Joseph Prince - The God Who Goes Before You
God sent his Son in Hebrews 1:3 as you bring the ark out please, who being the brightness, Jesus, God's Son, who being the brightness of his glory. Everyone say, "Brightness of his glory". So, he is the brightness of his glory, gold outside, the expressed image of his person, gold within. Don't forget, the wood in between, amen, he was cut off in the prime of his days, amen? Wood, completely man, completely God, the God-man Jesus Christ. "And upholding all things by the Word of his power". You all see this crown. It's literally called crowns all across, amen? He who was once crowned with the crown of thorns is now in heaven crowned with glory. And he crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, amen?
So, that crown there is this one here, upholding all things by the Word of his power. That's kingly power. Upholding all things by the Word of his power is this crown. "Then when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high". Blood is put on the mercy seat once a year, amen? And that is when he had by himself purged our sins. So mercy seat is him purging our sins, washing us from our sins in his blood. Well, last week, we saw the ark of the covenant and we learned that ark is made of a box of wood. The wood speaks of Jesus's humanity, amen? God, as God, cannot be comprehended by man but if God can become a man, we can understand him, amen?
So, Jesus became a man, why? So that this wooden box, all right, will be overlaid with gold, overlaid with gold, gold within and gold without. Not only the gold is outside, the gold is inside, the inner side. Gold outside, gold inside. Gold without, gold within in between the wood. That means Jesus is 100% money and 100% God. Because he's 100% man, he sat where you sat. You feel tired, he feels tired, amen? You feel thirsty, you feel hungry, he felt it. All the gamut of human emotions Jesus felt it without sin, amen? But we feel something, but we don't have the power but because it's hundred percent God, he has all the power, amen? So God said, "The Ten Commandments, the two tablets of stone, put it inside the box".
Okay, let's look at a cross section of what's inside. Now, if you look inside the ark of the covenant, you see three items. Number one, you see the two tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments written with the finger of God. It's inside the ark. Do you know the ark, the first mention actually of the ark is not in Exodus? It's actually in Genesis. The Bible said when Joseph died, they buried him, they put him in a coffin. They word "coffin" is the word "ark", ark, exactly the same word "ark". So, it's a coffin for the two tablets. God is saying if you bring the ark out, everyone will die because the ark's perfect holiness will bring judgment on everyone who comes short of it. And folks, we come short of it.
So, the only place to put the two tablets of stone is under the mercy seat where once a year in Israel, in ancient time, blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat. In Hebrew the mercy seat is called, in Greek, "hilasterion", in Hebrew, "kaphoreth". That's why you have Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, kippur, covering. Watch this, blood on the mercy seat. All it takes, people, is just one drop of blood. And when blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat, this is where Psalms 91 is referring to, the secret place under the wings of the Almighty, the El Shaddai, amen. We dwell here. Praise the Lord. Jesus is our mercy seat. Can I have a good amen? Hallelujah, amen.
And there's one thing God's eyes can look into a man's heart. God eyes can see your thoughts. God's eyes can see through walls. God's eyes can see through layers and layers and layers of mountains or even the valleys below and the seas below. God's eyes, nothing is hidden. Everything is naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. But there's one thing God's eyes cannot look through and that's blood, the blood speaking blessings upon the people, amen? And now, people, the blood of Jesus is permanently in heaven so when God looks at you, God does not look at you with judgment, God looks at you with mercy and love, amen? So, it's a visual aid to help us understand, okay?
Now, sit back and watch this visual aid as the ark opens up. If you open up the panels on the right, the sides, gold within, gold without, this is what you'll see, the cross. So, it is the person and the work of Jesus. Amen? Are you blessed? And the way they camped, look at the camp, encampment of the 12 tribes of Israel. In the camp, God says, three tribes to the north, three tribes to the west, three tribes to the east, and the south part... sorry, this is the east part. The east part has the largest number of people in the tribe of Judah so it's longest. So, look from the helicopter point of view. I do not think the tribes knew how they were camped but if you look from a helicopter point of view or a mountain point of view, you see the cross. No wonder that Prophet Balaam, when he was hired to curse Israel from the mountaintop, he looked at it and says, "How can I curse those whom God has blessed"?
When God looks at Israel, he has not beheld iniquity in Israel. He did not say there's no iniquity, no sin in Israel. He says, "God did not behold it", okay? Our comfort is not that there's no sin in us. Our comfort is God does not see our sin, why? For God sees the blood. God sees the blood of his Son, hallelujah! Amen, people. So, that's how it's camped. You're gonna see how the names are. Show them the names. These are the 12 tribes, okay? Now, back to this again. Okay folks, now we go one step further today.
Let's look at the poles here. What are the poles for? When the priest carried the ark, number one, they cannot carry the ark. No matter how many priests carry it, it's too heavy, plus the solid gold. By the way, the lid itself is solid gold. This entire is beat out. The work of Jesus, he was beaten to become our mercy seat, amen? One slab of gold, the lid is one slab of gold and here gold and wood, and it's too much for priests to carry. But the amazing thing is this, there was death when they tried to do it the worldly way, on a bullock cart, right? David learned the way of God. God says it must be carried on the shoulders of the priests like this. I'm sure that y'all have this, some of y'all have this sculpture you bought from Israel, right? How many of you have it?
You backslidden people. Y'all go to Israel so often and none of you bought this? This is mine, by the way. This is in my greenroom. It's a picture of the priest carrying the ark of the covenant, okay? And you see a lot of this in Israel, you know? But it's very interesting. Just to tell you that it's very heavy, okay? So, what you see down here couldn't have happened without God helping. Watch this now, the Bible says when David saw the pattern of how the ark is to be carried, it's to be carried by the poles on the shoulders of the priest, but it's very heavy, so how can they carry it? The Bible says something, "God helped the priests".
In other words, watch this, your part is by faith. When God tells you to serve him, whether it's children's ministry, whether it's ushering, whether it's coming to church, whether it's doing something for someone, if God tells you, all right, God will never give you something that's heavy. Jesus says, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light". Because it's from Jesus whatever the burden is, it's always easy. "My burden is light, my yoke is easy", easy, light, got it? If the Lord tells you to do something, if he tells you to, it's always easy and the burden is light. So, when God tells to do something, your part is step out by faith. When the priest stepped out and touched the poles and carried it, instead of it become heavy, it sort of the thing carried the priest.
How many understand that? The poles carried the priest. It's like the priest is walking on air. It's like spring on their steps. The Bible says, God helped the priest. This is what... and every time you put your hand on to a task that God tells you to, whether it's the ministry, whether it's mission trip, whether it's like full-ministry, whatever it is, God tells you to do it and you put your hand forth to it, the moment you touch it by faith, God takes care of the rest. Well, the time came but Israel is about to cross the River Jordan, okay, and this is what happened.
Look at this, Joshua 3, "And they commanded the people saying, 'when you sea the ark'". So obviously the ark is traveling, the priests are carrying the ark. And they say, "When you see the ark of the covenant the Lord your God and the priests, the Levites bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it". Go after Jesus, people. When you see the ark, put your eyes on Jesus. For you to see where he's going, you need to put your eyes on him looking off unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith. Look away from man, even good man. Look away from Pastor Prince. Look away from everyone but Jesus. Look unto him. Go after him. Yet there shall be a space between you and the ark, about 2,000 cubits by measure.
I'm gonna tell you right now, right now I'm gonna tell you this, this time when Joshua was carrying the ark, the priests were carrying the ark during Joshua's time, this is the first time Israel was about to step into the Promised Land after long 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, okay? And the first one in is the ark. Okay, he went into the River Jordan. When you go into the River Jordan, it means the place of death, you understand, amen? Israel went into Jordan and then before they went in, the priest would carry it and the Bible says, "And as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water", the moment the feet of the priest touched the water, the Jordan overflows all its banks. It's overflowing during this time of harvest, all right? It's like a flood, overflowing, amen?
But the moment the priests carrying the ark, they were the first in, they touched the water, see what happened, verse 16, "The waters which came down from upstream", because it's the lowest place, right? "Stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam", 30 miles away, "the city that is beside Zaretan". What is the meaning? The ark, a picture of Jesus, is the first one to go into the rivers of death. In fact, Yarden. Yar means going down, den means judgment. He went down with the judgment for all of us, okay? And God slapped the River Jordan, all the way, 30 miles, and the water stood in a heap. But why did God slap back the judgment all the way to the city of Adam? God is saying, everything that came from Adam, the death, the destruction, the judgment, God slapped back at the cross when Jesus went in, all right, to judgment, in judgment for us, God slapped back the judgment all the way to Adam, hallelujah.
I love my job. Love preaching the good news, amen. Y'all get it? Let's drop down to 17, look at 17, "Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground". Can you see that? "Until all the people". Say, "All the people". "Had crossed completely over the Jordan, not one man left behind". No one left behind. I believe in eternal security because when Jesus saves, he saves eternally, not one left behind. Can I have a good amen, amen? Not one left behind. I love the Old King James, all right, passed clean over, completely over Jordan and they all walked on dry ground, amen?
So, the ark, by the way, the priest was standing there in the center of the river until all the people passed. That tells us that Jesus is the first in your situation and he's the last one out. Just now you saw the cross, right, the way that encampment? Where is the ark? In the center. Show them the encampment again. Where is the ark? In the center where the cloud is in the Holy of Holies. That's where the tabernacle was. So, the Lord wants to be in the center. He says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am", where? "In the midst". Put Jesus in the center of your studies, put Jesus in the center of your career, put Jesus in the center and everything will be held together, amen?
When they travel, you know, when they travel together all in one line, right, in the desert. You know where's the ark? In the center. But whenever there's trouble, whenever there's something, all right, the ark will go in front. The ark will be the first one in. But the Bible says, the ark will go travel three days' journey long before the people came to seek a resting place for them. So, on your part, you put him in the center, on his part, he will go ahead of you and prepare the way. Give him Isaiah. Isaiah says this, God's nature. "You should not go out with haste, nor go by flight. For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard".
