The purification of the holy place in order to come to “the end of all flesh”
In and by Christ, we must be willing to be cleansed of the sin of prayerlessness
In the chapters 12 up to and including 17 we have seen how the sin lodges in the deepest and finest fibers of our being; and this goes for every Christian! But we also know that our Lord Jesus Christ, by the offering of His body on the cross at Calvary, once and for all brought deliverance from all sins and powers of sin (Hebrews 10:10b; 1 Peter 2:24). By this sacrifice He gave us the way unto life, that we might escape all sin and darkness and might have communion with God, because the veil – which indicated the separation between God and man in the Tabernacle, and was (and is) pointing to our sinful flesh – was torn because of the offering of His atoning death (Hebrews 10:19-20; Matthew 27:51a); whereby the (direct) contact with God became possible again for each person who believes in Jesus and His sacrifice for us.
In the light of the Israeli Tabernacle we must see these chapters in the sign of this veil, torn for us (which points to Jesus Who gave His life for us). We, too, must, willingly and thankfully, undergo this “way of the cross”, namely the breaking down of our old, sinful life – by the inner, powerful workings of His Spirit and blood – that Romans 6:5 become a living reality in our life: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection”.
We will now have a closer look at the last one of all sins a Christian must be delivered from. This sin, to un-anointed eyes, may seem small, but for God it is a very great obstacle, for because of this He cannot grant us the fullness of the glory of His nature; namely union with His holy, true and merciful Being. For sins, however small in our eyes, separate us from our God! “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The indicated last sin is the sin of prayerlessness. For it is a matter of the highest urgency to put all of this sinful being of ours completely in the hands of our faithful Redeemer and Savior. With David we must pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). If we sincerely desire this He will investigate our entire being and show us our sins and shortcomings, that we feel them as a burden, because of which we all too eagerly would lay them down at His feet; that He wash us clean in His precious and dear blood! Then we will experience His deliverance in our heart and life and will shout for joy before His countenance, because we will know by then that we are freed from the pressure and demonic compulsion of sin. For, “if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (of [the power of] sin)” (John 8:36).
Let us now see how we must come to God in prayer, and which obstacles there are (may be); because of which our prayers shrink to quick prayers. Yes, because of which we even go through life prayerless, (thus without God)… Despite the fact that this subject was already discussed at length in Chapter 11, it appears that the Holy Spirit finds it necessary after all to touch on it again here.
We must pray with perseverance until we receive an answer
LUKE 18 verse 1-8, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint (spiritually); Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not (help her) for a (long) while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long (is patient) with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find (true) faith on the earth?”
In this parable we are confronted with a widow who goes to the judge to seek justice, because her opponent did her wrong. But the judge was unjust and would not hear her. But, this widow clung to this judge like a bulldog. And, being wearied by this persevering woman, he finally administered justice. By this parable the Lord wants to teach us to display the same kind of perseverance in our prayers, until, in answer to our prayers, we are granted grace by our God.
We must put the sins the Lord showed up in our conscience at the foot of His cross; confronting God with the promises of His own Word. Let us thus, filled with a sincere desire for God’s justice, pray unto God with perseverance, pleading with Him to, after His own holy promise, answer us because we are willing to be completely cleansed, and want to become as pure as He is. And we are to continue praying until He fills us with jubilant faith by the assurance that He heard our continual prayer. If we remain faithful to Him, we shall find that He leads us in the full answer to our sincere prayer. For, He wants to make us pure, as white as snow, as white as white wool (Isaiah 1:18)!
(Very soon) there will be a time when Christians with such persevering prayer life will be persecuted. The “wise ones” among them will be led away (and kept in) the wilderness (see Revelation 12:6 and 14), but the “foolish ones” among them (the remnant of her seed – see Revelation 12:17) will have to go through the Great Tribulation, because they have not reached the fullness of Christ. And during this Great Tribulation they will be killed by the antichrist (see Revelation 11:1-2; 20:4). When Jesus thought of this, He sighed: “But when the Son of man cometh, shall he find (true) faith on the earth?”
We often still sin by showing the opposite of persevering prayer; maybe because we are (too) soon disappointed if our prayer is not immediately answered. This might also be the reason why our prayers often shrink to quick prayers. Let us pray the Lord for just such a persevering heart as the widow’s in above parable. Does not nature teach us that no new life will come without patient pregnancy and labor pains? Likewise that NEW LIFE of God shall not be given us without this patient waiting (expecting) and the labor pains, whereby the wrestling prayer is meant, as Jacob did (see Genesis 32:24-26)!
We must pray with a penitent heart
LUKE 18 verse 9-14, “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in them-selves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather (more) than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Both prayers remind us of the offerings of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:3-5). Like Cain offered the (best) fruits of his harvest to God, so this Pharisee pleaded on the (“good”) works of his righteousness. And like Abel, especially because of his awareness of sin, only pleaded on the blood of the substitute offering of the sacrificial animal, so this publican only prayed to God for grace because he was aware of his sinful state.
Because of the added word “rather” (in our bible translation) by the translator (verse 14) the impression is created that the Pharisee who prayed so haughtily, was also justified by God. But this is impossible, for such a haughty prayer will never receive God’s approval and blessing, just as Cain did not receive it! We, too, should never appear before God’s face with a “holier-than-thou attitude” with regard to our fellow brothers and sisters. Were we not all pulled out of the mire of sin? Not for nothing it is written that the one who thinks to be standing (strong, spiritually), must watch out that he does not fall himself. Is not everything, that is really good, really righteous, really noble and really loving, from Him? Would it be right that we exalt ourselves regarding the things which are not of ourselves, but which were given to us by God’s grace? It is Jesus Christ, and Him alone, Who should receive all honor and glory. For, when we spread the fragrance of (divine) righteousness, then this is not of ourselves (otherwise it would be selfrighteousness), but it is the fragrance of the Rose of Saron (see Song of Solomon 2:1), whereby is indicated Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom, Who by His grace will flower (and grow) in us.
Let us always be willing to stand before our God in a “Lazarus condition” – namely “begging” for spiritual food, that we grow spiritually, whereby He will be able to let us walk in and by His grace – but never with (spiritual) pride, such as that rich fool in the parable of the “rich man and poor Lazarus in Luke 16:19-25, who, because of this, opened his eyes in hell!
We must pray like a child
LUKE 18 verse 15-17, “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them, but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
Just like a child we must believe everything concerning the Kingdom of God. We must have the faith and trust a child has in its parents. How happily and trusting a child can be when someone promises it something. Our relationship with God, too, must be one of childlike dependence and affection. For, a child blindly trusts that which its father says or promises. “My father said it and therefore it is so!” When we have such a heart’s condition with regard to our heavenly Father, we will receive all the promises from God!
By E. van den Worm
If you want, see also the ‘verse by verse’ study of: