And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. – Exodus 25:8,9
The instructions given to Moses by God in the building of the tabernacle are a flawless model of how we can allow God to build the church and still be humanly responsible for our leadership.
First of all, Moses was an amazing, God-centered prophet (Israel’s greatest) because God chose to meet with him face to face. God came to Moses’ defense when Aaron and Miriam spoke against him. Note God’s witness of Moses.
“Hear now My words; if there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, (face to face) even apparently (plainly) and not in dark speeches; wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them;” – Numbers 12:6-9
Similar statements are made in Exodus 33:11 and Deuteronomy 34:10. Such a stellar, God-authored commendation of leadership demands our observation. God spoke with Moses without mediation. Also, the Lord did not speak to Moses through visions and dreams but plainly. It was not that Moses saw the full glory of God, but rather that he had the most explicit, intimate encounters, above those of any other prophet. In response to these encounters, God said, he is faithful in all My house. That’s what we are after in our leadership: 1) Intimate in our communication, 2) Immaculate in our obedience.
Secondly, the tabernacle was a God-centered project strategic to Israel’s health, safety, and progress as a nation. The tabernacle was the way Israel could be camping out with God on their pilgrimage. Through this tent of meeting, God gave Israel seven messages from His heart.
1. I want to be with you.
2. I want to cleanse you.
3. I want to protect you.
4. I want to move with you.
5. I want things done My way.
6. I have an end in mind.
7. I have another prophet like Moses (Jesus).
Our churches and the tabernacle are not 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.
Through the finished tabernacle, God gives us His message (heart), but in the building of the tabernacle, He demonstrates His method (hand). Here they are in order. We:
1. Start with God’s glory (Ex. 24:16, 17). Moses and company were pilgrims. They had no glory of their own and neither do we. Which leads us to…
2. Seek God’s presence (Ex. 24:12-, 13, 18). God said come up to Me into the mount, 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 (Ex. 24:12b; 25:8). “And I will give thee tables of stone and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them . . . And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among 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 that his ministry was falling in behind Jesus. “A man can receive nothing, except it be given 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 (Ex. 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 from 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 (Ex. 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 the way the LORD had commanded (Ex. 39:43). With this willingness to be given to detail, he received a good report from God that he was faithful in all His house. We are also ministers (servants) of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful (I Cor. 4:2). We must then…
6. Employ God’s personnel (Ex. 31:1-6). I’ve 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 didn’t necessarily equip Moses in the trades. But God, as always, had a plan to provide His leaders 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 Bezaleel—and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab–: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee.”
I am choking up as I write this because I have experienced firsthand how the 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’s 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 (Ex. 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 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 (Ex. 39:30, 32). The following words describe final movements of the hands of the craftsmen. “And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” (v.30).
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. You know what happens when we live like this? God signs His name to us. Notice, “Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they” (v. 32). “And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them,” (v. 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 in Exodus 40:34, 35.
“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, 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 that any ministry can expect when we start with God’s glory and end with God’s glory.
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 (Ex. 32).
Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.