Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Message on the Tabernacle – Holy of Holies; Date: 20 September 09

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The Best Place

 

The tabernacle – the ancient worship tent – served only one purpose – the one and only purpose of all worship – that is: FOR US TO COME INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD (God had said – Exodus 25:8: “ … have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.”) and – according to the design of the tabernacle – we cannot come any closer to God – we cannot enjoy any more of him – than entering the Holy of Holies – the most exclusive part of the worship tent – which will be the focus of this morning’s message. What does it feel like to be in the Holy of Holies?

However – before we explore this further – first we revise again what we have learned over the last few Sundays.

 

[Show slides of the tabernacle and give a running commentary.]

 

1. The tabernacle was built according to God’s own precise blueprint and was modeled on what remains reality in heaven even now. Therefore, the tabernacle remains the best teaching tool on worship for us today. Its pattern and worship principles are eternal. The Lord had said to Moses – I read from Exodus 25:9: “Make this tabernacle [that is the worship tent or dwelling place] and all its furnishing exactly like the pattern I will show you.” Also Hebrews 8:5: “ … the [original: a] sanctuary was [original: that is] a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’” The core pattern and principles of worship have never changed – even though what was foreshadowed in the past has come to fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

2. The main concept behind the tabernacle was that access to God is progressive. You start at the Outer Court but then the presence of God intensifies the further you go into the Holy Place and then the Holy of Holies.

 

[Slide of the Brazen Altar.]

 

3. Then, the tabernacle was teaching us the main problem of worship: God is holy and we are not. Therefore – before we can go any further in worship – before we can progress any further into God – we must stop at the Brazen Altar and the Laver of Brass in the Outer Court. There a blood sacrifice is offered to atone for our sins. In the past priests would slit the throats of animals but their sacrifices foreshadowed what was to come: the once and for all – supreme – sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Bible explains – Hebrews 9:11-28: “ … Christ … did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God … It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself … ”

 

[Slide of the Laver of Brass.]

 

Then – at the Laver of Brass – the wash basin that was filled with water in the Outer Court – we receive further cleansing. Today – and this is what the Laver seems to symbolize – it is the Word of God that functions in this cleansing manner – washing us with the truth – removing the lies that keep us in sin. The Bible says – Ephesians 5:25-26: “ … Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word … ”

After the preparation time in the Outer Court, we move on into the Holy Place where we no longer rely on natural light but enter a space where the sole source of light is burning oil and a lampstand. The building material changes from brass – the material of judgement – to silver (the entire structure of the Tabernacle was grounded in Sockets of Silver) – the material of redemption – silver was the purchase price for souls (cf. Genesis 37:28; Exodus 21:32; Matthew 27:1-9) and then also gold – the material of divine glory and God’s nature (cf. Revelations 21:18; 1 Peter 1:7).

We find the following items in the Holy Place:

 

[Slide with the three items.]

 

1) The Golden Lampstand, 2) the Table of Showbread and 3) the Altar of Incense.

 

[Slide of the Golden Lampstand.]

 

The Golden Lampstand represents the people of God (Revelations 1:20: “The mystery … of the seven golden lampstands is this: … the seven lampstands are the seven churches”) and the seven lamps on the Golden Lampstand speak of the seven-fold Spirit of God which is mentioned in Isaiah 11:1-2: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord … ” (also Revelations 4:5: “ … Before the throne [in heaven], seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits [or better: seven-fold Spirit] of God.”). This means that we – the people of God – the church – the Golden Lampstand – need to be lighted by the seven-fold Spirit of God and not our own human lights. Another Scripture reference spells this out most clearly – Zechariah 4:1-6 – I read: “Then the angel who talked with me returned … He asked me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand [again a golden lampstand representing the people of God] with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights … ’ … the angel said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord AlmightyIn practice this means – and we expanded on this last Sunday – that in the Holy Place we need to learn stillness – especially the stillness of our minds – so that revelation can come by the Spirit (sometimes in flowing thoughts). We live by the Spirit and not our own human ingenuity and strength.

 

[Slide of the Golden Altar.]

 

In the Tabernacle – whenever the priests were to fill the lamps again with fresh oil, they were also to burn incense at the Golden Altar (cf. Exodus 30:7-8) which teaches us that however we live by the Spirit, it is always connected to prayer – the Spirit is received in the context of prayer and again leads into prayer – powerful prayer with effective outcomes.

I read three verses about the original Golden Altar in heaven – the one that still exists today – Revelations 8:3-5: “Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne [in heaven]. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake

The third item in the Holy Place is the Table of Showbread.

