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The Lord is on the throne, He’s moving. I was looking for the chorus that we sang at the beginning and though it’s in your index the number of it isn’t there. But, the third verse says, “Holy Spirit, I appreciate You. You lead me, and guide me, and in danger You hide me.” That’s rather appropriate for the theme I want to talk about tonight. I want to take my opening text from 1 Peter 1:9–12.
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
Let’s pause there for a moment. I don’t want to be controversial, but to me the Spirit of Christ is not identical with the Holy Spirit. I see a very clear distinction. There is the Spirit of the Son of God. This is not my theme, I don’t want to get involved in it, but I think it’s important to understand this. The problem of the Old Testament prophets was that they spoke in the first person about things that never happened to them. Like, David said, “They pierced my hands and my feet. They parted my garments amongst them.” Would you be surprised if you heard yourself saying that and wrote it down and it never happened to you? Isaiah said, “I gave my back to the smiter and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hairs.” It never happened to him, so far as we know. That would be a very strange and difficult thing to understand if you were prompted by the Spirit of God to say things about yourself that never happened to yourself.
I’m sure this is the problem that’s referred to here. The prophets wondered what they were talking about. There are many, many examples. It was revealed to them that they weren’t speaking for themselves but they were speaking to who should follow later. It was the Spirit of Christ in them speaking in the first person speaking about things that happened to Christ but never actually happened to the prophets through whom the message came.
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
Those are the two things that are put in the first person again and again by the prophets. They speak about themselves as the ones suffering and they speak about themselves as the one who is glorified, but it never happened to them. So, they had this tremendous problem, Why am I saying this? What am I talking about? Who is the message to? It was revealed that it was not to them but to the believers who should follow later.
If you think of the faith of the Old Testament saints, it’s staggering. Think of the faith of Moses and the people who constructed the tabernacle and carried out all those ordinances of worship and sacrifice year after year after year—and never really knowing what it was all about. It’s a real example of obedience and faith. Verse 12:
“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
So, we’re at the focal point both of the prophets of the past and of the angels of heaven. Their eyes, in a certain sense, are focused on us. The prophets looked forward to what we had, the angels desired to look down into it. That makes it somewhat startling to consider what we have.
What we have was declared or proclaimed by the preachers of the New Testament who preached the gospel with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. What I want to think about tonight with you is what does that mean to preach with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven? The language doesn’t suggest there it was merely the Holy Spirit speaking through them or anointing them. It suggests that the Holy Spirit was present there with them when they preached. That’s the picture that the word gives me. I’ve come to the conclusion that God never intended the gospel to be preached any other way but with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. The preachers of the gospel should never be alone; they should always have a miraculous, divine, omnipotent presence with them. The whole atmosphere surrounding the people of God should be entirely different from the atmosphere where the people of God are not. This is with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.
If you look at the place where the descent of the Holy Spirit is described in Acts 2 you’ll see that the Holy Spirit did much more than just enter the individual believers. Acts 2:1–4:
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them [to speak].”
On the day of Pentecost there were three successive phases to the total experience of the baptism. We could look at them for a moment. Number one, baptism—let’s call it immersion. That’s not a heresy in a Baptist church, is it? It’s really a more correct translation. First of all, they were immersed in the Holy Spirit. If they had not been immersed it would have been wrong to call it a “baptism” because a baptism is an immersing.
Secondly, infilling. They were all filled individually. Each one was filled.
Thirdly, the outflow. That’s the complete experience, as I understand it, of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That, I believe, is the complete pattern.
Theoretically you can stop anywhere. You can stop at immersion. You can be surrounded, enveloped with the Holy Spirit but never filled. Or, you can stop after the second phase. You can be surrounded and enveloped and infilled but have no outflow. But the divine, complete pattern is immersion, infilling and outflow. Somebody said, “Impression without expression produces depression.” You must have an expression. The outflow is the initial, divinely-attested, supernatural expression of the infilling.
