This year our family is seeking to read through the entire Bible together along with hundreds of others from our church who have taken the Cover-to-Cover challenge. I’ve read through the Bible many many times before, and each time I come to one of two hurdles. First are those monotonous descriptions of the building of the tabernacle and its furnishings. Second are those long genealogies consisting of names that I can’t pronounce. When I hit those sections, I either find myself reading the same line over and over again as I fade in and out of consciousness, I give up, or I force myself to endure and read on.
Recently our family read about the building of the tabernacle. We read God’s detailed instructions to Moses about what was to be built, how it was to be built, who was supposed to build it, the materials that were to be used, etc. Well, here, listen to some of it for yourself:
Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them. . . . All the curtains are to be the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. Join the five curtains together. . . . Fold the sixth curtain double. . . . Make fifty loops along the edge. . . . Then make fifty bronze clasps. . . . Make a covering of rams skin dyed red, and over that a covering of hides of sea cows (Exodus 26:7-15).
The questions began: Why is this in the Bible? Why do we have to read it? What does it have to do with our lives? Isn’t the Word of God supposed to inspire us and change our lives and our thinking? How does this detail help us? We were faced with a test. Were we going to give up on our journey, or were we going to stay the course?
We decided to stay the course. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” We decided to take God up on His promise and asked him what He might want us to understand as we read about these details of the building of the tabernacle. There are, I am sure, other reasons that these things are included in the Holy Scriptures, but let me share what we discussed.
It’s so obvious that we too often miss it. The very point of these repetitions is to underscore that God is a God of detail. He wanted everything to be just right, even down to the number of loops in the curtains and the color of the fabric.
The word for tabernacle or temple means an abode, a dwelling place or habitation. In the Old Testament it referred to the physical place that the people built for God to dwell in. In the New Testament, Paul reminds us no less than three times that we (Christians) are the temple of the Living God (I Cor. 3:16, 6:19; II Cor. 6:16).
Here are two encouraging thoughts concerning God’s attention to detail.
First, just as He called for the tabernacle to be created with detail, God created you (His Temple) with the greatest attention to detail! Ponder the words of David in Psalm 139:14-15, in which he says, “I praise you because I am fearfully (awesomely) and wonderfully made. . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” God made you exactly the way He wanted you to be! Further, God does not make mistakes! You were created by the God of the universe who is also the God of the smallest detail.
Second, just as the craftsmen had to pay close attention to the detail of their work to meet God’s blueprint, you must pay close attention to the details of your life. Paul told the Ephesians, “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (4:1). He said to Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (I Tim. 4:16).
You have been created by God and called to serve Him. He has given you a blueprint (His Word) which is the way you are to live your life. People are watching you—not to see if you are perfect, but to see if you are a person of integrity. Construction workers say a building has integrity if everything is level and lines up. Does your life line up with the Word of God? When you identify areas of your life that don’t line up, do you do whatever is necessary to get realigned?
Remember, we’re not just talking about the big, obvious things. God is interested in the smallest details of your life. I love what Solomon says, “Catch the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (Song of Songs 2:15). Pay close attention to those things that seem small; those things that are subtle. Things like impure thoughts, pride, false humility, what you watch, what you listen to.
The enemy would like nothing more than to get you to compromise in the seemingly small areas. Have you ever known someone who was once on fire for God and is now totally distant from Him. How did they get there? Most people do not make a huge jump over night, they distance themselves from God one small step at a time. Pay attention to the details of your life!
God’s Word is loaded with truth that is life-changing. Even those things that appear to have no relevance can turn into powerful revelations if we read the Word prayerfully and invite the Holy Spirit to guide us in our study.