Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Residency

The gift of the priesthood was really the maintenance element of the covenant. A single sin would have brought the whole thing to an end but for God's provision of the priesthood and the tabernacle. The priesthood and its sacrifices made forgiveness and reconciliation possible and made it morally possible for God to remain in the midst of his people. In the section on the daily burnt offerings we have this astonishing promise...
This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you. 43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. 44 So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God. Ex 29:42-46 NKJV

In concludes with a wonderful statement of God's purpose in bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt. Apparently it was so that He might be able to 'dwell among them'. This is an important focus. So often we focus on the phrase 'brought them out that he might bring them in'. There is truth in the statement although it needs another step in it; 'he brought them out to bring them to himself and then bring them in..' This concluding sentence of Exodus 29 is the key truth; I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

We have grown used to the idea now but the concept of a God who dwelled in the midst of his people was a revolutionary notion. When Moses had sprinkled the blood of the burnt offerings on the altar and the book and the people God revealed His intention; And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Ex 25:8 NKJV The word 'dwell' is the root word from which we get one of the Hebrew words for 'tabernacle'; mishkan - a dwelling place, a residency. This is what the Tabernacle was created for. Its outward form was first a tent and later a temple but the inward concept was always of a dwelling place for God.

John's gospel has this picture in mind when it speaks of the incarnation; And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 Youngs Literal. The Old Testament shadow had made this much plain that God would only indwell a sanctuary; a holy place. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth we find the reality of which Exodus was only a shadow; God was resident on earth in the person of Jesus.

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