| Part 2
This article is an attempt to share the vision that has radically changed our lives, constraining us and captivating our thoughts and actions. When we see God's eternal plan, the many worldly practices of the modern-day church become obvious--they are like the early morning dew that comes and goes with predictable regularity but never lasts or satisfies. We pray that as you read these pages you will be apprehended by the heavenly vision, so that more than ever you will be set aside as a holy instrument for the One Who seeks to apprehend you!
The Five Mountains
For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow. And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.") But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven. (Hebrews 12:18-25, NKJV).
In this passage, the author of Hebrews compares natural Israel's journey through the wilderness to our heavenly calling and pilgrimage. This spiritual journey corresponds, in type, to each stage of Israel's pilgrimage from Mt. Sinai in the wilderness to Mt. Zion in the land of promise. Every leg of their journey is significant--every mile contains a lesson. We can learn about our spiritual journey and what it means to come to Zion by recounting this historic pilgrimage.
God marked Israel's progress on this trip by using mountains and hills as milestones that later commemorated certain truths and events. In the generations to follow, when a specific mountain or hill caught the eye, the event it memorialized came to mind. Two more mountains and one hill were in the path between Sinai and Zion, making five memorials in all. In the following pages, we will consider these five memorials and the truths they foreshadow.
If we understand how natural Israel came to Mount Zion, we can better appreciate what it means to have come to the heavenly Jerusalem, the habitation of the living God. God's purposes extend far beyond natural Zion, natural tabernacles and physical temples, reaching the heavenly realm, entering into the true tabernacle in the heavens that God pitched and not man (see Hebrews 8:2). First the natural, then the spiritual.
We invite you to put on your walking shoes and join us as we trace the footsteps of Israel from the mount of trembling--Sinai in the wilderness--to glorious Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. To some of you this will be a stroll down memory lane. To others it will be a radical call to leave the outland settlements of religious men who have stopped following the cloud of God's presence, and travel on to the heavenly Jerusalem. It is a call to leave the shadows of religion and journey on into the light and substance of an eternal God. We will begin where the author of Hebrews began, at the mount of trembling, Sinai.
Sinai and the Eternal Purpose of God
It had been two months since the children of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, which we all recognize as a type of the believer's deliverance from this present evil world. Finally, after miraculously passing through the parted waters of the Red Sea and witnessing the demise of the armed forces that were sent to bring them back into bondage, Israel had come to the wilderness of Sinai.
Israel camped there while Moses went up on the mountain at God's bidding. God spoke the following message to Moses. Keep in mind that this was God's first message to Israel regarding their calling, purpose and destiny as a nation.
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:4-6)
Because of previous Sunday School and cinematic conditioning, we tend to view Sinai purely as the place where God gave the law. If that is all we see, we are missing the point altogether. Sinai is the place where God first revealed His eternal and guiding purpose to the people of Israel. "I ... brought you to Myself... you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This was the point of the whole matter. This was the message that God commanded Moses to speak to the children of Israel.
Moses called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which Yahweh commanded him. All the people answered together, and said, "All that Yahweh has spoken we will do." Moses reported the words of the people to Yahweh. (Exodus 19:7-8)
At this point God's relationship to the people and their relationship to Him were strictly conducted through Moses. Moses took God's word to the people and reported the words of the people back to God. However smoothly this may have worked, this kind of secondhand relationship fell far short of God's ultimate intention for His people. He desires intimacy, with each one coming before Him as part of His kingdom of priests.
The realization of God's desire to bring a people fully to himself is documented in Revelation 21:2-4. While John watched the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, he heard a great voice saying:
"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
We will consider this passage again later. For now, suffice it to say that God desires to have a people fully brought to Him in intimate union--so close that He can personally wipe the tears from their eyes and remove the sorrow and suffering of the former things from them. He is still bringing such a people to Himself and will continue until all that are called by His name stand in a face-to-face relationship with Him.
Let's pause for a moment and further consider the twofold emphasis, "I have brought you to myself" and "You shall be a kingdom of priests...a holy nation," because this is the great priority of God. Since Eve and Adam fell, God's first priority has been to reconcile man to Himself, to restore that cool of the day communion that was lost through Adam's sin. This is the chief and guiding purpose in God's dealings with men. Only those He has brought to Himself through a great redemptive work of His Spirit can be that kingdom of priests, that holy nation He seeks. This priesthood exists to accomplish His first priority of reconciling men unto Him. Only those God has brought into close union with Himself can be His priests, showing forth His virtues.
God's first order of business at Sinai was to establish that connection and draw a people unto Himself--to invite them into His sanctifying presence so that they could be an extension of His love to the rest of the world. God revealed His divine purpose to Abraham, the father of the nation. "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice" (Genesis 22:18, NKJV).
As is God's custom, He began this process with one man. We see in Moses the true function of this priesthood. Moses came to God at the burning bush and was sent as a prophet to lead a great exodus, prefiguring the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 3:22). Moses' greatness was not due to some natural rite of passage but to his face-to-face relationship with the Lord, which was unparalleled among the prophets of Israel.
Later, it was written of Moses:
"And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face-to-face." (Deuteronomy 34:10).
Because of his face-to-face relationship with God, Moses possessed an uncommon knowledge of the ways of God. The Psalmist wrote, "He made known his ways (derek ...manner, habit, way...course of life...moral character) unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel" (Psalms 103:7). What was the heart of this true priest and prophet who knew God's ways? What did he do when the people deserved the wrath of God?
The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin--but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written" (Exodus 32:30-32, NIV).
Moses showed the heart of the one Mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Timothy 2:5). Men who have not come into a face-to-face union with God cannot know His ways and therefore can never be priests unto Him, representing Him.
Today in Christendom, we see a great emphasis on knowing God's acts. Thousands run to conferences and seminars all over the world seeking a touch from God, some manifestation of His power. They also study the Book of Acts and hope to replicate what happened when He acted by His Spirit in the infant church. The unspoken motto of many has become, "Build it and He will come." Few know Him in a truly face-to- face reality, because they seek His hands, not His face.
Jesus said to the woman at the well of Sychar, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father...But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him."
The word translated truth here is very revealing: a -- negative participle and lanthano - to be hidden, to be hidden from one, secretly, unawares, without knowing. Together a-lanthano means not hidden, not secretive, fully aware, and knowing. In God's mind, this is true worship. The tendency to hide from God and man, becoming unaware and without an intimate knowledge of Him, goes right back to the fall of man.
This was the state of Adam and Eve after their sin. "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings...So he [Adam] said, 'I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.'" The root word in the Hebrew that was translated naked here is:
>Mre `aram (aw-ram')
AV - subtilty 1, crafty 1, prudent 1, beware 1, very 1; 5
1) to be subtle, be shrewd, be crafty, beware, take crafty counsel, be prudent
In the mind of God, the opposite of truth is not only the telling of a lie, but also when your whole life is a lie, a cover-up and deception. After the fall, Adam and Eve became subtle, crafty, shrewd, wary, and cunning. God said, "Behold, man has become like one of us." They had become like Satan. They had become cunning, hiding their motives from their fellow man, never living openly and in truth because of the evil in their hearts. We see this in Cain as he drew Abel out into the field and killed him, allowing the one who was a Liar and Murderer from the beginning to fully manifest himself in man for the first time.
It is time for those who name the name of Christ to put away childish things of the fallen nature. Paul wrote:
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect thing comes, then that which is in part will be caused to cease. When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I thought as an infant, I reasoned as an infant. But when I became a man, I caused to cease the things of the infant. For now we see through a mirror in dimness, but then face-to-face. Now I know in part, but then I will fully know even as I also was fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:9-12, GLT).
