Build a Sanctuary for Him

Exodus is an interesting book in that it has two different themes. It starts out continuing the historical narrative of Genesis by introducing Moses, his birth, maturation and eventual leadership of the Hebrews through the plagues and the triumphal exodus from Egypt, the first years in the wilderness and finally the receiving of the Ten Commandments and the beginnings of the law. After this, the theme shifts to the worship of God by providing the very explicit instructions on the building and fitting out of the tabernacle, the creation of the priestly garments and the preview of the book of Leviticus’ discussion on how to worship the Lord.

In there somewhere, around Exodus 23, 24 and 25, is sort of the transition from history narrative to worship instructions. What struck me here is the description of the Hebrew people’s acceptance and ultimate devotion to God – it seems to mirror the path that people take today when they give their life to Christ.

In Exodus 23, God says that He will send an angel to clear the way for the Hebrew’s entry into the Promised land. 

20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you

Exodus 23:20-22

To me, this sounds like how God also send’s the Holy Spirit to us, even as non-believers, to convict us of our sin and draw us near to Him for eventual entry into the new promised land of life in Him.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

John 16:7-11

Next, in Exodus 24, God tells Moses to go up to Mount Sinai and receive the covenant for the Hebrews who all agree that they will follow it (Exodus 24:3,7) The receipt of this covenant is very similar to the receipt of the new covenant we are offered when we give our life to Christ. This new covenant was predicted in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and fulfilled by Jesus on the cross. The Hebrews writer connects this all together in Hebrews 8:1-6.

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:31:32

Once the covenant was agreed to, the Hebrews begin their relationship with God and learned how to worship Him and be devoted to Him in Exodus 25 and beyond. The last time I read through this part of Exodus, I did a bunch of skipping because it didn’t connect with my life. Today, as I read it again, I am seeing another parallel that is very important.

God wants us to clear room for Him in our hearts and promises that He will live there

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. – Exodus 25:8

God wants us to continue to build a life devoted to Him and fill that life with His commands

16 Then put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you. – Exodus 25:16

22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites. – Exodus 25:22

The Apostle Paul makes this parallel clear for us in his first letter to the Corinthians – God wants a sanctuary built where we keep his commands and He promises that he will inhabit it and help us to live in the spirit.

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? – 1 Corinthians 3:16

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. – Galatians 5:22-26

Photo by Shihab Nymur from Pexels

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