Sunday, September 26, 2010

Exodus 40

Jehovah commands construction and anointing of the tabernacle (vs. 1-16)--Time to build and anoint. The Lord tells Moses to do it "on the first day of the first month"--He gets the first, and the best. All the details are again related here. The ark, the veil, the table of showbread, lampstand, altar of incense, etc. etc., where they all go. It's all here once more. Once again "the altar shall be most holy" (v. 10). And all of it, including Aaron and his sons, were to be anointed with the oil the Lord had prescribed. "Thus Moses did; according to all that the LORD had commanded him, so he did" (v. 16). As noted in the last chapter, eight times some such statement is found in this chapter. Jehovah commands, we obey. At least Moses did.

Moses obeys (vs. 17-33)--And that obedience is the subject of the next section. "And it came to pass in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was raised up" (v. 17). The very first thing that happened that year was the construction of the abode of God--with the best materials possible. That thought--the first and the best--runs all through the Old Testament law. And it's not surprising, it's exactly what was owed to Him. And if under the imperfect law such was true, how much more so under the perfect law of liberty? Why do we give Him sloppy, half-measures? What an insult to Him that must be.

This section chronicles how, step-by-step, "as the Lord had commanded Moses" (v. 19), the man of God fulfilled Jehovah's word. This section does omit the anointing process, but that is so important, that it is saved for a later section in the law. Seven times in this section we read "as the Lord had commanded Moses." I suppose I've made that point before, but I haven't made it as many times as God did in these final two chapters of Exodus.

The cloud (vs. 34-38)--The Lord often showed His glory and His coming in a cloud. That thought carries all through the Bible. When the tabernacle was completed, a cloud covered it (v. 34). Moses could not enter the tabernacle as long as it was there--"the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (v. 35). The book then closes by discussing the travel of Israel through the wilderness. When the cloud rested on the tabernacle, they did not journey. When the cloud was taken up, they would proceed, led by the cloud during the day and fire at night (v. 38). Exodus closes with an open ending, in anticipation of more to come. Indeed, much more about the law would be delivered before it was completed.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Exodus 39

The high priest's garments (vs. 1-31)--The last things that were made--or, at least, the last things Moses mentions in the production of the tabernacle's materials--were the garments and items worn by the High Priest. The Lord's commands regarding this are found in Exodus 28. The garments, ephod, breastplate, 12 stones with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel inscribed upon them--plus the exact stone for each--is again described in detail in this section. The reader may refer back to Exodus 28 for more information concerning this holy apparel. One of the most significant points in these 31 verses is that seven times the phrase is found "as the Lord had commanded Moses." Once again, we are struck by the strict obedience of a sinful man. For Moses, though a great, holy, righteous man, was still a sinner. He did not take liberties with the grace of God, did not presume upon Jehovah's love. He did what he was told. This phrase regarding the Lord commanding Moses is found three more times in the remainder of the chapter, for a total of 10 times in 43 verses. It will be found eight more times in chapter 40. In other words, 18 times in the final two chapters of Exodus we are specifically informed that Moses did what God told him. Yet, how many people today do not get the point? Being thankful for the needful grace of God is one thing; presuming upon while claiming to love Him is something else entirely. I certainly want, and need, God’s grace to cover my sins. But God’s grace is no excuse for sin. “I’ll go sin and God’s grace will cover it.” What kind of attitude and devotion does that show towards a loving God Who freely, and undeservedly, offers that grace to us?

The materials brought to Moses (vs. 32-43)--Once everything was completed, all was brought and laid before Moses. The tabernacle was not constructed yet; that will be discussed in chapter 40. All the materials are again listed. This is tedious, but important. It is tedious, but important, for me to remind the reader the meaning of it--the completeness of doing God's will. Every item is listed, time again, every command of God explicitly written down as being obeyed. "According to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work" (v. 42). Oh, that these people had been as faithful in other matters as well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Exodus 38

The altar of burnt offerings (vs. 1-7)--Bezalel doubtless did a lot of this work himself, but just as doubtless had helpers, and he was the chief overseer. The instructions regarding the altar are found in Exodus 27:1-7, and they were followed to the letter. The account of the building of the tabernacle and the accoutrements thereof is not related in the same order as the instructions given to Moses by God. This can probably be explained by the activities of said building being done all at the same time. And, again, Bezalel was probably the chief overseer.

The laver (v. 8)--The construction of the laver gets only one verse. Its purpose is stated in Exodus 30:17-20. The priests were to wash before they could serve in the tabernacle, make their offerings of sacrifice, etc. The laver is a type of baptism. We must "wash" in the blood of Christ, be pure, before we can enter into true service to God and make our sacrifices to Him as a "royal priesthood" (I Pet. 2:9). Interestingly, verse 8 says that the laver was made "of the lookingglasses (mirrors) of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." In the ancient world, mirrors were nothing better than polished metal, which did not give as pure an reflection as our mirrors today. Thus, Paul could say about the age of incomplete revelation, "for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" (I Cor. 13:12). He was writing about 40 years before the New Testament was completed thus did not have full knowledge of the totality of God's word, comparing such to looking into one of these ancient mirrors. When the word of God was finally completed, men would be able to see (and now can see) "face to face"--we'll have a clear rendering of God's truth for us.

Who these "serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting"--or, better yet, exactly what they did--is not explained.

The court of the tabernacle (vs. 9-20)--There was an outer court which had a gate for an opening on the east side. Its construction and materials are related in these verses. The instructions regarding it are found in Exodus 27:9-19.

The "inventory," or "sum" (vs. 21-31)--The NKJV uses the first term, the KJV and ASV the latter. The construction of the tabernacle is related in the previous 2.5 chapters. This summation indicates how much material was used in the tabernacle--29 talents of gold, 100 talents of silver, and 70 talents of bronze. The exact relation today is not easy to determine, but Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary reckons it to be 250 pounds of gold and 125 pounds of silver. As today, the value of some metals was greater than others and thus computed differently. This is further complicated by the fact that just about every country in the ancient world accessed the weight of the talent differently. But above figures, even if not exactly accurate, do indicate the tremendous wealth put into the tabernacle. The Israelites were not "rich" by any means, so the giving of this much material, regardless of the size of the population, was significant indeed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Exodus 36

The offering for the sanctuary (vs. 1-7)--Verse 1 appears to belong with chapter 35, being a summary of what was commanded there. In verses 2-3, the work begins, with the people bringing their offerings on a continual basis ("every morning" (v. 3). They brought more than was necessary (v. 5), so Moses ordered them to cease their contributions (v. 6-7). Wouldn't it be wonderful if today the people of God gave more than was necessary to accomplish the work He has given us to do. The children of Israel had given "too much" (v. 7).

I hate to denigrate the act in view here--it is about the only time these people do something right--but financial giving is about the easiest part of any religion. It's the giving of our time, effort, and sacrifice that is the challenge. So while the children of Israel should certainly be commended for their generosity, it would have been nice if they had followed through with an active faithfulness to Jehovah.

The curtains made (vs. 8-19)--What we have for the next few chapters is almost a verbatim of what God told Moses in chapters 26ff. The key point is actually in 25:40, where the Lord says, regarding the tabernacle, "And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain." The repetition in chapters 36ff. of the instruction God gave earlier is to emphasize the importance of doing exactly what God said in the way He said do it. Moses was a faithful man of God, and that faithfulness is indicated in the fact that he did not attempt to change or "improve" on the Lord's plan. That is a serious crime committed by too many in Christendom today. There is a "pattern" today which we are to which we are to "hold fast" (II Tim. 2:13); there is nothing but condemnation, all through the Bible, of those who add to or take from His word. These chapters in Exodus, as tedious as they might be, are full indications of Moses' insistence of faithfully following exactly what Jehovah had instructed him.

These verses (8-19) are basically a repetition of Exodus 26:1-14 regarding making of the curtains of the tabernacle.

The supporting beams (vs. 20-34)--The reader may look at Exodus 26:15-29 for the initial account of this design.

The veil (vs. 35-36)--See Exodus 26:31-32. I have discussed these matters in some detail in those earlier posts, so I will not repeat them here. I will link to Exodus 26 at the end of this post.

The screen for the tabernacle door (vs. 37-38)--From Exodus 26:36-37.

Again, readers who wish more complete information on these tabernacle objects can refer to my posts on Exodus 26.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Exodus 35

The Sabbath law repeated (vs. 1-3)--The tabernacle is about to constructed, so repeating this law here was appropriate. Verse 3, "You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day," will have some especial significance in Numbers 15, as we shall see when we arrive there by and by.

