THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: TWELVE
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Twelve” is taken from The Tabernacle of the Congregation, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries)
Table of Contents
The Perfecting of the Church
The Seven Furnishings
The Wife of the Lamb
Three Basic Elements of Christian Worship Services
Eating of Christ
Manifestation of the Holy Spirit
Holy Prayer and Worship
Altar of Incense
First Things, First
Word of Caution
The Perfecting of the Church
The Seven Furnishings The perfecting of the Church, the Body of Christ, follows the same order of the furnishings that is true of the plan of redemption of the believer. This is because the perfecting of the Church depends directly on the perfecting of each member of the Church.
While there is one imperfect member the Wife of the Lamb is imperfect. Each member must be made perfect. Then the member can be brought into absolute oneness in the Body by the Glory of God. We shall be made one by the Glory of God (John, Chapter 17).
There was no sound of a hammer during the time that the Temple of Solomon was being erected because the blocks of stone had been cut to a perfect fit before being brought together (I Kings 6:7). The Holy Spirit is fashioning the living stones of God’s temple now and we shall come together at the appointed time. The Body of Christ cannot flow together until the time chosen by the Father.
The seven holy furnishings of the Tabernacle typify our coming to the “unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13) This finally will be true of the entire Body of Christ.
- Altar of Burnt Offering.
- Table of Showbread.
- Altar of Incense.
- Ark of the Covenant.
- Mercy Seat.
The interpretation of the seven furnishings, in terms of the perfecting of the Church, is as follows.
Altar of Burnt Offering. The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary is brought to our minds when the Church celebrates Communion. The Church is protected, by means of the covering of the blood of Christ, from the judgment God sends on the gods of this world. The members of the Church, the Israel of God, are called out of Egypt—the spirit of the present age—by the Lord God, and protected by the covering of the blood of God’s Passover Lamb.
Laver. The Church is separated from Egypt by going through the Red Sea of water baptism. The God of this world attempts to follow Israel through the waters but is destroyed. The Church takes its place with Christ on the cross, and is born of the water into the newness of life of the resurrection of Christ.
Christ gave Himself for the Church, that He might “sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:26,27).
Table of Showbread. Now we are in the Holy Place, the area of the Church, the Body of Christ. Here the Church is formed and comes to maturity in preparation for its ministry as the Body of the Servant of the Lord.
The life of the Church is the body and blood of Christ. The Church is made one in Christ by constantly partaking of Him. Israel is one bread, one loaf in the sight of God. The Substance of the Lord Jesus is in every true Christian.
The Church is the wife of the Passover Lamb because through the “Passover,” the Communion service, the Church eats Christ and is built up from the Substance of Christ just as Eve was created from the substance of Adam.
Lampstand. Christ, Head and Body, is the Lampstand of God, the testimony of God’s Person, way, and eternal purpose. The Church is the light of the world. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is symbolized by the olive oil of the Lampstand of the Tabernacle.
As soon as the Church has attained maturity as measured by the fullness of Christ, the Church will go forth as the Body of the Servant of the Lord. Christ is the great Head of Christ who will bring salvation to Israel, and judgment and deliverance to the peoples of the whole earth.
Altar of Incense. The Altar of Incense represents the prayers of all saints, the communication of Israel toward God. The Lampstand symbolizes the communication of God toward men. As soon as the intercession, petitions, adoration, and thanksgiving of the saints reach the necessary level of fervency and righteousness the seven trumpets of God will sound, resulting in bringing back to the earth the fullness of the Presence of God in Christ—the Presence that has been lost to mankind from the time of Eden.
In order for the fragrance of Christ to rise from the Church the Church must die to its self-will. The true Church shall die to self-will in the last days because of the fiery judgments of the Lord. The Church, like Samson, shall slay more by its death than it ever has by its life. Satan and his angels shall be cast into the earth because of a holy remnant of saints who overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the death.
Ark of the Covenant. The Ark typifies the full development of the conquering, ruling Presence of Christ in the Church. Such fullness is available to each Christian, but he or she must pay the price. The Ark is fortress Zion, the fighting, ruling, judging authority and power of the Church that will reign with Christ during the Kingdom Age. It is David’s Tabernacle, to speak figuratively.
Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat symbolizes the fullness of the Glory of God. The Christian Church is the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb. When God has finished creating the Church, when every member has been made perfect in Christ as an individual and perfect in the whole Body, then the Church will descend from Heaven, having the Glory of God. The new Jerusalem will settle down to its appointed place on a high mountain. The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the glorified Church.
In our day the Christian salvation is emphasized as being the Divine plan for benefiting the individual believer. We make every effort to “get people saved” and then to assist them as they seek to live the Christian life. This is proper and scriptural.
As we draw nearer to the Lord we discover that God desires something in addition to this. God is building a city, a temple, a holy Jerusalem.
At one time Paradise was on the earth. But there was no governing city, no wall, no resting place for God’s throne so evil could be prevented from entering the garden of God.
We speak of the individual accepting the atonement so he or she can go to Heaven and dwell forever in the bliss of Paradise. But God’s plan is to create a holy city and establish it forever on the earth in the midst of the nations of saved people. In the city will be located the throne of God. Each member of the city will be a king and priest of God and will govern and bless the members of the nations of the saved.
The final result of God’s work in the earth will be a city built on the eternal foundation of Christ the Lord. The Christian Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, is that city.
The Christian Church commences as individual congregations of believers in Christ. By the Word of God, the body and blood of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and by the operation of the ministries and gifts given to the members of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, the Church is being built up.
The Church is to be nourished by every part, every member, and joined firmly together until it attains the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, and becomes a mature man as measured by the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
The Wife of the Lamb
The Christian Church will be built up by means of the grace of God through Christ until it becomes the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of the Anointed Deliverer, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the perfect helper for Christ—entirely suited to Him.
The Church, in the sense in which we are speaking now, is not of the earth. The Church starts out in the earth as separate congregations of born-again disciples. When the Holy Spirit of God has completed the building of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Church will be just like the Lord Jesus. The Church will be a suitable helper for the Lord Jesus because the Church eats of His body and drinks of His blood. The Church is the Bride of the Lamb because it lives through partaking of the Lamb of God.
The Church, the Body of Christ, is flesh of the flesh of Christ and bone of the bone of Christ (Ephesians 5:30).
There was no helper found suitable for Christ among the personages of Heaven. He is greater than every creature in Heaven. Therefore, God has been working for several thousand years, and yet will work, in order to bring forth a suitable bride for the Lord Jesus.
Eve is a type of the Bride of Christ. Adam is a type of Christ. Adam was formed from the ground just as Christ was formed from God. Adam was ground, being taken from the ground. Christ is God, being taken from God.
Eve was made from Adam, not from the ground. Therefore Eve was Adam—not that she was the same individual person as Adam, but she was Adam in the sense of being formed from Adam’s substance. Adam recognized that Eve was part of himself, and the two were one in that sense.
The Bride is being created from Christ. She is not Christ in the sense of being the same individual person as the Lord Jesus Christ. She is Christ in that she is created from His Substance. She is Him, possessing His Substance, name, and inheritance.
The Christian Church begins as groups of saved people. Through the many workings of the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit the Church is being transformed from collections of believers into the one Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, being made perfect in every detail.
He who has seen Christ has seen the Father. In the days to come it will be said truly that he who has seen the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, has seen Christ Himself; for she is being formed from Him.
The Bride of Christ is not from the earth, in this spiritual and eternal sense. She is being born from above.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:16).
In the last chapters of Revelation we see that the Church comes down from Heaven to the earth. God starts out with ordinary people who put their trust in Christ—and sinful, rebellious people at that! When God has completed His work the Church will be the Wife of the Lamb of God, Christ.
The same Glory that God has given to Christ will be upon her. The same love with which God loves Christ will be in her (John 17:21-26). The Church is born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God Himself.
The Church will be transformed by the Holy Spirit from congregations of believers into the holy city, the new Jerusalem; from a variety of denominational backgrounds into perfect oneness in Christ; from an assortment of doctrinal positions into the full knowledge of the Holy One; from a mob of slaves newly escaped from “Egypt,” so to speak, into the Body of the Anointed Deliver, God’s Judge who will bring judgment and deliverance to the peoples of the earth.
Christ moving through the Church will crush the forces of wickedness under His feet. The Church has been appointed to bring reconciliation to God, through the blood of Christ and the Life of the Holy Spirit, to the nations of the world.
