We derive worlds of interpretation from one verse, Amen


The same verse reveals a world of meaning, Amen.

The Book of Acts is full of exciting stories! Coming on the heels of Luke’s epic narrative about Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, Acts provides keen insight into the early stages of the Church. The Gospels present the disciples as ordinary people, but now, they are full of power and courage to spread the good news of Jesus. And the opening of Acts shows us just where that power comes from.

The first sentences of Acts remind us that that the Spirit of God had not yet been given. Jesus said the Holy Spirit was going to baptize the disciples, and all they had to do was wait:

“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” Acts 1:4-5

Then, at the start of Acts Chapter 2, something crazy happens. The promised Holy Spirit fills the room where the disciples were gathered. This story is pretty familiar to many people: a sound of a rushing wind broke through and filled the house, tongues of fire rested on each head, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit!

If you’ve been sstudying The Bible for any amount of time, you’ll know we firmly believe that the biblical writers are intentional about each detail they give, Luke being no exception. When the presence of God rushed in with a powerful wind and appeared as fire above the apostles’ heads, it would have ignited all sorts of imagery familiar to ancient readers. Their imaginations were filled with repeated patterns of wind and fire used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. However, as modern readers, we are not steeped in the scriptural images and concepts like the apostles were. We have to investigate the past to appreciate the rich details that filled this story.

Let’s dive in!

The Tabernacle

One of the first times that God’s presence appeared to all of the Israelites in a tangible way was at the foot of Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. The people had just left Egypt and planned to camp at Sinai. It’s here that The Lord tells Moses that if they keep His covenant, they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19).

This is what God wants for the people. Moses proceeds to consecrate them, preparing the nation for this specific role of being a priestly kingdom.

Great! It’s time to make some formal introductions.

“On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly” (Exodus 19:16-18).

God is powerful, so this sort of introduction makes sense, right? He comes in a powerful storm (“rushing wind”) and is accompanied by trumpet blasts, smoke, and fire (“tongues of fire”) described again in The Word.

TONGUES OF FIRE

(glossai hosei puros):

The reference in this topic is to the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). After His resurrection the Lord bade His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until He should fulfill to them the promise of the Father, and until they should be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Acts 1:8 repeats the same gracious promise with additional particulars: “But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” These were probably the last words our Lord spoke on earth before He ascended to the right hand of God.

1. Supernatural Manifestations:

When the Day of Pentecost was fully come and the disciples, no doubt by previous arrangement and with one accord, were gathered together in one place, the promise was gloriously fulfilled. On that day, the 50th after the Passover, and so the first day of the week, the Lord’s day, the Spirit of God descended upon them in marvelous copiousness and power. The gift of the Spirit was accompanied by extraordinary manifestations or phenomena. These were three and were supernatural. His coming first appealed to the ear. The disciples heard a “sound from heaven,” which rushed with mighty force into the house and filled it even as the storm rushes, but there was no wind. It was the sound that filled the house, not a wind. It was an invisible cause producing audible effects. Next, the eye was arrested by the appearance of tongues of fire which rested on each of the gathered company. Our the King James Version “cloven tongues” is somewhat misleading, for it is likely to suggest that each fire-like tongue was cloven or forked, as one sometimes sees in the pictures representing the scene. But this is not at all the meaning of Luke’s expression; rather, tongues parting asunder, tongues distributed among them, each disciple sharing in the gift equally with the others. “Like as of fire,” or, more exactly, “as if of fire,” indicates the appearance of the tongues, not that they were actually aflame, but that they prefigured the marvelous gift with which the disciples were now endowed.

Finally, there was the impartation to them of a new strange power to speak in languages they had never learned. It was because they were filled with the Holy Spirit that this extraordinary gift was exhibited by them. Not only did the Spirit enable them thus to speak, but even the utterance of words depended on His divine influence–they spake “as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Many attempts have been made by writers on the Ac to explain the phenomenon of Pentecost so as to exclude in whole or in part the supernatural element which Luke unquestionably recognizes. Some try to account for the gift of tongues by saying that it was a new style of speaking, or new forms of expression, or new and elevated thoughts, but this is both unnatural and wholly inconsistent with the narrative where a real difference of language is implied. Others imagine that the miracle was wrought upon the ears of the hearers, each of whom supposed what he heard to be uttered in his mother-tongue. But this view contradicts the distinct statement in Acts 2:4:

they “began to speak with other tongues,” i.e. the disciples did. It contradicts what the multitude affirmed, namely, “How hear we, every man in our own language, wherein we were born?” (2:8). Furthermore, the view contains an element of falsehood, for in this case the miracle was wrought to make men believe what was not actually the fact. The only reasonable explanation of the phenomena is that which the record bears on its face, and which Luke obviously meant his readers to believe, namely, that the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in the various languages represented by the multitude gathered together at the time.

2. Sinai and Pentecost:

The scenes witnessed at Pentecost were somewhat analogous to the events which occurred at the giving of the Law at Sinai, but the contrast between them is much more pronounced. We are told in Hebrews 12:18,19 that “tempest,” “fire,” and “the voice of words” attended the inauguration of the Mosaic dispensation. Something similar was witnessed at Pentecost. But the differences between the two are very marked. At Sinai there were also the blackness and darkness, the quaking earth, the thunderings and lightnings, the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, the terror of the people, and the fear of Moses (Exodus 19:16-18Hebrews 12:18,19). Nothing of this was seen at Pentecost.

The phenomena characterize the two dispensations. That of Sinai was legal. Its substance was:

Do and live; disobey and die. Law knows no mercy, extends no grace. Exact justice is its rule, perfect righteousness its requirement, and death its penalty. No wonder terrible things accompanied its proclamation, and Moses trembled with fear. No wonder it was called “a fiery law” (Deuteronomy 33:2).

3. Qualities Imparted by the Spirit:

With the advent of the Spirit came perfect grace, divine power and complete pardon for the worst of men. At Sinai God spoke in one language. At Pentecost the Spirit through the disciples spoke in many tongues (15 in all are mentioned in Ac 2). The Law was for one people alone; the gospel is for the whole race. The sound that accompanied the outpouring of the Spirit filled all the house and all the disciples likewise–token and pledge of the copiousness, the fullness of the gift. The tongues of flame signified the power of speech, boldness of utterance, and persuasiveness which from henceforth were to mark the testimony of the disciples.

The marvelous capabilities which the witnesses display after Pentecost are most noteworthy. It is common to admire their courage and zeal, to contrast their fearlessness in the presence of enemies and danger with their former timidity and cowardice. It is perhaps not so common to recognize in them the qualities that lie at the foundation of all effective work, that which gives to witness-bearing for Christ its real energy and potency. These qualities are such as:

knowledge and wisdom, zeal and prudence, confidence and devotion, boldness and love. skill and tact. These and the like gifts appear in their discourses, in their behavior when difficulties arise and dangers impend, and in their conduct before the angry rulers. It is altogether remarkable with what skill and tact they defend themselves before the Sanhedrin, and with what effectiveness they preach the gospel of the grace of God to the multitude, often a scoffing and hostile multitude. In Peter’s address on the Day of Pentecost there are the marks of the highest art, the most skillful logic, and the most, persuasive argument. Professor Stifler well says of it: “It is without a peer among the products of uninspired men. And yet it is the work of a Galilean fisherman, without culture or training, and his maiden effort.” The like distinguished traits are found in Peter’s address recorded in Acts 3, in that to Cornelius and his friends, and in his defense when arraigned by the strict believers at Jerusalem for having gone into the company of men uncircumcised and having eaten with them. No less must be said of the equally wonderful reply of Stephen to the charge brought against him as recorded in Ac 7. It is quite true that Stephen did not share in the effusion of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, so far as we know, but he did share in the gift and power of the Spirit soon after, for we are told that he was full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, that he was also full of grace and power. Accordingly, it should be no surprise to read, as the effect of his discourse, that the high priest and all the rest who heard him “were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (7:54). Stephen spoke with a tongue of fire.

In the management of the serious complaint made by the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews as to the neglect of their widows in the daily ministration (Acts 6:1), and in their conduct and defense when brought before the council, as they were once and again (Acts 4512), they exhibited a wisdom and prudence far enough removed from shrewdness and cunning. The qualities they possessed and displayed are uncommon, are more than human, they are the gift of the Holy Spirit with whom they were baptized on Pentecost. So the Lord Jesus had promised (Mark 13:11John 16:13Acts 1:8).

