As we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles this week, may we receive comfort and encouragement from our Lord Jesus in the daily reminder of His promise to us: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5b). The tabernacle in the wilderness was a visible reminder of the Lord's presence among His people. He wanted His covenant people to take courage in His constant presence, so they would continue in their journey toward the promise land and receive the full blessings He had prepared for them. Moses even prayed that they would not take another step unless they had the promise of God's presence with them; he acknowledged that they had no ability to undertake such a journey unless the Lord was there to guide and protect them. "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, You people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth" (Exodus 33:15, 16).
"Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
they are ever praising You.
Blessed are those whose strength is in You;
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage."
The tabernacle in the wilderness was a portable tent that did not rest on a man-made foundation. It was continually dismantled and rebuilt upon the dry and rocky ground of the desert wilderness to provide a vivid picture of our temporal nature apart from the solid rock foundation of Jesus Christ. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). With every step that His people took in their wilderness journey the Lord was strengthening and training their feet to stand on solid ground, so they wouldn't lose their footing when they met with all the temptations they would surely face in the promised land. Ultimately, a greater internal work would be accomplished within the hearts of His people through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and each person would become a tabernacle to testify to the presence and power of God in their lives. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). The presence of God no longer dwells in a tent in the wilderness, that tabernacle has been taken down; He dwells within His people in the person of the Holy Spirit, and is setting up His eternal kingdom within. "The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:49). The patriarchs and pilgrims, who all lived by faith, knew that this world was temporary, and no matter how dark or uncertain or difficult their days were, as they followed God's plan in the birth and building of a nation, they persevered and endured because they trusted and believed in the better, more permanent home that was waiting for them in the presence of God. May we be found doing the same as we yield to the Spirit's soul sanctifying work within, and labor to preserve that true foundation upon which men alone are saved. "Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together" (Psalm 34:3).
"These all died in faith,
not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off were assured of them,
embraced them, and confessed that
they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly
that they seek a homeland.
And truly if they had called to mind that country
from which they had come out,
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better,
that is, a heavenly country.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for He has prepared a city for them."