Tags: commentary on Exodus, Exodus 29, Levitical priesthood, Old Testament priests, Old Testament Worship, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, Tabernacle, Tabernacle furnishings, Tabernacle worship
The framework of the Tabernacle was built with acacia wood, which is strong, pliable, and abundant in the region where the Israelites were encamped. Acacia wood was also used in the furnishings for the Tabernacle, some of which would then be covered with gold, although some of the furnishings were actually made of solid gold.
The inside coverings of the Tabernacle were linen, woven, and thicker and coarser toward the outside. Goat hides with the fur still attached were used for one layer. The metals and materials that were used went from being more precious on the inside of the Tabernacle – closer to the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies – to less precious as the construction moved further toward the outside.
The altar that would be used for the burnt offerings was similar to what we would think of as a big grill. There was also a laver for washing.
All the people who were allowed to worship would be allowed in the courtyard. Only priests could go into the Holy Place, although this area was visible from the outside.
There was the Table of the Bread of the Presence, which symbolized God’s fellowship with His people. In ancient customs – especially between the parties of a covenant – the eating of a meal together signified honor, respect, and trust. There was a lampstand for light, and to represent God’s light in the world. There was the altar of incense, by which the people were reminded of the need to live lives that smelled pleasing to God.
Only the High Priest could go into the Most Holy Place where the Ark was. No one else could even see inside there. The Ark was wrapped for moving, and carried by poles inserted through rings, because it was holy, but also to keep it from being damaged or worn.
In Exodus Chapter 29 we can read about the ordination or installation of the priests. They had special washing rituals, which symbolized washing off the world. They had special clothing so that they could be visually recognized as dedicated unto God. They performed special sacrifices to remind them that the external things they were doing were only symbols, and that the real focus was on God.
And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.
They received symbols of special consecration upon their:
-Ears, to remind them of the importance of what they would hear – the Word of God and the petitions of the people;
-Thumbs, to remind them of what they were to do with their hands – pick up the burdens of God’s people and minister to Him in symbolic sacrifices;
-Toes, to remind them of where they were to go – into and among God’s people, and into the Tabernacle.
Just like New Testament believers, they were called to present their bodies as living sacrifices. If we fail to surrender our bodies to the Lord, it will do us no good to plead the excuse that God looks upon the heart and isn’t concerned with our outward actions, because our outward actions are the best indication of what’s really going on in our hearts. God wants both – the inward and the outward. Those of us who are Christian fathers and husbands especially need to be careful about what we listen to, what we pick up, and where our feet go.
Tags: Christian liberty, Martin Luther, Martin Luther quotes, Proverbs 27, Proverbs 29, Psalm 107, Psalm 5, Roman Catholic, swimming quotes, the sea in the Bible
For since I know that Your Blessedness [sic] is driven and tossed by the waves at Rome, so that the depths of the sea press on you with infinite perils, and that you are labouring under such a condition of misery that you need even the least help from any the least brother [sic], I do not seem to myself to be acting unsuitably if I forget your majesty [sic] til I shall have fulfilled the office of charity. I will not flatter in so serious and perilous a matter; and if in this you do not see that I am your friend and most thoroughly your subject, there is One to see and judge.
Martin Luther, writing to Pope Leo X in the prefatory remarks of On Christian Liberty
For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.
A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.
Tags: 2 Peter 3, anthropopathism, emotions, Ephesians 4, Ezekiel 18, Ezekiel 33, feelings, God's will, Matthew 7, the Will of God
A third broad category of thought about the will of God is called the dispositive will, or the will of disposition. Your “disposition” is how you are inclined to feel about something. It does not necessarily dictate that you will act in accordance with your feelings, but it can certainly influence your actions. It can be helpful to think of it as God’s “emotive” will because we know that God does have emotions. His emotions are holy and perfectly controlled, but if we ascribe human emotions to Him for the purpose of being able to discuss His character and actions (and the Bible does this) it is called anthropopathism.
