On reading through Exodus, I have become somewhat mired down in the details of how to build a Tabernacle. My confession is that I usually skip through chapters which have, what I consider to be, excessive detail on how to build things I have no need to build.
Yet this morning, something struck me about Exodus 37. Let me give you a few extracts, and see if you can pick it up too:
v5 And he inserted the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it.
v14 The rings were put close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying the table.
v27 They made two gold rings below the molding – two on opposite sides – to hold the poles used to carry it.
The key here is PORTABILITY. The people of God were going to be a people on the move, and that is why everything had to be portable, and even the Tabernacle, the “dwelling place of God,” was a movable tent, with items designed for easy carrying on poles.
When we think of the dwelling place of God, we may be tempted to think of church buildings and grand medieval cathedrals. This is misleading. It tends to push us towards the static, the unmoving, the status quo. The pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night were beacons for the Israelites which symbolized readiness to move. When they moved, the people of God moved with them.
In the New Testament, we see Jesus, and especially Stephen at his martyrdom in Acts 7, severely challenging the notion that God lived in the Temple, the “permanent” structure:
Acts 7:48 However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men
The truth of the New Testament is that Jesus was the dwelling place of God, and that when he ascended and sent his Spirit to his disciples, they in turn became the dwelling place of God. As Paul says in Romans 8:9:
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
This is the same promise to all of us who are believers. God is not static. He is living in us, and we are in our very nature, portable. With apologies to Hemingway, I see Christians in the world as a moveable feast, people wandering around offering a banquet of grace to all they encounter.
When God calls you to move (with compassion, generosity or even geographically perhaps to a mission field) will you go? Will you be a moveable feast of grace?