Saturday, February 15, 2014

Traveling in Tents

Day one of our much-anticipated tour of Israel brought us to an area called Shiloh, (pronounced ‘shee-low’ in Hebrew). This was where the children of Israel parked the Tabernacle when they entered the Promised Land, after wondering in the desert for 40 years. THE Tabernacle, that God instructed Moses to build, and said I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God, in Exodus 29:45.  It seemed like we were out in the middle of nowhere. We drove off the main highway and onto a small road. There were no buildings, no shops, nothing but an open field on a hill. We walked on a white rock path to a grassy area, scattered with large white rocks and millions of tiny pottery fragments. Our guide said that archeologists had discovered that this was the location where the Tabernacle of God had rested.
I don’t know how to explain it, but as I stood there, looking toward this grassy, rocky field at nothing, I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was weird, because there really was nothing to see, but just knowing that the Tabernacle, with all its spiritual significance, sat there for years, brought chills down my spine. I had studied the Tabernacle. I knew this was where the Israelite’s most holy possession, the Ark of the Covenant, resided. This was where the priests sacrificed animals to pay for the sins of the people. This was where the people worshipped their God. This was where Hannah prayed for a son, after many years of infertility. This was where her young son, Samuel, would be dedicated to the Lord, and serve Him for the rest of his life. Most importantly, this was where the spirit of the one and only, living God of creation lived among His people.
I could almost hear that old song chorus, “you are standing on Holy ground”, chime down from heaven. Should I take off my sandals? Should I kneel and worship? I would have this same feeling later, standing in the tomb where Jesus was laid after His crucifixion. There is even a sign going in to the tomb, as if we needed reminding, that says, “He is not here. His is risen.”  The Tabernacle was not there. It had been replaced by the Temple in Jerusalem, centuries ago.
I guess it just amazed me that our awesome God chose to live in a tent, so that He could be close to His people, who also lived in tents. He wanted to be close to them. He wanted them to know Him. He wanted to have a personal, close relationship with them, so He moved in close to them, and lived in a tent next to theirs.
These were the same people who had worshipped a golden calf, instead of the God who rescued them from slavery in Egypt. These were the same people who whined and complained to Moses for forty years. Several times they even wanted to go back to Egypt, instead of following God to the Promised Land He had prepared for them. Even after all they did, God wanted to be close to them.
It overwhelms me to know that even after all I have done, the God of the universe wants to be close to me too. Instead of the Tabernacle, His spirit lives inside of His people today. He can’t get any closer than that. Jesus said in John 15:4 “Dwell in me, and I will dwell in you. 
I could have gone home after that. This was our first stop, on our first day, of our first trip to Israel, and after standing and staring at an empty field, I was filled to overflowing, knowing how much God loves His people, and being reminded again, of how much He loves me.

I hope you know how much God loves you today, too


  1. I could close my eyes and imagine being there! Thank you for sharing- wish I could with you next time!

  2. I wish you could come with us too Michele! I'm going to try and blog everyday that we are in Israel, to share our tour.