I have been conscious these past days that the Song of Songs devotional was drawing to a close therefore I have been reaching out to the Lord as to what to look at next. I am deeply concerned at the evil right across the many layers of society. I have been stressed beyond measure at the deliberate wilful blindness of many Christians. I lie awake at night over the things about to come upon an unprepared world in spite of continual warnings from the heavens. I want to rage, to weep from despair at the utter hopelessness of it all. It is my humanity that is thinking this way I know and probably because I feel my limitations, but My Father is not limited, His plan has not changed since the beginning of time. The following is His plan…….
Note: you will quickly notice that I am initially deliberately choosing to use the name Yahweh in place of the name God. I do this in recognition that our Bible is a Jewish book and Yahweh is the name by which Israel knew Him.
We have not been left without specific step by step instructions for every step of our way called life, whether from birth to eternity, or earth to heaven, for Father laid out the pathway right back at Mt. Sinai. It was there that Yahweh came down upon the mountain to put a proposal to the offspring of Abraham, those He had just delivered out of slavery. That proposal was one of betrothal which would eventuate in marriage and in response Israel answered with one voice….
Ex. 19:8 all that the Lord has spoken we will do.
Yes Israel answered “We do”, “I will”, which we recognise as familiar during a wedding ceremony at the time of vows. If you are in any doubt that this is what was happening then read what Yahweh said through Jeremiah His prophet.
Jer. 2:2 I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal when you went after me in the wilderness
Betrothal would be similar to our engagement although different also in many ways. This was the time of the birth of their nation, which in essence would be the time of their youth. But it did not take very long, possibly within the hour, before the nation back tracked frantically from that decision, scrambling to take back control of their lives as they decided that Yahweh was far too scary. In fact they told Moses to communicate with Yahweh himself and pass on to them anything important. Thus the next step was for Yahweh to break things down more simply for them by putting before them the Tabernacle. In this way illustrating for them step by step how they might approach Him, but more than that, how they might approach Him safely.
This devotion is all about approaching Yahweh and approaching safely. You will recognise as we journey the beauty of this well thought out path and I pray that it will melt your heart as it does mine. Today at the commencement of this journey may we covenant before the Lord to take this route with His help, and not to repeat Israel’s choice of action by saying ‘NO NOT THAT WAY OR NO yAHEH DO NOT COME THAT CLOSE TO US”.
Ex. 20:18-21 Now all the people witnessed the thundering, the lightening flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking….and they trembled and stood afar off. Then thy said to Moses, “you speak with us and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we die”. Moses said to the people, “Do not fear for God has come to test you and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin”. So/But the people stood far off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
We have some choices to make today, it is all laid out here on this our first day. We do not even need to be full of bravado, it is fine to admit that we are uncertain, nervous, we can simply cry out “help”, providing it is in all honesty. He will then come and lay the steps out simply and clearly for us leading us all the way, all we have to do is follow with no turning back.
Why would anyone today consider studying Moses Tabernacle, especially outside Bible School? We do so because it gives us a very clear progression of God coming to dwell with mankind so that man could dwell with Him, both here on earth and eventually in the heavens. But besides showing us the initial coming we will see so very clearly as we study this how to grow and live in His presence in varying degrees.
How good is God! He first has compassion upon us as we take that initial step into salvation even showing us how to come to Him, then He shows us how to develop followed by how to maintain our walk and growth. You might say He hands it to us on a plate, all we have to do is reach out and take what He offers, then why do we find it so difficult? Is it because it was not our idea? For I know that for some this could be the case. Or is it because we want to keep control, we want to say when and how it will look. Or it often is laziness or even selfishness, as it just does not suit our chosen lifestyle. I guess the reasons could go on and on. Then what will it take? Yahweh going to this much trouble with the nation of Israel there at the foot of Mt Sinai, laying it all out before them so as to demonstrate the big picture, did they just go forward from there? No, they were no different than we are today. Reading the Old Testament we cannot help but see the pain they put themselves through when they walked away from Yahweh in disobedience, or conversely the way life goes so well for them when they honour Him. We have their example surely that should make us wiser!
Remember the Bible likens us humans to sheep, which I suggest is not complementary. Any farmer will tell you that out of all the animals sheep management is the most intensive, I am told that there are over 30 different things that can go wrong with a sheep, besides which they are just plain stupid. Cuddly and sweet faced maybe, but stupid nevertheless, they can have a lush paddock around them and yet they will push and force their heads through the fence to get at the grass in the next paddock, even if it is less appetising.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Jesus, Gods Son, the expression of Himself being made in the image of man also was likened to a sheep, but how different this sheep was.
Isai 53:7 He was led as a lamb before His shearers dumb
John 1:29 He was the spotless Lamb of God, Gods lamb who took away the sins of the world.
As we come towards Moses Tabernacle we are presented with an entrance, which the Bible calls ‘a door’. The Tabernacle is surrounded by a fence made from white linen, and in that fence there is but one door. Inconvenient surely, in today’s society of human rights this would not be tolerated, for too many people would be inconvenienced by just one door. But this is God’s pattern and not mans and there can only ever be one door and that door is Jesus God’s only Son. Take it or leave it nothing will change, His way or no way. Today would be a good plan to settle that matter within ourselves,
“Your will and way Lord, not mine”
Yesterday we arrived outside the door of the Tabernacle but before we go any further let us look around and see what we can learn. The fence for instance, it is sufficiently high to inhibit anyone looking over the top, besides this it is securely pinned into the ground to deter anyone from crawling underneath either.
John 10:1 He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is thief and a robber;
Now the above verse could not make it any clearer, human rights or not, it is not according to our personal choice of which or how many gods, or not. But I suspect it goes even further than this, for I suggest that amongst Christian circles we could be, albeit without realising, trying to enter by using foreign ways. Foreign to God that is, and it could be as simple as just using our own preferred method, the style of the day, hype, even occult methods which are creeping into the church. If this appears too hard, even too judgmental we could at least use it as a check list, surely that would be wise of us. We are human after all, likened to sheep, prone to going off track.
I have mentioned that the fence was made of white linen, how impractical, whose idea was that? It was Yahweh’s for it was to depict righteousness, His, He was dwelling within the confines of righteousness, that is why we cannot begin our journey towards Him except for and by His Son. Now this white fence was in sharp contrast to the tents of the people which were encircling God’s tent, for their tents were made from goat’s skins, which were black. How clear is that picture! White – righteousness, black – sin, the Jewish language and culture is full of pictures and illustrations and Yahweh is always speaking to them by using such pictures. Man dwells in a house of sin, whereas Yahweh is totally righteous, the Israelites walked out of their covering of sin to come to the door and pass through it on their way to Yahweh’s heart.
There are some scriptures that would serve us well here.
1 Cor. 10:11 Now all these things happened to them (Israel) as examples, and they were written for our admonition and advise.
Heb. 10:1 For the law is a shadow of the good things to come.
Acts 7:44 Our fathers had the Tabernacle of Witness in the wilderness as He instructed Moses to make it, according to the pattern.
Heb. 8:1-5 Those who served the old sanctuary served a copy, shadow of the heavenly things….see that you make it according to the pattern.
To my thinking the above group of scriptures make this subject very relevant to us today, for the things which Israel experienced literally are written down that we might follow them spiritually. They are an example for us, the Tabernacle being a witness to the plan of God to bring us to Himself. In the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis we have one chapter dedicated to the house, namely The Garden of Eden, which was to be man’s dwelling place. Or we may choose to say that the house where man was to dwell is his physical body, and again only one chapter is allocated to the creation of this physical house which was to house his soul and spirit. But it is different when we come to details regarding the dwelling place of God here on earth, there in the book of Exodus we find fifteen chapters dedicated to this subject alone. There God gave very clear instructions regarding the house that was to be built by man for God Himself to live in whilst on earth. One chapter with details about earth’s creation, one chapter describing man’s creation and fifteen chapters giving specific details of God’s house. No need for me to tell you which one is the most important in God’s eyes.
Our thought for today then is that we probably need to take a check and come to a decision as to which one of these three take up most of our time in a 24 hour day.
Another thing we should make reference to before we enter the door and that is which of the 12 tribes pitched their tents right at the entrance to this door. Incidentally this was not their choice for Yahweh made it very clear how and where each tribe was to pitch their tents. It was the tribe of Judah who were given the privileged place adjacent to the door, I say privileged because they had the least distance to travel to reach the entrance. Many amongst the other tribes would have felt envy of their position of place, except upon closer inspection I doubt they felt privileged for right outside their homes animals were arriving on tethers led by their owners, brought to the door for slaughter. Where there are animals there is smell and flies, not to mention noise. Even that does not conjure up the melee going on right in their back yard for these animals could smell blood and death and fear which gave them the understanding that they were next in line for slaughter, and they were right. Now when animals are full of fear their bowels react, so now we have screaming struggling animals, foaming at the mouth and dysentery from the other end, yes smell, noise and flies, not forgetting the rivers of blood as their throats were cut, and this was the scene day and night. Now tribe of Judah who feels privileged!
