The Pattern of the Tabernacle
As the Lord lays out in detail his design for the Tabernacle, he says, “Set up this Tabernacle according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain” (26:30). The word translated here as “pattern” is, in Hebrew, mishpat, which ordinarily means “justice” or “ordinance.” The unusual use of mishpat in this verse underscores the authority of God’s design. Moses and the Israelites were to be guided by the divine pattern when they set up the Tabernacle.
When I hear the word “pattern,” I remember my mother sewing when I was a child. She would use flimsy, paper patterns that outlined all of the parts of the dress she intended to make. By pinning pieces of the pattern to fabric and then meticulously cutting according to the pattern, my mom was able to sew like a professional.
Scripture provides us with patterns for living. Yes, there are plenty of specific laws that direct us. And we gain theological knowledge from God’s written Word. But Scripture also shows us how God’s people are to live. The Tabernacle, for example, provides a pattern of the centrality of worship in our lives. Though we won’t offer sacrifices in an elaborately built tent, we should see our daily lives as a series of sacrifices for God. Our Tabernacle, if you will, isn’t some sacred tent, or even just our church buildings, but our homes and schools and workplaces and communities. We worship God, not just on Sundays when we gather with God’s people, but each and every day as we minister in the Tabernacle of our daily lives.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What are your patterns for living? How do you live each day with God as the center of your life?PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for the patterns of life you have given me through your Word. Thank you for the lives of the saints, who demonstrate how to live faithfully. Thank you for the honest portrayal of their faults and shortcomings, so I might learn from them.
As I remember the centrality of the Tabernacle for the people of Israel, may I also remember how I am to worship you, not just in so-called “worship services,” but also in living my whole life in worshipful service to you. May I learn to see every place I live as a Tabernacle, so that I might worship you with all my being. Amen.