Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

The Lord wants to Dwell Among His People


Exodus 25:8  “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. “According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.”

1 Corinthians 3:16  Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?


The Old Testament Tabernacle

The children of Israel were certainly a blessed people.  God had chosen the weakest of the nations to display His glory on this earth.  They were redeemed out of their bondage in Egypt to walk with the Lord through a wilderness to the Promised Land.  But the Lord did not leave them alone, He went with them.  He led them by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  And now he tells them to build him a sanctuary where He can dwell among them.


Some Observations about the Tabernacle

This sanctuary was a big ornate and heavy tent.  It was built by a number of different people who were following the blue print for their section.  The builders had to follow the pattern exactly in order for this tent to fit together properly when it was all done.  If someone had made a board a little too tall or not quite wide enough, the final product would not have been a display of the glory of the Lord, it would have been a display of the inability of the builders to follow the directions. 


The tabernacle where the Lord wanted to dwell was built so that the glory of the Christ would be seen.  For example, there was wood speaking of his humanity.  The wood was overlaid with gold speaking of his deity.  The boards sat on silver sockets speaking of redemption.  There was brass, speaking of judgment.  There was linen speaking of righteousness.  We could and should go on and on.


Some Observations about the Church

These Old Testament instructions help us understand the importance of the church as a sanctuary in the New Testament.  It also is a place where the Lord dwells.  The local church is designed to display His glory.  However, the passage above deals with the temple.  The Jews of that day would likely have been more familiar with the temple than with the tabernacle since they had a temple.  The temple replaced the tabernacle when the children of Israel finally got into the land and possessed it.  Most of the principles of worship in the temple were the same as they were in the tabernacle.


Whether we look at the church as a tabernacle (temporary) or temple (permanent), it is a place where the Lord wants to dwell.  It is designed to display His glory and not ours.  It should reflect His desires and not ours.  When we come to the New Testament worship in the temple, clearly this was not the case.  We read in Matthew 21:13, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”  The Jews were using the temple as a place to do “religious” business.  They were getting rich by selling animals to those who had come from a distance to sacrifice.  They were also exchanging foreign money for Jewish money at very profitable exchange rate for the money changers.   Only Jewish coins could be used to buy or sell in the temple.


How would the Lord deal with our Church?

The primitive or first century church seemed to be characterized by praying and prophesying.  We know what praying is but prophesying is not a word with which many of us are comfortable.  Likely it had to do with preaching or being the spokesman for God rather than with predicting the future.  Doctrine was extremely important in the early church.  Money was collected for the needs of the church, but the Gospel was never “sold”.  Singing was important to the Lord (He sang a hymn after instituting the Lord ’s Supper in the upper room) and singing was important in the church, but music is not mentioned as one of the four pillars that describe the activities of the church in Acts 2:41-42.  All four of those pillars are associated with a people who are worshipping the Lord.  Singing has to take second place to good preaching in the church.  If our doctrine comes from our singing, we will be shallow in our beliefs and guided more by emotion than by good Biblical doctrine.


So Where Does that Leave Us?

I am now speaking from experience and from my own personal prejudices.  But I would like to see more preaching about Christ without losing the beauty of singing about Him and to Him.  I would like to see more men talk to the Lord at the Lord’s Supper—I would like to hear prayers of thanksgiving.  I would like to see money mentioned little or not at all in our assembly meetings.  I would like to see the Christians take responsibility for the cost of programs and outreaches rather than asking those who might be unsaved to “pay“ to come and hear the Gospel.  That is what I would like, but I think the Lord would like that as well since that seems to be the pattern of the early church. 


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of February 1, 2015

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