Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MOSES' TABERNACLE - A PATTERN FOR INTIMACY: PART 5

 THE BRAZEN LAVER

Before a priest could enter the Holy Place from the Outer Court, he had to wash at the Brazen Laver. It was a requirement of God that could not be overlooked. He had to remove any defilement before going before the Holy God.

The Laver was made of bronze mirrors donated by women, and was filled with water. It stood between the Brazen Altar and the Holy Place.

Blood was shed at the Brazen Altar symbolizing the sacrifice of a life through death. Water was the focus at the Laver, symbolizing the giving of life through cleansing.

At his initial consecration the priest was washed all over his body at the Laver. This was a type of baptism. After that he had to wash himself – his hands and feet – before entering and after leaving the service to the Lord in the Holy Place. The priest was able to see his reflection both in the water and in the bronze mirrors that made up the Laver. A priest who did not wash before entering the Holy Place, or upon exiting it was considered to be ceremonially unclean, and therefore unfit for service and worship to the Lord.

This is a reminder to us that, after presenting our bodies as living sacrifices (the Brazen Altar experience), we must wash ourselves before entering into intimate communion with, or service to the Lord. How do we do that washing today, since there are no more Brazen Lavers for ceremonial washing? Jesus gives us the answer.

In response to the woman at the well, He said that He had living water that would cause her never to thirst again. This was not physical water to quench natural thirst, but rather the spiritual water of the Word of God that would revive and sustain her. (John 4:1-13)

In John 15:3 Jesus tells His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

Paul admonishes husbands to, “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word…”

It is clear, then, that our “Brazen Laver” today is the Word of God. Just as the priests were able to see their reflections when they washed at their Laver, we too can see ourselves when we look with honest hearts into the Word. It shows us who we are, and what defilement needs to be removed.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you, through the Word...
  • an attitude that needs to be corrected - is there pride, selfishness, jealousy, unforgiveness
  • a sin that you have become desensitized to
  • any worldly values that have infiltrated your lifestyle
The priests of Moses’ day had to wash their hands and feet. This was a foreshadowing of what we are to do today. Our hands represent what we do – our work, our service, our assignments. Our feet represent our daily walk – our mindsets, ways, lifestyles.

Today God is too often approached with casual familiarity and taken for granted. Too many believers have adopted an air of entitlement, thinking that because they do x, y or z God must reciprocate. The Sovereignty, Majesty and Holiness of Almighty God has, to a large extent, been excommunicated from the church, and replaced by “God, our good Buddy”. God has been brought down to man's level, rather than man aspiring to come up to His.

More than ever before, we must look at the Brazen Laver as it relates to us. Although Jesus’ sacrificial death paid the price for our sin, we must still be cleansed daily from its influence. We must ask the Lord to show us, through His Word, what mindsets, attitudes, habits etc need to be removed. Without it we would be in danger of coming before the Holy God with unwashed “hands” and “feet” – defiled priests.

Have you been meeting God’s requirement to wash daily at The “Brazen Laver”?
But as the One Who called you is holy, 
you yourselves also be holy 
in all your conduct and manner of living. 
For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. 
1 Peter 1: 15-16
to be continued...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MOSES' TABERNACLE - A PATTERN FOR INTIMACY: PT. 4

 A TIME OF TRANSITION

Jesus refers to His followers as sheep.  Let us look at some of their characteristics.

Sheep are
  • submissive
  • completely dependent on the Shepherd
  • responsive to love and care
but sheep also …
  • are easily panicked
  • are gullible
  • are vulnerable to fear and therefore stampede easily
  • are vulnerable to mob psychology, so they are easily influenced by a leader – whoever that leader might be
  • have only one defense – to run
  • are easy prey to enemies
  • are easily flipped over and cannot right themselves without the Shepherd
  • need a lot of care
  • are not concerned about the Shepherd's needs – only their own.
  • are not concerned about pleasing the Shepherd, but rather are focused on pleasing themselves.
What does this have to do with Moses' Tabernacle and your intimacy with the Lord you ask? As a young believer you come to the Lord as His sheep, and you are lovingly cared for by the Great Shepherd. However, after a while there is a need for a transition in your thinking. Consider these facts….
  1. In Moses’ Tabernacle sheep could go no further than the Brazen Altar. They could not approach the Brazen Laver, not to mention the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
  2. Sheep were unable to be intimate with the Shepherd since they are a different species from Him.
Do you see the spiritual implications for you and me? If we continue to think of ourselves only as sheep we will never experience true intimacy with the Lord, and our growth in Him will be stunted. The Father is not preparing a Marriage Feast for His Son and His sheep. He is preparing one for His Son and His Bride! Now let us look at the characteristics of a bride.

A bride…
  • Grows in intimacy with her Husband and seeks to please Him
  • As a result of this intimacy, knows not just His acts but understands His ways
  • Partners with Him
  • Is in covenant with Him
  • Represents Him in His absence. (People will judge Him by how she looks, speaks and acts.)
  • Carries His Name
  • Bears and raises His 'children' – His fruit
  • Submits to His leadership
  • He is her covering, therefore she knows that He takes care of all of her needs - just as He does with His sheep. This frees her to focus on their relationship, and on taking care of His business.
In ancient Jewish weddings the bride immersed herself in a body of water called a “mikvah” prior to the marriage. Her immersion symbolized the profound transition that was about to take place in her life. We can see a similar pattern in Moses' Tabernacle where only the priests were allowed to wash at the Brazen Laver in preparation for entering the Holy Place – a place of intimacy with the Holy Lord.

