we look at our natural bent and inclinations we can better identify our calling. If I use my own life as an example, I struggle not to teach but don’t at times because much of it can be unwanted advice, or be rooted in judgment, the dangerous potential downside of a teaching gift. At the same time I constantly see opportunities to help or do things in different ways. I also have a seeming built in desire to help and encourage others, often through prayer ministry. Gifts that operates in my life to support that calling are words of knowledge and words of wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8). In this case I prayed for the release of these gifts, and still do, because I wanted to help others.

If we want to understand our calling we need to only look at where our hearts are drawn. At the same time we will also go through challenges, struggles and failures in the process. That is pretty much guaranteed. There is an old adage in football, ‘keep falling forward.’ The idea is that every time you are tackled and brought to the ground if you fall forward, over the course of the game it can make the difference between winning and losing.

So did Peter, Andrew, James and John know what they were getting into when Jesus asked them to follow Him and become fishers of men? Did they fall forward? Peter is famous for his failures and we can perhaps learn as much or more from his failures as from his successes.

Did Peter fully understand his calling? The plain answer is no, just as many of us struggle to understand our callings. One thing that causes much unnecessary soul searching is the sermons on how the early disciples just dropped everything and followed Jesus as soon as He called them. These messages are generally based on Matthew 4:17-22 or Mark. 1:14-20 and sometimes the parallel passage in Luke 5:1-11. Now some of Jesus followers did immediately drop everything and follow Him as soon as He called, I am not negating that, what I am challenging is the message that this was the norm. I have heard a few of these sermons and while they are well intentioned they all demonstrate a lack of scriptural knowledge or understanding. Why do I say that?

For one thing, a number of Jesus early followers had already been followers of John the Baptist, they were ripe and ready for Jesus, John had been preparing them (Jn. 1:35-50) and they already knew one another. The events in the first chapter of John happened near Bethabara (Jn. 1:28) not far from Jerusalem and very near to where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea. The events in John 1 took place before Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James and John away from their fishing in the Matthew, Mark and Luke passages. This calling took place in northern Israel on the Sea of Galilee, which is where Peter, James, John, Andrew and Phillip were from. Peter, Andrew and Phillip, and likely James and John, were from Bethsaida on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Jn. 1:44).

So we don’t need to lose heart if we don’t fully respond to Jesus the first time in everything. We also don’t need to lost heart if we don’t fully understand our calling. Our primary calling is to follow Him. None of these men knew they were going to be the apostles of the early church. They knew they needed to follow the calling of their hearts to follow Jesus. When we do that the other parts emerge over time if we keep falling forward. Only Jesus ever fully fulfilled His calling. Peter failed many times, Paul had to publicly rebuke him (Gal. 2:11-21). Paul missed it and said Satan hindered him (1 Thess.2:18). He also spent time trying to go places the Holy Spirit didn’t want he and his team to go (Acts 16:6-10).

My point, we can discern our general purpose and calling by following where He is leading our hearts. We know He has called all of us to share the gospel and disciple others (Matt. 28:18-20). We will do this to varying degrees but we all have it as part of our calling. Some will pair this calling with a teaching gift, some with an evangelistic gift, some with a gift of helps or others. The Great Commission isn’t for all of us to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers. It is a call to be faithful with what He has given us.

Finally, part of a prayer document I developed over the years includes this regular prayer of mine, “Father, I ask for continual growth in openness and sensitivity to the realm of Your Spirit and an awareness of my place, purpose and destiny in You (Eph. 1:17-23, 1 Jn. 2:20, 27).”

I encourage you to join me in this prayer and to pursue walking with Him each day.

Pursuing His Presence Part 3

Having spent the last two posts looking at what is in the Word I now want to look at how some key figures in scripture lived out of and by the Word. What do Josiah and John the Baptist have in common? They both saw themselves in the scriptures.

We will start with John since he is so familiar to the church. The verse below was quoted a number of times in the New Testament.

3  The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.” Is. 40:3 (NKJV)

This verse is part of a longer passage where Isaiah begins to speak comfort to Israel and prophesies a future hope.

The Gospel writers, Matthew (3:3), Mark (1:3) and Luke 3:4-6) all speak to this after the fact and reference John’s ministry as the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied. What is more interesting in John is that when asked who he was John the Baptist answered.

23  He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” Jn. 1:23 (NKJV)

John embraced the scriptures as a heart level and thus was able to see his own calling and purpose in them.

What of Josiah? Josiah was the greatest reformer and revivalist in the history of the kings of Judah. Jeremiah the prophet extoled Josiah’s virtues (Jer. 22:15) and lamented his death (2 Chron. 35:25). The scriptures provide this testimony.

