Summary: Christian Character is both built and brought out when your life is on the edge - Discover God's amazing provision for you and me in this journey....
Living on the Edge:
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy - Martin Luther King Jr.
If your true worth is to be assessed using your character as a yardstick; where do you stand? Who is going to measure it, how, by what standard? Your true character comes out in its starkness; frankness and fullness when you are on the edge.
Moses was a man living on the edge.
From Nile to Nebo; one day was never the same as the other. His life is signaled by conflict and controversy, rebellion and recrimination; doubt and despair; faith and hope. No sooner did he attain the age of reason; he was confronted with a series of life changing choices.
-to identify himself as one belonging to a tribe of bonded slaves or as an heir apparent to the throne of Egypt
-to ignore a fellow Hebrew being oppressed by an Egyptian or to take law into his own hands and terminate the tormentor
- To continue for the rest of his life as a non descript shepherd or a million slaves into a land of dreams
Every choice Moses made resulted in irrevocable changes in his life. And each choice was to become a building block of his character …... from Murderer (Exodus 2:12) to Meekest Man on Earth (Numbers 12:3). And through Moses, God was in effect building the character of a Nation, the Nation of Israel.
The Red Sea Crossing and the Mount Sinai Ascent were electrifying and empowering experiences. However, in equal measure, the Golden Calf incident proved devastating. To behold the blatant apostasy and sheer ingratitude of people who had witnessed the power of the Living God was more than Moses could bear. Israel had condemned itself without room for reprieve.
Broken hearted and hurting within, we see Moses taking a tent and pitching it afar from the camp (Ex 33). This tent comes to be known is the ‘Tent of Meeting with God’. Anyone wishing to spend time with God could go into this Tent and commune with Him. This Tent was to become the forerunner of the Tabernacle. Moses drained and devastated by the kaleidoscopic turn of events; seeks to draw spiritual strength from God and goes into this Tent, spending hallowed hours within its folds. Whenever he entered, God’s presence would descend on it as a pillar of cloud and remain while he was inside. In this sanctified communion, God would speak to Moses face to face even as a man would speak to his friend.
This Meeting Tent; apart from serving as a fore-runner of the Tabernacle; also becomes a model for every individual in the Israel Camp to have a private sanctuary. God made a simple provision by taking the shawl which every man used to drape over the body and turning it into a Tallit or Meeting Tent.
The Lord instructs the Israelites (Numbers 15:38) to attach tassels (known as tzizit) to the four corners of their garments. The word ‘tzizit’ means “fringe, hem, tassel, border, skirt, wing or edge of a garment”. This was made up of 4 strings, 3 white and 1 blue, doubled up to form 8 strands and tied into 5 knots. The 5 knots represent the Torah or Pentateuch and (5 + 8) = 13 represent the character of God outlined in Exodus 34. This tasseled shawl is now going to become something special and unique.
The Tallit meaning ‘Little Tent’ is now a provision where one can commune and meet with God. The 4 tassels on the 4 edges of the garment show no matter whichever direction a man turned, he could have a constant relationship with God; he was reminded of the Law and his responsibility to live in accordance with the law. When a child was circumcised; it was done holding the Tallit as canopy; when a man got married, he would put his arm around his wife so that she would come under the fold of his Tallit to show they are one. - When a man died, he would be buried with his Tallit draped over him and one of the tassels would be cut off symbolizing the end of his relationship.
The Tallit reminds man of his frailty and God’s strength:
“That you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of Adonai and do them; that you seek not after your own heart and eyes, after which you go astray; that you may remember and keep all my commandments and be holy unto your God.” God.–Numbers 15: 38-41
The Tallit has been compared to a string around one’s finger, a cue to remember something that remains to be done. Tallit has also been likened to a military uniform; an external sign of which side one you serve in the battle; an insignia proclaiming God’s subjects; a shield protecting its wearers from sin; the four corners of a Tallit are called “witnesses” because they observe and testify to the behavior of the wearer. Tallit has also been understood as a lash; its strings convey a sharp reminder of standards should one fall short of them.