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).