Author: reformanda

Judgment Starts at Home

Zephaniah 3:1-8

Syncretism – attempted union of two or more conflicting systems of religious belief. Is the prophets biggest beef with his audience. Church was in danger before exile, continues to be at risk today. Is one of worst if not the worst problem to have, was what ailed church in Thyatira (Rev. 2:20, 24), results in compromise of truth… especially true Gospel. Church called on to not compromise the truth, rather to be “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15) – proclaim, support, defend truth. The church that fails to do so will surely earn God’s displeasure, perhaps more if they persist long enough in error.

The “issues” God addresses especially serious in light of verse 5: in keeping with patterns of passage, v.5 declares 4 character traits belonging to God. Are a couple qualifying phrases warrant particular attention:

in her midst” – contrast between righteous God and unrighteous people completely surrounding him couldn’t be more shocking. In spite of all their bad behavior, God remained fatihful to covenant promises. Also, God not content to sit on sidelines watching people pass by on way to ruin – “morning by morning He brings His justice to light”, putting his character on display daily for his people to see.

Had all the advantages (8 listed in Rom. 9:4-5), primary one being caretakers of God’s word (Rom. 3:2), yet purposely walked away from truth and righteousness when was right in their midst. No wonder God was angry with them, threatened dire consequences for sinful behavior. Are not left to wonder what the problems were – issues identified, various levels of leadership affected are pointed out. Reminded of kind of God who promised judgment for their sinfulness, not left to wonder about who and how. Misfortune soon to plague them would be direct result of God moving in judgment and using means to achieve his purpose.

A. four issues v.1-2

described as rebellious and defiled – generalizations with sinful behavior in view… like child dressed for church, goes outside, anybody watching? jumps in puddle… intentionally, repeatedly, persists even when busted

is general warrant for Jerusalem’s arrest, specific points in indictment follow quickly in verse 3 – God intends his case against them to be absolutely clear w/no room for misunderstanding/misinterpretation

no, God not overdoing it, not being mean – if his knowledge is exhaustive, knew when speaking through prophet and inspiring written record who would read it… including us, tonight

Rom. 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (see also 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:16)

not obeyed His voice

not due to ignorance or misunderstanding – God had spoken plainly, his people had not obeyed – had not done what God required, had done what God had forbidden

over their history as people of God, had spoken to them in various ways: dreams, visions, prophetic utterances and writings – all counted as voice of God

not received correction

point not that correction has been sent but not received yet – disobedient people have refused to accept correction, maintaining their way is right way

could say they were unteachable – told they were doing wrong, that would lead to certain disaster, refused to heed warning and change their behavior

not trusted in the LORD

not a surprise given refusal of correction – one who will not heed message from God has already chosen another authority

trusted in other small “g” god(s), ultimately trusting in self rather than YHWH – believing could decide on own who/what was best/right

not drawn near to her God

no time for God, too busy seeking other things to seek God and his ways – not complicated, not difficult to take advantage of God’s nearness and blessings/benefits that accompany right relationship

were more concerned with pursuing tangible things instead of pursuing God – thought they could find satisfaction / meaning / significance by their own efforts / means

B. four levels of leadership v.3-4

targeting leadership not to imply they bore all responsibility for city’s sinfulness – everyone w/o exception responsible for own sinfulness

those in leadership bear extra weight of responsibility – for themselves, for how rightly they endeavor to teach / lead by example – leaders identified responsible for both civil and religious spheres of society


is duty of prince to protect well-being of those under his rule – pursue godly principles themselves, encourage same in others as summarized in Rom. 13:1-4

should make just laws, also make decisions and implement policies that uphold and encourage just treatment of citizens and nations


should be able to count on judges to correct abuse and injustice, restoring to those treated unjustly what is rightfully theirs

instead, executive/legislative and judicial branches working together to line own pockets at expense of others, take away any possible recourse / hope for justice

absolutely contrary to both command and character of God – complete failure to maintain God’s designed order for a society


role of true prophet in OT to be authorized mouthpiece of God – Moses & Aaron, Ex. 4:16 “he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God”

expected to declare and maintain truth so as to instruct people in right understanding of God and his word so they know how to live pleasing to God, correct when disobedient


primary function to lead in worship, facilitating right worsihip of true God – along with prophets were leading people away from truth and acceptable worship

C. four character traits v-5

The LORD is righteous

unlike the aforementioned, God isn’t like that – people and leaders alike have right example to follow, God himself, who dwelt among his people and sets standard of righteousness

He will do no unrighteousness

God always does what is right, never mixes in what is wrong – follows straight course whatever is taking place as should his people

He brings His justice to light

God knows we need repetition – don’t get it all the first time, have short memories, so… morning by morning, day by day, reminds us by revealing what is just and right

not that we get to pick but…. what should those who do look for in next Supreme Court Justice? among other things, a track record of commitment to justice and righteousness both personal and professional

