CDPCKL · Building a House For God: Outdoor Kitchen and Garden (Exodus 27:1-19)

Building a House For God: Outdoor Kitchen and Garden (Exodus 27:1-19)

All right: even though we are in the middle of the Book of Exodus, last week we began our sermon in the garden of Eden. 

Because by this point in Exodus, we have realized that God is actually teaching Moses how to copy the original patterns of the original creation. We have realized that the special sacred tent — the tabernacle — Moses is supposed to build for God is actually a miniature model of the temple that was the original garden of Eden. 

So last week, for instance, we noticed that the original garden of Eden contained God’s Word, God’s food, and the tree of life — just like the tabernacle, which also contains God’s Word, the bread from heaven, and the tree of life. 

We also noticed that the garden of Eden, on the original Mountain of the Lord, was holier than the wilderness below — the wilderness that was the rest of the earth — but also not quite as holy as the true heavenly places where God is enthroned over all creation. And we saw that the tabernacle also reflects this same movement from hyper-concentrated holiness at the highest points and in the center, to lesser and lesser holiness the further out and further down things are. 

And as we talked about that movement from Most Holy to less holy we realized that the structure of the tabernacle was actually a promise that — even though human beings cannot go up and live in the heavenly places — God can and will come down to live with his people on earth. 

But at the same time we realised that God’s approach to his people through the tabernacle could only go so far and no farther. God could come and take up residence in the innermost room of the tabernacle — the perfectly cubed Most Holy Place — but his people could not approach any closer than the outer rectangular reception room of the tabernacle. And even when they were in that outer room they could not see God in the Most Holy Place, because that inner room was walled off by a curtain that was woven with cherubim: terrifying warrior angels. 

And that is when we realized that the tabernacle also models the original garden of Eden in another way: it is closed to ordinary human beings. We remembered how Adam and Eve sinned against their Heavenly Father, how they were driven out of the garden to save them from stealing fruit from the tree of life and living forever in misery. And we remembered how, when they looked back at the garden, they saw the eastern gateway walled off by cherubim. They realised that, if they tried to break through that living curtain, they would be struck down. So they fled the Mountain of the Lord, they descended into the wilderness, and they were never permitted to return. 

Now of course we also noticed last week that conditions have changed quite a lot since then! The curtain that once veiled God from his people was removed almost exactly 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ was crucified. We are not yet ready to enter the heavenly tabernacle in our current physical form, but God has burst out of the tabernacle’s Most Holy Place to live unveiled among us, his Church, in the person of his Holy Spirit. And so we realised that Jesus’ Church is the living earthly tabernacle of this age, the dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. The tabernacle is no longer closed to ordinary human beings: anyone may come and enter and eat with God in the name of Jesus Christ. 

But one question we did not ask last week is why Jesus’ death should have had this remarkable effect. How did Jesus’ shed blood open the curtain that separated God from his people? Was there some kind of foreshadowing that this could happen woven into the tabernacle Moses built? And if there was some foreshadowing of this in Moses’ tabernacle, did that foreshadow also exist in the original garden of Eden — of which Moses’ tabernacle was a copy? 

The answer is: yes, the hint that Jesus’ blood would one day tear open the curtain was built into Moses’ tabernacle, and we do find that hint in the original garden as well. 

So, just as we did last week, we are going to start in the garden, then jump forward to see how the garden was remodeled in Moses’ tabernacle, and then from there we will see if we can understand better why Jesus’ death should have had this remarkable effect. 

Okay: back to Genesis, Chapter 3. Back to the point where Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, driven down into the wilderness of the world. Is there any indication here that death might somehow result in the reopening of the garden? 

Well, if we are reading carefully we notice that, in the moments just before they were exiled, the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 

This moment is significant for a couple of reasons. 

The first reason is practical: before that moment, Adam and Eve had dressed themselves in leaves. Animal skins are better than leaves. 

So the first thing God’s gift of leather clothing communicated to Adam and Eve was that he still cared about them physically. That clothing was a kind of promise that God was going to continue to physically protect and preserve his children in the wilderness despite their disobedience and the necessary consequences that flowed from it. 

But the second reason this moment is significant is actually theological: see, before they sinned, Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. After they sinned, they felt shame: their relationship with God and with each other was spoilt. That is why they covered themselves with leaves: they were not really interested in physical protection from the elements at that point, they were more interested in psychological protection from each other and from God. 

