God's Face is God's Presence
The Bible's original Hebrew text often mentions God's face, but this idea is usually lost in the translations. The Hebrew word paniym means "face or presence." It is technically a plural word, but it is always used in the singular sense. It is translated "face" in the story of Jacob's wrestling with the angel, where we read in Gen. 32:30,
30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved."
The name "Peniel" is panah-el. The word panah is the singular of paniym. Peniel means "God's face" or "God's presence." The story of Jacob wrestling with the angel indicates that this was prophetically Jacob's day of decision to see if he really wanted to see God face to face. (Everyone wants to see God face to face, but few people are willing to pay the price.) As we will see by other biblical patterns, this was also the crisis point in his life to determine if He would manifest the face of God in his own face. This critical day of decision was the pivot point in his spiritual life that would determine his true identity. He would either continue as Jacob, the usurper, or as Israel, giving testimony that God ruled his body, soul, and spirit in the fullest sense.
Many times the Bible says that the people were to come "before the Lord." Usually, the Hebrew text reads, "the face of the Lord." The Hebrew word paniym has been translated "before" over a thousand times in the Old Testament. The translators have treated this simply as a Hebrew idiom, and we have no quarrel with them in this regard. To stand before God means to "face" him. Even so, the translation hides a very important truth regarding the manifestation of the glory of God in one's face.
The Face of Moses
Moses walked up Mount Sinai eight times, as recorded in the Bible. When he came down off the mount after his eighth trip, his face was glowing with the presence of God. This was an early pattern of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Apostle Paul comments on this in his second letter to the Corinthians. Moses' eight trips are as follows:
|Trip 1:||Exodus 19:3, "And Moses went up to God"|
|Exodus 19:7, "So Moses came and called the elders of the people"|
|Trip 2:||Exodus 19:8, "Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD."|
|Exodus 19:14, "So Moses went down from the mountain to the people."|
|Trip 3:||Exodus 19:20, "and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up."|
|Exodus 19:25, "So Moses went down to the people and told them."|
|At this point, God gave Israel the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:18-21 the people were frightened and refused to draw near to God to hear the rest of the law. So Moses went back up the mountain to receive the rest of the law.|
|Trip 4:||Exodus 20:21, "So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was."|
|Exodus 24:3, "Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances."|
Exodus 24:9, "Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel." This trip included the seventy elders of Israel, but there is no statement telling us specifically about this company returning to the foot of the mount.
|Trip 6:||Exodus 24:15, "Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain." Here Moses received the instructions to build the tabernacle and the various articles of furniture in it. On this trip he also received the two tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God (Ex. 31:18). These tablets were broken when Moses returned.|
|Exodus 32:15, "Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other."|
|Trip 7:||Exodus 32:31, "Then Moses returned to the Lord."|
|Exodus 32:34, God tells Moses, "But go now, lead the people where I told you."|
Exodus 34:4, "Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand."
Exodus 34:29, "And it came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses' hand as he was coming down from the mountain, that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him."
More than likely, the day Moses' face glowed with the presence of God was the day later celebrated as the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Bible does not date it, but we do know that it was around that time of the year. At any rate, the fact that Moses had an early Tabernacles experience on his eighth trip up the mount points to the eighth day of Tabernacles.
When Moses returned from his sixth trip with the tablets of the law, he found the people worshipping the golden calf. Moses threw down the tablets and broke them. When he went up the mount on the eighth trip, he brought with him two more tablets of stone, on which God wrote the same law. Moses was carrying these tablets when he returned with his face glorified.
This is a prophetic pattern of the two covenants. A covenant is an agreement or contract. The first covenant, which we call the Old Covenant, was broken by the people, and because God's promises of blessings (salvation) were conditional upon the people's compliance with the law, their disobedience disqualified them from those blessings under that covenant. Disobedience created a need for a New Covenant by which God would bless and save mankind. Moses went up the mount the second time to receive that New Covenant, which Jesus ratified by His blood many years later. It was by means of this covenant that the people were saved even in Moses' day. No one has ever been saved by the Old Covenant, because all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), that is, all have broken the law.
Under the New Covenant that Moses received, the tablets of the law were NOT broken, for centuries later we find them in the Ark of the Covenant in Solomon's day (1 Kings 8:9). In each case the law is the same (Ex. 34:1), although the covenants are different. The Old Covenant was based upon man's promise to be obedient to God in every way--a promise that is always impossible to keep. The New Covenant is based upon God's promise to do a work in man that will indeed perfect him and make him fully obedient. (See Hebrews 8:8-13.) This does not mean, however, that God set aside His law. God wrote the same law on the second set of tablets. The book of Hebrews tells us that in the New Covenant God changed some of the outward forms, methods, and ways in which the law is applied and administered, but the law itself has not changed in its moral capacity, nor has the biblical definition of sin changed.
