Joseph Parker, a popular 19th-century London pastor, once admonished his congregation that if there ever was a pastor of that church who did not preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, “let Ichabod (The glory has departed) be written across its portal.” As it turned out, the pastor who followed Parker was a modernist who didn’t preach the truth of the gospel, and some brave soul dared to paint “Ichabod” across the portal!
Sadly, I have to ask, where is the glory of God in most churches today?
Exodus 40 reveals two keys to a church that pleases God, a church through whom the glory of God will shine. That chapter records the finishing of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the place of worship where God would meet with His people through the intermediary of God’s anointed priests. Recognizing that with the coming of Christ – His death, resurrection and ascension – and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all believers, worship is significantly different from what it was for Israel in the desert. But two things strike me as very pertinent to every local church today.
First, Exodus 40 records that every detail of the Tabernacle was completed: “just as the lord had commanded Moses.” Moses and the God-anointed craftsmen who performed the work followed meticulously God’s directions for the design and construction of the Tabernacle. The great missionary to China, J. Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” Moses and his craftsmen certainly learned that truth: they had to restrain the people from giving materials, including precious metals and gemstones, for the construction of the Tabernacle and the high priest’s garments because they had more than enough! (Exodus 36:4-7) The key was obedience to God’s explicit instructions. It seems today, though, that most churches look to every source except the Bible for directions in building their congregations and conducting their services.
The second key is the anointing of the Tabernacle and the priests. God had commanded Moses to make a fragrant anointing oil of myrrh, cinnamon, fragrant cane, cassia, and olive oil (Ex. 30:23-25). With the anointing oil, Moses anointed the Tabernacle and everything that was in it (Ex. 40:9). Then he anointed Aaron, the High Priest, and Aaron’s sons who would serve the Lord and His people (Ex. 40:12-15). The holy oil was a symbol of the Holy Spirit (See 1 John 2:20, 27). When the God’s servants, from pastor to every member of the congregation are filled with the Holy Spirit, the church has a sweet fragrance that pleases God and attracts others.
Once the Tabernacle was assembled and anointed, “just as the Lord had commanded Moses,” and the priests were anointed, “the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle” (Ex. 40:34).
Do you want the glory of the Lord to fill your church? Here are the keys: (1) Submit all that you do to the Word of God, seeking His guidance in every detail, and (2) submit yourselves to God for the filling of His Holy Spirit.
When the glory of the Lord filled that Tabernacle in the wilderness, “Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting” because of its intensity. Wouldn’t it be great if the Lord’s presence was so strong in our services that we could hardly stand it?