|Series Theme: Meditations in Lessons from the Law of Moses|
Meditation No. 26
Meditation Title: The House of the Lord
Ex 25:1,2,8,9 The LORD said to Moses,"Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give…. Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.
Technically this is not the Law but we include it here as this and following chapters contain many instructions about establishing a focal point for worshipping the Lord, and it will be here that many of the operations of the Law will be carried out. But perhaps we need to go back a few verses to gain perspective.
The Ten Commandments were spoken by the Lord to Moses up on Mount Sinai (Ex 20:1) which were inscribed on two tablets of stone (Ex 24:12, 34:28). The rest of the laws that we have been considering were spoken by the Lord to Moses on the mountain and we find the following when he came down: “When Moses went and told the people all the LORD 's words and laws, they responded with one voice, "Everything the LORD has said we will do." Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said ….Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” (Ex 24:3,4,7). So these laws were given to Moses on the mountain, he wrote them down and those writings became the “Book of the Covenant.” These were the original laws given by God that formed the covenant with Israel at Sinai.
When we come to the book of Leviticus with its many rules and procedures we find, “The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting.” (Lev 1:1). Thus the Tent of Meeting – or the Tabernacle as it was also known – was the place of encounter between Moses and God and it was there that the Lord conveyed what became the rest of the Law.
Thus in chapter 25 on, we find detailed instructions for the construction of this large tent and its sounding yard area. It was to be the place where God made His presence known, yet hidden from common sight – hence it is a ‘sanctuary'. We will not be studying the details of this Tent of Meeting, but will simply observe its purpose and God's hand in bringing it into being. In these chapters we find detailed instructions from the Lord as to how it is to be built, but that is not the end of it, for the Lord had also chosen a man to head up the construction, a man who He filled with His Spirit to enable him to do the work and lead others to do the work (see Ex 35:30-).
When the work was eventually completed we find the following: “Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Ex 40:33-35) So, the finished tent was filled with a cloud of immense brightness, indicating the Lord's presence. Thus the Tabernacle became a focal point for the people to come to meet with the Lord and to bring their offerings and sacrifices which we will consider briefly in the following meditations.
The Tabernacle signifies the Lord's awareness that His people needed a focal point, a meeting place with Him. His presence was very obvious because we are told, “the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.” (Ex 40:38) but yet they needed a place to come to, to focus their faith. After they had settled in the Promised Land, Solomon's Temple replaced the Tabernacle as a permanent meeting place.
From the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) every believer became indwelt by the Holy Spirit and so each one of us is now referred to as a temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor 3:16,17, 6:19, 2 Cor 6:16). No longer do we have to go to a special place to encounter the Lord for, as Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper, “you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (Jn 14:17). However, for the Israelites, in their very embryonic relationship with the Lord, the Tabernacle was to become the focus for them, the place of encounter with the Lord. It was there that the ceremonial law was carried out. So far we have been focusing on the law of the covenant in Exodus at Mount Sinai which involved their relationship with the Lord and with one another, but next we will consider briefly the ceremonial law which was all about attitude and how to approach God. As we observe the principles that under-gird this activity, we will find there is much to learn and hopefully our own relationships with the Lord will be sharper as a result.