I would like to invite you to join me on a spiritual journey through the tabernacle of Moses. This is a spiritual discipline that I have been using in my own life for many years. I have always received spiritual insight and encouragement from this discipline, but with my new experience of sanctification in revival, the Tabernacle Journey has become an experience of the riches of the feast that the father has prepared for us in His house.
We all desire to become like Jesus. However most of find that we settle for less. We plateau far below that which scripture would encourage us to believe is available for us in Christ. I believe that the Tabernacle was designed by our father to a place of insight, transformation, renewal and recreation.
Although we all SAY we want change, we really don’t. None of us truly want to change. In fact no system is amenable to change, whether it be a person, a business, a church or a society. Many years ago I was profoundly impacted by the work of Gregory Bateson, a brilliant thinker who pioneered many of the discoveries of the 20th century. One of the things he wrote about was the relationship between feedback and change. He postulated that for change to occur in a system, that information about the system itself, must be inserted back into the system. He stressed that this information must be significant information, what he called information that makes a difference. However, all systems not wanting to change, have mechanisms, firewalls as it were, to prevent such information from getting back into the system. For example an alcoholic must maintain a strong denial that he or she is an alcoholic, in order for them to resist recovery and continue drinking. Therefore the great challenge is to convince an alcoholic that they really are alcoholic, even though the outward evidence may be massively overwhelming. Bateson would go on to argue that to get that, information that makes a difference, into a system, that a mode of delivery, must be found that the system is unable to deny, refute or minimize.
Basing their approach on Bateson’s theory a therapy group in Milan Italy, came up with just such a mode of delivery. Working with troubled families, the Milan School of Systemic Family therapy developed the concept of paradoxical intervention, sometimes called prescribing the symptom. This elegant version of reverse psychology worked very effectively. This therapy focused on two things. First they wanted to isolate the critical information, the information that made a difference, that was keeping the family sick. Once they had distilled that information they would insert it back into the system, upside down as it were, and before the family could recognize the information, it was already in and changing the system. Once the family knew the truth they were incapable of unknowing it. As I studied this I began to wonder, does God speak to us in communication modes that we are unable to refute, deny or minimize, and I was led to the “communication mode of mystery.” God speaks often in mystery, and the Tabernacle is a space rich in mystery.
One of the many streams of influence in my life is construction. I have worked building barns and houses for many years and had become fascinated with the engineering and the design of buildings. Many years ago I read a book on house design. What captured my attention was the concept that a well designed house functions as a journey out of the stress and struggle of the world into the peace, safety and comfort of the home. As a journey it would feature stations at which a person could divest himself of the dress and the stress of the street , and stations further along where he could invest himself with the dress and caress of the home. As I read this I wondered, has God build such a house? In the book was a quote from Winston Churchill: ” we build our houses, and then our houses build us.” Did God design a house with the purpose of building us? I thought of the Tabernacle built exactly according to the design God had showed Moses on the mountain.
As I was putting these ideas together I was struggling with some serious personal problems, among which was undiagnosed bi-polar disorder. So even though I had these very elegant ideas swirling in my mind, my life was characterized by disorder, confusion and sin. Though well aware that I was not Christ-like, I had no idea of how to attain the stability and sweet nature that I so desired. About 2008 when my marriage was unraveling I wrote a three act musical call Holy, in which a very profane man was taken through the Tabernacle in a dream, during the course of which he became holy. The spiritual principle that i was working with was that for Patrick, the protagonist, to be able to proceed from station to station within the Tabernacle he had to finish the tasks required by each station. I wrote this play as a personal workshop for myself, hoping that if my character Patrick could change and become holy then maybe I could as well. Unfortunately it didn’t work and my marriage to an unbelievably wonderful woman dissolved. I did not do was complete MY tasks at the cross, although I did not understand that at the time. In 2011 I was finally diagnosed with bi-polar which at least made sense of my extremely manic episodes and my painfully suicidal depressions and also of my significant creativity. The diagnosis was, however, far from comforting. Popular medical theory is that bi-polar is a condition of the brain, consisting of chemical imbalances, which result in random experiences of mania and random depressions which will become increasingly deep, dark, and unimaginably painful until the person ends these, whips and scorns of time, through suicide. Joy oh joy ! The solution, paid for by our medical plan, is to administer life and creativity diminishing drugs, which I took up until the end of 2012, by which time I was done with psychiatrists and their experimental approach and experimental drugs. I had heard the phrase, ” here Jack try this,” one too many times. I was sure I could do better. I hit the books pulling everything on the subject from the UFV library, and found among other things that cognitive behavioural therapy is, according to the research, equally effective as chemical therapy. The writer of the book I read this in, made the cogent argument that just because chemicals can fix a problem is no evidence that chemicals caused the problem. Bam. This was good news indeed, for if cognitive behavioural therapy works at all, then bi-polar is not an affliction of the brain but of the mind. I began to devise and apply to myself various therapies based on this notion. I was my own guinea pig. A few of my theories are too embarrassing to publish here. My attitude then was, who knows under which stone hides the worm I am looking for. Turn them all over. I ended my quest by looking at bi-polar as if it were an addiction, and the lens snapped into focus. All the anecdotal evidence surrounding bi-polar finally made complete sense. What I came to conclude was that as a very creative person, I had learned, probably quite early in life, that I had the capacity to manufacture endorphins mentally and had become addicted to the habit. And like all addicts I displayed the global symptoms of addiction. I was in denial. I protected my stuff through secrecy. I suffered from severe anxiety, and I was becoming increasingly selfish. I could no more be consistently Christ-like than could an alcoholic or a cocaine addict. Understanding addictions treatment, I created a program for myself, and achieved recovery from bi-polar in March 2013. Since then I have not indulged in bi-polar thinking and I have not experienced mania, depression or anxiety to any degree. I was still not Christ-like but now I had a stable foundation on which to build. Shortly after this I bought a small wood manufacturing business, and though it was far from a success, I was a success, for though much struggle I able to value and learn the lessons of perseverance.