The Bible does not always let us in on God’s inclination or disposition about certain matters, but sometimes it does. For example:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
II Peter 3:9
What does this tell us about God? It does not reveal His decretive will because obviously many are going to perish despite the fact that He is not “willing” that any should perish.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Nor is II Peter 3:9 dealing expressly with God’s preceptive will, because, although He does command everyone to be saved, this is talking about His desire rather than a command. What it is revealing is God’s dispositive will – His inclination or His feelings about those who reject Christ, regardless of how they wound up in that condition.
Another example of the Bible describing God’s will in dispositive terms is:
Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
This verse is speaking about earthly, temporal life, not eternal life, and it asks a rhetorical question, so the answer should be clear.
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
The Lord could force the wicked to turn from their ways, and His disposition is inclined toward delighting in repentance, but He does not always do so. In fact, the punishment of the wicked conversely satisfies His justice, wrath, and holiness, but it gives Him no predispositional or emotional delight, and – emphatcially and obviously – no sinful delight.
Here is another example:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
These verses express God’s will in the preceptive sense because they command us not to do certain things, but they also give us insight into the dispositive sense of His will because they tell us He can be grieved (a combination of sadness and anger). Am I really powerful enough to grieve the Spirit of God? My “power” is not really the issue, but my sin and rebellion certainly do affect our loving and caring God, and He responds with love and what seems in our finite human understanding to be a “hurt” response, although He keeps His promise to eternally seal us, despite our sin.
Neither the apparent conflicts between these operations of God’s will (preceptive, decretive, dispostive), nor the recognition of their complementarity, can be explained away by appeals to the “free will” of man, because God is still omniscient and omnipotent and omnipresent and omnibenevolent, which leads us to consideration of God’s secret, or hidden, will, which we will look at next time.
Tags: Christian warfare, commentary on Matthew, discipleship, evangelism, Kingdom of God, Matthew 10, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, warfare, witnessing
In Matthew Chapter 10 we can see the King giving power to His workers.
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
They are listed in pairs because Jesus sent them out two by two. They would go forth and confront people, some of whom would become upset.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Open proclamation of Christ is a key element of being a Christian.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
The Bible does not teach that God throws believers in hell if they don’t witness often enough, but it does remind us that He is able to throw people into hell, and He will throw unbelievers who have rejected Christ into hell, and, therefore, we should not fear anyone or anything more than we fear Him.
Before salvation we were at war with God. There was enmity between us. We hated Him and He was mad at us. When we surrendered, we switched sides. Now we are still in a war, but we are on the winning side. God can’t lose.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
In a war, even the winning combatants suffer, but it is a privilege to suffer for the winning side – for Christ. All the troops will be honored, but the wounded or the prisoners will be even more honored. There is no middle ground with God. We’re either on His side or rebelling against Him – fighting for or fighting against.
Tags: belief, Canaan, commentary on Hebrews, Hebrews 3, promised land, rest, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews, TBN
Some Christians are like the children of Israel in the wilderness. They struggle with entering in to the rest of assurance, which was foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the promised land of Canaan.
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
True Biblical belief isn’t all about just believing in what God can give you. It’s believing that God is still God – that He’s still in control – when you don’t get what you want. It’s believing that He wants you to do right, and that, if you don’t, He’s going to do something about it, because He loves you.
Many people look at the Old Testament story of Moses in the wilderness, and they think that Canaan is the Old Testament version of Heaven. That’s why some songs talk about crossing over the river Jordan when you die. But Canaan doesn’t represent Heaven. There were battles, and even defeats, over there. Crossing over into Canaan represents the point at which believers – true Christians – by faith receive their spiritual inheritance this side of Heaven. Those who died in the wilderness were still believers and followers of Jehovah, but they kept wandering around in unbelief, and were continually being chastened by their loving Father because they would not “draw near” to God.
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
Let’s draw near to God when times are good – and when times are bad. Let’s not be bold in the sense of demanding, but let’s be bold in the sense of openness and confidence. Entering into our rest doesn’t mean lying around on a cloud all day, playing your harp. It’s not early retirement from the pilgrimage to the Heavenly home. It’s certainly not – despite what you might have heard from the flavor-of-the-month TV preacher – getting a mansion, a Rolls Royce, a bunch of jewelry, and the best plastic surgery. No, entering into your rest is being able to confide in God – because you have drawn near to Him – and you know that He is working things out for your good.
