On October 1, 2019, I received a warning dream for America, showing two or three super- tornadoes (I couldn’t remember specifically) aligned side by side, that were about to hit. The tornadoes represented at least one massive event to come upon America. The dream revealed only one place of stability in the house: our beds, which suddenly turned into our altars. This was a warning from God for His people to wake up from spiritual slumber and return to the fervent altar of prayer and wholehearted consecration to Him. As we cried out for mercy, the winds of destruction, which stripped the the “heartland” of America, “passed over” us, leaving us untouched. When I awoke, Psalm 91 was heavy upon my heart. This was followed by an exhortation to observe a “solemn assembly”, to set ourselves apart unto God afresh and to pray for our nation. (You can view a full description of the dream and the basic interpretations that were given, in Part 1 under the same title, at heavenshopeunveiled.com under “blogs”).
In this article, we will begin by defining Psalm 91’s “Secret place of the Most High”, and what it means to dwell therein.
Beginning with verse 1, it says,
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
In the original Hebrew, this “secret” place is defined, “hiding place”, or a “hidden” place. Most people would define this as being God’s presence, predicating it on Psalm 31:20:
“Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence…”
And, of course, they would be correct– in the broadest sense of the word, anyway. However, by simply taking into consideration the history and culture of the Psalm’s author, a whole WORLD of revelation opens up to us!
Psalm 91 was not written from the standpoint of the western world, by any means. the Old Testament in its entirety was written by a Jew. What would this Jewish author, living during the time of Moses, have been picturing as he wrote about “the secret place of the most High”? What would have been his interpretation of the presence of God? None other than the Holy of Holies, the most hidden room in the Tabernacle of Moses! We see this in other writings in Psalms, such as Psalm 27: 5:
“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me.”
The Tabernacle was built for God’s presence to dwell in among the people, providing the means by which they could approach a holy God: It was God’s blue print, provided for the Jews to enjoy intimacy with Him, albeit, mere types and shadows of the finished work Jesus would one day accomplish through his Cross for the world. (Hebrews 8:5) Because the Tabernacle and all of its furnishings were symbolic of the Eternal Heavenly Realities, God instructed Moses to follow His blueprint to the letter when constructing it. This is what it looked like:
Inside a bordering white curtain (representing the righteousness of Christ), with one doorway (symbolizing Christ, “the Door”, John 10:7), the seeker would enter the outer court. This contained the Altar of Burnt Offering, (also called the Brazen Alter), and the Bronze Laver. The Brazen Altar was the first thing the seeker of God encountered, where various offerings were offered on behalf of the worshiper. It symbolized the Cross of Christ, where he bore our sins and reconciled us to God. Now the seeker was ready to encounter the Bronze Laver, which was used for washing one’s hands and feet, (symbolizing the washing of the water of the Word, Ephesians 5:25-27). Now the priests were ready to proceed into the first chamber, called the Holy Place. We will come back to these later in this series.
Moving forward, the next, innermost room, was the “Holy of Holies”. (“Hallowed, sacred, consecrated, dedicated, set apart, sanctified, most holy place”) Enclosed within a thick curtain (veil), this was the most “hidden place” on the face of the earth, for absolutely nothing unholy could enter it. With such pure holiness, one would be killed if they dared enter in their sinful state. Only the high priest, Aaron, was allowed to enter this room, and not without bloodshed for the remission of sins, which blood he transported from the Brazen Altar in the outer court.
In this room stood the “Ark of the Covenant”, a chest overlaid with pure gold, which held the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments given at the inauguration of the Old Covenant on Mt. Sinai. It also contained Aaron’s rod that budded, symbolizing God’s choice of Aaron and his descendants as priests, Jesus, being the Eternal High Priest, and a jar of manna, also symbolizing Jesus, the Bread of Life. (John 6:35)
The Ark was covered with a lid, made of pure gold, called the “Mercy Seat”. On either side of it knelt two golden cherubim facing each other, looking down upon the Mercy Seat, while covering it with their wings outstretched. In one sense, the Mercy Seat symbolized God’s throne. In another sense, the Ark, with God’s Moral Law lodged within, together with the Mercy Seat– “Mercy” meaning, “Propitiation”, (“Atonement, reconciliation to God, restoration to God’s favor“)– was a picture of Christ Himself:
“Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering thou hast not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8)
This verse is also quoted in Hebrews 10:7, explaining to the Christian Jews that the Old Covenant sacrifices could not, in themselves, take away sins, but merely pointed to the One who would.
