Tag Archives: Rock

The Smoke

“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke” ~ Joel 2:30.

Smoke: Cloud. The steam rising above one of our local fuel or fertilizer plants; the plume from some distant fire; the trail left by some long gone jet: it all draws my attention and begs the taking of a picture for posterity. God, getting my attention?

It happens most when I am praying around the city, seeking His hand of healing for family, friends, church, and nation. Does God want me to discern something about smoke? These questions have hit my heart several times, thus I pause to see how smoke might link with God in scripture. My findings?

First, smoke in the following passages and many more like them are a symbol of God’s presence, His touch (work) among us, His glory all around us. Smoke represents the revelation of God who is with us: it signifies who He is, what He does, His praiseworthiness.

“Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently” ~ Exodus 19:18.

“He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke” ~ Psalm 104:32.

“… I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” ~ Isaiah 6:1-4.

Please permit me a little side note here, before pressing on to the second important reason for God’s revealed Presence in smoke and cloud. This is important for us to realize as we seek Him.

Note all that is going on in the Presence of God’s glory. The Seraphim are in the positions of God’s choosing, standing, for God is able to make His servants stand, doing all that they are called to do in this scene. They are gifted with six wings that give a picture I believe to be a vital message for all who stand in the Smoke or Cloud of God’s Presence.

First we are told that, with two wings they covered their faces. I believe this is because we cannot look upon the Lord to see His face and live. This is the reason that God put Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand until He passed by, to protect Moses’ life (Exodus 33). Such reverence for God is a weapon of warfare that protects our lives.

Next we are told that two wings covered their feet. I believe this is a picture of humility, because where God is, that place is HOLY GROUND. Realizing that, apart from Christ, we are unholy and unworthy to enter into the Presence of God is a vital weapon of warfare, for apart from Him we can do nothing. Only those covered by Jesus can enter through the veil removed by Him, granting us full access to the very Presence of the Holy One: Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.

Also note in the picture presented us, that, as the angels stood before God in humble reverence and awe, worshiping His Holiness, the temple filled with Smoke. We are the temple of God in the earth today, and His Spirit fills us with His glory. Wherever we are is Holy Ground, because where we are, He is. Behaving accordingly is vital to our victory.

Finally, with two wings, they flew. Why? I believe it signifies the fact that reverence for and awe of God produces movements that glorify Him as God: we do what He calls us to, fulfilling our good purpose, because we reverence God and hold Him in awe as Holy and worthy of full and complete commitment to Him. In this way we surrender ourselves to Him as sanctified vessels, set apart for service.

“HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME” ~ Revelation 4:8.

On with the Smoke or Cloud of God we go…

The second thing noted is that smoke represents God’s judgment: God’s hand in the wrath to come against the sons of disobedience. All who refuse to bow to His Lordship will meet the smoke of His wrath as death (eternal separation from God) swallows up the sons of disobedience.

“He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit” ~ Revelation 9:2.

Note also that the smoke of His judgment includes those times when His people cry out for Him to rescue us from the accusations and attack of enemy forces that come to condemn us or stop our successful following after the Lord. He judges between us and our accusers, and He rescues us.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears. Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, Fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet. And He rode on a cherub and flew; And He appeared on the wings of the wind. And He made darkness canopies around Him, A mass of waters, thick clouds of the sky. From the brightness before Him Coals of fire were kindled. The Lord thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice. And He sent out arrows, and scattered them, Lightning, and routed them” ~ Psalm 18:7-15

Before leaving this thought, I am struck by the fact in the previous passage, that as God comes against those who come against us, “coals are kindled!” Coals, believers that have gone cold because of hearts melted within them; or because of discouragement due to over-worked lives that have grown weary. God will kindle and set aflame the discouraged people around us, as they see the work of the Lord on our behalf, and are encouraged that God is still with us and for us.

Who can stand against us?

Third, smoke is seen in warfare, especially as a city is overtaken and possessed by the people in victory.

“Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. Then the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill about thirty men of Israel, for they said, ‘Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.’ But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven.” ~ Judges 20:38-40 (also Joshua 8:20-21).

In the Spirit, as we are praying over our city and making full use of every spiritual weapon at our disposal, the victory will reveal itself as smoke going up to the Lord. We will see God’s reality, His Presence made clear. We will see His glory assert itself, making His holiness evident in ways that humble us and press us on in the work at hand. The revelation of His Holiness will work to reveal sin, righteousness, and judgment in the earth, the work of the Spirit in our midst. We will see enemy strongholds crumble and the tongues of our accusers hushed, as the righteous judgment of the Lord becomes clear to all.

