Thought for the Week - 10th JuneVanda Hopkin
Exodus 25: 1-40
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering.
From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.
And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze;
blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair;
ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood;
oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense;
onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.
And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle
and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.
“And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits
shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height.
And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it,
and shall make on it a molding of gold all around.
You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners;
two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side.
And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.
You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark,
that the ark may be carried by them.
The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.
And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.
“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits
shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width.
And you shall make two cherubim of gold;
of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.
Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end;
you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat.
And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with
their wings, and they shall face one another;
the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.
You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark,
and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you.
And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat,
from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony,
about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.
“You shall also make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length,
a cubit its width, and a cubit and a half its height.
And you shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold all around.
You shall make for it a frame of a handbreadth all around,
and you shall make a gold molding for the frame all around.
And you shall make for it four rings of gold,
and put the rings on the four corners that are at its four legs.
The rings shall be close to the frame, as holders for the poles to bear the table.
And you shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold,
that the table may be carried with them.
You shall make its dishes, its pans, its pitchers, and its bowls for pouring.
You shall make them of pure gold.
And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.
“You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold;
the lampstand shall be of hammered work.
Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs,
and flowers shall be of one piece.
And six branches shall come out of its sides:
three branches of the lampstand out of one side,
and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.
Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch,
with an ornamental knob and a flower,
and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch,
with an ornamental knob and a flower—
and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand.
On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms,
each with its ornamental knob and flower.
And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same,
a knob under the second two branches of the same,
and a knob under the third two branches of the same,
according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand.
Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece;
all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold.
You shall make seven lamps for it,
and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.
And its wick-trimmers and their trays shall be of pure gold.
It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils.
And see to it that you make them according to the pattern
which was shown you on the mountain.
In this passage, we read that God is with Moses and is showing him how to make the tabernacle in the wilderness. This is the first temple and sanctuary that was built.
God was very specific about how it would be built, as He was very specific how it would be rebuilt later on. This was just a forerunner of what was to come. He told Moses exactly what had to be done, and Moses had to carry out every single instruction to the letter.
Within the tabernacle, at the far end, was a place called Kodesh HaKodashim – the Holy of Holies. Sometimes as Christians we can talk about the Holy of Holies as if it’s nothing. And yet this was the place that was, and still is, revered by the Jews. It was the holiest place in the sanctuary. It is said that the holies place in the sanctuary – the Holy of Holies – in Jerusalem, has been built over by the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock. Underneath there is the Holiest of Holies.
The Wailing Wall (the Western Wall) is right by the side of the Temple Mount. The other side of that wall is said to be the Holy of Holies. It is so holy that Jews from all over the world go to that place. It’s not the Wailing Wall they visit, but the Holy of Holies that’s behind it. It’s a completely fascinating place to visit. The Jewish people bring their children from around the world for their Bar Mitzvahs. The Rabbis are there. People are praying, putting their prayers in the cracks of the walls. It’s not the well, it’s the Holy of Holies. It’s so holy that when they finish their prayers, they’re not allowed to turn their back on it, because in that holy of Holies the presence of God dwells. They’re not allowed to turn on the Holy of Holies, so they walk away backwards. Such is the presence of God. There is the presence of God that you can feel when you’re there. You can feel the presence of god dwelling there.
The Holy of Holies was the inner most chamber of the temple. The people were allowed in so far. The priests were allowed in so far. But that Holy of Holies could only be entered on one day a year – the Holiest day of the year – Yom Kippur.
It was the Day of Atonement. It was the one day in a year that the priest was allowed to go into that Holy of Holies to pray for the sins of his people and himself. It was the most important event of the biblical year. The priest wasn’t anybody. It was the man who came from a royal line of priesthood. In Moses’ day it would have been a man from the Levitical line.
Before they went in, they had to cleanse themselves and had to be sanctified. They had to be ordained. They had to change their clothes. No wool could be on them, they had to be clothed in fine linen, cool and clean. They had to wash. Then they went in.
He alone went in. There was a veil across the entrance into that Holy of Holies. Before he went in, he took a bull and goat. The bull was sacrificed upon the brazen altar for his sins and the sins of his family. The goat was sacrificed for the sins of the people and their families.
That was the day that everyone’s relationship with God depended on. It took place in secret. He took the blood of the bull and goat on his own, with nobody helping him, right into the Holy of Holies. It was completely dark. Within the outer court there was the menorah and light, but in there it was just him and the presence of God, which rested on the ark. God said “come in and I will meet will you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat”.
That secret place had to be separated from everything. It had totally separate. It had to be totally apart from the rest of his life and separate from the rest of the world. That secret place that God talks about was just for him. He couldn’t go in with his children, or take his family and friends in. It was just him.
He sprinkled the blood and the incense upon the Ark of the Covenant. Why was that? Because God wanted to dwell with his people. God wanted a place where He could speak to his people. God wanted to be where He could speak to His priest, to take His instructions to His people and talk to him about what needed to be done and how He could cleanse His people.
The original tabernacle was made of badger skins, it would’ve been dull, plain and unattractive. It wouldn’t have been pleasing to the eye. It wouldn’t have been appealing. Yet God speaks to us in exactly the same way now. He speaks to us. How privileged we are as people! So often we can go through our daily lives and know in our minds that we’re privileged, but in our hearts and deep down inside, we don’t know what that privilege really means. We don’t understand that privilege.
That priest had to be chosen from a Levitical line. He had to be cleansed and washed. He could only enter that Holy of Holies – the secret place in God – once a year. We as privileged people are called as that priest to go into that secret place anytime, any day, any week, any month and any year. That’s the privilege that we have as Christians.
