Tag: Exodus

Who Is On the Lord’s Side?

Exodus 32:19-35

Hard to wrap minds around what Moses experienced there on the mountain. We talk about mountain-top experiences, those exhilarating times – opportunities for great spiritual encouragement and growth, gaining new insights into God’s word and character. Rewarding times of fellowship and joy, then comes time when must leave mountain-top, head down into valley, try to pick up threads of life where we left it. Sometimes take with us commitment to some sort of change, may or may not have lasting effect.

Moses had time of his life up there, unlike anything experienced after Adam and Eve’s first days in Garden. Kind of thing Moses didn’t even try to describe. And then… God, with gracious understatement, warned Moses about what awaited him at foot of mountain – read v.7-8. God told Moses enough… but not everything – what people were doing but not how outrageous behavior really was. God rightly called them “a stiff-necked people”, obstinate and rebellious.

Joshua, meanwhile, had no idea what was happening. Moses hoping for best, thinking worst had fears confirmed closer he got. No wonder he couldn’t bear to tell Joshua entire truth, what noise was really all about. Than as scene unfolded before eyes and ears, Moses knew had to act in decisive way. Like bucket of ice water in face of hysterical person, had to bring stampede to halt, then deal with horribly sinful behavior immediately. To deal with anything else first would minimize the outrageousness of their conduct.

And remember… could just as easily be written about us: 1 Cor. 10:6-7 “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them.” No need for the warning if there is no risk!

A. confrontation  v.19-21

by the Law of God

given previous aggressive behavior at Massah and Meribah (ch. 17), disregard for God’s presence on the mountain, bullying Aaron, mob mentality – Moses’ authority nowhere near sufficient to turn tide of thought and act

only tangible thing he had… really the best thing he had… in his hands – very word of God, his Law, his standard, his expectations

was summary of what Moses read Ex. 24:7, people agreed to: “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.”

shattering tablets in sight of all the people simply displayed their breaking of God’s covenant by their sinful idolatry

by the futility of their idol

if god they were worshiping in place of YHWH really deserved their loyalty, how in world could he stand idly by while Moses single-handedly ground his image to powder?

if their substitute god could not resist Moses’ action, no way would ever lead them anywhere, at least not anywhere safe

even though talking about powdered gold, after people ate it nobody was ever going to try gathering pieces to reassemble

by the righteous displeasure of Moses

some had quieted down, were catching on to just how seriously angry Moses was, at that moment did not give any push-back

then… goes after his big brother – basically asking how the people sinned against Aaron in forcing Aaron to sin so greatly

Aaron catches on real fast that he’s in big trouble for facilitating such a big sin (his own and people’s) while standing in for Moses

B. excuses  v.22-24

not a big deal

“don’t get so upset” basically Aaron’s words as he shields face from heat of Moses’ anger – “Moses, you’re overreacting, not really that serious”

always one of first steps when confronted with sin – tone it down, try to make less weighty than really is; truth is, all sin is fatal

their fault

took page from Adam and Eve’s playbook – did speak truth, people were indeed set on evil; recognizing that should have made Aaron more vigilant instead of giving him excuse for weakness

second step in dealing with sin – “the devil made me do it” – blame-shifting, trying to lay blame on circumstances, companions

didn’t expect this

willingness of people to give up things of great value to Aaron might have surprised Aaron – certainly not a prudent order to give

ends with really ridiculous justification – claiming if God could speak from a burning bush, could make image from burning gold

C. separation  v.25-29

NOTE: task of leaders God gives to his people… restrain the people, keep them from running wild, refusing to enable their sin

this sad event in Israel’s history strong evidence for need to follow closely qualifications given for shepherds in local church

pick a side

talk about choosing sides as if more than one – really is only one worth considering: the Lord’s side – two options, the Lord’s side, not the Lord’s side… any other distinctions far less important

choosing to be on the Lord’s side requires: public action, public identification – acting to confirm choice and identity, clearly identified before watching world

given how out of control people were, taking stand like Moses required had great personal risk – not waiting for emotions to cool off, instead confronting sin at its peak and stopping in its tracks – man, tank, Tienanmen Square

take a weapon

only men from Moses’ tribe who stood with him… against tribesman Aaron… and took up arms… against neighbors and family

before you call God harsh in allowing this, think again – God declared his sentence up on the mountain, they all deserved to die

in this case, immediate consequences, at least for some, for their sin – clear picture for everyone else present just how seriously God takes idol worship

enjoy the reward

v. 29 – “Today you have been ordained for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”

a hard stand for Levites to take but… any blessing God gives for obedience far surpasses any benefit from worshiping false god

blessing for Levites: because they took stand, confirmed by decisive action that they were serious, God gave priestly responsibilities

D. intercession  v.30-34b

a great sin

serious enough that even 3,000 lives not enough to cover the debt for this kind of sin against God – Moses could easily compare glory / holiness / purity of God he had just seen to blackness of people’s sin

at this point Moses could have agreed with God: as bad as these people are, you better start over – instead, acts with compassion

since Moses had spent weeks in presence of God, had ample opportunity to know his own heart, how on his own just as prone to sin as people were – so… commits to carrying on role as mediator

a great need… for forgiveness

seems impossible to come up with greater sin against God – thinking coud make better substitute than living creator God already was

no way would be possible for people to pay price for their sin by other than death – only source of hope… that God could / would somehow be inclined to forgive, not hold their sin against them

a great cost – disinherited

here Moses’ heart of compassion really shows – if you can forgive them…., if not, punish me in their place; take away my inheritance, take away my life instead of theirs

carries even greater weight because of God’s earlier statement about starting over with Moses – giving all of that up for the people

a great promise – the Angel

Moses cannot atone for even his own sin, much less that of Hebrew children – was also unable, on his own, to rightly lead them

so God graciously gives Moses assurance: can’t accept Moses’ terms, but will send his Angel, his presence to lead in right way

and… when God does punish, he will be merciful – he will not give them what they deserve, even though will be consequences

