You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may be regularly set up to burn. In the tent of meeting outside the veil that is the testimony. Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord.

Exodus 27: 20, 21

 

Here is the way it was, and the way that it is for many. God seems to be set up, established in a place, and we are required to perform in a manner that is acceptable and pleasing to Him in order to approach that holy residence. God demanded us to gather some of our best and most valuable possessions, in this case olive oil, and give them as tribute gifts to Him. We also had to stand a working vigil over the flame in order to keep its beacon light glowing. In all of this there was labor with its potential for exhaustion and failure, and there was separation of people based upon an unequal calling to service to God. This is the way that we wanted it to be, for we humans departed from the ready and continual presence of God and moved away to unfriendly wastelands of defiant sin.

 

All of the process, rules, and procedures that God commanded His people to perform in order to gather to worship Him had a purpose. They forced us to stop taking care of business as we would prefer and to turn our attention to gathering around the Lord and to listening to His word. The sacrificial tribute that we were to bring to God was intended to be painful to surrender. It came from the work that we did, and it was often the source of pride and the focus of our adoration. Giving it up to be consumed required faith that God would replace it and sacrificial turning away from our own wants and desires and toward God’s calling. Yet, in all of this God was doing nothing more than pointing us toward the future when He would first be present in and with anyone who would accept Him, and ultimately when He will reclaim and restore all that is fallen to its creation glory and Christ will reign supreme over all forever.

 

We now live in the reality that is the middle portion of this three part narrative. Jesus gave Himself. His blood was shed for our sakes. There is no need to surrender our costly and precious goods to earn a place of worthiness before God. Instead, Christ is the total, final, and perfect sacrifice that has already been presented upon the altar of life. The tent which was the holy place of gathering near to God’s presence has been replaced. We, our bodies, are that new dwelling place for the Holy Spirit of God. In Christ, we are sacred and holy. However, the call to sacrifice has not ended. Instead, God demands something far more costly and precious than olive oil or gold, for He requires that we give ourselves, all that we are, over to service to Him. In this new calling, Christ, Himself, becomes the glory that shines through those dark nights, and we are all equally servants of His gospel.