Not until the cloud moves

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17,32-38 (day seven–last day in our study of Exodus) 

“If the cloud did not lift, they did not set out.”–40:36. 

Years ago, I learned the spiritual principle.  Stay where God puts you until He puts you somewhere else.  It has been a great safeguard.  Against restlessness, against dissatisfaction, against “looking for another job” when the one I had was hard or disappointing.  The Spirit has a different message.  Stay where you are!  Learn the lesson of this place!  Don’t run!  Don’t blame!  Change!  Endure!  Serve!  Never be LURED away from your present assignment by promises that life will be better or more fair or more fun.  Move only when you are LED by the Lord.  “Is life so wretched?  Isn’t it rather your hands are too small, your vision which is muddled?  You are the one who must grow up.”–Dag Hammarskjold.  When the cloud moves, we are free to do so.  Until then, we are to stay and serve and grow.

He Leads, We Will Follow

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day six)

The presence of God is synonymous with His leadership. The Tabernacle not only served as a visible reminder that God was with the Hebrews, but that He also intended to lead them every step of the way; expecting them to follow. This serves as a great reminder to us that God is always in the business of leading us as individuals and as a people, His church. It is intended that we not only feel his presence, but also follow his leadership. When he moves we move.

Sometimes we don’t always appreciate this. We enjoy sensing the presence of God, but we aren’t always keen to follow Him when He moves. Maybe because He leads us away from what we are used to, or perhaps His leadership exposes our sin; areas of our life that need redeeming. Regardless we can’t have one without the other. We cannot hope for His presence, and ignore His leadership in our lives. It simply cannot be so, for to delight in the presence of God is to follow wherever He leads.

Spoken Blessing

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day four)  The Israelites had done all that God had commanded them through Moses.  They had followed His instructions to the letter.  For once, they had done good.  Verse 43 says, “So Moses blessed them.”  Moses spoke good words to them…he praised them for their obedience.  Words of blessing and encouragement can lift the spirit of everyone.  Do you like to receive praise from your authority…your boss, your parent?  Parents (especially Fathers)…do you bless your child with the words of Scripture?  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”  A spoken blessing is a prayer.  Giving your child a spoken blessing will help them to strengthen their character, to face temptations, or to walk in wisdom.  For your children to hear you pronounce blessing into their life will impact them immeasurably.  Spoken blessings call on us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as we pronounce these prayers.  Remember…death and life are in the power of the tongue.


Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day three)

“…in the sight of all the house of Israel”  God acted within view of all Israel.  Indeed, Paul tells us that in creating the material universe, God has acted in full view of the entire human race.  Take issue with God, run from him, tell of your anger towards him, choose not to follow his commands—but don’t claim that he cannot be found.  Don’t assert that his presence can’t be known.  Don’t state that his existence is unlikely.   We don’t get to bend reality to our ideas.  If you would follow your own desires instead of God’s direction, then at least declare your intentions to God himself.  Have that serious conversation.  If you do, you can find the way towards saving grace when your will leads you to a dead end.

Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day two)

And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (‭Exodus‬ ‭40‬:‭36-38‬ KJV)

When the Lord was calling me to full-time ministry this part of the Exodds story spoke the most to me. Whatever the season of life, career, family you may be in when the Lord moves, it’s time to go. What gave me the most peace about this is that the Israelites may come to a wonderful oasis on their journey where they felt they could stay indefinitely, but when the cloud moved they knew it was time. It is rarely about our comfort or convenience, but always about his plan. I didn’t have a cloud to see, but I relied on the Holy Spirit to guide me, the Word to instruct me, and the assurance that God heard my prayers for guidance. Wherever he leads, I’ll go.

God with us

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day one)

“So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.”–40:38.

At the end of the day, it is our only advantage, the only thing that distinguishes Christians from other people.  The Lord is with us!  Not because we are good.  The golden calf settled that.  Not because we are strong.  Years of slavery gave them (us) nothing to offer.  Rather, because He called us to Himself in covenant, because He has given us His name.  Not fail safe!  Not something that anyone should take for granted!  Years later God would remove His glorious presence from the temple and nation.  Even now, there are “Christians” who by grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, live without any evidence of His nearness.  Protection. . . Identity. . . Guidance. . . All these are ours when God is with us.


Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day seven)

“Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability.”–36:2.

The biblical idea of spiritual gifts is larger than we sometimes think.  Most of us are familiar with “tests” that can be taken to identify our “gifts”. But these instruments often use a very narrow list of possible giftings.  Bezalel and Oholiab were probably excluded. The SPIRIT had given them artistic skill.  See 35:30.  Metal, stone and wood.  They were craftsmen.  They were also, by the same SPIRIT, gifted to teach others.  See 35:34.  Reminds me of the FBCSA Imago Academy.  SPIRITUALLY gifted artists, training the next generation to serve God through music, voice and art.  Are you gifted?  Don’t be surprised if the Lord “summons” you to develop and use your gift in Kingdom service.  As true with money and freedom (Happy Memorial Day, everyone) as it is with talent, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Real Image

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day six)

And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. Exodus 35:21

God’s all-sufficiency is not in question. At first glance it would seem that God is in need; that He needs their stuff, along with their time and energy in order to build the tabernacle and its furnishings. This simply isn’t true, after all God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. God was quite able to fashion a tabernacle of his liking in the blink of an eye. So what was God doing if he didn’t need anything from the people?

I think we find the answer all throughout Exodus 35-36. Moses reminds us over and over that the people gave because their hearts were stirred to do so, and they were able to do the work only after the filling of the Holy Spirit. I believe God was calling them back to their deepest nature, being fashioned in the image of God. God not only was invested in establishing a symbolic and tangible presence among His people, but also was doing the work of restoration. This whole business of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the new covenant with an enslaved people has everything to do with God restoring all things unto himself. This restorative work began in the earliest days after the Fall and ends with Jesus’ return, but God is clearly working towards that end in building the tabernacle.

Could it be that the giving of ourselves, whether things or time or skill, taps into our truest nature? Could it be that both the inspiration to create with artistic skill, and the work itself is the reflecting of God’s image in us? After all who gives like our God? Or who creates like Him? When we give out of the stirring of our hearts, or create with our hands by the power of the Holy Spirit we begin to realize what it truly means to be human, men and woman made in the image of God.

The Heart of the Matter

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day five)

21 Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought…   22 Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought…   29 The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the Lord had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the Lord.

It’s a wonderful thing to brush up against someone who has had his or her “heart or spirit stirred” by the Lord’s mission or message:

They see potential and possibilities.  They know their part or piece is important, but also recognize there is a “larger” purpose and mission involved.

They have a sense of urgency.  I remember my pastor growing up used to say, “Delayed obedience is disobedience”.

They work, serve, and give with joy.  That’s a distinctly different perspective.  It looks, sounds, and feels like worship.

They intuitively understand what they must give or do.  The Holy Spirit does this work in the heart of the believer. (John 16)

The Israelites whose hearts were stirred:  they gave, they brought, they worked, and they participated.  Sounds a lot like a New Testament Church too, doesn’t it?

An Exact Representation

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day four)

Who would have ever known that the atonement of man would look like gold, silver, bronze, fine linen, and acacia wood?   When God plundered the Egyptians as the Israelites left Egypt, gave Moses very detailed design instructions, and placed understanding, knowledge and craftsmanship in Bezalel and Oholiab…He had a specific plan for worship.  The Tabernacle was to be the place of worship for Israel, but more importantly, it was a picture of Christ and His work of atonement.  It was to be an exact picture…a shadow…of the true Tabernacle in heaven.  To give an inaccurate picture of God’s plan for redemption was not an option.  God rightly demanded an exact representation so that mankind would know the singular plan for redemption.  God’s instructions are for a purpose…when He gives us directions in Scripture it is for a purpose.  Our obedience is required to give an exact picture of the reality of heaven.  Christianity is not just a list of rules…it is a relationship.  We are to be a picture of our Creator God and His Kingdom work!