The wilderness nights were never completely dark for the Israelites as they made their torturous way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Just so, the daytime skies were never cloudless without shelter from the sun.
- Each night, camping in the wilderness, the Shekinah Glory of the Lord lit the sky above the Holiest room in the Tabernacle they had built as the dwelling place of God.
- Every day the Shekinah appeared as a pillar of cloud.
- On the days when the cloud was still, they remained in camp.
- On the days when the cloud began to move, they broke camp and followed it.
There was no council meeting to decide what to do. No opinion poll was consulted. No vote was taken. Everyone knew the drill and they obeyed. Collect the morning’s manna, pack up the stuff, and move.
A Dwelling and the Act of Dwelling
The word, “tabernacle” is both and noun and a verb: It refers to a tent-like dwelling and it means to dwell in or take up residence in.
The Poet asks the question, “Who will enjoy the tabernacle of God?” In other words, “Who will dwell where God dwells? And, “In whom will God set up His tabernacle—His tent—His Dwelling-place?”
There are no questions more fundamental to the Path of Life than these.
If living is separated from its source—our Creator God—it becomes death, a living death. Such is the condition of the human race: separated from God by the sinfulness deep in our nature–this is called iniquity in the Bible, meaning “lawlessness”—and by the sins we commit. God cannot “tabernacle” with sin and iniquity. His proximity to wickedness would destroy the hapless sinner.
Because of the Blood
The Lord could shine each night and tower each day above the Israelites in the wilderness because blood had been shed at each passageway in the Tabernacle leading to the secluded room called the Holy of Holies, This was the Holiest Place where no sin could dwell. The New Testament principle, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,” has always been the case.
Today there is a New Covenant—the Jesus Covenant—made in His sinless blood for all the sins of mankind and for humanities fallen sinful nature. Through Him our sins are cast away forever.
In the dark, wilderness night of human experience, a bright pillar of fire shines. In the baking wilderness days of the journey of mankind out of slavery in search of a Promised Land of Liberty, a shining pillar of a cloud beckons those who will see. There is a Dwelling Place for a Holy God in an unholy world—a Tabernacle for our wilderness. His name is Jesus—God with us!
- He is our Dwelling Place and He Dwells within us!
- He is the Gate of Thanksgiving.
- He is the subject of the praise in the Courts of Praise.
- He is the Table of Bread and the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place.
- His Spirit is the oil in the Golden Lamps burning there.
- His human body was the torn veil, riven in two when He cried “It is finished!” from the cross.
- He is the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Word of God and the Rod of Aaron that came to life—the Anointing of the Spirit.
Through Jesus, our nights are never completely dark and our days always have a sheltering sky as we walk the Path of Life.
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? who may abide upon your holy hill? Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, who speaks the truth from his heart. There is no guile upon his tongue; he does no evil to his friend; he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor. In his sight the wicked is rejected, but he honors those who fear the Lord. He has sworn to do no wrong and does not take back his word. He does not give his money in hope of gain, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things shall never be overthrown.
Hebrews 8:1-6; 10:19-22 NKJV
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. … who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Revelation 21:1-7 NKJV
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
Lord Jesus, You are my Dwelling Place, my fire by night and my guiding cloud by day. I will rest in the warmth of Your Covenant and walk in the covering of Your Loving-kindness. You dwell at the center of the church and of my life. Around me are my brothers and sisters, and my spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith; I am not alone. I have yet to cross the Jordan to enter into the Land of Promise above but I know that is my destiny. As I move or rest, Your promises remain in force and You are always faithful. Here on earth I find Your Dwelling Place and soon I will find an eternal dwelling place with You in heaven. Behold! The Tabernacle of God is with us!” Thank You, Lord Jesus!
In the Presence of Jehovah
Words and Music: Geron and Becky Davis
In the presence of Jehovah,
God Almighty, Prince of Peace.
Troubles vanish. Hearts are mended,
In the presence of the King.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved