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Showing posts from March, 2014

With My Hand on the Lamb

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Now that the Tabernacle has been built and all the furnishings put in place, it is time for God to give Moses detailed instructions on the activities that are to take place in and around the meeting place where God will presence Himself among His people (Exodus 40:34-38) when they are not on the move.

Leviticus 1 describes the procedure for the burnt offerings. Depending on the capacity of the supplicant, various offerings could be made: a bull from the herd, a sheep or a goat from the flock, or a dove or a pigeon for those who were very poor.

The animal or bird was to be a male without defect. But it is the picture given to us in Leviticus 1:3b-5a that made me pause this morning. “…He (the supplicant) must present it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (the Tabernacle) so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He is to slaughter the young bull before the Lord…

That Pesky Sabbath

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Because the chapter and verse division were not part of the original Scriptures we often have to do a little investigation to determine where one section of teaching ends before another begins. In any case, the whole of Scripture is connected by it’s central theme: the redemption of a lost creation through the blood.

But here in Exodus 35, I felt a certain quirky connection that might only be a connection in my mind. As Exodus 35 begins, Moses repeats an important instruction: “These are the things the Lord has commanded you to do: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath Day” (Exodus 35:1-3).

Then he gives instructions to the Israelites about giving to furnish all that was needed for the Tabernacle.  He also refers to those who, because of their skills, were to be responsible for making all the articles t…

That Godly Glow

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What do you want most in life?

I’m no mind-reader, but I suspect that Moses got what he most wanted. I suspect that if he hadn’t wanted this more than anything else in life, God would not have responded to him as He did.

Exodus 33:11 tells us that, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”

God, who sees the heart (and reads the mind), knew what Moses wanted. He knew that beyond the want was the commitment on Moses’ part, to be all that God asked, to do all that God required. The result was the most intimate description of a relationship between God and man that we have in Scripture.

God’s friend.

It doesn’t get any better than that. It isn’t that Moses proclaimed high and low, “I’m God’s friend!” His statement would not have necessarily made it so. What proved the truth of the statement was what happened just a bit later and is recorded for us in Exodus 34:29-35. After Moses had been with the Lord he would return to the camp of the Israelites. The Sc…

Settling for Second Best

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During the debacle of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32) God tested Moses twice. When God said that His anger against the people was great that He was going to destroy them and make Moses into a great nation (32:9, 10), Moses interceded for the people and pleaded for their lives. Here was his opportunity to become truly great in his own right, and he passed it up. A little later, after he had seen for himself what the Israelites had done and realized how terrible the offense was, he went back to the Lord to beg God’s forgiveness for the sin the nation-to-be had committed—to the point of offering his own life as a substitute for theirs (32:30-32). Moses put himself on the line for the people he served.

Then God announced that He would send His angel to take Moses and the people to the land He had promised Abraham (33:2).

Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way” (33:3).

An angel is a pret…

The Suit Makes The Man

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My father wore a suit for three reasons: for funerals and weddings, to donate blood (don’t ask me why), and to go to church.

These events in his life were significant and special, and he treated them as such.

As I was reading Exodus 28 this morning I was reminded that for God, the appearance of His priests before Him was a special event that required suitable clothing.

Exodus 28:2, 3 says: “Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, so they may serve me as priests. Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so that he may serve me as priest.”

In the next section of the chapter, we discover that when Aaron went in to serve the Lord he went in as a representative of the people. Consequently he literally carried them with him via a special piece of his garments: “Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree sett…

This Little Light

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The detailed description of how the Tabernacle was to be built continues in Exodus 27. It isn’t until the end of the chapter that a light goes on, literally. The last two verses of the chapter describe the lighting for this meeting place with the Lord.

Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come” (Exodus 27:20, 21).

Olive oil is good stuff. But you have to be careful when using it because it catches fire at a lower temperature than other oils—this I know because I had a small kitchen fire of my own when I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening in the frying pan!

In this account, we see that the oil was to be uncontaminated—clear—so that there would be no sput…

It's All About the Details

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When we get to a section of the Scripture like the parts we have here in Exodus, many of us get bogged down.

Who cares about all the details of building a Tabernacle?

Apparently God does.

Okay, so God cares about the details, but why do I need to know that He ordered Moses to: “Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other” (Exodus 26:5)?

It’s a sparrow thing (Matthew 10:29). It’s a hair thing (Matthew 10:30). It’s a tears-in-the-bottle thing (Psalm 56:8). It’s why we have Spring (eventually) and a full moon on schedule. It’s why the birds comes back from the south in the Spring and head back in the Fall. It’s why each snowflake is a different design, and why a spider weaves such intricate webs.

