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That I May Dwell Among Them

Exodus 25:1-9



In Genesis 1 & 2 we read about God’s creation.  God created light on day one but he delayed until day four His forming of our sun and the billions upon billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars.  How does God put this monumental accomplishment into words?  With just 5 words! ...

Genesis 1:16
... he made the stars also.

That’s all it says.  Imagine all the work and activity of God in this stupdendous undertaking ... and it’s all summed up there.


As we begin to study the Tabernacle we find not just a verse, or a chapter of verses...but 50 chapters devoted to it.  16 are in Exodus.  Why is this?  Why would God give 5 words to the stars and 50 chapters to the Tabernacle?


It is because God is much more interested in redemption than creation.  The saving of one soul is much more important than the shaping of all the stars.


Ill.—a university professor was teaching a survey class on the Bible.  He held it up and said, “This is the account of man’s search for God.”  That is utterly false.  It is actually the account of God’s search for man.  This is what the Tabernacle is all about.  This is what makes Christianity different than any other belief system on earth.  All other religions are about man looking for God, but God is actually looking for man for the purpose of saving him and dwelling with him!  He wants us to be His sanctuary!


It’s a reunion of sorts.  Sinful man reunited with the Holy God.


Ephesians 2:22
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

v. 8  “That I may dwell among them.”


Ill.—Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden.  And God walked with them.  But then they sinned and that fellowship was broken.  We think about them being kicked out of the garden, but actually they had already kicked God out of their lives, out of His own creation, by choosing sin.

        And we’re still kicking Him out today.  Not just out of government, our schools, and society, but out of our homes, our families, our choices we make, our thinking, and our lives!


The Tabernacle was where God dwelt with man in those days.  It’s a wonderful picture book, full of object lessons...a graphic, vivid experience of God’s presence with man!


It was a temporary, mobile structure—used by Israel for 500 years as a meeting place—where they met God!  Later on it would be replaced by the permanent structure known as the Temple, far more elaborate, solid, not portable, but still based on the same basic parameters.


The Tabernacle was moved some 30 times, like a M*A*S*H unit.  The glory cloud of God’s presence would hover over the Tabernacle...a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.  But then the cloud would raise and would begin to move.  Their job then was to tear down the Tabernacle...and some 8,500 men were specifically assigned tasks in this process and in carrying it...following the glory cloud until it stopped.  Then they would re-erect it again, and once again the glory cloud would hover over it.


There’s a lesson in this for us as a church, and as individuals.  Many times our churches, always on the move, get ahead of God.  Though I believe we should be active and aggressive in ministry, it should be in the Spirit of following God, not blazing the trail ourselves!  We say with our plans and programs, “Come on God, follow us and get on board!”  This is wrong.  We need to find out which way God is moving, and all we have to do is follow! [LCT / Lifewise / GN]


We make it far too complicated as we try to ‘think tank’ our way to success.  God has already made the plans...He knows the way thru the wilderness...we just need to fall in line!


Pray for me and I’ll pray for you as we strive to get the mind of God and follow His leading as a church!


The same is true for each of us as individuals.  We make too much of planning our lives.  God has a plan.  I’m all for making preparations, studying alternatives, and seeking the best in life.  But the fact remains that God knows best, and if we only put half the energy we put into trying to make a way for ourselves into finding and following His way...we’d really go places!


Imagine with me this Tabernacle in the wilderness...surrounded by the encampment of 2-3 million Jews.  Enter the white linen fence ... Inside is the brazen altar, laver, and an unusual structure, 45’ X 15’ X 15’ high.  It is in 2 compartments, separated by a veil.  The first is the Holy Place, with the golden lampstand, table of showbread, and altar of incense.  The 2nd is the Holy of Holies, a perfect cube of 15’.


The common people can be in the outer court area, but only the priests in the Holy Place, and only the High Priest can go beyond into the Most Holy Place, and only once a year, walking backwards, not looking at the presence of God on the mercy seat, risking death.  Yes, and they had bells on their garments and a rope around their ankle...and if they fell in God’s presence someone could hear and pull their dead body out!


That veil separating God’s presence from man’s was so thick and multi layered that the Historian Josephus said two teams of oxen couldn’t pull it apart.  But when Jesus died the veil in the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom ... for it was God doing the tearing!  Why?  So you and I could have bold access right to the most Holy place, the throne of Grace!  Oh how casual we have become when we won’t take advantage of that access we’ve been granted!  Some won’t come to the altar, and some won’t get on their knees and pray in private either.  In those days they couldn’t approach people can, but often won’t!