4. Distinguished from 1 Corinthians 12; 14:

The tongues of fire which we have been considering appear to have differed in one important aspect from the like gift bestowed on the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1214). At Pentecost the disciples spoke in the languages of the various persons who heard them; there needed to be no interpreter, as was provided for at Corinth. Paul distinctly orders that if there be no one to explain or interpret the ecstatic utterance of a speaker, he shall keep silent (1 Corinthians 14:28). At Pentecost many spoke at the same time, for the Spirit had perfect control of the entire company and used each as it pleased Him. At Corinth Paul directed that not more than two or at most three should speak in a tongue, and that by course (one at a time). At Pentecost each one of the 15 nationalities there represented by the crowd heard in his own tongue wherein he was born the wonderful works of God. At Corinth no one understood the tongue, not even the speaker himself, for it seems to have been a rhapsody, an uncontrolled ecstatic outburst, and in case there was no one to interpret or explain it, the speaker was to hold his peace and speak to himself and to God, i.e. he must not disturb the worship by giving voice to his ecstasy unless the whole assembly should be edified thereby. Paul sets prophecy, or preaching the word of God, far above this gift of tongues.

It may not be out of place here to say that the so-called “gift of tongues,” so loudly proclaimed by certain excitable persons in our day, has nothing in common with the mighty action of the Spirit of God on the day of Pentecost, and hardly anything with that which the Corinthian Christians enjoyed, and which Paul regulated with a master-hand.

This intimidating experience was apparently more than the Israelites were expecting because the people trembled in the fear (Exodus 19:18) and told Moses they did not want to speak to the Lord directly. So they appointed Moses on their behalf:

“You speak to us…but do not let God speak to us, lest we die” Exodus 20:19.

Moses told the people not to be afraid, but even still, they did not go up to the mountain like they were supposed to (remember Exodus 19:13?). Instead, the Israelites stood far off Exodus 20:21

while Moses spoke with God. At this point, I’m sure you’re saying, “Hey, did you hear about the lightning and fire parts? Who would want to get close to a trembling mountain and a thundering voice?!”

Fair question, but this is the God that just delivered them out of the hands of Egypt with plagues, raging waters, and pillars of fire. Nonetheless, the people stood far off, and we read that only Moses drew “near to the thick darkness where God was.” Moses was mediating for the people as their priest, which seems great, but this wasn’t the ideal. The entire people was to become a “kingdom of priests,” not just a “kingdom with priests.”

Since the people would not come to God, He would have to come to them. God gave Moses the specifications of the tabernacle, what it was to be made of, what was supposed to be in it, the structure of its contents, all of that fun stuff. This elaborate architecture and language was a prolonged drumroll which lead to the the big reveal in Exodus 40.

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle…” (Exodus 40:34).

Immediately after this, in Exodus 40:38, we are told that The Lord will lead the people during the day with a pillar of fire.

The presence of the Lord now had a resting place among the people in a tangible way, and sure enough, it was accompanied by wind and fire! But the theme doesn’t end there. Let’s look at that same presence in Leviticus 9. Here, we see the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests. The Lord accepted Aaron’s offering, and Aaron blessed the people. As this happens, the glory of the Lord appeared before all of the people, and fire came from before the Lord and consumed the offering Leviricus 9:23-24, similar to the scene in Exodus 19 and 40.

Back in Exodus 20, we saw the entire people of Israel turn down the opportunity to draw near and hear the Lord, so only Moses drew near to where God was Exodus 20:21. Now here in Leviticus 9, we see that the presence of God was more fully experienced by a larger group of people, Aaron’s family, the Levites.

This is a huge step. The people who are able to experience the presence of God was growing, but this is still not what God wanted according to Exodus 19. Remember His desire was for an entire kingdom of priests. This event began to expand the reach of those who interacted with God, but the entire nation had not yet been touched, let alone the “nations” who were supposed to be blessed by Israel Ge(Genesis 12:2Genesis 12:2Loading…More). Even Moses alludes to this in Numbers.

“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29Numbers 11:29Loading…More).

But at this point, only the priests had access to the direct presence of God. The selection of a group of priests that represented all of Israel is great, but it was not the divine ideal. God wanted to be personally present with all of the people, but now the people had to settle with God’s presence among a select few leaders. Instead of being a kingdom of priests, those who could experience the presence of God were only a tribe of priests yet again mediating to the people.