There are some amazing pictures right here for starters there is the animals and the mess. It is all to depict the sinful state and disgusting mess that is the result of sin as we present ourselves to Jesus for salvation. We come to the door which is Jesus, not in our right mind, and wisely not all clothed in our own self- righteousness, but just as we are, filth, stink and mess. We can pretend all we like that we are not so bad, there are others worse than we, but that will just not work well for us in the end.
There is still another illustration that is before us with the tribe of Judah camped nearest to the door and the mess. The meaning of the name Judah gives us the answer here for Judah means ‘praise’.
Ps. 100:1-5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving in your heart and enter His courts with praise.
I inhabit the praises of My people.
We are not talking about worship but praise.
The Hebrew word ‘praise’ which is ‘Judah’ is made up of 3 pictures
Thus we understand that as I raise my hands in praise and surrender to God then He opens the window and door of heaven over my life.
Guess all this leaves today is for us to follow through on coming before the Lord in openness and honesty whilst acknowledging Him in praise for all who He is. Praise is ascribing more worth to His environment than I do my own by making His environment more worthy than my own.
God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When you can’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His heart.
Here in our study we see a nation of Israelites who had been born into slavery, where for 400 years each successive generation lived in misery being cruelly treated. The Bible likens their situation to a person’s life outside of Christ and salvation, Satan being the vicious oppressor, the slave driver. But here is Yahweh to free them, and deliver them all the way to the Promised Land. But do they remain free? Yes and no, depending upon which god/God they listened to and followed. If it was Baal then slavery resulted, but as long as it was Yahweh they knew freedom, they did well and so did their crops and the land, and they were blessed. There is nothing new under the sun! Baal today just wears different clothes and we are still stupid sheep.
Prov. 4:18 The path of the just is like the shining sun that shines ever brighter until the perfect day.
This brings us to the Tabernacle and it is where we begin the pictorial journey, which gives the reality of the pathway that God has put before us. First though we need to go through the door. Once we are through that door we have started, nothing and no one can put us back outside that door again, except ourselves if we ever foolishly decide that Jesus Christ Gods Son is not the only way after all. That all roads lead to Rome. That we should not be so biased and other religions have equal rights as it were. This means no to denying Him when the pressure is on, it also means that we accept and acknowledge that He is the Way and the only Way and it is His way and not our way. Otherwise Satan and slavery and Baal dressed in different clothes is just over our shoulder.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me”.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall be saved.
One day when we are in heaven and all will be understood and we get to look back over our lives, will we be shocked? For will we see that for most of our Christian lives we just hung around the door, inside thankfully otherwise we would not even be in heaven. We are only just inside the door because we just have not gone any further along this pathway. Salvation and nothing further, which is a salvation to suit our lifestyle, making it all a matter of choice, our choice, our way. Nothing changes really, the only difference is that one day when we die we shall be in heaven and not hell but only just, saved as by fire the Bible calls it. To be dramatic for a moment let us say we are saved but the smell of hell is still upon us. Even more succinctly let us say we have chosen the worst of both lives, we are inside the door but close enough to still be looking longingly outside and beyond, to all the things we would like to be still doing except God has gone and spoilt it. We are inside the door and yet not far enough along the pathway to be enjoying this new life either. Yes, the worst of both worlds. Inside the door and yet we can still hear and smell the outside environment.
My prayer is that we will quickly become utterly focused upon the goal ahead instead of upon ourselves. It really is not about fixing ourselves up, wrong focus, and it just does not work that way
There is one more things that we need to look at before we go in through the door/gate. We should take a look at the fence. It stands erect and clean amongst all of that filth. With our feet slopping about in blood soaked mud, contaminated by animal vomit and bowel discharge and our senses assaulted by the stench and the sounds of distressed animals waiting for slaughter, which remember is to give a vivid picture of a life of sin, a life before Christ. But look at the fence, sure it is very plain, just white linen, no adornment or colour, effectively hiding the drama and the magnificence of what is just over inside where the furnishings are rich and glorious, woven with gold thread, much of the furniture being gold, and the air thick with perfumed incense. This plain white fence held erect by posts made of brass, and attached to those posts with hooks made from silver. Is there anything hidden here that can reveal to us something which would convince us to turn our back on the outside and press to enter in?
Yes there is plenty for whenever we see brass mentioned in the Bible it always is referring to judgment whereas silver refers to redemption. And so for me to commence my journey and so enter the door I can see that I need to fall at the Saviours feet, and allow all that I am to meet with judgment so that redemption can be exchanged. To exchange my black darkened condition for the white of His righteousness.
There is another beautiful illustration here for when the nation of Israel were brought back to Yahweh He gave them some rules to live by, not to enslave them once again but so that their lives would go well. One such rule was that when they bought or sold a slave then silver was to be the currency used. Silver was the redemption price. To be even more exact it was to be 30 pieces of silver for a slave. Some thousands of years later a disciple by the name of Judas was happy to sell his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ to the High Priest of the day for the sum of 30 pieces of silver. Oh Judas your act screams down the centuries, for it shows that Jesus to you was nothing more than your servant, a slave to your plans.
But before we rail at Judas too much though it could be better that we check out ourselves, listen to our prayers and look at our own heart attitude. How often have we demanded that the Lord heal this one, and deliver that one, come here and go there, do this or that, answer us NOW. At times we could even have privately thought that we have more compassion for the lost than does He for we would have moved quicker. I often feel that we should pray out loud even when we are alone, and always listen to our prayers as we are speaking, we may be shocked. At times does the notion creep in that we are the master and He the slave, for the sin nature does that.
Surely all of this is enough to convince us not to remain outside any longer. It’s enough for me. I want in!
a poem to bless...
When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man, When God wants to mould a man to play the noblest part, When he yearns with all his heart to create so great and bold a man, a man, that all the world might be amazed, watch his methods watch his ways. How he ruthlessly perfects whom he royally elects, How he hammers, and hurts him, and with mighty blows, converts him, into trial shapes of clay that only God understands, while his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands, How he bends but never breaks, when his good he undertakes, how he uses whom he chooses and with every purpose fuses him, when mighty acts induces him, to try his splendour out, God knows what he's about.
Whom God would use greatly, he will hurt deeply. a man, that all the world might be amazed, anonymous.
And so we enter in at the door and find that immediately in front of us is a huge square box with a grill on the top, it is an altar . There upon the grill are pieces of carcasses in the process of burning, causing thick smoke to rise upward. The Lord having given strict instructions that from the time the very first offering was laid out on the altar then never again, except for when they were travelling, was the altar to be empty with nothing burning upon. For the thick smoke was to ascend heavenward to obliterate the stench of sin. The cause of the smell of animals you remember is just through the opening in the fence and probably the smell permeated into the court of the Tabernacle. As we stand there are we disappointed, did we expect more, for the altar is so large that anything else is obliterated from view. Why is it so large?
For the nation of Israel only the tribe of Levi who were chosen as the priestly tribe, were allowed inside the door and were occupied in the function of the Tabernacle. For us though it all changed through the cross off Calvary, there Jesus opened the way for all who will come through Him to function as priests, that is you and me.
Rev. 1:5,6 to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests…..
Therefore here we stand! This is step 2 in the journey to reach the inner place and so the heart of God, step 1 was the door/Jesus. But what is the meaning of all of this seemingly religious trappings and imagery?
Firstly we notice that the altar is made from brass and wood, the brass being the inner and outer skin otherwise the wood certainly would very quickly become part of the fire. Again the answer is found in the imagery for wood speaks of humanity throughout, and as we have already mentioned brass refers to judgment. How very fitting, mankind destined for the fires of destruction, come to be judged, and the sentence averted due to the blood and sacrifices which are being offered there on the altar, which is a precursor to the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. There is a subtle difference here…….
1. The door – Jesus, which is where we acknowledge who He is, the one and only way, the Son of the living God. It is Him or nothing actually.
2. The altar – where our sins are judged and dealt with.
The subtle change is that the door we only enter once, but the altar we are attending and offering upon continually, for this is the only place where sin can be addressed, acknowledged and dealt with.
This is not a popular or even acceptable message in many churches today. Many Christians only want to hear about the love of God and His abounding grace towards us, in fact they are violently opposed to any message except how much God loves them. They certainly do not wish to hear anything of sin mentioned, and yet the Bible is full of the message of grace of course, His love definitely, but balanced with the need for repentance and even judgment. But do not give up it will become clear as we get closer to the light.
