“If you build it, they will come.” Since the release of the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” that phrase has been quoted millions of times. It was true in that fantasy drama and in many cases it is true today; however, it is not always true. There have been restaurants that built it, but they only came once! There have been products and inventions released on the market, but failed because (enough of) they did not come. It is good to dream and build, but that alone does not guarantee they will come.
Moses wanted to be near God all the time. The Lord had called Moses and the Israelites to come near to Him, but the people rejected the presence of the Lord at close proximity. Refusing to be denied, Moses built a tabernacle in the wilderness by erecting his own tent outside of the camp where the people were living. This ensured him God’s presence would always be with him.
Very few people have had a relationship with the Lord like Moses. Abraham and Jacob had visitations from the Lord (pre-incarnate Christ). Enoch was so close to the Lord he was translated to heaven. Genesis 6:24 records, “And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him]”. Moses was the only one the Bible describes as speaking to the Lord (Yehweh, Amplified Bible) face to face as a man would speak with his friend. Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory and the Lord hid him in the cleft of a rock as He passed by showing Moses His goodness. (See Exodus 33:18-23) The Lord was especially close to Moses because Moses understood how to build a place of habitation for the Lord. He called it the tent of meeting.
Exodus 15:2 “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation; he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him”. (King James Version) (Emphasis Mine)
Exodus 33:7-9 & 11a “Now Moses used to take [his own] tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting [of God with His own people]. And everyone who sought the Lord went out to [that temporary] tent of meeting which was outside the camp. Vs. 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the Lord would talk with Moses. Vs. 11 “And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”.
I have often wondered why some people have such an incredible presence of God in their lives like Moses and Brother Lawrence in the 1600’s. (“The Practice of the Presence of God”) I now believe it is because visitation from God every now and then was not their desire. They wanted their relationship with God to be one of habitation. Their desire for more of God motivated them to prepare a dwelling place for Him where they lived. Desiring that kind of relationship with the Lord, I have been searching to know what these men knew about God that would ensure their ability to draw His presence among them on a continual basis.
In the above Exodus 15:2 passage I discovered out of 6 translations, the King James is the only one that used the phrase “I will prepare Him an habitation.” The other translations were similar to the Amplified Version below.
Exodus 15:2 “The Lord is my Strength and my Song, and He has become my Salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him”. (Amplified Version) (Emphasis Mine)
The word praise, in Exodus 15:2, is equivalent to the word habitation, according to the Strong’s Concordance. It is the Hebrew word “nawa”, meaning “to be at rest, reach one’s aim; to praise:- keepeth at home, prepare a habitation”.
Psalm 22:3 declares, “But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered]”. (Amplified Version)
The New Jerusalem Bible translates the verse: “Yet you, the Holy One, who make your home in the praises of Israel”. In other words, God inhabits the praises of His People!
The word “inhabitest” (KJV) used in Psalm 22:3 is the Hebrew word “yasab”. In the Strong’s Concordance, “yasab” means: “to live, inhabit, dwell, stay, to set up; to cause to settle, make dwell, to cause to sit; by extension: to marry”. When we praise the Lord, He comes to sit down and make His dwelling place with us, betrothing (pledging to marry) us as His own (the bride of Christ).
There is a glaring contrast between Moses’ relationship with the Lord and that of many of the Israelites. Their story begins in the book of Exodus. From the time they were freed by God’s mighty power over the gods of Egypt, through their 40 year trek in the wilderness, thousands of Israelites died. A rebellion arose against God by those walking in unbelief. Rather than praising the Lord for His mighty miracles on their behalf, they chose to grumble and complain with insolence toward God and Moses.
Every time they had a need, they could have remembered what He had already done for them and praised Him, believing He could and would do it again. Instead, they chose to forget His miraculous intervention for them in the past. By grumbling and complaining to God instead of humbly asking Him for help, they proved they had no faith for Him to intervene in their present circumstances. If we do not remember what the Lord has already done for us, we will not have the faith to believe He will deliver us again!
The wilderness of testing and trials exposed and segregated the lovers of God from the idolaters. Of the ten spies Moses sent out to scout the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb had the faith to believe God would give them victory over the giants. It was Joshua who sat at the door of Moses’ tent of meeting because he, too, was hungry for the abiding presence of God. The Bible describes Joshua and Caleb as having “a different spirit”. (See Exodus 33:11b)
In Exodus Chapter 15 Moses led the Israelites in a song of praise to the Lord God. He praised the Lord for all the miracles He had done in Egypt, and His triumph over Pharaoh and his chariots. He praised the Lord for parting the waters and giving the Israelites dry land to walk on as they crossed through the Red Sea. He praised God for giving them manna (a nourishing bread) to eat and water to drink. Unfortunately, not long after, many of the Israelites began complaining again, wishing they could go back to Egypt. (See Chapter 16) By forgetting what the Lord had done for them, they also forgot the pain and degradation of their slavery in Egypt, from which He had delivered them. Their slavery in Egypt began to look better to them that their freedom in the wilderness where God was with them. By not remembering what God had done for them, they began to fall into deception and idolatry.
Psalm 10:21 says, “He is your praise; He is your God, Who has done for you these great and terrible things which your eyes have seen.” The word praise in this verse is the Hebrew word “hilla” which means “praise is proclaiming the excellence of a person or object”. (Strong’s Concordance)
The Lord commanded Moses to build the Ark of the Testimony (Covenant). Enclosed in the ark were the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, an opher of manna gathered in the wilderness, and Aaron’s rod. These objects reminded the Israelites of the miracles God performed on their behalf. The Ark of Testimony symbolized the Lord’s continual presence with them. It was a visible sign reminding them that God was with them. His daily presence was demonstrated by the cloud leading them by day and the pillar of fire which illuminated them at night.
We, who are believers in Jesus Christ, have been given a much greater Testimony: Jesus Christ in us, is the Hope of Glory! We have the Bible available to us daily for meditating and studying His mighty acts, His un-dying love, and His faithfulness through all eternity. Could it be that we still feel insecure because we have not fully made Him our praise? Have we neglected the Gift the Lord gave us by the distractions of life around us? Is our faith sure, or do we waver when pressured by other’s opinions? If so, maybe we lack His abiding presence. Living without His presence can cause us to remain fearful and doubting.
God is omnipresent. He is capable of being everywhere in the world at the same time, but too few recognize His presence. The ones who recognize His presence have made His praise their habit. If you are looking for the Lord, He inhabits the praises of His people. Where He dwells, there is peace and rest waiting for us. “And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14) We do not have to wait for heaven, we can enter in now.
Those who want the Lord to come and sit down with them, can begin by building Him a house of praise. If we build it, He will come!