Today 

~~MTS-4202
Today
“…could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today.”     2 Ch 5:9
     The poles were still there and some people must have seen them from the inner sanctuary. They might not have had the privilege of seeing the Ark of the Covenant, but they did occasionally catch a glimpse of the long poles used to carry the ark, which was better than nothing, I suppose.
    “And they are still there today.” It was thousands of years ago when these words were written; the same thing, however, cannot be stated any more. Indeed, they are no longer there, and we can only imagine what it was like to see the end of the poles from the slight opening of the curtain.
    The Ark of the Covenant vanished with the destruction of the holy temple, and despite people’s effort to locate it, it’s nowhere to be found. Yet the presence of the Lord expressed through the Ark became obsolete after the Incarnation and the holy temple was rebuilt in three days. From that time on, the presence of the Lord has been everywhere.
    The Ark of the Covenant with all the other sacred articles found in the holy temple is still here today, as long as we have eyes to see them. God’s creations are in essence “types,” pointing to the Creator who brought all things into being and who is still sustaining all things through his eternal power. All things are not divine as transcendentalists would like us to believe; they are rather “witness-bearers” of the divine.
    People cannot be witnesses unless they themselves have witnessed personally the things for which they want to bear witness.
    “What were the poles really look like?” people might have asked the priests who had seen the poles in the sanctuary. The ones who claimed to have seen them might have become self-conscious if they had never actually witnessed them and their description wouldn’t have been convincing.
    The ones who have seen God’s presence are able to see God’s face everywhere through his creation; but the ones who have never witnessed God’s presence and his power in action will always see nothing but themselves. The epiphany of God is all-encompassing and all-permeating and after it has taken place to a person, it always becomes life-defining and “colors” whatever he or she sees experiences in life.
    Some may be able to envision the ark clearly without seeing the poles, yet others may be questioning the existence of the ark even though the poles used to carry it are clearly seen. 
  
   
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, May 31, 2016 7:38:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Poles 

~~MTS-4201
The Poles
“These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary…”                2 Ch. 5:9
 The curtain was thick and tall
As if pulled down by its weight
Of glory, trailing down to the ground
Separating the sacred from the profane,
Shrouding in darkness the other side,
The presence nowhere else found on earth
But the places he chose to linger
The epiphanies that he authored
Throughout the bygone years.
In the holy of holies the ark silently rested.
No word was uttered but the sound
From Mount Horeb the prophet heard
When the finger chiseled and carved
And the mute stone spoke
To the listening ears of the ones
Who were inclined to hear.
Yet nothing was seen from the sanctuary
But the poles, too long to be kept invisible,
As if the Shekinah glory couldn’t be contained
By the man-made ark
Attempting to bring the omnipresence down
In a wooden box devotedly decorated
And kept out of sight except for the privileged
Who on our behalf annually behold
With veiled face and trembling soul
The divine countenance that was everywhere.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, May 27, 2016 7:47:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Covering 

~~MTS-4200
Covering
“The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and covered the ark and its carrying poles.”           2 Ch. 5:8
 
    All the articles in the temple, including the cherubim, are obviously patterns symbolizing the real scene in heaven above. Looking or reading about them does evoke in us a longing and insatiable yearning for the real things and through them our inner desire finds true fulfillment. Indeed, we are not created merely for this world, but for the one to come.
    We need to learn to look beyond the visible to see the invisible, beyond the present to see the future, beyond the creation to see the Creator.
    Symbols and rituals are always incomplete and flawed in and of themselves and to consider them as real is a great affront to the real things. The cherubim in the holy of holies were carved out of earthly material and they paled greatly compared to the real angelic beings. Besides, they only dwarf the real thing in our imagination, for images of the unimaginable only distort the original and bring them down to a human level, rendering the incomprehensive comprehensible and the dark and mysterious light and transparent.
    Wasn’t this the reason behind the commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below”? An idol is the misrepresentation of a false deity of the lowest form, and creating an image of the Lord is a misrepresentation of the highest form. Be it done out of good or ill intention, both are misrepresentations just the same.
    We need to examine ourselves from time to time to see whether we misrepresent the Lord in any way either in our thoughts or actions. We may oftentimes have misconceptions of the Lord as if they were ironclad truth and consider things relative by nature as if they were absolute and the non-essential as if they were absolutely necessary.
    Grace is needed in dealing with others, particularly in the areas of differences of opinion concerning certain Biblical doctrines or practices in the church. What we need to know about our salvation is rather transparent and should not be subject to debate. However, some of the finer points pertaining to other areas of our faith may not be as clear and wiggle room should always be allowed. Whatever the scriptures do not delineate absolutely clearly, we should let it remain that way, lest we misrepresent the Lord through our vain imagination.
    Aren’t we all often tempted to justify the ways of God to men, even though we are totally incapable of doing so?  What we attempt to do is nothing more or less than a misrepresentation of divine intention.
    

