An exceedingly onerous building project


My Bible reading plan started off without a hitch this year. But of course, as the weeks got busier when the school assignments increased, a few hiccups invariably popped up. But I thank God that I managed to finish the chronological plan up to Leviticus and now going into the book of Numbers. Reading Leviticus was hard, but before that I had to contend with the regulations regarding worship and the tabernacle (the temporary temple) in the book of Exodus.

Moses took 12 chapters (25-31, 36-40) to elucidate the requirements for the building of the tabernacle, the designs for the priestly garments for worship and the consecration of the priests for presentation of the offerings. The measurements listed out for the table, lamp-stand, courtyard, altar, curtains, and ark stumped me. I couldn’t visualise the structures, and much less estimate the sizes of the components. But what was more intimidating was the magnitude of the project, where every item had to be hand-crafted and assembled to build the tabernacle. What’s more, the tabernacle was not a permanent structure; it was moved whenever God wanted the Israelites to relocate. Thinking about the scale of constructing the entire tabernacle, setting up, dissembling and moving the structure was enough to boggle my mind. As I read through the chapters, the question that stayed on my mind was, why did God make it so exceedingly onerous on the people to build a tabernacle?

But that question was duly answered when I read Chapter 40, verses 34 to 35:

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

The tabernacle was for God, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle when God’s presence rested in the place. It was not just a place for the receptacles and items for worship. The sense of puzzlement over the complexity and intricacy of the mega-project dissolved as I remembered the most fundamental purpose – it is for God, a God who allowed His unapproachable, terrifying and indomitable glory to be with men. Yes, a holy God is worthy for us to cleanse our sins, to set apart our lives and to live excellently for Him. He is a God bigger than my complaints and more than sufficient for my unmet needs. So when I went on to read the book of Leviticus, all those statutes and prohibitions to mark out a people distinct for a holy God made sense.

God is holy, yet I can now come before Him because of the righteousness of Christ. Amazing.

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