• on April 1, 2019

The Realities Of The Presence Of God

by Pastor Afolabi Oladele

The Lord our God is infinite. Creation is finite. And when we come to terms with this fact, then who do we go to for counsel?

In Isaiah 46:10 God said, only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.

This is the underlying reason that He is available to the believer – that we should neither walk in darkness nor fail in the fulfilment of our life assigned purposes. Two things have befallen man:

  1. Outright ignorance of His purpose – Job 36:12b, Prov. 5:23; Prov. 10:21 Prov. 29:18; and
  2. Outright rejection of the knowledge – Hosea 4:6.

This was the reason the presence of the divine ark constituted the life of the virgin church!  Exodus 40:33-38 and Numbers 10:11, 34-36. Not only that, wherever the body or church is or its component parts, the ark of necessity must be!

In the days of David we see the working reality of the presence of the tabernacle and the ark as we listen to David’s testimony written in Psalm 16:7-8, 11.

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me…..You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever (Psalm 16:7-8, 11 (NLT).

To get to this point of abiding in the presence, David speaks of a number of things – the word abiding in Psalm 15:1-5 and he expanded upon it to include the word ascending in Psalm 24:3-6. This raises the following questions: To what purpose is the ascending and abiding? and When you are there in His presence, what happens? This is explained in Psalm 16:7-8, 11.

I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:7-8 KJV

David lived and experienced this in his principal role as shepherd of God’s heritage in what I call the battle of gods! (See 2 Samuel 5:17-25).

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he went into the stronghold. The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”

The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.”

So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). The Philistines had abandoned their idols there, so David and his men confiscated them.

But after a while the Philistines returned and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim. And again David asked the Lord what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” the Lord replied. “Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, be on the alert! That will be the signal that the Lord is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.” So David did what the Lord commanded, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. 2 Sam 5:17-25

Note that David would lift neither spear nor sword till God gave directions so he didn’t go to war on his own charges and lose what he had gained! How about you and me?

Only God has the power of tomorrow! Waiting is the most difficult thing for our generation, little wonder in the battle for Jericho God put Israel through a gruelling lesson of disciplined waiting!  (Joshua 6)

My reins also instruct me in the night seasons; The word “reins” refers to the mind, the soul which were regarded as the seat of the affections (Jeremiah 11:20; Job 19:27).

When engaged in prayer to God, Jesus sometimes continued all night in prayer to God (Luke 6:12); and especially in that dark and dismal night in which He was betrayed. When it was the hour and power of darkness with His enemies; then, His inward parts being influenced by the Spirit of wisdom and counsel, directed Him on how to behave and conduct Himself.

Or the words “the reins” being the seat of the affections, may signify, that His strong affection for God, and love to His people, moved Him to take the steps He did, to deliver Himself up into the hands of sinful men, in order to suffer and die for His friends, and obtain eternal salvation for them.

I have set the Lord always before me – By night as well as by day; in my private meditations as well as in my public professions I have regarded myself always as in the presence of God; I have endeavoured always to feel that His eye was upon me and act accordingly (Acts 2:25).

Because He is at my right hand – The right hand was regarded as the position of honour and dignity, but it is also mentioned as a position of defence or protection. To have one at our right hand is to have one near us who can defend us.

He shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him.  Psalm 109:31

The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. Psalm 110:5

 The Lord is thy Keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. Psalm 121:5

The idea is that as we use the right hand in our “own” defence, we have an additional and a needed helper when one is at our right hand. Here the psalmist felt that God, as his Protector, was always near him; always ready to interpose for his defence. This is an invisible shield, invisible to the world, but not to you.

I shall not be moved – I shall be safe; I shall not be disturbed by fear; I shall be protected from my enemies. The language here is that of one who has confidence in God in times of great calamities, and who feels that he is safe under the divine favour and protection. (See also Psalm 10:6; Psalm 15:5. Compare Psalm 46:5).

David typing the Lord Jesus Christ, understood and lived all of these when he penned Psalm 16. But more than that, what David summarised in verse 11 is the description of Eden where God placed the first man He created in Genesis 2:8. The Hebrew word translated it as an atmosphere, an environment, a spot, a moment, a presence, an open door, delightful. It was a place of direct access to heaven, to the delightful presence of God. Man was made to live in Eden. Man needs Eden. That’s why when man is out of this environment, out of God’s presence, he malfunctions. That is why Satan tries to get us out of that presence all the time. God loves a worshipping man, a man who stands in God’s presence.

The application of the presence of the ark to the New Testament Church that was to come is seen in the promise in John 14:17 and later 1 John 2:20, 27.

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 14:17

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things…. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 1 John 2:20,27

But the point of caution for us is the conversation that God had with Israel in Numbers 14:10-11, 21-22:

Just then the bright Glory of God appeared at the Tent of Meeting. Every Israelite saw it. God said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me like dirt? How long refuse to trust me? And with all these signs I’ve done among them! I’ve had enough—I’m going to hit them with a plague and kill them. But I’ll make you into a nation bigger and stronger than they ever were.”

…But as I live and as the Glory of God fills the whole Earth—not a single person of those who saw my Glory, saw the miracle signs I did in Egypt and the wilderness, and who have tested me over and over and over again, turning a deaf ear to me. Number 14:10-11 MSG

Think through this and take a look at your lives. How have you fared in these matters? No wonder we are admonished progressively in the following Scriptures:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: {for sin: or, by a sacrifice for sin} That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  Romans 8:2-11 KJV

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 2 Cor. 1:21-22;

And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 2 Cor. 5:15;

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14;

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT)

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 5:18 (NLT).

Knowing these things, what will you do with the practicalities of His presence?

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