Part 2: How Can YOU Be God’s Sanctuary?
by Stephanie H.
Spare no Expense.
Exodus chapter twenty-six describes the construction of the tabernacle. The first instruction is to make ten curtains of fine linen, in blue, purple, and red (the most expensive colors to make in those days), with designs of cherubim on them, all made by skilled craftsman. These curtains were to be about forty-two feet long, by six feet wide each. That means each curtain was nearly three times longer than a two story house! Each beam that supported the tabernacle was covered in gold. Only some of the sockets and clasps for holding the curtains and beams together were made of more humble things, like silver and bronze. There was nothing synthetic here! Keep in mind that all of this was built while the nation of Israel was wandering in the desert. All of that material could have been used on their own tents, the gold could have been used to trade for food, and the craftsman could have used their time working for themselves rather than building a sanctuary. This luxurious building was all created at a time when over a million people were out in the desert where there wasn’t even reliable food and water! Your relationship with Jesus is meant to be luxurious. Did you know that the one who created all the billions of atoms in a single pine needle wants to be your best friend? Make Him your priority. Make time to spend with Him on a regular basis. If He wants to spend time with you when you already have plans, be willing to change them. Give Him your talents, your money, and your possessions, and be willing to use them as He tells you. Don’t be afraid to put all of your eggs in one basket, and give it to Jesus. To others, it may seem like you are choosing to live in a desert, but your relationship with Jesus will be luxurious when you give Him everything. Don’t be afraid either. While the Israelites wandered, the Lord brought water out of a rock, and sent bread down from Heaven to feed every one of the people.
Maintain the Sanctuary.
“And the king and Jehoiada gave it to those who did the work of the service of the house of the LORD; and they hired masons and carpenters to restore the house of the LORD, and also workers in iron and bronze to repair the house of the LORD.” ~2 Chronicles 24:12
When the Lord gave the instructions to build the ark of the covenant, He commanded the people to build it with poles, so that it could be carried as they moved about through the desert. When Israel was settled in the Promised Land, they did finally built a temple on a permanent foundation, but the tabernacle was designed to be taken apart, and to go with them wherever they went. We don’t interact with gold much nowadays, but it is a very soft metal (that’s why people would bite gold coins. If their teeth left a mark, it proved that the coin was really gold, and not a fake), and fabric wears easily. Imagine having to pack up this enormous, luxurious tent, and having to carry all of the curtains and beams through the desert. The sanctuary was designed to be luxurious, but it was also meant for constant use. That means repairs will have to be made to keep it in tip top shape. Even the temple needed to be maintained. The people of Israel did not always take the time to maintain and nurture their relationship with the Lord. In the days of King Manasseh, the temple fell into great disrepair, and little use. When his son Josiah became king, he ordered the temple to be repaired. A priest found a book of the Law in the rubble, and the king was surprised to hear what was written in it, because so few of the people (even the priests) knew anything about who the Lord really is, and that He wanted to dwell with them! Your relationship with Jesus needs to be maintained. It is meant for constant use, and that means wear and tear. When you first believe the promises of God, you are laying the foundation for your temple, but more needs to be built up. Even when you have a close relationship with the Lord, you can still grow distant, and the temple can fall into disrepair. Even after I have had some of the sweetest time in prayer with the Lord, I can have the greatest struggle to find any kind of time to spend with Him the next day. Even though you love Jesus, that doesn’t mean it will always be easy to find time with Him, or to face the parts of yourself that don’t want to submit. In fact, there are times when it absolutely won’t be easy. That is when you have to press in and make a deliberate effort to seek Him anyway. Sometimes we grow distant with Jesus, and don’t even notice until we wonder how it happened that we don’t read our Bibles anymore. That is when our temples have fallen into disrepair. The only way back to Jesus from there, is to start maintaining the relationship again. It will mean more renovation than just daily upkeep to get the gold really shining again, so don’t be discouraged if one hour of prayer and worship doesn’t see you in the places of deepest joy and peace that you used to know. Repent, and believe His promises again, then follow the plan from the mountain, and keep seeking Him with all your heart. Even when you feel that everything is right between you and the Lord, don’t be afraid to ask Him what you need to maintain. Seek out the cobwebs and the single frayed thread, and you’ll never have to wonder where your relationship with the Lord lost its luster, because it will glisten in front of you every day.
