God on the Spot – Part 6: Protecting His People in the Desert (and Painting a Picture of Himself)
By Dianne E. Butts –
After the Israelites escaped the Egyptian army by walking through the Red Sea, God was on the spot to protect the bloodline of Abraham to Messiah in the desert. But God wanted to do more than just have them survive. God wanted to reveal Himself to them. He wanted to make Himself, that is, His personality, known.There is no way in the world people could know God’s personality if He did not reveal Himself to us. We can catch a glimpse of Who He is in creation and human history, but to know God’s personality and His plan would require Him to reveal it to us. God was on the spot to make Himself known.
So how could God help us know His personality and plan? When I need to understand something new, it helps me if someone draws me a picture.
God painted us a picture of Himself.
Soon after the Israelites landed in the desert, God gave Moses specific plans to build the Tabernacle. God specifically told Moses to follow the pattern He gave him (Exodus 25:9, 40, Hebrews 8:5).
The “pattern” of the Tabernacle meant the floor plan as well as every item in the Tabernacle. This had to be properly set up in order for the sacrifices, the seven annual Feasts, and all the activities at the Tabernacle to perfectly paint that portrait of God.
The Tabernacle showed what God was like. Not just anyone could walk into the Tabernacle. Only the priests could and only at appointed times, lest they would die. We cannot just mosey into God’s presence, lest we die. Before we can enter into His presence, blood has to be spilled for the payment of our sins. The sacrifices were performed outside the Tabernacle door. Also, great vats of water stood outside the door for the priests to wash themselves clean, symbolically purifying themselves of all sin, before they entered in.
Once inside, three pieces of furniture stood in the sanctuary:
- The altar of incense (which was just the other side of the curtain from the Ark in the Holy of Holies) continually had sweet, fragrant smoke rising up representing the prayers of people rising to God.
- The Lampstand was never to go out. Jesus stood in the temple courts, possibly only yards away from the Lampstand, when He announced, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:2, 12).
- The Table of Bread. Jesus also proclaimed Himself the Bread of Life (John 6:32-33, 35, 48-51).
Inside the Holy of Holies stood the Ark of the Covenant which contained the stone tablets on which the Law was written. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest took blood from the sacrifice and sprinkled it on the lid of the Ark. No longer could God look down from heaven upon His Law within the Ark without looking through the blood of the sacrifice and knowing the penalty for breaking His law had been paid.
God gave the Israelites this picture of Himself to preserve for the whole world to see. If this portrait did not properly represent God, then the people would not recognize God when He came. But ultimately it was God Who was on the spot to keep His revelation pure and reveal it to the world.
July: “God on the Spot – Part 7: Providing a King” Generations later, God put Himself on the spot when He told Samuel to anoint young David as the next King instead of Saul’s son, Jonathan, who had a legal right to the throne.
© 2010 Dianne E. Butts
Dianne has written for over 50 Christian print magazines and seventeen books, including the upcoming For God So Loved the World He Created Chocolate. Her work has appeared in Great Britain, Bulgaria, Poland, Canada, and Korea. When she’s not writing, she enjoys riding her motorcycle with her husband, Hal, and gardening with her cat, P.C. in Colorado. www.DianneEButts.com www.DeliverMeBook.blogspot.com