Archive for August, 2014

Exodus 39

Exodus 39 has the work continuing on the items for the tabernacle.  We see one phrase over and over in this passage: “as the Lord had commanded Moses”.  Everythign that was done by the workers was done just as God commanded.  Moses was the messenger, but this was God’s design and plan and everyone knew it.  And they painstakingly made sure they built it exactly that way.  It was completed down to the finest of details.  It was done to God’s specifications.

What would people say about you in regard to what God has told you to do?  Would it read the same?  ______ did it as the Lord commanded.  Does that describe you and how you live today?  It should.  That is what God not only desires but holds us accountable to.  Scripture is full of commandments that we need to live by.  Loving our spouse, leading our families, serving one another, loving our God and on the list goes.  They aren’t suggestions or good ideas.  We need to live as the Lord has commanded us.  That is the secret to success in our walk with Jesus.

They’ve been working on the tabernacle for some time and now “they brought the tabernacle to Moses”.  Can you imagine the concern about what his response would be.  They’ve worked hard and tried their best to follow the guidelines and blueprints provided, but would it be good enough.  “The people of Israel had done all the work” and now it is inspection time.  There were dozens of items that were created for the interior of the tabernacle all created from very expensive resources – gold, silver, bronze, expensive cloths and on the list goes.  Plenty of things that could have gone wrong.

And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them”.  Not a lot of fanfare or high fives, at least according to the text.  But something far more important that indicates Moses was pleased.  He blessed them.  He brought them before the Father and offered up a blessing over them and their families and all the work they had done and consecrated it all to God.  Moses was pleased.  He had never been a huge celebrator, but obedience always brings a smile, from God and man!

Exodus 38

Exodus 38 continues the creation of the items for the tabernacle.  Bezalel made the altar and all the utensils for it.  Those he made from bronze.  He also made the court where people approached, and the hangings that went up there to keep it separated.  There were many different items he was to make, and many different raw materials and resources he used.  He was an extremely skilled craftsman.  And the big point was that he “made all that the Lord commanded Moses”.  He did what God instructed.  Not exactly the normal artist who may have influenced the outcome with some personal ideas.

It took a lot of stuff to build the items for the tabernacle.

  • twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels of gold
  • a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels of silver
  • seventy talents and 2,400 shekels of bronze

That is a lot of precious metals.  A talent is somewhere around 75 pounds so this is a whole lot of dollars that Bezalel had as resources to create what God instructed.

Every person over 20 brought an offering to help with the funding of the tabernacle.  And there was plenty for Bezalel to get the work done.  God’s never got a funding issue if His people are obedient.  That’s the problem with tithing.  If we were faithful, there would be so much money available that we’d never be short in serving the needs of people.  But far too few truly tithe.  We play games with our giving and decide who and where and how much we should give.  That didn’t happen here.  They all gave if they were 20 or older.

Sometimes I wonder why God is so forgiving about this area of tithing.  It isn’t really a recommendation.  It is part of His law and we’ll see much more of it on our journey through the Scriptures.  Back in this day – it wasn’t something people thought about.  If your name was listed and you were over 20 you owed half a shekel.  And that applied to 603,550 men, not that anyone was counting.  People get so funny about money.  They think it is theirs for some reason and it should be private.  All our money belongs to God.  When we give back, it is simply returning it to the rightful owner.  We shouldn’t get so crazy about something so simple!

Exodus 37

Exodus 37 has the details of Bezalel’s work in creating the ark and furniture for the tabernacle.  He was one of the skilled men that Moses called to do the work.  The details here have been mentioned previously in the book, but this again shows the importance of the furnishings of the tabernacle and how important details are to God’s plans.  God is very clear that little things matter, down to the types of raw materials to be used and the design and dimensions of the item.  It isn’t left up to interpretation.  God defines things clearly.

Bezaleel has a long list of things to create:

  • The ark (or table)
  • The mercy seat with its cherubim
  • The poles to carry the ark
  • The table and its vessels
  • The candlestick with its lamps
  • The altar of incense
  • The oil and incense to be used in worship

Bezaleel had to be a very skilled man as he needed to work with wood, gold, and other resources to create all that God instructed.  And he certainly had to work painstakingly on the details of what was required.

One can question why God was so specific on the furnishings for the inner place in the tabernacle.  But this was where God would come to meet Moses and the priest – it was His most holy place – and so He was very detailed and descriptive in what He wanted and how it would be made.  God will meet us anywhere.  After all, He is everywhere, omnipresent in our world.  But He also loves to have a place that we can meet that is special and dedicated to Him.  A place where we can focus and have holy oil and fragrant incense which were part of a worshipful experience.

How do you meet up with God today?  Do you have a place you can go in the quiet and just be with Him one on One?  He is alive and well and desires us to spend time with Him.  He wants us to meet Him in a place of reverence and worship, but not just for an hour on Sunday morning.  God desires us to recognize His presence continually but focus on Him with some personal worship as well.  Where’s your tabernacle and tent of meeting?  Where do you get away to spend time at the feet of our God?

Exodus 36

Exodus 36 has the work of building and furnishing the tent of meeting in full swing.  We learn a principle here – when God originates a plan or project, He equips those He calls to do the job.  “Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work”.  These guys were good in their own right, but God’s touch equipped them to do anything and everything.  They had the skill and knowledge and ability to complete the task God set before them.

That’s how God works.  When He calls us He equips us.  When He has a task for us He provides what is needed.  In fact, as we saw in the last chapter, God stirs up other people to be part of fulfilling His plan.  And in this case, the people were a bit overzealous.  Moses has to actually command people to stop bringing things – no more gifts or resources – as they were overwhelmed with more than they needed or could use.  “So the people were restrained from bringing”.  Have you ever heard a church tell its members to stop giving?  That’s what Moses has to do here.

