Rabbi Schneider - What is the Significance of the Tabernacle?
The Book of Exodus is called in Hebrew Shemot. I'm going to begin there in verse number 1. Hear the word of God. We read there, Then the Lord, then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying tell the Sons of Israel to raise a contribution for me. From every man whose heart moves him you shall raise my contribution. I'd like to just say it's interesting even when we go back 3,500 years ago, notice how the Lord finances his ministry on earth. Because it takes money on this earth to function. And how does God raise money for the purpose of those things that need to be purchased in material world for ministry? He relies, beloved, on the contributions of his people. And the principle is the same today. Listen again. Tell the Sons of Israel to raise a contribution for me. From every man whose heart moves him you shall raise my contribution.
So again, God is calling his people to be partners with him by supporting his work financially. Now let's see what it is that God is doing. We're skipping down now to the 7th verse. What's the contribution being raised for? Actually, let's go to the 8th verse. Hear the word of God once again. And let them construct a sanctuary for me that I might dwell among them. So God is raising this contribution, beloved, to build what's called in Hebrew the mishkan. Mishkan is the Hebrew word for tabernacle. He continues in the 9th verse and he says, According to all that I'm going to show you as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. And so from the onset here, what we find is, is that the Lord, beloved, wants Israel to build this tabernacle, this mishkan, and the heart of God, the purpose in having them build this tabernacle is because, yedidim, he wants, listen now, to dwell among them.
Listen again to verse number 8. Let them construct a sanctuary for me, get this now, that I might dwell among them. God, beloved, wants intimacy with us. It's not just, beloved, that we need God, but somehow the Lord wants to be in fellowship with us. Isn't that an awesome thing? The Lord says draw near to me, and I will draw near to you. Remember what Yeshua said to the children of Israel of his day. He said how often I wanted to gather you under my wings like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Notice Yeshua saying how often I longed, he said, to bring you close to myself, to gather you under my wings. Isn't that something, that God, who needs nothing, still he gets pleasure, beloved, and fulfillment of us being close to him, of him being in relationship with us. In fact, that's why he created man, that he might have fellowship with us. Let us create man, the Lord said, in our own image. Why? Because he wants to have fellowship with us. Why did he create us in his own image? Because the fact that we're in his own image makes it possible for us to have the type of intimacy with him that he wants us to have.
And so from the very beginning, we see that God is longing for closeness. And before Yeshua came, God gave us this copy. Because remember, the book of Hebrews tells us in the New Testament that this tabernacle was a copy, it was a symbol of heavenly things. And so there's this copy, this tabernacle that God has on earth that he can provide a way for those who he created in his own image to have fellowship with him, to be close to him. He continues there in the 9th verse that this tabernacle, this mishkan needs to be built, he says, to Moses, according to all that I'm going to show you. The pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all the furniture.
See, every part of this tabernacle, beloved, every part of it, all the dimensions, the furniture, the fence, it all is there for a reason. It all speaks of something. It all has relevancy. It's not just that it's a good design. It's not just that the Lord liked the way that it looked. Every part of the tabernacle has a spiritual application to it. And that's why the Lord says to Moses I want you to build this now exactly according to the pattern that I'm showing you, because within this tabernacle are spiritual mysteries teaching how I can be close with you, how I can dwell with you. I'm going to read verse 7 again. Verse 8, rather. And let them construct a sanctuary for me that I might dwell among them. I want you to get this concept again about God's desire to dwell with us.
You know, we oftentimes don't think about the fact that God gets pleasure from us. We oftentimes think about what we need from God. You know what we pray. Usually when people are praying, a lot of their prayers are Lord, help me with this, you know, help me with my finances, give me direction in life, help me with my job. Lord, we're asking you for help with our children. We're usually looking to the Lord as our source, and we should. But sometimes we forget and don't realize that it's not only about, beloved, what God can do for us, but it's also about the pleasure that we bring to him when we choose to love him, hallelujah, make him first in our life, make him first of all our relationships and fellowship with him. You see, we don't even understand, beloved, we can hurt God. See, the Bible says in the Hebrew Scriptures, in the Tanakh, the Scripture says that the people of Israel it said grieved. Grieved is an attribute, beloved, that's an attribute of a person. It says that Israel grieved his Holy Spirit.
You know, when someone grieves you, it hurts you. It feels bad. We have an effect on God. And so we sometimes don't realize that God gets pleasure when we choose to love him and be intimate with him, putting him first in our life, it truly brings him joy. That's when the Bible says that when a sinner repents, all the angels of heaven rejoice. We don't realize that we have an effect on how God feels, that we can add to his happiness. I mean, he's perfectly satisfied, beloved, he's perfectly whole without us, but somehow we do something for him when we choose to love him. And conversely, beloved, listen now, we can grieve God.
