“I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.” ~ Exodus 29:45-46
Perhaps your mom, like mine, told you to never look directly at the sun. And if you are like me, you probably tried it anyway. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to realize mom was probably right on this one. Even though 93 million miles away, we squint in pictures if the sun is anywhere in front of us, such is its incredible brightness. Paul says of God that he, “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see (1 Timothy 6:16).” John wrote, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)” Next to such light, how deep must human darkness be. This, it seems, should raise a serious hindrance to God’s plan to “dwell among the people” for “what fellowship has light with darkness (2 Cor 6:14)”?
This is one of the core issues developed in Exodus. For example, God is so holy that he places a barrier around Mt. Sinai such that no one can cross (ch 19). A portable “tent of meeting” is established to allow Moses to speak with God, but even this is done outside of the camp, such is the nation’s separation from God. And so, God gives instructions to build the Tabernacle, a place for his presence that would be right in their very midst. Within the outer walls was a courtyard containing the altar of burnt offerings and the laver. Past the altar and laver came the tent containing the Holy Place where priestly duties were performed, and the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, accessible only by the High Priest once a year. Anybody entering the outer court with his sacrifice would see the great bronze altar standing between themselves and the Holy Place of God’s presence. It was a sobering reminder of the power of sin to separate, but also the mercy of the mediating sacrifice making a way for God to dwell with his people.
Something to Praise:
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
Nothing in us obligates God toward us. In the very shadow of Mt. Sinai, the place of Israel’s blatant idolatry and disobedience, God graciously enables his presence right in the midst of the camp. When we feel furthest from him, know that there is always a way back – and he longs for you to find it!