After the golden calf incident, God told Moses that He would not lead Israel into the land of Canaan personally, but would assign an angel to lead them (Ex. 32:34; 33:3). Most people today would be delighted to hear that an angel would be leading them, but Moses was depressed over it. As we will see shortly, this meant that when Israel entered Canaan, it would not be in fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, the feast appointed wherein we are to receive the face of God. Consequently, Israel entered Canaan forty years later at the time of Passover, rather than at the Feast of Tabernacles (Joshua 4:19; 5:10). Though God did great things for them under their Passover anointing, no one manifested the glory of God.
So when Moses returned to God the seventh time, he had a very important talk with God. Understanding this conversation lies at the heart of the glorious fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is found in Exodus 33:12-16,
12 Then Moses said to the LORD, "See, Thou dost say to me, 'Bring up this people!' But Thou Thyself hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Moreover, Thou hast said, 'I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.' 13 "Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found favor in Thy sight, let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee, so that I may find favor in Thy sight. Consider too, that this nation is Thy people." 14 And He said--
This next statement should be read as a question, because God is asking Moses a question in view of Israel's worship of the golden calf:
Shall My presence [paniym, "face"] go with you, and shall I give you rest?
Here is Moses' response to God's question:
15 Then he said to Him, "If Thy presence [paniym] does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. 16 For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Thy sight, I and Thy people? Is it not by Thy going with us, so that we, I and Thy people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face [paniym] of the earth?"
Moses was greatly concerned that the presence, or face, of God would not lead Israel into Canaan. In the verses quoted above, verse 14 should be read as a question, rather than as a statement of fact. Moses wanted to know which angel would lead Israel into Canaan, and in verse 13 he also was interceding for the nation, hoping that maybe God might be merciful. He knew that God's personal presence (face) in and upon the people was how Israel was to be distinguished from all the other people on the FACE of the earth.
This is a veiled reference to the fact that our faces now reflect the earthy, rather than the heavenly image of God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49,
45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Even as we currently bear the image of the first Adam, so also shall we bear the image of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. When Moses went up the mount, he bore the image of the first Adam. When he returned from His eighth trip, carrying the law tablets upon his heart, he bore the image of the heavenly face of God.
The Angel of His Presence
As we said, Moses was concerned that an angel would lead them into Canaan. In fact, an angel had been leading them all along, so God was referring to a different angel that would lead them. When Israel first came out of Egypt, they were led by the angel of God's presence (face). This angel is first mentioned in Exodus 14:19, when he stood between Pharaoh's armies and Israel at the Red Sea:
19 And the angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.
Earlier, in Exodus 13:21 this angel is referred to as "the Lord," or literally, Yahweh. We also read Moses' words in Numbers 20:16,
16 'But when we cried out to the LORD, He heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out from Egypt.
Even so, months later, after Israel worshipped the golden calf, God told Moses that He would not personally lead the people into Canaan, but would send an angel. This could only mean that He would remove from them the angel of His presence and give them a substitute angel, a lesser angel, so to speak. Isaiah 63:9, 10 identifies the angel that brought Israel out of Egypt as being "the angel of His presence."
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence [paniym, "face"] saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them [from Egypt]; and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit [by worshipping the golden calf]; therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them.
It is my personal belief that the angel who led Israel out of Egypt was also the angel that Jacob wrestled at the place called Penuel (Gen. 32:31). When Jacob asked the angel for his name, the angel simply replied, "Why is it that you ask my name?" (Gen. 32:29). To put it in modern terminology, the angel said, "You dummy; don't you know by now who I am?" The angel then blessed Jacob and changed his name to Israel. Jacob then called the name of the place "Peniel," God's Face, because he had seen God face to face.
Strangely enough, this is the only time that geographical location was ever called Peniel in the Bible. Everywhere else, including the very next verse, calls the name of the place Penuel. The original Hebrew word also shows a different spelling, so this is not simply a translator's error. Peniel and Penuel mean the same thing. Both are derived from panah, the "face" or "presence" of God. But Genesis 32:30 says Jacob called the name of the PLACE Peniel. The Hebrew word translated "place" is mawkome. Strong's Concordance gives its meaning as: "a standing; a spot; but used widely of a locality; also (fig.) of a condition (of body or mind)."
