When you stepped out of the tabernacle tent you saw the bronze altar and bronze basin in its courtyard. The bronze basin was placed between the temple and the bronze altar.
The courtyard was covered with a perimeter fence made of wood frames where curtains were affixed. The bases of these frames were also of bronze, and the fence's height was 7 and half feet.
Courtyard Happenings were Special
What happened in the courtyard was for a select few to witness. The fence was taller than the average Israelite to make sure that none in the crowd outside saw what happened in the courtyard.
The priests offered the people's offerings at the bronze altar. They would wash themselves at the bronze basin before they did anything at the altar. Holiness was vital to avoid being killed by God's wrath. Whole burnt offerings were offered at the bronze altar--often numbering countless slaughtered animals which were without defect. Only perfect offerings were allowed.
For each aspect of their lives a suitable offering was required. The main offerings were the guilt, sin, whole burnt, and fellowship or peace offerings. There were many other offerings, but these were the major ones. You see, these principles are still intact today. We no longer deal with the specifics, but the principles remain.
You cannot enjoy God unless your guilt and sins are dealt with at the spiritual altar--the heart. Only then can you truly devote your whole self (whole burnt offering) for God and enjoy genuine fellowship with him (fellowship offering). There's no other option but to devote the entire self to God—whole burnt offering.
"Burnt" offering means the flesh is burned—the flesh or ego is destroyed. That is God's requirement, no less. You can never truly enjoy God with your ego still intact.
In the Old Testament, perfect animals were offered. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the perfect offering for all time---especially today, that is, Jesus Christ in you. Jesus urges us to follow in his footstep. He died on the cross--but we also need to carry our little crosses--not for salvation--but for dying to self and letting Jesus live in us fully. We need to be whole burnt offerings, too.
Paul said, I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God---present yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. This is you spiritual worship.
Now, if you're still part of the Crowd, you will never see all these things taking place in the tent courts. Many churches today are mere Crowds--content at staying outside the courts, seeing nothing but the smoke from the burnt offerings and smell of flesh and fat burning.
They think a beautiful Sunday worship service is the way to gain entry into the courts--because they read in Scriptures that we enter his gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and his courts with praise. Correct, but the thanksgiving and praises should come from holy lives. The requisite here is life, not any worship program.
In the church God gave me, we don't have any program. We have the LIFE, by God's grace.
No animal with defect was allowed to enter his gates and courts. Beautiful singing and beautiful worship programs—but with rotten spiritual lives—have no place here.
The Crowd Got to See Only Bronze
In front, at the east side, was the main entrance to the courtyard. When the priests opened the main gate, the people saw a glimpse of the court--that was all. All they saw were the bronze things there. And then the gates were closed.
Bronze is a likeness of gold. It can shine like gold--but it is NOT GOLD. The crowd saw the bronze for a short time and was satisfied. Once, they told Moses that they didn't want to hear God's voice; they asked Moses to just relay to them what God had told him. They were content at seeing bronze, and this in a mere glimpse.
The crowd is not even deserving of bronze. All they deserve is the fence. Yes, they saw how the cloud of God's presence descended the tabernacle, but only from a distance.
When Elijah was taken from Elisha, Elisha got the double portion--because he saw everything that happened up close. The 50 prophets who merely watched from a distance got nothing. Jesus gathered his core group near him to hear the Word up close. The crowd stayed at a distance. When he was done speaking, the crowd went home. But the disciples remained for more. Jesus said, the secrets of the Kingdom had been given to them, but not to those outside. The Crowd never gets any revelation (a people without a vision perishes). All they get is the fence—or man’s programs.
It's very important to be inside the tent courts.
But We Have to Leave the Elementary Teachings About Christ
But being in the courtyard is not enough. Hebrews says we have to leave the basics on Christ and go on to maturity. Bronze is not the target; gold is. God hid the gold from the crowd because the flesh does not know how to handle God's gold--they'll sell it for their own benefit in God's Name. They use God’s gold to build their denominations.
Many successful pastors and preachers today were once Godly, but later began building their own empires, their own petty kingdoms—their denominations. These people cannot be trusted with God's gold--they always sell it to build their own. Thus, gold is reserved for the eyes of the genuine priesthood--the Jesus priesthood.
A lot of churches today think they experience God and even declare that God is here! in their services. What they do not know is that they have seen mere bronze--a likeness of God.
What visions of God Ezekiel saw at the Kebar River was a likeness of the glory of the Lord (Ezk.1.28). It was extremely awesome and yet it was just a likeness of God's glory. Awesome things can happen in an anointed worship service led by an anointed man of God, and yet everything could merely be bronze. Bronze is good but we should aim for gold.
Good and Better is the Enemy of Best
Some churches stop at seeing bronze. For a while bronze is good. But whenever you stop at a certain point in your experience or relationship with God, God's present move leaves you behind. We should move in ever-increasing glory, said 2 Corinthians 3 and 4. God’s present Move always moves. It’s ever-increasing.