E. consequences  v.34c-35

plague

judgment would be certain, not told explicitly what it was – some sort of plague that God sent, took 23,000 additional lives on that day (1 Cor. 10:8)

likely the ones who paid with their lives those who persisted in rebellion, who used idol worship as excuse for other immorality

punishment

once again God makes plain: sin must be punished, sin will be punished – because God is holy and just, no escaping that reality

Moses, most clearly of anyone in Bible up to this point, demonstrates principle of a substitute – Moses had the heart but not other necessities to fill that role… and he pictures that one for us… the Lord Jesus

What made Moses different? What helped him avoid sin of idolatry? Remember where he was – in presence of true God. So long as we drink crystal clear cool refreshing spring water, tap water will never satisfy no matter how thirsty we get. So long as we are satisfying our desires with God himself, no false god will have attraction for us. Safest place for us is at foot of the cross, constantly mindful that our hope must be in Christ alone, our trust in Christ alone, our satisfaction in Christ alone.

Moses Stands in the Gap

Exodus 32:11-18

No clearer picture, no louder statement could be made than the worship of a golden calf – God’s covenant by itself is powerless to save. That is true of every covenant God has made in the history of mankind. Whether a covenant is in force or not, only the sovereign gracious act of God saves lost sinners. The same is true for all other forms of human effort – no preached message, no Gospel tract, no revival meeting altar call, no sinner’s prayer will convert a lost soul. Only the power of God can give life to someone dead in trespasses and sins. Without question, God uses Gospel preaching and tracts and the like as means that lead to salvation. But for there to be genuine conversion, God by his power must change a person from inside out,

Something else God has deemed necessary to relate to his people – a mediator. Job understood that – Job 9:32-33“For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.” There must be someone to stand in the gap, to bridge the chasm between a holy God and sinful man, to bring them together on friendly terms.

There on the mountain, hearing righteous anger in God’s voice, understanding what it signified for his fellow Israelites, Moses acted.

A. Moses pleads with God v.11-13

questions God – “Why?”

more than simple desire to hear God explain and defend why he is so angry with the people – YHWH already told Moses what they had done… and Moses knew what that meant: rejected/abandoned God, broken covenant, etc

is asking how it can possibly be in God’s best interest to destroy people he did so much to deliver from slavery – how would that ever make God look good?

and… why would God do something that could so easily be “misunderstood”, that would make YHWH appear just like other gods

“corrects” God – “your people”

God said to Moses “your people… you brought” – Moses says “wait a minute, they’re not my people, they’re your people”

way more weight of responsibility than Moses would accept… and rightly so – really are not his people, are truly God’s people

Moses could only take credit for bringing people out of Egypt if Noah could take credit for rounding up animals and putting 2 x 2 in the ark – Noah and Moses both instruments God used, but… was God’s power, God’s mighty hand at work

confronts God – “remember”

no way that God forgot what he promised, did not need anyone to bring something back to his memory – Moses is changing the subject, shifting focus

takes as given that if God only looks at what people have done, if he judges based on their performance… they are goners

as if Moses said to God “let’s not talk about them, let’s talk about you – consider your character, your faithfulness, your promises”

is just as true for every lost sinner in need of salvation: if all we do is talk about the sinner and his sin, situation is absolutely hopeless

good news of Gospel – someone who stands in the gap to change the subject: salvation comes about solely by power of God, action of God

Moses’ changed character

Psa. 106:23 “Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.”

Moses volunteered to stand in the gap – God didn’t ask him to do it, in fact offered Moses huge bonus if he did nothing – “I will make of you a great nation.”

Moses not only considered treasures of Egypt as having little or no personal value, had come to value the lives of Israelites

Moses freely refused the gift, put himself personally at great risk… for sake of rebellious obstinate idolatrous people… who deserved to die – does that sound familiar??

B. God responds to Moses v.14

teaches value / power of intercession

was in response to Moses’ pleading that God changed course – God would not bring destruction on his people as he threatened

from our perspective God changed direction, changed his mind – from God’s POV, was all going precisely according to plan

God teaching Moses, Israelites, and us vital lesson – prayer, in particular prayers of intercession matter: should be regular part of our prayer life to intercede for others expecting God to change course of events and expected outcome

let’s make relevant application: see what’s happening in our country, with our friends/neighbors/fellow citizens – don’t give up and pray for Second Coming – instead pray like Moses for God to be merciful

came time later on in Israel’s history when God said:“I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” Eze. 22:30

may we not give God opportunity to say that about us, our nation

shows greatness of his mercy

consider what is taking place: God is furious, threatens to utterly destroy his people and start over with Moses, then draws back

remember how paragraph ends in v.18 – people haven’t changed, still engaged in worship of idol, while they were doing that God turned away his wrath… because of the mediator

Ex. 34:6-7 “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”

Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Tit. 3:4-5 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us”

goal is repentance

God takes no pleasure in destruction of his enemies – wasn’t secretly hoping to carry out his threat, then got talked out of it

true of threats of disaster, even when God does bring calamity – his intention is that people will repent of sinfulness, turn to Him

Jeremiah 18:6-10 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.”

