Rev Dr Edgar Mayer;
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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 mornings 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 Gods 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
[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
[Slide of the Laver of Brass.]
Then at the Laver of Brass
the wash basin that was filled with water in the
After the preparation time in the
We find the following items in the
[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 Almighty. In 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 angels 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
[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
Last Sunday we made the simple point
that you will burn out, if you do not spend time in the
[Slide of the Holy of Holies.]
Finally at the time of Gods 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
we have confidence to
This means that even as we approach the Holy of Holies we do not presume on Gods grace
thinking that the actions in the
[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
[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 Gods 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 Christs 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
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 Gods 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
2. In the
Now compare this almond staff with the
other almond plant in the
3. The last item in the
[Francis Sizer: Into His Presence,
Shippensburg: Destiny Image 2007, p167:
items represent the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The staff of Aaron showed the
Way, to the children of
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
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 God. One 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 didnt 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 pastors 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 Gods glory for I dont 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 God. God wants a deeper intimacy which goes beyond words. I continue with the testimony: the Holy Spirit said: Im trying to teach you something. Im trying to teach you how to receive. Im trying to teach you that you dont have to strive. I know youre hungry and I want to reveal myself to you more than you want me to reveal myself to you. But, youve got to quiet yourself. Youve got to become still. Thats why I took the words out of your mouth, thats why Im pouring out such glory on you. Its 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 Gods 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 generation. Do 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 him. You 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 Im 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 Gods presence. There is the manna a type of food and the almond buds, blossoms and fruit on Aarons 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
Another manifestation out of Gods 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 Gods 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 Patricks Catholic church with his mum, when gold dust began to cover the floor around his shoes. He asked his mum: Do you see anything? She 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 happen, he simply said: I dont know. I didnt do it. But 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