There is still more to be discovered about the Brass Altar, for one thing it was the largest piece of equipment, furniture in the entire Tabernacle. Now the Lord was very specific with His instructions about the making of this Tabernacle. Very detailed about the materials used and where, the colours throughout, and especially the measurements. Very detailed! Therefore for the altar to be hugely larger than all else, sufficiently large in fact that any other piece of furniture could fit neatly within its confines, has to grab our attention.
The obvious application must be that any subsequent step we embrace must have its roots it’s foundation back here in this altar. Besides this it would also mean that this would be the most used area in the Tabernacle. Why, there was a team of priests at work here, back and forth from the door where they received the next offering and then back to the altar for the burning, and so on, all day and night a steady stream of people needing to make sacrifice.
To recap slightly, we come through the gate/door, and we only do this once and this speaks of our salvation as we accept Jesus as the Son of God and our only way to the Father, where we acknowledge that access has been barred due to our sin, but now through Jesus we have the access we are seeking. Now we come to the altar baring ourselves as He shows us layer upon layer the specific ingrained sins which keep us from moving forward, this act is repentance, where we see ourselves as God sees us lay it down and turn and walk in the opposite direction as we walk in His truth, free. But for us, why do we need repentance from what we thought was all dealt with and forgotten at Calvary! At Calvary the fact that we are sin and therefore have no access to a holy God is what is dealt with, whereas at the altar specifics as they arise, as we recognise what cripples us, these are brought, burned up and the ashes left there. How long we remain there at the altar over any one of these specifics really should be dependent upon the Lords direction, and our own willingness to let go. Let me explain further…..
1. Many times it is a case of acknowledging sins before God and sometimes also man, exchanging the guilt for His love and forgiveness and then getting up and moving on.
2. For persistent areas of sin, things we just cannot get on top of, the process could be different. How about we come and stay, and stay and stay, not grovelling and depressed but being stilled until we see the situation through the eyes of a holy God. Until we stop making excuses, or until we recognise the damage this situation is doing to ourselves and possibly others. We stay until we are free, does this sound like deliverance? Probably and a very effective deliverance too for it is done Gods way.
As we stand at this altar it is not a place to be bowed down with guilt and despair, instead let us hear the voice of God speaking and telling us that this is the very best way to live our lives. When we look at pictures and diagrams of the Tabernacle we are amazed at the intricate details, even down to the materials used and the colours of the material. It can only cause us to realise that God is into detail and if that is so concerning the literal Tabernacle how much more so regarding our lives. We are tempted to think that we get away with things, imagining that God doesn’t notice, everyone does it kind of attitude, and true I am not inferring that He is up there with a big stick about to pounce when we go off centre. What I am saying is that there are laws set, the law of gravity for example break it and there are penalties, dire ones, then there are the laws of nature and so on, and there are also spiritual laws, break them and the aftermath is horrible, the Bible puts it this way…..
Gal 6:7 For whatever a man sows that will he also reap.
It’s a matter of choice again!
Let us close reminding ourselves that Step 2, the Brass Altar, repentance we shall visit often, many times a day, as often as we recognise a specific sin for this is where we lay it down and it becomes ashes and we walk away free.
We need to linger at the Brazen Altar a little longer, for this is such an important stage in our journey. Get this foundation wrong and the rest will topple.
Another controversy in the church is regarding the Ten Commandments, are they relevant today or not, have they been done away with, superseded? How about we approach it from another angle, that is by not starting the approach from where we are but from where the Commandments were first presented. Exodus 19. On Day 1 we began with Yahweh initiating a betrothal ceremony. We also said that the Bible is a Jewish book, and has Yahweh interacting with His chosen nation using the Hebrew culture, possibly even initiating the very culture they lived by. Therefore when they recognised what was happening there at the foot of Mt Sinai between Yahweh and themselves, because it fitted right alongside their culture, they also knew that to seal the covenant they had just entered into there would be an agreement, which would lay out steps each side expected the other to take and live by to prepare them for the wedding to come. If they should break the covenant/agreement then the wedding would be off. The ten parts that we are highlighting to God's covenant with Israel was such an agreement, a covenant document you might say. This is how it was in every betrothal ceremony. Here is the document Yahweh gave them….
1. You shall have no other gods before Me. Or in our culture today we would say. Now that we are betrothed I expect you to favour no other boyfriend besides me, all the former boyfriends are in the past, they are history.
2. You shall not make yourself a carved image. No carrying around any photos of former boyfriends.
3. You shall not bow down to them. No keeping former relationships or secret crushes.
4. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Hold my name and all that it stands for with respect. This is my family’s honour I have put upon you, carry it with care.
5. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. There is one day in the week which is put aside just for you and me to be together. This day is ours, let nothing else crowd in, keep that for me alone, it is only one day.
6. Honour your father and mother. Because you are carrying my family’s honour and from now you are living by our family’s standards you will not steal honour from your parents. Filial respect is big in our family.
7. You shall not murder. Also you will not steal another person’s life.
8. You shall not commit adultery. Or steal another person’s wife.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. Or even steal your neighbour’s reputation.
10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. Or steal his possessions
So the next question we ask ourselves is “is this a good way to live or not”? If it is a good way to live then why would it be abolished? Live this way before God and man and life will go well with us. This is far removed from dictatorship, or control, or even far removed from violating our human rights. It is the Lord saying, if you wish to live the best kind of life this is how it will look. Actually I appreciate how clearly the Lord lays it all out. Before Abram began to be introduced to Yahweh the idol worshipping peoples of the earth never knew how to please their gods, for they never knew what the gods wanted, the gods did not communicate. That is why some days they beat themselves and another day they would even burn and sacrifice their children to their gods. Our magnificent God says ‘do this and blessing will result’ and that’s a promise! As the expression goes ‘how good is that’?
Yes we are still standing at the Brazen Altar, and as I mentioned earlier this is where we are going to spend a lot of our time. Leviticus 1 speaks of the sacrificial animal after it is killed being dissected. If for example the animal was not killed first they would need to tie it down because no sacrifice is going to be a willing one. Except Jesus of course for John 10 says that love held Him on the cross. The Apostle Paul much later wrote the following words…..
Rom 12:1,2 By the mercies of God I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual worship and this is a reasonable act of service. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
But as we think about it there is no such thing as a living sacrifice, a sacrifice by definition is dead. So where did the Apostle Paul get this concept of a living sacrifice from? Leviticus makes it clear that a sacrifice has its head severed from its body likewise its legs, plus its inner organs cleaned. Besides which how can this relate to us?
Gal. 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Matt. 16:24-26 If any man desires to come after Me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gain the whole world and loses his own soul?
But how can this be? We cannot crucify ourselves. We can shoot ourselves even poison and with a lot of determination drown ourselves, but crucify, never. We would need help for that, and if we now think spiritually we have help, plenty of it, the Lord can bring any amount of people or situations across our path that will offer all the help we could ever need! What will take the greatest effort is for us not to flea screaming for help to escape. What it will probably take is for us to fully realise how much trouble our head, feet and inner parts, un-sacrificed, give us. We walk our own way, we think and plan regardless of Gods will, our inner parts our heart if you will, gets us into huge trouble. Sin and un-sanctification, rebellion and wilfulness, selfishness and….the list is endless.
The motivating force will be the understanding that if we do not embrace this truth then we shall remain glued to this spot, and I suggest that the continual stench, smoke and sight of dissected animals will eventually get to us until we opt for retreating back outside the door and running far in the opposite direction, whereas if we keep on moving ahead things will quickly become hugely improved.
We should not be tempted to cry “but this is only a type”. The Lord uses pictures to show us the truth. Pictures make up the Hebrew language and in their symbols and in their everyday life, these are signposts for us to follow.
Today we will make it to step 3 which is The Laver and we will find it in the Outer Court. This means that in this area of the Tabernacle there are 2 pieces of furniture but making it 3 steps for us counting entering in at the Door, 3 steps on our journey to finding Gods manifest presence. We are still in the area dedicated to saving our spirit, making us alive to God, where we are able to tune in to Him and for Him to interact with us. Plus still in the area which calls us to separation from what we have imbibed whilst we lived outside the Door, but more than that, it teaches us to recognise the things of our sin nature that have always and will continue to keep us apart from Father God and His purposes for our lives. I do not know about you but this causes me to groan “let me learn well”. And so on to The Laver.
As with the Brazen Altar where I mentioned that our part is to put ourselves before the Lord daily and in reading His Word, so with The Laver. Remember Jesus is the Logos, He is the Word made flesh, for how are we going to know Him and His ways and purposes unless we put some effort into this? Let us rightly view the Bible as His letter to us, a letter of instruction, guidance, love, warning, it all applies. We see this same message here interwoven through the Laver.
