And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
All possible methods were employed to attach the Israelites to the Law. Solemnity of its promulgation, judgment executed on transgressors, enticing promises and terrifying threats. Chief among inducements to obedience was the promise of the text.
I. SETTING UP A TABERNACLE IMPLIES.
1. Settled residences in the midst of the people. This was more than an occasional appearance on the mountain-top or in the wilderness. A tent is, at least for a season, a fixed abode. The Almighty would never be far distant from his lieges as he had seemed to be in preceding years.
2. Friendly, familiar intercourse with the people. He condescended to their manner of life, inhabiting a home as they did, passing as it were from one to the other. This is expressed in verse 12, "I will walk among you." Naught of pollution was suffered for the reason given in Deuteronomy 23:14, "The Lord thy God walketh in the midst of the camp." A special revelation of God is intimated, that he would be known, not as omnipresent in space, but as peculiarly present, interchanging visits with his people.
3. The assurance of Divine blessing. Guidance, assistance, forgiveness, - all are herein included. God would be always near to be entreated. At the tabernacle sacrifices could be offered to purge away defilement. "The heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore" (Ezekiel 37:28), God's presence is superior to any of his works; if we have him, we have all good things guaranteed.
II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD MAY WELL WONDER THAT HE SHOULD DELIGHT IN THEM AND NOT VIEW THEM WITH ABHORRENCE. To abide with man would be impossible if disgust were continually uppermost in the mind of God.
1. Consider man's sinfulness. How repugnant to the pure and holy One of Israel is every thought of iniquity, much less its overt commission! How often must he be shocked at the sights and sounds that gratify sinful creatures? Peter, awakened to a sense of his unworthiness, cried out, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
2. Consider man's imperfections, his ignorance and frailty, his dullness of perception, his insensibility to refined and elevated tastes and emotions. If one nurtured in good society revolts at the idea of close communion with those inferior in the social scale, whoso manner of life and habits of thinking are so different, how great must be the disparity between heaven and earth! what a descent must God feel it to be to consort with creatures of such petty selfish alms and. uncultured ways! Only real pitying love, a desire to benefit and raise these miserable objects, a vision of what it was possible for them to become by such fellowship with the Most High, could have invested men with sufficient interest in the eyes of God to permit him to dwell amongst them. If the people strive to fulfill the behests of the Law, much of their degradation will vanish, and be succeeded by integrity and righteousness, which shall gradually beautify their character and customs. "My soul shall not abhor you," if you honour my precepts by strict fidelity.
III. THE PROMISE VERIFIED.
1. In the local habitation of God at Shiloh and Jerusalem. There God placed his Name and exhibited his power and favour.
2. In his personal manifestation in Christ Jesus. "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." "The Word... dwelt among us." Then was answered the question, "Will God in very deed dwell with man upon the earth?" Christ sojourned like ourselves in a house of clay, mingling with men and women in their daily tasks, sat at the same table with publicans and sinners.
3. In the presence of God spiritually in the heart of the individual believer, in the Church of Christ as a whole, making it the temple of God, and in the various assemblies, small or great, of the saints. "Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them." The grandest fulfillment will be when the Lord God Almighty shall himself constitute the temple in which they shall offer their worship and service. "He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among (spread his tabernacle over) them." No more hungering nor thirsting, no death, sorrow, nor crying, when God shall thus absolutely completely draw near to his people. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.