God Came Near
Contributed by Christian Cheong on Sep 2, 2014 (message contributor)
Summary: God instructs Moses to build the tabernacle. God wants to be with His people. God wants to connect with His people. God provides all that is required for His will to be done.
We come to church every Sunday and that makes us feel (sometimes) that we are the ones coming to God.
• But the truth is, it’s the other way around. God is the One coming for us.
• He came to us and He came for us in Jesus Christ. And He is the One who wants to be with us today.
This is the big message of the building of the TABERNACLE that we read about in the last part of EXODUS.
• You might have noticed that the last part of Exodus chapters 35-40 regarding the building of the tabernacle, is a repetition, almost verbatim, of the material from chapters 25-31.
• You’re right, they are basically the same. The earlier chapters records the PLAN for the construction and its furnishings, and the later chapters tell us the EXECUTION of it, the actual construction of it.
[Read Exodus 25:1-9]
God instructed Moses to tell the people: “I will dwell among them.”
• He says, MAKE A SANCTUARY FOR ME and I will dwell among them. And so came the detailed instructions to build THE TABERNACLE.
• This is the reason for the tabernacle – it is His sanctuary, His dwelling place.
• And it must be built in the midst of the people, because that’s its purpose. God wants to be with His people. He need not have to, but He wants to.
It’s like seeing your friend at your door one day with a pillow and mattress, and everything he needs to stay-over, and he tells us, “I want to be with you. I’m staying with you.”
Capture God’s heart here. He wants to be with you. This has been God’s desire right from the beginning, when He made Adam and Eve.
• Not to leave them in the Garden, but to walk with them and commune with them in the Garden.
• That’s why Moses called it the TENT OF MEETING, where God meets man.
And if they are travelling in the wilderness, this dwelling place needs to be mobile.
• It cannot be a permanent building; it must be portable.
• That explains why the construction of it is so complex. You have to dismantle it, move it, and rebuild it.
• You need to carry the furniture easily, and so the poles and the hooks.
Through the tabernacle, man can meet God. Man can commune with God and knows God.
GOD WANTS TO BE WITH HIS PEOPLE
Christianity is not so much about you desiring God as it is about God desiring you.
• It is God’s desire. He wants to be with you.
• When Jesus came, John said it this way: “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)
God says, “I will dwell among them.” (25:8)
• Jesus’ parting words to the disciples were: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)
• Theologically, you can never be alone. So don’t equate God’s silence with His absence.
• He is with you always. It’s just that sometimes He seems to be quieter than usual.
Do I have such experience? Of course. He seems to have disappeared. And you question yourself – What wrong have I done? Is He angry with me?
• But God’s silence is not God’s absence, always remember that.
When God seems silent, check this out: Have we stopped listening? Are we too distracted by the cares of this world to notice Him? Have we neglected His Word? Has the noise of this world drowns His voice out?
• The problem will not be on His side; it is on our side.
• When God seems absent, He's present.
If it is His dwelling place, then it must depicts His person and befits His character.
• It cannot be any ordinary tent. When the people draws near, they must know who they are approaching and how to prepare themselves.
• God therefore gave Moses detailed instructions. Imagine this, God created the world in 6 days (> 1 chapter) but He used 40 days to instruct Moses about the tabernacle (6 chapters).
This is important to God. Why? GOD WANTS TO CONNECT WITH HIS PEOPLE
Although the tabernacle does not provide the perfect communion – not face-to-face, not intimate, through intermediaries - because man is sinful and God is holy - it is at least an avenue. It provides a way of connection.
• Sin is in the way, no doubt. It stands before us and God. This is reflected in the construction of the tabernacle and in the sacrifices that man needs to make.
• The tent curtains served as separators between God and man.
But at least, there is still a means for man to come before God. The tabernacle facilitates communion with a holy God.
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