hard task-master or jealous lover?

So I attended the Onething09 conference in Kansas City, Missouri on December 28-31.  God encountered my heart in so many ways that I’m still trying to process it all.  However, one teaching in particular has been turning over in my spirit since my return home.  On Thursday, Allen Hood (prompted by the Holy Spirit) stood at the end of the morning session to give a brief teaching on Isaiah 6–ten minutes that radically shifted my paradigm of God.  What follows is partly what he said and partly what I’ve discovered from researching what he said….but it’s all gone together so I’m not going to try to distinguish between his words and mine. 

In the year Uzziah died, Isaiah had a revelation of the Lord.  Leviticus 16:2, 12-14 tell us that in that in the days Isaiah lived, the priest could not come into the glory of the Lord without a cloud of incense between himself and the glory, or he would die.  This incense had to be of a certain scent/aroma and had to be lit by a coal from the altar outside of the most holy place in order for God to receive it.  
 
When Isaiah received his revelation of the Lord, he was protected even though he was not the high priest because the Lord allowed smoke to fill His temple (Isaiah 6:4) shielding Isaiah from the glory.  When Isaiah lamented his unclean lips in response, the angel went and took a burning coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips.  Instantly Isaiah became a living censer to stand between the people and the glory and offer the fragrant incense of prayer and faithful prophetic utterance so the glory of the Lord would not totally destroy the people.

Habbakuk tells us that the earth will one day be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.  Isaiah 6:3 says the angels cried to each other that the earth is filled with God’s glory.  At the end of the Millennium, the holy city is going to come down to the earth for God will dwell with men, and the Lamb will be the light for there will no longer be sun, moon or stars.  The Father is stirring the hearts of the intercessors worldwide to begin blanketing the earth with the sweet incense of prayer before Him because His glory is coming.  The truest sign that we have entered the last days is that there are hundreds and thousands of people in the earth who have taken up the mantle of full-time intercessors restoring the worship movement outlined by the tabernacle of David (which Nehemiah and Hezekiah also restored before revival broke out in their time); God is coming to the earth and He is stirring the hearts of His people to begin making it ready for Him.
 
I found myself weeping Saturday night over how much I’ve misjudged God.  I want to reread the Old Testament with a new perspective.  God cannot change who He is—–and Psalms tell us that He is the King of Glory.  His perceived “strike them dead” anger in the Old Testament was, in reality, His passionate desire to be with them.  How hard that must have been on Him to be so enraptured by a people that He longed to go and dwell in their midst, and yet could not without the impossible standard of the law in place to protect them from the fullness of who He is. 

Even now, we cannot move into intimacy with Him without the protective shield of the blood and the fragrant offering of prayer.  What a testimony of His kindness that the way is easier for us now than it was then.  The standards of Leviticus were not God being a hard task-master.  Through the law He was simply saying: “This is what it takes to get into My presence and survive….please do this because I long to be with you and I know that My coming to you on your terms will kill you.”
 
I’ve also thought about how God said that any man who made incense of the same fragrance of that used before Him for his own pleasure must be cut off from the people (Exodus 30:37-38).  This was not a “strike them dead” kind of sin, but yet was serious enough that the man should be alienated from everyone else.   

God has a scent.  While the incense that was offered up to Him from the tabernacle was pleasing for Him, He also wanted this scent reminded the people of nothing but Him.  If another man made it to burn for his own pleasure, the smell of that would invade the tents around him, too, causing others to associate the aroma with man and not God.  The strength of His love said, “I want to evoke desire in you for Me alone with this fragrance.  I want the pleasing smell of this incense to remind you of My goodness to you and your children.  Don’t cheapen it.  It’s special between us.”

I wonder what other things in our lives that we’ve considered to be God’s cruelty are actually expressions of His longing for us.  Thoughts?

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This entry was posted in ache, fire, forerunner, Holy Spirit, IHOP, intercession, love, prayer, worship. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to hard task-master or jealous lover?

  1. Karen says:

    Chrystal, this is the current word of the Lord…or should I say, the current “understanding” of the Lord. Delve into it a bit more and then share it at JamHop, would you?
    By the way, beautifully written!

  2. Rachel says:

    Well written post. This is the first time to your website and I really enjoyed reading your insights. I find if we open up our hearts to really know God then we find One who is different than what many of us have learned.

    Another point about God in the OT and how He instructed His people to kill the nations as they went into the land to claim it – those nations had to be killed so that He could preserve His people. Otherwise, they would have been killed themselves and/or influenced by their pagan ways and lost sight of God altogether. Everything God does is out of love, because He is love. If we don’t see that in something He does, it is because we don’t fully understand – not because He changed or is different.

    Rachel
    Stirring the Deep

    • Chrystal says:

      Thank you for your comment, Rachel. I will definitely be mulling over that point more in the coming days. It’s hard to grasp sometimes how God’s punishment is His love, and His testing is His favor. It’s not the way we look at life by any respect.

      Thank you for dropping by and commenting!

  3. Dee Sapp says:

    Just stopped by your blog. Racing stripes not battle scars.
    Enough to set my thinking in a different realm for this day.

    Love you and wow, the writer in you and the word in you.
    Love it.

    • Chrystal says:

      Thank you for reading–I truly cannot take credit for any of that. It was one of those purely God-moments, where He spoke to me when I wasn’t expecting to hear or receive anything.

      Love you, lady!

  4. Joe says:

    “His perceived ‘strike them dead’ anger in the Old Testament was, in reality, His passionate desire to be with them.”

