Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Don McClure: Well, anyway it's wonderful to be here with you and to be able to share. And this morning, if you would, I'd like you to turn to the book of Exodus, chapter 25, and I want to look at the Ark of the Covenant, and Jesus in the Ark of the Covenant. And here we have, when we get to Exodus 25, God is literally telling Moses how to design the tabernacle.
Now the tabernacle, of course, was the central place of worship in all of the Old Testament for the children of Israel. It's where it's all happened. It's where all the sacrifices and the offerings there were to go on. It's where the Holy Place, and the Holiest of All, and the Holy Place, and the court of the Gentiles, and all of the attributes and functions of the various ways of approach to God, the various sacrifices, the whole priesthood was set up and centered around it.
And so for the children of Israel to come before God, this was it. This was essentially where it happened, where the great place of worship was. And in the center of it was the Ark of the Covenant. And so I'm going to pick it up there where God is speaking to Moses laying out the design of the Ark of the Covenant, and how it's to be made, and then he goes on from there to describe the rest of tabernacle. But the first thing that he mentions in all of it is the Ark of the Covenant itself.
So, in verse 10 of chapter 25 of Exodus, I'll read beginning there. God speaking, of course, to Moses here:
And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold all around. And you shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners; two rings shall be on one side, two rings on the other side. And you shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them. And the poles shall be in the rings of the ark; and they shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.
And you will make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, the other cherub at the other end; and you shall make the cherub at the two ends of it with one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. And you shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you will put the Testimony that I will give you. 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 I will command you in the commandment to the children of Israel.
Let's pray. Our dear Lord Jesus, as we come before you this morning our heart is filled with praise. Lord, thank you for wonderful praise, and, Lord, to be able to sing to you in which you are as our God, and how worthy and how wonderful and glorious you are. We'll love you forever for that. And, Lord, I pray now that as we turn to your book, and we study you, that you would just teach, and feed, encourage every one of us. You know all of our needs. You know every burden, every heartache, every struggle. Would you speak to each one of us individually what we need to hear from heaven even today, we ask it in Jesus' name, amen.
A phrase that I heard many years ago, I don't know where, Bible school or college or seminary or something, but a very simple phrase, but it's a very insightful phrase about the Bible. It says, "The New is in the Old contained, and the Old is in the New explained." In other words, this statement kind of says, you know, there's really not that much new in the New Testament---that is, so much of it is promised and prophesied in the Old Testament, but the New Testament records, you know, for us there that so much that was prophesied and was promised actually happened, it occurred. And so "the New really is in the Old contained."
But it also says "the Old is in the New explained." You see, when you look at the Old Testament all by itself, it's filled with so many pictures and allegories and stories, so many things that go on. Well, you know they're pointing to something, you know that they've got some meaning behind it, but can be very difficult sometimes to interpret. "Well, what is it?"
But the New Testament has this wonderful way of shedding incredible light on all of it. For example, of course, in the Old Testament the children of Israel, you know, in coming before God it was to be with shed blood and the lamb there that they brought year by year before God to sacrifice. They're to come before God, and, of course, millions upon millions of lambs have been slain through the years.
But it wasn't until when Jesus came and John the Baptist sees him, he says, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world." All of these were in the Old Testament. They were looking forward to sins forgiven, forward to the way that God would provide a sacrifice. But now when Jesus came---"There he is. That's the Lamb---the Lamb. Not just another lamb, "the Lamb." They all pointed to him. They had their identity in him.
The children of Israel, of course, you know, when they're out in the wilderness and they had manna that satisfied them or sustained them for forty years in the wilderness. And as they had that, you know, another wonderful picture that we begin to understand more in the New Testament when the Pharisees one time they came to Jesus: "Who are you?" And always, "What do you think you're doing what you're doing?"
And though they were supposed to be Bible scholars, that was their whole purpose was to understand and teach and interpret the Scriptures, but there Jesus turned to the Pharisees and said, "You search the Scriptures, in them you think you have eternal life; they are they that speak of me." They all pointed to Christ, all of the Scriptures. He's the identity, the fulfillment, the interpretation of it.