Today you and I must first ensure that we change our mindset from being simply a dependent, self-absorbed sheep. We must embrace our life as the Bride of Christ preparing for her Beloved Bridegroom! Then we can move on to our “mikvah” – the Brazen Laver experience.

To be continued…

Friday, August 13, 2010

MOSES' TABERNACLE - A PATTERN FOR INTIMACY: PT. 3

THE BRAZEN ALTAR

The first piece of furniture that you encounter once you have entered through the Gate is the Brazen Altar. You cannot get around it, ignore it or bypass it.

The Brazen Altar in Moses' day was made of shittim wood overlaid with bronze. Acacia or shittim wood is known for its durability, and wood represents humanity. “Shittim” means to scourge, to flog or to pierce. Bronze, as we discussed earlier, represents judgment. In this we can see a type of Christ whose indestructible body was scourged, pierced and sacrificed for the judgment of your sin and mine.

After Aaron and his sons were anointed by Moses as priests they offered the first sacrifices upon this altar, and God’s fire descended from heaven and consumed it. In that day an animal was sacrificed after the priest laid his hands on its head, symbolically transferring the sins of the people onto the animal. The altar was always burning and was in daily use.

The meat offerings of that day foreshadowed Christ's sinless body that would be the only acceptable substitute for our sins. Oil that was poured on the altar symbolizes Jesus' anointing by the Holy Spirit. The burning of the animal also represents Jesus' obedience, even unto death, that was a sweet smelling aroma to the Father. Some of the meat offered as burnt offerings was used as food for the priests. What a wonderful reminder that Christ is our Daily Bread!

The word “altar” comes from a root word meaning “a place of sacrifice”. Today you and I don’t need to bring an animal. But God tells us in Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Just as in Moses’ time when sacrifices were given to God daily, we must bring ourselves to the Father daily, offering our lives up to Him.

Our sacrifice is our flesh – the carnality that we still must deal with on a daily basis. When we offer our fleshly desires, emotions, thoughts, attitudes and actions up to the Lord He consumes them. This is a vital part of the process of growing in intimacy with Him because, “no flesh should glory in His presence.” – 1 Corinthians 1:29.

Only the fire from the Brazen Altar was used to ignite the altar of incense in the Holy Place. Anything else would be strange fire, and not acceptable to God. What does this mean for you and me? It means that we cannot offer true worship or true intercession until and unless we first offer ourselves as sacrifices. This requires brutal honesty, laying aside all pretenses and excuses, and agreeing with God that we have fallen short of His glory. In other words we have sinned. It is the place of total surrender.

Sacrifice is always painful and messy, and it is tempting to fore-go it. I believe that this is why so many of the altars in today’s churches have become places of entertainment, self-promotion and empty ritual. Flesh has not died. But when you and I willingly give everything over to the Lord, when we deny ourselves as Christ did, then the Father is pleased to accept our sacrifice and He Himself resurrects us into a newer level of intimacy with Him. He then prepares us for the next step in the process – washing at the Bronze Laver.

To be continued….

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

MOSES' TABERNACLE - A PATTERN FOR INTIMACY: Part 2

THE GATE

The width of the court on the east side shall be fifty cubits. The hangings on one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets. And on the other side shall be hangings of fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets. “For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver. It shall have four pillars and four sockets. 
 Ex. 27:13-16

Three entrances are associated with the Tabernacle of Moses – the Gate to the Outer Court, the door to the Holy Place and the Veil at the Holy of Holies.

There was only one way to enter into the Tabernacle’s enclosure – through the Gate which was clearly marked and distinguishable from all the other hangings that made up the fence of the outer court. The gate was made of fine linen interwoven with blue, purple and scarlet thread.

Ten pillars formed the foundation for the eastern and western parts of the fence. Ten is God’s number symbolizing the perfection of divine order. We have the Ten Commandments; God created man with ten fingers and ten toes. Additionally, Jesus’ model prayer is completed in ten clauses, and God requires the first one-tenth of our increase to be returned to Him.

The Tabernacle gate was located on the east end, and stood in the middle of the fence. There were three pillars on one side and three on the other while the gate itself hung on four pillars. The number three, as we discussed previously, is symbolic of God’s divine order. When I look at this I see an absolutely beautiful picture of redemption. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit on the one hand were separated from man, who is spirit, soul and body. But Jesus was stretched and suspended on that Cross forming the Bridge that gave us access again to the presence of God! Hallelujah!!

Each color in the gate was significant.

BLUE

Blue signifies the commandments of the Lord.
“Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them. – Numbers 15:38, 39

It also speaks of the priesthood.
 “You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. There shall be an opening for his head in the middle of it; it shall have a woven binding all around its opening, like the opening in a coat of mail, so that it does not tear. – Exodus 28: 31, 32

Blue is symbolic of the revelation of God, and of heaven itself.
…and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. – Ex 24:10

Therefore the blue in the gate tells us of Jesus, our Great High Priest who fulfilled all the Law, and who came to earth to reveal who the Father is and what heaven is like.

PURPLE

Purple speaks of royalty, authority and rulership. Kings and nobles of that day were dressed in robes of purple.

Now the weight of the gold earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments, pendants, and purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were around their camels’ necks. – Judges 8:26

The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” – Daniel 5:7b

And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. – John 19:2

Jesus the Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!! – Revelation 19:16

SCARLET

Scarlet speaks of sin…
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. – Isaiah 1:18

…and Jesus’ sacrifice
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. – Hebrews 13:12
It also denotes cleansing from sin…
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7

… of Jesus redeeming us through His Blood
…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. – 1 Peter 1:18, 19

…and of life in Christ
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. – John 6:53

What a glorious picture of Jesus that Gate is!!

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”
John 10:9



Next: The Brazen Altar
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