Space for the Ark in the Holy of Holies
The Ark of the Covenant had been resting within the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle in Jerusalem since David retrieved it from Obed-Edom. Once the temple was finished, at the ceremony of consecration, Solomon calls for the priests to get the Ark from the tabernacle and bring it to the place within the new temple made especially for it: the Holy of Holies. Normally only the selected high priest could even enter the Holy of Holies on the day of Atonement once a year. but on this day several priests are allowed to enter so that the Ark might be appropriately placed. They are reverent and righteous in the actions; and the scripture writer records that all the priests had prepared themselves as if they were the ones entering the Holy of Holies and when they emerged, they erupted into praise and suddenly “the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the Temple.
But then something happened. Somehow it gets covered up, forgotten, left for a bygone era. So that just a couple hundred years after it’s consecration, it’s in such disrepair, that the new king (Josiah) has to do fundraisers to get it open again. And it’s while they are cleaning up the place that Josiah is introduced to a book he’s never seen before: the law of Moses. Now, hold the phone. So this can’t truly be the actual tablets of the 10 Commandments, the original covenant God makes with Israel. But it is the ancient work of Moses that regulates temple worship. And the king had never seen it. How do we get from glory to forgotten? And before we judge too harshly, aren’t we capable of the same in our lives.?
Making room in my life for Holy of Holies (the Holy Spirit):
1. Room in my calendar: Sabbath-rest. Hebrews chapter 4 explains that the gift of Jesus Christ is rest for our souls, and it’s something we can experience in part now and in full later. Sabbath wasn’t something God thought up along the way. We are told that God sabbathed or God rested when He knew creation was perfect. And since he delivered us from bondage, he has invited to also rest. We rest because we trust. We teach and believe that God has given us a day, one holy day, to spend resting in the Lord. Rest isn’t the same as sleeping. It’s trusting, fully leaning, depending completely on God. Sabbath is our privilege. Keeping a day holy for God demonstrates my trust in God to keep my world spinning. I recently explained to a friend that on my Sabbath, I give my rested self to my world. I engage in activities that bring my soul closer to God. I position myself to hear from God, to receive large doses of wisdom and refreshing. I participate in activities that allow my soul to remember things like, those who wait on the Lord will be renewed. And My strength is in the hope and joy of the Lord. I check to see, am I yoked with Christ, or have I throughout the week slipped his yoke and found a heavier one to carry?
2. Room in my budget: tithe-gift of first fruit. There is a robust teaching of the tithe, the setting aside the first 10% of income to give to the work of God in the Old Testament. And the prophets and Jesus continually returned back to this teaching, not as a math equation, but as a heart issue. “Test me on this…” the Lord speaks through the prophet Malachi. And Jesus, when teaching his disciples said, “when you give…” offering up the assumption that of course as followers, we are givers. But if you are looking for a clear explanation to the church about whether or not to give 10% of your gross income or your net income, and should you give once a week, or once a year, and any other number of questions we pastor field about tithing, that kind of detail isn’t present. Rather, for the New Testament church, because we are filled with the Holy Spirit who fills us with all wisdom, we are to listen to the Spirit’s instruction, and give according to the Spirit’s direction. A New Testament teaching on giving which may be helpful to you is found in 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.” This passage brings out four points: we should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately.
The matter of your giving is between you and God, and He always takes into account our circumstances. He knows when they are beyond our power to direct and control. The important thing is that we see giving as a privilege and not a burden. It should not be out of a sense of duty, but rather out of love for the Lord and a desire to see His kingdom advanced.
Second Corinthians 9:6-7 says: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
3. Room in my relationships: church fellowship. Hebrews 10 encourages us not give up meeting with the brothers and sisters of the church. The early church met together regularly…sometimes daily, no less than weekly “with glad and sincere hearts.” They prayed, sang, shared communion and saw to the needs of the community. They had all things in common. The entirety of the New Testament is based upon the premise that believers in Christ were meant for or purposed for relationship with one another. I was recently asked, “do you think you can grow as a Christian in isolation.” My response was no. I can learn all the scripture there is about love, about forgiveness, about grace, about generosity…but if I’m not practicing it…
Okay…running analogy…coach offers ways to be a better runner. Stretch. Diet. Diversified training schedule. Good shoes. Can I run without those things. Sure. But not as long, not as fast, not with much enjoyment. God’s grace sustains even if we never look his way. “I cause the rain and the sun to fall on both the wicked and the righteous.” But for those who desire to run the race as though to win the prize, the coach has offered award winning tools and tips.
Or what about the dentist who was such a legalist that he insisted that we brush all our teeth. And when pestered about the weightiness of such an expectation finally relented and said, “No, we don’t need to brush all our teeth, only the ones we want to keep.”
You don’t have to give, you don’t have to serve, you don’t have to practice Sabbath rest, you don’t have to be in fellowship with other believers. But don’t be surprised when your faith starts to grow dim, and what was once a vibrant heart with an altar of praise for the Lord filled with memorials of times when God answered prayer, has become a storage closet with faith on the shelf, closed and dark, awaiting some future season when life isn’t too much.