A home in God’s tent
“You know, I had never been to the middle east before this trip, but now I feel like I’ve gone home.”
How often I have heard these sorts of comments from travelers on our BibleSettings trips. It never surprises me. For many years, I have made myself at home in the “Holy Land,” in the places and peoples that God has inhabited throughout history.
Homes. They give us a sense of belonging, of support, of connection to one another than cannot be experienced in any other way. For the earliest people of the Bible, home was a tent. Wide, portable, flexible and strong. Its back set up to the cold west winds, its front open to the rising sun and to visitors who might happen by. It is astonishing how much these tents influenced the lives and perspectives of the biblical peoples. For instance, when the writers of the Bible speak about the creation of the world, they often put it like this: “God spread out the heavens like a tent” (cf. Isaiah 44:24). I think I got that some years ago. I was in the desert of Sinai with the desert people, and I lay in their tent at midday looking at the strips of goat hair above me. I saw the blackness of the hair with streams of sunlight peeking through the weave. It looked exactly like the night sky. And I think for the Bible writers, when they looked at the sky at night with its array of stars, they saw a tent that was made to protect them by a loving God who wanted to share life with them.
The temple in ancient Israel was meant to be a stylized or idealized version of God’s creation. So it is not surprising that one of the earliest terms for the temple in the Bible was “the tent.” In a practical way, this “tent.” or God’s House, signfied protection for all who went there. Grasping the horns of its altar would install a safety zone against enemy assault.
It seems to me that every time the ancients would look up at the night sky or enter a place of worship, they were made aware that their “tent” in this world stood under the cover of God’s tent. This reality still reaches across the ages to us when on our trips we spend time with God in his home. We sense again that we are members of His family and we don’t build our “tents” alone. He offers us today His love and perfect protection against the winds of this world, granting His sure and abiding Presence. May this be ever more real for you and your home today and always.