Last week we spoke of lingering in the presence of the Lord, and about the apples that refresh. Secret prayer releases signs and wonders – power in the natural realm. Look at any notable miracle worker throughout church history and you will see a resume of hours upon hours of one-on-one time with the Lord.
Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love (Song 2:5).
Let’s talk about these apples a bit more. This week we will look at the refreshing of God’s presence, and the manifestations sometimes associated with it. Sometimes standing firm in the word of God means you are unable to get off the floor. As I was preparing this for this word in prayer last week, I had to physically crawl in order to reach the restroom because of the heavy glory and faintness that the Lord swept over me. This is the nature of things under the apple tree. Does it always make sense to press into this Kingdom in such a way? Not to the natural mind.
We should note in the previous verse of this passage, “He has taken me to the banquet hall” (verse 4), that the banquet hall can be literally translated as “House of Wine.” It is a place of heavy drinking in the presence of the Lord. God is all about a good party, and when He steps into the room, you can expect glorious chaos to ensue.
:: manifestation ::
The glory in the secret place will impact the body and soul realm at times in powerful manifestation. Again, it is not that we pursue manifestation, but in our honest pursuit of the Lord, such activity is sometimes a byproduct – as it has always been throughout scripture and church history. Sometimes God is hidden, and at other times, He is manifest. We should never base or hinge our spirituality on manifestation, but neither should we reject it as if it were altogether unbiblical. We have a clear precedent in this regard from Pentecost forward. Even in the Old Testament, the Lord moved prophetically on His holy men in much more a bizarre fashion than simply making them flop on the floor. Isaiah walked naked for three years. Ezekiel lay on his side for more than a year, flipping only once. And when the glory rested in the temple, the priests could not even stand to perform their duties, because it came upon them so strongly.
It is humorous to consider the writings of great revivalists and missionaries of the past, and how they would occasionally speak of gathering together to be “refreshed” in the Holy Spirit. Ever wonder what that looked like? We’ve stereotyped so many of our forerunners as stiff-necked, starch-collared holy rollers. But many of them were complete Holy Ghost drunks. In Jonathan Edwards’ meetings, people swooned and fell over and entered trances under the weighty hand of God. John Wesley writes of prayer meetings with George Whitefield and others where they all fell to the ground in awe and amazement at the presence. An early Methodist convert wrote in 1807, “I thought they were distracted, such fools I’d never seen. They’d stamp and clap and tremble, and wail and cry and scream.” An even earlier such gathering in 1776 was described as follows: “the assembly appeared to be all in confusion, and must seem to one at a little distance more like a drunken rabble than the worshippers of God.” Quakers and Shakers were so named because they physically shook and trembled under the mighty presence of God.
We should get used to a few physical manifestations in the church – every revival has been marked by them. If we can’t handle someone falling over in a church service, how will we cope with blood and fire and billows of smoke when the Lord releases Mosaic signs and wonders back into the earth? Do we want revival, or a funeral dirge?
Clean cut, predictable worship services may be nice, but if we want the strength of the ox, the stall is going to get messy. We must learn to think spiritually, so that we do not get hung up on messy services full of manifestation, laughing and flopping. We must set our eyes on what God is doing amidst it all. Often, he is simply moving on hearts and playing with His children. Usually, He is filling us with power.
:: fiery embrace ::
The renewal of the mind brings great power.
His left arm is under my head, and His right arm embraces me (verse 6).
The left arm speaks of the spiritual side. Even in the oldest Christian icons, artists painted Jesus’ left and right sides differently, to reflect both his divine and human nature. The left arm under the head here speaks of a spiritual understanding that bypasses the carnal mind – actually renews it – while giving rest to the thoughts and release from the cares and the worries of the world. This spiritual perspective is what makes Christians often look like idiots in contrast to the wisdom of the age. We are supposed to be that way. We are salt and light. We do not try to offend, but the cross is an offense. Seeming blind trust in God stirs up frustration among the religious and the ungodly, who are working so hard in their own strife. If you begin to operate in the favor, ease and buttered feet of the anointing, those who strive will become envious.
