Tag Archives: Sanctuary

Prayer

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. (Psalm 5:1-2 ESV)

Everyone asks God for something, at some time during their life. Most of these requests are for comfort, to make life easier, to fulfill some want, to remove some obstacle. How many people want God to peer into their deepest thoughts and emotions, to uncover and lay bare and expose the wounds caused by sin? No one wants such exposure.

Asking for God to hear the thinking of the heart in prayer is a major theme in the Psalms. Many Psalms are prayers, seeking God’s direction or forgiveness, the writer pouring out his heart before the LORD. This Psalm, like Psalm 4, seeks God’s attention at the beginning. “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!” (Psalm 4:1 ESV). Or Psalm 3, where he knows he is surrounded by enemies. “O LORD, how many are my foes” (Psalm 3:1 ESV). While many of King David’s circumstances fit these descriptions, he prophesied the feeling and thinking of Messiah, coming in flesh.

Spoken to God in the first person, Jesus laments the sin of His adversaries compared to His devotion to God. Groaning means to murmur or whisper. The Authorized Version translates the word groaning as “meditation.” Cry means to shout. The Psalmist is requesting God listen to His supplications when He whispers them or when He shouts. Jesus, even knowing God always hears, asks God to pay special attention to His whispered prayer thoughts and shouted frustrations.

Did Jesus ever shout? He was angry on a number of occasions. But, the Gospels give no indication, other than the anger of His actions and words, that He ever shouted. We view Jesus as cool and collected, never losing control, even in His anger. There are two instances in Scripture where Jesus confronted sin with violence. Jesus violently drove people away from the temple courts, once at the beginning and once at the end of His ministry, before His crucifixion.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” (Psalm 2:13-16 ESV)

Jesus viewed the temple as the house of God, His Father’s house, and a place of prayer. When He travelled to Jerusalem He always taught and prayed in the temple. Temple means a sacred place. In this case it is the designated place where God dwells and where His people can come to worship Him.

Before he was given the plans for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, Moses would pitch this tent outside of the camp. People would come to this place to seek the LORD. Moses would enter the tent and God would descend in a cloud and the LORD would speak to him. They worshipped as God spoke to Moses. “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent” (Exodus 33:11 ESV; see Exodus 33:7-11).

God wanted His people to build Him a sanctuary so He might live among His people. “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8 ESV). Instead of being outside of the camp God’s tent was built and stayed in the middle of the camp, surrounded by the twelve tribes of His people.

David wanted to build a permanent Temple in the middle of Jerusalem but was restrained by God. David had killed too many people, so God declared his son Solomon, a man of peace, would build the house of worship.

“You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth. Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever” (1 Chronicles 22:8-10 ESV).

Though Solomon was the son of David who built the house of the Lord, it is Jesus, the Son of David, who builds the eternal House of the Lord. Solomon used physical stones. Jesus uses living stones to build His house. “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV). Neither Jesus nor God tolerates sin in their eternal presence.

This temple Jesus cleansed was not just God’s house, the house of His Father. It was His house, a physical representation of a spiritual reality. God listens to His Son because He is sinless, the blessed righteous Man in whom are all who are His declared righteous. His Body and His Church is pure and is becoming pure and will for eternity, be pure.

 

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Refuge

Meditations on the Psalms

Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:12 ESV)

God begins the Psalms by singling out One Man who is blessed, happy in His relationship with God because He is just and righteous and does not rebel against Him in any way. This last verse of Psalm 2, echoes the beginning declaration of blessedness. But instead of speaking about One Man, God is speaking about all people who identify with that One Man.

Refuge means to trust, to confide in or hope for, to flee to for protection. Trust is an emotional response to the promises of the object of faith. God is the object of true faith. Only He is completely and justly capable of fulfilling the promises made. What are God’s promises? His promises are both comforting and terrifying.

God promises to give His Son the earth and all it contains. God promises to bring to an end all who rebel against Him. God promises to bless those who He brings into eternity with Him.

