Today we are going to look at one of the major themes of scripture that originates in the books of Genesis and Exodus, and then weaves itself throughout the rest of the Old Testament and into the New Testament and finally climaxes in the book of Revelation! I am convinced that this was one of the major revelations that drove the apostle Paul’s ministry!
- Eph 3:2-6 Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.
- Eph 3:7-9 Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
- Col 1:25-26 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.
- Mystery here is defined as something that is hid. It does not mean that it is something that we have a hard time understanding, but rather it was hidden or concealed, not easily seen.
- So, there is a mystery that God wants us to understand and I believe the reason why he wants us to understand it is because it has everything to do with why God has apprehended you and me!
- Don't we all ask ourselves the same question sometimes, God, why me? Why did you call me? Why did you choose me?
- We will begin looking at this mystery by going back to Genesis 28:10 which reveals to us the very first stage of God's unfolding plan...
Gen 28:10-15 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
- I'm sure you remember the background to this story. This is right after Jacob and his mother had manipulated Isaac into giving the blessing to Jacob rather than Esau. Esau was so furious with Jacob when he found out what Jacob had done, that he wanted to murder him. So Jacob fled to a place called Bethel. That night he took a stone and used it as a pillow, where he was given this amazing dream from God!
- I don't know if you can picture this, but he saw a stairway or a ladder that connected Earth to the heavens. And on the stairway were angels ascending and descending!
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he
thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of
it." 17 He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This
is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."
\Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head
and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that
- Jacob’s first surprise was to discover that God presence was there! Up to this point he was not aware of it! But at that moment, the kingdom of God broke into the kingdom of the earth! The very presence of God broke in or what would become know as the Shekinah glory.
- The Shekinah Glory is a visible manifestation of God on earth, whose presence is portrayed through a natural occurrence. The word shekinah is a Hebrew name meaning “dwelling” or “one who dwells.” Shekinah Glory means “He caused to dwell,” referring to the divine presence of God.
- And of
course, Jacobs reaction was one of surprise and awe! As in, this is
second significant thing that happens here, is that Jacob then goes on to
make the incredible statement that had never been said before: this stone
is none other than the house of God!
Think about this! He was saying that this very ordinary rock, was the
house of God! Notice that he didn't say that the stone was like a house
but was in fact the house of God. This stone that you could pick up and
throw or trip over in the middle of the night, or use as a pillow, was the
very place that God dwelt!
wonder what was more awesome, realizing that God was here or that he dwelt
in a rock.
- Jacob’s response was twofold. First, he took the stone and placed it on an altar, and then secondly, he poured oil over it. In terms of symbolism, this was incredibly significant! Because oil was seen as representing the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
In this story, God reveals the three desires of his heart that will continue to repeat themselves throughout the rest of the Old Testament, and into the New Testament!
1. And the vessel God desires to dwell in and reached out through, must be something tangible, physical, and embraceable. It must be something you can not only see, but could get hold of physically, feel with your hands or even sleep on it in the night!
- One other thing that I think is important to note here; is that God was not interested in dwelling in an idea or concept or a philosophy! But that God wanted to dwell in something practical. Something tangible that he could also meet the needs of humanity through.
2. He wants to dwell, live, and reside on the earth. This is the same thing he revealed to us in the Garden of Eden! But unfortunately got lost because sin entered the world. So here, once again, He is expressing his desire to establish a personal connection with the Earth. He wants a bridge, a gateway between heaven and earth, between the unseen realm and the seen realm.
3. It was here that God met Jacob's deepest needs and put to rest his greatest fears and insecurities.
- Gen 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."
- As you can see, a deal is struck! If God met his personal needs, then Jacob would worship God and makes this place not only the dwelling place of God, but the meeting place of God.
- This place where God dwelt in, then gave way to the next identifiable expression of God’s house!
Phase 2: the Tabernacle of Moses
- We covered this in depth on Day 8, so let me only give you a quick review here. The Tabernacle of Moses was 150 x 75' structure that had three different courts within it, an outer court, inner court and what they call the holy of holiest.
- And the Tabernacle contained only six pieces of furniture. In the outer court it was the altar of sacrifice and the brazenly laver. In the inner court, where only the priests were allowed to go in and minister to God, there were three pieces of furniture. The golden candlestick which was kept lit 24 hours a day, the table of showbread with 12 loaves of bread on it representing each of the 12 tribes. And the altar of incense, which is where the priest offered up worship and prayers to God.
- In the holy of holiest, there was only one piece of furniture, the Ark of covenant. The Ark was where the very presence of God dwelt.
- Now listen to God's own description of this house of God;
- Ex 29:42-46 "For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. "So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
- In this text we find a three-part formula. 1) I will be your God 2) you will be my people 3) and I will dwell in the midst of you! This same formula will appear over 20 times in the Old Testament and will also appear in the new, most notably at the very end of the Bible as John sums up the plan of God by saying;
- Revelations 21:3 "Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them, and will be their God.