The materials required (vs. 4-9)--Keep in mind that all the information which the Lord had given regarding the tabernacle (chapters 25-31) had been given only to Moses. So now he passes the instructions on to the people. The next few chapters will be, in many ways, a virtual repetition of what was stated in chapters 25-31. I shall talk more about that later. These materials, which are listed in verses 5-9, are "an offering to the Lord" (v. 5), commanded by Him (v. 4), and were to be from a "willing heart" (v. 5). Forced obedience is no obedience at all.

The responsibilities of the "gifted artisans" (vs. 10-19)--This tabernacle will be, in effect, the Lord's house on earth, so it was to be made of the best materials and by the most talented men. Their responsibilities are listed in detail in verses 10-19. Nothing is omitted.

The offering of the people (vs. 20-29)--For once, and for one of the very few times, the people are deserving of commendation. They responded willingly and generously, so generously that they brought more than was necessary to accomplish the work (36:5). The offerings, as the Lord had desired, came from everyone "whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing" (v. 21), and again, the materials are listed in detail to indicate the total obedience to the Lord's command. As noted above, forced obedience is no obedience at all, and neither is partial obedience. Women were among the "gifted artisans," and they "spun yarn with their hands" (v. 25). Verse 29 emphasizes that this was a "freewill offering to the Lord" from "all the men and women whose hearts were willing."

The special artisans (vs. 30-35)--A man named Bezalel from the tribe of Judah was selected by the Lord to build the tabernacle and oversee the work done. He didn't do it all by himself, of course; he apparently became, in effect, the "foreman" of the job because part of his responsibility was to teach others. He would have help in that regard from a man named Aholiab (v. 34).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Exodus 34

Moses receives the two tables of stone (vs. 1-9)--The reader may recall that he had smashed the first two in anger over seeing the Israelites worshipping the golden calf (chapter 32). There is no indication of rebuke from Jehovah for what he did. The Lord required Moses to return, alone, to the top of the mountain (vs. 2-3). Moses obeyed and the Lord "descended in the cloud" and met him (v. 5). God descending and ascending in clouds is a common occurrence in Scripture. Usually it's intended in a figurative sense (Matt. 24:30; 26:64), but not always. Jehovah announces His character in verses 6 and 7: He is merciful, but just, and some sins have consequences beyond the generation that commits them (v. 7). Keep in mind that the Jews did not know this God very well, so He continues to drill them on who--and what--He is. Moses knows Him better than anyone, and bows before Him (v. 8), asking for forgiveness for himself and his people (v. 9).

Sundry commandments repeated (vs. 10-26)--God is "awesome" (NKJV, v. 10; the KJV's and ASV's "terrible" conveys a negative sense which is not indicated by the context), and has made a covenant with Israel and would do "marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation" (v. 10). Israel's response, of course, was to be obedient, driving out of Canaan the wicked tribes who might influence God's people to sin (v. 11). Don't make a covenant with them (v. 12), but "you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images" (v. 13). Israel was to have only one God (v. 14). The Lord feared--knew--that if the Israelites intermingled with the pagan peoples of Canaan, they would "play the harlot with their gods" (v. 16). Once again, the principle of "evil companions corrupt good morals" (I Cor. 15:33) is announced. It shouldn't be that way; godly people should lift the ungodly to a higher standard, but it doesn't always happen that way, and we are warned, constantly, about the influence the wicked can have on us.

Rather than worshipping false gods, Israel was to keep the feasts God had appointed for them. He mentions only the Passover here (v. 18). God requires the first of male and animal (v. 19, a donkey may be redeemed with a lamb), "and none shall appear before Me empty-handed" (v. 20). They owed God everything (as do we), and to give Him nothing in return is an insult of the highest order.

The theme of serving only God is continued for the rest of the chapter. Just as Jehovah had done at the creation, the Jews were to work six days and rest on the seven (v. 21). The other two yearly feasts (the Feast of Weeks--Pentecost--and the Feast of Ingathering--Tabernacles) are now mentioned (v. 22), which means the Jewish males were to "appear before the Lord, the God of Israel" three times a year (v. 23). God would providentially protect them at this time (v. 24), which is an important thought. If all the males of Israel were in Jerusalem three times a year, who would safeguard them from invasion by their enemies? The Lord would: "neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year" (v. 24). No blood sacrifice was allowed at the Passover, and again, the Lord repeats the instruction that they are to give the first of their goods to Him (v. 26). The stricture "you shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk" has been found before (Exodus 23:19). Clarke has a quote from another writer which is interesting and possibly the reason behind this command: ""It was a custom of the ancient heathens, when they had gathered in all their fruits, to take a kid and boil it in the milk of its dam; and then, in a magical way, to go about and besprinkle with it all their trees and fields, gardens and orchards; thinking by these means to make them fruitful, that they might bring forth more abundantly in the following year."

Moses returns with the tables of stone (vs. 27-35)--The Lord commanded Moses to write down what he had been told (v. 27). Moses was on the mount 40 days and nights again (v. 28), miraculously sustained by God--"he neither ate bread nor drank water." Verse 27 also indicates that only the Ten Commandments were on the tablets, although this could be representative of the whole law. It is a little difficult to conceive of the whole law being written on two stones small enough for Moses to carry.

When Moses returned to the people "the skin of his face shone" and the people were afraid to come near him (v. 30). This condition apparently lasted for awhile (v. 35), and Moses had to wear a veil when he spoke to the people, but not with God (v. 34). As he always faithfully did, Moses passed Jehovah's commandments on to the people (v. 32).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Exodus 33

The command to go to Canaan (vs. 1-6)--At some point following the events of chapter 32, God once again commands Moses to lead the people to the Promised Land. But Jehovah is so annoyed with their rebellious spirit that He tells them "I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people" (v. 3). The taking off of ornaments, which would have included rich garments, was apparently a sign of mourning (vs. 4-5). The people were certainly distressed over the "bad news" that God would not travel in their midst, but it was their own fault.

The temporary tabernacle (vs. 7-11)--Since the permanent tabernacle had not yet been constructed, Moses took his own tent to serve as a temporary one. It was called the "tabernacle of meeting" (v. 7). Moses placed it "far from the camp" (v. 7)—reverence for the presence of God. It was a solemn occasion when Moses went to this tabernacle: "all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle" (v. 9). The Lord came and talked with Moses at such times (v. 9), appearing in a cloud. The people saw "the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door" and worshiped (v. 10). Verse 11 provides a wonderful compliment to Moses: "So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." Joshua is called a "young man" in this verse, which may be so compared to Moses and Aaron. But he would have been at least 50 years old at the time.

Moses requests guidance (vs. 12-16)--One of the reasons Moses was such a great man was his humility and dependence upon God. Jehovah has given him the command to take the people to Canaan, but the exact details had not yet been given. So Moses requests "Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight" (v. 13). The only answer he gets at the moment is the Lord telling him "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (v. 14). Moses confirms that, responding, in effect, "Well, if You won't go with us, then there's really no sense in us going at all. Because how will we know we have found grace in your sight, if You aren't with us?"

The Lord shows Moses His glory (vs. 17-23)--Moses' mission was a difficult one--to lead over 2 million people through a hot, dry desert on a lengthy journey. The Lord knew it was a mighty task and gave Moses further comfort and confirmation by allowing, upon Moses' request, His servant to see His glory. All Moses was allowed to see, however, was Jehovah's back (v. 23), for "you cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live" (v. 20). So the Lord puts Moses "in the cleft of the rock" and covered him with His hand as He passed by (v. 22). This is one of those great Biblical scenes one wishes he could witness.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Exodus 32

The golden calf (vs. 1-6)--It will take many centuries--almost 10, 1,000 years--before idolatry is completed washed out of Israel, and it would require Babylonian captivity to do it. These people had been raised in a polytheistic background, a background which had generations of human history behind it. Yet, they had seen what Jehovah had done in Egypt, and been told that He was the only true God, that there was no other. So they had no excuse for their actions here. Because Moses "delayed coming down from the mountain" (v. 1), the people petitioned Aaron to make them "gods that shall go before us." Aaron is extremely weak here; he apparently immediately agrees to the request, tells the people to provide him with gold, and fashions a "molded calf" (vs. 2-4). The calf, or bull, was a prominent manifestation of deity in the ancient world, representing procreation. Such is understandable--to a point--in a world where life was short and many hands were needed for agriculture or war. Once the calf was finished, Aaron proclaims a "feast to Jehovah" for the next day (v. 5). Was this golden calf simply to be a visible manifestation of Jehovah? Perhaps. But even if so, they had a conception of Jehovah no higher than the Egyptians' conception of their gods. The Lord God is not just a procreative bull.

