READ EXODUS 24
God has promised His people that He will come and dwell among them. This promise was radical in their eyes, and it was the fulfillment of their longing for His permanent presence. Though God led them in various ways throughout their corporate history, God was now calling His people to build Him a place to dwell. The promise? Well, it was a promise of His presence.
And there’s something so sweet about this tabernacle call, and to understand it we must understand two things. The first is what we looked at yesterday – the way in which God met with His people and led them throughout their history. And the second is that the tabernacle was the first place God promised to dwell among His people. Later, God will call David to build Him a temple – one with a permanent foundation. The tabernacle, as we will see, was a tent.
How would God’s promise to “dwell among” the nation of Israel be different from the way He had led them in the past?
Read Exodus 16. Where are the people of God currently dwelling? What are they dwelling in?
God could have commanded this wandering nation to build Him a throne room to dwell in. He could have demanded a courtroom for Him to preside over. He could have demanded the very best home they could dream up. But He didn’t. God called the people of Israel to build Him a tent – a place to live, just like theirs.
How does this remind you of the Gospel?
There is such depth of beauty in this tabernacle call. God was no longer going to be intermittently near His people; He was promising to come and be fixed among them. The tabernacle was His promise to have a home address, a place where He could be found. Where Israel used to wonder when the pillar of fire would appear again, they would now know exactly where God was – in His home. God intentionally calls His people to build Him a dwelling place so that He can be near them, for good.
And, in His grace, He comes in their form. He comes in a way they can understand. He comes in a tent in the wilderness. Yes, it is a specific tent with exact specifications, but it is a tent nonetheless. In this call God is making Himself accessible, knowable, and obtainable to His people. He is coming in their likeness so that they might, as they follow His commands, draw near to Him.
Commentator J.A. Moyter writes this:
“’Tabernacle’ has become the conventional name for the Lord’s tent, intended presumably to express a sense of dignity and uniqueness, but we must not lose sight of the fact that it is the common word for ‘tent’ used to refer to the homes in which the Israelites themselves lived. It was, in fact, as Gooding says, ‘the tent God used when God went camping.’ Considering simply the words … points us to the nature and structure, a mobile home, and to its purpose as ‘somewhere to live’…”
God is coming to dwell among His people, and He’s coming in His unchanging character of divine condescension, bending to our capabilities and coming in ways that we can know Him. This, my friends, is the glory of God.
PRAY & REFLECT
Praise God for coming in ways we can understand – both in the tabernacle and in the person of Christ. Ask Him to help you draw near to His presence through Christ, even today.