Protect the Sanctuary
“And you shall make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of porpoise skins above.” ~Exodus 26:14
Some translations don’t read “porpoise skins”. Some say badger skin, some say tanned goat skins, and some say tanned leather. The main thing is, it’s waterproof! The tabernacle was subject to daily wear and tear, but it was still designed to be protected from the elements. Imagine how quickly the linen curtains would fade if they were not protected from the desert sun! What about rain, or sandstorms? Then the tabernacle would need such constant attention for repair, that it would hardly be usable! Your relationship with Jesus needs to be protected. We live in a very fallen and corrupt world, and we need to share the light of Jesus with those who are in darkness, but we can do the work of Christ and still keep a protective layer of porpoise skin between our precious temple, and the rough elements of the world. Our hearts are the place where we are vulnerable. What we allow into our hearts is what we allow into our temple. In the days of Nehemiah, one of the priests allowed an enemy of the remnant of Israel to live right inside the temple. A room set aside for the storage of holy items, incense, and tithes, was cleared out so that Tobiah could keep all of his personal stuff right inside the house of God! Our hearts are meant to be set apart entirely for the Lord, but sometimes, we let the enemy live there. We will always live in a world full of enemies of God, but where do we intentionally spend our time, especially our time alone? If you listen to music, or read novels, or watch movies and shows that point away from Jesus, or even just distract you from remembering Him, it is like pulling off the protective coverings of the sanctuary, and throwing open the doors and letting all elements, and moths, and enemies come into your temple to do whatever they like. Sometimes we tell ourselves that these don’t matter so much, because we know it’s not real, or we’re just doing it to relax, but that is when we are most vulnerable. Music and stories speak right to our souls. If we learn to love the darkness that so much of the media gives us, it is like worshiping idols right in the place where God dwells with us.
“Then He brought me into the inner court of the LORD’s house. And behold, at the entrance to the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves [worshiping on their faces] eastward toward the sun.” ~Ezekiel 8:16
God has done everything He can throughout history to dwell with His people who are too lowly to reach up to Him, but very often, this is how He is treated. Dear sister, when you construct your sanctuary, protect it from the darkness of the world. Put to death the things of the flesh, and give your whole devotion to Jesus. The people with whom you choose to spend time can also draw your focus away from the Lord. Sometimes, we don’t have the choice of what people are around us. Coworkers, and even family members may be people who are not seeking the Lord, but the covering of porpoise skin can protect from that. The covering did not mean that it never rained, the sun was never too bright, or that there were never sandstorms or linen-eating locusts about, but it was a wall between the sanctuary, and those things that would harm it. When we seek out and enjoy the company of friends who pursue the things of the world, we are letting them inside our sanctuary, where they can hinder our closeness with Jesus. If we even spend time being bitter with someone, or complaining, and are not willing to surrender it to the Lord, we are bringing that bitterness and complaint into the sanctuary, where it can harm our relationship with Jesus.
The beauty of the protection of the sanctuary is that if we are faithful in having a heart devoted to Jesus, the porpoise skin covering is very thick and durable. It is what allows God’s people to walk right into the darkest places in the world, and speak right to the hearts of prostitutes, Satanists, and drug addicts. Because they have not allowed their hearts to pursue and love evil, or to be distracted from the promises of the Lord, they are the members of His royal priesthood who are able to walk straight into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and be used to steal back broken souls, straight from the jaws of the enemy. It is not always easy, but it is certainly always worth the trouble to be devoted to the Lord.
Dear sister, never forget that God desires to dwell with you. I hope my words have been helpful to you as you prepare for an eternity of discovering the deep mysteries of the Lord. If you are studying in the books of the Law, and have discovered any other parallels between the old covenant, and your walk with the Lord, please, don’t hesitate to share them!