Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Psalm 84 - The Response

In Psalm 84, the author, who was assigned to be a gate keeper in the tabernacle, looked around and burst into praise of God's home. But that praise causes him to have an emotional response. So the author, in verse 2, blurts out, "My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." What heart-felt passion! What emotion! But this is the desire of his heart. He wants to be in the presence of God. That's the real point here. The author has an intense longing for God's presence.

For the Israelites, they had to go to the tabernacle to meet God, and that's what he wanted to do with all his heart. He wanted God. That intensity seems so foreign to most church members who don't seem to care all that much about spending time with God. The typical church member will let almost anything get in the way. But the author wants to be in the presence of God most of all. And for him, that meant being in the tabernacle.

A noble castle or a majestic cathedral is never enough if no one lives there. How lonely an empty house is. A beautiful church is but an empty shell without the Spirit of God. Ornate caskets still house only dead men's bones. What is needed most is life - God's life and presence. Gold, marble, and ivory are cold and can never really satisfy without someone to share it all with. So the real longing here is for the lord; for His presence. The Psalmist didn't long for a building, but for God.

In the same way, we don't really long for heaven because of the streets of gold, but because that's where God is. We long to be in His presence - to see Him face to face. That's why the Psalmist says, "My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord." That is almost a physical thing. He is almost ready to faint out of his hunger for God. It is like what the fantastic verses of Psalm 42:1-2 say,
"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God, my soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?"
Do you see that same longing?

Have you ever missed a meal or two and almost gotten faint from hunger? Your belly growls, and hunger gnaws at your insides. You'd give almost anything for a PBJ sandwich. Well, have you ever had that kind of craving to be close to God? Have you ever longed for Him as much as a man parched and dry in the desert searches for water? As Psalm 84 verse 2 continues, "My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." Is that what your heart cries out for - for that sweet, close fellowship with God?

Than do your actions prove it? What actions? Oh, come on. You know what actions. do you long to learn more about Him? Are you sitting under the teaching of the Word? Are you studying the Bible for yourself? What about your prayer life? Are you longing to spend time with Him? Are you talking to Him? Walking with Him? Does your soul long for a closer relationship with God? You will never find that sweet relationship if you don't hunger for it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Psalm 84 - Continued

In Psalm 84, the sons of Korah were gatekeepers in the tabernacle. They looked around in awe and wonder, and exclaimed in verse 1, "How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!" And it was! God's physical presence dwelt in the tabernacle. His Shikineh glory came down and was visible dwelling between the wings of the cherubim over the mercy seat atop the Ark of the Covenant. God's glory was actually there. In Exodus 40:34, it says, "Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." This was the cloud and the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness during the time of Moses. Now it made a home in the tabernacle.

Nowadays, we know it is different. God doesn't physically dwell in our church buildings. His shikineh glory is not seen any more. Maybe that's why so many get the idea that it doesn't matter what we meet in to worship - that any old thing is good enough for God.

Personally, I believer that's misguided and a poor testimony. Not that I am advocating elaborate cathedrals. But so often it is just an excuse used by people who don't want to work or give or sacrifice for God. If they really did use that time, money, and labor that they weren't putting into keeping the church building nice into some ministry like supporting missionaries, then I'd applaud them. But all too often, they pocket the money and use the time for things they want to do. They build their own nest egg instead of the house of God as the book of Haggai pointed out. Friends, there is nothing wrong with a nice church building. We need to keep it neat, attractive, and well maintained.

But in truth, where does God dwell now? In heaven? Yes! But also in our hearts. He dwells in the lives of believers. Let's do a quick survey:
1st Corinthians 6:19-20: "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's"
2nd Corinthians 6:16, "And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall; be My people.'"
Paul's own testimony is found in:
Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, burt Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Christ lives in us and through us if we are born-again believers. We are the temple of God - the very dwelling place of God. So it is in you that God expects to be glorified. Maybe we should be more concerned with making our lives beautiful for God. Maybe we should be most concerned with making our lives a fit dwelling place.

Is your life lovely? Are you proud of the temple you are personally providing God? Do you see how important it is to maintain your life right? Your life is important. Christ lives on earth through you. When the sons of Korah call the tabernacle lovely, the word is sometimes translated as amiable. That means pleasant, friendly, comfortable, easy to live with.

Would the Spirit of God find your life a pleasing home for Him? Are you easy for God to live with? Would He be comfortable dwelling with you? Would it be like staying at a good friend's or at a favorite grandma's? Or would the Spirit of God feel ill at ease in you because of the sin you allow in your life? We have all been to places we don't feel welcome. You can just tell when you aren't wanted. Get your life - your temple- as pleasing to God as possible.

The author iof this Psalm looked around at the tabernacle in which he served and said, "How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of Hosts." We need to supply the spirit if God a lovely dwelling place too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Psalm 84 - The Grandeur of the Tabernacle

In the introduction to Psalm 84, it tells us a little bit about the author. It says this is "A Psalm of the Sons of Korah." The only thing that is important for us to remember about that as we study this Psalm is what is found in 1st Chronicles 9:19, "The Korahites were in charge of the work of the service, gate keepers of the Tabernacle." Do you see? They had an official job. They were gate keepers at the tabernacle.

So what do these gate keepers say? Psalm 84:1, "How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!" They are addressing God. They had been standing there on the job, looking around, and it hits him. "Wow! This is magnificent!" They realized just how gorgeous, how lovely, the tabernacle was.

Of course it was. God's home must be the most beautiful, most magnificent, most glorious place in the universe. And it is in heaven. We can get little glimpses of it here and there in Scripture, especially in Revelation 21. Paul caught sight of it, and he said he coudn't tell us about it because it was beyond words. John saw it and had to resort to magnificent symbols to describe it - an emerald rainbow around the throne, a sea of glass as clear as crystal, walls of jasper, gates of pearls, streets of gold. What an awesome place the temple of God is in heaven.

And the earthly tabernacle was a pale replica of that. Did you know that the earthly tabernacle used the same plans as the heavenly one? Hebrews 8:5 tells us that, speaking about the priests,
"Who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, 'See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'"
The earthly tabernacle was a pint-size replica of the one in heaven. It was like a model airplane compared to the real thing.

And God revealed the pattern to Moses, He gave the blueprint, on Mt. Sinai. So the Israelites did their best to make the tabernacle just as beautiful as they could. No price was too great to pay. No sacrifice was too great to make. They gave and gave and gave until Moses had to tell them, "Enough is enough!" Exodus 36:2-7 records the event:
"Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholioab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. And they received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of making the sanctuary. so they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, 'The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do.' So Moses gave a command, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, 'Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.' And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work done - indeed too much."
Wow! What sacrificial giving.! If the members of our churches were ever to give like that, can you imagine what could be accomplished for God? Could you imagine people giving until the pastor had to stand up and tell them, "Stop! You've given way more than is needed."

But no sacrifice was too great for them, not for the the temple of God. And you can read about the grandeur of the tabernacle for five chapters in Exodus. Exodus 25-30 gives intricate details of the tabernacle. No wonder the sons of Korah were in awe looking around at it. No wonder it made them want to praise God.