The physical sense of this word simply means, “to cast a shadow, or envelop with shade.” The metaphoric sense may include concepts of “being surrounded by a condition or a person’s influence,” or “losing significance or appearance because something or someone gains greater attention so as to diminish attention given to something else.”
The spiritual sense of this word is neither physical nor metaphoric though it may provide both physical and metaphoric results and explanations. When God overshadows something or someone, the spiritual reality of His Presence focused upon that object experiences the full effects of His purpose for overshadowing. God overshadows to produce His will upon a person, place, region, thing, or the whole of Creation.
While God is omnipresent (simply because He arrive wherever He decides to go before He leaves wherever He is when He decides to move), overshadowing is more than “God is here.” Overshadowing casts God’s influence upon whatever He overshadows in a way that envelopes. Overshadowing seals something off from other influences for the time of overshadowing while bringing the overshadowed object into its highest and greater purpose.
The angel says to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
Notice how Gabriel uses the name “Most High” in conjunction with “overshadow.” The Most High of the highest overshadows to release the most high and highest of what is overshadowed. The highly favored of the Most High experience the highest expression and experience of personal purpose!
At the time of creation’s week of differentiation, in which Holy Spirit unpacked God’s design and Jesus created what Father wanted to begin a fullness and fulfillment of Father’s eternal purposes, “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Holy Spirit overshadowed the deep, the mystery of hidden things, calling to the deep, surfacing what Father wanted so Jesus could set it into place with creative fiat.
Jesus says, “Light!” Overshadowing reveals light and differentiates darkness from light. From nothing, something because overshadowing power focuses upon purpose, produces God’s will, and brings out the highest of what it overshadows. Upon the basis of overshadowing, the whole of Creation takes its highest forms of expression in life until Jesus crowns Creation with His representative, man, and crowns man with glory and honor. To complete that overshadowing, man sleeps and Jesus differentiates male and female, brings them back together in marriage, and produces the highest of heaven’s purpose by establishing kingdom on earth.
Holy Spirit overshadowed “the deep” to surface hidden things, mysteries of Creation that overshadowing power brings into fullness and formation.
Adam and Eve pierced the envelope, and the overshadowing that surrounded them was breached.
The Cloud and Fire overshadowed a nation! The result was different from Creation but the intention remained constant: the Most High came to produce the highest of what that culture was called to be and do. Overshadowing brought God to a nation so He could stay awhile, a condition of overshadowing that supplied food, security, healing, preservation, access, and climate change. God overshadowed Israel in a desert and they lived in an oasis: overshadowing because an oasis in the desert!
Within the envelop of Divine overshadowing, Israel remained fully supplied and safe. The breach of the envelope could only come by their piercing it.
The pregnancy of Mary turns us toward an overshadowing of a creative sort that uniquely explains how God works. She becomes miraculously pregnant with Messiah. Messiah doesn’t originate with man, but with God. Yet, God brings Messiah into history through a natural process. God combines miraculous overshadowing with natural pregnancy, partnering with Mary to produce the Promise.
When Mary says, “How can this occur since I’ve never done what is necessary to be pregnant?”
Gabriel answers, “Every rhema of God arrives with the power to make it happen!”
The pregnancy arrives with the power!
She then answers to that statement: “Here is God’s servant. According to your rhema, happen!”
The word of Gabriel isn’t the word of Gabriel. He is the heavenly delivery system, and the word of the Lord he releases begins a process of overshadowing.
When Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, Matthew describes the experience in a metaphor: “As a dove changes it pattern of flight to land,” Holy Spirits lands or rests upon Him. Then, Jesus continues His life “in the power of the Spirit.”
Overshadowing takes on a different expression in the life and ministry of Jesus, but the sense of “God with us” certainly includes this aspect of Divine Presence and creative power. The overshadowing remained upon Him.
Simon Peter Overshadowed
At a particular period of time, Simon Peter experienced an overshadowing that released healing and freedom to people who came within its physical scope of influence. His shadow would overshadow them during this time of rapid multiplication.
In Romans 8, Paul gives an extended treatment of spiritual pregnancy in which Creation groans for the revealing of God’s children, we groan for the ultimate redemption of our bodies while groaning in intercession for the fullness of God’s purposes, and God groans when Holy Spirit Himself helps us with our limitations for birthing purpose in intercession.
The entire treatment of the subject pictures pregnancy and travailing for birth as a constant and consistent condition of Creation, God’s children, and an overshadowing intercession through which Holy Spirit groans with us as the point of contact for releasing God’s purpose.
Paul sums up this birthing with verse 28, “We know that God symphonically orchestrates All together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
“Called” means “appointed, positioned, ordained, and selected” with the purposes of God in view, motivated by passion, overshadowed for travailing, so that our intercession becomes part of everything God is doing in Creation to produce His purposes, both ultimately and presently.
When you become pregnant with purpose, targeted to produce what God wants, you attract overshadowing, and that overshadowing intercession births something of what Creation groans for, we groan for, and God groans for, that also moves history toward the ultimate revelation of God’s total purpose.
