Nov. 28, 1999
"In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old" (Amos 9:11 KJV).
God has revealed to me that He is rebuilding the tabernacle of David in this hour. The knowledge that He is rebuilding this tent that is broken down is extremely important, as is the timeless principles hidden not only in the fact that he is building again David's tent, but in the fact that He is not building again the tabernacle of Moses. Why is David's tabernacle so important that God would rebuild it, and why would He choose David's tabernacle rather than Moses' tabernacle, or Solomon's temple (spiritually not physically speaking)?
The answer to this question reveals the heart of God in a way that is humanly appreciable, and yet brings the separating sword of God to the thoughts and intents of men's hearts. The answer to this question calls into question everything done within the walls of every Christian church as well as what every Christian does in the secret chambers of his heart. The truth of this will dig through the wall and bring to light what the heart of man truly worships and desires (Ez. 8:8-16). The answer to this question will probe the heart with the eternal question, "do we really want the true and living God?"
When God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, His purpose was not just to bring them into a good land. No, His purpose was to bring them unto Himself. He said, "I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto myself" (Ex. 19:4 KJV). His desire was for a peculiar treasure, a people set apart for an intimate love affair with God. God wanted a relationship with a group of people to whom He could reveal Himself, and remember beloved, the scripture says that we of the household of faith are spiritual Israel, and that those things happened to them as examples for us (1 Cor. 10:11). God has brought us out of Egypt, out of slavery to sin and shame, not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven, not just so we can possess the promises of God such as prosperity, health, and success, not just so we can have thriving churches, victory over the devil, and successful outreach programs and discipleship programs, not just so we can take walled cities and see our cities won to Christ. No! He has brought us out of Egypt primarily to bring us unto and into Himself! If we were to enter into the blessings of God without finding God, we would have missed the very purpose for which God brought us out of Egypt.
God brought Israel out of Egypt unto Himself. However, we see that when God brought natural Israel to Sinai, the mountain of God, they looked up, saw the mountain aflame, and removed themselves afar off. They said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die" (Ex. 20:19 NIV). God had brought them unto Himself at Mt. Sinai in order to reveal Himself to them and cleanse and save them from their sin, for Moses said, "God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning" (Ex. 20:20 NIV). However, the children of Israel said, "We don't want to die." God wanted a people for Himself, and brought them unto Himself, and their response was in essence, "God, we don't want you."
The Children of Israel turned away from this encounter with the living God because they were afraid of dying, and so, God had to give them what the scripture calls the ministry of death written on tables of stone (2 Cor. 3:7). God's desire was to give them words of life, His law written on the tables of their hearts (2 Cor. 3:3), but instead gave them statutes that were not good and laws by which they could not live (Ez. 20:25). He gave them the letter that kills (2 Cor. 3:6), and they unknowingly died that day just as Jesus said when he said if you save your life you will lose it (Mat. 16:25).
Because they rejected God, He had to give laws telling them what to do when someone kills his brother, or rapes a virgin, or steels an ox, or strikes a parent. Because the people feared to go up the mountain to have God change their hearts and write His laws upon their hearts, He had to give laws telling them how to punish the inevitable evil that would break out among brethren. He had to give the letter that kills. He offered life, but they chose death.
So God, in His mercy and longsuffering, had them build the tabernacle of Moses, the beautiful yet empty form or copy of the reality into which He wanted to bring the children of Israel when He called them up the mount. He in essence said, "You won't come to me? All right, you make this tabernacle with all its trappings and go through all the rituals and ceremony, and I'll dwell among you in a way that's safe, in a way that doesn't threaten you. I'll be among you, but you'll never be able to contact me. Only the high priest, only with blood, and only once a year can approach me."
This is just what they wanted! When called upon to donate for the materials and work of the tabernacle, they gave so much that Moses had to restrain them from giving any more. They wanted a religion they could see and put their hands on. They wanted a religion that was safe, ritualistic, monotonous and predictable. It sounds like some church services today, doesn't it? They wanted a safe religion, not a relationship with a God of fire that might consume their flesh. So God gave them this ornate tabernacle filled with religious emblems, including the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolizes to us the manifest presence of God.
When Moses delayed on the mountain, the children of Israel, with the help of one of their spiritual leaders, made a golden calf and said, this is our god that brought us out of Egypt. Now, you may wonder how they could think that that golden calf that a man had just made could be the God that had just brought them out of Egypt with signs and wonders. They didn't. They saw God's mighty hand do signs and wonders. They saw the cloud and the fire and heard the thunder and the trumpet on the mount. They knew that that little golden calf was not the God that had brought them out of Egypt. What they were saying in essence was, let this golden calf represent God, and we'll just worship God through this. They wanted a god (or a religion) they could see and put their hands on; a god they could carry. They wanted a god that fit their thinking, a god they could understand with clearly defined bounds and a pleasing form, not this strange and frightening God that appeared as if He would consume them.
