A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
Into the Throne Room
At the recent MET prayer Conference Lou Ashford led the delegates in a prayer walk, using the model of the Tabernacle, to bring them into the Throne Room (The Holy of Holies) and encouraged them to use this model for prayer in order that together we can seek God’s face and discover His strategy for bringing revival to our land.
Lou would love to receive feedback from individuals and groups as to what they sense God is saying to us at this time.
Tabernacle Prayer WalkL~
God is calling us to ‘come up higher’ into the Throne of Heaven. The aim of this prayer walk is to help us to come into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle (the equivalent of the Throne Room) and there discover God’s strategy for bringing revival to our nation.
Hebrews 8:5-6 “They serve at a sanctuary 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’”
Can we really come into the Holy of Holies?L~
Hebrews 10:19 “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.”
YES! We can have confidence not in anything of ourselves but because of Jesus.
The Tabernacle consisted of a seven and a half foot white linen fence running all the way around the Tabernacle. 150’ long on two sides, and 75’ wide on the other two sides. This enclosed something called “the outer court”.
Imagine yourself coming towards the Tabernacle and seeing this white linen fence. What does it represent to you?
Inside this white linen curtain was a tent-like building that the Israelites could carry through the wilderness with them. This building had two compartments. The first one was called the Holy Place, and it was separated from the second compartment by a thick curtain or veil. The second area was called the Holy of Holies, or the place where the presence of God dwelt. The actual glory of God dwelt in a cloud over the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant. So you have the three areas: the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies.
When you walked into the outer court, you could see the portable building, but the priests were the only ones who were allowed into the second area, or the Holy Place. And the high priest was the only one who was allowed into the Holy of Holies, into the presence of God.
There is a powerful comparison between the three areas of the Tabernacle and you as a person. The Bible says, in 1 Thess.5:23 “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”
The Body - five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. These five senses enable us to experience the world around us.
With our bodies we are world-conscious.
The Soul - comprised of intelligence, will power, and emotion. We are aware of ourselves as a unique creation of God through our soul.
With our soul we are self--conscious.
The Spirit - by far the most important part of humanity. God is a Spirit. They that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. We don’t comprehend God by body or soul. We experience God through the new birth in our spirit.
With our spirit we are God--conscious.
- Body = Outer Court
- Soul = Holy Place
- Spirit = Holy of Holies
We need to learn to move from the outer court (body) to the Holy Place (soul), to the Holy of Holies (spirit) because God exists in the spirit realm.
Three levels of approach to God:
- Thanksgiving = represented by the outer court
- Praise = The Holy Place
- Worship = The Holy of Holies
These three should flow together.
We thank God for what he’s done in the past (conversion, healing, filled with the Holy Spirit, when He met your need in one way or another).
We praise God for who He is: God is omnipotent; He has all power, He is love, praise Him for His grace and mercy…praise God for His character.
Worship is not really worship until we have walked into the presence of the Shekinah, the glory of God. Worship is directly related to the holiness of God.
You can be lead in thanksgiving and praise but not in true worship. Worship is the result of the sovereign invitation of the Holy Spirit to come inside the veil and to be where God is.
Whenever the High Priest went from the outer court, through the Holy Place, and into the Holy of Holies, to the mercy seat, he had to stop at every station along the way. And that’s the same pattern the Holy Spirit has given to us so we, too, can come into the presence of God.
Our first stop, as we enter into the Tabernacles outer court, is at the Brazen Alter.
Seven and a half feet square, four and a half feet high. Made of acacia wood, over laid with brass so highly polished you could see you face in it.
Today, we don’t have a brass alter instead we have a wooded cross.
Just as the Israelites couldn’t pass beyond the brass alter without stopping to offer a sacrifice, so we cannot pass by the cross NOT at least until we have observed 4 things:
The Israelites would place their hands upon the animal that they had brought for sacrifice, very often a lamb, and confess before the priest all their sins. By doing this they was symbolically placing all there individual sins upon the lamb, so that the lamb became guilty in their place. Let us first of all then reflect on Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, on whom our sins have been laid.
Let us quietly confess our sins to God.
Next the sacrifice was made; the whole principle to be understood is that an innocent life has been given for sin. The blood of Jesus Christ now covers our sins. Let us each acknowledge to ourselves that OUR SIN NATURE died with Jesus when he was crucified.