It seems to me that in order to reconcile the difference between Penuel and Peniel, one must take Penuel to be the actual locality, while Peniel must refer to the condition of body or mind in which Jacob found himself after his angelic encounter. This suggests that the angel's mandate is to bring about in our bodies a transformation, as we behold the glory of the face of God.
In other words, the angel of His presence, or face, is named Peniel, even as other angels have names that indicate their character and job description. Even as Jacob's name was changed to Israel by beholding God's face in the angel, so also are we changed from glory to glory by beholding His face (2 Corinthians 3:18).
One might ask, then, which angel led Israel into Canaan after they had concluded their forty years in the wilderness. To know the answer to this question, one must study the manner of Israel's entrance into Canaan. The first time they had opportunity to enter, God would have brought them into the land from the south, without having to cross the Jordan River. The second time, however, they entered Canaan from the east, crossing the Jordan River near Jericho.
If Israel had entered at their first opportunity at the 50th Jubilee from Adam, they would have entered the land at the Feast of Tabernacles and would have come into the glory of the true inheritance which Adam had lost through sin. That is, they would have received glorified and immortal bodies. They would have experienced a bodily change without going through death (which is represented by the Jordan River).
There are two ways to come into the inheritance. One is by death and resurrection, and the other is by transfiguration of those who are alive on the earth. Israel lost the ministry of Peniel, who would have brought them into transfiguration without going through death and resurrection. But Israel was not prepared to do this at that time. In worshipping the golden calf, they lost the leading of Peniel. They received as a substitute another angel, no doubt Michael, who is the angel of resurrection, who could only lead Israel into the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan River. Many years later, the prophet Daniel tells us that Michael was Israel's prince (i.e., angel). Daniel 12:1 says,
1 Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
When Michael stands, or arises, many others will follow his lead and be raised from the dead. Michael is the angel of resurrection. He is, of course, a great warrior angel and is not to be despised. His job is one of the greatest in the world, for the resurrection of the dead is one of the pillars of the Christian faith. Michael, then, is the angel of the Feast of Trumpets, wherein is prophesied the resurrection of the dead. It is common vernacular to speak of Gabriel blowing his trumpet at the resurrection of the dead, but I believe it is really Michael's trumpet that raises the dead.
It is Gabriel's primary calling to announce the birth of the Manchild, both Jesus Christ and the Manchild company of overcomers. Gabriel means "mighty man of God." Its root word is geber, "mighty man." In Job 3:3 geber is actually translated "man child" (KJV). In Daniel 9:21-27 Gabriel gives the prophet understanding in regard to the timing of Christ's coming. In Luke 1:19 he announces the birth of John the Baptist, and in Luke 1:26 he appears to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus. It appears that Gabriel's name itself is prophetic of the "mighty men of God" that are to be conceived in the earth. In other words, Gabriel is the angel that announced the conception and birth of the "mighty men of God."
Michael is the angel of resurrection into immortal life. But not all will need to be raised from the dead, for "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51). This transfiguration of those who are alive and remain unto His coming is a job for the angel Peniel, the angel of the Feast of Tabernacles. Peniel brings the light that shines forth, as in the face of Moses.
Paul's Commentary on God's Face
In 2 Corinthians 3:13-18 the Apostle Paul comments upon both Jacob's and Moses' encounters with the face of God:
13 And are not as Moses, who used to put a veil over his face [prosopon] that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
In order to properly understand this passage, we have to explain the meaning of the Greek word prosopon, which is translated "face" in verse 13 and in the rest of Paul's commentary. In Paul's day men used to speak of the person's "face" to mean his presence. This was true of both the Hebrew and the Greek language. For example, in Luke 1:76, Zacharias says of his promised son, John the Baptist,
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before [prosophon, "the face of"] the Lord to prepare His ways;
The NASB does not bother to translate prosopon in this verse, because in English, we do not use the term in that manner. The KJV, however, translates the above verse "the face of the Lord." This is more literal, whereas the NASB attempts to be more readable to our modern ears.
The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures that was compiled two centuries before Christ) standardized which Greek words were used to express the Hebrew concepts. In the story of Moses in Exodus 34, the Septuagint uses the Greek term prosopon as the translation of the Hebrew word paniym ("face, or presence"). For example, in Exodus 34:29 and 30 we read,
29 And it came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses' hand as he was coming down from the mountain, that Moses did not know that the skin of his face [Heb. paniym] shone because of his speaking with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face [Heb. paniym] shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
The same verses in the Greek text of the Septuagint use the word prosopon for the Hebrew word paniym. And so when Paul discusses the face of Moses in 2 Corinthians 3, he uses the word prosopon, which is rendered "face" in the English.