So, God can be in any place, right? So, he'll be in front of you to clear the way and don't worry that enemies come from behind you. He'll be your rear guard. Can I have a good amen? He'll go before you. Let me illustrate. When the children of Israel, many of you watched that movie, "Ten Commandments", right? They call came to the Red Sea and then lo and behold, behind them they saw like clouds of dust as the chariots of Egypt was racing towards them. Now they're caught in between a rock and a hard place and they cried out to Moses, "Did you bring us out here to die? Moses, it's your fault. Now they will kill us. In front of us, there's a sea". And before God opened the sea, what happened? Read Exodus 14, and the Angel of God, capital A. Whenever it says, "The Angel of God", it's referring to Jesus.
Now, he's not an angel. Jesus is God but the word "angel" is generic term for representative of God. This is his pre-incarnate form. The angel of God who went before the camp of Israel moved and went behind them and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. Initially, it was leading them in front and now the enemy's coming from behind. Watch this, went behind to protect them from behind. So, God is the first one leading them and he's the last one protecting them. Can you see that?
I want you to feel in a world that's unsafe that when you travel or when you... don't just think of traveling. Anywhere when you get up in the morning, know the Lord has gone ahead of you. He's checked out the place. He says, "Son, come on". Jesus saying to his sheep, he's the good shepherd, right? And what does he say to the sheep? "When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice". When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, he goes before them. He leads them. I'm closing with this passage. "And the sheep follows him. He goes before him and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice".
Now, nowhere in the Bible does it say you gotta learn to hear his voice. It's a given. It's a statement of fact. The sheep follow him for they know his voice. You don't have to teach sheep, you have to teach goats but if you're born again, you're a sheep. But, but, but. You're a sheep. You don't but, listen, you believe, amen? It's a statement of fact. The sheep hear his voice and they follow him. Now, I'm not against people teaching how to hear God's voice and all that, but sometimes we complicate things. Have you seen a little baby? All right, you put a baby that's awake in a room, all right, and the mother just stepped in and the room is very noisy with other ladies talking and chatting. The moment the mother comes in and the mother is talking someone, the baby's alert. The baby does not need to be taught seven steps to hearing God's voice. Your mommy's voice, seven steps to hearing your mommy's voice. No, so what we need do is to build confidence in God's people that they hear God's voice. They hear the shepherd's voice.
Your confession ought to be, "I hear his voice". You should be thanking God every day, "I'm hearing his voice". And God will lead you in the smallest details of life. You see, it says here, "They follow him for they know his voice, yet they will by no means". The "no means" there is very strong. It's ou me in the Greek, which is a double negative. "They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers". Even young baby Christians, I remember when I was a young Christian, I was reading a new-age book, all right, it's full of heretical nonsense and evil. I mean there's evil poison in those things. And I didn't know better. I went to church. I was a young Christian and I didn't feel good about that book. And I asked the elder of the church, that church I attended. I said, "Is it okay? I don't feel good. I've been enjoying this book but after I got saved, I don't know why I feel very scratchy inside". He says, "You're right, that book is dangerous".
So, as a young Christian, you don't have to worry. Sometimes your head can be playing with you but your inside tells you, "This is wrong, this is right". You don't live by the knowledge of good and evil, you live by the presence of life or the absence of it. If there's an absence of it, don't do it. If there's life, do it. Are you listening? And don't worry, "What if I hear the wrong voice"? They will not, strong negative, "ou me" no means follow a stranger. You will not hear the devil's voice. I mean, you will hear his voice but you know it's him. It's a stranger. It's a strange voice. You don't feel right.
How many of you hear preaching... many of you who are here, you've decided this is your home church. How do you decide this is your home church? Because you came here, Pastor Prince did not preach something that your head is trying to comprehend. Understand, we are still struggling, in fact many people are still struggling to understand what I'm preaching. But the thing is this, but your spirit is saying, "Amen, I got it, I got it! In fact, it's what I believe. Somebody is saying outside what God has said inside but I do not know how to put words, but he put words because God has graced him. He has the gift, his calling to put words".
Many people tell me the same thing. Ministers elsewhere, they tell me, "You elucidate what I believed. You put into words what I've practiced intuitively". So, I'll be scared. I'll be afraid if I teach things that your spirit... now, your head might now say, "That's the first time I hear that". Your head might say that but in your spirit, are you saying, "Mmm, this is Jesus"? Jesus is in you, the ark of a covenant when you follow the ark. All right, you will not lack. You need to lose weight, you will lose weight, amen? You need to be healthy, you'll be healthy. Follow him. And what is good for one man doesn't mean it's good for you. What is not good for him doesn't mean it's not good for you either. Some people from man of God I know don't drink coffee. For me, I like... I love coffee, amen. Amen? So, doesn't mean it's a law, okay, follow Jesus. Have you learned something today? Praise the Lord. Give him praise. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.