Captain’s log. Stardate 5710.5. The Starship Enterprise receives a distress call from the planet Scalos. The small group of Scalosians claim to be the last survivors of a population of 900,000. However, when the Enterprise reaches Scalos, they find an apparently deserted city. Upon returning to the Enterprise, though, strange goings-on become evidence that aliens have beamed aboard with them. Eventually, they discover that something in the Scalosian water makes anyone who drinks it become hyper-accelerated. So, the hyper-accelerated people are right there beside everyone else, but the people in normal-time mode can’t see them, because they are moving so fast. Then, within an hour, everything is made right. The point is that the invisible and the visible are existing simultaneously, side by side, but only those whose senses have been attuned to the new reality can experience both. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like “yeast that a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour until it spread through all of it.” (Matthew 13:33) Once you mix yeast into a lump of dough, you can’t see the yeast anymore. It becomes invisible, but it’s still there, doing what it is supposed to do. It is changing the whole lump. The Kingdom of God is here. It may be hidden, but it’s working.
The same thing happens to Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, in Luke 1:
“One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary and burn incense in the Lord’s presence. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. Zechariah was in the sanctuary when an angel of the Lord appeared, standing to the right of the incense altar.” (Luke 1:8-10, NLT)
The angel begins to tell Zechariah that he and Elizabeth will have a son, and what an incredible man of God that son will be. When Zechariah questions the veracity of this report, the angel answers with one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible: “Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! And now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you won’t be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time.” (Luke 1:18-20, NLT) Can’t you see the look on Gabriel’s face? “What do you mean, ‘how can I know?’ Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m Gabriel! I mean, come on, I just stepped out from the presence of God, which, you may remember, is right on the other side of this veil. Sheesh!”
Zechariah was right up against the invisible, but he didn’t see it until it was revealed to him, and even then, he wasn’t so sure. This is one of the wonderful mysteries of the Kingdom. Kingdom reality cannot be discovered, it must be revealed. You can dig and sort and word study and memorize commentaries, but for any of us to really perceive the invisible Kingdom of God, God Himself has to reveal it. Our intellect can’t take us there. What we are living in isn’t reality, it’s virtual reality. “So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen ; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) Kingdom reality must be made manifest to us. Merriam-Webster defines “manifest” as “readily perceived by the senses and especially by the sight.”
This, then, is the manifest presence of God. It is the omnipresence of God revealed to us so that we can actually perceive it with our senses. The invisible world, or the most real world, presses upon the visible, the temporal world, and we sense it and react to it. Sometimes we fall on our face, sometimes we just fall. We may weep, we may laugh, we may tremble or grow completely still. We confess, we repent, we speak with boldness, we love our brothers. We talk about Jesus more easily, we pray more fervently, we sing with more passion. All of these things that we associate with revival are simply what happens when our reality collides with God’s reality. Hosea said that we were to live in His presence. But we treat the manifest presence of God as “a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.” Why not? Doesn’t God want us to live there? If not, where else are we to live? Did Jesus die for us to live- to really live– any other way?
(Excerpted from A New Normal: Experiencing the Unstoppable Move of God, the forthcoming book from Destiny Image Publishing)