Likewise, in 1 Peter 3:12 the apostle quotes from the Septuagint translation of Psalm 34:16. The Hebrew word used in Psalm 34:16 is paniym, and Peter follows the Septuagint, rendering "face" by the Greek word prosopon. We have already shown that paniym is the plural form of panah and is the root of the names Peniel and Penuel. This relates the concept of God's presence, or face, to Jacob's experience, as well as to Moses' face that glowed coming off the mount.
As believers, we are called to experience the glory of God and, like Moses, to manifest His presence in our face. We are God's house, His temple, and the face, or presence of God indwells our bodies. But the manifestation of God's presence to the world is restricted by three veils, which must be removed one by one in order for the unbelievers to see Christ's face in us.
The first veil is removed through experiencing Passover--justification by faith. The second veil is removed through the experience of Pentecost and the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," when God's presence becomes more visible to the outside world. But only when the third veil is removed through the experience of the Feast of Tabernacles will the people of the earth really see the presence of God and His love manifested. This is the fulfillment of Tabernacles, and it is the goal of the Christian's journey from Egypt to the promised land. When this appointed time comes, there will be a revival and repentance among the people of the world that has never been seen up until then. We will then conquer the world through the sword of the Word and the power of His Love, even as Joshua conquered Canaan through the power of the physical sword.
The Three Veils in the Temple
When Paul speaks of Moses' face, he is referring to the divine presence manifested in Moses' body. In other words, he is speaking of the experience of Tabernacles. In connection with this story, Paul refers to the fact that Moses veiled his face when speaking with the people, but removed the veil when speaking to God. A veil is used to hide one's face. In the tabernacle of Moses there were three veils that were used to hide the glory of God's face (presence) from the people.
The Passover Veil separates the outer court of Moses' tabernacle from the world.
The Pentecost Veil separates the outer court from the Holy Place.
The Tabernacles Veil separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place where God "sat" on the mercy seat.
One had to pass through a veil to enter each of the three sections of the Moses' tabernacle. In other words, a man standing on the outside could not see the glory of God in the Most Holy Place, because three veils stood between him and God. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:16 that "whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." Most Christians oversimplify this, treating it as though there were just one veil. They say that once a man is justified by faith (Passover), he has complete and full access to God's face. They do not realize that this is only the first of three veils, and that we must be transformed "from glory to glory" (verse 18).
As we have shown earlier, these three sections of the tabernacle were also represented by the three main historical incidents that Israel experienced in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land:
The Outer Court experience signifying justification by faith was accomplished at Passover, as Israel left Egypt. They wanted to leave Egypt in order to be able to offer sacrifices to God and cross the Red Sea. These two things signified the brazen altar and the laver of water, which stood in the outer court of the tabernacle.
The Holy Place experience, signifying sanctification by obedience to the voice of God (the Law) was supposed to be accomplished at Pentecost, when Israel was at Sinai. However, in refusing to hear His voice, they could not pass that second veil into a closer relationship with God. The Church in the New Testament broke through this veil in the second chapter of Acts. Yet even so, there are many Christians who remain content with justification and know little or nothing of Pentecost.
The Most Holy Place experience, signifying the glorification of the body was something that even the New Testament Church was not ready to experience in the book of Acts. It remains for us today--at the appointed time in history--for a body of believers to enter the Promised Land, returning to the inheritance lost in Adam. Those who have caught this vision have this hope of "the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23) by which they will inherit the earth. The rest of the believers appear to have as their hope the shedding of the physical body and the entrance into heaven as a purely spiritual being.
Many in the Church today think it is sufficient to behold the glory of God through one or two veils, and they are content to be justified or to receive the earnest of the Spirit at Pentecost. If our attitude is like Israel in the wilderness, then how are we better off than they? A veil still remains upon the face of Christ. We must hear the voices of Caleb and Joshua, as they admonish us to go beyond Pentecost into the full promise that God has promised.
The veil on Moses' face did not signify any blindness on Moses' part. Moses was a type of Christ, who has veiled His face from men who are not ready to see Him face to face. The veil, then, indicated blindness in Israel. Paul says in 2 Cor. 3:15 that "their minds were hardened." The people refused to hear His voice at Sinai and refused to penetrate all the veils into the very presence of God. The glory of God and His truth remained veiled, so that the people were partially blinded all their days in the wilderness. In Deuteronomy 29:4 and 5 Moses told Israel at the end of their 40-year wandering,
4 Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness.
