The Throne in the Midst
Robert Wurtz II
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (Hebrews 10:5-9)
The first covenant was an agreement between Jehovah God (YHWH) and Israel. If they abided by the terms of the agreement, YHWH would be their God, and they would be His special possession. Covenants are agreements that establish terms of a relationship. God gave them rules, and they were to abide by them absolutely. God always kept His side of the agreement; however, the people often broke their side. We call it sin. To keep the covenant agreement in play, God established a means of servicing it when it was broken. Otherwise, God would either have to leave or bring remedial judgment. A price would have to be paid for every transgression and disobedience. That price was the blood of a sacrificial animal. This sacrificial system also had a system of rules.
Over time, the people lost touch with God’s purpose for establishing the relationship. He wanted a “special people” that agreed with Him and His word. He wanted a unique people that would obey His voice. As the Creator, He expects His creation to be completely obedient. However, the masses both refuse to obey God and agree with Him. Moreover, God did not want people that did as they pleased and then brought a sacrifice to make it right later on. The principal of scripture is that “to obey is better than to sacrifice.” Hebrews tells us that God had no pleasure in these type of offerings. Why? One reason is that He wanted the covenant agreement obeyed — not highhandedly ignored and then a sacrifice brought.
God wanted a special people who would love Him and love one another. This means that God was to be number one, and the people were to treat each other the way they wanted to be treated. These two commands were the basic thrust of the agreement. The sacrificial system was never intended to be a slick way of sinning and getting by with it; it was an emergency measure. Just as spare tires are for emergencies and not daily driving, sacrifices for sin were to be used only as needed. Israel was abusing a system meant to keep God in relationship with the people if they sinned, not whenever they wanted to sin.
A Cycle of Sin
Christianity is often thought of in Old Testament terms; the only difference is that the sacrifice is Jesus Christ rather than bulls and goats. This is sad and vexing. It proves that the New Covenant is not understood by the hast majority of professing Christians. Keep in mind that under the Old Covenant, the people used to sin and then come to the Tabernacle or Temple and make an offering for atonement. As we have already stated, God had no pleasure in this process. He wanted obedience to the covenant precepts.The tragedy is that many Christians under the New Covenant do a similar thing as did the Israelites: they sin as if sinning is no “big deal”, but instead of bringing a spotless lamb or some other offering, they ask Jesus Christ (our great High Priest) to apply His own blood that He shed at Calvary. They want a Savior, who will save them from the penalty of sin; but seem to have little desire for a Savior who saved from sin.
What God “had no pleasure in” was the people’s ongoing sin. Even today, He wants sin to stop. Again, God’s perpetual attitude is that obedience is better than to sacrifice. God is not interested in a “sin and then sacrifice” pattern of living. In other words, He doesn’t want us breaking the great commands to love our neighbor and to love God and then just ask Jesus to forgive it. He is interested in people doing His will, and that will is to love one another. We have to keep that clear. Again, to obey is better than to sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).
To Do Thy will
In two places, our passage states that Christ came, “To do Thy will, oh God.” This is the attitude and nature of the Son. This is the language of priesthood. Under the Levitical system the High Priest was commanded to follow God’s instructions in the absolute sense. The reason for this is that they were moving in and around the manifest presence of God within the Tabernacle and Temple. God wanted His will to be carried out on earth, as it is in heaven, and it began within the four walls of the Tabernacle and subsequently the Temple. Every single detail had significance.
The center piece was the Ark of the Covenant. It symbolized the presence of God; but more pointedly it represented the very throne from which God was to rule and reign over Israel. It contained within it the tablets of the covenant agreement that God had made with the children of Israel. Remember, Israel was intended to be a theocracy. When the priests carried the Ark on their shoulders it was a common ancient practice; other kingdoms shouldered their king as well. When the nations saw Israel carrying the Ark, they saw them carrying their ruling King (the invisible God); just as the Israelites saw Pharaoh being carried in processions as Egypt’s ruling king. He rule was regarded as absolute. No one trifled with Pharaoh. In fact, when Joseph passed through crowds, the people bowed the knee; and he was only second in command. How much more Pharaoh? And if Pharaoh was treated with such reverence, how much more the I AM(YHWH) as He broke through into this sinful world? Unlike Pharaoh the Tyrant, YHWH desired to deliver the people from bondage to Sin. This is the meaning of the name Jesus (Joshua): YHWH Saves.
