If we do not get the opportunity to stay in the Netherlands with our current contract, we will have packed our home and moved it three times in just over three years. It tires me just to write that sentence. It is a lot of work to move. When we came over the first time the inventory of boxes included 80+ boxes/pieces of furniture. When we next, it was to another house in Eindhoven, I bet we then had 100+ boxes/items. I would hate to think that we would break the 120 + item mark if we return to the US this summer.
The hard part of moving is not the just packing and moving the boxes but then you have to unpack and put everything back in order. How would you like to renegotiate with your wife three times where to put all the furniture, the plates, cups and saucers? How about reconnecting all the wires to the computers or to the back of the Television/DVD/VCR/Stereo? One improvement since we started is that we now have flat panel TVs and not the large heavy tube ones of only three years ago.
Well in today’s reading we finally find out that the tabernacle that the Lord as been describing to Moses is ready. It is time for one final detail – how to move it. It must be a big job since we know there are 100 posts and bases, large curtains, roofs, golden lamps, incense bowls, the Ark of the Covenant etc. In Numbers 7 we read:
1 On the day Moses set up the Tabernacle, he anointed it and set it apart as holy. He also anointed and set apart all its furnishings and the altar with its utensils. 2 Then the leaders of Israel—the tribal leaders who had registered the troops—came and brought their offerings. 3 Together they brought six large wagons and twelve oxen. There was a wagon for every two leaders and an ox for each leader. They presented these to the Lord in front of the Tabernacle.
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, 5 “Receive their gifts, and use these oxen and wagons for transporting the Tabernacle.[a] Distribute them among the Levites according to the work they have to do.”
We know that the Tabernacle was where offerings and sacrifices of atonement were made to God. It was where the priests (Levites) were to work as intermediaries between the people and God. It was where Moses as the spiritual and political leader of the Nation of Israel was able to go and speak with God and to hear God’s instruction. The Tabernacle was where the pillar of smoke of God for the day and the pillar of fire of God for the night rested. The Tabernacle was the focus point of the worship of God for the Israelites.
Thankfully for us today we do not have to move our tabernacles about in boxes or on oxen cart. We do not have 100 posts to set up or goat hair clothes to lay over the roof or incense to burn or offerings to slaughter.
What do we have today? Take a look at these few verses:
Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
Mark 6:46 “After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray”
Luke 22:39-41 “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed.”
The good news for us is that we no longer have to wait to have a temple moved and built in order to communicate to God. We can simply go into our room, or gather with some friends or go to a mountainside or simply kneel down and pray. Jesus made it possible for our communication with God to be direct and not through the rites, practices and customs of oddly robed priests in a temple in the middle of the dessert. We can pray to Him wherever we are.
Where is your solitary place of prayer? Is it at the kitchen table, or a couch in the living room or is kneeling at the foot of your bed?
Side note for my Dutch friends: I realize you may not recognise the object mentioned in Mark 6:46 “mountainside” since your land is as flat as a pannenkoek. Mountains are very high points in the land; higher even than bridges!