Posts Tagged ‘God’

Exodus 32

Exodus 32 gives us real clarity around how God sees sin.  And it is a pretty strong response.  Moses has been up on the mountain with God.  He’s been given the commandments written on stone.  But while he’s been away, the people have become restless and pressed Aaron to make them a god.  “As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him”.  It didn’t take long for them to get off track.  We tend to wander if we are not being very intentional in our focus on God.  The world pulls us away, and we have a very real enemy who is out to destroy us.

God is not pleased and tells Moses to “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves”.  Left without the right leadership, the people go off the rails.  And God is furious.  “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.  Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you”.  God is going to wipe them out and start again with Moses to build a great nation.  “But Moses implored the Lord his God…. Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people”.

This is what intercession looks like.  Moses gets in the middle between God and the people.  He stands in the gap for them, even though they are sinners who deserve what God wants to do.  It isn’t that Moses condoned their actions because “as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain”.  He was ticked off too.  But he begins by calling out his brother who had been left in charge.  “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them”?  How could you let this happen Aaron?  But it did and Moses knows that “Aaron had let them break loose”.  Lack of leadership allows the troops to go astray.

Moses knows he has to take swift action to make a strong statement that this is not acceptable.  He calls together all who are loyal to the true God and tells them to “Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor….three thousand men of the people fell”.  That was a pretty personal request – for these priests to go and kill their own for sinning.  But Moses knows how seriously God takes sin.  He can’t allow it to be a cancer for his people.

Moses also knows that God is burning hot and he goes to work at correcting the situation.  So Moses goes back up the mountain and says “this people have sinned a great sin….But now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written”.  Moses again intercedes fro the people.  He doesn’t deny what they have done.  He doesn’t try to downplay the importance.  He doesn’t give excuses for their action.  He stands between them and God and offers himself as the price for their sin.  That is what true intercession looks like – we stand between God and the sin of another offering self in their place.  Sacrificial love and leadership at its finest.  God postpones the punishment and tells Moses to “go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you”.  It isn’t over, but Moses needs to get on with leading.

Exodus 31

Exodus 31 has God speaking to Moses about a couple things.  First God makes it clear that He has prepared the people necessary to complete the building of the tent of meeting.  “I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft”.

God is all over equipping the man who is needed to do the details of the building.  And not just Bezalel, but God calls out Oholiab as well.  If God originates a plan, He also will orchestrate the details down to providing the skills needed.  “I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you”.  God equips the called, He doesn’t necessarily call the equipped.  There is never a shortage of ability or skill when God asks us to do something.  He is into the details.  He has a plan.

But along with that God also made it very clear that the people were to keep the Sabbath holy.  It wasn’t optional, and the price for violating that was severe.  God says death.  “‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people”.  It isn’t a mere suggestion.  God is very serious about keeping the Sabbath holy.  “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord”.

Does it apply to us today?  Well God told Moses that observing the Sabbath should continue “as a covenant forever”.  Seems like it does, eh?  We need to take some time and look at God’s expectations around the Sabbath.  They had a lot of rules and laws around it in Moses time.  Those likely don’t apply to us in the same way today, but there is little doubt that there is a need to pay attention to God’s laws.  After all God “gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God”.  They were important enough for God to write them down.  We need to pay attention and be sure we line up!

Exodus 30

Exodus 30 has God instructing Moses on the building of the altar for the tent of meeting.  It consists of very detailed instructions and design again and demonstrates just how much God cares about the little things.  God also wants to be sure it honors his glory – as it involves specific wood, gold and other expensive components.  God wants the preparation for worship to be very specific and according to His direction.  That is because this is a very special place.  “It is most holy to the Lord”.

God instructs Moses to count the people and assess them a requirement for an offering to the Lord.  “Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering”.  This isn’t optional, God id requiring it of all.  And it isn’t something that can be used for personal gain.  God is very specific.  “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less”.  This is funding to be sure to keep the priests funded so they can care for the tent of meeting and worship God appropriately.