Moses' intervention (vs. 7-14)--The forming of the golden calf coincided, in time, with the completion of the first session of law-giving to Moses. So the Lord sends Moses back down the mountain because the people "have corrupted themselves." The Lord threatens to destroy the whole people, and give Moses the blessing: "I will make of you a great nation" (v. 10). Moses pleads with the Lord not to obliterate the children of Israel: "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever'" (v. 13). There are two things going on here. First, we see the power of intercessory prayer. Moses appeals in behalf ot the people and the Lord hears His servant. Plus, this is almost surely a test of Moses. God had just told him that He would make of him an illustrious, numerous nation. Having a renowned offspring was a very important matter in the ancient world, so this would be a far greater temptation to Moses than it would be to us. But Moses passes the test; God's promise to Abraham was more imperative than the lawgiver's own lineage. It is one example of the outstanding piety and character of Moses. Jehovah, of course, did not destroy Israel (v. 14).

The sound of music (vs. 15-18)--Moses, carrying the two tables of stone, descended the mountain where he came to the place Joshua was waiting. Joshua thought the noise below in the camp was "a noise of war" (v. 17), but Moses tells him, no, it is "the sound of singing" (v. 18). Revelry.

Moses confronts Aaron (vs. 19-24)--When Moses got within sight of the camp, the situation perhaps appeared worse to him than he had initially suspected. He became so angry that "he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain" (v. 19). He then ground the golden calf into powder, cast it into the water by the camp, and made the children of Israel drink it (v. 20). It is interesting that they did not oppose him in any way (at least as it is recorded). His anger was fierce, but their remembrance of the power and awesomeness of God was surely still in their minds; they probably feared that He might do to them what He had done in Egypt. Was there shame in Israel? If so, it isn't evident from the account. Moses then confronts his brother: "'What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?'" (v. 21). Perhaps he is giving Aaron the benefit of the doubt here; did the people threaten you to make you do this? But Aaron has no justifiable reason, of course, not even fear for his own life. Verse 24 is pitiful: "And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.' So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out." Yes, Aaron just tossed all the gold into the fire, and poof, this calf was formed and out it came! Moses must have been disgusted with such an explanation.

"Who is on the Lord's side?" (vs. 25-29)--Seeing an "unrestrained" people, "for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies" (v. 25), Moses wants to know if there are any who would stand with him for God: "'Whoever is on the LORD'S side--come to me'" (v. 26). The tribe of Levi gathered to him. Jehovah had already chosen the Levites to be the priestly tribe; perhaps His foreknowledge of their dedication here was one reason why. Levi was also the tribe of Moses--and Aaron. Moses commands the Levites to punish the people, and 3,000 men were killed (v. 28). Moses then tells the people to consecrate themselves back to the Lord, "that He may bestow on you a blessing this day" (v. 29).

Moses talks with God (vs. 30-35)--Moses tells the people that they have "committed a great sin," and he would go back up the mountain and converse with Jehovah: "perhaps I can make atonement for your sin" (v. 30). Moses asks the Lord to forgive the Israelites, but if He will not, "blot me out of Your book which You have written"--a noble, humble request. "Punish me along with my people." Perhaps Moses felt a responsibility for their deed, that he had not led them as he should. Regardless, the Lord tells him that only sinners will be blotted out of the book, and that didn't include Moses. God then informs His servant that he should continue the mission of bringing the people to the Promised Land, and that "mine angel shall go before thee" (v. 34). Yet, the people's punishment was not finished. "The LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made" (v. 35). We have no way of knowing what this "plague" consisted of, but surely it wasn't pleasant and was fitting for the occasion.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Exodus 31

The artisans of the tabernacle (vs. 1-11)--There were men with certain God-given talents whom the Lord commissioned to do the work of making all the utensils, etc., for the tabernacle. One of them was a man named Bezalel, whom God had "filled...with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" (v. 3). There is no reason to consider this as a miraculous endowment. If I have any talent from God, it wasn't given to me miraculously, I was born with it and developed it further. How the Lord put these abilities into man's genetic make-up is something that we will never understand on this earth. "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Bezalel was to be helped by a man named Aholiab. No doubt they would have assistants because they were to make everything (vs. 7-11). But these two men would be the overseers.

The Sabbath day once again hallowed (vs. 12-17)--The Lord had mentioned the importance of the Sabbath (Exodus 16 and 20), but emphasizes it again here. It is to be a holy day; "Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people" (v. 14). The "cutting off" here is defined in verse 15 as "surely...put to death." The Sabbath was a "sign" between God and Israel (v. 17). As He labored six days in creating the heavens and the earth, then "rested" on the seventh, even so it was to be among the Israelites. That has changed in the New Testament dispensation. The Lord Jesus was raised on Sunday, and that is the holy day to be observed now.

The tablets of testimony (v. 18)--Some suppose that only the Ten Commandments are meant here; the account is not clear. Since much of the law had not been given yet (i.e., many laws in Leviticus and Numbers), it's possible that only the Ten Commandments are intended. It's not an important point.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Exodus 30

The altar of incense (vs. 1-10)--This altar was also to be made of acacia wood, and overlaid with gold. It was twice as high as it was broad (v. 2), perhaps 18-21 inches by 3 to 3.5 feet high, again depending upon the length of a cubit. It was to be overlaid with gold (v. 3). There was to be horns on it (v. 2), and two golden rings with poles to carry it. The altar of incense was to be placed before the veil of the Most Holy Place (v. 6). Incense was to be burned upon it every morning and every night (vs. 7-8). The recipe for the incense was given in verses 34-38 of this chapter; and the warning given, "you shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it" (v. 9).

The redemption money (vs. 11-16)--Every male, 20 years of age and up, was to give a half-shekel as a "ransom for himself to the Lord" (v. 12). It was to be "an offering to the Lord" (v. 13). Everybody, rich and poor, gave the same amount, because every man's soul was equal in the eyes of God. The money raised was to be used "for the service of the tabernacle" (v. 16), and as a memorial for the people.

The bronze laver (vs. 17-21)--Before the priests could "go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister" (v. 20), they were to wash--no unclean thing before the Lord. The laver was to be place between the door of tabernacle and the altar (v. 18). The priests had to wash, "lest they die" (v. 20)--not only their hands, but also their feet (v. 21). "And it shall be a statute forever to them--to him and his descendants throughout their generations." The bronze ("brass," KJV) almost assuredly typifies baptism. Before we can enter the service of the Lord, we, too, must wash with "water." Thankfully, because of the work of Christ, our "washing" need take place only once.

The holy anointing oil (vs. 22-33)--Everything, including Aaron and his sons, was to be anointed with this "holy anointing oil" (v. 34). It was to be made from myrrh, cinnamon, cane, cassia, and olive oil. It would thus smell lovely; indeed, it was to be "an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer" (v. 25). Verses 26-30 list all the items which were to be anointed which, as noted, included everything in the tabernacle. Since it was holy, it was never to be reproduced or used for man's profane purposes. Anybody who tried to make oil like it "shall be cut off from his people" (v. 33).

The composition of the incense (vs. 34-38)--Moses is then given instructions on how to create the incense. It was made from "sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each" (v. 34). It, too, was "a compound according to the art of the perfumer," and, in this case, "salted, pure, and holy" (v. 35). It was thus holy and must not be reproduced for human use, either, on pains of the same penalty as the holy anointing oil (v. 38).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Exodus 29

The consecration of the High Priest (vs. 1-28)—Everything/everyone that comes before God must be pure and holy, and that certainly means people above all. Before he could assume his duties as High Priest, Aaron had to be consecrated (made holy) before the Lord. It was an elaborate ceremony, but the functions of his office would be ineffectual without this purification. There were four steps in the process:

Washing and anointing of Aaron and his sons (vs. 1-9)—The whole process would involve one young bull and two rams “without blemish” (v. 1), plus unleavened bread, cakes, and wafers made of wheat flour, with some oil in the process. The first step was to wash Aaron and his sons with water at the door of the tabernacle (before they could enter, v. 4). Then the priestly garments were to be put on Aaron (vs. 5-6) and he was to be anointed with oil (v. 7). Moses was to put tunics on Aaron’s sons, and sashes and hats on all (vs. 8-9). The priesthood is given to Aaron’s family “for a perpetual statute” (v. 9).

The sin offering (vs. 10-14)—The bull was to be brought forth, and Aaron and his sons were to lay their hands on it (signalizing the transference of sin from themselves to the animal, v. 10). The bull was to killed (v. 11), and the blood distributed in various ways around the altar (v. 12). Some of the bull was to be burnt on the altar and some outside the camp (vs. 13-14). “It is a sin offering” (v. 14).

The burnt offering (vs. 15-18)—One of the rams was to be offered as “a burnt offering to the LORD; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD” (v. 18). The process and details were largely the same as for the bull (vs. 15-17).

