Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Caution: Under Construction

Good morning! Today is just gorgeous, a high of 65 in Denver. The sun is blazing through the windows, my house smells of baby food (ah...butternut squash, green beans, and sweet potatoes. How you make me...dry heave.), Micah is 'napping' (actually, he is still talking to Mr. Owl about the latest gossip). And now,, I need some help. I am going to spill some ideas, and by the end of the journaling, you will transform my potpourri of thoughts into a lesson.

Uh, please, I mean.

In a few weeks I am teaching the lecture at our women's bible study. For the 2 of you from Bible Study who read my blog don't read this unless you want to be bored when I teach. :) I have known this for almost 2 months now, and have been working on it somewhat regularly. And I love teaching. And I definitely don't mind being in front of people. BUT I'M TERRIFIED.

And I'm thrilled to be so.

My assigned Scripture to teach on is Exodus 23-31. The majority of that Scripture is on the tabernacle. Really?! My first time in front of non-pubescents and I'm given the Tabernacle? Can't I just teach not gossiping?

Ah but my God is so wonderfully sovereign, he knows what he is doing, and his plans blow mine out of the water. And there are times when nothing is more comforting than knowing that God is behind the scenes, plotting for His glory and my good.

I have found this terror, this feeling of desperation is wonderfully healthy. I am so much more aware of my need for the Lord's guidance and insight. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have that awareness in all areas of life?!

The tabernacle.

First, some context. The Jews have just come out of Egyptian slavery. Four hundred years to be exact. God used Moses and Aaron to deliver them from Pharoah, and now they are on their way, Prince of Egypt style. :) They are caravaning in the barren desert of the middle east. They have already had doubts, and God has already shown them miracles. They have already had their first battle as a nation, and God has already given them victory. I would say it's been an eventful first season of their new life.

And then Moses tells them that God wants them to build a tabernacle. That 'He may dwell among them.'

Can you imagine how that rocked them? This was a whole new side of God being revealed. He wanted to be intimate with them, he wanted them to experience communion with him. He wanted relationship. My guess is that most of the Hebrews didn't feel much of that during slavery. I'm sure a lot of them probably felt the opposite, that God had abandoned them. I'm sure most lost faith, giving up on the hopes of a deliverer.

And if it was anything like today's society, I bet those feelings and fears led to compromise. I bet they started blending in with some of the Egyptians, that they became products of their culture.

You could say that they 'walked like an Egyptian.'

Ha. Ha.

But now their proven deliverer wants a tabernacle. A place where he will come down and meet with the Hebrews. This tabernacle would move with them through the desert (the temple would be built much later by King Solomon). I always thought this part of scripture was so boring! I would skim through it, assuming their was no importance to the cubits, acacia, linen mumble jumble. But it is so rich with meaning!

The tabernacle points to Jesus! The tabernacle is a type of Christ! It points to salvation!

The tabernacle is part of a bigger story. The story of a holy God restoring his presence among the imperfect people that He loves.

Big picture: The tabernacle's purpose was to allow/facilitate relationship with a holy God. Just like Jesus. When you come to know and accept Jesus as your Savior from your sins, you find access to a loving and powerful God.

And the details and even cooler! I won't give you all of them, but look at some of the details of the tabernacle:
The first piece of furniture you would find as you enter the tabernacle was the alter where they would sacrifice animals. The only way to approach a holy God is through sacrifice, is through blood shed. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, and it's through his blood that he can have a relationship with God.
Next there was a laver. The laver was a large basin of water that the priests would wash in after the sacrifice. I love that because of Jesus's sacrifice, we are purified from our sins, we are washed, we are justified. God sees us as clean.
In the holy place was the candlestick. It was to burn constantly and give light to the tent. In John, ,Jesus is called the light of the world. As the candlestick shed light on how to get to "God" in the tent, just as Jesus revealed the way to God.
I could go into the details for a good hour, but I have other thoughts that need to be processed by Bloggy McBloggerson. (I fully understand that that wasn't funny, but it came out and it was funny in high school, so I'm leaving it. )

Also, I was thinking about the actual task of building the temple. Exodus has incredible detail about the building of the tabernacle and God wanted only top rate work. Kinda like how Matt only wants me to buy the really really nice toilet paper. Boys.....
Oh wait, that's not where I was going with that. This generation knew how to labor, they knew construction, they had skills, and they had them because of the years in Egypt. And now they would use those abilities to build the tabernacle. God is all about taking his children out of slavery, he is all about removing our chains. But he isn't about wasting time. He used that aspect of slavery! He has purposes even in the darkest of times. And although he can remove fear and guilt, he doesn't necessarily want to erase those experiences from our memory. Every day the Hebrews worked on the tabernacle, they probably thought about projects with the same skills back in Egypt. What a great way to remember what God had done!

Another thing I have learned and love is that the instructions for the building of the temple were given to Moses alongside the ten commandments. The ten commandments and all other laws were given because God is holy and just. The tabernacle was given because God is loving and personal. He is completely both, at the same time! And although he longs to have relationship with us, and he is gracious with us, he isn't about willy nilly obedience. He isn't a fan of excuses. He wanted his people to have pure hearts, to walk with justice and integrity before him. He asks for holiness and he provides for relationship in the same conversation.

On a personal note, it is in that truth that I find motivation and guidance on a daily basis. I make my moral and spiritual decisions based on the fact that God loves me and has saved me. I want to be holy because of who He is and what he has done for me.

Think of how quickly the Hebrews view of God was evolving! (I'm not saying that God was changing) In Egypt he seemed distant and possibly impersonal. Then he reveals himself as powerful and mighty and as their deliverer through the Exodus. Then he reveals that he is holy and requires holiness from his people through the law. And now, through the tabernacle, he reveals his love. The HUGE cherry on top. :)

Ok, last unrefined thought that I have learned. I love that God did this when he did. He didn't wait for the Hebrews to prove that they could obey the law. (Good thing, cuz they couldn't) He didn't wait till they were in the promised land, doing great things for Him. No, he provides/offers relationship with his beloved people right away. When they are dirty, stinky nomads (literally.) When they are likely still tainted by the Egyptian culture and way of thinking.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Thank you, God, that you saved me when I was still dusty, dirty, sinful, and weak. Thank you for pursing me before I had it all figured out. Thank for you being in relationship with me, a sinner.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, Rebekah- and ironically, I have been reading Exodus in my quiet time and just came upon the tabernacle passage and was fully prepared to skim and skip over! Haha. BUT your entry has made me more inclined to delve into the details. I love that you have the insight and gumption to seek deeper, and to do so for your girls. I think the way you described it is exactly how you should to the pre-teens. It's personal, it's engaging, and it's real. They will find new meaning in "old" passages. And you are right- every detail points to Christ.