We see in our Second Reading tonight the glory of the Old Tabernacle. We see the glory of the shining of Moses’ face, the outpouring of gifts, and the rich and beautiful ornamentation.
The word “Tabernacle” simply means a tent. In this case, it is the one special tent set aside for holy use by God for His people Israel. It was a place of sacrifice, a place to meet His people on earth, a place of teaching, and a place of prayer. It contained the Holy of holies, the most sacred place on earth, where the Ark of the Covenant was to dwell. There, between the wings of the golden cherubim on the Ark, God said that He would be.
God, of course, fills all things in heaven on earth. But He has other modes of presence. He can be “more present,” so to speak, in some places than others.
When Moses came down the mountain, we see the effect of God’s glory. The face of Moses shone out with light. He had to hide his face with a veil so that people would not be frightened.
But the veil also hid things. Moses kept the veil on as the light on his face faded. It hid from the people the diminishing glory.
But we have a Man whose face does not dim, whose glory is eternal. The light of Christ is no reflected light. He is the Source of the same light that reflected from the face of Moses.
Yet the Old Covenant and Old Tabernacle had their moments of glory that seem to outshine us. When God’s Spirit moved the people to give offerings for the building of the Tabernacle, they gave and gave and kept on giving. The workmen had to tell Moses, “It is too much! Tell the people to stop giving!”
Imagine that happening today. Imagine our Treasurer standing up to say, “We have to stop giving offerings because we have too much!”
Here we are, with a far greater Covenant, sealed with the Body and Blood of God’s Son, given into death. Yet our offerings fall short. Our spirits grow weary of giving. Those Old Testament givers put us to shame.
Sure, they saw wonders and miracles with their own eyes. They saw Ten Plagues fall upon Egypt. They saw the Red Sea part. They ate manna in the wilderness, and followed a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.
But we have the full revelation of what only came to them in shadows. The One who was in the cloud and fire became human flesh for us, and we know the full revelation of His salvation. We taste a more wondrous manna, the Body of God’s Son, that gives life that does not end. We have passed through a better water than the Red Sea, the holy washing of rebirth into the death of Christ. We see in faith, if not by sight, the Plagues of God fall upon His own Son so that they will never fall upon us. We see the death of the Firstborn on the Cross to purchase a people for God, a spiritual Israel who shall dwell in the Promised Land of the new heaven and the new earth forever and ever.
May we rejoice more fully at these mysteries that God has revealed to us. May we give more sacrificially, since such a costly sacrifice was given for us.
As we gaze upon the Tabernacle through the words of Holy Scripture, we see ornaments of gold and multi-colored thread and yarn. We see ornaments and utensils made for the holy works instructed by God. Surely reverence surrounded this Tent of God’s Presence, as the people of God treated it as a most sacred and precious gift among them. This Tabernacle was no man’s invention, but made by the Lord’s instruction and direction for His purposes.
When the Lord Yahweh came among men, centuries later, He came in a tabernacle or tent of human flesh. Although at first glance the tent which was Christ’s body seemed ordinary, yet it was, in reality, glorious and beautiful. He was filled with all the majesty of the Godhead, since He is equal with the Father and the Spirit. Christ is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature. For a while He hid that nature and radiance in His state of humiliation. But now He always and fully uses His power in His state of exaltation. He has accomplished His monumental work of redeeming us, and no longer hides His glory. Although the flesh of Christ remains, since He will always be Man, yet there is no humility or lowliness in Him now. He shines out with might and divine splendor.
His Tabernacle now is you. You are the dwelling place of His glory, hidden behind human flesh. He has adorned you with the sprinkling of His Blood, far more precious than gold or silver. He has dressed you with His holiness and righteousness, prepared for the Final Day, when you, too, shall burst forth in glory.
This He has purchased for you by His mighty work on your behalf, by His suffering, death, and resurrection.
Now you see in this sanctuary a holy place to rival the old Tabernacle. Here the Lord, who sits between the cherubim, comes to sit upon our Altar. He does not hide behind a curtain or veil, but in bread and wine that He gives us to eat and drink. Here He teaches us His full revelation, to show us the incredible grace of His Son. Here He establishes and seals the New Covenant of forgiveness and peace that is for you for all time, in a place that will never wear out or fade, where God will dwell with you openly without hiding His glory at all.
Unto that day, O Lord, preserve us. Amen.
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