During the week I listened to a message by Carol Arnott. It is a timely message that speaks to what many in the Body are saying we can expect in this next while.
The message by Carol Arnott is called Glory and Fear of God. In it she unpacks what the Church must do to be cleansed and holy in preparation for the coming glory of God.
I had fallen into the illusion, as I believe many others can, of thinking that this shaking is going to be challenging but not too bad and that the glory coming thereafter is going to be great. But this message is a disillusioning reminder that God’s glory is not something to be taken lightly. If we aren’t prepared for it, if we aren’t purified and if we haven’t repented for “secret sins”, as Carol Arnott says, the glory will crush us.
The glory of God is a wonderful thing, an awesome thing, a fearful thing.
When Israel was taken out of Egypt, there was a time when God met with them at Mount Sinai. God instructed Moses to tell Israel to consecrate themselves, because He will come down on Mount Sinai in front of all the people (Exodus 19:10-11). God also said to put a perimeter around the mountain, otherwise whoever touches the foot of it will be put to death (Exodus 19:12-13).
The Bible then describes God’s descent to the mountain in this way:
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.Exodus 19:16-20 NKJV
What an amazing and terrible sight that would have been.
Israel had seen God do wonderful and mighty things for them as He was delivering them from Egypt, sending plagues to the Egyptians and parting the waters of the Red Sea, but they hadn’t seen Him yet. But now they do. Here He is, coming onto the mountain in fire. Such a display of glory they would not have seen before, and fear and trembling would be the only appropriate response.
I find it interesting, for lack of a better word, that God had instructed Moses to set a perimeter around the mountain so people would not come too close. If they overstepped they could be put to death (Exodus 19:12-13). God had also instructed Moses to tell the people to consecrate themselves and wash their clothes in preparation for God’s coming (Exodus 19:10-11). And when Moses went up to the mountain after God called him up, God said to him again to warn the people that they must not go past the perimeters to look upon the LORD lest they die, and the priests must consecrate themselves as well lest they die:
“Also have the priests who approach the LORD consecrate (sanctify, set apart) themselves [for My sacred purpose], or else the LORD will break forth [in judgement] against them [and destroy them].”Exodus 19:22 AMP
These are strong warnings but they were put in place for the people’s protection. God’s glory is so holy, so pure, that any sin would instantly be destroyed in it.
It’s like a really hot fire that will instantly burn away any wood that’s thrown in, but any metal that’s thrown in will be fine. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 alludes to this:
But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgement] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work.1 Corinthians 3:12-13 AMP
Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29) and He instructed Moses to put these parameters in place so that the Israelites would not be destroyed if they came into contact with His glory. Because God’s glory is so pure and holy, if the Israelites had any sin, any ‘wood, hay, straw’, in them and they entered the glory, they would perish.
God does not want anyone to perish, which is why He gave such clear instruction for the people to avoid coming too close to His glory.
The only one who went up Mount Sinai that day was Moses, and only after God invited him.
This was not the first time Moses encountered God as a fire. You will recall that when Moses first met God, God appeared to him in the form of a burning bush (see Exodus 3). Yet even in this encounter, God gave Moses parameters in how to approach Him:
When the LORD saw that he turned away [from the flock] to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Then God said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet [out of respect], because the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”Exodus 3:4-5 AMP
God’s glory is a wonderful thing, but it is not something for us to take lightly.
We cannot be overly familiar and flippant about His coming glory, because if we approach it too casually there can be dire consequences for us.
God set clear parameters for Moses and Israel to approach His glory for this very reason and I believe we need to take heed of those parameters as we prepare for His coming glory.
1. Consecrate Ourselves
As Carol Arnott shared in her message, repent. Repent of the sins and the secret sins we have allowed in our lives. It is so important for us to ensure we are vessels fit for holy purposes. Therefore we must take the time and make the effort to consecrate ourselves to Him, as 2 Timothy 2:21 says:
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [which are dishonorable – disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.2 Timothy 2:21 AMP
There is a prayer I have occasionally prayed, but since hearing Carol Arnott’s message I’ve been praying it regularly. It’s straight from Psalm 19:
Who can understand his errors or omissions? Acquit me of hidden (unconscious, unintended) faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous (deliberate, willful) sins;
Let them not rule and have control over me.
Then I will be blameless (complete),
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable and pleasing in Your sight,
O LORD, my [firm, immovable] rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalm 19:12-14 AMP)
I believe that as we press into God and seek His consecration, He will reveal to us the things we need to repent of. And praise be to Jesus and His sacrifice that repentance can happen so swiftly and easily.
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].1 John 1:9 AMP
2. Know our boundaries in His glory
In both the burning bush encounter and the Mount Sinai encounter with the fire of God, God set a boundary for Moses and Israel not to cross. These are boundaries we must adhere to unless invited by God to cross. In the Mount Sinai encounter, God called Moses to come up the mountain to meet with Him (Exodus 19:20).
I believe that just as vital as it is for us to consecrate ourselves in preparation for the glory, it is just as vital for us seek God for the parameters for us in His glory outpouring. Great harm can come when we overstep boundaries and do not steward well what He has given us, and I believe we must be sensitive to His guidance and invitation in this time.
It is a wonderful thing God is bringing us into, so let us continue to pray into and prepare for His great glory outpouring ahead.
Cover image by Mohammed Moussa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28338950