Holy Room Christians
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Text: Exodus 25, 27, 30
Introduction: A hip young man goes out and buys a new Ferrari - the best and most expensive car available in the world, costing about $500,000. He takes it out for a spin, and while stopping for a red light, an old man on a moped (both looking about 90 years old) pulls up next to him. The old man looks over the sleek, shiny surface of the car and asks, "What kind of car ya' got there, sonny?"
The young man replies, "A 1999 Ferrari GTO. They cost about a half million dollars!"
"That's a lot of money," says the old man, shocked. "Why does it cost so much?"
"Because this car can do up to 320 miles an hour!" states the cool dude proudly.
The moped driver asks, "Can I take a look inside?"
"Sure," replies the owner. So the old man pokes his head in the window and looks around. Leaning back on his moped, the old man says, "That's a pretty nice car, all right!"
Just then the light changes so the guy decides to show the old man what his car can do. He floors it, and within 30 seconds the speedometer reads 320 mph. Suddenly, he notices a dot in his rear view mirror. It seems to be getting closer! He slows down to see what it could be and suddenly, WHHHOOOOOSSSHHH! Something whips by him, going much faster! "What on earth could be going faster than my Ferrari?!" the young man asks himself. Then, ahead of him, he sees a dot coming toward him. WHHHOOOOOSSSHHH! It goes by again, heading the opposite direction! And it almost looked like the old man on the moped! "Couldn't be," thinks the guy. "How could a moped outrun a Ferrari?!" Again, he sees a dot in his rear view mirror!
WHHHOOOOSH-KA-BOOOOM!!! He is jolted back as it plows into the back of his car, demolishing the rear end. The young man jumps out, and it IS the old man!!! Of course, the moped and the old man are hurting for certain. He runs up to the dying old man and says, "You're badly hurt! Is there anything I can do for you?"
The old man weakly looks up and replies, "Yes there is, son.Could you please unhook my suspenders from your side-view mirror!"
In our last lesson we examined the Outer Court of the Tabernacle. We examined the dividing wall and the gate, the brazen altar and the laver. It was only through the gate that any could enter into the tabernacle courtyard and then only with a proper sacrifice. All of these were types of Jesus Christ and the life and death he would have in order to bring us back to God.
This week we will examine the Holy Room. It was here that the priests ministered daily. Only the priests could enter into the Holy Room to look after the articles of furniture therein. As New Testament believers we are also priests and each of us should long to pass from the Outer Court of Christ's sacrifice and sanctification into the Holy Room of Christ's sustenance, sight and supplication.
Passing Into The Holy Place
In the Holy Room were three articles of furniture, the table of Shewbread, the Golden Lampstand and the Altar of Incense. If we will examine these furnishings we will find several applications to how we might furnish our own spiritual life.
Sustenance: The Table of Shewbread Exodus 25:25-30
The table of shewbread was gold covered and measured 3 feet long by 1 1/2 feet wide by 2' 3" high. Along the edge of the table top were two rims, the top one designed as a crown. Upon the table would be placed in two rows 12 loaves of bread. The bread represented the 12 tribes of Israel and they were to be place in the presence of God from one sabbath until the next. At the time the old bread was removed and the fresh loaves placed on the table. Upon each row of bread frankincense was to be placed probably in one of the golden vessels which were used in the carrying and handling of the bread and incense. The frankincense was burnt upon the altar of incense when the bread was changed.
The twelve loaves representing the tribes of Israel were to be in the presence of God at all times within the Holy Room. This was a symbol of God's watchcare, and sustenance of His people. The table represented the one who would bear these into God's presence. The gold was symbolic of Jesus deity.
The Shewbread was also called the presence bread because it was in the presence of God. In the symbol of the Shewbread, I see the truth of Jesus’ presence sustaining and upholding me. I can rejoice and even boast in the reality of the presence of the Creator of the Universe being with me always.
Read the following passage.
Psalms 37:23-26 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth [him with] his hand. I have been young, and [now] am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
What does this passage promise? What does it not promise?
It promises that God holds us, it does not promise that we will never fall, but that He will pick us back up. It promises that He holds us and will not let us go.
Compare the above passage with John 10:27-29
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
The lesson of the shewbread is to fully understand the security and sustenance of being at all times in God's presence. Paul understood this and was able to undergo tremendous pressure and pain in his life.
Read Romans 8:31-39 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Notices the contrasts and and extremes of this passage. Also the sense of boasting, joy and glory in the midst of those extremes. Paul speaks of being slaughtered but then says we are more than conquerors (super-victorious)
How can this be true?
Through Him that loved us. If I really grasped the reality of God's watchcare and sustaining power in my life daily no task, no obstacle, no problem could possibly be of any lasting consequence in comparison to what I have in Jesus Christ.