 

[Slide of the Table of Showbread.]

 

Every Sabbath twelve loaves of bread – baked in fine flour – would be laid out on it. At the end of seven days of laying before the Lord they were eaten by the priests. It was called Showbread which is a translation for “the Bread of the Presence” (“Bread of Faces”). The twelve loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel – the entire people of God – who – and this is the symbolism – would be supplied with food in the presence of God – the Holy Place.

Last Sunday we made the simple point that you will burn out, if you do not spend time in the Holy Place and get nourished with the bread of God’s presence which you find there. You need his bread. Anyone – any church – doing it in their own human strength will crash and burn. You need prayer – the bread of his presence – to survive.

 

[Slide of the Holy of Holies.]

 

Finally – at the time of God’s choosing – we move from the Holy Place into the Holy of Holies which measured only half the size of the Holy Place (the most holy is the most difficult to locate) and contained only piece of furniture – the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat on top. In the past there was only one person – the high priest – entering the Holy of Holies and that only once a year and he never came without blood – the blood of the sacrifice from the Brazen Altar. Today – on account of Jesus’ supreme sacrifice on the cross – all of us can enter the Holy of Holies – as often as we are prepared to seek God – but to us the same principle applies. None of us get in without blood – the blood of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches – Hebrews 10:19: “ … we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus … ”

This means that – even as we approach the Holy of Holies – we do not presume on God’s grace – thinking that the actions in the Outer Court can be forgotten here. We have not moved on from repentance. No – we come with blood – an abiding attitude of repentance – humble hearts – and gratitude for forgiveness – receiving the gift of holiness from Jesus.

 

[Slide of the Ark of the Covenant.]

 

In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant which measured 2.5 cubits in length and 1.5 cubits in both width and height. It was constructed out of Acacia wood and was both overlaid and inlaid with gold. A golden crown was incorporated onto the top perimeter and formed a border into which the Mercy Seat (on top of the ark) fitted. The Ark also contained a pot of the Manna which Israel had gathered for their food in the wilderness, the two unbroken Tables of the Law which Moses had received from God at Mount Sinai and Aaron’s rod which had budded and proved his priesthood.

 

[Slide of the Mercy Seat.]

 

The Mercy Seat was the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. It was a solid gold slab – 2.5 cubits long and 1.5 cubits wide [1 cubit = 45.72 cm]. The thickness was unspecified. On either end of this slab a cherubim was beaten out of it (not angels but guardians of God’s holiness), whose wings overshadowed the Mercy Seat. The Cherubim faced each other but their gaze was directed to the centre of the Mercy Seat where the blood of the Atonement sacrifice was sprinkled and which functioned as the throne of God – the place of the most intimate communion with God at the highest level on account of Christ’s shed blood. [Cf. Romans 3:25: “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement [mercy seat] through faith in his blood … ”]

A passing reference in the Bible says – Hebrews 9:3-5: “Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had … the golden ark of the covenant. The ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail here

This morning we also need to restrict ourselves and not get into too much detail but the Holy of Holies is fascinating. If I was to make one statement about the Holy of Holies, I would say that the Holy of Holies is very much like the Holy Place – only more so. In here access to God is even more direct – even more immediate – and therefore everything accelerates.

For instance, in the Holy Place light emanates from the seven lamps on the Golden Lampstand – that is: the seven-fold Spirit of God – but in the Most Holy Place the usual work of the Holy Spirit seems to be replaced by an even greater light – God himself. The radiant presence of God becomes so intense – his manifest glory so immediate – that no other light is required – just like it is in heaven. The Bible says – Revelations 21:23 “The city [in heaven] does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp.” [In the Bible we hear that the glory of God frequently came with a cloud – Exodus 16:10: “ … the glory of the Lord [was] appearing in the cloud” (cf. Exodus 13:22; 24:16; 33:9-10; 34:5; 40:35; Numbers 11:25; Matthew 17:5; Luke 21:27; Revelations 10:1). The cloud was used to conceal the consuming brightness of God’s glory.]

The Holy Spirit is wonderful – pointing us to Jesus Christ and the truth of God (after he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven – Jesus sent him to earth in his stead and gave him the job to connect us with with God) – but when God himself appears – with the intensity and brightness of the Holy of Holies – the usual work of the Holy Spirit is surpassed by something even more immediate. One illustration of this principle is found in Numbers 12:6-8. There God himself said: “ … When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses … With him I speak face to face [in the Holy of Holies] … he sees the form of the Lord … ” [Moses’ privileged position makes sense because in the past he was the only person that was always welcome in the Holy of Holies. He had such access to the glory of God – apart from the normal work of the Holy Spirit – that face to face encounters with God were common for him.]