Lord, thank You for those in our lives that we love, and for those that love us. Thank You that You are love. Help our love to bypass the stage of feeling and emotion, and to become active. Help us to be a people that shows love, and make us conscious of opportunities to show love to others. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.
Tags: Aaronic priesthood, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 26, Exodus 27, Exodus 28, presence of God, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, Tabernacle
The instructions that God gave to Moses and the people for the construction of the Tabernacle let them know that this was going to be a movable structure, but its mobility was not merely functional, like a circus tent. The purpose of the Tabernacle would be greater than simply providing shade or a central location to worship. It was supposed to inspire appreciation for God’s attributes.
The Tabernacle would point to God’s strength and His beauty:
Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.
It would inspire reverence of Him:
And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.
This was going to represent the place where the presence of God on earth lived.
It would be a place of sacrificial worship:
And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass.
True worship always involves more than receiving. True worship is primarily about giving – giving that which is costly and valuable to us – ultimately, giving ourselves.
In Exodus Chapter 28 we see the ordination of the Aaronic priesthood. The priests were ministers – to the people, yes, but not primarily to the people.
And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.
We forget this aspect of ministry too often. We think we are doing what we do for others or ourselves (and they and we do benefit), but true priests ministered unto this Lord, which means that we need to ask, “Is what I’m doing pleasing to Him?” In order to know what’s pleasing to Him, we need to ask Him, by looking for the answer in His Word. We must think of Him even before the people who are in danger, even before our own children, even before my spouse. The very clothes and garments of the priests reflected that whatsoever they were to do, they were to do it unto the Lord.
And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.
Tags: Balaam, Balaam's ass, Balak, Biblical miracles, false prophecy, Midian, Moab, Numbers 22, Numbers 25, prophecy
And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Numbers 25:6 (emphasis added)
God through the leadership of Moses had delivered His people from the bondage of the Egyptians. They had crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness. The plan was that they would follow the guidance of the Lord into a land which God had promised to the descendants of Abraham for their inheritance. When they had met resistance, God had won the battle for them.
And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.
This was to be the staging area from which they would cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan – the promised land – the land flowing with milk and honey. They had defeated the Amalekites, the King of Arad, the Amorites, and the great and mighty Og, King of Bashan. They had lost a smaller skirmish to some Canaanites they rashly attacked outside of the will of God, but their win-loss record was 4-1, and they were on a roll. So, obviously, the
King of Moab, whose name was Balak, was afraid of them.
And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
His plan to deal with them was two-fold. First, he would form an alliance with the Midianites. Second, he would hire a famous sorcerer and (false) prophet named Balaam to put a curse on these Hebrews, so that the Moabites and the Midianites could defeat them in battle. Balak went to great expense to hire Balaam’s services.
He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.
At first Balaam refused to come. Despite his status as a practitioner of divination, the true God had spoken to him and told him that he would not be able to curse a nation of people who God had blessed. Nevertheless:
And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they. And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people. And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.
Balaam ended up coming with Balak’s representatives anyway, and, although God was displeased with him, He allowed him to go. There is a very funny story about his trip, during which he rode on a donkey, if you want to take the time to read it, but I will probably save it for another lesson, except to say that perhaps the most amazing thing about Balaam’s donkey talking to him is not the fact that his donkey did in fact speak, but that Balaam does not seem to have been surprised by it in the least when it happened. Possibly Balaam was quite used to demons and evil spirits speaking to him through animals, in much the same way Satan spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden through a serpent.
God spoke through Balaam, and he gave great prophecies about God’s people. They were great because they reiterated the blessings that God had promised to the nation of Israel, but, even more importantly, they were true. God can speak through a donkey, and he can speak through an otherwise false prophet. It was not all these supernatural phenomena, nor the behind-the-scenes scheming and machinations of Balak, that ultimately brought God’s people to a place of weeping. Ultimately, it was a very mundane, a very worldly, a very no-nonsense, down-to-earth plan of action that brought God’s people into condemnation, and they had themselves to blame for it. Next time, we will see precisely why the Israelites were weeping.