In short, the Ark and its Mercy Seat was what the Tabernacle was all about! This was what all the furnishings in the outer court and the Holy Place, led up to! It was here that the breath-taking presence of Almighty God dwelt!
“There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony.” (Exodus 25:22)
However, access to God was limited under the Old Covenant. One day every year, on the Day of Atonement, Israel’s high priest, Aaron, was to offer the prescribed offerings for this occasion on the Brazen Altar, and bring some of the blood of the Brazen Altar and sprinkle it onto the Mercy Seat, once for himself and once for the people, while confessing their sins. The blood covered his sins and theirs until the following year, maintaining their limited access to God. Interestingly, this would have reminded Moses, to whom the tabernacle blueprint was given, as well as the entire congregation he led out of Egypt, of the blood of the Passover lamb which had exempted them from the plague of the death angel in Egypt!
All of this was symbolic of Jesus, of course, who, as our Passover Lamb was to die for our sins on the cross, (the “Brazen Altar”). Indeed, having been sentenced to death in Pilate’s “judgement hall” during the actual preparation of the Jewish Passover feast (John 18:28), He permanently satisfied our sin-debt that separated us from God. In so doing, He spared us from death, meaning eternal separation from God. Having breathed his last breath on the cross, the “veil” that had previously shut man out of the Holy of Holies in the temple, symbolizing Jesus’s crucified body, tore wide open from top to bottom! (Hebrews 10:20). After He rose from the dead, he ascended to the right hand of the Father, essentially applying His Own blood to the Mercy Seat in the true Holy of Holies, where He was seated as our Eternal High Priest. Now, the redeemed have permanent, unlimited access to a Thrice-Holy God–Who is all we could ever need and more!
As a result, one day, even physical death will be forever swallowed up. (1 Corinthians 15:26) In the mean time, those who “die in the Lord”, never really die! The real us–our spirit and soul– simply passes into the fullness of God’s Glory in heaven! One day, all believers will be joined together in that place, where there will be no more death, disease. sorrow, or tears, and where there will be no more goodbys! (Revelation 21:4)
In short, because Jesus lives forever, so does our Hope!
“We… have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever…” (Hebrews 6:18-20)
However, this is only the beginning of the miracle of Christ’s finished work of the cross, and why it is an incredible “anchor for our souls”— even in the midst of the worst tornadic mega- storms imaginable! This brings me back to Psalm 91:1:
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the wings of the Almighty. “
Importantly, the key to all the promises of safety and deliverance contained in Psalm 91, it is found in the word, “Dwelleth.” It is those who dwell in the secret place of the most High that the promises pertain to. “Dwell” means “to sit down; to remain, to inhabit, to abide.” (Strongs #H3427)
This speaks of abiding continually and permanently.
Here’s the connection: Ephesians 1: 20-22 teaches that after the Father raised Jesus from the dead, Jesus permanently “sat down” at his own right hand in heaven– far above all power, and principality, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, and placed all things under his feet (rule).
This is where Psalm 91 gets MORE interesting: Ephesians 2:5-6 reveals that when God raised Jesus up, He raised US up WITH him– and made US to “sit down” together in heavenly places in Christ! Positionally speaking, WE are seated WITH Jesus in the Holy of Holies, as sharers of His victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil! Because we are His body– (the fullness of Him Who conquered the world, the flesh and the devil)–the world, the flesh and all satanic power, is under our feet as well! (Ephesians 1:22-23) No wonder Psalm 91:13 says of those who “dwell” in the secret place of the most High,
“Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon thou shalt trample under feet.”
Furthermore, according to Colossians 3:3, not only are the redeemed “seated“ in heavenly places in Christ– but we are actually “hid with Christ in God.” In other words, God IS our dwelling place! He IS our habitation! He IS our refuge. He, Himself, IS the [hidden] place of the most High!
“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God, in him I will trust.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (habitation) (Verse 2, 9, 19)
If Almighty God is our habitation, Whom no evil thing dare touch, than those who dwell “in Christ” are dwelling in the safest place of all! (To learn more about this subject, feel free to download my free chapter, entitled, “Our Safe Place”, found on my website under blogs. Here I wrote of how this revelation brought me victoriously through the fear, panic and anxiety of severe PTSD.)