During this time, the Tabernacle Journey had been laid aside. I was busy with the business and also quite backslidden. Though I still went to church and my men’s group I was callously choosing to engage in deliberate sin. In the fall of 2015 I had to close the shop down. Business had slowed and I couldn’t pay the rent. Beside which, I was broke, though still not anxious. God was gracious as always and provided a place for me and a borrowed motor home on the property of dear Christians, in the wilderness, not far from Mission BC. where I live. My hectic, stress filled life came to a standstill. The roar of the trains, passing my shop. was replaced by the crow of the rooster in the hen house. Having much time on my hands, and no assets besides a car, a phone and a computer I decided this would be a good time to teach my adult children, who had lived through my emberrassing manias and depressions, about revival, of which they knew almost nothing. I had experienced the afterglow of revival in the 1070’s when I became a Christian and I had studied the great revivals in Bible College, and so I began to write to my children of the importance and power of revival. What I wrote to them was all from memory and I soon felt a need to return to the fount of wisdom concerning revival, Lectures on Revival by Charles Finney. A friend loaned me, Finney Lives On, a condensed version of the lectures.I read this very carefully because of my intent to convince my profoundly skeptical and somewhat wounded children. I decided to do what Charles Finney urged everyone to do. I took his exhaustive list of sins, and confessed every sin that applied to me. I repented of each sin as thoroughly as Finney explained I should and I made the amends that Finney forcefully argued is the evidence of genuine repentence. As a result of obeying Finney, I experienced the Sanctification that all who obeyed Finney experienced. I came to know a new intimacy with Jesus, and obtained a complete and perfect victory over besetting sin. I had finally, after 42 years of being a Christian, finished the tasks of the cross and was able to proceed to the bronze laver and experience the washing and purification from sin. Praise be to God.
Fast forward three months to the Vancouver Mission’s Fest and a course offered there by Dr Joanne Pepper. I attended her lecture because Joanne is an old friend from Bible College days and because I have a personal interest in her subject , intercultural missions. She related, how the gospel relates differently to different cultures and the felt needs of those cultures. As she was speaking i was reminded of how effectively and powerfully the Tabernacle meets the needs of every culture. Her lecture brought me back, quite forcefully, to my old discipline, The Tabernacle Journey. Revisiting it in the light of my new found liberty in Christ , I now see where my original understanding was flawed and why I couldn’t obtain the holiness then, that I experience now.
Now as I experience the Tabernacle Journey, in my imagination and spirit, I find it redolent in the mystery’s of Jesus and His body, and a fountain of the depths and unsearchable riches of Christ. In the Tabernacle I experience that, ” information that makes a difference”, mirrored back into my life , changing me from glory to glory as He has promised. . The Tabernacle Journey is a journey through the old and new testament where the scriptures or typified, fulfilled, and illuminated. Scripture interprets the Tabernacle and the Tabernacle makes sense of scripture. It all comes together in God’s house, and every station, every room, every tapestry and article in the Tabernacle is there for a very significant reason. Everything is part of God’s immaculate design and can be ignored or minimized only to our great loss. The great error of the evangelical church, in my mind, is to make much, if not everything, of the cross, the altar of sacrifice, and little, if not nothing, of everything else in the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is the great mirror of God. Seeing Him in the riches of the Tabernacle we see His inheritance in the saints. If we only regard ourselves in the light of the cross, we can only see the horror of our sin, and thereby miss all of the wonder and glory and honor, and blessing, that Christ has prepared for those who love Him.
The Tabernacle typifies Christ and Christ fulfills the Tabernacle. Jesus is in fact THE Tabernacle and in Him, and through Him, we become A tabernacle, and attain to the fullness of the stature of Christ. We cannot begin to know who we really are, until we know Him as He really is, for as He is, so are we in the world. I believe that one rich and simple way of knowing Him is to know Him through experiencing the Tabernacle Journey.
As I think about all that I have learned through the Tabernacle Journey , and the amazing blessing it has become to me, I realize that these insights have been given to me only because I was so desperately trying to make sense of why the gospel was not working in my life. As much as the manias and depressions led to so much sin, and pain and loss in my life, they have also led me into this wonderful discipline. God does indeed , ” work all things together for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. Wandering about in a wilderness of pain and confusion I stumbled upon this gold mine of God’s riches. These are riches that I can no longer horde to myself. The need to share this grace is bursting me at the seams. I pray that the door will open for me to share the Tabernacle Journey with you and with many others so that you too will know the riches of the feast that the Father has prepared for you in His house.