Time to Worship in the Holy of Holies
Mention the word “worship” in Australia today and what do you think of? Does your mind go to the descriptions of heavens worship found scattered throughout the book of Revelation? Do you think of it in terms of “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”? Or perhaps King David’s contribution to worship? Or maybe your mind goes straight to Australia’s contributions from Hillsong, Planet Shakers and the like?
One day in the early 90’s, while worshipping the Lord at the piano, I had an impression of the rent veil in heaven. Standing outside the rent veil were multitudes of God’s people. They were rejoicing. Some were dancing, some shouting, some with tears of joy because of the victory Jesus had obtained at the cross and that now the veil had been sovereignly split in two. As I looked I noticed that although so many were rejoicing and celebrating the victory, they were not entering into the throne room of the Lord. Most had stayed celebrating outside the veil and there were only a few that had actually entered into the throne room. Those who had entered were on their knees before the Lord whose outstretched scepter was towards them. In Hebrews we are told that because of the blood of Jesus we can have confidence or boldness that we will not be destroyed when we enter into the holy of holies. As I saw the vision unfold I asked the Lord why His people were staying outside when Jesus had provided the way in? The Spirit of the Lord spoke that the way into the Holy of holies was through the cross and few were willing to pay the price of applying the cross of Jesus to their lives or to take up their own cross.
It is one thing to rejoice because of the victories Jesus has won, it is quite another to apply that victory so we can benefit from it. The major benefit of entering the Holy of holies or the throne room is to enter into deep and intimate communion with the Lord.
The writer to the Hebrews says “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…”
(Hebrews 10:22) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7 )
In our human relationships there are some people we know just enough to say “hi” to and not much more. With others we may enter a conversation, but this remains at a surface level where we discuss the weather, sport and perhaps some of our everyday activities. But those we are very close to we will trust with the depths of our heart. It is only in intimate relationships that we dare make ourselves vulnerable to reveal our inner thoughts and feelings. God desperately wants a people for Himself with whom He can have close fellowship. God does not want to relate to His people at arms length. He doesn’t want us to say “hi” and then keep walking. He is not looking for mere acquaintances or business associates. He is looking for a bride. He wants to be closely and intimately involved with His chosen. He wants to share His heart and His thoughts with His people. He wants us to draw near. The heart cry of God is revealed from Genesis to Revelation. Adam and Eve walked and talked with the Lord in the cool of the evenings. “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex 33:11)
When in the garden Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us..” (John 17:20, 21)
The one spirit that Jesus prayed for is not obtainable in a relationship that is at arms length. It is a bond, an intertwining and a connection that is very personal. It is a relationship that is fully involved, fully committed and extremely close. Earlier Jesus had told His disciples to “Abide in Me, and I in you.” (John 15:4) The apostle Paul says that “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17) In this passage Paul is actually speaking about a level of intimacy and oneness comparable with that of sexual union, and the reasons why immorality and adultery is a problem for believers. The love song of Solomon and the allegorical picture of Jesus and the church, his bride, clearly reveal the heart of God. “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away…in the secret places…let me see your face, let me hear your voice.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-16) God clearly wants to draw near to us and has provided a way for us to do that.
Deep in the heart of humanity is a desire to connect with the Creator. And the Lord so desperately wants to connect with His creation that He paid a high price so that it could happen. So why do we withdraw? Within the church there is a groundswell of those desiring to draw near in intimate communion with the Lord. Yet the reality is that many hesitate, struggle, are afraid and find themselves drawing away. Some years ago I was ministering in a church where I taught the song I had written, “Whom Shall I Fear”. As I sang this song people began weeping as the Lord began to do a powerful and supernatural work in the whole congregation. The teaching session got “interrupted” by people being set free. People were hungry to enter into the presence of the Lord, but fear had overtaken them, and this unnecessary separation had caused deep sorrow in their hearts.
If we were really honest we would acknowledge that in the western church today many have the desire to be near to the heart of God, but it is not being realized. We worship, but from a distance. And if we can be bluntly honest, it is this “distant relationship” that has had such an impact upon the way we worship the Lord. It has affected our passion for God, our priorities, our commitment to Him, the things we do and yes, the sounds we produce in worship. Many ungodly things happen within the church when we worship from afar.
