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  • Writer's pictureRick LoPresti

The tabernacle of death

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

God told Abraham that his descendants would spend 400 years as slaves in a strange land. After that He would bring them out of that place to the land He had promised him (Gen 15:13-14). During those 400 years, the Israelites sinned (Josh 24:14). God raised up Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex 1-4). When Moses went to the Israelites to tell them it was the time of their deliverance, instead of knowing that the 400 years God told Abraham of were over, they struggled with unbelief and complaining because of their unpleasant circumstances (Ex 5:21, Ex 6:9). This became a pattern of behavior for them throughout their journey in the wilderness, even after seeing the ten plagues on Egypt and the Rea Sea crossing (Ex 7-14). When God fed them and gave them water miraculously, they complained about it (Ex 15-17). When Moses was “taking too long” on Mount Sinai they complained (Ex 32). When the ten spies discouraged them from entering the promised land, they complained (Num 13-14). That cost them dearly. Instead of it taking 11 days to reach the promised land, it took forty years until all that generation died (Num 14, Deut 1:2). God immediately moved on to the next generation (Num 15:1). During those forty years, they continued to complain and murmur against God. When Korah and his companions in rebellion were destroyed by God, they complained that Moses had killed the people of God (Num 16). After God attempted to silence their murmuring through the test of the rods, they said, “Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying (Num 17:12-13)?” They voiced a similar sentiment at Mt. Sinai (Ex 20:19-21). The commandments of God were supposed to teach them the way of life (Lev 18:5, Deut 4:1, Deut 5:33, Deut 8:1-3, Deut 30:16-19). The tabernacle was meant to be a place of communion and atonement for Israel with God (Ex 25:22, Lev 17:11). It was not God, His commandments, or His tabernacle that brought death to the Israelites. It was their sins of unbelief and complaining. Their perception of God was clouded and distorted by their sins so that they saw God as an agent of death instead of the life giver that He is. In their spiritual insanity they said God brought them out of Egypt to kill them (Ex 14:11, Ex 16:3, Ex 17:3, Num 16:13). Instead of seeing the miracles God did for them to save them, they focused on their immediate circumstances which God never intended to be long-term let alone permanent. Their focus determined their perception of God.

In Romans 7, Paul said that God’s commandments were supposed to bring him life, but his sinful nature which triggers the judgment of God made it seem like they were the agent of death instead. In 2Corinthians 2:14-16, Paul spoke about the Roman victory parade in which incense would be burned. To the victors it smelled like life, but to the defeated captives who were being marched to their execution, it smelled like death. “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked (Prov 29:27).” It all depends on what perspective you choose. You can see God as the great Creator, Lord, Father, and Savior who is abundant towards us in grace and mercy and who “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things (Acts 17:25)”, and whom “every good gift and every perfect gift is from (Jam 1:17)”, or we can be deceived by our own sins into thinking God is the source of death and evil rather than our own sinful nature (Jam 1:13-16). We can either justify God who never sins, or ourselves who do. When David was confronted with his sins, instead of getting angry at the prophet he repented (2Sam 11-12). He recorded his repentance in Psalm 51, in verse 4 of which he said to God, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest”. In the parable of the talents, two of three servants saw their master as a good one to serve faithfully, and they entered into joy (Mt 25:14-30). The third servant saw the same master as a hard, unjust man. He was judged and cast out. All three lived their lives according to how they viewed the master, and they behaved accordingly. The menu is binary. There are two choices. We can thank God or blame Him. “With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury (2Sam 22:27).” We can focus on His goodness or the imperfection of our circumstances in this fallen world damaged by man’s sin (Rom 5, 8). We can look unto Jesus for the hope of eternal life (Heb 12:2, 1Jn 3:1-2), or we can focus on this world. We can put our faith in God or man. We all have to make a choice and reap the consequences of it one way or the other (Gal 6:7-8), in this life and the one to come. We will all give account for which choice we make (Rom 14:12).

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