Illustration: His Eyes Is On The Sparrow
The Hymn was written by a woman named Civilla Martin. This is the story of the hymn.
Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle, true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s reply was simple: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” was the outcome of that experience. - Civilla Martin
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
Sight: The Golden Lampstand Exodus 25:31-3 4
If we looked directly across the room from the table of shewbread to the south side of the Holy Room we would see the golden lampstand. The lampstand stood 2 ft 6 in high, 3ft 6 in wide and weighed 94 pounds. It was beaten into the shape of almond branches from a single piece of solid gold. There was a central stem with 6 branches growing out from the center. At the end of each branch there was a gold cup in the shape of an almond. This cup held the oil which was made from freshly pressed olives. The oil was to be supplied directly from the people and was to be fresh and from the first pressing of the olive.
The lampstand illuminated the Holy Place. It allowed the priest to be able to do the work which he had been appointed by God to do. To the nation of Israel it was a reminder that God would lead them and guide them through the darkness of the wilderness.
If I apply the lampstand to my New Testament life, I would apply it in the leadership and guidance of Jesus in my life. Jesus said in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Since we lack the lampstand or the pillar of fire that led Israel where do we turn for this light and guidance?
This guidance comes to us through the Bible, the word of God and through Jesus, God the Word. As we read the Bible our mind and spirit are touched and instructed by the precepts, principles and examples of scripture. When we also read of Jesus we are not only dealing with precepts but with a person. When Jesus speaks in the pages of scripture, he also speaks to me. When I read the Sermon on the Mount or listen to the intimate conversation with the woman at the well, I am hearing the son of God speak across the centuries and into my heart.
By allowing the word to instruct me and the Word to inspire me I can do the things which God wants me to do. Without the illuminating power of God's word I am wandering in the dark without a hope of accomplishing what God wants me to do. This seems so elemental, so simple. Yet, most Christians, even most Baptists cannot take their own Bible and use it to lead someone else to Christ. We cannot properly quote it and when we do it is often out of context or inappropriately applied. We too often are wandering in the dark haphazardly trying to serve God.
What scripture would you use if a friend asked you to show them from God's word how to be saved? What scripture would you use if they asked you how to raise their children, or how to quit a sinful habit, or what the church really is?
What can be done? If you look back at the lampstands we can find a solution.
The oil which was used to light the lamps was a constant sacrifice from the people, not the priests. Not only was it from the people but it had to be oil that was of the first pressing, in other words the very best. This oil was then used to fill the lamps and the work of God could continue.
If we are priests as the New Testament tells us then we are the ones filling the lamps and doing the work of God. In order to keep our lamps lit, in order to see what God's word says we must also supply the oil. I must dedicate myself to giving to God the best of my time for the purpose of studying His word. It must not be time mixed with the distractions of the world. It must be the pressing of my life which are first poured out daily. Until I can dedicate a portion of my day to the undiluted study of God's word, I will remain blind in my attempts to serve God fully.
Read this familiar passage of scripture in 2 Tim 2:15 - Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
How will I be shown as workman needing not to be ashamed?
Through study, the word study here is means "to be diligent, to do your very best." The means by which I am shown approved unto God is by rightly dividing the word of truth.
In my time of diligent study the voice which I must heed above all others is that of Jesus. When He speaks I must listen, where He leads I must follow, and when He calls I must respond. Wherever He leads there will be light and I need never fear walking in the darkness.
Illustration: The Farmer, his son and the lantern
Let me give you an illustration of the importance of this kind of illumination in our lives. A farmer and his son were working on a wagon down in the barn. The farmer realized that he needed a tool which was up at the house about a quarter of a mile from the barn.
"Son, he said looking to his 7 year old boy. "Would you go up to the house and get me the big crescent wrench?"
The little boy looked out into the darkness which was now all around the barn and though he wanted to please his father he was afraid.
"Daddy, I can't find my way to the house. It's too dark."
"I know it's dark, but I would never ask you to do something I wouldn't help you to do. Here take this lantern and carry it with you to the house. I only want you to walk as far as the light shines on the ground. Can you do that for me?"
The little boy took the lantern and looking at his father stepped out into the night. He looked down at the ground and saw the circle of light from the lantern stretching four or five feet in front of him.
"I can walk to there," he thought and he did. As he walked the light continued to shine a few feet in front of his feet and he continued to realized, "I can walk to there." Soon he found himself at the house and fetched his fathers wrench. Still walking in the light he returned to help his father fix the wagon.