This was the "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38), and this pattern has been repeated even in the Pentecostal Age for the space of 40 Jubilees. Though many Christians have broken through the second veil of Pentecost, none have permanently broken through the third veil of the Feast of Tabernacles. This is simply because the appointed time has not yet arrived. So we are yet in a state of partial blindness, for even the Apostle Paul himself admitted this in 1 Corinthians 13:9-12,
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. . .12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
The disciples in the upper room in Acts 2 had broken through the second veil into the dazzling glory of Pentecost. Many others have done the same since that time. But there is more glory yet to come on the other side of the third veil, and this is the "hope of glory" that awaits those who will stand before God with open face and be changed into that same glory. Moses was the first major pattern of this face-to-face encounter with God. Exodus 33:11 says,
11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.
It is important to note that anyone could pray to God, whether they lived in Moses' day or today. Even with veiled faces, men were allowed to pray to God through the veils. It is not one's RIGHT to pray that is in question here. It is a matter of how close one may approach God. Through how many veils do we pray to God? How close is our fellowship and communion with God? The common, but incorrect, answer is that all who are saved have complete and full access to God. This view is based largely upon Hebrews 4:16,
16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
The inspired writer, however, was not telling us that all men actually do go freely into the Most Holy Place to the throne of grace. It merely urges us to do so. The question is how to do this. One cannot come through the first veil into the outer court without coming through the Door, which is Jesus Christ. Even so, one cannot enter the Holy Place unless one is a qualified priest.
This is not to say that one must be an ordained priest or minister to gain access to the Holy Place. Any believer can be a priest. Many Church systems restrict their members from direct access to God. They tell their members that they must approach God only through their sanctioned priests or ministers. They often remove from the ordinary man the right to hear God's voice for himself (Pentecost). In other words, they remove from him the right of the priesthood. They tell the average man that Pentecost is not for him to experience. Only the priests ordained by the Church have the right to hear God and then tell their members what God has said. In doing this, they have fallen back into the same error as Israel in the wilderness. Exodus 20:19 says,
19 Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die."
In the Age of Pentecost all believers have the right of the priesthood to enter into the Holy Place and hear the voice of God for themselves. The priesthood is no longer limited to the few, such as in the Old Testament times, when only the descendants of Aaron had access to the Holy Place. Since the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, all believers are urged to walk beyond the veils into the presence of God. When the Age of Tabernacles arrives, the final veil will be removed for those who are bold enough to remove the restrictions and fetters that many Church denominations have placed upon them.
Other verses, including 2 Corinthians 3:18 quoted earlier, tell us that the veil has been removed for those who are under the new covenant. We do not dispute the Word of Scripture, but rather our understanding of it. Jesus' work on the cross removed the first veil for the Church, opening our eyes to a greater understanding of Him and His character. Two months later on the day of Pentecost, the second veil was removed from the eyes of the Church, and the Church entered the holy place with its enhanced level of communion with God.
Since that time, the Church has been called to prepare their hearts to experience the fullness of God's presence. The purpose of Pentecost is to get used to the relatively dim light of Pentecost, so that our eyes might be prepared for the great light of Tabernacles. During this time, God has allowed a few to enter--at least temporarily--beyond the third veil into the full divine presence. But these have been light-scouting missions, designed to make us hungry for God's fullness. While some claim to have permanently entered through the third veil into the fullness of the Most Holy Place, it is my belief that the law does not permit this. Like the high priests of the line of Aaron, men can only pass through this veil temporarily at times as God permits.
Faith and Positive Thinking
There are Christians today who firmly believe that they are now perfected and remain fully in the realm of the Feast of Tabernacles. I pray that it is so, for I would to God that all could enter that blessed realm even now. However, that view rejects the idea that God has appointed times that no man can alter. That view does not recognize the historic events that separate the Passover Age from the Pentecostal Age. That view does not recognize that there must yet be a historic event that marks the beginning of the Age of Tabernacles.
There have been many thousands of Christians throughout the past centuries who have believed that they would never die. Yet they were afflicted with the same infirmities common to all men. As they grew older or sicker, they seemed to feel that if they thought positively enough, that their view would be established by their "faith." Most of these have gone the way of all flesh, of course, except for those who are still young enough not to have died. In my view such people do not make a clear distinction between faith and positive thinking and perhaps fall into the sin of presumption.
There is a Christian movement today called "Word of Faith" that is based upon the idea that you get what you believe you have. While there is certainly an original truth in this view, it has largely been perverted and buried. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17, KJV). Positive thinking comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of MAN. If a Christian wants a new Cadillac and decides that God wants him to be rich, and if he then begins to "confess" it and lay claim to it in the spirit, he is probably attempting to obtain something by thinking positively. He may or may not get it, but the point is irrelevant. If the "word" comes through an idol of the heart in man, then it is not faith. Faith is dependent upon a direct Word from God, a revelation of something that God says He is going to do. Positive thinking is something that men decide to claim and expect God to back up that claim.
There is a true Word of Faith, but it appears that most of what passes as "faith" is really just positive thinking, based upon what men think God ought to do or "wants" to do for them, if only we would come to Him with our claim checks. Most people of this view seem to be content with laying claim to material wealth, healing from some disease, or perhaps some spiritual gift. Others, however, lay claim to immortality and perfection, and then set about confessing it every day. Too often, they lose sight of reality, believing that if they were to "confess" their obvious condition, they would somehow lose what they are claiming.
This becomes a bondage to them. Truth is lost in wishful thinking. Worst of all, the path toward such blessings is never trodden, because such people think they are already at their destination. It is true that God wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and immortal. But God is more interested in our character development, which comes through trials and many tests, often through sickness and financial disaster. When God trained His prophets and other overcomers in the Old Testament, He did so with much hardship. Hebrews 11 is a partial list of those saints. Has the situation changed in the New Testament? Did Jesus Christ die on the cross so that Christians might always be healthy, wealthy, and immortal and not undergo pain, poverty, or death?
The early Church was persecuted intensely, first in Jerusalem and later under Rome. Horrible things happened to millions of good Christian believers. When the "souls under the altar" inquire about this in Revelation 6:9-11,
11 . . . they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also.
Jesus Christ is, of course the great Healer, the Yahweh Rapha of Exodus 15:26. On the cross He bore our sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4; Matt. 8:17). Yet Christians continue to be sick. Why? Men have struggled with this question for centuries. Jesus also died, that we might have immortality, and yet even the best of Christians continue to die, even if they are convinced that they will never die. Why? Some say it is all in one's mind, and that if one truly "appropriates" all that Christ has done for us on the cross, then they would enjoy supernatural, divine health and would never die.
That answer is inadequate. In fact, it often makes the problem worse, because it puts unnecessary guilt upon all who experience sickness or hardship. I do not want my children to experience hardship, but yet I know that without hardship, they will never really mature. I want them to be rich, but yet I know that if I give them everything they want, they will never know the value of what they have. I want them to be in perfect health, but I know that they would never have godly compassion on the sick unless they experience sickness for themselves. Even so it is with God, the Creator of viruses.
Our point is to show that the appointed time has not yet arrived (as of this writing) for man to enter the third veil and remain in the Holy of Holies. Jesus Christ is still making those preparations at the right hand of God, and this is the purpose of the Pentecostal Age. The divine law also shows the reasons for the two comings of Christ. When we come to the chapter on the two works of Christ, we will show more completely why it takes TWO comings of Christ to finish the work. I believe that because Christians have not understood the law, they have made Passover carry the weight of Tabernacles, not knowing that these feasts have different functions and purposes.
Paul's Commentary on Gideon's Army
As you recall, 2 Corinthians 3 referred to Moses' face being glorified, and this theme of the unveiling is continued in the next chapter. But now Paul shows how Gideon and Moses fit together to portray the Feast of Tabernacles. After telling us that we, like Moses, are changed by beholding Him face to face (3:18), Paul says that we have "this ministry" (4:1). In other words, the unveiling of Jesus Christ in us is for the purpose of ministry to others. 2 Corinthians 4:3 and 4 says,
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Paul says here that the veil is upon the unbelievers. It may seem strange for Paul to make such a statement, seeing as how the veil was upon the face of Moses--not the unbelievers of his day. The unbelievers needed no veil over their faces, because the glory of God was not shining forth from them. And yet the veil is upon them. Why? In what way?
When Moses spoke to the people with the glory of God veiled, he was a type of Christ, whose veil hid the glory of God that was in Him. He was also picturing the tabernacle, with the glory of God inside of it. The veils hid the light of God from the people. The veils did not blind God in any way. And so, Paul says, the gospel is veiled to the unbelievers, and they do not see the light of Christ nor do they see His image in us.
Paul teaches in many places that Christ is in the heart of the believer, even as the glory of God's presence once resided in the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon. If we are God's temple, then we too have a veil of flesh that hides His glory.
6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;
In Genesis 1:3 we read of the first act of creation in the words, "Let there be light." In the Hebrew, the word for "let be" is masculine, so this could be translated, "Let Him be light." It is, I believe, a reference first to Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the world; and secondarily, it is His body, who are also called to shine forth the light of Christ out of the darkness into the world. Since the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day (Gen. 1:14), it is plain that the "Light" in verse 3 is different from the "lights" in verse 14. Prophetically speaking, Paul says, it is fulfilled in "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6 above).
