Exercise your imagination, it’s a game my daughter and I play where we shut off the TV or Netflix and she picks a picture and we draw it and color it together. That morning my wife’s brother was coming into town for a quick visit, so we were excited to be going to lunch with him. We had a little time on our hands before we left. Zoe wanted me to draw a family of elephants, in the jungle, drinking water. So I googled a picture of an elephant and did my best to draw the picture to Zoe’s satisfaction. Then we colored it together. When the picture was done, it was time to go. We hopped into the car and went to meet Trey. He had brought a gift with him for Zoe — a beautiful leather shoulder bag; the perfect size for a four year old. Etched into the leather decorating the bag were elephants. Each elephant had its front leg lifted as if it were about to walk, but it was the only leg that was lifted. So it looked more like it was getting ready to stomp. A few minutes later, another of Trey’s friends came to the lunch with another, unexpected gift for Zoe. This time it was a stuffed elephant. There were altogether too many elephants in the room for me not to realize there was something important the Holy Spirit wanted me to learn from elephants …
We’ve been in kind of a holding pattern as a ministry. We closed the door on an incredible chapter of our lives when we shut the doors of Humble Skatepark and Fuel Cafe. These were two avenues the Lord gave us to serve our community for 12 years. But at the start of this year, we knew the season was coming to a close. Our feelings were mixed; excited for what was next, yet sad that something so meaningful to us and others was over. They say grief is proportionate to the value you have placed in something. So we are grieving as well as refocusing. It has been a very valuable time of rest. God has taught us many important things about abiding in Him and remaining in the center of His fullness.
In the midst of the transition we have been asking the question, what next? And what has been very clear is we are to move forward in the “Spirit of the Tabernacle of David”. That may mean as much to you as it did to me! I personally thought the Tabernacle of David was a thing of the past. You may have heard the argument, “that’s Old Covenant, we are in the New – that stuff is no longer important … etc.” That is all well and good and yes there are critical differences between the Old and New Covenant, but I believe we would be wise to proceed with more caution when abandoning what is revealed in the Old Testament.
In the book of Acts(15:16) the disciples are discussing the issue of how to handle Gentile converts to Christianity. In the midst of the discussion, they quote the prophet Amos(9:11), who had foretold that the Messiah (Jesus) would return with a very specific agenda “to rebuild the Tabernacle of David”. It is a pretty fascinating statement even if it is the only real mention of it in the entire New Testament. If it were really a big deal, wouldn’t more attention be devoted to it? But maybe that’s the wrong assumption.
Could this actually be a profoundly important lens for us through which to engage in mission? What if the insights David had reveal essential heart attitudes that could propel communities towards regional transformation? So as a church we have been asking the Lord to help us understand what it was about David’s Tabernacle that touched Jesus so deeply that he is committed to rebuilding it? What is ‘the Spirit of the Tabernacle of David’?
To understand the Spirit of the Tabernacle of David, I believe it is important to look at the heart of the man. Although David’s Tabernacle is only mentioned one time in the new testament, David and his heart are mentioned more frequently.
David, the Shepherd King of Israel, was a man obsessed with the passion to create a dwelling place in Zion for the Ark or “the resting place of the presence of God” (Psalm 132). His Tabernacle, a tent structure, was different than the Tabernacle of Moses in a number of ways and it was also different from the Temple his son Solomon built. But of the three, the one that Jesus is committed to rebuilding is the Tabernacle of David. That says quite a lot.
So in this season of transition and waiting on the Lord, I have begun to ask him for insight into the Tabernacle of David. Who speaks with authority on this topic in this day?
Like I said, the Tabernacle of David wasn’t really on my radar at all, until recently. I’m not sure that is a good thing for someone who has dedicated their life to mission and evangelism to admit. But I don’t think my lack of understanding is uncommon. This began to change when Sean Feucht and Rick Pino came to Houston for 50 hours of continuous worship. It’s an event they called Fire on the Altar. I met them at my friend Doug Stringer’s office when they were preparing for Fire on the Altar. I have found Sean Feucht, Andy Byrd, Rick Pino, Mike Bickle, Bill Johnson & Ray Hughes to be very helpful in understanding the Spirit of the Tabernacle of David. I am a rookie and my understanding continues to grow.
So what does this have to do with elephants?
While listening to some of Ray Hughes insights on the sounds and tones of the Tabernacle, he dropped another “elephant into the room”. Bull elephants are capable of releasing a subsonic sound that alerts other elephants in a 30 mile radius. While human’s cannot detect it – other elephants definitely can and when they hear it, they respond. They come to the region where the bull released the sound. When they arrive they gather in a circle and then begin to dance or stomp. As they stomp together in a circle, the ground begins to shake. The reason they gather is that beneath the surface of the ground, where the first elephant released the sound, is a water table. As they continue to stomp, “the water bearing sand soil beneath the hardened crust begins to vibrate and the sand layer liquefies, causing the hardened layer to collapse. The collapse will displace some of the wet sand out and form the banks of a sink hole; and a pond is formed”. It is a process scientist’s and engineer’s call liquefaction. So stomping together long enough the elephants actually tap the water table! I was kind of blown away, and after my day with all Zoe’s elephant gifts – I was much more than intrigued.
I believe liquefaction has a spiritual parallel and may in fact be the best picture of what happens in the spirit when our worship and intercession is released into the atmosphere. Eventually our worship and prayer shakes the sin clogged atmosphere over the region and we begin to access the glory table in the heavens above.
So I believe Ray Hughes insights on this are pretty important. King David was desperate to create a dwelling place for the presence of the Lord in Zion. His first effort had turned out in disaster, but his resolve was fixed and he would not make the same mistake twice. This time he would make sure he did it God’s way. According to the word of Moses, the Ark would be carried on the shoulders of the priests. As the priest’s carried the Ark, David danced the dance of a conquered King and sacrificed. It was a 9 mile dance from the house of Obed-Edom to Jerusalem. Clearly the picture of King David stripped, wearing the linen ephod and dancing with abandon is the picture of a man emptied of self and full of the Spirit of God. David’s heart was undivided. Like the elephants, David was a spiritual giant and he knew he was near a “Glory Table”. So he released the sound of his heart in a dance, unhindered by unbelief or any fear of total surrender. Incidentally one of the Psalms he sung as he danced was Psalm 24, “Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in”. He was not hindered by the opinion’s of men or what men(even his wife) considered dignified behavior. He stomped because he knew he was near a ‘Glory Table’. And if he could tap into it properly ….
One of Ray’s other fascinating insights comes from the Hebrew word ‘Nehiloth’. It is one of the many Hebrew words in the titles of the psalms. This word is in the title of Psalm 5(and maybe others?). It denotes a song to be played with reed pipes or wind pipes like a flute. It is a pierced reed. Ray explains this ties in with the principle of ‘Hernholtz Resonance’. Resonance is basically how a flute or shofar works. The emptier the vessel, the lower the frequency that is released. So what? Well, Ray explains high frequencies affect our nervous system and lower frequencies affect our circulatory system — basically our heart! Maybe God’s heart is affected the same way when he see’s empty vessels pursuing Him in low tones?
For me there is no clearer picture of an empty vessel resonating the deep sounds of the Spirit of God than David dancing his way towards the gates of Jerusalem. It’s like a shofar. To create a shofar the rams horn is soaked in water and then the cartilage inside the horn is carved out, and a mouth piece is pierced into it. With the cartilage removed the air can freely pass through the horn. The horn must be empty to effectively resonate the wind pushed through it. If it is not emptied of the cartilage it is pretty useless as a horn. David on that day was not ‘full of himself’. He had been emptied and now he resonated with the fullness of the Spirit of God. He was a vessel fully consecrated to God and the sound released through him was deep.
For me all of this ties together in a very important way. Many of us have longed to tap into the ‘Glory Table’ over our cities and regions in an even more substantial way. If you’ve ever made the statement “There must be more”, I believe you are articulating that longing. Perhaps God still has a way to release his glory in unprecedented ways over regions. Perhaps now is the time for the spiritual elephants to gather at the Glory Table in their region and really stomp? Do you hear the sound of any bull elephants?
Subsonic Elephant Communication
Liquefaction in New Zealand Earthquake
I recommend Ray’s teaching on the Tabernacle of David & his teaching on the Warhorse.
Andy Byrd & Sean Feucht’s book, “Fire & Fragrance: From the Great Commandment to the Great Commission”
and Rick Pino has moved to Austin to pioneer a movement in the Spirit of the Tabernacle of David.