Tag: Exodus

The Glory Cloud

Exodus 40:34-38 

See also Numbers 9:15-23 (pg. 162)

A fitting conclusion to Exodus, high point of the story so far, especially given God’s declaration: “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8) Not just an “Oh, btw” thing in God’s mind – was essential element in God’s dealings with Hebrew children: “And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 29:46)

God’s purpose for them did not end there – remember which candle we lit today, the Bethlehem candle. But… at this moment, no Jewish people even close to Bethlehem!! To keep his word, God not only needed to dwell with his people, needed to get them to Canaan. And there is more – God’s dwelling not always to be limited to a room in the Tabernacle. Time would come when God would not simply dwell with his people, would dwell in them.

A. in the tabernacle

cloud covered

this the same cloud that children of Israel had seen before – don’t know what it looked like but… people knew what it was – clear and powerful evidence of YHWH

was same cloud that stood between camp of Egyptians, camp of Israel – darkness to one, light to the other — protection for those in the light from those in the dark

pillar of cloud stood in front of tent door, where God spoke to Moses from while he was inside the “tabernacle” (Ex. 33:9)

glory filled

distinction between cloud and God himself: “Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.” (Ex. 24:16)

cloud actually a gracious accommodation by God, protecting people from full display of his glory… that would have consumed them, Moses included

here at Tabernacle a repeat of what everyone had seen on top of mountain: cloud shrouding glory of God, and… no question in anyone’s mind what was going on

God was present in such powerful overwhelming way, Moses himself unable to enter even the outer room, Holy Place – Most Holy Place, Holy of Holies unable to contain a restrained manifestation of God’s presence… filled entire Tabernacle

fire by night

cloud can be seen for miles on clear day, certainly visible from every part of Israelite camp giving continual reassurance of God’s presence literally in the middle of his people

what about after dark? being afraid of dark, things that go bump in the night not new phenomenon – something Moses and contemporaries faced

how tender and compassionate of God to provide comfort for his people around the clock – same as during the day, visible evidence from anywhere in the camp God was present… and on duty

Israel didn’t lack for enemies yet no record of them ever being ambushed during wilderness wanderings – YHWH provided protection and comfort without interruption

throughout all their journeys

God’s grace extended to times when were on the move – to be no question at any time, under any circumstances that God was indeed dwelling in midst of his people

God intended there to be no uncertainty what path to follow – whether by day or night (Num. 9:21) every Israelite could clearly see which direction to go

God had made destination plain… the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob: Ex. 3:8 “So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.”

glory of God in pillar of cloud by day, pillar of fire by night would lead them in right direction on right path to right destination

B. in the Son

eternal Word became flesh  (John 1:14)

readily think about baby in the manger, shepherds who came and worshiped, parents filled with wonder and doubts – was a 100% real baby with all the wonderful things that make newborn special

yet is only part of story – this was flesh and blood body that concealed second person of Trinity, Son of God himself tabernacled in and among man

no longer God totally distinct and separate dwelling with his people – now God in flesh dwelling as one of his people, yet with glory hidden from view

same glory as the Father

this was Son of God, yet having same essence as the Father wrapped in a human body… with all perfections of God, all the properties of man, yet having no sin at all

was a glory that by God’s condescension could be concealed – the body he was given served as the cloud to hide his true glory from view… mostly

same character as the Father – grace and truth

filled with glory and character of the Father – And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,” (Ex. 34:6)

also found in the Son – didn’t simply possess grace and truth, was full of, abounding in grace and truth as was God the Father

a greater glory than the former (Hag. 2:9)

glory found in the Son, masked and shrouded though it was, still sufficient to give glory to his surroundings everywhere he went

his glory not confined to Holy of Holies, was present in every part of Temple as he was dedicated there, sat in the midst of the teachers, and taught in its courts

C. in the church

exalted Christ  (Rev. 1:12-20)

even before end of 1st century, privileged few given incredible opportunity to see glorified Christ: Stephen, first martyr; Paul, first foreign missionary; apostle John, first with comprehensive view of heaven

among the churches

saw vision of Son of Man in his present glory – “and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;”

within the church (1 Cor. 3:16-17)

Christ in his glory present by his spirit in the church – protecting, directing, comforting his people on their journey through the wilderness to our ultimate destination

transforming his people (2 Cor. 3:18)

in the process, not just taking us along the path – is changing us along the way: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory”

his glory to be our glory… some day – is a process, He’s Still Working on Me – to make me what I ought to be – it took him just a week to make the moon and stars, The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars – How loving and patient He must be – ‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me.

D. for eternity

now “see through a glass darkly”, then “face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12)

as if have sunglasses on, even welding goggles – vision now very dim but different kind of view is coming: see him in full glory

we will see him as he is (1 John 3:2)

when are finally conformed to his image, when we are like him, then will have clear and complete view of Savior… not as crucified but glorified and exalted to place of honor and authority

better than Moses, we will see his face (Rev. 22:4)

Moses wanted more than God could safely give him – “you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen” – no limitation like that when we are finally in presence of our Redeemer

In view of what have learned from Exodus, consider this prayer… set to music of well-known carol:

“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay – Close by me forever, and love me, I pray. – Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, – And fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there”

Be near me; protect me; love me; direct me; let me see your glory. 

