A Close Encounter Through A Miraculous Revelation
Close Encounters Of The God Kind
A Close Encounter Through A Miraculous Revelation
A couple of weeks ago, I went with my daughter to see the new movie, “Lost In Space.” Of course the movie is based upon the TV show, which aired back in 1965. The setting of the TV show is in the future, 1997 to be exact, when the Robinson family takes off in the Jupiter 2, America’s first colonization mission to Alpha Centauri. However, a spy for a foreign country, Dr. Zachary Smith, sneaks on board and sabotages the mission by reprogramming the ship’s robot to destroy the Jupiter 2 after launch. But Smith becomes trapped on board, and the Robinsons save the ship, but not before its guidance system is damaged, and the Jupiter 2 becomes lost in space.
Well, the whole world has become “Lost In Space.” The whole world seems to be mesmerized with space, flying saucers, and alien encounters. In the immortal words of the Robot, “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson!” There is a danger in this fascination. The world is looking for someone other than God! The real encounter that we need is not with extraterrestrials, but with Jesus Christ!
We are presently involved in a series of messages entitled: “Close Encounters Of The God Kind.” This title is take from one of the most spectacular UFO science fiction films of all times. It was entitled: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
In this series, we are studying close encounters with God, by likening them to close encounters with UFO’s.
When a person has a close encounter with a UFO, it cannot be totally explained.
When a person truly encounters God, something happens that he/she cannot totally explain or rationalize. They cannot totally explain it, because it is miraculous, supernatural, or spiritual.
When a person has a close encounter with a UFO, it is an experience that changes that person’s life forever.
When a person has a close encounter with the Jehovah God, it is an experience that changes that person’s life forever.
In first three sermons in this series, we worked hard to develop a definition for a “Close Encounter Of The God Kind.” That definition is
A “Close Encounter Of The God Kind” is a face-to-face meeting with God that cannot be totally explained, but which—when fully experienced—will bring about a response of genuine worship or celebration, which includes the remembrance of a redemptive past and/or the conviction of a liberated future that changes people forever; causing them to move and grow by over-recording the intuitive tapes of their core belief.
In the fourth message in this series, we explored one of the major barriers to experiencing a close encounter with God. We called that barrier: “The Brain Barrier.” “The Brain Barrier” is the American, Greek influenced tendency to separate and exalt the intellect above the emotions. Jack Deere, in his book “Surprised By The Power Of The Holy Spirit,” talks about the same thing!
We then began to explore twelve “Close Encounters Of The God Kind,” through the lens of our definition.
In the fifth message, we explored Abraham’s first encounter with God.
In the sixth message, we explored God’s encountering of Abraham through a test.
In the seventh message, we explored God’s encountering of Jacob through a dream.
In the last message, we struggled to begin to develop a theology of dreams.
(That brings us to the ninth message in this series.)
In this message, we are going to explore God’s encountering of Moses through a miraculous revelation in the wilderness.
Moses had attempted to be the “Deliverer of Israel” through his own power. In so doing, he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. This became known, so Pharaoh sought to kill Moses. Because of this, Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian.
While Moses was on the back side of the desert, in training to be the “Deliverer of Israel,” after many days, the king of Egypt died and there arose another Pharaoh that did not know Joseph. He put the Israelites in bitter bondage, but the sons of Israel cried to God because of their bondage. The Bible then records that God heard the groaning of the children of Israel, remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and took notice of the children of Israel. God hears the cries of His Children. Therefore, men ought always to pray and never give up!
This is where we pick up the story. Notice with me please Exodus 3:1-14.
As Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. If you want more information about this mountain, you can get my last Sunday evening’s Communion message, entitled: “It’s time to move!”
At Mount Sinai, the “angel of the Lord” encountered Moses in a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. The terminology of the “angel of the Lord” is used for Jehovah God. So, Jehovah God encountered Moses!!! God took an ordinary bush and transformed it into a flaming manifestation of Himself! Moses had “A Close Encounter Of The God Kind.” This was an experience that could not be totally explained and that would change Moses forever!