I remember years ago, as many of you know, I'm Jewish, born and raised Jewish, bar mitzvahed at 13 in a conservative temple in Cleveland, Ohio. But you know, when I came to Jesus back in 1978, the Lord appeared to me in a vision in 1978, and that's how I came to faith in Messiah Yeshua. And at that time, beloved, I just started devouring the New Testament. I mean, I was so hungry for truth and for God. And when I was in Hebrew school growing up, they really never taught me too much about the Bible. They taught me how to read Hebrew and they taught me the prayers, and they prepared me for my bar mitzvah, but they never really taught me about the Bible, they never really introduced God to me as somebody that really loved me and cared about me and was personal to me. They never taught me that he was a friend that I could pray to about my personal needs. This was just my experience. And from my experience, it's the experience of many other Jewish people that have grown up. They learn the Hebrew and they learn the culture and they learn the prayers but really aren't introduced to God as someone that's closer than a brother, that loves them and is there for them all the time.
And I'm not saying this is always the case, but I think oftentimes it is the case. That was my experience. And so when Yeshua, when Jesus appeared to me and showed me that he was alive and that he was with me and that he cared about me, that he had a destiny for me, that he had a plan for my life, I got so excited, I just started running after Jesus, and in a sense, I left a lot of my Jewish upbringing behind me. Then when I went away to Bible school, they never talked really about the connection between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. They never showed me, for example, how Jesus fulfilled the feast. They never really taught much about the tabernacle. And so basically I was getting disconnected from my identity as a Jewish person, because again, I just started running after Jesus, and my experience growing up in Hebrew school was kind of dry and boring, so I wasn't really looking back to that. Then I went away to Bible school, and they never really connected the Old and New Testaments for me.
So I was really a Jewish person for a number of years that was almost living like a Gentile person, because I wasn't bringing any of my Jewish upbringing or Jewish identity into my faith with Jesus. But then after a number of years, the Lord began to put it all back together for me and to show me how being Jewish related to my following him, and he began to put it all together for me in terms of putting the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament together. And obviously that's why I'm teaching on this broadcast right now, Discovering The Jewish Jesus, showing how it all connects.
But for a number of years, beloved, I was separated, as I indicated earlier, separated from bringing my Jewish identity and culture into my faith in following Jesus. And when the Lord brought me back to understanding him from a Judaic perspective and I started introducing that to my children in my home and saying you know what, we're going to celebrate the Sabbath from now on and we're going to be celebrating the Jewish holidays in a different way from now on, at first, they really resisted because for so long I hadn't been insisting on these things, and now all of a sudden I am telling them you're Jewish, we're going to be doing these things, we're going to have a Jewish identity, we're going to rear you up now in a Jewish culture. They kind of bucked it for a while. And most of their friends were not Jewish, so it wasn't really something that they wanted to embrace because they didn't want to be different. And it was hurting me. Whenever I would bring up something Jewish to them and try to teach them and try to educate them, I could kind of feel them pulling back.
And it really, listen now, it really grieved me. Remember how the Bible says that the children of Israel grieved his Holy Spirit, and how the New Testament tells us grieve not the Holy Spirit. And so when my kids started rejecting what I wanted to give them, when they were rejecting their identity as Jews, it really grieved me. It really hurt. And this went on for over a year. And then one day, I was speaking to my children again, and again trying to help them understand who they were as Jews and our Jewish identities and so on and so forth, and again I felt them kind of closing their heart and withdrawing, and yadid, all the hurt that had caused me and all the grieving that their rejection of what I was wanting to give them, all the grieving over it, it just erupted and exploded out of me from inside, and I just started crying to my kids, and I said to them, you're hurting me. And when they saw, yadid, their daddy crying, when they saw that what they were doing, listen, was hurting me, it completely changed them, and they began to open up their heart, beloved, and receive what I was wanting to give them.
And now my daughters defend the Jewish roots of the Christian faith and they educate their Christian friends on the Jewishness of Jesus, and now they're proud, beloved, to embrace who we really are as Jewish followers of Jesus. But it really took them seeing that they were hurting me by what they were doing. And you see, I tell you that because I think sometimes we are like my children were. They thought that daddy is so big and so strong and you know he makes all the rules and he gives all the orders. He's too big to be hurt. They didn't recognize, they didn't have the sensitivity to realize that even though I was dad and in their mind even though I was the boss, they didn't realize that they still had the power to hurt me. And you see, beloved, that's the way you and I are at times. We think of God as so big, and he is. We think of God as the boss. He is. But we don't realize, like my kids, beloved, didn't realize that we, as small as we are, have the power to hurt God.