This is such an exciting observation: Everything intensifies and accelerates as we move from the Holy Place to the Holy of Holies. And this can be further demonstrated as we look at the items which were placed in the Ark of the Covenant. 1. There was a golden pot of manna which contained the food that manifested from the glory presence of God with his people over forty years in the desert. Now compare this manna with the other food which you find in the Holy Place – the twelve loaves of showbread. In the Holy Place the bread had to soak up the presence of God for an entire week before it could be consumed with spiritual nourishment. Manna did not require the same time delay but was ready for immediate consumption because it was produced in the Holy of Holies – manifesting out of God’s glory.

2. In the Ark there was also Aaron’s staff that had budded. Once other tribal leaders rebelled against the high-priest Aaron and therefore God commanded Moses to take twelve rods for the twelve tribes. He was to write their tribal names on these rods and lay them in the presence of the Lord before the Ark with the following outcome – Numbers 17:8-9: “The next day Moses entered … and saw that Aaron’s staff … had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds … ” One night in the Holy of Holies produced a miracle of stupendous acceleration. A staff – a walking stick with no roots – budded, blossomed and produced almond fruit.

Now compare this almond staff with the other almond plant in the Holy Place. The Golden Lampstand in the Holy Place also displays the three stages of almond growth – the bud, the blossom and the fruit – whereby the mature fruit functions as the container for the oil which fuels the seven lamps on the Golden Lampstand. Last Sunday we observed that these three growth stages represent us on our journey of growing spiritual maturity which – under normal circumstances – takes time. We spend years growing up as Christians but the Holy of Holies – one night soaking up the glory presence of God in the Holy of Holies (like Aaron’s staff) – can accelerate us beyond our wildest imagination. Knowledge, wisdom and the fear of the Lord can just explode in our lives.

3. The last item in the Ark are the two tablets of Law – the ten commandments – which God himself inscribed with his own finger (Exodus 32:19; 34:1-4; Deuteronomy 10:1-5). Revelation from God cannot be any more immediate. In the Holy Place we live by the light of the seven-fold Spirit of whom Jesus said – John 16:13: “ … the Spirit … will guide you into all truth … ” and John 14:26: “ … the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you … ” Thus, in the Holy Place there is teaching and reminding of previous words – sermons and Bible stuy – which all takes time but – in the Holy of Holies – out of the glory presence of God can come immediate revelation – truth spelled out by the finger of God – tablets of teaching imparted in our hearts.

[Francis Sizer: Into His Presence, Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2007, p167: “ … The three items represent the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The staff of Aaron showed the ‘Way’, to the children of Israel. The Ten Commandments showed the people the ‘Truth’. The bread from heaven gave the hungry children of Israel ‘Life’. God then said to me: The Ark of the Covenant contained Jesus.]

How are you hearing this? Are you getting stirred up? As a church – here at Living Grace – more than anything else – we want to get into the same place – the Holy of Holies – because when we get there – at least a critical mass of us – then anything can happen and will. Plain sticks become almond trees in a single night. People come under the conviction of sin before anyone even preached to them. People receive healing and wholeness before anyone even prayed for them. Demons manifest simply because the presence of God is becoming too strong. The Holy of Holies is the best place but how do you get there? We need to make this practical again.

I want to make only one practical point. After repentance and humility (what needs to happen first at the Brazen Altar in the Outer Court) – this is probably the most important key for entering the Holy of Holies: Still your mind. I made the same point last week where I said that in the Holy Place none of us live by the light of human reason. We live by the light of the Holy Spirit (the only source of light that is provided by the seven lamps on the Golden Lampstand – the seven-fold Spirit) and therefore have to relax our mind to follow his promptings – not our thoughts. The Bible says – Zechariah 4:1-6: “ … ‘This is the word of the Lord … ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty

Now in the Holy of Holies the same practical advice applies – only more so. In the Holy Place we still our minds but remain active in prayer and worship – cooperating with the Holy Spirit in offering up praises and requests to God – but in the Holy of Holies all of this ceases. We no longer do anything – not even speak – we hold absolutely still – because the intense glory of God commands the end of all human work. [How can we be busy when he is so present?]