If we desire to be near to the Lord, why are we content to rejoice at the rent veil without entering in? Why do we keep our distance from Almighty God? What is preventing the church from entering the holy of holies? It seems so sad. God wants to be near us. We want to be near Him. Yet for some reason we push Him away. Perhaps the difficulty for us is the same as that for both Adam and Israel.
The dialogue between Adam and God in the garden is very revealing. “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Gen 3:8-10) Adam knew the greatness of God. The work of creation had just been completed and God had given Adam instruction about it. Yes, he knew God was powerful, mighty, majestic, just, holy and righteous. Adam did not have to be told that his sin had now placed him in a very dangerous place. He had good reason to be afraid. Adam’s solution was flimsy and inadequate. First Adam and Eve grabbed some fig leaves. Realizing these were inadequate they hid. Previously Adam had been naked but he wasn’t aware of it because he was actually covered. Previously he had been clothed like the Lord, in honour, majesty and glory (Psa 104:1) Sin had stripped him of God’s covering. Very quickly the products of sin are revealed: shame and fear. Nobody had to tell Adam his failure. He knew. Sin brings such shame that we do not want anyone to know about it, we just want to run for cover and hide. And the fear it brings is crippling. Adam had previously had an intimate relationship with the Lord. Although a man he had been able to come near God without any fear. Now there was a deep divide in their relationship.
In Exodus 19 & 20 the Lord revealed Himself to Israel in a way they had not seen before. In his book, “Gleanings in Exodus”, Arthur Pink speaks of the way Israel had seen Jehovah up to that time. “Previously, they had seen his judgements upon Egypt; they had beheld his power displayed at the Red Sea, they had witnessed His guiding hand in the pillar of Cloud and Fire; they had experienced his mercies in the providing of the manna and the giving of water form the smitten rock; but they were now to behold His exalted majesty…” Israel witnessed the “thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.” (Ex 20:18) “So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex 20:21)
When Israel was confronted with God’s awesome majesty their fear was legitimate but their solution was more appropriate than Adam’s. “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex 20:19) Israel had asked for a mediator! The Lord’s answer to Moses may surprise us, “what they have spoken is good.” (Deut 18:17) Their request was in agreement with God’s ultimate plan of salvation. So God appointed Moses as a Prophet or spokesman for Himself. Moses was not any “better” than any of the rest of Israel but God appointed him as mediator to demonstrate what a mediator can do and the need for one, thus preparing the way for Israel to receive and understand Jesus as the one true mediator between God and man. (1 Tim 2:5,6 Deut 18:15-18).
NOT JUST AN OLD TESTAMENT PROBLEM
A revelation of the Lord in His majesty and glory was not just a problem for Old Testament people. John was the close friend of Jesus yet when he had a vision of Jesus in all His glory, he fell down as dead. “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” (Rev 1:17)
It is an awesome thing to behold the fullness of the glory of the Lord. The apostle Paul exhorts the Romans to consider both the “goodness and severity of God”. (Romans 11:22) It is much easier for us to embrace the Lord’s love, mercy and grace than His righteous, just, holy and majestic attributes. The struggle for us is the same struggle that Adam had, and the same struggle that Israel had. When confronted with the manifest presence of the Lord, Adam and Eve hid, Israel stood afar, and John fell down as dead. How do we respond? Do we hide, run away, stay at the distance or come near and fall prostrate at His feet?
The character and nature of God has not changed since the Old Testament was written. What has changed is how sinful man can get near to a holy God. Just like a flame will consume paper, so God’s Holy character consumes anything that is not holy. When Adam and Eve believed the serpent, God was faced with a dilemma for which He had long had a plan. How could He who is holy, holy, holy get within cooee of sinful man? We know the wonder of the Gospel is that at great cost, God provided a way for mankind to come near to Him. Jesus was able to make a way for the two incompatible natures to be able to be intimate. That is a high price to pay for a relationship. What love. What passion. What commitment. Can we see in the Gospel the heart cry of the Father to commune with His people? He has paid such a high price for us to come near.
Before exhorting us to “draw near” the writer of the Hebrews says we now have “boldness to enter the Holiest” (Heb 10:19) He attributes this new found boldness to the blood of Jesus. The moment we confess our sin, the blood of Jesus cleanses us of our sin and God can then safely look upon us, because He sees us covered with a “robe of righteousness”. He removes the sin and covers us. He covers us with His honour, His dignity, His splendour, His righteousness. That is why we now have boldness, courage, and confidence to draw near to him without shame and without the fear of being consumed by God’s holiness and majesty.