25  Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. 2 Kings 23:25 (NKJV) 

Josiah became king at age 8 and became a great reformer at age 26 when the Book of the Law was found in the temple and read to him. Scripture doesn’t tell us what portion of the law of Moses was found or whether there were more than the books of the law. Did Josiah have the following read to him? Is it what launched his great reforms and revivals?

1  And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. 2  Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ ” 1 Kings 13:1-2 (NKJV)

This prophecy was given over 3 centuries before Josiah was born. Was Josiah a passionate fiery reformer because he, like John the Baptist, saw his calling in the scriptures? Do we see our purpose and calling in His Word? It is there.

Pursuing His Presence Part 2

In John 6 Jesus said something very interesting.

63  “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. Jn. 6:63-64 (NKJV)

I want to focus on a couple of things in these verses. The first, it is the Holy Spirit who breathes life into the scriptures that we read. We need to depend on Him not our intellect and understanding. Jesus views them as flesh. The second is that we have the capacity to choose to believe.

With this as a foundation I want to look at another passage.

1  For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2  that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Col. 2:1-3 (NKJV)

There is a lot in these three verses. Key is that all the wisdom and knowledge we need are contained in the Father and in Jesus. So how do we access this wisdom and knowledge? Paul, like Jesus, tells us it is by the Spirit.

9  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.” 10  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 1 Cor. 2:9-10 (NKJV)

In the two verses above Paul’s echoes what Jesus taught in John 6. The deep things of God are revealed to us by the Spirit, not by our own understanding or reasoning. That is not to say we don’t use our understanding and reason, we just need to learn how to submit them to the Holy Spirit. Have you ever had the experience of reading a verse many times on many occasions, then one day you see and it comes alive? That is what Paul is referring to.

We use our reason and understanding to read the word and understand the context but for it to become life in us we must embrace it with our hearts Rom. 10:9). When our heart embraces His word the Holy Spirit breathes upon it and releases life in us. That is why Solomon wrote,

5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Prov. 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Where are we leaning?

Pursuing His Presence Part 1

Identity Theft

In recent years Identity Theft has been a growing concern in western society. Yet if we look at church history Identity Theft has long been a major issue with significant impacts. Paul addressed this in Colossians 2.

9  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10  and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Col. 2:9-10 (NKJV) 

Paul’s point here and many other places is that as Christians our identity should be found in Jesus. Anytime our identity is found in something other than Jesus we know we are to some extent missing the mark. We know we truly understand our completeness in Him when it leads to humility and understanding we are complete in Him not because we are worthy but because He is faithful and glorious.

What are the implications of seeing ourselves complete in Him? What is the power of this one sentence? Think about it. If we are complete in Him then our identity and sense of status is not in our position, our intellect, our physical features, our income, our marital status, our social status, or our possessions. I could go on but my point is that great transformation that can come in our lives simply from reflecting on two short verses of scripture.

What do these verses tell us? The whole of the Godhead, Father, Son and Spirit are embodied in Jesus. If we want to understand the Father, He is revealed in Jesus. If we want to understand the Spirit, He is revealed in Jesus. If we want to understand what His goal is for our lives, it is revealed in Jesus.

What else to do know from these two verses? As the Head of all principalities and powers Jesus has authority over all the power of the enemy that seeks to undermine and destroy our lives. As we rest in our identity in Him we know that final victory is assured. So, take some time and rest in this small portion of His word and it will lead to encountering His presence and a right identity.

Unveiling the Eternal Part 6

The writers who share their Throne Room experiences with us, even though inspired by the Holy Spirit, do not present a picture that is easy to understand. While the Holy Spirit wants us to know something of this experience, at the same time language cannot do the experiences justice. It is said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ Yet Jesus is the Word and the primary method He has chosen to communicate with us is via the written word. However, this word only truly releases life when breathed upon by the Holy Spirit. At the same time that He has given us His word He has also communicated the experiences of others and described heavenly eternal realities because He wants us to know about them. The pictures below illustrate the challenge of people conveying what they think Ezekiel saw, the wheel within a wheel, or Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days.

Ezekiel's wheels

Ancient of Days

While I like the pictures I know they are not accurate. At the same time both convey something of the majesty and awe of this eternal realm – the eternal fire issuing forth from the Godhead is captured as well as eternal motion (the wheel) which is reminiscent of gyroscope and may be what the writers were trying to describe. While they focused on different aspects of the throne room, if we read Daniel’s account below we see that Daniel saw what Ezekiel saw, who saw what Isaiah had seen and in Revelation John looked into the same scene.

