In the chapters of Exodus 35-40 we see the outset of Sabbath regulations as well as dimensions and specifications for the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the table, lampstand, incense altar, court, priestly garments, and so on. These projects are incredibly detailed and combine a wealth of different materials and skilled workers. Each and every aspect of these projects are full of biblical symbolism, right down to the markings on the stones set within the ephod worn by the priests.
The Lord blessed Bezalel and Oholiab with special skill as foremen of sorts to take the lead on the constriction of these various Tabernacle-related things. All sorts of different materials are needed and they are heartily given by the people of Israel until they actually have to be turned away, as they had the required resources and much, much more. It is after an unspecified measure of time that the Tabernacle and all it’s related components are finished, assembled, and ready. It is anointed and consecrated with oil so that it may be holy. Then Aaron and his sons are washed and consecrated.
Moses puts the finishing touches together, everything is assembled, and it is at that point that the glory of the Lord descended upon the Tabernacle and filled it as a cloud! Thus the Israelites followed the Lord wherever he went. This marks the end of the book of Exodus.
It is a meek and chastened Israel that gave the best of it’s supplies to the building of the tabernacle. Moses had disappeared once again up the mountain to receive a second pair of stone tablets written on by the hand of God, and this time there was no idolatrous evil. It seemed the people of Israel were all too eager to show just how committed they were to the Lord and gave the best they had to His prescribed dwelling. There is no account of grave misunderstandings or quarrelling, just focused work on what the Lord had His people build. This makes me think of the way the church today operates. Those building the tabernacle had liberal givers, willing workers, diverse giftings and skills, zeal in their offering, and followed the wisdom of the Spirit.
Each gave of their time and talent and possession in joyful obedience to the Lord. They gave so much they had to be told that there was too much! Eventually, the work was done and with the Lord leading them on. It must have been such relief and awe at seeing the Lord come to dwell with them in the cloud that surrounded the tabernacle - to have their God dwelling among them in their midst! The Lord showed His Justice and Mercy at Sinai, and in spite of everything, He remained their faithful leader.
The Lord has made his dwelling within each one of us, so let us treat one another with all love and dignity and seek to spread the dwelling of the Lord to every corner of the earth! We have our jobs and lives and friends and obligations, but whose name is at the top of our to-do list? Who is it that calls the shots on our priorities? It is easy to say that Jesus is calling the shots, but on whose terms are we living? There are decisions that must be made each day, most small and some huge. I would encourage everyone to take note of where they go first when making plans or decisions of any kind or size. Do we weigh things ourselves and only turn to the Lord when things don’t pan out, or do we lay all things at the foot of the throne of God and see what He has to say about it?
It is vital to remember that, though we operate as Christians in a physical church building, we ourselves are the temple of the Living God. The building of St. Aidan’s finished long ago, and we ought to have our focus on the building up of the church as a living body. We must be attentive to the Lord and see how and when He wants us to use our gifts of time and material. We must remain eager and willing to jump in and help wherever we are able. We need to keep an eye (or two!) out as to what our giftings are and how we could use them alongside others. We must treat this as the fundamental and glorious task it is, and we must do all things in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord does not have you on this earth by accident, He has work for you to do and has given each of his children gifts and talents for the edification and building up of His church. We must learn to live our lives in His timing and for His purpose, that we might be joyful and focused and fruitful doing the things He wants us to do! Look at the way Paul writes on this in Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We all have a part to play in advancing the Kingdom of God here on earth. He has purchased for us eternal life through his Son, Jesus Christ, and we owe Him our entire selves to do His good work!
Do you use your God-given gifts to build up the church? What are some ways you can examine and evaluate your priorities?
Father God, we thank you for saving sinners and using them to further your Kingdom here on earth. We are not worthy, yet are made worthy in your one and only Son. Please use us and show us how to build up the church, to be eager helpers, and to be at peace and in unity with one another as we follow your Holy Spirit into greater things.
Song: You’re The Dawn - Strahan
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.