God is committed to doing whatever it takes to have a people who worship him in spirit and truth, a people he calls his own

in the process, God blesses obedience… because he is loving and gracious and merciful; he brings consequences for disobedience because he is just and righteous

and in all of this… Israelites would have been destroyed if there were no mediator – same is true for us… if no Mediator to reconcile us to God… to stand in the gap between us and God

C. Moses prepares to confront the people v.15-18

carries the work and words of God

the one who is effective mediator doesn’t make up his own script – in this case, script of covenant written down directly by God

gives confidence in both content of message and the one bringing it – since Moses is acting as God’s messenger, can be trusted

shows depth of God’s love for his people – he wrote out terms of covenant himself, didn’t dictate, communicated personally

intended there to be no doubt about who was source of message, what the actual content and meaning was

cautions Joshua – don’t misunderstand

Joshua thought one kind of music, Moses knew it to be another: not the sound of singing victory, not the sound of singing defeat, but the sound of singing I hear

regularly sing hymns with familiar tunes… different words – happens often in human communication… sounds familiar but has significantly different meaning from what we expect

and remember what Moses had in his hands… word of God – what he and Joshua heard must be in line with words on tablets or God would be displeased

clarifies the condition of the people

isn’t victory, isn’t defeat, is another kind of singing – was Moses too grieved to even identify out loud to Joshua what kind?

encounter with God up the mountain all behind Moses, God already relented… yet people still celebrating their sin and rebellion

would definitely be consequences for their sin, not the utter destruction God had threatened… because of the mediator who stood in the gap

Moses, mediator of Old Covenant, pictures for us nature of work that must be done. His is accurate but incomplete picture – Moses effective in interceding, representing God and people, could only go so far. New Covenant better than Old, its Mediator a better one too. Moses turned away God’s righteous anger over sin of people. Lord Jesus, mediator of New Covenant took full fury of God’s righteous anger over sin of his people.

Israelites were singing in their rebellion – we can sing in our redemption and so we should at every possible opportunity. Declaring the praises of God who sent his own Son to stand in the gap, put his hand on both God and his people. Didn’t simply make reconciliation possible:

2 Cor. 5:19-20 “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

Sin at Sinai

Exodus 32:1-10

Opening chapters of Exodus have all makings of blockbuster dramatic production – baby rescue, royal prince who goes bad, burning bush, rods become snakes become rods, ten plagues, crossing Red Sea and destruction of Pharaoh’s army. Story doesn’t end there, no happy ending yet either.

Our text describes lowest point of Exodus account – worship of golden calf (chapter 32); highest point comes soon after – revelation of God’s goodness (chapter 34). What’s amazing: those events come in that order – God shows goodness, mercy, grace to people who had just rejected him and his terms. Don’t be hard on Hebrew children… not so much different from everyone else in world… then and now.

Are series of circumstances that highlight true character – of Moses, of majority of Hebrew children, and of Aaron. Keep in mind, not all Hebrews were faithless… see that next week, DV. Their behavior, though, makes strong statement about idea that people are product of their environment, nature vs. nurture argument.

In very first verse, character strengths and weaknesses come to light; we see what kind of people Hebrew children really were, then God leaves us with cliff-hanger – what will happen not only to Jewish people but God’s whole plan and purpose of redemption?

A. character study

Moses

this the fellow who didn’t want job God had in mind for him – tried desperately to get God to leave him alone, pick someone else

finally convinced after he and God reached compromise – at one point, not sure wanted to keep job… frustrated w/ complaining

here he is, up on mountain… with the God he wasn’t sure he wanted to serve – and now doesn’t want to leave, 40 days and counting

know that later glow of God’s glory rubbed off on Moses’ face – love God had for his people already rubbing off on Moses’ heart

btw, should be same kind of experience for us – more time we spend with God, more we want to spend time with God… and more of God’s character rubs off on us

the people

had for several generations suffered under oppressive slavery in Egypt – pushed around by taskmasters, beaten and mistreated

led out of place of spiritual / physical / emotional oppression by God’s man Moses, now can hardly remember his name

doesn’t seem to matter how much “old what’s-his-name” did for them, not enough loyalty or concern to find out what happened to him, why he hadn’t returned

all their unjust mistreatment failed to make them more considerate of those who treated them well: Moses, Aaron, even God

Aaron

apparently gifted speaker, in God’s opinion too: “I know that he can speak well” (Ex. 4:14) – God also knew he was not a gifted leader like Moses

Moses had left Aaron, Hur and 70 elders in charge – same ones who went partway up mountain and saw God (Ex. 24:9ff)

did not have strength of his convictions, firmness of loyalty to God and covenant to stand his ground – instead, facilitated sinful rejection of God

B. instant gratification

drive-thru (not drive-in) church

wasn’t really a big secret who Moses went to see – anyone who could see / hear knew God who had made covenant with them still on the mountain

weren’t sure Moses had survived, knew for sure God had – apparently had their own ideas about what they wanted to be doing, where they wanted to go – so far YHWH not cooperating

with each passing day, people less excited about this God who was making them wait – not very entertaining to just watch the mountain, see if anything would change

much more interested in god who would satisfy desires, provide exciting entertainment, not expect much from them in return

hearts had never left Egypt

Acts 7:39-40 “And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'”

purpose in wanting “gods to go before them” – take them back “home” – this a theme repeated throughout history all over world