Romans 8:25 says Holy Spirit “aggressively lays hold to help obtain.” The picture here would be that He shadows or envelopes what we are doing to cause a partnering of God upon man, generating the result that we are appointed to but require Divine power to produce.
This is the sense in which all ministry becomes pregnant and intercedes, when your life stands between heaven and earth, your whole being becomes the womb and birth canal of purpose, and your life is overshadowed in the birthing of God’s will.
Azusa Street Overshadowing
Many of our descriptors for what God was doing at the Azusa Street mission a century ago also suggest an overshadowing of a people at a place for a given time. The condition of overshadowing released healing and freedom, creative miracles, and manifested Glory, people submitted and surrendering to that overshadowing groaned in birthing the demonstrations of power.
From this picture, we who experienced Brownsville also walked into a cloud-like envelop of overshadowing that produced the same demonstrations as well as an obvious life-changing kingdom power that changed hundreds of thousands of lives.
I have experienced this overshadowing everywhere I have gone in ministry. I do not say this to brag about myself but to point out that this is the mark of this ministry into which we have shared assignment. In fact, I wish to make it clear here and now, that we have avoided the hype and marketing techniques often used, even by people who have stood in this pulpit, that seems to insinuate that whatever happens next will be a result of their words and ministry. I also wish to clarify that we will not be using the overshadowing to accumulation people into this house or into our matrix. MinistryMatrix speaks of birthing people into a spiritual condition that supports the condition into which they are birthed. An overshadowing becomes available where you have the target of purpose on your life.
Overshadowing Defines the Target
We do not see any overshadowed leader or person marketing the overshadowing to build a following or gain influence as a kingdom leader. The person or group experiencing overshadowing must maintain a proper decorum of principles and protocols when overshadowing occurs so that the purpose they birth becomes more important than the birthing process itself. When the baby is born, it turns around and names you.
Overshadowing defines the target rather than the target defining the overshadowing. Immediately we name the condition of overshadowing with an “East Coast Awakening” or “Jacksonville Outpouring” we run the risk of using the overshadowing to birth what we name or expect instead of birthing what God names or expects. If other people give what God does a name to talk about it, they nearly always redefine it by their very descriptions, and they limit the full understanding of purpose by an immediate explanation of what they cannot possibly understand outside the revelation the overshadowing provides.
In other words, do not expect to understand revival and Awakening by reports in media, christian or no, but expect that God is birthing something beyond your understanding that answers to symphonically orchestrating All toward purpose.
Try to explain “God symphonically orchestrates All,” and you understand why you cannot report overshadowing with any hope of creating understanding.
Immediately the move of God comes, people wish to put their own fingerprints upon it, explaining how what they did or said produced something that can only be understood by “God symphonically orchestrating All for the good.” By the time a second or third generation reads the history of revival, they have little understanding of what actually occurred.
Brother Seymour would stick his head inside an orange crate filled with observable light, as a cloud of glory would rise up on the floor. At some point, God would ask him to remove his head, and he would stand to release an overshadowing of miracle-working power over a section of crippled people, for example. From outside the building, an observable overshadowing could be seen that on several occasions motivated people to call the fire department.
Purified Motivations Overshadowed
Imagine a mother carrying a child whose only thoughts were “this child will make me famous when I give birth.” Imagine a mother birthing a child with thoughts like “this child is going to make me famous, rich, and powerful.” Imagine a mother carrying a child with thoughts dominating her mind like “I can’t wait to take this child on the road with me so everyone will marvel at what I’ve given birth to.”
When overshadowing comes, the focus of birthing eclipses such sentiments, and the same instincts that cause a mother to protect her baby from peering eyes and people with selfish motives begin to motivate the behavior of that mother. She isn’t hoping that birthing will make her famous. She is concerned with birthing a healthy child that will redefine her entire life by the demands of its care. She has hopes that the child will someday mature, but she isn’t thinking college and road trip the first week.
Such was the actual conditions of authentic revival and Awakening. The wonder of His overshadowing purified the motivations of those experiencing His powerful presence. They were not concerned with how to market it, make money on it, expand the mass hysteria around it, or build themselves into an institution through it. That came later when they were “discovered.”
Overshadowing becomes so precious that you hope that no one experiences with a motive to cheapen its beauty with carnal enterprise.
When Isaiah saw the Lord lifted up on the cherubim, he also saw the seraphim. He heard the sound of Glory that shook the Temple’s entire dimensions. One seraph announced to the other seraph, “His Glory fills the whole earth.”
Consider how different that phrase is from “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as waters cover the sea.” The overshadowing is different from the filling. Glory fills the whole earth but it doesn’t overshadow.
Glory fills the earth but God overshadows those who love Him and are positioned to produce His purpose.
The vast majority of what we do and say, when we finally get worship and intercession right, still doesn’t attract overshadowing. While it may be filled with Glory, it isn’t overshadowed until it produces purpose.