Although BSF study is on hiatus for Christmas break, our assignment still has us reading through Exodus and Leviticus, and I can’t say that I’m uplifted and overjoyed as I make my way through the text. Lots of it focuses on the sacrificing of animals for atonement, the purification laws for Israel, the different types of offerings to be made at the Tabernacle, and the distinction between what is clean and unclean for God’s people. So as I read, I keep asking God, “What is it you’d have me take away from your sacred text during this precious advent season of waiting?” I know He has something for me tucked away in the pages of His holy Word.
And here’s what I came away with today as I reflected, first on the completion of the Tabernacle and how God’s presence led His people for 40 years through the desert in the form of a cloud! That in itself is pretty amazing, no? My revelation is that over and over again throughout Exodus and Leviticus, God repeats: “I am the Lord your God.” There it is in a nutshell. So who am I to question Him? He is my maker and my creator. He has the perfect plan, and my job is to trust and obey Him. The Bible shows repeated instances of blessings that follow obedience, so why do we have such a hard time doing “just as the Lord commanded?” (Exodus 40:16).
If you skim through Exodus 35-40, you’ll no doubt be bowled over like I was with the level of detail that God gave in the building of the Tabernacle and all of its accompaniments. These people, the Israelites, were in the middle of a desert, with no Lowe’s or Home Depot nearby to run out to for a quick purchase of supplies, yet they were still able to build this ornate, hand-crafted sanctuary to serve as a dwelling place for the Lord!
“And how is it that they could pull off a feat like this?” you might ask. Yes, I wondered the same thing myself, but anything is possible with the Lord on your side. And still I read further and noticed that in Exodus 35 alone, the phrase “all who were willing” was repeated four times. This phrase referenced how the Israelites were able to gather up the supplies and earmark the workers who would be able to participate in the completion of the Tabernacle.
Hmmm…. A good question to ask ourselves perhaps? Are you willing to come and do the work that the Lord has established for you? His Word tells us in Psalm 90:17 that the Lord establishes the work of our hands. What skills and resources has He given you, and how are you willing to use them for His service in your home, your church, and your community? And when the Lord calls, do you respond by getting up and following Him, just as He expected from the Israelites in the desert? This part really threw me for a loop, because I could just imagine myself as one of them, with all of my movable belongings as a wanderer in the desert. And then, there’s the Lord, in the form of a visible cloud, dwelling at the entrance of the now built Tabernacle. When the cloud settled, the Israelites stayed put, and when the cloud lifted, at the Lord’s command the Israelites would set out. Sometimes the cloud would settle for days, months, and years at a time, and then there’d be other instances where its movement would be more sporadic. Can you imagine the Hebrew town crier calling out, “The cloud is moving!” and everyone would have to pack up their belongings STAT and hurry to follow the cloud indefinitely? I don’t know about you, but this kind of lifestyle would surely get to me after about a day or two! If you’ve ever lived out of a suitcase in more than one location for an extended time frame, you surely can relate to this kind of experience. Try living it for 40 years in a desert!
When I think my days are tough and unpredictable, when I wonder what the Lord has in store for me and I’m not sure I can handle the unknowns… it’s then that I can remind myself of the wandering Israelites and their really difficult situation of living a life constantly on the move, never knowing what might lie ahead, just having to trust God in every moment for every need. There’s no way I could have survived in a tent in the middle of a desert having to respond to the unknown movements of a cloud! Thanks be to God that He has me where He has me, today, in this moment, for this time and this place!
I personally was encouraged by the names of the two craftsmen in Exodus 31, Bezalel and Oholiab, whose names were recognized by God and preserved for all of history for having served Him with their craft; so much so that I broke out the sewing machine this weekend to re-stART some old pieces of clothing and fabric scraps!
I’m hoping that I can spread some Christmas cheer with a few handmade gifts showing up in goody bags over the holidays season, gifts that show others that all things can be made anew because “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5:17, NIV).
Won’t you consider joining me and serving God with your own craft as the holiday season fast approaches? And if you need help discovering what your craft is, I’d love to help you discern that too. Just message me and we can talk about some personal coaching options to get you well on your way.