God's great priority is, has been, and always will be to bring a people back into a face-to-face fellowship with Him, so they can make His ways known in Spirit and in truth. This is the true story of Sinai. God did not desire a single priest or a select caste of priests but a kingdom of priests. He was not seeking just a holy man but a holy nation. It was not enough that one man should have an intimate knowledge of Him, because He wanted to make the entire nation of Israel peculiar through a face-to-face relationship with Him.
If you carefully read the entire record in Exodus 18 to 24, you will discover that those who drew closest to Him later led the nation of Israel on to Zion. For the sake of brevity and emphasis, we will give you the condensed version.
God told Moses to sanctify the people for two days, instructing them to wash their clothes, because on the third day He would come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. At the sound of a trumpet, they were to come up to the mountain but be careful not to touch it. Moses did as the Lord commanded and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. On the morning of the third day, God descended on the Mount in fire. Billows of smoke ascended as though the mountain itself was a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. There was thunder and lightning, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of a very loud trumpet. All the people in the camp trembled as Moses led them out of the camp to meet God. They stood at the lower part of Mount Sinai. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice. Then God came down to the top of the mountain and called Moses up. It was then that God told Moses, "Go down and you shall bring Aaron up with you, but don't let the priests and the people break through to come up to Yahweh, lest he break forth on them." (It should be noted parenthetically; that although no one else was allowed to even so much as touch the mount, God invited Aaron, the chief priest, to ascend the mount with Moses. He would not be the last.)
Then God uttered ten points of law that would govern Israel's relationships with both Him and each other. (See Exodus 20:1-17). God instructed the people to draw near the mount but when they saw the lightning, smoke, and heard the thunder, the sound of the trumpet and the voice of God, they drew back in fear, trembling and staying at a distance. They could tolerate the fire, smoke and thunder, but not God's voice. They liked things the way they were before, when Moses brought God's word to them and took their response back to God. This seemed much safer.
So they said to Moses, "Speak with us yourself, and we will listen; but don't let God speak with us, lest we die" (Exodus 20:19). Moses explained that God was simply testing them and would not kill them, but they still would not come near. No! They drew back! Perhaps the saddest words in the Bible are in Exodus 20, verse 21. "The people stayed at a distance, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was."
F. B. Meyer wrote of religious man's tendency to draw back from God and seek mediators to speak for God.
But the typical church-goer of the time shrinks in alarm from such a Divine interpenetrating of life. "Not so near!" he cries in apprehensive tones; and then bids his priest or minister, his creed or sacrament, his church or meeting-house become his Moses, to mediate God and supply the smoked glass, that the tempered light may be mitigated for his seeing. "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak, lest we die . . ."
What a contrast is this to the condition of soul that says with Samuel, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth," or, with David, "Be not silent unto me, lest if Thou be silent unto me, I become like unto them that go down into the pit."
Up to this point, only Moses and Aaron had gone up on the mountain of God. That number was about to increase exponentially. In Exodus 24:9-17, we read, "Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up; and they saw the God of Israel... and ate and drank before Him. From there, Moses and Joshua his attendant went on up into the mountain of God" (See Exodus 24:13). Aaron the High Priest and Joshua, Moses' successor, who would eventually lead the children of Israel into the land of promise, both ascended the mountain of God with Moses. They must first see Him and know His ways before they could lead and have anything to bring to the people.
The call to greatness is a call to come near to God. Only those who have a face-to-face relationship with Him, who know His name, can know His ways and be a holy priesthood unto Him. As we follow Israel on their trek from Sinai to Zion, we will see this thread throughout, coming to its fullness in His Son and many sons.
Moses knew God face-to-face and knew God's ways. The children of Israel drew back and knew only the acts of God. This filled the journey to Zion with constant conflict, bickering and complaining. God said of that stubborn generation, "...for forty years...I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways'" (Hebrews 3:10 ESV). This is cause and effect. They always go astray because they do not know His ways. How much sin and confusion would disappear if God's people knew His ways.
A generation died in the wilderness because they refused to walk by faith and know His ways. Rather than sharing God's vision and purpose by drawing near to Him, they gave mindless and halfhearted obedience to superficial interpretations of the law. Because of this lack of vision and faith they were "as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle" (see Psalms 32:9). It is for lack of vision that people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18), not for the lack of law.
The message of Sinai was not the law. All God's dealings with Israel, including the law, had this end in view. "I brought you to Myself... you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This is God's stated purpose. It has never changed. It is eternal. The ultimate realization of this eternal purpose is in Christ.
The Apostle Peter wrote, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV). The word translated praises in this passage bears a closer look. The Greek word used here is arete, which means, "a virtuous course of thought, feeling or action." It goes much deeper than mere lip service to the Lord. His priests are vessels of His nature and His virtues. Their thoughts are His thoughts. Their feelings are His feelings. Their actions are His actions. Their ways are His ways. This is how we show forth His praise; by displaying His virtues, proclaiming Him in power. Only those who have been in His presence can mirror His glory. . Because of Moses' face-to-face encounter with God, his face shown so brightly that he had to cover it with a veil. Since Christ's death and resurrection, God has taken the veil away! And "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV). Stephen's face shone like the face of an angel as He beheld the exalted Christ.
Let us keep this purpose foremost in our minds as we continue with Israel on their journey from Sinai to Zion. God's utmost desire is to deliver every individual out of bondage and bring him or her to Himself. Then begins the process of transforming His people, by His sanctifying presence, into a holy nation, a corporate kingdom of priests that will show His virtue to a lost and dying world. The world needs His virtues, not our theology.
"You have compassed this mountain long enough"
Having served its purpose, the Lord said to Israel, "You have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward" (Deuteronomy 2:3 WEB) God told Israel that they had camped around Mount Sinai too long and that it was time to move on. Therefore, the cloud of God's presence moved on from Sinai in a northeasterly direction, toward Kadesh-barnea. Because they stood afar off from God and did not know His ways, what was only an eleven-day journey took them forty years. God determined their destination, direction, and pace, no faster than the slowest lamb. Israel's job was merely to follow the cloud. This proved to be the ultimate test for them, just as it is for us today.
Sadly, not all that were baptized in the Red Sea were baptized in the Jordan. God said, "I swore in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest." So after an unbelieving generation died in the wilderness, a new generation received the word to enter the land. They were led by Joshua, who had gone up in the mount with Moses. There at Gilgal, on the far banks of Jordan, the Lord rolled away the reproach of Egypt from them (Joshua 5:9).
As Israel entered the land, they followed a narrow pass that cuts through the mountain range, opening a way from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. There they passed between Mount Ebal (the mount of cursing) and Mount Gerizim (the mount of blessing), where Joshua would later read the book of the Law of Moses. A great lesson can be learned by comparing these two mountains, which we feel was God's intention from the moment that He formed them.
Gerizim and Ebal
It shall happen, when Yahweh your God shall bring you into the land where you go to possess it, that you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim, and the curse on Mount Ebal. (Deuteronomy 11:29 WEB).
Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandment which I command you this day. It shall be on the day when you shall pass over the Jordan to the land which Yahweh your God gives you, that you shall set yourself up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: and you shall write on them all the words of this law, when you are passed over; that you may go in to the land which Yahweh your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as Yahweh, the God of your fathers, has promised you. It shall be, when you are passed over the Jordan, that you shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster. There shall you build an altar to Yahweh your God, an altar of stones: you shall lift up no iron tool on them. You shall build the altar of Yahweh your God of uncut stones; and you shall offer burnt offerings thereon to Yahweh your God: and you shall sacrifice peace-offerings, and shall eat there; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God. You shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly. (Deuteronomy 27:1-8 WEB)
Ebal--the Curse of the Law
After conquering the central region of Palestine, Joshua led the people back to Ebal. There he erected an altar of uncut stones and wrote a copy of the law on the stones as the Lord had commanded. Then he placed half the tribes on the slope of Gerizim, and half on the slopes of Ebal. The ark with the priests and Levites were stationed in the center of the narrow valley formed by these two mountains. Then the blessings and the curses of the law were read (Joshua 8:30), and the people responded in dramatic fashion (Deuteronomy 27:11). Those on Ebal, the mount of cursing, responded to the curses, those on Gerizim responded to the blessings. The curses were many. The blessings were few.
