How to Meet with God
In 1949, one of the greatest revivals in the history of the United Kingdom took place in the Hebrides. Duncan Campbell, the preacher at the centre of the revival, later described how it began.
Seven men and two women had decided to pray earnestly for revival. One night, at a prayer meeting held in a barn, a young man took his Bible and read from Psalm 24 (the psalm for today): ‘Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart’ (vv.3–4a).
He shut his Bible and said, ‘It seems to me just so much sentimental humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting here, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.’ He asked God to reveal if his own hands were clean and his own heart was pure.
That night God met with them in a powerful way. As they waited on God ‘his awesome presence swept the barn’. They came to understand that revival is always related to holiness. A power was let loose that shook the parish from centre to circumference.
‘Three men were lying on the straw having fallen under the power of God. They were lifted out of the ordinary into the extraordinary. They knew that God had visited them and neither they nor their parish could ever be the same again.’
Four miles away, two sisters aged eighty-two and eighty-four had a vision of God. They saw the churches crowded and the youth and the community flocking into the churches. They had ‘a glorious assurance that God was coming in revival power’.
Duncan Campbell was invited to come and speak to them. When he arrived in the parish church, it was packed out with hundreds waiting outside. No one could explain where they had come from. Within ten minutes of the service starting, men and woman were crying out to God. They were meeting with God in all his holiness.
There was such a sense of the presence of God on the island that a businessman visiting said, ‘The moment I stepped ashore I was suddenly conscious of the presence of God.’ God was meeting with his people.
How do you and I meet with God?
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Saviour.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty —
he is the King of glory.
David starts this psalm with a reminder that God is a mighty creator: ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it’ (v.1). He ends with a reminder that God is a glorious King. Five times he is referred to as ‘the King of glory’ (vv.7b,8a,9b,10a,10b). He is ‘The Lord Almighty – he is the King of glory’ (v.10b).
In light of the awesome nature of God, David asks the question, ‘Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?’ (v.3). The answer is only those who are totally pure: ‘The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol’ (v.4).
Yet, we know that no one lives like this. It is only through Jesus that we can be made holy and approach God with confidence: ‘For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy’ (Hebrews 10:14).
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed round him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
34 He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’
38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Act of faith
Are you struggling with a long-term problem in your life that does not seem to be getting any better (5:26)? Have you ever been ‘seized with alarm’ and ‘struck with fear’ (v.36, AMPC)? We see in this passage how Jesus responded to people in these situations.
In the New Testament, we have the extraordinary sense of people meeting God through Jesus. St John (1 John 1:1) writes about ‘the Word of Life’ whom ‘we have heard’ (Mark 5:27), ‘we have seen with our own eyes’ (v.22) and ‘our hands have touched’ (vv.27,30–31).
People who came into contact with Jesus seemed to have a sense of coming into the presence of a holy God. Jairus ‘prostrated himself at His feet’ (v.22, AMP). The sick woman ‘fell at his feet’ (v.33).
This woman had suffered from a chronic disease for twelve years, which was incurable at that time (v.26). ‘She heard about Jesus’ (v.27) and she responded with faith. She ‘touched his cloak’ because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed’ (vv.27–28). ‘Immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering’ (v.29).
Contact with Jesus had a profound impact on people. Jesus says to the sick woman, ‘Go in peace and be freed from your suffering’ (v.34). The pain of the past twelve years is replaced by peace and freedom. Whatever you are struggling with in your life and however long it has been going on, like this woman, reach out to Jesus for help.
Jairus’ daughter experiences the ultimate impact of meeting with Jesus as she is brought back to life. When Jesus arrived, there was anything but an atmosphere of faith. There was a commotion and wailing. They said, don’t ‘bother’ Jesus (v.35). But Jesus said, ‘Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing’ (v.36, AMP).
Jesus said, ‘The child is not dead but asleep’ (v.39). Since Jesus was going to raise her up, her death was no more permanent than falling asleep. The apostle Paul, like Jesus, used the term ‘falling asleep’. When you fall into a deep sleep, the next thing you know it is morning. When you die in Christ, the next thing you know you will be with the Lord.
Jesus took with him just three of the disciples whose faith he could trust (in addition to the parents). He appears to have wanted there to be an atmosphere of faith as he prayed for her to be raised from the dead.
There was nothing ‘super-spiritual’ about Jesus. He is very practical. He told them to ‘give her something to eat’ (v.43). Again, the account starts with fear and ends with faith.
When people saw what Jesus did they were ‘completely astonished’ (v.42b) and ‘amazed’ (6:2b). Of course, as today, not everyone had that reaction. Some ‘laughed at him’ (5:40) and some ‘took offence at him’ (6:3). In his hometown Jesus was ‘a prophet... without honour’ (6:4). Those closest to him failed to recognise him. Sometimes we find it hard to take things from those we know best.
As today, some recognised Jesus and some totally missed out. The key distinction was whether or not they had ‘faith’. He said to the sick woman, ‘Your faith has healed you’ (5:34). He said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe’ (v.36b). In his hometown he was ‘amazed at their lack of faith’ (6:6).
Through his death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled the criteria for meeting God. Now it is by faith that you and I encounter Jesus and, through him, meet with God.
21 In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.
29 “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart... so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD.
35 ... The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die.
Access through Jesus
We cannot fully understand what an amazing privilege it is to be able to meet with God without seeing the Old Testament background. Here we see a description of the Tent of Meeting (27:21), (where God meets with Moses and the priests: 30:36; 28:30). It was an awesome thing to enter into the ‘presence of the Lord’ (28:30a). Aaron was entering the ‘Holy Place before the Lord’ (v.35).
The writer of Hebrews explains how all this points to Jesus. The tabernacle was just ‘a copy and shadow of what is in heaven’ (Hebrews 8:5a). Even so, the priests were only allowed to enter the Holy Place, and not the Most Holy Place. ‘The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning’ (9:8). This was an illustration (v.9a).
As the writer of Hebrews shows, this passage forms the background to Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf – making it possible for you and me to meet with a holy God through the blood of Jesus, offered ‘once for all’ (v.26).
Are there things in our life we feel we just can’t ask Jesus about; they’re too embarrassing and awkward? The woman in this passage in Mark puts her embarrassment aside and she reaches out and she touches Jesus. And as she does she is healed, and all her shame, suffering and embarrassment disappear in an instant.
Verse of the Day
‘Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”’
Thought for the Day
When fear knocks at the door of your life, let faith answer.
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Duncan Campbell, The Price and Power of Revival, (Faith Mission, 2000).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)