9  “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; 10  A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened. Daniel 7:9-10 (NKJV)

Daniel saw this fiery being seated on a throne among thrones. In our modern church age we have many who claim experiences of heaven. While that is not the norm for Christians it doesn’t fall outside the scope of scripture. I have serious questions in listening to some experiences, yet others carry the ring of truth. For me one was an experience I heard John Paul Jackson describe (he went home to Jesus in February 2015). Like Paul he did not initiate this experience, he was taken to the throne room. Part of what he described, other than a great fear of the Lord, was seeing the fiery seraphim travelling at great speed around the throne crying out ‘Holy, Holy, Holy!’ What John Paul described was seeing them moving rapidly liking electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom. This was the first description that ever made send to me of Ezekiel’s description, “The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel.” (Ezek. 1:16).

What does this tell us? Our Father has beautifully woven into the design of His creation a model of the small natural parts (an atom nucleus of neutrons and protons being orbited by electrons) reflecting the eternal spiritual realm so that we know one came from the other. Other than sitting before the throne room by faith, one of the greatest things we can draw from this is confidence that He is in charge and on the throne. If we truly love Him and embrace His purpose all things that come into our lives will work together for our good (Rom. 8:28) because He is conforming us to the image or His Son. We can rest confidently in His work and purpose.  

Unveiling the Eternal Part 5

In my last post I wrote about what David saw in the wilderness. What I didn’t address was the why or how. I think David saw because he was spiritually hungry. A large portion of the Psalms, written mainly by David, but also by others, flowed from the continual 24 hour worship before the Ark of the Covenant. David had daily access to the Ark and Yahweh’s abiding presence when in Jerusalem. I believe losing this, the rebellion of Absalom, and his concern over the nation made him more acutely aware of how much he needed Yahweh’s presence. I think his ability to see was because of his history with Yahweh combined with his prophetic gift.

In our day we have longings expressed in worship as well. We have the fairly recent Jesus Culture song Show Me Your Glory. In recent decades we had I Want to see Jesus Lifted High, The King is Here and many others. We have many traditional hymns such as Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. They all express similar longings. Does this longing mean we can see as David did? Can we go beyond just sitting before Him in faith and expectation if we are truly hungry?

The answer is not explicit. We don’t know what state Paul was in when he described experiencing ‘visions and revelations of the Lord.’ We do know that twice in this brief passage he uses the term ‘caught up.’ Paul was taken up, he didn’t just wake up and decide he was going to the third heaven.   

1  It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: 2  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3  And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – 4  how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (NKJV)

Similarly we know that prior to the unveiling of the book of Revelation and seeing the throne room John was ‘in the Spirit’ (Rev. 1:10) when these things took place but Jesus initiated the interaction and revelation and John’s seeing into the throne room in Revelation 4 was his looking in response to Jesus invitation to come up. Also, John said that seeing into the throne room happened when he was ‘in the Spirit’ at Jesus initiation (Rev. 4:1-2). 

In my own experiences of sitting with Jesus, while I can imagine what the Throne Room might be like, I have never seen anything. I have however experienced a lot and still do. Without seeing it just by focusing my attention I am physically conscious of the eternal realm. Perhaps this is what Helen Lemmel referred to when she wrote ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’ or what Paul referred to when he prayed that through Spirit of wisdom and revelation the eyes of our heart or understanding would be opened. I don’t think Paul expected every believer to have a third heaven throne room experience, yet it is clear from his prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3 that he expected us to experience Jesus and His love, not just possess information about Him. My marriage would be quite empty if I possessed information about my wife but had no real experience of our relationship.

Whether we know it or not we truly need to ‘know’ Jesus. So, are we seeking an ongoing encounter with our King?

Unveiling the Eternal Part 4

Having looked at what are some obvious examples of throne room experiences what about one that isn’t obvious? Though I can use most bible translations there are some I have more confidence in that others. I personally use the NKJV for the textual basis underlying the translation and the more literal approach to translation. The NASB and ESV are similar in terms of their approach, they just translate from a different textual basis. An important note is that while most of the textual differences are in the NT they don’t change any major doctrine. More than the underlying text it is the approach to translation that determines what we receive in our current language. This is my long introduction to Psalm 63:1-2.

The importance of the theology of the translator comes into play when we read scripture in any but the original languages (the OT was written primarily in Hebrew with some Aramaic, the NT in common Greek). So, to Psalm 63.

1  O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2 (NKJV)

1 God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. 2  So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2 (HCSB)

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2  So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Psalm 63:1-2 (ESV)

The most accurate translation above in verse 2 is blending the HCSB and ESV so we have, “So I gaze on You in the sanctuary beholding your power and glory.” This leads to two questions. Why is the tense important? What period did David refer to when he wrote this Psalm? David fled to the wilderness on two occasions, first when he was being pursued by Saul prior to becoming king. The second occasion was when Absalom rebelled against David and David fled into the wilderness for safety. In verse 11 David refers to himself as the king so this Psalm would have been written when he fled from Absalom.

