After joining a local Scout troop, my son and I went on our first campout. We drove to the campsite and found our tribe set up around an attractive fishing pond. We made our introductions and began setting up our tent next to all the others. We fished, played games, ate S’mores, burgers, and shared stories. When we turned in for the evening, some of the fourth and fifth-grade scouts decided to play laser tag right next to us. With sugar coursing through their veins they screamed like a pack of wild animals. We knew any moment they would crash into our tent. I finally gave up and opened Netflix on my phone while the boys sweated their sugar out. My son had the one thermal sleeping bag in our family. Mine was designed for sleepovers, not for camping. The temperature dropped to thirty degrees, and I tossed every hour. At first light we packed up and retreated for home, skipping the fireside breakfast for a heated car.
As the tabernacle was God’s dwelling place on earth, Jesus left heaven to dwell with us. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” The eternal Word became flesh, a living, breathing person. The perfect Son of God took on feet and walked our dirty streets. Hands that made stars touched lepers, blind eyes, sinners, and outcasts.
The Greek word for “made his dwelling among us” is eskenosen and it also means, “to pitch a tent or to tabernacle.” Like the Israelites set up a beautiful tabernacle in the dusty wilderness, God stooped and set his tent in the middle of our mess. For the first time, people saw the glory of God, his grace and truth.
Today, Jesus still camps with us. His presence is with us as we walk through the wilderness of life. The furniture in the old tabernacle also points to the work of Christ. He is our altar, the one we look to by faith for forgiveness of sin. He is our lampstand, shining brightly in the darkness as the light of the world. He is our table, calling us to come and fellowship and partake of his bread, the bread of life.
Sometimes in the transitions, God’s presence can feel a million miles away. Maybe you’ve lost a job, a friendship, or opportunity. Maybe your dreams withered on the vine before your eyes. Like a messy basement, you have no idea where to start or what step to take next. In those broken, transitional places God is near to mend, heal, and transform. He promises never to leave or forsake us. His name is Emmanuel, God with us. If God is with us, God is for us. If God is for us, who can be against us? We don’t have to build a tabernacle or go to a priest. Wherever we are, we can run to Jesus and come into the presence of God. Jesus is our tabernacle.