(Show Slide 1)
Title: DO YOU DARE ENTER THE SECRET PLACE?!
Text: John 4:23-24
How is your worship with God? Is it dry? Or does it catch your breath and leave you knowing you have touched God?
Sir Isaac Newton was a brilliant scientist. He said that he could take his telescope and look millions of miles into space. Someone quoted him saying, “But when I lay it aside, go into my room, shut the door, and get down on my knees in earnest prayer, I see more of Heaven and feel closer to the Lord than if I were assisted by all the telescopes on earth.” It’s my hope that you will find that secret place before we leave here this morning.
I think we all come to church with the expectation of feeling God’s presence here. But there’s something more than feeling the presence of God in church! There’s more to worship than singing songs of praise and lifting your hands! It’s actually entering the presence of God!
There was a woman that encountered Jesus, and the words He spoke to her reveal what the Father really seeks from each of us. It’s the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus made a surprising detour into Samaria for a divine appointment. He meets a woman with a shady reputation. But it is to this woman that Jesus revealed the deepest meaning of true worship. Turn to John 4. Jesus confronted the woman about her sinful relationship with several men. She tried to distract Him by asking whether the Samaritans or the Jews were right about WHERE to worship God…Mt. Gerazim or Jerusalem. Jesus told her that you can’t confine God to a place. Folks, God is not confined to this auditorium, so if you entered here to find Him…you walked right past Him! Look at the words Jesus said to the woman. John 4:21-24
Truth and spirit. When we worship in truth, we have to give up any pretenses. God sees right through the mask. You see, false worship pulls us into doing it ritually. When you hide behind a mask, you cannot enter into true worship. And then there’s worshipping in the spirit. That’s the place I want to help you find! Notice in verse 24, “for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” The word “seek” = zeteo = seek after, kept trying to obtain. The word “worship” = proskuneo = bow before, prostrate yourself before. So put together: the Father keeps on seeking, trying to obtain worshipers that will bow prostrate before Him. Will you be one of them?
When I asked myself, “How do you worship in truth and spirit?”, my long search took me back to the beginning of worship in the O.T. where God laid down a blueprint of worship. I began to see what God wants us to enter into through the plan He laid out in the Tabernacle and the Temple.
(Show Slide 2) Outer court (only Jewish men) w/ bronze laver for washing, bronze altar for burnt offerings; Holy Place (only priests) with lamp stands, altar of incense & table of show bread; Holy of Holies with ark of the covenant with the mercy seat (only the High Priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement, bells on robe & rope on ankle).
(Show Slide 3) This is a picture of Herod’s Temple that he built for the Jews. He added the golden lions with wings that were not originally in the Tabernacle or Solomon’s Temple.
(Show Slide 4) Altar of Incense
(Show Slide 5) Table of Show Bread
(Show Slide 6) Ark of the Covenant
(Show Slide 7) The Temple (point out where things were set up)
As I contemplated God’s very explicit design, a pattern of worship began to open before my eyes. God is a Triune God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit. We were made in His image, and that image encompasses all that we are: spirit, soul & body. Likewise there are 3 distinct areas of the Tabernacle/Temple: Outer Court, Holy Place & the Holy of Holies. When I saw the three sets of threes, I began looking for any correlation.
(Show Slide 8) Here’s what my discovery led me to. The Brazen Laver and the Brazen Altar are made of bronze. Bronze is a mixture of several metals. Among metallurgists, it is a dirty metal because it is not pure. In the O.T. it was a metal that represents filthiness. The common man in Israel was welcome to come here and wash himself and the sacrifice before it was offered on the altar. Immediately the application came to mind.
(Show Slide 9A) It is in the Outer Court where our flesh must be dealt with before we proceed in worship. I want to urge you to approach Sunday worship differently. Take care of the deeds of your flesh before you enter to worship! Spend time at home in prayer before you ever get here…so that you can go deeper! (Show Slide 9B) It is here the sacrifice must be given/acknowledged before proceeding. How do you take care of the deeds of your flesh? By confessing them and asking Jesus to WASH them away by His sacrifice on the cross!
What I am about to say next has the potential of revolutionizing your worship. (Show Slide 10A) The Outer Court is where we get real about ourselves before God. Idol worship isn’t just about images in stone…sometimes it’s about worship of your self-image! You may put on the appearance of a spiritual person, but appearances are made of bronze…and it’s impure! And you know what? Only God knows whether your self-image is bronze or pure gold! None of us here are to judge.
(Show Slide 10B) The Bronze Laver is where we wash our hands and feet…to wash away the desire to be in power over others. “Laver” in the Hebrew also means “stage or pulpit.” Ah – the stage…the place we fear the most and want the most! The stage is our platform of our opinions. But the fleshly thing we are inclined to do is to push them onto others…manipulating to the point that it becomes overwhelming! When this happens…we need to take a trip to the Brazen Laver. (Show Slide 11) The Brazen Laver is in the outer court to remind us that we must get pure in our relationships with others before proceeding in worship. If your relationship with your family is full of strife when you enter here, you will miss the intimate worship with God you could have if you enter in peace, ready to meet God! (Pray)
Having taken care of the flesh in the Outer Court, we are ready to move into the Holy Place. (Show Slide 12) “Wait a minute Ralph! I thought only the Priests could go in there!” Guess what? God has made you a priest! 1 Peter 2:5, 9 (Show Slide 13) “You, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a HOLY PRIESTHOOD, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… (Show Slide 14) You are a chosen race, a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” So that means God now intends for you to enter the Holy Place.
(Show Slide 15A) The Holy Place bids us to deal with our soul. The Bible reveals that our soul is our mind, will & emotions. In the Holy Place are the lamp stand, the altar of incense and the table of show bread. (Show Slide 15B) The lamp represents the eye to the soul…it bids us to ask: “Is there light or darkness there?” Are you guarding carefully what your eyes look at? Images have a way of rehearsing themselves when we let our mind wander. (Show Slide 15C) The altar of incense represents the aroma of your soul…it bids us to ask: “Is it sweet?” In the Temple incense was offered up with prayers. If our soul is right with others, God is going to smile down on us when we pray because it smells sweet to Him! (Show Slide 16) The Table of Show Bread represents the bread of life…it bids us to ask: “Are you feeding your soul from the Word of God?” I’ll tell you…there’s nothing like discovering God in His Word when His Spirit opens your eyes to the treasures that are hidden there!
This is the place where many of us stop. We stop at the Outer Court because getting real about the eye of our soul is too threatening for some of us. We’ve had things hidden in our soul for so long that we don’t know how to release them. But I want to encourage you to find rest for your soul so that you can encounter the real presence of God in the Holy of Holies! (Pray)
I have some fantastic news for you! (Show Slide 17) While the Lord was hanging on the cross, the veil was torn in two, making it possible for all to enter the Holy of Holies. Are you afraid to enter? Some have a hard time embracing the idea of intimacy with God. Something has happened that keeps them from being vulnerable before a God who knows everything about you anyway. He knows…He knows and He still died for you so that He could embrace you! The secret is only hurting you…you’re not hiding it from Him.
Do you want to know something comforting about the Holy of Holies? (Show Slide 18) There were no lamps in the Holy of Holies…no one could see in there…no one was looking…it’s only you and God. Folks, beyond the torn veil is where the mercy seat of God awaits us. Why is it called the mercy seat? Because that’s where the High Priest poured out blood on the Day of Atonement…and that was the day God pushed their sins away…He pushed them onto a tree on Calvary where His own Son died for you so that YOU could walk right into the (Show Slide 19) Holy of Holies and find mercy…the mercy you need to set your spirit free to worship Him in truth and spirit! The Holy of Holies is the place where our spirit touches God! It’s in the Holy of Holies where all the things of the world that weigh us down get taken care of. It’s before the Mercy Seat that we find the quiet place of rest and our spirit soaring as with eagle’s wings. For worship to be what God meant it to be, you’ve got to cleanse the flesh, resolve the issues of the soul, and then engage Him with your spirit!
(Show Slide 20 & leave on until the end) It’s in the secret place where the power of God is available…Aaron’s rod is hidden there! Here is where you find God’s constant provision…the golden jar of manna is hidden there! And it’s the intimate place where you find God’s embrace…because He sits on the Mercy Seat waiting for you there with open arms!
Let me help you finish your journey into the Holy of Holies. I know this world advertises every kind of means to feed the flesh. But the message of the blueprint of the Tabernacle is that if you cleanse your flesh and your soul is enlightened…your spirit is finally going to the find communion with the Lord that you have longed for since you were born!!!
I’ve got two questions for you: Isn’t it about time you laid it all down and entered the Holy of Holies?!!! I wonder what it would be like if the Spirit of God was free to do whatever He wanted in you?!! What would it be like?!! You can get it all settled right now. Just humbly bow your head and let’s walk together into the Holy of Holies. Pray.