He never fails

God always faithful, shows up every morning ready for work – puts earthly leaders (and others) to shame but they refuse to acknowledge and repent

D. four consequences v.6-8

God has not left his people without witness or warning – made his expectations clear in his covenant, reinforced / reminded by his prophets numerous times over many generations

God showed his power and authority by dealing with evil in surrounding nations – was God’s hand directing course of history, rise and fall of nations, according to his purpose

intended that his people should see what he was doing in other places, take heed and correct their own sinful behavior; however,…

instead, they got up early to have more time to pursue evil, perversely doing opposite of what would have pleased God

so… God turns attention to faithful remnant, giving them assurances that will be a limit to what God permits, and he has the remnant’s good in view

rise up for plunder

they will be stripped of all their ill-gotten gains, profiting at expense of the faithful only temporary and will end in their total ruin

gather the nations

God makes plain he has much more in mind than simply the future of Israel and surrounding nations – his plan is global in scope

pour on them My indignation

may be times of judgment before Great Day, should serve as examples and warning that God is furious about sin and will deal with it

devour with the fire of My jealousy

is message of hope and restoration for the faithful, comes in the next section – meanwhile, have confidence that GOd will indeed bring about perfect justice

when that Great Day comes, everything that defiles this universe… brought about by the Fall and curse… will be totally removed

created order will be restored, new heavens and earth (universe) purified and better than new – better because will never be corrupted by sin ever again

Between now and then, things are gonna get hot… for the wicked. Things will also get a little toasty for those who have contributed to deception and distortion of truth in Christ’s church. Yet God can be trusted to bring his people safely through whatever takes place. Meanwhile, need to do our part to know the truth, act according to the truth, declare the truth in love to others. Don’t need to defend the truth, God’s truth can defend itself. Do need to declare it, put it out there so those still in darkness can hear it, respond in faith.


Don’t Get Comfortable

Exodus 27:1-21

Much of the world – daily priority… survival. Acquiring food for the next meal, shelter from elements and violence, making through until tomorrow. In parts of world like ours, something else takes higher priority… comfort. May be something we pursue, might be what we accept. Do what we can to spend as much time as possible being comfortable. Not just the things we buy or do in order to enhance comfort, desire for comfort influences how we think. Rather than resist things we should, persisting in doing and thinking what pleases God, instead we come to point where are comfortable with things we shouldn’t be.

When God came to dwell in midst of his people, didn’t put down roots. Didn’t build architectural showpiece with all the amenities. Instead, had his people build him a tent, something of vital importance.

Heb. 11:9-10 By faith [Abraham] dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Everything about tabernacle declared it was temporary, portable, ready to move with little notice. Aspects of tabernacle worship that made plain were some things about God’s relationship with his people only temporary. Need for sacrifice, for separation – conditions and limits that should make us uncomfortable, leave us wanting more. Important principle to keep in mind:

The more comfortable we are with earth, the less we will long for heaven.

God dwelling in the midst of his people in a tent is far from end of the story. God has much more in mind for us… everything broken and frustrating about this world should increase our desire for promised inheritance. Meanwhile… because of who we presently are, who God is, things have to be certain way by God’s design and purpose for us to have personal relationship with him. Sacrifice is essential, separation is expected, and support is encouraged.

A. altar v.1-8 sacrifice essential

location – first

once again, things relating to tabernacle structure and worship described from POV of significance – not floor plan, other consideration

called by different names: brazen altar (ref. its cladding); altar of burnt offering (Ex. 38:1) ref. its use; like much other furniture, made of acacia wood core clad with bronze sheets

positioned so as to be unavoidable – directly between 1st and 2nd entrances – straight line between entrance to courtyard, holy place, most holy place

first thing encountered by worshiper after entering sanctuary space – the one thing that filled view of person outside looking in

size – largest

7-1/2 feet square, 4-1/2 feet high, massive piece of workmanship – large enough to hold every other piece of furniture, dominating by very size

nothing subtle about altar of burnt offering or its purpose – if in architectural / ceremonial design size counts for anything, this altar of huge importance

need – indispensable

God by his purposeful design reinforcing principle first introduced in Garden of Eden – once sin is present, of necessity restricting fellowship with God, only way for sinner to approach is through sacrifice

at same time… had poles to be used for carrying, was made of wood and bronze – durable, yes, but with limits to its endurance

not designed to be the place or the method of reconciling sinful man to holy God for always – 2 better things to come

better sacrifice and better situation – one day Lord Jesus would be priest, sacrifice, altar bringing end to that way of worship (Heb. 7:27; 9:14; 13:10)

day still future when need for sacrifice no longer present – fully redeemed, incorruptible bodies, souls confirmed in righteousness (1 Cor. 15:50-57)

