The Intensifying Presence

By Francis Frangipane
(En EspaƱol)

We all know the unrepentant world is destined for the Great Tribulation, but as far as the living, praying church is concerned, if we continue to climb toward the standard of Christlikeness, prior to the rapture there will be a season of great glory for true Christians.

In support of this holy goal, let me submit to you an encounter I had with the Lord in 1973. I was pastoring a small church in Hawaii and had been in a month of intense prayer and extended fasting, a time of drawing near to God. At the end of this period, I found myself awakened during the night by a visitation of the Lord. It was not as though I saw His physical features; I saw His glory and was overwhelmed by the intense fire of His presence. Immediately I was like a dead man, unable to move so much as a finger. Spiritually, however, my consciousness was heightened beyond anything I have known since. I was like one of those "living creatures" in the book of Revelation with "eyes around and within" (Rev. 4:8).

With my "inner eyes" I saw the truth about my personal righteousness. Recall, I had been in prayer and fasting; I felt good about myself. Yet suddenly the flaws in my life became unbearably vivid and utterly sinful. My iniquity was not as something I occasionally committed but as something I perpetually was. I saw many times when I could have been more loving or kind or sensitive. I also saw how selfish nearly all of my actions were.

Yet for all that was dark within me, I felt no rebuke from the Lord nor condemnation. No voice came from Heaven to convict me of my wrongs. The only voice condemning me was my own; in the light of His presence, I abhorred myself (Job 42:6 KJV).

Without any buffer of self-justification or deceit, I saw how far short of His glory I truly was. I knew why mankind needed the blood of Christ, and no amount of personal attainment in and of itself could ever make me like Jesus. In the most profound way I understood that only Christ could live like Christ. God's plan was not to improve me but to remove me so that the Lord Jesus Himself could actually live His life through me (Gal. 2:20). In His indwelling would rest my hope of becoming like Him.

Outwardly, with "eyes around," I realized that the electrified atmosphere I felt in my bedroom was actually being broadcast from a very distant reality. Yet, though distant, the emanation of Christ's presence was like a burning fire upon my consciousness. A great procession of heavenly beings was descending through a night sky; I knew that this was a glimpse of Heaven coming to Earth.

In the forefront were angels of every class and order, each group in a splendor all its own. About a third of the way back was the Lord, and behind Him were innumerable saints. Yet I could not see into the depth of the Lord's glory, for those following Him had become part of His being.

The Lord was not only coming to judge the Earth but to fill this world with His glory. Let me repeat that, even though the Lord was far away, the radiance of His presence was a living fire upon my consciousness. The energy was almost painful.

Then, without warning, the procession came closer, not just to me but to our dimension. It was as though a mark in time had been crossed. Instantly I was utterly overwhelmed by the intensity of the Lord's presence. I felt that I could not - no, not for another moment - bear the increase of His glory. It was as though my very existence would be consumed by the blast furnace of His radiance. And in the deepest prayer I have ever uttered, I begged the Lord to return me to my body. Instantly, mercifully, I was cocooned once again in the familiar world of my senses and my bedroom.

What it Means
Night passed into dawn and I rose early, dressed, and went outside. With each step, I pondered the vision. The Lord brought my attention to the sun as it ascended above the eastern horizon. As I looked, I saw parallels between the radiance of the sunlight and the glory of the Lord. I realized in a new way that "the heavens are telling of the glory of God" (Ps. 19:1).

I saw that even though the sun is 93 million miles from the earth, we feel its heat and live in its light. It is inconceivably far away, yet its energy is also here. It warms us and in its light our life exists. So also the expanse of the Lord's presence emanates from His glorified body in Heaven. Physically He is distant, yet at times we actually feel the out-raying of His presence here; we are, in truth, warmed by His love. The glory of Christ, like the out-raying of the sun, is "safe" as long as He remains distant from us in Heaven.

But imagine if, with each successive decade, the sun were to steadily move closer to the earth. Radiation, heat, and light would increase dramatically. With each stage of its approach, the world as we know it would radically change!

So also will this world change spiritually as the person of the Lord Jesus and His millennial reign draw near. The radiance of His presence will increasingly pour into the spiritual realms surrounding our world. And not only the "powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matt. 24:29; Heb. 12), but the very world as we know it will experience dramatic changes.

If the sun drew closer, the increasing heat and light would soon be all we would think about. While the righteous are experiencing "glory and honor and peace" from His presence (Rom. 2:10), the same glory will cause terrible "tribulation and distress" to the unrepentant world (v. 9). The wicked will cry to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us." From what? "the presence" of the Lord (Rev. 6:16).

Those hardened in sin will either find grace and repent or their hardness will deepen like Pharaoh's. Yet the same sun that hardens the clay also melts the butter. So as the Lord draws nearer, the prayer of the righteous will be, "Fill us with the presence of the Lamb!” The presence of Christ will be all that fills our minds. Those who love Him will experience the increase of His pleasure; they will taste the nectar of Heaven. Whether we are for or against the Lord, everyone's mind will be flooded with thoughts about God.

As it is written,

"'For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze," says the Lord of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,' says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 4:1-3).

Simultaneously two events will manifest on earth, they will be the result of one, eternal source. The same increasing presence that causes wrath to descend upon the wicked will cause God's glory to be seen upon the righteous. For we who fear the Lord, the "sun of righteousness" will rise with healing in its rays.



Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, "The Days of His Presence" available at www.arrowbookstore.com.