Posts tagged ‘Tent of Meeting’

When God Won’t Meet With You

Credit: Wikimedia

The book of Exodus ends with a theological tragedy. Throughout the book, God has been powerfully present among His people – when He rescued them from Egypt by sending plagues on Egypt, when He went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, when He led them through the Red Sea, when He fed them manna from heaven, and when He gave them the Ten Commandments. On the heels of all this, God gives to Moses instructions on how to build the tabernacle, which is also called the Tent of Meeting. The purpose of the Tent of Meeting is explicit in its name – it is a place to meet with God. But when it is completed, something startling and unsettling occurs:

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 on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34-35)

Upon its completion, the Tent of Meeting is immediately closed for, well, meeting. Moses cannot go into the tent. This is how the book of Exodus ends.

The book of Exodus, then, ends with a crisis. Israel’s sins – among which have been grumbling and idolatry – have separated her from God. God’s dream and desire that He “might dwell among them” (Exodus 29:46) seems lost.

But then, the book of Leviticus opens:

The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. (Leviticus 1:1)

Just when it seems like Israel has been cut off from God, He speaks. He reaches out. And what follows in Leviticus is a set of instructions on how Israel might interact with Him. God has not given up His hope of being with them:

I will put My dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people. (Leviticus 26:11-12)  

Have you ever felt cut off from God? Have you ever felt like you cannot dwell with Him or like He will not dwell with you? Have your prayers ever gone unanswered? Has God ever felt distant? Each time you feel like you’re stuck at the end of Exodus, Leviticus is waiting. God will speak. God will reach out. He wants to be with you. Don’t believe me? Just look at Jesus.

September 26, 2022 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Practicing Contentment in 2021

File:The Phillip Medhurst Picture Torah 498. Moses finishes building the tabernacle. Exodus cap 40 v 33. Mortier.jpg
Moses finishes building the tabernacle
Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible Illustrations

As the Israelites wind their way through the wilderness on a trek to the Promised Land, they construct a tent of meeting. This is the place where Moses goes to meet directly with God. The tent is quite elaborate, containing yarns, fine linen, gold, silver, and bronze. Because a project of this magnitude is costly, Moses begins the project with a capital campaign of sorts where:

Everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the tent of meeting. (Exodus 35:21)

By all accounts, the capital campaign proves to be wildly successful – so much so that they wind up raising far more than they need for the completion of the tent of meeting. As the workers are assembling the tent from what has been brought, they say to Moses:

“The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:5-7)

The workers receive a windfall of gifts for their work on the tent of meeting. But what is really important is this: they recognize the windfall. They know they have more than enough.

It’s hard to recognize a windfall. We are too easily tempted, no matter how much we have, to always want more – and to believe we don’t yet have quite enough.

In Luke 3, John the Baptist preaches about the impending judgment of God. In response, the listening crowd asks:

“What should we do then?”John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:11-14)

To avoid God’s judgment, John calls the people to be content with what they have and not hoard more than they need.

As we head into 2021, a good resolution to make might be this:

I will practice contentment.

After all, as we reflect on 2020, it can be tempting to focus on all the things we didn’t get:

I didn’t get a raise because my company is struggling financially.

I didn’t get to keep my job because I got caught in a round of layoffs.

I didn’t get to spend time with my family over the holidays because of social distancing.

I didn’t get to go out to eat or go much of anywhere at all because so many places were closed.

I didn’t get more time with my loved one because COVID-19 took them.

All these things may be true – and some of them are downright devastating – but they’re still incomplete. Because at the same time there is much we are lacking, there is much we still have:

I still have a job even if I didn’t get the raise.

I still have the wherewithal to look for a job even if I lost my old one.

I still can see my family on Facetime even if I can’t be with them in person.

I still can order food in even if I can’t go out.

I still have loved ones who are with me and God now has a loved one who is with Him.

Statements of loss, with some practice, can turn into reflections of contentment.

No matter what this year may bring, of this much we can be sure: God will provide. And, more than likely, He will provide more than enough. Perhaps we should take some time to recognize that we might just be sitting on a windfall.

January 4, 2021 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


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