Are we more fearful of Satan than we are desperate to experience God?
We don't have to be afraid! Experts say that the best way to discern a counterfeit is to study and memorize the real thing. You and I can know the "real thing" by examining biblical examples of people who've had real, authentic, life- and world-changing encounters with God.
Abraham: The Father of Faith
Did you ever notice that at the time of his divine call, Abraham did not yet have a history of faithfulness to the one true God? Obviously, God's visitations are not dependent on our track records!
The sovereignty of God simply interrupted Abraham's life, promising to make him into a mighty nation. So forsaking his family, leaving behind everything sacred, Abraham followed after a God he had just met, wandering in search of a far-off promised land.
When the time came to officially establish His covenant with Abraham, God arranged for a radical visitation. He appeared to Abraham in the form of a burning oven and a fiery torch passing through a sacrifice (Gen. 15:17).
This supernatural encounter enabled Abraham to believe God for the impossible—a son—even though he was old and his wife was barren. Because he'd met with God personally, he knew it would be the power of his Creator—not his own abilities—that would bring the prophecy to pass.
As Abraham learned, a visitation from God changes a person—literally. Before his covenant, he had been called Abram. But afterward God changed his name to Abraham.
He went from being a wandering, childless nomad to being the father of Faith, the cornerstone of the Abrahamic Covenant. One encounter—and a nation was born!
Jacob the Deceiver
We might think that someone as sneaky and manipulative as Jacob, Abraham's grandson, would not be deserving of a personal encounter with God. But our righteousness is not what qualifies us for visitations. It is our hunger for Him that God cannot resist!
Jacob's first visitation took place when he was fleeing for his life. Stopping just long enough to lie down to sleep, he dreamed of a ladder, with angels ascending and descending and the Lord standing at the top (Gen. 28:10-15).
Through this supernatural vision, God re-established the Abrahamic covenant, promising Jacob that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth.
Notice that God didn't use the opportunity to scold Jacob for being crafty and deceptive. Quite the contrary: God promised to never leave him or forsake him.
Our pasts never disqualify us from pressing in for a visitation from God! In fact, the more we see of God's mercy and kindness, the greater our faith and expectancy of what He can and will do.
In a second supernatural visitation, Jacob wrestled overnight with an angel, contending, "I will not let you go unless you bless me!" (Gen. 32:26, NIV). How could he make such a demand? His divine encounters gave him the confidence to press in to his prophetic promises and demand God's blessing—even if it meant wrestling through the night.
As Jacob learned, it is through our private encounters with the Lord that we are subdued by His power and transformed. By the next morning, Jacob was such a new man that God changed his name to Israel. Two heavenly visions, and Jacob was eternally changed from a deceptive wanderer to a devoted worshiper!
Isaiah: Commissioned by Fire
As a young man, Isaiah also had a supernatural visitation from God. How would you like to have seraphim firebrand you with a coal in order to commission you as a prophet to the nations? That's exactly what Isaiah experienced (Is. 6:1-13).
Could the same thing happen to you?
A modern-day Isaiah 6 happened to a pastor I know. In a vision she saw an altar with a Man standing behind it, holding a knife in His hand. When He told her to get on the altar, she started screaming, "No! No! No!"
He continued to stand there, waiting. Finally she said yes and climbed willingly onto the altar.
Wings closed around her, and a hot coal of fire was put on her mouth. Suddenly she found herself traveling in the Spirit, flying to nations where the Lord revealed cities she would visit and individuals she would meet in the future.
"I have called you to be a prophetess, an oracle and a voice!" the Man said.
With this visitation, the woman was ordained into prophetic ministry and forever changed.