I can sum up what this study has done for me in 8 words: Have To, Anxiety/Fear, Want to, Need to.
That probably doesn’t make much sense, but those words also describe my life to this point. The first part of my life was filled with “have to.” The second stage of my life was characterized by anxiety and fear. Thankfully, the third part of my life became a time of “want to”, and today I can say the “want to” has merged into an attitude of “need to.”
I have taken numerous Beth Moore studies, and I love them, but this one BY FAR was the hardest study for me. Often . . . too often . . . I couldn’t find the answers when doing the homework. Being the prayer group leader, I was a little embarrassed. Who wants to come to class with all those blank spaces in their homework? And then there were all the minute details of every single part of the Tabernacle. And the drawings! I hate drawing. I got fed up . . . frustrated . . . angry . . . until, I would come to the study and find my tablemates had many of the same feelings. Together, we would work through the lessons and find the answers. I learned so much from each of them.
All in all, I feel this study took me deeper into my “need to.” I need to be at home with Jesus. I need to go to him first. I need that time in His word, not because I have to, not because I’m living in fear and anxiety, but because I NEED Him. I need Him above all.
This study has been very challenging for me academically because it’s so different from the type of teaching we’re accustomed to here at Berean, where the pastor takes a passage and teaches through it, verse by verse. The challenging part for me has been flipping back and forth between passages within the Old and New Testaments as the verses build upon each other and reaffirm one another. But those details have also brought a richness and a depth to the symbolism of the tabernacle that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced if we had stuck to just one passage.
So I’ll share a few of the global impressions it’s made on me and then try to bring it to a more personal level:
- The details – something that really stood out to me are the details of the tabernacle. Every piece of furniture, every material used, every action of the priests, every sacrifice, every word they spoke – each detail had deep meaning and symbolism. Each was a foreshadowing of either Christ as the High Priest or a glimpse of what’s actually happening in heaven.
- Intentionality of word choice – a word used in one verse in a specific passage is the same word chosen in a different verse – and it gives astounding depth of meaning to both verses. I wish I could come up with an example, but I couldn’t find any that wouldn’t take up my entire time to set up for explanation. But it makes me so thankful for the scholars who have studied the Hebrew and Greek languages to discover these correlations. And I’m always amazed that God’s Spirit spoke to specific individuals in the early times and said, “Write this down. No, not that word, use THIS word, because some day, I’m going to knock their socks off when they read this.” And that those individuals were obedient to do exactly as the Spirit directed.
Now to the heart level. Like I said in the beginning, this has been a difficult study for me because of the need to “quickly” flip back and forth to catch the deep meaning in the passages we’re studying. They have been very rich with meaning, but at the end I’ve found myself asking, “What’s the big picture here? What’s the point of what we just studied?” What it boils down to for me is the lengths God went to dwell with His people – to dwell with ME. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert, God provided EVERYTHING they needed, not just to survive the brutal conditions, but also to worship Him.
He provided skilled workers to craft the details of the tabernacle furniture. He provided the materials needed to craft these details, many times out of materials that they plundered on their escape from slavery in Egypt. And when they were wandering, He provided manna each day, which would spoil by the next morning. And on the sixth day, he provided a double portion to last them through the Sabbath. BUT, they had to go out and gather the manna each day. They couldn’t store it up from day to day. They had to step out of their tents and gather the grace He had provided FOR THAT DAY.
That’s been a challenge for me, because I’ve often relied on my resourcefulness or creativity to get something done, but those skills are irrelevant in my relationship with God. He’s gone to the point to say, “I want a relationship with you, and I will do everything to provide for that relationship, but YOU need to just step into my presence daily to gather up what I’ve provided for THAT DAY.”
Having a cleaner house, raising more obedient kids, or being more fashionable will not bring me closer to Christ, though, of course I could use improvement in all of these areas. HE has done all the work. His work on the cross was final, to break the distance between God and His wandering children. I can bring NOTHING to the relationship – I just need to step into His presence and gather His grace.
That realization is freeing and also a bit overwhelming, because in what other relationship do we get to just come, bringing nothing, yet have all access and freedom to say what’s on our hearts?
I chose this study because my understanding of the tabernacle was fairly vague, despite having grown up in a Bible-believing church. Obviously, the tabernacle was important because it was discussed at length in the Bible, but I wasn’t sure how it was applicable to my life today.
The first thing I will take away from this study is that the tabernacle’s purpose was to fulfill God’s desire to dwell among His people. God is relational. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He met with the Israelites in the tabernacle, and His desire is to walk with us and meet with us today.
I mentioned I grew up in the church and many of the verses I learned as a child were in the King James version. Oddly enough I learned Jeremiah 29:11 in the New International Version. “For I know the plans I have for you, declared the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I am a first-born, slightly type-A personality. Sometimes my husband will tell me not to worry about something, and I will say, “I’m not worrying. I’m planning.” So when I hear, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,” I mentally form a to-do list. I wonder what God has planned for me to do . . . or what I might need to be doing to fulfill those plans. All of a sudden that verse becomes not about what God is doing, but about what I am doing to check something off my Christian to-do list.
Now let me read the verse in the King James version. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
God is thinking of me, reflecting on me. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you.”
God is relational. God created us because we bring Him joy. Just as I may laugh in delight over something my daughters say or do, God delights in me. I bring Him joy. As I think about my daughters and how their day is being spent at school, God thinks of me. God thinks about me, not so I can fulfill a to-do list, but because He delights in me.
Although, I don’t need to be checking off my to-do list, God does have a purpose for my life. Another verse we talked about in this study is Acts 13:36. “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep.” God has a specific purpose for us in our generation. Purpose in the Greek translation means deliberation and reflection; the final result of inner deliberation. The same word for purpose is used in 1 Corinthians 12:11 concerning God’s assignment for spiritual gifts.
God is thinking of me, reflecting and deliberating on me. God has given me a unique set of talents and placed me in a specific generation. How can I serve the purpose of God in my own generation? The challenge is in knowing what that purpose is. It’s not saying yes to everything. If God is thinking of me, deliberating, reflecting, shouldn’t I be doing the same? Shouldn’t I meet with God like the Israelites in the tabernacle, or walk with God in the garden like Adam and Eve?
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you.” God is thinking of me, reflecting, deliberating. I want my walk with God to mirror that. This Bible study has challenged me to be more deliberate, more purposeful, in my walk with God.