The Tabernacle Where God Will Be With Them
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.”
Exodus 25:1-9 NKJV
Our God promised Abraham that He will give the land to him and his descendants, that there He will be their God, that is, be with them. The promise that He will be their king cannot be achieved unless He is with them. He cannot protect them. In order to be with them, there must be a place to be together. At that time, the Israelites were living in tents. So, God had them make a tent for God.
This is not abstract as we think of it but very specific. They had their tents pitched on the open land, and when God said, “I will be among you,” it is not in an abstract sense that He said that. It is not a notional concept that God said He will protect them. There was an actual place where God will be among them.
At an elementary stage of faith, like little children who are being taught, they were starting off from this very concrete truth. Just because God cannot be seen, we cannot think of it in the same sense as when a person says that his late mother is still with him. It would be a huge mistake to think that that is how God is with us.
God actually came and is here. The only thing is that He cannot be seen, but the Holy Spirit has come most definitely. During the Old Testament times, it was not spiritual. It was while they were on the earth that this promise was fulfilled, so they put up a tent for Him to dwell in. They needed to put up a tent. But God is most holy, and even if He was to dwell amongst man, He could not just be anywhere with them.
He has to dwell in a holy place. Therefore, they had to put up the tent according to the instructions given by God using the materials He specified. So God commanded them and instructed them how to do it. After making a promise with Him, a covenant saying, “We will live with You, God,” they needed to make a home like a newlywed’s home. Just as when a couple gets married, they get a place and live there, they need a tent for God. So God instructed them to bring the materials needed, yet He did not want people to bring them with reluctance. He told them to collect from those who bring with a willing heart. It is not because God lacks anything to do something. He wanted them to do it with a cheerful heart. Even now, God does not accept what is done reluctantly in our faith life. And when people bring things before God with a boastful attitude thinking, “Look at how much I’m doing. I’m bringing this much!” God does not accept them. Instead, God accepts those that bring before Him with a joyful and obedient heart because they love God and want to be with God.
Generally, in the world, if one has a skill/qualification, he would negotiate a deal using that. For example, he might demand to be paid a higher salary to work for someone. He can negotiate a deal. But with God, that does not work. No matter how skilful a person is, he must not think that God cannot do anything without him. There is no negotiation. Hence in the church, there is no distinction between the skilled and not, or higher pay based on qualifications. Such systems do not exist. Everyone who wants to be with God serves with thankfulness and willingness.
Thus, after they built the tabernacle just as God wanted, God dwelt with them. In verse 8, He says, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” The result after the people had finished building it was that God dwelt in it. In those people’s eyes, they saw how the angel of the Lord met with them there, and also, it was there that the priests served God. When they entered, the place was filled with God’s glory, and so they believed that place to be where God lived.
But does God really live there? He does not. It was King Solomon who later declared this. When Solomon finished building the temple, it would seem right for him to say that people should go to the temple to serve God, for that is where He is. But instead, he said, “God is greater than the universe, even heaven. So how can He possibly dwell in this place built by the hands of man? It is only to keep His name there and worship Him.” He was a man of great inspiration. The people at that time believed that God was in that place, and thus as long as they did not depart from that place, they would not perish.
The Israelites thought that they would never perish so long as they held on to the temple, but later they perished. They were baffled. So our God does not dwell in places built with hands. The place was only for God’s name to be there so that they may worship His name. It is because man is utterly limited that He made them burn incense to God there. But when it was time that man was ready, He consecrated man through Jesus Christ so that the name Jesus dwells in each person’s soul and each one can meet Him.
Thus, the fact that God abides within us is not an abstract idea but reality. God certainly lives in us. God’s name is in us, but not only that, God Himself abides within us. The Holy Spirit abides in us. Later when we go to heaven, we will be able to see this manifest. In other words, God’s many children and Jesus, who is God, will abide together.
Back in the Old Testament times, the angel of the Lord was with the people, and they were able to see it concretely. But that was not the image of God. Now, although God actually abides in us, we cannot see Him. He cannot be seen. But when the time comes, we will be able to see God dwelling amongst us.
So in the scene in Revelation, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people.” There is a scene of admiring and praising the amazing sight in chapter 21. Therefore, even though we cannot yet see it with our eyes and cannot show it to others visually, the essence remains true. God dwells within me. And He will never leave us eternally. He has made this promise. So what these people could not attain despite their efforts, we have now gained. And for those who do not believe, people who do not have faith cannot admit it now. However, we affirm and experience through faith.
So, because of the fact that this God is with us, we have the authority of God, we have the power of God, and we have the promises of God. Believing in that, I will pray that you enable us to become people who truly live by the authority and power of God.
God the Father, we truly thank you for being with us. Without faith, we cannot fully comprehend how significant this presence is, and thus we cannot be thankful or joyful. However, with faith, we can deeply understand this presence and experience this reality. You have allowed us to enjoy this reality. Please help us become individuals filled with unwavering faith. Truly make God’s presence our greatest joy and a source of blessing. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on October 31, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team