Terrible Majesty 4th March
Amazing how the Holy Spirit came upon the most unlikely men and used them for the glory of God. And how God chose the most unusual of situations and circumstances to lead, shape and guide His people -- things we would never have imagined or planned.
- Joseph betrayed by his brothers and sent Egypt – years later to become their deliverer
- Moses thrust out into the wilderness 40 years – a redeemed murderer – seeing the power of God in an unprecedented way -- also a deliverer
- Jephthah son of prostitute – outlaw – filled with the Spirit of God delivered his people!
Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon – and Daniel – some great and some small but none of them would have expected what God used them to do in His Name – in fact the W.O.G. tells us many of the men of history who have made a significant difference were taken by surprise.
Is 55:8-9“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
1 Co 1:26-29 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
But when the Holy Spirit came upon them, or when God revealed Himself to them they responded and became men of valour – even in many cases reluctantly – none of these men were perfect – all of them had failings and flaws – all of them suffered from the same Adamic nature that has smitten mankind since the fall. We can read about their weaknesses and failings throughout the W.O.G.
The truth is, humanity is flawed – fatally flawed and we must not believe in the basic goodness of mankind – man is not going to improve with time, he is not going to work out a new social order, no political system is going to change the depravity of man’s heart, no justice system or even religious system will take away the fallen sinful nature we have inherited from Adam. It is not just the world but the church that has lost sight of this too –
and we have begun to believe that maybe we can bring change into the world by feeding them, or pouring money into the lost and hurting – we actually believe that if we provide a program that is effective and attractive that it will reach mankind – Look at Bono and Geldoff – they are doing wonderful things for poverty and the disadvantaged – some of them may no longer be in debt, some no longer hungry – but unless they KNOW Christ they are still dead in sin.
Being a Christian does not make us perfect – but it gives us a way to respond to God like these men of old – you know Bill Gates can give away billions of dollars and I think that is wonderful – but if the recipients of that money don’t know Jesus Christ it is only some slight temporal respite from the corruption of the world – maybe a little safety that money can provide!! Doing good works – or receiving good works – being nice, good and civilised doesn’t take away sin.
That is, the sinful nature – even within Christianity it is easy to think that because we have accepted Christ and attend church – and are sorry when we do something we realize is wrong, even confess it – we are okay. But we have no righteousness of our own – it is Christ who makes us righteous and we need Him every moment of every day because it is our “Nature” that is sinful – not just the individual sins – but our propensity towards sin all of the time!
Yet throughout time God has used men just like us to impact for His glory and His Name and bring significant change in the world.
When I look at it, it was rarely that He used those men to implement a program of change – He used men to bring change powerfully and suddenly – yet they were men just like us with the same nature and weakness – So what made the difference and why is it these men still seem so rare? Where are they today? I believe God is constantly on the lookout for men who will stand – set themselves apart and stand.
Eze 22:29-30 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
The men God can really use – men and women without agenda and seeking only His heart have been rare and seem to be rarer still in this age – men who will stand having not seen God and then in the standing find Him as it were ----
Moses had tried to address the injustice of his people in the natural realm – God had saved him from death as a child, placed him and prepared him – but in the flesh he was working against God and ended up committing murder and fleeing to hide in the desert 40 years. Then one day he saw that burning bush and we read this : --
Ex 3:4-6 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
Before Moses went on to become the instrument of God he had this revelation, this understanding, this view of God as the foundation in his heart of everything else he did – long before he spent 40 days and 40 nights up the mountain – Moses was standing in God’s Presence but he was afraid to look upon God – in fact he hid his face.
Abraham walked with God – was His friend – but even at 99 years old –
Ge 17:1-3 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:
Joshua --Jos 5:14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”
Moses and Aaron -- Nu 20:6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them.
Daniel -- Da 10:7-9 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
In the fields when Christ was born Lk 2:9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Paul -- Ac 9:3-4 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
All of these men, ordinary men subject to the Adamic nature had one thing in common – when they encountered God, in whatever manner He had chosen to reveal Himself, they were all overwhelmed with His glory – with His Person and Majesty – this revelation of God had a profound impact upon all of them and it was from this they were able to minister in His Name.
Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, Wesley, Finney and Edwards – Wigglesworth, Lake all similar
Elihu speaking to Job says this most beautiful thing – he is in the middle of a discourse on God
Job 37:22-24 He comes from the north as golden splendor; With God is awesome majesty. As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, In judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress. Therefore men fear Him; He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart.”
With God is awesome majesty – a wonderful description – but the KJV : --
Job 37:22-24 Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty. Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict. Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any that are wise of heart.
