The Path of Life: “Place”

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Worship: Presence

June 30, 2016


“I can’t be everywhere—Gimme a break, will ya!”

Thus cries our humanity when life’s demands come at us too many, too fast, and too much.

So locked into the space time continuum are we that cannot imagine being everywhere all at once.

One of the great mysteries of God is that He is everywhere and yet still there are places where His presence dwells in a deeper way. Theologians call this “Sacred Space.” The Bible records that God has chosen certain places to be His “dwelling places.”

The first of these, the Tabernacle of Moses, was a mobile unit, made for a journey through a wilderness. In short order it could be collapsed, folded up, and transported by Levites, the family of Levi who were chosen for the task. At the next location it could be unpacked, unfolded, and reassembled quickly. What was supposed to be a one-way trek through the wilderness turned into a generation-long ordeal and a metaphor for life’s journey to heaven.

Their signal to stay put or to move out, was the Presence. A shimmering pillar of cloud rose from the Tabernacle through the day and at night it became a shining tongue of fire. This was the glory of God, the effect on earthly things of a heavenly visitation. When the presence rested, so did the nation. When it began to move, the Levites went to work; it was time to move out.

The Tabernacle of Moses was God’s dwelling place in the earth. He was everywhere, it was true, but in a deeper sense, He was in that place. Today we call this the “Manifest Presence of God.”

Within several generations after the people finally found the exit lane out of the wilderness, the whole business was moved indoors—into the Temple of Solomon and the other temples that replaced it. The presence of the Lord was in one sacred space. His Dwelling place was no longer a mobile unit. It was as if Old Covenant worship could be described as “worship in time and place.”

Then came Jesus—a New Covenant—a better covenant!—The Dwelling Place of God was mobile again! This new worship would be “worship in spirit and truth” not in time and place.

This Sacred Space was designed to move, to shimmer in the sun and dance a flaming dance in the darkness.

We are the Temple! The God who is everywhere has taken up residence in His People—the church—you and me! When we worship Him (enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise, giving Him the glory due His name) His manifest presence is His gift to us. Jesus who walks with us every day, walks among us when we worship, the Sun of Righteousness rising among us with healing in His wings!

Our redeemed hearts are now His Dwelling Place. Together we are the tabernacle for this wilderness—a cloud of promise in a dry and desert place and a fire of hope through a dark and desperate night.


Psalm 132
Lord, remember David, and all the hardships he endured; How he swore an oath to the Lord and vowed a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: “I will not come under the roof of my house, nor climb up into my bed; I will not allow my eyes to sleep, nor let my eyelids slumber; Until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” “Place” “The ark! We heard it was in Ephratah; we found it in the fields of Jearim. Let us go to God’s dwelling place; let us fall upon our knees before his footstool.” Arise, O Lord, into your resting-place, you and the ark of your strength. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness; let your faithful people sing with joy. For your servant David’s sake, do not turn away the face of your Anointed. The Lord has sworn an oath to David; in truth, he will not break it: “A son, the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne. If your children keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their children will sit upon your throne for evermore.” For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired her for his habitation: “This shall be my resting-place for ever; here will I dwell, for I delight in her. I will surely bless her provisions, and satisfy her poor with bread. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will rejoice and sing. There will I make the horn of David flourish; I have prepared a lamp for my Anointed. As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame; but as for him, his crown will shine.”

Exodus 40:33-38 NIV
Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out — until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.

2 Chronicles 5:13-14 NIV
The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

John 4:21-24 NIV
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

2 Corinthians 6:16 NIV
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Song of God’s Dwelling Place
O the Glory of Your Presence
Words and Music: Steve Fry 1983

O the glory of Your Presence,
We, Your Temple, give You reverence.
Come and rise to Your rest and be blest by our praise
As we glory in Your embrace,
As Your presence now fills this place!

Jesus, all glorious, create in us a temple,
Called as living stones where You’re enthroned.
As You rose from death in power,
So rise upon our worship!
Rise up on our praise and let the hand that saw You raised,
Clothe us in your glory, draw us by Your grace!

O the glory of Your Presence,
We, Your Temple, give You reverence.
Come and rise to Your rest and be blest by our praise
As we glory in Your embrace,
As Your presence now fills this place!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

The Path of Life: "Place"

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