When Christ has finished with His work in the earth during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the Church by this time having been perfected in union with Christ in God, then the Church will descend from Heaven to the earth as the new Jerusalem. The saints will behold the face of the Father and will reign as God’s kings and priests to the ages of ages.
As we proceed now with the interpretation of the seven furnishings in terms of the perfecting of the Church we shall not say much about the Altar of Burnt Offering or the Laver because they have been discussed elsewhere. We have shown previously that God met Israel at the door of the Tabernacle, that is, at the place of the Altar of Burnt Offering.
The Altar and the Laver stood in the Courtyard, in the area representing the “nations of them that are saved” (Revelation 21:24). Each man, woman, boy, and girl on the face of the earth can be saved only through the righteousness of Christ. There is no other way to be saved. Any person who attempts to come to God other than through the gate of the linen fence, representing the righteousness of Christ, and then by way of the bronze Altar and the Laver, will never be accepted of God.
God has created a clear, simple plan of redemption. It is available to each person. God will not accept any plan of salvation other than His own.
Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). As soon as we receive the atonement made by Christ we partake of God’s righteousness and immediately are forgiven all our sin.
When we obey God and enter water baptism we are born of the water. God gives us His Holy Spirit because of our obedience in receiving Christ and being baptized, and we are born of the Spirit of God (Acts 5:32). In this manner we are born again into the Kingdom of God. The Spirit, the water, and the blood agree in one and bear witness in earth that Jesus is the Son of God (I John 5:8). When we believe in the Son of God we have the witness in ourselves (I John 5:9).
Three Basic Elements of Christian Worship Services
The Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was furnished with three pieces:
- The Table of Showbread, which represents Christ, the living Bread.
- The Lampstand, which represents the various forms of communication of the Life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, the testimony of God.
- The golden Altar of Incense, which speaks of the offering of holy prayer and worship before the Throne of God, as the worshiper bows to the will of God and dies to self-centeredness and self-worship.
The emphasis of the Holy Place is on holiness, and this is true of the entire Tabernacle of the Congregation. That there was a Holy Place, and then a Most Holy Place, teaches us that there are levels of holiness in Christ that can be attained by the diligent saint.
When a priest of Israel entered the Tabernacle building, coming into the Holy Place, and looked straight ahead, the Veil could be seen at the far end. Beyond the Veil, hidden from the priest, were the Ark of the Covenant and the covering Lid of Atonement (Mercy Seat).
Standing just before the Veil, in the Holy Place, was the Altar of Incense. The Altar of Incense was in the Holy Place but located in line with the Ark and related to the Ark in spiritual experience. Perhaps the identification of the Altar of Incense with both the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place teaches us that prayer and praise, and death to self-worship, bring us from the Holy Place into the Most Holy Place.
On the right (north) was the Table of Showbread. On the left (south) the priest would see the golden Lampstand. The room was lighted by the Lampstand at night, and the perfume of the burning incense filled the area. The ceiling was formed from curtains of fine linen in which figures of the cherubim had been wrought. This was the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The Table of Showbread, the Lampstand, and the Altar of Incense may be thought of as representing the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Father. These three furnishings signify the three practices that must be included in the worship services of Christian disciples:
- The eating of Christ and drinking of His blood.
- The various forms of the revelation of the Holy Spirit of God.
- Supplication, adoration and thanksgiving offered to God the Father by God-centered people.
Each of the three aspects of Divine worship must be developed in the saints and operating in the assemblies of the saints.
The three elements of grace depend on each other for full benefit to the Christian. All three must be working. If one of them, such as prayer and praise for example, is not being developed in power and operating consistently, then the other two aspects—the presentation of the living Word and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit—will not be able to perform their full work of creating Christ in the believers.
There will be a lack of the fullness of the Presence of God if there is not enough prayer and praise being offered, and if the worshipers are not offering themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord.
Eating of Christ
If the eating of the living Word (the living Christ giving of Himself) is absent from the assemblies of believers, the service will be lacking in the Divine Substance that is necessary for the strengthening of the inner man of the Christian. Such is the case when there is a great emphasis on worship and a lack of the presentation of the Word of God. There must be joy and there also must be the two-edged sword.
