Have you been crying out for God's presence? I surely have been. Though we know He is omnipresent so that He is everywhere, there are times I need to experience Him in a way I know that I know He is near! Don't you feel the same way? Though we are unable to actually see Him with our natural eyes, we know by the Spirit (and in faith) that He is with us. However, His presence is much more than that. I am referring to His manifest presence, which is knowing God on a personal level and Him becoming real to us.
When He manifests His presence, there is absolutely no doubt that we are experiencing Him at a higher level. During divine visitations we can hear Him speak, witness His glory and sometimes even smell His fragrance. I was just ministering in Washington State last month, and during ministry an awesome fragrance came into the sanctuary...it happens! People were asking me, "Sandie, do you smell that? Isn't it wonderful?" Yes, it was "Heaven scent" (pun intended). I have been in meetings before when the fragrance of myrrh filled the room...oh, how I desire His presence, don't you?
The dictionary defines the word manifest in a way that would describe His manifest presence as being obvious and readily perceived by the senses while understood by the mind. In other words, He wants us to know when He is near! We will sense it and have knowledge of Him. Remember that our senses involve touching, smelling, hearing, seeing and feeling. Isn't it great to know He really desires that we "feel" His presence? I know at times I feel His presence and cry, which is an emotional type of feeling. It is important to fully understand that He actually does desire to manifest Himself to us.
Recently, I have gone through some challenges. Today we live in very uncertain times, don't we? You may be asking as I have been, "God, why am I not witnessing Your presence more?" Well, reader, keep reading. I'd like to encourage you to witness His glory even more so.
Old Testament Examples of His Presence
The Lord manifested His presence to the children of Israel in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night (see Exodus 13:21). His presence was actually tangible. How awesome! On Mt. Sinai, He revealed His presence with fire. By these examples, we realize that God desired to manifest His presence, don't we?
While in the wilderness, Israel was instructed by God to build Him a Tabernacle. He gave specific instructions how to build every part of the Tabernacle. At the heart was the Ark of the Covenant. In my book Conquering the Antichrist Spirit: Discerning and Defeating the Seducer that Binds Believers Today, I write, "This (the Ark) was not simply a part of the Tabernacle; it was the whole purpose of the Tabernacle to be God's dwelling. The living, breathing Spirit of God, then, was in the Ark of the Covenant. It was the symbol of God's manifest presence dwelling among His people."
Most of us are aware of the importance of the Ark of the Covenant, but we have forgotten that the entire time the Israelites traveled for forty years and they took the Ark—His presence—with them. They carried it before them, according to God's instructions. Each time they stopped in the wilderness, they built the Tabernacle again to house it before they set up their own tents! Believer, this speaks volumes to me today. I know that I get so busy with my stuff that I don't take time to honor His presence. Maybe you can relate.
It's important to remember that during the entire wilderness journey, God's presence was with Israel. He did not leave them to face the wilderness challenges alone. If you are trying to cycle out of a wilderness journey, maybe it's time to get really serious about seeking God's presence more. I know that I have been personally challenged to seek Him and experience His manifest presence more and more—especially during a wilderness journey. I want to fully cycle out of my wilderness tests, don't you? One way to cycle out is to be determined to witness His manifest presence.
The Ark Had Its Own Wilderness Journey
There is more to understanding God's manifest presence and how to witness His divine glory. Many do not realize that the Ark (the presence of God) had its own wilderness journey before its arrival at Zion. The Ark not only experienced a wilderness, but also captivity! In my book concerning the Antichrist spirit, I discuss the different captivities that the Ark experienced. One captivity of the Ark I discuss in great detail is Ashdod. I believe this revelation will minister to you and empower you to cycle out of desolation. Ashdod was the Philistine city which bragged on its temple devoted to their false god, Dagon. When the Philistines captured the Ark during their battle with Israel, they took it home and placed it near the idol of Dagon. This is an example of how an Antichrist structure desires to cause His presence to go into a type of captivity.
