04/03/F – The Lord’s Abiding Presence

Exodus 40:1-38; Mark 1:16-28; Psalms 35:19-28; Proverbs 12:12-14

OT: “The Lord spoke to Moses: “You are to set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month… Moses did everything just as the Lord had commanded him. The tabernacle was set up in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month. Moses set up the tabernacle: He laid its bases, positioned its supports, inserted its crossbars, and set up its pillars. Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent on top of it, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses took the testimony and placed it in the ark, and attached the poles to the ark. He set the mercy seat on top of the ark. He brought the ark into the tabernacle, put up the curtain for the screen, and screened off the ark of the testimony, just as the Lord had commanded him… The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey.” (‭‭Exodus‬ ‭40:1-2, 16-21, 34-38‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

After receiving detailed instructions on building the tabernacle from the Lord on Mt Sinai, and overseeing the construction of all the articles and garments of worship, it was now time to assemble the tabernacle. Notice how is says multiple times, “Moses did everything just as the Lord had commanded.” That is so important – especially in worship. Moses didn’t take creative license. He didn’t build his version of the tabernacle or his own design for the Ark of the Covenant. He didn’t arrange the furnishings in a way that please his preferences. He did everything according to the Lord’s instructions, in the way prescribed by the Lord through His word. Once everything was assembled according to the Lord’s instructions, God’s glory filled the tabernacle to where not even Moses (the man who spoke to God “face to face”) could go in. God was now abiding – tabernacling with, and leading His people. That was the point of the Exodus… that was why God set His people free – that they may worship Him – that He ma dwell among them, and through it all, allow the world to see and hear of God’s greatness and glory. And with that, Exodus ends.

NT: “They went into Capernaum, and right away he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. They were astonished at his teaching because he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not like the scribes. Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, “What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit threw him into convulsions, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him. They were all amazed, and so they began to ask each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:21-27‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

One of the characteristics that marked Jesus’ ministry was the authority with which He did and said anything and everything. We see that in this quick and summarized account from Mark – Jesus spoke with authority and He acted with authority. How did Jesus speak and act with such authority? The main reason was that He did nothing nor said anything that came from His own authority. As we see in the gospel of John, He only did and spoke what the Father was doing and saying. He did and spoke in the authority of the Father. He didn’t just tell stories from His experience, or do what all the other successful ministers of His day were doing, or give inspirational quotes from contemporary philosophers. He, like Moses, did and said everything just as His father commanded – and thus He had authority. The same should be true of us. We don’t need to titillate people by saying clever or controversial things. We don’t have to follow the latest trends. What we need to do is spend time with the Lord who has promised to dwell with us and in us, find out what He is doing and saying in these days, and do and say just that. Then we will have authority because we will be doing and saying in the Lord, by the Lord through the grace He gives as He abides in us through the Holy Spirit.

Psalms: “Do not let my deceitful enemies rejoice over me; do not let those who hate me without cause wink at me maliciously… You saw it, Lord; do not be silent. Lord, do not be far from me. Wake up and rise to my defense, to my cause, my God and my Lord! Vindicate me, Lord my God, in keeping with your righteousness, and do not let them rejoice over me. Do not let them say in their hearts, “Aha! Just what we wanted.” Do not let them say, “We have swallowed him up!” …Let those who want my vindication shout for joy and be glad; let them continually say, “The Lord be exalted. He takes pleasure in his servant’s well-being.” And my tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praise all day long.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭35:19, 22-25, 27-28‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

David knew that the key to deliverance from his enemies was his nearness to the Lord. That is why he pleaded with the Lord to not be far from him. When we abide in the Lord, His word and His grace abides in us, and we follow His leading in everything, our enemies will not be victorious over us. They will not get the last word, because the Lord will be our deliverance and our defense. Do faithful followers of the Lord have setbacks? Do faithful followers of the Lord get sick? Do faithful followers of the Lord get terminal illnesses? Do faithful followers of the Lord get persecuted and even martyred? Yes they do. But if, through all those things, they remain in the Lord and full of His word and grace, those enemies will not have the final word. As a person abides in the Lord and endures chemo treatments by grace and the faithful presence of the Lord – oh the victories that are won. If a person loses his job and instead of panicking, places his trust in the Lord and walks in faith and peace – oh the victories that are won. If someone is persecuted for her faith and ultimately martyred, if they endure the persecution with faith by embracing the presence of the Lord – oh the victories that are won. Think about it… Peter and Paul were both martyred for their faith by the Roman Empire. Who had the last word? The Roman Empire was silenced millennia ago and the Emperor Nero is considered a raging lunatic, while the words of Peter and Paul, and more importantly the Gospel of the Kingdom still live and impact lives today. Rest in the Lord and abide in His presence… follow His words, His will, and His ways – and oh the victories you will win.

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