In other words, those leaves were their version of spiritual protection. So: 

God’s leather clothing was not just a promise to protect them physically, it was also a promise to protect them spiritually. It was a sign that he had the power to cover their shame. It was a sign that he had the power to restore their relationship with each other and with him. 

Very simply, those garments of skin were ultimately a promise that one day, somehow, the garden would be opened to them again and they would return to be reconciled with God. 

So far so good. But what is the connection to Moses’ tabernacle? Last week we found out that the tabernacle does actually have a layer that is made of leather: goat skins dyed red. Is there some kind of connection between how God used leather to cover Adam and Eve and how Moses is supposed to use leather to cover the tabernacle? 

Perhaps. Probably? But even if those things are connected, that does not explain how Jesus’ shed blood tore open the curtain inside the tabernacle. 

So let’s go back once again to Genesis and think a little more carefully about this moment. The Lord God made garments of skin. Those leather garments were a promise of physical and spiritual protection, and a promise that the curtain of cherubim would be removed one day. 

Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m thinking that leather comes from animals that have died, animals that have shed their blood. 

Which is interesting. Because that means the very first dead creatures ever mentioned in scripture were these animals that died in order to physically and spiritually clothe God’s first disobedient children. 

And that is interesting because the first time death as a concept is mentioned in scripture is actually in reference to mankind. Back in Chapter 2 of Genesis God said to the first man, “You must not eat from the tree of knowledge or you will certainly die.” He did not say, “When you eat of it some animals will certainly die.” But at the end of Chapter 3, Adam does not die, some animals die instead of Adam. 

And that is very interesting because it means that this moment established a conceptual connection between an animal’s substitutionary death and Adam’s continued life. The animal dies physically so that Adam can live physically; by extension the animal also dies spiritually so that Adam can live spiritually. 

And all that becomes even more interesting when we realise it all took place inside the garden of Eden. Basically, the very first animal sacrifices performed in the bible were performed by God. And they took place on the original Mountain of the Lord. 

So right from the beginning of Genesis we find this connection between bloodshed and covering for shame, between sacrifice and salvation, between death and the promise of continued life. Even as far back as the garden of Eden we find a foreshadowing that blood shed in sacrifice will somehow open the curtain that stands between God and his people. 

But how? 

To answer that question we must now turn to Exodus, where we do find the same foreshadowing duplicated in the tabernacle. 

Because when we turn to Chapter 27, verse 1, we find that God basically gives Moses instructions for building a giant BBQ. It has all the same elements: it is covered in a metal that will not melt, it has a pit for the fire, a grill for roasting the meat, it comes with all the different tools you need for a good BBQ, it can even be moved from place to place. 

But it is obvious from the description that this is more than just a BBQ grill. 

For one thing, it is called an altar. So the meat that is to be cooked upon it is not just ordinary food, but some kind of sacrifice. 

For another thing, this altar has a horn at each of the four corners, golden horns shaped to look like the horns of a bull. 

Why? Well, to the ancient people in this part of the world, the wild bull ox was the most powerful creature they knew of — so large and so powerful that really it never needed to defend itself: even lions knew not to bother a bull ox, even if it was alone or relaxing in the shade. But if a lion ever threatened the cows and calves under a bull’s care…then those great horns would sweep into action. A judgement would take place against that predator. 

To the ancient Israelites, these horns on the altar symbolised God’s power to save his children and destroy his enemies, his power to protect and pass judgement. And this idea that the horns of the altar symbolised salvation was so strong that, later on in scripture, we find people desperate to save their lives who would run to the altar and grab onto those horns as a claim for God’s protection. So: 

This giant BBQ grill is really an altar of sacrifice that is associated with salvation and judgement. And these are the same concepts we just saw established in the garden: the connection between blood sacrifice and salvation. 

But still: how is this altar going to tear open the curtain that separates God from his people? 

Well, there is one last interesting thing to notice about this altar: it is square in shape. Which should remind us of the Most Holy Place in the center of the tabernacle, God’s throne room walled off behind that curtain of cherubim. 

