EXODUS 25: 1-22
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution
“They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two
“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two
In this series from Exodus, we have seen that God is forming His people - delivering them from their enemies. There has been an incredible story of salvation as they were brought up out of Egypt - much of their experiences mirror our experiences as God has called us out of bondage and into a missional family of servants. After their deliverance they are marching toward their victory - the Promise Land. On their journey, God provided food and water as well as a law code that would make them a people of moral ethics and justice. God has provided them a covenant.
Even with all of this generous provision, there is still something that the people are lacking. Something is missing.
Our need for God’s presence is likened to our need for water (Psalm 42:1-2). The psalmist is describing our situation in the most desperate way possible. It is a deer desperately searching in a desert for water - it is a matter of life and death. This is just like you and me. Our greatest need is the presence of God. The Bible shows us as dying, dehydrated, desperate animals searching for the water of God’s presence - our very survival depends upon His presence.
Whether you realize it or not, your fundamental desire is to be in God’s presence. To live outside of God’s presence is to experience sin, brokenness, injustice, corruption, anxiety, grief, greed, depression, addiction, self-centeredness, lack of affection, hatred, loneliness, busyness, etc. We can all identify with these things because we live in a world outside of God’s presence. The only remedy for exile is the presence of God.
At the point of our text, Israel needs a remedy for the lack of God’s presence. Our text shows that God will invade their world and tabernacle among them. God is not an absent father - but rather He is deeply involved and invested in the lives of His people. God says, “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Verse 8).
Moses dedicated these writings to the theme of God taking up residence with His people. God is coming back to them and will be with them in their wilderness. The mission of God is the presence of God in all of creation - every square inch. His mission is to reinvade His creation.
Where does God dwell?
In the Tabernacle
The tabernacle described is a temple that served as a place of worship and sacrifices for the 40 years that the Israelites were in the wilderness. In the tabernacle, we see both attributes of God: His holiness and His mercy. God is re-invading His creation with His presence. He is reclaiming His people and restoring His creation.
The tabernacle is a sign that God is moving into the Israelites neighborhood. He is taking up residence with them. God comes to them. He is a God that is with His people. Even before the manger in Bethlehem and even before Christ is called “Emmanuel, God with us”, God was with His people. Israel’s greatest need was His presence and He gave Himself to them.
The tabernacle is no longer. John, in His gospel, describes the presence of God in Jesus (John 1:14). “Dwelt” is the same word used in our text (verse 8). The early church would have heard it this way, “tabernacled among us”. He took up a temple among us. This is the greatest claim of Christianity. Colossians 1:19 makes the same claim.
In Christ, the fullness of God has come into our wilderness to save us. Christ is the true tabernacle. Exodus 25-27 is the shadow, Jesus is the reality! He is the true lamb (John 1:29). We no longer need a lamb or a high priest to enter into the presence of God because Christ is the greater of these things. We do not meet Him at a mercy seat, we meet Him at the mercy throne of the cross (Hebrews 10:19).
In The Church
Jesus has been crucified, buried, resurrected, and has ascended to the right hand of the Father. If Jesus is not on the earth, where is the presence of God now? Acts 2 shows us that Jesus breathes out His Holy Spirit on His Church so that it might experience the presence of God. Paul drives this point home in 1 Corinthians 3:16. God’s presence is in you if you are in Christ.
Today, God’s people are the tabernacle of God. His presence is what makes us the Church. Ephesians 2:19-22 paints this picture of His people being a growing temple of God. The tabernacle in the wilderness was a static structure with barriers, the Church is always growing, changing, and interacting with culture.
In The World
As the Church goes into our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and the world, God goes with us. He uses us, His Church, to take His presence into all the world. His mission is all of creation - through His Church! He is using you. In fact, this is why He saved you! He calls us to build His Church so that it can be in earth as it is in heaven. He wants His holiness and mercy to be on display once again on this earth.
Why do we preach? Why do we disciple? Why do we plant churches? Why do we care about social injustice? Why do we love our neighbors? Because we believe that God is bringing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven - and He is doing it through His presence in us. That every single nation would once again enjoy His presence.
Your Greatest Need Is The Presence Of God!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
An Examined Life
As we continue to reflect on the sermon, allow these questions to guide your discussion with others concerning the conviction points and what you sensed God’s Spirit was doing in you through the preached Word. Jot notes to help you remember.
What was God doing in you through the message on Sunday?
Describe how you’ve grown in your understanding of the Gospel (good news of Jesus)?
How are you going to respond to God’s Word in your life?