Humans like to look at pretty things. If you were to check out my Instagram feed, or most others’ feeds, you would see a string of beautiful pictures. Some people think that their pets are adorable, others want you to ogle over their stunning holiday travels … I even have a friend who takes pictures of coffee … I don’t drink coffee but I still like his pictures! We appreciate what we can see.
This page in Exodus makes for interesting reading. The following pages are about to go into detail about the Tabernacle; so much detail that it will take seven chapters. This is the very beginning of the description.
The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; 6 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.
8 ‘Then let them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Exodus 25:1-9
GOD wanted to make a sanctuary and dwell among His people. The people were to bring offerings where their hearts prompted them. Out of these offerings, given as gifts from their hearts, GOD would instruct how to create His dwelling place.
I love that the offerings are not compulsory or ordered, but are given as hearts are prompted. It is wonderful to read in chapter 36 that their hearts were moved so much that they had more than enough to create this dwelling place. I especially enjoy that GOD would give instructions, but the people would be the ones to build this sanctuary.
This place where GOD would dwell was built out of the heart. The very centre of this dwelling place was birthed in the hearts of His people. He would not create something that their hearts had not been soft to. He didn’t demand their generosity or their vulnerability. He didn’t offer them levels of giving for this place. He could have done so; He would later instruct very precisely the number and types of offerings. This was their choice, their offering, their gift, their devotion.
In GOD’s design brief for His dwelling place, He doesn’t start with the exterior and the bit that everybody was able to see, His design began from the inside and most personal space, the Ark.
I don’t know if you have noticed it before, but this is how GOD does things. He wants to have a sanctuary and place to dwell in the very centre and hidden place of our hearts. When He dwells there the rest of us cannot help but be transformed.
20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:20-27
GOD knows that it is from our hearts that we are revealed. His words in Proverbs address the heart before anything else. The heart is the thing that He looks at.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
It is a comfort and a challenge to think about GOD looking at my heart. Sometimes what happens in my physical world is messed up because of what I have done or said. In those times, I am glad that GOD sees my heart and motives, He knows my passion and why I acted the way I did. But, in the same way, when I do or say things with rubbish and foul motives that may appear to be good on the surface … He sees that too. I am so glad that I don’t have to earn His love for me or prove that I am worth it!
GOD designed His dwelling place from the centre. The Ark of the Covenant was at the centre of the Tabernacle and that Tabernacle was in the centre of the encampment of tribes. When He dwells at the centre of us we cannot help but be transformed. A sanctuary and dwelling place for GOD starts on the inside and works its way out.