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“Make me a sanctuary”

September 18, 2023

Daily Scripture

Exodus 25:8-9, 36:1-7

Exodus 25
8 They should make me a sanctuary so I can be present among them. 9 You should follow the blueprints that I will show you for the dwelling and for all its equipment.

Exodus 36
1 “Let Bezalel, Oholiab, and every other skilled worker whom the LORD has given skill, ability, and knowledge for the work of building the sanctuary do all that the LORD has commanded.”
2 Moses then called together Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skilled person whom the LORD had given skill and who was eager to come and do the work. 3 Moses gave them all the gift offerings that the Israelites had contributed to the work on the sanctuary. They kept bringing him spontaneous gifts, morning after morning.
4 Finally, all the skilled workers building the sanctuary left their work that they were doing one by one to come 5 and say to Moses, “The people are contributing way too much material for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.”
6 So Moses issued a command that was proclaimed throughout the camp: “Every man and woman should stop making gift offerings for the sanctuary project.” So the people stopped bringing anything more 7 because what they had already brought was more than enough to do all the work.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

It may be hard to visualize the desert sanctuary from the Biblical text. Click here to view a web page with extensive photos of a full-size sanctuary model built in the desert in Israel.

God directed the building of the desert sanctuary after leading the Israelites out of Egypt and giving them the Ten Commandments. God freed them from slavery, so the thankful Israelites gave all they could to help build God’s “dwelling place.” Leaving an Egypt that worshiped frogs, cows, a river and the sun (among other “gods”), the Israelites had a lot to learn about the LORD who had freed them. It began as God told Moses, “Build me a sanctuary”—a visible symbol that God was in their midst.

  • The desert was not the land God had promised Israel ever since Abraham’s time (cf. Genesis 12:1-3). They wouldn’t settle there. So, the sanctuary was, basically, a tent—elaborate and beautiful, but still a tent Israel carried from place to place. It must not have seemed like much compared to the huge temples in Egypt. What was central to the sanctuary’s importance—its physical form, or the God whose presence it evoked?
  • The Israelites focused on building that elaborate tent to serve as God’s dwelling place. Are there spaces or symbols in your life that you’ve chosen (or perhaps just come to think of) as a “dwelling place” for God? If not, consider how you might choose one or more such spaces. How can you best nurture the spiritual significance of these “sanctuaries”?

O Lord, you want to connect with us, a God who wants us to know you. Help me learn lessons from Israel’s desert sanctuary about how you are with me every day, every moment. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Katy Nall

Katy Nall

Katy Nall is the Program Director of Missions for Resurrection West. She is a mom of two and loves to be outside in the sunshine, especially if it involves mountains or ocean. She loves hiking, reading, learning, and connecting.

1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” What does it mean to be God’s Temple, God’s sanctuary? As we follow Jesus, we bring God’s sanctuary with us to everyone around us just like the Israelites brought tents into the desert. Our families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors should feel God’s safety and love pouring out through us as we connect with each other. 

I think of others who have been a sanctuary for me when times were hard. I think about my husband, friends, and mentors that have been a symbol of God’s love for me. It may sound a little cliché in this context, but Resurrection is a sanctuary for me. My husband and I did a lot of “church shopping” before landing here. We found that time and time again, a church that felt great upon the first few visits would start to feel unsafe as their values began to unfold. Resurrection welcomes everyone, and more importantly, is open to the idea of rethinking and challenging how we have “always done things” instead of being afraid of change—striving to be a place of safety for all. When I was hired at Resurrection, my first supervisor, Michelle Kirby, was a sanctuary to me. I had come from what felt like a cutthroat corporate environment where I had been wounded. Michelle provided not only a safe space to land, she taught me what excellent people management is supposed to look and feel like.

I also think about the times when I have gotten to provide a sanctuary for others. There have been times in my life, especially since becoming a director in missions, where people have shared with me ways that they have grown closer to God or to others because of a project God placed in my heart to share with the world. Sometimes it feels very vulnerable to share those dreams and put myself out there, but when I see people loving on their community and connecting with each other and God, it is all worth it. For someone suffering from food insecurity, especially when it is a sudden need, it is our honor to serve them at the food pantry or through the food mobile. It’s an honor to have a sanctuary like The Giving Garden, where you can come both personally experience God through creation and service, but you can also give that sanctuary to someone else through a tangible sign of love like fresh produce. Whether it is creating the space for people to serve or going out to intentionally connect with others, it is humbling to think that I can be the sanctuary that others need. 

I pray that God would use me as His sanctuary. I pray that I can be a safe place for the people around me. God wants to use us to be his symbol of love in the world, and the only way to do that is to go out and carry that sanctuary with us to everyone that we can! As you go about your day, pray with me the words of this classic hymn:

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living
Sanctuary for You.
Lord, teach your children to stop the fighting
Start uniting, all as one,
Let’s get together, loving forever
Sanctuary for You.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.