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.
I have long delighted in stories about George Washington Carver, the great scientist and educator. Carver was born into slavery in a one-room shack and orphaned as a baby. Although he grew up in a time of grievous prejudice and discrimination he became one of the most respected and influential person of his time. Presidents called Carver “friend” and world leaders from Gandhi to Stalin sought out his wisdom. Famed inventor Thomas Edison told Carver, “Together we can remake the world.” Carver turned down six-figure offers from Henry Ford saying he wanted to do what God called him to do. It is not surprising to see the following etched on George Washington Carver’s tombstone:
He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor being helpful to the world.
Throughout his long and successful life Carver liked to keep going an all day conversation with God. He would ask God a question and wait for the answer. Carver said that early in his life he asked God: “Mister Creator, why did You make the peanut?” God did answer him, and the result was Carver developing 300 products from the peanut.
Carver called his laboratory at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute, “God’s Little Workshop.” He would often lock the door to God’s Workshop because, as he put it, “Only alone can I draw close enough to God to discover His secrets.”
Carver started his conversations with God first thing each morning. He described the conversations beginning like this: “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.” Carver added: “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.”
Today’s Scripture talks about that kind of asking and receiving from God. It talks about meeting with God, asking Him questions, and waiting for His reply. In Israel’s 40-year wilderness wanderings God provided a place where people could meet with Him.
The text says that God directed that a tent be set up “outside the camp some distance away,” where “anyone” could go and meet with Him. There they could seek His wisdom and guidance. The Hebrew word translated “inquiring” denotes seeking God both for Himself and for His guidance. It is the same Hebrew word used in 1 Chronicles 16:11 where God invites: “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually.” We come “inquiring” of God, to “seek” both Him and His provision.
As God’s people journeyed through the wilderness God provided a place in which “anyone”, not just Moses or the priests and elders, but “anyone” could meet with Him. Notice that God directed the place for meeting with Him to be set up “outside the camp”. People would need to step aside from the day’s busyness and distractions to meet with God. Perhaps this is where George Washington Carver got the idea of “locking” the door to God’s Workshop in order to meet with Him.
Today you likely face challenges and decisions in which you will need God’s guidance and blessing. Carver set a good example for us in locking the door against distractions to spend time with God and to inquire of Him. Carver, along with many others through the centuries, testifies that such a life of intimacy with God is available. We need only seek Him!
Grace and peace,