Worshiping God

Exodus 40:1-33 

Today we lit Prophet candle, perhaps thinking what does text from Exodus have to do with prophets and Advent. Primary task of prophet to speak God’s truth, often in advance of it taking place. No prophet anywhere in God’s word whose message had nothing to do with Lord Jesus. True, some more obvious and explicit in proclamation than others. Yet God’s word is story of redemption – began with promise of redeemer in Genesis 3, continues throughout all of Old and New Testaments to last chapter of Revelation and redemption completed. Tabernacle an integral part of that story – every element of it points ultimately to Lord Jesus – proclaiming the need for a redeemer, a better high priest who dwells behind the veil, one whose light extends from Holy Place to encompass the world.

If Hebrew children have been freed to worship YHWH, how were they expected to worship? And since we have been freed from slavery to sin and Satan so we may worship YHWH, what does all this mean for us?

Once more are reminded that our God is God of order, not chaos. In beginning he brought order out of chaos through his acts of creation. He brings order out of the chaos of our lives through his act of new creation – “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). God has a plan, is working his plan; everything happens according to his plan… even death of his son Lord Jesus (Acts 2:23). His people to worship according to that plan in place God had designed for that purpose and in way God ordained. Some of particulars of worship have changed since then but principles remain.

“Worship is the meeting of the natural with the supernatural; of the creation with its Creator; of people with God. It is the most important task that people can undertake.” Godfrey Ashby

A. worshiping God according to God’s command (16, 19, 21, 23, 24, 27, 29, 32)

pictures plus words

told Moses 2x (Ex. 25:9; 25:40) to make tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly “according to the pattern which you were shown on the mountain”

Moses knew what everything looked like, how all was made, how was arranged when all set up – Ex. 26:30 “you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain”

God didn’t expect Moses to rely solely on pictures – gave verbal commands/instructions to clarify order of things and purpose

“you shall” and they did

two parts of chapter 40, second like a mirror image of the first – explicit commands given, “you shall” eleven times – obviously were not suggestions open to modification

God gave command and they obeyed – “they”… because even though YHWH spoke to Moses, he needed assistance to set everything up – no way this was one-person task

demonstration for the people

Moses had mind’s eye view… but no one else had the picture… yet – probably were parts of tabernacle some had not seen

as all parts brought together, everyone could finally see how it all fit – the one opportunity for most of people to see some of furnishings

even though only priests allowed inside tent, everyone could now picture in mind what was happening as priests carried on their daily service

training for the Levites

Moses had seen pattern all set up – in order to assemble all pieces according to pattern w/o extra labor, damage, injury, had to follow particular order… and same in reverse for teardown

would not be Moses’ job to lead in future setups, ones actually doing all the work needed to take notes – would need to continue this task according to God’s command

God concerned not only with details of manufacture, setting up for use / packing up for transport acts of service to God just as much as other aspects of priestly service

NOTE: Lord Jesus told woman at well “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:23) – requires us to worship as God commands

B. worshiping God with a view to the new creation (2, 17)

God gave date for first setup of Tabernacle – first day of first month, iow New Year’s Day – how’s that for counter-cultural idea, beginning new year with worship

first days are significant, more than simply excuse to make some kind of resolution… that may not last!

first day… of creation

God began process of bringing order out of disorder – no form to heavens and earth… until God spoke… “let there be…”

first act of creation on day 1 – bringing light into darkness… something that continues daily on smaller scale to those who sit in darkness and chaos of sin

first day… of a new creation

as tabernacle is erected, will become central focus of community life – God here continuing process of creating a new people, eventually nation of Israel

just like lampstand designed to bring light to holy place, people of God intended to be a light to the nations – this whole process not happening in secret, God out in the open building up “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6)

first day… of the week

then that one whose redemptive work pictured in tabernacle would sanctify first day of week by throwing off bonds of death

no longer only first day of first month, now first day of every week reminds of Savior’s resurrection, the life that comes to us as new creatures in Christ, and hope that awaits us after our own resurrection

C. worshiping God in total consecration (9-15)

tabernacle and all its furnishings

everything there from most important to least significant visibly purposely set apart for service to God, consecrated, hallowed

all that was anointed were kinds of things or materials that could be used for “secular” purposes – God graciously accepted as fit for service to him

the high priest and all his “sons”

included people who would serve – were not naturally suitable for that purpose: needed to be washed, clothed, anointed first

sound familiar? we, too, must be washed from our sins by the blood of Christ (Rev. 1:5), clothed with righteousness of Christ (Gal. 3:27), anointed with Spirit of Christ (2 Cor. 1:21-22)

the common set apart to be holy

Tabernacle the place of worship under the Law, yet God’s amazing grace evident throughout – those who sacrificed common animals on brazen altar, washed with common water at laver, fit to enter Holy Place and serve holy God

no question God expects his people to worship him wholeheartedly, totally devoted to his use because they love him

D. worshiping God with a desire for communion and presence with Him (2, 6, 19, 29)

tabernacle – dwelling

different words with similar meaning used repeatedly… tabernacle and tent – emphasize two different aspects of relationship between God and his people

tent the kind of place fit for home of a king, and God stooped to make his presence known and obvious there – pillar of cloud/fire

tent of meeting – communicating

yes, were conditions – couldn’t just waltz in and say howdy at any time; yet God intended there to be communication there… in both directions: from him, to him

two-way desire

God wanted to be near to his people and to communicate with them – that alone enough to cause us to worship him

God also wanted his people to be near him and to communicate with him… and he wanted them to do that because they wanted to, not because they had to

God’s desire for fellowship based on love, not need – God has all he needs in himself, has chosen to love sinners and bring them into relationship with him… because he loves them, and he desires their love in return

All this points toward time when “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” (John 1:14). God not content to have cloth and leather tent with heavy curtain between him and his people. Yet in that we see heart of God, love he has for his people, his intention to use temporary provision to picture permanent answer to God’s desire and man’s need.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

God declared he would do it back in the Garden, Tabernacle showed need and partial solution, prophets spoke at length about who God would send. Then he sent his Son to pitch his tent among us to purchase an eternal dwelling for us with him. Better we understand that, greater our desire to show our love and gratitude to God by worshiping him, experiencing small taste of the rest he has in store for us.

Moses’ Benediction

Exodus 39:32-43

Overall theme for study of Exodus – Free to Worship. Comes, of course, from YHWH’s repeated demand made to Pharaoh: “Let my people go”… why? “so that they may serve Me”. (Ex. 7:16; 8:1; 8:20) “Let my people go so that they may worship YHWH, not Pharaoh! “Set my people free from their oppression that they may be free to serve, to worship the true God”.

Not kid stuff we’re talking about here, some of what you might hear on college campus or city streets here in America. Was real honest-to-goodness oppression, significant enough God actively intervened. Those things that happened in earlier chapters not magic tricks Moses learned how to do in Midian. They were genuine acts of God, displaying his power and authority over the little-g gods of Egypt… including Pharaoh. And what they had experienced was real slavery – 4x in Deut. God said “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt”. (Deut. 15:15; 16:12; 24:18, 22) God then followed up by saying “and the LORD your God redeemed you”.

Will touch on conclusion briefly, then come back. Will consider ways serving Pharaoh differed from serving YHWH, ending up with blessing that results from faithful service to God. Encourage you to keep in mind as God speaks to us from his Word – (1) how has God set you free and blessed your service to him; (2) who do you know by name/face who is still a slave, what might you do to change that.

A. building a pyramid vs building a tent

giving

P – forced to give from their poverty – nothing voluntary about service to Pharaoh and his taskmasters – slaves told what was expected, woe to them if they didn’t produce

shop floor joke – “expected to do more and more with less and less until can do everything with nothing” – was reality for Hebrew children… and all others in slavery

slaves never really get ahead – taskmaster always one step ahead, hand out expecting more and more, slave becomes more impoverished

T – asked to give from their abundance – requested, not demanded, and… God didn’t ask them to make bricks with no stubble (to hold together, keep from crumbling)

God had sorted all out beforehand – everything necessary for construction supplied in abundance before  leaving Egypt

nothing required had to be purchased, ordered from another country, scavenged from surroundings – all readily available

receiving

P – poverty and demands both increased – Pharaoh took their children, tried to take their lives, culture, traditions, anything of value – all went to one who ruled with nothing given back in return

Pharaoh no exception to the rule – the more he got, the more he wanted / demanded… and no one was ever satisfied

even more disheartening – no matter what kind of taskmaster Pharaoh was, he could never satisfy desires of his people

T – riches and rewards both increased – all Hebrew children, whether involved hands-on in construction or not would receive ongoing blessing

if nothing more, they lived in a place with a local church where God dwelt, whether they had genuine relationship or not

thing with God is this: He always gives more than He takes – be careful how you understand that, most of what God gives cannot be measured with ruler or scale

yet fact still remains – no matter how much we give freely to God, we will never end up with less… and all we receive from him is of highest value

“Wow!” factor

P – 3500 years later, monuments to Pharaoh still there – have been doing serious study of Pharaoh’s monuments for 100+ years, still learning new things

wowed by what they contain, how they were made (which we haven’t completely figured out yet), their magnitude

here’s really sad factoid: we don’t know with certainty names / identity of people most closely associated with pyramids: which pharaohs go with which pyramid?

some day, what remains… including our knowledge and speculation will be no more – the “Wow!” will be gone… and so will be any legacy left by Pharaoh, his taskmasters, the slave labor

T – tent long gone, worn out from constant exposure – but that wasn’t what God intended should impress those who saw it

not interested in people looking at structure, trying to figure out, being wowed by it – gave clear instructions about how/why

intended people to know him by name, worship and serve him by name, be totally wowed by himself… the living God

B. serving God vs serving Pharaoh

it was work

tabernacle not something that came together in few days with minimal effort – took several months, intensive particular work by lots of people

same would be true of ongoing service to God – wouldn’t just happen, requires daily diligent effort… with significant differences

serving God not to be burdensome, unrewarding or unfulfilling – slavery to anyone/thing just the opposite of that

designed to draw family members together – everyone could be involved on some level, participating in both work and result

and would draw families together in community, increasing cooperation and minimizing conflict, again… opposite of slavery

it was fully funded

as time went on Pharaoh supplied fewer raw materials – expected slaves to fund more of both material and labor costs

when God moved, supply was greater than need – no shortage of materials, labor, no record of diminished expectations

in fact, every detail of plan crafted by perfect Architect was satisfied – same would hold true for recurring maintenance and consumables requirements

it was completed

Pharaoh, like many others, never fully satisfied with what had finished – had to move on to something larger / more impressive

otoh, God was satisfied when project was completed – years later, was not God’s idea to replace tent with “permanent” house

see in this how much difference it made where the glory came from – if from the monument, more glory requires bigger monument; if from the person, in this case God, his presence was enough regardless of anything else

it was accepted

work was finished, they did all according to God’s command – brought to Moses for review, final sign-off indicating satisfactory completion of project

he looked everything over, gave final approval – had been done exactly as God had commanded – pronounced a blessing on the workers and their work

to be no question in anyone’s mind – the gifts of materials and labor to God was acceptable and accepted in every respect

no “yes, but’s”, no demands for more, simply gracious acceptance of all that had been given – had been done well, to best of ability, with right spirit

C. the bottom line

done freely, voluntarily

unlike typical taskmaster, God does not demand of his people – told Moses to take an offering, not levy a tax… tell the need, give opportunity for whoever has willing heart to give

same holds true today in work of service done for God – as God’s people know of needs, is God’s desire they freely and voluntarily give to meet needs (time, talent, treasure) from what God has already given to them

out of love for God and his work

no way any of Hebrew children would ever make bricks b/c they loved Pharaoh… life, maybe, but not him – entirely different when serving God

doesn’t start with enjoying the work, begins with loving God – doesn’t matter what mom or dad are doing, little one wants to be right in middle of it – should be same for us and God

whatever God is doing in our life / family / neighborhood / church, God’s desire is that we want to be part of it because we love him and love what he is doing

received God’s blessing

when that is how we strive to serve God, will receive God’s blessing – don’t have to wait until end of day/week/project to receive reward from God… will be continual ongoing blessing that permeates all of life

So… here is the challenge: you understand from both principle and practice the huge difference between serving God and being enslaved to someone/something else. And… you know people who aren’t there yet, still stuck in slavery. Commit to thinking/speaking/acting so they will see the difference and want what you have. Remember: God must begin the work, giving them ability to see truth and desire for it. And… God will use you and me as his ambassadors to bring Gospel truth to those who desperately need to hear it. Begin by… Count[ing] Your Blessings

Grace Abounding

Exodus 36:8-38:20 

The portion of Exodus describing construction of Tabernacle has an intimidating level of detail. Add to that… it duplicates information already given in earlier chapters. That in itself raises question – at time when written records nearly unknown, certainly not ones that could be easily transported (remember tablets of stone!), why would inspired writer repeat so much detail? Writer doesn’t say, certainly believe that God  expected his commands to be followed to the letter, is precisely what happened.

Amount of detail makes it easy to get so lost in trees as to miss beauty of the forest. Will try not to do that; instead, will endeavor to glean few gems from big picture. Might wonder about sermon title, Grace Abounding. Are in that section of Bible everyone recognizes as the Law. Aren’t grace and law mutually exclusive? Isn’t it either one or the other, not both? Not at all. Remember how God self-identified just 2 chapters ago:

“And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “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, 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.”

God didn’t just say it with words, he went on to demonstrate mercy and grace, patience and goodness. Yes, God had given explicit instructions verbally and visually to Moses about constructing and using a worship space. Yet God condescending to accept worship from sinful people is profound and continuing act of grace. God further demonstrates grace by instructing his people to make him a place to live… among them. Then the greatest grace of all, God provides a way for sinful rebellious people to be forgiven, their sin atoned for that they could be reconciled to God.

A. God’s grace in accepting worship

starting place – structure first, working from inside out

inner curtains – sections of tapestry linked together covering  entire inside of the tent… featuring angels pictured on background of blue/purple/scarlet

tabernacle intended to be a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5) – interior decor an intentional reminder of heaven, true sanctuary and dwelling of God

as if God said: want to be as close to people as possible for their good, help them experience as much of heaven as possible

outer coverings – multiple layers: goats’ hair, ram skins, badger skins – practical reasons as well as symbolic in various colors/materials

protection from weather, insulation from heat… at same time not much to distinguish on outside from surrounding tents

glory of this tent to be who dwelt in it, what took place under its protection – worship, fellowship, forgiveness, reconciliation

walls – curtains dark, walls much different – reflective surface, multiplying light from 7-branched lampstand around the outer room

walls served to stiffen / stabilize entire structure, provide way to separate interior into two distinct spaces… Holy Place and Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place

door – veil – two rooms separated but in significant way: not a wall between, not even door that could be barred to prevent entrance into inner room

was only a curtain that separated… sufficient but without destroying sense of nearness, something God wanted his people to experience yet without compromising God’s holiness

then the furnishings

ark – the focal point of Most Holy Place – yes, contained eventually tablets, pot of manna, Aaron’s rod; what gets emphasis in Bible is the cherubim and the lid

numerous references later to God who “dwells between the cherubim” – all those cherubim on curtains reminder not only of heaven, also of cherubim inside Holy of Holies forming throne where God dwelt among his people

the lid would be place of atonement for entire nation one day each year – more on that later – don’t forget, atonement/forgiveness essential for holy God to accept worship from sinful people

table – where showbread, presence bread, would be placed – even today, breaking bread together signifies intimate fellowship

not limited to priests, why there would be 12 loaves of bread – God intended to receive worship from all his people

lampstand – God doesn’t expect his people to worship him in the dark… may not be able to see him, but we can know him

just as lampstand gave light to room, so God gives light to sin-darkened minds… enabling to worship in acceptable way

incense altar – sweet fragrance filled entire tent… including inner room – an offering to God, something any priest could do

followed by the outer courtyard – furnishings, then curtains

altar of burnt offering – a center of action in outer enclosure, directly in line between curtain at entrance gate and curtain at entrance to Most Holy Place

one entering at the gate being invited by God to worship… but not without sacrifice for sin first; and then opportunity for thank offerings, freewill offerings, all regular part of worship

laver – the one answering God’s gracious invitation to worship needs forgiveness and cleansing, washing from sin and its effects

God can graciously welcome worship from his people… but there are no shortcuts – must approach God on his terms

hangings and supports

another reminder: the one who has face toward God in genuine worship has turned away from allure of the world and its idols… leaving all that outside the enclosure

B. God’s grace in giving his presence

inner room in the tent where God will “live”

God intended to dwell with his people… but not put down roots – they were to be on the move, God would travel with them

commitment to being close to his people continually… because God wanted them… and they needed him… close by all the time

place from which God will rule

no hands-off approach for our God, not sitting idly by watching people do their thing – is actively ruling / governing his creatures

outer room a place for fellowship

to not have veil between would have been harmful to people yet… God still close enough so they could hear and feel him

went to next level with Lord Jesus – “the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” (John 1:14) then promised his followers “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

C. God’s grace in providing atonement

through the gate

once again, God not obligated to act as he has – could have kept himself inside walls with no entrance at all for sinful people

instead has graciously not fenced himself off, draws his people to him step by step along path of his design, making provision for them in their weakness

to the altar and laver

entirely of God’s invention, nothing man could or would have come up with – at this time, served as signposts pointing toward future reality known to God but not his people

yet they were more than simple pictures – sacrifice and washing were what God graciously accepted as outward signs of genuine love and sincere worship

showed also God’s commitment / intention to be worshiped by holy people… those who were truly holy inside and out

then the Holy Place

at that time only priests allowed in Holy Place to experience fellowship with one another in same tent with God but… God had something to say about that

you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” – time coming when all true worshipers would be welcome in Holy Place, eventually even in Holy of Holies… once the separating veil was torn in two

Everything about Tabernacle worship was real, God was abounding in grace toward his sinful rebellious people. While it was real, was reduced in scope and intensity until this side of the Cross. Now that Christ’s work of atonement is complete, accepted by his Father, one of his final promises is our reality:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)

Because of Christ’s atonement we can individually and corporately experience God’s presence in us and with us. God’s grace abounds even more as we worship him together without need for further sacrifice for sin, enjoying his presence, hearing his voice as he speaks through his word by his Spirit. God’s grace is truly marvelous, infinite, matchless – O that more of friends and family might come to experience that grace.

God Provides Abundantly

Exodus 35:20-36:7 

The church in recent history on quite a pendulum ride, oscillating between extremes of emotional enthusiasm and intellectual dryness. Neither extreme good for health of the church – strong emphasis on mind and intellect tends to promote doctrine at the expense of love for others in daily practice. At opposite end of spectrum, appeals to emotions and showing love for fellow man often lead to diminished care and attention to sound doctrine. Neither extreme is accurate representation of model found in God’s Word the Bible.

God’s intention is that his people be totally involved in service to him, fully committed – thinking, feeling, doing – for God out of love for him. Several words repeated in our text, are important concepts that deserve close attention. One is ‘heart”, appearing 12x in these verses. As you probably guessed, not referring to 4-chambered muscle of amazing design God has placed in each humna being. Helpful description from Dr. K:

“The heart is a figure of speech that stands for the very core of man’s being, the very radix of his personality, the very hub of his nature, and the very essence of his I-ness. …In Scripture the heart is the spiritual center of the embodied human soul. It is the wellspring from which all of life and its activities originates, takes its cue, and receives its propulsion, spiritual as well as physical. As such it is also the seat and subject of the three internal functions of thinking, willing and feeling. It may neither be divorced from them, nor be identified with them, whether with one at a time or with all of them simultaneously. To do so would unacceptably blur the biblical teaching.” Krabbendam, Sovereignty and Responsibility

When God’s people are committed to loving God with heart, soul, mind, strength and are all engaged in his work, only eternity will tell whole story of what God will accomplish.

People heard God’s message from Moses, went back to their tents. From what is described next, is clear more going on than simply fellow with shining face lecturing crowd of people. Many of those who were there and went away came back different, changed from what they were before. Again, Dr. K, “the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart”.

A. matter of the heart

stirred hearts

more than just emotional response – everyone can identify experience… e.g. 5-Kleenex weepie kind of movie, one of wonders of the world, surprise birthday/anniversary remembrance

think about this – how long did your response to that experience last? what follow-on life-altering decision came from it?

if you are like most, remember it fondly… brag about it to friends… or on facebook… reminisce about it… rest of life stays pretty much same old

to action – not so for Hebrew children: had plans how they intended to use time, talent, treasure… all radically changed, within short time, without whining or complaining

no sales pitches, no robocalls, no roadside signs – went home and then came back with their hands full… of supplies, skills

both way of feeling and thinking changed, was demonstrated by action – no action, no real internal change

by outside influence – not case of talking to self, convincing self to do what was suggested… had already shown natural bent

for desires and choices to be directed away from loyalty to an idol toward something else required action by outside agent

NOTE: much as we desire and encourage friends / loved ones to change desires, choices, that kind of stirred heart can only be achieved by finger of God

willing hearts

to give –  when God is at work stirring up hearts of his people, needs of others take priority – in this case, was need of entire worshiping community, building portable worship center where God would meet with his people

God covered all the bases: gave people awareness of need, supplies to meet need, desire to address need, willingness to contribute toward meeting need

God’s people whose hearts God has stirred motivated by love for God to act because they want to do so – not for reward from God or people but because want to please the one they love, will use any opportunity to show love

wise hearts

to work – some had hearts “stirred with wisdom” – they had particular God-given skills that could be put to work at all stages

those who want to be involved hands-on in God’s work need other than human wisdom to meet expectations God has for his agenda, for advance of Gospel / Christ’s kingdom

NOTE: God’s work must be done in dependence on God’s wisdom if we are to expect God’s blessing – our wisdom not enough

B. and the hand

when advances his program, begins with hearts of his people, engages their minds, accomplishes his purpose through their hands

and… he uses people from all walks of life, all levels of society in his program – leaders and followers, men and women, old and young

generous hands

more than enough – not just a one-time offering, became daily practice: bringing offering continually each morning

didn’t bring little, ask “will that do, is that enough?” – stirred willing hearts are motivated to give lavishly, not foolishly

brought right things to right people to do what God intended, each one generous to extent of his/her ability

had to be told to stop – notice how God worked it out: make the need known, God stirs peoples’ hearts, they give w/o coercion until need is met

the way some Christian radio / TV personalities talk about money, would think every 10 verses in Bible must have something about tithing… hmm, not in my Bible

skilled hands

God lined up workers with two kinds of skilled hands – practiced and potential… those who had already worked in the field, those who had latent ability not yet tapped

already trained – those who had the skills already practiced, used in workplace, necessary for all the different kinds of work

ones who could work to a blueprint – give print with dimensions, specifications, they could bring to completion w/minimal supervision – good work ethic, too

already had tools, brought from Egypt, or knowledge/ability to make tools necessary to make required parts for Tabernacle

desiring and willing to learn – apprentices not singled out but… Bezalel and Aholiab equipped by God to teach others

shouldn’t slide over that point: “equpped by God” – see Ex. 36:1 – ” in whom the LORD has put wisdom and understanding”

probably all had what we call natural talent, the ability someone has to pick up a tool, intuitively know basics of how to use

but what set these workmen apart – were specially equipped by God for “work for the service of the sanctuary”

working hands

already employed – most described as “gifted artisans”, not professional students – had used their skills, had portfolio, callouses

could have done their part with contributing supplies, lion’s share of their gift to God’s work the labor of their hands

still true about God’s work today – need willing workers to be actively involved, using God-given skills and abilities for Him

knew how to work – far greater problem today than Moses’ time, as each day passes fewer people either know how or have desire to work

is only “natural” since Creator designed man for work, those he calls to do his work will know how (or learn) and desire to work and receive joy from doing good work

C. for the Lord

an offering to the Lord

transaction between individual and God – no one standing there at the collection point giving out receipts, making entries in a ledger… no list of donors published at the end

were not interested in personal recognition, no intention to make comparisons – and remember what Jesus said about the widow… gave the least..and the most

freely given according to heart’s desire… from what they had – gave what they wanted to give without restraint, or much consideration for tomorrow

already knew from experience could expect God to supply adequate food for tomorrow… when tomorrow came

for the Lord’s work

not a spec house – everyone knew worship space to be built because God said so, and he intended to use it to live with them

supplies brought, work done not for personal benefit of any individual involved present or future – entirely God’s work

nor Moses’ plan to leave a legacy – church not immune to such things: Herod’s Temple or Crystal Cathedral e.g.

according to the Lord’s direction

he directed the giving… and directed use of the gifts – from start to finish, was all the Lord’s work… abundantly providing materials, skills, motivation, desires for good of his people and his own glory

empowered by the Spirit of the Lord

necessary at all levels of involvement – from Moses and Bezalel and Aholiab right through ranks of all involved, was work of God’s Spirit – inciting, equipping, empowering his people for the work

God’s work done God’s way in God’s time by the directing and empowering of God’s Spirit will accomplish God’s purpose. Say again. Our task: make sure we are fully on-board – doing God’s work, not our own. His way, not our own. Directed and empowered by his Spirit. Satisfied that God has good purpose.

What Can I Do?

Exodus 35:1-19 

Someone calls your name, how do you respond? in thought if not in word? “What do you want” vs. “what can I do”. Your children always the first, you always the second! Then those times when you hear God calling, you figure it’s because he wants something. Do you wonder what you’ll have to give up, devote energy to that might be second choice. Do you think maybe he’ll want something you do not have or cannot give?

Little one wants to participate, help with what mom or dad is doing. Matt G, car project, 3 yo Avery w/toolbox handing something to dad. Open hand and smile? Too often response is “not now, you’re not big enough….” then 10 years later complain when they camp on the couch with earbuds in doing thumb exercises, room’s a disaster zone…. God doesn’t do that – provides opportunity, expects participation with child-like “I wanna help, what can I do?”

People had sinned grievously against God, through Moses’ work as mediator had been reconciled. Now time to move forward, demonstrate that were no hard feelings, no lingering consequences. God already made expectations known to Moses, in our text Moses declares God’s will to the people. Presented with voice of authority: “These are the things which the LORD has commanded you to do.” Something else equally significant: for everything that God expects, He provides everything necessary to satisfy his expectation.

In text and what follows, see first commandment in action: Deut. 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” God both instructs and equips his children to do that. And… don’t forget – these aren’t suggestions, weren’t understood that way by Hebrew children. Repeated phrases like “the Lord has commanded”, “you shall”. At same time, highlight / underline middle of verse 5 – “whoever is of a willing heart”. Might wonder what all this has to do with us in 21st century – not our job to build Tabernacle worship center like one fabricated at base of Mount Sinai. You’re right, our task to be about building something far grander – Christ’s kingdom that stretches around world in all directions.