So why do shame and fear still cause us to either hide or draw back from the Presence of the Lord? Even as New Testament believers, shame and fear still affect multitudes and are obstacles to coming “within the veil”. But this does not need to be so. The Lord has promised to deliver us from all our fears. It seems somewhere we have missed something. On one hand there is sin and shame and on the other hand is the access Jesus has provided. So why don’t we appropriate it and enter in?
THREE VITAL KEYS TO COMING NEAR
1. EMBRACE THE CROSS
(a) Repentance. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The promise of forgiveness and cleansing is conditional. The word “if” reveals a condition. Unconfessed sin is not removed and shame and fear rule us. Many confess their sin at conversion and leave it there. Repentance is unfashionable but it must become a part of our lives. We are affected not just by our sin nature, but also sins before we were saved, sins of the generations as well as current sins. Some are so deep it takes time in the Lord’s Presence for the Lord to get us to a place where we can confront them.
(b) Dying To Self Is Not An Option. “No flesh shall glory in His Presence.” We have two choices. We either co-operate with the Holy Spirit to deal with our flesh or else when we try to come near the Lord we die. It happened to Uzzah when David brought the ark without the Lord’s protocols and divine order. It also happened to Ananias and Sapphira. If we want to live in the power of the New Testament church, then we need to understand it could happen again.
2. BELIEVE IT IS FINISHED
Faith receives what God’s word has said about us. If we have confessed our sin it is removed. End of story. Don’t rationalize it or try to understand it. When the devil tries to steal it from you declare that “it is written”. “I am cleansed”. “It is finished.” We come near by faith.
3. LEARN THE PROTOCOLS OF THE KING
Royal families have very clear procedures and codes of etiquette for those meeting, dining and especially for those marrying the King or Queen. Are we aware that the King of kings also has a clear procedure for coming near to Him? The Lord wants us to come near, but we must learn the acceptable way to approach His Presence. We must not be presumptuous or casual.
Tommy Tenney in his book, “Finding Favour with the King” says, “Some who come to a king’s front gate are merely onetime visitors…these master only the most basic procedures of protocol…a second group …guests of the king, come for official business of a more extended nature…these individuals must master much more of the protocol of the palace…then there are the intimates…these are few in number but great in privileged access. They understand how to treat a king or queen with the proper respect and honour.” The King of kings also has procedures by which we must approach Him. As the bride of Christ we must learn how to treat the king of kings with honour and respect. Tommy Tenney’s book is about Queen Esther, a peasant girl who becomes educated in the king’s protocol. In his book he goes on to say, ‘we find ourselves awkward and poorly equipped, needing to regain the long-lost art of elevating a monarch and magnifying a king. Even the language of honour seems foreign to us…You cannot worship what you dethrone!” In honouring the King we need to know what pleases Him and what displeases Him. We need to love what He loves and hate what He hates.
God’s protocol is found in the Tabernacle of Moses and David. When the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us to draw near, it is in the context and language of the tabernacle. In Hebrews 8:4 it says “…brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus”. The “Holiest” refers to the Holy of holies found in the Tabernacle of Moses. In the previous two chapters the writer is explained how Jesus fulfills the requirements of the tabernacle of Moses. He says that the priests in the tabernacle of Moses “serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things…” The tabernacle (or tent) is a picture of heaven itself. God used the tabernacle as an object lesson by which He could teach us heavens protocols. The Lord is very practical. He gave the Jews clear objects to teach them spiritual concepts. Jesus taught using parables. And this picture of “God’s tent” is used throughout the whole Bible.
In His instructions to Moses, the Lord made it clear that the tabernacle was the place He had chosen to meet with man. (Ex 25:22) The tabernacles of Moses or David are not the imagination of Old Testament writers dreaming about something vague, remote or long time gone. No, in every case God Himself gave them the blueprint. Why? To help us ordinary folk understand heaven, the place where all believers hold their true citizenship. While we live on this earth in these temporal bodies we cannot fully grasp a place we have not seen. If Moses had been an Aussie the terminology would probably be close to talking about the procedures and etiquettes needed to go camping with the King of kings. The tabernacle was not just a place to meet and “have coffee”. It was a place where God wanted to permanently live and to be able to connect with His people in a very personal way.
