the unconsumed

The Word for today:
Exodus 32

The Tabernacle is God’s picture book, illustrating the great doctrines of the Christian faith. And Stand in the Rain has been commissioned by God Himself (Matthew 28:18-20) to be your official Tabernacle tour guide…

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We’ve come through the Tabernacle Gate, but we did not come in empty-handed. We brought the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (1).

Directly ahead of us is the altar of burnt offering, where the fire of judgment will consume sin.  This altar of burnt (totally consumed) offering is the primary Old Testament picture of the cross.

In a real way (not allegorically or figuratively) Jesus Christ became sin on the cross (2).  It is important to understand that the sins were not his own, but they belonged to (your name here).

At the same time, (your name here) became the righteousness of God in him (2). It is important to understand that the righteousness is not yours, but it belongs to Jesus.

But we “wear” his righteousness like a garment, and so we can approach God. Without Jesus’ righteousness, we could not proceed any farther. We would, in fact, get tossed from the Tabernacle! –

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness.’ (Matthew 22:8-13)

Note that the man without the imputed righteousness of God was not only tossed out, but he was speechless! This illustrates that we cannot approach God, even verbally through prayer, unless we come in the Name and righteousness of Christ. For if we approach God in our own “righteousness”–which God views as filthy rags (3)–God’s holiness would (because it must) totally consume our sin.

So totally consumed would we be, that there would be nothing left but the ashes that were left when an animal was sacrificed in place of the sinner at the burnt altar of the Tabernacle.

But if by faith Jesus took your place at the altar of burnt offering/the cross, then you can forever join in with the forgiven, who will forever say–

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

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(1) John 1:29 (2) 2 Corinthians 5:21; (3) Isaiah 64:6

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you can’t come in empty-handed

The Word for today:
Exodus 30, 31

The Tabernacle is God’s picture book, illustrating the great doctrines of the Christian faith. And Stand in the Rain has been commissioned by God Himself (Matthew 28:18-20) to be your official Tabernacle tour guide…

***

We’ve come through the Tabernacle Gate, but we did not come in empty-handed.

We’re often told to “come to God with empty hands, so he can fill them.” But when we hear that, the “WRONG” buzzer should go off!

Because while it is true that we have nothing of our own to give him, it is also true that we can’t bring nothing!  Man cannot approach God without a sacrifice.

And because the wages of sin is death, only a blood sacrifice is acceptable (Romans 6:23; Leviticus 17:11).

The sacrifice is a substitute for the sinner:
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. (Leviticus 1:4)
The Israelite killed the sacrifice at the side of the altar with his hand placed upon its head, thus identifying himself with the sacrifice.
By faith he placed his hand upon it and God accepted this arrangement, looking to the time when the Lamb of God would take away the sin of the world, “for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:4).

Way back in Genesis, God wanted Abraham to understand the awful price of sin. So he told Abraham to offer his son Isaac.

But God never intended for Isaac to die. He stopped the execution, and provided a ram, whose horns were caught in a thicket, to be sacrificed in Isaac’s stead.

God wanted Abraham to understand that the only acceptable sacrifice was the Son that God, not Abraham, would provide.

***

The same holds true with prayer. Unless and until we offer Jesus, verbally by Name, our prayers do not find God.

The Name is not a magic incantation. As the Son of God/Son of Man, He is the mediator of the covenant (the terms of a relationship) between God and Man. We simply can’t connect without Him.

Apart from Jesus, in terms of salvation and prayer, we are disconnected from God. In any situation, throughout all eternity, we will not be admitted without Jesus.

So if you come to God empty-handed, that’s the way you will always stay.

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all you’ve got to do is turn around

The Word for today:
Exodus 29

Yesterday, we entered the Tabernacle through its single gate:
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. (John 10:9)

 

My Picture Bible.
God sent a picture before He sent the Person. The Tabernacle is God’s picture book.

ABC’s of salvation—
The Tabernacle presents the great doctrines of the Christian faith in picture form.

Salvation is on the move.
The sentence above should read: ‘The Tabernacle presents the great doctrines of the Christian faith in moving picture form.’

As we proceed through the Tabernacle, let’s remember that the Tabernacle isn’t an art gallery with still pictures in frames. These pictures depict your very own pilgrim’s progress toward eternal life with God.

So don’t let these pictures remain remote and static and lifeless. Don’t let these pictures be “theology.” Instead make them an outline of the story of your new life with God. As we proceed through the Tabernacle, personalize each step with the details of your own life…

Can you remember when you decided to “go through the gate?” Can you recall those first steps–perhaps halting and hesitant steps–towards faith in Jesus?

There’s a well-loved Bible story that depicts one man’s decision to go back home to his Father. (Many of you knew, halfway through the previous sentence, that I am referring to Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15.)

The young man went to a far country where he led a life filled with sin. Then one day he came to his senses and decided to go back home.  Here’s the moment when he “entered the gate” to his father’s estate:
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

***

Remember that the Tabernacle is the Tent of Meeting. As you made your way back to God, he was waiting and watching and hoping to see you come through the gate.