The Presence and Authority of God
God’s presence and God’s authority are a package deal. That sentence is worth reading again and even meditating upon. If God is going to manifest His presence He is going to be in authority. This is key to understanding the presence of God. In Isaiah 66:1f we are told that God looks for one of a meek and contrite spirit and that trembles at His word. That is to say, He looks for a person to dwell in who viewed His word as absolute. It was to be carried out no matter what.
Flippant obedience is an invitation to false spirits that imitate God. Paul warned the Corinthians when he said, “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:4 ESV). The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. He told them that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. In other words, He was living in absolute obedience to the Father and the Father’s will was that He destroy the works of the Devil. Satan would never destroy himself in this way. He was building his kingdom, not destroying it (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, etc.). Jesus Christ was in total submission to the Father; and in being under that authority, He had authority over whatever the Father told Him to take authority over. To want God’s power without submitting to His authority is a contradiction, and an invitation for what the sons of Sceva received in Acts 19.
The Throne in the Temple
The dwelling place of God was at first the Wilderness Tabernacle and then the Temple of Solomon. When it was destroyed by the Babylonians the second temple was built known as Zerubabel’s Temple. By this time the ark was not part of the furniture. Herod would eventually expand this Temple greatly. We have an interesting passage related to Jesus, Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:33, 34 NKJV) Our Lord’s comments are instructive. While the disciples were concerned about where their next meal was coming from and whether or not Jesus was going to eat, He was concerned about doing the will of God. It was a perfect teaching moment for Jesus. They knew He had to be hungry so they urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” (NKJV) The disciples at this stage in their experience could not relate to what Jesus was saying, but the day came at Pentecost where they could relate. In the mean time they were left with the impression that the desire of Christ and subsequently those that will be baptized into Him will find pleasure in doing God’s will in the same measure that the natural man finds pleasure in eating when he/she is hungry.
The Food of Sons
The natural man desires natural food, but Jesus walks out the desire of the spiritual man in flesh and blood. Satan in the wilderness attempted to appeal to the natural man in getting Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Yet, He was so utterly bent on doing God’s will that He utterly refused to please Himself unless He knew it was part of God’s plan. He is our example. What did He tell Satan? It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4) This is one of our very first lessons predating the Sermon on the Mount. This one reality is what distinguishes Christ and they that are in Him from the rest of the world. It is the disposition of the Son and the many sons God is bringing unto glory. They live by every word that is proceeding (verb is present middle) from the mouth of God. It is their food. Satan tried to get Jesus to turn from this rule on more than one occasion.
When Jesus spoke of going to the cross Peter stepped in under the influence of Satan. He spoke words to Jesus that were designed to snare Him and keep Him from doing God’s will. We read in Young’s Literal Translation, “And having taken him aside, Peter began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee’” (Matthew 16:22 YLT). Literally, he told Jesus to, “Pity Himself.” Jesus reacted in the strongest of terms calling out the influence that was behind the words. He added this comment, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. The KJV translators have opted to translate phoneo as savourest or “to savour”, but the word literally means to be mindful. In other words, Peter you are not being mindful of the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. Why? You are still being influenced by Satan and the carnal man. But the day will come when Peter will receive the word with pleasure and he will obey it.
True in Him and True in You
At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. (1 John 2:8-10 ESV)
Notice John says that there is a commandment that is true in Christ and in the children of God. He then gives that truth. Paul makes a similar comment in Ephesians, “… assuming that you have heard Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21). There are things that Christ teaches those that are truly in Him. Those things are consistent with His personality and character. To be like Christ we have to be in Him and be taught by Him. When believers cease to be taught by Christ they lean to their own self-will. Paul told those that had hardened themselves in sin, “But ye have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:20). This is carnality. Christ lives in absolute obedience to the will of the Father. It was the Truth that is in Jesus. That Truth must also be the Truth that is in us. The Holy Spirit that speaks on Christ’s behalf will lead us into all truth.