So we’re still not quite there yet.

God dwelling among His people by means of His Spirit is apparently the way that God would finally have His kingdom of priests.

The Temple

The final passage we’ll explore is in 1 Kings 8 m. Solomon had just finished the temple, and the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant (where the Lord’s presence dwelled) into the Most Holy Place. Verse 101 tells us that when the priests came out, a cloud filled the temple. There is that “wind” again. And while the version of this story in 1 Kings 81 doesn’t have the divine fire appear from the sky as it did in Leviticus 9, if you turn to the parallel version of Solomon’s temple dedication in Chronicles 72, guess what you find? “Now when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices and the glory of the LORD filled the house” 2 Chronicles 7:12. Fire, wind, storm, and divine presence––it’s the whole package deal!

Imagine the beauty, the wonder, the majesty! It was a pretty powerful experience. But yet again, we see that the presence of God was confined to this one physical location: the temple in Jerusalem. This was a spectacular dwelling place, but it was still missing something: an entire kingdom of priests.

After looking at these four passages, we begin to notice two things. When God shows up in His holy space, there is a physical manifestation that says, “The Creator is in the house!” We also see that the scope of who has access to the divine presence decreasing. It went from all of the Israelites in Exodus 19 to only the Levites and priests in Leviticus 9 and 1 Kings 81. Yet whenever the Lord is among His people, everyone knows it. It’s beautiful, glorious, and also terrifying.

At this point in the story, the hope was that the presence of God would remain in the temple Solomon built. But as the history of Israel progressed, the temple became defiled by Israel’s idolatry and injustice, and God eventually purposed that it should be destroyed. (Check out the books of 1 and 2 Kings if you need a refresher!) Even when the exiles return, the purpose of the temple was never ultimately fulfilled (see the book of Ezra-Nehemiah). The purpose was to reunite God and His people, so that they could be the kingdom of priests.

When you turn to the books of the prophets in the Old Testament, they speak of the hope of a restored temple, a restored dwelling place for the Lord.

In Ezekiel, after he gets a message that the Jerusalem temple has been destroyed Ezekiel 33, he has a series of visions about the future restored temple. He gets a virtual tour of the new temple in Ezekiel 40-42, where he checks out the details, the rooms, and the furnishings. And it all ramps up to Ezekiel 43, where the glory of the Lord fills this new temple.

The prophet Joel also speaks to the future when the Spirit of the Lord will pour out on all people Joel 2:28. This connects with Joel 3, where the Lord says He will dwell with His people. There will be a physical presence of the Lord among those who are His. So God dwelling with His people is connected with the Spirit being poured out.

So we walk away from the Old Testament thinking to ourselves, “When are God’s people going to experience the new temple, when God’s Spirit and glory comes to live among us, so that we all experience the divine presence and power that was only accessible to Moses and the priests?” This passage in Joel is the capstone of all the passages so far. God dwelling among His people by means of His Spirit is apparently the way that God would finally have His kingdom of priests!

Jesus is enthroned over heaven and earth, but not before promising that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and give them power.

One Greater Than the Temple

This brings us to the New Testament, where Jesus, who is called the “radiance of the glory of God,” dwells with His people John 1:14. In fact, the word Johnuses here for “dwell” in the Greek means “to live in a tent,” referring to the tabernacle Moses set up in Exodus 40. Jesus set up a tabernacle among us! Jesus is the temple; He was the divine glorious presence of God in his physical person.

But Jesus did not stay in that mode forever. In John 16:7, Jesus said that it was better that He go (a reference to his coming death, resurrection, and ascension), so that the “advocate” would come, that is, “the Spirit.” When Jesus took on the likeness of humanity Philippians 2:7, Hebews 2:7-9, He limited Himself to being in one physical location at a time, just as the Tabernacle and the temple of the Hebrew Scriptures could only be in one place at one time. Here in John 16, Jesus is saying that when the Spirit comes, the presence of God will be available to all people. Then, in Acts 1:6-9, Jesus is enthroned over heaven and earth, but not before promising that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and give them power. With all of this background in mind, the disciples were expectant and ready for something new to happen.

“And suddenly, there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them” Acts 2:2-3.