In closing:

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“For I have become like a bottle – a wineskin, blackened and shriveled in the smoke in which it hangs, yet do I not forget Your statutes.” ~ Psalm 119:83, AMPC.

Over and over, as I traveled the outskirts of our city, my eye was caught with awe at the strange beauty of the blackened carbon black plants, their smoke column wafting above. Now, as I read this verse, I understand why God is highlighting these plays as something that is beautiful. It is this picture of a wineskin, blackened and shriveled in the Smoke.

We are wineskins, made new in Christ and filled with the wine of His presence. And we are surrounded by Him at all times, experiencing the Smoke of His Presence with us.

Apparently, wineskins that hang constantly in the presence of smoke become blackened – covered with its soot, and they shrivel. What does this mean for us as wineskins that hold the Living Wine of God’s presence and power? Two things about this blacken and shrivel us:

The realization of His glory humbles and shrivels us to size as we learn to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought; surrendering fully to His Lordship.

The smoke of His judgments humble and shrivel us as we are transformed and made new by our surrender to His opinion of us: both bringing us to repentance in the areas of sin, and lifting us up in the areas of our confident hope.

img_2213Just as these pipes and brackets are blackened by their constant exposure to the billowing smoke of carbon black production, the blanket caused by standing in His presence covers us completely, our flesh-being, hidden from view, so that His holy eyes only see the sacrificial covering of Christ’s image in us.

Beloved, the “soot” of God’s smoke is His glory.  The nearer to Him we stay, He takes us from glory to ever greater depths of His glory. 

The Power of God is among us, prayer warriors. So keep seeking the Lord, standing in His presence fully clothed, bowed down in complete surrendered trust of Him, assured of His work in our midst that will reveal itself in smoke for many days to come.

“The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words: ‘He is good! His faithful love endures forever!’ At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.” ~ 2 Chronicles 5:13-14.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16.

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [Ps. 110:1.] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.” Colossians‬ ‭3:1-4‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

The Cleft of THE ROCK

“Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’ But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.’” ~ Exodus 33:18-23

Anyone who has read my materials long knows this is one of my most favorite passages of scripture. It SPEAKS! I have covered it many times, but today, led to read it as part of a devotional, something I have known in part clicks like never before to make my heart leap with more certain understanding.

In this passage, God teaches Moses, and us, great truths about His glory, the essence and evidence of Him in the earth. Here Moses asks God to show him His glory (as if he had never seen it). God gracious obliges, beginning with telling him how he can recognize the evidence of His glory:

“I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

Beloved, anytime we taste the goodness of God; any experience of His nature (revealed through His Names); every touch of His grace, compassion, and lovingkindness: all of these are the glory of God in our midst. And when that glory is sent by Him through our lives to those we touch, we become His light of glory in the earth.

Next He says that we cannot see His face, the fullness of His glory, while in our earthly boxes, because to see such pure splendor would drop us dead in our tracks. I mean, really! Just the sight of the glory and splender of an angel dropped the guards watching to see that the body of Jesus was not stolen. God’s glory is much greater than that of angels (Matthew 28:1-4). So what do we see instead? We see the backside of His glory. Every situation we face in which we wonder if God notices and is doing anything to help us, is a time when we will not realize His work until it is over and we look at it from the backside of Glory.

The thing I noticed today in my reading involves our position during that trial. Note where God put Moses:

“‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, THERE IS A PLACE BY ME, and you shall stand there on THE ROCK; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I WILL PUT YOU IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.’”

Wow! I have taught for years that Jesus is the Rock we stand on, but as I read this today, my heart flies to another passage that proves my understanding.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, AND HAS SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB

God wants us to stand on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. The right hand of the throne of God is the place of complete authority and power to rule given by God. When we stand on Jesus, we stand in the place of His full Authority and Power. Jesus then flows that power and authority to and through us. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords; the ALL in all. He is the head and not the tail, the beginning (Alpha) and the end (Omega); Savior and Majesty; what He did stands, and what He says goes. And God has made Him the Corner Stone, that upholds the foundation on which we stand.

When we are going through a time of difficulty where we feel like we are lost in the dark, beloved, get on the Rock. God told Moses, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock.” When we can’t see what is going on and figure out where to step next, we are to STAND on the place next to God, which is Jesus, the Redeemer Shepherd. Stand on what we know.

