God in detail
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Description: God doesn’t change. The Old Testament contains lots of detail. If God bothered with detail back then, what does it mean for our lives today?
Many parts of the OT are full-on action and drama, but just possibly, some bits are a little less exhilarating.
Book of Exodus
Let’s take Exodus for example. About one fifth of the book is devoted to topics like: God’s detailed requirements for his dwelling place (while the Israelites were in the desert), what the priests should wear, and the ‘A to Z’ of complex ritual.
Obviously, at the time, this was top-notch stuff. The Israelites had just been rescued from over 400 years of slavery in Egypt and shepherded out with the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey. Thing is, how can any of it be remotely inspiring now? Let’s look deeper.
Why the detail?
Sticking with Exodus, it says a lot about God’s ideas of design: structures, furnishings and more. Yet it also begs a question. Why on earth should the creator of the entire universe care a jot about how big the curtains had to be, what type of construction materials had to be used, and what coloured threads had to be sewn into the ephod? Okay, I get it. God wanted to make it special, but is that all there was to it?
The point to note is that, back then, God was interested in the detail. He’d thought about it and wanted his people to turn his instructions into reality - all of them. Thing is: God doesn’t change. If he cared about details then, he cares about them now, and he cares that his people follow his instructions.
God in detail today
This means that he cares about the details of our individual lives today – every detail, every one of us, every day. He cares about our big metaphorical tents and our small metaphorical threads. He’s just as concerned about our tiny worries as he is about the big stuff – and that’s very good to know.
So what about turning his instructions into reality? Personally, I’m not up for building a tabernacle – or even a more modest two berth tent – but it’s difficult to claim zero knowledge of what God wants. To avoid any doubt, Jesus spelt it out. He did more, he lived only to follow his Father’s instructions.
But God didn’t tell Jesus what to wear – as he made a point of telling the Jewish priests in ancient times. He made those priests instantly recognisable by their clothing. Jesus used his personal example - his character (not least his love, compassion and forgiveness) and his powerful words - as ‘clothes’ to make him recognisable.
What about us?
So what should we wear to make us recognisable as his followers? Colossians 3.12&14 gives us a pretty good clue, ‘as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ ‘And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ 1 Timothy 6:11 adds, ‘pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.’ I guess the key point is that God really cares how we clothe and conduct ourselves. He cares about every detail and challenges us to do the same.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.