34Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.35And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle . . . 38For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.—Exodus 40:34-35, 38
A real encounter with the living God changes everything. First, it magnifies the Lord. Then, it puts me, my ego, my sin and my burdens, that moments ago seemed so big, all in their rightful place. After all the effort that went in to building the “tent of meeting” exactly to God’s specifications, the tabernacle was a fairly impressive human construction. There’s never been a tent like it! And yet, when God showed up, the physical attributes of the tabernacle were forgotten in the overwhelming impression created by God’s glory. Whether we worship in a storefront, a thatch hut, or a magnificent cathedral, we must never forget Paul’s words to the Athenians, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man” (Acts 17:24). Filling the tabernacle was God’s demonstration that He really longs to fill His people when they are gathered in His name!
That is what church is supposed to do and be. Not an encounter with the glory of God in creation, but an encounter with God in a different, even more awesome way, that only church can provide. As important as everything we do at church may be on any particular Sunday, what ultimately matters is whether or not God shows up. That’s when glory is apparent. That’s Vertical Church.
Sadly, church as a weekly experience with the manifest glory of God is the greatest lack in our day. The lost are not found because God’s glory is not revealed in church. Children wander because church is pathetically predictable or shamefully entertaining but hardly ever authentically God. Marriages flounder because arrogance grows unchecked in our hearts and is not weekly cut down by the pride-withering presence of almighty God. Church was never intended to be a place we serve God to the exclusion of meeting with Him. What the people felt as they watched God’s glory fill and overflow the tabernacle is what we need to experience in church every week. We cannot survive spiritually without that corporate connection in heart, soul, mind, and strength with the One who made us. That’s what I mean by Vertical Church.
· When was the last time God’s glory filled the place where I worship?
· What were the evidences of His manifest presence?
Prayer - Almighty God, You do not dwell in temples made with human hands, but thank You for Your willingness to meet me in such places. I dedicate them to you, simple or ornate, and yet I know that they are a worthless shell compared to the glory of Your presence. O God, I pray for myself and those with whom I worship, that we would forget where we are and give our wholehearted attention to whom we are with. Your glory will change me and everyone around me, Lord. That’s what I ask for in Jesus’ name, Amen.