So I attended the Onething09 conference in Kansas City, Missouri on December 28-31. God encountered my heart in so many ways that I'm still trying to process it all. However, one teaching in particular has been turning over in my spirit since my return home. On Thursday, Allen Hood (prompted by the Holy Spirit) stood at the end of the morning session to give a brief teaching on Isaiah 6--ten minutes that radically shifted my paradigm of God. What follows is partly what he said and partly what I've discovered from researching what he said....but it's all gone together so I'm not going to try to distinguish between his words and mine.
In the year Uzziah died, Isaiah had a revelation of the Lord. Leviticus 16:2, 12-14 tell us that in that in the days Isaiah lived, the priest could not come into the glory of the Lord without a cloud of incense between himself and the glory, or he would die. This incense had to be of a certain scent/aroma and had to be lit by a coal from the altar outside of the most holy place in order for God to receive it.
When Isaiah received his revelation of the Lord, he was protected even though he was not the high priest because the Lord allowed smoke to fill His temple (Is. 6:4) shielding Isaiah from the glory. When Isaiah lamented his unclean lips in response, the angel went and took a burning coal from the altar and touched Isaiah's lips. Instantly Isaiah became a living censer to stand between the people and the glory and offer the fragrant incense of prayer and faithful prophetic utterance so the glory of the Lord would not totally destroy the people.
Habbakuk tells us that the earth will one day be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God. Isaiah 6:3 says the angels cried to each other that the earth is filled with God's glory. At the end of the Millennium, the holy city is going to come down to the earth for God will dwell with men, and the Lamb will be the light for there will no longer be sun, moon or stars. The Father is stirring the hearts of the intercessors worldwide to begin blanketing the earth with the sweet incense of prayer before Him because His glory is coming. The truest sign that we have entered the last days is that there are hundreds and thousands of people in the earth who have taken up the mantle of full-time intercessors restoring the worship movement outlined by the tabernacle of David (which Nehemiah and Hezekiah also restored before revival broke out in their time); God is coming to the earth and He is stirring the hearts of His people to begin making it ready for Him.
I found myself weeping Saturday night over how much I've misjudged God. I want to reread the Old Testament with a new perspective. God cannot change who He is--and Psalms tell us that He is the King of Glory. His perceived "strike them dead" anger in the Old Testament was, in reality, His passionate desire to be with them. How hard that must have been on Him to be so enraptured by a people that He longed to go and dwell in their midst, and yet could not without the impossible standard of the law in place to protect them from the fullness of who He is.
Even now, we cannot move into intimacy with Him without the protective shield of the blood and the fragrant offering of prayer. What a testimony of His kindness that the way is easier for us now than it was then. The standards of Leviticus were not God being a hard task-master. Through the law He was simply saying: "This is what it takes to get into My presence and survive....please do this because I long to be with you and I know that My coming to you on your terms will kill you."
I've also thought about how God said that any man who made incense of the same fragrance of that used before Him for his own pleasure must be cut off from the people (Ex. 30:38). This was not a "strike them dead" kind of sin, but yet was serious enough that the man should be alienated from everyone else.
God has a scent. While the incense that was offered up to Him from the tabernacle was pleasing for Him, He also wanted this scent reminded the people of nothing but Him. If another man made it to burn for his own pleasure, the smell of that would invade the tents around him, too, causing others to associate the aroma with man and not God. The strength of His love said, "I want to evoke desire in you for Me alone with this fragrance. I want the pleasing smell of this incense to remind you of My goodness to you and your children. Don't cheapen it. It's special between us."
I wonder what else in our lives that we've considered to be God's cruelty are actually expressions of His longing for us. Thoughts?