For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8
This first level speaks to the person who is saved and is in the courtyard. We recall that the outer courtyard is where the brass altar for sacrifice and the brass laver for cleansing were—constant reminders. In the altar and the laver there is an understanding and receiving: Christ has died for our sins at the altar and there’s an assertion of faith at the laver in our baptism. It is not uncommon for those in the courtyard to aspire towards another level—the option of Christian service.
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
Level two is within the tent, a place with two compartments, the biggest portion of which was called the Holy Place. The Holy Place is the place of Christian works and the tools of the trade are contained within: the table of showbread, the lampstand, and the incense stand; each one representative of a kingdom building endeavor. In the bread we see His Word which we freely partake and distribute. In the lamp we are light that we might go forth and shine with divine intention. And as fragrant incense we may pray intercessorily as Christ Jesus does for us. In the observance of Christian service we may find ourselves longing for level three.
“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42
Jesus would say to us (as He said to Martha) that level three; that is at His feet, is the best and most highly desired place to be. We would agree. As we read the account of Mary and Martha we see all three levels represented there. Lazarus, Martha and Mary’s brother is not mentioned in the story and suggests he is in the courtyard—a good place to be, but clearly not the best place to be.
The illustration clearly shows Martha caught up in her level two position. Again, not a bad place to be–more rewarding that hanging out in the courtyard, but still not the best place to be. It is obvious to us all that Mary has acquired the best place—at the feet of Jesus, absorbed in just being in His presence—the Holy of Holies.
Finest Choice, But the Least Chosen
As a result of our flesh and the world’s influence I suppose, we falsely believe that as Christians we start at level one and work our way towards level two and then ultimately to level three. God would tell us we have it all backwards.
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit…Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom….Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. John 19:30; Mark 15:38; Hebrews 4:16
There’s God’s formula—because of His Son’s finished work on the cross, we have direct access to the Holy of Holies and can boldly approach Him. It is from this position we are free to move about; between Christian service and courtyard respites. In the Father’s plan there is no striving towards higher levels—we start out at the best possible place—at the feet of Jesus. If we find ourselves involved in procedures and processes believing we can climb higher and higher spiritually, we need to stop. The highest position we can achieve has already been provided for us and all we need is enter into His presence. We are not level-ones working upward; we are level threes moving freely about the Tabernacle as He guides us.