February 20, 2020. Day 51: Inside the tent.

1 Chronicles 16:1. And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.

What is the meaning of life? Why did God create us?

Some would say that these questions are impossible to answer, but the Bible says there are answers to these biggest of questions. God made us as the overflow of his love and glory. He made us to share himself with us. The meaning of life is to live with God, in his presence, enjoying him forever.

This all began in Genesis in God’s garden temple where heaven met earth and God met man. But because of sin, man had to leave the Garden (see January 13 post). The rest of the Bible is the story of God restoring his dwelling with man. In Exodus God’s people lived in tents, so God had a tent built for himself – the Tabernacle. And in the middle of the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant. And on top of the Ark of the Covenant was the “Mercy Seat,” where the presence of God dwelt. Where, for the next 500 years, God would meet with man.

Exodus 25:21-22. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you.

So for 500 years one man (the High Priest), on one day a year (the Day of Atonement), entered into the one place (the Tabernacle), and there he met God at the Mercy Seat. And never without the blood of the sacrificial goat to be sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, atoning for the sins of the people for another year.

But when David became King there was a big problem – there was no Ark in the Tabernacle. The Ark had been captured by the Philistines, then sent away by the Philistines (it’s complicated), and now finally after 20 years David has it brought back into Jerusalem.

And here’s where it gets amazing. David doesn’t take the Ark to the Tabernacle in Gibeon. He takes it to his house in Jerusalem. There he pitches a tent for it in his yard.

Think about what this means. Any time David wanted he could walk into the presence of the Lord and sit under the shadow of his wings. No blood sacrifices. No ritual cleansing. No veil of separation. No holy days. No purity laws. Nothing to stop him.

Unlike Gozer the Gozerian, God invites us into his tent.

Next, David would forever transform how Israel would worship God. How? By adding what was absent from the Tabernacle – thanksgiving and praise. David’s tent transformed worship from “please accept me” to “thank you for accepting me.” From endless bloody sacrifices to an endless sacrifice of praise. With music, lots of music.

Look at 1 Chronicles 16:

Then [David] appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel… 

Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brothers.

41 With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever. 42 Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song.

Can you see how David’s tent pictures our union with Christ? David’s tent is grace not law. The law forbid David from entering the Tabernacle, especially the Holy of Holies where God dwelt. But David went boldly into the presence of God in his tent. He stood, sat, sang, danced, clapped, played, rejoicing before the Mercy Seat. And he invited the people to join him. The whole congregation of Israel worshiped God at this little tent. All without the continual shedding of blood. All without repeated cleansing. All without fear. Just perpetual praise and thanksgiving, awe and wonder.

What boldness. What reliance on the acceptance of God. What faith in God’s matchless grace.

“To live is Christ” has made us, God’s church, the tent of David. God’s presence now dwelling in us and through us. Our lives now lived boldly before God as living sacrifices to the praise of his glorious grace. This is the meaning of life. This is why we were created. To live passionately in God’s presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

You

Do you see your life as praise to God or penance to God?

You in Christ

In Christ you are perpetually in God’s presence. How does this remove fear for you today?

Christ in you

How can you live “inside the tent” before God today?

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