God by means of Moses had led Hebrew children along with belongings out of circumstances of slavery in Egypt

all that changed for many / most of them was external situation – heart / desires / loyalties / comfort zone never moved

wasn’t that God made mistake, only did part of job: intended to make clear to them and us… not circumstances that make us the kind of people we are

also means their acceptance of / agreement to terms of covenant mostly for appearances, not based on heartfelt loyalty

if covenant benefits not enough or right kind, if covenant requirements too much, would bail on moment’s notice

and… looking only at physical / material aspects of covenant, had no interest / understanding of spiritual benefits

can make application to many different situations – people living in one kind of slavery or another: slaves to desire for things, particular kind of feeling, and more

change their environment, provide all kinds of help, if desire of their heart doesn’t change… will do just like Israelites… go back to Egypt at first possible opportunity

God on their own terms, not his terms

people were treating relationship between them and God like business deal – God providing product or service, people in the market, choosing provider that appealed to them

determined what they wanted from their god, what they were willing to give to their god, then went “looking for” god to satisfy

this kind of music, that kind of sharing, scheduled between these hours on this day, with these expectations in return

bottom line: not simply abandoning Moses and his leadership, were rejecting God and his covenant in favor of slavery to gods of Egypt and perceived benefits

C. cliff-hanger

God’s character

have been conditioned to think “God is love”, and that is true – but that is not all that God is: WSC Q4, What is God?

A. “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

have seen his love and goodness in how has cared for Israelites so far – now God threatens display of his holiness and justice

is God’s righteous burning anger against sin that is ready to break out and destroy those who so blatantly sinned against him

stand aside, Moses

God’s demand of Moses – “leave me alone so I can destroy them” – Moses in terrifying spot, standing before holy God whose nose begins to blaze up, breathing fire

Moses has already experienced similar emotion… saw great injustice when Egyptian was beating a Hebrew… killed the Egyptian (Ex. 2)

here another sinful injustice, which way would Moses’ heart go – would he side with God, join God in breathing fire on Israelites?

would he continue to stand between God and Israelites, if necessary take the heat himself so as to save his brothers from harm?

where would Israel be without a mediator?

whether Moses or another, seems clear nothing else would stand between Israel and the the consuming wrath of holy God

no mediator = no future = no hope — and at this point people absolutely clueless of their grave danger… no idea they are so close to utter ruin

even if they knew, little likelihood they would seek someone to mediate for them – way more intent / determined to make their own god, find their own way

where would we be without a mediator?

much as we might like to think otherwise, we are no wiser, more loyal to God, more desirous of God and his presence than Israelites

future without mediator just as bleak for us as for them – in a word, utterly hopeless, our sin problem just as deadly as theirs

Several take-away’s:

if we are to have relationship with God, must take him on his terms, not try to make own terms; if we do, will be making our own idol

if Mediator is standing between us and God, thank him for his love and grace and mercy in delivering from slavery, giving new heart

for those we know still in slavery, help what you can and always remember: true deliverance only comes with God-given change of heart

Work and Worship

Exodus 31:12-18

Much of the world spends much of their time dealing with basic necessities of daily life. Refrigerators, if exist at all, just a fraction of the size. Freezers rarely found, changes whole way of grocery shopping… is daily task to gather food and water. Not so in our part of world. Are blessed with electricity / appliances that make weekly / monthly shopping feasible. Addresses only one part of life. Similar can be said for other parts. Result is: time others spend on basics we can use for other things… like resting.

Doesn’t seem to work that way. Too often treat life like a closet – things regularly go into closet, very few things permanently leave. Schedules keep getting activities added, nothing ever comes off. Is just as true for Christians as for others. And… is all good – good things to be doing, good for us and others. Makes it hard to choose what to keep in schedule, what to treat as optional… and so we don’t. Just keep it all on the plate – to-do list gets longer, tempers get shorter, frustration increases and satisfaction decreases.

Wasn’t sin coming into the world that made boundaries necessary, is part of how God designed human beings. Text a reminder of how gracious loving God has taken steps to protect us from ourselves, give us good gifts. Has given clear instruction to enable setting right priorities, ones that will lead to greater enjoyment of God and his blessing.

A. time is more important than space v.13

precise instructions

sufficient detail so Moses could oversee construction of worship space and have it come out according to God’s plan

get an idea of how important space was to God by how much detail given – also significant… covered both what and how – what was to go there, how was to be used

not talking about simply dwelling here, not even just dwelling for God where people could come close to their leader

was place where God would dwell and be worshiped – as much instruction for how to worship as for constructing space

promised consequences

no question God expected his instructions to be followed… exactly – failure had two possible results: death or banishment

further evidence of just how serious God was about this whole subject – which raises huge problem, impossible for Hebrew children to sort out with certainty on their own

if God expects to be worshiped in his tent according to his regulations on pain of death, since would take more than six days to build… what to do

was going to be collision between God’s requirements for worship space and his demand for worship time – between construction and Sabbath

prioritizing essential

God graciously helps his people prioritize, in fact he does it for them so no room for mistake: worship time more important to God than worship space

what we might consider most important… work of ministry, building house for God… put in second place, after worship

Hebrew children could easily have thought building church #1 priority, worship when it’s done, gotta get it built first – God said otherwise

so what does that say about reserving one day in seven for the purpose of worship and rest from ordinary labor

B. holiness comes before happiness v.13b-15a

“I just want my kids to be happy”, translation often “I just want to be happy” – God didn’t say “Be happy for I am happy”

people must be holy

God’s intention for his people – their holiness – are designed to worship / glorify God, enjoying him forever a result of putting God and his priorities first

God not the only one who receives something in worship – notice what God says: “I sanctify you” – we give praise / glory / worship to God, in return he makes us holy (devoted exclusively to God for his use)

day must be holy

conversation with dad from another church, had issue because worship service moved from Sat. to Thurs. night – “what’s attraction of Sat. night?” – answer “too hard to get kids up Sunday morning”

implied – worship should be convenient, an hour or two satisfies the requirements – misses most of the point, why God gave gift of one day in seven

not just in worship that God gives back to his people – is rest of the day… and far beyond that God blesses obedience

