TABERNACLE? WHY GOD CHOSE TENT LIFE
God gave Moses very specific instructions for building a tabernacle. This portable sanctuary was the place that housed God’s presence among his people. In the holy of holies, God’s private throne room, sat the ark of the covenant – a gold box that contained important documents and some keepsakes. On the cover of the box was a pair of golden winged creatures guarding the throne on which God’s presence would “sit” – the seat of mercy. This is where the cloud by day and fire by night presence rested to remind the people that God was with them and for them. God wanted to be near his people.
Why we needed the tabernacle
But God is holy and powerful and the people were scared of him. They needed a way to approach God safely, without fear that his holiness would destroy them in an unclean state. So God provided all sorts of sacrifices and rituals so they could approach him without fear of judgement for their uncleanness. There were washing rituals, cleanliness rules and sacrifices the people would offer, and there were boundaries about who goes into which part of God’s tabernacle.
The inner holy of holies was God’s private space. Only the high priest could go in there and only once a year on the day of atonement. He would sprinkle some blood on God’s mercy seat to atone for the sins of the people. Priests could go into the holy place outside of this on a daily basis to offer prayers, burn incense, light candles, conduct rituals on behalf of the people, and eat together in the presence of God.
The common people could come into the yard. It had an outer wall that created a fenced in yard that served as a place for barbecues. People brought their animals and the priests sacrificed them. They barbecued parts of the animals as an offering for God and the people took some of them home to eat themselves. The priests ate some parts and burned up others as an offering to God (since God didn’t eat his portion). God was after fellowship with his people. And who doesn’t love a good barbecue?
Why God wanted the tabernacle
In fact, the whole purpose of having a tabernacle was for God to live among his people. He created us for intimacy. We walked in intimate fellowship with him in the garden before sin separated us from him and each other. Interestingly, they decorated the tabernacle with colorful imagery reminiscent of the garden of Eden. It was a reminder of life in close fellowship with God without need of a special tent and boundaries. It’s what he has always been after.
And it’s what he was after when he showed up and “tabernacled” in the flesh of Jesus. (John 1:14) God wants proximity. He is after intimacy. The God who made us wants to be near us and be known by us. Even living in Jesus wasn’t close enough for him. He wanted to be in each of us. God has taken up residence in us now by his Spirit. We are the new tabernacle. Our heart is the holy of holies.
Why would God do this? Intimacy. Plain and simple. He wants to live among us and in us and through us. And he does now. So what difference does that make? What if you don’t “feel it”? Come Sunday and find out how to experience the intimacy that is already available to you.