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The Tabernacle of God with Man

Out of every eight promises in the Bible, seven are in the Old Testament. How much we would lose if we neglect the Old Testament and all His wonderful promises! Even in the three promises given to us for our churches for this particular calendar year, two are from the Old Testament and the third one from the New. Regarding the promises of God we need to remind ourselves of three basic truths. Firstly, according to 2 Corinthians 1: 20, "... all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen". Only those who are in the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e. those who are born again, regenerated have claim to anyone of these promises. Secondly, all these promises are inseparably linked with some condition
demanding our obedience, and such a command is found either in the same verse or in the same chapter. Thirdly, all these promises have a tight schedule in the divine scheme of things; God fulfils them in His own time. That is the reason why the writer to the Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 6: 12 not to be slothful, but through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Having seen these three basic conditions, we enter into this beautiful promise, "I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you." The first prominent thing about this promise is this, that the Lord never spoke about His tabernacle or dwelling place as long as the people of Israel were in bondage. God would not speak about His dwelling place to a people still in bondage and in poverty. The only cry of Moses again
and again before Pharaoh was this "Let my people go that they may serve me". Pharaoh suggested a dwelling place for God right in Egypt but Moses would not accept it. "Let my people go," first let them come into freedom before there can be fellowship. Pharaoh may build the treasure cities like Pithom and Ramses with the slaves, but God will never build His dwelling place with those who are in bondage. We are certainly not speaking about a visible tabernacle but the invisible spiritual dwelling place of God. That is the reason why when people down through the generations began to worship the temple instead of the God of the temple, God allowed it to be destroyed again and again. Solomon's temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. Later Zerubbabel built the temple and God allowed it to be destroyed once again. Herod built a beautiful temple for forty-six years, but Christ never honored it. The real temple, the real dwelling place of God are His children in whose heart the Lord dwells. Such a spiritual temple can never be built by slaves, who are in bondage.

Secondly, before speaking about the tabernacle, the Lord began to reveal His Law to His people. After the people were delivered from the bondage of Pharaoh and the land of Egypt, we find the first united song of worship in Exodus 15. And in that song they were inspired to sing, "I will prepare him an habitation" (v .2). Nevertheless the Lord did not speak about the tabernacle immediately. The subject of tabernacle comes in Exodus 25,
but before that He gave them a threefold Law. Firstly, He gave them the moral law - how to keep themselves holy and sanctified before God. Most of the Ten Commandments speak about our personal sanctity and purity. Secondly, social law -how to behave one with another. And thirdly, the ceremonial law -regarding service to God. Only after enlightening God's people with these three- fold law, He began the subject of the tabernacle. How careful God was to choose the workers, before He could start building
His tabernacle! The people must be delivered, the people must be enlightened.

Thirdly, this beautiful promise also shows us the great longing of God to be in the midst of His " people. In fact, the people were so frightened about the holiness of God Jehovah that they pleaded with Moses. "You go to the top of the mountain, hear the voice of God, come back and tell us the counsel of God". But God's heart was not satisfied in staying far away on the mountaintop. He wanted to set His tabernacle among them and be a part of them and be in the midst of them. " I will set my tabernacle amongst them". "I will set my tabernacle among you".

Genesis chapter three closes with a sad note, "So he drove out the man" (v .24). Till that day God used to come down from heaven and walk with man. but when sin entered God drove out the man. It is a very sad verse in the Bible. Human sin and God's holiness cannot co-exist. But praise God; the Bible closes with these words. "Behold. the tabernacle of God is with men" (Rev .21 :3). The Bible begins with the driven out man and it closes with God making the man himself, His dwelling place. This wonderful transformation took place because of the cross of Calvary. The Passover Lamb in Exodus chapter twelve foreshadows the death of Christ to reconcile the alien man, the estranged man, with the Holy God. It is in the heart of God to dwell with you, to dwell with me and to dwell amongst us. He went in search of Zacchaeus in Jericho and told him, "Zacchaeus. make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house." Zacchaeus never invited Him. Jesus invited Himself into his home knowing the desire of his heart. Even to the church at Laodicea which rejected Him, He says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him...". The Lord is more anxious to dwell with us than we are to dwell with Him. "I will set my tabernacle among you".

