John 14:23 (NIV) – Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
Our lives are now God’s tabernacle. Just as all the details for the physical tabernacle were important to the Lord, so all the details of our lives are important. It matters how we live. It’s about what the Lord wants to do and build, both in our individual lives and as a church.
“Disciple (mathētēs) says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith. Pilgrim (parepidēmos) tells us we are people who spend our lives going someplace, going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way, Jesus Christ.” [Peterson, E. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]
Let’s pray for our campuses/missional groups/church: that we would grow as disciples who listen and learn from him, and as pilgrims who move forward with his plans. Let’s worship to the song, “Fall Afresh” by The Belonging Co. and pray that God’s dwelling may be experienced among all those with us.
Matthew 17:1-5 (NIV) – After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
What’s obvious here is that we no longer have to build a physical tabernacle like the Israelites did to experience God’s incredible presence. We have a greater revelation of God in Jesus Christ! Yet, what’s not so obvious is how well we listen to Christ. Sometimes we can have selective hearing, assume we know what we’re doing, or aren’t open to certain changes. Peter might have had good intentions with building these shelters/tabernacles, but they weren’t needed. Likewise, it is good to listen to Christ. Today, ask the Lord for a heart that is attentive and open. Pray about a particular area/concern and listen to his voice, and follow through on his leading.
Exodus 40:34-38 (NIV) – 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.In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
“Exodus ends on a very positive note by reporting the erection of the portable sanctuary and YHWH’s [Lord’s] coming to dwell within it, but the contents of ch. 40 signal that this is not the end of the story… with the erection of the tent of meeting a highly significant development occurs, building on the newly established covenant relationship between YHWH and the Israelites. As they journey onward, YHWH will go with the people, dwelling among them.” [Alexander, T.D. Exodus, p.673].
Faithfully following and simply doing what the Lord commands leads to something totally greater and beyond ourselves, which means it’s also not the end of our story. Let’s pray for God’s presence to lead our lives onward (individually/corporately). Today, worship the Lord in his glory – his majesty, love, truth, justice, beauty, righteousness… God’s glory fills us with hope.
Exodus 39:42 (NIV) – The Israelites had done all the work just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
“Doing everything that one is commanded to do, not skipping anything and not taking shortcuts, can be a long and tiresome job. But it is the right thing to do – especially when the commands come from God… The methodical account of the building of the tent complex contrasts with the rapid construction of the golden calf and its altar and with the subsequent chaos of pagan worship… Their [Israelites] obedience was characterized by diligence and generosity, but it was also an exact counterpart to the enthusiasm they displayed in their sin.” [Garrett, D. Exodus, p.701]
Our obedience matters when it comes to worship of God. True and proper worship takes everything and often stands in contrast to how our culture lives, but God is worthy. In view of God’s mercy, pray for this heart of obedience and for God to be at the center of our lives. Let’s worship to the song, “The Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman.
Exodus 35:29, 36:2 (ESV) – All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD… And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV) – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
“To make a holy dwelling for God, the Israelites had to have the right materials. Exodus 35 tells how they gathered what they needed for this huge building project. They all had a contribution to make, and from their example we learn what it means to have a heart for giving – offering what we have and what we do for the glorious work of God.” [Ryken, Philip. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory, p.1026]
The Israelites were given a chance to build the tabernacle for God’s dwelling, something unprecedented at the time. What an incredible blessing that God is willing to involve us in his kingdom and work. Let’s worship to the song, “Build My Life” by Housefires. With hearts stirred by God, pray/sow generously and cheerfully for God’s kingdom to come where you are.
John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
“Full of Grace…
This is really good news. God could have chosen to become flesh as a judge and executioner. And all of us would be found guilty before him and be sentenced to everlasting punishment. But he did not become flesh that way…The Word of God became flesh to be gracious to us… This will not be a wishy-washy, unprincipled, sentimental grace. This will be a righteous, God-exalting, costly grace… It will lead straight to Jesus’ death on the cross. In fact, this is why he became flesh. He had to have flesh in order to die. He had to be human in order to die as a God-man in our place (Hebrews 2:14–15). The Word became flesh so that the death of Jesus Christ would be possible. The cross is where the fullness of grace shone most brightly. It was performed there and purchased there.
And the reason it happened through death is because the Son of God is full of grace and truth. God is gracious to us and true to himself. When Christ died, God was true to himself, because sin was punished. And When Christ died, God was gracious to us, because Christ bore the punishment not us.
‘The Word became flesh’ means for us that the glory of God has been revealed in history as never before, namely, in the fullness of grace and the fullness of truth that shines most brightly in the death of Jesus for sinners.” [“We Beheld His Glory, Full of Grace and Truth.” Desiring God, John Piper]
Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s determined love to make us His covenant people. Let’s run this race with our eyes fixed on our Lord Jesus Christ! Spend some time in prayer, meditating on the verse today and giving thanks to God for His saving grace in our lives.
Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV) – The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Psalm 108:4 (ESV) – For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
“Khesed is more than generic ‘love,’ for which Hebrew has another word (ʾaheb). ‘Steadfast love’ is a better translation, but khesed is even stronger than that. ‘Unrelenting love’ or ‘pursing love’ is closest to its meaning when God is the one loving. Technically the word means ‘tenacious fidelity in a relationship, readiness and resolve to continue to be loyal to those to whom one is bound.’” [Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament]. “This is the only adjective that occurs twice in this text (v. 6 and 7). The Lord’s reliable and unrelenting love stands at the center of God’s self-disclosure at Sinai.” [J.K. Bruckner, UTB Commentary.]
It only took about a month for the Israelites to go from “we will do everything the Lord says” (Ex 24:7) to singing praises to a golden calf. The Israelites were not loyal and they were not determined in their commitment to God. God is not like us. When we are faithless, He is faithful and remains loyal to us. He is with us not because we are faultless and perfect but because He is God of steadfast love. God loves us with His unrelenting love. It’s His love that makes this covenant relationship work.
Perhaps even this week, we were not loyal, forgetting our commitments that we made to the Lord. Let’s turn to God, receive His forgiveness and be restored to Him. May His pursuing love chase us down and wash over us this week.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.
“God says he is ‘slow to anger,’ which is a vivid way of describing his patience. Some of the older translations call it ‘longsuffering.’ To say that God is ‘slow to ange’ implies there are times when he does get angry, when he responds to sin with holy wrath. But God is ‘slow to anger.’ He is not capricious or volatile. And when he acts against evil, he does it righteously and deliberately, not because he loses his temper. John Mackay explains it well: Slow to anger does not present the LORD as a frustrated deity who eventually loses patience and strikes out against those who have thwarted him. It rather acknowledges that the LORD is reluctant to act against his creation, even when it is in rebellion against him. He waits long to give the sinner opportunity to return in repentance. But he is not forgetful and will not condone sin. At a time of his choosing he will act decisively against it.” [Ryken, Philip Graham. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory.]
Aren’t we so thankful that God is slow to anger, that He holds back his wrath that we rightfully deserve? He is patient in waiting for His people to repent. We are preserved in His steadfast love for us.
We may have done things that we are not proud of and may be shameful of. Sin, guilt and shame may be keeping us from His presence and fellowshipping with Him. We can return to God because He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and He is filled with unfailing love for us. May knowing God’s character motivate us to run to him in repentance when we do sin and receive his forgiveness. Let’s be renewed in our relationship with Him.
Exodus 34:7 (KJV) – Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…
Psalm 130: 3-4, 7-8 (NIV)
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
God is “forgiving.” The Hebrew verb used here (nasa) means “to lift or to carry.” This gives us a picture of what God does with our sin. He takes it away, lifting the heavy burden of guilt right off our shoulders. To show how forgiving he is, God lists three things he is willing to forgive: “iniquity and transgression and sin” (34:7). These are three categories of unrighteousness. “Iniquity” (‘awon) means to “turn aside” from what is right and good. “Transgression” (pesha‘) is more defiant. John Mackay defines it as a “willful violation of the terms of the covenant, involving not merely disobeying a rule or regulation, but betraying the relationship one has with the covenant King.” Anyone who commits this kind of sin is a traitor to God. The last term (“sin”; chatta’h) is the most general. It refers to any kind of moral failure. The point is that God is willing to forgive any and all kinds of sin. Sometimes we feel so weighed down with guilt that we wonder whether there is any way for God to forgive us. We are tempted to feel that what we have done is so evil that we have fallen beyond the reach of his grace. But however we define what we have done, God is willing to forgive our kind of sinner. He forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin. [Ryken, Philip G. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory]
We are alive today because God forgives. Spend a moment offering up thanksgiving and praise to our God who forgives us and redeems us.
Exodus 34:5-7 (NIV) – Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
Unless God revealed Himself to us, how would we know what He is like? In these verses, God is revealing and describing His own character for the first time to Moses as he is pleading with God for the Israelites after the golden calf episode.
We may have differing views about how God is like and have notions about God that are inaccurate or not complete. Some of us may relate to God as if He is a wrathful judge who is ready to punish at the first sign of wrong doing. Some of us focus more on His grace and forgiveness without taking sin seriously. In these important verses, God describes two significant aspects of his divine nature. YHWH is God of mercy who forgives AND He is a God of justice. After the people of God really mess up, God forgives and preserves the nation of Israel. They are punished but not destroyed. Shockingly, He commits Himself to them by renewing the covenant knowing well that they are stiff-necked and unfaithful people.
Ultimately, the mercy and the justice of God are satisfied in our Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t get the punishment we deserve because Jesus died on the cross for us. It was God’s plan all along for us. Our God is merciful. With this revelation of God, Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.
Let’s spend some time worshipping God to the song, “Holy Ground” by Passion and be in awe of His glory!