Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. – Matthew 26:40
I want you to honestly answer a question for me: Have you ever prayed for one solid hour? I have been a Christian for 28 years and never did it until the year 2019. I wanted to. Every once in a while, I’d start a timer and go for it. After emptying my brain of just about everything I could, it was always less than 30 minutes. I would have sworn it was longer.
I think you also need to answer this question honestly: Does spending an hour in prayer even sound appealing to you? If the answer is yes, then the next three weeks of WMD’s are going to be for you. If you take these seriously, you will experience God like never before on the day before Thanksgiving. If you adopt this method of prayer, you will have to set a timer, but not to see how long you have prayed. You will set the timer to make sure you leave in time to get to work or wherever else you need to be on time.
I do want to warn you, though. If you treat God casually and are just pretty much interested in hanging out at church for an hour a week, you probably should skip this little series. The last time I tried to teach it, some people took it and ran with it. Others thought it totally useless. We only made it 2/3 of the way through the tabernacle. That final 1/3 was the Holy of Holies. It is the place that, once you get there, you just don’t ever want to leave. It is also the place that will kill you if you don’t enter the right way. Nadab and Abihu messed up the very last step right before going into the Holy of Holies. They offered strange fire on the altar of incense. Because they didn’t do it God’s way, the very same fire that blessed Moses and Aaron in Leviticus chapter 9 actually killed Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10. I’m just saying be very careful with this and don’t treat it as worthless or casually.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name. – Psalm 100:4
This one little verse gives us a blueprint into the very presence of God. We will be thankful through the outer court which consists of a gate, an altar, and a basin for washing called a laver. We will praise God through the inner court which consists of a table of showbread, seven lighted candles known as a menorah, and an altar of incense. All are very significant. When all of those are treated properly and with respect, we will give thanks directly to God Himself and we will bless His Name.
The Outer Court
Just Google “The outer court of the tabernacle” and get some mental picture of these things in your mind as you pass them by: The gate, the altar, and the laver. This is where we will begin the journey into God’s Presence.
In John 14:6, Jesus straight up says that He is absolutely the only way to heaven. In John 10:9, He says “I am the gate.” This means that as we journey through the tabernacle, we have to start at the gate. You can’t jump over the walls. You can’t crawl under the fence. There literally is no other entrance. You must go through the gate. Jesus is the gate. Are you thankful for Him? Tell Him. Spend time here marveling at the gate. Be amazed that He saved you. Be amazed that the God of the universe actually made a way for us to be saved. Remember the day that it all got started and He came into your life. Enter into this gate with thanksgiving in your heart.
The Brazen Altar
In Old Testament times, you would have come to this altar with the best lamb or bull that you had to offer. The priest would transfer your sins to it, and then kill it. You would look at that dead animal and realize that you were clean, but that poor animal had to die to make it so. In your mind, make that altar the cross of Christ. Jesus is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Kneel at the foot of the cross of Our King who gave His life that we might live. See it all in your mind as vividly as possible. Thank Him. Kneel before Him and be as grateful for what He did as you’ve ever been. Hang out with our crucified Savior and marvel at all that it took to bring salvation to you and to me.
The Bronze Laver
Walk to this Old Testament version of a sink and begin to scrub. It is here that you will confess your sins to God. Leave nothing out and be brutally honest. Have you cared about things more than Him? Then you have committed idolatry . . . tell Him. Have you neglected Him? Then you’ve had other gods before Him . . . tell Him. Have you honored your father and mother like you should? If not, tell Him. Have you lied, stolen, cheated, or coveted? You get the drift. Suck it up and bring up all the filth that is all over you and in you. But, as you do, wash with the water in the laver. Wash those sins away. This is the right way to be clean. This is the way that God has ordained that we be clean. Be amazed that the God of all glory has made a way for us to be truly and purely clean.
We just entered into His gates with thanksgiving. Next week, I will attempt to lead you through His inner court with praise.