As His body, we too have this light within us. In 2 Cor. 4:7 above, Paul refers to it as a "treasure in earthen vessels." This is the reference to the story of Gideon, whose weapons of war included an earthen pitcher with a torch inside of it (Judges 7:16). At the appointed time the army was instructed to blow the trumpet and then break the earthen vessels to show forth the light. This was prophetic, first of the Feast of Trumpets (signaling the resurrection of the dead), followed by the breaking of the earthen vessels, the body of flesh, the veil hiding the glory. This is a picture of the Feast of Tabernacles, where the veil is torn and the glorious, unveiled light of God shines out of darkness into the world. This is the manifestation of the sons of God, which all creation soon will rejoice to see (Romans 8:19-22). This will also mark the real beginning of the fulfillment of the word in Habakkuk 2:14,
14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
At the present time, the glory of God is veiled in us, because it is not yet the appointed time to break the earthen vessels. In this Pentecostal Age the Spirit of God speaks to the world from within His people, behind the veil of flesh. In the age to come, a greater light will shine forth, because God's people will be unveiled in a greater way. Then will begin a time of world evangelism that will be unprecedented in the history of the earth. The Bible says that all nations will come to worship Him at that time.
Paul's Commentary on the Two Tents
In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul finally brings to a climax His commentary on the Feast of Tabernacles. He starts the chapter by contrasting our present "tent" of this mortal flesh with the immortal "tent" which is from above. He is referring to the practice in the time of that feast, where the people left their houses made of dead wood and stone in order to live for seven days in a tent made of living branches:
1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
We "groan" in this present, earthly, mortal house (or tent), because of its infirmities and its limitations. But we have another living tent that is immortal. Paul does not say that we are now clothed with that tent, but that it is reserved for us in the heavens. Paul clearly tells us that the appointed time has not yet come for us to claim this tent. Neither Paul nor any other Christian received this tent when they were justified by faith or even when they received the Spirit in Pentecost. It is ours today, but we are not yet clothed with that new body. It is a future hope, and we will be clothed in that tent only at God's appointed time at the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Meanwhile, Paul says that under our Pentecostal anointing, we have been given the earnest of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:5). The word "earnest" is from arrhabon, which is actually a Hebrew word transliterated directly into the Greek text. It means "that which is given in downpayment in pledge that the full amount will be paid subsequently." In other words, the Spirit of God has been given to us in Pentecost as a pledge of the full inheritance, which we will later receive at the Feast of Tabernacles.
Some people have actually become offended at the idea that they might only have the earnest of the Spirit. They have countered with the verses that speak of being "filled with the Spirit," as if such passages meant that they had received all there was to have of God's Spirit. Yet when the Bible uses such terminology, it must be understood in such a way that it does not contradict the verses speaking about the "earnest" of the Spirit. In my understanding, under Pentecost we are filled with the Spirit to whatever capacity we are capable of receiving. But no matter what level we may have, it is still only a pledge or downpayment of more that is to come. Paul makes this clear by his use of this term in Ephesians 1:13, 14 as well as in 2 Corinthians 1:22 and in 5:5.
The Ministry of Reconciliation
At the end of Paul's commentary on the Feast of Tabernacles, he concludes with a statement regarding the ministry to the world, which is the purpose of the baptism of the Spirit. In the Passover Age, Israel was called out of Egypt as the Church of its day to be an example to the nations, showing forth the light of God to all. They largely failed, because they preferred to worship the idols of other nations, and yet we have examples of successes at various times. For example, in the early part of Solomon's reign, the queen of Sheba came to learn the ways of God, and she was a prophetic pattern of the nations that will yet come to learn the law of God, as prophesied in Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-3.
In the Pentecostal Age, God called forth a body of believers out of Israel and united them with other believers who adhered to the New Covenant. This became, in a sense, a new definition of the Church that no longer included nonbelievers, as had been the case in the Old Testament Israel Church. This new body, too, was called out of the oppression and blindness of the old religion of Judaism and was supposed to shine forth the light of Christ and the Word to the rest of the world. This body had more success than the Old Testament Church, but in the end it failed to finish the job. Even with the revival of Pentecostal movements in the twentieth century, the Church has not succeeded in establishing righteousness among the nations.
In the Tabernacles Age to come, God will again call forth a body of believers out of the Pentecostal Church and anoint them to preach the Word to all the world. These overcomers will not fail. Their ministry will succeed beyond all expectations. They will bring righteousness to the earth by the power of the Spirit, overthrowing all oppression and dispelling all darkness wherever it may be found.
