Series 2004Part 3
What We May Learn about the Holy Spirit
THE DEEP CONCERN OF MY OWN SOUL is that so many believers stop so far short of knowing all that is ours to know of the LORD God in this present age. From the time of the visitation that came to Moses on the Mount when the LORD revealed the pattern of things in the heavens until this day, the Lord has been ready always to make His presence known among His people. Whether by fire or by wind, or by the still small voice that speaks in our inner person, He ever waits to communicate with us. Whether in a church gathering, in a home meeting, in a prison cell, or lost in the woods of life, He will come and we can know Him.
But the thing our spirits yearn most to know is His abiding presence in the most holy place of our own being. It is Pauldear Apostle Paulwho has given us some of the most fine and precise understanding as to Who and What the LORD is nowamong us and in us.
Before the end of this month, with our “prayer starters,” we want to discover well where the most holy place is today. The reason we will take time to know this, is that we might know where the glory of the Lord will dwell in the closing of this age. Nothing could be more important.
Let our hearts be stirred toward knowing what is our Covenant relationship with the LORD. Living in Covenant with Him, we know His presence. And know this: when God is pleased with His people, His presence—we could say His Covenant presence—will be at rest among us. By this we mean He will be pleased to dwell among us and make His great power known, even in the face of our enemies or in the impossibilities we may encounter along the roads of our lives.
AFTER THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL HAD LIVED nearly four hundred years in Egypt as slaves, they came out from their bondage under the miraculous leadership of the man Moses. God had raised him up from among the Israelites to lead them when their affliction had became so intolerable they could no longer endure it. The leadership of Moses was to bring them on their way toward becoming a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation (Exodus 19:6).
As part of Israel’s preparation for their place among the nations, the LORD gave Moses clear directions for a dwelling place for Himself among His people. Having lived as slaves, they were now to become accustomed to living as a holy people with the very God of gods living in their midst.
We see here part of the instructions the LORD gave in preparation for building His dwelling. Take particular note of the first item requested. The LORD spake unto Moses from out of His Divine glory, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take My offering. (Nobody was forced; the offering was to be given of each one’s freewill.) And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; GOLD, and silver, and brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, and rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make Me a Sanctuary (a holy place); that I may dwell among them—Exodus 25:1-8.
Today, more than ever, the LORD is drawing us to know Him as a God at hand… and not a God afar off (Jeremiah 23:23). It becomes apparent that what God instructed Moses to build was according to a holy “Community” that from eternity had existed in the heavens. See this: Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the Tabernacle: for, See, saith He (the LORD), that thou make all things according to the pattern shown to thee in the mount—Heb 8:5. That Moses was admonished is a strong word. He was strictly warned that what he was shown was a pattern from the heavens. He must rigidly adhere to it as he gave oversight to building the holy dwelling for God in the midst of His people.
This reference to the pattern is a New Covenant Word from the Book of Hebrews. Now, we have a High Priest, Who is set on the right hand of the Throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the Sanctuary, and of the true Tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. This Tabernacle is us. Christ Jesus is the Minister in this true Tabernacle. He completed the work of propitiation in the Holy Place by offering His Own blood. What Moses was admonished to build before was the example and shadow of heavenly things which have now become ours in the reality of a better covenant. Not only is this true Tabernacle founded with a better Covenant, it offers a better place for God to dwell.
WE CANNOT CONSIDER ALL THAT GOD TOLD MOSES, but we do note that each one was asked to bring an offering willingly with his heart to build the holy dwelling. There was no threat if anyone failed or had less to give than another. All Israel would benefit because God would be among them.
The most important item requested was the gold. It would find significant use in the part of the Tabernacle where the presence of the Lord would dwell. The rest of the “structure” was for use in atonement for the sins of the people.
Living for four hundred years, much of the time as slaves, had made the people accustomed to thinking and responding to life in a way not befitting a people who belonged to a Kingdom. We who are believers now are in a time that is similar. We too are called upon to adjust to living with God’s presence, and for knowing what it means to reign in life with Christ.
The material God requested of Israel was to build a Tabernacle, which simply meant a “tent.” It would be God’s temporary residence. It would be moved as they moved. Oh, what a tent it would be! It was still in use over 500 years later when Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the Tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness—II Chronicles 1:3.
Can you imagine it? A tent that lasted so long! This is not to say it stood without coming under attack. Israel’s enemies came to know that when God was among His people, they could not be defeated. Often, the major point of attack was this very Tent where God dwelt. Sadly, when Israel turned to other gods or when they lived in a manner offending the LORD God’s holiness, they became open and vulnerable to defeat. His presence would withdraw with the utmost sadness for Him, and leaving the people weak and helpless. Let us learn from this. The same principle is at work today.
OF THE METALS LISTED FOR USE IN THE TABERNACLE, gold, the most precious, was symbolic of God’s holy presence. Its primary use was for the most important part of the holy structure. It might be found first in the Holy Place, then in the Holiest of All. In here would be situated the Ark of the Covenant, over which the very presence of the LORD would dwell, between two cherubim made of wrought gold. This whole room, with all the building round it was either made of gold or overlaid with gold.
