"How lovely are your tents O Jacob, your dwellings O Israel. Like valleys that stretch out, and gardens beside the River. Like aloes planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. Water shall flow from his buckets and his seed shall be by many waters. And his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted." (Numbers 24: 5-7) So said Balaam son of Beor, after the King of Moab showed him Israel encamped on the plains below them.

What was it that Balaam saw that caused the Spirit of God to come upon him and speak such prophetically powerful words of blessing over Israel? Was it because he saw a nice orderly campground? Nice tents? Tribal banners? An orderly camp indeed! He saw the camp of Israel in all its God ordained order, with the tabernacle of God in the center, the presence of God hovering over the inner sanctuary, the Levites camping outside the tabernacle on the North, West and South sides and the priests camping at the entrance on the East side. And surrounding them, the 12 tribes with their tents arranged three tribes on each side. Yes, indeed, it was an orderly camp, but not just an orderly camp. A living organism, joined together according to the instructions of God.

God gave specific instructions to Moses in Exodus 25: 8,9: "And let them construct a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I'm going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it." This phrase, "according to the pattern," appears nine times in the Scriptures and always in reference to the sanctuary. It seems that the Lord was quite concerned about the precise details of His dwelling place. Exodus 40 describes the end result of following those detailed instructions, when after the tabernacle was assembled in the wilderness, "Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 40:33b-35)

I want to take you to another verse of Scripture, which I believe is a parallel passage to these last couple of verses of Exodus 40. "Then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7) This is a deceptively simple verse, short and to the point, but so much so, that it's easy to overlook the complexity of what was involved in creating man. We are indeed made of mud, oh, but such detail in the mud. Look at David's description in Psalm 139:13-15, "For you did form my inward parts, you did weave me in my mother's womb." (In Adam's case, his mother's womb was the earth itself.) "I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought into depths of the earth."

As complex and as detailed as was the description of the tabernacle and everything connected with it, how much more the intricacies of the human body? I had a friend who once complained God didn't give us enough detail in the first chapters of Genesis, a simple verse about God forming man from dust and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life was not enough for him, he wanted a detailed account. My advice to him? Read a good book on human physiology. Many volumes are not enough to cover all the miraculous details of a human being. This is what God sculpted out of the dust of the earth. So too, the tabernacle with all its intricacies is just as much the handiwork of God. Yet both the body and the tabernacle are just lifeless works of art, until they are animated by the Spirit of God.

What did Balaam see when he looked upon the camp of Israel? He saw something alive, a living entity filled with the Spirit of the living God. Acts 2:1-4 describes a similar process, "And when the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance."

It is no insignificant thing that we are the body of Messiah. We are a living sanctuary in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Not just individually, but collectively we are a living body, "having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Messiah Yeshua himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy sanctuary in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:20-22)

Revelation 21:9-11 describes this dwelling as Yeshua's bride: "'Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper." Here is a mystery that we cannot fully comprehend and yet it clearly reveals that the New Jerusalem is the bride of Messiah and that somehow we are part of the very fabric of that city. It is a living entity "whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10) and is constructed from living stones.

We are part of one another. "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it just as Messiah also does the congregation, because we are members of his body." (Ephesians 5:29,30) When we truly grasp the reality of this truth it must transform the way we see each other. Ultimately, serving God cannot be just an individual thing. Though each one of us must establish a relationship with God personally, the context is within a body, a family, a community of faith. Each one of us has a purpose and place, and no one is insignificant. Often, in the human body, something that is small and not prominently seen is overlooked. But if there is an injury or malfunction of that body part, the whole body becomes painfully aware of how important the hidden part has been in keeping the body on course.

May we earnestly endeavor to fulfill the words of Ephesians 4:15,16: "Speaking the truth in love, may (we) grow up in all things into him who is the head - Messiah - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

By Moshe Morrison

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Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Ron Cantor & Daniel Juster: The Messianic Jewish Witness to the Nations
Eitan Shishkoff: The Hearts of the Fathers to the Children
Avi Tekle: Gifts of Spring
Eddie Santoro: Four Years of Wonder
Asher Intrater: The Glory of God