Note: Since we are featuring our Life Focus challenge this month, and offering it as a FREE class to members through the month of April, we thought we'd repost this article on the importance of using time well. Enjoy!
The Temple and TimeBy Dan Vis
May 14, 2017
One of the most fascinating topics of research in the Bible is the Old Testament temple and its services. Every detail is filled with symbolic meaning.
It shines a powerful floodlight on God's plan for the salvation of man, the stages of judgment, and the ultimate eradication of sin. It contains multiple fascinating prophecies. And if you have read my book, The Moral Machinery, you know it also gives important insights into the physical, mental, and spiritual faculties of man. Today, I would like to explore what it says about our use of time.
The temple building itself was divided into two main sections: the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place.
In the innermost chamber was found the Ark of the Covenant, with the Law of God hidden within, and the Shekinah Glory shining above. This depicts God's ultimate goal for man--the Ten Commandments once again perfectly enshrined in the heart, and the glory of God reflecting out from the deepest chambers of our character. This is certainly the experience every Christian should long for!
But the Holy Place highlights the process by which we advance towards this goal. It contained three key pieces of furniture: the Table of Shewbread, the Altar of Incense, and the Seven Branch Candlestick. It was in the Holy Place that the priests ministered day by day--and we too, as priests of God, have a work to do here daily.
The Bible gives clear suggestions as to the meaning of these symbols.
The Table of Shewbread points to the Word of God. Jesus clearly linked Scripture and bread together during His temptation in the wilderness: "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God., see also Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.). Similarly, in Isaiah 55:10-1110 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. God describes the Word "that goeth forth out of my mouth" as being like "rain" that gives "seed to the sower, and bread to the eater". And most Christians recognize the importance of Bible study as a key to growing in our understanding of God's Will.
The Altar of Incense seems to be connected with prayer. The Psalmist writes, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense" (Psalms 141:2Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.). Similarly, John sees this altar in the book of Revelation, and connected with it, describes how "the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand" (Revelation 8:3-43 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.). And again, prayer is widely recognized as important for a believer who wants to keep his heart tender and responsive to the will of God.
But there was a third piece of furniture in the Holy Place, and it represents another vital key to effective discipleship. I believe the Candlestick represents the importance of committed obedience.
In the Old Testament, we read "the spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly" (Proverbs 20:27The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.). This gives a picture of God examining our actions, and the motives that drive them. What do our choices reveal about our heart?
In the New Testament, we see something similar: "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:15-1615 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.). Clearly, Jesus intends us to reveal the will of God through our day to day activities.
To put it differently, Bible study and prayer are both important. But the principles we glean from study, and the consecration we seek in prayer, must be translated into specific and concrete steps of actions. Like the Psalmist, we are to think on our ways, turn our feet to God's testimonies, and delay not to keep His commandments (Psalms 119:59-6059 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. 60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.). Prayer and study must be combined with careful obedience.
It is not an accident that there were seven branches on the Candlestick. It was to remind us of a very specific cycle of time (the week) which God established at creation. Because it is only through the right use of time that we can carry out the actions which best glorify God. Or to put it differently, without effective time management, it will be impossible to live out our full potential for Christ.
“Without effective time management, it will be impossible to live out our full potential for Christ.”
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Bible study and prayer are both essential to effective daily devotions. But the most effective devotional time will also include some planning for the day. Careful Study, prayerful consecration, and intentional planning to live out the will of God combined create the life of discipleship.
“Careful study, prayerful consecration, and intentional planning create the life of discipleship.”
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It is our privilege as "priests", to incorporate all three pieces of furniture into our worship of God.
CommentsHave questions or feedback about this article? Share them in the comments below. How important do you think it is to incorporate time management into our devotions? Are Bible study and prayer enough without making plans to obey?
|Posted by Colette Guthrie on 12/02/22|
|Thanks Ann-Marie for highlighting this post. Dan here's a comment from over five years ago that I totally agree with.
"Almost every discipleship program I've seen emphasizes prayer and Bible study. Very few put time management (or obedience) on a comparable footing."
I know you always point out that the disciplines of the Christian life take time. After studying Proverbs for the past month, you don't even have to try to convince me how important time management is. Messing that up makes it much harder to get the others right. Ask my friends the ants.😇
The link between the candlestick and Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. is what I'm more accustomed to so this next part is really fascinating to me.