The “ram of consecration” (vs. 19-28)—There is a different process involved for this offering, which I won’t detail; the reader can study them as he/she wishes. The key here is the “consecration.” The offering (which in this case included the bread, cake, and wafer, v. 23) was to be put into the hands of Aaron and his sons and given back, thus denoting that the person now has a right to offer a sacrifice before God. The “wave offering” (v. 24) was apparently a back and forth motion, while the “heave offering” (v. 28) was up and down. The purpose of this is not explained. The ram, of course, was to be offered as a burnt offering (v. 25).

By these four steps, Aaron and his sons were purified for service to the Lord

Consecration of the successor (vs. 29-30)—A medley of matters concludes the chapter. Aaron’s High Priest’s garments were to be passed on to his son-successor, who was to be anointed and consecrated in them, and wear them for seven days.

The priest’s part of the sacrifice (vs. 31-34)—Since the Levites weren’t given any land for agricultural production—they were to devote themselves totally to religious service—they were to be supported by the rest of Israel. Part of that was a portion of the sacrificial offering. Anything not eaten was to be burned, “because it is holy” (v. 34). No one else could eat it.

The initial consecration (vs. 35-37)—During the period of Aaron and his son’s consecration (seven days, v. 35), a bull was to be offered every day “as a sin offering for atonement” (v. 36). The altar was to be cleansed and anointed for seven days “to sanctify it” (v. 36). “The altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar must be holy” (v. 37). Holiness before the Lord. If such were true under the older, inferior law, how much truer must it be in the newer, perfect law?

The perpetual sacrifices (vs. 38-46)—Once the sacrificial system was instituted, two lambs were to be offered every day, one in the morning, one at night (vs. 38-39). Also, “one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering” (v. 40). This was to be “a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD” (v. 42). The Lord would accept and sanctify these offerings and “dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God” (v. 45). And they would know Him, too (v. 46). Such was contingent, of course, upon their obedience, which was not continually forthcoming.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Exodus 28

Selection of the Levites as priests (vs. 1-5)--The tribe of Levi became the priestly tribe of Israel. In this section the Lord established the lineage of Aaron as High Priest, but all of Levi’s sons (he had three) played a role in the religious ceremonies. Those will be spelled out in detail later in the Law. The priests--High Priest and regular--were to wear elaborate garments, and those of the High Priest are detailed in this chapter. The clothing is listed in verse 4: “a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle.” These garments are “holy” (v. 4), and made of “fine linen” (v. 5).

The ephod (vs. 6-14)--This was a sacred vestment originally worn only by the High Priest, but eventually by ordinary priests as well (I Sam. 22:18). Apparently, any such garment worn over the human trunk was called an “ephod,” because at least once David wore one (II Sam. 6:14). The garment consisted of two pieces, which hung from the neck, thus covering both back and front. It had two onyx stones on it, each engraved with six of the names of the sons of Israel (vs. 9-10). “You shall set them in settings of gold” (vs. 11-13). Two chains of pure gold were also on the ephod (v. 14).

The breastplate (vs. 15-30)—It’s called the “breastplate of judgment” (v. 15). It was also to be made of “fine woven linen” (v. 16). The most outstanding feature of the breastplate was it four rows of precious stones, three in a row, each stone being engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes (vs. 17-21). It was about 10 inches square (a “span,” v. 16). There were two chains of gold on the breastplate, which fit through two golden rings and attached to the ephod (v. 22-25). Also attached to the breastplate was something called the “Urim and Thummin,” literally, “the lights and the perfections.” We do not know exactly what they were, except that, at times, God imparted to Israel through the High Priest some direction and counsel. Numbers 27:21 reads, in part, “He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the LORD for him by the judgment of the Urim.” I Samuel 28:6 says, “And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.” So God communicated at times through the means of the Urim and Thummin. They were apparently material objects, but of what composition is subject to speculation.

The robe (vs. 31-35)—The robe of the ephod was to be “all of blue” (v. 31). On the hem of the robe, “you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet, all around its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around” (vs. 33-34). This was very important. Its sound was to be heard when the High Priest went into the “holy place before the LORD and when he comes out, that he may not die” (v. 35). The significance of this is not explained, other than that’s what Jehovah wanted.

On the High Priest’s head (vs. 36-39)—A plate of pure gold was to be placed on the High Priest’s forehead, engraved with the words “Holiness to the Lord.” It was attached to the turban (vs. 37, 39) by a blue cord. The importance of this is described in verse 38: “So it shall be on Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.” The relation to something on the High Priest’s head to the iniquity of the people is not immediately evident, but then, the commands of God don’t always make sense to us, and they don’t need to. If He says it, that’s all we need.

The tunic and trousers (vs. 40-43)—The priests were also to wear a tunic with a sash around it (v. 40), and “linen trousers to cover their nakedness; they shall reach from the waist to the thighs” (v. 42), “that they do no incur iniquity and die” (v. 43). This entire outfit was to be perpetual for the priests of the old law (v. 43).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Exodus 27

The altar (vs. 1-8)—In these verses, Moses is given instructions regarding the building the altar of sacrifices. It was about 8 feet long and wide and 4 feet high (v. 1, again, depending on the measurement of a cubit). It had horns on each corner (v. 2), and there were various pans, shovels, basins, and forks for maintenance (v. 3). And, like the ark, it was to be borne by two poles, made of acacia wood (v. 6), slipped through “four bronze rings at its four corners” (v. 4). In this case, everything was to be overlaid with bronze (brass), not gold. “Bronze” is probably a better word than the KJV’s “brass,” being an alloy of copper and tin widely in use at the time.

The court (vs. 9-19)—The entire tabernacle structure lay north and south. It was about 50 yards long, 25 yards wide, and 7 ½ feet high. The curtains for the court were to be of “fine woven linen” (v. 9), with twenty pillars and twenty sockets of bronze (v. 10). “The hooks of the pillars and their bands shall be silver” (v. 10). It must have been lovely. It was certainly expensive! But again, only the best for the Lord. The opening (“gate”) of the court had a screen about 30 feed in width, “woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver. It shall have four pillars and four sockets. All the pillars around the court shall have bands of silver; their hooks shall be of silver and their sockets of bronze” (vs. 16-17). All the utensils for the service of the tabernacle (unless otherwise noted) were to be of bronze (v. 19).

The oil for the lamp (vs. 20-21)—The golden candlestick, as explained earlier, was to be in the “Holy Place,” outside the “Most Holy Place”. The oil to light the lamps on the candlestick were to be of “pure oil of pressed olives…to cause the lamp to burn continually” (v. 20). The priests were to attend to the lamps all night to keep them burning. Josephus says that four of the lamps were extinguished in the morning, while three were kept burning all the time. But Exodus 30:8 and I Samuel 3:3 seem to indicate that the lamps did not burn during the day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Exodus 26

The inner and outer curtains of the tabernacle (vs. 1-14)—Here we have, in detail, how the tabernacle was to be constructed. Ten inner curtains were to be made with “fine woven linen” (v. 1), and they were to be of uniform length and width: “every one of the curtains shall have the same measurements” (v. 2). Verses 3 through 6 tell how they were to be attached; I will only mention that, once again, the materials were to be of the highest quality. There were to be 11 outer curtains, a second covering, and their construction is described in verses 7-14. They were to be made of goats’ hair (v. 7), and they, too, “shall all have the same measurements” (v. 8). Their attachment (vs. 9-13) was similar to the inner curtains. There was a third covering “of ram skins dyed red for the tent, and a covering of badger skins above that” (v. 14).

The structure of the tabernacle (vs. 15-30)—The building itself was to be built of acacia wood. The length of the boards, how they were to be attached and coupled together, and so forth are all given in detail. It is not terribly interesting, unless one is an architect, I suppose. But that doesn’t make this material unimportant. All things were to be done “according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain” (v. 30). When God gives details, He expects to be obeyed. The tabernacle was very important to the children of Israel, of course, and thus they will follow these instructions to the letter, as is recounted later in the book.

The veil (vs. 31-35)—We have here explained the fashioning of the veil, which was to be situated between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. It was to be “woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim” (v. 31). The hooks upon which it hung were to be of gold, with four sockets of silver (v. 32). Again, the most precious materials were to be used. Some crucial information is then given: “you shall bring the ark of the Testimony in there, behind the veil. The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy. You shall put the mercy seat upon the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy. You shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand across from the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side” (vs. 33-35). To briefly sum that up, the ark of the covenant was to be in the “Most Holy Place,” with the lampstand and table for the showbread in the Holy Place (the altar of incense would also be there). The veil would divide the two locations. The various ceremonies regarding these items will be described later in the Law.

The screen for the door (vs. 36-37)--The last two verses of the chapter speak of a screen (or “hanging,” KJV) for the door of the tabernacle. Given our conception of a “screen,” the word “hanging” might be better, because it to was to be “woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver” (v. 36). To hold up the screen, “five pillars of acacia wood,” overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold and sockets of bronze were to be fashioned. Again, only the best, which is what God deserves.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Exodus 25

Materials for the tabernacle (vs. 1-9)—For the next several chapters, the Lord is going to give Moses instructions regarding the items used in the tabernacle (and later, the temple), and the building thereof. The information here can get a little tedious, unless one is into this sort of thing. But, there is a reason behind everything God does. This tabernacle was to be the place where the children of Israel worshipped God, and where He spoke to them. As is due a holy, perfect God, He demanded a pure, perfect tabernacle. More than once, He will tell Moses “according to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it” (v. 9). Jehovah wanted things a certain way, and Moses was to follow that pattern, just as we today are to “hold the pattern of sound words” (II Tim. 1:13).

These first verses list the materials God wants in building the tabernacle. Moses was to get them from the people as a freewill offering; for once, they demonstrate their willingness to please God (Ex. 36:5). The items God asks for are the best and most valuable (vs. 3-7), which, again is only right—God should be given the first and the best.

The ark of the covenant (vs. 10-22)—The ark was a chest; its dimensions are given in verse 10—if we grant a cubit to be 18 inches, then the ark would be 45 inches long (not quite four feet), and 27 inches wide and high. It was to be made of acacia wood (“shittim wood”, KJV), which cannot be precisely identified today. The ark was to be overlaid completely in gold (v. 11). There were to be four rings of gold on the four corners (v. 12), also of gold, and four poles of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, to put into the rings for the purpose of transport (vs. 14-15). The two tables of stone, which God had not yet given to Moses, were to be placed inside the ark. A “mercy seat” of pure gold was to be placed on top of the ark (vs. 17, 21); God would “speak with you from above the mercy seat” (v. 22). The seat was to be made of pure gold, as were two “cherubim” (angels) who would be placed on the top of the ark as well, facing each other, their wings spread above the mercy seat (vs. 18-20). As we shall see, the ark was to be located in the “Most Holy Place” of the tabernacle.

The table for the showbread (vs. 23-30)—The next instructions concern a table for “showbread”; more instructions regarding the showbread are found in Leviticus 24:5-9, and which I shall discuss when I reach that point. Here God simply tells Moses how to build the table upon which the showbread was to be placed. The table was to be of acacias wood (v. 23), three feet long, 18 inches broad, and two feet three inches high (v. 23)—about the size of a small coffee table. It, too, was to be plated with pure god (v. 24). A frame of golden molding was to be built all around the table (v. 25), and four rings were to be placed on each of the corners, with poles for the rings (vs. 26-28). The rings were of pure gold, the poles of acacia wood overlaid with gold. Moses was also to make various dishes, pans, pitchers, and bowls “for pouring” for the table (v. 29), all of which were to be of pure gold. The showbread was to always be on the table; it would be changed every Sabbath. Nobody was supposed to eat it but the priests. Again, see Leviticus 24:5-9 for more information regarding that.

The lampstand (vs. 31-40)—A golden lampstand would illuminate the Holy Place in the tabernacle (and temple). It would be made of one talent of solid gold (v. 39, very expensive). The lampstand would have seven lamps (the holy number, v. 37), with various ornamentations that I won’t describe here. The reader can peruse those at his/her leisure. But, again, the lampstand was to be of solid gold, as were all its ornaments and utensils. The chapter ends with God admonishing Moses once again, “see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain” (v. 40). God wants things done His way, not ours. It would be nice if religious people today would adhere to that dictum.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Exodus 24

The covenant ratified (vs. 1-8)—There is a brief interlude in the explanation of the law to once again demonstrate the glory of the Lord. Jehovah calls Moses, Aaron, the latter’s two sons Nadab and Abihu, and 70 elders of Israel (the perfect spiritual number) up to the mountain to “worship from afar” (v. 1). Only Moses may approach Him (v. 2). Before they do this, Moses informs the people of “all the words of the Lord and the judgments.” The people agree to obey Jehovah (v. 3). Moses writes down everything Jehovah has told him so far, then builds an altar and twelve pillars “according to the twelve tribes of Israel” (v. 4). “Young men” are sent to offer burnt offerings (v. 5); the Levitical priesthood has yet to be established. Moses then takes the blood of the offerings, puts half of it “in basins” and half of it he sprinkles on the altar and on the people (vs. 6-8). The people once again declare their loyalty to the Lord. The blood sprinkled on them ratifies that covenant, and Moses let them know it: “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words" (v. 8). The people have made a commitment to God, just as He had made a promise to them. He certainly will fulfill His end of the deal; they will not.

The glory of the Lord (vs. 9-18)—The Law of Moses was a very sacred thing, of course, and the reverence the Israelites were to have for it is emphasized by the Lord’s appearance on the mount again. After ratifying the covenant, Moses takes Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the 70 elders up the mountain (v. 9); we learn subsequently that Joshua went, too (v. 13). They all “saw the God of Israel”—only in a manifestation which He allowed, of course—but it was certainly an impressive sight: “And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity” (v. 10). And that was only what was under His feet! Verse 11 is not easy of explanation. The Lord did not lay his hand on any of those who came upon the mountain, and “they ate and drank” (v. 11). Perhaps He wanted them not to be afraid, though reverence and respect were certainly demanded. Again, only Moses was allowed to approach Jehovah, and He would give Moses more of the law which He had written (v. 12). Interestingly, Joshua was with Moses (v. 13), but we don’t know exactly how far he went, for the text says “Moses went up to the mountain of God” (v. 13). Before he left, Moses told the elders to wait for “us” until they returned. Aaron and Hur (Miriam’s husband) were to serve as judges in Moses’ staid until he returned (v. 14). As Moses ascended the mountain, “a cloud covered the mountain” (v. 15), representing “the glory of the Lord” (v. 16). This cloud covered the mountain six days (v. 16). On the seventh day, the Lord called to Moses “out of the midst of the cloud,” where the latter remained forty days and nights (v. 18). “The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel” (v. 17). It was an awesome, intimidating sight, no doubt, and it was intended to be. Jehovah was hoping to inspire obedience in the people with this mighty show of His glory, but how soon people forget. Indeed, it will be during this forty day period that they will build the golden calf. More on that in a subsequent chapter.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Exodus 23

Honesty and justice (vs. 1-9)—Several laws dealing with honest behavior:
--v. 1—No rumor-mongering or false witnessing;
--v. 2—don’t follow the evil multitudes, nor testify in a way that perverts justice;
--v. 3—just as they were not supposed to show partiality to the rich, don’t do it to the poor, either; justice is justice;
--vs. 4-5—“love your enemy”; if there is a way you can help him (the example of restoring and aiding his animal is used) then do it;
--v. 6—is the opposite of verse 3; don’t pervert the judgment of the poor;
--v. 7—stay “far” away from any false matter; “do not kill the innocent and righteous” may be in regard to judicial matters, given the context;
--v. 8—don’t take a bribe; that leads to a perversion of justice;
--v. 9—don’t cheat a non-Israelite; JUSTICE IS JUSTICE.

The Sabbath rests (vs. 10-13)—The people were to work the land for six years, and to let it lie fallow the seventh (vs. 10-11). This is not bad agricultural practice, which the Lord certainly knew, and the Israelites might have known as well. There are indications later in the Scripture that the people didn’t do this. Part of the rationale for this was to help the poor (v. 11). Israel had no governmental welfare system, a scheme which has nearly always been abused in history. Benevolence is not virtuous unless done voluntarily, and that is what the Lord expected of Israel (and us). The command to not labor on the Sabbath is repeated here again, no doubt for emphasis (v. 12). Don’t even speak of other gods (v. 13).

The three major feasts (vs. 14-19)—The Passover has already been detailed for the people at length, but is mentioned here again, as well as the two other major feasts the children of Israel were to celebrate. Three times a year all males were to go to Jerusalem for these feasts. The Passover was to be celebrated in the month of Abib, the first month of the year (v. 15). It’s also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread (v. 15). Fifty days later, they were to celebrate the Feast of Harvest (Pentecost), “the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field” (v. 16), and then “at the end of the year,” they were to observe the Feast of Ingathering, or Feast of Tabernacles as it was more popularly called. Again, only the males were required to attend, but by Jesus’ time, females usually went as well. Leavened bread was not to be offered with any sacrifice, and the fat of the sacrifice was to be disposed of before the next morning. There will be more details of all this later in the Law. The section closes with the interesting admonition: “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk” (v. 19). Apparently this was a practice of the pagan peoples around them that the Lord did not want imitated.

