READ EXODUS 26
Have you ever taken a “spiritual gifts assessment”? Having been raised in the church by parents who served faithfully in the local church, and having gone to Bible school to develop and pursue my own calling into ministry, there was a season in which I was mildly obsessed with spiritual gifts assessments. These short quizzes guide you through a series of questions about your own leanings, and result in a ranking of which spiritual gifts you might have a tendency towards. Mine? Always evangelism.
At first, I thought this assessment results sounded a bit phony – phony like some of the evangelists I had seen on TV who asked for greater faith demonstrated through greater donations. But, the longer I walk with God, the clearer this gifting becomes. Like many in the local church, I have this deep desire to see people come to Christ, and the Lord, by His Spirit, often invites me to share the Gospel with those who do not know Him.
I didn’t realize this was a spiritual gift until the last few years. As people told me that they were intimidated to talk about the Lord with those who didn’t know Him, I realized that just wasn’t the case for me. I generally feel confident about sharing my faith and inviting people to know more about God. And this confidence comes not only from the Lord, but from understanding a profound human reality: we all crave knowing God. Everyone I have ever met has this innate desire to know God, to find out where He is, where He lives, and where “heaven meets earth.”
The Tabernacle design may seem like an odd place to talk about our human craving to know God. It’s a passage many of us likely skip over in our desire to get onto more interesting passages. But the Tabernacle – this tent God is designing for Himself – is the place where God lives. While for us today there is not a precise geographical location for our human question of where God dwells among men (though He is always present in His Church), there was a location for those in the Ancient Near East. For those wondering in the days of Exodus where God was, there was a specific answer: in the Tabernacle.
This week, we are going to be looking at God’s arrangement for the Tabernacle. Through His divine design plans we are going to see God’s good and orderly design for His people revealed in His order for His dwelling place. In every curtain and measurement and command, we are going to see His character revealed.
And, to ready our eyes to see His character in the pages of this text, we need to remind ourselves of what the Tabernacle is all about. Why is it so important, after all? We find this answer in one of the simplest and yet most profound Hebrew words in our Text: מִשְׁכָּן (mish-kawn).
You may remember that we have briefly considered this word before. This is the Hebrew word for Tabernacle, and it is the place where God dwells. But, what we haven’t yet addressed is the root word from which מִשְׁכָּן is derived. The Hebrew word for Tabernacle, מִשְׁכָּן (mish-kawn), is taken from the Hebrew word שָׁכַן (shaw-kan), which means “to dwell.” Fundamentally intertwined, we can only understand the text’s use of מִשְׁכָּן in light of our understanding of שָׁכַן.
To help ourselves fully understand the Hebrew meaning of the word שָׁכַן, let’s do a word study. Look up the following passages where this word is used. Try to identify it in each passage, remembering that it means “to dwell” and could appear as a derivative of this verb. Make a few notes about how the word is being used, and what it means.
The Hebrew word שָׁכַן fills out our understanding of what the Tabernacle fundamentally is. It is the place where God dwells. It is the place where He takes up residence, where He settles down, where He abides. The Tabernacle, we understand from its root word שָׁכַן, is the place where God literally resides.
Does this surprise you in any way?
Do you believe it? Do you struggle to believe that there was a place where God literally came to dwell on the earth?
How does understanding this word ready you to study the commands for designing the Tabernacle that we will study this week?
Friends, God’s presence is the greatest hope of the Christian faith. When we look back, we see how our ancestors of faith were met in the wilderness by God’s glorious presence in the Tabernacle. When we arrive on the pages of the New Testament, we see how God’s glorious presence was revealed in the Incarnated Christ who came to dwell among His people that they might be saved. And it is the end result, the hope we await in Christ’s return: God’s promise that one day, we will dwell in His presence once again.
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God for coming to dwell among His people. Thank Him for the Tabernacle. Thank Him for the Incarnation. Thank Him for dwelling in you by His Spirit.