Recently I was reading through Exodus again, noting God’s specific instructions to Israel regarding the Tabernacle–the place where God would dwell with them. Throughout my readings of Exodus, I’ve gleaned many meaningful insights as to the specifics, but this time as I read, I saw three nuances of the big picture I hadn’t before noticed.
- Building ourselves as God’s dwelling place requires of us the same as it did of the Israelites: sacrifice and work. In Exodus 25:1-9, God tells Moses to “raise a contribution” from those with willing hearts, then to “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me.” Of course under the New Covenant, it is we ourselves who are the dwelling place of God, but creating that place where God dwells also requires us to sacrifice and thus, trust Him and it requires us to work to construct it through self-discipline, putting on the armor of God, clothing ourselves with Christ, taking every thought captive, and setting our minds on the things above. All actions we must take. Thankfully, we are prompted and strengthened to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, but we still must choose to make the sacrifices and do the work.
- Construction starts from the most important place, the center. The first instructions God gave Moses were for the Ark of the Covenant, the most inner, most sacred place of the Tabernacle. The Holy of Holies. The center of the reason for the Tabernacle’s existence. From there, God gave instructions for the inner court, then the covering, then the outer court. From the most important place to the most public place. God constructs us–His dwelling place–in the same way. He starts by changing the center of our being–our heart–with His presence. We are a new creation, as Paul tells us in II Corinthians. The construction of us–conforming us to the image of Christ–then moves outward from there.
- The value of the building materials indicates the value of the space. All the furniture in the inner court and Holy of Holies was covered in gold or was made from gold. The shine and value of this precious metal gave these spaces the weight of utmost importance. The outer areas had furnishings and details mostly of bronze, somewhat similar in color to gold, but lacking the brilliant luster and value. What does this mean for us who are God’s dwelling place? It means the inside is of so much more value than the outside. Our inner life is the life that matters, the life that goes on even when our earthly Tabernacle returns to dust. Thus, it should shine more brightly, hold the most value. Love. Integrity. Faithfulness. Grace. Those are the gold of our inner character. It isn’t the outer life that sanctifies and validates the inner places. It is the gold of the inner places than give meaning to the outer actions.
These might not be new thoughts to you, but they seemed to leap off the pages of Scripture to me at this moment. I love that the Word of God has so much to tell us that we can never know it all!