Notes from A Woman’s Heart – Week 9

Summary notes from Week 9 of A Woman Heart ~ God’s Dwelling Place

Imagine Israel’s joy and excitement as they watched the finishing touches placed on the tabernacle! Had everything been prepared and constructed perfectly in accordance with God’s instructions? Would God approve?

Moses demonstrated exact obedience in preparing the sanctuary for God’s presence. Exodus 40 tells us over and over again that all preparations were made “as the LORD had commanded Moses.” (vs. 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, and 32) The strict instruction of God to make the tabernacle “exactly as I show you” could never have been far from Moses’ mind.

Finally, after Moses had finished the work, “the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34) The Hebrew word for “filled” can also be translated as satisfy, fulfill, accomplish, or complete (BDB Hebrew Dictionary). Recall God’s promise to Jeremiah, “I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” (Jeremiah 1:12) Word Biblical Commentary says that there is a notion of impatience or anxious expectation associated with the Hebrew word for “watching” in this verse.

Can you imagine? God was watching and waiting with anxious expectation for His word to be fulfilled and for His glorious presence to complete the work of the tabernacle. His perfect will was satisfied and He could dwell with His people! Even when the tabernacle moved from a tent in the desert to the lavish permanent dwelling of Solomon’s temple, God chose to fill the temple with His presence (2 Chronicles 5:14).

Sadly, the glory of God did not remain with His people. The book of Ezekiel describes the prophet’s vision of the departure of the glory of God from the temple that would occur when Jerusalem fell into captivity. First, Ezekiel sees the glory of God move from the Holy of Holies to the inner court (10:3), and then to the threshold of the temple (10:4). As God moved, His cherubim moved with Him, and the sound of their wings could be clearly heard (10:5). The New International Commentary of the Old Testament describes a restlessness in the sound of the wings as though the cherubim were gathering to depart. Ezekiel then sees the glory of God move to the entrance at the east side of the temple (10:19), and finally to above the mountain east of the temple (11:23). In Scripture, the mountain to the east of the temple is always the Mount of Olives.

Did the glory of God ever return to the temple? The next great temple was Herod’s; however, there is no description of God’s glory filling this temple in the way described in Exodus and 2 Chronicles. That is, until the 8th day in the life of the infant Jesus. Luke 2 tells us how, on the day that Jesus was presented at the temple, the man Simeon immediately recognized Jesus as “your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32)

And now we, as saved believers in Christ, can look forward with anxious expectation to the return of the glory of God. Just as Christ ascended into heaven in a cloud from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:8), we have received the promise that “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) The prophet Zechariah describes this phenomenal event: “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley.” (Zechariah 14:4)

Come Lord Jesus!

Viewer Guide answers (pages 200 & 201 of your study book):

  1. preparation; obedience, exactly; finish
  2. filling; rest, abide shekinah
  3. transfer
  4. departure; inner threshold; east gate; mountain east
  5. Herod’s; glory; Israel
  6. return

Notes from A Woman’s Heart – Week 8

Summary notes from Week 8 of A Woman’s Heart ~ God’s Dwelling Place

Our journey into the tabernacle has now led us through the Holy Place (the home of the Golden Lampstand, the table for the Bread of Presence, and the Altar of Incense) into the innermost chamber, the Most Holy Place. Here we find the Ark of the Covenant, the most important object in the tabernacle proper. Covering the Ark was the mercy seat of pure gold with cherubim on either end, facing each other with their wings spread out above. At this very place God promised, “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.” (Exodus 25:22)

Remember that only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place, and only once a year on the Day of Atonement. The glory of God’s presence in the Most Holy Place was so powerful that it had to first be concealed by smoke from the incense placed under the heavy veil before the Priest entered or he would be killed. Israel believed that the Ark of the Covenant was the footstool of God on earth. (I Chronicles 28:2; Isaiah 66:1)

How do we as Christians find our way through the veil and into the very presence of God?

We accept the invitation offered to us by the shed blood of Christ. “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh…” (Hebrews 10:19-20) The flesh of our savior, both bruised and crushed, became the veil torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51), providing us with free access to the heart of God.

