As the Israelites moved from one camp site to the next,
they followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
God’s presence was always out before them,
leading the way.
When the pillar moved,
the mass of several hundred thousand people
packed up their belongings,
took down their tents,
and herded their animals right along with it.
At some point though,
God wanted more.
Leading the people was critical.
But He wanted to dwell with them too.
I think He wanted more than an occasional mountaintop experience with Moses.
He wanted daily fellowship with a group of people He loved.
The transition from a consecrated mountain to a portable tent had to involve more than a few walls of fabric though.
There were plenty of every-day tents sprinkled across the desert.
This one had to stand out.
Be set apart.
Create a holy atmosphere for a holy God.
How do you do an extreme makeover on a tent pitched in the middle of the wilderness??
There was only one way.
Gather treasures from anyone willing to share.
Fine linen and leather
Oil for light
Spices for fragrant incense
along with gemstones of all shapes and sizes.
God could have done this alone.
He could have spoken the words,
“Move that bus!”
and blown all the Israelites’ minds with the most extravagant tent they had ever seen.
But I think He knew what the Israelites needed.
Just like He knows what we need today.
He knew that in order for the temple to be cherished,
the people who would enjoy it needed to do the work.
Give up things they loved in exchange for His presence.
So He asked for help.
Took up offerings of all kinds.
Then gave very specific instructions as to how they would be used.
As the people gathered their resources
and watched the artisans do their work,
excitement must have filled the air.
As sweat poured from their heads as they chiseled stone and wove fabric,
they surely felt the thrill of being participants in creating a home for the great “I AM.”
When He asked for the purest crushed olives so that the lamps could burn all day and all night,
they must have felt great Hope,
knowing His light would never burn out.
His presence was moving from a mountaintop to the tent next door.
And life had to feel great!
Can you imagine how excited they would have been if they had know what we know today?
That the curtain of their tent would one day be torn.
From the top to the bottom.
Removing the last barrier between the people of the earth and the Holy of Holies.
God was beginning to move closer in the wilderness.
But as time passed He wanted more.
And He needed help again.
He’s never forced His way into anything.
And He won’t force His way into us today.
He wants to be our guest.
Take up residence in us.
Make us His dwelling place.
But today, the work is in our hands.
Preparing ourselves for His presence is a personal journey.
Taking care of our temple is a daily choice.
Keeping our light burning takes tending.
God can’t do all of this for us.
But He’s not afraid to ask for our help.
And this takes courage.
I’m so thankful God wasn’t afraid to model every aspect of humanity.
Even the willingness to let go of control…….
“I want to be near you…..can you help prepare a perfect place?”
We clean our homes before company arrives,
scrubbing bathrooms and changing sheets.
What do we need to do to prepare our temples and our hearts for the presence of the Holy Spirit?
I Cor. 6:19-20