Looking at Acts 2 from this new angle, the descriptive images of wind and fire make a lot more sense. The Spirit of God came upon each one of the apostles in a magnificent display of wind and fire, just like it did in Exodus 19, Leviticus 9, 1 Kings 8, and Ezekiel 43! Now the presence of God is for all of God’s people, not simply a select few. Remember, Jesus called twelve disciples to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, and the presence of God rested on each one of them! Every person in the room experienced God’s presence personally, not just priests from the tribe of Levi.

When Peter goes to speak to those who witnessed the event, he explains it all by quoting from––surprise, surprise––the passage in Joel that we looked at earlier. The Jewish people that were present in Acts 2 had come from “every nation under heaven.” This was the beginning of the fulfillment of all that God wanted for His people. What once only Moses could experience, then later only the priests could experience, is now available for all people to experience! The Lord finally dwells with His people and has made them a kingdom of priests 1 Peter 2:9

This is why The Word says “Speak incessantly with God.” Glory Hallelujah!

Today, I read a passage in The Word of a friend of God who asked incessantly of His grace for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Which of you, if you go to a friend at midnight, and tell him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him,’ and he from within will answer and say, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give it to you’? I tell you, although he will not rise and give it to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, he will get up and give him as many as he needs.”— Luke 11:5-8

When God revealed His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah due to the wickedness of those cities, Abraham asked God to spare the people. In fact, Abraham engaged in a lengthy conversation to mediate for the cities.

First, Abraham wanted God to spare the righteous people who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. He asked, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:23-25).

Second, Abraham’s nephew Lot lived in Sodom. God did spare Lot and his two daughters, perhaps as a direct result of Abraham’s request. Genesis 19:29 states, “So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.” Abraham certainly wanted to see his own extended family protected from God’s judgment.

Third, Abraham had compassion for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. While he understood God’s judgment of sin, Abraham asked God to spare the city even if there could be found as few as ten righteous people (Genesis 18:32). God agreed to spare the city for the sake of ten righteous people. Apparently, fewer than ten righteous were found, since God did destroy the cities, sparing only Lot and his two daughters. (God also planned to rescue Lot’s wife, but she died when she disobeyed God and turned back to look at the city as it was being destroyed.)

Abraham’s compassion for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah reveals the heart of a man who cared greatly for others, including those who did not follow God. In fact, the angelic visitors who visited Lot were threatened by men of Sodom who desired to have sex with them. Though Sodom’s citizens were wicked, Abraham did not wish to see their destruction.

Like Abraham, we are called to have great compassion for others, including those whose lives do not follow God’s ways. Also, we must ultimately accept God’s judgments, even when His decisions are not our desired choices. 

Abraham’s request for these cities to be spared was denied. God sometimes says “no” to our requests, too, even when we pray with good intentions. The Lord may have other plans that we do not understand, yet which are part of His perfect will.

Finally, consider how God did answer Abraham’s request by rescuing Lot and his daughters. Although Abraham’s mediatory work did not result in the sparing of the cities, it did bring about the salvation of Abraham’s nephew. Abraham’s prayers on behalf of others were important, just as our prayers are today.

This was the father of many nations. Beloved of God as we all are. He stood and walked ‘right’, how is your walk?

The focus today is on asking and recieving. We ask a lot of time once believing that it is of The Word. Ask and give thanks continually in all things!

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

‘Faith’ which we all posess, Amen is asking from an Essence we have never seen! Has anyone seen God? Even in The Word, it says:

Exodus 24:9-11, Exodus 33:11, Exodus 6:2-3; and John 1:18

  1. Has seen
    1. (Gen. 17:1), “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless;
    2. (Gen. 18:1) Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.”
    3. (Exodus 6:2-3), “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; 3and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.”
    4. (Exodus 24:9-11), “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
    5. (Num. 12:6-8), “He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.  I shall speak with him in a dream. 7″Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; 8With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses ?”
    6. (Acts 7:2), “And he [Stephen] said, ‘Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran . . . ‘”
  2. Has not seen
    1. (Exodus 33:20), “But He [God] said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”
    2. (John 1:18), “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
    3. (John 5:37), “”And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.”
    4. (John 6:46), “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.”
    5. (1 Tim. 6:15-16), “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

It is evident above that God was seen. But, considering the “can’t-see-God” verses, some would understandably argue that there would be a contradiction. One explanation offered is that the people were seeing visions, or dreams, or the Angel of the LORD (Num. 22:22-26Judges 13:1-21) and not really God Himself. But the problem is that the verses cited above do not say vision, dream, or Angel of the LORD. They say that people saw God (Exodus 24:9-11), that God was seen, and that He appeared as God Almighty (Exodus 6:2-3).

