Longing For God’s Presence

images-3The Ark of God was stolen by the Philistines a few years before Saul became the first king of Israel, 1 Samuel 4:3-11.  After plagues and other calamities the Philistines decided that they had better send the ark back.  It was placed on a cart and sent on its way pulled by two cows.   Knowing of God’s awesome power, the men who intercepted the cart could not keep back their curiosity.  They had to open the ark and look in.  God killed 50,070 men that day because they touched the ark.

It was then taken to the house of Abinadab and there it stayed for 20 years because they were afraid to move it, 1 Samuel 7:1-2.  It is here that some believe that David wrote of the opportunities to huddle himself down before the ark of God as the light would shine on it through the window of Abinadad’s home.

Psalm 91:1, He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Finally, David determined that the ark had been gone long enough and retrieved it, but incorrectly.  As a result a man died for touching the Ark.  Until he could find out how to correctly transport it it was left in the house of Obed-Edom for three months.  During that time God blessed Obed-Edom and everything he had, 2 Samuel 6:11; 1 Chronicles 13:14.

Once David finally had the Ark safely transported to Jerusalem, guess who also moved to Jerusalem to help care for the the Ark.  Obed-Edom.  God’s presence was so impacting that he could not live without it.

My question is, what ever happened to Abinadab who had the Ark for 20 years.  Did he begin to take God’s presence for granted?


True Worship Example 2

picture-141 Chronicles 21:24 Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely but it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”

Ornan tried to give David a piece of land to worship God on, but David insisted on paying for it.  As I give myself as an offering of worship, like incense, my praise and prayer becomes a sweet fragrance at the throne of God.  The more effort I put into my time spent with God the more it cost me and the sweeter it becomes.

True Worship Example

images-1Luke 7:37-38 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.

Here is worship.  It was costly… humble… personal… broken… poured out… fragrant!

Jesus had just sat down at the table of a Pharisee to eat.  It would seem that this Pharisee was anything but hospitable.  He did not follow the courtesy customs.  He did not wash the dust from Jesus feet and wipe them.  And, he did not anoint Him with perfume to refresh Him from His sweaty journey.

While Jesus is reclining at the six inch high table, this sinful woman barges in and begins to cry at His feet.  Because Simon the Pharisee did not wash Jesus’ feet for Him, her tears made puddles of mud.  She begins to wipe the mud from His feet with her hair.  Then she pours her perfume on Him.  Notice, this woman is still a sinner until verse 50.

Psalm 8:7

Psalm 8:7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.

The Hebrew word, “chesed,” is translated  mercy in this verse and can also be translated grace, favor or loyal love. There are great similarities between this word and the word for charity. But, according to Jewish Sages there is a difference. Charity gives to the poor. Chesed gives to anyone. Charity gives money. Chesed gives in money and time. Charity gives to the living and Chesed gives to the living a pays great respect to the dead. That is the mercy of God!

images5In this light, now read the verse again and understand the multitude of God’s love as we enter His presence.

To understand this love brings upon us the response of worship. The word here used for worship also means to lay prostrate. This worship will lay us to the ground in awe rather than a crying fear. It is a picture of one being overwhelmed with a love and favor from God that is so undeserving.

Religion vs Relationship

…Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. Genesis 4:2-5

For years I have heard that the reason that God accepted Abel’s offering and not Cain’s was because Abel offered a blood sacrifice to the Lord and Cain did not. What if I told you that that idea was wrong?

The problem with this explanation is that the Hebrew word for offering is “minchah” which does not mean a blood offering. It is actually a bloodless offering. Therefore, blood was not required for this offering. It was an offering of thanksgiving.

So, what made the difference between Cain and Abel? There is something that is very significant here. It was the quality of the offering.

Both brought an offering without being commanded, it would seem. Both brought an offering from their labor. But, there are two clues into Abel’s offering. The first is that his offering was a firstborn from the flock. To emphasize the quality he offered the fat. The Hebrew word for fat, “cheleb”,  can also mean the choicest or best This word is also used in Numbers 18 in offering the best oil, the best of the new wine and grain.

Cain’s offering does not have these same descriptions. It was worship that was not from the heart. I have to question the description of “in the process of time,” a description that does not go will with fruit. Could the fruit have been rotten? Or, was it a matter that Cain waited to make sure that he had enough for himself before he offered his fruit.

Established very early in scripture is that the value of our worship is determined on the value it is to us or what it cost us – a sacrifice of praise. This is a great example of the contrast between relationship with God and religion.