At the beginning of each of these ages, God has visited mankind and given a measure of His Spirit. God's purpose in giving His Spirit has always been to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. With that in mind, let us read 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.
18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The Scriptures tell us that there is a glorious age to come in which all the nations of the earth will want to come and learn the ways and laws of God (Isaiah 2:1-4). This will not simply happen by itself. It will happen when the overcomers are empowered fully by the Spirit of God under the Feast of Tabernacles. As we will see in a later chapter, this is prophesied and foreshadowed by the story of Jonah, who preached the Word to Nineveh, and the entire city repented. Psalm 67:1 and 2 tells us,
1 God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us-- Selah. 2 That Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations.
When God's face shines upon us (that is, from the inside out), then God's way will be known throughout the earth. This is the purpose of the manifestation of the "face" of God in us, the Peniel experience. The same psalm continues,
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for Thou wilt judge the peoples with uprightness, and guide the nations on the earth. Selah. 5 Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; let all the peoples praise Thee. 6 The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. 7 God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.
The psalmist says that the nations will rejoice, because He will judge the people (i.e., nations) with true justice, replacing the present oppressive governments of the earth. Verse 7 makes it clear that the purpose of God's blessing upon us--that is, His face--is so that the whole earth may fear Him, rather than false gods. Again, Psalm 72 tells us,
8 May he also rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 9 Let the nomads of the desert bow before him; and his enemies lick the dust. 10 Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. 11 And let all kings bow down before him, all nations serve him.
Verses 17-19 continue,
17 May His name endure forever; may His name increase as long as the sun shines; and let men bless themselves by Him; let all nations call him blessed. 18 Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who alone works wonders. 19 And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.
The Earth Full of His Glory
The concept that the whole earth will some day be filled with the glory of God is expressed five times in the Bible. The first example is found in Numbers 14 when Israel refused to enter Canaan at the Feast of Tabernacles. When Caleb and Joshua urged the people to enter Canaan, the people would have stoned them, except that suddenly "the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel" (14:10). God then threatened to disinherit Israel, but Moses interceded for them, saying that the Canaanites would say that God was incapable of bringing Israel into the land He had promised them. In other words, man's inability to follow God would be stronger than God's ability to bring them to the place of obedience.
This is a classic issue even in the Church today. Is God really sovereign? Does He really have the power to bring His glory into the earth through an obedient people? The task seems hopeless, if dependent upon the will of man; but an absolute certainty, if it is dependent upon God and God alone.
Although that generation lost the opportunity to receive God's fullness, God swore by an oath on His own name that He Himself would see to it that His glory would some day fill the earth. Numbers 14:21 says, "but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD." This is God's intent, His purpose, His plan, and none can turn it aside or hinder it from coming in its appointed time.
God is bringing His glory to the earth in three stages, bound by three veils that are removed one at a time. The removal of these veils lead us into the three ages of Passover, Pentecost, and finally, Tabernacles, where His glory will be fully manifested in the overcomers. This will be the first body of people, a relatively small body of believers, who will be the first of the firstfruits unto God. The Church will come in next at the end of the Tabernacles Age. And in the years following, God will deal with the rest of the world until His glory has filled the whole earth. Details of God's plan in this regard are discussed fully in our book, Creation's Jubilee.
Besides Psalm 72:19 and Numbers 14:21, there are three other Scriptures where God declares His intention to manifest His glory throughout all the earth. Isaiah 6:3 says,
3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory."
In this prophetic vision at the time of Isaiah's call to the ministry, the prophet saw the goal of all prophetic utterance, the final end of God's work and purpose for creation. He saw the earth not burned up and in ruin, but on fire with the glory of God through the baptism of fire and the Holy Spirit. In Isaiah 11:9 the prophet affirms this. Then in Habakkuk 2:14 the prophet says,
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
To what extent do the waters cover the sea? I dare say it is one hundred percent. The prophet says that His glory will fill the earth in the same way. That is, there will be left no place on earth where the knowledge of His glory is not found. The earth has a glorious future, not because man's will is so powerful, but because God is sovereign.
Even so, God is also love, and for this reason He does not use force to get people to love Him in return. He is courting the nations, and this takes time. A big show of force (such as occurred at Sinai when the mountain was on fire and the earth quakes with His voice) merely causes men to fear Him. Fear is a starting point, perhaps, for we read in Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." But agape love (divine love) casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Fear is not the GOAL of history, but merely its beginning. It is not God's intent that all men serve Him out of duty, but rather that they love Him and serve Him out of a heartfelt desire to do so. God's love is irresistible, after all, once a person has any real knowledge of that love. This is why God created time. It takes time for courtship to take place. Time was created out of love.