Building the Church According to the Biblical Pattern

This post is part of the Series "The Priestly Ministry that Must Come on the Earth"

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Revelation 5 is the prediction that what John sees in Revelation 4 is going to fill the entire creation. Revelation 5 is also the prediction that Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6 will be answered – the earth and all of creation are going to reflect heaven. The redemptive story is going to cause the beauty of God to fill the earth and God’s people are going to declare that beauty. Man is created with a unique capacity to desire beauty so that he can declare that beauty in the earth.

Jesus asked us to pray for this to come because only God can ultimately make the earth like heaven, but this should also influence the way we build the church. Just as Moses build the tabernacle according to a heavenly pattern, so also we are to build the church according to a heavenly pattern. Like the tabernacle, it will fall well short of the glory of the real thing but it must reflect the pattern because the church is designed to be a witness in this age to what is coming in the next age.

Our churches are to be places where people can encounter the glory of God and get a glimpse of what is coming. In the same way that the priests in the tabernacle were set in the midst of the nation for the sake of the nation, so also the church in a nation dramatically affects that nation. God wants priestly ministry in every nation on the earth (Malachi 1:11) and the earth and the church is the place where that ministry happens.

Man must come into his calling and that calling is priestly. When we are redeemed, it begins the process of God restoring us to our eternal calling. The fullness of that calling will come in the age to come, but the church is designed to be a place where we begin to enter into that calling. As we labor to build the church and see it come to maturity we must make sure that we see the church the way God does and that we build the church towards its ultimate purpose. We must recover this priestly ministry.

One expression of that recovery is night and day prayer. We have to recognize the prayer movement is a part of God’s plan to restore man’s priestly calling. The prayer movement that is expanding in the earth right now not only brings together worship and prayer – as the original tabernacle and temple did – it is also part of God’s plan to reorient our thinking so that the beauty and glory of God become central in our thinking.

Jesus died so that we could recover access to the glory of God and corporate prayer meetings are a context for us to experience the glory of God together and respond to that glory. The church must become a place where the glory of God is encountered and celebrated on the earth as it is in heaven because the church is designed to be a statement in this age of what is coming in the next age.

There is a sense in which Revelation 4:1 is written over the doorpost of every church. The church is a set apart place to experience the reality of the future now in this age. It is a place to touch heaven.

1After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (Revelation 4:1 ESV)

In the same way that John was taken up to show him the things that must soon take place, the church is meant to be a place on the earth where people can enter and encounter the things to come. When people come into a church they should suddenly experience the very things that are going to fill the earth at the return of Jesus. They should encounter the beauty of God, people enamored with that beauty, and the proclamation of that beauty.

The church is a set apart space in the church where a people together reveal what is coming. We are called to demonstrate the values of a coming age. We are called to be a prophetic people more in touch with what is coming than what currently is. The church is an imperfect picture of the future – an experience of ultimate reality – in the midst of a dark and fallen age. In the same way that the measure of the Holy Spirit that we have now is a down payment and guarantee of something greater coming (Ephesians 1:13-14), so also the church is a guarantee that something great is coming.

That is why it is so important that the values of the church are connected to what is coming. If the church is not connected to what is coming, then the church can easily drift from being a present demonstration of what is coming. This is why the church must take Revelation 5 seriously and build according to the heavenly pattern. The heavenly pattern is what is coming on the earth. We are called to prepare the earth for that pattern.

Night and day prayer prepares the earth for what is coming. It is also a statement to the nations of the earth of God’s worth, His beauty, and His nature. For the sake of the gospel, let’s see the nations filled with night and day adoration of Jesus. Let’s begin to operate in our priestly calling. Let’s join the voices of the living creatures and carry in our hearts the dream that is in Jesus’ – that earth would become like heaven.

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