The Tabernacle outside the camp realised repentance reawakening re-evaluation relationship

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1 The Tabernacle outside the camp Ex. 33:7 And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. So many things happened during the Israelites time in the wilderness. We often read through the account and miss out on some great lessons! Indeed, there is so much for the Church today to learn from this old period of its history. Here is what was happening: Moses had spent forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai and came down to the camp of Israel, only to be greeted by their frivolity and infidelity, - they had built the golden calf. As we considered on Thursday evening, he interceded on their behalf before God and the nation of Israel was spared. However, those who rejected God s plea to abstain from the idolatry were killed. The remainder of the people, - as we saw last Sunday evening, - after being confronted with the terribleness of their sin, realised the consequences of their rebellion, in that God told them He would be withdrawing from their midst and His Angel would accompany them from there on. Then we saw their repentance and shame, which was followed by a time of reawakening and re-evaluation before their relationship with God began to be restored. Those were important developments on the road to Israel s Revival. The next stage in God s work with these people has a special bearing on who they actually were. They were a nation that had the particular care of God from their very beginning. They are the Church in the Old Testament, and the Bible language gives them a very special word. It is the word we get ecclesiastical from; it s a Greek word, meaning to call out, ekklhsia. The Old Testament word has the same meaning, qāhāl. Peter gives us the meaning of the word, I Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar (i.e. separate, set apart) people.

2 D.G. 2 Set apart, what for? Who for? This passage highlights the process whereby God is bringing His people back to Himself. It is a call to holiness. During this stage the whole concept of holiness was wrapped up in the Tabernacle. Now, at this time the Tabernacle was a simple construction that was in the centre of the Israelites camp. It was not until later that the Tabernacle we studied was built. No, this was a simple construction, which was the symbol of God s presence among His people. THE TABERNACLE, - ITS POSITION (outside the camp) Yes, the Tabernacle had been in the centre of the camp, surrounded by each of the twelve tribes. It was the symbol of God s tent of dwelling among His people in the wilderness. Just to imagine that God was as happy in a tent as He was in the Glory of Heaven! Doesn t it remind you of John s words, And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. He saw it again on the island of Patmos, Rev. 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And just also to consider it from another angle: imagine that God is as happy in a tent as in a great mansion, What I m getting at is this: whether you have all the comforts and privileges, or whether you are just a humble person living in a humble home, when you have Christ He is as happy living in a tent as He is in a mansion. Yes, this was God s place of dwelling among His people and it had occupied the pre-eminent place in their midst, but now that He wasn t the centre of their lives look what Moses did, - and the Bible is very careful to emphasise this event, And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp Do you see the importance of that? This was a highly significant act that Moses carried out.

3 D.G. 3 He took down the tent that symbolised the very presence of God amongst His people and he carried it away from the centre to a place altogether outside the camp. Why did he do that? Because the people s hearts were not yet in tune with God. Their relationship with God had still to be taken altogether seriously, and until it was right God s presence was moved outside the camp, afar off from the camp. He wouldn t live among a people who were not right with Him. What lesson is there here for the church today? Surely, it is that God has withdrawn from His people in a similar way. Many of our churches want to be politically correct Ministers, Bishops, Archbishops, Moderators, priests and Cardinals, - God has withdrawn from them, and what truck should God s people have with them either! But many evangelical churches also don t want to upset the devil s domain and they either adopt a sinneraccommodating agenda or scurry away off into some hole! And many of God s people are still as it were settled and content within the camp of Israel. They are satisfied with less than the best Christ offers them, and God withdrew. They have learned to make do with the crumbs that fall unto the floor rather than feasting from the table. And that is what was happening here, in the wilderness; what did God do? He left the Angel of the Lord among His people, but He Himself had chosen to withdraw (v.3). Yes, - draw the same analogy, - He has left among His people today the presence of the Holy Spirit (His Angel), but He has chosen to withdraw from His people the power of the Holy Spirit. And you see, that is the reason we are studying Revival, to learn the lessons from the mistakes that have gone before. The Tabernacle, - with God s presence, - was taken outside the camp because God was withdrawing from His people for a time. The Tabernacle, - its position. THE TABERNACLE, - ITS PEOPLE AND THEIR PURPOSE (a meeting place) Every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation.

