Did you ever notice that when God told Moses to set up the tabernacle, he was instructed to do it from the inside out – starting with the ark and the Holy of Holies and going out (Exodus 40:1-33), ending with the outside courtyard?
Then the Lord said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain …
Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. Exodus 40:1, 33
What struck me was that they didn’t get the whole thing set up and then with great pomp and celebration bring in the ark at the end. They started with the ark, the place where they met with God, worshiped God, heard from God. They continued doing that as they built out from there. From the inside out. Isn’t that such a picture of the work of sanctification, of working out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)?
And then I read again the words of Jesus:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
The little word translated “with” three times in this verse is the Greek work ek or ex (ἐκ, ἐξ) and actually means “from out of, out from and to, out from within.” The HELPS Word-studies1 says about this word that it, “has a two-layered meaning (‘out from and to’) which makes it out-come oriented (out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object).”
This is the same word that is used in these verses:
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. Matthew 12:35
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. Matthew 15:18
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots (or from the roots up). Mark 11:20
So, it struck me that Jesus is saying, “Love the Lord your God out of, or out from the depths of, your heart and out of your soul and out of all your mind and out of your strength.” And, as Jesus said this, he was starting from the most inside place – the Holy Place, our hearts where the Holy Spirit resides in us, meets with us, speaks to us – and going out to the most outside place, our abilities, might, power, strength.
This means that our love for God is meant to come out of our inward parts, from our center, from our roots up, and not just be pasted on the outside because of a perceived obligation, or for show, or to get attention/approval/respect, or to earn our salvation. This kind of loving God is the opposite of what the Pharisees did. In fact, the same word, ek or ex, is used in Jesus’ blistering criticism of the Pharisees as hypocrites.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside (ek) you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:27-28
Jesus was condemning the fact that, on the inside, from where love and adoration and worship should flow outward toward God, in their out-from-and-to place, was instead hypocrisy and wickedness. And “loving” God was confined to an outward show.
Let me not be like that! Help me love you Lord from my heart first, out from the Holy Place, out from where the ark of my Temple stands, the place where you told Moses, “I will meet with you there” (Exodus 25:22). Let me be still there before the Mercy Seat and know you, and hear your voice, and receive your commands for each day. And then let your love flow out from there, filling my soul and my thinking, and giving me the grace and strength I need to love you and obey your commands and be your representative here on earth.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you (any hurtful, wicked, way of pain, idolatry), and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me (in my heart, my inward part, my center), bless his holy name! Psalm 103:1 (ESV)
For more on this subject, you can read Out of the Heart.
1Copyright 2021 by Discovery Bible
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