Take Me Into the Holy of Holies: The Danger of Separating the Altar of Fire From the Ark of Glory

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles which begins with the days and times of the reign of Solomon king of Israel, and continues through the days and times of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the kings who ruled over them. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters seven through ten of this Old Testament book. THE BEAUTY OF THE HOUSE! THE GLORY OF THE LORD! THE FIRE OF GOD! THE WISDOM OF THE KING! BEAUTY! GLORY! FIRE! WISDOM! WEALTH! RICHES! When you come to the seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles you will immediately be confronted with the events which took place—not only after the Temple of the LORD had been completed, but also after Solomon had made an end of praying before and unto the LORD God of Israel. In fact, the opening words of the seventh chapter describe how “when Solomon had made an end of praying.” Pause for a moment and think about this absolutely remarkable reality, for within the first verse of the seventh chapter we find Solomon having made an end to praying before the LORD, the God of his father David, and the LORD’s response to the prayer. The first third of the opening verse of the seventh chapter describes how Solomon had made an end of praying, while the second third of the verse describes the fire of God coming down from heaven and consuming the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and while the third part of the verse describes once more how the glory of the LORD filled the house. It is absolutely remarkable and astounding to think about and consider this particular reality, for within the first and opening verse of the seventh chapter we see the consuming fire of God coming down from heaven, and we find the indwelling glory of the living God filling the house. THE FIRE WHICH CONSUMES! THE GLORY WHICH FILLS! It is quite astounding to think about and consider this particular reality, for within the opening verse of the seventh chapter we find the prayer of the king, we find the fire of heaven, and we find the glory of the LORD. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly incredible manifestation of the living God of heaven and earth, for within this passage we encounter something which hadn’t been seen, nor which had been experienced since the days of Moses the servant of the LORD in the midst of the wilderness. It would be in the wilderness after the Tabernacle was built and reared up that the glory of the LORD would fill the sanctuary, and it would be in the wilderness after Aaron had made an end of offering the prescribed sacrifices and offerings of the living God that the fire of God would come out from before Him and would consume the offerings which were upon the altar. This is absolutely astounding to think about and consider, for within this verse we find the altar and the Ark once more working in complete harmony and unity with each other.

WHEN THE ARK AND THE ALTAR ARE REUNITED! WHEN THE ALTAR AND THE ARK WORK TOGETHER ONCE MORE! It’s interesting and worth noting that in the first and opening chapter of the book of Second Chronicles we find this apparent separation between the Ark of the Covenant of the living God and the brasen altar which would be used to offer sacrifices before and unto the living God. As the book of Second Chronicles begins and opens up, it does so with the Ark of the Covenant of the living God resting within a tent which David had prepared for it in the city of Jerusalem, while the brasen altar would be at the high place in Gibeon. It would be at the high place in Gibeon where Solomon and all Israel would come to seek unto it and unto the LORD their God. I have to admit that I absolutely love the stage that was set for the Temple of the living God to be built in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, for the stage would be set with the beginning of the journey that would take place between the altar and the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant would already be in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and perhaps even in the very place where the Temple itself would rest. I can’t help but wonder if the tent which David had pitched for the Ark of the Covenant in the midst of the city of Jerusalem wasn’t located at mount Moriah, and there on what would be known as the Temple Mount. I can’t help but wonder if the place which David had prepared for the Ark of the Covenant of the living God wasn’t already in the place where we would find the Temple itself resting. Within the first seven chapters we find a powerful narrative concerning the building of the Temple of the living God which would be built in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—a process which wouldn’t necessarily begin with the foundation of the Temple being laid, or the Temple itself being built, but Solomon himself making a journey unto the high place at Gibeon where the Tabernacle of the congregation of God was, as well as the brasen altar which was found in the wilderness. It’s actually quite astonishing and remarkable to think about the fact that the process of the Temple being built would begin with David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem, and would continue with Solomon himself going unto the high place at Gibeon and unto the altar which the fire of God first fell and came upon.