We recognize that our salvation is guaranteed and we rest on the security of an unchanging and immutable God. “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:17-20)

Viewer Guide answers (pages 180 & 181 of your study book):
  1. anchor, veil; promise; oath, confirmed
  2. invitation; confidence, authorization, access; new, living, similar, different, freshly killed, freshness, revelation

Grace Chapel Missions Conference 2008

Grace Chapel’s 2008 Missions Conference will be held April 18-21 and volunteers are needed! If you would like to volunteer on a specific day (Friday through Monday), or for any day needed, let me know via this blog or at our Monday night Women’s Bible Study at Grace. You can also volunteer by contacting the Grace Chapel office directly or Ben Welstead (benwelstead@yahoo.com). The planning committee will then contact you with further details.

Specific areas where you can serve are as follows:

  • set-up/tear-down
  • meal preparation
  • meal clean-up
  • coffee/snack making
  • open mic spot (more info on that below)
  • any area where there is a need

Grace Chapel Missions Conference Schedule

Friday Night, April 18 – Local Missions – 7 to 9 p.m.

This will be a time to highlight our local missions involvement while enjoying the artistic talent of Grace Chapel. Painters, potters, photographers, and others will set up their visual art in the church. Musicians from Grace Chapel will participate in an Open Mic night. There will be an auction of art work displayed and local ministries we support will give brief updates between music sets.

Saturday Morning, April 19 – Short Term Missions – 10 a.m. to Noon

Enjoy a delicious pancake brunch while you hear from those who have taken short-term missions trips this last year, and from another group preparing to leave this summer. Six people will also win tickets to the Nebraska Spring Game!

Saturday Evening, April 19 – India – 5 to 9 p.m.

Several people in the Grace community have strong ties to India. We will enjoy a delicious Indian dinner, hear ministry highlights and testimonies, and view the movie Born Into Brothels. The movie will be followed by a discussion of the different faces of ministry in a foreign context. Child care will be provided from 7 to 9 p.m. (NOTE: Born Into Brothels is a fabulous movie, but is rated R for language and content.)

Sunday Morning, April 20

The keynote speaker for the conference, Pastor Dony St. Germain of El Shaddai Ministries in Haiti, will speak during both church services. During the educational hour, Pastor Tom Barber from the People’s City Mission will also share with us. After the services there will be an all-church lunch.

Sunday Evening, April 20 – Haiti – 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The focus for this time will be the history of Haiti and the incredible work that God has done to bring hope and life to that country. Pastor Dony will speak about El Shaddai Ministries and the work they are doing in Haiti.

Monday Night, April 21 – Haiti

The culmination of our missions conference will have Pastor Dony speaking more extensively about El Shaddai Ministries and its vision for the future. This will be a time of prayer and praise as we continue to show our support for this important ministry in Haiti.

Notes from A Woman’s Heart – Week 7

Summary notes from Week 7 of A Woman’s Heart ~ God’s Dwelling Place

This week we departed briefly from examining the different objects in the tabernacle to take a closer look at the holy priesthood. We saw how the New Testament book of Hebrews devotes a great deal of text to revealing Jesus Christ as the Great High Priest foreshadowed in the Old Testament. In particular, careful exegesis (critical analysis or interpretation) of Hebrews 7:25 reveals profound and moving truths about the position of Christ as both High Priest and intercessor at the right hand of God.

An important part of exegesis is understanding the context of the portion of text in question. We can accomplish this by backing up to read Hebrews 7:11-24. Here we learn that perfection was unattainable through either the Levitical priesthood or through the Law. Therefore, there was not only a need for a change in the Law, but also the need for another priest to arise in the likeness of Melchizedek (for further thoughts on Melchizedek see this post). This priest, however, would not be of the line of Aaron as priests traditionally came, but of the tribe of Judah — this priest was Jesus Christ. Jesus would not be a priest on the basis of the Law (a legal requirement), but “by the power of an indestructible life.” (7:16) He would be “a better hope…through which we draw near to God” (7:19) and “the guarantor of a better covenant.” (7:22)

So what does Hebrews tell us about the role of Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest? “Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (7:25) Let’s move further through the process of exegesis to look at the key underlined words in this verse.

“He is able“: The word able (Greek: “dunamai”) means “is powerful to.” Jesus Christ is fully empowered to carry out the role assigned to Him from before the foundations of the world (I Peter 1:20 Ephesians 1:4).

“to save“: The word save (Greek: “sozo”) means “to deliver, protect, heal, preserve, be or make whole.” The salvation provided by Christ is complete, providing deliverance, protection, healing, preservation, and wholeness.