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, May 26, 2016 7:44:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Ark 

~~MTS-4199
The Ark
“When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the Levites took up the ark, and they brought up the ark…”          2 Ch. 5:4
    It was the symbol of God’s presence, yet the ark wasn’t an image carved out of wood or stone; it was a representation of God that embodied some of God’s divine attributes. He was the one who established an eternal covenant with his chosen people, and he was also the provider and protector of the Israelites.
    The Lord could only be something to his people, not all things to them, since what people could comprehend about the Lord was quite miniscule compared to what they ought to know. What they could receive from him was infinitesimal regarding to what they should have received. The manifestation of God’s presence with the temple was indeed rather small considering how awesome and great the Lord is.
    The Lord has revealed himself to us through the incarnation in which he told us what we need to know about him and what he intended to accomplish through the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Through the extreme simplicity of the cross the Lord unveiled to us the enormous complexity of salvation.
   How do we relate to God? Is he merely our Savior and nothing beyond? If so, what we miss may be far greater than what we have received. Being saved is one thing, but being saved into something is another. Merely being saved just isn’t enough; we are saved into God’s righteousness and holiness. We are justified in order to become sanctified and glorified.
    What God can offer is infinitely greater than what we can or have ever received from him, yet we seem to be content with possessing so little of him, as if being justified is all we need and all we ever want from the Lord, not realizing being saved and being made right before God is merely the beginning of an endless joyful journey we could be launching both in this world and the world to come. What things we have tasted of him are just appetizers before the main course in a heavenly banquet.
    Indeed, what the Lord has prepared for those who love him is “what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived.” What a great shame it will be if we don’t continue to seek and to pursue what we are able to obtain from the Lord.    

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, May 25, 2016 7:44:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Continuity 

~~MTS-4198
Continuity
“When all the work Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated.”             2Ch. 5:1
     There seemed to be a seamless continuity between the father and the son in the construction of the holy temple. David had intended to do the job himself, but the son took over the project instead, and after the temple was built, Solomon “brought in the things his father David had dedicated,” and he also ushered in the Ark of the Covenant and placed it in the holy of the holies.
    My dad was illiterate and he didn’t leave a single written word for me, and I have to search up and down in my memory if I want to recall any memorable thing he said to me. His memory will be forever lost among my children if I fail to pass down my memories of him in my writing, which I may well do in the future. My memoir, which is yet to be written, will obviously include a lot of what my father did in his not-so-eventful life.
    One of the highlights of my short trip to Dallas to visit Rob a couple of days ago was going to my grandson’s swimming lesson where I witnessed the continuity of two generations, for my son was doing the exactly same thing for his son that I once did for him about thirty years ago. It wasn’t an earthshattering event by any means, yet I was thrilled to realize my legacy would be carried on by the next generation and, hopefully, the generation after.
    I might have made a lot of mistakes raising my three sons, but there is no doubt I had the best of all intentions in bringing them up, and I pray they will pass what they consider worthwhile down to their children and discard the rest. Of course, I will die a happy man if I am fully assured that my faith in God, the thing that I treasure the most, is being carried on and propagated among my grandchildren.
    My parents were good and decent people who did their best to raise me and they made sure that their love for their five children was genuine and self-sacrificial, and that’s what I learned from them concerning how to parent. I have poured as much love on my children as I humanly could, sometimes too much, for that was what my parents did for me, albeit in their own way.
    Even though the father was no more, yet David seemed to be speaking through the temple his son had built, and as long as the house remained standing, the man after God’s own heart would continue to linger in people’s memory, bearing witness to God’s mercy and grace.   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, May 24, 2016 7:26:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Polished Bronze 

