Earlier this year I was out praying besides the Swan River and saw an unusual cloud which I believe was a familiar prophetic sign. In different places around the world God has communicated to me via the colours of the spectrum. The cloud in the western sky over Perth was iridescent, with a reddish hue to the left through to a purplish hue on the right. From the time of Noah God has spoken of the triumph of his grace beyond judgement through the beauty of the rainbow (Gen 9:13-16; James 2:13). The climactic rainbow in scripture appears over the throne of God in Revelation, as a sign that God’s final glory is to redeem his people and to issue in a new creation beyond all wrath. Since seeing the cloud I have been reading the biography of the man who was the closest thing I ever had to a spiritual father; someone who combined scholarly pursuit with fervent spirituality, the experience of revival and powerful prophetic preaching. His influence has been uniquely indelible. As I neared the end of the biography with its amazing stories of grace and mercy, I felt in my heart a strange unexplained longing. It became clear that it was a homesickness for two worlds, the intensity of the spiritual climate of my conversion in the 70’s, a world of hippies, eastern cults, the charismatic movement and the Jesus Revolution, and even more deeply, an unsatisfied longing for a deeper revelation of the “mysteries of God”. Spiritual homesickness is a longing for a deeper experience of the mystery of God’s grace and glory (Eph 3:4).
God on the Inside
I often seek a spiritual awareness of what is going on “inside” a situation. Such a “spirit of wisdom and revelation” involves sensing what is going on within the heart of God and people (Eph 1:17). Paul seems to be referring to such an awareness when he says, “we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Cor 2:13). Something like this happened as I was out praying this morning. I momentarily sensed I was inside the cloud of God’s glory, one with the spectrum of glory, rather than an external observer (cf. Ex 24:18; 2 Ki 2:11).
The shekinah glory enfolded Jesus and his disciples on the mount of transfiguration (Luke 9:34) and he ascended in the cloud of glory back to heaven (Acts 1:9). The ascension of Jesus away from earth is pivotal to our homesickness for his Return. The book of Revelation is framed by such a longing. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”” (Rev 1:7 ESV). This introductory “Amen” finds its echo at the conclusion of the book, the very end of the Bible, ““Surely I am coming soon.”Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20). These “Amens” are the “Amens” of desire, of a longing that cannot be fulfilled by anything earthly but only by sharing in the glory of Christ himself. This insatiable hunger/homesickness is the spiritual truth behind all genuine desire for revival and flows from a revelation of the divine mystery.
Humanity in God
The greatest mystery of God is humanity, not any human being but Jesus, and not Jesus in any form, but Jesus as humanity taken into God. “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:4-5 ESV). The return of Jesus to heaven means humanity now indwells the eternal Trinity. Jesus’ human heart, soul, mind, strength is totally filled with the glory of God. This marvellous mystery is uncontainable and flows out powerfully from Christ to his Church. “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him,” (Colossians 2:9-10 ESV). In Jesus our redeemed humanity now lives, moves and has its being in the life of the Trinity. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3 ESV). The indwelling of our lives in God and God in us is the vital “hope of glory” (Col 1:27); not in a narrow individualistic way, but the sure and certain hope of the glorification of all things (Rom 8:21). This glorious indwelling, and the longing to see it spread through all the earth, is the vital motivating force of the prayer, “Your kingdom come….on earth as it is in heaven”.
All Things Glorious
Jesus came, lived, died and returned to heaven that all people and all things might enter into the sphere of glory that naturally belongs to God alone. Christ’s mind has a complete grasp of glory and his limitless desire is to fully share this knowledge with creation. The prophetic promise, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14 ESV), means that the whole creation will one day share Christ’s consciousness of the glory of his Father in the power of the Spirit. This is what it will mean to know God on the inside of the all things. A share in such infinite things can come to us NOW; as he was dying the persecuted St John Chrysostom exclaimed, “Glory be to God for all things.” This can be our present testimony.
The Glory of the River and the Healing of the Nations
The prophetic vision of “the restoration of all things” and “the regeneration” of the world (Acts 3:21, Matt 19:28) is a vision that the glory which fills Jesus’ humanity will fill all creation. To expound how this can happen I must return to the cloud by the river. If the spectral cloud represents the shekinah glory of God, the river symbolises the river of life whose vitalising power brings healing to the nations (Rev 22:1-2). I once wrote that the day would come when the prophesied cry of all nations to God would be fulfilled in Perth, “All my fountains are in you.” (Ps. 87:7). Jesus promised us, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”(John 7:38-39 ESV). The good news releasing the surge of the rivers of living water from our hearts is that Jesus has now been glorified – humanity has been taken into God. It is a revelation of this great redeeming truth that will liberate the Church into the purposes of God to heal the nations.
The psalmist sees into heaven and proclaims, “in his temple all cry, “Glory!”” (Ps 29:9). We are NOW this temple and the glory which dwells inside of God dwells in us (1 Cor 3:16; Eph 2:22; Col 1:27). Why then are we in need of revival and lacking an infilling of the Spirit and power? The answer is simple but devastating. For Jesus to be glorified he had to “make himself of no reputation” (Phil 2:7) and be stripped of all elements of human glory. On the cross the Son himself came to the point of absolute understanding that the only possible glory that remained for his humanity was God’s glory alone (Mark 15:34). The cross puts all self-glorifying and ambition to death; “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14). When our selfish ambition (James 3:6) dies and our homesick longings are for God’s glory alone the revival we seek will surely come.