The Tabernacle of the old covenant was a portable structure in whichthe priests fulfilled their duties.
It may have looked something like this:
It had an innermost holy place called the Holy of Holies, that was separated from the rest of the Tabernacle by acurtain – the veil.
One priestmet with God in the Holy of Holies once a year.
The veil that separated the most holy place from the rest of the Tabernacle protected the people from what was inside the most holy place: The very manifest presence of God.
In Jesus’ day there was an actual temple that had originally been built by King Solomon.
Solomon’s original temple took about 190,000 people around seven years to build.
Have a look at this photograph.
A Brazilian billionaire preacher built what he said was a replica of Solomon’s temple.
It cost $300 million to complete this building that is eleven stories high.
I don’t know if this temple you see is a faithful replica of Solomon’s temple or not, but I do know that Solomon’s original temple did not have a helipad on top.
The billionaire preacher built this replica because he thought that it would spark a world-wide revival.
The templeof Jesus’ day had a very thick, very heavy and very bigcurtain (veil) that shielded the most holy place.
That curtain looked something like this:
We know that at Jesus’ crucifixion a remarkable thing happened to that huge curtain that shielded the Holy of Holies.
The detail here is very important and not at all incidental, for it marked a pivotal moment in human history.
Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
Unlike the curtains we know today that are hung bycurtain hooks on poles or tracks and so are held along the whole of their top length, the temple curtain was held only by a ropein each top corner.
Those two ropes tied the curtain in each top corner in such a way that they pulled the top of the heavy curtain taut and so it formed a wall of curtain that shielded the way into the holy of holies.
Thus, at the crucifixion, when the veil was split in two from top to bottom, each half of the curtain fell to either sidewith eachhalf hanging to the side on its rope.
After this happened,the way into the Holy of Holies was completely and irreparably opened up.
That curtain – the veil – was not tornin order to let us in to worship God in the Holy of Holies place.
- The curtain was torn to show us that God no longer lived there.
- The curtain was torn to show us the Tabernacle and temple had been superseded forever.
- The curtain was torn to show us that God’s intimate presence was no longer based in a place, but in a person.
- The curtain was torn to show us that God’s new thing had come.
The temple and the Tabernacle weresuperseded forever, but God:
- Did not simply disappear from the Holy of Holies.
- Did not merely abandon the Tabernacle.
- Did not simply write off his people and walk away from them.
It is of critical importance to realize that the old covenant was not destroyed or nullified – but rather that it was fulfilled and completed.
The Tabernaclethe temple in Jesus’ day was ended for all time,but it was not merely being replaced by a new and improved model.
Rather, the shadow Tabernacle had faded away, for the real Tabernacle had come.
- The new and real Tabernacle was not made with human hands.
- The new and real Tabernacle was not made of mere materials.
- The new and real Tabernacle was made by the finger of God at the action of the will of God.
There was a new and permanent holy place:
HEBREWS 9:11–12, 24
But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place… For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself.
Jesus himself, in his own humanity, was the very dwelling of God.
- But the incarnation did not stop there.
Jesus went through that tent – through thatTabernacle, and that realization is of great importance.
- He did not stay in it, he did not deny it, he did not go around it.
- He did not bypass it, he did not abolish it, he did not destroy it.
- He actually went throughthat tent, that Tabernacleand into heaven itself.
By going through the Tabernacle – the tent, Jesus was not dismissing it and nor was he setting it aside; he was fulfilling it.
- This understanding is of huge importance for Jewish Christians, but it is also hugely important for us as Gentile Christians so that we may know and understand the Jewish foundations of our faith.
Jesus’ action in going through the Tabernacle was testimony that the Tabernacle was indeedfinished foreverbut not because it was destroyed in any way, rather because it had fulfilled its purpose.
Having gone through the Tabernacle into heaven itself, Jesus made it possible for the true Tabernacle – the true temple – to be filled with the very presence of God.
So where is that Tabernacle now?
Where is that temple now?
Where is that Holy of Holies now?
Where is that sanctuary now?
Where is that place that is not made with human hands?
Where is that place that is the real and lasting Tabernacle?
1 CORINTHIANS 6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
Wewho are in Christ are:
- The true Tabernacle
- The true temple
- The true Holy of Holies
- The true sanctuary
- The true place not made with human hands
- The true and lasting place
That is the wonder of what God has done for us whom God receives through Christ.
