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A Meeting With God

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A MEETING WITH GOD

TEXT: Exodus 25:1-22

“And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”

PROPOSITION: God seeks after us to meet with Him above and beyond the mercy seat

ANTITHESIS: 

People desire to have a relationship with God and worship him by many means and by using multiple instruments of worship.

THESIS:

However, the reality is, no matter what we do to seek God, no matter how many ways we try to relate to God, it’s not us that are seeking after God but rather God is seeking after us, God is seeking to meet with us.

RELEVANT QUESTION:

Since God provided such discriminate detail in his plan for Moses to make the ark, and since God allowed His people to come through so much to capture the three sacred commemorative vessels of worship, and since Moses went through so much pain staking work to build the mercy seat, why does God tell Moses that he will meet with him “above these things”? 

SYNTHESIS:

  1. God told Moses to meet Him above the mercy seat because He did not want Moses, the children of Israel, or us to confine Him to a place or the past.

  1. God told Moses to meet Him above the mercy seat because He wanted Moses, the children of Israel, and us to understand that there is a difference between work and worship.

  1. God told Moses to meet Him above the mercy seat because He wanted Moses, the children of Israel, and us to understand that the ark, the sacred items, and the mercy seat is temporary but God is eternal.

CELEBRATION

PREACH!!!


A MEETING WITH GOD

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and in Creation, there is a time in life when the people that God created desire a relationship with him.  Non-Christians begin to sense an innate desire or longing for a relationship with Him who created them.  Christians desire a deeper relationship with God, a more real, meaningful intimate relationship with God.

They begin to ask questions like: Who created me?  What is my purpose in life?  What about life after death?  Is there a heaven or is there a hell?  Where does the soul go when I die?  Does God know what’s going on in my life?   And Jesus says, in response to their questions, “if any desire to follow after him they must first deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow him.”

Developing a relationship with God requires sacrifice.  For some, it is not easy and often they seek to have a relationship with Him by many means.  Some do it by reading about God in the bible.  Some do it by engaging in works for God, while still others by practicing specific rituals or religious habit.  Oftentimes, some blunder, some hiccup, some catastrophic circumstance in life catapults many into deeper fellowship with God.

The non-Christians begin to seek and search for a higher power; while Christians pray and connect to the Power.  Non-Christians begin to investigate religions, while the Christians cultivate their relationship with God.  Non-Christians begin to go to Church, but the Christians begin to worship.  Non-Christians begin their quest in search for God, while still the Christians begin to submit to God. 

Developing a relationship with God requires sacrifice and time.  The reality is, however, that no matter what we do to seek God, no matter how many ways we try to relate to God, it is not us that is seeking after God but rather it is God that is seeking after us. 

I know, many of you have read Tommy Tenny, the author of the book God Chasers, who asserts we must chase hard after God.  That’s nice for exciting evangelical Christianity, and that’s great for selling books, but the truth is God chases after us.  I’ve got good ground to stand on too.  The bible says in…

Psalm 53:2 God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
Matthew 15:24 Jesus said I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel 
Luke 15 It’s not the lost sheep the finds the shepherd but it’s the shepherd that’s left the 99 in the fold to go and find the lost sheep 
Luke 15 It’s the woman who finds the coin and the coin finding the woman

That brings me to the text for today.  Moses, the sun sheik prophet of Israel, Moses, the divinely destined deliverer, Moses, God’s Midianite Messenger, Moses, God’s man was instructed by God himself, in Exodus 24, to come and worship God, along with Aaron and his sons: Abihu, Nadab, and seventy of the elders.  According to Exodus 24:2, Moses alone was permitted to draw near to God.  Evidently God spoke to Moses, and Moses in turn told all the people what the Lord said.  Then all the people answered, with one voice saying, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”  Moses took the book of the covenant, read it to all the people, and again, the people responded, “all that the Lord has spoken we will do.”  Then for 40 days and 40 nights Moses stayed on the mount of God, meeting with God and receiving instruction from God.

God instructed Moses to have the children of Israel bring an offering from all whose heart led them to give.  From their entire offering, Moses was instructed to build the tabernacle, the portable place of meeting, the sanctuary, where God would dwell and meet with his people, and his people would worship and meet with him.  And for the next five chapters in Exodus, Moses records the instructions that God gave him for the design of the place of worship, the tabernacle, the sanctuary, the place of meeting with God and the instruments of worship.