"The other aspect is witnessing--which I also see in the sanctuary, in what it means to be a priest in the service of God."
I can see that in I Peter 2:9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 12/02/22|
|There's a lot here--probably too much for the average person to read, but I did plow through them both Ann-Marie. And well worth the read! Thank you so much for your kind words!
Two points that I think stood out to me was your point that this represents "a completely new way of doing my devotions", one that switches from focusing on a general connection to receiving specific instructions. That is spot on! Great way of putting it.
And second, you point about Jesus and Paul both having such a sense of time they actually knew when their life work was finished (John 17:4I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do., II Timothy 4:7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:). I think this is exactly the kind of intimacy with God we need. If we can achieve it, we can come to the end of our life knowing our work was finished, our mission achieved. And we'll be sure to hear the words: "well done thou good and faithful servant"...
|Posted by Ann-Marie Scott on 12/02/22|
|A Continuation from Yesterday’s Post:
As I look at the way Jesus lived His life, it is very clear He understood this, as evidenced by how He prayed (Mark 1:35And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed., Matthew 14:23And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone., Luke 5:16And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed., Luke 6:12And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.) and how He worked (John 9:4I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.). And He left all this on record as an example for us to follow in His footsteps.
Jesus seemed to always have had such an awareness of time as to when He should or shouldn’t do something with regards to His life mission (John 2:4Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come., John 7:6Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready., John 7:8Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast: for my time is not yet full come.) Jesus lived and operated in this realm, and this was the realm in which the Father operated on in how He allowed things to happen or not happen to Him in His life John 7:30Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.…all towards accomplishing the fulfilling of the mission His Father gave Him for His life and Jesus living His life in such a a way as to only focus on carrying it out. And Jesus clearly told us how to approach the use of our time as well (John 12:35Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.).
Jesus had clear understanding of His mission in life on this earth, and His execution of it is reflected in His respect for and use of time, while He lived on this world that functions in a time dimension. And He left all this evidence on record as an example for us who should come after. I see this example evidenced in Paul and how he lived his life with the understanding of the plan God had for him. Paul came on the scene and eventually had a clear understanding of His new mission in life (Acts 9:15-1615 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake., Acts 13:47For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.; Acts 22:21And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.; Acts 26:15-1815 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.; Galatians 2:7-87 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:); Ephesians 3:8-118 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:).
At the end of His life on this earth, Jesus was able to declare John 17:4
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.. He basically said, “Father I have finished the work You gave Me to do.” I want to live my life (whatever time I have left) in such a way that I will be able to say that about it as well.
Paul, after he understood the new mission that God gave him, when he had come to the end of his life, was able to reflect on the use of his time in how he fulfilled his mission, and say, II Timothy 4:7
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. This feels so good to write out! I want to be able to say the same thing about how I live my life too…when all is said and done…no one knows when that will be. And since I don’t know when that would be, it would be good for me to perform the doing of it right now II Corinthians 8:11Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.. Today…and every day… Because it is for my good according to Deuteronomy 6:24-25
24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. 25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us..
Now, on to getting deeper clarity and fine tuning my own personal life mission. I’ve had a sense of it and have sought to live my life according to it in the past, but I am seeing the need for even more clarity in this area.
God will do this for me in Psalms 18:32-33
32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. 33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places., and a part of the key to tapping into this as for the “how” is this new approach to doing my devotions. That, coupled with being under the guidance, tutelage, and power of my Mentor, the Holy Spirit, ensures success, because I Thessalonians 5:24
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it..
Again, I want to say that I am so thankful for my injury (almost a year of being in pain…why did it have to take that long for me to get to this point? I’ll understand more some day….and I’m STILL in pain 1 month after surgery…though, it’s not quite as intense), because it’s allowing me the opportunity for all these rich blessings and a new found, deeper relationship with my Savior. Like, Paul, I am now saying II Corinthians 12:9-10
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.. My experience seems to be this: I Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you., and I’m all in!
