I remember when I graduated from high school. It was a great day. It was a sunny, hot Friday. Some of my family had flown in for the occasion. I had on a super cute pink dress. I felt happy and accomplished. But the peace and joy I felt that day had nothing on the panic and fear I began to feel as college loomed closer and closer. I wasn’t sure what major I was going to pick. I wasn’t sure how I would make friends. I wasn’t sure I was ready. What I did know was I couldn’t go backwards and I couldn’t stay put. So I moved forward, albeit shaking in my boots.
On the contrary, there was much less fear and much more joy surrounding the Israelites in this chapter of Exodus. The tabernacle is finally complete. For the first time, the Israelites were going to see God’s masterpiece as it was originally intended. God gave the final instructions on putting the tabernacle together. Moses set up the poles and bases, hung the curtains, and placed all of the furniture in the right place. Aaron and his sons, the new priests, got dressed in their beautiful new robes. Then, like a final stamp of approval, the tabernacle and everything that came with it was anointed and consecrated. It was the beginning of a new era for the Israelites. Were they ready?
The Treasures Within:
You know that feeling you get when you upgrade your phone? Or you get new floors? Or paint your room? Or start a new class? Or somehow complete a major upgrade in your life? The feeling of newness and of exciting possibilities and potential is really heady. It’s like your very own ribbon-cutting ceremony. I think the Israelites must have been feeling a little of that as they saw the tabernacle finally come together. Only what they were experiencing was so much more wonderful.
This newly finished, newly furnished abode was not for entertainment or pleasure. It’s a very special place for their loving God, for their special Friend, for their Savior. As the incense burned, the candles in the lampstand lit up with dancing flames and Moses stretched out his hand, consecrating this special place, I imagine tears filling the eyes of the Israelites. Now, they were that much closer to God. As “the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle”, their hearts swelled. God was pleased with their work. It was good. The potential and the possibilities for this new journey with God were overflowing, and it was a beautiful thing.
Never Let Go
But maybe also a scary thing? The Israelites, before Moses went up to the mountain, had been vividly reminded of just how small they were compared to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When they sinned by creating their very own golden god 2.0, they were confronted with the reality of their poisonous sinfulness and just how easy it was for them to completely disobey God. Now God was dwelling with them – just a short walk away from their front door! How could they avoid messing this up in the months to come? How would they know exactly what to do to ensure that the peacefulness, the hopefulness, and the excitement of this moment would not fade?
We are all journeyers. We all have dreams. We all are walking down a path we’ve chosen, hoping we’ve chosen correctly, hoping that the excitement we felt when we first started will sustain us. Maybe we choose to walk alone and unsure, hoping that in the end, it will all be worth it. Or maybe, we select a different option. Like the Israelites, we don’t have to go anywhere alone. The cloud of the glory of the Lord followed the Israelites. God follows us too. If we let Him, He will hold our hand as we walk our life’s path. He will point us down the right path. He will tell us when to settle down and when to set out. He will tell us He loves us. He will tell us we’re safe. And we can begin our journeys, our new eras with confidence, holding the hand of the Man who will never let go.
God’s Message To Us:
“This is what you’re meant for.” We are all journeyers, but some of us feel stuck. Or afraid. Or lost. It doesn’t feel as if anyone is holding our hand. It doesn’t feel as if anyone is pointing us in the right direction. The Israelites seem like a special, rare case. But the Israelites did not spend the whole of the last few chapters building palaces for their livestock god and then asking it for a blessing. They did not spend their time relaxing and watching Netflix, waiting for God’s glory to descend on them. They chose to serve God. They chose to obey Him and to willingly give Him their time, money, labor – even their future. They put their everything into God’s hands and He accepted it and led the way forward. We are all journeyers, but the best journey is the one surrendered to God. When we choose Him and decide to live our entire lives loving Him and obeying Him and serving Him, then He will show us where to go. He will guide us through our new era, each step on holy ground. No fear. No panic. Just joy – and excitement.
What do you think? Where are you heading next with God? What was God’s message to you through these words?