At first, this is difficult to understand. God Almighty was seen (Exodus 6:2-3) which means it was not the Angel of the Lord, for an angel is not God Almighty; and at least Moses saw God and not in a vision or dream, as the LORD Himself attests in Num. 12:6-8. If these verses mean what they say, then we naturally assume we have a contradiction. Actually, the contradiction exists in our understanding, not in the Bible, which is always the case with alleged biblical contradictions.

If God is a Trinity, then John 1:18 is not a problem either because in John chapter one, John writes about the Word (Jesus) and God (the Father). In verse 14 it says the Word became flesh. In verse 18 it says no one has seen God. Since Jesus is the Word, God then, refers to the Father. This is typically how John writes of God: as a reference to the Father. We see this verified in Jesus’ own words in John 6:46 where He said that no one has ever seen the Father. Therefore, Almighty God was seen but not the Father. It was Jesus before His incarnation. There is more than one person in the Godhead, and the doctrine of the Trinity must be true.

The solution is simple. All you need to do is accept what the Bible says. If the people of the OT were seeing God, the Almighty God, and Jesus said that no one has ever seen the Father (John 6:46), then they were seeing God Almighty but not the Father. It was someone else in the Godhead. I suggest that they were seeing the Word before He became incarnate. In other words, they were seeing Jesus.

As far as Man disbelieved, we in Spirit are eternal. The QUESTION is where will you spend eternity? There are conditions to spend it in The Presence of God. The absence of The Presence of God is inexplicably horrendous. There is The absence of The PRESENCE of God in Hades.

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/is-god-everywhere-and-absent-from-hell

https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2690

In mourning/distress/sorrow…Man notes and feels The absence of God.

Is the Image of God ‘aged’. So often, God is depicted as a bearded, white haired Father.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DQ49G4tihX3Y&ved=0ahUKEwi46rC6ntjjAhWnd98KHaoiC6wQt9IBCGwwDg&usg=AOvVaw0aty-A25LGleADkDdVm6sY

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DIdddOOAVo44&ved=0ahUKEwi46rC6ntjjAhWnd98KHaoiC6wQt9IBCHgwEg&usg=AOvVaw232QlaPiHEA9zGaVaLf32c

There are discssions/arguments/disagreements of many ‘experts’ re: seeing God. God is unchanging as this is a “Season” in His existence. The Season of “Man.” The difference is that we are created in His image, Amen. The question then is “What is the image of God?”

God’s Presence left the people of Israel because of their turn away from God.

The Book of Acts is full of exciting stories! Coming on the heels of Luke’s epic narrative about Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, Acts provides keen insight into the early stages of the Church. The Gospels present the disciples as ordinary people, but now, they are full of power and courage to spread the good news of Jesus. And the opening of Acts shows us just where that power comes from.

The first sentences of Acts remind us that that the Spirit of God had not yet been given. Jesus said the Holy Spirit was going to baptize the disciples, and all they had to do was wait:

“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” Acts 1:4-5.

Then, at the start of Acts 2, something crazy happens. The promised Holy Spirit fills the room where the disciples were gathered. This story is pretty familiar to many people: a sound of a rushing wind broke through and filled the house, tongues of fire rested on each head, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit!

If you’ve been following The Bible Project for any amount of time, you’ll know we firmly believe that the biblical writers are intentional about each detail they give, Luke being no exception. When the presence of God rushed in with a powerful wind and appeared as fire above the apostles’ heads, it would have ignited all sorts of imagery familiar to ancient readers.Their imaginations were filled with repeated patterns of wind and fire used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. However, as modern readers, we are not steeped in the scriptural images and concepts like the apostles were. We have to investigate the past to appreciate the rich details that filled this story.

Let’s dive in!