Firstly it is made of highly polished brass, this is the closest the women had to a mirror, therefore the laver was one giant mirror. Shaped like a large bowl standing on a pedestal with a shallow bowl at the base, which they were instructed to keep not only filled with water, but the water was to be flowing in and out over the edges, the water never to become contaminated or stagnant. The water was to be used for washing the pieces of dis-membered carcass before they were sacrificed. Thus there was a steady stream of traffic, priests going to the door to take the next offering from the waiting worshippers, kill, dismember, wash the pieces at the Laver, back to the altar, lay it out on the hot grate, back to the Laver again to wash themselves and so it would start all over again, day and night, night and day. There were a lot of people wanting to come before Yahweh therefore needing a way of access, an offering.
Today let us just take one aspect, and that is the mirror, for the priests were required to view themselves. Here they are dressed in a white robe, an unlikely colour for such a messy and yet necessary job. Each sacrifice completed and before they returned to the door to meet with the next supplicant they were required to check their own condition, hence the mirror. As they stood with their feet in the lapping water in the lower bath and reaching up with their hands into the higher bath they washed and scrubbed, checked themselves out in the mirror and back to do a better job, until they were satisfactorily clean. To make this an application for ourselves let us go to the Bible….
James 1:23-25 for if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror. He observes, then goes away and forgets what kind of person he saw.
Such clear instruction isn't it! Read, recognise and obey. Read until we see ourselves as we truly are, then as we can be and need to be, in the image of Jesus God's Son. Where we learn to desire to be like Him, get our eyes off ourselves and gaze upon Him, until we gradually change. Look an live would be an ideal adage. A note of caution would not go amiss here for many times we look and are so distressed and even discouraged that we close the book and turn away. Instead let us look until we see Jesus, it will happen for we have the Holy Spirit ever ready to help us.
That’s our job today, let’s take a good long look in the Word of God, the mirror, and be honest about what we see.
I wish to pick up at the exact spot where we left of yesterday standing at the Laver washing and then likening that action to us reading the word and seeing our image reflected, now let us explore that thought further. As we walk in the experience of the Laver we look into the mirror of the Word of God and hopefully see ourselves as God sees us, in all honesty, dirt and all. Also we see the reality of God and the big picture so that we can get caught up into His plan. For it is here at the Laver, step 3, we are to receive true perspective which will give us hope, not a vain hope rather one that is based upon the truth of the Word of God. This in turn is what will bring change and growth which will be lasting and real. We have the mirror, the water and the Word.
Eph. 5:26 that He might sanctify the Church and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.
We are not going to get very far in our pursuit of God without the Word of God daily working something in us. There are a number of possible situations here,
Problem is there are no short-cuts, we cannot skip step 3 and move on to 4 because it suits us. Each day the priests had to take that same identical route,
2 Cor. 3:18 ….looking in the mirror we see the glory of the Lord, and as we look we are transformed, changed.
There is no growth, no moving forward except there be change, and according to the above verse the change comes as we look into the mirror (the Word) see ourselves see Jesus, look back at ourselves, and the idea at this point is to prefer how He looks as to how we do. The idea is to make the choice we would prefer to look as He does, and the more we look and look and prefer to look so we are changed to look like Him. That is the plan!
There is something further to consider and that is the water, its function is to clean us up, and to refresh us. Think about a cool swim after a hot day where you are dusty, hot and weary. Nothing refreshes more, or maybe a cool shower.
Ps 24:3,4 Who may ascend unto the hill of the Lord but he that has clean hands (deeds)
Water and a mirror, wash refresh, look deeply and change, all sounds good and necessary to me.
We are almost done with the Outer Court, but to recap though before we move on and up. The Outer Court is where we come to God and on His terms, for this is the place where man begins his approach to God. It shows the difference between our position before God and our condition as we come into His presence. We have a right position before God because of the blood of Jesus His Son. As we look into the mirror of His Word we see who we really are before a righteous God, our true condition. We see where we stand at this point also we can see and know the scope of all that is before us. There is no need to wander in circles or confusion, for the Word is a mirror. The secret is to read and apply the Word on a daily basis.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.
The Outer Court is revealing Jesus as The Way. The way to the Father, the way to life abundantly, and the way to a full and complete salvation, in fact it goes on. The Outer Court experience or position is a place for coming and learning and putting down roots. It is an experience where we put off and put on. Put off the sin which has been such a part of the fabric of our very thinking and function, and put on Christ and His way of thinking and acting. It is not the time in our Christian lives where we get busy in the church system using our talents and our abilities, for our time should be spent putting down new roots as we read the Word, and our talents should be put aside until they are cleansed and sanctified. If we do not do this then one day it will turn sour in us and we shall decide that Christianity does not work for us. Look around you will recognise many in the system who have approached it wrongly. We will be told that we should be serving, because there is always a lack of willing hands, but this is a time when we should be sitting. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, reading and reading and reading more, and can I suggest that your choice of reading material are the devotional type books which will open up your heart and spirit and so melt away the hard core. There are no short cuts, no quick get rich schemes spiritually speaking, be suspicious of hype, for there will need to be a tapping down to where your spirit is atrophied, hard, dry and dysfunctional. For your spirit is the quietest part of you and can only begin to live and breathe as you feed it and as it has access to the Spirit of God, for He is the teacher.
To begin with until it becomes an unconscious habit, commence each day at the Door by acknowledging Jesus as Saviour, allow your praise and deep gratitude to swell and absorb you. Next move to the Brazen Altar for a check-up, giving the Holy Spirit permission to search you, Ps. 139:23 use this Psalm as a guide. When you are ready move to the Laver and read the Word until you see yourself clearly then see Jesus, wash and wash and wash. The two things in the Outer Court which led the way into the Inner Court were
So who can enter? Those who have walked through the Outer Court properly
One last word before we depart the Outer Court, if you want the most miserable, unproductive, unsatisfying both to yourself and to the Lord, Christian existence, then hang around the door. Be tempted to gaze back out, at times longingly wishing for your former life back. This would be the worst of both worlds, so let’s move on.
You will remember that I mentioned on the previous day that the Outer Court reveals Jesus as The Way that is the beginning of the way to the Father. Now that we come through into the next court which is the Holy Place we see Jesus as The Truth. Things should get exciting, the truth, don’t we all long to know the truth, really know, not just wonder or find out at a later date that we had got things all wrong. The Truth.
To enter there is another doorway, but interestingly this one is far different to the initial door into the Tabernacle. That one was very wide by comparison, just as Jesus said with His own words….
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever
believes on Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.
Yes that first door was for ‘the whosoever’, anyone, indeed everyone, God is standing there with His arms wide open. But now we are entering a different world and the door indicates just that. Yahweh gave the measurements and they were to be followed exactly. This door was half the width of the first one, and not only that it was twice as high. A narrow entrance and a high calling, for not all those who come in through the first gate will go in through this second one. Not because the Lord does not want them to, it is always left to our choice, He is forever drawing and calling and encouraging us to move higher, no it is our choice. But why would we choose not to enter? It is a high door/calling, and a narrow door, a narrower way, and not everyone chooses this way.
Another very clear illustration of this is gleaned from the measurements of both the Outer Court and the Holy Place. For the Outer Court is hugely larger in circumference, which shows us that being larger it has room for the largest amount of people. A horrible thought, but we ascertain from this illustration that most Christians will opt to stay in the Outer Court, yes closest to the door, the escape route, occasionally hankering after the life they left behind. There is something Jesus said to His disciples which confirms this thought…..
John 14:2 In My Father’s house are many mansions….I go to prepare a place for you.
One interpretation is that this verse says ‘levels’ in the place of mansions, and He has gone to prepare the level for us. Level 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on, but who determines the level? Is He refusing anyone access to a higher level, never, that would go totally against His character, as I said it is we who choose. But it is a higher call, for if the Outer Court is for the ‘saving of the spirit’, then the Holy Place is for the ‘saving of the soul’, and here we are talking about our will, our mind and our emotions, yes everything that makes us the people that we are.
I just love the way He makes it so clear, there is certainly no need to go round in circles is there. In fact at any time of any given night or day we can know where we are, which level we are on, for you will find that you are rarely immobile for long, always on the move. This gives me such hope, and even makes me excited as to what a day in Him will bring. Life with the Lord is never boring but one vibrant adventure, the secret is to be able to understand what is happening and why. Jesus now lives in us so in essence we are the tabernacle. He was The Door and we now demonstrate the door wide for whosoever, we do not decide who comes in and who remains outside. Rather we offer all people free access even as Jesus did.
Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life and so when He called Himself by these titles He was in essence saying that He was the Tabernacle in flesh, here on earth. He is saying “that is me”, that is the way back to the Father, that is the way to communicate again with Him. He is saying the Tabernacle is a shadow of Me, for I am the way to perfect communion with My Father. So we are entering at the door into the Holy Place, where Jesus becomes pure ‘Truth’ to us and where we are truly changed little by little. I have heard this entrance called The Truth Gate, a fitting title because there is quite a list of things that will be made available to us in here.
The Bible says “Your Word is truth’, and so again reading, studying and knowing the Bible is going to play an extremely important part in all of this. That is His teachings, the law, His standards as in how God intended for His people to live and act. We will learn how He intends for us to think about ourselves and about others. We hopefully will not only see and learn but we will also do, for everything in the Tabernacle points to us….
1 Cor. 3:16 you are God’s Temple and the Spirit of God dwells within you.
2 Cor. 6:16 for you are the Temple of the Living God.
The Tabernacle was the central focus of the most successful culture that God has ever placed on the face of this planet. Successful providing Israel followed Tabernacle life for the Creator of all things fashioned it. Therefore the Tabernacle that used to be without as it was with Israel is now built within man after Christ, probably what we are saying here is, to what degree?
As we come in through the door to enter into this room, for it has a ceiling, we realise therefore it is quite different to the Outer Court, possibly the first thing that strikes us is the vast difference in the two areas. For this one is breathtakingly beautiful, for sewn into the glorious deep blue curtains which cover the walls and ceiling were angels each one sewn with gold thread, thickly embossed. Heavenly beings everywhere you look surrounding us, welcoming us, gathering us in, we are getting closer to the inner room which is the Holy of Holies which is where the presence of God resides. Heavenly hosts, Gods habitat and yet this isn’t heaven, maybe the Lord is telling us that heaven can also be a state of mind as it were, an attitude, as an old time song writer once wrote, ‘where Jesus is it’s heaven there’.
Incidentally it would be good for me to make clear that this journey through the Tabernacle will be a slow process. Yet I do not want you to give yourself lee way to take it slowly, rather what I am meaning is that there will be days when the Spirit of God brings us back to a step we have previously visited. He has brought us back so that we can go deeper, ever deeper, there will never be a day when we are not learning something, and anyway that makes it more interesting, certainly never boring. We must keep on moving forward though, otherwise we are moving backwards for you cannot stand still, I know that sometimes it feels like we are going in circles, but just keeping moving.
The first piece of furniture within this room is the Menorah, made of 90lbs of pure gold. To understand the Tabernacle is to understand who we are, because that is what God calls us, for we are now the Tabernacle of God. Let us remind ourselves how much expense went into making the Tabernacle, how much detail, how much beauty, therefore if the glory that rested on the Tabernacle made with man’s hands was so great how much more the glory that rests upon the tabernacle made by God’s hands, from the dust of the ground, we the carriers of God’s presence to the whole world. This begs the question, if the world were looking at our lives now how would they see God? Is He angry, worried, a tired mess, is He stressed out? Can they see the glory which is the Lord’s?
The Menorah is one solid piece of gold beaten into shape, which would have had to be made by Divine revelation because you could only have one go at it otherwise it would be ruined. This way we see the Messiah in the Menorah, beaten in order for us to have His revelation. God allowed Himself to be beaten so that the light could shine in our soul.
Because of certain teaching in the churches today a question always arises and it is related to my suggestion that the Tabernacle illustrates our need to repent for sins (present) committed. Rather it is muted that being a finished work, over and done with, we can consequently rest in this rather than becoming caught up in focusing and worrying about our sin’. Here I where I bring in the below scripture…
Phil. 2:12 Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Does this answer those questions using the Menorah as an illustration? Jesus was beaten for us that we might have this great salvation, He has completed His portion now it is for us to embrace this which in cooperates much action from us, some work and activity focused upon our salvation.
Another illustration could be Joshua and the nation of Israel going into the Promised Land. The Lord told them that He had given them the land, after which He dropped a bombshell by saying ‘now go in and fight for it’. Thus we have salvation, now go and work out your salvation, and in doing so keep before Him in repentance.
Reading Numb 8:2,3 we almost miss what is being said regarding the Menorah, for it was to be fashioned so that the light only shone forward. The only light in our soul is by revelation from God, everything else is darkness. When God gives us revelation we have a choice to move forward or retreat back into darkness, move forward into life or retreat back into death, forward into multiplication or retreat into decrease, it is not a matter of whether we are saved or forgiven, rather it is about our best life here and now. The only light in the Holy Place was from the Menorah, outside in the Outer Court the light came from the sun or stars and moon by night, whilst in the Holy of Holies the light came from the glory of God Himself, it was His presence.
This meant that in the Outer Court when the sun went down there was darkness, in the Holy Place providing there was oil in the lamps there was light, and in the Holy of Holies providing the presence of God was there then there was light and glory.
We need to continue on from yesterday to see and understand how people of Bible days classified sin. They never heard a rabbi talk about sin as being either good or bad, rather they say sin is either light or darkness.
1 John 2:8-11 a new commandment write I to you…..he who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness….he who loves his brother is in the light….but he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Now that Jesus in not in the world where is His light? It is in His body, God needs a body and we are the body of Christ.
Matt. 5:14-16 Jesus said “you are the light of the world……let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”.
The Menorah is a lamp intricately detailed, God was hugely specific about this.
Ex. 25:31-40 You shall make a lampstand of pure gold, the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shafts, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and the flowers shall be one piece. Ix branches shall come out of its sides, three out of each side. Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower and the same on the other branches. On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms , each with an ornamental knob and a flower. ……you shall make 7 lamps for it and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it……
I wrote this out in full as it is good to read it for yourself. Now if we count up the individual patterns on 3 of the branches on one side we count 3 sets of 3 on each stem, x 3 branches = 27. Do the same with the other side, 3 branches, 3 sets on each branch = 27 except this time we add the centre piece which gives 12 in number this gives a total of 27 + 12 = 39. Total 27 + 39 = 66. Can you see the parallel? There are 27 books in the New Testament, with 39 in the Old Testament with a total of 66 books in the Bible. That abolishes the idea that the Old Testament is irrelevant and not necessary for today. It also confirms that step 3 once again is about the Word of God. As a reminder, step 2 we saw how the Word which is Jesus as He is seen and known on every page of the Bible is to be read and absorbed and obeyed to initiate the process of the saving of our soul. At step 2 the Word was to be used as a mirror for us to see the truth about ourselves and our situation and in turn see the Lord Jesus in all His splendour and be drawn to Him and His ways. Step 3 we see the Word of God as a light that will banish darkness, that will reveal everything around it, and that pointing in the right direction will point the way forward. Twice a day, morning and evening the duty of the priests was to tend to those lamps. There was the need to keep those lamps filled with oil, plus the necessity to keep the wicks trimmed. Oil is always an illustration of the Holy Spirit, and those lamps needed to be filled so that the wicks could draw up oil and so be lit for the light to shine. An interesting touch is that the wicks were made from torn up strips of the priests old under garments. Remembering that we are all called to function as priests, therefore we can say that the covering of the priests dipped into the oil is what produced the light. We have a lamp, and it’s purpose is to give light, but this ability can only come as oil is added, and twice daily to ensure that the light was never extinguished. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, our illuminator, it is the Holy Spirit who reveals the truth to us, the revelation by the Holy Spirit upon the Word of God is what brings a rhema, a revelation which is something specific for that time and place for us as an individual.
At the Brazen Altar God gave the very first flame of fire to the wood to start the sacrifices, but it was the priests duty to clean out those ashes every day, and to rekindle or to keep burning yesterday’s fire. It is our responsibility to keep the fire burning , for we might add that we cannot live on yesterday’s heat, fire. The Menorahs message is this also.
Incidentally as this is Step 3 within the door we need to tie what is happening to Romans
Rom. 6:1-4 shall we continue in sin, certainly not…..do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus (salvation) were baptised into His death. Therefore we are buried with Him through baptism into death (water baptism) that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Baptism of Holy Spirit)
The understanding is that these 3 steps are the initial full package of salvation as it were. Acceptance, water baptism and Spirit baptism.
There is still more that we can say about the oil which was used for lighting the lamps of the Menorah. For example oil is produced by crushing the fruit, afterwards refining the oil, many pressings producing various grades of refined oil. In the Hebrew language Gat means oil, and Shaman means olive press. From Gat Shaman we have our word Gethsemane, which again means olive press. Gethsemane is the olive orchard which the Lord Jesus together with His disciples took as a shortcut from Jerusalem to Bethany. Feeling heavy from the things which He was feeling in His Spirit He leaned against the press which was there in the grove awaiting use at the time of the harvest. Kneeling beside the olive press His Spirit felt the crushing as His soul was poured out. “Lord if it possible let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless not my will but Yours”. If we are the servant and He is the Master, then how should we expect any less. He went that way that we might follow in His strength.
