I recently spoke at Hope Church Glasgow about Sacred Space. In it, I look at five principles of sacred space – of divine structures – and what that can mean for us as individuals, and what that can mean for churches.
You can download or listen to the audio recording here:
What is Sacred Space?
A sacred space is a place on Earth that God inhabits. It’s a physical place where God’s presence dwells.
The concept of ‘sacred space’ is a key biblical theme, and gives us a framework to connect other biblical concepts too. For example, it helps us truly understand ideas such as holiness, worship, the church and evangelism.
Five examples of Sacred Space
Eden (Genesis 1-3)
The Tabernacle (Exodus)
The Temple (1 Kings)
The Incarnation (John 1)
The Church (Ephesians, 1 Corinthians)
Principle 1: Revelation – God originates Sacred Space
Sacred space starts with God – it is imagined and conceived by Him
Genesis 2:8 God planted a garden – Eden
Exodus 25:9 God says he will show Moses plans for a tabernacle, and a lot of the rest of Exodus shows us
1 Chronicles 28:19 David said the plans he had for the temple were revealed to him by God
For the incarnation, we see hints and prophecies all through the Old Testament, and the Virgin Birth
For the church, which is a people, we can see that God started in the Old Testament by always desiring a people that he could walk in friendship with.
Sacred Space teaches us that God unveils his agenda through revelation
Application for us:
What is God saying to you through the prophetic?
What is God saying to you as a Church through the prophetic?
What is God saying He wants to do in and through our life, or the life of the church? What’s the blueprint, the divine strategy?
How are we stewarding those words?
Which ones do we, in faith, prayerfully act on? Which ones do we, in faith, need to prayerfully wait on?
Isaiah 55:11 When God speaks, his word fulfills its purpose – it never returns to his mouth void
When he releases a word, he releases the grace, power and resources for the fulfillment of that word. We just need to steward the gap between the speaking out and the working out!
Principle 2: Construction – Humanity shapes Sacred Space
Eden – man tends the garden
Tabernacle – Moses leads the people in the building of the tabernacle
Temple – David passes the plans onto Solomon, who leads a building project with the very best materials
Incarnation – Mary and Joseph parent Jesus from baby to boy to teenager to man
Church – through our serving, leadership, discipleship and maturing, the church is shaped
God loves the intimacy of partnership
Shaping sacred space takes two forms – teaching the heart and training the hand. culture and structure
Culture is our beliefs acted out. Structure is the systems and habits we have to enable that behaviour
For example, plants & the greenhouse
Prophecy provokes us to re-evaluate how we think – it prompts cultural shift
Culture then always follows the prophetic word, and serves it.
Culture leads and shapes structure
Repentance is a change of culture!
Any structure – any activity or habit – we build must be the one that best serves culture – supporting, encouraging and releasing it to grow
Culture without structure – exciting and lively, but lacks focus or strategy… it won’t yield as much fruit
Structure without culture – tidy and orderly, but quenches Spirit and dependent on human effort & performance
We must always build around what God is doing.
Application for us:
What are we cultivating invisibly in our lives (beliefs, values, mindsets, attitudes) ? As people? As a church?
What are we building visibly in our lives (activities, habits, routines) ? As people? As a church?
Does the culture or structure we’ve created act on or detract from what God has said to us prophetically?
Principle 3: Habitation – God inhabits Sacred Space
Eden – God walked in the garden in the cool of the day
Tabernacle – God comes and fills the tent with his Glory in Exodus 40
Temple – After being dedicated, the Shekinah glory of God fills the temple in 2 Chronicles 5
Incarnation – the word became flesh
Church – the Holy Spirit fills us
It’s a scriptural principle that what God forms, he fills. Genesis 1 – he forms the earth, sky, sea first, then fills them with life in later creation days
What he makes, he invades
When God moves into something, he makes it holy. Burning bush – Holy ground!
Holiness isn’t actually primarily about morality or purity – it’s about being different.
Sacred space is only sacred because God makes it his home
1 Cor 6:18-19 Flee from sexual immorality… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The onus of sacred space!
God moves in. His presence is something so precious, so wonderful, so sacred, that we are made holy.
But consider the cost of the Cross which needed to happen so God could reside within us.
Application for us:
We never stop being the house of God – he’s promised to never leave or forsake us.
Ezekiel shows us that the opposite of holy or sacred is ‘profane’.
Is there anything in our lives as people or a church that grieves the Holy Spirit?
Do we need to rededicate ourselves as sacred space to Him once again?
Principle 4: Transformation – Humanity encounters God within Sacred Space
Eden – God talked face to face with Adam and Eve
Tabernacle – Both Moses and the High Priest, as representatives of the people, would enter the tent of meeting
Temple – the place where people bought sacrifices to God
Incarnation – way, truth, life – no one gets to the Father except through me
Church – the Holy Spirit encounters us and changes us
It is impossible to meet the Living God and not be affected. If your relationship with God doesn’t significantly impact your life, you aren’t doing it right
Notice we encounter God, and are changed – we don’t have to do the legalistic ‘change so we can encounter’
Do we have a mindset of visitation or habitation?
One says ‘God up there come and meet me’ – it’s OT!
The other says ‘God, you already live within me. Fill me from within! That’s NT
John 7, Jesus said out of our heart would flow rivers of living water.
We are open heavens because the one who makes Heaven heaven is within us
Temple is the Bible name for a place of encounter. Eden was a temple. We, the church – meaning YOU – are temples…. YOU ARE A PLACE OF ENCOUNTER
You are a place of encounter because the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is within you!
The supernatural isn’t outside in – it’s inside out! God please come v I’m here, which means God in me is here!
Application for us:
What gifting & anointings has God given us as people, and as a church? It’s so others can encounter God through us. What are we doing with it? How are we stewarding it? Have we fully embraced it?
Principle 5: Commission – God sends humanity out from Sacred Space to change the world
Eden – From the garden, Adam & Eve were meant to subdue the earth, multiply and fill it & expand the garden – the place where God lived. It’s a picture of the kingdom
Tabernacle & Temple – The OT shows us that Israel was meant to be a people that demonstrated God to those who didn’t know him
Incarnation – Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and sent out apostles in the Great Commission
Church – Filled with the Holy Spirit to be witnesses
Acts 1:8 shows us that encounter is ultimately always for the purpose of mission.
Jesus tells them they will be filled with the power of the HS, so they can be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
That means being witnesses to those with the same culture, those with similar culture, those with an offensive culture, and those with an unrelated culture.
The purpose of encounter is to be changed by him, equipped and empowered by him, and to show Him through words, works and wonders to those who don’t know Him.
Don’t just stop with encounter – encounter is for a purpose, which is mission.
Gathering around the presence is essential, but we are called to take the presence to those outside the presence.
Let’s not gather around prophecy or healings & miracles.
Prophecy, in Corinthians, can be for unbelievers, and healing miracles, like in the Gospels, are announcements that God has arrived.
Evangelism without encounter is dependent on our morality or intelligence.
Encounter without evangelism is self-serving.
Application for us:
Who has God called us to be missionaries to? What persons, or people groups, has he placed before us, both as individuals, and as a church? What do you need from Him to reveal who He is to those who don’t know Him?
How should we respond to Sacred Space?
- Revelation: seek a fresh word of direction from God.
- Construction: hear what God has asked you to cultivate or build in your life or in the life of your church, and say yes.
- Habitation: receive a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit.
- Transformation: repent of anything that has gotten in the way.
- Commission: commit yourself again to reach those God has asked you to reach.
This message was first preached at Hope Church Glasgow on Sunday 23 September 2018 and can be downloaded from the website.