Daily Summaries and Comments

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Chronological Reading for Feb 11, Ex 36-38

Today's readings are Ex 36-38. Tomorrow's are Ex 39-40.

Work on the tabernacle is completed and the components are brought to Moses. It is just as God instructed. Moses gives a blessing. There are many parallels with Gen 1; the work is good, God is pleased, blessings ensue. Many of the same phrases are used in both passages. These chapters are bookended with the beginning of Genesis to show us that a major era has passed since creation. At the other end, God has created the universe, man has fallen. God has called a peculiar people through whom He will redeem man. He has delivered them from bondage then set them apart. His Law has been given. He is among them and His people are about to head for their new home. 

The Tabernacle is going to be spectacular, 150 feet wide, 300 feet long, about 15 feet high, built at a cost of about $320,000,000 in today's dollars. All of this has been done through a people that entered Egypt starving, with few belongings not much hope. God has protected them, delivered them, provided for them and made good on all of His promises to them in spite of their consistent lack of obedience and faithfulness. This should give each of us hope. It should show us His promises are based on His faithfulness to His word and not ours! This should build in us a holy anticipation for what is to come. We should see in these Hebrew people that He is able to take the meagerness of our lives and build a suitable home for Himself in us! What amazing grace! What an awesome God!

There's another lesson here as well. This is a good time for the Hebrews. They experience times when they come pretty close to getting things right. Likewise, they frequently stumble and struggle in their relationship with God. At this point in their history they are contrite and thankful before God, working together toward a common goal, using their gifts, devoted to God's work and giving sacrificially. As a result, something magnificent rises up among them - the dwelling and presence of God. The church today could learn much from watching the Tabernacle and the priesthood develop among the Jewish people. 

This is only the first phase of God's plan of redemption. There is much further to go and many lessons to be learned. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Feb 10, Ex 33-35

Today's readings are Ex 33-35. Tomorrow's are Exodus 36-38. 

In Ex 33, It's time to leave Sinai. The Promised Land is their final destination, not the Mountain of the Law. 

God also declares the consequences for the people's sin. He will no longer have fellowship with them. They are a stiff-necked, unfaithful people. The consequence of sin is a broken relationship with God! Moses intervenes on behalf of the people and God agrees to remain with them. The healing of the relationship is founded solely on God's mercy and compassion, not on the faithfulness or merit of the people. 

In Moses, we see a righteous mediator, an advocate for God's people. Even though Moses is only righteous in a manner that a man can be righteous, not perfectly so, the template is set for a truly holy and righteous mediator who will restore God's fellowship back to His people. 

God rewrites the commandments on new tablets, the old ones having been smashed by Moses. Even in this we see a lesson. The tablets are not eternal. They can be destroyed. But, God will preserve His word. Because of Moses's intercession, the covenant is renewed, this time in more detail. God has purged the sin from His chosen ones, albeit temporarily for the moment and the relationship with them is restored by His grace.

God names the tribes that will be displaced by His people when they arrive in the Promised Land, giving His people a stern warning not to intermarry with them, neither are they to worship their gods. This will prove to be an interesting tension that develops once they arrive, but they have to get there first!

Only after the restoration to fellowship with God occurs is work started on the Tabernacle - another lesson. God will dwell permanently among His people through the work of a mediator/advocate and by the work of His grace. Moses is not Christ. But, he is one who points toward Christ as the perfect mediator/advocate. This is one of the reasons Moses will come to be revered among His people.

Meanwhile, we see Moses as he begins to understand God’s glory. It’s been growing in Moses all along, a gradual realization that God does what He does for His glory, not for Moses’s benefit. Moses is certainly a benefactor of God’s mercy and grace. But, the benefit comes from God revealing Himself and His glory through the work He does in Moses, not because of who Moses is, but because of who God is. This is depicted in the events in Ex 33 & 34.

In Ex 35, construction of the Tabernacle begins. Here we see the true reason for the gold carried out of Egypt. Previously, the gold was used for personal adornment and the building of the calf, both representations of man worshiping himself rather than God. Now, the humbled and chastised people stop wearing the gold for ornamentation and begin donating it to the building of the Tabernacle (Ex 35:20-27). The gifts the people received were meant to honor God, not themselves! It is interesting that those who give are the ones whose “hearts were stirred” (Ex 35:29). This does not necessarily indicate that God coerced them into giving. It is meant to indicate those whose hearts were thankful to God for His deliverance.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Feb 9, Ex 30-32

Today's readings are Ex 30-32. Tomorrow's are Exodus 33-35. 