VISITING THE PLACE OF FIRE! I have to say that as I sit here today thinking about the fact that Solomon went unto the high place at Gibeon—not only would he go unto the Tabernacle of the congregation of God which Moses the servant of the LORD had built, but so also would he go unto the brasen altar. It’s actually quite astonishing and remarkable to think about and consider this, for the altar which was found at the high place in Gibeon would be the very same altar Aaron himself offered burnt offerings and sacrifices on, and which the fire of God came out from before Moses, Aaron and all the congregation of Israel. What’s more, is there were specific times in the wilderness wandering and journeys of the children of Israel when the glory of the living God would manifest itself within, in the midst of and upon the Tabernacle of the congregation of God which Moses the servant of God had set up. This is actually something that’s worth noting, for when Solomon went unto the high place of Gibeon, that which he was essentially doing was seeking unto a place of fire and seeking unto a place of glory. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular reality, for within the wilderness wandering of the children of Israel we find the glory of the LORD filling the Tabernacle and sanctuary of the living God, but we also find it coming upon and filling the Tabernacle of the congregation of God which Moses himself had set up in the wilderness. What’s more, is that there is at least one instance in the Old Testament Books of Moses where we find the fire of God coming upon the brasen altar of sacrifice and offering. This is truly captivating when you think about and consider this fact, for when Solomon himself went up to the high place which was at Gibeon, it was essentially as though he was visiting the place of glory and the place of fire. Although the glory hadn’t filled the Tabernacle of the congregation since the days of Moses, and although the fire of the living God hadn’t come down from heaven upon the brasen altar, that which Solomon was doing was seeking the God of the glory and the God of the fire. Moreover, it might very well be said that Solomon was seeking the God of the altar and the God of the tabernacle. It is truly inspiring to read the words which are written and found within this passage of Scripture, for when we find Solomon the son of David going unto the high place which was at Gibeon, one might argue and suggest that he was seeking the glory of old which filled the sanctuary of the living God in the wilderness, as well as the fire of old which consumed the sacrifice and offerings upon the altar. It is possible that Solomon sought to visit the place of the glory and the place of the fire in order that he might seek the God who sent the fire upon the altar, and the God who filled the house with His glory?

As I mediate upon the words which are written and contained within this passage I can’t help but be drawn to the fact that Solomon sought to visit those places where the presence of God was manifested in the midst of His people because he knew within himself what would need to characterize and surround the Temple. Solomon the son of David would come unto the high place with was at Gibeon, for it would be at the high place in Gibeon where those places and those things which had experienced the glory and fire of the living God would be found. I can’t help but get the strong sense that there was an intense longing, an intense passion, and an intense desire within the heart of Solomon to visit the place of the glory and the place of the fire, for he desperately desired the LORD to move within and upon the Temple as He had done in the wilderness. Scripture is unclear why Solomon went unto the high place which was at Gibeon, and all we know was that he sought unto the brasen altar of the living God, and offered sacrifices upon the altar. We aren’t given any insight into the heart and mind of Solomon, and yet it is something truly spectacular to think about and consider the fact that Solomon would visit and seek unto a place where the glory of the living God was once manifested, and seek unto a place where the fire of God would once be witnessed. How absolutely incredible it would be to think about and consider the fact that Solomon went unto the high place which was at Gibeon, and in that place we find two symbols of the fire and the glory of God which were found in the midst of the wilderness during the forty years the children of Israel journeyed under the leadership and guidance of Moses the servant of the LORD. In order to truly understand the significance of this event it is necessary to recognize and understand that when Solomon went unto the high place which was at Gibeon, that which he was seeking were those places where the glory of the living God had manifested itself, as well as the place where the fire of God had come upon during the days of Moses. This is truly significant, for when Solomon was coming unto the high place at Gibeon, it’s as if he was pursuing both the glory and the fire, and recognized the tremendous importance the fire and the glory would place in the Temple that was to be built in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Although Solomon would not experience the manifestation of the fire of God, nor the glory of the living God there at the high place at Gibeon—what he was essentially doing was seeking unto those places where the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had manifested Himself among them in their midst. To truly understand the significance of what is taking place here, and the important part it played in the building of the Temple, it’s necessary to take a look back into the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and see how the fire and glory of God had manifested themselves in the midst of Moses, Aaron and the entire congregation and people of Israel:

“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sarnia: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them. So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them” (Exodus 19:16-25).