So what do you give God?  Do you consider the needs of God’s ministers that help us keep God where He belongs?  Are you tithing and providing God what is rightfully His?  We need to give generously to God’s work.  We need to support the work of the ministry.  God asks us to give “that it may bring the people of Israel to remembrance before the Lord”.  One purpose of our worship and adoration is to bring us to a place we are focused on God.  We are to remember.  We need to have a place to do that.

But God isn’t just about us worshipping Him.  He also has requirements for those who serve as priests.  For Aaron and the other priests, God required a basin be made where they could wash before they served God.  And it is a serious requirement.  God indicated that “they shall wash with water, so that they may not die.  They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die”.  That’s a pretty serious way to say ‘get cleaned up before you enter the tent of meeting to serve’.  God wants us clean – inside and out – as we worship Him.  It is God’s way to teach them purity in all ways, and to be possessed with a reverence of God’s holiness.

Exodus 29

Exodus 29 has God giving very detailed instructions on how to ordain Aaron and his sons to be priests.  In the last chapter God gave the specifics on the garments and other adornments that they were to wear, but now God lays out the process to cleanse them and make them priests.  “Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests….You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and wash them with water”.  It starts pretty simply.  Bring them to God’s place and wash them.

God then instructs that they be clothed with the garments that had been made for them.  This isn’t a short term gig.  God says “the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever”.  This is a long term plan of God’s.  Aaron, his sons and future generations are to be the priests.  The process is finalized by the sacrifice of bulls and rams and taking the “blood and throw it against the sides of the altar”.  Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.  And God instructs them to offer burnt and wave sacrifices, but then burn the animals as a sin sacrifice to cleanse these new priests.

It was quite a process.  Morning and night for seven days.  But that was God’s plan for the ordination of His priests.  “Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests”.  This wasn’t a popularity contest.  It wasn’t the luck of the draw.  It was God’s specific plan.  He selected Aaron and his sons to be priest.  He provided the details around the clothing they were to wear, and the process of their ordination.  God designed the plan and was the architect of it all.

Then God gives this promise: “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God”.  God promises to be with His people.  He promises to be evident to them – they will know that He is there.  And He will dwell among them – not from afar – but with them.  That is the God we have.  Personal, intimate, always there – God has a plan and executes it.  We have much to be grateful for!

Exodus 28

Exodus 28 is all about the preparation God instructs Moses to have done for Aaron and his sons, priests of God’s Holy Place.  “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests”.  God has called them to serve Him and be the ones who manage the tabernacle and the worship.   Aaron and his sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, were tasked with leading the worship and intercession before God.  They have a very special and important job.

God wants them clothed in a very specific way.  Once again we see God as One who is all about details.  He tells Moses to bring together “the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill” as they are to make the robes and clothes that Aaron and his sons were to wear.  There are extremely detailed instructions provided by God, and Moses isn’t to get just anyone to make these garments.  God has given specific skills to some that are to be tasked with the job.  And they are to be provided the resources they need of “gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen”.

But beside the clothing which God wants worn, he also makes it clear that Aaron and his sons have some very specific tasks they need to complete.  “Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord”.  Aaron is an intercessor for the people.  He is to come into God’s presence and bring the people to God’s remembrance.  But beyond that, “Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly”.  It is a big responsibility.

There is a specific golden bell that Aaron is to wear as he serves the Lord.  It isn’t optional.  God says “And it shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he does not die”.  Pretty serious requirement.  But Aaron has a very serious role.  As priest, he stands between God and the people.  He is the messenger that must bring the people and their sins to a Holy God but also carry back God’s instruction and commands.  He along with his sons are the only ones God has appointed to that role.  Failure is not an option!

Exodus 27

Exodus 27 continues God’s instruction for the building of the tabernacle.  God again gives extreme detail here in how things should be done.  You can’t wonder if God is not only aware, but cares about the small stuff.  So often I hear people say that God doesn’t care about their situation.  It’s too small for Him to be concerned.  That isn’t the God we love – He not only cares – He is into the very small details that we often think would slip past Him.  After all, He’s got a whole universe to tend to.

