That I May Dwell Among Them

Exodus 25:1-40

Worked with camp director years back, more than one task or opportunity available, asked question “what is your first choice?” Recognized people often open to different possibilities, might hedge answer based on circumstances. When asked that question, wanted to know person’s strongest preference.

How would God answer question if he were asked? Obviously God because of who he is gets his first choice, but you understand. Perhaps answer to WSC #1 gives hint. Chief end of man? Glorify God and enjoy him forever. God’s first choice? Be glorified by his people and enjoyed by them forever. See indications of that in Garden – regular face-to-face interaction between God / Adam and Eve common occurrence. After sin, they expected God to show up, planned for it by making clothes. From very first, God wanted his people to enjoy him… personally… in closeness.

Sin radically changed relationship between God and man, put up barriers, made certain conditions necessary for fellowship to continue. But God didn’t give up on idea of being close to people… in a good way, and them knowing it. Rather than disown man because of sin, throw out of house, lock the door, that’s the end of it, God made ways to accommodate additional requirements. Here in text one of accommodations, showing God’s determination to be close to his people – a tent of meeting. Centuries later would send only Son to live with his people… face-to-face, skin-to-skin… then his Spirit to live in his people.

Person and work of Redeemer seen in shadow forms of Tabernacle worship. Reality of his finished work of redemption what we enjoy in part today, in fullness for all eternity. Text hits high spots, we will do same. What is clear: God’s ongoing purpose to dwell among willing worshipers who are a redeemed people in fellowship with him in light of his truth and presence.

A. among willing worshipers v.1-9

give an offering

since he knows human nature, God wisely included specific guidelines for charitable contributions – Moses to make need plainly known, accept response of people

clearly stated what was required (list of acceptable items), purpose for which would be used, indicated how project should be presented, what were right motives for giving

worshipers to give back to God willingly from the heart – not to be compulsory, not to use manipulation to increase the take – offering to be loving response from thankful people

give the best

not second-class things, used but w/ some life left, good enough for missionary barrel and we’ll get new, or no longer needed

might wonder if was really the way to provide for need – maybe not enough given to finish, not sufficient quality – when time came, had to tell people to stop… brought too much (Ex. 36:3-7)

to make a sanctuary

this place to be more than place where church meets, not even just a worship center or room with stage and maybe lectern

place set apart from common use where God would dwell, not visit or meet, with his people in continual ongoing relationship

don’t live in tents grouped around central sanctuary now – instead have even closer relationship: “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:20

“If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12 now believers make up sanctuary where God dwells among his people

according to a pattern

Moses, general contractors and sub-contractors had to follow blueprints precisely – earthly tabernacle had to be faithful representative of true sanctuary… heaven (Heb. 9:23-24)

pattern of the tabernacle, pattern of its furnishings had spiritual and redemptive significance God intended to communicate

B. a redeemed people v.10-22

“numbering” of pattern pieces significant

not order of assembly when tabernacle would be set up / taken down; didn’t follow floor plan from inside out or outside in

this beginning summary addresses aspects of God’s redemptive purpose, how a holy God would accommodate nearness to a “not holy” people

God cuts to chase – must be redeemed, not just willing – asked for offerings from all who had willing hearts… required something other than willing heart to make approach to God possible

throne of God

were to make wooden box completely covered with pure gold with atonement lid made same way, a cherub at each end of lid

above the lid from between the cherubim where God would meet with his people (v.22), iow God’s royal throne

containing Testimony (16, 21b)

box would contain written terms of covenant between God and people – constant reminder of King’s character and expectations

also makes plain man’s approach to God is always on God’s terms – hasn’t changed in New Covenant: relationship with God possible only one way, through Lord Jesus… whose person / work signified throughout Tabernacle

in between… the atonement lid (17-21a)

God’s Law not far from his presence, inside his throne… but not outwardly visible – God knew they were there, priests and people did, too, but…

atonement lid / mercy seat interposed between holy God and righteous Law – lid where blood from sacrifice would be placed

God can accept worshipers when he looks at his Law through blood of atonement – is Lord Jesus who takes that place now

place of instruction (22)

when God calls a meeting, receives people into his presence, intends to instruct them how to live like people he is making them

God’s practice not to issue edicts, leave up to subjects to figure out what they mean and how to use – God supplies explanation, example application along with commands

C. in fellowship v.23-30

remember meal on the mountain

men went partway up mountain, “saw the God of Israel” while they ate and drank – would be regular occurrence, only veil between priests in Holy Place and God present in Most Holy Place

meal eaten in someone’s presence indication of friendship – were fixings for meal there on table: bread, wine, utensils always ready for use

fellowship to be continual

called “bread of faces” – bread that represented faces of all the people (12 cakes, 12 tribes) continually before the face of God

God intended his people to have in minds: they lived constantly in presence of their God – we don’t have same reminders, do have same God present in us continually

bread to have pan of frankincense on top for the week, frankincense then burned on altar of incense there in holy place

and intimate – see Lev. 24:5-9

bread stayed there round the clock Sabbath to Sabbath – each Sabbath, new loaves put in place of old, frankincense burned and meal enjoyed by priests

bread in sense a sacrifice offered with the incense, then eaten – intimate relationship bidirectional: people offering themselves as sacrifice to God, God nourishing people as they fellowship with him

D. and in light v. 31-40

are to fellowship in the light

to be light in Holy Place continually, natural light during day, light from lampstand all night – presence bread never in the dark

meal to be eaten in front of lampstand, fellowshiping with God in the light of his face, his truth, his presence, his people

live in the light

God doesn’t want / expect his people to live in the dark – darkness of sin, confusion, ignorance, discouragement and depression

Jesus made some powerful claims: “I am the bread of life”, “I am the living bread” – the one who came down from heaven to give life to the world (John 6:35, 48, 51)

also claimed to be “light of the world”, declaring that he had “come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in [him] should not abide in darkness” (John 8:12; 12:46)

be a light

light of life and truth not supposed to stay in Holy Place, to be confined to the church – lampstand not to be only source

Moses reflected light of God’s presence / glory after encounters – those who spent time in Holy Place to reflect light outside

if God’s people truly do have him dwelling within, his light should shine through us – why Jesus told listeners “You are the light of the world”; “let your light shine before men” (Matt. 5:14-16)

carry the light

God expected his people to be light, witnessing to his truth as people from nearby and far corners of world passed thru Israel

also expected them to take that light into exile, bearing witness to his truth wherever they went, in whatever kind of culture God saw fit to place them

God’s expectation continues today – that his people will carry light of Gospel with them at all times – as dark as world is, not hard to bring light to our corner

We more fully equipped to live and fellowship in light, be lights, carry light into the world than God’s ancient people. Have complete Bible, finished work of atonement, always present Holy Spirit. Even more people stumbling around in dark today – may God use us as willing worshipers to be lights in dark world.

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