Led by an angel (vs. 20-33)—The Lord once again encourages the people to be obedient. If they do, they will be blessed and their enemies will fall before them. An angel will lead them “into the place which I have prepared” (v. 20). Obey Him (v. 21), for, in effect, he speaks for the Lord. If they do obey him, the Lord would be “an enemy to your enemies” (v. 22). The wicked people of the land would be “cut…off” (v. 23). Part of the obedience demanded was not to bow down to the pagan gods, but to “utterly overthrow them” (v. 24). Serve the Lord and He would provide them food, protect them from illness, and make them fertile (vs. 25-26). He would confuse their enemies and drive them out (vs. 27-28). It’s a little difficult to believe that the “hornets” of verse 28 is literal; God a horde of stinging Israelites would plague the Canaanites. Verse 29 is significant. The Lord told them that He would not drive the Canaanites out of the land all in one year; somebody needed to work the land until Israel could apportion it among the tribes. So the pagan nations would be removed “little by little” (v. 30). The boundaries of the land are once again stated, as is the command not to make a covenant with the people of Canaan, nor serve their gods (vs. 32-33). “For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you" (v. 33). Jehovah repeats this no doubt because of its importance, and for emphasis. The Israelites were almost assuredly still a polytheistic people, and the Lord wanted that feature to be cleaned out of them. There is only one God, and they needed to learn that and serve only Him.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Exodus 22

Laws of restitution (vs. 1-15)—These laws are simple, fair, and just. Again, keep in mind that the Lord is dealing with a primitive people here, and bringing them out of a civil darkness that is unknown in most of the modern world (largely due to God’s laws in the Old and New Testament). There are laws that seem harsh to us, but they were necessary to instruct and control this semi-barbaric people.

A quick rundown of the laws:
--if a man steals and ox or sheep, if he slaughters or sells it, he must pay back five oxen or four sheep (v. 1);
--if a thief is killed breaking and entering, there is no punishment for his killer (v. 2);
--if the thief is caught with the goods, he must make full restitution; if he didn’t have anything, he was to be sold into slavery (v. 3); an ox or donkey was to be restored double (v. 4);
--if a man’s animal is caught grazing in somebody else’s field, then he must give the best of his own field to the other owner (v. 5);
--an arsonist must make restitution (v. 6), though the amount is not stated;
--if a man asks another to safe-keep some goods, if those goods are stolen, the thief (if found), had to pay double (v. 7); if the thief wasn’t found, then the issue was to be decided in court (v. 8);
--if there is a dispute between two men over ownership of certain goods, that was to be decided by the judges, too; the loser paid double (v. 9);
--if man A safe-keeps some livestock for man B, and the animal is lost somehow (“no one seeing it”), then man A can take “an oath of the Lord” and not have to pay for the lost animal (vs. 10-11); but if the animal is stolen, he has to make restitution—it was in his safe-keeping (v. 12). If the animal was killed by a beast, he is not held guilty of that. Such things happened all the time (v. 13).
--if man A borrows from man B, and the thing borrowed becomes destroyed somehow, man A must pay for it (v. 14), unless the owner was present (v. 15).

These are the basic laws of restitution. They are wise and proper.

Sundry other laws (vs. 16-31)—We don’t like some of these, but again, God is dealing with a different people here who needed to learn some valuable lessons, especially about purity and service to Him. So some of the penalties are strict.

Here is a brief summary of each:
--if a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, he must marry her. If her father utterly refuses to give him to her, then the father must pay money to keep his daughter (vs. 16-17). The idea here is to protect the woman, of course. If a man seduces a woman, he better be prepared to marry her. This law is not for rape; it’s for deception. A man who deceived a young woman paid for it by having to marry her. Or, the father might release him by paying the dowry;
--a sorceress (witch) was to be put to death (v. 18). She lured men away from God. This is an Old Testament law, not a New Testament command, but some ignorants over the last 2,000 years have used it judicially to kill suspected witches;
--bestiality was a capital crime (v. 19), as was sacrificing to any god but Jehovah (v. 20);
--widows and orphans (the helpless) must not be mistreated; oppression of the needy made God very angry (vs. 22-24);
--the poor were not to be exploited; moneylenders could not charge them interest; if his cloak was taken as collateral, it was to be returned before sundown so that he could be protected from the cold night (vs. 25-27). The “poor” aren’t defined here, but it was expected that the people would be able to recognize them or judge properly. Human relations were (are) very important to God, and it was expected that mercy be shown to the less fortunate. After all, He had been merciful to all of Israel, rich and poor;
--verse 28 is a bit ambiguous. The NKJV has “God,” the ASV and KJV has “gods.” The latter is probably correct, given the rest of the verse; “gods” here means “magistrates,” not foreign deities. Authority was to be respected, in religion, the home, and government;
--of their farm produce and sons, they were to give God the first, the best, and without delay (v. 29). It would be nice if God’s people honored that principle today;
--the same principle was true of animals, though the babe was allowed seven days with its mother (v. 30); this was perhaps for the health of the mother, or the full development of the young one. The Romans didn’t consider a lamb pure or clean before the eighth day, nor a calf before the thirtieth;
--and holiness meant not eating any animal killed by another; that was to be fed to scavengers (v. 31). Again, purity is no doubt the goal here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Exodus 21

Treatment of male slaves (vs. 1-6)—Slavery was very common in the ancient world; indeed, it wasn’t until the 19th century of our era that it began to be looked upon with disfavor. In most places, slavery was very brutal. The Israelites had it, but God regulated it. A Jew could enslave another Jew for only six years; he had to be released in the seventh (v. 2). If he was alone when he became a slave (not married), he was to be freed like that, even if he married while a slave. However, if he was married when he became a slave, he could take his wife with him when emancipated (vs. 3-4). Anything he acquired while a slave belonged to his master (v. 4). Interestingly, the slave had the option to remain with his master for life; instructions are given concerning that in verses 5 and 6. This probably happened frequently when the slave married during his tenure as a slave. Notice that such a slave was to serve his master “forever” (v. 6)—obviously, only until the end of life. The word “forever” in Hebrew does not always mean eternal duration, and there are a lot of people who need to understand that.

Interestingly, the ASV, KJV, and NKJV all use the word “servant,” and not “slave.” The New American Standard Version and the English Standard Version use “slave,” and this is more accurate. These people were slaves, involuntary servitude, not servants, a term which implies voluntary service and thus the right to leave at any time.

Treatment of female slaves (vs. 7-11)—Even though the modern mindset would not approve of the Law of Moses’ treatment of women, the Lord does regulate behavior relating to the opposite sex. They were protected against the most egregious treatment of men. A man could sell his daughter into slavery (v. 7), and that might happen under great financial stress; she wasn’t permitted to leave after six years, as were male slaves. However, if her master had betrothed her to himself (promised to marry her), but was not pleased with her, she could be bought back by her family; he could not sell her to anybody else (v. 8), “since he has dealt deceitfully with her,” i.e., promised to marry her but didn’t. If she became his daughter-in-law, then he must treat her as he would one of his own daughters (v. 9). If the master had married the female slave, but took another wife, then the slave-wife had the same privileges as the other wife (v. 10). If he refuses to follow any of these regulations, then the female slave was to be set free (v. 11). These laws were extremely progressive for the mid-second millennium before Christ.

“An eye for an eye” (vs. 12-27)—The next section deals with matters of violence, and the basic principle is “an eye for an eye.” But there were mitigating circumstances that allow for leniency. Murder was punishable by death (vs. 12, 14). Involuntary manslaughter, however, was not a capital crime, but still must be punished; “cities of refuge” were set up where the killer could flee. He couldn’t stay home (v. 13). Striking or cursing one’s parents was a capital crime (vs. 15, 17); parental authority was to be respected—“honor thy father and mother.” Such was/is very important to God because He intended the family to be the foundation of civil society. The current collapse of American morals and decency can be traced, to a great degree, to the degeneration of the family. Kidnapping was a crime to be punished with death (v. 16). If two men fought and one of them was incapacitated, but not killed, then the one who injured the other would pay “for the loss of his time” (v. 19). If a man beat his slave (male or female) and killed him (her), he “shall surely be punished,” though the law doesn’t say how (v. 20). If the slave lived a day or two, then the master was not to be punished; it was assumed that the slave must have died for some other cause (v. 21). Notice, that the slave “is his property.” “Natural rights” is a modern concept, not an ancient one, though Cicero, the great Roman orator, argued for them. That will be well over 1,000 years after the Law of Moses, however. If a woman was hurt by a man during a fight, and gave birth prematurely, then if she and the baby came to no harm, the offender would pay a fine (v. 22). “But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (vs. 23-25). The “eye for an eye” judicial ruling was not peculiar to the Law of Moses; it had existed before, and was simply endorsed by God as a fair and just system. If it was a slave who was injured (an eye or tooth is knocked out), then they were allowed their freedom as a result (vs. 26-27).