What I want to talk about tonight is this: Immersion. I don’t think we’ve really given enough heed to that. I hear people who teach on receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It’s in you; all you’ve got to do is speak. Personally, I cannot accept that, because it wouldn’t be a baptism. In every single place in the book of Acts where you can read a description of people receiving the Holy Spirit, the language indicates the Holy Spirit came down over them from above. You see, there are two ways of being immersed. Number one is the swimming pool way. You go down into, pass through, come up out of. But, there’s another equally valid way of being immersed, it’s the Niagara Falls way. How many of you have ever seen Niagara Falls? All right. I remember the last time I stood there I said to myself, “You wouldn’t have to be one second under there, you’d be immersed. Totally. Totally enveloped in water.” Well, I believe each way is part of the experience of the Christian. Baptism in water is an immersion where you go down into and come up out of. But, baptism in the Holy Spirit is an immersion where the Holy Spirit comes down over you and immerses you. I dare to say linguistically this is 100 percent valid. Either is validly described as an immersion or a baptism.
So, they were all immersed in the Holy Spirit. Notice the language at the end of verse 2: “It filled.” “It.” I like the “it.” Some people say the Holy Spirit is always He. I don’t find that, He’s both He and it. He’s both personal and impersonal. He’s in both realms. It, the presence of the Holy Spirit, filled all the house where they were sitting. So, every one of them individually was immersed in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The reality of the Spirit of God in that place. “It totally filled.” As: if it were in this building tonight, this building would be filled from the front to the back, to the ceiling to the floor with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Bear in mind that it is perfectly scriptural and true to experience, to talk about the Spirit of God filling a location. There have been times in the history of revival when the presence of God has actually filled areas. If you read Finney’s autobiography you find that in some of the places where Charles Finney preached the power of the Holy Spirit came down and permeated an entire community, sometimes a town. It was an actual, objective fact that every person that came into that town got saved. They could not walk further on the street. The moment they came to that point they dropped on their knees and cried to God for mercy. This is a historically attested fact.
I was in Charlotte, North Carolina, about a couple of years ago and they showed me a Presbyterian church. They said some considerable number of years back they said, “Everybody that came near that church started to tremble and shake, no matter where they came from.” And, people came from many, many miles to see what was going on. The area was permeated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is absolutely valid. It’s our inheritance; we shouldn’t be living in less.
I’m going to try and show you tonight from a picture from the Old Testament what this means. This, I believe, is what’s included in the phrase “with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.” It’s not just the Holy Spirit in you but it’s the Holy Spirit with you, over you, around you, in front of you, behind you. I believe this is one of the secrets of the success of Catherine Kuhlman’s ministry. I’ve heard her talk, she says the Holy Spirit is Almighty God, He’s here, He’s a person. He can work anywhere at any time. He can do anything.
I believe we’re coming closer to that. At the end of a healing service in San Antonio, I got the Pentecostal pastor on one hand and the Baptist on the other, stood between them and said, “We’ll pray collectively for all the sick.” Three people came up afterwards and said without anybody laying hands on them they received an instantaneous physical miracle when we prayed. If we can only grasp this fact, if we can reckon with the presence of the Holy Spirit. He should be, He’s our right, we’re entitled to it, we’re living below the level of God’s provision if we live without this supernatural presence wherever we go.
I remember when we left the home in London where we lived and where we had our congregation, our ministry—which is known to several people here tonight. When we put it up for sale, or the lease, for disposal, a very obviously unconverted real estate man came along and walked around and looked at everything. Without our saying a word, he said this, “After all, you can’t put a price on atmosphere, can you?” We hadn’t said a thing to him. But, he felt something there. I believe that when we’re living in our inheritance wherever we go, wherever we’re assembled there should be this supernatural presence. Not just in us but with us.