Here’s the plans for building it...


1.     The Means.

v. 2-3a     God said, it’s time to build.  And how did God come up with the resources for this undertaking?  Isn’t it obvious?  Quite simply, I’m sure He must’ve said:

  • Tribe of Dan, go back to Egypt and have a bake sale...muffins, cookies, pies, and cakes.  Bring back the proceeds.
  • Tribe of Asher, have a camel wash.  Stand out on the roadside with a sign that says, help us build our tabernacle.  2 hump camels are $3, or 1 hump camels for $2.50.
  • Tribe of Judah, sell candy bars.  Put on the wrappers, “Help us go to camp!”  It’s an expensive camp...not 1 week, but 40 years!  Please be generous!


I’m being facetious to make a point.  I’m not against fundraisers for certain things, but ultimately when we are trying to do God’s work we should try to do it God’s way.  And God’s way for providing for God’s work was by no means other than God’s people giving to God’s work!  That’s how FBC has always been provided for.  That’s how this beautiful building came to being.  And that’s the only way we’ll be able to continue and go forward for God’s glory, is if the present generation shoulders their share of the load today and for the future!


Everyone had a part.  The wealthy gave gold, silver, and brass.  Others could afford spices and oils or fabrics.  Some could only bring animal skins, but everyone one just came along for the free ride.


It can be estimated that by today’s standards it took tens of millions of dollars of material to build the Tabernacle.  Did it work?  Did God’s plan work out?

Exodus 36:5-7
5 And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. 6 And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. 7 For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.

God’s way works.  God’s way is the best way!  And God’s way will still work here at our church.  The good news:  There’s more than enough money here!  The bad news:  It’s still in your pockets!


The means...


2.     The Materials.

v. 3 

Gold—It’s a picture of deity and royalty.  It was brought to Jesus at His birth, the first gift mentioned.  And Jesus is all thru the Tabernacle.  And when you’re looking at Jesus, you’re looking at the KING of Kings.

Silver—a picture of redemption.  The Tabernacle was erected on slabs of silver.  The word ‘redeem’ means to ‘buy back.’  And silver has always been the primary currency used to buy things.  Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of it, but actually He was paying the price of a treasure far more valuable...He died to redeem us, to buy us back!


You belong to God because He bought you.  You’re actually God’s twice.  You’re God’s by virtue of creation and by virtue of redemption.  He made you, you were sold under sin, and He bought you back!


Brass—a picture of judgment.  In Rev. 1 John saw a vision of the glorified Christ, w/ feet like brass.  Christ is coming back first of all for His own, then 7 years later He’s coming back with His own, with feet like brass, because He’s coming back in judgment!


Next time we’ll look at the brass altar, the first thing you come to when you enter the Tabernacle.


The means, the materials...


3.     The Men.

31:1-6      These were skilled laborers, no doubt, but this passage says they needed a special touch from above to be able to build God’s building.  Talent and ability are not enough.  Better than talent is the touch of God.  Some of the best, most gifted preachers I’ve ever known are not in the ministry today.  I suspect that somewhere along the way they began to rely on their talents rather than that heavenly touch from God.  They got to the place where they didn’t rely on Him, and didn’t need Him as before.


4.     The Meeting.

As you look at the Tabernacle there is nothing outwardly attractive about it.  It is covered in drab animal skin. 

        Time out: Why did the children of Israel have these animals skins in the first place?  They took them from Egypt when they left, as wages.  They took this particular kind of skin because it could be used to make sandals which they would need in their journey.  But God said, I want you to give those skins to me for the Tabernacle.  Then what happened to their sandals for the next 40 years?  They never wore out!

        There’s a lesson here:  Give to God and He’ll take care of you!


Anyway, there’s nothing flashy about this building outwardly.  You’ve got to get on the inside to experience the glory.  That’s how Christianity is.  Outsiders look at us and look at Hollywood and by comparison, we don’t look like much.  Stores and restaurants surround us, and we don’t seem to compare.  Modern architecture makes us look like a stack of bricks outwardly, but how about inside?  Once you look at Christianity from the inside it’s a whole new world.  Everything outside appears quite different from the inside.  By the way, when you draw a line and connect the articles in the Tabernacle look what you get...a cross!


We need to go out of this place and let people know what it’s like INSIDE! 


If you are saved, God lives inside of you.  You are His tabernacle.  If not, you’ve come into His holy temple let Him come into you!

Colossians 1:27
...Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 

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