Culpability for one’s property (vs. 28-36)—Hebrews were also responsible for any damage done by animals under their ownership. The example of an ox is used in these verses. If an ox gored someone to death, it was to be stoned and the flesh not eaten (v. 28). The owner would not be held accountable, unless “the ox tended to thrust with its horn in times past” and the owner refused to do anything about it. Then the owner, too, was put to death (v. 29). Or he could redeem his life by paying a fine (v. 30). If somebody else’s ox gored a slave, then the owner was to pay 30 shekels of silver. These are some examples of culpability, which is the principle established in these verses, and the last few verses give a couple more incidents thereof (vs. 33-36).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments (vs. 1-18)—Here we get into the Law of Moses proper. Most of the rest of Exodus, yea, most of the rest of the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) will be a unveiling of the Jewish constitution, which was a theocracy, or “rule by God.” At least that was the way it was intended. Eventually, Israel will reject God as its king, but that wasn’t the way it was intended. The Law had ceremonial and moral laws, and is related in detail.

It begins with its most famous message: the Ten Commandments. The first four deal with man’s relationship to God; the last six man’s relationship with humanity. God, rightfully, comes first. The ten laws are as follows, with comments as necessary.

1. “No other gods before Me” (v. 3). He is the only God anyway, and He certainly brooked no higher allegiance than to Himself. Israel had been surrounded in Egypt by pagan gods; they needed to learn to serve the one true God, and Him alone.

2. No graven images (vs. 4-6). Other peoples worshipped carved images; God would not allow such, for it smacked too much of paganism. His justice is far reaching (v. 5), as is His mercy (v. 6).

3. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain (v. 7). This refers to false oaths, cursing, or any flippant use of God’s name. We must revere God completely, and to use Him name in a common or thoughtless manner reveals a condition of heart that needs to be corrected.

4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (vs. 8-11). No work on the Sabbath. Interestingly, there is no mention here of Saturday being a day of worship, only a day of rest. God “made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (v. 9), and He instructed the Jews to do the same. It was to be “hallowed” by Israel (v. 11). The Christian day of “rest” is Sunday, the day the Lord Jesus arose from the dead. There is no command in the New Testament not to work on Sunday, but there is instructions to worship on that day. It would be nice to have respect for that day and give it totally to the Lord, but in our materialistic, worldly society, such simply isn’t the rule any more.

The next six commandments concern man’s relations with man.

5. Honor your father and mother (v. 12). Men must learn to respect authority. If one does not respect the authority of parents, he most likely will not respect the authority of God.

6. Do not murder, which is the meaning of the KJV’s “kill” (v. 13). Life is sacred, and given by God. Jesus will show, in the Sermon on the Mount, how obedience to these commands must come from the heart; eliminate hatred, and murder will cease (Matt. 5:21-22). And “love thy neighbor” will be clearly stated later in the Law of Moses. Thus, the attitude of heart described by Jesus is implicit in the commands given here.

7. Do not commit adultery. Trust is essential for any marriage to succeed.

8. Do not steal. Respect for private property—a cornerstone of any free peoples. It isn’t yours, you didn’t earn it, it doesn’t belong to you, don’t take it; such constitutes stealing. Excessive taxation and redistribution of income actually constitutes “theft.” The rich can be guilty of breaking this command, too, by oppressing and extorting from those less wealthy than themselves. This is the claim of the modern liberal. It keeps him in power.

9. Do not bear false witness, i.e., lie. The proper use of the tongue is essential in honorable human relations.

10. Do not covet. Envy, jealousy, and resentment at what others have lead to strife, wars, and conflict. Be satisfied with what is yours.

These are not the only commandments in the Law of Moses, of course, but they are the cornerstone in our association with God and man. If Israel (and us) were to practice the principles and edicts found in these ten laws, then certainly there would be very little sin and iniquity in society. It isn’t obedience to the Ten Commandments that is creating the world’s problems today.

I do believe it is worthy of note that only nine of the ten commandments are in force today. We are not expected to keep the Sabbath. That ceremonial law was abolished at the cross, as was all the Law of Moses. We do not obey the Ten Commandments today because they are binding on us; we honor these laws because all of them (save the Sabbath) are also found in the New Testament.

The people fear (vs. 18-21)—The awesome power of God was still on display (v. 18), and “when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.” They wanted Moses to intercede for them (v. 19). Moses told them not to fear, but there was a purpose behind these divine demonstrations: “God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin” (v. 20). There is a direct correlation between fearing (reverencing, respecting God) and not sinning. The people kept their distance while Moses approached Jehovah (v. 22).

Instructions concerning the altar (vs. 22-26)—The people were to make burnt offering to God. Israel was largely an agricultural society, thus their “wealth” consisted of their flocks and herds. The altar upon which the sacrifices were made was, in and of itself, of no real importance, thus God didn’t want them to waste time—at the moment—constructing an elaborate one. That would change when He gave instructions concerning the tabernacle and temple. But at the moment, a simply altar was sufficient. The idea in verse 26 “Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it” not only concerned modesty, but was a rebuke of pagan idolatry, the priests of which built their temples, etc. on elevated sites, thinking that height meant closeness to their gods.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Exodus 19

Camping before Mt. Sinai (vs. 1-2)—The people had been gone from Egypt three months when they arrived before the famed mount where they would receive their law. The Arabs call the mountain “the mount of Moses.” Sinai means “bush” or “bushes,” so designated, no doubt, for the appearance of God to Moses in the burning bush. Another name for the mountain, which actually has two peaks, is Horeb.

“A special treasure” (vs. 3-6)—The Lord called Moses up to the mountain (v. 3), and gave him a message to deliver to the people. Reminding them again of what He had done for them in Egypt (v. 4), Jehovah then sets forth the conditional promise that if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (vs. 5-6). Nearly all of God’s promises are conditional; we obey, He blesses. Well, He’s good enough to bless people even when they don’t obey—He sends the rain and sunshine on the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:45), but to be a “special treasure” requires submission to His will.

The people accept Jehovah’s words (vs. 7-8)—Moses transmitted the message to the people, and they responded “All that the LORD has spoken we will do” (v. 8). Which was a bunch of hooey, this group was never obedient to God.

Consecrating the people (vs. 9-15)—Yet, the awesome events on top of the mountain did put a fright into the people. The Lord came to Moses in a thick cloud—clouds are often associated with a “coming” of the Lord; part of this awe-inspiring appearance was that the people might have greater faith in God and Moses (v. 9). Yet, when Jehovah was near, consecration was necessary, and He told Moses to command the Israelites to prepare themselves, for on the third day “the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (v. 11). They would not literally see Him, of course, but they would know, by the majesty of the happenings, that He was there. No one was to come near the mountain: “Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death” (v. 12), “whether man or beast” (v. 13). The people were to wash their clothes (v. 14), symbolizing inner purification, and not “come near your wives” (vs. 14-15). Mental, physical, and spiritual preparation before the holiness of Jehovah. I wonder how well we prepare ourselves before we approach the Lord every Sunday.

The Holy Mountain (vs. 16-25)—And indeed, “on the third day, in the morning…there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled” (v. 16). The people stood before the mountain (v. 17), which was encompassed “in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire” (v. 18). The whole mountain “quaked greatly” (v. 18). It must have been an breathtaking, thrilling sight. The Lord once again called Moses to Him (v. 20), and told him again to warn the people to stay away from the mountain (vs. 22-24). Humans cannot touch the holy things of God without His approval. It would be nice to see such reverence and fear of the Lord today. And we should be very well aware of the awesome majesty of His power, that He brooks no disobedience or flippancy in His presence. This scene at Mt. Sinai, at the appearance of the Lord, was indeed a frightening one for the children of Israel, and it should be for us. Tragically, they did not learn from it, and most people today don’t seem to have the proper reverence when they approach God, either. I wonder sometimes what the Lord thinks when people be-bop into worship services dressed in tennis shoes, shorts, and T-shirts, talking about every worldly thing they can think of up to the very second before the worship period begins.. Is that really respectful of God? Our outward actions are a manifestation of what is truly in our hearts. Which wins, reverence or our own comfort and convenience?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Exodus 18

Jethro visits Moses (vs. 1-6)—Moses had sent his wife, Zipporah, and two sons (Gershom and Eliezer) back to Midian to visit with her father, Jethro. (v. 2), who is called Reuel in Exodus 2:18. That’s probably his proper name, which Jethro was his official title. He was a priest of Midian, which would indicate his worship of their gods. The fact that Moses lived 40 years with him doesn’t seem to have affected the Hebrew’s faith in Jehovah. In this chapter, Jethro comes for a visit, bringing Moses’ wife and two sons with him (v. 6).

