Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.
Teaching a class in our Bible College (MTI) that I have taught at least 20 times God began to bring alive a concept taught in the Book of Numbers. It has to do with what Stephen referred to as the “Congregation in the Desert” Acts 7:38. The course teaches a simple threefold pattern of the children of Israel or the “church in the wilderness.” CAMP, ASSEMBLE & MARCH
I began to realize the commonality of the word “tent” to all three of these aspects of life in the wilderness.
CAMP refers to the tent that each family lived in. Their home life and could also relate to small group life in the church.
ASSEMBLY refers to the “Tent of Meeting” or “Tabernacle”. This would be our worship service today.
MARCH refers to the action of taking their tents from one place to another. This is an individual responsibility. 2 Corinthians 5:1 speaks of an “earthly tent” which is our body.
There is much to be said about each one of these activities but let’s focus on four things that apply to all three. The Lord gave me four qualities of “Tent Life” that we must adhere to.
Also let us remember that Jesus exemplified these qualities as He “tabernacled” among us, John 1:14.
I think the symbology of the “Tent” can help us define not only the “church in the wilderness” but the “Church Today.”
2 Corinthians 1:12 & 11:3
Tents are without a doubt a simple structure.
In these verses Paul speaks of the “simplicity” that is in Christ and with which they conducted themselves in this world. God is not complicated and neither is serving God. God walking with Adam in the cool of the day was not complicated. Only one rule to follow was not complicated. Truth is, knowing only good and not experiencing the knowledge of evil made for a very simplistic lifestyle! We need to be careful that we do not create complicated systems & mechanisms in our churches or our daily lives. “Tent Life” should be simple.
Acts 15:16 & Hebrews 4:16
The Tent of David was easily approached.
The prophetic word from Amos that is repeated in Acts 15 is that God would restore the “Tabernacle of David” (a tent). The unique characteristic of this Tabernacle versus the Tabernacle of Moses was there were no barriers, no impediments to the believer coming directly before the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God. Again across the board we need to be “approachable,” creating an environment where the “presence of God” is in our midst and attainable, available for all to experience. In our small groups, opening up our homes, our worship services, our altars, our outreaches people should feel drawn into the presence of God. “Tent Life” should be accessible.
John 3:8 & Exodus 40:36
Tents are mobile.
We need to be flexible, not rigid with our structure. The advantage of new wine skins is that they are flexible, (Matthew 9:17). This relates not only to our worship service’s (the big tent) but to our small groups and our family life and to our outreaches. We have to be open to change. “Tent Life” is mobile, always open to change.
Isaiah 6:8 & Matthew 28:19-20
We must be willing to take our tent to where it is needed.
Accessibility or Approachability says the door is open, come on in! Availability says the door is open for me to go out!
Isaiah says “send me!” Peter, James and John would have just kept their “tents” permanently setup on the mount of transfiguration. Like Isaiah the purpose in us experiencing the glory of the Lord (many times in the big tent, assembly; other times in the small tent; and sometimes just in our earthly tent) is to take that glory to others. “Tent Life” is more about availability than mere ability.
In conclusion I believe that God wants a New Testament church to follow this model of “Tent Life” and that in everything we do we need to make sure that we keep things simple. We should create a culture where we are approachable. We should be always ready to change and always ready to go when the cloud lifts to follow the Lord wherever He would lead us.
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