Hebrews, chapter 1, tells us, "God, who at sundry times and divers manners spake unto us by his prophets now hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Here the Bible says that all the way through the Old Testament different types, symbols, allegories, all these wonderful pictures that you look at in the Old Testament, in diverse times in different ways in all these different ways God was speaking to us, but now it's clarity, it's interpretation of all that finally comes when Jesus came. Now he sheds light and then gives meaning to all of these wonderful, wonderful pictures and different types and ways and manners in which God spoke.
When the children of Israel---they had this manna all the time. It sustained them. One time when they were pressured: "Who are you? Who are you?" the Pharisees had to know. Jesus finally one day turned to them, and he said, "All right, I'll tell you. I'm the Bread of Life. Whosoever eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life. I'll raise him up at that last day. Oh, this is not that manna that your fathers had eaten in the wilderness and are dead, but whatsoever eateth and drinketh of me will never die."
And here Jesus was basically saying, "You want to know who I am?" He says, "I am the fundamental sustenance of the soul. Just as the manna sustained their bodies for forty years in the wilderness, I am the bread, spiritual bread that nourishes and is the fundamental sustenance of all of spiritual life." And here it says when they realized that he was saying something of this magnitude, many of them said, "Well, this is a hard thing. Who can hear it?"
And it says, "Many of his disciples went and walked no more with him." Oh, they loved him. They loved his ministry. They loved the things he said. They loved his miracles. They loved all this, but when he came to say, "I'm the centerpiece of all of life; I'm the sustenance of life." That was a hard thing for many of them. And, yet, here he was simply---"I'm the Bread of Life." And all of a sudden you see that.
The children of Israel when they were going around in the wilderness, you know, and one time they come to a desert place and it is dry, and they're thirsty, and they're murmuring against God, murmuring against Moses. Moses goes before God and he says "God, they're chiding against you and chiding against me, saying, 'Wherefore, if you brought us and our cattle out here to die of thirst, it would have been better if we just died in Egypt.' "
And God tells Moses, he says, "Moses, I want you to go out from here, and I want you to take your rod, and I want you to smite that rock twice, and water will come out of it." Moses went out, and you know the story, he took his rod and he smote the rock once, pardon me, and he smote the rock, and when he smote the rock, water just came out as a torrent, enough to satisfy a million people and all of their sheep and cattle, enough to sustain them wonderfully and there's just water flooded out.
And, of course, Jesus tells them that he's the water of life. He's the well of which men in the New Testament can have. That "Whosoever drinks of this," Jesus said, "will thirst again, but whosoever drinks of the water I will give him will never"---all these wonderful pictures. The children of Israel actually came back to this same desert place many years later, and once again it was dry and thirsty. They murmur again against God.
And Moses goes before him, he says, "God, they're chiding against you and to me again. What'll I do? They're at it---same thing again." This time God told Moses, "Moses, I want you to go out now and speak to the rock this time." Well, if you remember the story, instead of speaking to the rock as he was instructed, Moses went out and he smote the rock that time twice.
Water graciously still came out, but afterwards, if you remember, God took Moses and Aaron aside and he says, "Because you have not sanctified me among my people, because, Moses, you did not honor me among my people, and you lost your temper, you'll not go into the land. You misrepresented me." God was not angry, Moses was. But now the people thought, "God must be angry too." And he says, "You didn't sanctify, you didn't honor me, and you will not go into the land."
It seems like just terrible, harsh treatment. Okay, one day you lose your temper, you get upset. But now, "Moses, you'll never go into the land," over that? Why? Well, First Corinthians tells us that---Paul tells us that rock from which they drank was Christ. This was a wonderful allegory and picture of many others that God had laid out of the Bible that was to represent Jesus Christ, and how the water of life comes out from him.
Now, he was a Rock smitten once on the cross, but never again to be smitten. From then on you speak to the Rock, and instead Moses coming out and just speak to the rock that we now need water. Jesus had to die. He had to be smitten once, but from then on you speak to him. And in the Old Testament picture language of the Bible, Moses crucified Christ afresh. Terrible thing to do and the consequences were heavy, because it all spoke of Christ.
Well, perhaps one of the most magnificent of all pictures of Jesus in the Bible is the tabernacle itself, because it is filled with Christ. Every offering, every sacrifice points in one way or another to Jesus. The book of Leviticus lays it out so gloriously that all the ways that God forgives our sin, and our hearts, and our deeds, and our struggles in life. The priesthood is all laid out, and the wonderful ministry of the priest, and how that we have a great High Priest Jesus who's passed into the heavens.
He's the fulfillment of all of them. And the tabernacle itself was, all of it, was about Christ. It's interesting it's the only thing there of all of it that's in heaven now, the tabernacle. God is literally instructing Moses to build something that is a replicate of what it literally is there in heaven. We know this because in Revelation, chapter 11, John is taken to heaven. And in verse 19 John says, "And the temple of God was open in heaven and there was seen in his temple the Ark of the Covenant."
Here's literally the very thing that God is designing, to Moses says, "Moses, build it down here. It's going to be a picture of redemption, a picture of literally what goes on in heaven replicated here on earth." Well, the very first thing is he's going to build this tabernacle that he begins with though here is the Ark of the Covenant that we want to look at here for the rest. And the ark, it speaks of Jesus in so many wonderful ways.
The ark, by the way, it's the center of it. That's the place God says, "There will I meet with thee and thee with me. Everything else around it had its only purpose and identity if some were getting man from the outside and be lost into the Holy of Holies into God's presence, where now God says, "We're one." But the meeting place was the ark. It was the ultimate destination. You take the Ark of the Covenant out of the tabernacle, there's nothing left of it, no reason for the priesthood, no sacrifice, no offering, nothing. It has no meaning whatsoever if you're without the ark, because you've now taken the ultimate destination and reason for its existence away.
And so the ark, though, the very first thing that he designs when he's going to give him this fabulous tabernacle and all these things of worship. But the first thing that he mentions here is the tabernacle, I mean, this part is the ark. Exodus 25:10, it says, "And they shall make an ark." Now what this speaks of when you step back from this and you realize what is about to be built, is that the very first thing that God mentions is the ark.
It tells us that Jesus is preeminent. He's the ultimate reason and destination for all of life, of all human existence. He starts with it. You know, one of the things that's so different about God and you and I, the way that we function, is that God starts with himself; unfortunately, so do we. But the difference is, is that God says you must start with me with your entire life, build everything out from it. You know, but we build from the outside in.
Any of you, if you're a builder, a contractor, or an architect, or any of that, the very first thing is you've got to know whenever you're asked to build anything is: Where's the boundaries? Where's the property line? Where's the limitations? Where's the sidelines here that say the back, the front? You know, where is all of that? And then you build in. Because, man, we're all limited, we're finite.
Where's the setback from one side of the house? How far do we have to be from the property line here? Where can we build here? How close to the street are we? And then you start with the outer parameters---Okay, well, the garage is obviously in the front. The front door is in the front. The entry hall's got to be right by the door, and then maybe a living area and a dining or something.
Then you work on into the family areas and things, and bedrooms, bathrooms, and then the kitchen. And then, lastly, you put in the kitchen sink. But God starts with the kitchen sink, so to speak. God, when he's laying it out, he has no parameters. He doesn't have any limitations. He doesn't say, "Oh, I have to stop here." He stops nowhere. He's eternal.
And God looks there and he says, "The key to your life has got to be the same. Don't try to fit me in." We're always trying to fit God into our life, and then we start limiting immediately in that process. "Okay, here is what's fixed in my life, God: my marriage, my children, my job, my house, my car, all of these other things. They all are---this is the status of this, and this, and this. And now, God, you fit here." And then we try to put God somewhere inside of us, where God says, "No. If you want to know me and know my glory the way I want to share it with you, you start with me. Everything else you set over here and it now is reorganized entirely around me."
You may look and say and talk about your marriage. Well, the very first thing is you've got to say, "No, God, it isn't my marriage, it's your marriage. She's your woman. He's your man. You know, I'm merely there a helpmate alongside of you and them to help with whatever the plan is that you have for us. But, God, it isn't my marriage."
I mean, one of the things that's so interesting is how different God made men and women. You don't have to be married very long to realize what somebody once said, "Men are from Mars and women, Venus." Or I don't know what it is, but we are, I don't know what planets we're from, but we're different ones. We come from different worlds. We look at each other and trying to figure out what we're saying, you know what we're doing. We're wired different.
And God deliberately did that so that we'd need him to interpret for us, you know, what each other is saying, with what's going on with them. You know, the Bible says "Dwell with thy wife with understanding." I'll never forget the first time I read that, I thought, "Has anybody ever done that?" [laughter] You know, I felt like the Lord says, "No, but I stuck it in there just for fun of it."