My new word for 2023 “Growth” is springing out from this year’s experience of pain, and this is my verse for the coming year: Colossians 1:10That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;. Although, the evidence from this experiment so far, is that the increasing in the “experimental knowledge” of God part, has already started. Now on for more and still more…until Revelation 18:1
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.!
|Posted by Ann-Marie Scott on 12/02/22|
|This question spoke loudly to me, “Are Bible study and prayer enough without making plans to obey?”
This statement here also spoke to me: “The principles we glean from study and the consecration we seek in prayer, must be translated into specific and concrete steps of actions.”
“Prayer and study must be combined with careful obedience.”
“Without effective time management, it will be impossible to live out our full potential for Christ.”
“Bible study and prayer are both essential to effective daily devotions. But the most effective devotional time will also include some planning for the day. Careful study, prayerful consecration, and intentional planning to live out the will of God combined create the life of discipleship.”
“Keeping Christ at the center of our life means keeping Him at the center of our time.”
“If we ever notice God is not speaking clearly, it’s often because we have not been following through on past projects He has given.” See John 7:17If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
This Revival School, so far, has opened my eyes to a completely new way of doing my devotions. It has been my practice in the past to do my devotions as a way to connect with God and strengthen my walk with Him in a general way, as a follower of Jesus. It had not been my practice to approach my devotions as a way to get get specific instructions from God to carry out my duties for today. Every day. This is new to me. Quite radical, actually. But I’ve been intentional in trying to adopt this new way over the past few weeks since I’ve discovered it. It does take practice. But I can say that I’ve been engaging in this experiment since the last 2 weeks, and I’ve seen, especially this week, how it can be transformational.
There’s a complete new shift taking place in my thinking and how I approach things now, as I try to do my devotions from this new mindset…So far, this experiment is teaching me that…. Well, a lot…
One thing I’m starting to see is that the lack of this approach over the course of my life has caused me to waste so much time and to have been misguided so often. But Jesus gives hope and He’s teaching me new ways of how to truly flourish. This new approach changes everything. This approach brings true success and profit, like he says in Isaiah 48:17Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.. This new approach lays the foundation of how to experience success as this verse outlines. The Lord will lead you in the way you should go, as you seek after it with a heart that’s willing to do it… you’ll find it. And a part of finding it includes daily approaching your devotion this way.
It’s new for me. I’m working on it. And the results I’m experiencing so far (even though I don’t have it all figured out quite yet, and it hasn’t been that long) are driving me to keep going… to find out even more. I will get it all figured out as I commit to keep going. It’s been beautiful so far. Don’t think I want to go back to the old way of doing my devotions. This is so much better!!! on steroids!!! to the nth degree!!! And this is me not yet having it all figured out fully….But it’s an adventure I don’t want to get off from. May God help me get it all figured out. I know He will. I’ll keep working on it with the help of my capable Mentor and Tutor, the Holy Spirit. I’m definitely in good hands, hands that guarantee success.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/13/22|
|I like that Deanne, especially your point that making plans is how we show our faith. Yes, let's be doers of the Word!!!|
|Posted by Deanne Reinke on 11/11/22|
|I am reminded of the verse in James 1:22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. that says we are to be DOERS of the word not just HEARERS of the word. So YES, it is important to listen for God's instructions and then carry them out. Making plans to obey is showing our FAITH in God!! this shows that we BELIEVE HE HAS POWER TO ENABLE US TO DO WHAT HE ASKS! GREAT ARTICLE!-I LOVED the refresh on the Temple|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/03/22|
|Some good points Konni. Yes, righteousness (and good works) is just another word for obedience. Deuteronomy 6:25And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.. Your point about Noah being an example of some commands requiring longterm intentional planning and execution to obey is a great one. I think maybe that actually is the answer to your question. We don't "plan to obey" in the future (as in procrastination). But we often do need a "plan to execute" God's instructions. There are issues of preparation and ideal timing.