Mount Ebal looms in the very heart of the land, higher and more barren than the adjacent Gerizim. It reminded the people who saw it of God's law-covenant with Israel. It was on Ebal that God commanded Israel to build the altar and sacrifice upon it. It was upon that altar that He instructed them to inscribe the law. The law is written on the mount of cursing, not the mountain of blessing because the Law cannot bring life. The Law cannot save! (We will discuss this in greater depth in part two.)
Because of the contour of the hills, this area has a natural amphitheater effect that enabled the whole nation to hear the reading of the Law. Ebal spoke loud and clear and served as a constant reminder of sin and condemnation because of Israel's inability to keep the law.
Hundreds of years later and after the earthly ministry of Christ, Apostle Paul wrote of the curse of the law.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, "Cursed is everyone who doesn't continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them." Now that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not of faith, but, "The man who does them will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree," that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14 WEB)
The blessing could never come through the law. In his notes on Deuteronomy 27:4, Wesley wrote:
Mount Ebal - The mount of cursing. Here the law is written, to signify that a curse was due to the violators of it, and that no man could expect justification from the works of the law, by the sentence whereof all men are justly accused, as being all guilty of the transgression of it in one kind and degree or other. Here the sacrifices are to be offered, to shew that there is no way to be delivered from this curse, but by the blood of Christ, which all these sacrifices did typify, and by Christ's being made a curse for us.
Every time the Israelites looked up at Mount Ebal, they were reminded of the curse, but when they look over at Mt. Gerizim, which represents the Spirit, and saw its fruitful slopes, they were given hope for the future.
The Apostle John made this important distinction, differentiating between the law and truth.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth (verity or reality) came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
John sets the law on one side and grace, truth, and blessing, on the other. Is the law against grace and truth? No. It simply cannot impart the needed grace (life) to keep its demands.
The law is not truth in the sense in which John uses the word truth. According to the author of Hebrews, the law had only "a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things" (Hebrews 10:1). It takes two things to cast a shadow--an object (substance) and a separate source of light. The law was shadow, not substance. The substance is found only in Him who is full of grace and truth, "the only begotten of the Father" (see John 1:14). Truth (reality) comes through this Great High Priest in whom "all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily" (Colossians 2:9).
Like the law inscribed on its altar, Mount Ebal was a shadow of Good things to come and those good things were substantively represented in glorious type by the mount of blessing, Mount Gerizim.
Gerizim -- The Blessing
We should note here that those who stood at the foot of Mount Gerizim were all children of Leah and Rachel. This shows that God's blessings belong only to those who receive the Spirit of adoption and liberty, the children of the free women.
John Wesley noted this when he wrote,
Then the contrary blessing was pronounced, "Blessed is he that doth so or so:" To which all who stood on the foot and side of mount Gerizim, said, Amen! ... All these were the children of the free-women, Leah and Rachel, to shew both the dignity of the blessings above the curses, and that the blessings belong only to those who are evangelically such, as this is expounded and applied [in] Galatians 4, even to those that receive the Spirit of adoption and liberty.
Today, the foot of Ebal is covered with gardens and orchards, fed by the streams from the large fountains under Mount Gerizim, spreading fertility and beauty throughout the land below. Gerizim is a parable of life. The Law, with its impossible demands, was there on Ebal, but Gerizim pointed to the Source of life and blessing.
It is very interesting that this same place, Shechem, between Mt. Gerizim and Mount Ebal, the future capital of Jeroboam's Israel, was also Sychar, the place of Jacob's well. It was at this well, under the shadow of Mount Gerizim, that Jesus met a Samaritan woman and declared that the true worshipers of God must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
Jesus asked this woman for a drink of water. She was shocked that He would even talk to her, let alone ask her for a drink. Jesus said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."
The woman answered, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. From where then have you that living water? Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, as did his children, and his cattle?"
Jesus answered her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
"Sir," said the woman, "Give me that water!"
There is much talk in Christendom today about "the blessing." But what is the blessing? Is it some spiritual awakening? Is it an experience that leaves you lying on the floor? The psalmist David defined the blessing as follows. "As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore" (Psalms 133:3). Here we see that the blessing is eternal life and it is at Zion (of which we shall speak shortly) that God commands the blessing.
The blessing is eternal life! Jesus gives us the definition of eternal life in His priestly prayer in John 17. "This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3 WEB).
Eternal life is not just eternal existence, for those who go to eternal punishment exist forever (See Matthew 25:46). Eternal life is not a gift given apart from God. Eternal life is union with the only true God and with His Son Jesus Christ. Like salvation, eternal life is not something separate from God, an "it," but God himself. Eternal life is an abiding union with God. He is living and eternal!
Remember God's guiding purpose that He shared with Israel at Sinai, "I brought you to myself." All that He has done and is now doing is to bring us to Himself and to make of us a people that would share in His divine nature and show forth His virtues. He has called all believers to be partakers in His divine nature through union with Him and His Son. This is eternal life. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us." This is the blessing!
This is the blessing of Abraham: that through Jesus Christ "we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14). That out of our innermost beings would flow rivers of living waters that would bear fruit surpassing any that the waters of Gerizim or Jacob's well could ever produce. It is through His Spirit that God indwells us, and it is through this union that the living water (a type of the Spirit) flows out of our innermost beings and brings life to the barren places--something that Gerizim, as a physical type, only foreshadowed. The Mount of Blessing was not the blessing, nor were the streams that flowed out from under it. Neither was the well of Jacob that was fed by the rain of heaven. These merely pointed the way onward to that river, the streams which make glad the city of God (Psalms 46:4), flowing out from the very throne of God.
Immediately following His discourse with this woman at the well, Jesus said to his disciples, "Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest already." When they looked, they were likely looking at the center of the valley where the ark with the priests and Levites was stationed when the curses and blessings were pronounced. Was Jesus referring to harvesting souls, as so many evangelists tell us today, or did these whited fields represent something far greater, just as the salvation of the single soul is only a piece of a far greater picture? This is a reference to the culminating purposes of God that He clearly stated long before on Sinai, "I ... brought you to Myself... you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
Christianity today has made the salvation of the individual larger than the eternal purposes of God. Consequently, "our inheritance in Christ" has all but eclipsed God's inheritance in the Saints. This is reflected in an attitude that makes God the servant of man's desires, conforming God into man's image, with little or no regard for His ageless plan to bring us into His image. No. These disciples were looking at well-watered fields, drinking from the springs of Gerizim. These springs had produced an early harvest; already they were white for harvest. All that Gerizim foreshadowed had come to fruition. That water springing up from within was about to come forth and bring great fruit in the earth. What must have been running through the minds of the disciples as they looked on those whitened fields? Was the purpose God had made them a nation for at hand? Was the time of the full corn in the ear upon them? The fields that once were trodden down by the feet of weary Israelites, led by the cloud of God's Spirit, were now full-grown. A time of great transition and realization had come.
He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to eternal life; that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true, "One sows, and another reaps." I sent you to reap that for which you haven't labored. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor. (John 4:35-38)
This is a reminder of God's dealings with their forefathers, to whom He said, "I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities, which you did not build, and you live in them. You now eat of the vineyards and olive-yards which you did not plant" (Joshua 24:13 MKJV). One had sown for another to reap. One builds for another. We have been sent to reap where we have not labored, to eat of the vineyards and olive orchards which we did not plant, fed and nurtured by that stream springing up unto eternal life. Like Isaac, we do not work for our inheritance, but are born heirs of all things. In that sense, we reap what we have not labored for.
