“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Beauty of the Lord

Scripture: Exodus 26:1-14 -- “Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them. The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall be the same size. Five curtains shall be coupled to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set. Likewise you shall make loops on the edge of the outermost curtain in the second set. Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole. “You shall also make curtains of goats' hair for a tent over the tabernacle; eleven curtains shall you make. The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains shall be the same size. You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent. You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. “You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together that it may be a single whole. And the part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. And the extra that remains in the length of the curtains, the cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and that side, to cover it. And you shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams' skins and a covering of goatskins on top.

APPEARANCES

As we have looked at the Tabernacle, we saw the linen curtain that surrounded the court of the Tabernacle, separating it from the ‘world’. We saw that there was one gate, that being the Messiah, and that, as we entered the courtyard, we are caused to pass the bronze altar. This altar represents the atonement of Messiah. Once passed this we come to the bronze laver, the place of sanctification. And now, we actually enter the main building, the Tabernacle itself. We will find that the outside of the Tabernacle belies the beauty hidden inside.

Again, in this we see the ministry of the Messiah. We see that the outside curtains we made of a leather animal skin. Under this are the ram’s skins, and under that are the goat’s hair curtains. And then finally we come to the woven curtain of purple, blue and red with cherubim worked into it.

Isaiah 53:2 -- For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

There is a tendency for people to have a picture of Messiah in their heads, or on their walls that show a perfect face that beams light; nowadays, you get downright blasphemous pictures of Him -- yet the Word says that He was common in appearance. I remember a few years back, an artist released a portrait of what Messiah MAY have looked like. It was a common Middle-Eastern face. Well, you would not believe the uproar that was caused over this drawing! You would have thought that the artist had done something incredibly awful.

How does all of this relate to the Tabernacle? The outer coverings of the tabernacle were animal skins, something that would not turn the head of the common tent dweller in that day. Much like Messiah when He walked the earth. He was not exceptionally handsome; He was like us in appearance. Remember, the Israelites had picked on physical handsomeness before, remember Saul, who was a head taller than any other Israelite? What about the strong man, Sampson?

Unfortunately, in our culture we are obsessed with physical appearance. I believe that is why so many people were offended by that artist’s portrait. We have preconceived notions as to what Messiah looked like, when in reality it was who He was that set Him apart, not what He looked like. We are still obsessed with looks; I remember hearing a preacher once say that he needed a $1000.00 suit and $800.00 shoes in order to have people believe what he was saying about the Lord. In other words, people don’t listen to a person unless they ‘look’ the part, whatever that means! The Lord draws people to Him; the preacher can be wearing a camel hair coat and eat locusts and it won’t matter, the Lord will draw those to Him that He will. There is a broken theology in our culture that believes that we have to dress or look a certain way in order to draw the lost to the Lord. That makes it sound as though the Lord somehow needs our help in drawing the lost. The Messiah said clearly in John 6:44 -- No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. So, no matter what a preacher is wearing, unless one is drawn, they cannot come.

Like the Tabernacle, the beauty of Messiah was hidden in humanity and many had a problem with that. Here was the Lord of the world, the one whose very words created all things, born to a common family. For that matter He was born in a manger, and laid in a feed trough to sleep. Not very glamorous surroundings for the king of the world! He lived as an itinerate preacher, and died as a common criminal, alone and forsaken by all. Yet, in that common skin dwelt the Lord of all, who came to the earth to save His creatures. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? If you haven’t thought about the gospel in a while, I suggest that you go reread a gospel to see how the Glory of God was hidden in the flesh of humanity.

In the Tabernacle we see that the animal skins covered not only a beautiful woven curtain, but that also the golden planks were covered as well. From the outside, the Tabernacle looked like a large rectangular tent. But from the inside! In John 1:10–14 we read this -- He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own [Tabernacled], and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

REALITY

The outside of the Tabernacle looked like a skin-covered tent, and the Messiah looked like a common man. Could you imagine walking into the Tabernacle? As the Priest, you had been standing in the dusty, hot, smoky courtyard and suddenly you transition into a hushed and Menorah-illuminated room that is totally different from the outside world. As you look around you see gleaming golden planks along the walls, the golden utensils of the Tabernacle and the curtain woven with cherubim. You have entered a completely different realm, one smoky with the wonderful scent of the incense. Imagine the quiet as well; the stillness as you stood in the Holy Place looking around about you.

The Messiah is very much like that. I remember accepting the sacrifice of Messiah, the winds and the smells of the world were all around me. But I also remember stepping into the Holy Place the first time it was breathtaking to me. I remember the incredible stillness in my spirit, as if for the first time in my life my spirit had found quiet! I still remember that first time, and it still moves me! And what beauty confronted me!! So, as we look at this beautiful hidden place, we find so much of the Lord there.

David understood this beauty, he writes in Psalm 27:4, 5 -- One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

What is this beauty? Is it gold, and jewels? No, the beauty of the Lord is beyond our imagination; the Tabernacle was simply a symbol of this beauty. We are commanded to worship Him in the beauty of holiness. As the priests would come into a beautiful room and be overwhelmed by its sheer beauty, so we too should be overcome by the beauty of the Lord. Psalm 96:8, 9 -- Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

We often come into the Tabernacle to see what the Lord can do for us, when in reality, the priests NEVER entered into the Holy Place with that thought, rather they were there to serve the Lord, not BE served! We should worship the Lord in the beauty of HIS Holiness!

We see a moment when the Lord actually lifts the veil of the Tabernacle a bit and Peter, James and John get a brief look. Matthew 17:1, 2 -- And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.

Just as the beauty of the Tabernacle was clothed in animal skins, so too our Messiah was clothed in human skin, yet Peter and the Zebedee brothers caught a glimpse of His beauty!

2 comments:

jon.marq said...

ray, where is your church located? i now live near dallas and would liek to know where to find you on the Lord's Day.

Ray said...

Sorry it took me a bit of time to get back to you -- we are in Lake Dallas. http://www.cfld.org

Ray