For the church I am privileged to pastor, one key thing I sense for 2023 is God inviting us deeper in His presence to prepare us to be sent out. God is wanting us to slow down and take time to enjoy Him because He is going to equip and empower us to go out and make disciples. Encounter always proceeds commissioning. We can only give what we have received; we can only pour out when we have been filled. This is what happened for prophet Isaiah and it is a prophetic picture for us in this season.
Isaiah 6 “I Saw the Lord….”
Imagine standing in a room and suddenly you see a vast and majestic throne with God sitting upon it. His kingly robes are so expansive and wonderful they fill the whole room. Angels are singing. The room begins to tremble and you feel the vibrations throughout your body. The atmosphere is filled with a fragrance and smoke you can see, feel, and smell. This is what Isaiah experienced.
The encounter we witness in Chapter 6 of Isaiah is a “blending” of heaven and earth. Isaiah was seeking God in a physical temple in Jerusalem (notice he mentions a temple in v.1 and a house with doors in v.4) when the glory of God manifests in a profound and life changing way. God’s throne room, heaven itself, descended. Imagine an overlay – the pillars of the physical temple are overlayed with the pillars of heaven. The oxygen of earth is infused with the atmosphere of heaven. God’s heavenly throne room fills the physical space.
When we praise, God’s throne descends and His glory manifests. This, according to a principle David taught in Psalm 22:3, is what happens when we praise God: “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.” God inhabits or dwells upon the praises of Israel, His covenant people (this includes us who are in Christ – see Galatians 3:29). The Hebrew word in Psalm 22:3 can be translated “dwell, inhabit or even marry” – as in two merging, blending, or becoming one. God Himself draws near when we draw near to Him (James 4:8).
When Isaiah says he “saw the Lord sitting on a throne” (v.1), He is really seeing the real God on a real throne. He is seeing by the Holy Spirit in the spirit-realm. Isaiah is in the physical temple and yet in this encounter he enters the heavenly holy of holies as God’s glory is unveiled to Him. God is always present; heaven always open. This encounter is made possible because of a removing of a veil over our spiritual eyes that keeps us from walking in this reality constantly. When we give God our full attention, we discover He is there – was always there waiting for us. When we become fully present to Him, we encounter His presence. When we adore Him, we behold His glory and discover He has always been adoring us. This is what Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 3:16, “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” This is a work of the Spirit who opens our spiritual eyes and ushers us into the presence of God.
These manifestations of God’s presence are real and available to all of us. This is a regular occurrence in the bible. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Stephen, John, and so many more friends of God encountered the manifest presence of God. In fact, almost no friend of God called to partner with God was without some encounter and revelation. It is God’s way. He reveals Himself to those who seek Him, like He promised in Jeremiah 29:12, “If you seek Me, you will find Me.” Many of us understand seeking, but there is a finding as well. If we are called to “enter in” to the holy of holies then there is also an enjoying of the holy of holies.
You can enter into God’s presence and you can enjoy God’s presence. Simply pause now, turn your attention to the Lord, and begin to adore Him out loud with words of praise. Keep it simple. Offer loving adoration like, “Jesus, I love you. Thank you.” Set aside every distraction and focus your mind on the Lord. See Him high and lifted up, seated on His throne. Join with heaven and tell Him He is holy, that there is no one like Him. Do this daily, maybe a few times a day. Continually turning your attention to the Lord, setting the affections of your heart and the thoughts of your mind on Him.
As you do this, you will become aware of His presence. His Spirit will fill you with heaven’s glory – with joy, peace, calm, rest, strength. The atmosphere around you will change as heaven comes. Your perspective will shift in the light of God. Wisdom and clarity will come. In this place, called “secret”, you will encounter God’s presence and hear His voice. He will share His heart with you and transform you from the inside out to be just like Jesus.
This is the slowing down, the diving deeper, the abiding that God is inviting us into because, just like Isaiah, God has some things He needs to change in us and speak to us (read Isaiah 6:7-8). He wants to share His heart with us and invite us to partner with Him. Will you, like Isaiah, say “Here I am” and become fully present to Him? And when He shares His heart with you, will you, like Isaiah, say, “Send Me!” and partner with Him?