Summary: Our acceptance before God in worship is based on the sacrifice Jesus made at Calvary in our behalf. While we daily seek to please God in all we do, our confidence before God is in the cross.
I thought I was finished with our series on worship. But this week the Lord has dealt with me about something that is essential for entering into the fullness of worship that we have talked about. As you recall, in the last message we saw worship as more than a one-way declaration of praise on our part. Our worship is actually an experience of koinonia1 with the Father and the Son though the Holy Spirit as a corporate body. Koinonia means fellowship, partnership, participation, or having something in common. Worship is an expression of our participation in the life of God. He is enjoying our interaction with Him. We are enjoying His interaction with us. It is a two-way life experience: us speaking to God expressions of love and praise and Him speaking to us in expression of love and encouragement. Therefore, if we just praise God and stop there, we have stopped short of God’s intention for our worship. It’s us singing and proclaiming praise and adoration. But then it is also God meeting with us and expressing Himself to us.
That was our message last time.
This week we go a step further and ask the question: How is that possible? How does that happen? What is it that we need to understand in order to enter into the fullness of that experience? There is a religious mindset that thwarts that possibility. There is a biblical mindset that opens us up to those possibilities. We must understand the difference.
I want to make one crucial point about worship this morning. But I will need to give a lot of biblical background in order to make it. First, I will share instruction about worship from the way God told Moses to make the Tabernacle. Second, I will look at these lessons through New Testament interpretation. Third, I will share the practical application of all this in our own corporate worship.
I. Let’s begin with the Instruction God gave Moses for making the Tabernacle.
In Ex 25 God is telling Moses what Israel must do. In verses 8-9 He says to Moses, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 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.”2 Notice two things in that passage.
(1) God’s purpose for what He is telling Moses to do is to establish intimacy with His people. “…make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” God’s desire is to be with His people: “... that I may dwell among them.” God wants communion with His people. But that is not as easy as you might first think. Why? Because “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). He is infinitely holy. Isaiah (33:14) asked the question, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" When Israel encountered God at Mt. Sinai they were terrorized by His presence. They drew back from God because they could not abide in His presence. In the natural, people are simply not equipped to walk into the holy presence of God. Yet God desires to dwell with His people. So, He instructs Moses to make a sanctuary where that possibility can be realized. God’s purpose: “that I may dwell among them.” The goal of worship is God dwelling with us. The goal of worship is the manifest presence of God. God’s presence must be understood at various levels. God is omnipresent. So, in one sense He is everywhere. The Holy Spirit abides in every believer. So, in a higher sense He is already there in our hearts. But at another level God manifests His presence among His people.3 And that is what we’re talking about this morning: the presence of God being manifested in our midst, especially through the operation of the gifts of the Spirit, as we see in the book of Acts.
(2) Also, notice in Ex. 25:9 the importance of doing it God’s way. “make Me a sanctuary…9 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.” New Living Translation says, “You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.” God developed a way in which He could dwell with His people. His way is the only way it will work. His pattern must be followed.
Now let’s go to the furnishings of the Tabernacle and lean from the pattern He gave. Everything about the sanctuary and the furnishings pointed to Christ.4 It was an instructive shadow of better things to come. It was only a type, a figure, a picture of the real thing. The realities would all be found in Christ and His great salvation. But these shadowy pictures help us understand the reality that would come. These furnishing help us understand how to enter into the presence of God.