April 23 - Message Update

Dear San Lo Community, an update for the week of April 23, 2017…

Thank you Chris Wu, for the message from Exodus 25:1-9, “The Holiest Place on Earth.” Disneyland is a place full of fanciful imagery. It is built on stories about princes and princesses, knights and kingdoms, dragons and adventures fighting evil, love and finding your true family, living happily ever after in the place you were meant to be. Its stories resonate with that dream we all have: to be loved; to be accepted; to be lifted out of dire circumstances; to be rescued and find never-ending joy. The design of it all is pretty grand, yet I know it's all fake. But there is a reality and source to which they point and so the fantasy lives. The message God has for us here in Exodus has a lot of parallels with why people love Disney stories and experiences. God reveals at least three incredible images of reality, unclear to us at first, but actually representing the grandest of all stories, the ultimate reality. So, why are the tabernacle and its instructions in the Bible?

1) The tabernacle reveals God's preciousness. It shows this in two ways - how valuable He is, and how Holy He is. The place described here is the holiest place on earth. Entering the Tabernacle, you entered the first curtain into the court, then past the bronze and silver elements like the altar for sacrifice or the basin for washing, then to the entrance of the inner tent, the "Holy Place," where its entrance curtain is adorned with golden hooks and royal colors of purple and red and blue, embroidered in gold. Now among the golden elements to yet another curtain, to the Most Holy Place - where in front of you is the golden ark made of solid gold, their wings covering the place from which God will speak to Moses - His earthly throne, the mercy seat. Can you feel how precious and holy the room progressively got? Did you feel the weight and importance of the curtains? For a priest to enter through each of these stages, it would be hard to miss just how special, how exclusive, how important the space continued to get. You're coming to meet a supremely special person. You're coming to meet the King! There is deeper imagery here and a weight of glory that is grander than the best theme park could ever emulate. God is showing just how set apart He is from all others. To be holy means to be set apart/set aside, or in God's case, not only set apart, but set above. The Lord designed this place to showcase a small example of just how true this reality is. 

2) The tabernacle reveals God's provision (vv.25:8, 22)“And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.”(v.25:8) “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.” (v.25:22) A primary reason for the existence of the Tabernacle is the provision of God's presence among the people. Yahweh describes this place as a sanctuary - a place for Him to dwell in the midst of the people. This is a precious promise that God is fulfilling. What more real sign of the presence of God, who cannot truly be seen by man, could there be than an actual living place for Him in the midst, literally the middle, of His people? What better assurance of His promise that Israel was His "treasured possession among all peoples…a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5–6)? God has encamped among His people. He has made a home with them. He provided a way for His presence to remain divine but not distant. To be revered while also resident. To be set apart and yet set among. This is why sacrifice is a huge part of the Tabernacle's setup. God was pleased to dwell among His people. But to do so, He had to provide a way for His presence to be approached. The lampstand showcased God's continual provision of light to the people, a reflection of His identity as creator and source of light, even from creation. The bread wasn't an offering to God, as if He needed food, rather this, "bread of the Presence," was God's way of "breaking bread" with His people. The Lord was with them - He had indeed made a provision, a pathway to His presence.

3) The tabernacle reveals God's pattern of the perfect - the shadow of things to come (25:9, 40; 26:30; 27:8; Heb. 8:1-7).“Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.” (v.25:9) The layout and contents of the Tabernacle are unusual. It's what we aren't used to or familiar with and verse 9 is a big clue as to why anyone might feel this way. “Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern…" The Lord says it three more times in chapters 25-27. Tremendous effort and cost was put into constructing the Tabernacle. Hebrews 8:1-5 says this detail from Exodus is huge! This grand structure is merely a "copy and shadow of the heavenly things." But this doesn't demean their value or importance. We should be both impressed and confounded by the Tabernacle. It should be both mega and mysterious. Sacred and strange. Because it showcases an otherworldly reality. By following the pattern, we know that the Tabernacle itself is not the reality. It just points to it. It's a copy and shadow. But copies and shadows can be powerful things. Especially when they eventually give way to the reality they symbolize. The New Testament does its best to show us that new reality today. Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 explains this through the glorious brokenness of the Tabernacle and its covenant of sacrifices. Do you see how wonderfully inadequate it is? It at once delights us and devastates us. We are brought to our knees in awe when we later read of the Tabernacle's completion, "…the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34–35). His presence had come. And considering the preciousness of God in the Holy of Holies, we bow and exclaim, "If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3). And then finally we look upon the true reality of Jesus' death on the cross, and Matthew, Mark, and Luke all help us realize the Tabernacle pattern: “…Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split" (Matt. 27:50-51). "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:19–23  

What do you love in this world? What place, or experience, or thing brings you awe and joy in this life? Things can have echoes and cores of true reality, but if the Tabernacle, a perfect revelation from God, a place truly designed from the beginning to show God's preciousness and provision…if the Tabernacle was merely a shadow, made from the pattern shown to Moses, can you imagine the reality of eternity that is laid out before us in Christ Jesus? The next time you are impressed or overwhelmed with emotion over something in this life, consider the Tabernacle. How great and yet how small it was. How magnificent and yet how inferior. How splendid and yet how shabby. And may the Lord use one of the greatest shadows and copies of all time to remind us of the depth of His riches and wisdom and knowledge…


Calendar Items:

4/29     8am – 2pm         Love East Bay (last day for donations is 4/26) – Spring Serve Faith Fellowship (Pastor Eric)

4/29     9am – 1pm         Special Camp Aide Training (English sanctuary and kitchen use)

4/30      12:00pm            Congregation Meeting to select delegates to General Assembly at WCCC

4/30      12:15pm            Joint Fellowship Hour – (U.C., Fmt., Nwk., S.J., Mt.View setup and cleanup.)

4/30      12:45pm            NAOMI team meeting to prepare prayer letters (rm.8)

4/30      3pm-5pm           Memorial Service – Mrs. Munekawa (Nichigo Sanctuary)

5/2        1pm-5pm           55+ AARP Driver Safety Course session 1 – See Yumi Fujii

5/6          8:30am           Missions Prayer

5/7          9:00am           Deacons Meeting (rm.8)

5/7     both services       Missions Moment – NAOMI House Team

5/9        1pm-5pm           55+ AARP Driver Safety Course session 2 – See Yumi Fujii

5/14   both services       Missions Moment – Japan Mission (Chiba, Sodegaura VBS)

5/14      12:15pm            Mother’s Day Potluck (no Joint Fellowship hour on 5/28)

5/21   both services       Missions Moment – Mitsu & Karen Nakamura

6/3   10am – 12pm         Special Camp Team Building (English sanctuary)

6/4        12:30pm            Craft Day Planning meeting (rm.0)

6/4        12:45pm            NAOMI Team planning meeting (rm. 6-7 & 8-10)  

6/7          9:30pm           Women’s Bible Study Praise Brunch – last meeting before summer.

6/18        9:00am           Mission Team Meeting (rm.8)

6/18      10:45am           Missions Moment – Makoto & Amy

6/18      12:15pm            Father’s Day Potluck (no Joint Fellowship on 6/25)

6/24         (t.b.d.)            Fong’s ministry breakfast

6/25      10:45am            JEMS summer camp workers’ commissioning

6/25      12:30pm            Craft Day Planning meeting (rm.8)

Have a blessed week in the Lord,

Stan,  for SLZJCC