Ex 30 provides the instructions on how to build the altar of incense for the Tabernacle. Burning incense represents sacrifice and worship, a sweet aroma to God. In Ex 30:6, God says this is where He will meet His people, at the altar of sacrifice and worship. The Jews come to understand that sacrifice and worship are required for them to come into the presence of God. 

The census tax is instituted. Every man has to pay it and the price is the same for everyone. It is a "ransom", compensation and atonement for his life. What the Jews learn from this is that everyone's sins need to be atoned for. Everyone's life needs to be ransomed. 

We see the bronze basin. Everyone who approaches the Lord must be clean or they will die.  

Recipes are given for the anointing oil and incense to be used in the Tabernacle. Both are extremely expensive, demonstrating the invaluable gift of being called (anointed) and worship (incense). The recipes are not to be tampered with, which will soon become abundantly evident. In them, is implicit evidence that there is only one way to worship God. No one has the prerogative to change them or modify them to suit their whims. It is not for pleasure or entertainment, it is for His glory. God will soon demonstrate this very dramatically. 

In Ex 31, we see that God designates the men who will carry out the instructions, the builders and craftsmen, and has given them particular gifts that will enable them to do their work. Those God calls, He enables to walk in their calling. Even the gifts and talents they will use to serve him come from Him!

The Sabbath is mentioned again, this time in the overall scheme of creation. It emphasizes God's pattern of work with rest at the end of the work. It not only shows that rest must be part of His children's lives, but it points toward the promise of an ultimate rest. 

Meanwhile in Ex 32, while Moses is up on the mountain receiving all this, the people get impatient and talk Aaron into making a golden calf, using the very gold they carried out of Egypt.

We see a tension in Ex 32. God prescribes authentic, holy worship and sacrifice in the preceding chapters. Then, as this chapter begins we see counterfeit and perverted worship. The worship designed by God is God-centered, God glorifying. The worship the people engage in is worship of the flesh and human desire (Ex 32:6). 

Moreover, and perhaps most significant, we see the people reject the leader God has given them. God chose Moses, empowered him, worked signs and wonders through him and delivered them through him. Now, they turn their backs on him, demanding that their own desires be met. It becomes clear that there are grave consequences for rejecting God's chosen man. 

For this, God threatens to kill them all except Moses. Moses, acting as an intercessor/advocate pleads for mercy and God relents. God's wrath can be averted by a man who is willing to be an advocate!

Still, there is a price to pay for open rebellion against God. The camp is called upon to make a choice as to whom they will serve. The sons of Levi, as a tribe, stand with Moses. They are commanded to slay 3,000 of their brothers who rebelled against God (Ex 32:27-29). This is a difficult part of the passage. But, it shows that those who follow Him with all their hearts must be willing to do so even if it means forsaking family and friends. 

This is not meant to be prescriptive to God's people in all cases. Killing is a violation of God's commandments. Our lesson is not about killing but about the ruthless removal of anything unholy from among God's people. In this incident we see that sin will not be tolerated within the camp. There is a grave and serious price to pay for rejecting God. 

We are at a watershed moment in the story of the Exodus. God has delivered His people and given them the Law. At the moment they are receiving the Law, they are called to make a decision. Those who decide not to follow God and the leader He has designated, are eliminated. This will become another pattern we will see throughout the rest of Scripture. The Law has done what it is designed to do, reveal sin. 

In another significant turn, this is the first act of the Levites' complete devotion to God and is immediately followed by the Lord's blessing. They are ordained into His service and will eventually play a significant role in the history of Israel as priests and servers in the Tabernacle/Temple. Here's another pattern we've seen and will continue to see - obedience is followed by blessing. Radical obedience is followed by radical blessing. 

 God sends a plague, as well. God is compassionate and merciful but will not tolerate open, unrepentant sin. There will always be earthly consequences for sin among God's people. They remain His people, but becasue of their willful self-indulgence, there will be some suffering. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Feb 8, Ex 28-29

Today's reading is Ex 28-29. Tomorrow's is Ex 30-32. 