I mean, you try to understand each other, and without an interpreter, without somebody there that you say, "God, this is your woman. This is your man. You tell me, you know, what's going on. You show me the inner recesses of the heart and need that I can truly minister through you to them. They're not my husband, they're not my wife---yours."
Children, you know, we get married and then the next thing you know you want children, and you have a bunch of children. How wonderful it is initially. [laughter] Then you realize they start growing up. And you thought, "Who can't raise kids? You just put a little food in the cage and they grow up, you know, and stuff." [laughter] Throw a few rules out here, and standards, and the next thing you know you realize how different they are.
If you've got several children, how incredibly different they are. I have three sons. They always amaze me: same heating, air-conditioning system, same food, same diet, same rules, same home, same church, same neighborhood, same culture, same language---entirely different.
One of my sons you can literally raise him with praise alone. You look at him, and you know, you would say, "Go do this," and he'd go do it. He'd come back, he said, "Dad, do you like it?" And I'd look at him and say, "Yeah, that was good." "Well, hey, Dad, I think I can even do it better." "Well, okay. Do it." [laughter] He was my son. If I only had him I would be writing books on raising children and condemning the rest of the planet, you know, sort of a thing. It's easy!
But then God also gave me one that needs pressure. You know you, "Hey, go do this." And he kind of does it. You come back and you say, "Now did you do it? Now, let's look. Now, you didn't do it. Come on, boy. You know, no TV, no games, no nothing till you do it." "Okay." Go back and then second or third time the pressure worked, you know, and stuff---entirely different.
And then my third child, he only responded to pain. [laughter] I mean, nothing got---his ears were located in the back end somehow or another. And you go it there, and says "Oh, I didn't know you were talking to me." You know, I mean, sort of a thing. You just look there and how different human beings are. And you sit there and God just designs it---"You will never have a family, you'll never until I'm first."
I tell you if your children, your wife, or your husband is ahead of Christ, you do them all a disservice. You'll never have the love or the insight or the wisdom until you sit there and you say, "God, they're not mine, they're yours. And you tell me. You lead me. You guide me. You're the preeminent One." It's not your job, it's not your house, it's not your car---none of it's yours. It's all his.
And if we're taking it upon ourselves, you know, if we're worried about what we'll eat, what we'll drink, wherewithal we'll be clothed, how we're going to handle the marriage, how we're going to handle the family, you know, we will be weighted down with all sorts of stress and pressure. But Jesus said, one of his most famous statements, "You seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," his behavior coming through you, "and all these things will be added unto you." But until you get that first, everything else will suffer.
And maybe today you come, you think you got a marriage problem, you got a children problem; you don't, you got a God problem. Not to say they don't have some struggles, not to say we're all far from glory, but still, they're his. And, "God, you care for them."
Secondly, the Ark of the Covenant, not just by beginning with the ark before and then building out, begins with himself; secondly, the ark speaks of the priesthood of Jesus. It says in verse 10, "And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits its length, two and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. Then you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold all around."
Now, this speaks wonderfully of the priesthood of Jesus, and what it really is, his identity. On the inner core of it, the inside of it, it's acacia wood, just common wood, something there that just grows from the soil of the earth, speaking of Jesus born of the seed of a woman there in his earthly, his humanity. Jesus is a human being saving a human race at its core. He is somebody there that what he is; he is fully man, completely man.
And we're told in Hebrews 4:15, "For we have not a High Priest that cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." Jesus when he came and he humbled himself; he divested himself of all of the rights and the privileges of his deity.
And he clothed himself in human flesh, because he said, "I want to be their priest. I want to feel every infirmity. Everything that anybody will ever feel, all of them: every sorrow, every rejection, every loneliness, every grief, every hunger, every pain, everything that any and all human beings will ever go through. I will feel every bit of it, and I'll do it without sin," which means there that Jesus when he went through a trial and a tribulation, and whatever it was that came, he never cried, "Uncle!" He never said, "Quit! I can't take anymore." Amazing.
"I took the full measure of everything, every sorrow, every struggle, everything." You know, you may sit here today and just wish somebody understood you: your husband or your wife or your children or other friends. Oh, you tell them, and you pray together, and there's a certain relief in it, but still they don't know you. They don't understand what you're going through.