“to the uttermost“: The word uttermost (Greek: “panteles”) is made up of two Greek words “pas” meaning “all” and “telos” meaning “completion.” Further, the word “telos” is from the root word “tello” meaning “to set out for a definite goal, result, or purpose.” Not only is the salvation provided by Christ whole and complete, this salvation is at all times, in all cases, and has a definite end result and purpose. This Greek phrase is used only one other time in Scripture, in Luke 13:11, where the woman who had been bent over with a disabling spirit for 18 years received complete and immediate healing in front of the rulers in the synagogue.

“He always lives“: The phrase “always lives” (Greek: “pantote zao”) means “has life always, at all times, forevermore.” Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise in Psalm 110:4 in that He would “[hold] His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever.” (Hebrews 7:24) And we are further guaranteed that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He will never change.

“make intercession“: The word intercession (Greek: “entugchano”) means “to confer with, entreat in favor or against, deal with.” We are told in Romans 8:27 that this intercession is according to God’s will. This intercession is a result of reflection and deliberation and is not only consistent with God’s will and word, but is also consistent with the purposes that God holds for us.

Our salvation is a process. Yes, we are saved once and forever when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and we can never be snatched out of His hand (John 10:28). But our salvation is also continual by the very nature of the eternal existence of Christ Himself — He has saved us, He is saving us, and He will continue to save us until we are finally with Him in the heavenly kingdom. Further, although we know that our salvation is secure, we can rest knowing that our purposes, our spiritual gifts, and the paths that lie before us in this life are being deliberated upon and discussed in the heavenly realm. Praise God!

*Note: Greek definitions are from Strong’s Greek Dictionary.

Viewer Guide answers (pages 158 & 159 of your study book):

  • save, uttermost, liveth, intercession

Part 1

  • protect, heal, whole; all, completion, definite, goal, purpose; utterly, quite; at all, completely

Part 2

  • will; reflections, first stage, thought, final; spiritual gifts

Notes from a Woman’s Heart – Week 6

Summary notes from Week 6 of A Woman’s Heart ~ God’s Dwelling Place

This past week we moved further into the Holy Place and studied the second altar within the tabernacle: the golden altar of incense. Positioned in front of the heavy veil, the altar of incense was the site where the priests made atonement for Israel’s sin once every year with the blood from the sin offering (Exodus 30:10). While there was no “sacrifice” made on the altar of incense per se, the same word for altar (in Hebrew: “mizbeah”) is used for both the bronze altar and the altar of incense. Why? Because the only fire used for the altar of incense was from the bronze altar — whose coals had on them the blood of the sacrifice. Any other fire was “strange fire.”

The smoke of the incense burning on the altar represented prayers being offered up to God. The apostle John was given a vision of the altar of incense that exists in the heavenly kingdom where an angel “was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God…” (Revelation 8:3). The Scriptures tell us that it is Christ who lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25), presenting our prayers, petitions, and praise to God while sitting at His right hand.

Luke 1: 5-25 tells the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were righteous and blameless before God but had no children. Zechariah travels to Herod’s temple to serve his priestly duties as well as complete the special task of offering the yearly sacrifice on the altar of incense. There he is met by the angel Gabriel who proclaims that Zechariah’s prayer has been heard and Elizabeth would bear for them a son. We do not know if this was Zechariah’s prayer at the moment, or a prayer from years ago. But we are assured that God hears and answers prayer, although the answer may be realized much later in the future. In fact, the name Zechariah means “the Lord remembers.”

Jesus tells us that God always hears our prayers (John 11:42). The apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) and encourages us to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

May we be encouraged to build a powerful and effective prayer life! And may we be confident that our intimacy with God will grow immensely as we approach Him knowing “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18.)

Viewer Guide answers (pages 134 & 135 of your study book):

  • sacrifice
  • prayer
  1. blamelessness; have no
  2. Gabriel
  3. afraid, prayer, heard
  4. Lord, done this for me

A prayer for today 3/2/08

Lord, I worship you for your majesty, wisdom, sovereignty, and love. I worship you for your design of creation and your all-encompassing plan and purpose for humankind. I worship you for your forgiveness and grace, and for shedding even the smallest amount of light on your word that I could understand. I worship you because you are worthy to be praised and because you have promised that those who seek shall find. I worship you for your glorious presence in my soul.