B. court v.9-19 separation expected

clear distinction

outside the courtyard and inside place of worship visibly and physically distinguished – white curtain 7-1/2 feet tall enclosing courtyard in middle of encampment

only part visible from outside – top portion of tent, cloud or pillar signifying God’s presence… rest hidden from view

similar situation inside courtyard – all that was visible were things belonging to worship of God: altar, laver, tent, people and priests, animals for sacrifice

clear entrance

in middle of one end, curtain following same color pattern as entrance curtains screening holy place and holy of holies – obvious standout in white linen screen

no mistaking where entrance was, no back door / second entrance / servant’s gate – only one way in and out of worship space

whether coming in or leaving, that ever-present reminder that no one was there on their own merits, only by virtue of sacrifice

used to be chorus in Sunday School: “One door and only one, and yet its sides are two – inside and outside, on which side are you” — those looking for / trying to make other doors on fool’s errand… with eternal consequences

only way into eternal sanctuary through the one who is the door, the perfect once-for-all sacrifice, who takes us by the hand all the way into holy of holies

entering requires exiting

number of places on roads of Maine and NH where borders of municipalities are identified – many with simple sign post, town name on each side

others posted differently – two signs, short distance apart… one says “Leaving Buxton”, next says “Entering Gorham”

occasionally church will do something similar – sign posted by exit door, “Entering your mission field” – should have one on outside perhaps, “Entering God’s presence”

to enter God’s presence requires leaving some things outside – Moses and Joshua had to take sandals off, standing on holy ground

many things belong to this world, do not belong in God’s presence – some we gladly leave behind… conflict, frustration, negatives

advantage to having defined, dedicated space for worship: helps to keep before our minds this world not all there is, not our forever home, should not be getting too comfortable in it


place set apart from common use – grew up in pretty simple country church, even so, different standard of behavior required

don’t run, take hat off, keep voice down, leave that outside – this is sanctuary, you don’t do that in here

might think some of parents’ expectations were excessive – they came from a clear sense of the sacred, largely lost in present way of thinking

is the place where worship God, things present set apart for sacred use, use in worship, not to be used for other purposes

was also to be place of refuge, safety, security – if life in danger, could make it to horns of altar, supposed to be safe from harm

is to be representative of what we have to look forward to – no moth, no rust, no thieves… no sin, no sickness, no dangers

C. light v.20-21 support encouraged

sign of God’s presence

already given description of lampstand with 7 lamps in previous chapter – to stand outside holy of holies, provide light for holy place

within view of worshipers in outer courtyard, tended by Aaron and his sons – seen by all who came into courtyard, signifying God’s presence on the other side of the veil

fueled by people’s gifts

it was work of priests to service the lampstand, keep in good working order – not their job to supply olive oil to keep lamps burning

another way in which worship was participatory – people could see light shining, know was oil they had brought that fueled it

everyone’s participation necessary

in order for tabernacle worship to function properly, required everyone to be involved – worshiper brought own sacrifice, oil for lamps

yes, priest would offer up sacrifice to God… but only after one bringing sacrifice laid hand on head of animal, transferring sin to substitute who then paid penalty

if Israel was to be light to nations (Isa. 42:6), people from all tribes and walks of life had to be involved – no less true in our world

if Christ’s church is to be light helping to push back darkness in neighborhoods and communities, takes everyone doing their part

Has been lots of discussion about liberties we enjoy or should be able to enjoy in our country. At same time is much about nation and culture that should greatly disturb child of God. God has definitely been gracious to every one of us individually, to our nation. Yet for all liberty we enjoy, everyone of us know probably at least ten people who are enslaved. Slaves to sin, debt, possessions, desire, drugs/alcohol, all tools of arch slave master Satan. Only reason is different for us: Christ has set us free. Christ is the only one who can deliver those ten people each of us know from their slavery.

One more thing – regardless of your position on immigration, 2016, nearly 44 million immigrants in US, #1 destination for immigrants for 60 years. Here’s what that means – shape of missions has radically changed. On average 1 out of 7 US residents have come from what 60 years ago would likely have been considered a mission field. Now live in our neighborhoods and towns, many wanting what we have… our language. We have both opportunity and responsibility – carry light of Gospel outside sanctuary, outside home, outside comfort zone to those living in darkness and slavery.

God can and will use us as his ambassadors when we devote ourselves to his service, putting the souls of lost people ahead of personal comfort and convenience.

28. What do you want Me to do for you?

Matthew 20:32 So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Read: Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43 – handout

Setting: near Jericho

about to enter Jericho, accompanied by large crowd with some going on ahead (Luke 18:35-36, 38)

leaving Jericho followed by large crowd (Matt. 20:29; Mark 10:46)

how many blind men? one (Mark 10:46; Luk 18:35)? two (Matt. 20:30)? is Mark’s Bartimaeus Luke’s certain blind man?

contradictions? or can the accounts be reconciled?

one city, two miracles — or — two cities, one miracle

Another possible way to harmonize these passages is to understand that at the time of Christ there actually were two Jerichos. First, there was the Jericho of Old Testament history (Joshua 6:1ff.; 1 Kings 16:34). In the first century, however, that city existed as a small village lying mostly in ruins, and about two miles south of that site was the new Jericho built by Herod the Great. The Lord, therefore, traveling toward Jerusalem, would first pass through the Old Testament Jericho, and then, some two miles to the southwest, go through Herodian Jericho. Accordingly, the references of Matthew and Mark to Jesus leaving Jericho would allude to old Jericho, whereas Luke’s observation of Jesus drawing near to Jericho would refer to the newer city. Hence, the miracles under consideration may have been performed between the two Jerichos (Robertson, 1930, 1:163).

one more tidbit: perhaps as many as 10% of population suffered from blindness – ophthalmic conjunctivitis, spread by flies, aggravated by sand/dust/dry air

Person(s) being questioned:

blind man/men seated by the road, high traffic area, almost certainly begging… the only option for someone with serious disability

unemployed and unemployable; also social stigma attached to blindness – “Rabbi, who sinned…?” (John 9:2); and were disqualified from certain duties in the church (Lev. 21:17-24)

God did expect his people to show compassion to the blind (Lev. 19:14; Deut. 27:18) but… often not the reality of daily life

Question behind the question:

you beg for mercy, you ask for help, precisely what do you expect me to do

what kind of “help” do you want – the kind that does everything for you? or doing what you cannot do for yourself?

if my definition of mercy/help is different from yours, what will you do with it? will you still accept it?

Expected response:

hard to know exactly what to expect:

handout – generous, perhaps even lavish grant of money or tangible resources; require someone to act as caregiver

healing – what they asked for, recovery of their sight so they could have normal lives

forgiveness/eternal life – a possibility, since they called Jesus by Messianic title (Son of David)

btw, same is true today – may have strong suspicions what to expect but don’t always know for certain

Jesus’ point:

what someone in need wants not always what is best for them

the one seeking to meet the need should use discernment and communicate clearly

the person asking may need help distinguishing between felt need and true need – not Advil for a headache caused by a brain tumor

Modern Application:

not only have lots of people with their hand out, have many others to tell us what the needy need

is true at traffic lights, also true inside the church – here’s what we need to give people to get them to come

our task: help those who will be helped with the help they truly need as God supplies opportunity and resources

Its Curtains

Exodus 26:1-37

“When you were a child, you no doubt drew pictures for your mother and father. Most likely you used crayons. However, your crayon drawing of your house was not really your house. It was just a drawing of what was genuine. In the tabernacle, God provided His people with a very large crayon drawing. It was designed to teach Israel about what it meant for God to dwell among them and lift their hearts to heaven, to the reality of the tabernacle. Above all, the drawing was to help the people of god know Him.” Daniel Hyde, God in our Midst

Because of distance in time and space from ancient Israel, tabernacle is in some ways crayon drawing for us. For children of Israel camped around Sinai, was much more than drawing. Intended and designed by God to be interactive – “let my people go that they may worship Me.”

Not first time God dwelt among his people – was the reality in Eden. Garden itself the Most Holy Place where God and his people had intimate fellowship. Then sin changed that, entrance to Garden guarded by cherubim to protect now-fallen human beings from consuming fire of God’s holiness. Over next several millennia, God did meet with his people… individually, or in small groups. Not until Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery and construction of tabernacle did God take up residence with people. This one of several steps along way of restoring what was lost in Eden… and more.

As we consider curtains, essential part of tabernacle structure and function, two concepts are prominent: holiness and heavenliness. God’s holiness and man’s lack of it; heaven as ultimate destination of people of God. This earth as it is now not our final home. Not even long stop on way home – 70, 80, 90 years a miniscule portion of all eternity. Yet is an essential portion of life… for us, for our redeemer who makes heaven both desirable and doable for his people.

A. the coverings v.1-14

linen tapestry – white, blue, purple, scarlet (1-6)

innermost covering, visible from within tabernacle – formed the ceiling of both rooms – formed along with gold framework backdrop for God and his throne

cherubim provided protection – guarding God’s presence from what would contaminate or offend his holiness, intimately associated with God and heaven – angels on blue sky

colors of purity, royalty, redemption all worked in together – was definitely “holy ground” there inside most holy place… because of God’s presence

worshiper inside tabernacle would have clear sense of being in another world – populated with all that belongs in presence of high and holy sovereign of universe

the true Most Holy Place where we enter by faith every time we gather for worship, entering boldly “by the blood of Jesus”

goat skins – black (7-13)

these along with ram skins mostly (not entirely) hidden from view between linen tapestry and outermost skin covering

served practical purpose of protecting and insulating what was underneath – even in desert heat, would have been cool / dry inside

ram skins – red (14a)

something perhaps on idea of burgundy morocco leather, comfortable and durable, at same time by its color reminding of need for redeemer… shedding of blood

badger skins – natural (14b)

to most people’s tastes, tabernacle not much to look at on the outside – yet great glory mostly concealed inside

