|- Ray & Doris Prinzing -
"Where is the promise of the presence of Himself? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things thus continue from the beginning of creation." [2 Peter 3:4, Free Translation].
The King James Version gives, "Where is the promise of His coming?" but the word "coming" is actually the Greek word "parousia" meaning "presence, a being alongside." Presence― act, fact, or state of being present.
How often we have yearned for a deeper consciousness of His presence, and wondered where we could find His presence, i.e. visible manifestations of His presence. This is not dealing with the omnipresence of God, for we know that He is everywhere― "He be not far from everyone of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; ..." [Acts 17:28-28]. But this refers to being in the face or sight of, in that specific sense of being in the very presence of God in a literal and conscious manner. It is this presence that is implied in Matthew 1:23, "Call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US."
All through the Old Testament we read of the various occasions when God manifested His presence in some form or manner so that the people knew they were IN His presence, and all of these manifestations were climaxed when Jesus Christ came forth as the visible expression of the invisible God, "being the brightness of glory, and the express image of His person." [Hebrews 1:3].
We do not know just how God chose to manifest His presence in the garden, but this we read, "Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden." [Genesis 3:8]. Obviously this was more than just a knowing of the everywhere (omnipresence) of God, there was some kind of a manifestation of which they were very conscious, and which they felt they could hide themselves from. They did not escape Him, He came to them and talked with them, but now His presence had become a more awesome and fearful thing to them, because of their inward sense of guilt and condemnation.
Then we read in Genesis 4:16, "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord." Thus we know that there was some form of expression accommodated to sinful man, which was recognized, and yet not consuming, "for there shall no man see Me and live." [Exodus 33:20]. We would not in any way infer that God is contained in some figure, is with two arms, two legs, etc. as a man, for GOD IS SPIRIT, but God is able to so manifest Himself in His precious presence that we are consciously aware of Him, and know that we are before His face.
There is a theological term, "theophany," from the Greek: theos, God, + phainesthai, to appear, signifying THE VISIBLE MANIFESTATION OF GOD.
"In many parts and in many ways of old the God having spoken to the fathers in the prophets, in these last days spoke to us IN SON." [Hebrews 1:1, Free trans.]. We will not list all of those ways and expressions, from the "burning bush" that alerted Moses, to the "Captain of the hosts" that appeared unto Joshua, etc. but those who became conscious of the presence of God, knew that it was HE, and reacted accordingly.
All of the "olden times" were brought to their climax when God spoke and manifested Himself IN SON, our Lord Jesus Christ, "God manifest in the flesh." [1 Timothy 3:16]. "Verily He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham." [Hebrews 2:13].
There was an occasion when God had taken on the form of angels (i.e. messengers), for Genesis 18 gives the record of how God appeared to His friend, Abraham, in the form of a messenger, to eat, talk, etc. and also of how Abraham could pray to Him, knowing WHO He was, and yet not be harmed by the glory which for the moment was VEILED under the form of a messenger .
Once Jacob 'wrestled with a man all night long, and finally prevailed, and " Jacob called the name of the place, Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." [Genesis 32:20]. This was not the highest order of expression, of the unapproachable light of God, but it was such that Jacob knew he had been in touch with God in a very real way. Perhaps we cannot grasp the full extent of the awesomeness of that hour, when Jacob came to the realization of WHO he was wrestling with, but it was with certainty of conviction that he named the place "Peniel," meaning, "the face of God."
Judges 13 speaks of the messenger, in the form of a man, that came to Manoah, and after watching the angel of the Lord ascend in the flame of the altar, Manoah and his wife fell on their faces to the ground, and they were afraid that they would die, for they had seen God― as expressed through this messenger. And the word they had received came to pass, for she bare a son, and called his name Samson.
But the greatest manifestation was when Jesus came, EMMANUEL, God with us. Jesus said, "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." He knew He was the visible expression of the Father. There were brief moments when certain individuals also came to know who He was, though for the most part "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." [John 1:10-11]. "Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." [1 Corinthians 2:8].
Yet we read that He, who in divers ways and manners has spoken to His people through the years, would now, in these last days, speak unto them IN SON. Significant that in the Greek text there is no identifying article, to make it THE Son, but it simply reads, "IN SON." Where the identifying article is missing, it does not limit things to a certain individual identity, but rather speaks of QUALITY. God will express Himself through all those who QUALIFY AS SONS, even those who become the "first fruits of Himself."