    Great thoughts Chrystal. I heard Dr. Don Carson give a sermon once and he talked about this perception of God in the Old Testament vs. the New, and that He was much “gentler and nicer”. Dr. Don said that because God’s judgments were so immediate in the OT, many have that perception, but the NT judgments were just as severe (Jesus speaking on hell). Because we all focus so much on the here and now, we view those immediate OT judgments as more severe – but Jesus’ proclamations on hell, particularly in Matthew, are no less frightening.

    I would also echo Rachel’s comment above and yours regarding God’s love, and that the inability to grasp all that entails (judgment and perceived cruelty) is due to our own limited understanding. Thanks for the encouragement to “reread the Old Testament with a new perspective”. Blessings to you 🙂

    • Chrystal says:

      thank you for reading and for your insights, joe. i’ve never really thought about the new testament judgments being as severe as the old testament immediate ones. can you give me a little more information about dr. carson? i like his take on the seeming inconsistency very much.

  5. Joe says:

    Hi Chrystal,

    Here are a few links for Dr. Carson that you might enjoy:

    1) “A Day With Dr. Don” – sermons at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, 2008 – http://bit.ly/UvXHk
    The sermon “The Center of the Whole Bible” is the one I was referring to yesterday.

    2) Bibliographies – http://bit.ly/nnMC0 and http://bit.ly/8ArH6l

    3) Free PDFs of Dr. Carson’s writings – http://bit.ly/6fmsu – “For The Love of God, Vols. 1 & 2” are great companions for Bible reading. You can also read these online at http://fortheloveofgod.rishty.net/

  6. Just a wonderful message and a teaching that will stay with me. All that God does is for a purpose and it is always to bring us closer to him. The trouble starts when man and his finite mind believes that he has a better way.

    • Chrystal says:

      thanks for stopping by! yes, God’s ways are so much higher than our ways….and we try to tell Him how He should do things a lot more often than we just sit back and listen to His heart. bless you!

  7. Robyn-Ann says:

    Ahhhhhh…. I just spent the past hour reading and commenting on your Blogger posts, only to find that WordPress is where you really preside. Your twitter lead me here afterwards, and I see this is where you get all the comments.

    Your Blogger posts had no feedback, and I was wondering how come people had not yet discovered your writings… they’re so rich!!!!!

    I just discovered them, and like I said at Blogger.. thanks so much for posting this entry. I left with the same hunger to reread the Old Testament after being broken again by Allen Hood’s exhortation… and you put it in writing well.

    Your entire blog is refreshing!!!
    I know you are only the branch, but continue to abide in Him! Amen!

    • Chrystal says:

      thank you so much for your encouraging words–to God be the glory for the things He shares with me. i appreciate your love of Jesus! it’s such a beautiful thing when the Lord begins networking people with similar hearts and hunger for Him. i’m glad to “know” you, and hope to be able to read more of your writings. (i replied to you on blogger too!) =)

  8. slamdunk says:

    It sounds like the conference was worth your time. I read your post a few days ago, and have been thinking about it. I believe my lack of a good example, in response to your question, shows the great need in my life to spend more time studying the Bible.

    I do see your point of the “strike them dead anger” as God wanting to be with his people. In reading Leviticus and the seemingly endless rules for behavior, God presented obedience in a way that was understood by those folks in the period they lived. A concept of obedience that is no less important to do God’s will in contemporary society.

    Keep up the good blogging.

    • Chrystal says:

      thanks for your comment! the conference was definitely worth the trip!

      one of the speakers there addressed the concept of “grace v. works” that has been such a struggle in my life. he said:

      The grace of God is the Spirit empowering you to live righteously; and for you to live sloppily under the grace of God–“how much can I get away with and still have God like me?”–you have not yet touched the fear of God…..Do not live your life, “How much can I get away with and still be right with God?” No! “How pure can I set my vision that I might get everything of this God?” ~Dwayne Roberts

      i’ve lived so much of my life in the bondage of striving for God’s approval, embarking on fasts and untold hours in reading the Word and prayer not because i enjoyed them but because they were the thing i was supposed to do. in some respect, i was trying to earn God’s favor with my efforts. however, the God who is in love with us is not the one we must coerce to favor us. when we see Him in the fullness of His love, it radically transforms how we approach Him and approach the concept of obedience.

      bless you!

  9. cherish says:

    He is quite jealous for us. . .

    sometimes He must (to us, harshly) break us
    in order to show His all-consuming Love. . .

    He disciplines those He loves eh?
    how small our understanding of Love (aka G-d) is. . .

  10. timbob says:

    Good afternoon. It’s incredible how there’s an almost unspoken mindset that God was somehow different in the old testament. This posting certainly goes a long way to disprove that notion. Indeed our God cannot change and he is very jealous for us. This post is so deep that I should probably think on it before commenting, but time is in such short supply these days.

    Something that has intrigued me for a long time is the passages of Revelation 5:8 and Revelation 8:4. The first passage tells of the golden vials, full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. The second tells how the smoke of the incense came with the prayers of the saints before God. Our sincere prayers are a sweet aroma before the Lord. Your comments about continual intercession reminded me of this.

    It’s a work in progress, but my striving is to spend every possible moment in prayer; regardless of where it may be. This is why I almost never have the radio on while driving and why I keep the tv off when home alone. The world is filled with voices, but we need to be in fellowship with the Lord Jesus. So many needs, so many lost souls in our midst, and so little time remains.

    This is an awesome posting which offers one much to consider. Thanks for making its content available.

    Blessings always in Jesus name.

    timbob

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