In our daily devotions my husband and I have been reading the book of Exodus. It was interesting to me to see that when the Israelites were delivered from bondage in Egypt God chose to not lead them directly to the land He had promised them. Rather, he led them into the wilderness.
When Pharoah finlly let the people go, God did ot lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine terriroty, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land….God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Exodus 13:17-18.
There, in the wilderness, God gave them two things they needed to become the nation He desired.
- The Tabernacle – unifying symbol of God’s presence with principles of worship
- The Tablet (Ten Commandments) – principles of God for personal practices of a godly life reflected in our behavior
Since much of the Old Testament is devoted to the Tabernacle I have decided to take a closer look at this structure and what it meant to the Israelites, what it might mean to us in our understanding of the importance of worship of God.
First thing that caught my attention was the preparation to build the Tabernacle.
- Materials required: gold, silver, bronze, blue, purple and scarlet thread, fine linen, gemstones and more. Exodus 25:3-7
- Voluntary offering: it was not demanded but rather was to be given by those “whose hearts are moved to offer them.” Exodus 25:1-2
- Both men and women were involved in the giving and preparation. Exodus 35:22; 35:25-26
- The leaders set the example in giving. Exodus 35:27-28
- The Holy Spirit was present and filled the workmen. Exodus 35:31-35
Looking at what was involved in the preparation to build the Tabernacle, I thought how that applied to our attempts to be involved in the church today.
- As the materials required were things of great value, so should be our efforts for God. We should bring Him our best. Sadly, I fear we do not. Too often we spend our days working, playing, filling our time with our own needs/wants/desires. Then at the end of the day we fall into bed and quickly murmur a prayer to God. We often neglect gathering with the family of God to worship Him and encourage and be encouraged by others. We often give Him what is left of our time/talent/money after we have met all our wants/needs.
- Yet our worship, our efforts for Him should never be done because it is demanded. It must come from a love of God.
- Sadly, for years many have restricted women from fulfilling their God-given call. Yet we see Jesus often ministering to the women. It was a woman who carried the message of the Messiah to the Samarian village. It was a woman who Jesus first appeared to after His resurrection.
- I am thankful that in my church our pastor sets an example of selfless service to others. But sadly we have often see ministers who have set themselves above the rest of God’s family.
- The Holy Spirit was present in these men to make furniture, to build the Tabernacle. Again, we have often made the work of the Spirit to mean something “supernatural.” God often uses us in “natural” gifts like baking a meal for a family suffering illness, fixing a car for a single mother, babysitting to give a couple a night out. God’s Spirit is given for more everyday, ordinary people and we need to recognize this.
Why did God tell them to build the Tabernacle? What was His purpose?
Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. Exodus 25:8
What a wonderful thought! God desired to live among them. Later when Jesus came John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus came to dwell among us. The Greek word used for dwell in John 1:14 is skenoo and literally means “to pitch a tent. This word is the very word used in the New Testament to refer to the tabernacle of God used by Israel in their early worship of God. Jesus came because God still desires to live among us.
Jesus told us that wherever two or three gathered in His name, He would be there. So when we come into church on Sunday, He is there. Do we realize that? How often we come in late, grabbing our coffee, looking around to see who is there, talking to the one next to us? Do we not realize we are entering the presence of God? He is there. Let our worship show we acknowledge that.
I will be writing more as I study this Old Testament Tabernacle. Hope you will follow me on this journey.