When we let the Holy Spirit come upon us and do as He pleases, we ourselves will become a sign and a wonder. On a very basic level, that is really even the point of physical manifestations. Brother Lawrence, who made it his sole ambition to practice God’s presence, said that when the glory came upon him very strongly, he would often do very silly, childish things because he couldn’t physically contain it. We mentioned in a previous study that people came from miles around just to watch him wash dishes, because of the way God visibly manifested the Holy Spirit through his actions.
Our spirituality must be intrinsically connected to our natural lifestyle. Christ was both God and flesh. In the same way, our spiritual side (and even the spiritual practice of prayer) should in some way birth visible, tangible fruit in the natural realm.
It is the right arm of the Lord in this passage that embraces us. The right hand is the one that is extended into the world, the “strong arm,” with which we carry out most of our natural business. The right side is the natural side in most biblical typologies. In regard to manifesting the kingdom in the earth through giftings, miracles and the like, that is a right arm affair. Yes, this is an embrace of love in verse 6. But it also speaks of a supernatural endowment imparted to us. This is not just the Holy Spirit “in” us, as much as it is the Holy Spirit “on” us. There is a difference. The fire burns both within and without. When the Holy Spirit rests on a person, like a blanket or a mantle, then there is a release of supernatural activity that spills over into the natural realm. The right hand speaks of God’s hand of power and authority in the earth, stretched into the natural realm. Jesus, the extension of the Trinity who stepped from Heaven into the earth, sits at the Father’s right hand. The right hand is the one God stretches into our earthly dimension to demonstrate His power. The embrace of God’s love and the embracing mantle of supernatural power in the life of a believer should go hand in hand.
Remember how the apostles prayed in Acts 4? “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And after that prayer, what happened? The place was shaken, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they “spoke the word of God boldly.” Keep in mind this was two chapters after Pentecost, and this represented an entire new level of glory and power than was seen at first when they began to speak with tongues of fire. By Acts 5, the manifest presence of God’s power had increased to the point that people started falling dead in the glory with their sins, because it rested so strongly on the church.
:: glory realm ::
With each new level and realm of glory we enter, the old man passes away to another degree. The deeper we go, the more we lay aside. There are things you can get away with in the outer and inner courts that will get you killed in the Most Holy Place. Even our old ministry style must be laid to rest. There is a lamp stand and some measure of light – some measure of revelation even in the inner court. But as we enter the glory realm, the oil flows and the fire burns beyond our control. It is no longer enjoying God at our own pace and pleasure. This is a place of full possession, where you are utterly at His disposal. Leave the dim light behind and press into the all-consuming fire. We are on a constant pursuit from new wineskin to new wineskin, because the old bags can’t hold the new wine. This is the substance of renewal.
This type of “right arm embrace” can be a bold, powerful infusion of the miraculous. Many still worship the Lord according to outer court systems of human regulation: Do not eat, do not touch, do not taste. Wear this to church, organize the pews in such and such a manner, etc. Still others press into the inner courts and have a few visitations, get words of prophecy, taste the revelatory realm and see that God is good. But we want more than visitation, we want habitation.
Where are those who will go deeper still, to the level of full possession? To go into the Most Holy Place means they may be dragging you back out by the rope around your ankle. This is a level of power that you do not control, it controls you. It is a sword that you do not bear – the sword itself wields you. And sometimes strikes you. Remember when Joshua asked the angel of the Lord before a battle, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” How did the angel respond? He said “No.” He represented the interest of one who was altogether above the fray.
This level of glory is not about twisting God’s arm and pleading for Him to back your own cause. This is a level of glory wherein we get on board with His agenda. And since we are no longer in control, there is a certain holy wildness that comes over us. It is the unfettered wildness of love.