Posts Tagged ‘holy of holies’

So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5

A Good Thing

goodThe moment we read a title like ‘Courtyard Christianity’ we tend to think the worst, “Oh great, another dissertation on the reasons why I am a bad Christian,” but that is not the case here. Let me tell you right-up front, if you are a courtyard-Christian, it is a good thing.


It is not the best thing.

Let me explain.

When I think courtyard, I think ‘Tabernacle’; that one hundred and fifty-foot, by seventy five-foot chunk of land set aside as God’s meeting place. A space that you and I might say would be too small for two million desert-roaming Jews, but God might have said, “Don’t worry, it’s big enough; not everyone will be interested.”

Bottom line (and as far as this pertains to the Christian life), if you are in the courtyard of the tabernacle, you are saved. Celebrate! But know this: you can go deeper. Going deeper doesn’t save you; remember: if you’re in the courtyard, figuratively speaking, you are saved.

Sanctuary Christians

There are two types of sanctuary Christians; both are saved, but one is better off than the other. (Please note that I am not saying one is better, but rather that one is in a more favorable position, spiritually speaking). The sanctuary of the tabernacle was the forty-five foot by fifteen foot tent that had two compartments within. The first room of the sanctuary housed the lampstand, the table of show-bread, and the golden censer. If you have left the courtyard and entered this first room of the sanctuary you are in a better place, for you have entered the realm of Christian service.

How So?

The utensils of the sanctuary are symbolic of (they picture) Christian service. A person who trims the wicks of a lampstand is concerned with the light going forth. The one who daily changes the show-bread is interested in feeding the flock. And finally, the one who tends the incense is steeped in intercessory prayer, offering petitions, pleas, and praises as a sweet-smelling fragrance to the Father.

But deeper still are the…

Mercy Seat Christians

maryEntering into the Holy of Holies is to sit at the feet of Jesus. The difference between this best place and the place of service is revealed in the story of Martha and Mary. We know from that account, Mary chose the best seat in the house; the mercy seat. This inner sanctum is the greatest place to be for it is here we are closest to Jesus. And what makes the space so uniquely special is it is a place of refinement and restoration. The veil has been torn, so we should take advantage of the opportunity!

Consider the Ark

The Ark of the Covenant held three things: manna, Aaron’s rod, and the Law; three things that are symbolic of man’s fallen condition. Covering the box (and more importantly these three items) was the mercy seat, symbolic of Christ’s mercy and the covering of our sins. It is in His Holy presence He can do what He desires to do. At this point, we are free to roam and function within the tabernacle!


Simply put, in the tabernacle, all are saved, but perhaps not all are fulfilled. There is always more to be had if the believer is willing; there is always a deeper experience.

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

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Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. 1 Kings 8:6

It had been almost 500 years since the Exodus and Solomon had finished constructing the desire of his father David’s heart, the Temple of the Lord. Its moving day and all the components of the Temple were brought in and put in position and the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies. Question—‘What’s inside the Ark of the Covenant?’ Follow-up question—‘Are you absolutely sure?’

Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 1 Kings 8:9

Okay, Who Stole Aaron’s Rod and the Manna?

While God in His Word does not explain what happened to the staff and manna, we can rest assured that there are reasons why they were missing. Before we delve into the explanation, we would recall why these items were placed in the Ark in the first place. Aaron’s ‘budding’ rod was a miraculous confirmation; a sign to Israel that Moses and Aaron were His intended leaders. The manna on the other hand was a wondrous sign of God’s provision. The Law was a sign of a different category; a tangible road-sign informing every reader of where he is (in sin) and where he needs to go (to the cross of Jesus Christ).

So the question of most importance is not, “Who removed these two items,” or, “where are they,” or “what happened to them,” but rather, “why does only one remain?” The answer is evident; this singular article (two tablets) effectively demonstrates two facts…

…The word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:25a

The second fact might not be as obvious. It will serve us well to remember that there is no other people group in world history that witnessed more miraculous signs and wonders than post-Egypt Israel. What impact did all those signs and wonders have upon them? Not much. Out of entire generation of people (a couple million or more), only two, Joshua and Caleb, came to believe. There is an enormous lesson in that.

Are We Done With Miracles?

Heaven forbid! Jesus told His church that there is an order in which these things will occur…

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18

And He told us why there needs to be an order…

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Matthew 16:4

And there’s the second reason. Generally speaking, we are sign-seekers; we want evidence, we want confirmation, we want corroboration before we commit and handover the reigns to Someone we cannot readily see or touch. There’s a drawback that comes with that kind of attitude and Jesus told us pointedly what it is:

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24

The rod and the manna were removed for our protection! So like me, you might ask why were those signs and wonders placed into the Ark to begin with. I submit to reveal to us that a) they exist, and b) we don’t need them to come to faith, and c) they will follow us as we follow Jesus. We should consider what was said regarding John the Baptist [who] Jesus called the greatest prophet whoever lived…

Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” And many believed in Him there. John 10:41-42

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And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it. Exodus 25:8-9As we read about God’s plan to Moses for His Tabernacle, we will come to learn that the Tabernacle itself has three basic components: the courtyard, the holy place, and the Holy of Holies. In our examination of these parts and their accessories, we can see that they also illustrate three distinct levels that pertain to our life in and walk with Jesus Christ. It is vital to remember that at any level and as it relates to the typology, anyone in the Tabernacle is saved; i.e. a born-again believer.

Level 1

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.

Level 2

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.

Level 3

“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.

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