An Era of Glory is Coming
Moses had risen early that morning and set out on the long journey up Mount Sinai, as God had commanded. Just the day before he had asked God “Show me your glory”. God had responded: “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you” and had sent him up the mountain for an encounter with his glory.
After the gruelling ascent, Moses settled on a rock, high on the peak of the lonely mountain. Standing, prayerfully, he meditated on God’s goodness and waited for him to arrive. He didn’t know what would happen. He just knew something would.
As his heart calmed from the climb and his breathing steadied, he began to focus on the details of the panoramic view surrounding him. He saw other mountain peaks and plains, and he could just hear the bustle of the nomadic community of Israel going about their business in the valley below. Then he noticed something beginning to appear in the sky a far off to the east, moving slowly closer. Faint at first, like whispering clouds, then stronger, thicker and deeper, an advancing cloud, dark, yet pure, slowly began to fill the air around him. Spell bound he stood transfixed until he was completely engulfed by the mysterious mist. Then, just as the cloud had grown so thick as to completely obscure his view, a blazing light burst through the darkness, blinding his eyes with brightness.
Fear, excitement and awe flooded Moses all at once, and in an instant he was picked up and thrust by an invisible hand into a man-sized hole in the rock. Slowly turning and peaking from behind the boulder, he stared, lost in the moment, watching the unfolding beauty of the supernatural unveiling itself in the natural. God had come.
Just when it seemed his senses could take no more mystery, a voice pierced the cloud and light. A voice that was like a man’s, like rivers, like the cry of an eagle and the blast of a trumpet all at once. Then he saw him. The Creator. God walking, as he had done before history began, in cool the of the day with his first friend-man, Adam.
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” the voice proclaimed.
Moses’ every cell dissolved at the impact of the voice – emotion, mind, will and body weakened at the words. Bowing to the ground he worshipped the worship of a man humbled, yet honoured. Broken, yet made. Moses had met the glory of God.
There are moments when God steps from the invisible, into the visible. Moments when God who is so often hidden and working behind the scenes and in realms we fail to understand, leaps into the view of our human frailty and makes himself so obvious, no man can deny it.
Moments when we see water turned to wine, broken lives healed, men shining like lightening, fire bursting from heaven and dead men raised back to life. These are moments when “all (God’s) goodness passes in front of (us)”. When his greatness is revealed to our eyes, ears and feelings. Not God hidden. Not God being subtle. But God impacting our human senses.
These moments are called “the glory of God”.
Longing for Glory
My own journey to know God’s glory began when I realised the difference between a temple filled with his glory, and a church service filled with man-made plans and programmes.
I had been ministering for several days at a large conference gathering, where, to be honest, not a lot had happened. It was the third day of the event and I was invited to lead worship, a task I wasn’t relishing as the people were about as fired up as a damp fish!
As I stood on the platform that night, in desperation I asked God what to do. He told me to sing a quiet little song that I dutifully did – eyes firmly shut as it was too discouraging to open them! After singing the song God asked me to invite the Holy Spirit to come amongst us. We did, and to my utter surprise people began to fall down, all around the meeting place, under the power of the Spirit. For three hours the glory of God invaded the meeting. The preacher didn’t get to preach, the worship group didn’t really sing too many songs, and those with demonic problems ran out of the service, only to be delivered by an evangelist in the cafeteria next door! It was a glorious outpouring of God.
Something moved deep in my heart that night. I knew I’d found something in God that suddenly made sense. It went beyond music, beyond singing, beyond me scheduling a nice little meeting. It was God himself, invading his own Church and being the glory among us. Ever since then, all I have wanted to do is build a ministry, temple, lifestyle and Church for God’s glory to dwell.
I quickly learned that in order to do that, he had to overwhelm much that I had previously admired and called “Church”. He had to show me his blueprint for a glory filled temple.