Sabbath delight brings blessing – read Isaiah 58:13-14

“The Sabbath is not just a day to refrain from following their own agenda; it is a day for pursuing the Lord’s agenda.” Reformation Study Bible

when we think of God’s gift to us as a delight, call it a delight, pursue God’s pleasure rather than our own, God causes us to delight in him… not just the day

C. work and refreshment are both essential v.15-16

“work shall be done” and “shall keep the Sabbath”

not an either / or kind of situation – God expects both work and worship, from everyone, in order of priorities He has established

not talking about punch clock, and not intended to rigidly prevent works of necessity and mercy – Jesus made that plain with his own behavior / miracles

to be rest from something… labor

all work, no play makes Jack dull boy – all work, no rest makes Jack displeasing to God; same is true for all rest and no work

day intended to supply time / opportunity to actively pursue something other than daily work… like what will feed / grow relationship with God, likeness to Christ… ours and that of brothers/sisters

and refreshment for something… more labor

joke about need to go back to work to rest up from vaca – shouldn’t have to go back to work to rest up from the weekend

should be going back to work refreshed, reinvigorated and equipped to serve – take a deep breath, one of real satisfying kind

clear head, renewed energy and purpose, all right let’s go attitude toward next task God has set before you – essential for top quality workmanship, whatever specific task

D. it is God’s idea from Creation to Consummation v.17-18

an enduring sign – given by God

“a sign… forever” – not intended only for time on the road, in the wilderness, some other specified duration

since God is one initiating / establishing covenant, he is one who sets terms and signs – this one applies to every person, regardless of age or gender (unlike circumcision)

modeled in the beginning – by God

day of rest not something made necessary by sin – example was set long before fall into sin… by God himself… on mankind’s first full day of existence

God’s example: resting from his labors of creation, not complete cessation of activity – still continued his works of necessity and mercy

engraved in stone – by the finger of God

not to be in question how long these terms were to apply – written in stone, not something that would disappear with time

to be no doubt in anyone’s mind whose expectations / conditions these were – Moses repeated what God said, had an original of what God wrote… no photocopy, cellphone image

All of this for last several chapters has heaven in view – work, worship, and rest. Will be busy in heaven, without frustration that followed from sin. Work will not be laborious, will be rewarding / satisfying / enjoyable. NT writers, especially John make big deal of worship aspect. And author of Hebrews, emphasizing the excellency and superiority of Christ spends much time in chapter 4 reminding of promise of rest. Have experience taste of it here, those who have already gone on are enjoying rest from suffering, trials of this life.

Christ has done the work of redemption for us, securing eternal rest and refreshing that awaits us. Meanwhile, we get to enjoy weekly reminder, weekly blessing, weekly taste of fuller joy that will be ours someday. To enjoy that rest, need to be setting priorities rightly, pursuing holiness expecting the happiness that will accompany it. And remember: it’s the Lord’s Day, not the last day of the weekend!

Bezalel, the Builder

Exodus 31:1-11

Moses still up on the mountain, chapter 24:12 through middle of chapter 32. Up there 40 days and nights (Ex. 24:18), long enough for Hebrew children to get into serious trouble. Don’t know if he took pencil and paper, had whole lot to grasp and remember when he came down – already covered Ten Commandments, beginning rules of application. Now had to wrap mind around complete plan for Tabernacle – construction, layout, use – all in precise detail… for his own sake and everyone else involved. Was matter of life and death!

Was Moses beginning to wonder how at 80 years old was ever going to accomplish all God had showed him? A massive task that would have overwhelmed younger man. Especially true since God hadn’t taken anything off his plate – this all in addition to responsibilities Moses already had. Yet God knew what he expected, what Moses was capable of, God had his plan and was moving it forward. Was that huge sigh of relief from Moses at end of our reading?

“According to all that I have commanded you they shall do.”

A. called v.1-2

specifically

by name – singled out by God, no mistaking who God intended for this task: his name, father, grandfather, tribe

regardless of precise means God uses, will be no confusion who and what God wants – not like us, God doesn’t lack communication skills… has words and ways to make his purpose crystal clear

Bezalel = “In the shadow of God” Aholiab = “Father’s tent” coincidence? I think not!! – names way more than labels

names given by parents, orchestrated by God to prepare them for service – every time called by name while working on Tabernacle a reminder of place and task

Bezalel / Aholiab might have been top of ladder on job site, they and all other craftsmen working in shadow of God on their Father’s tent… for his glory, not their own

intentionally

for particular task – God didn’t put out call for general laborers, intending to figure something out for whoever showed up

Bezalel, Aholiab, all the rest had specific tasks / areas of responsibility to make all that God commanded Moses on mountain

done in particular way – had liberty to use individual skills and talents… but within boundaries, according to specs given by God

remember what Tabernacle was to do: be an accurate representation on earth of God’s dwelling in heaven – only God could draw those plans with any kind of correspondence to reality

historically

Isa. 46:9-10 “…Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done” – God’s plan from beginning is fully comprehensive – includes all the details

God isn’t making it up as he goes along… like we do – had Bezalel, Aholiab, others in mind from the beginning

heritage and life to that point contributors by God’s design to who he was, what he would do, what God would accomplish through his willing service

also included timing of his call to service – everything necessary to make up Bezalel’s fitness for use had to occur first