WE CANNOT BE CERTAIN WHO OR WHAT THE cherubim were. We suppose they were angels of the highest order like those set to guard the way of the tree of life in the Garden from which Adam and Even were driven. At the least, here in the Most Holy Place they were emblematical representations of the eternal power and Godhead of the Almighty (Adam Clarke). Having stood guard at Eden, the statues made in their same form— whatever it may have been—stood in this Sanctuary guarding and honoring the presence of God.
The Book of Revelation, chapters 4 and 5, may give us our most accurate insight into what they are and how they function. For the sake of space, we cannot look at this passage now, but we can learn that these heavenly creatures, of which we have only an emblem in the Tabernacle, remained close to the presence and activity of God. We may well suppose the reality of their activity and purpose will come before us in the closing of this age. What has been a mystery to us regarding all the heavenly beings, with whom we shall be eternally joined, will one day no longer be veiled to our understanding. Our spirits will enjoy the most amazing union with them when this mortal shall have put on immortality.
Because flesh and blood cannot inherit all of the glory of the eternal Kingdom, we must undergo a refinement, either by death or by the change that shall be ours at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Personally, I would rejoice in either.
By whatever portal we leave this present world, we shall enter a realm of being that at the present can only be dreamed about, or supposed. Scripture leaves us with much unanswered. But, it will be a realm that has been obtained for us through the redemption that is in Christ’s blood and that our faith has claimed.
IN JOSHUA 3:15-17 IS SOMETHING FOR US TO MEDITATE upon that has to do with the Lord’s dwelling where the ark was. This is a picture, a glorious picture, of the Lord’s movement in the midst of His people. Since it was a tent in which He would dwell, we may conclude the people would be called upon to move from time to time. Thus, the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant would move with them—with special handling—often making a way through wilderness lands where there were obstacles the human mind or foot could not overcome. Here is an account of His miracle presence when they needed to cross the swollen waters of a river. And as they that bare the Ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot—Joshua 3:15-17. This last verse is from Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible called The Message.
In the above verse, Peterson made reference to the Ark as the Chest of the Covenant. This is all right for the Ark was a sort of a chest. It contained certain things that pertained to the Covenant God held with His people. Its top was called the Mercy Seat. We learn more about its construction and placement in Exodus 25:17-22, a passage we shall consider in our “prayer starters.” Upon the Mercy Seat the High Priest sprinkled the sacrificial blood once a year on the Day of Atonement. The holy presence of the LORD accompanying the Ark was so powerful that it made the overflowing river stop. Now, let me say this—the presence of the LORD, that with Israel dwelt between the cherubim of the Ark, is the same as the Holy Spirit Who came on Pentecost. The difference today is in where He has come to dwell.
WHEN THE TABERNACLE WAS SET UP, THE HIGH Priest alone could enter the room where the Ark was situated. This he did once a year on the Day of Atonement, with blood from the sacrificial offering, which he sprinkled on the covering of the Ark, in the presence of the LORD. He did this as an act of propitiation for the sins of the people only after he had gone through an act of cleansing for his own sins. Sprinkling the blood on the covering of the Ark appeased the wrath of a holy God against the sins of Israel for one year until another Day of Atonement came around.
All of this pointed to the Day when once and for all our Great High Priest would offer His Own blood in atonement for the sin of all who would come in repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
In the Greek New Testament the same word translated mercy seat is in some places translated propitiation. This means the appeasement of all God’s wrath against our sin. In this passage from Romans 3:24,25 Paul speaks to us of Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (a “mercy seat” for us) through faith in His blood. Thus, when we have trusted the sacrifice of His blood, our blest Savior opens our own lives to make in us a mercy seat, a place of atonement, where the Spirit of God will be pleased to dwell.
To say it again, it is in Christ’s blood we trust for the remission of our sin. This gives us a propitiation before God. With all of the wrath against our sin removed, our lives are made acceptable as a dwelling place for God’s Spirit.
HEBREWS 12:24 SPEAKS OF JESUS THE MEDIATOR of the New Covenant, and of the blood of sprinkling. Here we have an allusion to the Old Covenant practice of sprinkling the blood of the sacrificial animal upon the mercy seat in the most holy place, accomplished once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. Receiving the Lord Jesus as our Savior makes our life into an acceptable dwelling place for the LORD God.
It is the inner part of our own being that receives the sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Who gave Himself for us for as the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world—I John 2:2. See this from Hebrews 8:13-15—For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh—as was the practice under the Old Covenant while the Tabernacle and its blood sacrifices were still in effect— how much more shall the Blood of Christ, Who through the eternal (Holy) Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience— the awareness of who we are in our inner persons— from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause He (Christ Jesus) is the Mediator of the New Testament (the New Covenant), that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first Testament, (that is, the Old Covenant) they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
The above is a long and heavy statement, but one that is filled with Covenant truth. If we will but press through till, at least, some of its understanding lays hold on our spirits, we can then become vessels in whom God’s Spirit will be pleased—indeed, exhilarated!—to dwell.
Prayer Starter: A Dwelling Place for God
Continue to Part 4:
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