As I continue with my attempt to read through a one-year Bible reading plan in 14 months (hey, some of us need a little more time than others!), I’ve come to the end of Exodus as Moses and the Israelites finish setting up the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, the alter of incense and the other pieces God laid out for them to build. Each piece had specific dimensions, materials and purposes all designed to provide a place for God to dwell among His people, and to provide a way for His people to respond back to Him through the clan of Levi.
I have to confess, this was not nearly as exciting to read as the previous events – creation, the fall, Abraham’s crazy journey, Joseph’s even crazier journey to Egypt and Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt – but it had its own beauty to it. In this moment, we see the grand design of God to display the greatness of the glory of His grace through His presence among His people, and through the sacrificial system He instituted. This system of providing atonement for sin through the blood of the lamb was a foreshadow of the One who would come as the precious Lamb of God, the One who would atone for the sins of the entire human race through one final sacrifice. It was a beautiful picture God created of His desire to be with His people, and His plan to redeem the world to himself, eliminating the curse of sin and death caused by Adam & Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden.
But what stood out to me the most was what I read in the final two chapters of Exodus, which is the summary of the building of the tabernacle and all of its contents which God had directed the Israelites to build. In these two chapters, we see the phrase “as the LORD had commanded Moses” repeated several times. Fifteen, to be exact. As the record goes through all the details of each item God had commanded them build, the conclusion was the same. Moses had communicated God’s commands to the people, and they had completed those tasks exactly as God commanded. It’s one of the few shining moments in the Bible in which the Israelites actually came through and were completely obedient, and it had me thinking: would anyone be able to write such a glowing conclusion about my life? How about yours?
It’s an interesting question for any of us to ponder, especially considering the differences in how God spoke to His people then and how He speaks to His people now. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us at the beginning of his letter towards the end of the New Testament, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
~ Hebrews 1:1-2
In Old Testament times, God spoke to His people through the prophets, like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hezekiah, etc. He would deliver a message to the prophet, and the prophet would deliver it to the people. There was a very limited chance in the message not being transmitted correctly or that the message would be ambiguous in its meaning. Today, it can seem a little more complicated, as God rarely, if ever, speaks to anyone directly in an audible voice, as He did with Moses through the burning bush, for example. Today, He speaks to us through Jesus. But what does that mean? What does that look like?
Well, to understand this, we need to understand how Jesus speaks to us, and it comes down to two ways, both of which are available to every human being if they know it and choose to pursue it. The first way is through Jesus words in the Bible, which teach us exactly what Jesus has said regarding our life on this planet. He often spoke in parables and in principles, of which we can read and seek to apply in the situations of our lives. The second way Jesus speaks to us is through the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus told His disciples would come once He had departed from them. Listen to what he told his disciples in the 14th chapter of the gospel of John:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
~ verses 15-17
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
~ verse 26
Instead of needing a prophet to hear and communicate the message of God, we who are followers of Jesus have access to the message of God directly, both through reading the Bible, but also through our conversations with God through prayer and the subsequent leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are without excuse, as God has given us His words and the very essence of His being to indwell our hearts, and I’m wondering if it will be written of you and me that we have done everything God asked us to do just as He commanded. Will the story of your life be summarized this way? Throw your name in the following phrase, hear how it sounds, and ask God to make it so.
“…as the LORD had commanded ________________.”
Let’s do as God commands and never look back. If this is the only thing anyone can say or write of us, oh the impact our lives would have for the Kingdom of Heaven during our short stay here on this earth.