Reflections of God

 

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. (Gen. 1:16-18)

About a month ago, many people in our nation took time to observe a rare phenomenon in the sky known as a solar eclipse, which hasn’t occurred across our nation in totality in nearly a hundred years. The mass attention that this event produced had almost everyone seeking to catch glimpse of the wonder, buying special glasses, and singing Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart. To some, this was just a neat astronomical occurrence with no special implications, and to others, it had direct spiritual significance. Much like the tetrad of blood moons that came to America a few years ago, it was a wonder in the heavens that many students of the Bible connected to the prophecy of Joel that was quoted by the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost which included that “the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day” (Acts 2:20; Joel 2:31). Now we know that this prophecy is far more reaching than what we have seen in America, but regardless of how we might feel about the event, one can’t deny that it caught our attention as a nation.

I’m no astronomer or a doomsday predictor, but I am a Christian who loves the Lord, loves His Word, and loves people. I never want to be ignorant of the times in which I have been given the opportunity to live. I feel we should always live with an urgency and a watchfulness with what the Lord is doing in the earth, and rather than sit back and just wait for the rapture, I believe He wants His Church to actively partner with Him in this hour of history. We still have a mission to complete.

As I prayed about all of this, I believe the Lord highlighted something to me that I shared with our church: He is looking for reflections of Himself like never before. Why would He highlight this? Out of the entirety of His creation, humanity alone was purposed to bear His image. From the few verses referenced above, we see how God specifically set in place the sun and the moon to rule over the night as well as the day. I believe this can also be understood as a picture of Christ and His Church. The greater light governs the day, but it’s the reflection of that light from the moon that governs the night. Now more than ever, the world needs reflections of the “Son” in places where He’s not already shining.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)

Just as we have borne the image of the man of the dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Cor. 15:49)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Rom. 8:29)

John the Baptist was an example of one of these reflections. The Scriptures say, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light” (John 1:5-8). Jesus called him a burning and shining lamp who went ahead of Him, before His face, to prepare the way (Jn. 5:35; Matt. 11:10). Now before Jesus returns again, He is building up a glorious Church who will go before His face and prepare the way. Every Christian is called and commissioned to be a reflection of Jesus Christ. Reflections don’t have to be popular, educated, talented or wealthy, just willing to get into right alignment.

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Cor. 3:16-18)

So as the Church, how do we turn the tide in our nation? How do we “raise the water level” and release the tides of revival? It’s not the position of the sun, but the position of the moon that determines the tide. Though the sun is much greater in size and has a gravitational force that is far stronger, it is actually the “lesser light” that God has ordained to have more of an affect on the tide. He has decided that the amount of water and light from Him that world experiences can actually be determined by our alignment with Him.

In Ezekiel 47, the prophet describes a vision where he was shown the new temple in Jerusalem and water flowing from it bringing life, healing and abundant provision wherever it went. This vision can be paralleled with other prophetic visions found in Scripture such as Zechariah 14:8 and Revelation 22:1. Jesus said, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him as spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:14). He also said later on that, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'” (Jn. 7:37-38). Isaiah and Paul declared that the light of God’s glory would come out of dark times and dark places, to rest upon His people, pointing others to Jesus.

Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (Jn. 7:39)

Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isa. 60:1-3)

For it is the God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 4:6)

The flowing water can represent the gospel message of Jesus and the outpouring of His Spirit that began in Jerusalem, but was commissioned to go out into the ends of the earth to bring life, healing and fruitfulness. The light can represent the glory of Jesus as well as His gospel that conquers darkness and leads the path to everlasting life. To be a reflection of Jesus Christ is to make Him stand out through our life so much that others can genuinely experience Him, His living water, and His glorious light.

Being a reflection doesn’t mean be a replica. God doesn’t want robots that all look and sound exactly the same, but rather unique reflections that show the beauty of God through our own original design. We all possess our own assortment of talents and traits that become fully alive and seen when the light of Christ is reflecting off of us. This doesn’t mean that we are any less valuable and beautiful before Christ, but through His redemption, our truest selves are fully known.

Being a reflection doesn’t mean be a representative. Representatives act and speak on behalf of someone whose presence they used to be in. Reflections act and speak on behalf of someone whose presence they never left. By keeping a lifestyle of unceasing communion with Jesus through His Spirit, we will carry such a distinct boldness that others can’t help but recognize that He is with us.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. (Acts 4:13-14)

I don’t want to just use His name like the sons of Sceva, but I want to look like His name (Acts 19:11-20). Beyond the legal implications of becoming a new creation and having Christ dwell in our hearts through faith, God wants to increase His glory upon our life. As we turn to the Lord, walk with Him, and live a repentant lifestyle, we are giving Him access to make who we are in the flesh look like who we are in the spirit, a new creation made in His image. Oh how I want to be like my Father when I grow up!

As the earth experiences crisis and confusion of all shapes and sizes, my challenge question for the Church, including myself, is this: Where are the reflections of God? Where are those who are in such alignment with Him that they affect the tide in their homes, churches and cities? Where are those who are bearing witness to His light, resounding His message and revealing His character? He is looking for reflections of Himself like never before.

