Summary: A sermon series revealing the secret to experiencing great intimacy with God, even when the clouds of darkness are looming overhead and God seems a million miles away.
When The Heavens Are As Brass
Throughout the years of my life as a Christian I have experienced an ever deepening holy dissatisfaction with spiritual mediocrity and have continued in desire to draw closer to God’s majesty - yearning for more of His glory. But it hasn’t exactly been a ‘walk in the park’.
Tragic events, the effects of sickness and disease, and the death of loved ones in my life brought times of sensing terrible loneliness that cut to the very core of my being. Doubts have come, flooding my heart and mind like a raging storm that caused me to question my beliefs and faith in God. My daily walk has at times felt like I was treading water and going nowhere. The call of God on my life seemed like an ancient echo. There has been intense pain from the feelings of rejection, betrayal, fear, insecurity, and abandonment. God has sometimes seemed hidden and felt a billion miles away.
Even when things appeared to be going well there were times of puzzling darkness. Throughout my life it has often seemed as if a dark cloud hovered overhead and blocked out the warmth and light of His beauty. The Bible felt dry and the heavens were as brass. I had become disillusioned, discouraged, depressed, and frustrated. The prophet Amos spoke of this very thing: “Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?”. (Amos 5:20 20 NKJV)
The Psalmist wrote about his own experience with this when he wrote “How long, O Lord ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”. (Ps 13 KJV) These questions have perplexed the human heart for centuries. God can often seem hidden in times of trouble and pain.
Clouds Of Darkness
When a person finds their self in clouds of darkness, they shouldn’t be dismayed but rather, they should rejoice for they are nearing "the secret place of the Most High.” (Ps 91:1 KJV) Jesus said, "Seek and you will find." (Matt 7:7 KJV) God has promised that when a person seeks Him with “all” their “heart” they will find Him! (See Jer 29:13) The only way to miss finding Him is if they’re not looking for Him!
Where God dwells, “Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” (Ps 97:2 NKJV) The prophet Ezekiel described the glory as coming from within a storm “from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in it's midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire" (Ez 1:4 NIV).
The storms of life that twist and turn through the wilderness will lead a person to the secret place so that they can behold His beauty. God will draw near and His glory will completely overwhelm them just as the priests who “could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:10-11 NKJV)
Prior to Jesus beginning His ministry He went to the river Jordan to be baptized. As Holy Spirit descended on Him the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. (Lk 3:22). THEN, the Father led Him into the wilderness! Too often desert experiences are thought of as punishment because of disobedience or personal sin. Yet the Father sent Jesus into the desert because He was pleased with Him! There are times He will do the same with a Christian because He is also pleased with them!
Jesus went 40 days without food for His flesh but He was satisfied with “living water” to drink. He spent His time in the desert in deep communion with the Father in preparation for His ministry. In the wilderness one finds that the true food which brings nourishment and satisfies the soul is the Word and His promises.
Periods of time spent in the desert are to bring a person to a deeper reliance and trust in Jesus because there are no distractions. A journey through the wilderness may be for 40 days or 40 years! God wants every Christian there because it is a place where deep romance - a holy honeymoon - exists between bride and Groom; "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hos 2:14 NIV)
The nourishment and strength for preparation always comes in the desert. John the beloved, while He was exiled to the prison island of Patmos, received His revelation. Revelation always comes in exile. When Jesus releases a person from the wilderness, they will be filled to minister with the power of the resurrection and the might of His majesty.