THE MORNING AND EVENING PRINCIPLE
Recently I read a wonderful book called, Ten P’s in a Pod by Arnold Pent III.* It is the story of the evangelistic Pent family who traveled the continent preaching the gospel together. Arnold Pent believed in the power of the Word of God. Each day he conducted Family Devotions with his wife and eight children. It wasn’t a ten minute devotion at the end of the evening meal, either. He read the Word of God to his children for one hour after breakfast, one hour after lunch and one hour after supper, without fail! The Pent family followed this practice whether they were in their own home or someone else’s home.
The children were also required to have their own personal devotions before breakfast, beginning with 15 minutes when they grew old enough to read and increasing to one hour by the time they were 13 years of age. Consequently, without any effort, the children could all quote at least 300 Bible verses from memory by the time they were ten years of age. Some of the children could quote the entire New Testament and many passages of the Old Testament.
As you can imagine, I was challenged. You are probably thinking that such a regime would be impossible in your home. Me too! I doubt whether many of us could collectively as a family read the Bible for an hour three times a day. However, God has shown us in His Word what He wants us to do! He wants us to read His Word it at least two times a day--every evening and morning.
Everything in the Old Testament is a picture type of how God wants us to live today and He gave us many pictures to reveal the evening and morning principle.
KEEP THE FIRE BURNING - Leviticus 6:8-13
"The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out."
God commanded the priests to keep the fire on the altar burning continually. He told them, "It must never go out." This was a supernatural fire that was started by God Himself ,but then He gave the responsibility to His priests to keep it burning. What was the secret to keep it burning? They had to attend to it every evening and every morning.
• The first thing they had to do was to clean out the ashes. Every morning and every evening we must also clear out the ashes from our lives by removing things that smother the flame of God burning in our hearts. We must cast aside anything--any sin, habit, attitude or negativity that would dull the flame of our devotion to the Lord.
• The priests then added fresh wood to the fire. Fire will soon die without wood. This speaks of the fresh manna of the Word of God. Adding wood to a fire once a day is not enough to keep the fire burning. We must feed the fire in our hearts by reading the Word of God evening and morning.
• Lastly, the priests arranged the burnt offering upon the fire. This speaks of self-consecration. This is not to be occasional, but continual and habitual. The burnt offering was sometimes called the “ascending offering” because it ascended from the altar as a sweet savor to the Lord. The word for “burnt” here means “that which ascends.”
God ignited a flame in our hearts when He came to indwell us by His Holy Spirit. He now gives us the responsibility to keep the flame burning continually by feeding on His Word and coming into His presence night and morning. God reveals in this principle the blessing of feeding ourselves and our families every morning and evening with the Word of God.
KEEP THE LIGHT BURNING -- Exodus 27:20-21
“Cause the lamp to burn continually.”
Another task the priests were given was to attend to the lamps every evening and every morning, “to cause the lamp to burn always.” They had to fill the lamps with olive oil which speaks of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The light dims when the Holy Spirit is quenched in our hearts. The light departs when the Holy Spirit is grieved in our homes. To keep the light burning, we need to establish the evening and morning principle. God does not want His light in us to ever go out. It is to burn continually.
The lampstand in the holy place was opposite the Table of Shewbread on which were placed twelve loaves of bread. These loaves of bread were called the “Bread of the Presence” because they lay in the presence of the Lord for one week. On the eighth day the priests ate the bread and fellowshipped with God and with one another. The light shone upon the bread which speaks of the Word of God being illuminated.
The daily reading of the Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We cannot read the Word as the letter of the law. We must ask the Holy Spirit to fill us and illumine the Word to us. It is the revelation of the Holy Spirit upon the Word which causes us to grow. My daily prayer for myself, our children and grandchildren is that God will give us “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of our understanding being enlightened.” (Ephesians 1:17-18) You may also like to pray the prayer of the Psalmist, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)
Each of the twelve loaves of bread was made of two omers of fine flour. This was the amount of manna the children of Israel were allowed to gather on the sixth day when they gathered twice as much in preparation for the Sabbath day. Two omers speak of the double portion. Don’t be content with a meager ration of the Word of God. Ask Him for a double portion of revelation and understanding as you read God’s Word privately and together with your family.
Talk about the Word as you read it with your children. Ask questions. Pray that they will receive light. It is sad to know of children who grow up in a Christian home, and yet without the Holy Spirit’s revelation and light. It is the light upon the Word that brings joy and intimacy with the Lord.
Each evening and morning the priests not only filled the lamps with oil, but they also trimmed the wicks. When the wick gets charred, it gives off smoke rather than light. We are likened to the wicks. If our wick gets too high with pride, we will give off smoke and stink. If our wick gets too low with self depreciation, our flame will be extinguished. We must be trimmed twice a day to keep our light burning brightly.
There was no light in the holy place in the wilderness tabernacle. Only the lampstand provided the light. Just as God ensured that His Holy Place was continually filled with light by the filling of the lamps evening and morning, so He wants our homes to be filled with light.( Matthew 5:15 and Luke 11:33) I believe that it is the responsibility of the mother to keep the light of God burning in her home. That is why the mother of the home symbolically lights the candles on the eve of Shabbat. Not only is our home to be filled with light, but God’s light should shine out to our neighbors and community around us.
There is sin and darkness all around us, but the darker the night, the more we can shine. Isaiah 60:1-3 says, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” We must light the lamps morning and evening if we are going to shine in the darkness!
KEEP THE INCENSE BURNING – Exodus 30:7-9
“A perpetual incense before the Lord.”
The priests also had to burn incense every evening and morning. Remember that God has now made us priests and so we have the same priestly duties. (Revelation 1:6) God wanted His priests to live and work continually in an atmosphere of sweet aroma. To keep the fragrance filling the holy place they had to burn it every evening and every morning. The incense speaks of prayer, intercession, praise and worship.
In Revelation 8:3 we read that “there was given unto him (the angel) much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” The incense was offered upon a golden altar. An altar speaks of sacrifice. It often seems a sacrifice to pray, but the result of not praying is a greater sacrifice.
I believe that prayer is one of the greatest lacks in our homes today. It is the weak spot. It is a crack in the foundation. Jesus said, “My house shall be called the house of prayer.” (Matthew 21:13) Does your home belong to God? If it is truly God’s house, it will be a house of prayer. Do people know your home as a home of prayer? Although prayer should be a spontaneous part of our lives throughout the day, it is also needful to establish the evening and morning principle of prayer and worship.
Before we leave our table each evening, everyone sitting around the table prays, from the oldest to the youngest. Our prayer times are the most precious times of our meal table. Our table is associated with prayer. When guests sit around our table, we pray for them before they leave the table. The Presence Bread on the Table of Showbread in the tabernacle had to be sprinkled with frankincense which speaks of the sweet incense of prayer. Prayer and the bread of the Word of God go hand in hand.
We will strengthen our families as we pray. As we strengthen our homes, we will strengthen the nation. It hinges on prayer! E. M. Bounds says, “How we estimate and place prayer is how we estimate and place God. To give prayer a secondary place is to make God secondary in life’s affairs…”
How much of a place does prayer have in your home? What percentage of each day is given to prayer?
KEEP THANKING AND PRAISING – 1 Chronicles 23:30
“The sons of Levi… are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the Lord, and likewise at evening; and to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord… and that they should keep the charge.”
Every morning and every evening at the time of the sacrifice, the Levites stood and gave thanks to the Lord. Once again we notice that God gave specific times of every morning and every evening. This is God’s divine principle. We can get busy with the challenges and pressures of life during the day and maybe even forget to thank the Lord. However, if we establish the morning and evening principle in our home, we will at least have two specific times of every day when we take time out to thank the Lord for all His goodness and blessings to us. Surely this is the minimum that we can give to our great God who is worthy of our continual praise and worship.
We are reminded again in Psalm 92:1-2, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and sing praises unto thy name, O most High. To show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.”
I notice three points in this passage:
• The morning and evening principle is not just a suggestion, but rather, “it is a good thing”! It is not legality; it is a good thing! Coming together as a family to pray and read God’s Word will bless you family because it is a good thing to do.
• The morning and evening principle includes singing.
• The morning and evening principle is to be practiced consistently—morning and night.
KEEP THE CHARGE – 2 Chronicles 13:11
The Levites “burn unto the Lord every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense…for we keep the charge of the Lord our God.”
They kept the morning and evening principles because God had charged them to keep it. It is a charge from the Lord our God. 2 Chronicles 8:14 MLB speaks of it as “their duties of praising and ministering.” The KJV says, “as the duty of every day required.” Is it a duty to be performed? Yes, but not out of legality, but because God is worthy. To do anything less than come together twice a day to praise and thank the Lord is sacrilege!
When the Jews came back from Babylon to rebuild the temple, they “builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law or Moses the man of God… and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening.” (Ezra 3:2-3) Once again, they kept to the principle God commanded by worshipping Him every morning and evening.
KEEP THE MORNING AND EVENING SACRIFICE – Exodus 29:38-42 and 2 Chronicles 13:11
“Day by day continually.”
We come to the last picture of the evening and morning principle. The priests had to sacrifice a lamb every morning and also every evening. To offer the lamb, the blood had to be shed. We cannot get by without the blood of Jesus. It is only through the precious blood of Jesus that was poured out for us that we are saved, that we have forgiveness of sins, and by which we are delivered from the power of the enemy.
The greatest way to the keep the light and fire of God burning in our hearts and homes is to keep short accounts with God. Each morning and evening we need to ask Him to show us what quenches His Holy Spirit and to ask for the cleansing of the blood of Jesus over our minds and our hearts. We need the daily cleansing of the blood of Jesus over our homes. Morning and evening we need to offer our lives as a sacrifice to the Lord, just as He sacrificed His life for us.
Is the Family Altar burning continually in your home, or is it broken down? The altar of the Lord was broken down in the time when Ahab and Jezebel reigned in Israel, until Elijah came along in the anointing of God to challenge the status quo. In 1 Kings 18:30 it says, “And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him, And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” He prepared the sacrifice and called on the Lord, “Then the fire of the Lord fell…” (v. 38)
Don’t leave the altar in your home broken down. Repair it for the sake of your family and the nation.
Blessings from NANCY CAMPBELL
* You can purchase Ten P’s in a Pod from Vision Forum, Ph: 1 800 440 0022 http://www.visionforum.com/
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