~~MTS-4197
Polished Bronze
“All the objects that Huram-Abi made for King Solomon for the temple of the Lord were of polished bronze.”      2 Ch. 4:16
From dust all flesh was made
With spirit blown into their veins
And came forth the living beings
Endowed with various gifts
With different strengths and smarts
By which to serve their Maker
And to reveal the beauty of the image
The likeness of the original.
Then came the awareness of the self
They clothed themselves with leaves of knowledge
That faded with the changing of the seasons
And withered like the chill of dying breath.
They paraded around naked
With heads lifted so high
Their differences became their pride
As if they were self-made
Created through years of nature’s meditation
Came the gradual transformation
Into brand new unknown beings;
That promote progression into void perdition
The absolute nothing.
All the articles that are made
Both small and great are cast with polished bronze
Pots, forks, shovels and all
Or the bronze sea with legs of bulls
Together endowed with a purpose
To complete a perfect sacrifice
And to foretell a story of God incarnate,
The Word that will ultimately be uttered
To again bring all things under the sun together
To the innocence that was their primary state.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, May 20, 2016 7:16:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Gold Lampstand 

~~MTS-4196
Gold Lampstand
“He made ten gold lampstands according to the specifications for them and placed them in the temple…”       2 Ch. 4:7
     When most people tour the grand old churches of Europe, although they are greatly impressed by the grandeur of the structures, they fail to see the inner life residing within those constructions. The churches are the manifestations of God’s presence on earth, God’s invisible kingdom made visible in the world. The inner essence of the church is beyond all things visible, yet the appearance is all tourists want to see, and desire to see. 
    A lot of churches on the island of Taiwan are located in apartment complexes and people can only tell a church is there by looking at its sign hanging outside the building. The outward appearance is obviously unimpressive and they hardly evoke within us any feeling of solemnity or reverence and, unless people become parts of God’s church, members of the body, they will never be able to see the essence of God’s church.
    Many churches in Europe have faded and gradually have been turned into sightseeing attractions. Churches are no longer churches after the gold lampstands are removed from them. Indeed, when the light isn’t lit, gold lampstands become mere spectacles. The light is what gives gold lampstand meaning and a reason for existence.
    “Consider how far you have fallen, Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove you lampstand from its place,” we read from the book of Revelation concerning the church in Ephesus, one of the seven churches in Asia that received a warning from God. What those in the church at Ephesus needed to do was to restore their “first love” for the Lord, so that the lampstand, symbolizing the true church of God with the presence of the Holy Spirit, would remain in its place.
    Do we, as a church of God, continue to hold onto the first love we once had for the Lord? Do we, as individual Christians, keep our first love for God forever fresh within our hearts after years of following the Lord and struggling against our deadly foes? Does our love for the Lord ever wax cold by becoming so familiar with the Master of our souls?
    What should we do to safeguard our first love for the Lord and keep it from fading or waxing cold as a church collectively and an individual separately? What are the things that need to be done to again stir up our love for our Heavenly Father? Simple enough, really. We just need to go back to the basics and do the things that we used to do routinely when we first fell in love with our beloved. Do we all remember the feeling of great yearning and the thirsty longing to be with our loved one? Can we even recall the long telephone conversations, the endless letter writing, the songs we sang and the verses we composed on behalf of the ones we loved and adored? When did it become increasingly difficult to do those things?
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, May 19, 2016 7:13:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Washing 