B. filled v.3-5

with the Spirit

filling with the Holy Spirit preliminary to all the rest – listed first because is of first importance given the way Bezalel was to use his various skills and understanding

many craftsmen without aid of Holy Spirit can produce things of great beauty, usefulness and value – God intended things in view here would take it to next level

essential for all the rest to be properly used – to make structure / furnishings / utensils to rightly symbolize / signify spiritual truths, required Spirit-filled men and women

wisdom

not simply knowledge in action – knowledge can be put to work in destructive ways, or not pleasing to God

rather right knowledge in right action – doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason… iow, according to God’s design

understanding

intelligence – critical thinking and reasoning – you’ve seen results of someone else’s foolishness, “they didn’t think that one all the way through” – would not be said of Bezalel

knowing how to carry out task from start to finish – understood how to successfully complete multi-step problem solving with adjustments along the way

knowledge

experiential – large segments of our culture place high value on knowledge, esp. as signified by degrees / certifications… gained in classroom/laboratory/book

certainly does have value… yet, is knowledge gained by/from experience that comes no other way – is the primary kind God expected these craftsmen and their supervisors to have… what they had learned by doing

practical – Bezalel’s task to oversee work of getting the job done – not engineering (God had already done that), not budgeting (God would supply everything needed)

much of work involved in serving God requires getting hands dirty – close personal involvement in the details of daily life

broad yet specific

“all manner of workmanship” – all kinds of trades – making of jewelry, metalworking, cabinetry – idea of specializing like medical field a modern invention, not way God did it

sufficient knowledge, understanding, wisdom to be effective supervisor – incredibly frustrating to have boss who knows nothing or just a little something about your job… and tries to tell you what to do

Bezalel himself had enough experience along with other qualifications and God-given wisdom to do job well and keep those actually doing the work happy

C. appointed v.6a

by God

God himself taking full credit for appointing and equipping: “I, indeed I have appointed” – no room there for Moses (or anyone else) to substitute someone else

with another

common biblical model: two by two or more, not just animals going into ark – partnership good defense against discouragement

also good encouragement for proper attitude, keeping proper focus, making sure work moves forward steadily

and others

building the church, whether physical structure or spiritual family, to be team effort – this kind of activity where everyone participates, involved in some way

only one star, Jesus – Bezalel’s task to make Tabernacle look good, according to plans God had given, for use of God’s people to give glory to him

our task in church today to make Jesus look good, each one doing part assigned by God to build up body of Christ

D. equipped v.6b-11

“God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” — have to understand that one the right way

skill

already (previously) equipped – what we often call natural talent / ability: what was inherited from parents, further impressed on them by God for specific use

have been practicing their trade – are gifted artisans, have portfolio of their work demonstrating they have honed their skill

learned in Egypt… according to God’s design – not the sort of thing learned while herding sheep and camels – learning tricks of trade one of blessings God intended them to receive during time in slavery

so… God does equip those he calls… usually prior to their call; continues to supply need after call

desire

have wisdom, all other skills necessary – need God-given desire… goes along with filling of the Spirit, equipping for specific purpose

not to be compulsory service – God’s desire from beginning that he be worshiped and served voluntarily, willingly, motivated by love for God and desire to please him

to be freewill offering just like things to satisfy bill of materials – contributing to material needs of worshiping community not all God expects from his people

expects labor of hands and minds to be willingly offered to him as expression of love and devotion

sufficient “crew”

adequate number of willing laborers to complete construction in reasonable time frame – is true for whatever task God assigns – keep that in mind as background for next week

Christ promised would build his church. No longer walking earth, still ultimately in charge of project. He works today in similar ways – appoints those he has equipped to oversee and lead work of building.

1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 24-25 Every believer equipped in some way… How has God equipped you for service in Christ’s church? Are you using that skill and understanding for good of brothers and sisters? May need to work on willingness, opportunities abound – is something for everyone to do.

A Sweet Smell

Exodus 30:1-38

Sometimes hear people talking about what God wants – he wants people to get saved, he wants fellowship, and more. Look back at chapter 29 verse 45: there God declared what he will do, not what he wants to do. God does not have unfulfilled desires like most of us. When God says he will dwell with his people, it’s a given – that is precisely what will take place. But it must take place according to God’s plan and method. Is what much of Exodus is about – how God is going to live among his people without injuring his own character or bringing harm to them.

Three-word mantra in real estate: location 3x. If location means anything, in this preliminary description of tabernacle worship, it is at altar of incense we most closely approach holy God. In days of Moses, ancient Jews was heavy curtain separating altar from God on his throne. Average priest could go right up to veil, high priest alone authorized to go behind it, only on one day each year. Location of other furnishings significant as well, let’s consider them in their turn.

A. altar v.1-6

two altars, distinct placement and purpose (1)

this the smaller of the two but more richly appointed: both had acacia wood core, one overlaid with bronze, the other with gold

clear from beginning of instruction that it has a singular purpose – an altar to burn incense on – not to be a multi-purpose piece of furniture with several uses

God made it explicit, v.9 – not a backup for the other altar, intended to serve its design purpose only… with consequences for any kind of misuse

first: close to the world; second: close to God

brazen altar immediately inside gate of courtyard – first thing encountered after entering tabernacle enclosure: altar of sacrifice

could not be made any more plain – anyone who intends to approach a holy God must do so on the basis of shed blood

btw, proximity to God’s presence reflected in materials used – bronze suitable for first altar, gold required for use in holy place

starting place: need for forgiveness; ending place: fellowship with God

in order to make it from where we are to where God dwells with us, first need forgiveness of our sin, then we need cleansing

after forgiveness and cleansing, God will accept our worship and fellowship with him – don’t forget, all furnishings / activities are symbols: they picture in ways people can grasp what God does for his people

more we know and better we understand what is taught by the tabernacle, richer will be our grasp of what Christ has done and continues to do on our behalf – e.g., most of Hebrews incomprehensible w/o knowledge of Exodus-Leviticus