Last week we learned that the Most Holy Place is a cube, 10x10x10 cubits, which symbolized perfection to the ancient Israelites. Here we find that the altar is 5x5x3 cubits. So it’s surface area is only half the size of the Most Holy Place, and it is not a cube. Now, clearly the number five is related to ten, but less perfect than ten; and a square is related to a cube, but less perfect than a cube. So: 

This altar is connected somehow to the Most Holy Place, it is some kind of lesser version of the Most Holy Place. 

And since it is a lesser version, we find that it is not closed away somewhere out of sight; it is to be set up in a yard outside the tabernacle tent — and that yard is what God goes on to describe for Moses next. 

And as we read through these instructions we find that this yard is yet another rectangle, two times longer than it is wide. Which is exactly the same ratio as the outer room of God’s tabernacle — the Holy Place — and almost exactly the same ratio as the ark inside the innermost room, the Most Holy Place. So the courtyard is meant to be a larger echo of the Holy Place, and the Holy Place is a larger echo of the ark. 

In other words, what we are seeing here again is the continuation of this same movement from holiness in the center to lesser and lesser holiness. 

But if we look closely at the details here, we realise there is not just a progression outward, there is also a progression downward. 

Some weeks ago we learned that the ark in the center of the tabernacle is completely covered in gold. Last week we learned that the tabernacle — the tent — containing the ark is trimmed in gold around the top, but only trimmed in silver around the bottom. Today, as we read, we find that the courtyard walls are trimed with silver around the top, but only trimmed in bronze around the bottom. And the altar, which stands in the courtyard, is completely covered in bronze. 

What does this mean? 

Well, over the last few weeks I have been suggesting that the tabernacle is in some way meant to be a model of Mount Sinai, and a model of the original Mountain of the Lord in the land of Eden. This passage is where we find that concept fully confirmed: even though the tabernacle complex is physically flat, spiritually speaking it is a mountain. 

Let me explain: physically speaking, the ark sits inside the box that is the tabernacle, and the tabernacle sits inside the box that is the courtyard. But figuratively speaking, the ark actually sits on top of the tabernacle, which is a box that is gold at the top — where it touches the bottom of the golden ark — and silver at the bottom, where it sits on top of the box that is the courtyard. And the courtyard is a box that is silver at the top — where it touches the floor of the tabernacle — and bronze at the bottom where it finally touches the earth. 

Basically, the tabernacle is designed to model a mountain with three great steps: 

The ark is at the very pinnacle, the golden strongbox that is the footstool of heaven. That is where Moses is now, listening to God’s instructions in the Most Holy Place at the top of Mount Sinai. 

The tabernacle tent is the next step down. That is the Holy Place where the 70 elders are right now, waiting for Moses to return, half-way up Mount Sinai. 

The courtyard is the lowest part of the mountain, where the people of Israel are right now camped beside an altar made of earth that Moses made back in Chapter 24, just before he went up the mountain. 

Remember that? It was beside that altar of earth that Moses sacrificed hundreds — perhaps thousands — of young bulls. It was upon that altar of earth that Moses splashed half the blood he had collected, while the other half he sprinkled on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.” 

And putting it all together there, what this means is that the tabernacle is meant to be a snapshot of this moment in history. After this first generation passes, there will be no direct witnesses left to describe what it was like to live for those forty days and nights at the bottom of Mount Sinai with the elders camped half-way up and Moses lost in the darkness and fire at the very top. 

So after this first generation, once a year, this moment in history will be re-enacted so that every generation will get a chance to experience it: the people waiting at the bottom of the mountain, in the courtyard beside the altar; the priests ministering half-way up the mountain, half-way into the tabernacle, in the outer Holy Place; and the one High Priest, once a year, gone all the way up the mountain, all the way into the Most Holy Place, carrying the blood from the altar outside, through the curtain of cherubim, into God’s direct presence in order to make atonement for all the sins of all God’s people — in order to cover the shame of all God’s people. 

And here, suddenly, we have our answer to the question we were asking before: what is the connection between the blood of sacrifice and opening the curtain that separates God from his people? 

This is the connection: in Moses’ tabernacle, it was the blood of sacrificed animals that opened the curtain just enough so that one High Priest could slip inside, just for one moment, just long enough to sprinkle the freshly renewed blood of the covenant onto the cover of the ark, and then back away from the fire of God’s consuming presence. 

