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The Golden Lampstand and Fellowship with God

lampstandHere we are now in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of Moses. No longer are we under the bright glare of the sun in the Outer Court and faced with the bronze furniture. (Remember: bronze = judgment) We now enter the soft, glow of the Holy Place. Here, as specified by God Himself, there are no windows and no natural light. The only light in this room emanates from the glow of the Golden Lampstand standing on the South side. It takes a while for the priests’ eyes to adjust, but once they do they behold a glowing golden room.

The acacia wood walls are lined with pure gold. The light from the pure gold Lampstand casts a glow on the Golden Altar of Incense and the Table of Showbread – both of which are acacia wood overlaid with gold.Heaven 4

Imagine the beauty of that room! The shimmering golden light radiating from the seven lamps of the Lampstand and bouncing off the gold walls and furniture. Truly this is a picture of the beauty of our fellowship with the Lord.

For surely, as the Outer Court was the place of the judgement for our sins, placed upon the lamb, the Holy Place is the place of our fellowship with God and our enjoyment of Him.

Fellowship with God

God does not intend for His people to stop outside in the Outer Court, He wants us to progress through into the place of fellowship with Him.

God’s intention has always been to have a people in right relationship with Him. He longs for those with whom He can share His heart, for those whom will pray His prayers and walk with Him in the glow of His light. God has so much to give of Himself and He is calling for a people who are willing to receive of Him.

Indeed, we see in John 1:14 that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”. When God sent His Son to earth it was to dwell amongst us. In fact it has always been God’s desire to dwell among His people.

The word “dwelt” here is the same as “tabernacled”.

Jesus2“The Word became flesh and “tabernacled” among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son….”

So when God gave Moses the instructions to build the Tabernacle it was in order that He would dwell amongst His People. Of course sin needed to be dealt with first, as it has been at the cross (the Brazen Altar in the Outer Court), and now God wants to dwell among His people to fellowship with them. In the Old Covenant He dwelt nationally amongst His people. In the New Covenant He dwells both individually in the believer and corporately in the Church.

The Purpose of the Golden Lampstand

The function of the Golden Lampstand in the Holy Place was to give light: to provide illumination for the priests as they ministered to the Lord. If the Lampstand had not been there it would have been pitch black and the priests wouldn’t have been able to carry out their ministry. God would never have us groping in the dark. He has provided His light to the Church, both in His Son Jesus Christ and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The Ministry of the Prieststabernacleholyplacerose

The priests entered the Holy Place twice daily to minister to the Lord:

    • To eat the showbread from the Table of showbread : The Showbread is both a picture of the Word of God and the Bread of God who came from Heaven to give life to the world : Jesus Christ Himself
    • To top up oil in the lamps of the Golden Lampstand : The oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit
    • To burn incense at the Golden Altar of Incense: The Altar of Incense is a picture of prayer and intercession

The Lampstand is a Picture of Jesus

The Lampstand Jesus Christ
The only light source in the Holy Place Jesus is the light of the world. John 8:12
Was made of pure gold. Gold = deity Jesus is God. He is deity, divine, the second person of the Godhead. John 1:1
The gold was hammered and beaten into shape Shows the sufferings of Christ. Isaiah 53:5
The Lampstand had seven branches Jesus has the 7-fold spirit of God. Isaiah 11:1-2; Rev 3:1, 4:5
Was decorated with almond blossoms and almonds The almond tree was the first to blossom after winter in Israel. This speaks of the resurrection of Christ.
No natural light in the Holy Place The natural, fleshly man can’t see His deity. It has to be revealed (illuminated) to us by the Holy Spirit.

 

The Lampstand is Also a Picture of the Holy Spirit

It illuminates the Table of Showbread 1.       Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us as the Bread of Life. John 6:35

2.       Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God. Matthew 4:4

It illuminates the Altar of Incense The Holy Spirit leads us to prayer, and prompts us to pray and intercede according to God’s will. Romans 8:26
It had seven branches 7-fold Spirit of God. Isaiah 11:1-2; Rev 3:1, 4:5
It illuminated the Altar of Incense and the Table of Showbread in order that the priests could fellowship with and minister to the Lord The Holy Spirit leads us to prayer and reading the Word in order that we can fellowship with and minister to the Lord, as His “royal priesthood”. 1 Peter 2:9

 

How to Have Fellowship with GodIMG_5175

And so we see that just as God provided the Golden Lampstand to the priests of the Old Covenant, in order to fellowship with Him, so too has He provided us, the Church, with Light so that we too can have fellowship with Him. Firstly through the Light of the World, the person of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind. And secondly through the ministry of the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows us how to have fellowship with God – it is through the eating of the Bread (the Word of God) and ministering at the Golden Altar of Incense (prayer). In fact, God’s way hasn’t changed. It is only through His Son, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, that any fellowship with God is possible at all. Once we are put back into right relationship with God through Jesus’ shed blood, then the Holy Spirit leads us to prayer and the Word.

prayer bibleThere is not some new or secret way to fellowship with God. It is simply through spending time with Him in our prayer closets, with the Word of God and our hearts open ready to receive of Him.

 

May our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ bless you!

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A Jewish Girl and a Kingdom

Picture it – a young orphan girl, brought up by her uncle in a foreign land where her jewish girlpeople had been carried away as captives years before….She had known the sorrow of the loss of her parents, of poverty and hardship. But now she found purpose in looking after her uncle and hope in looking forward to a future as one day becoming a Jewish wife and mother, even in the foreign land of Persia.

But one day, the King of the land of Susa, where she was dwelling, issued a decree and this young lady, as well as some others, was brought into the custody of a eunuch in the King’s palace.

For the King was seeking a bride.

Imagine this young Jewess, Hadassah, in the King’s palace, gazing at the splendor surrounding her.  The fierce might of the palace’s guards, the opulence of the furnishings.  Everything so beautiful, so different than she had ever known.  And what of her future hopes now?  Would she ever become a wife and mother?  Would this Gentile king cause her to have to relinquish her future and remain with him in his palace?

anointing oilFor one whole year this young lady remained in the eunuch’s care, and eventually Hegai, as he was called, became her friend, her helper, her adviser.  Each day for twelve months she was prepared and beautified for her first meeting with the King.  Each day she wondered what that one night with the King would mean for her and what her future held.  And as she soaked in the oil of myrrh, tears as bitter as that herb flowed down mingling with the oil and softening the harsh callous places of her skin.

After six months of the oil of myrrh preparation, Esther, as she was now known, was led by Hegai to begin the beautifying preparation with perfumes.  Soft and supple now, her skin had been made tender by the bitter treatment of myrrh.

But that wasn’t the only thing that had changed.  Soaking in the myrrh Esther’s heart and character had also been softened by the bitterness of her own “death”.  Death to her future, death to her own plans, to what she had desired for her own life.  But even further, the tender treatment and counsel of her constant companion Hegai had taken her through that bitterness of death and brought her into something new, something fresh, even…exciting.  Now she was filled with a different hope, a different expectancy for the future that was laid on the foundation of a humble yet mature character wrought through endurance.

The perfume preparation complete, Esther was now ready to enter the King’s presence.  Having come through this next stage of preparation Esther had become even more dependent on her friend Hegai and sought his counsel as to what she should take with her to the King.  He, after all, knew the King and the King’s taste.

jewish-wedding-giftIt was Esther’s turn.  Hegai took her to the King and “the king loved Esther more than all the other women and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen….” Esther 2:17

Esther, now as the King’s bride, settles into life as a Queen.  She of humble origins, an orphan, now the Queen of 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia.

One day Esther receives some troubling news from her uncle.  Haman the Agagite has decreed to exterminate all of the Jews, her people, and her husband the King has authorized this decree!  Her uncle tells her to make a plea to the King for her people.

Deeply distressed, Esther hesitates.  She knows, as does her uncle, that to enter the king’s presence unbidden brings the immediate sentence of death.  Yet she loves her people, her heart yearns for her people with every day that goes by.  Her uncle’s heart breaks, he loves her and knows her dilemma – yet he must utter these words:

““Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews.  For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13, 14)

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai:  “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:15, 16)

If I perish, I perish

As her tears had rolled into the waters of myrrh long ago Hadassah had known that her life was no longer her own.  It was then that she had perished.  Long ago she had been prepared for this.

