I received the following prophetic word at my hotel in Toronto, Canada, after receiving prayer from Carol Arnott:
I believe a fire alarm is going off in the spirit realm; for some it’s good, for some it’s bad.
For some, they are running toward the fire—they are following the loud, interrupting sound of the alarm. It awakens them from sleep, apathy, slumber. It awakens them from routine and ritual. It awakens entire churches—it’s confrontational and awakening in nature. It’s loud and, to some, obnoxious. In the same way a natural fire alarm interrupts what we’ve been doing, demanding attention and action, the fire alarm in the spirit interrupts what we’ve been doing spiritually. It interrupts the show, the spectacle, the programs. I prophesy the fire of the Holy Spirit interrupts “cookie cutter Christianity,” calling us out of routine and ritual and into the depths of the unknown. The fire alarm is calling us out of predictability, and summoning us into the smoke on the mountain.
This fire alarm, however, is doing the opposite of what a natural fire alarm does. In the spirit, the fire alarm is meant to call you, like Moses, into the unknown realms of His glory (instead of away from them).
So on the third day, in the morning, there was thunder and lightning, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud trumpet. All the people who were in the camp trembled (Ex. 19:16).
At Mount Sinai, a “fire alarm” went off. The people trembled and drew back, but Moses drew near. Moses had tasted the fire before at the burning bush (Ex. 3). Even though Mount Sinai looked ominous and Moses had no guarantees, he would rather venture into the fire and thunder and lightning of the unknown, where God was present, than stay on the sidelines of comfort where God wasn’t.
Moses is your invitation. Jesus opened the door of access so you could, at any time, go up to God and boldly enter the realm of His glory! We are not waiting for a move of God; God is waiting for a move of people. The church needs to shift from waiting for an expression or manifestation of God’s fire that is comfortable and on her terms, and instead, turn aside, like Moses did, as the Spirit of God begins to move—perhaps in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways.
When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness. Israel camped there before the mountain.
Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the children of Israel” (Ex. 19:2-3).
Don’t Be Content Living at the ‘Foot of the Mountain!’
“Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain” Ex. 19:17)
With this fire alarm going off, I see people “taking a stand” in the church—either for the Holy Spirit or against His movement. He is so loving and embracing, though. I believe that people who took stands against the Spirit in one season are now desperate to encounter Him. They are desperate to venture into the realm of His glory, instead of sitting on the safety of sidelines. It means interruption. It means risk. It means the unknown. It means shakings and rumblings. It means unusual manifestations of His Presence breaking out. It means dealing with demonic spirits and fleshly attention-seekers. Pastors and leaders, this is for you as well. The Lord is calling people individually and collectively into the untapped and unaccessed realms of His glory, where His presence is given priority. Moses had priority for the presence of God, even when it terrified him. We see this as Moses turns aside and listens to the voice that comes out of the burning bush. His response? “And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” (Ex. 3:6). Even though he was afraid, and the experience was unusual, and the encounter was unfamiliar, he didn’t run. He didn’t flee. He didn’t take a stand at a distance; he moved toward the fire. The voice of the Lord is summoning His people—all of His people—into the fire of divine encounter.
Please… don’t take a stand at the foot of the mountain, when in fact, every barrier has been removed for you to boldly approach the throne of God (see Heb. 4.16).
The Spirit Is Hovering, Brooding and Testing the Waters!
Sadly, for some, they want to run away when they hear the fire alarm going off. I see churches with fire alarms going off as the Holy Spirit starts to move. In fact, it’s like the Spirit is currently brooding and hovering throughout the body of Christ. He’s testing the waters to see where He is welcome in His fullness. It’s like what happened in Genesis 1. The Spirit hovered over the waters; He was brooding. He was waiting for something to partner with to effect creation. God spoke, and the Spirit moved and created. Likewise, the Spirit is hovering, awaiting partnership in the earth from those who are, literally filled with the Word of God. God is, in essence, looking for a people filled with Himself to partner with His movement and activity.
Here’s the deal: I sense that as the movement of the Spirit begins to manifest, even in the most timid measures, fire alarms will go off. You see, the fire alarm is very sensitive to anything that would confront the norm. Just a little smoke sets it off. Just a spark will cause the alarm to start blaring. The fire alarm upsets the status quo, the way we’ve always done life, ministry and church. The fire alarm immediately recognizes the invasive movement of the Spirit, threatening our programs and protocols and agendas. The question: is the alarm a call to run, or a summons to turn aside?
But I believe the Lord is saying that He’s not trying to throw out agendas and protocols, as many charismatics and Pentecostals sometimes propose. Oh no. He’s just looking to infuse them. He’s looking to fill them with the life, breath and effectiveness of heaven. Continue with your sermon series, worship sets, tithe and offering, announcements and so on. Have three services, five services, 10 services. You don’t even need four-hour services to host the Holy Spirit. None of these things matters. What matters is giving the Spirit’s movement absolute priority—and hosting Him on His terms—so that when the fire alarm goes off, you move with His movement rather than shut it down.
Run Toward the Fire!
As the fire alarm goes off in the church, people are going to run—somewhere. They will either run toward the Lord or away from him. And if our church communities speak against the movement of the Spirit and encourage people to move away from the Spirit, that puts them in danger of missing, yes missing what God is doing in this season. This is a hard word, but there is great grace in it as well.
Repentance and humility are instant keys to getting on board with the move of God, regardless of how much you have been against it in the past. Sure, you may have responded negatively to the fire alarm in previous years. You may have taught against the movement and manifestations of the Spirit. Perhaps you witnessed much of the goofy stuff that has happened in the name of “revival,” outpouring, the Charismatic movement, Holy Spirit manifestations and so forth. But this is no excuse to run away from the Spirit when the fire alarm goes off; if anything, the Lord is calling you to press in and run toward Him all the more to seek for the pure, the genuine and authentic.
I see the Lord literally changing and tenderizing the hearts of His people, so that as they hear the fire alarm, they respond by running toward the fire—toward the fire, in Jesus’ name!
Fire Alarm: The Call to Filled Altars
I see altars filled, and it’s glorious. Yes, in many non-denominational mega-churches. I see large, influential churches where the pastors, leaders and yes, the people are so hungry for the presence of God that they put aside their cares and concerns of what the fire might look like—and they go after it.
I see distinct moments in meetings and gatherings—especially during praise and worship—where the Spirit begins to brood. He starts to hover. He starts to touch. And with His touch comes a choice. I see pastors and leaders literally watching their communities get subtly touched by the Spirit, and know in their hearts that all it will take is one word to partner with God to see a rumbling of the Spirit released in their midst. One word shifts the service. One decision to partner with the movement of the Spirit will shift and change everything. One choice to turn aside, not turn away. I see this happening. I see during praise and worship, and even the preaching, moments where God moves, the pastors and leaders see this, and they say, “Yes … at any cost. yes!”
I see their yes opening floodgates of divine presence that produces filled altars. I see this yes actually removing ceilings over the church. Right now, I see in the spirit ceilings breaking off entire church communities: ceilings that were not placed there by God; they were established by man and the ways of man. These ceilings represent our attempts to control and regulate church culture according to what we think is most effective—and more so, these ceilings have been built to actually “protect” the church from the unexpected, the “weird,” the strange, and the unusual. But I see the collective hunger of the church, both from the people who attend our services and the pastors and leaders, rising to heaven.
In the spirit, I can clearly see pastors and leaders (especially those of non-denominational mega-churches) in their offices, almost like with the window shades closed and the lights out, crying out in travail, “God, there has got to be more!” I specifically see the cry of John Kilpatrick on pastors and leaders in this season (John Kilpatrick was pastor of Brownsville Assembly of God during the historic Brownsville Revival and before the revival broke out, he would go over to the church in the middle of the night, lay sprawled out over the front row, and cry out to God, “There has got to be more! Oh God! I need you, Lord!”
I see pastors and leaders filling the altars, and this act of church leaders expressing their personal hunger breaks something open in the spirit realm.
Step Into the Glory
The Lord says, “Responding to this hunger—regardless of what it costs—will break the ceilings that prevent you and your community from accessing the open Heaven is already available!”
I see open heavens over these churches. There’s nothing that really needs to happen from God’s end. Heaven is opened, the Spirit is brooding and the fire alarm is going off. The next step is up to us. It’s up to you, pastor! It’s up for you, believer! What will you do when the fire alarm goes off and the Spirit moves upon you? Your church community? Your gathering? Will you run toward it, as Moses did, or run away and keep your distance, as the people of Israel did?
So step into the glory. God is moving. His Spirit is brooding. He wants to break out with force and fire. He wants to respond to every song lyric we’ve sung in past and present seasons: “Holy Spirit … come flood this place and fill the atmosphere” (“Holy Spirit,” Bryan and Katie Torwalt), “Fresh outpouring, tear the fabric open …” (“Fresh Outpouring,” Kim Walker-Smith); “Spirit break out …” (Tim Hughes); “God let Your fire fall down” (“Here for You,” Matt Redman), “Open up the heavens, we want to see You, open up the floodgates …” (“Open Up the Heavens,” Vertical Worship); “Let the Heavens open, let Your kingdom move…” (“Let the Heavens Open,” Kari Jobe); “Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven” (“Let it Rain,” Michael W. Smith).
Need I continue the list?
“Your songs are steps into the glory,” says the Lord. We’ve been praying for this outpouring, family of God. We’ve been asking for it with our songs. These anthems of worship are not exclusive to the charismatic church. Far from it! These lyrics are arising from Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic communities. These songs represent a corporate cry that has been arising from the earth. Even from those who are unfamiliar with a “charismatic” expression of Christianity, the desperation and desire for God to rend the heavens, come down and move with power is still so strong.
The Moses Company: Go Into the Fire!
Now Mount Sinai was completely covered in smoke because the Lordhad descended upon it in fire, and the smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him with a voice.
The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up (Ex. 19:18-20).
So, what is God looking for? A Moses company—a Moses people. A people who would follow the example we see in Exodus 19. They would see the smoke and fire. They would hear the rumblings and thunderings. They would even be startled by the lightnings and dramatic nature of the manifestations. Smoke. Fire. Thunder. Lightning. And then the sound of the trumpet—the fire alarm!
Two choices: run away, or run toward and step in!
Run toward, not away. Run toward the rumblings, the lightnings, the smoke and the fire. Yes, this fire will kill you. It will purify you. It will purge you. This fire will consume you. It will immerse you. It will baptize you. The fire will change everything.