Then the Lord said to Moses, “Set up the Tabernacle[g] on the first day of the new year…” (Exodus 40:1-2)
Relate: As I was reading through Exodus 40 I began to realize that you could build a great sermon or lesson series on the Tabernacle based on the “C’s” represented here in this chapter. As tempting as it would be to turn this into a 10,000 word post, I will try to do my best to stay brief. Pastors and Teachers take note: this is a great skeleton for you to flesh out…
Community (2) – The Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was the centerpiece from which the entire Israelite community revolved. It was also the touch point, the meeting place through which they could remain in community or fellowship with the Lord.
Commencement (2) – The Tabernacle was supposed to be set up first thing on the first day of the year. The presence of God not only had primacy of place, but also of time.
Covenant (3) – At the heart of the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant. It could be convincingly argued that the primary purpose of the Tabernacle was to serve as a house for the covenant. Theological implications abound…
Curtain (3) – In the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple, there were curtains separating the courtyard from the holy place and the holy place from the most holy place (the holy of holies). This curtain, this separation, was torn from top to bottom at the moment Christ died for us.
Courtyard (8) – When the priest entered into the holy place, the people were to gather in the courtyard. Although one went in as a mediator for the many, the many were still to be participants as active observers and intercessors.
Consecrated (10) – The priests and every part of the Tabernacle were to be consecrated, set apart, for exclusive use to God. The mundane world had no value or purpose for them anymore (and vise versa).
Continuity (15) – This was a lasting covenant, an enduring Tabernacle, a generational priesthood. Times might change, views be altered, and cultures evolve, but God’s Covenant with man remains the same.
Covering (19) – Moses and the people were to create a covering for the Tabernacle and its items. They were to guard it from outside influences.
Commandment (16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32) – Everything done in the creation, the setting up, and the use of the Tabernacle was in obedience to very specific instructions. In contrast, Aaron built the golden calf and told the people, “This is YHWH who rescued us from Egypt”. Worshipping God however we feel like, while ignoring His commands and instructions, is idolatry.
Cloud (38) – When everything was done as was commanded, God showed up. Religion and religious practices are not an end in and of themselves. Their purpose is to prepare us to be able to enter into and to dwell in the presence of God. His glory seen on earth is the goal for all that we do.
React: I’ve read recently that those claiming to be “spiritual but not religious” are actually performing an act of linguistic terrorism. They are placing themselves in a position where they can snipe and criticize others while avoiding any stand of their own. In the desire to feel good about themselves, they are also avoiding any attempt at truth. In Western culture being “religious” is passé. That’s too bad. Religion, and religious practice, when used as a means and an end is a very good and godly thing. Everything I do should be religious in that its purpose is to glorify God here on earth. All these rules and laws and regulations for the Tabernacle that those using the through Bible program are reading about serve a purpose. Under the New Covenant we are that Tabernacle. All the rules and laws and regulations we so much like to avoid still serve a purpose…
God, let me work for Your glory. I know that there is nothing I can do to earn Your presence. I know that I no good I can do can make You love me more and no sin I commit will cause You to love me less. But I can position myself to respond to Your presence. I can ready myself for Your move. Help me to do so. Help me to be religious, not as the world understands it, but in preperation and as a response for what You are doing in my life. In all things let Your glory be my primary purpose.