The spirit is wooing the bride to come closer, to draw near. Jesus paid the price; He doesn’t want His bride standing outside the door!!! The wedding feast will take place in heaven, INSIDE the Holy of holies. He wants us to enter in and dwell with Him, to “tabernacle” with Him. In John 1:14 it says of Jesus “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. The word dwelt is skeônooô in Greek (G4637) and basically means to tabernacle; to tent or encamp, or to reside. When you live in the same residence as someone you certainly get to know them – even more so if you are camping in a tent! Aussies love going camping. It is relaxing, friendly, sociable and great for bonding. Normal barriers to communication seem to disappear. God used the tabernacle as an illustration to help us get a glimpse of how we, ordinary people with a sinful nature can enter into heaven and how we can come near to the King of kings. Even more amazing it is a picture to help us comprehend and grasp how we mortals can have intimate communion with the Creator of the universe who is oh so holy. It is a picture of the protocols needed so we can safely enter into the very throne room in heaven.
The psalmist says “let us come before His Presence with thanksgiving…For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:2,3) Almighty God is no ordinary King! Tommy Tenney says that “worship is the protocol that protects the King and qualifies the visitor.” While we are to come near the King with a song of praise and thanksgiving, worship is not just about music. Worship is about offering our whole lives to the Lord – not just our vocal chords. We are to present our whole self as a “living sacrifice”…which is our “reasonable service” or, worship. (Romans 12:1) Jesus said we are to love the Lord with our whole heart, mind and soul. The protocols for coming near the King of kings as outlined in the tabernacle will have an impact upon our whole lives. When we offer the whole of our beings [body, soul and spirit] to the Lord our songs of praise and thanksgiving will be affected by the depth of our surrender to Him. It will affect every part of our lives; our behaviour, our speech, our attitudes, and yes, even our music.
THE TABERNACLE – HOW TO DRAW NEAR
The tabernacle has three areas: the outer court, the holy place and the Holy of holies. An 8 foot curtain established a line of demarcation around the entire tabernacle area and it only has ONE gate! Jesus is THE only way we can enter into heaven. When we repent, believe and trust in Jesus we walk through that gate and into the courtyard of His presence.
There are two interesting comparisons between the three areas. One involves the space, and the other the lighting.
The outer court has a much larger space than the Holy place or Holy of Holies have. (Exodus 27:9-13)
The outer court is 150’ length by 75’ width. The holy place is 30’ x 15’ but the holy of holies is a cube of 15’ x 15’. This is a picture of our walk with the Lord that as we progress it is more restricted but much more glorious. The restriction is upon our flesh. He must increase and we must decrease. As He increases so does the glory!
Light is needed for direction and life. The outer court uses natural light sources; it is lit by the sun and moon. The holy place is lit by the Lampstand of the Lord which represents Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in agreement. The Holy of Holies has no light. But it is the place of the ark which represents the Presence of God. “The city [heaven] had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Revelation 21:22) The glory of the Lord lights the Holy of holies. As we progress we will have more direction, more revelation and more life. These facts will impact our personal lives as well as our musical expression of our walk with the Lord. We will see changes in our lives and our relationship with the Lord as we progress from the outer court to the holy of holies. If we have a heart to “come near” we will want to know and implement these protocols. We should also expect a change in our approach and sound of the worship we present, yes even to the music we use in worship.
If we have ever wondered about the different levels of worship experienced in various places, understanding the three areas of the tabernacle can assist us to comprehend what is taking place. Some churches are in the outer court, some are in the holy place and other are operating within the holy of holies. While it is important to recognize these three stages, the Lord’s intention is for us to progress until we come into the holy of holies. It was never His intention for us to stay in the outer court.
THE OUTER COURT
The outer court represents the start to our relationship with God, in other words our salvation experience. We are not intimately close, but we are in. It is a place of beginning. But God never intended for us to stay here. The new and living way provided by Jesus was so we could draw near. If we stay here our walk with the Lord will remain shallow and distant.
