Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jan 27, Ex 28-29

Today's reading is Ex 28-29.

God gives the instructions for making the garments the priest will wear while serving in the tabernacle (Ex 28). They are just as intricately detailed as those of the tabernacle. The priest must be adorned in perfect clothing per God's clear instructions. While the Jews do not yet have a full understanding of how all this symbolism applies to the coming Messiah they do have a reverence for God and His commandments that leads them to see His holiness in the details. To us, as believers in Christ, 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 the names of the twelve tribes. The names are brought before the Lord each time the priest ministers. This breastplate makes the high priest an advocate appearing before God as a representative of all those who are His. The priest bears the names of the tribes into the Father's presence.

The priest must be consecrated - cleansed by a ritual bath -  before putting on the priestly garments (Ex 29:1-9). The cleansing ritual is a metaphor designed to represent the removal of sin and the filth of the world prior to coming into the presence of God. The garments he wears are symbolic of untainted and perfect righteousness.  Their intricate design and complex arrangement on the body of the priest are a reminder that God prescribes the manner in how He will be approached. It must be observed exactly as He instructs.

In following the instructions given them, the Aaronic priesthood is established (Ex 29:9).

Sacrifices are commanded for morning and evening. God takes pleasure in the sacrifice. The sacrifice is meant to atone for the sins (Ex 29:10, 15, 19). The blood of the sacrifices is placed on the extremities of the altar and of the priests (Ex 29:12, 20) showing that the entire altar, as well as the priest, are covered by the blood.

Wave offerings are held up before the Lord (Ex 29:22-28). They area acknowledgment that all sustenance comes from God. Like the raw materials for the tabernacle, the priestly garments and the sacrifices, the entire community is to make contributions to the offerings. This whole-community participation shows gratefulness to God and supports the priests as they minister (Ex 29:28).

The priest can fulfill his duties in the Tabernacle only after he's been sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice. This sprinkling is part of the ritual cleansing process, allowing the priest to enter the Holy of Holies. These rituals teach us that God's children come into His presence clothed in righteousness (the priestly garments), cleansed of sin (the ceremonial cleansing) and by the shedding of blood (the sacrifice).

The priest and his sons cannot approach the mercy seat unless they are consecrated and wearing the proper clothes. This is the commandment of God, revealing His holiness and the necessity of righteousness in order to come before Him.

Many years later, much of this symbolism will become clear with the arrival of the Messiah and as the books of the New Testament unfold. The tabernacle, all its trappings, the priest and his clothing, even the preparation of the priest...they all foreshadow Christ. The tabernacle symbolizes His presence. The priests are portents of Christ. The garments show us that Christ, clothed in perfect righteousness, carries believers into the presence of God by the sacrifice and the blood which covers all their sins.

To the Jews, in their time, these were instructions ordained by God. The Jews have a sincere desire to honor God in all they do even as they demonstrate their struggles and human weaknesses. So they follow His instructions down to the finest detail. The Hebrews are the evidence to all around them of what obedience to the Father looks like. These chosen people are set apart by their obedience and God’s grace. They are the template for those who believe in His only Son as Lord and Savior. Believers should be set apart by their obedience and God’s grace. 

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