The Bible word for glory – kaboth – means weight/heaviness and – in the Bible – more than once the glory weight of God – when it came – pinned everyone down in worship so that the requirement of stillness was not even optional. God himself imposed the stillness that alone is fitting next to him – Exodus 40:34-35: “ … Moses could not enter … because … the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” 2 Chronicles 5:13-14: “ … Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of GodOne pastor writes: “The first time I came under the glory of God occurred in … 1995 … I found myself face down on the platform of the altar unable to move for well over an hour. I could not move any part of my body, although I was conscious of what was going on around me … The second time this occurred in … 1996 … As I stood in the pulpit, I literally collapsed on the red brick floor from the sheer weight of the glory. Just before I fell, my words to the people began to slur and came off my tongue slowly and with great effort. Finally, my mouth didn’t work anymore. My flesh fell hard to the ground. God shows us He shares the stage with no man. All flesh must bow and die before him … ” (Francis J. Sizer: Into His Presence, Shippensburg: Destiniy Image 2007, p164).

It is interesting that in this pastor’s case the glory of God did not just pin him down but also silenced him – stilled his body and his mouth. The same occurred to another Christian who had sought after God with a passion. He did everything that he could – prayed in tongues for hours – prayed with praise and worship and intercession. When he decided to pray for an hour, he would pray for an hour and he was loud about it. He wanted a breakthrough. But – according to his testimony – his way of praying took him not into the presence of God but out of the presence of God. He had developed a routine. In intercession he prayed in tongues for fifteen minutes, praised for fifteen minutes and worshipped for fifteen minutes. It had become the duty of prayer and it was always the same. He cried out in holy desperation. However, his prayer life was so busy. When he prayed for an hour, he probably was the one talking for fifty-five minutes.

I quote now from his testimony: “And one day in the middle of all that business, because I was hungry, the Holy Ghost, in the middle of a prayer, took the words right out of my mouth and I went mute. Mute! I was like, ‘Hey, Jesus’ – nothing. Just like that, mute. And I was forced, and I was just in my chair … no words. Then it was like literally, liquid honey, which was the Glory of the Lord. And it was warm hovering in the living room. I was in the Glory of the Lord. And the weight of glory was falling on me, the Presence of the Lord grew to such intensity that I was bent over and fell off my chair onto my face. And I lied there in God’s glory for I don’t know how long, not being able to talk or move

This is the key: God wants us to be still. He says in the Bible – Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am GodGod wants a deeper intimacy which goes beyond words. I continue with the testimony: “ … the Holy Spirit said: ‘I’m trying to teach you something. I’m trying to teach you how to receive. I’m trying to teach you that you don’t have to strive. I know you’re hungry and I want to reveal myself to you more than you want me to reveal myself to you. But, you’ve got to quiet yourself. You’ve got to become still. That’s why I took the words out of your mouth, that’s why I’m pouring out such glory on you. It’s to get you positioned in quietness and at my feet and in the place of stillness so I can speak to you.” Cf. Exodus 25:22: “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the Ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands … ”

God taught this Christian a practical lesson. If you want to get into the Holy of Holies, be still. In church tradition this is called listening prayer or contemplation. However, this Christian began to call it something else which describes even better what this kind of prayer is like for us. He called it “soaking” and “marinating” in the presence of God. He would have “soaking parties” together with other Christians.

How would we go with that? Can you see how difficult this is for us in a normal Sunday worship service? What would happen if we had a Sunday morning “soaking party” where we would just lie on the floor for an hour in silence before God? Maybe the day is coming when God thinks that we are ready for this.

The best Bible illustration of this kind of prayer is Moses. He had been in the presence of God – praying for his people and pleading for mercy – but then – after mercy was attained – he wanted to go deeper into God – into the Holy of Holies – and he said to God – Exodus 33:18: “ … show me your glory … ” God answered – Exodus 33:22: “When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen

This may be the perfect picture of “soaking” in the glory of God. You are lying in a cleft – with the glory of God all around you – with only the hand of God covering you for protection (so that you cannot make the mistake of looking at the all consuming brightness of God’s holiness). Moses did experience the ultimate – Exodus 34:6-7: “And God passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generationDo not think that here God preached a dry sermon to Moses – lecturing about his divine character and explaining with words what he was like. No – Moses experienced God. He experienced the words. When the compassionate and gracious God passed in front of him, the very compassion and grace of God filled him – flooded his being – to the brim. Moses was “soaking” in it – “marinating”. [I remember the testimony of a New Zealander (Ian McCormack) who was killed by Box Jellyfish and after an experience of heaven came back to life. He said that in heaven rays of light emanated from God and when these rays of light reached him, he was absolutely overcome with an intense feeling of love. When this man shared his testimony – even years later – the memory of this experience would still bring tears to his eyes. He experienced the character of God when the rays of glory touched him. “Soaking” in God is an experience.]

