Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not much of a handyman. Me and tools have never really become well acquainted. My hands have always been better suited to a computer keyboard than a skill saw, a drill, or a hammer. My idea of taking on a “project” is to resist the temptation to hire someone to assemble IKEA furniture.
So, as I read about the detailed instructions given to Moses for construction of the tabernacle and its furniture, I’m somewhat in awe. No way this is going to be an assemble-by-pictures endeavor using only an allen wrench and a screwdriver. From the furniture for inside the tent, to the tent and courtyard itself, to the garments for the priests who enter the tent, there’s no way you can come away thinking that there wasn’t a whole lot of work required to get things ready for the LORD God to move in.
A lot of effort. A lot of preparation. A lot of consecration. Some assembly required.
The people and the priests would need to do their part in order to know God’s presence.
But I’m reminded that ultimately it wasn’t the efforts of the people that made the tabernacle and its furnishings a sacred place. It wasn’t the garments of the priests or their elaborate ordination process that made the Holy of Holies holy. But, when all was said and done — and not minimizing what needed to be done — it was God’s glory that would sanctify God’s place.
“There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by My glory. I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve Me as priests. I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.”
(Exodus 29:43-45 ESV)
Where the glory settles, the place and people are sanctified.
Do all you want. Go big on bringing in the right materials for the job. Knock yourself out following the instructions to a tee. At the end of the day, unless the glory falls the effort is a flop.
Not saying we shouldn’t obey. Not saying we shouldn’t do our part. Not saying we shouldn’t offer up our spiritual worship, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1). Just saying that if we’re trusting in the fruit of our efforts in order to be set apart we’re gonna miss out. We’re gonna be left out. Because, whatever we bring to the mix, the secret sauce is in the glory of God.
We may make every effort to supplement our faith according to God’s command (2Pet. 1:5), but it is God who sets us apart as living stones “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 2:5). We might, with holy determination and Holy Spirit enabling, purpose to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1), but it’s a work of grace that joins us together, grows us into a “holy temple in the Lord”, and, in Christ, builds us into “a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22).
It’s not by our doing that we are made holy, but through His dwelling. Not according to our making, but according to His majesty. Not by our giving or our gifting, but only by His glory.
The tabernacle in the wilderness was consecrated, ultimately, by the Glory. The living temple of God’s church is sanctified the same way. Where the glory dwells, the people are set apart.
Through His abundant grace might we know what it is to be set apart by His abiding glory.