Jesus faced a major problem! The head leaders of the Jewish faith did not believe in Him and were not wholly obedient to God’s covenant. They had modified the practice of God’s covenant law with their own religious interpretations creating a heavier burden upon the people. Inwardly, they were far from the Lord. Jesus called them hypocrites. They were pretentious to the degree they did not recognize their Messiah when He stood directly in front of them. Their eyes were so blinded to God they categorized Jesus’ miracles as works of the devil. Through their disobedience of God’s Word, their conscience was seared until they were filled with unbelief.
Jesus spoke to them through a parable. Matthew 21:28-31 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He came to the first and said, Son, go and work today in the vineyard. And he answered, I will not; but afterward he changed his mind and went. Then the man came to the second and said the same [thing]. And he replied, I will [go], sir; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of the father? They replied, The first one. Jesus said to them, Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the harlots will get into the kingdom of heaven before you.”
In Building A Place of Habitation Part 1, I explained the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. If we build Him a tabernacle of praise in our life, He will abide with us. In Building A Place of Habitation Part 2, I discussed as we intercede for others, especially the lost, we can construct an atmosphere where the presence of the Lord will draw near to us. In Building A Place of Habitation Part 3, I will show the importance of worship, clarifying a major key to worship. If we will worship Him, He will come.
True worship is not simply singing songs which glorify the Lord. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, in John 4:24; “God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).” The verse causes us to question what it means to worship in spirit and truth.
Our first clue is in the above Matthew 21:28-31 passage. Obedience is a vital component of worship. Without obedience, one cannot be a true worshipper of the Lord. Obedience requires humility; proud and presumptuous people are not able to submit to others. We know scripture affirms the Lord resists the proud but gives grace to those who are humble. Grace is not only unearned favor, it is power. God’s grace is the power which enables us to live righteously, being obedient to His Word through a relationship of love, not rules and regulations.
Jesus is our most perfect example of humility and obedience to God. Philippians 2:5-8 explains, “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility;] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!” (See Philippians 2:9-11).
Everything the Lord did glorified (praised) God the Father. He was and still is our true High Priest Who intercedes for us continually. (See Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). His death on the cross was the utmost obedience, because He laid down His divinity and walked in purity to die for our sinfulness. As a result of His humility and obedience, Jesus walked daily with an open heaven above Him. An open heaven meant God’s favor, blessing, wisdom and power followed Him wherever He went. Jesus was the perfect example of God and He brought the kingdom of heaven to earth in all He said and did. He was a true, living tabernacle of God’s presence wherever He went on earth.
Near the time of His death and resurrection, Jesus began to prepare His disciples for His departure from earth. He wanted them to know He would not forsake them by leaving them. Instead, He would provide the Holy Spirit to teach them all things. He also wanted them to know what specific attitudes and actions would ensure His presence would always be with them.
The following verse also clearly reveals the relationship between obedience, love, and the presence of God. Jesus speaks to His disciples in John 14:21, 23-24. “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.] Jesus answered. If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him. Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching. And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me.” (Emphasis Mine).
We know that the Holy Spirit comes to live on the inside of anyone who has received the blood sacrifice of Jesus’ life in exchange for their sins, and has asked Him to live in their heart. The John 14 scripture is not only speaking of an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but also the outward manifestation of His continual presence with us individually and corporately. Sadly, many people who have become born again through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice do not experience the abiding presence of the Lord with them.
In Building A Place of Habitation Parts 1 & 2, I explained how the Israelites had consecrated themselves to the Lord in order to become God’s people. However, they rejected the opportunity God offered them to live intimately in His presence and hear His voice personally. They did not speak to the Lord face to face individually as Moses did. Moses desired to abide in God’s presence and therefore, he prepared a place for Him to come and dwell with him.
If we want the abiding presence of the Lord with us, we must build Him a tabernacle of praise, intercession and worship through loving obedience. The tabernacle Moses built was a tent where he met with the Lord. Today, it can be as simple as a prayer closet or a quiet room in the home where one can sing/dance, pray and meditate on the Word of God.
David proclaimed to the Lord, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell [at ease] in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10. Then Psalm 100:4 proclaims, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, enter his courtyards with praise; give thanks to him, and bless his name.” (Complete Jewish Bible).
The King of all kings and the Lord of all lords has invited us to commune with Him personally. Song of Solomon 2:10, 13-16a (See whole passage) “My beloved speaks and says to me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. The fig tree puts forth and ripens her green figs, and the vines are in blossom and give forth their fragrance. Arise my love, my fair one, and come away. [So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely. [My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom. [She said distinctly] My beloved is mine and I am his!”
Not only does the Lord call us to a greater intimacy in His presence, He also gives us many promises when we build our tabernacle for Him. Psalm 91:1-4 assures, “He Who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. Then He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.” (Read the entire Psalm).
When Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory, the Lord hid him in the cleft of a rock and passed by him showing him His goodness. His goodness is always revealed in His glory. When we make His presence our priority, we will see His goodness, we will receive His promises, and we will be delivered from all our enemies. Our fears will be vanquished, and His faithfulness will build our trust in Him.
When we pursue His presence making Him our priority, we will become His priority. It is a very precious and holy calling He gives us, “Come away with me”. May we never fear His presence as did the Israelites.
Moses built a tabernacle for the Lord and He changed a nation. Paul built a tabernacle for the Lord and he changed the world. If we build Him a living tabernacle in our lives, He will come to us and dwell with us. When we do, His promise of John 14:12 will come to pass. We will do even greater things than He did on earth, and He will COME! Maranatha (Come Quickly), Lord Jesus.