God Dwells Among His People Weekend of November 2/3, 2013
What’s our study today? The portion of Scripture we study today shows God’s desire to make His presence and glory known to His people. What difference will this study make for you? Since that desire of God has not changed, it is my hope and prayer that our study will help you live with a constant awareness of God’s presence in your life.
Follow God’s Plan – Exodus 26:30-3330 "Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain. 31 "Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.
Today we are going to explore the godly relationship that blends obedience with His presence. • God wants us to live in His presence and experience His glory, but in order to do that we must follow God’s plan for our lives. • In our text, God told Moses how to set up the tabernacle. • The word tabernacle means “to dwell.” God wants to dwell among His people.
God gave Moses strict and specific instructions as to how to build this tabernacle. • While God can and does dwell anywhere and everywhere in the universe; • With the building of the tabernacle, God is saying He wants to dwell specifically with His people; • The tabernacle had many features and pieces of furniture that we will take a look, through an artist depiction.
In the courtyard of the Tabernacle 1 How does a holy God dwell with sinful people? Through a sin offering where the people’s sin was transferred to an animal.
2 The Laver was used by the priests to wash up and prepare to enter the Tabernacle. This is a picture of our Baptism Font where we are washed clean of sin to enter into a relationship with God.
In the first court, called the “Holy Place,” there were three pieces of furniture. Holy Place • Candelabra; • Table of bread; • Altar of Incense;
This unique lampstand was made from a single circle of gold, made to look like branches on a tree. There are several comparisons with Jesus: 3 • Jesus is “The Light of the world” • Jesus is Circle – “no beginning or end” • Jesus is the vine and “we the branches”
4 There were 12 loaves of bread on this table, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. It remind them of how God continually provides food and all their bodily needs. Jesus is the “Bread of Life.”
5 The daily burning of incense represented the prayers of God’s people which is a very sweet fragrance to God. We are to pray always! It was before this Altar that the angel appeared to Zachariah.
6 This veil separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Once a year, the High Priest would pass through the veil to put blood on the Mercy Seat of God. It was this veil that tore when Jesus died, as He placed His own blood before God, once and for all.
7 Size: 3 ¾ ft. long X 2 ¼ ft. wide X 2 ¼ ft. high Annually, the High Priest would sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat of God, the space between the cherubim, to atone for the people’s sin. People could not approach God, without first dealing with the separation that sin caused. God provides the way to bridge this gulf, the blood of the lamb, shed for the people. Jesus is our “Lamb of God.”
Why the stress on all the specifics of how to go about building the tabernacle? • The answer centers on being obedient to God; • In God’s Story, He often gave precise instructions, requiring obedience as the condition upon which God would act on their behalf; • Just think of Noah in building the Ark; • But, we are saved by Grace through Faith; so, what difference would it make if we baptized or not? • The answer lies with God’s Plan, and our obedience that shows and demonstrates our faith in that Plan;
What detailed instructions has God given you? - - - How obediently are you following them?
Encounter God’s Presence Ex. 29:43-4643 there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. 44 "So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. 45 Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. 46 They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
Since the word tabernacle means “to dwell,” once it was finished, it would become the place where God would reveal Himself and live among His people. • Where has God promised He would reveal Himself today? • How does God live among His people today? • Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you?” Through Word and Sacraments In us, through the Holy Spirit
So, why come to Church if the Holy Spirit is already in you? • Because the Devil and our own sinful desires also live in us and can counteract the influences of the Holy Spirit; • We need the support and encouragement other believers can give us in Church; • This is where God’s Word is expounded and Sacraments are received both of which strengthens our faith; • God told Moses He would meet with the Israelites at the tabernacle.
The word “meet” carries with it the idea of an appointment or set time when people would gather “to meet with God.” • When will you see your doctor? • When will you get your car fixed? • When will you meet with God? • God has been making appointments with His people for a long time. Are you keeping that appointment? “Doctor’s Appointment” “Service Appointment” “Worship Appointment”
God also promised to consecrate the tabernacle. • By consecrating or making these things holy, God was saying that what was done there would be acceptable to Him. • The things themselves were NOT holy, but what the people did with those things WAS holy. • It is the same for our church furnishings; this room and all it furniture are not holy; • It is what we do in this room and with these things that are holy and become acceptable by God.
When God dwells with His people, a two-way relational bond is formed: • God says, “I will be your God.” • This is both a promise of God’s presence as well as a reality Israel had to honor; • This is more than the fact that God created them. He is making special emphasis that He wants a close and intimate relationship with them. • And, God says, “You will be My people.” • Of all the peoples of the world, Israel is selected to be the people of God; • This selection had nothing to do with how good Israel was, but had everything to do with God’s love for people.
“Why did God select you to be His own?” • It wasn’t because of some good in us! • It had everything to do with the Grace and Mercy of God. • Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9 “You are a chosen people, … that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
Acknowledge God’s Glory - Ex. 40:34-3834 Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out--until the day it lifted.
38 So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.
While Moses is receiving all these instructions on how to build the tabernacle, the people become restless, and guess what they do? • They resort to idol worship; • Moses had to destroy the gold calf and intercede on behalf of wayward Israel;
Finally the tabernacle is finished, “just as the Lord had commanded.” • God fills the tabernacle with a cloud, filling it completely. The emphasis here is on the over-whelming presence of God, completely covering the tabernacle. • God used a cloud to confuse the Egyptians in pursuit; • A cloud covered the summit of Mt. Sinai; • A cloud shielded the Israelites from the hot sun; • In this story, God used a cloud to keep the Israelites from actually seeing God’s full glory;
God also calls the tabernacle “The Tent of Meeting.” • “Tent” because they were camping in the wilderness; • “Place of meeting” because this is where God would meet with His people – all His people! • Throughout history, God has graciously been setting up places where people could meet Him. • This is the loving God we have: we don’t have to search for Him; He comes to us!
This cloud also served a very practical function for the Israelites. • When the cloud moved, the people broke camp and followed it; • When the cloud hovered and stayed, the people rested in camp and did not move; • The Israelites did not know when the cloud would move, so they had to stay focused on the cloud; • The Israelites acknowledged God’s glory by learning to follow Him; • We too need to learn to follow God through out life;
For the Israelites, the cloud was very reassuring. All they had to do was look out their tent and see the cloud. • If ever they felt alone in the desert, they had only to look for the cloud and see that God had not forsaken them. • Today, we don’t see a cloud as testimony of God’s presence, but we do have Jesus’ sure word on it: “I am with you always.”
How are you sure God is with you? • There are times when we wonder if God is really present. • So, where do we turn then? To what do we look? • God’s Word continually assures us, especially in Hebrews 13:5 "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
We can believe all this, because on Jesus’ cross, God forsook His only Son, so that He would never, ever forsake us!