Seven Lamps of Fire - Chapter 3

Seven Lamps of Fire
- George H. Warnock


There were three areas in the old tabernacles and temples, which were types and shadows of the "true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (Heb. 3:2). They served as "the example and shadow of heavenly things" (vs. 5). Our Great High Priest in the heavens has a "more excellent ministry" than those who served in the earthly temples .. as far surpassing the priestly ministries of that day, as the New Covenant surpasses the Old Covenant (vs. 6). Those old institutions and sacrifices and ceremonies were only intended to be "a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things" (Heb. 10:1). Now that the True Sacrifice has been offered, and in resurrection has become our great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, we are bidden to forsake the old, because a new and living way has been "consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh" (Heb. 10:20). There is much beautiful teaching from these older temples, if we understand that they were all but types and shadows of a better way, a better sacrifice, a better temple, a better covenant .. and mediated to us by a better High Priest.

Now the outer court was but an open place in front of the Tabernacle, to which the people of Israel would come with their sacrifices, and the whole compound was surrounded with a fence of linen curtains. But the Tabernacle (or Tent) was situated inside the compound, on the western end. The Tabernacle was in two parts called the Holy Place and the Most Holy. Aaron and his sons would have to go into the Holy Place in their course of ministry, having first washed their hands and their feet at the laver. As one would come into the Holy Place on the eastern end, you would see the candlestick there on the south, the table of shewbread on the north, and on the west end, close to the veil, was the altar of incense, where the priests would offer up incense before the Lord.

But the High Priest alone had access into the Most Holy Place -- and this only once in the year on the Day of Atonement. Having performed his high priestly ministry before the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy place, he would return to the people .. hopefully with some very special Word that God had given him for the nation. We have spoken considerably of all this in a previous writing .. and we only mention these few things here by way of introducing some of the special characteristics of the Most Holy Place. The apostle speaks of these two areas when he says: "the sanctuary (or the holy place), and after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all" (Heb. 9:1, 2). (See also our writing From Tent to Temple, Ch 1)

The Veil was Rent, that we might Go in.

This Holy Place, in type, speaks of the ministration in the church, and her access into Godís presence. And so as Aaron tended the lamps, and furnished them with oil to keep them burning, giving illumination in an otherwise windowless and dark area -- so we see our High Priest in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, fully graced and adorned with priestly garments, and Himself radiant with the Light of God. John had been banished to the Isle of Patmos because of the Testimony of Jesus Christ. On a certain day which he calls "the Lordís day" he was "in the Spirit". Some believe it was the first day of the week, because the church was accustomed to gather together "on the first day of the week" (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). But the Lordís day in this passage is one word in the Greek, and it is an adjective .. as if to say the Lordian Day, if there were such a word. I believe it is this Day that pertains especially to our Lord Jesus, as the Mediator of the New Covenant. Suddenly John was in the Spirit, for the Lord had a message for John that pertained to the church in all her days, and he must see these things in the Spirit realm, and by the Spirit.

Let us Go on to Perfection

John was in the Spirit in the first part of the Book (Rev. chapters 1, 2, and 3). It was a picture of the Holy Place, and John saw the High Priest ministering in the Holy Place of the church. But in Revelation 4, once again he is "in the Spirit" in a Most Holy Place, as the Voice said unto him: "Come up hither". There is a still higher realm in the Spirit that he must see .. and in seeing it, minister the same to those who are "companions in tribulation and in the kingdom and in the patience of Jesus".

The whole purpose of the ministry that God has set in the church is to bring us into the Holy Place -- and from there into the Most Holy Place. Some teach we are already in the Most Holy Place, because the veil has been torn asunder. Yes, the way is open for us to enter, but we are not in there just because the veil has been torn apart:

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:19-22).