God tells us to Stand on that Rock, which is seated in the place of authority and power. It is a picture of our stance on Him who has full authority and grants to us authority and power, our being supplied with authority and power to be and do what He leads us to, while we wait for God to do what only He can. We are not to stand idle, but we are to take up the authority and provision He gives us to “not grow weary and lose heart,” but keep living what we know until the path ahead opens up and we come out into the new glory of God. Anytime God works in our lives, it opens up new opportunity to praise Him and to minister out of our experience of His glory.

Then God says, “it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I WILL PUT YOU IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK AND COVER YOU WITH MY HAND until I have passed by.” When it is too dark to see, God is moving. He has us in the cleft and His hand is covering the opening so He can do His work, bringing glory to our situations. He protects us in the Cleft of The Rock, which is Jesus. And when Light begins to dawn anew, we see the backside of His glorious work in our time of waiting.

“Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

Are you in a season of the need to see God’s glory? STAND on the PLACE next to God: The Lord our Rock, Jesus the Christ. STAND FIRM in all you know of God, doing what You know God would have you do, being all He would have You be, trusting that in the dark of the Cleft, He is being GLORIOUS in your situation. You will see it when He lifts His hand and Light dawns to reveal the Backside of His Presence and Power.

 

Trust in the Lord Our Rock Produces Unshakable Peace

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 10 – Isaiah 26:3-4

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”

Unshakable faith that fully trusts and relies on our unshakable God produces within the heart of the believer an unshakable, irrepressible peace. This peace comes to the heart of the one steadfast in mind. As I think on this, my mind turns to two things:

First I think on God’s word concerning seeking wisdom, given us through James. It is promised that seeking God’s wisdom with sincere faith to trust Him will see our need of it met. Second, is James’ warning to not waver in faith, being double minded in following the wisdom given. We cannot fully follow God and be double minded.

But what about Gideon’s encounter with the angel of the Lord? His faith was small and unstable, so he sought God twice for a sign that the word sent was indeed from Him and that He would fulfill it. God patiently honored Gideon’s need for assurance. Once Gideon grasped hold of God’s instruction with faith secured, his faith to heed the wise instruction of the Lord, as strange to him as some of it was, could not be stopped, and the testimony of a miraculous deliverance encourages us still today.

In my first paragraph I pointed out that this unshakable, irrepressible peace comes to the heart of the one steadfast in mind. God worked with Gideon until he was convinced of God, in essence being of the same mind or thought with Him. Agreement with God’s revealed will for us, denying our flesh-mind its doubts and fears, prevents our fall to a double-minded struggle of the flesh against the Spirit.

Though God hates to see doubt in the heart of His followers, He willingly works to strengthen our faith, making us stable and steadfast to trust Him who is the Rock foundation under our feet. The greater our trust in God, our Rock, the more profound our peace of mind and heart, and the faster our obedience in receiving, believing, and following His wise counsel.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ The Stone of Help; Our Stay

Two names of God stand out to me today, as I seek Him for His Holy Habitation in our days:

EBENEZER – The Lord has Helped us. Literally “Stone of Help”.

JEHOVAH-MISHAN – The Lord your stay.  Literally “I AM your Stay”.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us’” ~ 1 Samuel 7:12

“They confronted and came upon me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay and support” ~ Psalm 18:18, AMP.

I don’t know about you, but trouble seems to come at us every day. If it is not one thing, it is another. Too often, the thing we thought was behind us yesterday is suddenly in our faces again today. If it were not for our Ebenezer, The Rock upon which we can stand, and our 042Mishan, Jehovah-Our Stay, life’s issues would have destroyed us by now. But God…

God is our ever-present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). He is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). When we stand with faith in Him to be and do all He says He is, will be, and can do, we find the broad place beneath us, stabilizing us in the fiercest storm this life can bring to us (Psalm 18:19, 31:8, 66:12). As you seek to bring your weary soul into holy habitation with God today, realize what this word means:

Stay –

†   To endure or persist (Romans 5; 2 Peter 1:1-12; Mark 5:36; John 12:35, 15:14).

†   To stand one’s ground; remain firm (Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 2:9; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 1:12, 2:19).

†   To remain in a fixed or established position. To brace, support, or prop up. To strengthen or sustain mentally or spiritually. To rest or fix on for support. (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:6; 4:13; 2 Corinthians 9:8, 12:9)

†   A strip of bone, plastic, or metal, used to stiffen a garment or part, such as a corset or shirt collar (John 15:5; Ephesians 6:10-11; Colossians 3:1-17).

“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you” ~ 1 Peter 4:19, NLT.