4 D.G. 4 It was too easy and accessible when it was in the centre of God s people, - they took it for granted. They often walked past it without a thought of God. It had lost its appeal to many of them and it had become more of a burden. Well, Moses removed it outside the camp, but the Bible tells us it didn t lose its Occupant. Think of the Church nowadays, - its building is in the centre of the community but very few are interested any more in what it stands for and what it has to say. People walk past it without a thought of God. Their young children think nothing of breaking its windows They think nothing of coming in and stealing from its offering plates. Grown-ups think nothing of allowing their dogs to come in and foul its grounds. Do you get the picture of how God s tabernacle was viewed amongst these children of Israel? And yet, there were those who came all the way out from the main camp of the Israelites to worship God at the Tabernacle. We often hear Bryn, in his prayers, speaking to God about the Assembly here, - this was the Assembly in the desert, the meeting place of God s people. These people prepared themselves and walked through the camp with their sacrifices on their way to the Tabernacle. They weren t ashamed to show their neighbours where they were going. These people were going to the Tabernacle, assembling together in the Place of Meeting with God. Isn t it beautiful how the Holy Spirit words it here, Every one which sought the LORD They were seeking Him out, - searching for God, and going to the place where they knew they would find Him. That is why we are here this evening, to meet with God. There is no greater reason why you ought to be here. Yes, it s good to meet with friends who share in the same faith, but there is even more to it than that; we have come outside the camp to meet with God. In our meeting this evening we are seeking to discover more about Him in order to become more like Him.

5 D.G. 5 Imagine the glow on the faces of those people as they returned back to their homes inside the camp. Consider too the influence meeting with God would have had on their ordinary day-to-day contacts with those who very rarely frequented the Tabernacle of God. As they rubbed shoulders with their neighbours they would have shared that they had been with God. Look at how this manifested itself in the life of Moses THE TABERNACLE, - ITS PRESENCE (the Presence of God) When Moses, - this great man of God, - left his tent and walked through the people they all stood and watched. They watched as he walked into the Tabernacle, and just at the moment he entered the cloudy pillar descended. Ah, do you see how exciting that must have been! The cloud, - that was the symbol of God s presence, - had been taken away from these people, but yet here it is retained for this man of God in the Tabernacle. God s presence had been withdrawn from the camp, but here it was outside the camp, and it descended for all to see upon the Tabernacle as Moses met with God. Isn t that what we are seeking?! and the LORD talked with Moses. You see, this tent was removed from out of the camp because of the people s sin. God wouldn t tolerate it and He moved out, but He didn t move away completely, He didn t abandon His people. Because of His holiness He couldn t stay in their midst any longer, but yet those who longed for His presence knew where they would find Him and they sought Him out. He made a place of meeting for them! The Bible tells us, v.11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. The greatest of pleasures and the greatest of privileges surely is to speak with God face to face as you would speak to your friends! How long did he spend with God? he turned and came out again and he went into the camp, - how his face would have shone in front of all those people!

6 D.G. 6 And notice that his soon-to-be successor, Joshua, remained in the Tabernacle, why was that? So that nothing of the experience would be missed. Moses was expecting more, - that s why he left Joshua. And those people, at the doors of their tents within the camp, they saw Moses and his shining face; they saw the presence of God over the tabernacle, v.10 and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. Conclusion. What an experience! We re back to holiness again. This is separation from the world and unto God. It is not isolation, - running away from the world and living in a cave. It is separation, - being in the world but not having the world as our master. To meet with God these people had to go out of the camp, - and some of them did. God had withdrawn, and so they had to do also. That s holiness, and it is an integral part of the subject of Revival. searching God out and coming to where He is outside the camp. Ex. 34: 14 Thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God Mt. 4:10 Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. We need to know where to find God. We need to find His power again. We need to pray for the return of the cloudy pillar. That s the lesson this passage is teaching us, and it shows the path to take. What a wonderful passage of Scripture, and how it begins, 7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.

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