Then, the consequence of any “marinating” and “soaking” process is that you take on the qualities of the substance that you are “soaking” in. Moses certainly did – Exodus 34:29-30: “When Moses came down … he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When … all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near himYou learn more about God and take on more of God in “soaking” than any other activity. God promised – Exodus 25:22: “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the Ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands … ” and thus, the Christian from before shares that almost everything on his teaching tapes came from these times of “soaking” in God. I quote: “God dropped stuff on me so fast, at times I’m writing four sermons at the same time. I had nothing to do with it

Therefore – consider this option – next time when you pray, as soon as you begin to sense the presence of God intensifying, stop doing things. Be still – wait on him – and allow him to “marinate” you.

All right. Can I make now a little excursion? A few minutes of fun. In the Holy of Holies – more precisely inside the Ark of the Covenant – there are material items which came forth from the glory of God – simply manifested out of God’s presence. There is the manna – a type of food – and the almond buds, blossoms and fruit on Aaron’s staff and the writing on stone tablets. In other places in the Bible the glory of God would produce fire – Leviticus 9:24: “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar … ” (cf. 1 Kings 18:38) or even come with thunder and lightning and smoke, loud trumpet blasts and trembling mountains – Exodus 19:16-19: “ … there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast … the Lord descended … in fire . smoke billowed up … the whole mountain trembled violently … ”

These manifestations have not finished. Last year I met the daugher of a Lutheran pastor from Canada (Kaye Beyer) – now in her seventies – who had manna appear in their ministry for more than forty years. Her husband and she never asked for this but it came – out of the grace of God – and most often appeared on the Bible page of Revelations 2:17 where it reads: “ … To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna … ” Then, last week Pastor Akira Mori from Japan informed us that only a few weeks earlier an innuit community – likewise – had manna appear in one of their services and they used the manna for Holy Communion. How wonderful is this?

Another manifestation out of God’s glory – becoming more common now around the world – is the appearance of gold flakes or other precious material. I had only seen it about two or three times beforehand but about two months ago two of our own members – Peter and Fay Grieshaber – at the end of the worship service had gold and silver flakes on their faces. They did not know what to make of the glittery stuff – never heard of such phenomena – but the experience of God was also impacting otherwise. Peter shared that the following day he never once got crook at Faye – in his own words: “a miracle in itself” – and also had not a single incident of road rage. He was so much at peace. The gold and silver was just another unexpected declaration of God’s love.

Maybe three weeks ago we also had gold flakes appear in our prayer meeting before the service. It appeared on one of our worship banners that was lying on the table. A former colleague in town was praying at the St Patrick’s Catholic church with his mum, when gold dust began to cover the floor around his shoes. He asked his mum: “Do you see anythingShe did. Then there are reports of gem stones appearing out of the glory of God (Pastor Akira shared that one pastor took one of the gem stones – 3 mm long – to a jeweller for valuation but they could put no price on the gem stone because the cut – the double spiralling facets – was beyond human technique) and fragrant oil and even angel feathers. When one pastor was queried about this: “Why do these things happenhe simply said: “I don’t know. I didn’t do itBut we can enjoy these tokens of love from God. They do not save us and they do not help us with our task orientation but they are wonderful messages of love from our God – and with your permission – they are welcome in this church at any time.

I close with some words of encouragement. I myself have not yet been in the Holy of Holies like Moses or other mature Christians. I still have so much to learn about “soaking” prayer. I struggle so much with stilling my mind but I am on my way – and so are you. God is not holding me back but inviting me in. And – at any stage – I enjoy as much of God as I can take hold of. Even the Holy Place is a pretty good place. We are on an exciting journey and – here is more encouragement – those of us that know the way into the Holy of Holies are blessing all of us on their return. When Moses came down the mountain, his own face was glowing so much with the glory of God that all the Israelites were blown away. Moses was able to pass on what he had received. In the same way – when Jesus was enveloped in the glory cloud of God on the Mountain of Transfiguration – his own clothes becoming dazzling white – he was able to pass on some of the experience – Mark 9:15: “As soon as the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet himThus, the encouragement is to hang around the more mature Christians in church and let the glory of God rub off them onto you. Let them lay hands on you and pray for you – sit next to them when they worship – and you will also be overwhelmed with wonder – experience the glory of God – “soaking” in his goodness. The Holy of Holies is the best place. This is where we’re going. Amen.