A Trilogy of Ts

There is a trilogy of Ts on my mind today. Tent – Tabernacle – Temple. All 3 were important to the Israelites. They still have relevance for us today.

TENT

A tent is a portable structure that functions as a temporary dwelling.

While traveling through the wilderness, the Israelites lived in tents. When the cloud representing God’s presence moved, they packed up their tents and moved. When the pillar of fire stood still, they stood still. They stayed in their tents. The Israelites had left Egypt, but had not yet arrived at the Promised Land. Exodus 13:21 says, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.Tents symbolize a nomadic lifestyle. No permanent dwelling place.

Jesus came to earth as God Incarnate. He lived in a human body, or tent, for 33 ½ years. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Christ Jesus, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Our human bodies are described as a tent in II Corinthians 5:1. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.Our earthly existence is temporary. Our human bodies will not live forever.

TABERNACLE

The Israelites did not dwell in permanent homes. Neither did God. God’s portable sanctuary was known as the tabernacle. It was God’s movable habitation. Under Moses’ direction, the tabernacle was constructed the year after the exodus from Egypt. The story is recorded in Exodus 25-30. The tabernacle was where the Hebrew tribes worshiped while wandering in the desert for 40 years before arriving in the Promised Land.

The tabernacle was the dwelling place of God. Wherever the people went, the tabernacle went. When they packed up their own tents, they also packed up God’s tent.

After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised land, their first priority was to erect the tabernacle. A more permanent dwelling place was yet to come.

The Lord spoke in Ezekiel 37:27 NKJV, “My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

John 1:14 NKJV says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.The Greek word for dwelt is the same as for tabernacled. So, it can be said that the Word tabernacled among us. Jesus says in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus is our tabernacle!

TEMPLE

The tabernacle was the center of the Israelites’ worship for approximately 500 years. Then Solomon constructed the temple according to the plans given to him by his father David. (see I Chronicles 28:9-21) II Chronicles 3 gives us the account of the building of the temple.

In II Chronicles 5, the temple is completed and dedicated. II Chronicles 5:13-14 says, Then the temple, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud so that the priests could not stand there to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. The Lord says in Isaiah 56:7, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

The temple in Jerusalem became God’s permanent dwelling place. However, Solomon’s temple was destroyed in 587/586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar’s army captured Jerusalem. (II Kings 25:8-9)

Ezra 3 records the restoration of the temple. This second temple was completed in 516/515 BC. It signified the renewal of Jewish life after the devastation of exile.

This is the temple where we find Jesus in John 2:13-16. “The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.’Jesus is reminding the people of the words of Isaiah 56:7.

Let’s listen to the conversation between Jesus and the Jews in John 2:19-21. “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.The Jews understood the temple to be a building while Jesus was relating His body to the temple.

Now for us. Paul asks in I Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Remembering Jesus’ actions in John 2, we know that Jesus expelled the people who were selling doves. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit cannot be sold or bought. Let us honor this Spirit that lives in us! II Timothy 1:14 says, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Individually, we are temples of the Holy Spirit. We also are part of a larger dwelling place for God. Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

I want to highlight one more similarity between the tabernacle, the temple and us. All share a similar makeup. Both the Israelites’ tabernacle and temple had three divisions. The court (sometimes referred to as the outer court) – the holy place (or the inner court) – the Most Holy Place. God created us with body, soul and spirit. Comparisons can be made regarding our body and the court – our soul and the holy place – or spirit and the Holy of Holies.

Temporary to Everlasting

Tent, tabernacle and temple. Interesting symbols of dwellings for God and for us. However, all are only earthly reminders that the best is yet to come. Jesus says in John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going away to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.

Revelation 21:3 says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.

What Happened to the Leftovers?

In John 6:1-13, we read the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. A daunting task beyond the disciples’ comprehension or ability. But it was not too hard for Jesus. A boy offered Jesus his lunch. Jesus thanked God for the loaves and fish and distributed the food to the crowd. Everyone had as much to eat as they wanted. Then, Jesus told His disciples in verse 13, “Gather the pieces that are left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers! Jesus did not want to waste anything. Everything had a purpose.

Have you ever wondered what the disciples did with the leftovers? Let’s consider the possibilities.

1) They could have given the leftovers back to the boy.
Can you imagine the look on the boy’s face if he was presented more than he had given Jesus? If this is what happened, Luke 6:38 would have been fulfilled. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.

2) They could have given the leftovers to Jesus.
How do you give something back and not offend the giver? Especially when Jesus is the giver! I think about James 1:27. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.

3) Maybe the disciples ate the leftovers themselves.
It was lunchtime – they too were hungry. Can you hear their stomachs growling? There were twelve baskets full, so each could have had his own basket. They may have remembered Psalm 34:8 physically and spiritually. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

4) They could have looked for other hungry people with whom they could share the food.
How many other hungry people were in the vicinity? I wonder if they would have appreciated leftovers. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

5) Maybe they just left the bread to dry out.
Did it become food for the birds? Did it become rancid like the manna from heaven? Manna was not a good leftover. Moses told the Israelites in Exodus 16:19-20, ‘‘No one may keep any of it until morning.’ But they did not listen to Moses; some people left part of it until morning, and it became infested with maggots and began to smell.