~~MTS-4195
Washing
“He then made ten basins for washing and placed five on the south side and five on the north.”      2 Ch. 4:6
     There was a Taoist temple near our village which I frequented often as a little boy and it never failed to invoke a sense of awe and fear whenever I went. The smell of burning incense sticks was rather strong and the wooden idols with gaudy clothes and golden necklaces hanging on their necks seemed to be staring right at me, causing me to wonder whether they were gods or mere puppets, created by men merely to be worshipped.
    There was an oval shaped iron structure where people went to burn paper money to the gods and, as far as I can recall, there were no water basins there where people could go to wash their hands and feet. There was no need for that, I suppose, for the idols people worshipped weren’t very demanding at all. There was no such thing as worshipping the gods in the beauty of holiness. In fact, I have never heard the word holiness mentioned in the context of worship. It was quite a foreign idea. Idolatry was just that, and it didn’t cause any inner turmoil or make people feel guilty about their immorality.
    For the most part, the gods people manufactured to be worshipped were facilitators of whatever people intend to do in their lives, having a lot to do with the wealth and fortune they desired to possess. Idols were, in essence, enablers of what their worshippers intended to commit, be they moral or immoral by nature.
    All the washing might not have cleansed anything, particularly the filth in their hearts, but the Israelites did it religiously just the same. The daily washings they observed at the least served as a reminder of what they needed to do as they approached the Almighty who resided in the holy of holies. Therefore, “he then made ten basins for washing and placed five on the south side and five on the north.”
    Does the idea of washing our hands ever come into our minds before we walk into God’s house, the church? If so, where do we find the water basins placed before the church buildings? There aren’t any, are there?
    “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the spirit,” the Lord said to old Nicodemus. Indeed, the washing is needed before we can approach the throne of grace, but it isn’t done by water, but by the blood of the Lamb, which alone can wash away all our sins. Our “damned spot” can never be cleansed by washing repeatedly as Lady Macbeth tried to do in Shakespeare’s tragedy; it can only be removed by Christ’s blood, which is the only true source of cleansing and purification.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, May 18, 2016 8:04:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Bronze Sea 

~~MTS-4194
The Bronze Sea
“It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom.”       2 Ch. 4:5
The sea of division, looming
Ahead, dividing between life and death
While the chariots of the Egyptians
Chasing, the Sea
With sultry water turning
White foam foaming from the mouth
Meant to devour little lives
Broken reeds in the wind
Just escaped from the grip of the Nile
Breeder of terror, mother of mortality.
And the ark, then the feet
Reached the shore, the waves
Withdrew gradually as if beckoning
All to follow, to enter into the soft bosom
The opening arms from both sides
The strong and tender embrace.
Thus the rushing chariots and the horsemen
With shining spears pointing
Sharpened arrows flying and swift knifes waving
Plunged into the opened arms
That soon folded, silently the door closed
The portal of grace
Tightening and unrelenting
Into an embrace of death. 
 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, May 17, 2016 7:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Two Pillars 

~~MTS-4193
Two Pillars
“He erected the pillars in the front of the temple, one to the south and one to the north. The one to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz.”
                 2 Ch. 3:13
     After days of traveling to the holy city to observe the sacred holiday, pilgrims could see the two towering pillars before the temple from afar, telling them their destination was in sight and their hearts were greatly encouraged. They sounded the names of the pillars as if calling their old friends, and with the sounding of the name joy and excitement rushed into their hearts. Yes, they had finally arrived at the place which they could only envision or see in their dreams over the year, and they could almost sense the spirit of the place and the presence of the Lord seemed to be permeating the dry desert air.
    Why did Solomon even bother to name the pillars he erected, as if they were his children, Jakin and Boaz, which might have meant “he establishes strength,” in their language. In fact, they might have been popular names people named their newborns. “Jakin and Boaz, here we come, old friends,” they might have shouted for joy at the sight of the two grand pillars.
    The temple was grand and aloof, too solemn and way too dignified to be called by a personal name; yet the personalized pillars appeared to familiarize the holy temple and God’s presence became less of a frightening thing.
    “When are you going to visit Jakin and Boaz,” people might have asked one another casually, as if referring to the visitation of old friends. Did J&B ever become the nickname of the holy temple? We can only speculate. Yet one thing was for sure, though, people must have had other intimate names when they referred to the house of the Lord.
    A certain kind of feeling that is hard to describe in words is evoked when people happen to call me by my nickname. As a matter of fact, the name that my mother used to call me has forever vanished with my mother’s passing. I have been known as “Robert” since I married into another culture and English has become my primary language. My Chinese name has been lost for the most part. I often do a double take when “Wan Chung,” my Chinese name, is uttered.
    Indeed, the presence of the Lord was being ushered down to earth by the erection of the holy temple, which was a kind of incarnation, really. The naming of the two pillars in front of the holy temple appeared to bring the Lord down to his people even farther.
    Now we know why Emmanuel had a personal name, and instead of addressing the Heavenly Father in our prayer, we often invoke the name of Jesus. It does seem much more natural that way, doesn’t it? 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, May 16, 2016 7:03:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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