But, we are just getting started!
Like everything else in the tabernacle that was symbolic of the Eternal Heavenly Realities, so were the cherubim. Various scriptures reveal that God truly is seated between the cherubim:
“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Isaiah 37:16)
“The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble: he that sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.” (Psalm 99:1)
The prophet Ezekiel actually witnessed this. In Ezekiel chapter 1, he describes seeing four cherubim with four wings and four faces each. These faces seem to represent the power and glory of God as depicted in Christ as Servant, King, Son of Man, and Sovereign God. In Ezekiel 10, he records seeing them in a vision with the throne of God appearing just in between them, above their heads.
In Ezekiel 28:14, God goes on to address the “anointed cherub that covereth”, seemingly a veiled reference to Satan and his original position in heaven before he sinned. This gives us key information as to God’s intended role for the cherubim: “Covereth” is defined, “To entwine as a screen; by implication to fence in, cover over, protect; Cover, defense, defend, hedge in, join together, shut up.” (Strong’s #H5526) This would explain the cherubims’ overshadowing wings which “covered” the mercy seat and that were embroidered on the veil covering the Holy of Holies.
In Genesis 3:24, we see the cherubim guarding the tree of life after Adam and Eve fell into a state of sin and were cast out of the garden. Perhaps a symbolic picture of this is the cherubim that were embroidered on the veil that covered the Holy of Holies. (Exodus 26:31)
Again, in Ezekiel 8-10, we see how the cherubim acted as agents of God’s judgement, as well as chariots for God’s presence as He departed from the Jewish temple due to gross idolatry.
In summary, scripture indicates the cherubim as being protectors and guardians of God’s holiness and the holy things of God, and agents that accompany God in judgement and blessing. It appears that their rank in the hierarchy of God’s Kingdom in the heavenly realms is number two to God Himself– the King of all creation ruling over all– and His will being administered through the cherubim to the archangels and angels. This would make these winged creatures that “cover” the throne of God, depicted by the golden cherubim that overshadowed the Mercy Seat, the most powerful created beings in the heavenly realm. Now, considering the role of the “cherubim”, the promises for those who “dwell in the secret place of the Most High”, coming from Psalm 91:4-7,10-12, make even more sense:
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings thou shalt trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror of night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked… There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. ”
For those who are made holy by the blood of Jesus and are seated together in heavenly places in Christ, the same cherubim that guarded the tree of life from fallen man and were depicted on the veil covering the Holy of Holies, actually hedge us in WITH Christ! The same powerful cherubim that closely guard the holy, consecrated things of God from a sinful world, and a sinful world from a thrice-Holy God, now closely guard us with their wings outstretched! The same authoritative cherubim that mete God’s awful judgement upon things unholy, now protect us from it, causing it to “pass over” us! No wonder those who “dwell in the secret place of the Most High rest secure, ” rejoicing under His wings!” (Psalm 63:7)
In these last days, according to the Holy scriptures, we are going to face unprecedented circumstances. However, the Bible teaches that we are never to fear. In my times of prayer I have sensed that God is presently raising up an army of believers who are being taught their position in Him like never before–fully aware that the Almighty power of the MOST High is working on our behalf and faithfully protecting His redeemed! Are angels real? They are, indeed! And, I believe we will be seeing their activity increase in the earth, even as darkness increases its activity. The armies of heaven stand at attention, swiftly bidding the Almighty’s every command, on behalf of the heirs of salvation! As my daughter, Angie Dahlstrom, would say, (who named her new album as such), we are on the “Winning Side”!
Finally, “dwelling” in the Holy of Holies means wholehearted dedication to God, spirit, soul and body. The definition of the “Holy of Holies” itself, a double use of the word, meaning, “hallowed, dedicated, sacred, consecrated, set apart, sanctified, most holy place”, implies the reverential fear of God:
“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that FEAR him, and delivereth them.” (Psalm 34:7)
Dwelling in the Holy of Holies is all about living in unbroken, deep intimacy with God. The definition of “intimacy” indicates transparency, or, allowing God into the deepest secrets of our heart, and visa versa. It is where we draw near to gaze upon His Glory, exemplified in His Name, YAWEH in Exodus 34:5-7 when He passed by Moses. It is where we see Him High and lifted up, like Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 6, and are deeply purified. It is where we get to bask in the sweetness of His Presence to our heart’s delight, satisfying our soul’s deepest thirst, and where we fall down prostrate before Him while worshiping the Beauty of Holiness with thousands upon thousands of angels! In short, it is where we are forever changed.
Communing with Him, our “Mercy Seat” in full view– the Lamb Who purified us with His Own Blood that we might enter in–is where His Heart and ours become one. Realizing the awful price He paid that we could immerse ourselves in His Glory, there can be only one response: Surrendering ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, wholly consecrated unto Him— actually becoming His Heartbeat to the world. (Romans 12:1).
He will tenderly draw ever so near to the one who diligently seeks Him, desiring Him with all of their heart. Indeed, this intimacy is what is being described in the final verses in Psalm 91:
“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” (vs.14-16)
One example of “setting one’s love” upon God, is David, who wrote,
“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me.” (Palm 27:4-5)
“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary…When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches…My soul followeth hard after thee.” (Psalm 63:1-2,6,8)
Unlike many of the Jews, who made the tabernacle about rote, ceremonial rituals instead of what the objects represented, David got the whole point! Remembering his encounters with God, wherein he saw His power and glory in the temple, David’s heart was forever won! God had become his one desire! He described his longing for Him by comparing it to one who desperately thirsts for a long drink of water in a waterless desert. Having tasted of His goodness, he yearned for and sought God’s presence daily, thinking about Him day and night. Nothing, nor no one but the Living God, would be able to satisfy him. In short, David had a heart after God.
Likewise, God is after OUR heart!
God is not looking for perfection, just perfect (loyal) hearts! We are not to love the world or the things in the world, which entails the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. For those who love this present world system, says 1 John 2:15-16, the love of the father is not in him. We are to “set our affections on things above, where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God” (in the Holy of Holies), “not on earthly things”. (Colossians 3:2) It is the “pure in heart” that have the spiritual sight to see Him. (Matthew 5:8) This speaks of an “undivided heart”, one that seeks to serve only one master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In fact, this was a key message ensconced in my prophetic dream to America! A warning against being fixated on this present, passing world, the “lust of the eyes” blinds our spiritual eyesight and puts us to sleep, spiritually. For our spiritual sight and our spiritual sensitivity to be restored, we were to fix our eyes (and hearts) on Jesus.
So, how do we draw near to God in heaven’s Holy of Holies? Surely, we do not come to the throne of grace by our own so -called “righteousness”, but by the blood of Jesus, which fully affords us His Perfect Righteousness:
“Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh, and having an high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from a [guilty] conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)
Since Jesus is the fulfillment of all the types and shadows of the Tabernacle, the writer to the Hebrews was warning his readers not to revert back to Judaism, (such as “dietary laws, holy days, new moons, sabbath days, which perish with use”, Colossians 2:16), but to draw near to God in a sincere, heart to Heart relationship with Him.
However, James 4:6-10, sheds more light on “drawing near to God”, essentially with a true heart, including things that prevent us from dwelling in the Holy of Holies.
James was addressing those who were attempting to serve God while still captivated by the world and their carnal appetites– the “double-minded”, those halting between two opinions. They were steeped in spiritual adultery, in love with the world, which was poisoning their lives with pride, jealousy, competition, maliciousness and strife.
James clarifies in this passage that God’s grace, which is much greater than our sin, is lavishly given to the humble—those who honestly admit their true spiritual conditions-–and, asking for His help, repentantly submit their lives to Him. This entails “cleansing our hands” (admitting and forsaking our sinful actions) and “purifying (sanctifying) our hearts”. “Sanctify”, which is another word for “consecration”, speaks of setting our heart, (the wellspring of our life itself), apart from all else and dedicating it to God. This, of course, would mean renouncing idolatry (worshiping/being mastered by anything other than God). Not with any pretense, of course, but with transparent introspection and honest confession, with an intent toward pleasing and obeying God. For those who will “draw near to God” [with a “true” heart], says James, “He will [readily] draw near to us”! (Also see Psalm 24)
An perfect example of this, and how it relates to Psalm 91:14-16, is found in 1 Samuel 7:2-3:
“And it came to pass, while the ark [of the Covenant] abode in Kirjath-Jearim, that the time was long: for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines.”
The Ark, a symbol of God’s abiding power, presence and glory, had been captured by the idol-worshiping Philistines. The Ark brought ensuing great disaster to them, so they got rid of it by sending it back to Israel. When Israel recaptured the Ark, however, they treated it irreverently, taking dangerously lightly the holy things of God. Instead of transporting it the way God had commanded Moses, they created a makeshift cart to haul it. Furthermore, they got curious and uncovered the Ark to look inside! As a result, those surrounding it were instantly killed. This offended Israel, so they, too, sent the Ark away.
For twenty long years Israel lived without the presence of the Lord. Finally, they began to “lament” (“To groan, bewail, cry aloud“) after Him. Similar to James’ instructions above, this was when Samuel instructed them that coming back to the Lord with all their hearts meant putting away their strange gods, “preparing their hearts unto the Lord”. While the Israelites were fasting, praying, and recommitting their hearts solely to the Lord, the Philistines drew near to attack. Crying out to God, He quickly came to Israel’s aid like a Man of war! He fought for them, completely subduing their enemies! This is a perfect example of Psalm 91’s promises of protection and deliverance for those who “dwell” in the secret place of the Most High– who “set their love upon Him”.
In closing, right now, God is asking each one of us to “prepare our hearts unto Him.” Seeing the late hour we are in, now is the time to prepare to meet our Bridegroom, our lamps full of oil! Looking at the signs of the times, we can easily see that His is at the door! He is using this devil-inspired Coronavirus, which is ultimately shutting us away from the usual distractions, to draw us near to Him, calling us into the Holy of Holies to immerse ourselves in His presence. Furthermore, in light of the Biblical, unprecedented events that are coming, seeing that “a house divided cannot stand” (Matthew 12:25), it is IMPERATIVE that we “prepare our hearts”, carefully redeeming the time that we have. Confessing Psalm 91 over ourselves is good. However, now is the time to make sure that we really are “dwelling” in the Secret Place of the Most High. How might we do that?
It is scriptural to take a careful inventory of ourselves, such as in the solemn assemblies in the book of Joel, honestly asking ourselves the right questions. The following includes some examples:
Like David, do I genuinely crave deep intimacy with God, thirsting after Him to see His power and glory in my life? Do I faint for the courts of the Lord (His presence)? Are my thoughts centered on Him, day and night? Or, have I lost my passion for His presence, merely going through the religious motions of “serving” Him, while in reality my heart is distant? Do I yearn to spend time in the Holy of Holies, seeking to know His Heart, while hungering to give Him more of MINE—everything I think, say and do, an offering of worship unto Him? Or, am I SELF-satisfied, and centered on pleasing myself? What do I honestly “thirst” for in my life, using to fill the void in my heart? Is it God and his righteousness, or something else? Am I passionately pursuing holiness in my life, out of reverential fear of God?
Then we need to realize, and admit, that we cannot fix our hearts. We can’t overcome sin, nor produce the fruits of the Spirit by our own ability. Like Israel did in Samuel chapter 7, we cry out to God for help:
“Seeing…that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy , and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
“Mercy”, in this verse, means, “compassion, tender mercy”, as in the tender love of a mother for her infant child. His Arms are open wide, wanting to embrace us, heal us and deliver us. Honestly admitting the truth to God about our condition, and crying out for His help, is what He is looking for. This allows the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of “Truth”, to “work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and continue to diligently the Lord, He will be faithful to deliver.
I do not say any of these things in a condescending manner, nor to bring condemnation, for in my own extended “solemn assembly”, I have had to ask myself the same questions. I simply know, all too well, how deceitful the heart is, and how easy it is to deceive myself into thinking everything is fine when it’s not. In the process, God has been bringing surprisingly hidden things to light and reigniting His Holy Fire deep within my heart. Repentance truly does yield “times of refreshing.” (Acts 3:19) He will do the same for any honest seeker of His Heart.
Of course, this is only a short summary of how it works. Every aspect of the tabernacle, God’s symbolic blueprint for intimacy with Him, reveals more about Christ and His Finished Work, and ultimately brings us closer and deeper into a satisfying relationship with Him. To learn more about the tabernacle and its symbolism, stay tuned for part 3 of Finding Peace in a Turbulent World at heavenshopeunveiled.com.