Now, let me give you the Scripture that will lead us into the Old Testament. First Corinthians 10:1–2:
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant,... You notice Paul was more discreet than some of us. He didn’t say, ‘You are ignorant,’ but he implied it! My wife and I have been with the ?Show’s? since we saw you last. They’ve been trying to sort of prune us a little bit and get us a little more civilized in our expressions and say, ‘You can’t say that!’ It’s going to be interesting to see what we do end up by saying because we’re working on a book with them. But, we were definitely made to realize that we were too blunt in our expressions. So, I’m trying to learn. Now I don’t say you’re ignorant, I say I just wish you weren’t ignorant!”
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; ... [Then we just read verse 6:] Now these things were our examples ... [and verse 11:] Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [or types, it’s a Greek word for types]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
So, the experiences of Israel in their deliverance from Egypt are examples, types or patterns and they have a lesson to teach us as believers at the close of this age.
In the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt we can trace three successive phases. Number one, faith in the blood. Number two, baptism. Really, this is to be subdivided—one, in the cloud, two, in the sea. This is very clear and it says they are patterns. Faith in the blood of the Passover lamb obviously corresponds to faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. We have to openly declare our faith just as Israel had to strike the blood where it could be seen on the outside of their house. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7:
“Christ our passover [has been] sacrificed for us...”
So, the application of the Passover to Christ is endorsed by the New Testament.
Now, the blood started Israel on their redemptive route, but it did not get them out of Egypt. If there had been nothing more than their faith in the blood of the Passover lamb, the armies of Egypt would have caught up with them and taken them back into bondage. I believe this is a real lesson. Though I honor the blood of Jesus Christ and believe it to be the only basis for our redemption, yet as a way of deliverance from the dominion of this world and of Satan, it is not the total provision of God. There were two more experiences that got God’s people out of that area of dominion of evil forces. You could say two baptisms, in the cloud and in the sea. But, significantly enough, Paul doesn’t say that. If you look in verse 2 it says they were all “baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” It does not say they were all baptized in the cloud and then they were baptized in the sea. You may think I’m splitting hairs, but it is really significant. Paul says, in effect, there was one baptism in two elements. The cloud from above, the sea down into which they went.
You see, some Baptists, not the ones here tonight, will put all their emphasis on one Lord, one faith, one baptism—meaning water baptism. But, on the basis of this analogy, I would say if that’s all you’ve got you’ve got half a baptism, not one baptism. The complete baptism is in the cloud and in the sea. Almost every place in the New Testament where one is mentioned the other is mentioned. The New Testament believers never separated the cloud from the sea or the sea from the cloud. It’s very clear what they’re types of, isn’t it? The sea is a type of what? Water baptism. And the cloud? Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Notice how accurate it is. The cloud they didn’t go down into, it came down over them. They were immersed in the cloud coming down over them from above. To my way of thinking, this is the clearest, most complete pattern from the Old Testament of baptism in the Holy Spirit.
And, for the remainder of my study tonight I want to take you through some of the statements made in the books of Moses about the cloud. I think you’ll find that this is a very beautiful picture. I want you to bear in mind right from the beginning that the cloud is a type of the Holy Spirit. As we come to each passage, bear this in mind and apply it to your own relationship to the Holy Spirit.
Let me also point out before we go into this that the final separation and deliverance from Egypt was not accompanied by the blood nor even by the cloud but by the sea. It was the sea that was the final cut- off point, the Egyptians could not follow them through the sea. The final cut-off is water baptism. Water baptism is not just a ritual or a ceremony or a strange requirement, it’s a part of the total provision of God for salvation. I say salvation.
I got this from Jamie Buckingham and I told him I liked it and I was going to use it and he said that’s all right, go ahead. I use slightly different language but the basic truth is the same. Regeneration is an event or an experience. Salvation is a process. Water baptism is part of the salvation process. You cannot miss it out. It’s so clear when you see: the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt was the water that saved them from their final contact with Egypt.
The other beautiful picture of water baptism is in 1 Peter 3 where it speaks about “the days of Noah while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.” See, the ark is always a type of Christ. In the days of Noah the believers entered into the ark and in the ark they passed through the waters. By the waters they were saved from the ungodly world. The wicked could not pass through the waters. Likewise, the Egyptians could not pass through the water.
