Exodus 25:8-9—And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.
As our beloved Husbandman moved His vineyard out of Egypt and into Jerusalem, He stopped along the way to give them a perfect Holy Law and His own perfect being to dwell among them. It should touch our hearts that God wants to be with us. We love those who have no selfish agenda and just want to be together with us. How much more should our affections grow for our God who wants the same. Our hearts should swell with a secure kind of joy!
God was always strategically painting pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament. Both the Law and the tabernacle were masterpieces of the coming servant-savior-Messiah, and so God gave precise instructions for how everything should go. Moses followed the instructions perfectly. In the biblical record, God said, “He is faithful in all My house” (Numbers 12:7). We also know that Moses was a great prophet to whom God spoke face to face (Numbers 12:8) and Moses listened and followed the instructions.
Because of this, we have been given a pattern for how to do well with what God has so generously provided and end up with good grapes in our winepress. Consider now how Moses moved with God to a glory-filled end. The testimony of his faithfulness was repeated in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 8:5). This illustration of Moses is being inserted here to give shepherds a “how-to” model as we steward God’s good gifts.
Our churches and the tabernacle are not one and the same, but the integrity of their construction is. Both should start with God and end with God. Here are God’s divine instructions to this genuinely meek prophet for the erection of this physical prototype of Jesus. Observe carefully.
1. Start with God’s glory (Exodus 24:16-17). Moses and company were pilgrims. They had no glory of their own. Neither do we. This leads us to . . .
2. Seek God’s presence (Exodus 24:12, 13, 18). God said, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there . . .” The idea here is that of an unending appointment. Direction for holy leadership cannot be rushed. We know now that it was a forty-day visit, but Moses didn’t know that at the time. When we are building reflections of Jesus, we need time to get them right. We all have had first-hand experience in how these “first appointments” have to be fought for and kept with all diligence both privately and corporately. The way of a healthy church is to have strategic sessions with the Master Builder. There we . . .
3. Receive God’s project (Exodus 24:12; 25:8). “. . . I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.”
Notice these projects were received by Moses—given by God. They were not the products of a brainstorming session. Good ideas are not always God’s ideas. John the Baptist securely reported as his ministry was falling behind Jesus’: “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27).
It is comforting to observe God’s desire to give Israel both His Word and His presence. The means of bringing that to our people will be birthed in God’s presence through His projects. After which we . . .
4. Wait on God’s provision (Exodus 25:1-7; 36:5-7). The specific needs were outlined by God, and the supply came from willing, generous hearts. Not everyone gave, and those who did gave from the spoils they gleaned during their exit from Egypt. Remember, they were pilgrims. Their hearts embraced the project so much that Moses had to restrain the giving. The people brought much more than enough! When God’s heart is in the project, He will raise up people with the same heart. We can’t be in a hurry. The process is as important to God as the end product. Be patient, and the invisible supply will appear in God’s time. In the meantime, we . . .
5. Follow God’s pattern (Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30; 27:8). God has a way He wants things done. His insistence about this with Moses is notable. Strategy matters to God. Wood, hay, and stubble are real and will be burned. Moses inspected all the work to make sure it was done just as the Lord had commanded (Exodus 39:43). With this willingness to be given to detail, he received a good report from God that he was “faithful in all Mine house.” Like Paul the church planter, we are ministers (servants) of Christ and stewards of God (I Corinthians 4:2).
6. Employ God’s personnel (Exodus 31:1-6). I have got to believe when God was giving those precise instructions for the tabernacle to Moses with all of the “Thou shalt makes,” He could have been thinking, “And who is going to do this?” Growing up in the palace and then caring for sheep did not necessarily equip Moses in the trades. But God, as always, had a plan to provide His leader with gifted, passionate partners. These words from God must have brought great relief to Moses. Listen to them carefully.
See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.
And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you . . .
I am choking up as I write this because I have experienced first-hand how God who ordained the message and the manner in which it was presented also raised up the materials for the project and the men to put it together. It is fantastic! There needs to be an integrity about our waiting on God that allows us to realize who He is calling. They are . . .
7. Motivated by God’s power (Exodus 31:3). My mentors in revival encouraged me to learn the difference between good men, church men, and Spirit-appointed men. These kinds are not always found amongst the seminary grads or shrewd business executives. Note also that competence and character can come in the same package. Be assured that bad staff is worse than no staff at all. Wait on God. He has someone in mind, and he or she may be nestled in your own congregation.
There came a time in our ministry when we discovered that the best ministers for us were those who were growing up with us. They often came from the faithful who weathered well the storms we had gone through. Your attitude as a leader will make a great difference in whether or not your men and women even want to join the team. It is so invigorating to watch God put in the heart of your own flock a desire to join the cause. Note the words God used here: Spirit of God, wisdom, understanding knowledge, all manner of workmanship, devise cunning works. And God repeatedly said that He would put all this in them! We need to wait and look for the Bezaleels and the Aholiabs who lead the wise-hearted to build all that God has commanded. Those who then . . .
8. Serve for God’s glory (Exodus 39:30-32). The following words describe the final movements of the hands of the craftsmen.
Then they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription like the engraving of a signet: HOLINESS TO THE LORD.
The artists did not inscribe the piece with their own name. They signed God’s name. They credited the real artist. How different our ministries when the staff and laborers intentionally serve for God’s glory. Do you know what happens when we live like this? God signs His name to us. Notice, “Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished. And the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did. . .According to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work. Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them.” (Exodus 39:32, 42-43).
Knowing neither the full reason behind all the details nor the end of the story these pilgrims simply obeyed and received a “well done” from God and Moses.
The crowning moment of this endeavor is described here.
Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
God was obviously present and actively in charge. God chose to dwell with them, to be seen by them, and to go with them throughout all their journeys. God always finishes what he sets out to do, and God always does it right the first time. This is what any ministry can expect when we start with God’s glory and end with God’s glory (Exodus 40:34-35).
Without elaboration from me, take time to compare this glory with the tragedy that comes when people decide to operate independently from God and mold their own calf (Exodus 32).
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36).
Let our prayer to our green-thumb, eternally generous Father-Husbandman be . . .
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
Start with God’s glory.
Seek God’s presence.
Receive God’s project.
Wait on God’s provision.
Follow God’s pattern.
Employ God’s personnel.
Be motivated by God’s power.
Serve for God’s glory!
A Touch of Tozer
The Lord takes peculiar pleasure in His saints. Many think of God as far removed, gloomy, and mightily displeased with everything, gazing down in a mood of fixed apathy upon a world in which He has long ago lost interest; but this is to think erroneously. True, God hates sin and can never look with pleasure upon iniquity, but where men seek to do God’s will He responds in genuine affection. Christ in His atonement has removed the bar to the divine fellowship. Now in Christ, all believing souls are objects of God’s delight. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 108