The door is open for us to enter! But we are not there just because the door is open. Rather, He bids us to draw near, with a true heart, and in full assurance of faith. The reason we draw back must be because the veil is now over our eyes, so that we do not see Him in His glory. Let me illustrate it this way. When Moses came down from the mount, having been in the presence of the Shekinah glory for 40 days -- his face radiated that glory to the people in the camp. They were afraid to come near him at first, but he beckoned to them and they drew near, and he gave them the words that God had given him. But as the Glory began to fade away, Moses put a veil over his face, until he went in to speak to the Lord again. The apostle Paul interprets this as meaning that the veil on Mosesí face really signified that the veil was on the hearts of the people, for he said: "When Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart, nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away". The veil on Mosesí face was really a veil over their hearts and minds when he talked to them. But when he went in to speak to the Lord, he took the veil away (see 2 Cor. 3:14-18; Ex. 34:33, 34). The type is very clear: the veil into the Most Holy Place has been torn asunder. But as it was with Israel, the veil is upon our hearts if we are not abiding in His Presence. But when we turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. We need to ponder this .. and seek the Lord very earnestly for the eyesalve of His Spirit, that we might move beyond the veil, and be transfigured by the glory of His face.

So here we are in the Holy Place. There is light from the lampstand, holy bread from the table of showbread, and incense that we offer at the golden altar of incense. We have all the gifts and ministrations of the Spirit. But somehow there is not that faith, that confidence, that assurance that there is something more; because the thought is -- we have all the gifts of the Spirit, what more do we need? But the word is very clear: the gifts and ministries that God has placed in the body, are for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, -- Till .. Till .. Till .. we come to something higher. Ministry is not the ultimate end -- it is rather intended to prepare us, nurture us, teach us, strengthen us, edify us "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ". And the apostle continues to expound on this, showing us that the ultimate end of ministry is to lead the people of God into perfect love (see Eph. 4:11-16).

We have had some very powerful ministrations of gifts and ministries throughout church history -- but rarely have Godís people gone beyond the Holy Place of ministry, and into the Most Holy Place of constant and abiding union with Him who is enthroned upon the mercy seat. God forbid we should in any way minimize the effectual functioning of true ministry in the body of Christ. But I know the springs of blessing are drying up, and many of Godís people are feeling the famine -- with much church attendance, and much religious activity -- but not too much of that mighty Presence of God in our midst. We need to be encouraged! God is more concerned about it than we are. And He is going to give more grace (perhaps in the midst of more suffering and tribulation) -- to move His people forward into the Most Holy Place of His Shekinah glory and presence.

We must not think we can trust in the knowledge we have of the Kingdom of God .. nor consider we are closer to the Kingdom because of that knowledge. For if our knowledge of the Kingdom does not produce the fear of God in our hearts, and lead to repentance, to poverty of spirit, to meekness, and to humility -- we are still far from the Kingdom -- because these virtues are the very essence of the Kingdom of God. We are solemnly reminded of what Paul said of the children of Israel: that most of those who crossed the Red Sea, and ate of the bread from Heaven, and drank of the water out of the rock -- and came to the very door of Canaan -- their hearts were hardened, and they did not enter the Land, including most of those who had searched it out. And they died in the wilderness.

The Psalmist also gives a solemn warning to those who know how to praise God, and those who know how to worship God -- but have no intention of going any further:

"O come, let us sing unto the LORD: Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation". (see vs. 1-5).

Then we come to worship --

"O come, let us worship and bow down: Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker". (see vs. 6-7).

All this is good, commendable, and the Lord delights in the praises of His people, and in true worship. But then he gives this solemn word of counsel:

"Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My work.." (vs. 7-11).

Yet in spite of all His wonderful provisions, bread from Heaven daily, and the pillar of Cloud by day, and the pillar of Fire by night -- they grieved Godís heart, and did not enter into His Rest. (See Ps. 95). Much as He may delight in the praise and worship of His people -- there is much more. He is looking for the right heart, the tender heart, a heart that does not get offended at God, nor does it test Him and try Him. He looks for the heart that is fashioned after the heart of God, because He is looking for a Habitation for Himself.

Chapter 4 - Come Up Hither
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