Sunday, August 19, 2012

God Of Tents (part 3 of 4)

Now at this point these are merely the words of Isaac.  However, we do know that the blessing of Isaac will eventually be confirmed and become the blessing of the Lord, as the Lord will take it upon Himself to extend the status of covenant-bearer to Jacob.  It is with this confirmation in mind that we can now make an application to the Temple. 

Jacob’s “living in tents” lets us know that the one who now represents the Lord is to be found in a tent.  This was true of Abraham and Isaac as well.  They had no permanent dwelling.  After the exodus, the covenant people of Israel that were dwelling in tents, built an Ark that represented the presence of their covenant God in their midst.  This Ark was housed in the tabernacle---a tent.  So on a very fundamental level, the impermanent nature of the dwellings of those that bore the covenant, and who were then tasked to be a blessing to all nations as they enjoyed the blessings of God and to do so in a way that would cause people to recognize the majestic and all-encompassing rule and true power of their God, fits quite well with God’s desire that man “Fill the earth and subdue it!” (Genesis 1:28b), and to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (9:1b).  God wants those that are His image-bearers and covenant-bearers (as both Adam and Noah are tasked with certain covenants) to spread throughout the whole of creation, to remind the creation of His glory, and to rightly worship Him (in whatever way that all that God has created can function to worship Him). 

We have seen that this occurs to an extent, but that man then takes it upon himself to discontinue this operation for the purposes of building a tower that will reach to the heavens, and to gather around that tower so that they will not “be scattered across the face of the entire earth” (11:4b).  This stood in direct contrast to that which God had instructed man to do, which is why it provoked such a dramatic response, with that response by God said to have “scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth” (11:8a), which is precisely what God had desired in the first place.  Even this “punishment” was evidence of God’s covenant faithfulness, as He was at work to accomplish His redemptive purposes for a fallen world.  We should then not think it a coincidence that this event is immediately followed by the exodus-ing call of Abraham, and of God’s covenant with him, and through him, for the world. 

When it comes to rightly representing Him, it seems that God desires movement and a constant state of readiness for movement, whereas man seems inclined to want to settle down in one place.  God wants man to represent Him throughout the whole of His creation, indicating to that creation that He is the Lord and ruler of the whole, whereas man wants to gain a piece of territory for himself, establish his own rule there, and then invite God to show forth His power in that place, so as to provide divine sanction for that rule that man has achieved.  That seems to be something of the dichotomy between the tabernacle and the Temple.  The tabernacle served as a mobile and portable reminder of the whole of the story from creation to exodus, was a witness to the covenant call to be blessing to all nations, and reminded God’s people of the constant movement of their covenant-bearing forefathers.  That story is one of a constant going out.  Though it will be constructed in the mold of the tabernacle, the Temple struggles to convey such things. 

The first command that was given to man, when God said to “fill the earth,” effectively said to “go out.”  After their transgression, God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden.  Though this was an unfortunate result of that transgression, God did not send them out of the world, so we can presume that the requirement to fill the earth and subdue it was unchanged.  Ultimately, God sent Noah and his family out of the ark, with the familiar command to fill the earth.  Abraham was sent out from his family to go and be a blessing.  The many movements and “goings-out” of Abraham and Isaac are well-chronicled in Scripture.  In the New Testament, Jesus will command His disciples to go out to take His teaching of the arrival of the kingdom of God to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  After His Resurrection, He would then command that same group of men, to go into all the world with the message of His crucifixion, Resurrection, and Lordship.  When Jesus called His disciples, He circumvented the common practice of the gathering of disciples, which was that men would choose for themselves a rabbi under which they would learn, and then go and sit at his feet.  Instead, He went out and called men to Himself, and He did this even though He had no place to lay His head.  In a sense, it could be said that Jesus, who was most assuredly the bearer of the divine covenant, and who referred to Himself as the very Temple of God (destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up), lived in tents, having no permanent place of dwelling. 

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