God’s purpose in redemption becoming more apparent – God intended to dwell with his people but in way that was “safe” for them

God’s glory present, yet filtered – near, yet with boundaries – a redeemed yet sinful people could be close to God w/o being consumed

B. the framework v.15-30

upright acacia wood frames

made from wood readily accessible, suitable for fine cabinetry as well as structural strength – formed core of much of furniture as well as perimeter of tabernacle, posts for outer courtyard

covered with gold / silver / bronze depending on use and proximity to Most Holy Place – most precious the closest, same for other furnishings / utensils

silver bases (19)

tabernacle structure rested on foundation that joined panels together – great strength and stability when assembled, yet obviously portable

reminders everywhere of temporary nature of this place of worship – God’s design and intent for his people to worship in the original someday, no longer in the copy

stabilizing bars (26)

God’s dwelling made up of many individual components, each serving distinct purpose, all necessary to make complete structure

would not have met the need if different pieces could go every which way – needed to be held together and stabilized

wood overlaid with gold (29)

two design needs had to be met – durable portability and beauty – either material by itself would meet one need but not the other

every last specific detail not given in text – remember, Moses saw the pattern (v.30), how it all fit together, how tent was pitched and stabilized, same for courtyard

C. the veil v.31-35

another linen tapestry – white, blue, purple, scarlet (31)

since a tapestry, pattern could be seen from both sides – same colors used for threads as innermost covering – was defining king’s throne room after all

a divider between two spaces (33)

intended to separate between worshipers and their king – but remember was a curtain, not a wall: allowed for passage under certain conditions

inner space completely surrounded by cherubim

no flaming swords in hands of these cherubim like those east of Eden guarding way to tree of life (Gen. 3:24) – could move aside for one authorized to enter

tapestry no longer in place, has been replaced by Lord Jesus – is he who governs access to the Father, will someday come from that place of honor to gather his people

D. the screen v.36-37

embroidered linen – blue, purple, scarlet

another screen, this one embroidered, with same colors if not same pattern – just colors would have indicated not average person dwelling in this tent

only priests allowed behind the screen yet like inner veil… was a curtain and not a door or wall – God had already told people they would be “kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6)

just as structure in its entirety was temporary, so were some of boundaries and distinctions necessary at that time

overlaid acacia wood pillars

same basic design as pillars to hold / support veil shielding Most Holy Place – durable yet portable, functional yet beautiful

bronze bases

unlike pillars for inner curtain, these had bronze rather than silver bases – moving from most holy place toward brazen altar

can’t just waltz into God’s presence – forgiveness and cleansing required for Hebrew children in wilderness, same needed for us

E. the significance

rich, beautiful, temporary

place fit to worship holy and glorious God who deserves the best – best materials, best workmanship, best dwelling place

everything about it made plain was not the last word in worship, not God’s permanent home among his people

close but… separate

sure, God would dwell in midst of his people – would come, make presence known, everyone aware God was there, but…

was there but not really with them… in the other room… still need for separation because people not fit for heaven yet – step closer…

looking forward and up

forward to Christ, up to heaven

wasn’t only the tent that was temporary… so was altar and what it represented – sacrifices repeated indefinitely not end of God’s plan for his people

think about heaven, what must be like – does it make sense that animal sacrifice would still be required? no? must be some other provision for sin, then… Lord Jesus

“These parallels show that the tabernacle was a step toward paradise regained. The breach that had caused separation was being overturned slowly. This was a step toward realizing the final dwelling place of God and man. Hebrews sees the tabernacle as not only looking forward but also as looking up. It was a copy of the throne room of God. We are now seeing how God will make a way for us into that throne room. All of this is showing us the gospel. God wants a relationship with His people, but we are all sinners. None of us can come into the presence of God on our own. We cannot make it back to Eden on our own. But God provided a way to have access back to Him by blood, through a sacrifice offered by a high priest.” Tony Merida, Exalting Jesus in Exodus


That I May Dwell Among Them

Exodus 25:1-40

Worked with camp director years back, more than one task or opportunity available, asked question “what is your first choice?” Recognized people often open to different possibilities, might hedge answer based on circumstances. When asked that question, wanted to know person’s strongest preference.

How would God answer question if he were asked? Obviously God because of who he is gets his first choice, but you understand. Perhaps answer to WSC #1 gives hint. Chief end of man? Glorify God and enjoy him forever. God’s first choice? Be glorified by his people and enjoyed by them forever. See indications of that in Garden – regular face-to-face interaction between God / Adam and Eve common occurrence. After sin, they expected God to show up, planned for it by making clothes. From very first, God wanted his people to enjoy him… personally… in closeness.

Sin radically changed relationship between God and man, put up barriers, made certain conditions necessary for fellowship to continue. But God didn’t give up on idea of being close to people… in a good way, and them knowing it. Rather than disown man because of sin, throw out of house, lock the door, that’s the end of it, God made ways to accommodate additional requirements. Here in text one of accommodations, showing God’s determination to be close to his people – a tent of meeting. Centuries later would send only Son to live with his people… face-to-face, skin-to-skin… then his Spirit to live in his people.