Manifestation of the Holy Spirit
If the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are not developed and operating, the worship services as a result will be deficient in the variety of ways in which God can communicate the resurrection Life of Christ to the wide assortment of needs that people have.
The ministries of the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, are not operating through the members of most of our assemblies. Church people, therefore, must fall back on medical doctors and psychiatrists for the diagnosis and treatment of various afflictions.
The vital tool of discernment of spirits is not available to us in the amount necessary for our needs in these days. Mental and nervous disorders, anxiety, depression, are often caused or intensified by demonic pressures. We need to “know” what we are doing in spiritual matters.
While medical experts have their rightful place in God’s economy, it is true nevertheless that many of our problems (not only medical) will be solved as soon as the members of the Body of Christ are able to come into the place where each can be anointed by the Holy Spirit and used for a specific ministry (I Corinthians 12:11).
We are commanded to covet and pray earnestly for the gifts and ministries!
Lack of understanding, lack of vision, deception, sickness, anxiety, depression, material needs, ignorance of the Word of God, confusion, inability to accept authority, restlessness, fear of the present and future, lukewarmness in spiritual concerns—these ailments and many more abound among the people of God. Can the reason be that the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are in short supply among us?
We need to have restored and operating the many kinds of communications of the Holy Spirit that are set forth in I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 14. The ministry of the apostle and the prophet must be present if the churches are to have authority, discipline and effective wisdom and power in spiritual battle. Anointed teachers who have learned directly from the Master are in great need.
A careful reading of I Corinthians 12:12-26 brings to our minds that the Body of Christ, like the physical body, is composed of many members. Each of the members gives to and receives from the rest of the Body. There is no possible way in which the Body of Christ can be brought into unity and maturity other than through the development and operation of the gifts and ministries that have been given to each member of the Body of Christ—to every true Christian.
Holy Prayer and Worship
If supplication and adoration are present only in small amounts in the assemblies, the corporate spiritual life will be diminished greatly. There will not be the renewal of life and strength that proceeds from contact with God.
By worship we do not mean halfhearted, routine singing of hymns, nor the enjoyment afforded by “special music,” no matter how pleasing to the senses the solos and choir numbers may be. Music has it place in the assemblies when it is anointed by the Holy Spirit. But worship is the intense, fervent, single-minded offering of praise and adoration to God on the part of the assembled Christians.
There may be singing in the Spirit, shouting, clapping, leaping, weeping, or some other expression. Sometimes there may be a holy hush as the Lord Jesus draws so near that the people remain motionless in awe and reverence. In any case, there must be during the worship services a period of time during which the believers are lifted into active worship and supplication before their Creator.
We cannot reasonably expect God to move in any service in which people are not brought into intense, active worship. The Presence of the Lord is not manifest in some of our assemblies because God’s people are not actively worshiping Him.
Using the figure of the Tabernacle, as God dwells between the cherubim the first object He “sees” is the Altar of Incense. If the Altar of Incense is not present (if there is no fervent, God-centered prayer and worship), then the design of the Holy Place is imperfect.
It may be difficult for us to grasp just how important fervent worship is to God. The worship is His part of the service. If He does not receive what He is looking for in the service, then we are not going to receive what we need. “… Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink” (Luke 17:8).
We see, then, that the three furnishings of the Holy Place are essential to the purposes of the worship services of the Christians, to the bringing of the saints to the maturity of the fullness of Christ.
The Table of Showbread is food for the inner man. The golden Lampstand shines upon and reveals the showbread. As we partake of the showbread, the Lampstand, which is the Body of Christ, is increased. Here is the building of Christ, Head and Body, as the light of the world.
Worship (Altar of Incense) is the directing toward God of our wholehearted supplication and praise. Through worship we give to God our acknowledgment that He is good, holy, merciful, righteous, and supreme in His Glory and power. We are brought before His throne and stand in the company of the elders and the holy angels, all singing, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” This is the most important part of the service.
The natural act of the person filled with Christ is to lift up his being into fervent, single-minded worship of God. Christ Himself worships the Father in the midst of the Church (Hebrews 2:12).
Altar of Incense
We have talked about the importance of the Table of Showbread and of the Lampstand. We have touched on the meaning of the Altar of Incense as we spoke of the necessity for having all three elements in the worship service. Now we will further discuss this altar.