You see, when the Lord makes himself vulnerable to us by expressing his love to us and revealing his thoughts to us, when he makes himself vulnerable to us and then we turn around and reject him, reject his love, reject his instruction, reject his revelation, beloved, that hurts him. It grieves him. You see, the Bible says here in Exodus 25 verse number 8 that the Lord, beloved, wants to dwell with us. You see, the Lord told us don't give what's holy to dogs and don't cast your pearl before swine, lest they trample what you're trying to give them under their feet and then turn and tear you to pieces. You see, the Lord told us that, beloved, because he understands the wisdom in it. God is not going to keep giving us more of himself, he's not going to keep on revealing himself more to us if we reject what he has given us. That's why the Scripture says draw near to me, the Lord says, and I will then draw near to you.
God wants to be close to us. But beloved, if God is going to come close to us, if he's going to reveal himself to us, if he's going to make his love known to us, we have to be positioning ourselves at a place, beloved, where we're loving him and reverencing him and honoring him and doing our best to put him first. And as we draw near to him in this way, beloved, he draws near to us. Listen again, Shemot, Exodus 25 verse number 8. The Lord says let them construct a sanctuary, a mishkan for me that I might dwell among them. God wants to be close to you and he wants to be close to me. See, this is the same thing that Jesus was saying in the gospel of John chapter 14, verse number 21 and 23. In John 14:21 and 23, Yeshua says if you love me, listen now, he's asking us to make a decision for him. He already loves us. But he's saying if you love me, you'll obey me.
Why would he say that? Is our salvation based on obedience? He said if you love me, you'll obey me. And if you obey me, he said you'll be loved by my Father, and we'll come to you and make our home with you. It almost sounds like his love for us is based on our obedience. But that's not what he's saying. He's saying if you love me, you'll obey me, and you'll be loved by my Father, John 14:21 and 23, and then we're going to come to you and make our home with you. What he's saying, beloved, is not that his love for us is determined by our obedience, because Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. But what he's saying is he's not going to reveal his love to us, he's not going to open himself up to us until we're ready for that. And we're not ready for it until we're choosing, beloved, until we obey him. And we obey him not because we're trying to earn his love, but because we so desire oneness with him, we so desire intimacy with him, we so desire proximity with him that we say God, I want to be where you are. Therefore, I'm going to obey you so I can be where you are.
You see, it's our love for him that generates the obedience. We're not trying to earn things from our obedience, but we love him so much we want to be close to him, we want to be one with him, and so we do what he tells us to do so we can be where he is. And then God says that when you make that decision to show me your love, then I'm going to release to you the knowledge of how much I love you, and we're going to come to you and make our home with you. You see, beloved, it's really the same thing with the children of Israel. In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord said to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 8, he said I was disciplining you in the wilderness even as a man disciplines his son. The Lord says I let you be hungry there and I let you be thirsty there in order that you would learn, the Lord said, to not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
God was preparing them to bless them. The Lord said I was disciplining you as a man disciplines his son. I let you be hungry, I let you be thirsty, I let the serpents bite you, he said, that when I bring you into the promised land, you'll be able to receive my blessing, you'll be prepared to receive it in the way that it should be received, that you'll be able to enjoy it and bless me for it. He said otherwise, I would have just brought you right into the promised land without preparing you first, without tempering you first, without teaching you to love me first. And if I would have brought you into the promised land without doing all these character adjustments in you, you would have just been spoiled, and you wouldn't even realize that it was me that gave you the blessing. You would have thought that you got into the promised land yourself.
And so beloved, as we close today, you need to hear and I need to hear God wants to be close to us. It hurts him when we choose the things of the world. It hurts him when we won't listen to him. It hurts him when we choose our own way. The Lord said you can grieve me. You can grieve my Holy Spirit. Yeshua said how often I wanted to gather you under my wings as a hen gathers chicks under her wings, he said, but you would not. Beloved, God says if you'll draw near to me, I'll draw near to you. I want to be close to you. I want to fellowship with you. I want to bless you.
So as we study the mishkan, beloved, in the weeks ahead, I want you to understand the purpose of it all is because God loves us so much and he wants to bless us, but he can't do it until we align ourselves with him. And all the different pieces of the furniture in the tabernacle, the holy place, and the holy of holies, they all teach us how we can be close to God, how we can draw near to him, the things that we need to do in our life, the spiritual adjustments that we need to make to place ourselves in alignment with him so he can bless us.
So Father, we look to you today, and once again, we open our heart. Father God, we hear today that you love us, that you want to be close to us, but we must choose to love you, we must choose to obey. And Father, we repent today for not listening to you enough, for not loving you enough, for grieving your Holy Spirit. And Father, by your grace we position ourselves today to love you alone.