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Unwritten Prayers

Exodus 40:18 & 33b
Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. … So Moses finished the work.

Conversations have taken place behind the scenes of this tabernacle construction between God and Moses that I wish Moses had recorded for us. Moses doesn’t just spontaneously start adding all these finishing touches. The broader context of Exodus 40 continually adds the phrase, “Moses did it just as the LORD commanded him,” which implies that somewhere along the way, God specifically commissions Moses to finish the work himself. And that’s the missing dialogue of Exodus 40.

In pondering how that dialogue might’ve gone, it strikes me that Moses spent a good portion of his early life living in the fineries of Pharaoh’s palace, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he shared David’s grand desire to build a house for God. And like David, I wonder if it stung him a little that God hasn’t commissioned him to build it himself. Maybe he’s even felt a little envious of Bezalel and Oholiab as he watches them work from the sidelines, and the missing prayer went something like this: “LORD, I don’t have to build Your tabernacle—it’s good that others are finally getting involved; I’m thrilled to see it, truly! But please at least let me play a part—let me hammer a nail or sew some threads—anything!”

Then again, I could also imagine the conversation going the opposite way. Maybe Moses is finally enjoying some time off, perhaps taking a power nap in a hammock, when God whispers in his ear, “Get up, Moses! The people have completed their tasks and now I want you to add the finishing touches!” But Moses gets up groggily and replies, “Oh LORD, I’m not really suited for that task; I thought Bezalel had it covered—can he not do it? I didn’t really train in digging footers and raising timbers; I’m more a shepherd, remember? I think I’ll sit this one out.”

Regardless, whether Moses begged God to give him this role or begged God to give it to someone else, the conversation ended with Moses finishing the work. And that’s a challenge for us today in our own discipleship, isn’t it? No matter how your prayers go, follow them up with a job well done.