- Back to Exodus, the Tabernacle of Moses replaced Bethel and became the new dwelling place of God. Meaning, God has a new home address, and that this place now became the gateway to the heavens.
- You surely wouldn't have thought of that by looking at it from afar, because it was covered with old animal skins. But on the inside, it was spectacular! Silver, brass and wonderful colorful fabrics filled the inside.
- Furthermore, the same pattern we saw emerge at Bethel, is now found here as well!
1. This place was definitely tangible, because not only could you trip over it in the middle of the night, but you can actually run into it. It was physical because you could see it from afar. It was relatable because you could go in and come out and find God in a practical way.
2. This was the new dwelling place of God!
3. This was the place that God met with people, spoke to people, and met their needs. No matter what their needs were, whether it was forgiveness or learning about God or getting direction for their lives or protection, it was found only here. Meaning, back in those days, if you wanted to find God, you had to find Tabernacle.
- It is important to point out the differences here between Bethel and the Tabernacle of Moses. One difference was that the Tabernacle was obviously bigger! A second difference was that it touched far more people. In the first house, only Jacob's needs were met. But here, all the needs of Israel were met.
- You see, the revelation of Moses Tabernacle was like God blowing into a balloon that got just got bigger! God first breathed into the balloon with the revelation of his house that he first gave to Jacob. Now God now added to that revelation with another breath through what he revealed to Moses!
- And we will see this pattern continue all the way through the end of the bible. Every new house that God initiates contains and gives us a new revelation about God!
Phase 3: Solomon's
- Many years later, Moses Tabernacle gave way to Solomon’s Temple. And the first big difference one would notice was its size! This place was huge, almost double the size of what Moses tabernacle was. The furniture was bigger and in some cases more. Now, in the inner court, you had 10 candlestick instead of one. 10 tables of showbread instead of one. The brazen laver was like a small swimming pool.
- Using standards from 40 years ago, it was estimated that it would cost $174 billion dollars to replace it. Plus another 9 1/2 million dollars just to cover the cost of the first day sacrifices.
- 2 Chron 6:1-2 Then Solomon said, "The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever."
- 2 Chron 6:32-33"As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm-when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
- 2 Chron 6:41-7:3 "Now arise, O LORD God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, may your saints rejoice in your goodness. O LORD God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant." When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it.
- Once again we see the threefold pattern...
1. This place was tangible, physical and relatable! One could see it, feel it and now, even hurt themselves by running into it in the middle of the night.
2. This became the next dwelling place of God! In other words, this was another new address where he would now live and take up residence. Clearly, when he moved in, it was an amazing event!
3. It was the place God would meet their needs! The difference being that in the tabernacle of Moses, he met only the needs of Israel. Here, God would meet the needs for the whole world! Whatever need existed, it was here they needed to seek God for an answer.
- There is one more difference that needs to be noted! While Moses Tabernacle was portable, this one was permanent! While Moses Tabernacle could roam the desert, the sheer size and weight of this temple, made moving impossible!
- This (pardon the pun) is no small thing. In fact, this segment will now become part of the three-fold pattern, making it a four-fold pattern! Of course the people of that time didn’t see that. They would have concluded that this temple was the complete culmination of God’s purposes, but that was far from the truth.
- God had another breath of revelational wind, that he wanted to blow into balloon! A revelation that still to this day, confounds the world! Nevertheless, he needs us, his people, to understand! Otherwise, we would have ended up missing the greatest gift ever given to humanity! The birth of his son!
Phase 4: Emanuel
- Matt 1:22-23 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-which means, "God with us."
- Practically, this means that the old temple gave way to a new temple, a man child. In other words, God found another new address.! But this time it was in the form of a living, breathing, moving human being!
- John 1:43-51 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
- "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."
- Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
- Where have we heard this last phrase before? Do you remember? This is vision that Jacob had when he has at Bethel! Meaning, Jesus was the fulfillment of Jacobs’s ladder! Jesus in a sense became Jacobs ladder, where now he became the bridge between heaven and earth! So that every aspect of the pattern that God had established throughout the Old Testament, was also now found in Christ!
1. Obviously, Jesus was real, physical person! He was a baby who grew up into a grown man! You could see him, hear him, smell him, and hug him! But now, he could hug back! Meaning, he was relatable, and was now someone you could interact with and get to know personally.
- Now while this seems obvious, some claim that Jesus never came in the flesh. John refutes that in his letters; 2 John 7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body.
- From this we learn that denying that Christ came in the flesh is the work of the enemy! In other words, Satan does not want us to know this important truth. Or he wants people at the very lease to doubt the truth of this statement.
