Lately the congregation has been reading through the Bible chronologically. It’s been an interesting exercise, one we’ve not done for a number of years. It’s good to switch up versions and reading plans as it makes you THINK about what you’re reading, instead of getting into a rut.

Recently we were reading about the tabernacle and all that went into making it and provisioning it for service to God. The account of the finishing of the tabernacle has given me a lot of food for thought. In Exodus 40:33-35 we read: Next Moses set up the surrounding courtyard for the tabernacle and the altar and hung a screen for the gate of the courtyard. So Moses finished the work. The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The completion of the work lead to the presence of God filling the tabernacle.

Today those of us who seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ see the Old Testament as a type or foreshadowing of things to be revealed in the New Testament under the new covenant described in Jeremiah 31:31-34: “Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—my covenant that they broke even though I am their master”—the Lord’s declaration. “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.

In Galatians 3:7-9 we read You know, then, that those who have faith, these are Abraham’s sons. Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. Consequently, those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith. And in in verses 16-18: Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ. My point is this: The law, which came 430 years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously established by God and thus cancel the promise. For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise; but God has graciously given it to Abraham through the promise. and verses 24-29: The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise. So now we see how God set up so that He would be glorified through people of ALL nations, not just the nation He set up to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

So we see how God has made those who believe and obey to be His sons, yet He also makes us into a temple, an altar and a priesthood. Peter, the apostle, wrote in 1 Peter 2:4-5: As you come to him, a living stone—rejected by people but chosen and honored by God— you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And in Romans 12:1 Paul the apostle wrote: Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. This reflects back to what Jesus Himself said to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:23-24: But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

So we see that as disciples of Jesus Christ we are:
1) sons of God
2) clothed with Christ
3) a spiritual temple
4) a royal priesthood
5) a living sacrifice

And that brings us back to the idea I’m trying to convey, the foreshadowing in the Old Testament of spiritual concepts in the New Testament. In Acts 2:38-39 the apostle Peter told those present, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” When we are immersed for the forgiveness of our sins in the name of Jesus the Christ, we are clothed with Christ, circumcised by the hand of God and made pure and Holy before Him. And now we see in Acts that those who do so “will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. Today many believe that such a gift is something external to themselves, much like king Saul prophesying because the Spirit took control of him. Yet he DID NOT have the INDWELLING PRESENCE of God, nor do many who today emphasize external “evidence of God’s power”, forgetting that Jesus warned about depending on things external to ourselves. Matthew recorded this in chapter 7, verses 21 to 23 of his gospel. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’

I’ve contemplated and meditated long and hard on that passage in Matthew along with what the Bible teaches about baptism (immersion in water is what the apostles referred to as baptism, we know this because that is what the scriptures record them and their disciples as doing). A conclusion I’ve come to, and note it is my conclusion – study it out for yourself, is that since Jesus spoke of being born again to Nicodemus saying “unless someone is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” , those who refuse to be baptized for the remission of their sins (as directed by Peter in Acts 2:38-39) are not known by God, just as we do not know a child that has not been known. They may be religious, they may be noisy, they may even perform miracles and cast out demons in the Name of the Lord – but if they’ve not been born of water and the Spirit then they run the risk of beng told “Depart from me, you lawbreakers!” on that last day.

Now getting back to the original idea of God’s Presence indwelling His tabernacle, we see that those who are truly Christ’s disciples are also living stones and a royal priesthood and an acceptable living sacrifice to God. And that means that His Presence indwells them. That is the promise that Peter conveyed on Pentecost day when he said “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Unfortunately, most people today do not understand this concept. Paul the apostle wrote in Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

May the Indwelling Presence of God be made manifest in and through the lives of His sons who are born again through water and God’s Spirit. May we come to truly understand the power at work within us, sanctifying us as His holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices as we lay our lives on His altar. May we not not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that we may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.