In Chapter 30, God provided the procedures on how to prepare for worship.

In Chapter 29, God decided to dedicate the priest for service in overseeing the operation of the tabernacle and helping people maintain their relationship with God.

In Chapter 28, God instructed Moses on the making of the garments for the priesthood.

In Chapter 27, God instructed Moses on the making of the alter and the creation of the court which was the gathering place of the worshippers and the pivotal place of praise.

In Chapter 26, God instructed Moses on building the curtain or veil, used to separate the holy place from the most holy place.

In Chapter 25 God instructs Moses on how to make the golden lamp stand, the plates and dishes (instruments of worship), an when & where to set the showbread.

Most importantly, above all the other things that Moses was to make and place in the tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant.   Here in Ex 25:1-22, the first instrument of worship that God instructed Moses to make is the ark of the covenant.  Before we go too far into the details of the ark, let me pause parenthetically and say that in order for Moses to make the tabernacle, in order for Israel to be obedient and do all that the Lord said, in order for Moses to build the instruments of worship, the people of Israel would have to sacrifice and give.  God required the entire nation of Israel to make an offering from their hearts.  It was going to require sacrifice, material sacrifice, sacrifice of time, sacrifice of talent, sacrifice of treasure, and above all of the sacrifice, extreme obedience to God.

In the tabernacle behind the veil or curtain made of purple, scarlet, and blue and hung on 4 pillars of acacia wood, was the ark of the covenant.  The Ark – the chief symbol of God’s covenant with his people that he would deliver them and lead them into a land of plenty; The Ark – the chief symbol of the power and the presence of God; The ark of the covenant, placed behind the curtain, separating the holy place from the holy of holies, was the most sacred object in the tabernacle, and rightly so the most costly.  Once a year the High priest, Moses and/or Aaron, would go into the second tent, make a blood offering for his self and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people of Israel.

The ark, constructed of acacia wood, grown only in the wilderness, wood grown out of very dry ground, was strong enough to withstand extreme conditions and survive, symbolizing the strength of God and the ability of God to redeem his people out of their wilderness experience.  The ark, made of acacia wood, was overlaid inside and out with pure gold, gold that had been tried in the fire, symbolizing the divine glory and purity of God.  The ark, a foretaste of the Christ to come was carried by two poles made of acacia wood, overlaid with Gold and placed through four rings, on in each corner, cast from God.

God chose Moses, the stammering tongue, excuse giving, dessert running murderer.  God chose Moses, the Midianite sheep tender, to build His ark, a rectangular box 2 ½ cubit in length, 1-½ cubits in width, and 1 cubit in height.  God said, “Moses, make an ark, 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 18 inches deep, and make a mercy seat, the lid of the ark and there I will meet with you from above the mercy seat.  Do you see it?  It was about as long and wide as this pulpit, and about as high or deep as this bulletin, do you see it?

Inside the ark were three things, three sacred items used to commemorate God and cause the people to worship God as they remembered what the Lord did for them while the priests and the people came into the tent of meeting.  First there was  the  golden urn or jar containing an omer (2.3 liters or 2 quarts) of manna was placed inside the ark as a testimony, for all generations to come, to the way God provided food for the Children of the wilderness.

When the children of Israel left Egypt, rather was lead out of Egypt, on their way to the Promised Land, about halfway between Elim and Mount Sinai, the people in the congregation began to complain and murmur against Moses and Aaron.  They said, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in Egypt.  For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill the whole assembly with hunger.”  The Lord heard their complaining and heard their murmuring and told Moses to test the people to see whether they would follow his instructions and to tell the people, “you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out and not us, in the morning you will see the Glory of the Lord, he has heard your complaining against the Lord, for who are we that you should complain against us. Your complaint is not against us, our complaint is against the Lord.

When you complain against the leader, you complain against God.  When you murmur about the leader, your mummer about God.  But God responded to their complaining, not by wiping them out, but by sending them manna down from heaven as a test to see whether they would follow his instructions.  Instead of blasting them out of existence, God sent Manna to make them dependent on him.  For 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, God tested the Children of Israel’s trust to follow his Instructions and their very survival depended on that trust.