God gives the instructions for making the garments the priest will wear while serving in the Tabernacle. They are just as intricately detailed as those of the Tabernacle. The priest must be adorned in perfect clothing, according to God's clear instructions. While the Jews do not yet have a full understanding of how all this symbolism applies to the coming Messiah - none of this has been revealed to them at this point - they do have a reverence for God and His commandments that leads them to see His holiness in the details. To us, the precision and perfection of the priestly clothing is another shadow of the perfection of Christ. 

The priest wears an invaluable, ornately designed ephod (a kind of breastplate) which bears that names of the twelve tribes. The names are brought before the Lord each time the priest ministers. Today, we see this as a picture of Christ and our union with Him. Christ is our advocate appearing before God in a more perfect and more beautiful manner than the priest could. He bears our names and bring us into the Father's presence.
The priest must be consecrated by a ritual bath (cleansed) before putting on the priestly garments. The cleansing ritual is a symbol of the removal of sin and the filth of the world. The garments are a symbol of untainted and perfect righteousness.  Sacrifices are commanded, morning and evening. God takes pleasure in the sacrifice. The sacrifice is meant to atone for the sins. God takes pleasure in them because they point to the ultimate sacrifice and the full implementation of His plan for redemption, revealing His glory. 

The priest can fulfill his duties in the Tabernacle only after he's been sprinkled by the blood of the sacrifice. This is seen as part of the ritual cleansing process, allowing the priest to enter the Holy of Holies. Later, the Scriptures will tell of the work of Jesus being completed only by the shedding of His blood, allowing the believer to come into the presence of God (Heb 10:19). 

The priest and his sons cannot approach the mercy seat unless they are consecrated and wearing the proper clothes. This is by the commandment of God, revealing His holiness and the necessity of righteousness in order to come before Him. In a similar manner, we are unable to enter back into relationship with the Father unless we are cleansed of our sin and wearing the righteousness of Christ (Is 61:10).

The Tabernacle, all of its trappings, the priest and his clothing, even the preparation of the priest...they all foreshadow Christ. To the Jews, in their time, they were instructions ordained by God. The Jews, in spite of their stumbles and failings, want to honor God in all they do. So, they follow His instructions down to the finest detail. They are the evidence to all around them of obedience to the Father. Unlike the gods the pagans worship, gods who are demanding and dangerous, The God of the Hebrews is a God of grace, incessantly shedding that grace on His chosen people. These people, the Hebrews, are set apart by their obedience and His grace.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Feb 7, Ex 25-27

Today's readings are Ex 25-27. Tomorrow's are Exodus 28- 29.

Once God reminds Moses of the details of the covenant, He, in Ex 25 gives him instructions on building an ark to contain evidence of the covenant (symbolizing His grace and mercy), a table for bread (symbolizing the "bread of life"), a lamp stand (symbolism the "light of the world") and a tabernacle in which He will dwell among His people. It's not that God needs a house; it is a shadow of the coming Temple which will be a shadow of the Christ who will dwell inside us. 

The instructions are given in minute detail for God's beautifully detailed creation, made to His precise direction, not to be changed or enhanced by man. God, not those He created, will design and fashion His dwelling.  

Much gold, silver, precious metals and stone are required. Where would a nomadic people, constantly on the move, acquire such riches? They have the gold and treasure of Egypt! Remember? It's another reminder that the gifts God gives us are to be used to honor Him! It's also a reminder that God has purpose for everything that occurs in our life.  

Every facet of the tabernacle has meaning and symbolism. If you'd like to read in more detail about it, try this link. You will see the incredibly intricate way God has designed the temporary home for Himself as a way to demonstrate His presence among His people and a way to point toward their permanent home with Him. 

The unfolding events at Sinai are a powerful testimony that God uses the day-to-day circumstances of our lives to bring us into fellowship with Himself and into worship of Him. God sent His people to Egypt and brought them out, leading them to Sinai and now shows them how they will worship Him. The beautiful aspect of this is that it all points us toward the truth that our lives are fashioned by Him in intricate detail to bring us into His presence and to worship Him.