December 26, 2022
“Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him. The Tabernacle was set up in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month. Moses set up the Tabernacle...”
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“Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him. The Tabernacle was set up in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month. Moses set up the Tabernacle: he laid its bases, positioned its planks, inserted its crossbars, and set up its posts. Then he spread the tent over the Tabernacle and put the covering of the tent on top of it, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” Exodus 40:16-19
In most Christian circles, “tent-making” is synonymous with “not charging a fee for preaching the gospel.” This saying is because the apostle Paul chose to support himself by making tents. (Acts 18: 2) He didn’t want anyone to accuse him of preaching for profit.
“So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way . . . And what I do I will continue to do, to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do.” 2 Corinthians 11:7-12
We also know that Paul was a highly trained and qualified Bible teacher.
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.” Acts 22:3
“I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees….” Acts 18:2
Of all occupations to support his ministry, why would Paul choose “tent-making”? For that matter, why would God call a “tentmaker” to expand His Church, preaching salvation to the Gentiles, alongside his ministry to the Jewish community? I don’t believe Paul’s occupation was an arbitrary coincidence. It seems similar to how God chose shepherds (Joseph, Moses, and David) to “shepherd” the children of Israel. Could it be that God also chose a tentmaker to “canvas” the known civilized world of the early church era with the Gospel’s influence, establishing churches as one drives tent pegs deep into the ground, so they would act as foundational supports of the greater Church-at-Large, hoisted in later generations?
A map of Paul’s missionary journeys shows how Paul was planting congregations, radiating in a circle from Jerusalem up into Eastern Europe and back to Jerusalem. By design or default, Paul laid-out churches in a similar way as Moses laid out the tent panels of the Tabernacle and tied them together to form a single unit. Today, millions of congregations have been built by missionary “tent makers” throughout the generations. These churches are furthering Paul’s foundational teaching of the Gospel and fit together as a single unit, forming the greater Church-at-large, stretching out the “Tabernacle” of Messiah to the most remote parts of the earth…just as the Lord commanded.