“And all the people saw the thunderings, and lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. And altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice therein thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not built it of hewn stone: for it thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered therein” (Exodus 20:18-26).

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. And Moses rose up, and his minster Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:12-18).

“And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it Cramer to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle” (Exodus 33:7-11).

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode therein, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:34-38).

“And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (Leviticus 9:22-24).

“And on the day that the Tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the Tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandments of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses” (Numbers 9:15-23).

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone. And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD…And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and Di not cease” (Numbers 11:16-25).

“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And He said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam because leprous, white as snow; and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb. And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? Let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again. And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again” (Numbers 12:1-15).

“But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD. And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. And Aron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed” (Numbers 16:41-50).

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the doctor of the tabernacle. And the LORd said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled again as them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the vials which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I saw are unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware. Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee” (Deuteronomy 31:14-23).

It’s absolutely necessary to pay attention to each of these passages found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, as each of these passages reveals the tremendous importance of the cloud in the narrative of the children of Israel as they departed from the land of Egypt and entered into the wilderness. More than simply the cloud by day leading them through their journeys, the cloud was also something that not only rested upon the sanctuary, but also filled the sanctuary. If you study the narrative of the children of Israel during their journeys through the wilderness you will find that almost immediately after the Tabernacle was finished and built exactly as the LORD had commanded and instructed unto Moses His servant, the glory of the LORD filled the sanctuary, and the cloud rested and hovered upon it. So thick and so weighty was the glory and presence of the LORD that not even Moses could enter into the sanctuary and minister before the LORD. What’s more, is that when you come to the Old Testament book of Leviticus you will find the glory of the LORD being directly linked and connected to the consuming fire of the living God, as the glory completely filled the sanctuary, and the fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the sacrifice upon the offering. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and pay close attention to this, for when you begin reading about Moses’ interaction with the glory of God and the consuming fire of God, you will find it manifesting itself on the top of Horeb in the wilderness. When the glory of the LORD and the consuming fire first began to manifest itself in the sight and in the midst of the children of Israel it first descended and rested upon the mountain of God there in the wilderness. The glory of the LORD and the consuming fire of the living God would rest upon the mountain for at least forty days and forty nights—as long as Moses was in the presence of the living God speaking freely with Him as a man would speak to a friend. What is so absolutely captivating about this narrative of the glory of the LORD and the consuming fire of heaven is that what began on the top of the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness was not only never intended to remain upon the mountain, but it was also meant to go with the children of Israel wherever they went. I am absolutely convinced that the glory of the LORD filling the sanctuary, and the fire of the living God coming out from before Him and consuming the sacrifice upon the altar was a powerful declaration unto the children of Israel, as well as Moses, Aaron and Miriam that His glory and His fire were meant to move with them and be manifested in the sanctuary that was among them in their midst.

What I truly love about the narrative we find in the Old Testament book of Leviticus is the fact that when the glory of the living God completely filled the sanctuary, and when the consuming fire of the living God consumed the sacrifice and offering upon the altar, it was a powerful demonstration and declaration that the glory of the LORD was intended on dwelling in the midst of the people of Israel, and that the fire of God was meant to burn before them upon the altar. In fact, what is so incredibly powerful about the Tabernacle itself is that it was essentially and effectively a wonderful and powerful declaration before and unto the children of Israel that the living God intended to dwell among them, and that He intended on allowing His glory and His presence to be manifested among them in their midst. Consider the passages of Scripture provided above and look at how many times the cloud descended upon and even filled the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and how more often than not it was directly linked to the LORD dwelling among them. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning the living God, it’s that the living God desired to dwell in the midst of and among His people, and that He didn’t desire to simply be One who dwelt upon and atop the mountains. Would it shock and surprise you to think about the fact that the living God never desired that His glory be something that rested upon a mountain in the sight of the people of God as though it was somehow a spectacle to behold? Would it shock and surprise you that the glory of the living God was never meant to be something to behold as though you are somehow an audience, but rather something that was meant to be present among you and in your midst? Through the Tabernacle we discover the absolutely breathtaking and beautiful reality that the glory of the living God wasn’t merely something that was relegated to the top of a mountain, but was something that would actually come down off the mountain and would be present in the midst of the people of God. WHEN GOD COMES DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN! Through the Tabernacle we find and discover a God who desires to come down from the top of the mountain, and a God who actively desires to dwell in the midst of and inhabit His people. Oh how many churches treat the glory and presence of the living God as something that is relegated to the top of a mountain as something to behold, and treat it as something they should be spectators before. There are countless churches, ministries and organizations that treat the glory of the living God as though it is something to behold as if they are not only part of this cosmic audience, but that they are passive spectators that were meant to simply behold it. In all reality, I am convinced that this is perhaps the single greatest reality surrounding the altar and the burnt offering and sacrifices, for it was an invitation for the people of God to no longer be passive and casual observers beholding the glory of the living God atop the mountain, but active participants who came to the dwelling place of the living God, and who came with something to offer. SPECTATORS NEVER BRING OFFERINGS! SPECTATORS NEVER OFFER SOMETHING BEFORE THE LORD! SPECTATORS NEVER BRING THEIR GIFTS INTO THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD! AN INVITATION TO MOVE BEYOND A PASSIVE OBSERVER TO AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT!