The question is, how many is He IN? For every "son" in whom He dwells in fulness, these are a manifestation, an expression of HIMSELF, to become the vessel through whom His presence is expressed.
"What is man, that Thou art mindfuf of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? for Thou has made him a little lower than the angels." [Psalm 8:4-5]. What is man? What is this destiny for man? What is all this processing of man about? Ah, these are questions to which the Spirit is able to give answers, as He guides us into all truth.
Man, made a little lower, or, as the Hebrew text gives, MADE TO LACK from the angels, with the word "angels" actually being the Hebrew word "elohim," or literally, "gods."
HE is the God of gods, HE is the King of kings, HE is the Lord of lords. But at present time we find that His offspring were caused to lack, to be lowered from their godship realm, to be tested and tried, proven and qualified for the position which they later should fill with Him.
"I have said, Ye are gods (elohim); and all of you are children (sons) of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." [Psalm 82:6-7]. Made to lack, stripped of the full realm of their former estate in The God, they fell into the thralldom of selfwill, and die as men. But there is to be a lifting up again, when "I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord." [Ezekiel 36:11].
There is a RETURNING into this godship realm, where we become one in the great multiplicity of HIMSELF. A glorious corporate expression of His presence in the earth, to fulfill His will, and to establish His kingdom in righteousness in the earth, and in the hearts of all creation.
In one of the times of Moses' communion with God, "He said, My Presence shall go with thee...and Moses said unto Him, if Thy Presence go not with me, carry us not up thence." [Exodus 33:14-15]. Moses knew that he dare not attempt to lead that whole nation of Israel through the wilderness and into the land of Canaan if God's presence did not go with him, to sustain, to guide, and to be their victory. So God made clear the promise, He would go with them. Later, Isaiah declared, "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the ANGEL OF HIS PRESENCE saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them..." [Isaiah 63:9].
HIS PRESENCE W AS THERE, ALL THE WAY, expressed as His messenger, to convey the sense of His being alongside, at no time were they bereft of His presence. Be it the Pillar of Fire by night, or the Cloud by day, is was an expression that "our God is with us."
Now today we say, "where is the promise of the presence of Himself?" He promised to never leave us, nor forsake us. Furthermore, He promised that He would come again. We know that we have a token of His presence, being "Christ in you, the hope of glory." [Colossians 1:27]. And we know that there is a more visible expression of His presence to be realized, for He shall come again, appear before us, to bring unto us that added grace which will consummate our salvation. [1 Peter 1:13]. But what about the world that knows nothing of the "indwelling Christ?" Do they not today continue to ask, "Where is the promise of the presence of Himself ?"
Yet, strange enough, there are times when others do sense His presence in us, and we become a certain manifestation of Himself to them. They know when God's presence enters into the room, as we BEAR HIM into that room, in such a manner that they are conscious of this "spirit" that affects them. Conscious of HIS PRESENCE in you, though they might not even know that it is HIM, and they are quickened in their consciousness, aware of their need, and though you are practically a stranger, they confess their needs, guilts, problems, etc. to you, and draw from you a new life and strength and peace. You become for them a soothing influence, becalming the atmosphere, and the token of their tranquility and peace. WHY? Because His presence abides in you, they sense HIM, but being of a natural mind, they focus the attention on you, not knowing that it is HE Who dwells within you that is their life.
If just this "in part" measure of our present possession can gain this reaction, what will it be like when we are filled with His fulness, and are to literally become HIS PRESENCE expressed in the earth?
What beautiful expressions are to yet be revealed, for "Who maketh ...His ministers a flaming fire." [Psalm 104:4]. A bush that burned with fire, yet was not consumed, alerted Moses and he turned aside to see such a thing. Who knows how God shall manifest Himself through His SONS in coming days, but surely He will alert the nations through them, and bring them to the valley of decision, until every man has been thoroughly dealt with and restored into fellowship with his Creator.
"Who are these that fly as a cloud? ..." [Isaiah 60:8]. There was a cloud that went before the Children of Israel, and they were conscious of HIS BEING IN THAT CLOUD. An overshadowing ministry of love and compassion that gloriously expresses His presence, ah, yes, Who are these? HIS SONS! For this is the ministry of BEING, the act, fact, state of His presence.
