When Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law. In this way the Lord spoke to him.
~ Numbers 7: 89
One of the most significant points about this verse is that the Lord is now speaking to Moses from a specific location within the tabernacle. He is now dwelling among the people- the very thing that they have been preparing for. The two cherubim on top of the ark made a seat for God. LOTS of other translations translate the ‘atonement cover’ as ‘mercy seat’. This cover becomes God’s throne. Which, if I slow down enough to actually start to process, is a big deal.
But what I want to take a minute to camp on is not the awe creating realization that God was literally sitting on a throne in the tabernacle, but what throne God chose to sit on. Remember that God instructed the Israelites very specifically about what He wanted the tabernacle to be like. He chose this to be His throne. And it’s not a throne- it’s a lid on a box.
There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites. ~ Exodus 25:22
There is both a relational and an instructional element to God’s communication. Which I think is an important thing to point out. As the larger Church, we tend to focus on one side more than the other. When we focus on the instruction side we can become legalistic and religious. When we focus on the relationship side we can become emotionally driven and unproductive. But God cares about them both. He wants to meet with us. He wants to know us, and for us to know Him. It’s a real, true relationship. But He also has stuff for us to do, and a way He wants us to live our lives. Following God is meant to accomplish His goals and purposes.
But what is the foundation to all of this? Well, God literally chose to make His throne on the foundation of the covenant of the law. The foundation of our relationship with Him, and our instruction from Him is the promise that He made that we’ve been reading about. ‘If you do these things, then I will do this.’ We’ve seen this many times in both Exodus and Leviticus. He promises the Israelites amazing things in return for them obeying His commands. Now there are lots of commands in these (and other) books, but they’ve been summed up the best by this:
Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40
These two things are the foundation for God’s throne: Wholly loving God and wholly loving people. These two conditions are necessary for His purposes to work. And He didn’t just tell us (through Jesus) that they are central to this, God literally built His throne on them! Let’s briefly break this down with some analogies I came up with. I’m a visual person, so it helps me- hope it helps you too!
Purpose 1: Meet with you
Meeting with God without wholly loving God: Having lunch with an ex. Full of lots of awkwardness, confusion, guilt, insecurity, fear…. the list goes on. If you don’t wholly love God, you can’t fully trust God. You live life afraid of what He will ask you to do, and confused- even maybe bitter- when He does something you don’t understand.
Meeting with God without wholly loving people: Trying to communicate with someone in a totally foreign language. You will never fully understand what they are saying. You are doomed to miss the point.
Purpose 2: Instructions
Getting Instructions from God without wholly loving God: Trying to climb a rocky mountain barefoot. Your journey to the top will be extremely painful. It will be almost impossible to not focus on the difficult journey instead of the intended destination.
Getting Instructions from God without wholly loving people: A road map without a compass. You know the destination, but have no idea how to get there. You get it right some of the time, only to miss it again.
Meeting with God, getting instructions while wholly loving Him and people: it’s like….
I don’t know if I fully know how to finish that. Any ideas?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Numbers 8, 9, 10