(I changed the message since I gave Cheryl those notes, so they may not match exactly. So, just take the notes that you want.)
One of the points that we have been making through this series is that God does not just encounter people to encounter them. God encounters people to give them a God-sized assignment. God encountered Moses through the miraculous revelation of the burning bush, to give Him the God-sized assignment of leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt.
(And what was Moses response to this “Close Encounter Of The God Kind”?)
In these messages, I am trying to show you how people who were encountered by God did more than intellectually dissect the encounter. They fully entered into and fully experienced the encounter.
Certainly Moses responds with some intellectual inquisitiveness, but he responds with so much more of himself than just his intellect. The text says in
Exodus 3:3, “So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’”
When he did turn aside to see this marvelous sight, his intellectual inquisitiveness brought him to the place of full encounter with God. God spoke to him out of the midst of that burning bush. God tells Moses to take off his sandals, because the place that he was standing on was holy ground. Isn’t God saying, “This is not just an intellectual lesson Moses, but an encounter and an experience? Put down your parchment and your quill and come closer!”
Moses’ response to this encounter is a genuine response of worship, which in this case is a conviction of a liberated future. Moses’ response is twofold. First, we assume that Moses obeyed God and took his sandals off of his feet. Obedience is one of the first and greatest forms of worship.
Secondly, the encounter has moved far beyond Moses’ intellect, because he is afraid to do the very thing he first wanted to do, i.e. look. He is no longer objectively observing the bush, but covering his face and eyes in fear. Don’t miss the worship here! Reverential fear and covering one’s face and eyes in the presence of the Holy God is a form of worship!
Now God reveals His purpose to Moses. He was encountering Moses, because He was calling and commissioning him to be the worship leader of the Children of Israel. Because of God’s covenant with the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because of the cry of the children of Israel, and because of the bondage of the Egyptians, God was sending Moses to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian and lead them to the mountain of God to worship Him and then on to the Promised Land!
But Moses lacked confidence in his abilities to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, so he asked God, “What if the children of Israel ask what your name is?” Now God gives Moses and even greater revelation of Himself. It says in
Exodus 3:14, “And God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I am has sent me to you.”’”
Moses’ genuine response of worship, which in this case was the conviction of a liberated future, changed him forever and overwrote the intuitive tapes of his core beliefs. Moses intuitive tapes are obvious. They had to be playing something like, “You can’t do that? You aren’t equipped to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt? You don’t speak good enough to accomplish that? You aren’t big enough to tangle with Pharaoh? Besides, you are wanted for murder! How are you going to handle that?”
After a great deal more interaction with God, Moses’ intuitive tapes were over-recorded by God. Moses developed a conviction of a liberated future for the Children of Israel and himself. He finally accepted God’s calling and returned to Egypt, miraculously delivered the Children of Israel from Egypt—and the rest is history!
(So, how do we apply the truth in this encounter to our lives?)
Well, one of the questions that we must entertain is, “Does God still encounter people through miraculous revelations of Himself?” The reason that we must entertain this question is that some people don’t believe that God still reveals Himself miraculously. But before we discuss God miraculously revealing Himself, let’s discuss some other forms of divine revelation.
The only way that Mankind can know God is if God chooses to reveal Himself to Mankind. One of those ways of revelation is general revelation. General revelation is God making Himself known to people through nature. The Psalmist said in
Psalm 19:1, “...The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”
The heavens and the sky reveal to all people that there is a God, for they are the work of His hands. The heavens and the sky did not come into being by themselves, they were created by the infinite, all-wise Creator, Jehovah God. “General revelation is universal in the sense that it is God’s self-disclosure of Himself in a general way to all people at all times in all places” (Holman Bible Dictionary). Simply look up and you know that there must be a God somewhere!!!
General revelation is sufficient for all people to know that there is a God, but not sufficient for people to come to know God personally in salvation.
(Praise God that He did not stop with general revelation. There is also specific revelation.)