The Altar of Incense stood in direct line with the Ark of the Covenant, but in the Holy Place. As God looked out toward the Holy Place, toward the Courtyard and the animal sacrifices, and toward the land of promise, the first thing He “saw” was the golden Altar of Incense.
Thou shalt make an altar to burn incense on: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. (Exodus 30:1).
Thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. When Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:6-8).
The golden Altar of Incense symbolizes the holy, fervent intercession and thanksgiving that must ascend continually from the Body of Christ. It portrays also the fragrance of Christ that ascends from the disciple who is offering his life in consecration to God.
Another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:3,4).
There is a bit of prayer and worship in just about every Christian assembly. In many cases this amount is so small as to be compared to a person’s taking a breath once every five minutes. It isn’t adequate to support life.
We must have carloads of prayer and praise; summers and winters of prayer and praise. An assembly of Christians is not supposed to be a social affair resting on the spindly legs of a pretty little prayer, daintily uttered. Great roaring volumes of continual worship, thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication are needed to restore the Body of Christ.
Of special importance is the death to self-will. We begin our worship to God when we are still very soulish, very fleshly. As we keep on worshiping the Lord He brings us into situations that crucify our fleshly nature and bring forth the new born-again inner man—Christ in us. It is the new man who is the Kingdom of God, the new creation. He is the heir, the son of God.
The giant is asleep. Perhaps he is beginning to awaken now. As he arises on his feet and begins to inhale the atmosphere of the throne of His Father, commences flexing his mighty muscles—for he is the ruler of the universe, the son of the Lord of Armies, the heavens and the earth will echo and re-echo with trainloads, oceans, universes of the praise, thanksgiving and supplication essential to his normal condition. The giant is the Body of Christ.
First Things, First
The assemblies of Christians must have generous amounts of prayer and praise if such gatherings are to be living and healthy. Perhaps some services, at least while we are in the process of restoration, and perhaps until Jesus returns, will consist wholly of Holy Spirit-empowered adoration and travail.
We may be acquainted with the biographies of men and women of God who have been distinguished by an unusually strong prayer life. Perhaps we have read of revivals and of successful ministries that owed their extraordinary power to consistent victorious praise and prayer. The names of Finney, Hyde, Brainerd, Howells come to mind.
Each of us Christians must have some part of each day in which he communes with God. It appears that the amount of time needed varies from person to person according to his particular ministry and circumstances.
It is true also a major portion of our group worship should be given over to praise and prayer. There is nothing wrong with Christians standing and crying out to God for a period of time during the worship service. Perhaps this is the best use of the hours spent in a Christian assembly. It seems likely that prolonged worship would be the most important activity for any church that desires to live in a continuing state of revival life an power.
Many of us may not be aware of the need for intense spiritual worship in the assemblies. Of all the activities of the worship service, perhaps none is as vital as holy worship. The golden Altar of Incense symbolizes worship. We must “enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.”
The worship of God is a supremely important undertaking. To be effective it must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. We must worship in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the necessary wisdom and strength behind the prayers of the saints. Also, the Person of Christ must be mixed into our prayers. Christ is God’s incense.
Christian worship should be an active business and may become noisy at times. When a group of saints really open up to God and render to Him the glory due His name, they may come to their feet and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, glorify His majesty. There is no holding back in self-consciousness. The Holy Spirit operates in Divine power and Glory through the Body of Christ. The people become one with their Creator.
From God’s point of view, fervent group worship is the fulfillment of centuries of patient sowing and tending. This is God’s reward: the unreserved adoration of a holy Church.
Give to the Lord, O ye mighty, give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the Lord is on the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is on many waters. (Psalms 29:1-3).
The expression, “the voice of the Lord is on the waters” may have little to do with the Mediterranean Sea. Rather, it may mean the majesty of God is on His people as they worship Him in the beauty of holiness. Out of their inmost being is flowing rivers of living water.
The twenty-ninth Psalm describes the powerful manner in which God moves in connection with the holy worship of His saints. Truly there are awe-inspiring revelations of God’s Person, holy Presence, and will when God’s people set themselves to worship God, and do so in the spiritual cleanliness and beauty that result from a holy heart and life.
Make a joyful noise to God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. Say to God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves to thee. (Psalms 66:1-3).
O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: (Psalms 66:8).
