God gave Moses a divine plan in building the Tabernacle :
“According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so shall you make it.” Exodus 25:9
Moses was required to build the tabernacle exactly to the plan which God gave Him.
“They served in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”” Hebrews 8:5
It was divided into three different areas within it.
There was the Holy of Holies, the Holy Place and the Outer court.
Each area had its own pieces of furniture. The furniture was also to be made exactly to the pattern that God gave Moses.
The Purpose of the Tabernacle
When Moses was on the mountain with God, God said to him:
“…let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8
The purpose of the Tabernacle was for God to dwell among His people, in order to guide them and to bless and provide for them.
God has always desired fellowship with man. We see this with God’s dealings with Adam and Eve, with Israel and with the followers of Christ – His Church. In fact the Tabernacle of Moses points ultimately to Jesus Christ as it is a picture of God dwelling amongst man.
In John 1:14 we read:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The word “dwelt” here literally means to “pitch a tent”. It is from the Greek word skenoo
“…This word skene (tent) is the very word used in the New Testament to refer to the tabernacle of God used by Israel in their early worship of God. If you remember, the tabernacle was a wooden structure with a tent pitched over the top. In the Greek New Testament therefore, the word translated “tabernacle” is skene — “the tent” (Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:2, 5, and chapter 9). Hence, when the glory of God descended to the earth to take up residence in the midst of Israel as described in Exodus 40:34-38, it could be said that God “pitched His tent” among men. The writer of the book of Hebrews calls it “the true tent [skene] that the Lord set up” (Hebrews 8:2). The glory of God went camping with Israel as Israel wandered in the wilderness.” (source: http://www.awordfromtheword.org/dwelt)
When Jesus became a Man and dwelt among us, it was the ultimate fulfillment of the Tabernacle of Moses. Here was God not only dwelling amongst human beings, but God dwelling in human flesh Himself. How merciful that God would take on human flesh to bring about fellowship with man again!
And now, as believers in Christ, God Himself dwells (tabernacles) in us. By His Holy Spirit God now dwells not only with man, but inside of man. The incredible kindness and mercy of God!
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? ” 1 Corinthians 6:19
The Tabernacle of Moses shows us many things:
That God desires fellowship with His people;
That God always is the one to initiate fellowship between Him and man;
That God has a plan to bring that fellowship about;
That God clearly shows man how to have fellowship with Him
That man must approach God in the way in which God appoints;
That the tabernacle points to Christ dwelling with and in man and
That Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of the tabernacle
Many times I said it. Even though I had always read the Bible, even from a young child. I read it a lot. I memorized verses even. I believed it was truth, I believed it was the Word of God. And over and over God used His Word to teach me and to speak to me.
But I didn’t love it.
I certainly didn’t desire to read it or look forward to reading it. I did it because I knew it was the “right” thing to do.
Then one day I watched that old “Jesus” movie…. In it Jesus picks up the scroll of the Old Testament in the Temple preparing to read from it. But before he reads Isaiah 61 he kisses the scroll. That simple act convicted me.
I blurted to the Lord in almost desperation: “Jesus, I love You, but I don’t love Your Word. Not like that.”
I knew I loved Jesus. I loved Him with my whole heart and soul and mind and strength. I could see that “in the volume of the book it is written of Him”, I knew that Jesus is the Word made flesh. And it didn’t make sense to me. If He really is the Word made into human flesh, and if I really loved Him, how could I not love His Word as well?
Well of course there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t make myself love it nor desire it.
Actually, there was one thing I could do – and that was to be honest with Him about it.
So I was. I just kept telling the Lord what was in my heart.
“Lord I love You but I don’t love Your Word.”
Then gradually my prayers began to change : “Lord, give me a love for your Word. Make it real to me.”
It took some time, but one day I realized that I could honestly say that I now loved His Word. And I still do. I LOVE it. I desire to read it. I can’t wait to find more treasures in it. I can’t wait to discover my Jesus concealed in the pages of the Old Testament and find His beauty and grace revealed in the New Testament. I love reading the apostles revelations and teachings in the epistles. I often cry as I read it now, I am so blessed with this wonderful, old Book. There is nothing like it.
So what’s the difference now? The Book certainly hasn’t changed.
No, the difference is that now the Holy Spirit is bringing life where before there was death.
This principle is true not only with reading the Word of God, but with everything in the Christian life – doctrine, preaching, church meetings, worship, fellowship, prayer, giving to the poor… it can all be dry and lifeless. It may all be cold, dead duty, ritual or tradition with no life in it if it’s done in the power of the flesh.
Without the Spirit of life breathing His life into something, anything, there is in fact, a ministration of death. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, so when He is in something – whether it is prayer, reading the Word, preaching- there is reality there. There is Life. It rings true to us, it ministers life to us and we are changed by it.
A long, eloquent prayer may bring death…. If there’s no anointing of the Spirit.
A sermon with all the right doctrine may minister death to the hearers…. If it’s not infused with the life of the Spirit.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not an added bonus or extra in the life of a believer – His ministry of Life is essential. As Watchman Nee said “We either minister life or death. There’s nothing in between.”
Let us pray for the reality of the life of the Holy Spirit in every part of our lives, worship and ministries.
In response to some comments and questions I have received on my previous post Labyrinths of Emerging Paganism I have decided that the best way to address these is through another post, and so, here it is.
The Lord has placed a burden on my heart for His Church and that’s the main reason why He had me to start this blog. It is not my intention that I offend anyone, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ, yet if I do so in the process of trying to speak the truth, then I am sorry, but it can’t be helped.
It is my strong belief that a Christian should have no association at all with labyrinths. I will tell you why I believe this to be so:
The first known labyrinth was found in Egypt 4000-5000 years ago. They have been discovered across Asia, the Americas and Southern Africa in different forms. Some turf labyrinths still exist in England, Germany and Scandinavia and these are considered to be associated with feminine deities and fertility rituals.
“The troja labyrinth and roma labyrinth have in the historic form a monster, a minotauros, inside, in the centre, a monster you fear to approach, a monster you need to overcome and defeat. With the building of the labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France 1000 years later this seems to eventually change so that this labyrinth has a solemnity in the centre that you want to reach. According to historic traditions the Chartres Labyrinth was probably placed there by its master builder to protect the church from evil entering the church, because evil cannot pass the winding lanes of a labyrinth. This is in the same way as the Romans placed a protecting labyrinth inside their front door.” (http://www.lavigne.dk/labyrinth/e1intro.htm)
Dr Artress brought the labyrinth to Grace Cathedral (San Francisco, USA) in 1994, after having met and being heavily influenced by Dr Jean Houston, one of the main promoters of the New Age in North America (http://www.jeanhouston.com/blog/?p=170).
Dr Artress founded Veriditas in order to “facilitate the transformation of the human spirit through offering the Labyrinth Experience”. Contrast this with the Biblical belief that the human spirit is rather raised from death to life by the Holy Spirit through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross.
“Over one million people have walked this labyrinth to date. People from all different backgrounds and religions are using it. Jews, Buddhists and even Christians use the institute’s labyrinth. If one visists Grace Cathedrals web site you find it being inclusive, they offer every conceivable item, from New Age holistic to interfaith to the Koran. They are church that is not holding the Christian distinctive at all.” (source: http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm)
“You walk to the center of the labyrinth and there at the center, you meet the Divine. The labyrinth is a large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the Divine Mother, the God within, the Goddess, the Holy in all of creation. For many of us the feminine aspect of the Divine has been painfully absent from our lives, our spirituality, and our Western culture.” Dr Artress
2. Labyrinths Facilitate Geomancy
A labyrinth is designed to be geometrically perfect in order to facilitate “geomancy”.
“An important fact to know is that geomancy and other occult arts are often incorporated in the building of labyrinths. Charles Gilchrist a labyrinth promoter states it has a direct connection to “Sacred Geometry,” a powerful potential as an oracle. And there are other “oracle systems” that are related to Sacred Geometry, Astrology, Numerology, I Ching, Rune Stones, and the Tarot….”
Through geomancy, labyrinths are designed to bring the walker into an altered state of consciousness, through meditating on physical movement. As Dr Artress states: “A labyrinth is a walking meditation…” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9rt39ieP5E)
“A labyrinth is unicursal – this means there is one open, unobstructed path the walker follows into the center and back out again. A labyrinth has only one path leading to the center and back out again with no dead-ends.There are three basic designs being used–the seven circuit, eleven circuit, and twelve circuit; the seven circuit is the most common design found today. It is described as you roam back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different circuit. As you change your direction your awareness changes from right brain to left brain. They are right brain activity enhancers. So the claim is that the labyrinth can induce different states of consciousness. Others say It also helps balance the charkas, spiritual energy centers described in Hinduism.” http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm
Once an individual is brought to an altered state of consciousness he/she is open to the deceptions of Satan.
I think it is important to note that no believer, no matter how mature or spiritual, is beyond being deceived. Satan is subtle, clever and the father of lies. We are no match for him. However if we sincerely love the truth, seeking after God wholeheartedly, He will deliver us from deception. On the other hand God does give people over to delusion if they refuse to love the truth:
“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lieand so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
3. God Forbids Using Pagan Practices to Worship Him
There seems to be an increasingly common misconception amongst Christians that something that is utterly ungodly and unholy can be “redeemed” if it is “Christianized”. This line of reasoning takes something secular or even pagan and tries to change it into something godly by using Christianized language. This reasoning has no basis in scripture. Redemption is the work of God, and Him only, through His Son Jesus Christ. We cannot change something that is detestable to God into something acceptable to Him, despite our sincerity. In fact it’s the very opposite. Rather than take on the pagan practices and beliefs of the world around us God commands us to :
“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”2 Corinthians 6:17
For, as 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15 says:
“…. what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”
Just as God commanded the children of Israel to have nothing to do with the pagan practices of Canaan, but rather to destroy them, so we too are commanded to worship Him as He has proscribed. This is not a grey area – pagan practices are outright forbidden to God’s children.
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.” Deuteronomy 18:9-14
Ezekiel 8 describes the abominations the Israelites had incorporated into their worship of God in the Temple.
The syncretistic absorbing of paganism into their worship of Yahweh rendered Israel “Ichabod” and brought the judgment of God upon them, just as the Canaanites had been judged for their pagan practices earlier.
The syncretistic blending of paganism into the Church will also bring judgment upon the Church.
As godly king Josiah “took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger…” (2 Kings 23:19) so we too, as the Church of Jesus Christ need to be ruthless in our removal of pagan and occult practices from our own lives. As God called the Israelites to be a light shining in the midst of pagan idolatry, so too are we called to be the light of Christ shining in a dark world. This can only happen as we are wholly consecrated to God, separated unto Him.
It is my whole-hearted belief that any Christian involvement with labyrinths, (as with any other occult practice) needs to be repented of and renounced.
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