LIFE IN A TENT: GOD’S MASH UNIT

March 26, 2000

Introduction:

  • When I think of a tent I think of a TV show where a tent was the main scene of that show
  • A tent that was inhabited by people whose names were ‘Hawkeye,’ ‘Trapper John,’ ‘BJ,’ ‘Frank Burns,’ and ‘Charles.’
  • A tent that existed in the midst of conflict, of war in a faraway place – Korea
  • The show was of course, M*A*S*H
  • How many of you do not know what M*A*S*H stands for?
  • What does it stand for? Mobile Army Surgical Hospital
  • Its purpose was to be as closed to the front lines as possible to reduce the time it took for battlefield wounds and injuries to be treated and increase the likelihood of recovery

Bridge:

  • I think that there is an important symbolism in the tent: it was a place of community, it was home, it was a sort of ER in its own right, it was a psychiatric ward, it was a political editorial office for the 1970’s
  • But, I think, not to be disrespectful or sacrilegious, it was basically a sanctuary away from the madness of war, of conflict, of humanity at its worst, and at times, its best the only thing was that the place of worship was an illegal moonshine still and the tone of worship was a constant cynicism.
  • We have been thinking about life in a tent the past several weeks and today we continue with that theme as we go to the last book of the Bible, Revelation, and read verses 13 –17 in chapter 7

(READ REVELATION 7:13-17)

These people have been in a battle – a spiritual battle, a battle where there stance and choice has cost them their very lives. Yet God is with them!

John writes this book in exile from the Christian community and really the world as a statement from God, to His people, that there is hope, that there is help, that there is wholeness/purpose to, for, and in the struggles that they are currently experiencing at the hands of the Roman empire as well as other groups. Groups which view them as the reason for all of their problems.

And John’s words are important for us today as well. Why?

  • Many Are Seeking Hope
  • Many Are Seeking Help
  • Many Are Seeking wHoleness

In the wrong places, with the wrong people, for the wrong purposes

Many Are Seeking Hope

Eugene Land

  • Spoke to 59 6th graders in an East Harlem grade school
  • What to say? Urban kids who face a lot of challenges
  • ‘Stay in school and I’ll help pay the college tuition for everyone of you’
  • One student said, ‘I had something to look forward to’
  • 90 percent of that class graduated from High School

Eugene Land gave them hope by giving something to look forward to!

In this passage of Revelation:

  • those ‘clothed in white’ were so clothed because they had experienced God’s forgiveness and deliverance from hopeless, helplessness and brokenness
  • had stayed faithful to their commitment to God even in the face of death
  • And God provided for them a place of refuge under His tent, His temple of and in heaven
  • They had final hope and final peace

Many Are Seeking Help

I am reminded what Keith Miller says in his book Hunger For Healing, “Look at most of us in the United States. Powerless? It sound ridiculous. . . . Most of us in middle-class America have done fairly well materially in life. We take credit for and pride in all the good things we’ve done and acquired. It seems to us that we have the power; we did it – even though those of us who are Christians “give God the credit” when we talk about such things. . . . But, success and getting things we want leads us to the delusion that we can change people and personal circumstances through our power and methods of control.”

How painfully true for us is this? To admit our need for help – and we all  need help – is one of the hardest things for us to do– especially when it involves spiritual matters or matters that affect our identity.

In this passage of Revelation:

  • John shares his vision with those  who are experiencing an overwhelming helplessness because of their commitment to God that is  costing  them almost everything
  • He shares it to remind that though they may be helpless – there is help – there is power – that is closer than they think – a help and a power that is internal not external – that is based on God’s plans and purpose for them – a plan that is not in sync with society’s agenda

Many Are Seeking Wholeness

A synonym for wholeness is completeness which I think can be substituted with the word purpose.

Someone has written, “When you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s difficult to keep your mind on the fact that your primary objective is to drain the swamp.”

One of golf’s immortal moments came when a Scotsman demonstrated the new game to President Grant. Carefully placing the ball on tee, he took a might swing. The club hit the turf and scattered dirt all over the President’s beard and surrounding vicinity, while the ball placidly waited on the tee. Again the Scotsman swung, and again he missed. The president waited patiently through six tries and then quietly stated, “There seems to be a fair amount of exercise, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.”

There is so much in our time competing for our attention and thus, our time, our values, our priorities, our money that purpose is a challenge.

More than once in the past months has Galatians 6: 9 come to mind, “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”

I think that John affirms this verse with his wonderful description of peace and wholeness for those who have died standing in their commitment to even while staring death straight in the eye.

Many Are Seeking Hope

Many Are Seeking Help

Many Are Seeking wholeness

God, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can and does provide all of that.

In the book of Exodus, we read about the construction of the tabernacle.  The Hebrew word for tabernacle means “tent of meeting.”

It is important to understand that as we read that book we need to understand that it is part of God’s ongoing plan to be in our midst and at the center of our lives.

God is with us and is for us – are we with and for Him?

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