Over the years, various unusual phenomena have occurred that some declare to be the manifestation of the glory of God. One of the most spectacular is that of “gold dust” falling from the ceiling during worship times. This golden film coats the hands and faces of those in attendance, who state that they have no explanation for it except that God is manifesting Himself to them. Some reports include the appearance of “diamonds” and “precious stones” in people’s hands. Gold fillings miraculously appear in people’s mouths. There are others who claim they were coated with a golden substance during personal prayer times at home. These reports come from all across the globe and those who have witnessed this phenomenon declare that it drew them closer to God. Could this be a true manifestation of God?
The Lord God Almighty can manifest Himself in any way He chooses (Psalm 115:3). Throughout the centuries He has in fact revealed Himself to man in a variety of ways that many would consider bizarre. In the Old Testament, God spoke through a bush that did not burn up (Exodus 3:2), a pillar of fire in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21), and a cloud that covered a mountain (Exodus 24:16). He has spoken through a donkey (Numbers 22:30), the physical presence of angels (Genesis 16:11), and through some unusual object lessons in the lives of the prophets (Hosea 1:2; Ezekiel 4:1–8; Jeremiah 13:1–6). In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit continued His supernatural manifestations by empowering believers to speak with foreign languages they had not studied (Acts 2:4–8), heal the blind and lame (Acts 9:34), and raise the dead (Acts 9:32–41). Could something similar be happening now? Could God be revealing His glory in a new way?
Spectacular spiritual presentations are nothing new, nor are they limited to Christianity. Most religions claim supernatural visitations, and adherents thrive on stories of those who supposedly experienced them. The apostle Paul’s initial message of a resurrected Jesus was as far-fetched to devout Jews as the idea of gold dust is to us. However, Paul’s audience in Berea demonstrated the wisest approach when confronted with phenomenal reports that claimed to be from God. Acts 17:11 says that they “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Through a deep study of the Word, the Bereans became convinced that this resurrected Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah they had long awaited. Notice that it was only through the investigation of Scripture that they were willing to be persuaded. That should be our litmus test as well.
First John 4:1 commands us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” So how do we test something like falling gold dust? A cursory Google search indicates that at no time has any worshiper showered in gold dust ever produced any genuine gold. The “precious stones” have all proved to be imitation. A variety of laboratory tests have shown the “gold” to be cellophane or plastic glitter. The gold fillings have been consistently verified as having been put there by dentists. In light of these findings, a couple of questions surface: if God were to reveal Himself to believers in a “golden cloud,” would He use plastic? Would the Holy God who created real gold manifest Himself with a cheap cellophane substitute (Job 41:11; Psalm 50:12)? And if He were to take the time to fill a bad tooth with gold, isn’t it more consistent with the nature of Yahweh Rapha (“The Lord Who Heals,” Exodus 15:26) to simply heal the tooth?
There are three possible explanations for the presence of this “golden cloud” and falling gemstones. We will attempt to examine each of them thoroughly.
1. First, let us suspend doubt and consider whether this could be a true manifestation of the glory of God (Isaiah 60:2). The Scriptures reveal that God thinks highly of gold. He compares His own word to “fine gold” (Psalm 19:10). When He instructed Moses on the building of the tabernacle, God gave specific directions about the use of pure gold, pure silver, and precious stones (Numbers 8:4; Exodus 28:17–21; 37:17–22). God required the genuine articles because the purity of precious metals and stones reflects His own value and worth. In fact, God is repulsed by counterfeits or anything impure (Exodus 30:3; Ezekiel 22:18; Isaiah 1:25). So when we examine the Scriptures as the Bereans did, do we find there a God who would manifest His glory with imitation gold dust and plastic gems? This phenomenon does not appear to harmonize with God as He has revealed Himself to us through His Word.
2. The second possibility is that the leaders in charge of these worship services are orchestrating a hoax. Unfortunately, there are many examples of pastors and worship leaders who have gotten caught up in the “whatever it takes to reach people” mindset and become party to deceptions in the name of Jesus. We all desire a tangible visit from God. We are also predisposed to believe leaders we esteem. This desire and predisposition can create a congregation ripe for deception. Although the leaders in charge of the “gold dust” meetings vehemently deny taking advantage of a vulnerable public, the possibility must be considered. If not they, then perhaps it was an over-zealous congregant desiring to put a little “excitement” in the services. It is worth noting that, on many of the videos capturing this “glory cloud,” a ceiling vent or removable tile is quite near the glittery cloud.
3. Demonic involvement is mentioned so often in the New Testament that it must also be considered as a possible explanation. Second Thessalonians 2:9 warns that in the last days, evil leaders will “do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles” (NLT). Notice the word counterfeit. Satan is a deceiver, a counterfeiter (John 8:44). He demonstrated this against Moses in the courts of Pharaoh (Exodus 7:22; 8:7). His evil substitutes litter the pages of history. In Mark 13:22, Jesus warns that “false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Satanic deception is one reason Jesus warned His disciples about standing firm to the end (Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13). Some of Jesus’ harshest words were to people who demanded a miraculous sign. He called them an “evil and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12:39). An adulterer is one who turns away from godly faithfulness to pursue an immediate thrill. And a spiritual adulterer is one who turns his or her focus from the person and work of Jesus Christ to seek spectacular displays in His name. When we begin to revere objects or displays as a means to enhance worship, we are in danger of mirroring the idolatry of the Israelites who demanded a golden calf (Exodus 32:4). Jesus knew that many who followed Him were dazzled by the miracles but had little interest in the cross. Could it be that many today are in danger of substituting the spectacular for the spiritual and have little interest in crucifying the flesh (Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:2)?
It is not the purpose of this article to malign or question the integrity of anyone who has experienced a “gold dusting,” but it would seem that Scripture stands in sharp contrast to the claims of those who advocate such displays. There are no manifestations of this sort recorded anywhere in the Bible. Even during the powerful apostolic days of the book of Acts, God’s glory was revealed in the transformed lives of those who called upon Jesus’ name. The apostles’ miracles were merely to promote the resurrected Christ and were not an end in themselves. At no time did anyone report the appearance of a plastic glitter cloud as evidence of the Holy Spirit among them (1 Corinthians 2:2; Acts 3:12).
God does perform miracles. He does work in supernatural ways. And He does reveal Himself to us every day. Romans 1:20 says, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” The beauty, glory, and power of the Holy Spirit are available to anyone who repents and surrenders himself fully to the lordship of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; Luke 24:49; Galatians 2:20).