It’s a good thing that the outer court has lots of space because when we first get saved we come with all our excess baggage. Most of us bring suitcases, even truckloads of junk. And all strapped to our souls. Some of it we have inherited from our families, some are attitudes and beliefs we have collected from daily life at school, university or wherever we have been vocationally. Some excess baggage we have even collected in religious organizations like church or even Bible school. Other stuff we have collected by things we have digested through the media and the popular channels of communication: TV/ newspapers /magazines /internet /films /music. The sad thing about all this junk is that most of us are oblivious to it hanging off us. Considering how much space is need in the outer court for it all, it’s a miracle any of us make it through the narrow gate!
To proceed onwards to enter the Holy place and then the holy of holies, the priests had to first be thoroughly cleansed in the outer court. If they did not comply they did not go any further, or if they did they would die. Likewise the New Testament priesthood of all believers needs to be thoroughly
cleansed or else we too will either go no further or die trying. For a variety of reasons many believers stay in the outer court. For some it is a lack of understanding. Some think they have “arrived” and the good becomes a thief of the best. For others the clean up process is too hard or too frightening. Fear, shame and the pain of dealing with it can keep some believers here all their life. Yet in the outer court the Lord has made provision through the altar of sacrifice (appropriating what Jesus did on the cross) and the laver of washing (being cleansed and renewed by the Word) for us to get the chains cut off and to lose our excess baggage. The mediator has been provided so we can come near. The Holy Spirit will comfort and help us to face up to the tough things. Healing and deliverance bring freedom. We all need to deal with stuff. Let us not allow fear and shame to steal our inheritance.
It is necessary for the excess baggage to be removed so we can get into the smaller areas of the holy place and the holy of holies. Many people have tried to enter in and have become frustrated when they have got “stuck” at the doorway. This is why the Lord has raised up so many healing and deliverance ministries in the last decades, to help the church deal with the baggage and be properly released and prepared to enter the Holy places in God. And what impact has this had on worship?
At the outer court our songs will probably be “raw” expressions of gratitude for our salvation, this can include “testimonial” songs. Here the volume is also often turned right up, not because God is deaf, but because He is a distance away. He abides in the Holy of holies. For musicians creating these songs of praise, they will probably be very much influenced by the style, techniques and sounds they have learned while developing their skills outside the kingdom of God. This has had a huge impact upon the sounds in the church. Non-musical believers in the outer court relate to this because it is also the sounds they are used to. While this is an appropriate starting place, it creates a serious problem if the church does not move on from the outer court. Australia and the western nations are saturated in outer court worship. While this first step is good, there is more, much more for us to discover. For various reasons it seems the church has got “stuck” in this place. Yet the full potential of the church will never be realized while staying in this place. The Spirit of the Lord is calling the church of Australia to move right into the Holy of holies. Let us not be content staying afar.
If we embrace the cleanup process of the outer court it will also have an impact upon our songs of praise. Even though at this stage one is still within the outer court, going through the processes of cleansing brings a greater depth of gratitude. Songs of praise become more refined, distinguished and much deeper. Songs will reveal a soul that is learning to walk in victory and to be an overcomer. Songs will begin to proclaim specific details of the victory of Jesus over the world, the flesh and the devil. Some of the worldly attitudes and approaches to our songs begin to drop off. Our motivation for singing and playing music will be thoroughly tested. Even our vision or dream about our ministry will probably have to be subjected to death – maybe even nailed to the cross. Worldly jealousies between worship musicians and other ministries and church groupings have to die. One cannot enter the holy place with fat egos and selfish ambitions – they won’t fit into the confined spaces of the sanctuary (the name given for the building that housed both the Holy place and the holy of holies.) Our flesh must be crucified with Christ.
THE HOLY PLACE
The outer court is a place where we begin to establish our relationship and walk with the Lord. The Apostle Paul encourages us to grow and mature in God. To progress from “milk” to eating meat. Moving into the Holy Place is where we enter into deeper communion with the Lord. However we cannot enter here without having first offered the appropriate sacrifices in the outer court. Between the outer court and the holy place is a curtain or veil. It is possible to remain outside of this veil too. There are three pieces of furniture in the Holy Place, which for the sake of space these descriptions will be brief and summarized.