And God allows that. Human beings are finite. They go so far, but let me tell you in heaven there is one who sits there and says, "I know exactly how you feel. I felt it all and more. I know the loneliness. I know the separation. I know the grief. I know the heartache. I know what it is to feel unloved and rejected. I know what it is to feel like your beard has been ripped out by those who have hated you. I know what it is to be spat upon. I know all of these things. I love you and I understand you. I understand everything."
He even understands the weight of sin, though he himself knew no sin. The Bible says that "He who knew no sin became sin for us." He even took all of our guilt upon him. He just didn't sit there in his lily-white outfit, and say, "Here, put the sin over there and I'll pay for it." No, it was put on him. He even knew separation from God. He knew guilt, though guilty for nothing, deliberately taking it upon himself. He was to cry out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
He knew what it was even to be so far separated from God and to sense guilt, what it does to the heart. You may sit here and feel, "God's after me. He's mad at me. He wants to get me. He's angry at me." You couldn't be more wrong.
There is one there that is able to look to you and the only one in all the world who can look you straight in the eye today, only one, put his hand in yours and say, "I love you, and I know you entirely. I understand every fiber of your being. And I still love you with all my heart." And he can put one hand in yours, and then with the other it tells us there that now not only was this box there made of acacia wood, but it was covered entirely with gold, pure gold, inside and out, all around it.
It is core, human; but outside, God. The great theological mystery of the ages is how Jesus could be fully God and fully man. But as John said, "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. And by him were all things made that was made, and without him was not anything made that was made. (But we beheld his glory the glories of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth."
And there is one there that he takes our hand and he looks straight in the eye and understands us, and with the other hand he looks straight into the eye of his Father, absolute equality with him, understand each other fully. And he takes both by the hand and becomes the absolute perfect mediator to say, "We love you, and we're here to get you, and we're committed to you."
Who else could do such a thing? Who could ever dream of a greater priest, an intermediator? For there is one God and one Intermediator, between God and man, our great High Priest Jesus who's passed into the heavens. And that's who Jesus is to you, who he needs to be today. Perhaps you're away from him. Perhaps you feel alone. Oh, you shouldn't. May you know your High Priest.
Thirdly, notice though now it speaks of what we're calling the propitiation of Christ, and we'll explain that. In verse 17, "You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width." Here we have now this box, and as the box is made then he's instructed: "I'm going to give you the Law. I'm going to give to you the Testimony of God, the commandments of God.
"I want you to take those commandments and put them inside this box, this acacia wood covered entirely with gold. And then on the top of that I want you to put solid gold. No wood in this, nothing human about this---the mercy of God. You will seal it up with that, and inside you will put all that condemns man, all that tells man he's a sinner." The Bible says, "Man had not known sin . . . except the law came."
The Bible says, "Thou shall not lust," or, "Thou shall not hate," or, "Thou shall not kill." And then here we are, we're lusting, or we're hating our brother, or we're doing whatever it is, and then the law shows me I've fallen short of the glory of God. The law shows me I've failed. The Bible says, "For as many as are under the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, 'Cursed is every man that continueth not in all the things that are written in the book of law, to do them.' "
That any time I fail in anything written of the standard, of the measure, of the glory, and the perfection of God, I'm condemned, which condemns all of us. And yet God now takes everything that can condemn a human being and he covers it with this thing called a mercy seat. Seal it in with that, and then inside you'll put it, but this will cover the law. It will care for the law. Solid gold, as I said, nothing human about this. This is a love and a mercy unknown to us.
And the word in the New Testament for "mercy" is propitiation, and it's a wonderful word, propitiation. Let me give you another word first and then we'll explain it. The word "expiation" is a word that if you understand that propitiation comes easy. Expiation is---let's say you work for a company downtown, a manufacturing company. You work on a piece of heavy equipment. And the equipment hasn't been working right lately, but the boss said, "Oh, go ahead and work."
Well, you're working on it one day, and something malfunctions, and you're severely wounded. Paramedics come, bind you up, you go and maybe you have to take off a leg or something. Something terrible happens. You can't go back to work. You go through rehab as best you can. And then during that time the attorneys come together, and the insurance companies, and the judges, the court system, and you know, the company all comes, and they look and decide what has been wronged to you.
