January 3, 2022
20 He took the tablets of the covenant law and placed them in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. 21 Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the ark of the covenant law, as the Lord commanded him.
22 Moses placed the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the curtain 23 and set out the bread on it before the Lord, as the Lord commanded him.
24 He placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle 25 and set up the lamps before the Lord, as the Lord commanded him.
26 Moses placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the curtain 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the Lord commanded him.
28 Then he put up the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle. 29 He set the altar of burnt offering near the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and offered on it burnt offerings and grain offerings, as the Lord commanded him.
30 He placed the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, 31 and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. 32 They washed whenever they entered the tent of meeting or approached the altar, as the Lord commanded Moses.
33 Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.
Everything is now set in the tabernacle. They will have to do this each time they move and then settle for a time in another place. It will move around during the early years of the nation until the temple is set up under Solomon. But we see that the tabernacle holds the covenant law. It holds the tablets of it that are for the people and the tablets of it that are for God. The holy place of God is the holy place of the people. He is their God, they are his people.
We don’t have some centralized place of worship any longer. We are spread across the world as the church. As congregations we may have our place where we worship, but the larger church is spread around the whole world. Yet we see the same thing. Not tablets of a covenant that reside in one place for all. We see that God is present in all of our places of worship. God is present wherever we gather. Where two or three are gathered, he is there in our midst.
It is not that God was not present everywhere then already. It is that he began with one small group of people and brought grace beyond them. As the nation will settle in the land there will be several places where we see the bringing in of people from other nations. When we read past Joshua and Judges, books about the nation in opposition to the nations around them, we get to Ruth and see that others are coming to be part of the nation. And not just part, but in the line of the future king, David, and the future Messiah, Jesus.
Here is the picture of God dwelling with his people in a way that they could understand. He shows his presence with them as they see the tabernacle in their midst. God shows his presence among his people today. We see the Spirit of God at work in the church and the world. We see the Spirit of God at work in our own lives; transforming us to be the church he calls us to be. God is with us always. We are always his people.
Song – Better is One Day
For all the possibilities ahead in this new year, make us thankful, O Lord. Give us wisdom, courage, and discernment in the face of so much chaos, despair, and fear. Help us to see how, in our circumstances, we can contribute toward peace, faith, and love. And give us the will to translate our desires into action. Amen.