Alarm clocks, the ding-ding in our cars reminding us to put on our seat belts, wedding rings, and strings around our finger are reminders that we need reminders. I have forgotten all of the things I have forgotten. My wife continually reminds of this thing or that. It is a joke among my group of friends to not let Lee rely on his own brain. 🙂 And I have come to realize that they are correct. My mind is not my friend when it comes to trying to remember things. But what about something so paramount as my God. Could I really forget Him? Could you?
8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. (NIV 1984)
When I think of how the Lord has been with the Israelites in Egypt. He had heard their cries. He had called Moses from a burning bush. Every denial of Pharaoh was answered by the strong word of the Lord through the plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, until finally the angel of death. The Lord had been with them. Pharaoh finally let them leave, but changed his mind. They had come up to the waters of the Red Sea and could go no further. They could hear the Egyptian chariots rushing quickly to overtake them. And the Lord was with them again. He blew back the waters for them to escape on dry ground and let the waters overtake the Egyptian army. The Lord was with them. The NIV translation as quoted above says that the Lord has them make a sanctuary and He will dwell with them. The KJV translates it like this:
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (KJV)
The change from ‘and’ to ‘that’ is a significant difference. The KJV suggests that the sanctuary was necessary in order for the Lord to dwell with His people. Well, which is it? Is the sanctuary just a place for the people to meet with God or is meeting with God impossible without the sanctuary?
God is all around us all of the time. He reminds us of His greatness through creation. The vast beauty of the creatures we see, the landscapes and scenery that stop us in our tracks with grandeur, and the Heavens filled with stars arrest our spirit to ponder the greatness of our God. In the New Testament, we are taught that even our physical bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. He is everywhere. He is everywhere that I look and He is within me. It is clear then that I don’t really need a tabernacle or church or prayer closet or anything else in order to meet with God. Right? Hello? Mcfly?
If that is the case, why is the Lord so set on us not giving up meeting together with one another. Because He commands us to continue meeting together for worship, prayer, and teaching, we continue to erect buildings for this very purpose. Churches are everywhere. But do we really need them? I can commune with the Lord in my own home, driving down the highway, anywhere really because He is everywhere.
When the Lord told the people of Israel how to arrange their camp out in the desert, the tabernacle was in the center of everything. Their entire life was centered around this building. How could they forget it?
The churches we pass by and attend are giant reminders. Like strings on our finger, they draw our mind back to the Lord. More than this, by going to church, we must stop everything else. Granted in my church, I am sure that some are playing angry birds pretending to read their YouVersion Bible, but that is another story. When we go to church, it forces us to stop the rest of our life, even if only for an hour. And the purpose of this pause is to meditate on the Lord. The answer the question is yes. Yes, we can and do forget about God all of the time. Even with everything around us and all of the reminders, we can easily go days, weeks, months, years not really giving Him any of our time. We are children neglectful to our Good Father.
It is not that I need a tabernacle or the church to remember God. It’s just that I need a tabernacle or church to remember God. Huh? I shouldn’t need a reminder, it seems. But our natural state is at one with the world and the world. The spirit of the world is to continual movement and busyness. Have we not seen throughout history, the one constant is increased busyness. We are harried along by the spirit of the world which preaches the same message all of the time: Don’t slow down. Work harder. Work longer. Success is found in this. (Of course, no one explained this to Dan Cathy, the founder of Chik-fil-a who closes every restaurant on Sundays to pause and remember the Lord. Seems like they are doing ok.) The world’s sermon continues teaching us to do more with our family. The family will truly be happy if we are constantly going from baseball to piano, from football to PTA, from boy scouts to Little Dribblers. Stay extremely busy. Make sure your children participate in everything they desire and your will have a happy family.
The goal of this message is to keep us from being still. Why? Why is it that the spirit of this world wants us to keep moving? Hmmmm?
“Be still, and know that I am God; (NIV 1984)
As the nature within me hurries along to the pace of the world very naturally, I must be reminded to be still. It is in the stillness of life that we are able to be intimate and truly know the Lord. When sin corrupted us, we are designed to go, go, go. Life a fish swimming in the currents of the ocean, it seems right, but it only leads to destruction. We mustn’t forget God. Church is that ding-ding of the car reminding us to put on our seat belts to save our life except the ding-ding of church reminds us to clothe our self in Christ to save our souls. No, we don’t really need church, but without it we will forget. We won’t be still. We will be whisked away, far away.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV 1984)