I say this for anybody here tonight. If you have not been baptized as a believer by immersion, your salvation is incomplete. You don’t have a legal right to freedom from demons. They have a legal right to stay on your tail and trouble you because the cut-off is water. The Egyptians couldn’t follow Israel through the water and the ancient world couldn’t follow Noah and his family through the water. The water saves from the ungodly.
You’ll usually find when you get water baptized it is a cut-off. If you do it with a full understanding and faith, you’ll lose some of your friends. Most of us have gone that way. It really is. And all the more in non-Christianized countries like India or amongst the Jewish people. The Jews object to your talking about Jesus the Messiah but they get real upset when you get baptized as Jew. Likewise, the Indians. For the whole pagan world the real cut-off, the real separation, the real declaration, “I’m not in your camp any longer,” is water baptism. God intended it that way.
I remember in l946 studying in the Hebrew University. As far as I know— That’s in Jerusalem. As far as I know, at that time I was the only Gentile student. I felt it, I felt really cut off. Not deliberately. They were kind enough and courteous enough. I thought, “Here’s two cut-offs. I’m cut off from them by water baptism; they’re cut off from me by circumcision. It’s a clash of cut-offs.” And really, it was a very, very strong feeling being completely, in a certain sense, alienated.
Now we’ll go back to the Old Testament and we’ll look at some of the main pictures of the cloud. This is where you can help yourself. In other words, you can fill in the background, the details, and apply it to your own life. Exodus 13:20–22:
“And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. [This is still inside Egypt’s territory.] And the LORD ...”
I want you to notice that right from the beginning. The presence of the Lord was always in the cloud.
“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: he took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”
Remember that they were going through a very barren, unfriendly wilderness. How many of you have ever crossed the Sinai desert? Has anybody here? I have, too, and I crossed it on an open railway car and I experienced both the heat and the cold. I was escort to some military supplies that were going from Cairo to Haifa. When we got to the other end of the journey, out of four soldiers I was the only one that didn’t go into hospital. That was thanks to the Lord.
But, the Sinai desert is burning hot in the day and bitterly cold at night because the sand loses the heat so quickly. So, the Lord had to provide for both and He did it by the one means of the cloud. In the daytime it was a cloud that overshadowed them. You must get the picture it wasn’t just a little pillar but it overshadowed the whole company, two and a half million people were covered by this cloud. They were in a different atmosphere from anybody else in that desert. They took their atmosphere with them wherever they went. If you consider the design and the details of the tabernacle that they built, you’ll see it had four coverings without any windows. It would have been unbearably hot if it had been exposed to the rays of the sun. But, I’m really convinced that the Lord actually air conditioned the Sinai desert for His people. I mean, I seriously believe that, because I don’t think the story would be possible in any other way. That cloud changed the temperature. They were in a completely different atmosphere. And then, at night it gave them the two things they needed: light and warmth. It was that to them for forty years through the wilderness. When you think that Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, how could you better picture that than providing the shade by day and the light and warmth by night? So, this was their constant companion and provision throughout the whole desert journey. This heavenly atmosphere went with them.
Think in terms of preaching with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. This is not just something inside them; it was a presence that went everywhere with them and completely changed their environment. I’m convinced that every child of God walking in the will of God, being led by the Holy Spirit, has a right to have heaven’s environment with him wherever he goes. I believe the unbelievers should feel it. They should be aware there’s something different where we are, before we open our mouth or say or do anything.
In the British Army I proved that in my experience. I didn’t ever have to tell people. I remember one solider, as most British soldiers do, cursing violently. I didn’t say a word. He suddenly blushed bright red and turned around and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were here.” See? There was a presence, he felt embarrassed. That’s how it should be.
Exodus 14:19–20. I want you to notice these words very carefully.
“And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them...”
If you can picture it, when the cloud first came down—I’m no good at drawing but here’s the camp of Israel, all these people are marching. You might not know it, but they are! The cloud came down over them like that. Now, when the Egyptian army came from here—here’s the Egyptian army in Russian tanks! They were going to catch up with God’s people, but the cloud moved like that and stood there and stood between the Egyptians and Israel all night. You work this out. Every one of those Israelites was baptized in the cloud; they were immersed in the cloud because the cloud went right over them. Every single Israelite entered into, passed through and came out of the cloud. That’s a baptism. Then it stood there.
Now let’s read what happened when it stood there. Verse 20:
“And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them [the Egyptians], but it gave light by night to these [Israel] ...”
You’ve got now the presence of the cloud here. To these people it’s darkness, to these people it’s light. See? That’s what the Holy Spirit is. To the unregenerate, unconverted, it’s dark, mysterious, incomprehensible. To the children of God, it’s light, warmth, encouragement. And, it separates. That’s why I was thinking of that chorus you sang, “Holy Spirit, I appreciate you. You lead me, and guide me, and in danger you hide me.” It’s very, very true.
We had some friends that are remembered by quite a number of us here, two Russian Jewesses that escaped from Soviet Russia in the most fantastic way. Well, they were converted in a fantastic way. They were brought up as atheists and finding they had nothing to live for, they were planning to commit suicide by throwing themselves in the river. This is in the middle of World War II. A Baptist pastor from Leningrad, who was right in the center of eastern Russia where they’d all been evacuated because of the war, was directed by the Holy Spirit to go to this home. He didn’t know them. He knocked on the door in the evening and when they let him in he said, “What are you doing? What are you going to do?” They were planning to commit suicide and they were so astonished that somebody coming and asking them what they were going to do that they began to talk to him. They spent the whole night talking; none of them went to bed. By the morning they were believers. When they went back to the airplane factory where they were working, without their saying a word, people said, “What happened to you? Did you come into money?” They looked so different. They witnessed boldly and eventually they knew they were going to be arrested. They determined to escape from Russia, which was incredible and unheard of. So, they got on a train that went westward to the border and at the border of Poland the whole train was stopped and everybody was compelled to get out and the train was searched from end to end. But, they sat in the train and the Russian soldiers came through the train with flashlights searching it. When they got to the carriage where these two girls were sitting they prayed and said, “Lord, make them blind.” They shone their flashlights right over them and walked past them and never saw them.
So, in a very fantastic way, which would take about two hours to tell, they eventually got to Israel and were there in the siege of Jerusalem. They were without food or money. They prayed and the Lord spoke to them audibly and said, “Go to the house of Mr. Prince.” They didn’t know me; they didn’t know I existed. But, they inquired and found their way there and came in. My wife met them at the door. This was in the middle of the siege of Jerusalem in 1948. They didn’t speak much English and very little Hebrew. So, we hadn’t much way of communicating with them. But, they had a Russian New Testament and my wife sat down with an English New Testament and found all the places that spoke about the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the English New Testament. They knew enough English to find them in the Russian New Testament so they sat there and talked together about an hour. They said, “We’ll come back Wednesday.” They came back Wednesday and we prayed with them from 10:00 o’clock in the morning to 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon. The Holy Spirit fell on the younger girl and she had an experience I’d never seen equaled anywhere. Her eyes were streaming with tears and she began to worship the Lord singing in an unknown tongue. It was absolutely not like a human voice at all, it was like a wind instrument that was being played by the Holy Spirit. She was singing something that reminded me of the music of Bach.
They became our friends and we remained in contact with them for many years. Why I mention that was, you see, in that carriage, sitting there, they were surrounded by a presence that the guards couldn’t see through and the flashlights couldn’t shine through. It protected them, it came between them and the Russians. This is our right as children of God. We have the right to this supernatural presence.
Now, look on in Exodus 14:24:
“And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians...”