The Tabernacle

One of the first times that God’s presence appeared to all of the Israelites in a tangible way was at the foot of Mount Sinai in Exodus 19 . The people had just left Egypt and planned to camp at Sinai. It’s here that the Lord tells Moses that if they keep His covenant, they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation Exodus 19:6. This is what He wants for the people. Moses proceeds to consecrate them, preparing the nation for this specific role of being a priestly kingdom.

Great! It’s time to make some formal introductions.

“On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly” Exodus 19:16-18.

God is powerful, so this sort of introduction makes sense, right? He comes in a powerful storm (“rushing wind”) and is accompanied by trumpet blasts, smoke, and fire (“tongues of fire”). This intimidating experience was apparently more than the Israelites were expecting because the people trembled in the fear Exodus 19:18 and told Moses they did not want to speak to the Lord directly. So they appointed Moses on their behalf:

“You speak to us…but do not let God speak to us, lest we die” Exodus 20:19.

Moses told the people not to be afraid, but even still, they did not go up to the mountain like they were supposed to (remember Exodus 19:13 ?). Instead, the Israelites stood far off Exodus 20:21 while Moses spoke with God. At this point, I’m sure you’re saying, “Hey, did you hear about the lightning and fire parts? Who would want to get close to a trembling mountain and a thundering voice?!”

Fair question, but this is the God that just delivered them out of the hands of Egypt with plagues, raging waters, and pillars of fire. Nonetheless, the people stood far off, and we read that only Moses drew “near to the thick darkness where God was.” Moses was mediating for the people as their priest, which seems great, but this wasn’t the ideal. The entire people was to become a “kingdom of priests,” not just a “kingdom with priests.”

Since the people would not come to God, He would have to come to them. God gave Moses the specifications of the tabernacle, what it was to be made of, what was supposed to be in it, the structure of its contents, all of that fun stuff. This elaborate architecture and language was a prolonged drumroll which lead to the the big reveal in Exodus 40.

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle…” Exodus 40:34.

Immediately after this, in Exodus 40:38, we are told that the Lord will lead the people during the day with a pillar of fire.

The presence of the Lord now had a resting place among the people in a tangible way, and sure enough, it was accompanied by wind and fire! But the theme doesn’t end there. Let’s look at that same presence in Leviticus 9. Here, we see the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests. The Lord accepted Aaron’s offering, and Aaron blessed the people. As this happens, the glory of the Lord appeared before all of the people, and fire came from before the Lord and consumed the offering Leviticus 9:23-24, similar to the scene in Exodus 19 and 40.

Back in Exodus 20, we saw the entire people of Israel turn down the opportunity to draw near and hear the Lord, so only Moses drew near to where God was Exodus 20:21. Now here in Leviticus 9, we see that the presence of God was more fully experienced by a larger group of people, Aaron’s family, the Levites.

This is a huge step. The people who are able to experience the presence of God was growing, but this is still not what God wanted according to Exodus 19. Remember His desire was for an entire kingdom of priests. This event began to expand the reach of those who interacted with God, but the entire nation had not yet been touched, let alone the “nations” who were supposed to be blessed by Israel Genesis 12:2. Even Moses alludes to this in Numbers.

“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!” Numbers 11:29.

But at this point, only the priests had access to the direct presence of God. The selection of a group of priests that represented all of Israel is great, but it was not the divine ideal. God wanted to be personally present with all of the people, but now the people had to settle with God’s presence among a select few leaders. Instead of being a kingdom of priests, those who could experience the presence of God were only a tribe of priests yet again mediating to the people.

So we’re still not quite there yet.

God dwelling among His people by means of His Spirit is apparently the way that God would finally have His kingdom of priests.

The Temple

The final passage we’ll explore is in 1 Kings 8. Solomon had just finished the temple, and the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant (where the Lord’s presence dwelled) into the Most Holy Place. 1 Kings 8:10 tells us that when the priests came out, a cloud filled the temple. There is that “wind” again. And while the version of this story in 1 Kings 8 doesn’t have the divine fire appear from the sky as it did in Leviticus 9, if you turn to the parallel version of Solomon’s temple dedication in 2 Chronicles 7, guess what you find? “Now when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices and the glory of the LORD filled the house” 2 Chronicles 7:12. Fire, wind, storm, and divine presence––it’s the whole package deal!