What I find to be truly amazing and remarkable about the Tabernacle is not only that through it we find the glory of the living God moving from the top of the mountain in the wilderness and into the sanctuary in the midst of the people of God, but it also served as an invitation for the people to transition themselves closer to the living God. At the mountain the people of Israel were instructed not to come near unto the mountain, and yet when you come to the Tabernacle you will find the invitation to come near, as through sacrifice and offerings the people of God would now be permitted to come near unto the living God. Of course they would still approach God through sacrifice, and those sacrifices would be offered by the priests, but no longer would the children of Israel have to stand back and simply be passive spectators and bystanders in the midst of the glory of the living God. This is what was so absolutely astonishing and breathtaking about the Tabernacle, for it was through the Tabernacle that both God and man would make their way toward each other. Through the Tabernacle God would come down from off the mountain and would enter into the sanctuary where He would dwell in the midst of the people, and through the Tabernacle the people themselves would come unto the Tabernacle, and would come with their sacrifice and offering. I can’t help but be absolutely astounding to sit here today and think about the fact that through the Tabernacle we encounter and come face to face with the fact that the Tabernacle would be the place where both God and man would come together in one single place—the place where God would dwell above the Ark of the Covenant, and where the people would bring their offerings to the altar. In fact, one might say and conclude that the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies was made for the living and eternal God, while the outer court and the altar were made for the people. The Holy Place in between the outer court and the Holy of Holies where the altar of incense was, where the golden candlestick was, and where the table of shewbread would be that place in between the two where the priests would minister according to their order and according to their custom. I absolutely love the Tabernacle and what it represents, for the Tabernacle would be that place where God could dwell in the midst of the people of Israel and where the people could approach and draw near unto Him. I find it incredible to think about and consider the Tabernacle and its significance in the midst of the people of God, for whereas the people would stand afar off while the mountain shook violently under the weight of the glory and presence of God, and whereas the people would stand afar off while the mountain was altogether on a smoke because of the consuming fire of God upon it, it would be through the Tabernacle that God and man could meet with each other and where they could come unto one another through sacrifice. It would be the altar and the Ark that would work in joyous harmony and unity with each other in order that both God and man might draw closer to each other.

