I just finished the book of Exodus in the year long reading plan. Years ago if you would ask me if I like to read the Old Testament, I would probably say, "Eh, I prefer reading the New Testament." That sounds terrible, I know. Now that I've been taking the Perspectives class, my mind has changed about the Old Testament. I used to feel that I just couldn't relate to the Old Testament stories like burnt offerings and being in a lion's den. I may have built a bonfire, but I haven't made a burnt offering and I definitely have not spent time in a lion's den. Just saying.
So I'm not saying that I thought these stories were irrelevant, but it was just hard for me to relate. Now I realize that each and every story in the Old Testament I can relate to in some manner. God wanted these stories in the Bible not for us to just enjoy, but to learn from.
So as I was reading the book of Exodus, I realized the most of the book are instructions. I mean it is the book where we find the Ten Commandments, but other than that, we read other instructions as well. Some of the instructions relating to slaves, sabbath and more. I found something uniquely fascinating when I was reading, starting in chapter 25. This is the chapter where God begins to instruct Moses on the construction of the tabernacle and ark of the covenant. Exodus 25:8-9 says," Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it."
I hate to say this, but it's the truth...years ago when I was reading this, I was really bored. Most likely, I read a few verses and skimmed over the rest...probably very quickly. Since I started taking this class, however, I knew that there is a reason that this passage is in the Bible. So this time, I actually read it. I didn't skim it, however, it was a little tempting.
As I was reading chapters 25-40, I felt as if I was in the construction business. In fact, I felt like I should have a drafting table, ruler, and pad. In these chapters, God is telling Moses exact measurements and materials. He wasn't suggesting to Moses, saying, "I think what would be best if you were to use gold, but if you don't that's fine" and He wasn't saying, "The ark should be somewhere around 4 feet." No, God knew how He wanted His tabernacle and ark to be constructed. He wasn't giving Moses any options, but commanding. I mean, I don't blame God for being specific and detailed. It is His dwelling place. It should be the way He wanted.
Not only did I feel like I was in the construction business while reading this, but I kinda felt envious of Moses. God is telling Moses exactly what He wanted Him to do. Are there ever times when you just want God to tell you what to do? There are a lot of times when I wish God would give me instruction like He did for Moses and the construction of the tabernacle. Instructions like that would make my life so much easier. I wake up in the morning and God says to me, "Chelsea, you will go to the grocery store at 11:17 and then you will volunteer at 2:15 and at 5:00 you will make a 5 course meal." Ha, okay, maybe not those kind of instructions, but more important decisions.
So what if God really did give me specific and exact instructions for my life? I realized that God doesn't want to take my free will away. He wants me to seek Him and to trust Him with my life because I want to. Yes, He has instructed me to love Him with my whole heart, love my neighbors, love my enemies, be a witness and make disciples. Aside from those instructions along with others, He wants me to be able to make my own choices.
He is a loving God, not a forceful God.
God wanted His dwelling place to be just right. He needed a construction manager that would carry out His plans to a T. So why Moses? I think because He knew he would obey.
I know I've talked about obedience before, but I don't think I can talk about it enough. Moses listened and carried out the instructions with an obedient heart. I love how through chapters 25-31 it's only God speaking. Moses isn't interrupting and making suggestions or excuses. I picture him on top of the mountain sitting down (this was a long meeting), listening very carefully and taking lots of notes. I mean, if I was Moses that's what I would be doing.
Although I don't believe God wants me to get in the construction business anytime soon, I think He wanted me to learn a few things. First, God has a plan and cherishes relationship with His people. The tabernacle was being built as a dwelling place for Him to meet with His people. Secondly, when God instructs us to do something, we should obey. We shouldn't make excuses or offer up our own suggestions, we should simply obey.
The best part of these chapters is the ending. Exodus 39:43 says, "And Moses examined all the work and behold, they had done it; just as the Lord had commanded, this they had done. So Moses blessed them." But that's not it...just wait. Exodus 40:38 says, "For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel." God's glory dwelled in the tabernacle. So this tells me that when we obey God, His glory is sure to follow. When we trust and obey Him, it brings glory to His name and that's what it's all about. Bringing glory to God.
On the surface it looked like I was reading a construction manual, but it was really so much more. A reminder that God wants to use us for His glory. He doesn't have to use us...He can do it all on His own, but He chooses to us so we should choose to obey Him.
Our reading plan for this week and next week is....
Today - Leviticus 1-4
Tomorrow - chapters 5-7
Friday - chapters 8-10
Saturday - chapters 11-13
Monday - chapters 14-15
Tuesday - chapters 16-18
Wednesday - chapters 19-21
Thursday - chapters 22-23
Friday - chapters 24-25
Saturday - chapters 26-27