As my staff and I study through the idea of worship, from a Biblical perspective, I am amazed to see (yet again) just how clear the Word of God is and just how far away we are from in many areas of our modern Christian life. This is our second lesson on the subject. You can find the first lesson here. This is lesson 2 of 6.
In the previous lesson, we learned that the first time worship and love are mentioned in the Bible are in Genesis 22. These two words both revolve around Abraham’s obedience. Worship is an act of obedience to God. Worship must be done God’s way, not just any way that we feel is correct. Worship is more of a lifestyle than an event. Worship involves having God be number 1 in your daily life, choosing not to have any idols.
In order to understand worship, we need to understand the tabernacle. The tabernacle was part of daily life for the Jewish people. It helped them understand how to worship God properly. They grew up learning this. It is a shadow of the good things to come in the New Testament.
I. The Tabernacle and Glory of God in the Old Testament
According to Exodus 25:8-9, the tabernacle is the dwelling place for the presence of God. The specific pattern that is used for the tabernacle is given to Moses by God. God wants to dwell among His people, the Israelites, and in order to do so, He needs a tabernacle. Hebrews 8:1-2, 5 reveals to us that the earthly tabernacle is not the true tabernacle. It is just a copy of the true tabernacle in heaven.
In Exodus 40:17-33, we discover what is in the tabernacle. There is a very distinct path that must be followed in order to enter into the presence of God.
- the door – it faces East and is the only entrance into the tabernacle
- the bronze altar – upon entrance, an animal was sacrificed for sin
- the bronze laver – once the sacrifice was offered, the next step was to wash in the water contained in the bronze laver
- the golden lampstand – upon entering the holy place, the only source of light comes from the candles in the lampstand
- the table of showbread – the only source of food in the tabernacle was the bread on this table
- the altar of incense – after passing the table of showbread, we encounter the altar of incense where a soothing aroma filled the tabernacle
- the veil – on our journey to the presence of God, we encounter the veil that separates God’s holiness from sinful people. The veil is for the people’s protection
- the ark of the covenant – this is the presence of God
Finally, the glory of God was His presence among His people. He dwelt in the tabernacle, among His people. This presence dwelt with the children of Israel for about 500 years. Because of their sin nature that constantly led to disobedience, the glory of the Lord departed from among the people just before the 70 year Babylonian captivity. When the Jews returned after 70 years, they rebuilt the temple, yet, the glory of the Lord no longer dwelt among them. But, in the New Testament, something amazing happened.
II. The Temple and Glory of God in the New Testament
After a period of about 400 years of silence on God’s part, something amazing happened. The Gospel of John tells us in chapter 1 that the glory of God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ. When Jesus entered the temple, the glory of God entered the temple once again, for the first time since it departed over 500 years earlier.
As I wrote earlier, the tabernacle of the Old Testament was a shadow of the good things to come in the New Covenant. Jesus helps explain what each station of the walk into the presence of God represented.
- John 10:9 – Jesus is the door. No one can begin walking into the presence of God unless first coming to Christ
- John 1:29 – Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
- Ephesians 5:25-26 and John 15:3 – Jesus washes us with the water of His Word
- John 6:35 – Jesus is the bread of life and we must enter into covenant with Him to have life
- John 8:12 – Jesus is the Light of the world
- Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus intercedes on our behalf with prayers
- Hebrews 10:19-20 – Jesus is the veil, torn in half inviting us to enter into covenant in order to enter the presence of God
Once we enter into the presence of God through the New Covenant with Jesus Christ, we actually become the tabernacle and the glory of God indwells us via the Holy Spirit. We now represent the presence/glory of God. Glory means “correct opinion” of someone or something. When we are the glory of God, we represent His character and ways in all that we say and do.
So, all of this means that worship is entering the presence of God and staying there. Worship means that the presence of God is in us and we represent Him moment by moment, day by day. Are you worshiping God His way? Have you entered the New Covenant through Christ so that you can worship God properly? Do you represent His character and ways in all that you say and do? Are you being washed by the Word daily so that you can live in the presence of God?