TODAY’S READING: Exodus 28–29
What God did for Abraham was a microcosm of what He wanted to do for the world. What God did for Israel in both ceremony and civic life was a picture, an announcement of what He wants to do for all nations. When Aaron the high priest entered the presence of God, he did so with the names of the tribes of Israel over his heart (Exo. 28:29–30). This is a beautiful picture of God carrying all the tribes and tongues of history in His heart. He is not willing that any of them should perish. He guarantees that representatives of every one of them will be around the throne.
Chris Wright states, “It was to be God’s covenantal presence in Israel that would mark them out as distinctive from the rest of the nations. This would be the purpose of the tabernacle… The very purpose of redemption was so that God would dwell with his people.” God’s great passion is for all nations, and His requirement for relationship is that those nations are holy (v. 36). By nature God cannot fellowship with what is vile, and by nature all the tribes of history are vile, so God provides our holiness at immeasurable cost. God sanctifies what is soiled by His glory (29:43). God consecrates what is crooked by His altar (v. 44). God so aches to live in intimacy with His people that He willingly absorbs the horrific required.
Exodus 29:46 says, “They shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them.” Jesus wants to live with us more than we want to live with Him. Jesus wants to abide with us more than we want to abide with Him. The greater cost of communion was paid on the cross, but lesser bills are due daily. To live in intimacy with Jesus, we must constantly submit to His refining fire. Selfishness must be repeatedly burned off of us and out of us. Daily we must march our hearts to the cross; we must lay our wills on the altar; and we must pick up our cross and follow—for Jesus carried His cross, not ours.
When God’s people submit to God’s purifying processes, they begin to shine, and that luster creates a holy jealousy in all who observe. A holy God intimate with a holy people is a relationship so beautified that those in false relationships cannot but long for what they see. God’s purification process in you is intended to have such an evangelistic effect. Embrace your fire, your altar, your cross, your trial, your cleansing, your daily dying, for it is beautifying your communion with God so that others from all nations may desire what you have. What God is doing in you and for you, He wants to do for others. Your submission to the painful process will bless far more than you, for even your purging is not really about you. It is for the glory of God among the nations—this is ever the way of our Father.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 334–335.