In the presence of The Lord

If you have ever been to Salt Lake City, you may have noticed that in the very heart of the city, there where the lowest road numbers all come together, stands the LDS Temple (LDS = Latter Day Saints, or Mormonism). And just like the temple is found in the heart of the city, so temples in general still have a central place in the LDS faith.

As found on Mormon.org on 11-12-2015, the Latter Day Saints “Belief nr. 10” states that “Temples are the house of God on earth, holy places where we seek guidance and become closer to our Father in Heaven.”

As Christians, we don’t have temples made by human hands. John Bevere describes why this is as follows in chapter 6 of his book ‘The Fear of the Lord – Discovering the key to intimately knowing God’:

“Chapter 6 – A new sanctuary

Under the old covenant God’s glorious presence dwelled first in the tabernacle, then within the temple of Solomon.
Now God prepares to move into what was always His desired dwelling – a temple not made of stone, but the temple found in the hearts of His sons and daughters.”

He also references 2 Chronicles 6:16 “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them.'”

The Old Testament tabernacle and temple were indeed a place where God lived among the people – as long as they kept His commands – but it also showed the clear separation between a Holy God and His people. In contrast to the garden where God could walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, it was now terrifying for most people to be in close proximity of God. We can see this in the Israelite’s response when God shows himself at Mt. Sinai.

Exodus 20:18-20 “Now all the people witnessed the thundering, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.'”

And God agrees (Deut 5:28-29), because in their lack of Fear of the Lord, God’s presence would indeed consume them.

The Tabernacle
When the tabernacle was built according to the exact blueprints that Moses received while meeting with God on Mt. Sinai, God’s presence descended on the tabernacle.

Exodus 40:34-35 “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”

When God’s presence descended, even Moses couldn’t go in.

Now we know that God’s presence didn’t rest this strong on His house all the time, but there remained a separation between the Holy God and His sinful people. This separation was made very obvious by the division in the temple. The Most Holy Place, could only be accessed once a year, and only by 1 person.

For years this went on. Sadly, we can see as we read on in the Old Testament that whole generations turned away from God. Many times the temple wasn’t even used to seek God anymore and in the end, the temple got destroyed.

The veil was torn
And then, years after Solomon’s original temple had been rebuilt, the impossible happened. Jesus came and when He died, He made everything that had happened in the temple to that day obsolete.

Hebrews 9:12 “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

Jesus Himself became the New High Priest. Hebrews 7 speaks of an eternal Priesthood, in the line of Melchizedek. A priesthood that will never stop, that will never be passed down, and that will never end. Jesus is our high priest forever. And no other priest could do what Jesus could by His own sacrifice.

No more separation?
So according to the Bible, we no longer have a need for priests, temples or sacrifices – as Jesus is the high priest, our bodies are the temples, and Jesus death on the cross was the one sacrifice that is sufficient forever.

But perhaps this revelation is more scary than if we could keep some separation between us and God. If we could have priests, temples and prophets to stand in between of us and the Holy One. To still be able to say: No, you please go, but if we would be in His presence any longer, we would die. (Ex. 20:18-20 paraphrased)

People, the veil was torn! We do have access to the Holy One and He wants relationship with us. But like Moses, our hearts have to be in the right place. We need to grow in our understanding of who God is and what this Holiness looks like. In addition, we too have to grow in our understanding of the Fear of The Lord.

Jesus Himself understood this – Isaiah 11:1-3 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

It is a choice
But it is still a choice – James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Just remember: God = Holy & God = Worthy.

And though He accepts us as we are, we have to be willing to let Him transform us when we go into His presence. We need to be willing to let go of anything that we might be holding onto, and be convinced that He is both Worthy and Trustworthy – so that we don’t have to be afraid. (No: Fear of the Lord IS NOT being afraid of God)

One last question

Q. Would you want to live eternity in heaven, with those you love, even if God wouldn’t be there?
Sadly, many people would answer yes to this question. But if you do, you may not know God for who He really is.

If on the other hand, you know deep down that no matter how good your life, or the afterlife might be, that it would be empty without God – then you are really ready to grow into a deeper relationship with Him. Ask Him – He is not far from those who seek Him, and I pray that you may find Him and realize that the more you get to know Him, the more wonderful He is.

Recognition: Do you want to grow in your understanding of The Fear of the Lord? Consider reading “The Fear of the Lord” by John Bevere.

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