With God is terrible majesty – our old, tired, overused language no longer conveys what it was that caused Daniel to fall on his face – overwhelmed and afraid – terrified and yet exhilarated.
Yesterday Ben Schollit was at our place looking at a book of diagrams on the final judgment and Armageddon, of the return of Christ and he said “this is quite frightening but exciting at the same time” -- with God is terrible majesty.
Nehemiah prayed this -- Ne 1:5 And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
It was more than awe – I think we have made awe a comfortable word now – a word we can stand in -- but our God is terrible in majesty – He is more than awesome – so very much more!
The word can mean -- Dread, astonishment, reverence, fear and awe – but what it describes was men falling on their faces – overwhelmed with the revelation of God and His majesty – it was the uncovering of two things combined –
God’s indescribable magnificence and grace – and our filthy Adamic nature – exposed and found wanting in the light of the glory that is God! --- Remember Adam had walked in the garden while God was in the garden – we don’t know that he saw God – Jesus said no man has seen God at any time – but when sin entered in, Adam had to hide – the acceptable comfort of God’s Presence was made terrible by sin!! – Our God is Holy.
Is 6:1-3 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
Even the seraphim – the creatures of God’s attendance had their faces covered by their wings so they could not see God – with God is terrible majesty! ------------- 1949-52
Those who were privileged to attend will never forget the events of the second night. Buses came from the four corners of the Island, crowding the church. Seven men were being driven to the meeting in a butcher's truck, when suddenly the Spirit of God fell upon them in great conviction. and all were converted before they reached the church! As the preacher delivered his message, tremendous conviction of sin swept down upon the people! Tears rolled down the faces of the people, and from every part of the building came cries of men and women crying for mercy. So deep was the distress of some that their voices could be heard outside in the road. A young man beneath the pulpit cried out: "0 God, hell is too good for me!"
The meeting closed when the people began to move out. As the last person, Duncan Campbell, was about to leave, a young man began to pray. Under a tremendous burden of intercession, he prayed for three quarters of an hour and, as he prayed, the people kept gathering until there were twice as many outside the church as there were inside! When the young man stopped praying, the Elder gave out Psalm 132, and as the great congregation sang the old hymn, the people streamed back into the church again, and the meeting went on until 4 a.m.
The moment people took their seats, the Spirit of God in awful conviction began to sweep through the church, and hardened sinners began to weep and confess their sins.
Just as the meeting was closing, a messenger hurried up to Campbell, very excited:
"Come with me! There's a crowd of people outside the police station; they are weeping and in awful distress. We don't know what's wrong with them, but they are calling for someone to come and pray with them."
Describing the scenes outside the police station, which reminded one of the amazing days of Charles Finney, and the Welsh Revival, Campbell declared:
"I saw a sight I never thought was possible. Something I shall never forget. Under the starlit sky, men and women were kneeling everywhere, by the roadside, outside the cottages, even behind the peat stacks, crying for God to have mercy upon them!"
Nearly 600 people, who had been making their way to the church, when suddenly the Spirit of God had fallen upon them in great conviction—like Paul on the way to Damascus causing them to fall to their knees in repentance!
Revival had come!
For five weeks, it swept on in that one Parish, Duncan Campbell conducted four services nightly; in one church at 7 o'clock, in another at 10, in a third at midnight, and back to the first one at 3 o'clock, and home between 5 and 6 o'clock—tired, but very happy to be in the midst of such a wonderful moving of God.
If I was to ask any of you what is holiness – if I was to ask the children – would they know?
Would they have a hope for it?
Would it be a goal – a pursuit for their lives – to see God come down and change a nation?
I am truly, truly, distressed of spirit for us – NZ, the Church, -- but also for the lost – we have created an image of God – an imagination of Him that makes us comfortable and our perception of “AWE” – is like the victory of an All Black win – happy, content, joy, feeling a part of something wonderful – but with God is terrible majesty – and if we don’t even consider it or seek to know it or cry out for it – how will our children ever know it at all.
That’s why I seek revival – that’s why I try to get us to see what we really are like – it is not growling or negative or even deep – it is the hope that one day the Spirit of God will pick it all up and we will fall on our faces and cry Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty – and we will turn our faces away but we will see Him as He is!!
Do you know I can tell you that you are all wonderful and God has a great plan for your lives I can prophesy all sorts of things over you – I could even exhort you to prosperity and success – but if I do not get you to see that with God is terrible majesty – I have failed you all! And I allow the lie – the same one that began it all in the garden – we can be like God – equal, mates.
But with God is terrible majesty!!