WHEN GOD COMES DOWN FROM OFF THE MOUNTAIN, WHEN MAN DRAWS NEAR AND STOPS STANDING AFAR OFF! THE MARRIAGE OF THE ALTAR AND THE ARK: WHEN GOD AND MAN DRAW NEAR TO EACH OTHER! When the Ark of the Covenant was in the various locations within the land of Israel, and when the Tabernacle of Moses was in the high place at Gibeon there was this separation between the people of God and the God of the people. That which represented God coming down from the mountain and dwelling among the people, and that which represented the people coming and drawing close to God through sacrifice and offering would be separated from each other, and thus an important link and connection was broken. That link would be in perfect harmony and unity in the Tabernacle, and wouldn’t find its way again until the days of the Temple when Solomon the son of David built and dedicated it. This is perhaps what is so significant about the glory of the LORD filling the Temple, and the fire of God coming down from heaven and consuming the sacrifice upon the altar, for it was as if both symbolized and suggested once again the joyous harmony between the living and eternal God, and His people who were instructed and invited to come and draw near to Him through their sacrifices and offerings. I find it truly captivating and alluring to think about the beautiful and magnificent reality that what we find in the Tabernacle is not only the LORD moving close to a people who once stood afar off at the mountain, but also His inviting them to now draw near unto Him and to never appear before Him empty handed. What’s more, is that through the feasts there would be specific times and seasons during the year when the people of God would travel from all throughout the land with their offerings and gifts in hand in order that they might worship before the living God. When once the people would stand afar off before the terrifying and awesome presence and glory of the living God upon the mountain, the LORD their God would now invite them to draw near unto Him. It is necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this truly astonishing reality, for this reality brings us face to face with the beautiful reality that the living God did not want to be separate from His people, and He did not want to remain atop the mountain while the people themselves were still seeking to stand afar off. Through the altar of burnt offering the living God was inviting the people of God to no longer stand afar off, but to now draw near to Him, and through their sacrifices, through their offerings, and through their gifts they would craw near and unto the living God. Perhaps what is so absolutely remarkable about the Tabernacle, is that it was a powerful invitation from the living God for the people who had stood afar off at the base of the mountain before the awesome display of the glory and power of the living God which rested upon and atop it. It would be through the Tabernacle a divine journey would be taken—not only by the living God who would now dwell in the midst of His people instead of before them atop a mountain, but also by the people of God who would draw near and come unto Him with their gifts, their offerings and their sacrifices.

As you think about and consider the Temple which Solomon built—not only must you think about and consider it in terms of the reunification of the altar of burnt offering and sacrifice and the Ark of the Covenant, but you must also think about and consider it as a second invitation to the people of God to once more draw close and come near unto Him. It would be there at the Temple where you would once more see the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, and where you would see the altar of burnt offering in the outer court before and in the midst of the people. It would be through the Temple the living God would emphatically declare that His will and desire was still to dwell in the midst of His people, and that He was still inviting them to draw near unto Him once more. When you consider how long the Ark of the Covenant was apart and separated from the Tabernacle of the Congregation of God, and when you think about how long the altar and the Ark and the altar were separated you have to come to the understanding that when the Temple of Solomon was built in the midst of the city of Jerusalem it was an undeniable invitation of the living God to His people once more, for through the presence of the altar and the Ark in the Temple the LORD would once more dwell in the midst of His people, and the people would once more draw near to the living God. The Temple which Solomon would build would still have the outer court where the brasen altar would be present, and it would still have the Holy of Holies which would be deep inside and in the heart of the Temple, and through Solomon’s Temple we clearly see the living God drawing near to His people through the Holy of Holies, and we see the people drawing near unto the LORD their God through the altar. Once more we find the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant being for the living God that He might dwell in the midst of His people, and once more we find the outer court and the altar of burnt offering and sacrifice for the people in order that they might bring their gifts, their sacrifices and their offerings before and unto the living God. This must be recognized and understood, for when you think about how long the altar and the Ark were separated, you also get the sense that there was this separation between the glory and the fire—between the living God drawing near to His people and the people drawing near unto the LORD their God. This isn’t to say that the living God had forsaken, neglected, abandoned, nor rejected His people, but that there was a clear and apparent separation that existed between the living God and His people. The Temple which Solomon built—that which was in the heart of David—was more than simply a house and place for the Ark of the Covenant, but it was a place where man could and would once more draw near unto the LORD their God, and where the living God could and would once more draw near to His people.

