Tent of Meeting
Listen to this daily worship
Exodus 33: 7-11 (NRSVA)
7 Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8 Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tents. 11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.
‘Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp.’ (Verse 7.)
I was encouraged that early in the story of God’s people there is this model of anyone being invited to go to this Tent of Meeting to ask questions, recognise a dependent relationship, be humble enough to seek guidance.
Since then, many different layers have been put in between the ordinary person and God through our social structures — priests, bishops, archbishops and equivalent — enacting rituals and ceremonies.
To me, this simple sentence reminds me that Jesus came to walk the earth and have meaningful one-to-one conversations with those that he met, you see this through the gospel narratives right up to his words to the thief on the cross: ‘today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43).
Jesus has made himself the Tent of Meeting and promises his followers that they will receive the Holy Spirit to teach them the ways of God from within.
Tent-living nomads, bustling with life.
Family groupings, nightly gathered around Manna and Quail.
People standing at their doors when Moses goes
To the tent set apart from the camp.
Nothing special about the Tent,
Only about what happens there –
Open to all to seek the will of God,
To take their questions –
if they trust,
if they dare,
if they see clearly that
it is the only way to get the answer they need
and it might not be what they thought,
or what they want.
As the cloud of God falls and Mystery meets Moses –
As he talks and argues on their behalf
with their covenanted God.
Who set them free from slavery,
Who set them on this journey.
Who is uncontainable, powerful beyond imagining,
Yet invites them to meet Him one to one.
Outside the city,
In the unexpected place,
Jesus you draw us.
Your life tented in humanity,
holding the fullness of God,
Is opened up and given
to blaze a pathway
to the forever Tent of Meeting
where God calls us to live
in daily conversation with him.