So it makes sense now, when we look to Jesus’ death on the cross, that his shed blood should absolutely shred the curtain that stood between God and his people. 

Because how could it be any other way? Back in the garden, the blood of sacrificed animals offered Adam and Eve just a flicker of foreshadowing that one day their Father would bring them home. Back in the tabernacle, the blood of sacrificed animals purchased just enough space in the curtain for one man, once a year, to slip through into God’s throne room. And if the blood of animals could accomplish that much, then of course the blood of the only begotten Son of God would be immeasureably more powerful than any possible animal sacrifice! 

Of course Jesus’ death would have the power to blast the Most Holy Place wide open, and purchase a space within for every single person who calls upon him for salvation! 


So, to summarise now: the first ever substitutionary sacrifices in the bible took place on the Mountain of the Lord in Eden; those sacrifices were the promise that one day the veil between God and mankind would be removed. Then the tabernacle complex, with its courtyard and altar and system of sacrifices, carried that promise forward through the generations, until finally the last substitutionary sacrifice in the bible could take place on the Mountain of the Lord in Jerusalem. That last sacrifice was the death of Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice accomplished all God had promised. 

And this brings us to the part of the sermon we come to every week, where we ask what these ancient instructions to the Israelites can possibly have to do with us today in modern Malaysia. 

Well, if you are here today and you are not a Christian, then this passage is first a warning to you, then a call to action. 

I’ll start with the warning: if you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord, then you are cut off from the true God, the Creator. There is a curtain of warrior angels standing between you and heaven. And that curtain is there to preserve your life from the consuming fire of God’s reality, because he lives in unapproachable light. 

Now, you might be tempted to think, “Great! I’m happy to accept that separation. I don’t care about God! I don’t want to be close to him anyway!” 

But that attitude is not going to work for you, long term. 

Really, it is not working for you even now, in the short term. 

And I know this because the bible tells me you are miserable, despite all your attempts to look happy and fulfilled and successful. And the reason you are miserable is because your whole life has turned into one long futile attempt to hide your shame from yourself and others. See, separation from the fire of God in this life means not being separated from the fire of your personal shame. That is what Adam and Eve discovered, and this is what you have discovered also. And your personal shame comes from your secret knowledge that you do not measure up even to your own internal standards, much less the standards of your family and friends and the rest of society. And that internal fire will continue to consume you until the day you die. 

Which brings me to the reason why you ”not caring” is not going to work for you in the long term either: one day you will die. The curtain protecting you from God will be removed, and you will find yourself in that place of unapproachable light. And the bible also tells me that everything exposed by the light becomes visible. 

In other words: your shame will be exposed before the holiest, most beautiful, most loving Being in all existence. 

Just in case you are thinking, “So what?” try this thought experiment: try to imagine how the fires of shame would burn you if all your secrets were suddenly revealed before your human father. What agonizing would that be? 

Now, try to imagine how much more intensely those fires will burn on the day you meet the Heavenly Father you did not care about during this lifetime. 

This is your warning: you will one day be brought into the Most Holy Place at the center of all things, at the top of the true Mountain of the Lord, where you will judged according to every single thing you have done. And trust me: God’s judgement will be bad enough, but I suspect that, in the end, his judgement will be nothing compared to your own all-consuming self-condemnation. 

In short, friend: you have a problem. You have a destiny that cannot be escaped. You are going to meet God. 

So now this is the question you should be asking yourself: is there anything I can do to make that meeting less horrible? Is there any price I can pay to cover my shame, to make it all go away? 

The answer to that second question is no, there is no price you can pay to cover your shame. 

Oh, there is a price! But you cannot pay it, because the price is your life. 

“Okay,” you’re thinking, “so I will just sacrifice my life then! I will serve the poor. I will become a monk. I will become a nun. I will work all my life to please God, and surely that will cover my shame.” 

But that is not going to work either. Because here’s the thing: even if you were able to live a hyper-self-sacrificing life, your life is simply not valuable enough to cover up all the reverberating echoes of misery that you have already caused other people during this lifetime. 

Many people think — and you might think — that a sin is a one-time event, that it should be no problem for God to just forgive each one with a wave of his hand. But the truth is every sin has a knock-on effect; it creates ripples of further sins in other people, which ripple outward even further to other people and also bounce back, resulting in further sin from us. 

