The Voice of The Spirit


Theophanies, The Real And Visible Presence Of A Divine Being

On occasion, God decides to communicate a message personally. He then manifests Himself directly to a human being. In these cases, it seems that the message is extremely important, the circumstances are urgent, or the human messenger needs a direct divine corroboration of a call or a challenge put before him. God, then, condescends to reveal Himself visibly and personally among humans. This was the case of Adam and Eve both before and after the Fall. 1 God manifested Himself to Abraham to inform him of the imminent destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 2 He did so to Moses to communicate the plan to liberate the chosen people and later to deliver the holy law. 3 God spoke directly with Joshua to confirm the entrance of Israel into the Promised Land. 4 The same thing happened to Paul when he was called to a special ministry. 5 VOTS 40.1

By manifesting Himself to the prophet or leader of His people, God validates the heavenly origin of the communication received both to the prophet and to the recipients of the message. No one would dare question the validity of a message personally delivered. In these cases, the real presence goes beyond the visionary experience. VOTS 40.2

Although Ellen White does not specifically mention direct and visible encounters with a divine Being, on several occasions she did experience a divine presence in her room. Here are some of her personal testimonies: VOTS 40.3

Friday, March 20, I arose early, about half past three o’clock in the morning. While writing upon the fifteenth chapter of John suddenly a wonderful peace came upon me. The whole room seemed to be filled with the atmosphere of heaven. A holy, sacred presence seemed to be in my room. I laid down my pen and was in a waiting attitude to see what the Spirit would say unto me. I saw no person. I heard no audible voice, but a heavenly watcher seemed close beside me; I felt that I was in the presence of Jesus. 6 VOTS 40.4

All through my long affliction I have been most signally blessed of God. In the most severe conflicts with intense pain, I realized the assurance, “My grace is sufficient for you.” At times when it seemed that I could not endure the pain, when unable to sleep, I looked to Jesus by faith, and His presence was with me, every shade of darkness rolled away, a hallowed light enshrouded me, the very room was filled with the light of His divine presence. 7 VOTS 41.1

The room was filled with light, a most beautiful, soft, azure light, and I seemed to be in the arms of heavenly beings. This peculiar light I have experienced in the past in times of special blessing, but this time it was more distinct, more impressive, and I felt such peace, peace so full and abundant no words can express it. I raised myself into a sitting posture, and I saw that I was surrounded by a bright cloud, white as snow, the edges of which were tinged with a deep pink. The softest, sweetest music was filling the air, and I recognized the music as the singing of the angels. Then a Voice spoke to me, saying: “Fear not; I am your Saviour. Holy angels are all about you.” 8 VOTS 41.2

The language used by the prophets to describe these encounters leads us to conclude that it is not always possible for the prophet to know if what he is experiencing is a real presence or a vision. The apostle Paul’s experience was similar: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to Paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” (2 Corinthians 12:24). Whether the prophet experienced a real presence or perceived that presence as part of a vision, the important thing is that either way the divine presence leaves an indelible mark on the prophetic experience. VOTS 42.1