They wanted, not a God with whom they could have a relationship, but a god that would work for them. So, they created a calf, a symbol of work. It's no wonder they loved the idea of the tabernacle, priesthood, and ceremonies. They created a god that symbolized work and sacrifice, so why wouldn't they want to give their lives in work and sacrifice to an empty form that would take the place of the living God on the mount? The children of Israel, like many in the church today, knew God only as a God who does things for them and not as the most wonderful "person" that one could ever know to whom one could relate intimately. They created god in their own image and worshiped this little golden calf as a representation of God, for they danced around it as a celebration, "a feast to the LORD (Yahweh)" (Ex. 32:5).
No wonder God will build again not the tabernacle of Moses, but the tabernacle of David. What was the tabernacle of David? It was just a tent filled with the glory of God. It was just a tent, a regular old tent that had nothing but the manifest presence of God. It was just a regular old tent with no brazen altar, no laver, no table of showbread, and no sacrifices (except for the sacrifice of praise). This tent that sat high atop Mt. Zion had nothing in it but the ark of God. Just the ark! Just the glory! That's the tent that God is rebuilding in this hour. He wants a tabernacle free from pomp and ceremony; free from all the trappings of our modern church services filled with empty ritual and religious jargon. He wants a tabernacle for His glory, where He is the beginning middle and end. He wants to be in charge of our worship services for a change (He being the head of the church), and He wants a place for His glory to abide! He wants a tent dedicated to ministry to God in His presence, not a tent dedicated to ministry to man.
You see, In David's day, the tabernacle of Moses was pitched at Gibeon, about eight miles north of Jerusalem (2 Chro. 1:3). The ark that the Philistines had stolen and returned to Bethshemesh on an ox-drawn cart had been moved to Gibeah, and then to the house of Obededom at Kiriath Jearim (1 Chro. 13:5). King David, who speaks of the reign of the Spirit, decided he wanted the ark of God with him in the city of David. David, a man who pursued the heart of God, wanted to bring back the manifest presence of God. David wanted the Glory of God.
Remember, David tried bringing back the ark once before, but he kept violating God's principles in doing so until God lashed out and killed Uzzah (2 Sam. 6:1-9). The scripture says that "David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?" However, David wanted God more than he feared Him, so He sought out the correct way to have the presence of God, pitched a tent in the city of David, and brought the ark to Jerusalem and placed it in this tent.
Now, I want you to consider for a moment what David did. David left the tabernacle of Moses, the tabernacle that God had ordained according to God's design, at Gibeon. He left the tabernacle with all of its implements and furniture, and took the ark of the covenant, the ark that was kept in a closed off room into which only the high priest could go only once a year at the risk of their lives. He took this ark and placed it in a tent by itself with no special enclosure, no blood, no ceremony or sacrifice, and God didn't even strike him dead. What he did was completely revolutionary. He was in essence establishing a completely new order of worship; he was building something new. David, a type of Christ, was building what Jesus is building in this hour: a completely new and revolutionary order.
Jesus is building a tent for Himself that will have none of the empty trappings of religion that remind Him of man's rejection of God and of man's love for empty ceremony. He is building a tent that will be a habitation for the glory of God. David's tent had nothing in it but the ark! Oh, it had three other things as well: prayer, thanksgiving, and praise (1 Chro. 16:4). Let me tell you, some of our churches today have prayer, thanksgiving, and praise also, but they don't have the glory! Jesus is building a habitation for His glory and it's not within the ecclesiastical walls of traditional "Christianity". He is building something new.
As Brother Daniel Rubalcaba says, "Don't call it the glory if you can't feel it." Our churches are void of the glory of God and filled with the trappings of religion or the talent or professionalism of man. Oh, that God would give us services that He takes over and takes out of the hands of men in order to take strong men apart in His presence. I remember the glory that abode in the little church where we had revival. There were times when we would walk in and sit down and begin weeping before the service even started. We want the Glory. We want the presence of God. We want to see the tabernacle of David rebuilt.
I sometimes wonder how David knew he could get away with pitching a tent for the ark alone and with going into the very presence of God without all the sacrifice and ceremony. What audacity! How could he have such audacity to even attempt such a thing? What he did was so revolutionary it's almost incomprehensible. Moses' tabernacle was only about eight miles away, so why didn't David bring the whole tabernacle to Jerusalem instead of just bringing the ark? I think David, like Moses, wanted God so bad and had such a heart after God that he recognized the empty ritual of the tabernacle of Moses. I think he must have seen past the form to the substance, and therefore didn't fear setting aside the form, as long as he feared and honored the substance.
Isn't it amazing that what David did with such apparent disregard for the laws of God pleased God so much that he said in two places in scripture, "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen..." (Amos 9:11, Acts 15:16)? David restored the presence of God that the children of Israel lost at Sinai, and Jesus is going to restore again His presence to His church in this hour.