Really we are all living in a giant echo-chamber of sin, we are still living with the knock-on effects of Adam’s original sin. So even if you absolutely self-sacrificed your life with good deeds from now until you die…in the end you will still find yourself in that same place of unapproachable light where your shame will be exposed to consume you forever! 

You cannot pay the price, because even your life is not sufficient to undo all the damage you have done in the world. 

But here is the Good News: it is possible for someone else, who possesses an infinitely valuable kind of life, to pay the price for you. 

That someone else is Jesus Christ. Because he is both fully human and fully God, his hyper-self-sacrificing human lifetime was valuable enough — is valuable enough — to cover up all the reverberating echoes of misery that Adam and all his children have caused. 

Friend, you need a substitute sacrifice. Your blood is not enough to cover your shame; your death is not going to provide a way of escape. But Jesus’ blood is enough to cover your shame, to remove it forever. 

So now, this is your call to action: come to the altar. Be sprinkled with the blood of the covenant that comes from Jesus Christ, and let that blood carry you through the curtain to meet your Heavenly Father now, in this lifetime, without shame. 

Yes, that is the solution. The only way to make sure you are not consumed by the fires of shame when you meet God in the next lifetime is to make sure you meet him first in this lifetime. 

But perhaps you are afraid to approach the altar. 

Actually, the bible tells me you are afraid to approach the altar. And rightly so. Because just as the tabernacle complex is designed to look like a mountain, with the consuming golden fire of God at the top, so also the altar itself is designed to look like a mountain, flaming with fire. You are afraid that the horns curving up from each corner are nothing more than the promise of your future disemboweling judgement. You are afraid that the black smoke rising from its center merely foreshadows the smoke of your own future eternal torment. 

But listen: even back in the time of Moses, God’s people shared your fears of those horns and the smoke of that burning. And so, even back in the time of Moses, God was at work relieving the fears of his children. In the next book after Exodus — the Book of Leviticus — God gives these careful instructions to his people: he says that, when someone sins in some major way, and then they realize it, they are to bring an animal sacrifice to a priest at the altar. And the priest is to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar; in this way the priest will make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven. So: 

When the blood of a sacrifice covers the horns of the altar, it transforms them from weapons of God’s judgement into instruments of God’s protection and salvation. 

And once the blood has transformed the horns and the altar itself, then the smoke rising from it is also transformed from the towering shadow of God’s judgement into the sweet incense of God’s communion with his children — but that is something we are going to discuss three Sundays from now, so make sure to come back for that. 

The point is this: if you accept Jesus’ blood as the blood of your eternal sacrificed lamb, then you can be sure that the horns of the altar will not be turned against you. So come and cling to the thing you fear most. Join the fugitives of the Old Testament: do not run from God; instead, run to the altar, grab a hold of one of the horns, and claim sanctuary in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Friend, the reason God has placed a curtain between himself and you during this physical lifetime is intended to be a mercy for you, to give you time to hear this message, to repent and turn to Jesus before that curtain is removed at your death. Please, do not despise God’s mercy. 

Now, for the rest of us who have already come to the altar and found it transformed from the weapon of judgement into an instrument of mercy: what is our application? Is there a warning or a call to action for us? 

Yes, there is a warning and a call to action. 

For us, the warning is no longer contained in the altar, with its horns and fire and smoke, because those have already been transformed for us by the blood of Christ. For us, the warning is contained in the reality of the courtyard, the symbolic garden in the foothills of the Mountain of the Lord. 

See, for the ancient Israelites, there was no other altar like this one. There was only one place in all the world where they could go to find forgiveness for their sins. And that forgiveness took place only within this courtyard. 

This is how it happened: each family would come in with their lamb and approach the altar. The priest would slaughter it, anoint the altar with the blood, and then he would roast the meat on that giant BBQ grill. And when the meat was cooked, the family would receive it back. They would take that meat, they would find a place somewhere in the courtyard, and there they would have a picnic, surrounded by hundreds of other families all doing the same thing. They would eat and drink with God and their neighbors. And when they were finished, they would leave, and their place would be taken by another family. 