Jethro and Moses converse (vs. 7-12)—Moses goes out to meet his family (v. 7), and there is a joyful reunion, thought, interestingly, Zipporah and the children aren’t mentioned. Again, that can be accounted for by the strict patriarchal society of the day; women and children weren’t mentioned unless there was some overriding importance in doing so. Moses tells Jethro all that the Lord had done in Egypt (v. 8), and Jethro rejoiced to hear it (v. 9). Verse 11 records an interesting statement of the priest: “’Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them.’" Notice: “greater than all the gods.” Jethro apparently wasn’t prepared to admit that Jehovah was the only god, which is not too surprising, since he had been a priest of foreign gods all his life. But it was a significant admission that the Hebrew god was the greatest. Whether Moses’ father-in-law was ever converted to monotheism is unknown. He was willing to offer sacrifices to Jehovah, however (v. 12).

Jethro’s judicial advice (vs. 13-27)—Moses was handling all judicial matters by himself. Anybody that had a complaint came directly to him. Well, with the huge multitude of Israelites in the wilderness, this was a near impossible situation, and Jethro recognized it and gave Moses some advice: “Select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you” (vs. 21-22). This multi-tiered judicial system, with Moses acting as the “Supreme Court,” was wise for a large body of people, and Moses recognized it. It took a tremendous load off of him. Moses allowed the lower “rulers” to judge “the people at all times; the hard cases they brought to Moses, but they judged every small case themselves” (v. 26). Jethro soon after left and went back home (v. 27).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Exodus 17

The people complain—again (vs. 1-7)—For the fourth straight chapter, the children of Israel find something to gripe about. They had moved on from the Wilderness of Sin, “according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim.” But there was no water there. As if the Lord didn’t know that. But the people demand Moses give them water, to which he responds, “Why do you tempt the Lord?” (v. 2). They had seen Him provide water and food for them before, but it’s as if He had never done anything for them. Moses takes the complaint to the Lord, and He, patient with Israel again, provides the water they need. Verse 7 says “they tempted the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” What did He have to do to prove that He was with them? Was there anything He could finally do to convince them? The answer to that will actually be “no,” these people who left Egypt will never have true faith in Jehovah.

The battle with Amalek (vs. 8-16)—A group of people called the Amalekites attacked Israel at Rephidim. Amalek was a grandson of Esau, so actually kin to the Israelites. But there was never any harmony between the two peoples. The battle here had a strange twist. Moses stood on top of a hill with Aaron and Hur, who may have been Moses’ brother-in-law, the information is not clear. During the battle, every time Moses held up his arms, Israel started winning. When his arms got fatigued and dropped, Amalek gained the advantage (v. 11). So Moses sat on a stone and Aaron and Hur supported his arms, and Israel finally won the battle. The significance of Moses’ hands being in the air is obscure—a supplication to God? It’s not clear, but whatever the rationale, it worked.

The Lord was pretty disgusted with the Amalekites; their close kinship to Israel should have produced filial support, not war, so in verse 14, “the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’” Interestingly, some 400 years later, the Lord said to King Saul, “'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey’” (I Sam. 15:2-3). Notice it was 400 years before God decided to destroy the Amalekites for their attack on Israel in Exodus 17. The Lord works in His own time. Saul botched the job (read I Samuel 15), but David finished off Amalek about a generation later (I Sam. 30:1-17).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Exodus 16

The third complaint (vs. 1-3)—The children of Israel moved on from Elim and came to a location called the Wilderness of Sin (v. 1). Their food supply must have run short because they complain “against Moses and Aaron” (v. 2), the third time in six weeks that they have murmured. Their complaint was really against the Lord, of course (v. 8). After all He had done for them, after all He had shown them, they still demonstrate virtually no faith in Him. Yet He remains patient with them—for awhile.

The promise of provisions (vs. 4-8)—The Lord told Moses that he would “rain bread from heaven” (v. 4). The people were to go out for six days and collect it, and on the sixth day, take twice as much (vs. 4-5). This was a “test” to see “whether they will walk in My law or not” (v. 4), i.e., will they trust and obey Him. The Lord would also provide them meat that night (but not every day). This would again teach the people something they seemed determined not to accept: “the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt” (v. 6). The “complaint” was again, in one sense, reasonable; the people needed food. But the lack of faith was again, unreasonable, given all they had seen Jehovah do for them.

The glory of the Lord (vs. 9-12)—The “glory of the Lord appeared” to the people in a cloud. Clouds are frequently part of God’s manifestation; Jesus will come again with the clouds (Revelation 1:5), and His judgments are also figuratively accompanied by clouds (Is. 19:1; Matt. 24:29-31). At this occasion (v. 11), Jehovah told Moses that He had heard the people’s complaint and would provide for them. Once more, Jehovah was trying to convince them that “I am the Lord your God” (v. 12).

“What is it?” (vs. 13-21)—That evening, as promised, the people had meat in the form of quail (v. 13), and the next morning, when the dew lifted, there “was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground” (v. 15). The people “said to one another, ‘What is it?’” (v. 15). It was a bread the Lord provided for them. They ended up calling it “manna,” which means “what” (v. 31). They were told how much to take—an omer per person. There is some disagreement as to exactly how much an omer was; verse 36 says it was “one-tenth of an ephah” (does that help you?). An omer was apparently between a half-gallon to three quarts. Regardless it should have been enough for the people. Moses commanded them not to leave any of it till the next day (v. 19). Of course, some of them did and “it bred worms and stank” (v. 20). But it was there for them each day they needed it.

The Sabbath day (vs. 22-31)—The Law of Moses had not yet been given, of course, but here the Lord commands observance of the seventh day, “a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord” (v. 23). The people were to cook what food they would need on the day before, and gather enough manna for two days, something He had told them already in verse 5. Naturally, “some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none” (v. 27). This angered the Lord, and He repeated that He had provided for them enough on sixth day: “See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day" (v. 29). So the Sabbath became a day of rest for the children of Israel (v. 30). Verse 31 tells us what manna looked like and what it consisted of: “it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Whether the Lord provided them manna every day for the next 40 years is unknown. Perhaps they received the manna only when they needed it. The people did have their flocks and herds, of course, but they certainly wouldn’t want to thin those out too much.

The preservation of manna for posterity (vs. 32-36)—The Lord commanded Moses to set aside an omer of the manna, put it in a pot, and lay “it up before the Testimony” (v. 35). It would be put in the ark of the covenant once it was built. It would be there for hundreds of years as a perpetual reminder of what the Lord had done for them in Egypt and the wilderness.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Exodus 15

The song of Moses (vs. 1-19)—It must have been a tremendous relief and joy for the children of Israel finally to be out from under the oppression of Egypt and its tyrannical Pharaoh. Moses’ song is an expression of that rejoicing. It is largely a poetic rendition of what God did to the Egyptians. It starts out, as it should, with a recognition that it was Jehovah Who threw “the horse and its rider…into the sea” (v. 1). He thus is worthy of praise and exaltation (v. 2). Verse 3, “The Lord is a man of war” must be understood in poetic framework in which it is written; He makes war on His enemies when He needs to.

Pharaoh and “his chosen captains” certainly learned that and were “drowned in the Red Sea” (v. 4). Verse 5’s ”they sank to the bottom like a stone” is picturesque. The Lord “dashed the enemy in pieces” (v. 6), and overthrew “those who rose against You” by “the greatness of Your excellence” (v. 7). “With the blast of Your nostrils the waters were gathered together” (v. 8). The Egyptians pursued in vain (v. 9) because “You blew with Your wind” and “they sand like lead in the mighty waters” (v. 10). There is no god like Jehovah, “glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders” (v. 11). By His mercy He led His people forth (v. 13). The nations around “will hear and be afraid”—Philistia, Edom, Moah, Canaan—“trembling will take hold of them” and they “will melt away” (vs. 14-15). “Fear and dread will fall on them” until the Lord brings His people into the land He promised them (vs. 16-17). “The LORD shall reign forever and ever" (v. 18). A victory song of beauty and power.

Miriam’s dance and song (vs. 20-21)—Moses’ and Aaron’s sister adds her elation to the celebration, “and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances” (v. 21). Another short song sung by Miriam is recorded in verse 21.

Getting water in the wilderness (vs. 22-27)—Providing enough water in a desert wilderness for the tremendous host of people and livestock that left Egypt was going to be a continual problem, and the Lord will have to work miraculously more than once to solve it. In this case, after leaving the Red Sea, “they went three days in the wilderness and found no water” (v. 22). Storing and carrying water would not be easy, so they would depend upon natural sources. They came to a place called Marah—or perhaps they gave it that name, which means “bitter” because that’s how the water there tasted. The people complained “against Moses” (v. 24)—blaming him—asking what they would drink. A fair question, but not the complaining. Why could they not simply ask, in faith, trusting that the Lord would provide? These people would never do that. Moses took the issue before the Lord, Who “showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (v. 25). He then put a test before the people: “"If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (v. 26). Unfortunately, the children of Israel miserably failed the exam.

They traveled on to a place called Elim, where they found “twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees.” Sounds like a lovely place, and they camped there for awhile (v. 27).