Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
The Jane Austen Centre and Regency Tea Room in Bath, England

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Feb 12, Ex 39-40

Today's readings are Ex 39-40. tomorrow's are Lev 1-4. 

Craftsmen with God-given gifts complete the priestly garb. The whole outfit, called the "ephod" is stunningly beautiful and intricate. There is a requirement for cleansing as well. The ephod is a symbol of righteousness and purity and must be precisely, skillfully made and worn before entering the Holy of Holies and coming into the presence of the Lord. From this passage, the Jews learn that the only way to approach God is in the perfect righteousness of the priest who has been ceremonially cleansed and is wearing garments made exactly to God's specifications.  

It is topped by a turban that has a golden band that is engraved with "Holy to the Lord". This turban hovered over all the priest did and served as a reminder that the priest was covered in holiness and designated as His holy one. 

The undergarments and robes were beautiful and as ornate as the rest of the garb. They too are made with gifts of great skill given by God. Even the capability to fashion the holy garments comes from God as gifts of grace, the materials supplied by Him as His people left Egypt.

The breastpiece is worn over the heart of the high priest, showing us that the priest designated by God has His people close to His heart. It is inlaid with 12 precious stones, each one carved with the name of one of the tribes of Israel. The priest bears the names of all of God's people with him when he goes before the Lord. The people cannot go themselves; they are not consecrated. The people are judged by the Lord, not because of who they are, but by the righteousness of the priest and who he is. The people understand that they are totally dependent upon the righteousness of the priest, not their own, when He approaches God.

Inside the breastplate are two unique stones, the Urim (light) and Thummim (truth). They are used in determining God's decisions in matters taken before Him. They are a clear indicator that God's decisions are made in pure light and absolute truth. The breastpiece is held in place by two straps with onyx stones embedded in them. The stones bear the names of the twelve Sons of Israel, the tribes. The priests are the ones charged with upholding the people of God and bringing them before the Lord. The priest is a representative of the people, standing in their place.

Near the bottom of the robes are alternating pomegranates and golden bells. The bells proclaim the arrival of the priest as he enters into the Holy of Holies. The bells swing to and fro, representing the extremes of death and immortality, of good and evil. The pomegranates represent the new life the people have after being delivered from slavery and are a symbol of beauty.  



The Tabernacle is erected, the priestly vestments are completed, the ceremonies are followed and the glory of the Lord fills the tent. All the good works have been designed by God. The gifts to do the works have been granted by God Now the works are inhabited by God - all of it a witness to His presence among His people. Apart from Him, they can do nothing. 

After everything is finished - no one, not even Moses, can enter into the direct presence of the Lord. His dwelling has been built and His presence among them is insured. But they are not yet clean or holy enough to come into His presence.  Only one man can do that and only after being made clean and wearing the garments God has designed. When that man stands before God, he bears the names of all of God's people.

As Exodus ends, we see that God has created everything, including a man. The man has separated himself from God by sinning. God has exhibited grace in preserving the man's descendants. He has chosen one man, Abraham, to carry God's message of redemption. He has multiplied that man's descendants and assigned the message to them, forming a covenant with them, taken them to Egypt, allowed them to fall into slavery and delivered them from that slavery, all by His grace - even though they seem to grumble and groan and fail all along the way. Now He has equipped them with His guidelines for living as His messengers, appointed and clothed a representative to stand in their place and chosen to live among them as evidence of His presence and power. 

He has promised them a new home and has provided a way (the pillar of smoke and fire) for them to get there.

So, as Exodus ends, we see that those precious things lost in the garden are being restored, little by little. The garden was where God met His children. They were ejected for disobedience but God has been bringing them back into relationship with him. Now, He dwells among them once again and will them in the the recreated garden, the Tabernacle. 

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