Ascribe ye strength to God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power to his people. Blessed be God. (Psalms 68:34,35).
We have just quoted a few of the many passages in Psalms that describe the worship of God as being active and loud enough to be heard.
But, someone may object, these are Old Testament passages!
True enough. Yet, it seems unreasonable to us that old covenant worship would be an active enterprise involving the attention and strength of the believer, while worship under the new covenant—without doubt a superior covenant—would be a silent, passive affair that is given minimal attention in our assemblies. We cannot accept congregational hymn singing or chorus singing, no matter how lively, or the often-abominable and time-wasting musical “specials,” as fulfilling the requirements of Divine worship.
Today, music has taken the place of the supernatural activities of the Holy Spirit. People can perform Christian music who are not living a righteous, holy, or obedient life. True spiritual worship goes far deeper and is more supernatural and more in the Spirit than is true of many of the musical activities of the Christian churches.
There is much more spiritual life available to us if we will seek Christ with the whole heart and learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the holy and fervent worship of the Father. Also, the entire assembly of the saints should participate, as much as possible, in the worshiping and petitioning that take place during the meeting.
We Christians shall “shout to God with the voice of triumph” when we are in the Spirit. We shall “make a joyful noise to God.”
We will say to God, “How terrible you are in your works!” We shall “make the voice of his praise to be heard.” We shall “exceedingly rejoice.”
We cannot sing out the praises of God while we are oppressed by demons. The quietness of the churches often is not the holy hush of consecrated hearts basking in the light of the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, it appears to be the immobility, helplessness and passivity of bondage and oppression—the self-consciousness, weakness, and stupor that Satan throws over the Christians so they cannot break through victoriously into the peace of God’s Presence.
The multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. (Matthew 21:9).
When he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. (Luke 19:37,38).
If you had been there you would have heard the Lord receive “the glory due to his name.”
If you had been in the upper room on that day, two thousand years ago, you would have heard the “voice of the Lord” on the “waters.” If you had been present in Jerusalem at the birth of the Christian Church you would have heard the Christians “shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”
The early Christians had the leadership of the Apostles of the Lamb and that leadership led them into the high praises of God. The Apostles were not “sore displeased” over the commotion. They exclaimed, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16).
The sights and sounds caused by the disciples of Christ worshiping in the Holy Spirit tend to bring people into the churches rather than to drive them away.
When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31).
God enjoys having people “pull out the stops” and praise Him with their entire personality. He desires to have the hearts of His saints lifted in praise and thanksgiving to Him—loud praise and thanksgiving that the “prisoners” can hear.
At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them. (Acts 16:25).
When the people of God lift up their hearts in praise to God, the “prisoners” (bound members of the community, to spiritualize a bit) will hear them. Not only will God be blessed by the love of His people but other people will be drawn to the Holy One of Israel. They also will have the opportunity to escape from their prisons.
The assembly of the members of the Body of Christ is a fellowship of consecrated brothers and sisters in Christ. Included in the meeting should be general participation in Spirit-filled worship, exhortations, the exercise of gifts and ministries, and testimonies of God’s faithfulness.
Except for the “holy hush” of Christ’s Presence, which itself is a tangible, unmistakable experience and not the coldness and deadness of self-consciousness and formalism, the normal Christian assembly should be an active business.
These happy, loving people are the friends of God and the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s reward is the unreserved adoration of such a holy group of people.
Word of Caution
It is seldom edifying to force anyone to praise God or to pray. There are people who are quiet; who may be carrying a burden of prayer; who may be in deep grief; who may be self-conscious or embarrassed. They should never be singled out for attention, preached at, exhorted to “be like the rest of us” or otherwise pressured into conformity. Except for such times as the Holy Spirit specifically directs a Christian to say or do something to the quiet one, he or she should be left alone.
Of course, it usually is in order to greet people before and after the service and to inquire after their welfare.
But it is not God’s will that we harass people until they conform to our way of doing. Leave them alone. The accent of the Holy Spirit is on diversity rather than uniformity. God works comfortably with an infinite variety of creatures in circumstances that are changing continually.
Perhaps this is a good point at which to mention a few thoughts pertaining to spiritual leadership and Christian government that are suggested by the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and are in harmony with the writings of the Apostles of the new covenant.
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Twelve”, 3284-1)