No wonder we read, "The creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." [Romans 8:19]. Let HIS PRESENCE, consciously so, come on the scene, and they know there will be changes, regeneration, restoration will begin, and ultimately all creation will be released, delivered from its bondage of vanity, the seeming tyrany of change and decay.
"Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because He cometh to judge the earth." [1 Chronicles 16:33].
"The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord..." [Psalm 97:5].
When God's presence becomes personified in His people, and God sends them forth throughout the land, then all the exalted kingdoms of man will melt like wax before them. It will not just happen because of what they say, or what they do, but because of WHO THEY ARE ― BECAUSE HIS PRESENCE IS WITHIN THEM IN SUCH GLORY AND FULNESS.
A preview glimpse is found in the historical account, when Rahab said to the Israelite spies, "Your terror is fallen upon us, and all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. ― As soon as we heard, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath." [Joshua 2:9,1]."
There is no need to become fanciful or speculative, but there is a truth to the vision set before us. The kingdoms of this world are about to fall, and it will be because GOD has come on the scene. The heathen rage, the people imagine a vain thing, they devise their crafty, wicked counsels, and plot to steal, kill, and destroy. But when suddenly a man of God stands in their midst, and the emanating presence of God illumines their darkness, to expose their thoughts and evil deeds, to convict and convince, all these hardened ones will melt like wax, and their plans come to nought.
"What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? Thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? ye mountains, ye skipped like rams; ye little hills, like lambs? Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob." [Psalm 114:5-7].
It was the time of year when Jordan overflowed its banks, flooding over, and yet, when the priests of the Lord, bearing the Ark of the Covenant, symbolizing the presence of the Lord, stepped into the waters, they rolled back, they piled high, but they could not overflow the place where HIS PRESENCE WAS.
"Whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, thou art there." [Psalm 139:7-8]. It is true, HE is there, and no man shall escape from Him. But there is another application here, which does not in any way take away His glory from Him, for it but expands and magnifies His glory and name. HE shall send the MESSENGERS OF HIS PRESENCE― into the heights, into the depths, to the uttermost parts of the earth, to bring salvation to everyone.
Is not this also expressed in the song, "The Impossible Dream," when one is ready to go through hell for a heavenly cause? If the vision of the religious structured systems of our day is too limited, too blind, yet the glimmer of hope is offered to the world even through a song like this. Challenged to right the unrightable wrong, to bear the unbearable burden, to bring hope, courage, strength, life to a people without hope.
Will the ministry of these "messengers of His Presence" be effectual? Yes, for John saw the time coming when every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." [Revelation 5:13].
"You that are oppressed, repose with me, in the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with messengers of the power of Himself, in a flame of fire, awarding vengeance on those not knowing God, and those not obeying the glad tidings of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall suffer the penalty, age-lasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of the strength of Himself, when He comes to be glorified in the separated ones of Himself." [2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, Free trans.].
How shall He be glorified in these SEPARATED ONES of Himself? He will fill them with His fulness, conform them to His image, merge them so much into oneness with Himself that they literally become manifestations of His presence. Therefore we read, a literal translation of Jude 14, "Lo, comes the Lord in holy myriads of Himself."
"Oh that Thou wouldst rend the heavens, that Thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence..." [Isaiah 64:1].
Can we wait till HIS PRESENCE is birthed and revealed in reality? Here is a purpose for His people, to become all that He has apprehended them for, until He shall be fully glorified in them, and they in Him.
HIS PRESENCE BECOME
O mercy of God condescending to man,
What grace He did use in bridging the span
When He would reveal Himself to earth's clan
He robed His presence in many a form,
In pillars of clouds, and fires most warm,
While guiding His own through night-time and storm.
And then when the fulness of time had come,
The presence of God was veiled in The Son,
Forerunner of who we, too, shall become.
Becoming His presence― to manifest
The truth which past ages have not expressed,
Glory of entering into His rest.
What vict'ry is resident in this state,
The Spirit within to illuminate,
The whole of each being to consecrate.
All of creation is waiting to see
When Christ in fulness is dwelling in thee,
The presence of God in reality.
Writings in This Series: