Those who may be football enthusiasts will probably recall a famous Minnesota Viking whose name was Jim Marshall. While famous for many feats, his most memorable feat was accomplished in 1964 when he ran for a 66 yard safety, the wrong way! In life, we need to make sure that we are running in the right direction. Fortunately, God has given us His Word to enable us to have the right judgment and guidance in which to follow Him.
In Scripture, we have become aware of the significance of the direction of East. For instance, in Numbers 2:3, God instructs Moses that when traveling, the tribe of Judah would pitch their tents “on the east side toward the rising of the sun.” Of course, we know that through the lineage of Judah would come the Messiah, Jesus. The prophet Malachi makes reference to this in Malachi.4:2.
“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings…”
Church tradition says that it was through the Eastern Gate which Jesus passed through on that fateful Palm Sunday. The Eastern Gate was sometimes referred to as the Golden Gate or the Beautiful Gate.
After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., this portion of the wall and the gate itself was not rebuilt until the sixth or seventh century. When the Ottoman Turks conquered Jerusalem in 1517, the Ottoman prince had the Eastern gate closed because of the prophecy found in Ezekiel 44:1-3. In Ezekiel 47 we find the beautiful passage about the “living waters” as a river which would flow forth from the Eastern Gate.
While the study of the direction of East is extremely interesting, I find the direction of North to be equally intriguing. We will begin our study with a most improbable personage, namely, Satan or Lucifer, the nemesis of mankind. I will cite portions of Ezekiel 28:12-17 to introduce the reader to this infamous creature.
“Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty…the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created…Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth…Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub…Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.”
There are several key words found in this passage that will help up us glean some nuggets of truth. First, the word “sealest” refers to the signet ring. When a king issued a proclamation, he would seal it with wax and press upon the wax his signet ring as the last act done. I believe that Lucifer was the last of the angels that God created, thus His crowning creation of His angelic host. We know from Scripture that God created man, after His own image, also as the last act of creation on earth. Next, we find the phrase, “workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes.” This implies to me that Lucifer was designed to lead in the worship of the angels to God which, undoubtedly, was the most important of all the duties of the angelic host. This brings us to an important point. We know from Psalms 22:3 that God inhabits the praises of his people. Praise brings us into close proximity to the presence of God. When Jesus was entering Jerusalem on that last fateful week, the people began to cry out in praise to Him. The religious rulers were affronted and wanted Jesus to keep them quiet. This was His response in Matthew 21:16.
“Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.”
In Psalms 8:2, the passage that Jesus just referenced, the words actually read, “thou ordained strength.” Consequently, praise is strength. When we give God praise, we are strengthened spiritually. The verse goes on to give the reason for praise, that is, that you might “still the enemy and the avenger.” The Hebrew word for “still” means to desist, stop, end and action (of the enemy). Since Lucifer and his minions had the august duty of praise to God, but forfeited this esteemed privilege because of sin, I believe that when we engage in praise, rather in song or words, we bring confusion and chaos in the ranks of the enemy. When Saul was tormented by evil spirits, the playing of the harp by David, and most probably the singing of one of his psalms of praise helped calm Saul’s troubled soul. When Paul and Silas were flogged and thrown into prison, it was by singing praises to God which gave them solace.
Lastly, we find the words “merchandise” which literally means power; “covering cherub” means the protector of the angels; “beauty, wisdom, and brightness” refers to Lucifer’s innate qualities that God gave him. I believe that the wisdom was the knowledge of God’s holiness and righteousness. The beauty and the brightness denoted something that far surpassed that which none of the other angels possessed. While I know that this is pure conjecture on my part (however, I feel that the Scriptures gives credence to the premise), I believe that Lucifer was the only angel that actually had a presence of light about him, thus his namesake, “light-bearer.” The other angels only had the reflected light of God’s presence. Let the reader bear all this in mind as we read one other passage that deals with this disgraced creature.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning…For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
The arrogance of such statements is beyond comprehension were it not for the fact of his unique created status. Again, his name of “light-bearer” and the phrase “son of the morning,” suggest a certain preeminence unique to him only. When Lucifer stated that he wanted to exalt his throne “above the stars of God,” it meant that he no longer just wanted to be “protector” of the angels, but wanted to be their “ruler” also. The word “sit” means to “sit, as a judge; dwell, or remain.” The “mount of congregation” may be interpreted as “promotion” in the “place of meeting.” Notice, too, that this place of meeting was in the north. As we shall see, Lucifer’s pride and arrogance had no boundaries. He also wanted to “ascend above the heights of the clouds.” In rabbinic teaching, the Messiah was oftentimes referred to as “bar nivli,” or “son of the clouds.” Thus, Lucifer wanted to elevate his station even above the Son of God, and wanted to be on equal footing with God himself. Because of his created qualities, he felt himself superior to the other archangels, such as Michael and Gabriel.
Now that I’ve laid the foundation, let’s see what else God’s inspired Word teaches us about the direction of North. In God’s omniscience, He established certain parameters to give man guidance. For example, He gave us the magnetic north and true north wherewith we might guide ourselves to our destinations. Also, God has given man the North Star, otherwise known as Polaris, which provides a means of navigation and for obtaining latitude. Both of these enhances man’s bearing or judgment of direction. As the North would represent judgment in God’s natural world, we find that it will also signify judgment in the celestial world.
In Exodus 40, we discover that the table of shewbread was to be placed on the north side of the tabernacle. This table was also known as the “table of Presence.” Jesus once said that He was the “Bread of Life.” For our spiritual sustenance, we must eat of this bread. We find this truth in John 6:48-68. Many of His disciples turned back from Him when He told them that they must eat of His flesh, that is, the “bread which came down from heaven.” When He asked His chosen disciples if they, too, would turn away, Simon Peter responded with these words, “thou hast the words of eternal life.” Jesus, as the Living Word, gives us guidance, bearing, and judgment to live in this sinful world.
It is no accident that God commanded that the tribe of Dan to be pitched on the north side of the tabernacle (Numbers 2:25). The patriarch Jacob or Israel was a prophet. Notice what he prophesied about the tribe of Dan: “Dan shall judge his people.” That is why God had Moses to pitch the camp of Dan to the North, the place of judgment.
In Leviticus 1:10,11; Leviticus 6:25; and Leviticus 7:2, we see that God commanded that the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering all to be killed on the northward side of the tabernacle. This was to be the place where God would judge the sins of the people by the shedding of blood.
Finally, we come to the place where the Lamb of God gave His life for mankind. This sacred hill was known as Golgotha, or the “place of the skull.” We know it as Calvary’s Hill. It was located just outside the north wall of Jerusalem. This is where Jesus shed His innocent blood to judge or make atonement for our sins. Truly, God imparted great honor to the direction of North. Since the earthly Tabernacle merely represented that which was in Heaven, could it be that God’s throne-room, that is, His presence be located in the northern portion of Heaven itself. Someday we shall find out.