God sent these disciples of Jesus to reap where they had not planted. It was all God's doing--all of grace! Jesus sent them to reap the faithful labors of the prophets God had sent before. The blessing brings the fruitfulness. The water, springing up from within, brings God's end-time purposes to maturity. Those God sends into His fields answer the call to reap where they have not planted. Here is a perfect picture of grace. We are not called to be builders or planters, but reapers, sent to harvest a crop planted by God and watered and brought to fruition by His Spirit. It is fitting that Jesus made this point under the shadow of Gerizim.
Back at the camp of Israel, the Cloud of God's presence was rising and beginning to move in a northerly direction, where we come to another set of monuments, making another divine comparison. Slowly but surely, God is bringing us closer to the heart of Zion. Can you feel the excitement?
Gibeon and Zion
For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon. (1 Chronicles 21:29)
Only the tabernacle and the altar of offering rested on Gibeon, not the ark. What transpired that the ark would no longer be in the holy of holies? At this point it would be good to do a brief history of how the Ark of the Covenant and the tent of meeting (the tabernacle which came to rest on Gibeon) were permanently separated and how this seeming disaster served to advance God's eternal plan.
At first, both the Ark and the tabernacle moved around together from point to point in the Promised Land during the time of the judges. The tent housed the ark when it was stationary. One of the later judges named Eli was also the chief priest and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests before the Lord when the tent of meeting was at Shiloh.
One day a woman came and was weeping and groaning in prayer at the door of the tent and Eli rebuked her because he thought she was drunk. Hannah replied that she was not drunk, but rather grieving because she was barren. Eli assured her that God heard her prayer. Soon she conceived and gave birth to a child named Samuel. When the child was weaned, as promised, she brought him to the tabernacle to minister before the Lord as a Nazarite and prophet. Though Samuel was not of the family of the Levites, but of Ephraim, he ministered there at Shiloh before the Lord and God started speaking to him at a very early age.
God was about to replace Eli as judge over Israel because he and his sons were corrupt. The Philistines came up to invade Israel and the army of Israel went out to head them off at the pass. The battle was not going well, so someone got the bright idea to fetch the ark of God from Shiloh, believing that God would fight their battle for them because of the presence of the ark. Wrong! Hophni and Phinehas brought the ark to the field of battle, but when the Philistines heard of it they became more determined. hey routed Israel, killed the two sons of Eli, and took the ark as a trophy of war.
At this point, a runner brought news to Eli that his two sons had been killed and the ark had been lost. Eli was old and obese, and when he heard the ark was in enemy hands he fell backwards off his chair, broke his neck and died. When the pregnant wife of Phinehas heard of the death of her husband and the loss of the ark, she went into labor early and gave birth to a son. She named the child Ichabod, saying, (1 Samuel 4:21-22, NKJV).
Samuel and those who remained at Shiloh packed up the tabernacle and all its furnishings and headed south to avoid the invading Philistines. The tent of meeting finally came to rest on a hill called Gibeon, but without the Ark of the Covenant. The priests who succeeded Eli and his sons continued to minister before the empty tent for many years, though the glory of God's presence was not there.
A reporter once asked Billy Graham what he feared the most. He said it was building up such a well-oiled evangelistic organization that it could go right on doing its thing even after God departed and not even know the difference. Such is the case with empty religion. This is truly a very sad state of affairs, but all too common today. It is too bad that they are not as honest as the wife of Phinehas when they name their organizations.
Meanwhile, the Philistines brought the ark to Ashkelon, one of their five major cities, and put it in the temple of their god Dagon, an idol with the head and hands of a man and the tail of a fish. They come back the next day to find Dagon fallen off his perch, prone before the ark of the Lord. Thinking it a fluke, they set him back up. The next day they found him fallen before the ark at the threshold with his head and hands broken off. It was a knock out in the second round and God was the winner!
The ark was too hot for the king of Ashkelon and the priests of Dagon to handle. They decided to send it away to another Philistine city, where the people broke out with a plague of tumors (hemorrhoids in the Hebrew) and the city was overrun with a plague of mice. So the Ark was shipped on down the line to the next city and the next, each breaking out with the same afflictions until after many months, they got the bright idea to send the ark back to Israel. Their priests and diviners told them to put five golden "tumors" and five golden mice in a box, one for each of the lords of the Philistines. They put the ark on an oxcart with the box of offerings beside it, and then hitched up two milk cows that had calves. They tied the calves to a post to see if the mother cows would ignore their bawling and take the ark to Israel. If they did, the Philistines would know that their woes came from the ark and that they had broken the plague by returning it to its rightful home.
The people of Beth Shemesh in southern Israel, reaping in their fields, heard the cows bawling as they came pulling the oxcart with the ark. They went out to see it with great rejoicing. The cart came to a halt at a great rock. The local Levites took it down from the cart, placed the box of golden mice and tumors along side it, chopped up the oxcart for firewood and slaughtered the two cows as a sacrifice to the Lord. The narration continues.
Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. And the men of Beth Shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?" So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath Jearim, saying, "The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up with you." Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD. So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. (1 Samuel 6:19-7:2, NKJV).
This same Kiriath Jearim is also called Baale Judah in 2 Samuel. There the Ark stayed throughout the reign of King Saul (a type of the flesh), who never once sought it out. (See 1 Chronicles 13:3). Sacrifices were still being offered on the altar at Gibeon. The washings of the laver continued. The seven-branched candlestick was still lit and fueled and smoke was still rising from the altar of incense, but behind the veil of the Holy of Holies, all was dark. The glory had departed. There was no receptacle for the sprinkling of the blood of the slain lamb, i.e., the mercy seat. There was no light beyond the veil, for He who is the Light was gone. In short, the system was still functioning but the Lord of glory was gone with the ark.
The ark was gone during the whole reign of Saul and no one looked for it. No one missed it! Why? The ark of God's presence is despised and neglected whenever and wherever the flesh of man reigns. Religion works quite well without God. His presence is not required for it to function. Israel was never more religious than at those times when they were in outright disobedience to God or had completely forgotten Him. Regardless of their condition, they continued to burn incense long after God's presence had departed.
God spoke of this through Jeremiah, "But my people have forgotten me, they burn offerings to a delusion; they have stumbled in their ways, in the ancient roads, and have gone into bypaths, not the highway" (Jeremiah18:15 RV).
Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message, captures the true meaning of Isaiah 1:13 through 14. "Quit your worship charades. I can't stand your trivial religious games: monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings--meetings, meetings, meetings--I can't stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You've worn me out! I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning."
The point is that men will continue to burn incense, give offerings and go right on worshiping long after the glory has departed. Jeremiah noted that in the midst of the religious hubbub and digging of religious cisterns, not even the priests thought to ask, "Where is the Lord?" (See Jeremiah 2:8). The fact that people are unified in religious activity is not an indicator that God is present among them. If anything, it is a sign of apostasy. As Isaiah prophesied, it is quite possible for a people to come near to God with their mouth and honor Him with their lips while their hearts are far from Him. Their worship consists only of rules taught by men. (See Isaiah.29:13-14).
Mount Zion and the Open Tent of David
After Saul was killed in battle, David--a man after God's heart who knew God's ways-- took the throne of Israel. Mighty Saul could not take the fortress of the Jebusites, which was the last and most difficult stronghold in the land. This task fell to him who said to Goliath, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of Jehovah of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied" (1 Samuel 17:45 MKJV).
Saul was head and shoulders taller than the rest of Israel, and Goliath was a giant of a man. But God takes no pleasure in the natural strength or power of a man; instead He chooses the weak and the foolish to confound the mighty and worldly wise. Saul and all Israel with all their weapons quaked before this giant for many days, but he fell to a lowly shepherd boy who spent his days before the Lord, tending his father's sheep! David was armed with nothing but a sling, five smooth stones and the Spirit of the Living God.
