I have always found the sequential and gradual withdrawing of the glory cloud in the Book of Ezekiel to be absolutely fascinating as well as being absolutely spine-chilling. Just so - I have also found all the commentaries recommended to me on this quite difficult book of the Bible to be quite unsatisfactory on exactly what is going on in this definate, staged withdrawing of the glory of God. So while listening to Rob Rufus's sermon from last Sunday I was fascinated to hear that he made some commentary on it that absolutely fitted what I have always thought was happening - but that which the commentaries never seemed to explain!
For anyone who is interested, the staged withdrawal of the glory cloud occurs in;
Ezekiel 9:3, 10:4, 18, 19, 11:23 and the glory returns in 43:2, 5.
Here's the transcript of how Rob commented on this text;
"Did you notice that this wind of the Spirit came rushing in? Did you know that Ezekiel had a vision of the temple and he saw the glory of God lift off the temple? Lift off the Holy of Holies and hover over the Holy of Holies - linger there for a while. Israel was worshipping idols and going after false gods and so they were under the law and the glory lifted off the Holy of Holies.
The glory lingered there - it stayed there for a while. He was reluctant to leave! Then slowly moved to the outer court - like the Spirit of God didn't want to leave. Even under the law and condemnation and fading glory, He didn't want to leave! But because they worshipped idols, He finally lifted off the Holy Outer Court and goes to the Mount of Olives and lingers there - reluctant and slowly waiting!
Then Ezekiel saw the Spirit of God go back to heaven. Israel was without the glory for 100's of years. Now the first day of the New Covenant is the Day of Pentecost. Grace is in place and no longer under the law, no longer have to keep standards and measure up and be good enough. Grace has opened the heavens! The Spirit left slowly and reluctantly under the law but He comes RUSHING back once grace is in place! He accelerates and rushes into your life EVERY day!".
Despite basking in the excitement and the wonder of what God is doing in Lakeland, Florida - there have been a couple of comments made that I noticed wondering about whether there is anything we can do to halt or stop this revival. This question is something I have thought about for quite some time. I always came from the more traditional school of revival thought that our intercession brings revival. Rather foolishly I asked the man who taught me most of what I know whether I should consider a fast for 40 days - and received a rather scornful reply!
However since basking in Rob's grace teaching of the New Covenant - I am starting to realise that although prayer and fasting can position us to enjoy the blessing of revival, there's nothing we can do to EARN it or BRING it! God is God and He will pour out His Spirit when He will and when He so desires! Now ... Rob poses a rather interesting question;
If our failures and mistakes doesn't prevent God from pouring out His Spirit in revival, then why would our failures and mistakes mean that God withdraws His Spirit during revival?
No ... it shouldn't be paranoia of making one mistake during revival that should characterise the way we live. It should be the knowledge that grace opened the heavens up, grace - pure grace - caused the Spirit to come rushing in like a flood and the only thing that will grieve the Spirit and cause Him to withdraw His manifest Presence and glory cloud is wilfully living and acting under law and Old Covenant mentality. As I see it at the moment we need to be cautious of two excesses;
1. Taking our human responsibility too seriously and imagining that because WE don't pray and fast then HE won't come in revival.
2. Taking His divine sovereignity too much for granted and forgetting that if we "trample afresh underfoot" the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and go back and live under law, then He can, may and will withdraw His manifest Presence and His glory because as Rob says; "The sin that He hates the MOST is self-righteousness".