"What can we do to put it right? We can't give your leg back. We've done everything we can possibly do, but now here's your condition, and we're going to give you five million dollars." And so the gavel comes down and at that point that your situation has been legally expiated. It has now been corrected the best way that people can do it. But it doesn't deal at all with your feelings.
You can still there be---"Look, I don't care. I don't care about this money. I was a hunter. I was a fisherman. I went rock climbing with my friends. My whole life was over here, and now I'm wheelchair bound, and I can't work, and now this is supposed to . . ." And you could be so hostile. "I never want the name of that company mentioned in this house again. We will not even drive by it. I don't want it uttered." You can still be very angry and very bitter and have deep feelings. That's expiation.
Propitiation is both expiation, but it takes care of all feeling, all anger, all wrath. You see, when Jesus died, he just didn't expiate for us, he propitiated for us---that is, all the wrath of God, for all the sins of all the world of all time was poured out on Christ---all of his anger, anything you could ever hold against anybody.
He just didn't put the crime and the sin and the failure there, he put every attitude he had towards it, so that it would enable him to look at us with absolute pure love. And that we who have failed and have done, we come and we say, "Lord, I'm sorry." But he said, "I don't know what you're talking about. I love you. I'm not angry. I'm not mad at you. I love you. It's propitiated."
It's like my father-in-law, just a human being, but he lived and he died a few years ago, but my wife is daughter of his older age. He has two sons quite a bit older than my wife. But when she came she was his queen; she was his princess. The boys lost everything if it came to her. [laughter] And they've told me this many times, but on how Jean she would go in their room while they're at school or something, and play with their toys, and make up stuff and mess it all up and things.
They'd come home and be all upset. "Dad, Jean did---look at her, she messed up our room. She did this, she did that," and went on and on. And my father-in-law would look at Jean and say, "My little Jeannie wouldn't do that; did you?" And she'd say, "No, Daddy." And he'd say, "I told you. You guys get out of here. You clean up your own room. Don't you ever come to me and blame another thing on her again. Now get out of here. Who needs you? You're worthless," you know, or something. [laughter] And they would just look at her. There's still a little anger, but they love her dearly. [laughter] But they've gotten over most of it.
But to think of a human being is just chosen and have of the mechanics where he's able today---"You may come in. You messed up your room," he says, "I love you. Come here. Let's work on these things. I'm not angry." Some of you maybe came and think, "Boy, I'm here, the roof's going to fall in on me." You know, or some friend brought you here. "You gotta go to church with me, come on. You gotta go to church, you need it." "Ah, no, man. God's been hunting me down for a long time, if he gets too close, boom! I'm a ball of smoke."
No, he loves you, and he loves you dearly, because it's all propitiation, his mercy. He created you. Nobody loves you more. Nobody wants you home more than him. Nobody cares more. Nobody longs for your presence like he does. "His mercy endures forever," David says over and over again.
And then the Ark of the Covenant also speaks not only of the preeminence and the priesthood and the propitiation, it speaks to the praise of God. Here connected to the mercy seat, one piece with it were two cherubs, these incredible beautiful angels there that with their wings they were spread out over the ark. They were bent over towards it, both at different ends. Bent over facing, you know, one another, but looking, it says, at the ark. So here we have these angels: wings spread out, facing one another at opposite ends.
But the object of their eyes, they're looking at the ark, which speaks there this angelic heavenly praise. As you sang today, you know, just in your worship and praising God, and "our God reigns," and things, and praising him. Hopefully that was something that came from the soul. Hopefully there was something inside that said, "Lord, I do praise you. I do sing, 'Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!' "That's what the angels do.
And the incredible thing in Revelation, John says---you know God took him there up before God, before the throne. And he looked around, and he says, "And there around the throne were ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands and thousands and thousands of them." I mean, just millions, untold millions of angels roundabout the throne worshiping God, singing, you know, "Unto our God glory and honor and power and wisdom and majesty forever and ever and ever." Hear this spontaneous worship in heaven, this genuine---
You know that God will never allow mechanical, repeated, unmeant praise. You know, Jesus said, God said, "When you pray, don't use vain repetition." Don't just run off something that means nothing, come from the heart. And if God doesn't want it from earth, he'll never take it from heaven; which tells me that every time these angels bow and they worship and they looked up, they see something of the love, something of the power, something of the glory of the infinite, unending love of God, power, majesty of him they hadn't seen before. And they're overtaken by it.