The Psalmist was aware of this truth when he wrote in Psalms 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
Supplication:The Altar of Incense Exodus 30:1-8
The final piece of furniture in the Holy Room was the altar of incense also called the golden altar. It was 1 1/2 feet square and 3 feet high. It had a rim all around the top edge and at each corner there was a horn. The altar was placed directly in front of the veil which separated the Holy Room from the Most Holy Room or the Holiest of Holies. The fire for the altar of incense had to come from coals taken off the Brazen Altar in the courtyard. The incense which was burned here was restricted to only being burned here. Nowhere else in all the camp of Israel could it be burned. The odor of the incense filled the tabernacle area and was "well pleasing to God." On the High Day of Atonement, Yom Kippor, blood from the sacrifice was placed upon the horns of the altar of incense by the priest on His way into the Most Holy Place.
The altar of incense to the Israelites meant that they had access to God. The incense ascended up into his very presence and pleased Him. However all the details of the burning had to be according to what God had prescribed, the coals, the spices and the blood from the altar of sacrifice all had to be according to His standards.
The Altar of Incense should be compared to prayer in the Christian's life. It is through prayer that we come into the presence of God, and it is often in prayer that I am fully aware of that presence. Prayer, to have it's full benefit in the life of a Holy Room Christian, must be like the Altar.
Illustration: Believing In The Powr of Prayer
There was this fellow who worked for the Post Office whose job it was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses. One day a letter came to his desk, addressed in a shaky handwriting to God. He thought, "Oh boy, better open this one and see what it's all about." So he opened it and read:
"Dear God, I am an 83 year old widow living on a very small pension.
Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100.00 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. Next week is Christmas, and I have invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to and you are my only hope. Can you please help me?"
The postal worker was touched, and went around showing the letter to all the others. Each of them dug into his wallet and came up with a few dollars. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $92.00, which they put into an envelope and sent to her.
The rest of the day, all the workers felt the warm glow of the kind thing they had done. Christmas came and went. A few days later after Christmas another letter came from the old lady to God. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read, "Dear God, How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me?
Because of your gift of love I was able to fix a glorious Christmas dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $8 missing. I think it must have been those thieving employees at the Post Office."
How can I have that kind of prayer? By applying the lesson of the Altar of Incense to my prayers life?
First I must realize that the altar is a representation of Christ. The gold overlay, the coals and blood taken from the Burnt Offering and sacrificial lamb all point to Jesus. In our own altar of prayer it is through Jesus death for me that I now have access to God.
In 1Timothy 2:5 Paul points out the importance of Jesus our mediator, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." As the Israelites could only burn the incense on the altar in the Holy Room, we should realize that there is only one way of salvation and one means of contact with God through Jesus the Son.
On my own I have no means of approach, but through Jesus I can boldly go even to the throne room of Heaven itself.
Hebrew 4:16 say, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." This is only possible through what Jesus has done for us.
What else can strengthen my prayers as I look to the Golden Altar?
I must also remember that in prayer I am in the very presence of God.
Many times I do not pray for this very reason. Praying is to touch the Almighty, his attention is turned upon me and more importantly mine is turned upon Him.
As the Old Testament priest would come into the Holy Place the odor of the incense would be almost overpowering in this small windowless room. The sense of awe and humility would be staggering. So must our prayer life be! If I could come before God in this sense of standing before the Ruler and Creator of all the Universe what a change my prayers would take. Instead of the emphasis being on me, I would turn my emphasis upon the one who I worship. Instead of asking God to change things for me, I would ask him to change me for greater things!
Illustration: Why C S Lewis prayed
CS Lewis’ wife was dying of bone cancer. One day the dean of the university where he worked came to him and told him that there was good news. His wife’s cancer was in remission. The Dean remarked “Praise God, He has heard your prayers.”
Lewis looked at the dean and said, “Oh no. I do not pray for God to change things I pray for God to change me.”
Oswald Chambers – “To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.”
Notice Davids prayer for change in Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. This is prayer at its most powerful, when my life and heart is willing laid open before God and I ask him to make me what He wants me to be.
Here are the marks of a Holy Room Christian,
* They are keenly aware that they are approaching and dependent upon God through Jesus Christ.
* Worship - They live in God's presence and are sustained by that reality.
* Word - They serve in God's light that instructs and leads them.
* Prayer - They fellowship with God through prayer and are changed through that intercession.
In other words, go to church, read your Bible and Pray. But it is not the routine, but the reality of meeting Jesus in these actions that must happen.
Are you a Holy Room Christian or are you still in the courtyard wondering what goes on inside the tabernacle of God? I can only push back the curtains and enter in to this stage of Christian maturity by determination of mind and humility of spirit. I must desire to experience more of what God has in store for me by centering my life in the power and presence of Jesus.
Prominent over all must be the centrality of Jesus Christ. It is His death that has given me authority to enter where only the Old Testament priests could go. It is His mediation that allows me access to God, it is His example and teaching that directs my work and it is His power that sustains and secures my life and soul.