And it was because she had perished then, that she could intercede now for those who were perishing.

cropped-girl-praying1.jpgOH Lord, make us into a people like Esther, who would die to ourselves, our plans and our own lives.  Make us into a prepared and beautified Bride, who will come boldly before the throne of grace in Your presence and plead for the lives of those around us who are perishing. Father we thank you for Your Son, Yeshua, the ultimate intercessor, who did give up His life for us, who stood in the gap for us, so that we should not perish but have everlasting life.  OH Lord, help us to be led by Your Spirit only, to seek You only and Your will.  May we be brave and stand in the gap, even in the midnight hour.  In the Name of Yeshua Hamashiach, Amen.

Happy Purim everybody!


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Hunger

sheffieldchapel.org

sheffieldchapel.org

Yesterday, as I was leaving the fruit shop, I saw an anorexic girl staring at me. She kept right on staring at me even as my gaze met hers and I looked back at her. It was rather disconcerting to be so openly stared at and I was momentarily caught off-guard. Eventually I smiled at her and she half-smiled back as she turned away. I don’t know why she was staring at me, but I felt God’s heart of compassion for her and she has been on my heart in prayer ever since.

Then last night as I spent time in the Lord’s presence He opened my eyes to see something. As I cried out to Him for my own hunger, I saw that our plight in the West is starvation. Yes, starvation. Here in the West, where we have an amazing variety and abundance of food available to us, we are spiritually-famished skeletons.

“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around and behold, there were very many in the open valley and indeed they were very dry.” Ezekiel 37:1, 2

materialisticWhilst much of the non-developed world suffers from food shortage, dire poverty and even physical starvation, the malnutrition in the West is of a different kind. We are surrounded by food, by comfort, by fast-moving technology and by science and its benefits. Even the poorest of us are rich compared to most of the world’s population. Yet, in general, we are starved. Starved of life, starved of love, starved of meaning and starved of the presence of God.

What is the reason behind this starvation? I believe part of it has to do with our society turning away from God and increasingly to humanism and its related philosophies. The outcome of this is that our lives have become empty of meaning and purpose.

It’s not surprising.

To accept the premise that human beings are nothing more than the product of primordial slime would logically conclude that we are of no greater intrinsic value than that slime. And a product of primordial slime could have no possible purpose to its existence either. The relatively recent rejection of the age-old belief that we have been wonderfully and purposely made by the hands of a loving Creator, ultimately leads to a meaningless existence, in which our lives become de-valued.

fnFriedrich Nietzsche’s philosophies of the early 20th century have had a profound impact on the Western world, intellectually, politically and existentially. He (in)famously stated that “God is dead” and saw “nihilism as the outcome of repeated frustrations in the search for meaning. He diagnosed nihilism as a latent presence within the very foundations of European culture, and saw it as a necessary and approaching destiny”. (Source: Wikipedia, Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche). Nihilism “(from the Latin nihil, nothing) is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.” (Source: Wikipedia, Nihilism)

A society that rejects God accepts nihilism, and within that society a sense of meaninglessness is experienced individually. As human beings, we have been made in God’s own image and this is the basis of our inherent value. Each of us is valuable because we have been created in His image. There is also a purpose to each human life that God creates and that is to have fellowship with Him and to serve Him. We were created by Him, for Him. We were created to know Him, depend on Him and draw our very life from Him. To deny both the source of our life and the purpose for our life is to both deny the value of humanity and the meaning of life, which creates a vacuum within our very souls.

Actually this is nothing new. In fact it goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when man chose independence from God rather than dependence on God. From that point humankind has been estranged from God, cut off from our Creator, the true meaning and purpose of our lives obscured by our own defiant, self-willed independence. To be cut off from the Source of life, even while we may have physical breath in our bodies, is to create spiritual deadness and emptiness. However, as nature abhors a vacuum, something must fill that emptiness and there are many ways that we seek to do this – consumerism, chemical substances, religion, food, pleasure-seeking, causes, materialism…just to name a few.

Unfortunately much of the church has not escaped this Western malady and is also starving. It’s all too common to find that worship has been replaced by entertainment; that prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit has been replaced by liturgies and programs; that the presence of God has been replaced by emotional manipulation and that the preaching of the Word has been replaced by motivational, self-help talks. Even as Christians it is possible to turn away from dependence on God, and once again go our own way in self-willed independence, even when what we do is under a “Christian” label. Once we stop relying on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us, we again cut ourselves off from God, and become starved of His life and His presence. AW Tozer said it like this: “The blight of the Church today is spiritual starvation. People are famishing on rationalism, socialism, sensationalism, on lifeless bonds and bank notes and unwholesome pleasures. “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? grainand your labour for that which satisfieth not?… eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness” (Isaiah 55:1,2) Are you living on the bread of God or starving while in the Father’s house there is bread to spare?”

I think the BIG question is – do we actually recognize that we are starving? We may in fact be completely unaware of it because we are surrounded by food, technology and material goods in abundance. We are rich, in material terms, compared to the rest of the world. We don’t really need God, we depend on ourselves, on science, on man. We believe that independence is the way to go and that we can make it on our own. Like the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3 we “say ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’”. We do not know that we are really “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (verse 17).

In undeveloped countries it is rather different. 25% of the world doesn’t have enough to live on, and 33% are destitute. A person suffering shortages in food, shelter, clothing and medicine is confronted with their own vulnerability every day. Their neediness is well- known by them because it is felt every day through physical hunger, thirst, cold or pain. So whilst much of the world is poorer than us in the West in material terms, I believe they are richer in one important way. They know their need. Once you see your need, of course, it is much easier to turn to God.

I have a friend who moved here from a struggling African nation. She explained to me that back in Africa she had had to get up at 3am every single morning in order to line up for six hours to get a loaf of bread for her family for the day. There were times when she would get to the front of the queue, after lining up for hours, only to find that the last loaf of bread had been sold. They then would need to drive to South Africa – another country – in order to find bread.

She knows what it’s like to need. She has had to cry out to God to provide her family with bread. She has had to depend on Him in a way that I never have had to.

Actually it is no different for us – spiritually we NEED Bread every single day. The difference is that, surrounded by our gadgetry, clothes and hair products, we cannot see that we are in desperate need of bread. Otherwise would we get up at 3am to seek for our Bread for the day? Would we miss out on sleep so we could find the living Bread to feed us and also our families? You see it’s hunger that drives us. It’s not hard to know why my friend would make the sacrifice to line up every day for 6 hours for bread, when both she and her family needed to be fed. I have kids, I understand the driving need to provide for them. But what about the spiritual bread? Is it less important? Would I make a similar sacrifice for the sake of mine and my family’s spiritual nourishment?

Jesus said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6). We don’t hunger and thirst after righteousness if we don’t know that we are empty. Until we see that we, in the West are poor, wretched and empty, we won’t hunger and thirst for the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

However, once we see our need of Him it is much easier to hunger after God and to learn to depend on Him for our nourishment. But our eyes have to be anointed “with eye salve that we may see” (Revelation 3:18). Unfortunately it usually takes some sort of personal crisis for most of us to turn to God in desperation and to cry out for help. Essentially this is what happened to me. Although I was wonderfully born-again and saved (see Passover), I still hadn’t learnt how to be utterly dependent on God, or to hunger after Him. It took a crisis in my life to actually be able to clearly see that I could no longer depend on myself. I was brought to the point of being unable to trust even my own thoughts, let alone my own self.

The vehicle God that used in my instance was depression.

And yes, I was a Christian, truly born-again and in love with Jesus. (God-willing, I will write about this episode in detail at a later date.) CS Lewis said “Suffering is God’s mega-phone to a world hard of hearing.” And that really was what suffering was to me. My experience caused me to rely on God and to hunger after Him in a way that I never had before – simply because I had no other option.

To be in a place where my own thoughts frightened me, suddenly awakened to me the truth of my own vulnerability, and I clearly saw my need of Him and His ongoing presence in my life. My independence and pride had to be stripped away from me so that I could see I was starving, in order for that hunger to be born in me. Suddenly I saw that I needed Him, not just a doctrinal knowledge of Him, but a hunger for Himself. When I saw how “poor in spirit” I truly was, then “the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3) became mine.

Tomorrow, Part 2, Being Fed