As surely as Goliath fell, so did the stronghold of Zion (2 Samuel 5:7), which came to be called "the city of David." David made Mount Zion the capital of Israel, not because he fancied this city but because God chose to put His name there as the place of His rest (see Psalms 132:13-16). Today's Davids also seek that heavenly Jerusalem where the Prince of Salem (Peace) reigns. These, too, are after the order of Melkizadok and do not settle for earthly kingdoms as Saul did.
Several hundred years after they began their journey, David finally led the children of Israel to Mount Zion, which is the ultimate goal of every believer. The happenings of Zion prefigure, in amazing detail, the glorious reality of the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of us all where the Seed of David now sets enthroned.
Unlike Saul, David yearned for the ark of God's presence. He was the shepherd king, a man after God's own heart, a glorious type of our Lord Jesus Christ. He hungered for the presence of the Lord above all else and wanted to bring the Ark up to a central place in Mount Zion. David had a heart to make God king. The "Great King" that David promoted was not himself, but God. David had a heart to rectify the error that the people of Israel made when they rejected God and chose Saul (see 1 Samuel 8:4-22).
The Ark rested at Baale Judah until David found it. "And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the LORD of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim" (2 Samuel 6:2, NKJV).
The problem was that David and the people presumed to move the ark the same way the Philistines had. They built a new oxcart, perhaps thinking that they had gone the extra mile and perfected what their enemies had done. You can see them thinking, "If God blessed the Philistines and stopped the plagues when they sent the ark back to Israel on an old oxcart, then He will surely bless our efforts to bring it forth to Zion on a new oxcart." Wrong again! The narrative continues.
So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. And David became angry because of the LORD'S outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day. David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?" So David would not move the ark of the LORD with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the LORD blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. (2 Samuel 6:3-11, NKJV).
The trouble with oxcarts is that oxen invariably stumble and men invariably feel the need to steady the results that come from the works of their own hands. God is not impressed with our best efforts to bring forth His presence in our congregations. All of our polished sermons and worship performances, our hanging tapestries and highly decorated buildings are only flesh to Him. He wants us to seek His face and ask Him what He wants to do and when.
The saints of the young church in Antioch fasted and ministered to the Lord for many days, before the Spirit spoke and sent Paul and Barnabas to take the gospel with power to the Gentile world. This took place more than twenty years after Paul had his encounter with the Living God on the Damascus road. As soon as we have an encounter with God, we want to run right out and start a "ministry" with all our flesh still intact, but Paul knew that the resurrection power of God does not come without the fellowship of His suffering and being conformed to His death. The warning came with the commission, "...for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:15, 16, NKJV). The greater the calling, the greater the suffering that is necessary to purge this new oxcart mentality out of us.
Finally, David asked the help of the priests of the Lord.
And David made houses for himself in the town of David; and he got ready a place for the ark of God, and put up a tent for it. Then David said, "The ark of God may not be moved by any but the Levites, for they have been marked out by God to take the ark of God, and to do his work for ever." And David made all Israel come together at Jerusalem, to take the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had got ready for it. And David got together the sons of Aaron, and the Levites...
And David sent for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, Uriel, Asaiah and Joel, Shemaiah and Eliel and Amminadab, And said to them, You are the heads of the families of the Levites: make yourselves holy, you and your brothers, so that you may take the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place which I have made ready for it. For because you did not take it at the first, the Lord our God sent punishment on us, because we did not get directions from him in the right way. So the priests and the Levites made themselves holy to take up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. And the sons of the Levites took up the ark of God, lifting it by its rods, as the Lord had said to Moses.(1 Chronicles 15: 1-4, 11-15 BBE).
At last, the ark of God's presence came through the gates of Zion. The sound of singing and rejoicing filled the air! "This is the generation of those who seek Him!" they sang. "They seek your face, oh God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates; even lift up, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah of Hosts, He is the King of glory" (Psalm 24:7-10 MKJV).
Can you hear it! Can you hear the heart-cry of the shepherd-king who, like the four and twenty elders in Revelations chapter four, earnestly desired to cast his crown at the feet of the Great King? Among God's people, crowns are wonderful frisbees, made for throwing down at the feet of the King of Glory, not for exalting the person they have been given to.
David's life, words, and songs expressed this passion throughout. "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King" (Psalms 48:2). When David brought up the ark with singing and dancing, he knew he was bringing the true King of Zion through those gates. Overcome with joy, he could not hold still; he leapt before the ark with all of his might. David knew that an earthly king was not God's original intention, so he gladly discarded his kingly robes and crown to dance in a linen ephod, the garb of a humble priest, before the Great King of Zion.
In this figure, David perfectly foreshadows the priesthood that God so earnestly seeks. In David we see the heart of our great High Priest, Christ, who now longingly waits for the day when He will deliver all power and authority back to His Father (1 Corinthians 15:28). David had set himself to right that wrong done when Israel demanded a king (Saul), and in doing so, rejected God as their King.
David brought the Ark to Zion and placed it in an opened-faced tent, thereafter called "the Tabernacle of David" (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13-16). This act of David seemed to be against the laws that governed the rightful use and placement of the Ark. By law, the Ark should have been taken over to Gibeon and placed in the most holy place in the tabernacle of witness, a place that was accessible only once a year by the High Priest after thorough cleansing and the shedding of blood. However, God elected not to return to the Ichabod-system that rested on the crest of Gibeon. Instead, David brought the Ark to Zion where it was accessible every day to everyone. Though it appeared arbitrary, this was no random act. David made it very clear that he had not chosen Zion but, "Jehovah has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling-place. This is My rest forever; here I will dwell; for I have desired it. I will greatly bless her food; I will satisfy her poor with bread. I also will clothe her priests with salvation; and her saints shall shout aloud for joy" (Psalm 132:13-16 MKJV).
The priests at Gibeon must have been asking themselves, "What is going on here? Why have they not brought the Ark back to its proper resting-place?" And more troubling, "Why have they instituted a new priesthood to minister before the Ark in place of the old, traditional, orthodox one? We've never done it like this before!" It was true, God had chosen a new dwelling place and a more perfect priesthood to minister before the Ark night and day--something David may have been ushering in when he danced before the ark in a linen ephod.
It took a king/priest to introduce a royal priesthood, the full realization of which is known in Christ our King and Priest. Those who were appointed as priests to minister before the Ark at Zion continued in the same festive spirit of singing and playing instruments before the Lord. This went on for forty years. The contrast between the events at Gibeon and at Zion, during this time, is an example to God's people today.
What happened on the great Day of Atonement when the high priest entered the tabernacle of Moses at Gibeon and passed beyond the veil to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice upon the mercy seat? Did God have a higher priority than this? The redemptive work, typified by the slain lamb and the sprinkling of blood, was to accomplish the single goal of reconciling man to God. The tabernacle of David is a 40-year prophetic glimpse that confirms God's desire to dwell among His people in a face-to-face relationship. In David we see the Priest-King, a type of Jesus whose mediation makes the restoration of all things as foretold by the prophets possible.
Zion represents the realization of God's great desire to dwell among His people. In coming to Zion, the habitation of God, we have also come to the general assembly and church of the firstborn. Only when we live in the good of all that Zion represents can we truly be unified as that holy nation and kingdom of priests that declares His virtues. Only those who are dwelling in His habitation can bring the reality of Him to others. Only those with shining faces, aglow with His presence, can truly model Him before a lost and dying world. Only those who ascend the Mount of God have any leadership to offer the people of God.
Unlike the Tabernacle of Moses on Gibeon, the Tabernacle of David was an open tent. Everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike, could stand before the Ark. The tabernacle of David is a fore-glimpse of Christ's Church, in which Jews and Gentiles become one new man. Before this time, the Gentiles had no place in the commonwealth of God. James acknowledged this when he quoted the prophecy of Amos, "After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up" (Acts 15:16). The context of this prophecy is as follows:
On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name," says the LORD who does this thing. (Amos 9:11, 12, NKJV).