Jesus Christ is God the Son, born a man the way Man was originally intended. He was a Servant of God, who came to serve those who rebel against God. He was God in the flesh, who came to die for the sins of the world. He is the King of kings and His kingdom is eternal. His subjects are those who, created in the image of God yet rebelling against Him, repent of their mutiny and identify with Him, rejecting the wickedness of the world.

He is a refuge, a sanctuary for those who are His, who are persecuted by the world. He is a refuge for those who trust Him, relinquishing control of their lives to Him, becoming His servants, the citizens of His kingdom. It is not that He removes any from the world once they are aligned with Him but that He leaves them in the world to witness to the world about Him, but also to prepare them for eternity with Him. Those who are His are identified with Him.

Jesus, in His prayer just before His death, tells us His intent for all who are His.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 16:20-26 ESV)

He wants us with Him in eternity. He wants us to know Him intimately. He wants us to know we are known by God. He wants the world to know we belong to God, that God has chosen us, that He will bring us into eternity with Him. Eternity is ours in Christ.

Nothing can separate us from God. Instead, we are separated from the world for God. We believe, with Paul, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 ESV). Being in Christ, hidden in Him, protected by Him, enjoying His presence, growing in our knowledge of Him, means we receive all that is His purposed for us. All who are hidden in Christ receive the blessings of Christ.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:2-4 ESV)

Sanctuary

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace. [Ephesians 2:13-14 ESV]

In Scripture, a sanctuary is a place where God dwells.

We have made sanctuaries less divine and more anthropocentric (man centered). Like a garden, a sanctuary is a place where there is peace from the wars of the world in which we live. Sanctuaries have become places where man may visit, but may not stay and may not bring weapons or tools of destruction. Sanctuaries are places where men may run when pursued by others and find safety from those who wish to harm them, like the cities of refuge in Israel’s history.

Only incidentally will a sanctuary, whether a building or a place, point toward God. Herein is the problem. We are centered upon ourselves, making the individual the greatest and most important in our world. This is an attitude, not a fact. Just because we think ourselves more valuable, more important, or the center of our own universe, does not mean we are. We have abandoned the knowledge that God is the center of all, created and eternal.

In the center of the Garden of Eden were two trees. One was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the other was the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were told to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were told they could eat from the Tree of Life. In fact, God said they could eat from any tree in the garden except from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were given permission to eat from the Tree of Life until they had eaten from the other. Then they were expelled from the garden so they wouldn’t eat from the Tree of Life, and live forever in their sin.

In the middle of the camp of the Israelites stood the Tent of Meeting. On all sides of the Tent were the tribes of Israel. Were they placed such to protect the Tent? Or was the Tent placed in the middle as the center of their life and existence? Here, in the Tent, God said He would dwell. This Tent was called a Sanctuary. “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it” [Exodus 25:8-9 ESV]. This place was holy, set apart for the sole purpose of fulfilling God’s desires. In the center of this sanctuary, the Tent of Meeting, was the Most Holy Place. Within the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant containing the broken Ten Commandments and the Mercy Seat, the covering upon which was poured the annual offering of blood to atone for the sins of the people.

When Satan tempted Jesus he took Him to a high mountain and showed Him all of the kingdoms of the world. Where else can you see all things except from the center? Satan asked himself the question “who is the greatest in eternity?” and answered himself pointing to himself, falling from his high position before God, made himself the self-proclaimed center.

What did Satan say to Jesus? “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” [Matthew 4:9 ESV]. Satan promised Jesus something he could not deliver. He may have given the impression all kingdoms were his by placing himself in the center of the world. Jesus exposed the lie with the truth. “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” [Matthew 4:10 ESV].

In the center of the garden was the Tree of Life. I believe this Tree of Life was a type of Christ, the Creator at the center of His creation. Man cannot live while at enmity with God.

In the center of the camp was the means God used to release the sinful person from the judgment and justified sentence of their sin. The Mercy Seat is a type of Christ and the blood poured over it, hiding the broken sin from the eyes of God, is Christ’s own. Man cannot live forever covered in sin. None of the kingdoms shown to Christ will last. Only His kingdom and the citizens of His kingdom, who are covered with the blood of Christ and have eaten from the Tree of Life.

Christ is our Sanctuary and our Peace.