Person and work of Redeemer seen in shadow forms of Tabernacle worship. Reality of his finished work of redemption what we enjoy in part today, in fullness for all eternity. Text hits high spots, we will do same. What is clear: God’s ongoing purpose to dwell among willing worshipers who are a redeemed people in fellowship with him in light of his truth and presence.

A. among willing worshipers v.1-9

give an offering

since he knows human nature, God wisely included specific guidelines for charitable contributions – Moses to make need plainly known, accept response of people

clearly stated what was required (list of acceptable items), purpose for which would be used, indicated how project should be presented, what were right motives for giving

worshipers to give back to God willingly from the heart – not to be compulsory, not to use manipulation to increase the take – offering to be loving response from thankful people

give the best

not second-class things, used but w/ some life left, good enough for missionary barrel and we’ll get new, or no longer needed

might wonder if was really the way to provide for need – maybe not enough given to finish, not sufficient quality – when time came, had to tell people to stop… brought too much (Ex. 36:3-7)

to make a sanctuary

this place to be more than place where church meets, not even just a worship center or room with stage and maybe lectern

place set apart from common use where God would dwell, not visit or meet, with his people in continual ongoing relationship

don’t live in tents grouped around central sanctuary now – instead have even closer relationship: “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:20

“If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12 now believers make up sanctuary where God dwells among his people

according to a pattern

Moses, general contractors and sub-contractors had to follow blueprints precisely – earthly tabernacle had to be faithful representative of true sanctuary… heaven (Heb. 9:23-24)

pattern of the tabernacle, pattern of its furnishings had spiritual and redemptive significance God intended to communicate

B. a redeemed people v.10-22

“numbering” of pattern pieces significant

not order of assembly when tabernacle would be set up / taken down; didn’t follow floor plan from inside out or outside in

this beginning summary addresses aspects of God’s redemptive purpose, how a holy God would accommodate nearness to a “not holy” people

God cuts to chase – must be redeemed, not just willing – asked for offerings from all who had willing hearts… required something other than willing heart to make approach to God possible

throne of God

were to make wooden box completely covered with pure gold with atonement lid made same way, a cherub at each end of lid

above the lid from between the cherubim where God would meet with his people (v.22), iow God’s royal throne

containing Testimony (16, 21b)

box would contain written terms of covenant between God and people – constant reminder of King’s character and expectations

also makes plain man’s approach to God is always on God’s terms – hasn’t changed in New Covenant: relationship with God possible only one way, through Lord Jesus… whose person / work signified throughout Tabernacle

in between… the atonement lid (17-21a)

God’s Law not far from his presence, inside his throne… but not outwardly visible – God knew they were there, priests and people did, too, but…

atonement lid / mercy seat interposed between holy God and righteous Law – lid where blood from sacrifice would be placed

God can accept worshipers when he looks at his Law through blood of atonement – is Lord Jesus who takes that place now

place of instruction (22)

when God calls a meeting, receives people into his presence, intends to instruct them how to live like people he is making them

God’s practice not to issue edicts, leave up to subjects to figure out what they mean and how to use – God supplies explanation, example application along with commands

C. in fellowship v.23-30

remember meal on the mountain

men went partway up mountain, “saw the God of Israel” while they ate and drank – would be regular occurrence, only veil between priests in Holy Place and God present in Most Holy Place

meal eaten in someone’s presence indication of friendship – were fixings for meal there on table: bread, wine, utensils always ready for use

fellowship to be continual

called “bread of faces” – bread that represented faces of all the people (12 cakes, 12 tribes) continually before the face of God

God intended his people to have in minds: they lived constantly in presence of their God – we don’t have same reminders, do have same God present in us continually

bread to have pan of frankincense on top for the week, frankincense then burned on altar of incense there in holy place

and intimate – see Lev. 24:5-9

bread stayed there round the clock Sabbath to Sabbath – each Sabbath, new loaves put in place of old, frankincense burned and meal enjoyed by priests

bread in sense a sacrifice offered with the incense, then eaten – intimate relationship bidirectional: people offering themselves as sacrifice to God, God nourishing people as they fellowship with him

D. and in light v. 31-40

are to fellowship in the light

to be light in Holy Place continually, natural light during day, light from lampstand all night – presence bread never in the dark

meal to be eaten in front of lampstand, fellowshiping with God in the light of his face, his truth, his presence, his people

live in the light

God doesn’t want / expect his people to live in the dark – darkness of sin, confusion, ignorance, discouragement and depression

Jesus made some powerful claims: “I am the bread of life”, “I am the living bread” – the one who came down from heaven to give life to the world (John 6:35, 48, 51)

also claimed to be “light of the world”, declaring that he had “come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in [him] should not abide in darkness” (John 8:12; 12:46)

be a light

light of life and truth not supposed to stay in Holy Place, to be confined to the church – lampstand not to be only source