Manna is the provisions of God dispensed by the Grace of God.  Manna, manna, manna – what is it?   Manna, in the Hebrew, literally means, “indescribable.”  Manna is a heavenly provision, which can only be described by comparing it to an earthly substance.

Manna is the provision of God in the wilderness.

Manna is a demonstration of divine provision.

Manna is the divine response to a complaining people.  

Manna is the symbol of the unknown, never seen before blessing of God given in spite of disobedience. 

Manna is the symbol of God’s provision prior to the Promised Land!

Manna was dew like, fine flaky, substance that was similar to coriander seed.  It was white as frost.  God sent it only in the morning, and the only way to get it was for the man of the house to rise early in the morning and collect it.  Now they could only collect an omer, but that which they collected was enough for their families need.  They had to get up, be obedient, go out, trust God, demonstrate faith, and gather their daily omer.

                             For 40 years, the Children of Israel ate manna, throughout all of their grumbling and all of their complaining God still provided.  Now notice when they went out, they were not complaining.  Now sisters, mothers, wives, don’t complain to your man or about your man, husband, because he’s going out to get his manna.  Don’t you know that your blessing is tied up in his.  God didn’t call you to hinder him, hurt him, or hold him back.  God called you to help him.  Help that man get his manna by doing everything you need to do to so that he can be free to get his manna.

                             Church, if you want to build this tabernacle, if you want to build the place where we shall meet with God, if you want to build lives, then don’t complain, don’t criticize, don’t cry, don’t murmur, don’t spread false rumors, don’t speak out in disobedience to God by complaining to and against the Man of God, but get up, go out and get your Manna. Claim what God has for you. And trust him

There was a second sacred item that was placed in the ark as reminder for the people of God to worship God and that was Aaron’s rod.  Numbers 16, 17, and 18 records the story of the rebellion of Korah, his associates, and the nation of Israel rising up against the leader that God chose.  Three times in a row, God demonstrated his power proving to the people that the one he chose to lead his people was Moses and Aaron.

Korah and 250 of his associates questioned why God chose Aaron stating that he and the Levites we holy just as Moses and Aaron were..  He demanded of Moses, “why did God choose Aaron instead of him.”  On another occasion the entire congregation of Israel rebelled against Moses and Aaron because they did not understand what God did.  So God said, “Moses, have all the tribes take a staff or rod, one for each ancestral tribe, from all the leaders:  One staff for Dan, one staff for Asher, one staff for Naphtali, one for Issachar, one for Benjamin, one for Manasseh, one staff for and one staff for the reminder of the twelve tribes of Israel , and write the names of the leaders on the staff and place it in the place of meeting in front of the table of covenant, where I meet with you.  And the staff or rod of the man that I choose shall sprout, thus I will put a stop to the complaining of the people.”

The staff was symbolic of leadership, and Moses’ placing it in front of the covenant was symbolic of the leader in submission to the law or the Word of God.  Notice church, that all of the staff were placed in submission to the law or the Word of God.  So the issue was not that Aaron or Moses were disobedient to God.  Also, notice that each staff or rod is an imperfect piece of dry wood but yet was a tool usable by them to lead the people of God.  This symbolizes God’s ability to use those that he has placed in leadership whether they are perfect or not!

Korah’s concerns and the congregations issue concerning Aaron’s leadership cannot be about perfection, nor are their concerns and criticisms about Moses’ and Aaron’s submission to God.  So what was the problem?  Their problem was about whether God placed them, that is Aaron and Moses, in authority.  Ultimately their problem was trust and dare I say it, it was a problem of disrespect of leadership and downright jealousy.   In response to this God did something miraculous, something unusual.  The staff of Aaron, a dead, dried up, crooked piece of wood, which was placed in the tent of meeting before the table of law, began to sprout in the morning, producing blossoms and bearing fruit.  Now, when this happened the nation of Israel was wandering around in the wilderness in a hot dry place.  The staff was dry and was not connected to any trunk, nor did it have any roots.  But God, God decided that Aaron’s staff would bud, Aaron’s staff would produce blossoms, and reproduce fruit after its own kind.

But wait a minute; the symbolism of the almond is found in the meaning of its name.  The word almond in the Hebrew means to guard or watch over, it means “a foreshadow of what is to come” and it signifies a major change.  So Aaron’s rod in the ark was a symbol to prove that Aaron was the appointed leader of God.  Moses’ time was drawing near to an end, but God was raising up another watchman, an alert watchman, a foreshadow of one to come.  The budding staff acknowledged Aaron as high priest and was both the pronouncement and confirmation of Aaron’s leadership by God himself.  The head of the other tribes brought a dead staff, but only God put life into Aaron’s.  That which was dead was now made alive.

Then the third sacred item ark was that table of stone representing the living word of God, written by the hand of God.  It represented the moral government of God, the instructive commands of God, and the ethical and moral precept of God.

That’s what was in the Ark, now let’s look at what was on the ark that was used as an instrument of worship.  God instructs Moses, in Exodus 25:17, to make a mercy seat of pure God.  The mercy seat was a lid or cover for the ark.  In scripture, the mercy seat is spoken of as distinct from the ark.  On the surface, the literal symbolism of the mercy seat signifies a covering in the sense of forgiveness of sin.

When the priest would smear or sprinkle blood of sacrificed animals on the mercy seat, the mercy seat became the place where God showed himself merciful in forgiving sins.  However, more than that, and on a deeper level, as a result of and in consequence of the sprinkling of blood on the seat and the sacrifice being made whether from bulls, goats, cattle, sheep, lambs, doves, or pigeons, whether it was a trespass offering, sin offering, peace offering, or burnt offering, the mercy seat was where God was propitiated.  Propitiation is a big twenty-five (25) cent word that means “the divine satisfaction of the righteous requirement of God for death to take place because of sin.  So, instead of us dying because of sin, the blood that was shed, the sacrifice by death of animals that was made satisfied God’s requirement for death to take place because of sin and as a result God was propitiated.  I know its Sunday morning and we should not have such heavy theological conversation, but come on and get aboard.

Instead of us dying animals were substituted.  Instead of our blood being shed, their blood was shed and sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement representing that the righteous sentence of the law had been executed, turning the place of judgment into a place of mercy.

And we all need God’s mercy, don’t we?  Let me see that hand of everybody in the house, on the sanctuary, the place of meeting with God, does not need God’s mercy.  I’m covered up right now, but I may need his mercy in a little while.  I know you’re in church now, and you’ve got your Sunday go to meeting clothes on, but let you mind go back a little.  Think about that unholy thought, you need His mercy.

Think about that adulterous thought, you need His mercy.  Think about that addiction, that needle in your arm, that substance in your nose, that liquid or smoke in your mouth, you need God’s mercy.  Think about that unbridled tongue, that cuss in your voice, that gossip in your spirit, that lying in your soul, that complaining on your lips, that rage filled anger in your throat., you need God’s mercy.

And so God said, “Moses, make a mercy seat and put it on top of the ark an in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you and then I will meet with you from above the mercy seat, from between the Cherubim that are on the ark.”  When the people of God thought about and remembered the contents of the ark, when they thought about the priest sprinkling the blood on the alter, they would be moved to worship!

When we look into the ark and at the ark we are given multiple reasons why should worship God.  But God said to Moses, “above these things, above he mercy seat, above the ark, above the tables of the covenant, about the rod or staff, above the golden urn of manna, above all these things, there I will meet with you.”  God is saying, “I know you think you’re coming together to meet me, you think you’re going to build that building to meet me, but above all of that, I’m coming to meet with you.

Now, since God provided such discriminate detail in his plan to make the ark, and since Moses went through so much pain staking work to build the ark and mercy seat, and since God allowed His people to come through so much to capture the three sacred vessels contained in the ark as a commemoration and a cause for worship, why does God tell Moses that he will meet with him “above these things”?    Does God indeed intend to imply that what he told Moses to do does not really matter?  I think not.  Was God just making Moses jump through hoops and waste his time?  No!  Then tell me sir, why does God tell Moses that he will meet with him above the mercy seat?