Fourthly, God is not going to make this tabernacle all by Himself. He is going to invite people to work with Him to build His tabernacle. Leviticus 26:11 should be balanced with Exodus 25:8. Leviticus26:11 says, "I will set my tabernacle among you" and Exodus 25:8 says, "Let them make me a sanctuary". The same echo is found even in the New Testament teaching. "I will build my church" (Matt.16:18) must be balanced with 1 Corinthians 3:9. "...we are laborer's together with God." God is going to set His tabernacle among us; He is going to build it with us.


Many years ago in a weaving factory in Calicut, I saw how cloth was woven and beautiful designs were brought into the cloth. First of all, I was shown a small room where drawing masters were preparing designs of valleys, mountains, birds, animals etc. Then the same design was transferred first to another paper and then again to a larger paper. Then holes were made in a cardboard at different distances and it was cut into many small pieces. All that one could see was hundreds of pieces cut in the cardboard, with hundreds of holes. Then I saw different colored threads passing through the cardboard, and at last the weavers began to work with the machine. Gradually the design was seen on the cloth. Is not this a picture of our lives? At present there may seem to be nothing but holes in your life. Several holes have pierced your heart at different periods; yes, you are carrying wounds in your heart, and perhaps these very wounds are causing
much pain. But remember this, those very same holes, those wounds, will bring a heavenly design into your life. Then you will say, "I know, my Lord has done everything perfectly; He never makes a mistake." So, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ if you are going through any kind of painful experience, please do not be downcast. What you do not understand now, you will know later. Our Lord bought us with His precious blood, and He will not leave His work unfinished in us.

Let us look at the passage from which our subject is taken. The man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech was brought to the Lord Jesus Christ when He came to the sea of Galilee, through the coasts of Decapolis. These stories in the Gospel are recorded to teach us what sin does to us, and how our God can change bur lives. By means of very expressive language we are made to see that we are sinners. Those who cannot say truthfully that they have peace in their hearts can be compared to this man in Mark 7. People who are deaf and dumb are helpless in the ordinary phases of life, and it is the same with man spiritually. If he is not born again he can never hear the voice of God. As sinners we are deaf spiritually, and alas! even after we are born again, when we fall into sin we cannot hear the voice of God.

Let us take an example from the Word of God. Eli was the high priest of Israel. Because of his constant disobedience, failure and negligence, he became deaf spiritually. His sons were living a life of sin, adultery and fornication in the House of God, and he did not restrain them. One night the Lord spoke to child Samuel. Samuel heard His voice, but Eli did not! He was an old man who was familiar with the Scriptures, the law and the prophets, and had enjoyed many privileges and rights. But because of his repeated disobedience and negligence he could not hear the voice of God. The child Samuel, however, simply ran when he heard the Voice. He could say, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant hearth". A man is deaf spiritually either because of lack of experience, or disobedience, or in some cases simply because he has no desire to hear the voice of God.

Take another example. Saul and his companions were going to Damascus, and God knew that Saul's heart was prepared to receive His words. So when God said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?", Saul heard the voice clearly, and fell down. His companions thought that it was only some noise, but for Saul it was the Voice of God, and he could answer, "Who art Thou, Lord?" In the same way the Lord is speaking to us. Some like Saul will hear His voice and answer, "Lord, tell me what Thou art saying to me, I am ready to hear what Thou hast to say". For others, it does not matter what we say or how we say it, they will not hear God's message. What is your attitude to this matter? Will you allow God to open your ears to hear His voice? For months, or years perhaps, you have not heard the voice of God, because of sin, disobedience and defilement. God's Word will reveal your sin, and show you how your deafness can be taken away. This is the glad tiding that we bring to you, -God's message of good news! - that if you have been deaf for years, or for a short period only, today the Lord Jesus Christ Who does all things well, offers to cure you by the touch of His hand, and instantly His still small voice will be heard by you.

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