But God created every detail in our being.  It isn’t a stretch to believe He also knows and cares about every small detail of our life and day as well.  He was detailed enough to define acacia wood for the altar, and bronze rings at the corners of the grating.  He gave exact dimensions and direction for the smallest of things in the tabernacle.  He even got down to the color of the yarns and linen.  Don’t fall into the thought pattern that God isn’t interested in your life at the deepest level.  He is!

He also wants to be sure there is light.  “You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn”.  This is pretty specific instruction.  Not just regular olive oil – but pure beaten olive oil – so there would be ongoing light available.  God is a God that provides light for us – not always as much and as far ahead as we might like – but always enough for the next step.  And that is what we need to be willing to do.  We need to take the next step knowing there will be more light as we walk in obedience.

God gave Aaron and his sons the job of tending the tent of meeting from evening to morning before the Lord. This has become their job – to take care of God’s place.  But it was built to be carried on.  “It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel”.  We might think God doesn’t reveal His plan because He hasn’t got one.  That is not the case.  God reveals what we need and can handle, but He sees all of eternity.  He knows all that is to come.  God is in control for all time.

Exodus 26

Exodus 26 is all about God’s detailed instructions for the tabernacle.  This chapter is all about the very specific measurements and placement of God’s dwelling place.  It is easy to ask why this matters.  It was long ago and really doesn’t seem to apply to us today.  But it does give us insight into a few things. One of our readers, Carl from NY, shared that it may be that “God wanted His people to be constantly thinking about Him in every aspect of their life. So, in order to follow these detailed instructions they had to always dwell or think about Him”.  That is a very likely thing.  God is all about us being in right relationship with Him.  But for that to happen, we have to focus a bit.  For many of us, the day to day chaos in life pulls us away.  Working on a very specific set of directions obediently would help keep people’s eyes on the Father.

God does care about the details.  Sometimes we think that He isn’t all that interested in the little things in our lives.  It doesn’t take very long reading this chapter to know that God cares about every little thing down to the smallest of all.  He is able, and does care, about the small things in your life and mine.  He is not overwhelmed by details – in fact He loves to know our heart and all things that we are dealing with every day.

God does want a place to engage with us.  The tabernacle is our meeting place with God.  It was where the people of God could meet with their God.  The tabernacle was a portable worship place similar to tents used for revival meetings sometimes today – or like we just experienced at our recent Weekend on the Farm event.  In fact the word itself means “tent sanctuary or temporary shelter”.  God’s instructions were detailed and this picture gives an overview of how He instructed it to be created.

The Holy of Holies was only entered once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.  That is when the blood of the lamb was poured out on the Mercy Seat after confession of all the sins of the people by the High Priest.  It was a very important part of their relationship with God.  It is easy to get lost in all the cubits and curtains and lampstands and numbers.  The key is to remember that God wants us to spend time with Him.  He wants us to worship and praise Him.  He wants a relationship with us – not because He needs us – but because He loves us and we need Him.  The tabernacle was simply a way for the people to be able to understand God and be a place for the priests to do their daily work of making offerings, sacrifices and prayers to God.  But it all matters and we need to make sure we are spending time with God in that same way today!

Exodus 25

Exodus 25 has Moses getting some instruction from God.  This chapter gets into the nitty gritty details of what God wanted created for the relationship He would have with the children of Israel.  He begins by telling Moses to ask the people to give: “From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me”.  God is setting the expectations for people to give back to Him from their blessing.  He asks for a pretty long list of items:

  •  “Gold
  • Silver
  • Bronze
  • blue and purple and scarlet yarns
  • fine twined linen
  • goats’ hair
  • tanned rams’ skins
  • goatskins
  • acacia wood
  • oil for the lamps
  • spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense
  • onyx stones
  • stones for setting

God tells Moses to use all those items to make the following for Him:

  • a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst
  • an ark
  • a mercy seat
  • cherubim
  • a table
  • plates and dishes
  • flagons and bowls
  • a lampstand
  • seven lamps

There is a pretty specific list that Moses is to lead the people to create to satisfy God.