I’ve been looking back and forth in the bible studying Christ in the Old Testament. I’ve always known that He’s right throughout the bible, yet through my reading I’ve been able to see just how much of what the Jews still follow that Christ has already done and He’s already achieved. I’ve been able to see how so many of the rules, rituals and regulations were actually finished by Christ’s death on the cross. He’s delivered everything that they are still looking for right now. He’s answered every question. It’s all been done. When Christ said up on the cross “it is finished”, it was finished! It’s still finished. There’s nothing more that needs to be done. There’s nothing more He needs to do. It is finished! Amen.
Do we realise it’s finished? Everything we stand in need of, it’s finished! He has done it all. There’s no more we can do. It’s finished. He has done it all.
We still insist on trying to do things in our strength, our way and in our time. God says come my children. There is so much that God has for us. There is so much that He wants to share with us. The secret place that He made then is here now, for us every single day. It’s not just a one off or once a year place, but a living secret place that He has for us.
It’s the same now as it was then. The way in can look unattractive, so plain and boring. The ways of the world look so attractive. We see the fun, the joy, the laughter and the freedom to do what you want when you want. That is the way of the world. Living by our own rules can look so lovely. Yet how many people do we see or read of that live in despair? Just this week I read of two people who had adoration, money and adulation, who committed suicide. That is the world. Deep down inside they were so unhappy that they took their own lives.
God offers a badger skin, something that doesn’t look so attractive, something that looks plain and unattractive. Yet the deeper we go, the more He shows us. We see that what was a badger skin is life in abundance and joy in abundance. We find that pearl of greatest price. We find that joy, life and laughter that only God can give. It’s ours every single day. The world has nothing to offer. It might look as if it has. God’s way might look strict and boring – the way of the cross is never easy – but underneath it brings freedom, joy and eternity. The greater you go, the deeper you go into the mysteries and secret place of God, the greater the glory.
We read in the bible that there was a time when the priests couldn’t stand to speak to minister, such was the weight of the glory of God that came down in that secret place, that sanctuary. What more would we want? Nothing can compare with that! Nothing can compare or replace that. So often, things of life can come and steal that away from us so very quickly, and yet God calls us to live in there.
We might not be of the world, but we are in it. There is a way in and there is that access for every one of us. Where we don’t have to strive with sin, where we don’t have to worry or look for God, because He is in that secret place waiting for every single one of us. Even if we pray every day and even if we read our bible, we still may not get into that secret place. We can sit down and have our quiet time, read or study, and not go into that secret place.
Many, many Christians live their life without reaching that secret place. Yet He calls for every single one of us to have that strengthening power. When we come into that secret place, when we have cleansed ourselves as the priests cleansed themselves, as we put on the linen garments of righteousness, when we put ourselves right and our attitudes are left outside the door, and we ask God to take us in deeper. Where it’s just you and Him. Where the things of the world are left outside. Where the worries of today, yesterday and tomorrow are left outside. When we enter into the secret place and we meet with God.
We read in Song of Songs 2: 14:
“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”
We go into our secret place. Say to Him “let me see your face, let me hear your voice”. He is the lily of the valley. He is the fairest of ten thousand. His voice is like nectar.
He only needs to call our name, to say one word, and we respond. Our hearts melt in love and adoration. All the hardness and bitterness, everything we’ve kept from Him, all our rebellion, and all our casualness towards God goes, because just that one touch and sound of His voice is enough for us and we’re in His presence again.
Likewise, we say that to Him and He says to us exactly the same. Oh my dove, in the secret places; let me see your face.
Are you hiding your face? Are you ashamed? Have you been rebellious? Don’t hide your face from Him. He knows everything about you. He knows your comings and goings. He’s missed you. Even if we’ve sinned, even if we’ve been rebellious or even if our hearts grow cold, He says “let me see your face”. He loves your face. He loves to hear your voice. He’s missed you talking to Him, praising Him, and talking about things together with Him. Your voice is sweet and is your face is lovely.
The very reason He made the Holy of Holies in the beginning was that God Himself might dwell with his people. After all this time, nothing has changed. God Himself still wants to dwell with His people. He still wants to hear your voice and you to hear His.
He calls you into that secret place. Come again and again, so that He might strengthen you, that He might show you that love and be all that you stand in need of. The place where it’s just you and Him. Where there’s nothing else, where nothing matters. When we get to eternity that’s what it will be. Just Him and us. All things are put into perspective. The changing power! The appealing power of the Almighty God. The royal priesthood, where we don’t even have to strive against sin because He’ll change our hearts so much that it’ll have no appeal for us.
This is our God!
This is the privilege of us as born again Christians. He has made a way where there is no way. Where we don’t have to look for that holy place outside of us, where we don’t have to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to find the wall and the presence of God, because we find Him here, deep inside of us. Every single one of us, without exception. No matter who we are. No matter how we are. That secret place is here for us.
We read in Isaiah 11: 10:
“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.”
His resting place is glorious! That secret place is glorious. I would encourage every single one of us, if we’ve not found that secret place, to find it. To cleanse ourselves and say God, take me into that secret place. That secret place where His presence is glorious. We all need it. Every single one of us needs it – wherever we are and whoever we are. I encourage you to come into it today. Don’t leave it a minute longer. Why do we keep ourselves away? Why do we let our hearts grow cold and hard? Come today and let Him touch you.
A price was paid for us to be able to do that. When Christ died on that cross and said “it’s finished”, there was no more any need for a priest. We are ourselves a priest – a royal priesthood. Every one of us. Do you see yourself today as a priest? That’s what’s God has ordained us to be – a royal priesthood.
He called us for great and mighty things. We can all be in that secret place and we can all show that secret place to souls who don’t know anything about it.
Come, search for it.