51 - God Moves In
God’s role in the history of the Israelite nation was undeniable. He had miraculously led them out of slavery in Egypt and across the Red Sea—drowning the whole Egyptian army in the process. He had produced water out of rocks when they were thirsty and sent manna and quail when they were hungry. He had led them with a miraculous cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. But when things seemed to be going smoothly, the Hebrew people easily forgot everything that God had done for them. So, He chose to set up residence right in the middle of their camp—in a special holy tent called the Tabernacle. It was a visible reminder of His presence. God gave Moses the exact plans for this portable sanctuary when he was on top of Mount Sinai. It had two sections:
The outer courtyard was enclosed by curtains, which hung on pillars. It was rectangular in shape with an entrance on the east side. Facing the entrance was a bronze altar where sacrifices could be offered. Nearby was a bronze basin where the priests could wash their hands and feet.
The Tabernacle was also made of curtains. It was set back on the western part of the courtyard. It had two chambers divided by a veil—a very thick curtain. The first and larger chamber was the Holy Place. Only priests could enter this chamber. It contained three pieces of furniture covered with gold: a table on which they placed special bread that was baked fresh every day as an offering to God, a lampstand that held seven candles, and an altar for burning incense.
The second, smaller chamber was called the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest could enter this chamber and only one day each year—the Day of Atonement. It contained the Ark of the Covenant. This was a very special box covered with gold which contained the two stone tablets that Moses had brought down from the mountain. The lid of the box was called the Mercy Seat where the high priest would sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial lamb once each year. Everything needed for construction was donated by the people. Day by day they brought their gifts. Soon they had more than enough to complete the work. God appointed two men named Bezalel and Oholiab to teach others how to work with the gold, silver, and bronze; to cut and set decorative stones; and to embroider curtains for the Tabernacle. Although they had no prior experience, these two men were given amazing artistic skills by the Holy Spirit. The workmen were careful to build the Tabernacle precisely according to all the instructions God had given Moses. It was completed exactly two years after the Israelites left Egypt. Everyone watched in awe as a cloud covered the tent and the amazing glory of the Lord filled His new home.
God no longer lives in buildings made by people. When we accept what Jesus did for us on the cross, He comes to live in our hearts. We become His tabernacle. Do you honor His presence? Do you realize He is with you everywhere you go?