Where's The Glory?
In 1 Samuel chapter four we read of how the Philistines stole the ark of God and as a woman lay dying, she named her newborn baby Ichabod - "the glory has departed". Ichabod could well be translated "where's the glory?" That's what could be said over many churches today: not "the glory has departed", for most have never known the glory of God, but "where's the glory?" This is what pastors and "laymen" alike should be asking this Sunday as church goes on as usual: Ichabod. Where is God? Where is the manifested presence of God? Where is the Glory of God?
Oh, I know, we want "seeker friendly services", and it just wouldn't be conducive to church growth for people to be falling on the floor screaming and crying out to God when it's time to be taking the offering, giving announcements, or releasing the children to go to children's church. It's just too offensive to the flesh for the fire of God to show up, so we vanquish God to an enclosed room behind an impenetrable curtain where He can't threaten our thriving works, our lives or our egos. We say, "we don't want you God, cause you might kill what we love, but we'll do everything you say, just give us your laws... Oh, how we love your laws". Once again, man who rejects God on the mount embraces the letter of the law that kills and misses the true spirit of the law that Jesus would engrave on the table of our hearts. How the heart of man is exposed in the light of the Glory of God. No wonder religious man opts for ceremony and ritual over an encounter with the presence of the living God.
No wonder we love to sing songs and preach sermons about God. It fills our poor hearts with the empty form of religion, yet provides an escape from the cleansing revealing fire of God that we fear would surely take our very lives. Oh God, give us the tabernacle of David! Rebuild the tent of David that is broken down!
God said of Shiloh, the home of the tabernacle of Moses until it was destroyed by Philistines, "But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh" (Jer. 7:12-14 KJV). Shiloh means tranquil, secure, successful, happy, prosperous, safe, and this is the house of which it was said, Ichabod. Where's the Glory? Empty tranquil secure religion will be destroyed and the tent of David will be rebuilt. God is going to restore the ark to his people who will not fear to draw near the fire. David feared God when He killed Uzzah, but David wanted the ark of God, the presence of God more than he feared God.
I can remember driving eighty-five miles one way for church, and we used to do it three nights a week. We never got home before midnight, and it was usually about one in the morning. The drive up seemed like fifteen minutes and the drive back like five, for we were meeting with God.
How about the youth in your church? Do they have to be entertained in order to get them to come out? I know that this is the case with many of today's youth and youth groups. I remember one time the youth in our church spent forty-eight hours straight in prayer. I also remember one service where the presence of God was so precious that a ten year old boy and a ten or eleven year old girl lay on their backs on the floor with their hands straight up crying out, no, bellowing out to God, lost to this world for well over an hour. There were many services where we didn't feel "edified", we felt like wet dishrags that had been rung out. We had been cleansed and changed, and we wouldn't have traded even one of those experiences for anything on Earth, for we had been with God.
When Moses would go to the tabernacle to worship, the cloud would appear and God would talk to him face to face, and the Israelites would worship from the door of their tents. They worshiped from way far off where it was safe and familiar. How that hurt and grieved the heart of God who had chosen this people to be a special treasure for Himself. Even then, His desire was not for a priesthood, but for a kingdom of priests. Today, many of us who call ourselves royal priests have not learned the avenues into God's presence. We have not learned how to enter in and do service to our King in the holy place so we "worship" from afar, safe in our familiar trappings and liturgy.
How can I explain it? I feel totally inadequate to impart to you the reality of empty religion, for many of you may be applying the words of this writing to other churches "less spiritual" than your own. If yours is a Baptist church, you think I'm writing about the Methodists. If yours is a Pentecostal church, you think I'm writing about the Baptists. How can I make you see the emptiness of religious worship and the reality of the presence of God?
Who starts your services? Who ends them? Who changes the order of your services, man or God? Has your service ever been completely out of man's hand, given over to and controlled by the living God? Is your church service filled with levity, hilarity, professionalism, or performance, or like the more traditional denominational churches, is it filled with dead dry liturgy, or is it filled with the wonderful and terrible presence of a holy God? Have you come to church feeling quite pious and righteous only to have the light of a holy God shine into your heart exposing your evil, and have you experienced the cleansing and forgiveness of God, or do you just have the doctrine of forgiveness? For those of you who don't know what it's like to encounter God, let me phrase it this way: Have you ever cried a puddle of tears at the feet of Jesus in the middle of one of your services? Have you made a "scene" like the woman who washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair? You haven't? Oh, how strange. And yet you say Jesus was there? If Jesus were in your house of worship would He have to say of you as He did of Simon, "I came into your house [yet] you did not give me any water for my feet..." (Luke 7:44 NIV)?