The significance of the context and tense is that David refers to the sanctuary, yet there was no sanctuary in David’s day (the Hebrew literally refers to the Holy Place). David created a place of worship in Jerusalem when he set up the Ark of the Covenant on Zion, the high point in Jerusalem (it was where Solomon later built the temple). The previous sanctuary was the Tabernacle of Moses and it had a Holy of Holies but what made it holy was God’s glory dwelling between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, which was now in a tent on Zion in Jerusalem, while the Tabernacle of Moses remained in Gibeon (1 Chron. 16:1-4, 37-39).

So what is my point in all of this? David had a throne room experience while in the wilderness. The present tense tells us he was not using his imagination to gaze upon the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of the true one in heaven, David was gazing at what Isaiah and Ezekiel saw. So can we do this? If we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us we can through an act of faith sit in His presence, open up our spirit and interact with our God who is a consuming fire! In this posture we can ask Him for a spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1:17) and trust Him to change us from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18) and see more of His character revealed in our lives. While we may not see as David, Isaiah or Ezekiel did, we can be changed in ways they never were. What a privilege we possess!

Unveiling the Eternal Part 3

To gain further perspective on eternal realities let us peer into the visions of Isaiah and Ezekiel and then look at Ezekiel’s four living creatures from chapter 1. First to Isaiah. At this point we only need to consider the first two verses of chapter 6.

1  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. 2  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.

The word seraph, the singular of seraphim, means ‘burning’ or ‘fiery.’ We tend to refer to these creatures as angels. They may be as the word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’ and both their appearance and actions contained a message. My point is that if all of the various heavenly beings depicted in scripture are angels then there is certainly a great variety of them.

Ezekiel provides more information about these ‘burning ones’ around the throne. He tells us that they differed in appearance and that their likeness was like ‘burning coals of fire’ and that they moved ‘like a flash of lightning.’

10  As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. 11  Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. 12  And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. 13  As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. 14  And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.

The four living creatures have four faces, a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (see Rev. 4:7 also). These four faces relate to the four gospels and different aspects of Jesus ministry. The early church fathers had Matthew connected to the face of the man because he wrote of Jesus humanity. Mark was the lion and presented Jesus kingly royalty, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Luke represented the ox because he focused on Jesus as a burden bearer and sacrifice. John is the eagle which speaks of His prophetic role and life and his descending from above in His incarnation and ascending in His resurrection.  Jesus is the one ‘from above’ and says we must be born from there. He also spoke to Nathaniel of the angels ascending and descending (Jesus is Jacob’s ladder/stairway).

We don’t need to turn these ideas into doctrine or esoteric imaginings. Perhaps the early church fathers were incorrect about which gospel pointed to which aspect of Jesus ministry. It is however important to see that the four living creatures have eternally pointed to different aspects of who Jesus is and thus in Isaiah and Ezekiel prophesied of Jesus coming and His ministry. This is part of seeing the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. When we have eyes to see the message is there. When the disparate parts begin coming together something is imparted to our spirits. When we step from time into eternity we will see a multitude of things in a new light. Why not pray for a spirit of wisdom and revelation to understand as much as possible now that our hearts may be comforted and encouraged (Eph. 1:17-18)?

Unveiling the Eternal Part 2

In my last post I posed three questions in relation to these throne room experiences.

  • Are there any commonalties across all experiences?
  • Where is the focus?
  • What is the effect?

The answer to the first one is that while there are a number of differences across the experiences there is no suggestion in the text that the recipient sought out these experiences. The exception perhaps being Psalm 63, which we will come to later. They may have sought these experiences, but they appear to have been initiated by Yahweh. Something else we see in many of them is Yahweh’s throne. Jeremiah refers to Yahweh’s counsel and Daniel references thrones. The overall image is one of power and authority. In fact it is an overwhelming power and authority that is a throne, council chamber and courtroom all in one. The writer of Hebrews tells us a few things about this place, the center of time and eternity. His message is one that conveys both the incredible power and authority of this place while also telling us that if we know Jesus we are free to approach this awesome throne.

13  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) 19  Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 10:19 (NKJV) 

31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31 (NKJV)

22  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24  to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24 (NKJV)

28  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29  For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29 (NKJV)

This throne room is both timeless and the origin of time, it is the place from which the decree issued – “Let us make man in Our image.” (Gen. 1:26). Make no mistake, this was an authoritative decree not a passing thought. This throne room has always been and always will be. Many years ago I had the opportunity to speak with a pastor who had encountered eternity. His young daughter was attacked and killed by a bear in northern Alberta, in trying to save his daughter’s life he was seriously mauled by the bear before it was killed by others. During his time recovering in hospital he had an experience of being taken into heaven. He said the only way he could describe what he encountered was that it was ‘pure authority.’ His overwhelming awareness was of Yahweh’s authority. So, no matter our situation or circumstances here and now, if we have been born again we have unfettered access to this place of pure authority – I suggest coming with a right heart!