2. God dwelt fully on the Earth's in the person of Jesus Christ. Mark 1:9-11 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
- From this moment on, Jesus became God’s new address. If you wanted to find God, you needed to find Jesus! For in him, God’s spirit dwell in fulness! John 3:34-35 For he (Jesus) is sent by God. He speaks God's words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit.
3. But not only was Jesus the dwelling place of God, He was the meeting place of God! Wherever Jesus went, the crowds surrounded him looking to get their needs met. Whether people needed healing, forgiveness, encouragement, wisdom, or truth, they now found it in the person of Jesus!
4. Jesus was permanent! Isaiah in the Old Testament prophesied about this; Isa 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
- Now after all this, one would think that this was it, Jesus was the complete fulfillment of all that God had revealed to his people throughout the Old Testament. But that’s not the case! God doesn't stop there! He had one more huge breath of life and that he needed to blow into this amazing unfolding revelation of God's house which brings us to...
Phase 5: The New
- Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
- Exactly 50 days after Passover when Jesus was crucified, and buried and then raised from the dead, came this event. Ten days before this, right before Jesus had ascended into the heavens, he had told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the Holy Spirit.
- Acts 1:4-5 "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
- Acts 1:8 you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
- It’s significant that in the Old Testament, fifty days after the first Passover, on what became known as the day of Pentecost, Moses had brought the children of Israel to Mount Sinai where they received the law.
- In the New Testament, 50 days after Passover, the day when Jesus had been crucified, the disciple’s were up in the upper room in Jerusalem praying on the day of Pentecost, when they had this experience!
- Acts 2:1-4 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
- This event now became the fulfillment of the day the prophet Jeremiah prophesied about 600 years earlier: Jer 31:33-34 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
- After God poured out his Spirit on the 120 disciples, they then went into the streets and began preaching the gospel in every tongue so that each person could now hear the gospel in their own language. In other words, this event gain birth to a unity not seen since the Tower of Babel where God divide people by giving them different languages so that they could not understand each other.
- Of course, when the rest of the people in Jerusalem heard all the commotion, they begin to accuse the disciples of dipping into the wine even though it was only nine in the morning.
- So Peter gets up to preach his first sermon. Remember, this is the same Peter who had been so full of fear that he denied Christ three times! That was only 50 days ago! So, what happened? I will tell you what happened, he got filled with the power of the presence of God!
- Peter gets up and begins to preach by quoting a prophecy from the prophet Joel; Acts 2:17-18 In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
- Are you hearing what he is saying? Listen again, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, your sons, daughters, men, women, old, young, free, and enslaved! In other words, God is after, and has always been after a whole community of redeemed saints in whom he would dwell in, causing them to become the prophetic expression of himself upon the earth.
- It’s the church that God has been after since the beginning of time! He has always wanted a people from every sex, race, and nation in which he would dwell in, be intimate with and use as his instrument of blessing to the world!
- Col 1:25-27 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
- This is what God has always been after, a prophetic community who not only became the dwelling place of God, but also became the meeting place of God. A people who would be God's hands and feet and voice upon the earth declaring the good news about the coming of Christ, and his dying for our sins, and being raised from the dead that we too might be raised!
- But not only that, but would also become his instrument to bringing healing and deliverance to all those who found themselves ailing and or in demonic bondage!
- You see, it’s here we get our true understanding of what the church of Jesus Christ is. is not an organization or a certain denomination, or a structure or even a set of programs.
- But a living, breathing, active organism. It's a people who have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts and have completely yielded themselves to his lordship. The church is a people filled by his presence, thus enabled to move in his power and love and anointing, reaching out to a needy world.
- And most importantly, that includes you! Your coming to Christ immediately connected and integrated you into God’s purpose, that he has been pursuing for thousands of years! You see, you are now part of a bigger picture! You are now part of God’s overall plan!
- Meaning you have a vital role to play in what God is doing right now, right here! It's in this light then you must consider these verses that emphasized that not only are we the dwelling place of God, but we are the meeting place of God...
- John 14:12-14 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
- Matt 16:18-20 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
- 2 Cor 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
- John 20:21-23 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
- We are all called to do the same things Jesus did here while he was on the earth. And to do these things, he has given us the keys to his kingdom that releases heaven on earth! He has given us his authority to release his compassion and comfort, and forgiveness and healing power!
- How can we do this you might ask? Because you are in covenant with God through Jesus Christ. And because you are now in covenant with God through Jesus Christ, he has put his full resources in you so that he can reach out through you.
- All his love, patience, kindness, goodness, so control, all the fruit of the spirit is now available to you. All the power you will ever need to walk like Christ's, is now yours because the Holy Spirit now resides in you! So, rejoice! Your destiny is great! God’s plan for your life is in refutable!
- Eph 1:7-14 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people — free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!
- He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
- It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
- It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free — signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. THE MESSAGE: