Today’s reading: Exodus 39-40.
Long before Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella built the baseball diamond in Field of Dreams, God promised to come and live with his people if they built the tabernacle. True to his word, the glory of the LORD came down upon the finished sanctuary one year after the deliverance from Egypt. God redeemed the Israelites and established a pattern that would one day be eternally fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34
I don’t want to be overly symbolic, but I think the details of the tabernacle can serve as reminders to help us be better prepared to meet God in our daily devotions. Let’s start by looking at a drawing of the tabernacle:
As one entered the tabernacle from the east (the right in the picture), you would first come to the altar of burnt offerings where the priests made sacrifices to cover sins. As we begin our devotions, we should first confess our sins to God, removing the obstacle to our right relationship with God. We require no sacrifice except that which has already been made by Jesus. Next we come to the laver or basin of water. The priests used it to wash their hands and feet before serving, and it reminds us that we have washed and cleansed ourselves by the blood of Jesus.
As the priest would leave the public courtyard to enter the Holy Place, so the believer prepares by confession to enter God’s presence. Inside the Holy Place on the north side was the table of showbread. This bread of the presence reminds of the importance of Jesus, the bread of life, and Jesus’ reminder that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Our devotional times should be full of God’s word including Jesus’ own words in the gospels.
On the south side of the Holy Place was the menorah or lampstand. Jesus is the light of the world, and God’s word is a lamp revealing the path for our feet. We study the Bible in our times of devotions, meditating on it to understand it fully and apply it, and memorizing it so that it is always close by in our heart and hand.
Next the priest came to the altar of incense before the veil that closed off the Most Holy Place. The fragrant aroma of the incense reminds us to pray, knowing that the prayers that we send up to God are pleasing to him. We pray in faith, knowing that beyond the veil of physical reality God hears our prayers, even as the glory of God rested upon the ark of the covenant behind the veil of the tabernacle. We pray even more boldly, knowing that the veil has already been torn open by Jesus’ death on the cross.
The Israelites’ exodus from Egypt is complete, but they are still many years from the promised land. Before I return to their journey, I want to use my next post to review some reasons why you should read through the whole Bible. Please return for that post tomorrow.