This tent had s SPECIAL purpose. This is where Moses, and anyone else searching for the Lord, would go to meet with Him. This tent is NOT the Tabernacle that would be constructed later.
Moses received elaborate plans for constructing God’s house. God gave these to him personally but it wasn’t time to put those plans into action. Right after receiving the plans, Moses was confronted with the people’s great sin of turning away from God. The plans he was given had to be put on hold to deal with this enormous issue.
God put these plans on hold by sending the people back on the road. He was so disgusted with their behavior that He didn’t even want to be around them. He would still keep His promise of leading them but it would be a second hand leading; an angel would lead them on His behalf. But there was one man He wanted to meet with; Moses was that man.
So how do you meet with one person while avoiding the rest of the group? By having Moses separate himself for your time together. I have a feeling Moses had been erecting their special tent all along but now we get to see it and its significance.
We are not told if this tent had any structural or ornamental differences from the rest of the tents. What we do know is that the people recognized this tent as special. They KNEW what went on within its walls. The people watched Moses every day. They watched his comings and goings. They were especially attentive when he went out to the tent of meetings.
God was not walking in their midst but He was clearly meeting with Moses. God’s presence had led them out of Egypt in the form of a pillar of smoke/fire. They were being led by God’s angel now, so when they saw His pillar descend on the tent of meetings they were overjoyed. “We have not been abandoned!” “God still meets with Moses so as long as we follow him we ae safe.”
One other person got to be part of those meetings; Joshua the son of Nun. Oh to be Joshua and be brought in to sit in the presence of the Lord. He was there to serve whatever need Moses had while he was with God. I have a feeling those needs were few and far between so Joshua could simply soak in God’s presence. I wonder if Joshua heard the words God spoke to Moses. He never once doubted Moses’ retelling of God’s messages. He trusted God implicitly and Moses completely.
When Moses finished his meetings with the Lord he went back to the camp. He had to deal with the people now. But Joshua remained behind with the tent. Could he still feel the afterglow of God’s presence? Did he soak in the experience as he waited in the tent? Was he waiting for Moses to return or was he stationed there to protect the tent from any issues? Was he still inside at Moses’ request or God’s? Was this to protect him from the community’s attitudes and sins? This closeness set the tone for the rest of Joshua’s life.
Something about the attitude of the camp struck me too. We already stated that everyone watched Moses and his comings and goings. We know they recognized when God’s presence came to rest on the tent. But we also see their response to seeing God’s presence. Their response was to worship Him. This is exactly the response they should have had all along. They saw the signs and worshiped God for them. I wonder if they remembered to give Him thanks as they gathered their mana each morning. These were signs they NEVER could have received for the creation of their own hands. Their hearts had returned back to Him.
They weren’t 100% sold out, otherwise they would have sought His presence at the tent of meeting themselves. Were they afraid to approach because of their sin? The tent was set up for any who wanted to meet with God. Based on their previous reaction to His close presence, I think they were more than happy to let Moses relay messages back and forth. They recognized God’s presence and worshiped the fact that He was still with them but they wanted to keep their distance. Only Joshua was willing and wanting of this time with God and Moses.
Father God, I want to be a Joshua. I want to sit at the feet of the men and women You use. I want to learn from their examples and apply them to my life. I want to be a sponge where I can sit and soak up Your presence, even when left alone to contemplate what I have heard and observed. I want to be so CERTAIN of Your will and direction in my life that I don’t question it and lean one Your promises NO MATTER WHAT the circumstances look like. And, when YOU say I am ready, I want to step into the role YOU prepared for me.
The role of leading others to follow You. The role of passing on what I have received. The role of pointing out that being in Your presence and under one who is walking in Your will is the first step in walking in the purpose You planned for each life. Very few people “developed” a relationship with You “in a vacuum.” Most had someone teach them about You and offer an introduction to You. Joshua got the full introduction before being called to step out. He had victories along the way but he didn’t step into the leadership role until he had stayed the full course with You. THAT is who I want to be like. I know I still have a long way to go but it has been an AMAZING journey so far. I look forward to what You have in store for me next (I pray).