I have seen God in a whole new light this morning. There aren’t many places in the Bible where God actually appears to people, but he did appear quite a bit Moses. Look at what happens when God shows up to Moses and a few others:
“Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.” Exodus 24:9-11
Read that again just to make sure you catch it. God shows up on a mountain with his very own pavement of sapphire, and instead of shaking in fear or bowing in worship, the leaders of Israel say, “Man, I’m famished, how about we grab a bite to eat?”
This is a really big moment in the history of God and his people. After rescuing them from Egypt, God is schooling them in how to be a holy nation of priests by giving them guidelines and rules for worship. Before giving the people instructions on the tent of meeting or the ark of the covenant, God arranges to have this meeting with the leaders of Israel and impresses on them the importance of fellowship with God.
God could have requested anything, but in reality, he just wanted to be with his people. He wanted to sit and have a meal with them. And that doesn’t really change all that much, as Jesus oriented our memory of his death and resurrection around a meal. It takes my breath away to find that God wants to share something so simple, so basic with his people.
And if that lesson wasn’t enough, I also noticed something new in the following chapters of Exodus. I used to see the tent of meeting, table, lamp stand, and ark of the covenant as these mystical, religious objects. They are such things to a certain degree in their function, but even more than that, God is setting up his “house” in order to dwell with his people. It’s one thing for God to desire a tent as a central meeting location with his people, but it’s quite another thing to realize that he also wants to have it furnished!