Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Why Settle for Second Best?

"See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown on the mountain" Ex. 25:40.

As if leading a large contingent of former slaves to freedom wasn't a big enough challenge, God handed Moses a set of blueprints (so to speak) and said, "Build this." No small feat when the labor pool's resumes read: "Can make bricks from mud and straw."

The tabernacle required skilled craftsmanship in: woodworking, textile design and manufacture, gemology, and working with precious metals. Everything was to be built to exact specifications all while in the middle of nowhere, and on the move. Did someone forget to tell God that the potential builders were totally unqualified? No wonder Moses on several occasions was ready to quit.

Despite impossible odds, the job was successfully accomplished. Throughout their wilderness wanderings, and on into entering and settling the Promised Land, this mobile sanctuary served its purpose. Then things changed.

After a Philistine invasion and the capture of the ark, it is unclear whether or not the tabernacle survived. The Philistines, initially thrilled with the ark's capture soon regretted their accomplishment, and sent it back.

Fast forward to David's reign. Transported to Jerusalem, the ark was housed in an open air tent, visible to all, and surrounded by worshipers 24/7. This lasted for years. With a genuine love for his God, David desired to build Him a real house. Israel had a king like all the other countries around them. Why should their God, Who is the only true God, not have a grand temple like the pagan deities? Circumstance within his control prevented David from achieving his dream. The task fell to his son Solomon, who did an outstanding job-of sorts.

The Bible never states that either of the two temples built were according to God's specifications as the tabernacle had been. It appears that God's houses were built without His input or opinion. How odd.

In the wilderness, the tabernacle was centrally located in the midst of all the tribes. Everyone had easy access, but if you really wanted to interact with God you went to the Tent of Meeting just outside of the camp. When the temple was permanently located in Jerusalem all this changed.

Several times a year mandatory attendance at the temple was required. For those in the greater Jerusalem area this wasn't a problem. One could sleep late, roll out of bed and down the street just in time for the service to begin. For the rest of the Israelites, these trips were a major undertaking. People today find traveling in climate controlled vehicles for an hour or less too taxing when it comes to church attendance (including Christmas and Easter). How many today would spend days on foot or donkey in order to get to church? Can't really blame the Israelites for skipping service when we do the same thing.

David's problem is the same today. We love God - a lot. We want to DO something spectacular for Him and wind up erecting structures He neither requested nor designed. The original Tabernacle was portable. As the tribes fanned out and settled the land, it could have been, if God directed, moved. No one tribe would have had an unfair advantage travel wise. Nor could any tribe adopt an attitude of spiritual superiority. Jerusalem became the defacto center of all things religious, but not because God said so. David, a godly king, came up with the idea. Unfortunately, kingship was never God's idea either. Settling for second best always has a price.

How about you? What over-the-top dreams do you harbor as a means to show your love and dedication to God? Is there even a whiff of an attempt to build up your own name and credibility lurking in the background? How would you react if God said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

God's plan for the Tabernacle was grand and He isn't opposed to big dreams. The problem comes when we try to improve upon His design. Are you willing to let Him construct your life as a Tabernacle that He'd enjoy residing in?

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