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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The fire from Heaven...

Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter2:5

You can know things for a long time then suddenly the Holy Spirit illuminates something & you go, Wow!  How did I miss that? It happens to me a lot when the old mind starts drifting.

All my life I have heard how we are a temple for the Holy Spirit & I took it pretty much for granted ~ as you do when you don't stop & think about what it is you're being told.  Gotta wonder how that happens when I had no idea about the Jewish temple, it's structure or purpose, & it was years before the penny dropped that I couldn't just transpose the word *church* for temple & that, in fact, they are not the same thing at all. Like everyone else I work from what I know, which means I often work retrospectively.

Now there is a whole morass of symbolism surrounding the temple to do with the inner & outer courts & the Holy of Holies & I did eventually get around to studying that but Dino has had me sitting in the car workday mornings waiting on his boat [which has been arriving later & later] & while we wait we listen to Chuck Swindoll.  What Chuck has been preaching on has been what the Israelites were doing in the desert for 40 years when it is an 11 day journey! And suddenly a whole series of symbols starting slamming me in the face: Wham! Wham! Wham! All the lights went on & the whole house lit up.  Nothing to do with the point Chuck was actually making but the Lord sure wanted to make sure I got His point.

If I asked you to give me a symbol for the Holy Spirit, &  you were even nominally acquainted with scripture, I'm likely to get one of the following: The dove [beloved symbol of the charismatics], water, which we use in baptism, or oil, which is used for anointing.  Occasionally someone might mention fire.  Fire!

Now here's the thing.  Moses has dragged the Israelites out of Egypt because, according to him, that's what God has told him to do.  I bet you even back then there was some way of waggling your fingers to indicate someone wasn't quite right in the head because hearing voices no~one else can hear isn't considered quite normal & the Israelites were all for getting Moses between themselves & God. 

We all know this story, don't we. God says: I'm going to be with you.  I'll go before you as a pillar of cloud by day & as a pillar of fire by night.  The Israelites built a special tent, which was to house the ark of the covenant, & God's shekinah, his glory, his presence, could be seen abiding in that place.  It abided there until Solomon built the temple when the ark was placed in the Holy of Holies & God shifted house, so to speak. You can read about it in first Kings because as God's presence descended to fill the Holiest of Holies the priests could no longer stand to minister.  In the temple an eternal flame burnt to remind the people that God's presence dwelt there. When the temple was destroyed God's shekinah departed.  It did not return even when the temple was rebuilt & the people mourned the loss of the glory that was Solomon's temple.

Yet here's the thing ~ & it's enough to have me fall on my face with wonder at the grace & mercy of the Lord God. In Haggai, after the rebuilding of the temple, Haggai prophesies,
" The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house!" says the Lord Almighty ~ & He wasn't talking about the 2nd temple! 

Come forward to Pentecost & tell me what was seen.  I will never leave you or forsake you, starts to take on a whole new meaning.  I will baptise you with water & with fire... You see it there at Pentecost.  The tongues of flame come down & anoint the heads of the saints, a visible reminder that we are now the temple of the Lord & His dwelling place is in us & his shekinah fills us. 

The first temple had a veil that hid the Holy of Holies.  That was rent at Calvary.  We are the priest of our temple & Christ is our High Priest & we are free to enter into the Holy of Holies & come face to face with God because Christ has made that possible. 

And that same fire purifies, cleanses, burns away the dross because in Christ we are new beings.  The old has passed away, the new has come.  The evidence should be in transformed lives because we no longer belong to this world.  Remember the Holy of Holies was lined with pure gold & you know gold is refined when the face of the maker is reflected in it. So it is with us.  As the fire of the spirit cleanses, purifies & burns away our dross more & more Christ should shine forth in us  ~ & that is meant to be a very visible difference! As it was in the wilderness for the Israelites, so too for us.  The visible presence of the Lord abides in His people that we might be a witness & a rebuke unto the world.  Shame on us if this is not so.


Ember said...

Hooray! And, as you said what a strange coincidence!! x

seekingmyLord said...

I just read about the building of Solomon's temple and the Holy of Holies for our morning Bible study/devotion.

Here is the last verse and chorus of a song the Lord gave me years ago:

He breathed into this battered clay,
His Spirit now hidden inside,
And I look forward to the day,
When the clay is hidden by the Spirit's Light.

Now I stand before you clay in His hands.
I am not finished, but I'm part of His plan.
You may not see all He is making of me,
But that is all I ever want to be…
That is all I ever want to be.

One other thought...religion works from the outside in, but God works from the inside out. That is why trying to change to be what you think God wants is so much less effective than allowing God to change you Himself. (Notice here the keyword is "allowing" which is so easy to do that it is difficult.)

HomeGrownKids said...

Oh there is so much in this post that I nod along with... especially your experiences with the Word and how the Holy Spirit illuminates various things at different times.

Praise God that we can now enter the Holy of Holies... and stand before God because of the work of Christ. Hallelujah!