Exodus 25:8. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle.
In yesterday’s reading we looked at what happens when a holy God and an unholy people meet. And as we learned, this meeting was only possible because of the altar. Today we will see the next step God takes in providing for a meeting place between God and man. A place where God’s holiness and his mercy will be fused together.
A tent for God.
Since the beginning of time God has wanted to live with us. His greatest desire has always been to be our God and for us to be his people. This is the plot line of all of scripture, and the goal of all of history – God with us.
The Garden of Eden was God’s first attempt at sharing a dwelling place with us. But as you know, rather than the presence of God being enough for us, our first parents rejected God in favor of self-determination. But God never gave up on us. He never walked away. He’s determined to live among the creation he loves most. And so, here in Exodus, he wants his people to build him a tent to live in among them. A sanctuary. A tabernacle.
These two words can almost seem contradictory. Sanctuary means “holy place,” and tabernacle means “dwelling place.” Put them together and you have a holy dwelling place for God. This special tent will allow God, in his perfection, to remain separate from the people, while in his mercy, to dwell among the people.
This sanctuary-tabernacle is a picture of God himself. His character. God is holy and he is merciful. God wants to be with us, but he must remain separate from us. God will dwell with man in his tabernacle, but he will remain separate from man in his sanctuary. The people will meet God at the tent, and yet remain separated from God at the same time.
What does this tent for God teach us? It shows us how much we need both God’s holiness and his mercy. There is no salvation without both. Sin is not destroyed without holiness, and we are not spared that destruction without mercy. Praise God that his holiness could not keep him from coming to us in mercy. And praise God that his coming to us in mercy would never degrade his holiness.
But this tent, this sanctuary-tabernacle in the wilderness is only a shadow of the greater revealing of God’s holiness and mercy – Jesus Christ.
John 1:14. And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tented] among us…
Jesus was the living sanctuary of God. Jesus lived separated from us. He obeyed separated. He suffered separated. He died separated. And, in taking our sin upon himself on the cross, he, like us, was separated from the holy sanctuary of God.
And Jesus was the living tabernacle of God. Jesus lived near to us. Jesus dwelt among us as one of us. He experienced all that we experience, felt all that we feel, desired all that we desire, and needed all that we need. He died among sinners, in the place of sinners. Then he brought his human life into the presence of God so that every person that trusts in him could also live forever in the presence of God.
Now Christian, in Christ, we are the sanctuary of God. God’s holy place. Declared to be holy in Christ and empowered to live out Christ’s righteousness in the world. And at the same time, in Christ, we are the tabernacle of God. His dwelling place. His deep love, compassion, kindness, and grace displayed to the world in us, and received by the world through us.
“To live is Christ” makes you and me the sanctuary-tabernacle of God. The meeting place of holiness and mercy. Separate from the world in Christ’s holiness. Connected to the world in his mercy. God dwelling in the midst of humanity in us.
Do you see yourself as the holy sanctuary of God? The merciful tabernacle of God? If not why?
You in Christ
How does your union with Christ allow you to be balanced in your holiness and mercy?
Christ in you
How can you display both holiness and mercy today? Ask God to show you how.
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