Like us, ancient Israelites needed strength for the work, stuff as raw material, and skill to produce what God designed to be place devoted to worship.

A. strength  v.1-3

right priorities

not a stretch: biggest Boss says “get to work” means just that, and… don’t think about stopping till job is done – this is #1, no #2

God leaves no doubt about nature of work week – yes, are to work six days, but only six… not 6-1/2 or 7 days like many try

aren’t to be exceptions for crunch time either – Ex. 34:21 God can supply need even if Charlie Lopresti predicts thundershowers on your hay, frost on your pumpkins… but you gotta honor God’s timeclock

work and rest both essential

number of reasons given for observing one day in seven – Creation ordinance, day devoted to worship, dire consequences threatened for failure to observe

primarily in view here: we are unique beings created according to God’s comprehensive design with innate potential for incredible diversity – how many people do you know, hundreds / thousands, can distinguish w/o labels

not biological machines built like electric motors rated for 100% duty cycle – God makes plain designed us for both work / rest

rest necessary for good work

every wise manager, every good teacher understands – tired workers, tired students do not perform well, not at best of ability

from employer’s POV, quality of product goes down, scrap rate goes up, potential for personal injury increases with fatigue

to be at full strength, to do best work people need rest – not like ’37 Dodge pumper, 5 gal. gas cans, run continuously for several days during 1947 fire, no harm to vehicle

expectation comes with implied promise: when we follow God’s expectations, that one day in seven will supply rest and refreshing God intends… fitting us for work of other six

Song: Give of Your Best to the Master… can do that when we properly utilize God’s provision to renew our strength regularly

and… God wants us to give from strength he supplies to do our best work; does not expect us to give what we don’t have

B. stuff  v.4-9

from what you have

what is not said as important as what is: not go get / make / borrow / buy something to put in the plate, IOU’s not expected or accepted

were expected to take from what they already had, give from that to need for building tabernacle… remember its source

Ex. 12:35-36 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

what did God want? for Hebrew children to give to him from what they had that he had supplied – notice God didn’t ask for money

was stuff they had been given by Egyptians, had packed, had carried with them all the miles from Egypt, what they had personal stake in – not intended to be some kind of arm’s-length commercial transaction

with a willing heart

The root ndb connotes an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice. …sacrifice made out of devotion, not out of precept or promise” TWOT

given because giver wanted to give as an act of love – motivation not one of right/wrong, perceived benefit or payback, simply love… kind of love God showed when he gave his Son

only two parties that mattered: giver and God – not done for benefit of, in competition with, for notice of anyone else

notice, too: no stipulations for who should bring what, no stated expected giving level – God would, through freely given offering of his people, supply right resources in right quantity to accomplish God’s purpose

read ahead, come next week to find out how well that worked

for a range of uses

no surprise, construction project of this design and magnitude had long / varied list of required materials – we read the basic list

included not only materials to make everything according to plan, God’s list covered consumable supplies to get started: oil for lights, oil with spices for anointing, spices for making incense, ingredients for showbread

nothing forgotten or overlooked, no last minute scramble when Tabernacle first setup – and… God didn’t overlook anything months before in Egypt when all first given to Hebrew children

C. skill  v.10-19

no supply house

couldn’t grab latest CBD catalog, start ordering; had not come from culture with things that could be repurposed for Tabernacle

required everything to be both made and assembled on site – only one solution: God must have supplied people with tools and necessary skills to meet need

all “local” talent

not like later Temple, hired help – no provision for bringing in outsiders for specialized tasks, would be accomplished entirely by Hebrew children… “gifted artisans among you

skilled labor just like materials for supply list – to be given freely out of love for God… who supplied skill like everything else

a wide range of skills

participation not limited to select few – aside from Moses, only two others identified by name: Bezalel and Aholiab… too many others to properly credit

think about what would be manufactured: furniture, jewelry, clothing, structural items, and more – all kinds of people with all kinds of gifts would be put to work

Were opportunities for everyone to be involved in service to God at building of Tabernacle. Note carefully how it worked: each gave from love for God out of what he or she had been given by God. Said at beginning: we have far grander task – doing our part to build Christ’s kingdom that stretches around world in all directions. It starts with home, church, community… place where God has put you, skills he has given you, resources he has entrusted to you, strength he supplies you day by day.

Question for each one then is this: given all that, what can I do? What skills do I have and where are they needed? What resources do I have and where can they be used? How should my strength be best directed in service to God because I love him? If your love has grown cold, ask God to warm it up. If your confidence in God has become weak, ask God to strengthen your faith. If you are unsure of what God would have you give, ask God to make it plain. If you love the Lord Jesus, you are part of his body and every part is essential. You have something to give to him.


Moses, Your Face!

Exodus 34:29-35 

Second time Moses spent 40 days on mountain (Exod. 24:18; 34:28). Each time Moses came from God’s presence, Moses was different, he was changed. Is the very nature of encounter man has with God – God never changes but man cannot experience God and not be changed by encounter… either for good or not. One way or another, results of that experience will be obvious, often to others first. How it was with Moses – Aaron, children of Israel recognized difference in Moses before he did.

Moses asked to see God’s glory… was refused. Yet did experience goodness of God, up close and personal, presence of God for 6 weeks. God’s glory grew on him and in him, came to show on outside in dramatic way. Was not permanent, over time glory faded away. Might think God’s glory not something accessible to us, Paul had different idea.