So why the fire drill here?  What is the purpose of all this?  God has some specifics.  He wants to dwell with them and needs a place to identify with.  The temple sanctuary gives Him that.  He also instructs Moses to “put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you” as a holding place and way to transport it.  God has some specific reasons for these very detailed requests.

But the biggest seems to be that “There I will meet with you….I will speak with you”.  God wants to interact with His people and have a place to do so.  He wants to be able to meet with them and be in relationship with them.  God desires the same for you and me.  He desires a relationship.  He wants to be in our presence and have us know Him as God.  The real question is – are we doing that?  Do we use our time to get closer to Him or spend it on our own selfish desires and wishes?  How are you doing in your walk?

Exodus 24

Exodus 24 has Moses being told by God to “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar”.  God wants the leadership to come and worship Him.  He is clear that He has a word for the people, that will come through Moses, but the elders need to come along and be near.  Moses tells the people God’s plan and they all agree that “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do”.  Pretty big commitment, but it is what we need to do – obey completely what God says.

So Moses builds 12 altars to worship God with, and they sacrifice and offer offerings and hear from the Book of the Covenant.  God promises to take care of them and lead them to the Promised Land in a covenant relationship.  And once again the say “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient”.  Pretty big commit – that word all is always a bit problematic – but it is God’s requirement.  Moses and his elders go up and “they saw the God of Israel”.  Can you imagine that sight?

Scripture tells us it was a magnificent sight.  The elders were there watching from afar, and ate and drank.  They seem to be taking it all in stride.  But God tells Moses “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction”.  God is going to write down the commandments He has given so they cannot be forgotten.  He wants to make sure the people know what His commands are.  They promise to obey – now they will have a written record of what that entails.

Moses is up on the mountain with God and stays for a while.  “The glory of the Lord dwelt 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”.  It appeared like a devouring fire to the people below.  Moses was up there for 40 days and 40 nights.  Heard those numbers before?  God met Him there and provided the tablets of stone for him to bring down to the people.  It was a powerful experience for Moses and the leaders of God’s people who met Him on the mountain.

Exodus 23

Exodus 23 has God giving some strong lessons to His people.  He begins with a list of commands they are to obey.  These aren’t suggestions, they are commandments:

  • You shall not spread a false report
  • You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness
  • You shall not fall in with the many to do evil
  • You shall not be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit
  • You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit
  • You shall take no bribe
  • You shall not oppress a sojourner

There are others in the chapter, but these give you a flavor for God’s commands.  It isn’t a suggestion.  God expects and demands obedience.

He makes it clear that there is to be rest.  First for the land, and also for the people.  “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow….Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest”.  Again, not a suggestion but a commandment for the people.  God tells them to “Pay attention to all that I have said to you….three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me.  Along with the required resting, God also commands them to keep three feasts:

  1. “Feast of Unleavened Bread
  2. Feast of Harvest
  3. Feast of Ingathering

God is very clear on what He expects from us in terms of our giving.  “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God”.  We are not to bring God the leftovers or what we think we can afford.  We are to bring from the first of what we have been given.  We tithe from the front, not from the back.  Giving is not from our excess.  It is from our very existence.  And we give not out of our abundance (which we all have as Americans), we should give out of our reverence for God from the very first dollar or hour that He gives us.

God also promises His people safety.  Check out what He says: “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared”.  God has a plan for His people, and for you and me.  But we have to follow His leading.  “Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him”.  Then comes the promise: “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries….I blot them out….You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water”.  God promises safety and provision.  God promises to be with them.  But it comes with a requirement – they must obey.  And when they overcome their enemies they must not fall into their ways.  “They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you”.  If we do things God’s way we experience much joy and success!


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