Moses' bronze snake was once God's move. But later, God abandoned it. Years after, in Hezekiah's time, it (called Nehushtan) was still standing and worshiped somewhere in Jerusalem (2Kings 18). If you stop, your natural tendency is idolatry, no matter how biblical you seem to be. Many today are denomination worshipers.
We should leave the elementary teachings and go on to maturity. Maturity is not going to the seminary to study theology and earn titles and degrees. Maturity is going after God in the Holy of Holies--and burn there. Soon you become part of the Fire—not anymore the offering. And this means forgetting anything of the crowd and of bronze. Paul said, forgetting what is behind and pressing towards the goal.
Entering the Tent
Once you enter the tent, it's a different world. All you see is gold. Before you enter the tent you need to wash at the bronze basin--like cleansing yourself of all the activities and realms of bronze.
What happened inside the tent was what mattered. The quality seen outside the tent (the cloud of God's presence descending on the tent) depended on the quality inside it.
In fact, the presence never descended because of what was offered on the bronze altar. The offerings made on the altar were good, but they came from the resources of the Crowd. God didn't like that. His presence only descended on the tent after the tabernacle was completely set up.
Right after Moses finished setting up the tabernacle and the courtyard, then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Exo.40.33). You see that? The presence descended when the tabernacle was completely set up, NOT when the offerings were offered.
In Solomon's time, when the Ark was brought inside the Holy of Holies (when everything was set up), it was then that the glory of God descended and filled up the temple (1Kings 8). The animal offerings came much later. Worship (offerings) is good but God delights in a vessel filled purely with Jesus--so filled the vessel later becomes unseen and only Jesus is seen. This is what really matters. Nothing more.
In the tent you saw the gold table, incense altar, and lampstand. In Solomon's temple, even the floor, walls, and ceiling were wrapped in pure gold. Only the priesthood got to see these. Only the priests, sons of Aaron, were trusted with pure gold.
In Moses' time, the sons of Aaron (priesthood) wrapped the gold furnishings first in blue clothing and then covered them with sea cow skins before the Kohathites (Levites but not priests) were able to carry them. The Kohathites, God-assigned carriers of the tabernacle furnishings, were not allowed to see the gold furnishings---they'd die on the spot if they did! God's gold was exclusively for the priesthood.
Priesthood is not a pastor or the board members elected in church. Priesthood is a result of Godly sonship--of spiritual fathering. You have to be a son or daughter of a spiritual Aaron. True sons and daughters are raised up and trained spiritually by spiritual Aarons or spiritual fathers, as Paul raised up his sons Timothy and Titus. Churches today elect pastors whom they order around and later kick out of church. Most of today's pastors are checked by their co-equal, the church board. This is demonic.
If you were able to see the gold in the Holy Place, you'd pity those who only saw bronze at the courtyard. And the most pitiful was the Crowd who saw only the fence. What do you see today?
God enables those who willingly separate themselves for God to enter the Jesus priesthood and see these things. When you separate yourself, you become radically unique for God. You do not look like common worshipers who stay outside the courtyard and are content just to provide offerings at the gate, merely catching a glimpse of bronze.
The priesthood wore garments that were unique. They looked different from common Jews who were outside the fence.
However, being in the Holy Place, though great, is not really the idea. Better is better than good, but remaining merely better becomes bad later. God's move, says Paul, is ever-increasing glory. We should aim for God's best!
The Jesus High Priesthood
Few understand the entrance to the Holy Place; fewer still are aware that there is a Jesus priesthood we should aim for. This is the high priestly anointing. This anointing enables us to enter the Holy of Holies in spirit and see the Ark. Many so-called worship teams and leaders today do not know anything about this. All most churches know are their denominational activities and programs, and how to sing with good voices and play instruments to touch people's hearts.
If you understand the high priest calling of Jesus and hear and answer that call, God gives you the enabling grace to enter the Holy of Holies. There you see what no eye has seen, hear what no ear has heard, and conceive what no mind has conceived. There you start becoming unique and radical like my Jesus.
There you leave all traditionalism and human ways, concepts, and policies--you reject anything denominational. There you understand and live the covenant. There you begin to be genuinely Kingdom people. There you start being difficult to please in spirit—because you settle for no less than Jesus and his Life and genuine Kingdom things. There you don't settle for copies or likeness--you settle for God alone. Period. If it isn't God, I better not see it! I don’t want any part of it!
Because we see the Ark (where the Testimony is), we get fresh rhema Word anytime straight from God's own mouth. You get it and floods you to extreme fullness even while you sleep, eat, brush your teeth, laugh, talk to people, ride a bus, take a walk, exercise, surf the net, watch TV, read other books, etc.
The truth that God is everywhere becomes extremely real to you. You hear God speak through trees, the wind, rush of water, a child, a sigh, a tear, a laughter, etc. Getting God's fresh rhema Word is never a struggle. You hear and see awesome wonders and deep truths that make you soar in spirit each minute--no dead moment! Jesus says, I give them eternal life; they shall never perish.
Once you reach the Holy of Holies, you stay there for life, as the boy Samuel spent nights near the Ark and heard God for real. They say you die if you just even touch the Ark--and that's exactly the point--the flesh must die. Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies...