Summary: We need to understand we are influencing people about God and we need to have a heart like Joshua towards God.
Until Wednesday afternoon this past week, I really had no idea what God wanted us to focus on this morning, which is pretty rare. It doesn’t take but a few minutes around me to realize that normally I am planned and organized way in advance. When I gave out the Youth Ministry calendars in September, people were amazed that I had already planned a day hike for the CheckPoint kinds to take place in July 10, months down the road.
Needless to say, I was starting to panic a little bit early in the week because I felt like God was giving me the silent treatment, which really just meant, “Wait and I will tell you at the right time.” Well, that time came Wednesday afternoon in a pretty cool way. I was actually out walking my dog with Adam and we were talking about the 24-7 prayer room, the Youth Sunday coming up and how I had no idea what we were doing, and sort of debriefing a conversation we just had with some guys.
Between the mix of all of those things, God reminded me of this passage. In my head I just listened to God connect the dots and was thinking, “Alright, tent of meeting, being in God’s presence, God showing up, and Joshua having this heart to stay in the tent, kind of all makes sense.” So I turned to Adam and said, “I think I know what I am going to preach on now. God just reminded me of that passage where Moses builds the tent of meeting and Joshua doesn’t want to leave and all.” Adam quickly responds, “Yea, that’s Exodus 33:7-11.” I was kind of surprised that he knew the exact reference, since I didn’t even know what it was off the top of my head, so I kind of applauded him verbally. And Adam goes, “Nah, I just read it this morning in the prayer room. It was on the rock I pulled out of the well. That’s definitely what you are supposed to preach on.” So, here we are this morning.
What I didn’t realize at the time that is really interesting about looking at this passage towards the end of our week of prayer, is the fact that this is the first reference in the Bible, 83 chapters in, that talks about a meeting place, or for our sakes, a prayer room, being set up where people could go and meet God. Before this, we see God meeting people in a number of different ways wherever they happened to be at the time such as homes, mountain tops, the dessert, etcetera. I think there is something really special about having a space set aside to go and meet with God rather than just doing it wherever we are.
Listen to verse 7 again, “It was Moses’ practice to take the Tent of Meeting and set it up some distance from the camp. Everyone who wanted to make a request of the Lord would go to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp.”
I think it is so important to point out that this Tent of Meeting was set up “some distance from the camp.” Again, God can meet people anywhere they are and he does that regularly, but there is something special about a space that is set aside from the normal day to day things and dedicated to God as holy. One of the remarks I heard after someone had come up from an hour in prayer was how nice it was to not have the distractions of the house and family to compete for their attention. I think this is exactly why Moses set up the tent where he did because he wanted people to leave the distractions of life and the norm behind and enter into a space that they knew was for hanging out with God and nothing else.
Another important fact to point out is that this was where “everyone who wanted to make a request of the Lord” would go. So it was a holy place, set aside for God but it was also a common place which put everyone on the same level with God. It wasn’t that only certain people could go or only the “good” people, but everyone. This also created an amazing opportunity for the people to minister to one another by sharing in this experience. Again, relating it to our prayer room, one of the most powerful things about it is walking in and seeing the art on the walls or the names on the Wailing Wall or reading the journal entries. Because it is a common place, it gives us the extra advantage of sharing our experiences with the people who come in after us through art, music, poetry, written prayers, and other forms of worship.