Have we forgotten that what the LORD desired the most with His people was that He might dwell among them in their midst? Have we forgotten that the entire purpose for the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness was so the LORD could essentially introduce Himself unto the people, and do so formally? It would be there at the mountain where the living God would formally introduce Himself to His people and to enter into covenant with them, and it would be through the Tabernacle the living God would move beyond introducing Himself to the people of Israel to inviting them to draw near unto Him, to come near unto Him, and to know Him through their gifts, through their sacrifices and through their offerings. It is necessary that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for it would be through the Tabernacle the living God would come down from atop the mountain and would dwell in the midst of His people, and would invite them to no longer stand afar off. Although the LORD would speak to His people through Moses His servant, and although the people would draw near to the living God through the ministry of the priests, we must recognize and understand that there was still an invitation the living God was delivering unto His people to draw near and to come unto Him. Thank God that during this time within our generation, and during the days in which we are living there is a new and living way whereby we might be able to draw near to God, it would be through the Tabernacle the people of God would draw near and approach the living God through their sacrifices and their offerings. What’s more, is that it would be through those sacrifices and offerings the people would approach and draw near to the living God through the priests who would be mediators of the covenant that existed between the living God and the people themselves. When we think about the Temple of the living God we must recognize that the Temple would once more be an invitation of the people of God to draw near unto the living God through their gifts, through their sacrifices and through their offerings, and it would once more be the living and eternal God drowning near to His people. The fact that the glory of the LORD filled the Temple, and the fact that the fire of the living God came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifice speaks wonderfully and powerfully to the tremendous reality that not only was the living God once more choosing to dwell in the midst of His people, but so also were the people invited to come unto Him. In all reality, I think this is what is so incredible significant about the fact that the Jewish feasts would never be abolished, for through the feasts which the living God established, there would be specific times when the people of God would draw near and come unto the LORD their God at appointed times during the year. At least three times a year the people of God would make the journey unto Jerusalem and unto the Temple and would offer their gifts, their sacrifices and their offerings before the living God. At least three times a year the people of God would make the journey unto the Tabernacle of Moses in order that they might appear before the LORD their God with their gifts, their sacrifices and their offerings.

When we come to the seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles we find the glory of the LORD, as well as the consuming fire of the living God working in beautiful harmony with each other, for the glory of the LORD would fill His house, and the fire of God would come down from heaven and consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices, thus indicating that this harmony and unity between the altar and the Ark of the covenant was once more taking place in the midst of the children of Israel. What’s more, is that it would be through the the glory of the LORD filling the Temple, and the consuming fire of the living God coming down upon the altar that does more than simply consecrate the house and sanctify the altar, for it confirms this relationship that exists—not only between the altar and the Ark, not only between the place of the glory and the place of the fire, but also between the people of God and the God of the people. The glory of the living God in the midst of the Temple confirms the LORD was willing to dwell in the midst of His people, and the fire of God coming down from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering suggests and implies the living God was willing to accept the offerings of His people. I do not believe for one moment the fire of God coming down from heaven and consuming the sacrifices simply confirmed the LORD had accepted the offerings which were upon the altar, no more than the glory of the LORD filling the house confirmed the LORD desired to dwell in the midst of His people on that particular day alone. Oh that we would recognize and understand and come face to face with the fact that the glory of the LORD filling the Temple which Solomon had built was a powerful declaration that the living God of heaven and earth was willing to dwell in the midst of His people, and the fact that the fire of God coming down from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering confirmed the access the people of God had to the LORD their God and His willingness to accept the offerings at and by their hands. The living God not only filled the house to consecrate it, and not only sent His consuming fire upon the altar to purify and sanctify it, but through both the living God was inviting the people to draw near unto Him, and was declaring unto them not only was He drawing near unto them, but was also willing to dwell among them once more. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the glory of the LORD filling the Temple was more than simply consecrating it, but it was also a declaration from the LORD that He was willing to draw near to them and was willing to dwell among them in their midst. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded—both within the sixth chapter of the second epistle of the apostle Paul to the Corinthian saints, as well as the twelfth chapter of the epistle written by the same apostle unto the Romans congregation:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belgian? Or what part hath He that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the Temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in the New; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the LORD Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the rewinding of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.k For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:1-5).