James spoke this in reference to the Antioch Church--a Gentile Church, which was experiencing the reality of God without the trappings of Judaism. Now God had not only brought Israel unto Himself as a holy nation but, just as he had promised Abraham, he has included the Gentiles as well. His priesthood was growing exponentially.
Unlike the tabernacle of Moses, which remained at Gibeon, the tabernacle of David had only one piece of furniture, and that was the Ark. In Moses' tabernacle there were three compartments: the Outer Court, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (where the Ark was supposed to be). David's tabernacle only had the Holy of Holies which was open not to a select priesthood but to all. In Moses' tabernacle, the Holy of Holies was accessible only by the High Priest once a year. Now, without schedule or condition, Jew and Gentile alike freely flowed in and out of David's tabernacle to worship before the Lord. This was a wonderful glimpse of our access beyond the rent veil, through which we may now come boldly to the throne of God and worship in His presence. In David's tent there was no veil that barred the way into the presence of God. By this, we see the heart of our God. He wants everyone to come into His presence and has opened the way through the shed blood of the spotless Lamb.
Most of the Psalms were prophetic songs sung before the Lord in David's Tabernacle. They cover the full spectrum of human emotion, from deep despair to great joy. Israel was catching the first glimpse of a God who was touched with the feelings of their infirmities, on whom they could cast their every burden.
In a fallen world where men are filled with ulterior motives, it's difficult to imagine that a Father could simply desire to be with His children with no other motive in mind. God is after the simplicity of fellowship that He once had with a man and woman that knew no sin in a wonderful garden long ago. No pretense, no guile, no subtlety, no hiding behind religious fig leaves, veils and pretentious ceremony. Just a coming together as friends in a love bond that defies our churchly imaginations.
In Revelation 21:3-4, we read of the final climax of God's great desire to bring a people to Himself. Here we see the white fields--God's full thought for His people-- come to fruition. "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
All the trials and sorrows of life have come to this--at last the tabernacle, tent or dwelling of God is with men. He dwells with them and is eager to wipe away all tears and abolish death, sorrow and pain forever. God's great objective in redemption is to restore His presence and likeness in mankind, to walk with them as He had walked with Adam long ago in the cool of the day. This little mountain in Jerusalem is an earthly replica of the heavenly Mount Zion (Revelation 14:4). Physical Zion was the place of God's dwelling. We dwell in Zion when we make our abode in Him. The Psalmist understood something of this mystery when he wrote, "Lord, you have been our dwelling place for all generations" (Psalms 90:1). He is our dwelling place! He is Zion! He is our temple!
When John saw the heavenly Jerusalem coming down as a bride prepared for her husband, he could not help but notice that there was something missing. The thing that was central in the earthly Jerusalem was not to be found in the heavenly Jerusalem. "And I saw no temple there," said John. Why was there no temple? "The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple..." (See Revelation 21:22). God is the temple! God is our dwelling place. Paul said, "For in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). In Him! Can you see yourself totally enveloped in this wondrous God that created the heavens and the earth for one purpose, to become the dwelling place of thousands and thousands of sons and daughters? The very thought captures our hearts!
From Genesis to Revelation, God's dealings with men have constituted one progressive transition from the earthly back to the heavenly, displacing the religious trappings that served as object lessons only for a season with an ongoing disclosure of Himself. More often than not God had to forcefully remove those trappings that were given to aid in this revelation because of Israel's attachment to them. Stephen rebuked the high council of the natural Jerusalem for their excessive devotion to the earthly temple, citing the fact that God no longer dwells in temples made with hands. But these stiff-necked scholars of Israel would not accept it as truth, even though it was one of their prophets that first said it! Stephen paid with his life for daring to speak against their holy relic. Regardless, just as Jesus had prophesied, not one stone of the natural temple remained upon another by 70 AD. God has abolished the holy sites, symbolism and ceremonies of religion, which were only shadows given by Him to point the way to the greater substance to come.
The Substance has come. Christ has fulfilled all types and shadows of the Old Covenant. God is light and in Him is no shadow of turning. It has always been His plan to replace the shadow with light and substance--to replace the symbolic with reality--to strip the scaffolding of religion away until only He and the Lamb are left. He has stripped and will continue to strip until there is no other temple left but Jesus and the Father--no holy places but them, no light or wisdom but them. In the heavenly Zion, to which we are called, there are no holy services or priests to mediate between God and His people, only the high Priest, Christ Jesus.
In Zion, God is no longer veiled, but the tabernacle of God is with men. God calls us to live in this heavenly reality right now, every day. Do we really know what an honor this is? Do we really know what it means for God and the Lamb to be our temple, our Dwelling Place--to hold nothing as sacred but Them? John wrote of Jesus, The Word, "And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth " (John 1:14 MKJV). Isaiah prophesied of Jesus, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel ('God with us')" (Isaiah 7:14 KJV). Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men!
Meanwhile, over at Gibeon, the symbolic sacrifices, rites and rituals continued. In these two mountains we have a perfect example of the condition of Christendom today. On one hand are those who have made God their dwelling place, who worship Him in Spirit and in truth, who have no holy sanctum but Him and no worship but Him. Then there are those who prefer the shadows of religion, who think that burning candles and incense, sprinkling holy-water and all their icons are beautiful and therefore loved by God.
Religious man seems obsessed with sewing up the veil that God rent from top to bottom as He restored the open tabernacle of David. Religious man prefers the worship of worship to the worship of Him who wants us to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Religious man idolizes earthly things, the transitory symbols that God gave for a season to point to the heavenly thing. Inevitably, religious man makes the means into a permanent obstacle and refuses to let go of what God has torn and discarded.
So religious man refuses the new priesthood, "forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:20) by clinging to the model of the Old Testament intermediary priesthood that God replaced. Another holdover from the Old Testament era is the veneration of holy sites. This is the idolatry that drives fallen man and hinders God's purpose in calling a people to Himself. Most tragic of all is that this devotion to ceremonies and rituals that require only a passive participation is mistaken for devotion to God.Jeremiah prophesied against this misplaced devotion to temples and ceremonies, which Israel thought would keep them safe from the invading Babylonian armies.
Don't you trust in lying words, saying, "The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these." (Jeremiah 7:4 HNV)
When we compare Gibeon and Zion, we have a prophetic glimpse of God's purpose in separating himself from the house or system of worship. The house stayed at Gibeon while God took up residence in Zion. The earthly tabernacle and priesthood were only shadows (Hebrews 8:5). God is light! The author of Hebrews wrote the following about the earthly sanctuary. ". . . who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Moses was warned by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for he said, 'See, you shall make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.'"
God is substance! The earthly sanctuary served as a witness of heavenly things for a season, but that season is over. Reality has come! The Light has dawned! Bible history is the story of God's search for a people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. He looked forward to a time when His passion to bring a holy nation and a royal priesthood unto Himself could be fully realized. This is what the Father wants, a spiritual house, made of living stones offering spiritual sacrifices.
We find several Old Testament types and shadows that point to this great Divine priority. He wanted to separate Himself from the house, to divide the light from the shadows, the ritual from the reality that He is.
We see a great example of this in the life of Jacob.
So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him. And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth. And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him. And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. (Genesis 35:6-10)
After having taken his brother Esau's birthright by deceit, Jacob found himself fleeing for his life. That very night he had a dream as he lay upon the ground sleeping. He saw a ladder set upon the earth, the top of it reached to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. God stood above the ladder confirming the covenant, which He had made with Abraham and Isaac, saying, "I am the lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac." Jacob named the place of this meeting Beth-El, meaning House of God.
Many years later, after he had been broken at Peniel, God called Jacob back to Beth-el, where Jacob did something very significant. He built an altar and changed the name of Beth-El, the house of God, to El-Beth-El meaning, the God of the house of God. (See Genesis 35:6-10). Finally, Jacob had seen beyond the physical and the geographical. He had seen beyond holy places to the Holy God. He had seen beyond Beth-El to El-Beth-El. This is the journey set before us all. Devotion to holy sites and holy practices must eventually give way to a pure heart devotion to the God of the house of God. Because of this revelation, God changed Jacob's name to Israel, "one who will rule with, and like God."