Moses reflected light of God’s presence / glory after encounters – those who spent time in Holy Place to reflect light outside

if God’s people truly do have him dwelling within, his light should shine through us – why Jesus told listeners “You are the light of the world”; “let your light shine before men” (Matt. 5:14-16)

carry the light

God expected his people to be light, witnessing to his truth as people from nearby and far corners of world passed thru Israel

also expected them to take that light into exile, bearing witness to his truth wherever they went, in whatever kind of culture God saw fit to place them

God’s expectation continues today – that his people will carry light of Gospel with them at all times – as dark as world is, not hard to bring light to our corner

We more fully equipped to live and fellowship in light, be lights, carry light into the world than God’s ancient people. Have complete Bible, finished work of atonement, always present Holy Spirit. Even more people stumbling around in dark today – may God use us as willing worshipers to be lights in dark world.

27. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”

Read: Matthew 20:17-28; Mark 10:35-45; see alsoLuke 18:31-34


on the road to Jerusalem along with the Twelve and many other people – Jesus in the lead, those with him amazed at his boldness and afraid of what might happen

“took the twelve aside [privately]” Matt. 20:17, confirming worst fears had they been able to understand full weight of his words

immediately follows third declaration of destination and purpose; keep in mind description in Luke, “they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them”

Salome (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40) and her two sons, James and John, approach Jesus more closely – perhaps trying to have somewhat private conversation

Person(s) being questioned:

all 3 probably involved in asking question – maybe railroaded by mom, “forced” to go along; given request, couldn’t let mom do all the asking; were “sons of thunder”, more likely willing participants

James and John the focus of Jesus rebuke and follow-on question – don’t know Jesus’ tone of voice but… they’ll be embarrassed anyway, targets for the Ten

ultimately Jesus will use this “teachable moment” to give more instruction on what leadership in Christ’s kingdom involves

Question behind the question:

Are you able to suffer what I am to suffer?

Are you prepared for the hardships of the Christian life?

Do you really grasp the literal truth of what I just told you?

How far along are you in understanding Messiah’s true mission?

Expected response:

given their question, the one they gave – any lessser answer would automatically “disqualify” from positions they sought

if answer is “no”, they would not merit authority / responsibility second only to King; to ask for that when admitting they were unqualified has its own problems from human POV

Peter, one of ten who got upset at James and John, declared would die for Jesus (John 13:36-37), then bailed soon after

none of Twelve had sufficient knowledge base or understanding of Jesus’ teaching to accurately answer his question

Jesus prefaced his question w/ “you don’t know what you’re asking” – could have followed his question w/ “you don’t know what I’m asking”

Jesus’ point:

1 – James and John didn’t understand cost of identifying with Jesus

Jesus’ response to their answer: 11 of 12 (incl. Paul) would die as martyrs (James first), 1 in exile; all would suffer for their faith

2 – James and John didn’t understand nature of leadership in Christ’s Kingdom

based on Jesus’ follow-on (v.25ff) they sought position of authority; should have been looking for place of service

3 – James and John didn’t understand reward in Christ’s Kingdom based on grace, not merit

even when merit appears to be factor, God’s rewards still gracious – best effort of greatest saint always less than perfect

Modern Application:

1 – be prepared to suffer because of identifying with Christ: Matt. 5:10-11; John 15:20; 1 Peter

2 – service with servant’s heart is path to true greatness in Christ’s kingdom

God Deals with His Enemies

Zephaniah 2:4-15

One kind of criticism aimed at Bible and what it teaches about God focuses on OT narrative. According to that view, God is portrayed in OT as harsh, vengeful, using various means to slaughter hordes of people he didn’t like. Give as examples: Flood, first Passover, crossing of Red Sea, conquest of Canaan… then prophecies / promises like present text. Might not go quite as far in criticizing God but many evangelicals contrast mean, brutal God of OT with loving, forgiving God of NT.

Might at quick glance appear to be POV with some merit, but does it hold up to closer inspection? Know from God’s declaration of name to Moses some of attributes God thought important:

“The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”Ex. 34:6-7

Was that way God was only toward his people, saving rest for enemies? part about “by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” Clearly people of God given far more attention in Bible than other people groups. Does not mean should judge how much contact existed between peoples by how often mentioned in Biblical accounts. Also important to remember in those days people / nations not as particular about precise national boundaries as today. Sheep / camels / cows don’t read maps, those tending them mostly figured out how to coexist peacably with neighbors in spite of other details.

One more particular: international highway ran length of Israel. One of major trade routes between Persian Gulf area and Africa with connections to Silk Road passed along eastern coast of Mediterranean. Trade routes also served as communication paths between peoples and lands. Was God’s purpose that Israel be light to nations, not light under a bushel. Strategically placed for that role. Had their moments during history as nation when they did it well, other times not so much. Important to keep in mind: every one of these people groups singled out here knew who the true God really was, knew who his people were. And… though Zephaniah’s warning primarily for Jews, Gentiles could have responded and God would have received them too.

