When Israel was in the wilderness, God led the nation with a pillar of cloud or fire. The pillar regularly appeared as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the pillar settled over the Tabernacle and the camp of Israel, it represented God’s presence and protection.
“Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle…The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.” (Exodus 40:34, 38, NLT).
The climax of the Exodus occurred when the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. God’s intention from the start was not merely to deliver his people from their bondage, but to bring them into a relationship with Himself. The real need for the Israelites was to know God personally in their lives.
“For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16, NASB).
These are the words Moses spoke to God when he interceded for the Israelites after they had crafted a golden calf to worship while Moses was on Mt. Sinai for forty days receiving the Ten Commandments and other instructions from God. So, God threatened to send the Israelites into the promised land with only an angel to lead them and without His presence among them.
“Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the Lord’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the Lord’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the Lord.” (Exodus 28:30, NLT).
One of the primary priestly functions was to determine God’s will for His people. The priest’s chestpiece provided a container for the Urim and Thummim.The Hebrew words descibing the chestpiece literally meant “chestpiece for decision.”
“God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith” (Acts 15:8-9, NLT).
The first-century Church was at first mainly comprised of Jews and Christianity was, in many respects, a sect of Judaism. So it was not surprising that when Gentiles began to believe the gospel, the Jewish leaders in the Church wanted the Gentile converts to be circumcised.
“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them, just as on us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if God gave them the same gift that He also gave to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I possibly hinder God? When they heard this they became silent. Then they glorified God, saying, ‘So God has granted repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles!'” (Acts 11:15-18, HCSB).
Citizenship is generally a function of where you are born. You are a citizen of the country in which you are geographically born or of which your parents are a citizen.
The same is true for citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Kingdom citizens must be born of God; they must be birthed by the Holy Spirit.
“When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly” (Genesis 17:1-2, ESV).
Thirteen years after Ishmael’s birth, God again appeared to Abram, whom He renamed as Abraham during this appearance. In these verses God calls Himself “El Shaddai,” for which the meaning is unknown, but its translation as “God Almighty” is based on a tradition going back more than two thousand years.
The foundation of the temple had been laid after the initial return of the Jews from Babylonian exile, but powerful opposition prevented any further progress on rebuilding the temple for over fifteen years.
In a vision Zechariah saw a golden lamp stand supplied by a never-ending source of oil from two adjacent olive trees. When Zechariah inquired of the Lord what this meant, Zechariah was given a message addressed to Zerubbabel, the governor, who along with Joshua the high priest had been charged with the task of rebuilding the temple upon the Jews return from captivity.
At the Last Supper Jesus explained to His disciples that He was going away–He was going to be arrested and executed–and so He would send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to be with His disciples.
All right, you’re a Christian. Maybe you have been a Christian for all or most of your life or maybe just for a short time.
Either way, the same nagging question always lingers in the back of your mind: “Lord, what am I supposed to do with my life and with my salvation?”