Discover His heart: He will go to great lengths to provide a place for fellowship with us
Anyone who wonders if God is into details should read Exodus 25-40. It was no small undertaking for the Israelites to build the portable tabernacle with particulars from God so specific that even the colors of the thread to be used were given. From their Egyptian spoils, the Israelites were encouraged to give to the building of the tabernacle: “Gold, silver, bronze; blue purple, purple and scarlet thread; fine linen and goat hair for cloth; tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, onyx stones and other gemstones.” (25:3-7)
The quality of the items used as well as the detailed instructions given in these chapters say a great deal about how God viewed His presence and fellowship with His people. The Israelites had been on the road out of Egypt for a little over 2 months, and they were just a few weeks travel from their final destination, the Promised Land. However, God’s presence, the Pillar of Cloud and Fire, stopped them at Mt. Sinai for God to give Moses the laws to govern the people as well as this very in-depth instruction regarding the portable tabernacle.
Logic would say, surely the pillar would have been a sufficient location for God’s presence for just a few more weeks until they arrived in Canaan. Was there really a need for this cumbersome tabernacle of heavy woods and linens for such a short period of time? It was as if God knew their journey would last 40 years. And of course, He did.
God’s priority in this journey was connection with His people – some things never change! He longed for their fellowship and for the opportunity to mold them into a people who would carry the message of His great love throughout the world. But before the great sacrifice of Jesus, how would these imperfect people commune with a Holy God? It was through building a prescribed home for Him and by following the prescribed methods of animal sacrifices. In doing this, they would show their obedient and contrite hearts, and they would allow God to purify their lives.
Jesus’ death on the cross changed all this. The linen curtain of Exodus 26:31-32, separating the Most Holy Place of God’s presence from the people, was torn from top to bottom at His death (Mark 15:38). Now, imperfect me can fellowship with a Holy God through my acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son. He can mold me into someone who can carry the message of His great love throughout my world. Talk about a portable tabernacle! I can carry His presence everywhere I go, as long as He is welcomed in my life.
I think we learn from God’s detailed instructions for the tabernacle that He desires a place worthy of His dwelling. “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.” (2 Cor. 6:16) Unholy living and idol worship will drive out the presence of our God who so longs to dwell in us. If we wonder why we no longer feel His presence in our lives, it’s time to find out what has replaced Him. Idol worship comes in many different forms.
“Aaron will wear this robe whenever he ministers before the Lord, and the bells [on his garment] will tinkle as he goes in and out of the Lord’s presence.” (28:35) What a daunting thought that bells would ring announcing His presence in my life! Thank you, Jesus, for grace and for the personal relationship I have with you. There may be bells, but they’re for His ears only.
Moving Forward: I seek your Presence today, dear Lord, and may the bells be silent because I remain!
Tomorrow @ 2 Samuel 15-19