Oil is used according to the Bible to make our face shine and to anoint the body, it is used on many different occasions and for many and varied reasons and purposes. Besides which we know that oil is likened to the Holy Spirit. The Lord gives us oil for many purposes, both practical and spiritual. In the parable of the 10 virgins recorded in Matt. 25 this is probably one of the most important as it is an oil, or an anointing, for the last days. This oil speaks of revelation and illumination which will be needed for the last days. Jesus is THE ANOINTED ONE therefore we need more and more of Jesus as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
It is interesting to understand certain things about the olive tree, for instance a tree takes at least 15 years to produce fruit. This suggests to me that it is going to take time for us to produce any oil anointing. Another truth is that a good olive tree will produce fruit for 300-400 years, I liken that to the 3rd and 4th generation, that a true moving and anointing of the Holy Spirit will be visible well beyond us. A wild olive tree is the Middle East is merely a scrubby bush, plus it produces no fruit for it has to be grafted in to a hybrid, likewise we have been grafted in to Israel. At harvest time the olives are gathered and placed in a trough, when a donkey turns a massive stone/rock, basalt the heaviest rock, in order to press out the oil. There are many pressings, and each pressing is used for a different purpose, the first pressing being the best and most expensive and the last pressing resembling more like vinegar and known as the soldiers wine.
When the olive tree is old it becomes woody, gnarled, rigid, so they cut it down so that out of the old stump will grow a new shoot(s). The Hebrew word for ‘shoot’ is Nazar, therefore out of the stump will grow a nazar. Isai. 11:1,2,10. The parents of Jesus returned to Nazareth in order that it might be fulfilled ‘Jesus the Nazarene’. This means that Jesus came from ‘shoot town’. Add to this Jesus who is the Messiah, and Messiah meaning ‘to be anointed with olive oil’. We now have ‘the anointed One growing up in shoot town. But there is more….
In the garden on his knees Jesus began to experience the horror of what was going to be laid on Him, the sins of the world. The responsibility and the awfulness resembled a mighty rock which pressed itself with great heaviness upon Him. There in the garden archaeologist have discovered that Jesus wasn’t praying amongst the trees He was praying in a cave, a cave which held the olive press. Jesus had sufficient oil or anointing to stay awake, to press in for the needed revelation and illumination and strength that would take Him to the cross, not so the disciples who simply could not stay awake thus when the revelation was needed to take them through the following horror, they didn’t have what they needed.
We begin today still standing at the Menorah and still focussing on the oil without which there would be no light, the oil which speaks of the anointing. There are many different anointing’s, but this is one of the most important anointing for the church in the last days. This anointing will be needed in order to meet the Bridegroom, for God is notoriously late to our thinking. Also in order to reach our destiny and so fulfil the path and call which is upon our lives, we will need this anointing in order to reach an intimacy, and fellowship, with our Groom to be, to satisfy the groom and the father in law, and to keep us faithful right to the end. One last thought, an enemy wanting to destroy the olive tree would simply take a thin strip of bark all the way around the tree, and this would kill the tree in 30 days. This reminds me of the damage the little foxes do to the vines as mentioned in the Song of Solomon we are to guard diligently against these little foxes.
Perhaps I should add that false christ’s are falsely anointed whereas anti-christ’s are against the anointing and abusers of the anointing are professors of Christ and yet ungodly. May we be none of these.
Today we have arrived at step 5 which is in the shape of a table, a table that is made of wood covered in gold, and intricately carved. Laid upon the table are 2 stacks of loaves, 6 loaves in each pile making 12 loaves in total, 1 loaf representing each tribe of Israel. These loaves were to symbolise Israel in the presence of Yahweh day and night, 7 days a week. Actually it was 6 days because on the 7th day there was a change here for that was the day the loaves were to be eaten by the priests, and subsequently replenished. As you can imagine bread exposed to the air for 6 days would not be particularly palatable for eating on the 7th day, except that morning and night the priests on duty performed another job here. Two times a day they were to pour frankincense over those loaves so that it would soak into the bread and so preserve it as fresh as the day it was baked. Thus we see that step 5 has to do with bread, which is eaten, which is also preserved by a day and evening function.
The gnawing pain of hunger, the need to feed oneself is one of the strongest drives that a person has. As long as this hunger is fed, one can go on with a normal life. However if food is denied for a long period of time the body starves itself to death, becoming sick and so finally dying. Likewise when a person senses spiritual hunger the first inclination can be to satisfy that hunger but sadly, usually our first choice is satisfaction by easily obtained things and usually these are the things which the world offers in abundance, especially when they do not recognise that it is spiritual hunger they are sensing. It appears that man left to himself will tend to go in any direction for satisfaction except toward the Lord, to satisfy that inner space which only God can satisfy. You will recognise this tendency surely, it can be……
Excessive possessions Position Power
Money Property Recognition
Partying Entertainment Sensual pleasure
Fame Alcohol Food and drink
Drugs Pride Apathy
Jealousy Pornography Retail therapy
The Lord speaking through the prophet Jeremiah called these things broken cisterns.
Jer. 2:13 For My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken Me, the fountain of Living Waters, and hewn for themselves cisterns that can hold no water.
The literal meaning of this piece of furniture which is The Table of Shewbread is ‘The Bread of His Face’. This experience then, I imagine, will bring us before His face and this is bread which is sitting day and night in the presence of the Lord, and then by eating this bread. Once again it relates to The Word of God, the Bible, but this time the Word is eaten. Jesus said that He is the Bread of Life, therefore we are to consume all that He is. Naturally speaking whatever we eat will become a part of us. Let me jokingly say that if your diet is one of hamburgers you will eventually look like a hamburger, and if instead you eat a lot of chocolate you will look like me! The lesson is that we are to consume Jesus, as He is seen in the Word, this will mean that the Word will become flesh and blood, it will become a part of us. It is said that ‘we are what we eat’, feast upon the things I listed above and that will become a part of us. In essence we are to partake of the Lord Jesus and His nature as we see it in the Word/Bible until He is a part of us.
Jesus is the True Bread that comes from heaven.
This leaves one question for us to ask today, in 24 hours how much time do we give to eating and I am not talking of natural food?
There is something else that we need to learn from The Table of Shewbread. The Lord whilst on earth used an expression that offended many of His followers, when He said the following…..
John 6:53 unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you
The following verses 60 and 66 show how this statement caused many followers to take offence and so leave Him, in fact all but 12 departed. Before that there had been at least 70 or more followers on a regular basis, He was a recognised rabbi and so it was a usual practise to choose someone you considered carried the most enlightened truth, and follow him, to become his devotee. But this statement shocked them into departing to find another rabbi to follow. If we had done this, spoken offensive words, we would consider that we had spoken and acted unwisely, but this is God’s Son, it was obviously time for them to understand this truth. When Jesus observed the effect His words had upon them He turned to the remaining followers and said “will you also leave Me”, to which they replied, “Lord where else can we go, for who else has the words of life?”
Yes step 5 is about eating so that we can live, neglect to eat and the result will be sickness, weakness and eventually death. Eat Him, His words, His spoken truth, until it becomes a part of us. Until His truth is such a part of us that to remove us from it we would need to have it cut away from us. I think what we are seeing is that gone are the ‘but’s’ and the ‘if’s’, and the ‘maybe’s’, even the ‘if only’ until it becomes ‘if He has said it that’s good enough for us’. The Lord said something very interesting through Isaiah….
Isai. 55:1,2 Ho everyone that thirsts come to the waters. And you who have no money come and buy and eat,……why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
In our language I think the Lord is allowing us to gorge until we are fat, in the spirit realm that is, this is the only area where obesity is beneficial!
John 6:33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven….I am the Bread off Life, he who comes to Me shall never hunger,
Vs. 51 I am the Living Bread which comes down from heaven.
Only God can satisfy a man’s constant craving to fill his empty heart. This is what the Table of Shewbread is all about. One more thought before we leave and move on to the next step. In order for us to feed others with the truth, we must first eat ourselves. This is The Bread of His Face and His Presence therefore eating this brings us before His face and into His presence.
Now we come to Step 6 which is the Altar of Incense, but first let us recap but using different terminology.
1. The function of the Menorah, the Lampstand, is of ministry to oneself.
2.The function of the Table of Shewbread is where one eats in order to be able to feed others.
3.The function of the Altar of Incense is where we minister to the Lord.