Specific revelation is the particular, progressive, redemptive, personal, and propositional self-disclosure of Himself, through His Word, the Bible! John tells us in
John 20:30-31, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
The specific revelation of the Bible is ultimately designed to lead us to Jesus Christ as Savior. Of course this cannot happen without the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit.
God not only speaks to people through the Bible for salvation, but for divine guidance in certain situations.
· He speaks through the Bible.
· He speaks through experience.
· He speaks through trials.
· He speaks through common events.
(But God doesn’t stop speaking after general and specific revelation.)
He also speaks through supernatural or miraculous means. We have such a miraculous revelation before us. When I use the term miraculous, I mean “events which unmistakably involve an immediate and powerful action of God designed to reveal His character or purposes” (Holman Bible Dictionary).
Have you experienced such an encounter with God? Has God ever taken something ordinary in your life, i.e. an ordinary thing or an ordinary situation, and transformed it into a flaming manifestation of Himself? Well, I have had encounters with God. I have experienced God turning ordinary things, events, or circumstances into flaming encounters with Him!
(Recently God has been bringing these encounters back to my mind. Let me share a couple of these encounters with you.)
Periodically during my childhood and right on through my adolescence, God encountered me through His Word and dreams concerning the work that He had for me, but there was also another avenue of encounter: prophecy. Let’s define prophecy as a specific word from the Lord for a specific situation and/or person, through the direct prompting of the Holy Spirit, that is in keeping with the written Word of God. It in no way equals the inspiration or infallibility of the Word of God, but it does have its own inspiration of the Spirit. By the elements of this definition, we should be able to see that prophecy qualifies as a miraculous revelation of God. In prophecy, God unmistakably reveals Himself through a specific word to a person, group, or situation, in an immediate and powerful action, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring about His purposes.
By the way, Paul admonishes the Corinthians, and us, with these words in
1 Thessalonians 5:20, “Do not despise prophetic utterances.”
Paul teaches a biblical balance with prophetic utterances: they should not be lifted up to the authority of the Bible, nor should they be despised and forgotten.
An evangelist in the Church of God in Christ, by the name of Sister Shaw, prophesied over me, over 25 years ago, “God is going to do a quick work through you!” That prophecy confirmed what God had been showing me through His Word, through dreams, and through other prophecies. Those ordinary words became a burning bush in my life. Those ordinary words were more than ordinary words. They were words that were set on fire by the Holy Spirit, but not consumed.
After that, while I was working at Babcock and Wilcox, the late Al Spivey, a White brother that God send into my life, prophesied over my life. He would bring me Christian books and encourage me to get into the ministry full-time. One day brother Al came to me and said, “Brother Joey. God has shown me that you are going to have the largest Black church in the city of Akron. His ordinary words, became a burning bush that was set on fire by Jehovah God, but not consumed. I have never forgotten those words!
God has given me some more burning bushes to let me know that His destiny for me is greater than where we are right now!
By the way, this is what we all need: someone to prophecy a destiny over us from the Lord. And race, color, creed, or national origin have nothing to do with the prophetic word of God. You can change people’s circumstances and give them money, but if their souls are not changed they cannot prosper. We all need a word of prophecy.
(But why did God give me this burning-bush prophecy?)
God encountered me through the miraculous revelation of prophecy to give me the God-sized assignment of building and leading this ministry for God. God encountered me through prophecy, because He has called me to be the worship leader of The House of the Lord. He has called me to lead you out of the bondage of sin and to the mountain of God to worship Him, and then on to the Promised Land of the filling of the Holy Spirit and Abundant Christian Life!
This is the difference in many ministries. The pulpits of America are filled with lots of saved men, good men, intelligent men, nice men, kind men, but many of them are not called men!
Likewise, God is encountering you because He wants to use you. Let’s praise God for that right now!
(Before I give you the rest of the good news, I had better give you the bad news in the text.)
God’s preparation for this calling included a course of isolation on the backside of the desert, which was set up by trouble.
