A Tale of Two Tents

Alec Motyer

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“The skin of Moses’ face was radiant because he spoke with him.” (Exodus 34:29 literal translation)

The great tent, the tabernacle, was where the daily offerings were made (Leviticus 6:9, 13). There the people gathered to worship (Deuteronomy 12:5-7); there the Day of Atonement, the annual clearance of sin, was observed (Leviticus 16); there the Lord lived at the center of his people (Exodus 29:42-46). But “Moses used to take a tent” (33:7) where “anyone inquiring of the Lord would go” (33:7 NIV).

So there were two tents in Israel’s camp: the tabernacle of public worship, and also the tent of personal devotion, of private individual communion with God. Here are the two “poles” of walking with God: the public and corporate, and the personal and private. On the one hand there is the communal “means of grace,” the “assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25). On the other, there is the private “means of grace,” the loveliness of individual approach into the holiest, through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-20). Together they produce the transformed person, “the radiant face.”

Notice that in Moses’ tent it doesn’t say who was speaking to whom! It is in the interchange of hearing the Lord’s word and talking to him in prayer that the transformation happens (2 Corinthians 3:18).


“Changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place”—Lord, may it be so!