Today, Derek directs us to the pattern of the tabernacle of Moses to illustrate the steps to worship. The tabernacle contained three main sections: the outer court, the holy place, and the Holy of Holies. Each of these areas brings out another truth about worship. Listen carefully.
It’s good to be with you again as we follow through our theme for this week, the theme of worship.
In my talk yesterday I spoke about the steps to worship. I explained in a simple, practical way just how we can enter into worship. My talk was based on Psalm 95. I traced three successive phases in this psalm.
(1) First, loud exuberant praise and thanksgiving.
(2) Second, a list of reasons for praise and thanksgiving.
(3) Third, worship expressed in an attitude: bowing down and kneeling before God.
Then I traced the two main results of worship as revealed in this psalm.
(1) First, hearing God’s voice.
(2) Second, entering into God’s rest.
Finally, I pointed out the results of Israel’s failure to follow this path to worship. There were four results.
(1) Their hearts were hardened.
(2) They did not hear God’s voice.
(3) They provoked God to anger.
(4) They did not enter their appointed rest.
I believe all those things are warnings to us also if we do not follow the appointed path to worship.
In my talk today I’m going to illustrate the steps to worship from a different but no less vivid passage of scripture. I’m going to take my illustration from the tabernacle of Moses.
Now, the tabernacle of Moses is one of the most remarkable phenomena of scripture and one which has always fascinated me. It’s described mainly in the book of Exodus, chapters 25-30 and 35-40. That’s about twelve chapters there in the book of Exodus devoted to the tabernacle which surely indicates it must have tremendous importance.
I’d just like to say from my own personal experience, remarkable though it may see, every time I study the tabernacle it gives me a deeper desire for holiness and communion with God. That’s the result it has on me and I’m sure that’s one of the main purposes for which this account is presented in scripture.
Now of course, in the brief space of my talk today I can’t go into a lot of details. I just want to lay down some very simple basic principles about the tabernacle.
It had three main sections: the outer court, the holy place behind the first veil or curtain, and the Holy of Holies behind the second veil or curtain.
It’s easy to distinguish these three areas of the tabernacle by the kind of light that was available. In the outer court the light was natural, the sun by day, the moon and stars by night. In the holy place behind the first veil, the light was artificial. It was provided by the seven branched lampstand. But, in the Holy of Holies behind the second veil or curtain there was no natural light and no artificial light. The only light was supplied by the supernatural presence of Almighty God indwelling that small area within that tent. That presence of God that brings light is known in Hebrew as the shekinah, the visible glory of God. Perhaps you’ve heard it pronounced she ki nah, but whatever it is, that was the only source of light there in that third area of the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies behind the second veil.
Now, these three sections of the tabernacle correspond to many things in our experience, but I want to relate them to the three areas of human personality: the body, the soul, and the spirit which I spoke about earlier in my teaching on worship. You remember that we worship God not with the body, not with the soul, but with the spirit. So, the outer court corresponds to the body. The holy place corresponds to the soul. The Holy of Holies corresponds to the spirit. And, it’s only in the spirit that we relate to God in worship. In other words, the area of worship is the Holy of Holies behind the second veil.
Now let’s look at how a person could progress to worship. Let’s take a pattern from the progress from the outer court to the Holy of Holies. I hope you’re following me.
We begin in the outer court. We begin in the physical, natural realm. In the outer court the main object was the bronze altar of sacrifice on which all the sacrificial animals were killed and offered to God. This bronze altar for us typifies Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf. It speaks of the blood that He shed that we might be redeemed and reconciled to God. And that’s the starting point. We cannot pass the cross. We have to begin at the cross and only when we receive the benefits of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, the benefits of His blood, can we move on into this progress to worship.
The first veil, I believe, typifies Christ’s resurrection. When we pass through that veil we pass into an area which has been opened to us by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It typifies, in a sense, our identification with Christ in resurrection. We died with Him but we have been raised with Him, the scripture says.
Now, in this first holy place there were three main objects: the table of bread, the lampstand and the golden altar of incense. These, I believe, typify corresponding functions of the soul.
(1) The bread typifies the will.
(2) The lampstand typifies the intellect.
(3) The altar of incense typifies the emotions.
I’m not going to attempt to give reasons for these identifications but you’ll see that what happens there in the areas of the soul, in the holy place, is that three things have to be brought into line with God’s requirement.
First of all, our will has to be yielded to God. The will is like that table of shewbread placed out in the presence of God every day. Every day it had to be fresh. Every day it had to be specifically ordered. And every day our will has to be yielded afresh to God and we give Him the right to inspect our will and see that every area of our will is in line with His requirements.
Then the lampstand that was illuminated by the olive oil typifies the intellect illuminated by the Holy Spirit. And then, the altar of golden incense which was just in front of the second veil, typifies the emotions. Some people are afraid of emotions in religion. But that really isn’t logical because emotions are an essential part of man.
Now, it’s possible to let the emotions be out of control and disorderly but this particular pattern that we’re following shows us how we bring our emotions into control. First the will, then the intellect, and then the emotions. But without the emotions there’s no moving on through the second veil because it was with the incense from off that golden altar that the high priest had to enter through the second veil.
So we see a kind of progression here in the area of the soul. The will has to be yielded to God, the intellect has to be illuminated and then the emotions are set on fire. And with passionate, ardent love and worship we pass through that second veil. That second veil, I believe, typifies Christ’s ascension. And so, our passing through the veil represents our identification with Christ in ascension. Not merely are we raised from the dead with Him, but the scripture says we’ve also been raised up to sit with him in the heavenly places.
The first veil typifies resurrection from the dead.
The second veil typifies ascension that takes us up into the heavenlies and seats us on the throne with Christ.
Now, I’ve already pointed out in the Holy of Holies there was no light except the manifest visible, personal presence of God. That’s where worship takes place. We don’t need any other source of illumination when we’re in the presence of God. It’s direct person to person, spirit to Spirit relationship with God.
The ark there symbolizes God’s presence as always throughout scripture. On the ark were two cherubs, two heavenly creatures in beaten gold kneeling at each end of the ark with their faces turned inwards toward one another and their wings stretched out and meeting their tips just over the center of the ark, over the mercy seat. The cherubs typify two things that I’ve said always go together. Fellowship: face to face, looking directly at each other. And worship: bowed down, their wings stretched out over them, shielding them from the immediate presence of God, but in an attitude of adoration.
So there we have the supernatural radiance of God’s presence, the ark that is the symbol of His presence, the cherubs that symbolize worship and fellowship.
Now, what was in the ark? Three things.
(1) The pot of manna.
(2) Aaron’s rod.
(3) The two tables of stone.
Let me tell you what I believe these represent very briefly.
The pot of manna represents communion, feeding on God.
Aaron’s rod that budded represents supernatural attestation and revelation, and with it authority. The rod is always an emblem of authority.
And, the two tables of stone symbolize God’s eternal law of righteousness stamped on our conscience.
So there we have what I could call the “end product” of entering the Holy of Holies. The end product of worship: communion, feeding on God. Attestations and revelation: which impart authority. And God’s eternal law of righteousness stamped on our conscience. That’s the end of the progress to worship. We start in the outer court with the bronze altar typifying Christ’s death. We go through the first veil into the area of resurrection. We have the will, the intellect and the emotions. And then when those are brought into line with God’s requirement, we move through the second veil typifying ascension, into the immediate presence of God. And, we enter into worship.
Well, our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time.
Tomorrow I’ll continue, and conclude, this theme of worship. I’ll be speaking about the inevitability of worship.