This is bad news, because no one in our day wants to go through any preparation to be called or used of God. But God often prepares His servants through isolation, which is set up by trouble. God needs to do some things in our hearts before He can use us and that often means He needs to separate us unto Himself.
Notice that God did not cause the trouble, which led to the preparation. That came about through Moses attempts to become the leader of Israel under his on power, but nevertheless, God encountered Moses in the midst of his self-created trouble.
(Now when God encounters us through a burning-bush experience, we have got to learn to do more than analyze the experience. We must fully experience the encounter and begin to walk it out.)
Moses could not explain this burning bush. I cannot explain to you how Sister Shaw, knowing very little about me, could say these words. I cannot explain to you exactly how Al Spivey could look into the future. There is no totally rational explanation for these things. They are miraculous revelations of the power of the Holy Spirit.
When God encounters you through miraculous revelation, do more than try to intellectually dissect the encounter. Enter into the encounter with all your body, soul, and spirit! Attempt to think through the encounter; experience the encounter; see the encounter; feel the encounter; touch the encounter; taste the encounter; smell the encounter; hear the encounter! Then walk it out!
(What am I talking about?)
I am talking about obedience! Moses’ response was obedience. It was not perfect, but it was sincere.
My response was obedience! It was halting and faltering, but God is gracious.
Your response should be obedience!
I believe that one of the reasons that so few Christians have discovered and are using their spiritual gifts: they have not obeyed God and accepted God’s assignment for ministry. When you accept God’s assignment, He will give you every tool that you need to complete that assignment. God is not illuminating His gifts in people who are going to just sit on the sideline. If you want to discover your motivational gift, report for duty!
(Another response should be reverence!)
When God showed up, Moses hid his face, and we ought to hide our faces! When God encounters us through miraculous revelation, of the nature of prophecy, we worship God through reverential fear. Many modern Christians do not understand the nature of reverential fear. They feel something is wrong when they experience reverential fear, but when God shows up there ought to be some reverential fear.
(So, how did these encounters change me?)
He developed in me the conviction of a liberated future for The House of the Lord and myself.
Early on, I likewise lacked the confidence to carry out God’s commands. When God called me, I was a shy, self-conscious, soft-spoken, child. I was extremely self-conscious as a child and teenager. The tapes that played in my mind were, “You are ugly. People don’t like you. You are square! You are not popular! Why would God use you to do something so powerful? People don’t like your good grades! You are not worth people’s time. People always abandon you!” I really want to be liked, but I’ll settle for respect! I really want to be perceived correctly, but I’ll suffer misunderstanding to facilitate deliverance from bondage for many people!
But through many encounters with God and my responding to them obedience, reverence, praise, and worship, they began to over-record the intuitive tapes of my core belief. By the time I organized this ministry, two days before my twenty-second birthday, I had matured some—but I wasn’t sure of anything that had to with leadership. Yet, God through His Word and through additional revelations of Himself, changed me forever by giving me enough conviction and confidence to carry out His immediate will assignment—and the over-recording is still going on.
Now some of you are saying, “But I have never had a miraculous revelation like that and I don’t believe that God would ever reveal Himself to me like that!” Bad tape! God has probably already revealed Himself to you a number of times, but you have been unable to see Him. God often reveals Himself in the ordinary bushes or everyday things, events, or circumstances of life. Elizabeth Barrett Browning said
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.
Start looking for God in everyday circumstances! God wants to reveal Himself to you, so that He might use you in delivering His New Testament children from bondage! And don’t worry about your limitations.
· He doesn’t care if you are not of noble birth!
· He doesn’t care if you have no confidence in yourself!
· He doesn’t care if you have a prison record!
· He doesn’t care if you stutter!
He is going to remake you anyway!
Therefore, thank God for the encounters that He already has planned for you in the everyday circumstances of life.
Finally, thank God for the miraculous encounter that God used to encounter me, so that you might be free of bondage right now!
(Now is the day of Salvation. Come to Jesus, Now!)
Call to Discipleship
Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”