Manifestations are nothing new. Neither are they the exclusive phenomenon of Charismatic/Pentecostal Christians. As we will discover together, manifestations of the presence of God are recorded throughout history and biblical record.
A manifestation is merely a physical or emotional response to the glory of God. The weighty presence of God affects not only the spirit of man, but the natural body and mind. Many times, natural flesh cannot function normally under the kabowd (heaviness or abundant manifest glory of the Lord). To understand why this happens, we must take a look at what precipitates a demonstration of the heavy glory of God. In scripture we often read how God demonstrated Himself, and why.
Old Testament Manifestations
- To establish the fear of the Lord: Exodus 20:18 / Exodus 24:17 The Glory of the Lord appeared to the Israelites in thunderings and as a devouring fire.
- In response to grumbling against God: Exodus 16:7 The glory of the Lord manifested in response to the murmurings and complainings of Israel.
- In response to rebellion against leadership: Numbers 16:19 The devouring-glory judged Korah and his co-conspirators.
- To receive a sacrificial offering: Leviticus 9:23-24 Aaron blessed the people, then the fire-glory of the Lord appeared to consume their offering.
- In response to fulfilling the command of the Lord: Leviticus 9:6 Then Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.”
- To protect and deliver the people of God: 1 Corinthians 10:1 The wind-glory of God parted the Red Sea and delivered them from Egypt.
- To guide and affirm the correct path: Nehemiah 9:19 “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.”
- To sanctify the temple: Exodus 29:43 God’s kabowd met with His people to sanctify the temple.
- To sanctify a people for His service: Exodus 29:44 The weighty-glory of the Lord sanctified Aaron and his sons for duty.
- To mark a people for Himself in the Earth: Exodus 29:45 The abundant manifest presence of God is a sign to the world of our election as a chosen people.
New Testament Manifestations
- Accompanies Heavenly announcements: Luke 2:9 The glory of the Lord shone when the angel of the Lord announced the birth of Christ.
- Accompanies the resurrection of the dead: John 11:4 Lazarus’ death was for the demonstration of the resurrection-glory of God.
- As a testimony of Heavenly glory / realities: John 17:5 ”And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
- In response to the persecution of the righteous: Acts 7:55 Stephen beheld the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of the throne, as he was being persecuted for the gospel’s sake.
- To confront the unrighteous and bring them to repentance: Acts 9:1-9 Saul is confronted by the glory of Jesus on the road to Damascus. He repents and becomes known as Paul.
- In judgment of those who test the Holy Spirit: Acts 5:1-10 Ananias and Sapphira lied to the leaders of the church and tested the Holy Spirit, costing them their very lives.
- To transform and prepare us for the fulfilment of our heavenly calling: Luke 9:31-32 Jesus was transfigured by the Glory in preparation for his crucifixion and resurrection.
- As a reward for suffering: Luke 24:26 “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
- To give us a glimpse of the coming glory of our returning Messiah: Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.”
- A foretaste of the coming age, when we shall be known as the Sons of God. Romans 8:18-19 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”
- Accompanies the bride of Christ as a sign of her holiness unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:27 “That He might present the Church to Himself a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle or any other defect, but to be holy and unblemished.”
“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
We know that all of the Glory and honor belongs to God. He has chosen to reveal His glory to us in Christ Jesus. The glory we now experience in and through Christ, is to teach or communicate to us the nature and character of Father. Now, this same glory that is revealed in Christ, is revealed in us! Ephesians 3:21 also says, “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.“
We should expect the glory of God in and among us. In scripture, whenever the Lord appears, He is announced by His glory which precedes and follows Him. It is the same, today. His manifest presence can causes a number of manifestations in those who witness His presence.
Here are some of the many physical and or emotional responses to the presence of God, and what they might mean.
An inability to stand: 1 Kings 8:11 “So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.” There may be moments when the fear and awe of the Lord causes a cessation of the regularly scheduled service. The minister and/or congregation may not be able to stand physically, or have the will to stand under the weight of His glory. The Lord, in these moments, ministers to the individual from His weighty presence. People have been known to fall “under the power” during personal ministry, receiving healing, deliverance, vision or restoration. Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) is one of many who was accompanied by this sign.
Shaking or trembling: Acts 7:32 “[Saying], I [am] the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.” A shaking or trembling is a manifestation of the fear of the Lord. One may also shake or tremble when the power of God overwhelms the thoughts and senses. The Puritans and Quakers, who were responsible for the early Christianity of the American Colonies, were marked by this phenomenon. According to A.J. Patrick in The Making of a Nation:
“At their meetings, after a long silence sometimes one, and sometimes more (as at one time five together) fall into a great and dreadful shaking and trembling of their whole bodies and all their joints with such risings and swellings in their bellies and their bowels, together with such screechings, yellings, howlings and roarings, which doth not only amaze and affright the spectators but also cause the dogs to bark.”
Intense warmth or heat “the fire”: Hebrews 12:29 “For our God [is] a consuming fire.” The fire-glory accompanies periods of revival and refinement in the body of Christ. One who carries a message of repentance or reform may experience the fire in their hands, or on other parts of their body. It speaks of purging, renewal and redemption. Charles Grandison Finney had a personal experience with the fiery love of God.
