Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp…The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Exodus 33:7, 11
From the time I was a boy I have been charmed by stories about George Washington Carver. He was the renowned scientist and educator who cried out to God: “Mr. Creator, why did You make the peanut?”
Born into slavery in a one-room shanty, Carver was orphaned as a baby. Although he grew to manhood during the height of racial discrimination, he became one of the most respected and influential figures of his day. Presidents called him friend, and world leaders from Gandhi to Stalin sought his knowledge. Thomas Edison told the enterprising Carver, “Together we can remake the world”. He turned down six-figure offers from Henry Ford because he said he knew what God had called him to do. Among his many contributions most probably remember him for developing 300 products from the peanut and 118 from the sweet potato. It is not surprising that Carver’s tombstone reads:
“He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor being helpful to the world”.
Throughout his life Carver kept a running conversation with God. He asked God questions, sought His wisdom, and listened for God’s answer. He literally asked God why he made the peanut and said that God told him. He called his laboratory at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute, “God’s Little Workshop”. He often locked the door to God’s Workshop because, as he put it, “only alone can I draw close enough to God to discover His secrets”.
This kind of daylong conversation with God started the first thing each morning. Carver once described his daylong seeking God: “All my life I have risen regularly at four o-clock and have gone into the woods and talked with God. There He gives me my orders for the day”.
I have long been struck by how Carver talked with God as a friend talks with a friend, asking Him questions, seeking His help, and taking God’s orders into his day. Wouldn’t it be exciting to go about our day in God’s Little Workshop wherever it is!
Today’s Scripture text speaks of such a friendship with God and talking with Him. We see in the text how, in the midst of Israel’s 40-year wilderness wanderings, God provided for just this kind of intimacy with Him. The text says that “outside the camp some distance away” Moses set up a tent that he called the “Tent of Meeting”. It was set up so that literally “anyone” who was “inquiring of the LORD” could meet with Him there. The Hebrew word translated as “inquiring” is a rich word that has the idea of seeking God Himself and His guidance. It is the same word used in I Chronicles 16:11 inviting people: “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually”.
As the people of God were making the difficult journey through the wilderness, God provided a place where “anyone” could meet with Him. Let’s put the emphasis on the “anyone”. This was not only for the priests and Levites, or for Moses, but for anyone wanting to meet with God. But the “Tent of Meeting” was set up outside the camp. People had to step outside the busyness and distractions of the day if they were going to meet with God.
Do you have a Tent of Meeting? Do you have that time and place where you get alone with God? To talk with Him? To seek Him? To listen for Him? I know that if I do not deliberately set aside time and place it doesn’t get done. George Washington Carver did it first thing every morning in “the woods”. Then having started his day right Carver said: “I ask God daily and often momently to give me wisdom, understanding and bodily strength to do His will, hence I am asking and receiving all the time.” There is Carver’s running conversation with God, “asking and receiving all the time”.
Such a life of intimacy with God is possible. It is for such a life that Jesus came in order to take us close to the Father’s heart! Are you needing your own ‘Tent of Meeting’? Are you wanting to meet with God? Are you thirsting for the reality of His presence? There is a way open for “anyone inquiring of the LORD”.
Grace and peace,
photo by yeowatzup