Why will Jesus build again the tabernacle of David and not the tabernacle of Moses or the temple of Solomon? Because He is not interested in a religion that speaks of man's rejection of God. He's not interested in a religion that allows man to sacrifice and worship God in a structure that separates man from his God like the curtain separated the ark from the people. He is not interested in a church where only the preachers minister to the people through the strength of the flesh or the strength of the anointing. He wants a church where God Himself ministers to the needs of the people, and the people worship God directly and intimately on the mount. He wants to build a habitation for the presence of God, not a religious club for man's favorite ceremony and doctrine.
God is wearied with our empty religious services. God said of the old Levitical worship, "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of he-goats. When you come to appear before me, who requires of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood" (Is. 1:11-15 RSV). What? God said this of the worship that He Himself instituted and ordained? Beloved, our worship services have become a burden to God; He is weary of bearing them. He doesn't delight in the empty form that only speaks of a God that isn't welcome. He wants a habitation for His Glory.
Do you want to know how much God is present and in control of your worship service? Simply observe how much room is made for Him. How much of your worship service consists of man doing something and how much of it consists of God doing what He wants as a result of man waiting on God? Is God free to take the service or is He allotted a few seconds (perhaps for a word of prophecy) or minutes here and there? I remember the services we had when we knew that God had really come, for those were the services when the preacher never got to preach because the man of God recognized God at work and got out of the way. We waited before God; no preaching, no singing, just people bowed before a holy God as God took over the service and did His thing. It was glorious, but it was only a taste of what Jesus is rebuilding in this hour.
Forsake Empty Religion
Understand this: I'm not writing this to move you to call into question your pastor, or anyone else. I'm writing this to move you to call into question empty religion and to move you to seek God. If you're a layperson, this writing is not meant to be used as ammunition against your pastor. Don't try to push your pastor up the mount, you go yourself! If you're a pastor, this writing is not meant to turn your critical eye toward other pastors or denominations. Examine yourself and see if you're in the faith. Are you climbing the mountain, or are you looking for specks in the eyes of others? If you want to be a part of the tent that Jesus is rebuilding in this hour, you better get going up the mountain, and you'll never get there with a critical self-righteous spirit, no way. A critical self-righteous spirit is nothing but pride turned religious, and God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. You can't climb with God resisting you. You have to have His grace helping you every step of the way.
This writing is an indictment of empty religion, not of religious people, so hate the religion that holds people bound, but love your brother as yourself and lay down your life for your brother in love and service. The brother that you see as "less spiritual" than yourself; that's the one you need to esteem more highly than yourself.
Jesus is building again the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and He is restoring its breaches and raising its ruins, hallelujah! The tabernacle of Moses will go on as usual for some time. However, the tabernacle of David will have the ark. In 1 Chronicles 16:39,40, we see that David left Zadok and some other priests at Gibeon to present burnt offerings, and we see in 2 Chronicles, chapter one that Solomon went back to the tabernacle at Gibeon to inquire of the Lord. However, in verse four of that chapter it says, "David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim to the place he had prepared for it, because he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem." Although the old remained for a while, the ark of God was in David's tent, and although Sunday morning services will go on as usual in most churches for some time, the presence of God will be found in a new tabernacle, for God is building something new.
I want you to notice that in this hour of refreshing that God is bringing to the U.S., God is restoring the prophetic as well as other gifts and He is bringing an emphasis on music and worship. Although God is raising up those with gifts, as well as anointed music ministers, and is beginning to change people's minds about what a worship service should consist of, the gifts and the anointing are still no substitute for the Glory. The only purpose for the new tent is for a place to put the ark. The ark is the reason for the tent. The presence of God is the only thing that gives validity and purpose to the new order that God is bringing. David could have pitched the tent and appointed intercessors, prophets, and singers, but it would have been an empty tent without the ark. The gifts and anointings are wonderful, but are still no substitute for the Wonderful One. We need the Glory of God. We need the presence of God restored to His people. Jesus, build again the tabernacle of David that is broken down.
Jesus is rebuilding the tent of David and He is using those who desire one thing above all else: the ark of God. Why is David's tabernacle so important that God would rebuild it, and why would He choose David's tabernacle rather than Moses' tabernacle, or Solomon's temple? Moses' tabernacle is a memorial to man's rejection of God in favor of a religion that represents God and yet allows one to save their life. David's tabernacle represents a forsaking of all established religion, even at the peril of one's own life, in order to have the ever-abiding manifest presence of God. David's tabernacle represents the hunger for God that resides deep within the heart of a man after God's own heart. This is the tabernacle that Jesus is rebuilding in this hour, the tabernacle of David.
Heb. 12:18-22, 26 NIV
"18. You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm;
19. to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,
20. because they could not bear what was commanded: 'If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.'
21. The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, 'I am trembling with fear.'
22. But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God..."
"26. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.'"