In fact, in Exodus, the Tabernacle is described from “the inside out”—from God’s point of view as he looks from within the Holiest Place out to the gate.

If, as you read this, you are still in the far country, the gate is always open and God is waiting and watching and hoping for prodigal sons and daughters to come back home.

All you’ve got to do is turn around.

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you gotta go in through the door

The Word for today:
Exodus 28

mark this:
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. (John 10:9)

Going back to the tabernacle is the spiritual equivalent of going back to the basics. Whether you’re an All-Pro Bible commentator or a rookie believer, the Tabernacle should be visited and revisited–first to teach us the basics of our salvation, and continually thereafter to make sure we’re staying on track as we teach others.

Over the coming days we’re going to take a tour of the tabernacle, from its single gate to the Ark of the Covenant.

We’re going to keep it simple, concentrating on just a few of the furnishings per day. By the time we’re done, you should be able to visualize your way through the tabernacle like you can visualize your way through a house where you once lived for twenty years.

First, a view from the outside:

The tabernacle was a portable temple, a “Tent of Meeting” within a movable courtyard. It was constructed after the pattern that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, and was continuously assembled/reassembled in the desert as Moses led the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land.

It wasn’t big. Nestled at the very center of the Israeli encampment — more than a million people — it was a modest place.  The enclosed courtyard was 150 feet long–about half the length of a football field. The covered Tent itself was about 45 feet long.

This “Tent of Meeting” was not a place where man met man, but where man could meet God. From the beginning of creation, God’s plan was to allow people the joy of fellowship with him. However, the entrance of sin into the world (Genesis 3) caused the separation of God from man, for if sinful people were to come into God’s presence, his holiness would consume them.

The Tabernacle provided a temporary means by which the Israelites could enjoy God’s presence without being destroyed by it. And it remains invaluable for us today, for it shows us in tangible ways what is required to meet God.

***

We’ll start our tabernacle tour at (where else!) the gate.

To set the scene, let’s consider the words of a beloved gospel song:

“So high you can’t get over it
So low you can’t get under it
So wide you can’t get ’round it
You gotta go in through the door…” (1)

The thing to remember about the gate is that there’s only one!

The entire tabernacle complex had but one entrance–because there is only one way to approach God. The Bible never wavers on this issue. It is the First Commandment of the Old Testament:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3)

And it is the “First Commandment” of the New Testament:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  (Matthew 7:13-14)

This concept bothers many people. They find it narrow-minded and exclusive, when its intention is to point to a Savior who can actually save. Thus what some hear as “Thou shalt not” is really all about what thou shalt do to be saved:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

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(1) lyrics from “Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham”

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“Gentlemen, this is Jesus.”

The Word for today:
Exodus 26, 27

Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi started every season with a team meeting. Surrounded by veterans and rookies alike, he would hold a football high above his head so that each player could see it. With all eyes on him, he simply said: “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

This was Coach Lombardi’s way of reminding all of his players that success begins with a clear understanding of the basics. While it may have been a little simplistic, it succinctly illustrates the need to understand the fundamentals before moving on to more advanced tasks.

Going back to the tabernacle is the spiritual equivalent of going back to the basics. Whether you’re an All-Pro Bible commentator or a rookie believer, the Tabernacle should be visited and revisited — first to teach us the basics of our salvation, and continually thereafter to make sure we’re staying on track as we teach others.

Over the next ten days we’re going to take a tour of the tabernacle, from the east gate to the Ark of the Covenant.

We’re going to keep it simple, concentrating on just a few of the furnishings per day. By the time we’re done, you should be able to visualize your way all the way through the tabernacle like you can visualize going through a house you’ve lived in for twenty years. We’ll be resorting to pictorial aids — pictures and diagrams — as we make our way “from the door to the core.”

***

Which came first, the Bible or Jesus?

The answer, of course, is Jesus:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

That beginning (John 1:1) is the oldest beginning in scripture, because no matter when you think it was, it was before that!

(The Bible’s second oldest beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, is found in Genesis 1:1. The Bible’s third beginning, the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is found in Mark 1:1.)

Jesus is the original Word, which God has proclaimed in multi-media:

The Bible is a paper expression of the original Word.

The Tabernacle is an architectural expression of the original Word.

Finally, we witnessed a human expression (an incarnation) of the original Word:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

***

So I’ve always wondered (silly me) why they don’t build churches according to the plan given for the tabernacle. Then the building we call “the church” would actually be doing what the church is supposed to do — proclaim the Word of the LORD.

But instead the first thing encountered upon entering our current churches is some lame and dippy “Koinonia Café” where the biblically ignorant can miraculously manage to stay biblically ignorant during the entire thirty years of their church membership!

What a stark contrast to the sparsely appointed Tabernacle, where God allowed just a handful of furnishings which powerfully bespoke his Word…

Now we’re nearing the Door. I’ll meet you right here tomorrow.

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