God is God of details. And He reminds us that the details are important to Him. It’s not that He’s being a nit-picker, or fussy. It’s that He wants us to know that no detail, however small, escapes His notice. So when I chi…

"It Really Could Be Worse"

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Exodus 20 and the guiding principles that God gave His people through Moses are straightforward. We can understand the logic behind the commandments. It’s what comes after Exodus 20 that can turn into a snake pit for many of us.  The Ten Commandments were only the beginning of the instructions that God gave Moses. We prefer to stop at the end of Exodus 20 because, in our modern Bibles Exodus 21 is separate from Exodus 20 which, somehow, seems to give us permission to ignore what follows. But in the days when the Scriptures were written there were no chapters, verses, or punctuation.

Don’t take the comments that follow as “gospel” because I don’t know for sure whether my theory has any basis in fact. But based on what I know about the nature of God — as little as that may be — here’s what I think.

Exodus 21 begins with, “These are the laws you are to set before them.”

Then follows something that disturbs a lot of people, including me, because the next section describes the rules applyin…

Fear, But Don't Be Afraid.

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Anticipation.

All the preparations have been made. The people have done all that they were instructed to do. A people, described by God as one that would become “...a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) awaits the message God has for it. The phrase is remarkably like 1 Peter 2:5: “...you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” This was what God wanted—and still wants—of His children.

Moses comes down from a mountain whose display of light and sound has left the people below terrified (Exodus 19:16). He delivers the message known to us as the Ten Commandments. Each one is huge in itself. But it is the first phrase that grabs my attention this morning: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).

Would the people have remembered how Moses introduced himself to them when he appeared in Egypt and they as…

Coming Into His Presence

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I appreciate grace. The blessing of God on my life when I don’t deserve it, can’t earn, and can never show Him enough how much I am grateful for it, staggers my mind.

God gives it freely and constantly.

Still, I am wrong to abuse it, to take it for granted, to treat it as commonplace. When I do that, I abuse Him, take Him for granted and treat Him as just another “friend” on my friends list.

I was reminded that while I can sing with all my heart the words to “What a friend we have in Jesus, all my sins and griefs to bear,” He is still Almighty God.

This morning I read Exodus 19 which describes the arrival of Moses and his tribe of Israelites at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Sinai was referred to as the mountain of God, a place from which God spoke and on which God appeared. It has never ceased to amaze me the preparations that were made by God’s people to get ready hear from God.

And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes …

On Standing Still

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The journey has begun. The Israelites are on their way. But their trip would not be easy. The first test came when God purposely used them to lead Pharaoh into a trap. The Lord told Moses what He was going to do (Exodus 14:1-4) and why. He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that Egypt’s ruler would pursue his ex-slave workforce and end up providing the centrepiece of a demonstration of the power of God. We are not told if Moses shared this information with the others—certainly when the Israelites saw the chariots moving toward them with deadly intent, they panicked (Exodus 14:10-12). The sea was in front of them and their enemy was behind them. There was no place to go.

But then, they weren’t supposed to go anyplace anyway.

Moses told them: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13, 14).

Throughout the Old Testament …

Family Connection

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My father’s younger brother, Bill, married a woman who was big on bringing family together, on keeping the connection between far-flung cousins and aunts and uncles, as strong as possible. Since my family was one of those most “far-flung,” whenever we came to visit Aunt Edith always planned some kind of family get-together to which she invited all the relatives that were in the immediate vicinity. Unhappily, with her death, there was no one who cared enough to maintain that connection to keep her dream alive and much of the contact with the cousins who remain has been lost.

In Exodus 13, as the Israelites begin their trek to the land God had once promised to their forefather, Abraham, God gives Moses some instructions designed to keep the “family” connection between Himself and His people strong and healthy.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal’” (Exodus 13:1, 2).

In s…

Keeping Vigil

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Because the Lord kept vigil” (Exodus 12:42).

Oh, I love these five words!

The place is Egypt on the night of the 10th plague, on the night the Lord struck down the firstborn in every Egyptian household, on the night the Israelites were finally free to leave after more than 400 years under Pharaoh’s power.

It was the night of the first “Passover.” The very name tells the story. The Israelites were instructed to pack their bags. They were give specific details as to how to prepare for their last meal in Egypt. Most important of all, they were told to brush the blood of the lamb designated for that meal on the doorposts of their homes. By this sign the angel of death would know not to touch the firstborn of that home. That child was protected by the blood of the lamb.

The analogy is obvious. As that ancient household was protected by the blood, so is anyone who accepts Christ as his or her Saviour protected by the blood that He shed on the cross. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, clean…