Spotlight 12/2021: Encounters with God
A burning bush, thunder, and lightning. Encounters with God are described as terrifying events in the Bible. Yet, District Apostle Joseph Opemba Ekhuya from Kenya in East Africa looks forward to it in spite of this.
The motto we have been given by our Chief Apostle for this year points us to our future fellowship with Christ. Christ said He will come for those who love Him so that they can be where He is in the presence of God the Father. These words alone stir up some emotion in our hearts. “How will it be like in heaven?” we ask. In the Bible we can read about some individuals who had an encounter with God and this is how they reported their experience.
Moses had an encounter with the Lord in the burning bush (Exodus 3: 2–6). His first reaction was curiosity. The bush was burning but it was not consumed? Then God spoke to him from the burning bush and said “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet for, the place where you stand is holy ground.” At that moment, Moses became afraid and could not look into the burning bush any more.
The children of Israel also had an encounter with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20: 18–19). Their experience was terrifying. There was thunder, lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and smoke rising from the mountain. They were so terrified that they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”
Isaiah also describes his encounter with the Lord in the temple. His experience was also terrifying. In Isaiah 6: 5 he speaks to himself and says, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Paul, before he became an Apostle, also had an encounter with the Lord on the way to Damascus. He was going to arrest the Christians. Acts 9: 3–4 says that a light shone around him from heaven and he fell to the ground. Then the Lord spoke to him. While trembling and astonished, he asked the Lord, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” Then he was instructed what to do.
When we read these reports of experiences of people meeting the Lord, one can easily say, “If that is the way one meets the Lord, then I am not interested in going to heaven.” But the Bible tells us that those who have accepted Jesus and have become children of God have received the possibility of meeting the Lord in a different manner.
1 John 3: 2 says that “it has not yet been revealed to us what we shall be, but we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”. This is the future that we look forward to. It seems as if Jesus wanted to prepare His disciples for this future. So He took three of them to the mountain and was transfigured in their presence. His face was shining like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light. Moses and Elijah also appeared there talking to Jesus. At this point, Peter spoke and said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here” (Matthew 17: 4).
If we are wise and run the race of faith set before us with endurance we shall not fall short of the future with God that Christ has promised us. We shall be granted the final grace by Jesus at His second coming so that we can enter the presence of God without fear. It says in Daniel 12: 3 that “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever”. That is our future with Christ.
Photo: NAC East Africa