“…You must never eat any fat or blood. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live.”
NKJV says it: “in all of your dwellings.”
Amplified Version translates it: “wherever you may be.”
I realized as I read this, three chapters after the close of Exodus, that the Israelites were not yet home. They had escaped Egypt, but would not settle for decades to come. And yet, God did not wait until they were all moved in to set out guidance for how they should live.
Walking away from the polytheism of Egypt, they still had a lot to learn about the one, true God and how to interact with Him. God decided these were not lessons for later. Right there, in the sandy shadow of Mt. Sinai, He gave them rules for wherever they may be.
They were more than a century away from erecting the Temple, so God told them to make Him a holy tent and taught them how to worship Him while camping out in the desert. He did not standby until they had a routine down that He could “fit into.” He explained how Israel should approach Him, honor Him, and follow His laws for their lives while they camped, right where they were.
These were guidelines that would hold both in the land they would someday call their own and in the upheaval of travel while they picked their food from the ground and made do with homes of canvas. They did not have to learn a whole new set of policies and scrap the old rule book when they entered new territory.
The worship of the living God is not a rhythm only for stable lives and steady routines. It is an essential anchor for wherever I may be: a temple for the city and a tent for the wandering, but not something I leave behind until I have life figured out. It is something I pack up and take with me, for I will need it wherever I am; no matter how predictable or up-in-the-air things are that day.
You gave Israel tent pegs and anchor points that held regardless of the situation, because they were going to see a LOT of change in the coming years. Here was your reminder that in all the transition, you would always remain the same. Wherever they landed at night, whatever they were walking through, your rules didn’t change and neither did your invitation to come and worship and find you ever steady.
Meanwhile, I’m not sure I can handle the fact that the fence next door is changing. Talking to my neighbor, I had to consciously breathe slow and remind myself everything would be okay even though I liked the wood fence better.
It just doesn’t take a whole lot to throw me off, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier to face transitions. Big or small, no matter how many times I’ve gone through them before, they always throw me. It’s overwhelming to think of all the changes that still lie ahead for us: new homes, new jobs, new people, new culture, new language…new fences.
How important it is for me to hold on tight to the steady, daily rhythm of time before the unchanging One.
Lord, be ever steady for me. I so need something not to change. And remind me that I don’t have to wait until I get my bearings to know exactly where you are.
“…be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear…“