Well, let me tell you, if an angel worships God like that, none of which a drop of Jesus' blood was shed for, not one is redeemed by him, not one did Jesus ever live to make intercession, not one does Jesus make a joint heir with him, not one is he coming for to conform to his image, not one is he going to take back to heaven to forever be with him. And if that's how they are, how much more should the recipients of God's redemptive love praise him? How much more should you and I? And say, "And Jesus, I praise you. I love you. Show me more of what they see."
Charles Spurgeon said, "If I do not praise and bless Christ my Lord, I should deserve that my tongue be torn out by the roots out of my mouth. If I do not bless and magnify his name, I should deserve that every stone I tread upon in the streets should rise up to curse my ingratitude. I am a debtor to God head over heels. Are you not the same? Then I charge you by the love of Christ, awake, awake your heart now and to magnify his glorious name."
And then, lastly, the ark, the center of it all, it speaks of a passion for Christ. They're then told that they're to have four rings, two rings at each---rings at all four corners. And then you're to make these rods that go through the rings there, and he says, "And by these you'll carry them." From then on throughout the rest of the tabernacle we hear when they built the tabernacle, all of the tribes of Israel they were systematically stationed all around the tabernacle: three, three, three, and three.
They all knew where their tribe belonged, so they always find each other. They always knew where home was. And any time they were to move, anything change in their life, it began with God instructing them, "You will come and the priest will pick up the ark and they will carry the ark. And then you will entirely disassemble the tabernacle, and then all the tribes will pack up everything. Wherever the ark goes, then you put it down, you'll reassemble the tabernacle around it, and reassemble your life, once again, always around the ark."
And here God looks and he says to them, he says, "I'll be the only burden left in your life." The Bible says, "Cast all your cares upon him for he cares for you. He loves you. He knows your burdens, your sorrows. And here God, you know, life is filled with stress and burdens and struggles, and we were never designed for a moment to carry them.
We were never designed to fix our marriages. We were never designed to raise children. We were never designed to do any of this. We were designed to be vessels filled with God; through us, he would do all of these things, which he would do them. And when we take him out of the preeminent place, then we start doing it, then the weight of all of it is on us.
And here God looks and he says, "If you want all those weights, you can have them, or you can go over here and just pick up one weight---me." Jesus tells us, you know, he says that, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden." There he says, you know, "Come to me, I'll give you rest. Take my yoke upon you." He said, "My burden is light and my yoke is easy."
Here Jesus says, "If you will make me the burden of your life, I will take care of all other burdens. If you will seek me first, if you could be one that says 'Oh, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering' "---if that's the one burden, seeking first his kingdom---"I'll take care of all other things."
And tomorrow morning, and today, every one of us, you'll walk out of here, tomorrow morning you'll go out and you'll wake up and every one picks up a burden. You can't stop that, but you do get to choose what you do. You'll either pick up all of them, and they'll wear you down, or you'll say, "I'm tired. I want to just pick up one. Jesus, be preeminent, be central, be Lord, take it all. Take it all." Amen?
Lord Jesus, we thank you for your love and your mercy and grace. Thank you, Lord, you are the ark and you're the tabernacle, you're the sacrifice, you're the priest, you're the offerings. You're the way, the truth, the life. You're the strength of our days. You're the wisdom of ages. Jesus, help us not to go any other place for such things, but to find it in you. Lord, may we truly---maybe some of us today we need to stop and say, "I haven't built it right. Jesus I want to start with you. Let's clean the slate. Jesus be central."
Maybe that's where you're at. While we're praying, would you just lift up your hand and put it down. That's it, what's happening, and say, "Lord you must do this for me." Just lift it up, put it down. We want to just pray for you. Any others? Just up, just put it down. God bless you. Any others? "Lord, be preeminent. I do want my life"---God bless you. "Be the center. Be Lord. Be King. You take care of my family. You take care of my career. You take care of my health. I lay it all down." Any others before we close? A number of hands around.
Lord Jesus we thank you and praise you and we ask that you enable every one of us. May you be the center. May you truly be the center, and if anything is blocking that or trying to direct you, may we humble ourselves and say, "Lord, that's not right. Forgive me." Jesus take your right place. We ask it in your wonderful name, amen.
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.