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I’m challenged by the truth I see in Scripture about the dwelling place of God, the temple of God, since now in this new covenant, we are the temple of God. Solomon built a magnificent temple, and so did Herod, but the blueprint that the Lord gave Moses was a…tent. As far as I know, there wasn’t any other blueprint. In spite of what Solomon did, this was God’s preferred plan. Moveable. No physical foundation. I’m just amazed that the God who created the universe, created all that we see and the unbelievable cellular and subatomic things we don’t see, who upholds it all by the word of His power, chose a tent made a skins for His very humble dwelling place.

What do these facts mean for us?  We don’t have physical foundations, either. But do you notice how we do tend to adhere to lifestyles that keep us fixed and unmovable?  How we tend to want dwelling places that aren’t humble?  And it’s not just that we, individually, are God’s temple now. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul uses the plural “you” to tell the church at Corinth that they are God’s temple. When you have a spare moment, check out the context of that passage. It has absolutely nothing to do with taking care of one’s physical body. Instead, it has to do with divisions in the church.

God, by choice, preferred to dwell in a tent. We, by choice, would prefer to dwell in mansions.

Since we are also priests, I’m challenged by the fact that the priests of Israel had no land inheritance in Israel. The Lord told them that He was to be their inheritance. I counted eleven times that the Lord said this in the OT.

We are His priests. Why does the Lord saying to us, “I am your portion. You don’t have any other inheritance. I should be enough” seem to have little meaning to us?

I’m challenged by one of the feasts of Israel—Succoth—when the Lord asks His people to live in leafy booths, to remind them of their wilderness wandering, when the Lord took care of their needs. It was also to be a time of rejoicing and feasting in what God had provided now that they had settled in the Promised Land. It was also the time, with two others, when all the males were to appear before the Lord and bring an offering. And, finally, it was a time when all of the Law was to be read before everybody, every seven years. These things are in Deuteronomy 16 and 31. Interesting mix, isn’t it?  You were wanderers. Rejoice in your abundance, what God provided—but keep in mind you were wanderers and are required to walk in God’s commandments. And I want you men to know that I’m holding you accountable to be in my presence to ensure these things are done as I want them.

I’m challenged by how God viewed the system of kingship that developed in Israel. It wasn’t His plan or His desire. In fact, it made Him angry.

“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:7-9

And even after Saul had been anointed king, the Lord wanted Israel to know that He was still angry about their choice: Samuel told them, “‘Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest today?  I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.’”  So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.”  1 Samuel 12:16-18

It’s difficult for me to comprehend an Israel without a king, with just the Lord as their king; something like it was like in Judges, apparently. And even though the Lord blessed the kings of Israel and Judah and worked with them—although almost all of them were terrible kings—it wasn’t what He preferred at all. Let’s think about this for a moment. God expected Israel to be okay with the idea of not having a government like the other countries had. I find this just stunning. It seems so…unstable.

Stability…

Both Luke and Matthew record an interesting exchange between some unnamed person—Matthew tells us it’s a scribe—and Jesus. “And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:19-20).

Am I saying that I think we should all live in tents and be nomads?  No. What I am saying, first of all, that we should resist the way the world thinks and not value earthly stability over the stability that comes from God. He wants to be our stability. He wants us to find our stability in Him. As far as earthly goods, houses and possessions, we should daily give them to Him and ask Him to help us hold onto them lightly. They are His. However, we have—at least I do—a strong tendency to hold onto them tightly. We must ask Him to help us give them over to Him. We must ask Him to help us find our stability in Him and not in earthly things. Ask Him to do His good work in us. Then we will truly know what it means when Peter tells us that we are sojourners and exiles.

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