Last night was another fantastic women’s Bible study. I just love Beth’s enthusiasm, her fire, her passion for God’s word and how we can apply it to our own lives. She’s a great teacher and her insight into the scriptures is often eye-opening and mind-stretching.
This past week, we’ve finally discovered the tabernacle – well at least the basic structure, the altar of sacrifice and the basin. All three pieces were magnificent in their construction and specific in their instructions. And through last night’s discussion and DVD, four specific things stood out in my mind.
1. The order in which God arranged the tribes of Israel around the tabernacle. There are two significant pieces to this puzzle. First, the tribes seemed to be arranged in the fashion of the cross, with the largest tribe located on the east end, the smallest tribe located on the west end, and two equally numbered tribes on the north and south ends.
Second, the tribe of Judah (our Zero to Hero) was located at the east end – the entrance to the tabernacle. Every man, woman, and child that entered the tabernacle had to pass through the camp of Judah. Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. John 14:6 says, “Jesus told him [Thomas], “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” I do not believe it is any accident that God set up the tabernacle and the placement of the tribes with Judah at the entrance to God’s dwelling place; or the entire assembly in the fashion of a cross.
2. Beth made these two statements, “The more we’re in the light of God’s presence, the more he’s going to shine on the details…….Intimacy with God always breeds humility.” Oh how true these two statements are. First, throughout the Bible we are told that darkness is always dispelled by light. The closer we get to God the brighter that light is going to burn, therefore casting a wider glow on the inner recesses of our heart – all those hidden corners and crevices where our demons like to hide.
Second, her statement regarding intimacy and humility also hit home with me. The closer to Christ I come, the more I try to define myself by his standards, the more I see my own imperfections. The times when I’m most humble are the times I’m completely naked in front of someone else (by the way, I’m talking about my husband here). And the only time I’m completely naked in front of him is when we’re intimate. Christ invites us to get naked with him (figuratively speaking) – to be vulnerable, to show him all our hidden places, all our dark corners and secret desires, things that we’re so willing to cover up with service to the church or good deeds or a life well lived. When we come to Christ in true humility – naked before him (figuratively), seeking his intimacy, he’s going to point out our flaws and then he’s going to fix them.
3. We’re still on Plan A. Over and over and over again throughout this study, I’m amazed at how real and perfect God’s plan is. That the establishment of the tabernacle and the sacrificial system was only a temporary solution to sin’s problem, and was more about Israel’s obedience to God and not about forgiveness for sins. And as we know today, the sacrificial system is no longer in practice because Jesus was our once only sacrifice for sin. The system that was established in the desert pointed toward Christ’s plan of salvation – it should have been a time of anticipation for the Jews – a realization that once Messiah came there would no longer be a need for daily, weekly, monthly, and annual sacrifices. Christ was going to bring about a new covenant (Hebrews 8) – a better covenant – a covenant that would no longer require the blood of bulls and goats – a one time sacrifice for the healing of all nations. Amen, praise the Lord, glory to God, thank you Jesus!!!!!
4. Beth commented on our ability and desire to continually re-confess forgiven sin, and how that act of re-confession is not about the forgiveness of sin, but our disbelief in God’s power and ability to forgive the sin. This is something that I’ve thought about on numerous occasions, simply because I’m human and I can’t forget about the sin I’ve committed, so how can God? This act of unbelief is almost a sin in itself, and the reason I make such a bold statement is that we’re humanizing God, and we’re scoffing at his supreme ability – basically we’re saying, if I can’t do it, then you can’t do it. How arrogant of us!
As I was listening to Beth make this comment, a word picture popped in my head. When the Israelites would make their burnt offerings to God on the sacrificial altar, the entire offering was burned into ashes. Once the last ash had fallen through the grate the priests would sound the horn, shout “It is finished.”, clean the ashes of the sin offering from the altar and carry them outside the camp to be disposed of – never to be dealt with again. Let me say that again…the ashes of the sin offerings were never to be dealt with again.
If the Lord intended for us to continue to carry the ashes of our sin around; always confessing our past sins over and over and over again; he would have required the Israelites to come back to the tabernacle in the morning, after the horn had sounded, and each person who’d made a sacrifice the day before would have been required to carry a portion of those ashes with them throughout the entire journey. And think about that for a minute – by the end of the forty years in the desert, that load of ashes would have been huge and heavy and almost unmovable. It would have been a mountain of ashes – a mountain of old, dead, burned, and forgotten sins. But that wasn’t God’s plan. Psalm 103:12 says, “He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.” Once God disposes of our sin he doesn’t want us to go searching it out again. To him that sin is long gone – never to be dealt with again.
Man, I’m so pumped up about this study. Every week I come away from it with a greater appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I hope you’ll take some time this week to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for you, and you’ll use it as an opportunity to get naked before God in humility. He wants to shine his light more brightly in your life – not as a way to punish us for our own sins, but as a way to show his glory through us.