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Beth Moore's Illicit Tent of Meeting
By Bob DeWaay
Recently, on Ingrid Schlueter's Web site here Beth Moore denies that she promotes approaches to prayer that have Eastern overtones. The issue arose from her participation on the Be Still DVD which has been critiqued on this site by Ingrid and then Brian Flynn. Brian and I viewed a segment of Beth Moore on that DVD. We found disconcerting her poor understanding of Exodus 33:7-11, the passage she uses as her proof text. In her discussion of Moses' tent of meeting she proposes that each believer can have their own tent of meeting where they can go to have two way conversations with God.
Commenting on Exodus 33:7-11, Moore states: "It says all of them could have approached, but as Moses approached they would stand back and watch." Then she implies that people are just standing back when they could have their own tent of meeting with God. Then she claims:
"The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend." That is part of contemplative prayer. When we sit back and realize that it is not just that we have something to say to God, it's that God has something He has to say to us . . . I want to be in that tent of meeting.
Every believer, according to Moore, can have a private non-literal tent of meeting in which God will come and speak to him or her.
This claim introduces serious theological problems. Let us first examine the claim that it was God's intention that every Israelite enter the tent of meeting. This is simply false. Moses was uniquely the mediator of the Old Covenant. God chose to speak His authoritative words to Moses alone. God said that it was good that only Moses heard God's voice: "This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.' And the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well'" (Deut. 18:16, 17). In context Deuteronomy 18 was about prohibiting divination. God spoke to them through Moses and promised to send a future prophet like Moses; and when God sent that prophet, they should listen to Him (that prophet was Jesus; see Deut. 18:9-19; other passages in the New Testament claim Jesus was the one Moses predicted). Several Old Testament passages show that God spoke to Moses alone directly (Deut. 5:30, 31; Exo. 19:21-23; Exo. 20:19-21; Deut. 34:10).
When Moses' unique role was challenged some very bad things happened to the challengers. In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron said this:
"Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well And the Lord heard it" (Num. 12:2). God called them out to the tent of meeting, and the cloud came down to the doorway of the tent. The result was, after God spoke about Moses' unique role, Miriam was leprous (see Num. 12:2-10). In Leviticus 10, Nadab and Abihu tried to do things their own way and they died. In Numbers 16, Korah started a protest movement that denied Moses' unique role and all who participated and their families dropped directly into Sheol (Num. 16:1-33). For good reason the people stayed at their own tents when Moses entered the tent of meeting—they did not want to die! Moore's claim that God wanted them all to enter and receive personal revelations from God is false.
The New Testament makes it clear there is only one legitimate tent of meeting: Christ. Jesus, Peter, James and John ascended a mount in Mark 9; and Jesus was transfigured. During this event, Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking to Jesus. Here, three people who were God's authoritative spokespersons, stood on one mount. So Peter determined that they should build three tabernacles (tents of meeting). Why? So they would have three places they could go to enquire of the Lord. But what happened? "Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This My beloved Son, listen to Him!' And all at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone" (Mark 9:4b, 5). The phrase "listen to Him" alludes to Deuteronomy 18 and shows that Jesus is the prophet Moses predicted. God provides but one tent of meeting—Jesus Himself. And that tent would not remain pitched on earth (John 1:14 says Jesus "tabernacled" among us).
The book of Hebrews elaborates on this. God has spoken through Jesus Christ in full and final revelation (Heb. 1:1, 2; Heb. 2:1-3 tells us that His apostles gave us Jesus' authoritative words). Jesus is our High Priest who passed through the heavens and sits at the right hand of God where He carries out His mediatorial role. Hebrews 8:1, 2 claims that the true tabernacle is in heaven and was pitched by God, not man. This claim is repeated in Hebrews 9:11, 12. The entire book of Hebrews is about Christ's unique role and warnings against apostasy for those who think they can come to God by some way other than Christ (in their case going back to the temple in Jerusalem and the earthly high priest and the blood of animals).
Hebrews also tells us the only way to draw near to God: through Christ who is in heaven and can only be seen by faith (Heb. 10:22; Heb. 11:1). All believers have the privilege of access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). But there they find help in their time of need—not new, personal revelations.
The New Testament promises that if we come to God on His terms through Christ in prayer, He will listen. It does not promise us our own new words from God. The contemplative prayer movement wants what God is not offering: a way to feel closer to God and gain personal revelations. God has offered His Son so that we may draw near to God, not feel near to God. Many who are on the road to Hell feel near to God. Many who are truly saved sometimes do not feel near to God. There is nothing in Hebrews that promises we will feel near to God. To draw near is to come to God through faith in Christ and His once for all shed blood, and abide by faith in the terms of the covenant. To draw near is to have access to the throne of grace in prayer.
Beth Moore teaches error on the Be Still DVD. She claims that in the Old Testament God wanted each person to enter the Tent of Meeting; this is false. The tent of meeting that Moses entered was a precursor to the Tabernacle. Only the high priest on the Day of Atonement could enter the holy place in God's presence and even he could do so only under the terms God revealed to Moses. Moore claims that we can each have a tent of meeting; this is false. There is one tent of meeting, it is Jesus Christ who entered the heavenly tabernacle and sits at the right hand of God. God commanded us to listen to Him, not to seek new information from God that He has not already spoken through Christ and His apostles. Moore wants to distance herself from mysticism, but her own words dangerously mislead people. Rather than pointing people to illicit tents of meeting not ordained by God, she should have pointed them to Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant, the blood atonement, and the throne of grace. Being dissatisfied with what God has provided is very dangerous, as certain individuals in the Old Testament discovered for themselves.
For further study on this issue, I have provided an audio clip of Beth Moore's tent of meeting claim, followed by an my exposition of Scripture from the Old and New Testaments explaining the true significance of the tent of meeting and warnings about unbiblical techniques: here.
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