“I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, ‘I shall die if these wavers continue to pass over me.’ I said, ‘Lord, I cannot bear any more;’ yet I had no fear of death….”
This manifestation was found in others under his ministry.
Shouting or crying: Ezra 3:13 “..for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” Shouting has been known to accompany seasons of revival. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) experienced manifestations of shouting and crying among those who attended his sermons during the American Great Awakening. Edwards recorded the following and it is printed in The Great Awakening, p. 547.
“Many young people appeared to be overcome with the greatness of divine things and many others at the same time were overcome with distress about their sinful state so that the whole room was full of nothing but outcries, faintings and such like and many were overpowered and continued there for some hours. Some have been so overcome with a sense of the dying love of Christ as to weaken the body. It was a very frequent thing to see a house full of outcries, faintings, convulsions and such like, both with distress, and also with joy.”
Overwhelming joy or laughing: Isaiah 61:7 “For your shame [ye shall have] double; and [for] confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.“ ”Luke 6:21 “Blessed [are ye] that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed [are ye] that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” Laughter is a sign of restoration, salvation, and deliverance. One who is overcome by laughter may be receiving an emotional healing, a restoration of spiritual strength, or a revelation of the awesome might of the Lord. This manifestation is not new to the body. Revivalists have carried holy laughter as a sign and a wonder for years. John Wesley (1703-1791) wrote about laughing and wailing that would accompany his preaching. Often people would laugh, only to fall into heavy weeping and repentance. Here’s an excerpt from The Works of John Wesley, vol.1:
“Wed. 21.–In the evening such a spirit of laughter was among us, that many were much offended. But the attention of all was fixed on poor L. S., whom we all knew to be no dissembler. One so violently and variously torn of the evil one did I never see before. Sometimes she laughed till almost strangled; then broke out into cursing and blaspheming; then stamped and struggled with incredible strength, so that four or five could scarce hold her: Then cried out, “O eternity, eternity! O that I had no soul! O that I had never been born!”
At last she faintly called on Christ to help her. And the violence of her pangs ceased.” Most of our brethren and sisters were now fully convinced, that those who were under this strange temptation could not help it. Only E.B. and Anne H. were of another mind: being still sure, anyone might help laughing if she would. This they declared to many on Thursday; but on Friday, 23, God suffered Satan to teach them better. Both of them were suddenly seized in the same manner as the rest, and laughed whether they would or no, almost without ceasing. Thus they continued for two days, a spectacle to all; and were then, upon prayer made for them, delivered in a moment.”
Stuttering, stammering, thick tongue: Isaiah 28:11 “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” When the glory of the Lord appears, it may be physically impossible to speak. Some have experience thick tongues, the inability to form words or phrases, or to even make sense! In these moments, God is desirous to speak for Himself. The Lord may also be anointing one as prophetic voice. Maria Etter Woodworth (1844-1924) carried this sign of God’s presence in her ministry. Not only did she sometimes experience difficulty speaking, but also many who attended her services. Mother Etter was known to be stopped by the Spirit of God mid-sentence, suspended in a trance. Those who attempted to draw near her were also stricken with the manifestation.
Involuntary freezing or movement of the body: Mother Etter was also known for this manifestation. As depicted in the photograph, she was known for freezing with her hand in the upright position for minutes or even hours at a time. During this time, she could not be moved by others, or broken from her state. This sign is for a wonder. Others have experience involuntary movement, jerking or bowing of the body (ie. hands, feet, legs, etc…) This can be quite disconcerting or alarming. Some prophets in the Old Testament were noted as having such ecstatic experiences. “The Hebrew word for ecstatic is nabi’, plural n’bi’im (E.V. ‘prophet’), and the verb used of ecstatic behaviour is a reflexive form of hte root from which the noun nabi’ comes.’ The word is applied to Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.” (Ecstatic Prophesy, Cambell, p. 52) It may also be a sign of a stiff-necked and rebellious generation. The jerking manifestation can be indicative of a softening of the heart.
Drunkenness: Acts 2:12-13, 15-16 “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine… For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is [but] the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Drunkenness will accompany an outpouring of the Spirit of God. The sensibilities of man are easily overwhelmed when the weighty glory of God floods the being. One might act giddy,bold, carefree, or even completely inebriated. The characteristic boldness of many preachers is one such manifestation of this overwhelming manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The boldness of Peter in Acts 2 is a direct result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus Christ, himself.
This particular manifestation has drawn the ire and criticism of naysayers throughout history. The Azusa Street Revival (1906) as led by William Seymour was characterized by this manifestation. The Apostolic Faith Newspaper (official publication of the Asuza Revival) published many reports of manifestations, including spiritual intoxication. Here is one such testimony from a woman who attended the revival, Mrs. Myrtie K. Shideler.
“I do not know how long I stood and praises to God just burst from me. They tell me I sang in a tongue. I was not conscious of singing at all. From seeing others under the power, I had thought it must be a terrible nervous tension, but it was the perfect surrender and relaxation. The leaders of the mission had not seen the power of God in this way. An interruption was allowed to come in that grieved the Spirit so He did not have His way fully after that, though I was under the power the remainder of the meeting, and for three days was as one drunken, and had no sense of either hunger or thirst.”
In the next post, we will continue with a discussion on false manifestations.