Do you realize that the enemy wants the will of God hindered in our lives? Yes, satan would love for God's plans to bow down and submit to his demonic hindrances. Satan would also love to cause us to "bow down" to idolatry! Idolatry is more than bowing down to a graven image. Idolatry is bowing down to any false image. A false image can be an image we have concerning God which is false. An example of this would be to believe that God will not protect us or provide for us.
Another example of bowing down to a false image would be to have a false image of ourselves! Yes, if you believe anything opposite about yourself other than what God has said, you are bowing down to a false image. God says you are healed—don't bow down to the lie that says that healing is not available to us as Believers. God says that you are delivered from oppression—don't bow to satan's lies which declare that you will never be free. Dear one, there is an Antichrist structure, a false belief system, that wants to keep you in the wilderness and hinder you from witnessing His manifest presence.
The name of the Philistine city, Ashdod, means "a well fortified place, a strong hold." A stronghold will keep us from fully witnessing His manifest presence. Strongholds give place to our enemy and steal our blessings. The Philistines are symbolic of what is "unclean" in our lives. Let's observe what Psalm 24:3-6 says concerning the necessity of having clean hands and a pure heart so that we are empowered to seek God and witness His glory:
Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood or to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation (description) of those who seek Him (who inquire of and for Him and of necessity require Him), who seek Your face, (O God of) Jacob. Selah (pause, and think of that)! AMP
Where It All Started
The prophet Samuel came forth when the word of God was rare and there was no open vision (see 1 Samuel 3:1-3). Remember now, His manifest presence involves the senses which includes the ability to see. I write in my book, "This means using one's natural eye as well as spiritual eyesight to see visions and have dreams. Samuel came forth when Eli's natural eyes were waxing dim due to old age. Yet Eli was experiencing spiritual blindness. Eli's sons were next in line for the priesthood, but they had sinned before the Lord so Eli and his house were judged by the Lord. Indeed, the priesthood needed cleansing."
The priesthood had already begun a journey away from God's presence. The Ark began its own journey in the wilderness after the death of Eli. The account of the journey is in 1 Samuel 5-6. Again, take some quality time and study this. You will notice that the journey began as Israel was headed into battle against the Philistines. The Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant and, from that moment on, the children of Israel were without God's presence. How could this happen? Why was the Ark captured? Why would God allow it?
When the priesthood is unrepentant (please keep in mind that we are all priests unto the Lord) and does not honor His presence, the enemy can move right into our lives and separate us from our destiny. I don't want to remain in the wilderness, do you? And, if I must endure a wilderness test I must have His presence! I know you feel the same way. Let's look at judgment in the New Testament.
Honor His Presence
A New Testament example of judgment concerning the priesthood is in 1 Peter 4:17a: "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God." When we hear the word judgment, we very often think "destruction" caused by the Lord's anger or wrath toward sin. However, in Greek, the word for judgment is krisis, which is where we derive our English word "crisis." Therefore, this passage could read, "It is time for a crisis to begin with the household of God."
Believers, I think that it is a crisis when we are not witnessing His manifest presence, don't you? And looking at crisis again...we can actually open ourselves up to demonic activity and "crisis" when we are not recognizing Him as our true stronghold and high tower, right? Crisis may actually be allowed by God as a wake-up call! In other words, God wants to visit us—and crisis will cause us to surrender our hearts to Him once more. All the more reason to honor His presence.
Let's be determined to seek Him daily. Let's have the same zeal for God that consumed King David who brought the Ark of God to Zion. Because King David desired His manifest presence, he was determined to bring the Ark to the City of David and set it in its proper place—in the midst of the tabernacle which he had built. Let's build God a house, a Tabernacle, in our hearts today.
Dear ones, I encourage you to continually honor His presence, spend intimate time with Him, seek His face, and ask for His manifest presence!
Allow me to pray for you: Father, I pray for these precious readers today and ask that You empower each one with zeal and determination to seek Your presence. I am confident that each of them desires to witness Your manifest presence in their lives. We want to touch Heaven and see Your glory! Empower us to cycle out of our wilderness and flourish in Your courts. I pray that You touch each reader and impart a fresh fire and that each one becomes determined to fulfill divine destiny. In Jesus' name. Amen.