The more I read and the more I consider the words which are written and recorded within the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles, the more I come face to face with the absolutely incredible reality that Solomon’s building of the Temple was about so much more than simply carrying out the plan of the father in the midst of the earth in building a structure that was magnificent and grandiose in its design. As you study the words surrounding the Temple which Solomon the son of David built you will find that at the very heart of the Temple was the marriage between the Ark of the Covenant which had been separated from the altar of burnt offering for more than half a century. Stop and think about the fact that for more than fifty years the place which represented the glory of the living God and the place which represented the fire of God were separated from each other and were no longer in the midst of one another as they were during the days of Moses the servant of the LORD, and even Joshua the son of Nun. If you read the words which are written and recorded within the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will find that during the days of Eli the high priest—not only had the lamp within the sanctuary virtually gone out, but so also would the Ark of the Covenant be captured and brought into enemy territory. It would be that decisive battle against the Philistines that would see the Ark of the Covenant removed from its place within the house at Shiloh, and would see it set on a journey that would begin in enemy territory and would ultimately make its way to the Holy of Holies in the midst of the Temple which Solomon built. THE PATH FROM ENEMY TERRITORY TO THE HOLY OF HOLIES! It is absolutely remarkable to think about and consider the absolutely astounding reality that the Ark of the Covenant would be removed from its place in Shiloh, would be brought into the midst of the middle between the children of Israel and the Philistines, and would be captured in the midst of the battle and brought into the territory of the Philistines. For seven months after the Ark of the Covenant was removed from its place in the house of Shiloh we find it beginning a circuit of devastation and destruction in the midst of the Philistine land, which would begin in the very house of Dagon their god. Scripture makes it very clear that the Ark of the Covenant would be brought into the territory of the Philistines and how it would first make its way into the house of their god—almost as if it were a statement that their god was somehow greater than the God of the Hebrews. Much to their surprise and dismay, however, the very next day they found Dagon their god fallen down on his face before the Ark of the Covenant. The priests of Dagon would put Dagon back in his place, and yet the following morning they would return to not only find Dagon fallen on his face before the Ark of the Covenant, but also his head and the palms of his hands severed and both at the threshold of the temple. It’s worth noting that this circuit of devastation and destruction would begin in the house of the god of the Philistines, and yet that would only be the beginning of the devastation, for it would unleash a plague of tumors upon the men of three major Philistine cities—Ashdod, Gath and Ekron.

I find it absolutely remarkable and incredible to think about and consider the fact that the Ark of the Covenant would be removed from the place where it was within the house at Shiloh—not only as a sign of judgment against that house, but also to begin a process which would eventually lead and bring it into the Holy of Holies in a Temple that would be built by Solomon the son of David the king of Israel and man of God. Before it could and would be brought into the midst of the Holy of Holies in the Temple which Solomon built, however, it would make its way into three separate and distinct places within the land of Israel—Beth-Shemesh, Kirjath-jearim, and the house of Obed Edom. It’s quite intriguing to think about and consider the fact that the Ark of the Covenant would be separated from the place of the altar, and in the process of it being brought back and reunited with the altar it would first unleash havoc in the midst of the territory of the Philistines, it would result in fifty thousand men dying before the LORD as a result of those who sought and dared look inside, and it would result in the blessing of the LORD upon the house of Obed-edom and all that he had. It’s quite interesting to read and consider the various consequences and results of the presence of the Ark of the Covenant in different places before it would finally and ultimately be brought into the midst of the Holy of Holies. It is absolutely captivating to think about the fact that the Ark of the Covenant would be removed from its place within a house that had been judged by the living God, would be brought into the territory of the Philistines, and would ultimately be brought into the city of David where it would eventually be placed within the Ark of the Covenant. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this incredible reality, for the book of First Samuel presents us with a distinct and powerful picture of the lamp of God virtually going out during the days of Eli the high priest, and the Ark of the Covenant being removed from the midst of the sanctuary and brought into battle. For more than fifty years there would be a separation in the midst of the inheritance and heritage of the people of God, as the altar of burnt offering would be in one place while the Ark of the Covenant would be in separate places before finally finding a brief period of rest in the tent which David pitched for it. What a truly tragic picture it is to think about and consider the fact that the altar of burnt offering would be in one place in the midst of the land of Israel, while the Ark of the covenant would be in four different places within the same land since it was removed from its place within the sanctuary during the days of Eli. What is so significant about the Temple which Solomon built would be the joyful and joyous reunion between the place of the glory and the place of the fire. In fact, this is manifested in the seventh chapter of the book of Second Chronicles, as after Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire would come down from heaven, and would consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices. Moreover, the glory of the LORD would fill the house, thus causing the priests to be unable to enter because the glory of the LORD had filled the house.