Yes step 6 which is the 3rd piece of furniture here in the Holy Place is known as the Altar of Incense, and we can see from the above that the Holy Place which is a place of ministry and service to be complete needs to be 3way. We can explain it this way. To minister to others we need first to feed ourselves and in order to have something to feed others we need to have first been before the Lord and ministered to Him. But then to fulfil that for which we are called we need to minister both to the Lord and to others. So it goes back and forth in a complete circle.
This piece of furniture which is step 6 is the closest to the throne of God, to His holy presence and to His heart. Why just through that veil is another room which holds the Ark of the Covenant and where the entire room is radiant with His Divine glory. It’s only the other side of that veil, 1 more step. This piece of furniture by its very proximity to the throne room we can understand is the final experience or step, before entering into the presence of the Lord in person.
It is another altar even as the first piece of furniture when we entered the Tabernacle was an altar, and yet it is very different in shape, size and function. Firstly though once again it was made from wood overlaid with gold, the wood illustrating humanity and the gold representing the deity of God. May I remind you that in the Outer Court wood was overlaid with brass for out there man was experiencing the judgment of God coming against His life. Here though it has been different all along as human nature was experiencing the overlaying of the glory and beauty of the Lords nature. It is also different in function for never was an animal to be laid and burnt here, for this altar was not where sin was dealt with, this altar was solely for Gods enjoyment. Spices and sweet smelling incense were to be thrown upon the hot coals on this altar, and as it touched the coals so the perfume would be released and the room would be filled with something so beautiful.
Spices, sweet smelling incense each one selected by the Lord Himself way back on Mt. Sinai. They were to be gathered and crushed and prepared then blended together. Interestingly man was instructed never to use this blend for his own benefit or pleasure, this potion was only ever to be thrown on the hot coals which were upon this altar to pleasure the Lord God. It was for Him alone. But what is this incense illustrating, and what does this altar represent for us?
Ps. 55:16-18 Evening and morning I will pray and cry aloud
Ps. 141:2 Let my prayers be before you as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Rev. 8:3,4 Then another angel having a golden censer came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
One aspect is certainly prayer as it is mentioned in the above scriptures. But not the type of prayers we have been using this journey so far, these are specific, Holy Spirit initiated prayers, where our hearts are in line with what is on the Lord’s heart. Where are His thoughts, His focus, where is His attention in this world? Here we have the privilege to be on heaven’s wave length and what a privilege it is.
The Altar of Incense with its spices to pleasure the Lord speaks of our prayers and worship for this is not a place for cleansing. The smoke and perfume from this altar not only filled the Holy Place but it would permeate through the curtains and so into the adjacent rooms. On the day that the priest entered in beyond the veil into the Holiest of Holies they would make the smoke thicker and thicker to veil the sight and presence of sinful man.
To the Israelites smells and perfumes were a part of their everyday lives and thinking. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles at 3 pm everyone would break incense at the same time. As the incense rose up the priest would say “Lord at this moment let all of our lives smell like this before You”, for it was all about how they smelled before Yahweh. Jesus Himself used smelling imagery when He said that if any have an anger problem whereby they call their brother a fool, then they are in danger of Gehenna. Gehenna was the cities rubbish dump where all day long the smell of rubbish permeated, but not only the literal smell of the rubbish there was the eye watering smoke as the rubbish fires smouldered day and night. Therefore Jesus was saying that if you have an anger problem where you think you are better than other people then your life will smell like hot smoking smouldering stinking garbage, where you want it to smell sweet like incense before the Lord. We might say that the smell of our soul permeates our entire being for we can make ourselves pretty on the outside but the smell will eventually seep out.
I have taken every spice that Yahweh told them to gather, process and then blend for use here at this altar. As always with Jewish matters we need to discover the meaning of a name for a name shows the character of the thing or person. This I have done, then after discovering the meaning of each name I have arranged and rearranged these meanings until it all came together with an amazing. Here it is….
The anointing is to cause us to bend the neck
To bow the heart in deference to our Lord and Maker
As the anointing drops it will cause bitterness to be scraped from our hearts
Then He will lift us up
In an appointed time
When our hearts and minds are fixed in God
We shall bring forth by inspiration a prophetic sound
With the heart of a lion.
Does that excite you as much as it does me. For I see that as we become saturated with the perfume from the Altar of Incense or as we move into understanding and experiencing real prayer and true worship then a fresh anointing will cause us to arise in the likeness and image of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have aligned prayer and worship to the Altar of Incense but there is more for warfare should also be added, for true worship includes spiritual warfare.
From the time the nation of Israel was delivered from bondage they constituted a holy army. As they crossed over the Red Sea they sang a song of triumph announcing that Yahweh was a ‘man of war’. The success of their wars can often be aligned to the success of their worship, for if they were in right fellowship with Yahweh then their enemies were defeated, but if not then they were shamefully defeated. We could say that the spiritual battles were won in the Tabernacle or Temple as the case may be, and the physical battle was fought in the fields. One time Yahweh gave the victory as long as Moses held high his hands throughout the entire battle. Battles should be fought and won in the heavenlies (in prayer and spiritual warfare) first before we can expect anything good and permanent to happen here on earth.
To my thinking though the best example of warfare though is seen in Ps. 45: 1-3. Here the psalmist begins with worship, such beautiful pure worship of a heart just overflowing with love. Sandwiched right in the middle the psalmist then switches to warfare, but it is never about himself. In effect he is admitting that his own personal sword which he is wielding is very small and insignificant, and here he asks His glorious Lord to ride out into battle with him. He urges Him to take out of the sheaf His huge sword and for Yahweh to inflict deadly injury upon the Kings enemy. For whoever is our enemy is also the Kings enemy and visa versa. This skirmish though is sandwiched between worship, which is where it should be, for now you will see that he goes right back into pure worship.
Perhaps I can suggest here that many Christians have either never enlisted for the fighting force, or they have gone AWOL, absent without leave. To have never enlisted is a misnomer because whether we choose to enlist or not we are still in a war, and we still have an enemy. Satan is on our case day and night
Finally I want us to look at something else which is both important and beautiful.
Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also and sent them two by two before His face into every city and into every place where He himself was about to go.
During manoeuvres an army in years past would have gone in front, behind them would follow the king carried upon a litter. This is to say, the soldiers went before the kings face.
Prov 16:15 In the light of the kings face is life, and His favour is like a cloud of the latter rain.
Or we might say that the above verse is saying ‘the countenance of the Lord brings divine favour’. God said to Israel that His face was in the cloud, but said Yahweh I did not let you see My form because I knew that you were an idolatrous people and if you saw my form you would bring me down to your level and make statues, forms of what you had seen. How much we can see His face is in accordance with how much idolatry has been dealt with in our lives.
Numb. 6:22-28 and Yahweh told Moses to say “the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace’.
Here Yahweh is desiring for His face, His countenance to be towards His people so that they would be blessed. His presence is His face, so that when we go into His presence that is where we are, before his face, before His face will mean that His grace, favour and mercy will follow.
Let me close today by praying that we shall both, first desire, and then actually experience living before His face throughout this day.
JESUS SAID “I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE”.
We have begun to walk in His Way as soon as we entered into the Outer Court, and all the while we are in the Holy Place we are being touched by His Truth, now we are about to enter into the Holy of Holies and so be embraced by His Life.
First we need to understand what is about to happen through the eyes of the nation of Israel. Only once a year did the High Priest go through the veil and enter the Holiest of Holies. Jesus is our High Priest and when the Lord Jesus took His last breath on the cross at Calvary the veil of the Temple was split diagonally. This signified that we have access now beyond the veil, except the Hebrews quickly mended the torn veil, fixed it right back to where it was before. That is quite right really because although the death of Jesus gave us access, there is still a veil over our eyes and it separates us from entering. It is the veil of our sinful flesh, you might say that it is our pride, or our rebellions, our self-consciousness or our mind and I could go on and on. This is not to say that we never have access, it might be rare but there can be times when whilst standing at the Altar of Incense experience we do have momentary access where we feel the heavenly breath upon our face, when our hearts are totally fused with His, when our spirits soar in adoration.
But there is still something else to understand. For Israel once a year, on the Day of Atonement during the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles the High Priest prepares to enter beyond the veil. That is the day he begins at the door and makes his way from piece of furniture to piece of furniture until he stands before the Altar of Incense right before the veil. Now he picks up the table and walks with it beyond the veil right into the Holy of Holies. When you read the book of Exodus you will see the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place but when you read the Book of Hebrews then this altar is in the Holy of Holies standing next to the ark. Why the discrepancy? Because this is telling us that when the Lord Jesus returns the 2nd time for His bride then those who are standing at this altar, experiencing the truth of this step 6 will walk in that experience right into God’s very presence.
