God's Presence Is the Prize
Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 2 Samuel 6:12 (NIV)
I love God’s presence! It draws me in, and it’s why I love spending time with Him. It’s also one of the reasons why we gather together as the church to worship. But I have a feeling we also often underestimate and don’t fully appreciate the amazing value of God’s presence in our lives.
I think if most believers are asked if God is with them, they’d respond: “Sure … God lives in me, and He’s with me all the time.” But there’s so much more to God’s presence than just that. As wonderful as God’s daily presence is in our lives, did you know there’s a deeper dimension of God’s presence you can experience that’s far more intense, tangible and transforming?
The Old Testament tells us God’s manifest presence rested on the Ark of the Covenant—the glory of God on earth. After giving Moses detailed instructions about how to build the Ark, God added: “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you” (Exodus 25:22). Over and over in the Old Testament, whenever God’s priests properly handled and approached the Ark, God’s presence would be revealed, His glory would come down and extraordinary things would happen.
When King Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant brought into the temple, the priests led everyone in corporate worship. They sang a song of praise to God and proclaimed: “He is good! And His mercy endures forever!” (2 Chronicles 5:13). The Bible tells us the temple was immediately filled with a cloud and the weight of God’s presence became so intense the priests couldn’t even stand. How incredible would it have been to be there that day! To experience God’s presence so strongly you couldn’t even stand under the weight of it!
When God’s presence showed up, incredible things happened. Whenever God’s people carried the Ark into battle with worshippers leading the way, they experienced miraculous victories without even having to fight. Why? Because God fought for them (2 Chronicles 20:20–22)!
The Ark of the Covenant represents God’s manifest presence. And the God we serve is more powerful and glorious than we could ever begin to imagine. That’s why the Old Testament contains so many intricately detailed instructions about how the Ark was to be handled and approached. It’s no wonder that any person who cared for the Ark with reverence and obedience experienced blessing after blessing.
For example, the Bible tells us about a man (who I can’t wait to meet one day) whose name was Obed-Edom. His passion for God and His presence was so great that he did whatever it took to be close to Him (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13). Obed-Edom kept the Ark in his own house for about three months. Later, when the Ark was moved to Jerusalem, Obed- Edom packed up his belongings and moved his entire family just to continue being near God’s presence. The Bible tells us he went on to become a gatekeeper, a musician and a doorkeeper for the Ark. And because Obed-Edom valued God’s presence above all else, God blessed him and promoted him in amazing, supernatural ways. What’s more is Obed-Edom’s passion for God’s presence was picked up by his children and even his grandchildren! He eventually became a leader of leaders. He also became a worship leader.
While the Ark of the Covenant doesn’t embody God’s presence any more and priests from the tribe of Levi don’t oversee the gateway to God’s presence, we can still learn a lot from Obed-Edom’s life. As God’s children, we are being built into a living, breathing temple He longs to inhabit. And do you know who the priests are today? You and me (1 Peter 2:4–10)!
Just like in the days of Obed-Edom, reverence and obedience are still vital keys for stewarding the presence of God. Our access to God’s presence is a precious privilege. We should never treat it lightly or take it for granted. When we make meeting with Him a priority—when we wait for Him in faith and expectancy—we receive the reward of encountering God’s power and glory.
But beware you don’t slip into a mindset where you seek God’s presence because of the benefits you’re going to get from it. Will you experience blessings when you steward God’s manifest presence? Oh, yes … definitely. But don’t let those blessings ever become your focus or goal. I think we often lose sight that the greatest benefit of God’s presence is God Himself. We get to experience His presence, His peace, His life, His mercy, His grace, His goodness and so much more. We get to hear his voice when we’re in His presence and have life-transforming experiences. Yes, many amazing and wonderful things come to those who take the time to enter the Holy of Holies through worship, but always remember … His presence is the prize.
What is the most worthwhile thing any person can experience? Nothing less than God Himself! ANDREW MURRAY
Father, it is such a privilege to serve as a priest in Your house and experience the fullness of Your presence. Help me to value Your presence above anything else. And let me be a doorkeeper of Your presence—ushering others in to encounter Your glory and power. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Make regular time with God a priority.
Invite God’s presence by cultivating more reverence, faith and expectancy in your worship.
Guard your heart by treasuring the privilege of intimacy with God above any of the blessings that flow from being in His presence.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
2 Chronicles 5:11–6:1
by Kari Jobe
Taken from Love Expressed, a Gateway devotion.