For me, the leftovers are an example of God’s exceeding abundance. Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV says, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” I have always liked the phrase, “to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” stated in the King James Version. When Jesus fed 5000 people with the boy’s lunch, He exemplified God’s greatness and generosity.

Knowing that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can imagine, we can expect to have leftovers in our lives. What do we do with the leftovers God gives us? Our leftovers must not be wasted. Let’s think about our options.

1) Do we share our abundance with others?
The leftovers we share may be our testimony of how God has provided.
2) Do we keep our leftovers for “something” we might need in the future?
This seems rather selfish!
3) Do we thank God for His plentiful provision and give Him glory?
Good idea!

Proverbs 3:9 tells us, “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” We should give Him the “first fruits” – not just the leftovers!

I conclude with a personal question for you.

What situation are you encountering today that appears to be insurmountable? It may be just as difficult for you to see a solution to what you are experiencing as it was for the disciples to provide food for 5000 people. Follow Jesus’ command of Matthew 6:33. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. I encourage you to remember I Corinthians 2:9-10. It is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit.” Jesus is with you today just as He was with the disciples. He knew 5000 people were hungry. He knows your needs. He is still able to do exceedingly, abundantly. He will not only meet your needs – He will see to it that you have leftovers. Do not waste anything God has for you.

Flames of Faith

A bruised reed He will not break,
and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.
Isaiah 42:3 NIV

He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Isaiah 42:3 NLT

Most Christmas candles no longer exist because they have burned down to stubs. A little wax but not much wick remains. Someone may try to light a leftover candle. It might sputter for a few seconds. Only a speck of light. What once was bright, now is dim. No longer exhibiting holiday warmth and love. Are you feeling a little burned out?

In He Still Moves Stones, Max Lucado writes, “Is there anything closer to death than a smoldering wick? Once a flame, now flickering and failing. Still warm from yesterday’s passion, but no fire. Not yet cold but far from hot. Was it that long ago you blazed with faith? Remember how you illuminated the path?”

Isaiah 42:3 refers to the Messiah being the One who will not snuff out a smoldering wick or flickering candle. This verse promises that the Messiah will bring comfort and encouragement to the weak and weary. Jesus fulfills this prophecy in Matthew 12:20. Jesus has compassion for those who are oppressed with doubts and fears. Although yours faith may be faltering and flicking, Jesus is ready to reignite your flame rather than suffocate it.

Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.

Is a frigid January worry wind trying to snuff out your flame of faith? Is your heart growing cold? You may feel like a smoldering wick, but God will help your sputtering spirit grow and glow.

In Matthew 5:14 Jesus says that we are to be lights in the world. He continues to tell us in verse 16, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Darkness and discouragement need not cause us to become smoldering wicks or flickering candles. We have Jesus, the Light of the World, to ignite our flame of faith. Then we can illuminate the path for others who may be walking in shadows of darkness.

In Luke 1, an angel foretells the birth of a son, John, to Zechariah. In verse 17, the Message Translation says John will “kindle devout understanding among hardhearted skeptics.” John’s ministry would inflame faith and squelch questions. No smoldering wicks.

I wonder if the disciples felt like their faith was flickering after Jesus’ ascension. InActs 1:4, Jesus told the disciples, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” Waiting can be hard. The disciples may have felt like used up candles. Were they like smoldering wicks being smothered by unanswered questions? If so, their candles were rekindled at Pentecost. Acts 2:2-4 says, “Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” As we read the remainder of Acts 2, we hear Peter’s message ignited by faith. Faith and fire exploded into the lives of 3000 new believers according to verse 41.

I Peter 2:9 NLT declares, “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.” We are more than smoldering wicks and flickering candles!

Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 1:6, “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.” This is good advice for us. May we not let our flickering faith candles be extinguished. Add more wax and wick of God’s Word.

During wintertime, the days are short and the nights are long. Saint Francis of Assisi said, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” So, let’s keep some candles burning in our hearts and homes. Embrace the glowing warmth of candlelight in a room on cold winter nights. Allow the candlelight to ignite a deeper love in your heart for Jesus who is the Light of the World.

HOPE for 2021

As I reflect upon the year of 2020, I remember it as a year of challenges and uncertainty. I also remember God’s faithfulness through all of the challenges. Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT says, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” New mercies each morning also includes new mercies for each year. God’s mercy gives me HOPE for 2021. Psalm 119:114 says, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I HOPE in Your word.” As we begin the new year, let’s take time to fill our minds with scriptural words of HOPE.

The LORD delights in those who fear Him,
who put their HOPE in His unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober,
set your HOPE on the grace to be brought to you
when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming.
I Peter 1:13

You will be secure, because there is HOPE;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
Job 11:18

Those who HOPE in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and
not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Be joyful in HOPE,
patient in affliction, persistent in prayer.
Romans 12:12

But HOPE that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what they already have?
But if we HOPE for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:24-25

HOPE does not disappoint, because the love of God
has been poured out within our hearts through
the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:5

There is surely a future HOPE for you,
and your HOPE will not be cut off.
Proverbs 23:18

May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Let us hold unswervingly to the HOPE we profess,
for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23


Although HOPE is not used in Philippians 1:6, it is a verse that offers HOPE. “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” With the assurance of this verse, I believe Psalm 71:14 is a good verse to declare for 2021. “As for me, I will always have HOPE; I will praise You (God) more and more.