Summary: The lesson points out examples of the temporary in light of the permanent. I used this also to help with our VBS theme this year of God's Greatest Show on Earth.
1. Lifetime Battery
An angry motorist went back to a garage where he had purchased an expensive battery for his car six months earlier. "Listen," the motorist grumbled to the owner of the garage, "when I bought that battery you said it would be the last battery my car would ever need. It died after only six months!"
"Sorry," apologized the garage owner. "I didn't think your car would last longer than that."
We live in a day and time when we expect everything to come with a lifetime warranty. We don't want our battery to ever wear out. We don't want our car to ever wear out. And yes, it's even true that we don't want our bodies to wear out. But each and every day we are reminded of what Peter said:
"All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the LORD endures forever." (1 Peter 1:24-25)
We live in a world composed of that which is temporary. Nothing which is material will last forever. All will eventually fade. All will eventually pass away. Only that which has its foundation in God and His Word will live on.
May you live your life so as to be grounded in that which will never be destroyed!
2. VBS Theme this year involves imagery of tents -- no, we don't want to be a three-ring circus (Webster's: a circus with simultaneous performances in three rings; something wild, confusing, engrossing, or entertaining)
3. The Tent reminds us of the temporary nature of things with which we deal. Consider:
I. Abraham Lived in a Temporary Tent but Looked for a Lasting City
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Hebrews 11.8-10
A. The Bedouin Tent was Portable
B. The Bedouin Tent was Protective
C. The Bedouin Tent was Durable
D. The Bedouin Tent was Temporary
II. The Hebrew Nation Dwelled in Tents but Looked for a Homeland
A. Marvin Wilson referred to the Hebrews as having a "Pup Tent Religion"
B. They traveled for forty years in the wilderness
C. They dealt with the temporary to achieve the permanent -- Canaan
D. Each year the Feast of Tabernacles is a Reminder
III. God Lived in a Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) but Longed for Heart of Man -- Exodus 29.46
46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
A. The Tabernacle was a Contrast with the magnificent temples of the pagan gods
Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, VA
When our daughter was in fifth grade we visited "Colonial Williamsburg" in Virginia. It's a famous town which has restored buildings from the 1700's. There are shops there, a couple of restaurants, the governor's mansion... and there is an Episcopalian Church building -- constructed in 1715 that still has regular worship services. It has a current membership of around 1600 people. It's called the Bruton Parish, and it is beautiful structure. On there are pews are plaques with the names of some the more famous people who attended there:
* George Washington
* James Madison
* Patrick Henry
* Thomas Jefferson
The layout of the sanctuary is significant. The pulpit was way up high - a good 10 feet off the main floor (modern preachers speak of "climbing into the pulpit"). The preacher had to climb a set of stairs to preach. Above him was a "sounding board" which was used to amplify the volume of his voice.
The pews had doors on the end that you could close. This was especially important in the winter as the families placed heated stones at their feet and the boxes helped keep the heat in. The seating was divided into 4 sections so that the aisles formed a cross. The design was deliberate - it's called a "cruciform" (or a cross) design. It followed the pattern of many of the cathedrals in Europe. They intended to communicate that their faith was based on the cross by how their building was constructed.
When God laid out the camping pattern for the Hebrews, the Tabernacle was at the heart. The tribes camped around it in the shape of a cross. That may be incidental, but God did teach them that he was in their midst -- in the very heart of the camp. Their lives flowed from Him. He taught them this arrangement would be temporary.