A. glory grows  v.29

couldn’t stay on mountaintop forever – numerous reasons why might want to: what better place on earth to be, soaking up everything possible from God… who knows what talked about between times

had unfinished assignments – much unfinished business with Hebrew children: God’s designated leader for next 40 years, few hundred miles… to get to Canaan

of immediate significance: the two tablets, what they signified for the covenant… and relationship between God and people

and there was worship center – complete plans in Moses’ mind, nowhere else… yet – Moses needed to oversee that project

much as might not like idea, Moses was key to Israel’s “success”… by God’s design intent – Aaron lacked proper character, Joshua lacked experience and maturity… at that time

time in God’s presence preparatory inter alia

first one to benefit from stay on mountain was Moses himself – no child of God can spend time with God and not be better for it, blessed by it, often in ways you can’t put into words

thinking and feeling toward God and fellow man being molded – most helpful for one who would represent God to people, people to God – their survival depended on it, this life… and the next

people would assume much about character of God from how his representative presented Him – would assume much from how representative responded to them

Moses not conscious of all that was happening

pretty typical kind of person in many ways – life experiences used by God to shape us into people we are, don’t think about details of the process too much… while it is happening

am sure Moses did not take inventory on day one, then day forty, check to see what might have changed

certainly true about appearance… had no idea what was different – apparently too attentive to other things to take selfies

certainly did not come down mountain intending to use newly acquired appearance to intimidate or manipulate people

had to call back over after they ran away, probably asked “what’s up?” – response, “Moses, your face! what’s with that?”

B. glory shows  v.30-32

far more than cosmetic difference

not the glow of good health and fresh air enhanced by Product X, Y or Z – not case of good lighting, creative image editing

is not only the result of spending time up the mountain with God – if that’s all it were, would have happened his first trip for 40 days

2nd time up: Moses in different place – greater sense of need both he and people had: need for God, forgiveness, guidance

Moses had different desires – specifically requested more of God and his presence for himself and people – God obviously answered his request… abundantly

demonstrated natural man’s response

fear the emotion identified – people including Aaron not sure about: who person really was, what happened to Moses, what his attitude and intentions toward them might be

would have been similar response if pillar of fire touched down in center of camp – people had desire for distance, didn’t want to be too close to Moses’ God – were concerned mostly for personal safety

without realizing, people making good case for a mediator… again / still – Ex. 20:19 “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

could maybe manage dealing with a go-between, did not really want dealings directly with God – ok for Moses, not for them

and Moses ok to deal with… so long as he wasn’t too much like God – didn’t really want God’s light uncovering their sinfulness

glory for their good, too

cuddle calf 24/7, no joy – little “g” god could / would give nothing of substance – could not lead, protect, provide… not even as much as “real” living calf

if true God represents greatest good, then what he shares of himself with his people must be good – Moses changed… for the better, by time spent with his God – would never happen with their god

that Moses took evidence of God’s favor with him showed God intended his people to share in / benefit from his goodness

C. glory fades  v.33-35

fades with time and distance

not permanent change in Moses or his appearance – brightness of his face not something Moses generated, source as we know: God

ongoing reminder: if people were to need mediator, could really use a better one than Moses – no disrespect to Moses, but… remember who he was, that he foreshadowed / typified Lord Jesus

primary purpose: validate Moses’ message

change in Moses’ appearance intended to cause people to respect Moses because of who he had been with, whose message he was bringing back to them

wasn’t Moses who re-wrote on tablets, was God – message of comfort and hope Moses brought from mountain ultimately came from God himself, not simply something Moses made up

required frequent regular “restoration”

for Moses to continue role as effective mediator, had to be w/i arm’s reach of God – standing between people and God, with his hand on each

only then, when in God’s presence, God’s glory would be restored to Moses’ face – regular confirmation to people was indeed God’s commands he communicated to them

D. glory to glory  2 Cor. 3:18 

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” NIV

believers see God’s glory in Christ and the Gospel

glory appearing on Moses face one that apart from God’s immediate presence was continually fading – Paul envisioned different kind of glory, one continually increasing in clarity and intensity

source of that glory: God who has revealed himself in his written word, most clearly in his Son the Lord Jesus displayed in Gospel

was his goodness that God showed Moses, that made his face shine – God’s goodness shown most powerfully to us in his completed plan of redemption

Holy Spirit removes the veil from our understanding

we see ourselves in mirror of God’s word as we really are – there we also see beauties / glories of Lord Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension

those without the aid of Holy Spirit cannot see that glory, have no desire to see it, when confronted with it will respond as Israelites

glory revealed in written and Living Word transforms

by power of God’s word and ministry of his Spirit, people of God are day by day being transformed into likeness of Christ

transformation taking place in us will be obvious on outside – “Christians stand unashamedly before the world, reflecting in their own lives the glory of Christ beheld in the Word of God. And far from a fading glory, their glory is ever-increasing as they are changed more and more into the likeness of Christ.” Reformation Study Bible

Acts 4:13 “When they [members of the Sanhedrin] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus.” NET

Worthy goal for believers in this life: that people of all kinds would be amazed by our boldness and recognize that we have been with Jesus. We have rest of the story… and we have helping ministry of Holy Spirit in way OT saints did not – transformation God brings about in us is to eventually be permanent. Evidence of God present working in and through us to make us more like Jesus to be on increase day by day. Will be finally and fully accomplished on that day when we stand before Lord and Savior complete, able to see his glory in all its splendor… forever!