With Jim Puntney.
There is to be a an appropriation of the Lord’s presence beyond what we have known. In the Old Testament before the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, certain rituals had to be performed. If these rituals were not performed correctly, the priest died before the presence of the Lord. When Israel broke camp and the Tabernacle was packed up, all the holy things were first covered by Aaron and his sons. The sons of Kohate, of the tribe of Levi, were assigned the task of carrying the Tabernacle once it was disassembled. But neither the sons of Kohath, nor anyone else, was allowed to look upon the holy things lest they die (Num. 4).
18 “Do not let the tribe of the families of the Kohathites be cut off from among the Levites.
19 “But do this to them that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy objects: Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each of them to his work and to his load;
20 but they shall not go in to see the holy objects even for a moment, or they will die.”
Today, we don’t enter the presence of the Lord through Old Testament rituals. However, those rituals have not been done away with, only elevated into a higher realm. Now, we enter the presence of the Lord by the blood of Jesus. Heb. 10 tells us:
19 ¶ Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Christ has made the provision to stand in God’s presence. From the time we open our hearts to Jesus Christ we have access into the Holy of Holies. Access is one thing, but experience is another. We all have stood in the holy place where there is a measure of His presence. We have stood in the holy place and called it the holy of holies. Does this sound offensive? It is not meant to be, but it is true. We assume too much. There are areas in God that are still walled off. The problem is not in the granted access, but in our appropriation. We have a beautiful example of this truth in the story of Joseph and his brothers.
1 ¶ Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, “Have everyone go out from me.” So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers.
2 He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it.
3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.
5 “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
6 “For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.
7 “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.
8 “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
In the above passages we see Joseph as a type of the Lord Himself. This is important. When his brothers come before him they do not recognize him. This is typical of us as well. Too often we do not recognize the Lord when He comes to us. But there was anguish in Joseph’s heart over seeing his brothers. Verse one says he could not control himself. He loved them very deeply. Joseph then commanded everyone to go out from him so that he was left alone with just his brothers. This is symbolic of how God separates those whom He is bringing forth as sons from the mixed multitudes. There were times when Jesus called His disciples aside and taught them privately. It was in this climate of separation that he exclaimed to his brothers, “I am Joseph!” But Joseph’s brothers could not answer him because they were dismayed at his presence. Joseph’s revealing himself did not initially give his brothers an occasion for rejoicing. It is the same with us also. Why is this? Because the innate shame and guilt of Adam still resides deep within our subconscious. Even after receiving Christ we are an ambivalent people. We say, “Yes, Lord,” but something on an unconscious level says “no.” This has its roots in Adam and is related to his hiding himself from God’s presence in the Garden. Adam was aware of his own nakedness so he attempted to hide from God. The passages from Heb. 10 address this. Verse 22 states, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” The evil conscience is the reluctance of the Adamic nature to fully open up to God. Joseph’s brothers were dismayed when Joseph revealed himself. They carried an innate guilt over what they had done to Joseph by selling him into slavery.
In verse four Joseph told his brothers to come closer. This is what the Lord is speaking to His sons. We are to draw closer to Him. We are to stand in His presence and behold Him beyond what we have known. We are to know Him in His holiness. Back in Numbers it was only after Aaron and his sons had covered the holy items that the Kohathites were allowed to carry them. Christianity has carried the Lord’s holiness, but it has remained covered. We have not looked directly upon His holiness. Heb. 12 says we are to experience the Lord’s chastening for the express purpose of sharing in His holiness (Heb. 12:10).
In verse five Joseph tells his brothers not to be grieved or angry with themselves because they sold him into slavery. Here is the grace and goodness of God manifested towards us. Joseph was not holding his brothers in contempt for what they had done. He had forgiven them. But still the brothers were reluctant to draw closer to Joseph. And so it is with us. All of God’s provision for us through the blood of Jesus means nothing until we appropriate it deeply within our spirits. On the surface we accept His provision quite willingly. It allows us to know Him in a measure. Who can say with a straight face that they know the Lord to His depths? Such a man as the apostle Paul, after such great experiences as the Lord’s appearing to him and being caught up into the third heaven, cries out in Phil. 3, “That I may know Him!”
None of the Levites could enter the holy place without the proper preparation. And even Aaron, the high priest, could not enter the holy of holies once a year without preparation. He consciously had to don all the right garments and apply all the right anointings with the holy oil. Everything had to be exact. We too must learn to consciously appropriate all of Christ’s provision for us. The appropriation must reach the depths of our spirits in order to remove the innate guilt of Adam and thus enable us to stand in the Lord’s presence beyond what we have known.