B. ransom v.11-16

must be paid (12)

stated as an either / or principle – either pay the ransom or suffer from the plague – lives were forfeit because of sin anyway

no way they could adequately compensate God for their own life, he graciously accepted token payment that showed their dependence on his mercy, acknowledgement of God’s ownership / rights

by all without exception (13-14)

“everyone among those who are numbered” – not just the firstborn as seen at Passover, applies to everyone, young and old

was adult men 20 and older actually counted – ransom they paid covered all their dependents… wives and children included

an equal amount (15)

someone has wisely said: “The ground is level at the foot of the cross” – basic penalty for sin same for all, basic cost of redemption likewise the same

in liturgy of worship, everyone could pay the half-shekel – when it comes to paying redemption from sin, everyone is bankrupt, completely dependent on God for his grace, mercy, love

C. laver v.17-21

sacrifice alone is not enough

next item described: bronze laver, filled with water for washing – also in outer courtyard along with brazen altar, between altar and entrance to holy place

sacrifice for sin is absolutely essential, not the only thing that is essential – God is primary player in redemption, individual not just a passive recipient going along for the ride

benefits must be applied

John Murray wrote classic text titled “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” – if redemption is accomplished but not applied to individual, nothing changes

when what Christ accomplished by his work of atonement is applied to individual, much changes – 2 Cor. 5:17 he is “a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”

washing at the laver shows visibly on outside what redemption accomplishes inside – washing off the filthiness of sin and its corruption

shows recognition of need

any priest who intended to be actively involved in worship – sacrifice at the brazen altar, service in the holy place – had to wash

both reminder and recognition of the ongoing need for cleansing – needed to be forgiven, yes, needed also to be cleaned up from effects of sin

best efforts, even full trust in completed sacrifice of Lord Jesus not enough to please God – daily change needs to be happening

for us… cooperative effort between us and Holy Spirit using means of grace: preaching/teaching/study of God’s Word, fellowship with him through prayer, with one another around Lord’s Table

D. oil v.22-33

distinguishes sacred from profane

nothing magical about formula for anointing oil, was the recipe God intended should be used for his purpose – to distinguish things devoted to sacred use

things once devoted to holy use not to be used in common everyday way, reserved for use in service to God and him alone

applied to things and people

tabernacle structure itself and all furnishings to be anointed – everything devoted to worship to be designated that way

to be applied to Aaron and his sons also, set apart in this way for God’s exclusive use – they could no longer just be people

remember: we are 1 Pet. 2:9-10 “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

reserved for sacred use

both things and people not to be used simply for common everyday things – might be doing common task but… different purpose and motivation

to be done in service to God motivated by love for God and seeking to please God – applies to all we do, esp. corporate worship

so you don’t think that is unfair or too restrictive – 1 Cor. 6:19-20 “do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

E. incense v.7-10, 34-38

sweet (7)

not just any kind of incense, a sweet incense… one with sweet smell – very important given what was happening just outside

like anointing oil, had its own recipe designed by God for his pleasure – whenever burned on altar, sweet aroma filled space, rising up to heaven just as our worship does

particular connection between prayers of God’s people and incense (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 8:3-4), rising to heaven with aroma pleasing to God – prayers of God’s people offered in faith sweetly fragrant to God

unceasing (8)

offering of incense to be regular daily occurrence morning and evening – fragrance would have lingered after initial burst

worship for God’s people by no means 1-hour-a-week kind of activity – certain elements of worship that had round-the-clock significance

since we are temple of Holy Spirit, our devotion to God / set apartness for his use to be continual… whatever we are doing

sanctified (10)

anything outside the veil subject to being tainted by man, in need of purifying – done on Day of Atonement each year to keep altar itself acceptable to God

important to note: same incense but offered from an impure altar would be offensive to God; worship and prayer offered by unregenerate / unforgiven people does not please God

exclusive (37-38)

not just the altar that was single purpose, incense was also – God’s recipe to be used for no other purpose than offering to Him

true also of worship and prayer, whether for children of Israel or people of God today wherever they may be

Remember the veil… between altar of incense and mercy seat? No longer there. The one who offers incense does so in very presence of God himself. Heb. 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Is a privilege that now belongs to every child of God, regardless of specific vocation. Is also something that should bring joy to us – speaking to God himself, knowing he hears, listening for his answers, resting in his presence, leaving burdens with him and taking blessings away.

God Among Us

Exodus 29:1-46

Remember theme of Exodus: comes from God’s demand of Pharaoh, Ex. 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1

“And you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness”

YHWH intended his people to be free to worship. But they had a problem – in present condition, lacking certain things including knowledge, could not worship God in way he expected. Present text details important elements of God’s plan to change that, will begin by reading just first 9 verses.

God instructed Moses back in chapter 25: “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Have already indicated that for God to really dwell among his people, some things need to change. For God to meet with his people, effectively speak to his people, and instruct his people, they need to be properly prepared. Is God who takes initiative, God who establishes relationship and its conditions, God who stoops down to his people that he might ultimately raise them up to live with him.

“…the overall message [of chapter 29] would be: Everyone who ministers, everyone who worships, and everything they use in the presence of Yahweh, must be set apart to God by the cleansing, enabling, and sanctifying work of God.” NET Bible

We have a preview first of the things necessary for approach to God in worship, then the preparation required for the one who will serve God directly by leading in worship. Say once again, specific details applied to children of Israel under old covenant. Principles relevant to people of God in every generation, new covenant included.