When you read the opening verses and words of the first chapter of the book of Second Chronicles you will find that when Solomon went up to the high place which was at Gibeon—not only did he go unto the Tabernacle of the Congregation of God which Moses the servant of the LORD had set up in the wilderness, and not only did he seek after the brasen altar which was formed and fashioned in the wilderness, but essentially what he was doing was entering into the place of the glory and the place of the fire. I wrote that the process of building the Temple didn’t merely begin with its foundation being laid and the structure itself being build atop the foundation. The process of building the Temple would begin with Solomon going unto the high place which was at Gibeon and there not only seeking unto the altar of burnt offering, but also seeking and entreating the living God through sacrifice and offerings. This would be truly important and significant, for when you come to the opening verses of the seventh chapter of this Old Testament book you will find that after the Temple of the LORD had been built, and after Solomon had prayed a prayer of dedication over the Temple and had offered burnt offerings and sacrifices upon the brasen altar in the outer court, the LORD would respond by sending fire down from heaven upon the altar and the sacrifices thereon, thus consuming them before and in the sight of all the people. What’s more, is that in direct conjunction and in direct connection with the fire of God coming down from heaven the glory of the LORD would fill the house, and so much so that the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD. This ultimately brings me back to the truth of the glory of the LORD within and the fire of God without, as the LORD would not only move upon the Ark of the Covenant, but so also would He move upon the altar. Just as the glory of the LORD would fill the sanctuary in the wilderness in the sight of Moses, Aaron, and all the children of Israel, so also would the glory of the LORD fill the Temple during the days of Solomon and the people of Israel during that generation. Moreover, just as the fire of God would come out from before the LORD and consume the sacrifices and burnt offerings upon the altar during the generation of Aaron and Moses, so also would the fire of God come down from heaven during the days of Solomon and that generation as it would consume the sacrifices and burnt offering. This cannot be overlooked, for within the Temple which Solomon built in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—it was almost as if the living and eternal God was once more inviting the people of God to draw near to Him through their sacrifices and offerings, for no longer would the altar of burnt offering be separated from the Ark of the Covenant. Oh that we would recognize and understand the tremendous danger of this separation between the altar and the Ark, and between the place of the glory of the LORD and the place of the fire of God. Oh that we would truly recognize the absolutely necessity that surrounds the Ark of the Covenant and the altar of burnt offering being joined together in the midst of the sanctuary of the living God.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel the great need to draw and call your attention to the tremendous need for the unity between the altar of burnt offering and sacrifice and the Ark of the Covenant, for the place of the glory and the place of the fire cannot be separate from each other. That church, that ministry and that congregation which attempts to separate the altar from the Ark will find themselves in a gravely dangerous place before the living God, as to separate the altar from the Ark is to essentially separate the lifeblood and the heartbeat of the sanctuary where the people of God worship before the LORD their God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies belongs to the living and eternal God as that is the place where His glory and His presence dwells and abides. It is absolutely true that the living God has indeed invited us into the place of glory and into the place of presence, but it cannot and will not happen, nor will it take place without and apart from the place of the altar and the place of the fire. We know that no longer do we approach the living God through the blood of bulls, goats, sheep, oxen and rams, and that Jesus Christ was the sinless and spotless Lamb of God which not only took away the sins of the world, but also granted us access into the glorious presence of the Father, however, we must recognize that this has not and does not exempt us from our place and our part in sacrifice and offering. The way into the Holy of Holies was paved through and by the blood of Jesus the Christ, however, we must recognize that this doesn’t exempt us from sacrifice and offering, as not only would Jesus emphatically declare that if any man wished to be His disciple they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him, but so also did the apostle Paul emphatically and without hesitation and reservation call the saints of God to present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable before and in the sight of the living God which was their reasonable service. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we can and will be like the children of Israel who stood afar off before the sight and presence of the glory of the living God atop the mountain, or whether we will be those who draw near and come boldly before the throne of grace with full confidence and full assurance of faith as we seek our God through the place of sacrifice and seek Him through the place of fire. Oh that we would encounter and come face to face with this absolutely incredible and tremendous reality, and that we would be a people who not only draw near and come unto the LORD our God, but also that we would be a people who draw near at and through the altar, a people who experience the fire of God upon the altar, and a people who aren’t just satisfied with the fire of God upon the altar, but who desperately desire the glory of the living God in the Holy of Holies as we experience the divine presence of the LORD our God whom we both worship and serve.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s