An Apostolic Reformation will Lead to Glory
Over the past century God has been reforming many great ministries and truths to the Church across the world. We have seen reformations of the Holy Spirit and his gifts, of healing, tongues, faith and prophecy. We have seen the restoration of true biblical “offices” in the Church, with great evangelists and teachers raised up. More recently we have seen the world-wide recognition and acceptance of prophets, a foundational ministry, to give “eyes” and insight to the Church.
Finally, over the past couple of decades, and with increasing intensity, God is restoring the office of the apostle to the Church. Just like the prophet, the apostle is a foundational ministry, Ephesians 2:20 stating that the Church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets”. The function of apostolic ministry, in short, is to have the ability to father, plant, build, oversee and bring God’s order and structure to the Church. The restoration of apostolic ministry excites me more than any other ministry, because it means that the temple of the Church is being built into an ordered structure. This, I believe will precede an arrival of God’s glory in the earth in a measure previously unseen.
God’s Blueprint brings God’s Glory
Imagine if you will, Solomon building the temple in Jerusalem, or Moses erecting the tabernacle in the desert. They found God’s blueprint and built what he asked of them. This is an apostolic role. They gathered all the materials, used all the skills in the people around them, and built a wonderful temple for God. When finished, and everything was in place, just as God had designed in his blueprint, he came in all of his glory and filled the temple! This in-filling or habitation, was God’s acceptance and approval of what had been built. He came to dwell among his people in power and splendour! God is still looking for a temple to call “home” today.
Today we, the Church, are the temple of God, being “built together as living stones to become a dwelling place for God” (Ephesians 2:22). The rise of apostolic ministries means that all the gifting and people are ready to be built together as a beautiful temple for God. As each of us finds our function in this divine, dynamic, mobile temple called the Church, his glory will invade our churches just like he did for Solomon and Moses.
This apostolic era then, is the forerunner, herald and announcer to an age of Glory. An era of in-filling. An era of the intensity of God poured out among us, so that the Church may become “the fullness of him” as Paul describes us in Ephesians 1:23. Can you sense the creaking of heaven’s gates and the brooding of his power over churches today, as apostolic ministries set in place the temple of God? Can you sense the groaning of heaven, and the longing of the earth, (Romans 8:19) as God is about to sweep into our world with all his glory upon the Church? It will be said of us, “The glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). Now is the time to build a temple according to the divine blueprint of heaven and for us to present ourselves ready for his coming.
Can He Overwhelm You and Your Plans?
But apostolic reformation, redesigning and preparing the Church for an age of God’s glory among us will not come without cost. It will take a special kind of people who are willing for God to overwhelm their plans and programmes, their learning and culture.
I was recently invited to minister in song at a conference in Mexico, with several thousand leaders from central America present. It was a glorious time with God moving powerfully meeting after meeting.
One very special event occurred that touched my heart: Each night 30 dancers steamed out of the side doors into the front of the arena; a mass of flags, exuberance and excitement, raising a glorious “noise” of colour to God in praise. It was wonderful.
What touched me most is that every night these 30 worshippers would dance, perfectly choreographed and obviously well practised, but within 40 minutes every dancer would have stumbled to the floor under the power of the Spirit. Laughing, crying, worshipping and praying, they lay overwhelmed by God each evening.
In much the same way, we are on a journey of discovery, seeking a blueprint from heaven that may overwhelm our well practised plans and long held worship culture. Church is not ultimately the place for our performances, sermons or tastes. It should be the place that God will so enjoy, that he himself will dance into our auditoriums, filling and thrilling us with the acceptance of our worship by the manifestation of his presence.
Are you willing to think hard with me about our blueprint for worship? Are you willing to ask some terrifyingly honest questions about worship culture today? Most importantly, are you willing to change your culture, should God speak to you at any time as you read the pages of this book? Could you, like my Mexican friends, fall metaphorically overwhelmed by heaven’s advances, even if your culture of worship is well practised and has cost you dearly over the years?
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