Religious man resists the transition from Beth-El to El-Beth-El. He loves his holy sites and will kill to preserve them. The early believers preached that a great transition had occurred, to the end that now "the Most High doesn't dwell in temples made with hands" (see Acts 7:48, 17:24). God is not worshiped in this mountain or that but in spirit and in truth. The early church grasped this truth quite well and made no attempt to construct "Christian" sanctuaries until well into the fourth century, after Rome and the Jews had systematically killed off most of God's Spirit-led leaders. They knew that God is no longer confined in holy places but now fills everyone who will invite Him in. He no longer sanctifies "this mountain" or the old Jerusalem. Jesus spoke of a season, "the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, (Gerizim) nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father . . . But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (see John 4:21-24). Will we make the transition? Will we cling to our holy sites and holy practices or worship Him who is Spirit in spirit? Which will we choose--ministry to the house or ministry to God--ministry to holy things or ministry to a holy God?
There has been a great transition from all that is figurative, ceremonial and symbolic to the Person of God. Such a transition requires a stripping. In fact, this is what Jesus came to do. This is the nature of the work of Him who said "Lo, I come to do your will, oh God." Jesus took away the first to establish the second (Hebrews 10:9). He takes away the first things of religion to establish the reality of Himself within us. We believe that we are in the day when that stripping has accelerated and God has further divided Beth-El, all things religious, applying to the house, from El-Beth-El, the God of the house.
Ministry to the House and the Zadok Ministry
We find another example of God's desire to distinguish himself from service to the house in Ezekiel 44. A new priesthood was designated to come nigh to God and worship Him. In I Samuel 2:35, we find the prophetic announcement of the judgment upon Eli the High Priest and his house, followed by the rise of a new and eternal priesthood. "And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed forever."
This faithful priesthood started out with Zadok, the descendant of Ithamar, the younger son of Aaron. Zadok was a prophet as well as a priest (see 2 Samuel 15:23-28). Here we see that God is calling a new priesthood out of the old one. This new priesthood would do what was on the heart and mind of God. This new priesthood would draw much closer to God's original intention for a royal priesthood, and like the Melchizedek Priesthood, it was also superior to the priesthood of Aaron.
This Zadok priesthood is the natural type of the Melchizedek priesthood. In fact, Zadok (righteousness) is the last part of Melchi-zedek (king of righteousness). The Melchizedek priesthood is an everlasting priesthood, having no beginning and no end. In the mind of God this priesthood was conceived before the foundation of the world, in eternity past. In Ezekiel 44, we see two priesthoods, one changeable one eternal. One ministers to the house (temple) and the other to what is dearest to the heart and mind of God.
Jean Leads wrote:
There is a ministry that shall minister to the house, to the people of God, but there is another, more exalted priesthood, the Zadok or Melchizedek priesthood, which shall come nigh unto God and minister unto Him as well as to the people. "And when they go forth into the utter court, even into the utter court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people with their garments."
Long after Zadok the high priest, David and Solomon had died, Ezekiel prophesied a new priestly order, dividing the Aaronic priesthood into two parts.
"And the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel went astray, who strayed away from Me after their idols, they shall bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, as gatekeepers of the house and ministers of the house; they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them. Because they ministered to them before their idols and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity, therefore I have raised My hand in an oath against them," says the Lord GOD, "that they shall bear their iniquity. And they shall not come near Me to minister to Me as priest, nor come near any of My holy things, nor into the Most Holy Place; but they shall bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. Nevertheless I will make them keep charge of the temple, for all its work, and for all that has to be done in it. But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood," says the Lord GOD. "They shall enter My sanctuary, and they shall come near My table to minister to Me, and they shall keep My charge. And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments; no wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house. They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen trousers on their bodies; they shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat. When they go out to the outer court, to the outer court to the people, they shall take off their garments in which they have ministered, leave them in the holy chambers, and put on other garments; and in their holy garments they shall not sanctify the people. . . No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. . . And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it according to My judgments. They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow My Sabbath. . . .It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession." (Ezekiel 44:10-28,NKJV)
As Ezekiel described his vision of the temple, he said, "This is the chamber which faces toward the South, intended for the priests who keep charge of the temple; but the chamber which faces toward the north is for the priests who keep charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who from the sons of Levi come near unto the Lord to minister to Him" (Ezekiel 40:45-46).
He saw the Zadok remnant as a priesthood called out of a priesthood! "These are the sons of Zadok, who from the sons of Levi came near to the Lord to minister to him. And you shall give to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who draw near to Me to minister to Me," declares the Lord God, "a young bull for a sin offering" (Ezekiel 43:19). The Zadok ministry is separated from the world and has only one mission in life: to be at the Lord's table and minister to Him! This is the ministry of Mount Zion, the city of the Great King, God Himself.
The three-sided tent of the tabernacle of David that unveiled the ark to all testifies of this very thing. God warned David, making a clear distinction between His house and the temples built by men when Nathan the prophet corrected David for trying to build a temple of cedar to house the Ark and the priests that once ministered in the tent of meeting.
Go and tell My servant David, "Thus says the LORD: 'Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?"' Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel.
"And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. . . since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house.'" (2 Samuel 7:5-11, NKJV).
What is this house that God was to build for David, the type of His own Son? Stephen saw it, spoke of it to the priest that God banished to the outer court to minister to the people, and was killed for revealing their wicked hearts!
But Solomon built Him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me?" says the LORD, "Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?" You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it." (Acts 7:47-53, NKJV).
Today, most of what churchmen call "ministry" is focused on the house. We hear a great deal about ministering to the people but little about ministry to the Lord. However, the true people of God have a different heart and focus. Their heart-cry is for one thing, that tabernacle of David in Mount Zion. Their passion is captured in the words of this song that were written over twenty years ago by a group called Petra:
Take Me In
Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy place
Past the brazen altar
Lord, I want to see Your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
The priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness
And it's only found in one place
Take me in to the Holy of Holies
Take me in by the blood of the Lamb
Take me in to the Holy of Holies
Take the coal, cleanse my lips, here I am.
Take the coal, cleanse my lips, here I am.
In His dealings with the sons of Zadok, the Lord began to make this very distinction. He clearly separated ministry into two categories--ministry to the house and ministry to Himself. He was introducing a new and higher order of ministry in which He is central, not in type but in reality, and in doing so, distinguished Himself from what religious man venerates above all else--ministry to the house and the congregants.
It would be good to note the words of a man that lived in England, a true seeker in the 1600's when there were many blind guides selling their wares. His name was George Fox:
I was sent of the Lord God of heaven and earth to preach freely, and to bring people off from these outward temples made with hands, which God dwelleth not in; that they might know their bodies to become the temples of God and of Christ; and to draw people off from all their superstitious ceremonies, Jewish and heathenish customs, traditions and doctrines of men; and from all the world's hireling teachers, that take tithes and great wages, preaching for hire, and divining for money, whom "God and Christ never sent, as themselves confess when they say that they never heard God's nor Christ's voice. I exhorted the people to come off from all these things, directing them to the Spirit and grace of God in themselves, and to the Light of Jesus in their own hearts; that they might come to know Christ, their free teacher, to bring them salvation, and to open the Scriptures to them.
God never intended the temple to be a permanent fixture in His kingdom. He winked at it because of man's ignorance. Like many other things, it was merely a shadow of good things to come, a temple not made with hands, built of living stones.