Romans 6:6 “You were crucified with Christ and are no longer a slave to sin”
The next stage is the sacrifice burnt….sin destroyed.
Finally, the priests would take some of the blood from the sacrifice and put it on their right ear lobe, right thumbnail and big toe of their right foot. They were consecrating themselves to hear God’s voice, do his work and walk in his paths. Let us too offer ourselves as living sacrifices, totally committed to God.
Next we move onto the Brazen Laver or brass bowl.
This bowl was a bowl for ceremonial washing /cleansing.
We have already received the inner cleansing, by the blood of Jesus, which cleanses us from all sin. Now we need to wash ourselves outwardly from the daily grime that we pick up…the gossip, the crude joke, the blasphemy we might sometimes hear….we haven’t sinned but we’ve been defiled and so we need to come for outer cleansing.
Jesus said, “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you”
So for us the brass laver is replaced by God’s word….which like water has the power to cleanse and renew us. It also symbolises the Holy Spirit, who also has that ability to renew and refresh us.
A little while ago we focused on “Entering His gates with thanksgiving”, now let us move onto think about what it means to “Enter His courts with praise”.
Here we need to learn what it means to offer a sacrifice of praise.
Hebrews 13:15 “Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God CONTINUALLY that is the fruits of our lips giving thanks in his name”
Praise is not dependant upon how well the musicians are doing, or how good the sermon is….neither should we stop praising God just because someone else is praising Him in a way that we’re not used to.
Psalms 120 –134 are called ‘The Psalms of Ascent’ and were sung by the Israelites three times a year as they went to the temple to observe their traditional festival days. It is interesting to note the change in these Psalms as they progress:
Ps. 120 - they’re expressing their problems
Ps. 121 - they see their answer coming
Ps. 122 - they’re expressing a desire to be in God’s presence
By the time we reach Psalm 134 they’re saying “Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord”
They’ve got their minds off their problems and instead are focusing on the Lord….this is what we need to do.
We’ve moved from the outer court where we were WORLD CONSCIOUS, now we are becoming more aware of ourselves:
Our relationship with God
Our love for God
Where as thanksgiving is ABOUT God…we thank Him for what He’s done
Praise is focused on WHO GOD IS….we praise Him for his divine attributes, his love, mercy, faithfulness, justice.
Let us offer our prayers of praise to God.
Here in the Holy Place we also find three objects:
The bread - 12 loaves one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel.
The Golden lamp stand - the only light available as there was no natural light in the Holy Place.
The Golden alter of incense - costly incense made up of 4 rare spices.
Listen to what Jesus and Paul had to say about each of these three things:.
John 6: 25-35 - Let us use our will to feed on Him.
John 8:12 - Let us allow our minds/intellect to become illuminated by Christ.
2 Corinthians 2: 14-15 - Ask God to show us how we can be a sweet fragrance for Jesus..
The High Priest would bring just two things into the Holy of Holies, blood to sprinkle on the mercy seat and incense to burn before the Lord..
The mercy seat was a bowl shape on top of the Ark of the Covenant, and as I’ve just mentioned it was into this bowl that the Priest would pour the blood of the sacrifice. Let’s see for a moment what is taking place from God’s perspective..
The Ark contained 3 things:.
- The 10 commandments – which the people had broken
- A jar of manna – which the people had grumbled and complained about.
- Aaron’s Rod - which had sprouted on the occasion when he and Moses were challenged over their leadership by the people.
They had broken God’s law, complained about His provision and His choice of leaders.
And yet, as God looks down what does he see?
- The broken tablets of stone?
- The Jar of Manna?
- Aaron’s Rod?
No, He only see’s the blood of the sacrifice which covers all sin.
Can we enter into the Holy of Holies the very presence of God?
Luke 23:44-46 - ‘It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.’
Yes, the way is now open because of Jesus and His sacrifice for us. So we come giving glory to Jesus for all that He has accomplished. We come, offering praise and worship… in spirit and in truth… a fragrant offering to our God.
We can be lead in thanksgiving, we can be lead you in praise but worship is an individual response….it is between you and God…as you give yourself to Him.
So, finally we come to worship.
We seek God’s face not His hand. We need to seek God for He and He alone knows how we should pray for the revival of our church and nation.
For a CD Rom of The Tabernacle as an act of worship, which Lou led on the Sunday morning at the MET Prayer Conference. Please contact IHS Recordings Tel. 01409 254656 email:firstname.lastname@example.org