“But may those who love you rise like the sun in all its power!” Then there was peace in the land for forty years. (Judges 5:31)

And again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

 

The Midnight Cry

And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ (Matt. 25:6)

As we approach the darkest hour of human history, God is preparing a people whose light will shine brighter than the world around them (Isa. 60:1-2). Remember the plague of darkness released in Egypt that was so dark it could be felt (Ex. 10:21), yet still “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Ex. 10:23). In the same way, I believe the Lord will have a remnant of wise virgins who have paid the price of preparation to keep that light burning in their dwelling. But how will He ready a people for that hour to avoid burn out, resist complacency, endure persecution, and remain un-offended despite our flesh being weak? He will surely do this by placing a powerful message in the hearts of His loyal friends young and old, who will faithfully trumpet it with their mouths and lives, inspiring His bride to make herself ready. These ones, bought by grace, who have obtained a deep reality with God through a costly lifestyle of devotion will be the ones He uses to cry out in the midnight hour, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”

At midnight a cry was heard: Jesus uses the word “midnight” in this parable to emphasize two things about the end-time hour: 1) It will be spiritually dark and 2) many will be spiritually asleep (Matt. 25:5). Still, there will be a cry (or message) that He puts in the mouths of the watchful and the wise that will be heralded throughout the land. It will come from the voice of a prepared people crying in the wilderness (Isa. 40:3). Isaiah 40 is the great forerunner chapter out of which John the Baptist discovered his own identity (Isa. 40:3; Jn. 1:23). It is a message of comfort (v. 1) for a time of great trouble when “even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall” (v. 30). Jesus also said in that context, “men’s hearts failing them from fear and expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Lk. 21:26). So what will that midnight cry be? What is the message that the shepherds and watchmen must proclaim in this hour?

The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” (Isa. 40:6)

You who bring good tidings (messengers of the gospel), get up to a high mountain (place of influence or authority)…lift up your voice with strength (do not quit or grow weary), lift it up, be not afraid (be bold; do not yield to persecution); say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ (Isa. 40:9)

Behold: This is the cry of a forerunner, to turn the attention of humanity to God in the hour of shaking. Our cry must always begin with, “Look at Him!” It’s a call for people to slow down, drop what they are doing and consider who He is, what He’s like, what He did, and what He is going to do. King David kept his heart alive despite his political responsibilities and difficult circumstances by making it his preoccupation to behold the beauty of the Lord (Ps. 27:4). The fuel for serving God is revelation of God, and the Church in this hour NEEDS revelation of God. Our hands are busy, but our hearts are empty. Jesus prayed that we would be with Him where He is, so that we could behold Him in His glory (Jn. 17:24). John was able to recognize Jesus saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” because he had been living a lifestyle of beholding Him (John 1:29).

The bridegroom is coming: The cry must emphasize Jesus as the Bridegroom God. The problem is, we must first know Him as the Bridegroom for ourselves before we can proclaim Him as one. John the Baptist also had this revelation, which is why he would say, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice” (Jn. 3:29). The Apostle Paul deeply understood this as well (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27). Understanding God as a Bridegroom causes us to see and relate to people differently (specifically people we might influence in ministry). They are no longer mere potential followers or members of our ministry who could help shine our lamp (make our ministry look good), but they are the very Bride of Christ whom He has entrusted into our care. How dare the friends of the bridegroom sleep with His bride to be while He is “delayed” (Matt. 25:5)!

The Parable of the Virgins was given in context to the end times (Matt. 24). In this midnight hour, God is revealing Himself more and more as a Bridegroom who is jealous for His bride. It critical that we grow in this revelation because we will need this paradigm to make sense of God’s coming judgments. When know Him as a Bridegroom, His judgments actually become righteous acts of love and mercy as He seeks to remove everything that stands between Him and His beloved bride. It is our privilege and responsibility as trumpeters of the gospel to proclaim more than the first coming of Jesus (He died for our sins) but also the second coming (He will return for His bride).

Go out to meet Him: We must prepare people to be ready in that hour to actively respond to God’s coming. Many mistake the sovereignty of God as a license to do nothing. This is un-biblical, irresponsible, presumptuous, and we will be held accountable for our indifference and silence. Proclaiming a gospel that gives people confidence to fold their arms in apathy as they wait for the rapture, being completely disengaged from God’s end-time plan, is just as bad as proclaiming a gospel that gives people confidence to live in sin. It is dangerous (especially as a preacher) to ignore the Bible’s clear emphasis of the end-times (150 chapters) in fear of causing division or having lack of clarity. Now is the time to gain intimate understanding of Christ’s leadership and purposes for the days ahead. We must truly know the end of the story better than ever. Now is the time to buy oil (deepen our relationship with God by His Spirit) though the price is on the rise (time is ticking), for only those with fresh oil in their trimmed lamps will be useful to God in that day. Notice in the parable that “ALL those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps” (Matt. 25:7). Everyone knows they have to trim their lamp (cut off the bad, repent, receive forgiveness, leave behind possessions, etc.) when He comes, but few want pay the price for fuel beforehand. Like any relationship, our relationship with God requires a sacrifice of time, money and energy, but in light of the outcome, it could hardly be called sacrifice (i.e. what father regrets spending time, money and energy with his kids?). Knowing this, we must prepare others, while we prepare ourselves, to “Go out to meet Him.”

In context to this midnight hour, Jesus repeatedly exhorted His disciples to “Watch” (Matt. 24:42; 25:13). Paul said, “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:6). Isaiah said it another way, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). A cry from God’s faithful witnesses is already arising today as the clock ticks toward midnight, bringing light and removing confusion. They will help make sense of God’s judgment. They will bring supernatural conviction. I urge you proclaimers, as a mouthpiece of God, do not hold your peace, and do not rest “until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns” (Isa. 61:1). In the thickest night, when everyone else is asleep and silent, cry out.