Imagine the beauty, the wonder, the majesty! It was a pretty powerful experience. But yet again, we see that the presence of God was confined to this one physical location: the temple in Jerusalem. This was a spectacular dwelling place, but it was still missing something: an entire kingdom of priests.

After looking at these four passages, we begin to notice two things. When God shows up in His holy space, there is a physical manifestation that says, “The Creator is in the house!” We also see that the scope of who has access to the divine presence decreasing. It went from all of the Israelites in Exodus 19

he Levites and priests in Leviticus 9 and 1 Kings 8 . Yet whenever the Lord is among His people, everyone knows it. It’s beautiful, glorious, and also terrifying.

At this point in the story, the hope was that the presence of God would remain in the temple Solomon built. But as the history of Israel progressed, the temple became defiled by Israel’s idolatry and injustice, and God eventually purposed that it should be destroyed. (Check out the books of 1 and 2 Kings if you need a refresher!) Even when the exiles return, the purpose of the temple was never ultimately fulfilled (see the book of Ezra-Nehemiah). The purpose was to reunite God and His people, so that they could be the kingdom of priests.

When you turn to the books of the prophets in the Old Testament, they speak of the hope of a restored temple, a restored dwelling place for the Lord.

In Ezekiel, after he gets a message that the Jerusalem temple has been destroyed Ezekiel 33, he has a series of visions about the future restored temple. He gets a virtual tour of the new temple in Ezekiel 40-42, where he checks out the details, the rooms, and the furnishings. And it all ramps up to Ezekiel 43, where the glory of the Lord fills this new temple.

The prophet Joel also speaks to the future when the Spirit of the Lord will pour out on all people Joel 2:28. This connects with Joel 3. With His people. There will be a physical presence of the Lord among those who are His. So God dwelling with His people is connected with the Spirit being poured out.

So we walk away from the Old Testament thinking to ourselves, “When are God’s people going to experience the new temple, when God’s Spirit and glory comes to live among us, so that we all experience the divine presence and power that was only accessible to Moses and the priests?” This passage in Joel is the capstone of all the passages so far. God dwelling among His people by means of His Spirit is apparently the way that God would finally have His kingdom of priests!

Jesus is enthroned over heaven and earth, but not before promising that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and give them power.

One Greater Than the Temple

This brings us to the New Testament, where Jesus, who is called the “radiance of the glory of God,” dwells with His people (John 1:14). In fact, the word Johnuses here for “dwell” in the Greek means “to live in a tent,” referring to the tabernacle Moses set up in Exodus 40. Jesus set up a tabernacle among us! Jesus is the temple; He was the divine glorious presence of God in his physical person.

But Jesus did not stay in that mode forever. In John 16:7

Jesus said that it was better that He go (a reference to his coming death, resurrection, and ascension), so that the “advocate” would come, that is, “the Spirit.” When Jesus took on the likeness of humanity (Philippians 2:7Hebrews 2:7-9, He limited Himself to being in one physical location at a time, just as the Tabernacle and the temple of the Hebrew Scriptures could only be in one place at one time. Here in John 16, Jesus is saying that when the Spirit comes, the presence of God will be available to all people. Then, in Acts 1:6-9 enthroned over heaven and earth, but not before promising that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and give them power. With all of this background in mind, the disciples were expectant and ready for something new to happen.

“And suddenly, there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them” Acts 2:2,3.

Looking at Acts 2 from this new angle, the descriptive images of wind and fire make a lot more sense. The Spirit of God came upon each one of the apostles in a magnificent display of wind and fire, just like it did in Exodus 19, Leviticus 9, 2 Kings 8, and Ezekiel 43! Now the presence of God is for all of God’s people, not simply a select few. Remember, Jesus called twelve disciples to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, and the presence of God rested on each one of them! Every person in the room experienced God’s presence personally, not just priests from the tribe of Levi.

When Peter goes to speak to those who witnessed the event, he explains it all by quoting from––surprise, surprise––the passage in Joel that we looked at earlier. The Jewish people that were present in Acts 2 had come from “every nation under heaven.” This was the beginning of the fulfillment of all that God wanted for His people. What once only Moses could experience, then later only the priests could experience, is now available for all people to experience! The Lord finally dwells with His people and has made them a kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:9)

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Published by Fellowship of Praise

To God be The glory. Let us praise God together for His ALL in our lives, Amen.

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