By Sandy Shaw
No, a man cannot just come to Almighty God any way he wants to or chooses to and that may be a surprise and a shock to some people. We see this clearly in the New Testament and we see it so clearly in the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. Open your Bible and come with me into the Scriptures - to the Word of God.
Let's turn first of all to EXODUS Chapter 27 and at verse 9 where we read of the Courtyard of the Tabernacle. We are looking at some very basic central and fundamental matters. This was and is essential teaching.
The Courtyard is an open area surrounding what is at the heart of the Tabernacle - 150 feet by 75 feet - and this whole area is to be enclosed with curtains made of fine linen about seven and a half feet high.
This fine white linen speaks of the purity and holiness of God. When we approach God through Jesus Christ, we are reminded that He demands holiness as we enter His Presence.
Whatever direction a man approached the place of Worship and Sacrifice, he would see a solid wall of white. When we approach Almighty God we approach Him with reverence.
This white linen - although appearing so frail and fragile - proclaims the same message as if the wall had been made of brick or granite.
We learn this so clearly in our readings about the Tabernacle - sinners cannot just come in any way they please. In verse 16, we read that there is a gate - an entrance - a door - there is a way in. The way in is about 30 feet wide. This is the only way in - but there is a way in which is wide enough for all who wish to enter and worship.
There is only one way to God - through Jesus Christ. John Chapter 10 verses 7 to 10 and Acts Chapter 4 verse 12, which of course refers to Jesus Christ.
There is no other way in - there is no other Saviour - He is the way. You do not have to squeeze in and you do not have to squeeze anyone else out so that you can get in - No - No. No-one needs to struggle to be saved.
This gate is beautiful - look at its colours which speak of Jesus Christ. It is so attractive - and the message is COME - ENTER - WORSHIP.
Why does everyone not come running to Jesus Christ as soon as they hear about Him? This is a question which has bothered me for some 40 years!
The Jesus Christ Who calls us is so merciful and loving and compassionate - but Jesus will not lower the standards.
We cannot jump over the wall. Each has to come in by the gate - the door - His Way! Now this is not at all popular - but it happens to be true.
As soon as you came in, what did you see? Exodus Chapter 27 verses 1 to 8.
Every man coming in to approach God would see an altar. It is seven feet by seven feet and 4 feet high - quite big. This was to remind men and women of how sinful they were - even the people of God - and that they had to be forgiven - and that there can be no forgiveness except through the shedding of blood.
It was to be covered in bronze - or copper - and at each corner there was to be a horn. The animals to be sacrificed would be laid upon this altar and tied to the four horns. There was no escape.
Can you see people bringing in their lambs, and the priests sacrificing the animals they brought? This is not the most pleasant of sights. But here is God revealing how seriously He regards sin in the heart and life of man.
Imagine the ugliness - the pain - the bloodshed - the slaughter - not only of this altar - but of that One called Calvary - where there was no escape for Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, as He was nailed to that tree in a similar fashion as these sacrificial lambs were tied to that table.
We are called to sacrifice our lives in the service of Christ the King - and that can involve scorching and searing pain at times - as we discover that we cannot escape His Will - and would not want to.
This altar was to be made just as Moses was shown on the mountain. Here is our mountain - Calvary - and here we see Jesus and hear Him saying - "Follow Me".
Put your hand in mine and Follow Me - and when we see Him going up the mountain - and realising that our hand is in His - we can be tempted to take it away - and say - "Lord You go on - Yourself - we'll catch up with you on the other side of the mountain - in three days we will meet you - when YOU are giving out Peace and Power.
He has to remind us - "No - that is not one of the options - you do not have that choice - you have to come where I go - and now it is time for climbing this mountain.
What do you say to Him when he speaks like that to you? We have to remain with Him when it is to our personal advantage, and when it is not to our personal advantage.
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children's Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org entitled "Word from Scotland" on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column.
His M.A. and B.D. degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.