One reason why God told Moses that he would meet with him above the mercy seat is because God wanted Moses, the Children of Israel, and us to know the difference between works and worship.  Turn to your neighbor and say, “there is a difference between works and worship.”  God wanted Moses and us to understand the difference between making the ark and the mercy seat and meeting with him.  Moses making the ark is ministry, but meeting with God is magnification.  Moses making the mercy seat was service, but being with God is development and growth.  Making the ark is public works, but meeting with God is personal worship

Every now and then, and perhaps more now than then, our works keep us form worship.  Our work tires us out, our work frustrates us, and when its time for worship we do not have anything left to give.  Sometimes we’re so busy being busy that we don’t take the time to Worship him who gave us the work.  God wants us, and just our works, for He knows fully well that if he has us, He’s guaranteed our work.  God wants more than our works because sometimes our works are filled with hidden motives.  Sometimes people work for God or get involved in the church for personal gain, and when they realize that there is none, they can’t work for God anymore.  Sometimes people work for God because they don’t want to deal with the realities in their life and they spend all their time at the church because they are trying to escape something somewhere else.  That’s why God would rather have you, because he knows that if He has your heart, service or ministry is not far behind.  God wants us to understand the difference between works and worship!

Another reason why God told Moses that he would meet him above the mercy seat is because God did not want Moses, the Israelites, or us to lock Him into a thing, a time, or a place.

God cannot be localized to a space or a place!  He’s too big to be contained, too powerful to be controlled or constrained, and too holy to be held.  Besides that God is omnipresent, and to localize God into a space just goes against the very nature of God.  Moreover, God did not want Moses, the Israelites, or us to just worship Him because of the ark, his mercy, his provisions, his gifts, his grace, his mighty acts, or a building.  God wants us to worship him because he’s God.  God is more than the mercy seat, more than his miracles, more than the law, more than his provisions.  Those are just some aspects of God and whenever humans try to lock God in or depict God words always fall short and are inadequate because God is still self disclosing himself.  Moreover, God did not want to be locked into the past.  He cannot be localized or constrained by time.  God wanted to meet Moses above the mercy seat because God did not want Moses, the Israelites, or us to worship the Mercy seat.   If we did, God would always be locked into the past.  God is not just a God of the past; He is a God of the present, and the future.  Notice in the text, that God says “I WILL MEETH WITH YOU.”  That’s future, that’s the not yet, that’s the yet to come.  If Moses were allowed to lock God into the past our entire theology that God gave us at the beginning Exodus would have to change.  The “Is-ness” of God would be drastically altered.  God said to Moses, “I Am that I am.”  I’ve got good ground to stand upon too because scripture supports the issue of the “IS-NESS” of God.  There are over 161 scripture references that talk about the “IS-NESS” of God.

Ps 46:1 says God is  our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble

Ps 47:1 says God is the king of all

Ps 54:4 says God is my helper

Ps 59:9 says God is my defense

Ps 68:20 says God is the God of salvation

Ps 73:1 says God is Good

Mt 3:9 says God is Able

Mk 1:15 says God is at Hand

Lk 10:9 says God is come nigh to you

Jn 4:24 says God is a spirit

Acts 10:34 says God is no respecter of persons

1 Cor 1:9 says God is faithful

Gal 3:20 says God is one

Heb 4:12 says God is quick

1 Jn 1:5 says God is light

1 Jn 4:8 says God is love

Rev. 21:3 says God is with men

I tell you God is. That’s what the bible says about the “Is-ness” of God, but grandma Girlie said God is my rock of Gibraltar, God is a heart fixer, God is a mind regulator, God is burden bearer, God is a heavy load sharer.  He is a bridge over troubled water.

There’s one more.  The last reason why God told Moses that he would meet him above the mercy seat is because the Ark was temporary, the mercy seat was temporary, the manna was temporary, the staff was temporary, the law was temporary, but God is forever more.  Christ is forever more.

The first Ark, which was built by Noah, typified God rescuing humanity and creation from destruction.

The second Ark, which was built by Moses, typified the blood of Christ, redeeming and restoring humanity.

But the third Ark, starting during the life of Christ on earth, presently being worked on by the Holy spirit, and yet to be completed, typifies the resurrected Christ and his Church, that us ya’ll, of which Christ is coming back to for to rapture up for eternal reign, rule, and dominion forever.

The first ark was a boat built to rescue humanity

The second ark was box built to redeem and restore humanity

The Third ark is an invisible ship called the ship of Zion it is built to rule and provide rest

The first ark is buried somewhere on a mount called aarat, the second ark was captured by the philistines an no one knows where it is, but the third ark is in the Heavenly of Heavenly.

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