The complete details of the Tabernacle. I think I understand why it’s important that we know God himself provided these instructions. I mean, maybe. No one could claim the honor of having designed the holy places, their name forever recited with the history of the structure. “And to the left we have the blueprints for the holy temple of Israel, designed by Aaron and his sons under the direction of Moses…” No.
This is God’s meeting place with the people. It is designed by God, set apart for God, and gives glory only to God.
The specifics are nice. It helps us visualize life and worship, helps keep things grounded in reality so we can remember this is history, not a story.
But what stuck out to me, reading this passage, was at the very beginning when God tells Moses to take a collection for the Tabernacle. “From every man whose heart moves him.” This wasn’t built with taxes. This wasn’t a required donation, a fee for worship or membership dues. This was a gift freely given in worship.
Sometimes I look around at the old churches with the arches and the windows, the beautiful details and the amazing craftsmanship, and I miss that. Sometimes I look at modern churches with the utilitarian, multipurpose design, and it makes me a little… it makes me question some things.
Oh, I completely understand the concepts of stewardship, the wise use of limited resources, and all of those considerations that go into the design decisions. I really do.
I also understand the idea that churches are not literally God’s place of residence in this world the way the Tabernacle and Temple were. We are now where the divine meets humanity.
But there is something about the idea of holy ground, a place where we go to meet with God in cooperate worship, removed from the mundane, the vulgar. Somewhere sacred where we set aside the daily concerns that distract us and focus our hearts and minds and souls on God, where we center ourselves for the week to come. Shouldn’t it feel like a refuge? Shouldn’t it feel ‘set apart?’
I’ve been a part of various churches raising money for the building fund, or the relocation fund, or whatever else they chose to call it. Some of them had the fund so long with no real hope of meeting the goal in sight that it had almost lost its meaning. I guess not many hearts were moved toward building a special place of worship. After all, when congregations won’t even tithe regularly to support the church staff and maintenance… money’s tight. Money’s always tight.
I’m not saying we should go back to building cathedrals. I do know where that money came from. I’m just saying, maybe we’ve lost something important.