‘When he is about to bestow some great blessing on his church, it is often his manner, in the first place, so to order things in his providence, as to show his church their need of it, and to bring them into distress for want of it, and so put them upon crying earnestly to him for it’. Jonathan Edwards
I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And my blessing on your offspring – Isaiah 44.3
When Heaven Touches Earth
Have you ever watched lightning during a storm? It’s a fascinating display of power, an almost intoxicating release of energy. Scientists, who have made it their business to study storms, have discovered some interesting facts about lightning and how it occurs.
A storm generates electrical energy because of rising and falling moisture inside the cloud. That electrical energy is negatively charged. When one part of the cloud becomes more heavily charged than another, lightning arcs across the gap to equalise the difference. Over ninety percent of lightning occurs within the cloud itself. But every now and then the cloud mass discharges energy earthward. That is what we see as a bolt of lightning.
These studies have revealed that places on the earth begin to respond to the electricity in the cloud. The land, which is positively charged, gathers positive energy in one place. It may be a tree branch, a high spot, a power pole or some other object. The gathering positive charge begins to ‘reach up’ through the atmosphere, and the cloud responds. A path is etched through the ozone charged atmosphere by the first bolt to descend.
Slow motion photography has revealed that the bolt quite often begins on the ground (though sometimes it begins in the cloud). It reaches up, and then the cloud reaches down. Power surges down that path three, four and up to thirty times before it finds another place to connect.
An allegory in the sky
As I was watching a program on storms and lightning, the parallel between lightning and the kingdom of God came to me strongly. Lightning is a ‘heaven touching earth’ allegory in the sky. It reminded me of a vision I had in November 1995…..
In that vision I saw heaven and earth depicted as two flat planes (levels, not flying machines). The ground, or earth was pinkish grey in colour and the heavens were yellow gold in colour. There were contours in both planes- undulating gentle hills and valleys – like a cave a roof and a floor.
As I watched, one of the hills began to rise slowly. It formed a mountain, reaching for the sky. As it did, the heavens above it began to descend. The two eventually touched, and what I saw next etched into my memory.
A flash of brilliant blue filled the ‘sky’ between the two, and rippled out like waves in a pond. I asked the Lord about this vision and at that time He told me, “Heaven and earth are not normally connected. At times I reach down from heaven, nd touch the earth, but at other times people reach up to touch My heart. This always releases power and a display of My glory in the earth.”
Heaven reaches down
As the lightning research has taught us, it is rare that heaven actually starts the process. There are times when God’s glory and power are released on the earth simply because God chooses to ‘come down’.
The best example of this in the Bible is perhaps the Mt Sinai visitation. At a time when the Lord desired to make His heart known to all the people, He called them to Mt Sinai in the wilderness and drew them near to speak to Him. The result was amazing –
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp o meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently” Exod. 19:16-19
Here was a moment in time when the Lord descended. Heaven took the initiative, God chose a time and place and… boom!. The result was ‘earth shattering’! Thunder and lighting, trumpeting, trembling, fire and smoke and shaking of the arth. The Lord’s glory was evident to all.
Earth reaching up
More often however, God responds to the reaching up of His people. We have no control over the day or hour God chooses to visit, but it is helpful to example some of the themes that arise when God chooses to respond. There are some great examples of this in the Bible.
In the days of Ahab, the people had followed after false gods. The Lord instructed Elijah the prophet to confront the nation at Mt Carmel, and make them choose between the false gods and Him. Elijah called Israel to gather and witness the confrontation between Baal and Jehovah. After the prophets of Baal had cut themselves, shouting, ranting and raving, Elijah had his turn. The Lord had told him what to do – with a bull, stones, water… and then the fire.
Elijah obeyed the Lord in every detail, and in front of all the people, heaven responded. Elijah reached up toward heaven, in obedience, and heaven reached down with fire – consuming the offering, the altar, the water, the dust and everything else. 1 Ki. 18:30-38
Elijah was just one voice, calling out.
Solomon saw a similar visitation in Jerusalem. When he had completed the temple according to the plan laid in his fathers heart, Solomon called all of Israel together. They gathered according to the custom, bringing offerings, sacrifices, instruments of praise and their families to celebrate. Solomon arrayed the musicians and priests in the temple.
“The singers made themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD… the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God” 2 Chr 5:11-14
The people gathered in obedience to the vision. This passage stresses the importance of unity also. The singers made themselves heard in unison – the word (‘echad) literally leaning ‘as one man’ or ‘with one voice’.
They were one voice.
The result was manifest glory.
Centuries later, Jesus commanded the disciples to gather themselves in Jerusalem, and wait there until they were endowed with power from on high. In the upper room we see again, God’s people reaching up to heaven, and heaven answering with glory and power.
“When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind and it filled the house where they were sitting” Acts 2:1-2
Notice the pattern again – they met in the appointed place. When the appointed time had come, and they were gathered in unity – in one accord the Lord responded to their hearts cry. The word used for accord here (hapas) means ‘absolute union’ or ‘absolutely everyone as a unit’.
They were one voice again.
Unity and glory
A thunder storm hovers over the earth, full of power and unreleased energy. It seeks a place on earth to discharge. The energy of the earth gathers in one place, and that point reaches up toward heaven, drawing a response from the storm.
So it is with God.
When he broods over the earth, looking for a place he might visit. His eyes search throughout the earth for hearts committed to Him- 1 Chr. 28:9
He looks for contrite hearts in which to dwell (Isa. 57:15) and those who humble themselves and fear Him (Isa. 66:2).
When His people are gathered in unity, reaching out to God, He responds and His manifest visitation brings glory and power. Ray Hughes, in his book, ‘Sound of heaven, symphony of earth’ notes that..,”Every time God visits the earth, the entire generation is impacted by that touch… heaven touches earth and earth touches heaven. Lives are always changed’