And every time a family ate this ritual meal, they were experiencing all over again the reality of substitutionary sacrifice: they were being reminded all over again that they cannot pay the price for their own sins, but that God has graciously arranged a system whereby that price can be paid through the death of another. 

This is the point for us today, as Christians in modern Malaysia: worship in ancient Israel was communal. It was personal — each family brought its own sacrifice — but it was not private: forgiveness took place in the midst of the community. Meat that is roasted and eaten at home may taste the same as meat roasted and eaten in the courtyard of the tabernacle, but it is not the same, because meat roasted at home feeds the body, while meat roasted at the tabernacle feeds body and spirit. 

For us, there is only one altar of forgiveness, and that is the cross of Jesus Christ. And there is only one place where that altar can be accessed: the courtyard that is Jesus’ Church, the congregation of Jesus’ Church. 

Now, I want to make something clear: I do not mean that if you pray and ask Jesus to save you while you are at home or at work or in a nightclub somewhere at 3am, it will not work. The cross of Jesus meets us wherever we are, and continues to meet us wherever we are. 

But there is only one place where we can come and see God, and eat and drink with him. Wine and bread eaten at home certainly feeds the body; but wine and bread eaten in the courtyard of the congregation of God’s people: this is the meal that feeds the spirit. 

As Phil pointed out to us last week before we ate and drank with God: whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Not Jesus’ life, but his death. Why? Because it is through Jesus’ death that we receive life. Just like the ancient Israelites, whenever we eat the ritual meal of the Lord’s Supper together, we are experiencing all over again the reality of substitutionary sacrifice, we are being reminded all over again that we cannot pay the price for our own sins, but that our Heavenly Father graciously arranged for that price to be paid through the death of his only begotten Son. 

And the reason we have to keep being reminded of these thing, brothers and sisters, is because we live in a hyper-physical naturalistic post-Enlightenment world now — even here in Malaysia. Things are a little different in the kampungs, where the world of the spirits is still intermingled with this one. But we live in the city, where everything that is “real” can be weighed and measured and verified scientifically, and everything that cannot be scientifically verified is “not real” or, at best: “less real”. 

This worldview has infected us all. And that infection is affecting the way we modern Christians approach worship: our natural tendency today is to think of worship as nothing more than a picnic with friends, a social gathering with friends. And if God happens to be one of those friends, well, that’s great! — because God is everywhere, so I can also picnic with him anywhere at any time. In fact, many Christians today are being taught that private worship with just a small group of friends is actually more authentic — more “real” — than corporate worship. 

But that is not true. Worship in the the family or in small groups is a kind of worship, sure, but it is the kind of daily worship that we are all supposed to be doing anyway. This is how the apostle Paul describes that kind of worship: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed — whether you eat or drink or whatever you do — do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” That is just authentic everyday life for us, as Christians! — that is not the authentic weeky worship of the gathered people of God. 

Because when we gather weekly, officially, as the Church, something far more “real” takes place than can ever happen in any private small group worship: the Lord descends to dine with the congregation. We are lifted up to meet with him upon the Mountain. 

Let me give you a more ordinary example of this: let’s say that, at some random Tuesday night bible study here, a couple says, “Hey, pastor, we would like to be married right now, tonight. Can you do that for us?” Now, I could say the words, “I now pronounce you man and wife,” but nothing “real” would happen. That couple could not go home and say, “Mom, Dad, we got married tonight! Oh, don’t worry, it was very authentic: our closest friends were there, it was at the church location, and the pastor said the magic words!” 

It just does not work like that. Those words “I now pronounce you man and wife” do have the power to create a covenantal relationship that did not exist before those words were spoken — in other words: they do have the power to create something “real” — but only when they are pronounced in the midst of a gathered community that is recognised and acknowledged by the participants. 

This truth is getting harder and harder for us modern people to grasp, but here it is: there are things in the world that cannot be weighed, measured, or verified, that are actually more real — that accomplish things that are more effective — than anything that can be weighed, measured, and verified. And our corporate worship is one of those things. 

That is what the author of the Book of Hebrews tells us, anyway. He says this: “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm.” In other words: we have not entered a physical temple. “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” 

That, friends, is real. That is what is happening right now. 

So in closing, here is our warning and our call to action, continuing in the Book of Hebrews: “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks.” Instead, “let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

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