God provided the people and the needed money and supplies to make it happen.  There was no continual plea to bring more.  There were no shortages of goods or people equipped to do the work.  And God didn’t spare the details as they are very concise and specific.  This is a very well executed plan to build the tent of meeting exactly as God instructed.  No guessing – God has it spelled out down to the colors and materials to be used.  He is all about the details and how things should be put together.

He is equally as focused on the details of our lives.  He has a plan – down to the very details – and it is a plan for our welfare and goodness – and there are no gaps or holes.  The only variable is us – and whether we will listen and obey.  He has a plan.  We have the opportunity to walk with Him through it.  But when we make choices to do things our way, when we ignore what God has in store, when we choose to disobey and take the steering wheel on our own – well we mess up the plan and ultimately can miss the blessing God intends.  Are you walking with God in living out His plan for you?

Exodus 35

Exodus 35 has Moses getting everyone in the congregation together so he could give them direction on God’s commands.  He talks about three specific commandments:

  1. Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord”
  2. Take from among you a contribution to the Lord
  3. Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded

So Moses gives commandments about rest and the Sabbath, giving and serving.  Three key areas we certainly need to have in our lives today as Christ Followers.

He begins with the commandment God gave clearly that work was to be done in six days, and then there was to be a day of rest. But it is more than lying around and being a bum.  The day is to be holy to the Lord.  It is a time to refresh our body, but more importantly our soul.  Was it important?  The commandment came with this penalty for violating it.  “Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death”.  That is pretty serious consequences.  We see similar words in other places in scripture.  God wants us to take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically.  We were created with a need for rest and worship.  Certainly over the years the Sabbath has become a very different day but we need to seek God’s direction on how we should spend that day in regard to our well-being.

Secondly Moses talks about bringing a contribution to the Lord.  It doesn’t address tithing here as a discipline of giving, but that is the underlying foundation for how we are to give to the Lord.  Moses tells the people to give with a generous heart.  It should never be something we do grudgingly or from a sense of compulsion.  Our gifts to the Lord should be in gratitude for all that He has given us.  After all, everything we have is really His already.  He has entrusted it to us to steward and use for His glory, but we can’t lay claim to any of it.  So returning some of what He already owes to Himself is not too much to ask.

Finally Moses calls on the people to serve.  There is a long list of items to be crafted and tasks to be completed.  God calls us to serve, not only in the church, but outside.  We are called to good works and to bear fruit.  It is the requirement, not even merely the expectation.  People responded to Moses instruction on these three things.  “Everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him…. All who were of a willing heart….All the women whose hearts stirred….All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them”.  God moved in the hearts of His people and they responded.  We need to be sure we are sensitive to the stirring of His Spirit in us so we can respond and take action in the same way.  God is calling – are we listening – and are we responding?

Exodus 34

Exodus 34 has round two of Moses receiving the commandments from God.  He had gone up on the mountain before and been given the commandments on two stone tablets, which he quickly broke when he came down and found the people sinning.  So God tells Moses to “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai”.  Moses is summoned a second time to come to the mountain to receive God’s words.

Up he goes and meets with God.  He hears God’s truth about His people and their sin.  “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation”.  God loves His people, but they won’t be getting a pass on their sin.  There is always a price for sin.  And God is clear it goes beyond the perpetrator to generations following.

Moses again intercedes for the people.  “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance”.  Moses pleads for God’s forgiveness and protection.  He knows his role in leading the people and asks God to bless them.  And God agrees saying “all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you”.  God is going to show up and make it very clear that He is their God.

Moses is on the mountain “with the Lord forty days and forty nights”.  He went up there to get the commandments written again on the stone tablets and that is exactly what happened.  “He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments”.  These Ten Commandments were God’s guidelines for the people to live by.  They were the framework for walking with God.  Moses spent 40 days and nights on the mountain with God, and he was changed.  “The skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God”.  When we spend time in the presence of God, we will be affected.  With Moses, it wasn’t just the words he returned with, but his actual being was changed.  For us, the change should be our hearts!

Exodus 33

Exodus 33 has Moses talking with God.  The people have sinned by building an idol – the golden calf – and God is not pleased.  God tells Moses to get up and lead the people “to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”  God is still unhappy.  He isn’t going along but sending an angel to clear the way.  Moses lets the people know their action has caused God to say away because thay are a stiff necked people.  They have not been obedient.  And the people mourn.

Moses was in the habit of meeting with God in the Tent of Meeting which was set up outside the camp.  “When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses”.  He was close with God.  And the people knew it.  They would stand in the opening of their tents as Moses walked through the city and out to the tent of meeting.  “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”.  There was no doubt that Moses was connected directly to God.

Moses sought God’s promise of protection and guidance for the journey ahead.  He wants to know that God will be there.  “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest”.  God gives Moses that promise, but not in the way Moses wanted.  But Moses was clear that unless God was leading and providing the way, he wasn’t moving.  Moses knew they would never make it on their own.  He insists that God be along.  And God agrees.  But Moses wants more.

Moses asks God to “please show me your glory”.  That is a pretty big request.  Moses wants to see God up close and personal – not just Him – but all His glory.  And God agrees, at least for the most part.  “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’….while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock….and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen”.  Moses couldn’t see God’s face as that would cause immediate death.  But God gives Moses this demonstration of His glory and allows Him to see His back.

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.

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