A. west – Philistia v.4-7

name and place

name means “migrant” – came from away, had presence in Philistia from around time of Abraham, settled in general area (coastal plain) we know as Gaza Strip

were five major cities, four named in v.4, Gath being the fifth – Gath the home of Goliath, place where ark of covenant taken for a time

religious influence

Philistines ongoing source of irritation to Jews, taking territory from them then “losing” it back; enslaved Jews on several occasions during time of Judges

much mingling between Jew and Philistine, enough so much of Philistine worship rubbed off on Jews to displeasure of God; was certainly opportunity for influence to go in other direction, at least on individual level

and… don’t forget outcome of capture of ark – thorough humiliation of their own god Dagon – clearly evident which God was superior


most notable among them during time of minor prophets: signfiicant involvement in human trafficking described by prophet Amos

in days of Judges, were responsible for convincing Jews of benefits from worshiping idols: “Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.” Judg. 10:6

notice Philistines persisted in their own idol worship and drew God’s people away from worshiping true God… in face of truth accompanied by evidence… for generations


Philistines some of enemies Hebrew children most fearful of, significant part of reason for spies’ discouraging report, subsequent 40-year stay in desert

among those Jews failed to drive out when conquering Canaan – Judg. 1:9 – now God promises to finish task, give land to his people… the faithful remnant

B. east – Moab and Ammon v.8-11


enemies of God and his people from beginning – had roots in conflict between Abraham and Lot, really based on worldview

Moab and Ammon the offspring of Lot and daughters after destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – much more of city culture in daughters than might expect in ones who agreed to flee

in later years Moab not without godly influence – Elimelech and family, perhaps others went to Moab during famine, brought back at least one convert we know about


is one thing to have different worldview, belief system, and mind own business – you do your thing, I’ll do mine, live and let live

descendants of these two were activists – ridiculing Jews and Jewish God, refusing to give passage after deliverance from Egypt

arrogantly did all they could to impose their belief system on Jewish people – tolerance not enough, tried to require acceptance

God’s response

their pride would have payback – same kind of outcome as S & G – land made barren and unproductive, people disappear from historical record

once again true God would demonstrate total and absolute superiority over gods of mankind’s making just as did in Egypt

God tolerated their arrogant pride for nearly 1000 years, gave countless opportunities to hear truth and respond, would delay no longer but deal decisively with enemies of righteousness

–slight break in action of God’s judgment for him to declare purpose and result: God intends to be worshiped from every corner of earth – will be a believing remnant preserved through his acts of judgment up to and including that on Great Day

C. south – Ethiopia v.12


probably represented end of world going south to Zephaniah – God making clear through prophet that his judgment would have global scope and effect, no exaggeration

not only no escaping God’s righteous judgment, no part of earth left out of Gospel presence or his purifying work


had sent massive army more than once to conquer Israel during time of Rehoboam, sent million-man army when Asa was king

would eventually be under rule of Ahashuerus and his 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia… according to God’s divine plan

even Ethiopians had contact with people of God, opportunity for good influence from time of Moses – he married one (Num. 12:1)

like all others, wilfully rejected good opportunities God graciously gave – refused to live according to light they had, would reap harvest of their rebellion

D. north – Assyria v.13-15

judgment deferred

had visitation from God’s prophet Jonah little more than 100 years earlier – heard warning of judgment, responded right way

should have expected if they went back to old ways, all bets were off as far as God’s response – likely what he threatened then would come about

tells something about God’s expectations on individual level – true repentance and saving faith has permanent effect, no relapse

epitome of self-delusion

in some ways goes beyond simple atheism, idea that need no god – Assyrians decided they could make their own god, the king

in reality, each thought himself his own god: “I am, and there is none besides me.” cp. Isa. 45:6 “That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other;”

put absolute trust in themselves, their army, local and national defenses, reputation for unthinkably barbaric treatment of enemies

believed because of size and wealth and power were invincible, especially walled city of Nineveh – thought had nothing to fear

enduring example

would not only lose the city, would lose the empire as well – Nineveh fell 612 BC, Assyrian empire 609 BC at Battle of Carchemish

city of affluence and excess surrounded by nations in abject poverty so thoroughly destroyed some not rediscovered for 25 centuries or more

Battle one still studied in war colleges – good example of how seemingly invincible force can be overcome by right strategy… as we know, inspired by God, of course

A number of take-away’s from text like this. God wins. God knows what his enemies the enemies of his people are up to, will deal with them decisively according to his perfect plan. In all things, God has his glory and good of his people in view, does all things to that end. God is committed to preparing place for his people, preparing his people for that place. No matter how dire circumstances look, can count on God to take care of us. Not true for everyone. Means while we are resting in comfort of that knowledge should be warning the lost about their danger, showing them way to safety.