Nearer My God To Thee Series
Contributed by Jeff Strite on Mar 29, 2009 (message contributor)
Summary: The "Holy Place" was the ultimate place of worship for Old Testament Priests. What was it about the furniture in this room that God wanted to teach us?
OPEN: One Sunday morning an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt and boots that were very worn and ragged. In his hand he carried a worn out old hat and an equally worn out bible.
The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and accessories. As the cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him. No one greeted, spoke to, or welcomed him.
They were all appalled at his appearance and did not attempt to hide it. The preacher gave a long sermon filled with fire and brimstone and a stern lecture on how much money the church needed to do God’s work.
As the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor. "Before you come back in here again, have a talk with God and ask him what He thinks would be appropriate attire for worship."
The old cowboy assured the preacher he would.
The next Sunday, he showed back up for the services wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots, and hat. Once again he was completely shunned and ignored.
The preacher approached the man and said, "I thought I asked you to speak to God about what you should wear before you came back to our church."
"I did," replied the old cowboy.
"If you spoke to God, what did he tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping in here?" asked the preacher.
"Well, sir, God told me that He didn’t have a clue what I should wear. He says He’s never been here before."
APPLY: The Bible repeatedly teaches us –
If God isn’t here… it ain’t church.
If God isn’t here… you’re not worshipping.
If God isn’t here… you’re wasting your time.
The most important thing we can have in worship… is God in our midst.
That was one of the principle messages of the Tabernacle.
The Tabernacle was placed directly in the middle of the Israelite encampment because God wanted His people to continually realize - He was in their midst.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about the tabernacle.
Hebrews tells us that the earthly tabernacle was a copy of one in heaven, and we’ve noted that the earthly tabernacle was used by God to teach heavenly truths. There are things about this tabernacle that can teach us more about God.
In previous sermons we’ve examined the courtyard, the altar of sacrifice and the brazen laver, and now, we come to the Tabernacle itself. It’s a tent-like structure divided into two rooms. The first of those 2 rooms measures about 15 by 30 feet and it’s called the Holy Place.
This morning I want you to put on your sanctified imaginators.
I want you to imagine yourself as a priest in the days of Moses.
You’ve just been ordained… and this is your 1st day on the job.
You’ve offered sacrifices on the altar,
You’ve washed your hands and feet in the brazen laver,
And now you’ve stepped through the curtain into the first room of the Tabernacle.
You’ve just stepped out of the bright sunshine of courtyard.
And the comparative darkness of this inner room is startling.
It’s quiet here.
Outside you could here the voices from the surrounding camp, the lowing of cattle and bleating of sheep. But in here, all the sounds of the world outside are muffled.
You look around and you see the light from the lamp stand shimmering off the gold of the furniture around you. And you smell the odor of bread, and incense and lamp oil.
There’s something comforting and relaxing about being here.
But there’s also something majestic… and even intimidating about this room. You sense that this is truly a “holy” place.
You are very conscious of the fact that the Ark of the Covenant lies just the veil in the next room. In fact, you remember that the Law of Moses declared that what you do here in this room (the Holy Place) is being done “before the Lord”
God is here!
There are three pieces of furniture in this room – and each one has a sacred purpose. Each has been made according to the pattern that Moses received on the mountain.
(One of our members made the lamp stand and altar of incense from Styrofoam that’s was spray painted gold and placed on stage in the general location they would have occupied in the Holy Place. The Table of Shewbread was represented by our communion table which we placed on stage as well).