UNDER THE OLD COVENANT GOD LIVED IN THE TABERNACLE;UNDER THE NEW COVENANT GOD TABERNACLES IN THE LIVING.
Since God himself has decreed that we are the new and living Tabernacle, don’t let your life tell a different story.
Since God himself has decreed that we are the new and living Tabernacle, our experience of prayer should be transformed in the light of that decree.
We do not pray to a God who is somewhere ‘out there’.
WE PRAY WITH THE GOD WHO DWELLS IN US.
Prayer needs to be far more than mere words slipping from the mouth.
Prayer needs to be received by each of us for what it actually is:
Revelation to us from the living God of heaven and earth.
Your Father in heaven tells you who you are in Christ because of Christ in you.
COLOSSIANS 1:19; 2:9–10
For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell… For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him.
Redeemed humankind is itselfthe living tabernaclethe living templein which thereal presence of God dwells forevermore.
Because we have fullness in and through Christ who is the hope of glory, we have everything we need right inside us!
That revelation must transform our prayer life!
God doesn’t just send a little bit of himself to live in us, but rather the fullness of God himself dwells in us.
1 CORINTHIANS 3:16–17
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
We need to realize afresh who and what we are.
We need revelation to break afresh upon us.
We do not pray to a God who is ‘out there somewhere’.
We commune with the God who is inside us in fullness.
We need, then, to truly grasp what it means to pray with God instead oftoGod.
Christ in you, the hope of glory.
This is the overriding reality to which God is drawing us:
- Christ in us is our everything.
That revelation must have a huge impact on how we pray.
It should stop us from praying to God and help us to pray with God.
Praying with God needs to become a reality for us, and not just a form of words that we throw at God.
So what does it mean to pray with God?
To answer that, we need to understand how the Spirit of God intercedes in and for us.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Praying with God involves knowing:
- The heart of God
- The mind of God
- The will of God
And all of that means walking in close intimacy with the Spirit of God who leads us into the things of Christ and into all truth.
Now notice that Paul spoke of weakness here, he didnotspeak of sinfulness and hedid notspeak of unworthiness – but rather he spoke of weakness, andhow the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
TRUE PRAYER DOES NOT FLOW FROM OUR STRENGTH;
TRUE PRAYER FLOWS FROM OUR WEAKNESS.
Notice, too, that Paul here spoke of ignorance, not unwillingness.
We do not know how to pray as we ought.
TRUE PRAYER DOES NOT FLOW FROM OUR UNDERSTANDING;TRUE PRAYER FLOWS FROM OUR HELPLESSNESS.
Our problem as adults is that we maytend to think that we know all that there is to know about prayer.
We mayso easily think that we have God all worked out.
We may say that we don’t have God all worked out, but we often live as if we do.
TRUE PRAYER FLOWS FROM THE ONGOING, DAILY KNOWING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HIMSELF.
And true prayer certainly never flows from prejudice or from tradition.
God is ever the God of the new thing, not of the way that things have always been done.
By turning Christianity into a simple acceptance of beliefs that do precious little to change our hearts or transform our lives, we have turned prayer into a simple shopping list of requests that no self-respecting God would ever refuse.
But true prayer alwaysflows from the weakness and helplessness of our self-sacrifice.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of Godwhat is good and acceptable and perfect.
CALLED TO DIE
We can only present our bodies as living sacrifices by the real mercies of God.
Are we truly willing to die?
- A living sacrifice takes its identity from the one to whom it sacrifices itself.
Are we truly willing to die?
- A living sacrifice cannot think of itself more highly than it ought to.
Are we truly willing to die?
- A living sacrifice will only think of and measure itself according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
The measure of faith that God assigns is dependent upon our rate of transformation.
- The more transformed we are, the more God assigns faith.
Faith is not something that we can muster up.
A living sacrifice is not something that we can muster up.
- Are we truly willing to die?
A living sacrifice will use gifts that are given to us according to God’s grace.
- Are we truly willing to die?
Christ went through the tabernacle by way of total self-sacrifice.
If we are to realize our true identity as the real and true Tabernacle of God, we need to go the way of total self-sacrifice.
If we want to learn true prayer, then we must continually grow ina realized self-sacrifice.
It was Jesus’ self-sacrifice that made us the temple of God.
It is our own self-sacrifice that makes this real and true Tabernacle fit for purpose.
FOR US AT CITY GATES:
- HOW do we pray WITH God?
- WHY do we pray WITH God?