The priests had to place fresh oil in the lampstands twice a day and trim the wicks. Oil represents the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Many see this representing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us in our walk with the Lord. One aspect of that assistance is to reveal hidden sin, to help us deal with things that may appear okay to us but are offensive to God – those areas that remained hidden and got missed in the outer court. The light exposes the hidden works of darkness. Ouch, things that are close and very personal – things that can be hard to let go of. More trimming. The light speaks of Jesus. The more we allow the Spirit to work in us the more Jesus will shine through us. The more we let the light of Jesus show us the way to go the more we will be prepared to co-operate with the Holy Spirit.
The affect upon our worship is that here we learn to be led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the true worshippers would worship in Spirit and truth. To be led by the Spirit we have to deal with that which opposes it, i.e. the flesh. Therefore this is not an easy place to be. The apostle Paul said that our flesh and the Spirit are at war. While a lot of our flesh is dealt with in the outer court, at the Lampstand we discover the war that exists between the flesh and the Spirit. It is here we discover which part of our flesh is not dead yet!
The impact of the Lampstand upon our worship is that we start to follow the promptings of the Spirit in worship, to sing and play beyond our “normal” understanding. The Apostle Paul talks about “singing in the Spirit” as well as singing with the understanding. In the learning process of living and walking and worshipping in the Spirit we can easily “cross over” from the spirit to the flesh. One time I was speaking at a church in one of our capital cities and during one particular song the worship team which had been flowing beautifully in the spirit, suddenly changed rhythm and immediately we crossed over to the soulish realm. I took note but decided not embarrass anybody by mentioning it. Later on I had a private session with the music team and they began to ask questions – and yes, they asked about the moment the ‘cross-over” had occurred. The soulish realm is led by our thoughts, our feelings and our wants. As music affects our emotions so much, worship music is particularly vulnerable to becoming soulish. Dealing with the flesh is a critical key to progressing any further. The refusal of many in the contemporary church to deal with soulish, carnal and fleshly manifestations is a significant reason that many are staying outside the veil.
Musicians are sensitive people, and the soul plays a large part in that. If our flesh has not been crucified with Christ we play music how we like it. What appeals to us. Everyone, musician or not, is an “expert” in their opinion of music. As long as the flesh is alive and well, opinions about music will always create war among musicians and congregations alike. James says that the wisdom that releases trouble is “earthly, sensual [soulish], demonic”. This is a big struggle area for the music ministry. When music in the church is decided by what “I want, I think, I feel,” we are headed for trouble. We can only avoid the soulish realm by being heavenly minded.
The flesh wars against the Spirit of God. Paul says that the answer to the flesh is to crucify it!!!! Most of us excuse it or pacify it! While many are still at the outer court, there are just as many churches in Australia today that are stuck at this very place of starting to worship in the Spirit but hampered by soulish music. We must allow the Spirit to win this war if we are to proceed any further. Some of the struggles are because the soul desperately needs healing (another subject altogether). Some of it is because we choose to listen to our wants and desires rather than listening to the Holy Spirit. One fruit of this is that many “Pentecostal” churches no longer have any “free, spontaneous” worship in the spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are limited if at all. It is as though the Spirit of God has been musically silenced. This impedes the release of other gifts and the ability to live and walk in the Spirit. Paul admonished the Galatian church for starting in the Spirit and finishing in the flesh.
TABLE OF SHOWBREAD
This is often called the Bread of His Presence. Jesus is the bread of life, the substance of our fellowship and communion with God. Bread was always used to establish covenant. Jesus the provider of the new covenant is remembered at the table of communion. Here we have to totally trust in and totally commit to the covenant relationship. When we eat at the table of showbread we are totally dependant on the Lord for every part of our lives. This total dependence upon the Lord exposes and deals with any further aspects of our flesh that still needs to be crucified. Total dependence upon the Lord is not easy. Try going without a job, welfare payments or superannuation and you soon discover it is not so easy. If any of us had embarked on an expedition like Moses when he led Israel out of Egypt, we would have taken years in planning, an army of semi-trailers filled with supplies with the logos of very rich sponsors on the side of the trucks! But Moses and Israel had to trust the Lord for all the strategies and the provisions! The provisions we need are not restricted to financial. It can be in health or in many other circumstances that affect our families, our occupation or our church life that can be way out of our control. In all these we have to trust the Lord.