A. preview v.1-3

take

3 distinct sacrificial animals, 3 kinds of grain offering – fuller description in Lev. 8 of significance of each, more on that in a bit

required thought and action, to gather the things necessary for worship – was not drive-thru church, designed for convenience

put

were to put unleavened bread, cakes, wafers made with wheat flour into one basket… to be brought along with animals as complete sacrifice

Aaron and his sons not to be devoted piece-meal to God’s use – were to be completely consecrated in every part, holding back nothing for self

bring

not everything necessary for proper worship found at place of worship – things necessary for both sacrifice and fellowship

worshiper on this side of the cross still brings sacrifice – sacrifice for sin already made, Jesus – sacrifice of consecration, what you bring when you come: Rom. 12:1

B. preparation v.4-9

cleansed

this is a ritual, ceremony, things done have spiritual significance beyond the obvious – God requires clean servants and worshipers

need to be washed from those things that would contaminate, sin, to be fit for God’s presence:

Tit. 3:5 “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit”

clothed

was to be obvious to even casual observer God’s servants don’t belong to rank and file of the world – require something outside themselves for God to accept them

even with washing, not sufficient in itself to fit servant for Master’s presence – must have right clothes, wearing uniform of the one who called them into service – for us, clothed with righteousness of Christ (Gal. 3:27)

anointed

a visible sign that the one being anointed is set apart for a holy purpose, dedicated to God and his use – ultimate anointed one… the Lord Jesus

for Aaron, was a lavish outpouring of oil, not simply dip and daub – like our High Priest, given Holy Spirit without measure who flows abundantly to all those in Christ

consecrated

a one-time ceremony: once a priest, always a priest – no trial period, no fixed-length contract, to be vocation for life — same for one called to be follower of Christ

C. pardon v.10-37

preparation good and necessary according to God’s decree… but not sufficient – washing / clothing / anointing not adequate to provide cleansing from sin

blood / life

model from beginning of human history – once sin entered world, penalty for sin had to be paid… either by sinner or substitute

even though Aaron and sons had been washed, clothed, anointed, stood there as sinners in need of forgiveness… daily

hand on the head of the bull: guilt belonging to person transferred to animal, animal the substitute, a sin offering for worshiper… symbolizing the one who would be final sacrifice

pleasing aroma

first ram offered in its entirety as burnt offering, a gift to God – could not be rightly offered to God until sacrifice for sin had been made

when worshiper comes as God has ordained, approaching holy God as a cleansed and forgiven child, sacrifice he then makes is pleasing to God… “a sweet aroma”

how gracious of God – imperfect sacrifice, imperfect worship offered by imperfect people can still be acceptable to God… because of (for them) what Jesus would do, (for us) what Jesus has done

fellowship

God takes his grace up a notch – second ram to be a peace offering or fellowship (consecration) offering: part of ram along with some of bread burned… offered to God

rest of ram cooked, along with rest of bread in the basket eaten by the worshipers (Aaron and sons)… in fellowship with God himself

is as pardoned and sanctified sinners in fellowship with God that servants are equipped to minister to spiritual needs of one another

NOTE: in all of this how little Aaron did… didn’t wash himself, make his own clothes, didn’t even put own clothes on, didn’t sacrifice the animals, anoint himself – was all done for him by another

the way it is for us, too – cannot make ourselves fit for worship, must have someone else do for us – yet, once prepared, pardoned, consecrated, the devoted worshiper is a useful servant to God and his people

D. promise v.38-46

you will – terms of worship

sacrifice – reminded again that no one can approach God on their own merits… which can only earn them death – God so determined to have relationship with people has made way for that to be possible… w/o sacrificing any part of his character

frequency – morning, evening – will certainly deflate any attempt at pride, cannot make it through a day without displeasing God in some way

applies to God’s people, whatever their specific vocation – those who are called to full-time minstry, part-time ministry, any other vocation stand in need of daily forgiveness

duration – continual – unlike what brothers and sisters in holiness circles might think, child of God never arrives at perfection in this life… must wait until next life for that blessing

I will – response to worship

“Worshiping God according to His Word brings him glory, honor, and praise because we are submitting to His will and wisdom in giving Him what He requires and desires. Since worshiped is focused on the glory of God, it should be the highest of priorities for us as His children.” [Daniel Hyde]

when we worship God according to his word, he promises to:

meet with you – here is the most important element of worship: face-to-face meeting with God himself, responding to God as he engages his people

not just that God is willing to meet with his people, he does so and gives his glory to the place of meeting

speak with you – God meets with his people for particular purpose: to communicate his truth to his people in order to transform them… so they leave different from how they came

consecrate you – consecrates both the place and the people… by his presence, his glory – meeting God in worship means some of God rubs off on his people

others should see more of God in you after you meet with him – more of God in you increases desire for more of God

make you to know – true worship, meeting God not simply emotionally stirring, nor intellectually stimulating – is how we come to know God better because we experience him here

All of this… worship as God intends it… only possible because a Lamb was sacrificed for sin. Not the one this morning, or the one on Passover, but the one Lamb of God each of those other lambs represented. Is the Lamb of God whose blood takes away our sin, cleanses us, washes us from our unrighteousness. Is the perfect righteousness of Lamb of God who came and dwelt among us that gives us standing before a holy God. Thank God he provided the Lamb for us that we might come into his presence, hear him speak to us, have full assurance of an eternal future with him.