Could the current emphasis on ministry to people spring from a similar idolatry to that of the sons of Levi? Pastors take courses on church planting, church building, and how to make "user friendly" churches. We offer sacrifice, we tithe, we play worship music, we minister to the people. It is all about the people and their needs and what makes them feel good and want to come back and keep supporting the machine we have created. In short, it is all idolatry because the real focus and motive behind "ministry" is not God but building up, through sweat and toil, the ministry of a man or men.
The holy priests of the sons of Zadok were not to wear anything that caused them to sweat.
It shall be that, when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come on them, while they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within. They shall have linen tires on their heads, and shall have linen breeches on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything that causes sweat. When they go forth into the outer court, even into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments in which they minister, and lay them in the holy chambers; and they shall put on other garments, that they not sanctify the people with their garments. (Ezekiel 44:17-19 WEB)
This is extremely significant considering that sweat is first mentioned in association with the curse. (See Genesis 3:19) Because Adam sinned, the ground was cursed and would only yield its fruit after much toil and sweat. Evidently, before the fall, the ground effortlessly gave up its fruit to Adam and Eve. There was no sweat. But now, because of his sin, Adam would work the ground by the sweat of his brow. Sweat speaks of human endeavor. It speaks of an unfinished task. The very moment that man fell out of rest he had to labor to produce what was once organic and natural. God would allow no such effort in this holy priesthood--no sweat of the brow, because He is all-sufficient. We borrow the words of Paul, "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:5-6 ESV).
This divine sufficiency that characterizes New Covenant Ministry is directly related to the finished work of Christ. "It is finished!" All is done! There is nothing left for man to sweat over. There is no room for tilling and toiling in the kingdom of God. Every plant that God has not planted will be rooted up. The holy priesthood that God seeks is not called to toil, but to show forth His virtues as He said, "I am their possession." God not only desires to possess a people, holy and peculiar, but wants them to possess Him in such a way that He is seen, felt and known in the world. God will have a priesthood that possesses Him, and, for lack of a better term, who model Him and minister by His sufficiency. This was His objective from the very beginning. It has not changed.
The closer we get to Zion the closer we get to the realization of our inheritance that is God Himself! At last, we are coming up the pathway home!
You have come to Zion
The glory of Zion was not that glory that the Queen of Sheba saw when she said, "The half has never yet been told." It was seen in the humble, open-faced tent of David, where the Ark of the presence sat in open display. It was there that God revealed, in amazing detail, His heart's desire to bring a people unto Himself and have a royal priesthood and a holy nation.
The Lord spoke His heart through Amos when he said,
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. (Amos 9:11)
James recited the verse out of Amos as proof that the Gentiles were accepted into the commonwealth without adherence to the Old Testament law.
Simeon has reported how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets. As it is written, "'After these things I will return. I will again build the tent of David, which has fallen. I will again build its ruins. I will set it up, that the rest of men may seek after the Lord; all the Gentiles who are called by my name,' says the Lord, who does all these things." (Act 15:14-17 WEB)
Amos did not prophesy, " I will again build the temple of Solomon..." No! It is the unveiled tent of David that God has purposed to restore in these last days. This is what Zion is--the habitation of the living God. God much prefers His tent to temples made by the hands of men.
When the author of Hebrews wrote, "You have come to Zion," it is certain that this tent of David, and all that it represents, was in mind. For he wrote, "you have come...unto God." This is what it is all about, coming unto God, reaching that place in the journey where He is all and in all. This is where the tent of God dwells with men and there are no temples except Him. This is where the house along with its shadows and trappings are replaced by the greater reality--God Himself. Jeremiah prophesied of just such a transition when the Ark of the Covenant would be forgotten and Jerusalem would be called "the throne of Jehovah."
And it will be, when you multiply and increase in the land in those days, says Jehovah, they will no longer say, The ark of the covenant of Jehovah! Nor shall it come to the heart, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah. And all nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem. And they shall not walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north, to the land that I have given for an inheritance to your fathers. But I said, How gladly would I put you among the sons, and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful inheritance among the multitudes of nations! And I said, You shall call Me, My Father; and you shall not turn away from Me. (Jeremiah 3:16-19 LITV)
Zion is the center of God's dwelling. It was there that the Ark came to rest. In the Old Testament God was localized. If you wanted to worship Him, you had to go to the place where He caused His name to be. "Lo here, Lo there." Today, there are no sacred places, no holy ground. He is not worshiped in this mountain or that, in Jerusalem, Constantinople or Rome. Where is the Lord today? Wherever two or three gather into His name, He said, "There I am." He dwells in that temple made of living stones. As soon as a company gathers around any other center than the Living God, they cease to live in Zion, for Zion is the place of God's presence. It cannot be a fixed place, because it is wherever God resides.
Finally, God called a people unto Himself--a kingdom of priests, a holy nation--at last a priesthood to minister unto Him--not a select caste of priests but the priesthood of all believers.
You are not come to Mount Sinai! You are come to Mt. Zion! You have come to God through a journey representing a tremendous changeover from the natural--what you could see with your natural eyes--to spiritual Zion. You have not come to a system that can be appropriated and touched by natural senses. What we have come to is more real than this! We re come (present tense) to the living God. We have come beyond veiled systems, beyond temples with degrees of ascensions, to the living God!
Zion is the end of the veiled systems and having come to Zion we stand, with open face beholding His glory. The temple veil was rent when the veil, Christ's flesh, was rent on Calvary.
And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces. The rebuke of His people He take away from off all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:7-8 NKJV)
All veils that obscure Him, keeping Him from His people, are removed in Christ. In its full scope and meaning, Zion is the realization of God purpose to bring a people, on eagle's wings, into an unveiled relationship with Himself, so intimate that He can even wipe the tears from their eyes.
Paul wrote of this, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love . . ." (Ephesians 1:4).
"Before Him in love..." This is the great criterion! No matter how noble the thought, act and word, if it is not conceived, nurtured and brought to fruition before Him in love, if it is not born and sanctified by the presence of the living God, it is not holy. It is the presence of God that sanctifies and makes holy. It is the presence of God that makes a gathering of people peculiar. We may preach, teach and otherwise nag people continually, exhorting them to do right, but nothing but the presence of the living God can reprove us and enable us to live above our fleshly failings. He is a consuming fire, burning away the chaff of our lives. Only what is before Him can be reckoned blameless. All God's dealings have one end in view--to bring a people unto Himself so they can stand before Him in love. His heart takes no pleasure when people stand trembling at the foot of the mount, asking others to approach Him in their name.
No! His voice can yet be heard echoing through time and eternity, "I ... brought you to Myself... you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
God desires for the cloud of glory that once rested upon the Ark behind the veil in the temple to now rest on every dwelling.
And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory [shall be] a defense. (Isaiah 4:5 KJV)
There on Mount Zion, in a forty-year prophetic glimpse, the veil was removed and Israeli and Gentile alike stood before the ark in adoration. Zion is the realm of God's absolute presence and lordship! It is there that the veil is taken away. It was there that He rent the temple veil from top to bottom. It is there, in His presence, that death is swallowed up in victory. Only those who have beheld the unveiled God with unveiled faces may remove the veil from the faces of others. When you come into touch with those people, you come into touch with the Zion of God.
Christ words spoken from the cross, "It is finished," are an invitation to enter beyond the veil, into the heavenly habitation of God of which natural Zion was only a physical type. It is all completed. He has destroyed "on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations." The way into that heavenly habitation of God is open. The veil between the temporal and the heavenly is taken away in Christ. We have come unto Mount Zion, the city of the living God, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, and to God Himself.
Through the righteousness of Christ, we may now stand in God's presence. Yes, all works of righteousness that might gain us access through the torn veil into the holy of holies are truly finished in Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. Therefore, the author of Hebrews exhorts us as a holy priesthood.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need...Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 4:16, 10:19-22 KJV).
At last the way is open into the garden of God where we may again enter those works that were finished from the foundation of the world. It is this subject that will occupy our thoughts in part two.Continue with Part 2, From Law to Rest to top