Today I read an interesting passage. Aren’t they all really? Exodus 26 The MSG titles it “The Dwelling”, which by the way, sounds like a great song idea, Stefan Green.
It’s been three months since Moses started leading the Israelites out of Egypt. While wandering in the wilderness of Sinai, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments. God proceeds to give the Israelites precise instructions to build a tent-like structure, the tabernacle, for Him to come and dwell in. Later on we’ll find that the tabernacle was the precursor to the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem.
Exodus 26:1 MSG “Make The Dwelling itself from ten panels of tapestry woven from fine twisted linen, blue and purple and scarlet material, with an angel-cherubim design. A skilled craftsman should do it. The panels of the tapestry are each to be forty-six feet long and six feet wide.”
Why does God put so much emphasis on the beauty of His dwelling place? Time and time again throughout the story of the Bible the specificity about God’s instructions reveals the value that He places on His house. In typical fashion then, God is being specific when He mentions a “person of skill” should weave the tapestry.
I would have loved to have met those skilled craftsmen. Who were they? How old were they? Did they think: “hmm… one day I am going to craft a space that the very presence of God would come to dwell?” Did he or she realize the countless hours spent honing their skill, would host the heavenly King? Knowing what we do about laws surrounding the Levitical priesthood’s activity in the tabernacle, only a handful of high priests, and God would have seen the inside of the Holy of Holies.
Where did the “person of skill” find time and resources to practice whilst WANDERING AROUND IN THE DESSERT? Given the Israelites were in bondage to an Egyptian regime three months prior, the skill set to manufacture this sort of tapestry would have been developed whilst in slavery. Which means, the preservation of this craft relied on one Jewish generation teaching it to the next, and carefully practiced during the 400 years of slavery in Egypt. It is therefore not too far fetched that Pharaoh would have utilised this Jewish skill to decorate his own palaces since he had access to highly-skilled, and free, laborers. But ironically, a skillset refined during a period of deep Israeli pain and hardship was used by God to furnish and envelop His own dwelling place with beauty.
Ok, enough questions for this ancient craftsman. Here are a few pondering thoughts for us as the “person of skill” of today (which is you, reading this, and also me, writing this)
- Am I ready to contribute to such a dwelling place? Often we are never really ready, but we can be good stewards of what’s in our hands and allow Him to shape us, even in seasons of obscurity.
- Am I skilled enough to contribute? I love the statement that God qualifies the unqualified. But we can see in this passage that God also uses the skilled and qualified. What if more of us spent time qualifying ourselves by refining our skills? It may mean investing in some lessons, getting constructive feedback, signing up for a course, or even binging on those youtube tutorials.
- Am I refining my skill even if it’s not being used? The craftsman didn’t wait for the task to develop their skill. The craftsman was already skilled and could be called upon even whilst trekking through the desert.
- Would I create for the sole purpose of hosting the heavenly presence of God? This goes back to the heart of everything we do, which is for the audience of one. Why are we here? Why are we doing this? We want to give honor and praise to our Faithful God who leads us through uncertain seasons (like lockdown), and we get to labor and craft the backdrop for His unrivaled glory, because He deserves it. Amen.
Hope this leaves you inspired and encouraged.
Jess (and Istvan because Lord knows he is my editor in chief)