One way or another here we are in the Holy of Holies and standing before the Ark of the Covenant which is covered by the wings of 2 golden cherubim, yes everything in this room is made of gold, no other element could be here, except of course when the altar is carried in which is made of wood covered with a layer of gold. Yes there is a way for humanity to be in here but totally covered over with the Lords Divine person. The root word for The Mercy Seat is in Hebrew kapporeth which comes from kaphar which in turn means…….
To cover to cleanse to forgive
To pardon purge away put off
To make atonement for. to reconcile.
And these are all reasons why we can stand here. It is Him and Him alone, for as we stand before the Mercy Seat in the Holiest of All we can finally know what it is to be covered. To know the covering over all that we, not only have done, but all that we are. It is made possible because of the blood of the sacrifice taken from the Brazen Altar, and then sprinkled on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement and Jesus is our Mercy Seat.
Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His MERCY He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit….that being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain MERCY and find grace to help in time of need.
THE MERCY SEAT represents our right standing with God our Lord and Father. The cherubim’s either side represent the heavenly hosts of angels who look down upon the seat of mercy and they represent justice and righteousness on the one side and grace and truth on the opposite side, which has been the theme all the way through.
JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. GRACE AND TRUTH.
I would like to do a little Bible study here…..
Justified in Greek is a legal term and it means not guilty. To be declared not guilty in a court of law
Rom. 5:1 You have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ. (just as if you had never sinned)
1. Redemption is a slave market term which means to buy people out of slavery into freedom so that the authority, the power, the one who held you in slavery does not have power anymore over you.
2. Mercy means propitiation, and it saves us from a Holy God’s wrath.
Rom. 5: but He also offered Himself as a propitiation of God
All of the above shows us that we do not and cannot pretend that the sin and mess did not happen, rather it means that God is not angry anymore for He is totally satisfied with His Son’s sacrifice, our debt has been paid in full.
When the priest came into the Holy of Holies he would sprinkle the mercy seat with blood taken from the sacrificed lamb back at the door, and he would sprinkle it 7 X. Now remember that the mercy seat means propitiation, this saves us from God’s wrath. But not only are we forgiven but its as though we have never sinned, so that no longer does our slave driver Satan have any power over us anymore but we can spend eternity with our Father who rather than being angry with us He is full of love towards us. He desires that we approach Him but that we do it safely and not harm ourselves in the process. You may wonder at this expression, although I have used it previously in this study, ‘that we do not harm ourselves in the process of coming into His presence’.
Lev. 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron took both of them his censer, and put fire therein and put incense thereon and offered strange fire before the Lord which He had not commanded.
Numb. 3:4 And Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord when they offered strange fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai,
By the expression strange fire the Lord is referring to the carelessness with which the two men came into the presence of the Lord. Aaron was the high priest therefore he was the only one set apart for this position, his two sons just presumed they could come in any time any old way.
The Lord wants us to enter His presence and has made a way for us to do this, but there is a safe way and an unsafe way.
Lev. 10:3 …by those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy, and before all the people I must be glorified.
We begin today’s devotional standing at the Mercy Seat which has been sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb. Under the mercy seat is a hollow box and inside that box is kept the law, the tablets on which are written the 10 commandments, for this is God’s standard and it is the betrothal contract, which is also meant to be engraved upon or heart.
Ps. 119:105 Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my way.
The Word of God, our Bible shines a light to search and spotlight our soul to confirm or not that we are living the right way. To ascertain whether we are living within the boundaries that God has set up so that we can honour Him with our lives. The law of God shows a picture of what our life could look like, for it is a mirror, we see that we fall short of this standard and so every day is a continual cleansing and moving forward to live in accordance with that. Not an excuse why we cannot and do not, rather it’s about living in the Spirit and so allowing God’s word to guide us. Thus being good stewards of His provision and so being solid in our identity so that we can live in communion with a holy God.
There are 3 articles with the box, to be kept there forever as a testimony. We have looked at the 10 commandments, next there is the pot of manna which was a living reminder of their daily divine provision whilst journeying to the Promised Land. To remind us that God made Himself responsible for providing the manna but they were responsible for the gathering of it daily.
Manna was like coriander seed, therefore not only did they gather they also needed to crush the hard seed, process it, and then cook it. Then at the close of the day any remaining was to be destroyed because next morning it would be rotten and so unusable. The Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray each day for their daily bread. Fresh each morning, gathered, prepared, baked and then eaten, God has promised to supply and we can trust Him both naturally and spiritually, now it is our responsibility to do the rest, gather, process and eat. If their neighbour was unable to gather then they were to gather sufficient for them rather that gather extra for themselves, fresh each morning. This could not be clearer, fresh spiritual bread for ourselves and our families to feast upon, parents were responsible for their children, then once we were provided for we are to gather sufficient and then go out to feed those who cannot gather. This pot of manna was kept in the ark as a daily reminder that this was non-negotiable even as were the 10 commandments the betrothal contract.
Finally the third article in the ark was Aaron’s rod that budded. This refers to the time in Numbers 12 when the People of Israel came against Aaron’s leadership and challenged him to a show of power, we will do our magic tricks and you show us yours. So they do their thing and Aaron just stands there with his customary staff but it now has buds and a flower on the end of it. And that is the end of the story seemingly except that laying there in that box this same staff/rod still has buds and a flower on it. To my way of thinking this is shouting at us that our identity is in God, we do not have to prove anything with gimmicks for what lies in our spirit no one and nothing can take it away. You are who you are because of Christ, providing you have lived by the first two articles, the ten commandments and the manna, and you are who you are because of that which He has put in your spirit. What is more we can know that if we live in accordance to the law of God which is written upon our hearts, and that law will be a lamp to our feed and a light to our path then nothing can come against us without God’s direct permission.
Thus we have The Ten Commandments which speaks of our standard for living, The Pot of Manna which speaks of Divine provision and we have The Rod of Aaron which speaks of our identity. The root word for Torah comes from ‘to throw a dart at something’, to throw at a target. In Greek the word for sin means to ‘miss the target’. Standing here in the presence of the Lord, saturated with His Word, sin left far behind us, we have reached our goal.
To reflect further…..
The two tablets of stone upon which were written the Ten Commandments, these were to show man where they came short of a holy God’s standards. Even more they proved that man, left to himself, could not keep them, thereby they could never attain to God’s rule. Rom. 8:3,4. This illustrates the Outer Court where we are judged and proven once and for all that we are sinners and need to be saved in order to begin this journey into the presence of Almighty God. The Outer Court is to show us how to begin the journey on God’s terms and by His standards as our spirit which was once dead to God is now made alive and is functioning, and in communion with our Creator. He does not leave us wandering confused and ignorant, but He lays it all out for us.
JESUS IS THE WAY.
The Golden Pot of Manna brings us into the Holy Place. This is the manna which was collected whilst they journeyed across the Sinai as recorded in the book of Exodus and it illustrates the Word which brings us revelation of a communion we can have with Him. Bread is illustrative of the life of Christ now working within us as we consume Him, and He becomes part of our flesh and blood, the warp and woof of our being. Jesus Christ is the true manna, the bread of heaven. John 6:51. As we experience Holy Place living our soul begins to be restored, our minds renewed and our will becomes conformed to His will and our emotions become purified by His life working through us. Our soul begins to walk in salvation.
JESUS IS THE TRUTH.
Aarons rod that budded illustrates life springing out of death, for it was nothing more than his staff, his walking stick, although valuable it was still dead. Now as God’s life touches this dried up stick, life once again flows through it resulting in leaves. In our experience this brings us to resurrection life, life which touches our entire person, a life which will ultimately produce life, His life. A life which touches our entire person is a life which will ultimately produce fruit. Because at the end of the day this is what the Lord requires. Rev. 8:11.Fruitfulness, intuition and a Spirit filled life.
JESUS IS THE LIFE.
Standing before the throne of God finally man knows full salvation. The following three scriptures endorse this point…
Eph. 2:5,8. By grace you are saved. (past tense).
Phil. 2:12 Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
2 Cor. 3:18 You are being transformed (present tense)
Rom. 13:11 Now is our salvation nearer.
Rom. 5:9,10 We shall be saved. (future tense).
As we close off this devotional I wish for God to have the last say. One day, not too far away either there will be a universal sigh of relief as our Beloved Godhead wrap things up.
Rev. 21:3 Behold/finally the Tabernacle of God is with man.
Those who will be saved are gathered safely home. From the time He first created man it has been a long journey, a struggle to the death, Christ’s death that we may live. He now has His inheritance, it is we. We shall look long and deeply into all who He is, for eternity we shall feast our eyes upon Him, so very grateful that we did not miss the goal.
Tomorrow I will commence a new series ‘A time for war’.