Silence In Heaven For A While – God Listens! (The prayers coming from the saints in their powerlessness)

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Series: The Church in Transition

Sun am 10 May 2015 – Kobus Swart

(Heb. 10:10); (Heb. 9:1-5); Ps. 100:4; Acts 15:7-18; Ps. 66:8, 17; Ps. 98:4; (Ps. 47:5-6);
(Ps. 35:27); Eph. 5:18; Isa. 12:6; Ps. 95:6; Ps. 47:1, 5-6; (Ps. 69:30); (Ps. 63:4);
Ps. 140:4; Rev. 5:11-14; Ps. 141:1-2; Rev. 8:1-5; Rev. 1:10; (Heb. 3:7-9);
2 Cor. 12:9; Rom. 8:26-27

We started looking at the Tabernacle of Moses which had three courts. The progression starts from the outer court to the Holy place and to the Holy of Holies. In Hebrew 9 the outer court is not mentioned because Jesus became the once for all perfect sacrifice (Heb. 10:10). So we do not have to go through the Old Testament rituals to get rid of sin and sin consciousness. We are not called to rebuild the Tabernacle of Moses but we do find principles there. The altar of incense which was found in the second court in the Tabernacle of Moses, is then described in Hebrews 9 as being inside the Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:1-5). It means that access to the Holy of Holies is given by prayer, praise and worship.

The Church of the New Testament found itself in a massive transition. The Church in Jerusalem was becoming exclusive. They were Jewish in their thinking and they could not see beyond that. God was beginning to move amongst the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas were sent along with others to Antioch, and they opened a whole new concept of Church. Antioch was open to the Gentiles (Acts 15:7-18).

David was primarily a fearless young warrior but he was also a worshipper. The most important characteristic about David was his worship. We can read about it in the Psalms. He was quick to repent when he made his human mistakes. What is praise, worship, intercession? Is there a difference? “Enter his gate with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4). Graham Truscott listed 14 biblical ways to praise God. No. 1: Praise God with praise that can be heard (Ps. 66:8, 17; Ps. 98:4). No. 2: Praise God with shouting (Ps. 47:5-6; Ps. 35:27). No. 3: Praise God with singing (Eph. 5:18). No. 4: Praise God with thanksgiving (Ps. 69:30). No. 5: Praise God with crying out (Isa. 12:6). No. 7: Praise God with speaking in tongues. No. 8: Praise God with laughter. No. 9: Praise God with musical instruments. No. 10: Praise God by bowing and kneeling before Him (Ps. 95:6). No. 11: Praise God by falling prostrate before Him. Let us become free. We are part of the tabernacle of David that is being restored again. No. 12: Praise God with the clapping of hands (Ps. 47:1). No. 13: Praise God with the lifting up of hands (Ps. 63:4). No. 14: Praise God with the dance (Ps. 140:4).

There are different forms of worship but we do not need any patterns without His presence. God looks at the heart of the worshipper. Even silence could be a wonderful expression of worship at times. If you are uncomfortable with worship how are you going to survive in heaven? Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God (Rev. 5:11-12). We need spirit led worship. There is not much of a difference between worship and prayer (Ps. 141:1-2). We talked about the altar of incense, about a worshipping praying heart approaching the throne.

The last words on prayer are found in the last book of the Bible. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand (Rev. 8:3-4). The prayers of all the saints are valuable to God.

John was in exile, banned to an island by himself. The state John was in is described:  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet (Rev. 1:10). Was it a Sunday? Was it some special 24 hour day? The Lord’s Day is now. We are in the Lord’s Day. “Today if you hear His voice..”(Heb. 3:7-9). When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake (Rev. 8:1-5).There is continuous worship before the Lord, and then there comes this period of silence when God listens to our prayers. We are too passive, waiting for God; waiting for the fire to fall. We need to bring back prayer to where it belongs, and worshipping hearts full of praise and adoration with a hunger for the purposes of God.

John was in exile, he was expelled from home and country. What does “exile” mean in our own situation? It is the experience of powerlessness, when you know there is nothing you can do. Everything is determined by another. We are removed from where we want to be or the people we want to be with. It is a place of exile. John is defining a place where many Christians are. It can be circumstances, relationships, finances. Your prayers become most effective when you are in your own Isle of ‘Patmos’, the place of powerlessness. When you begin to realise your powerlessness; that is when your prayers become participation with God’s plan. Then you are participating with God, not prescribing to God how to do it. Until we come to this place of exile, we will not understand the value of quietness, silence, and brokenness before His face. The prayer of listening is a very strong prayer when we put all distractions away. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Cor. 12:9). Power is perfected in weakness not in your own assumed strength. You can get propped up by motivational speakers for some time but in the end you still have not connected to the Spirit of God. We borrow from the spirit of this age and we think it is going to help us. Connect with God! Let Him hear your heart! Prayer is a focus upon God whereby everything else comes into focus.

Silence in the heaven for half an hour? Yes, God is listening. What is God listening to? In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom. 8:26). Thank God for the Holy Spirit, He takes these groans and turns them into a prayer before the throne. Everything is listened to. God shuts down everything in heaven for a while when He is listening to our groans, to our prayers.

My question this morning is: can we surrender ourselves afresh? Can we break loose from empty patterns? Can we break loose from rituals that mean nothing? Get to the reality! Continue to trust God. He knows your heart.