If you study those three verses that I gave you in that chapter you’ll see that when the cloud moved, the angel of the Lord moved. So, the angel of the Lord was in the cloud. It says the next morning not “the angel of the Lord looked out of the cloud” but “the Lord, Jehovah looked out of the cloud.” So, in that cloud was an angel who was also Jehovah. Who’s that? The Lord Jesus Christ as we know Him today. The messenger of God who is Himself God. In that cloud was the actual personal presence of their Redeemer, Jehovah.
Parallel this with John 14, Jesus said, “I’m going away. But when I go I’ll send another comforter.” Then He said, “I will come to you.” How? In the Comforter. Jesus comes back in their personal presence of the Holy Spirit just like the Lord was in the cloud and was their Redeemer.
Let’s look on to Exodus 33:7–11. This is the point at which Israel had committed idolatry. Before the real tabernacle was built, when Moses came down he took his own tent. The King James translation doesn’t make it clear. I tell you what does: the Amplified Bible, if you want to read that. Moses took his own tent and moved it right outside and said, “This is where I’m going to live, because you people are just not fit to live with.” I’m going to read from verse 7.
“Moses took a tent [or his tent, not the tabernacle], and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the tent of the meeting.”
See, it certainly wasn’t the tabernacle that was later built because the tabernacle was right in the center of God’s people always, it had to be there.
“And it came to pass, that everyone which sought the LORD, went out unto the tent of the meeting, which was without the camp.”
There are times like that amongst God’s people when God’s presence isn’t in the midst. If you want God you’ve got to go out. Most of us that have come in through the Pentecostal movement have been in situations like that where if you wanted God, you had to go for yourself because there just wasn’t a crowd there. Verse 8:
“And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tent, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tent. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tent, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.”
Where was the Lord? In the cloud.
“And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tent door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. [They stood and bowed before the cloud.] And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”
We’ll stop there but you see, the cloud brought the presence of the Lord face to face with Moses. Moses could speak to the Lord in the cloud face to face as a man talks to his friend. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He brings the Lord so close to you that you can talk to Him face to face.
Then in Exodus 40, the last chapter of Exodus, verses 34–38. All I need to do now is read the Scriptures really because you can fill in the details for yourself. Once you’ve got the cloud identified, every detail speaks. This was the real tabernacle which was in the center of the camp. When Moses had finished the tabernacle:
“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”
Where did the glory of the Lord come from? The cloud. The glory is associated with the cloud.
“And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”
So, provided you keep in step with the Lord—don’t go ahead of Him and don’t lag behind Him and don’t stray to the right hand or to the left—you are entitled to have the cloud over you all the time.
But, if you find it very hot and tiresome and bothersome, maybe you’re not moving with the cloud because the cloud doesn’t move where you move, you move where the cloud moves. Some people have got their own program and ask the Holy Spirit to bless that but He doesn’t. He sets the pace.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.”
So you see again the personal presence of the Lord is in the cloud.
Let’s go on to Numbers, I’ve got two passages in Numbers. If you want to know the book that really deals with the cloud, it’s the book of Numbers. If you want to take a concordance for yourself and look up every reference, you’ll find that there are more references in the book of Numbers than in any other book. Numbers 9:15–22. This is a most beautiful passage. If you can picture yourself now and your relationship to the Holy Spirit in these terms.
“And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.”
You know the problem with many believers is they don’t know how to rest. They want to be busy, they’ve got a program. The Lord keeps the cloud there—think of that! They were one place nearly one year. If you spent one year in one place in the desert—I spent a good many weeks, believe me—it gets wearisome. But you have to learn to rest. If the cloud stays, you rest.
I believe if God’s people learned this, there would be no heart attacks, no ulcers none of these pressure diseases if God’s people would learn to rest under the cloud. Verse 19:
“When the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD, they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.”
Sometimes the cloud was taken up in the middle of the night. And they had to get up and start off. Believe me, if you’ve ever had to get up in the middle of the night in the desert and start off, that’s quite a problem. They were fantastically well organized.
I remember when we were in the desert we were never allowed to take our boots off for weeks on end because in the middle of the night if you get up and have got to do something and you’re groping for your boots, you’re a dead loss by the time you’ve got your boots on. So, all these things are very vivid to me. See, the ability to move two and a half million people in the middle of the night is fantastic organization. How was it done? By the cloud.
Do you know, I believe God’s people before this age closes will have to come to the place where they are as sensitive to the Holy Spirit as Israel were to the cloud. As I understand it, the strategy of God at the end of this age means millions of Christians moving in harmony, drawing from all over the world, being at the right place in the right time, sending money to the right person who needs it. That’s going to be achieved only when we become sensitive to the cloud.
“And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the LORD was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.”
God went before them in a cloud to search out a resting place.
Now let’s turn to the book of Psalms and take two quick references there. Psalms 78:22 which is a description of the journey of Israel through the wilderness. It’s interesting, let me point this out. It says God was angry with them, verse 22:
“Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation...”
If you look at the context, salvation means every provision of God. The cloud by day, the fire by night, the water, the manna. Everything God did for His redeemed people in the journey through the wilderness is called by one word and that word is salvation. I think today many of us grieve God and He gets angry with us because we don’t trust in His salvation, His total complete provision.
With regard to the cloud look just at verse 14. Psalm 78:14:
“In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.”
And Psalm 105:39. Again, it’s a description of their journey.
“He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.”
Notice the cloud was spread over the whole company of God’s people. If you think of what space is covered by about two and a half million people with all their cattle and all their equipment, it’s a vast area. It was just overshadowed by the personal presence of Almighty God all that time, forty years, through the wilderness.
Again, I say: You and I are entitled to that. We’re entitled to have the overshadowing, supernatural, personal presence of Almighty God with us wherever we go. In all our ministry and in all our experience.
Now I want to take you to one picture of the future. This is our last Scripture tonight. Isaiah 4. This is a prophetic description of the close of this age. It relates particularly to Israel and to Jerusalem. It’s worth looking at it for a moment before we get to the actual passage that I’m looking for because it tells us some things about what’s going to happen on the earth. Verse 1:
“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.”
I understand this—the way I’m explaining it, you may feel otherwise—what was the reproach? Having no husband, which is the normal way that’s used, especially in Isaiah. So, for every seven women there’s going to be one man. They’ll say, “You won’t have to provide us with food or clothing, we’ll work for ourselves. But, give us your name so that our children will bear your name.” What does that tell you? That at some time between now and then there’s going to be such tremendous war that the majority of the male population will be killed. I think that’s very clear. And it could happen tomorrow. It’s not impossible.
And, the earth will be desolated. There will be no food, there will be no crops, nothing. Verse 2:
“In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.”
There’s going to be a supernatural productivity restored to the blasted earth. I tell you, the world is going to need a man who can feed 5,000 men plus women and children with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. He’s going to be practically needed. When the world is ready for Him, He’ll come. Verse 3:
“And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem...”
The survivors of the end-time battle in Jerusalem, every one that survives, will be set apart as holy to God. You can read more about that in the last chapters of Zechariah. Verse 4:
“When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.”
There’s going to be a tremendous judgment.
Now, after God’s people have been purged by judgment and cleansed, then God will be restored in fellowship with His people. This is the description of the fellowship, verse 5:
“And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night...”
There is the cloud. Cloud by day and fire by night. God’s people should never be without it. When they’re reconciled to Him and restored to His favor, there it will be.
Now, the last is a most beautiful picture.
“... for upon all the glory shall be a defence.”
But here it says “defense.” I think you’ll find it says in the margin “a canopy.” How many of you have ever attended a Jewish wedding? You know they have a little canopy under which the bride and bridegroom stand. That’s the Jewish word chuppah. So, this is beautiful. When the Lord is married to His people, the chuppah, the canopy, will be God’s glory. And, His fellowship with His people will be under that canopy of glory which will be the cloud by day and the fire by night. God’s people will be back in perfect fellowship and harmony with Him.
So, praise God for that.
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