Worshippers who have such a profound trust in the Lord have a very keen focus that is centered firmly upon Jesus. One cannot trust Him implicitly and still be looking at or exalting self. One cannot trust Him implicitly and still have faith in the plans and schemes of man. Regardless of what gifts and talents we have, at this place we know that our total dependence is on the Lord. At the table of showbread we have come to realize that unless He provides, we are left wanting, we are lacking so much; in fact we are in trouble. Here we realize that without Him we are nothing and can do nothing. It is at this place of total dependence and total humility that we start to really exalt the Lord. We must decrease and He must increase. It is here we discover who God really is. Things we have known in our heads become a reality in our lives. Yes, he is faithful to His word. We can not only say that he is faithful, but we can also rely on it our everyday lives.
The impact here upon our songs is that everything that distracts us from focusing upon Jesus must be removed. Self-focused songs are no longer appropriate. At this place we must be singing the “high praises” which are songs that lift Jesus to the very highest place. These must be songs that in both the lyrics and the melody accurately portray the character and nature of the Lord.
ALTAR OF INCENSE
The golden altar was the only piece of furniture that was designed for man to do something for God. This altar speaks of the combination of both worship and intercession. The altar of incense is the last piece of furniture before the ark. We cannot enter the holy of holies without ministering at the altar of incense. We cannot come near the throne of God without the joint ministry of worship and intercession. In his video series on the tabernacle, Dick Reuben states that worship and intercession are the highest call of the church age. The ministry of worship and intercession comes with governing authority. In Psalm 149 King David speaks of worship and intercession when he says, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand”. The Psalm goes on to reveal what happens when these two things take place together.
“ To execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples; 8 To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron.” It is at the altar of incense that God and man join together to overcome the powers of darkness. Before this, it is only the “work of God” that is permissible in the tabernacle. Authority for do anything is only released to man when he is redeemed, cleansed, fully trusting in the Lord’s strength, revelation and wisdom and not his own. We are not able to effectively contribute to “ruling and reigning with Christ” before reaching this point.
HOLY OF HOLIES
Here contains the ark which represents the full manifestation of the presence and glory of the Lord. This is the throne room of heaven. The Holy of holies is a confined space; there is only room for God and us. Finally sinful man and holy God can embrace face to face without man being destroyed. It is a place of our relationship with the Lord coming to maturity and completeness.
In using the metaphor and language of the royal court, you would say this is the King’s bedchamber. Here the communion becomes much more intimate. In the outer court one had to shout to be heard, hence the volume was turned up, but in the holy of holies a whisper is all that is needed. Here man is no longer expressing just gratitude but the deep emotions of the heart. It is here we join the Psalmist in wanting to “behold the beauty of the Lord” and respond to the Lord with “My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:4, 8) Those who enter here have learned the protocol of the palace. But this code of behaviour is no longer “rules to get near the King”. Somewhere in the process we fall in love with the King, we have come to like what he likes and hate what He hates. It is here that our song becomes a love song to the Lord. This song has become refined, it has become gentle and quiet. This reflects the soul that has drawn so near to the Lord that quietness and contentment has permeated the soul of the worshipper. It is a song saturated in purity, love and holiness. Such intimate worship is breathtakingly beautiful. No wonder the Psalmist encouraged us to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”.
As we draw near to Him and come “within the veil” we hear His voice and His heartbeat. This is the place where He divulges the secrets of His heart. It is also where we see His face and behold His glory. In the throne room there is also a different sound. The sound is pure with no contaminates at all. There is no residue left from when we lived outside the perimeter of the tabernacle. Such a purity of sound is hard for mortal ears to comprehend. It is the sound of heaven. “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” (Revelation 19:6)
If the church remains outside the veil it is in fact remaining in the “outer court” and although there is a measure of relationship, anointing and authority, it is only partial. The Lord wants His church to enter into her full inheritance; the fullness of relationship, anointing, authority and blessing. This is not just a “nice idea”, but very necessary for the days ahead. The end time battles will become fiercer. The darkness upon the earth will increase. But the Lord has provided a place of protection and strength for His people. His glory will cover the whole earth. Jesus paid the price. Let us draw near.
[Many aspects of this article do not cover the subject adequately. Of particular note is the altar of incense. This article contains a condensed version or “summary” of parts from a new book being worked on.]