Of course, for me, I see it more as experimentation and practice. I want to try out different ways of growing and see what works. And practice things God has been teaching me to help me internalize it. The principle is all encompassing, universal, binding, for sure--but my ability to comprehend and implement it is limited, so I need to make at least some small intentional efforts. Good post!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/02/22|
|Amen Doranita! That's the whole point--keeping Christ at the center of our life means keeping Him the center of our time...|
|Posted by Doranita Tyler on 11/02/22|
|Time management that is centered in Christ is essential to our growth - mentally physically and spiritually.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/02/22|
|Great cross reference Teverly. It's not just prayer and Bible study that is spiritual. Acting on our faith, and building it into our daily life is just as much a part of our spiritual growth! Appreciate you post.|
|Posted by Tev Gray on 11/01/22|
|I am guided by James 2:24
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.....that obedience, through our actions, is needed to demonstrate our faith. So it is very important to invite God into our plans daily, so He guides our actions.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/01/22|
|Amen Mike, Sam. You are both right. Implementation of what God shows us is important. Not the least reason being, it's the key to God giving us more truth! John 7:17If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself., Luke 11:52Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered., James 1:22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves..
If we ever notice God is not speaking clearly, it's often because we have not been following through on past projects He has given us...
|Posted by Shawnda McKnight on 11/01/22|
|No Bible study & prayer are not enough without plans to obey. We can know the Bible back n forth but if we don't obey what we know and read then it is for nought. The devil knows the Word but does not obey...|
|Posted by Mike Carner on 10/31/22|
|God's will which we discover through Bible study and prayer needs to be implemented in the life.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/30/22|
|That's actually probably the biggest motivator for me Tonya. Though I kind of approach it from the more positive perspective...
Many years ago I realized to do the greatest amount of good with my life, I would have to focus in on the most helpful thing possible, and harness my life as fully to that task as possible. Obviously it's impossible to do either perfectly, so we all "come short of the glory of God" in our lives (Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;). But time management is the tool we use to pursue both.
So it's been a decades long quest to know the mission God has for me personally, and to harness my life every more closely to that mission. It's been a ride to say the least!
|Posted by Heide on 10/29/22|
|Good point, Dan. The sanctuary, as a teaching illustration, continues to amaze me. So simple, yet so complex. How DOES God do that?!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/29/22|
|I actually think this was part of God's purpose for the sanctuary Heide, to teach us the path to God. It's not really an analogy per se, but the whole point of it. Or at least one point of many! :)|
|Posted by Heide on 10/29/22|
|Dan thank you for this article, it explains the sanctuary connection that you were referring me to in an earlier thread of posts. I really appreciate this analogy.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/29/22|
|Looks like a nice three-fold cord you've got going there Carlota. Keep weaving these three things together!!!|
|Posted by Carlota Belmo on 10/29/22|
|Thanks for sharing this Dan!
Lord, help me to keep studying, praying, and to be intentional in planning my day in which You’re able to use me! Shalom
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/27/22|
|You're very welcome Barbara. So glad you are having a great experience and the Lord is speaking to you so clearly. Keep pressing forward! :)|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/26/22|
|Thanks Sairusi! It is a fascinating subject--and combining all three of these components in our devotions makes for a strong cord that cannot be broken! Ecclesiastes 4:12And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken..|
|Posted by Sairusi Madigi on 10/25/22|
|Fascinating topic and it brings revivification to study and dwell upon the word of God more. Loving it! Amen.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/24/22|
|Amen Louise! That's a powerful threefold cord, isn't it? Ecclesiastes 4:12And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken..|
|Posted by Louise P on 10/23/22|
|Prayer + Bible study + Committed obedience = Discipleship
This is our privilege - ministering daily, in everyday life, as in God’s presence.
|Posted by Kristina Tijunait on 04/04/18|
|No problem. Thanks for fixing, I was able to get in today. : )|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 04/03/18|
|Hi Kristina! Try it again. We had to make a little adjustment to our enrollment system to unlock it for this month. I think it is working now. Sorry about that!|
|Posted by Kristina Tijunait on 04/03/18|
I just tried to sign up for the Free Life Focus class but it says this is a premium class and that I need to be a partner in order to take it. Is this class free or does is cost?
|Posted by Fiona van Wyk on 05/17/17|
|Much food for thought, Dan. I have not thought of there being an example of time management in the sanctuary service. Very interesting ... Thank you!|
|Posted by Aaron Wilson on 05/15/17|
|Amen! Well put together this article Brother Dan, and in good connection with the Life Focus Challenge recently completed. God Bless|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 05/15/17|
|Developing the skills to convert what we are learning and praying about into action is extremely important. Sounds like you are poised for a lot of growth this year, Ann! Keep pressing forward.|
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