EXODUS 25-33 & ACTS 26
After God presented the Marriage Covenant to His people, He called Moses up into the mountain to have a private conversation. Moses went beyond the FIRE and CLOUD and had coffee with THE ALMIGHTY. OK… OK… calm down it’s just a joke. Moses actually had NOTHING to eat or drink for the 40 days he met with the Lord. That was a doozy of a conversation..40 days! The next few chapters of Exodus map out that holy conversation. The Lord desired to come down and DWELL and because of His KAVOD, weighty holiness, there was much to be done. Now because we do not live in the time of TEMPLE SERVICE with priest most of the next few chapters do not pertain to us. However we have to remember that ALL scripture is God breathed and for our training, teaching, exhorting, rebuking, and maturing of our faith. If the Lord spent so much time explaining the tabernacle, all the things inside, AND even how the PRIEST should serve, surely they hold significance and purpose. The Lord had just proposed and entered into a marriage with HIs people and NOW the Lord desired a place to meet with HIS BRIDE. A BRIDAL CHAMBER of sorts. Don't get all crazy on me. A place of INTIMACY between God and His people. The conversation Moses had with the Almighty was about how to make this happen. The Lord SHOWED Moses what heaven, His throne, looked liked and said go and make a place like this for ME. WHY? The Lord desired a HOLY PLACE to Dwell. He wanted a set apart, holy, consecrated, SEPARATED from ordinary things to be used for DIVINE PURPOSES. We have to remember that God is “OTHER THAN” anything we could ever think or imagine and to be in HIs presence is PURE HOLINESS…heavy, weighty, KAVOD….HOLY< HOLY<HOLY! The angels are declaring SEPARATE<SEPARATE<SEPARATE, not normal, not mundane, not common…yet God desires to come and dwell with ordinary, common, faulty people. The Lord had already warned His TREASURED POSSESSION to be in my presence NOT CONSECRATED is dangerous. Everything we read about in these next few chapters is a LOVING God who desires to make a way for His BELOVED to be with Him. We read through all these details down to what the priest wear and scratch our heads. If we could step back, clear our minds, and read again maybe instead of seeing a bunch of rules, we can actually see a God coming after His heart, His people. It is ALL about bringing HEAVEN to EARTH. Every aspect of what is described in the plan reflects God’s dwelling place above. God is not content with peering down from Heaven disconnected from us. He DESIRES to engage in our lives on a personal level not a casual relationship. In order for ELOHIM, the creator God, to dwell with His people things have to be done because entering His presence is a HOLY APPOINTMENT. When God first spoke to Moses He said, Construct a sanctuary that I may dwell AMONG them but the original Hebrew says dwell IN THEM. It has always been the hope of God to dwell in us not just with us. The problem is that humanity at that point was not WORTHY to house the presence. The Spirit that filled the tabernacle actually desired to fill the people but it could not because the people were not worthy. When we read through all the things that had to happen in order for God to be with His people, THE CROSS becomes that more beautiful and I become that more THANKFUL. Im only going to hit on a few of the requirements because I feel like they have meaning for us.
The first thing God ask Moses to do is ask the people for a CONTRIBUTION or a TERUMAH in Hebrew to pay for the tabernacle. A Terumah or “heave offering” means to lift something up to God. The people were being asked to give a portion of their finances for godly purposes. They were being asked to take something mundane, finances, and lift it up solely to the Lord. God desired for His dwelling place to ONLY be built off the willing contributions of His love. He only wanted free will offerings because God desires voluntary lovers that give willingly to the thing that has captured their heart. The same goes for us. The Lord desires willing hearts that overflow with gratitude and desire to lift up a portion of their finances freely for divine purposes.
When we read about the precious metals, special cloths, and wood for the building of the tabernacle and the items inside, it's important to point out the details because God is searching for pure things that do not rot, decay, or contain any dross. Anything that represented DEATH or IMPURITY was banned because God is LIFE and HOLINESS!
The Bread of Presence is beautiful because the twelve loaves represented the twelve tribes and were ever before the Lord as a reminder of the COVENANT. Always before the Lord as a constant memory that He made promises with a people and God KEEPS HIS PROMISES.
The URIM and the THUMMIM are very cool because they are a reminder to us all that God EXPECTS His people to talk to Him and ask for His advice, help, direction, and heart on a matter. The priest would wear these two stones underneath the breastplate with all the tribes of Israel etched upon it and when they would ask questions of God the stones would supernaturally light up and spell out Gods answer. I don’t care who you are THAT IS JUST STINKING COOL. The two stones were used until the temple was destroyed and they were NEVER seen again.
The daily continual burnt offering is a reminder to us all that the fires of our heart need to burn bright. It is our job to keep the embers stoked and fresh every morning. When our altars are full of ASH we have to be diligent to remove the ash and once again SET A FIRE. This is a permanent gesture toward the Lord that the covenant is still in effect in our lives and forever going up before Him to remember WE ARE HIS and HE IS OURS!
The priest had to wash their hands and feet before they went before the Lord. WHY? Our hands and feet have the most contact with the world and God is pointing out that the WORLD can stain us and in HIs presence there is NO PLACE for the things of this world. WHY? Because where His presence resides there is a HOLY ATMOSPHERE and anything not purged in the refiners fire will burn up. Do you see why all these precautions had to happen? HOLINESS!
Then God called two men, BEZALEL and OHOLIAB, and filled them with the HOLY SPIRIT to craft the tabernacle. The scripture actually says filled them with the spirit of God with WISDOM< UNDERSTANDING< and KNOWLEDGE. Wisdom is to know the difference between righteousness and wickedness. Understanding is to know the meaning of complex things. Knowledge is to know truth in intimacy. A spirit filled individual should be established and ever growing in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of the Lord and the things of God. A biblical spirit filled individual is not someone who is mystic or flows in feelings and tingles. A man or woman who looks beyond the surface of things and sees deeper meaning into the things of God is flowing in the spirit. We can also see that the spirit moves through talents and the gifting of God’s creation. The manifestation of the Spirit is way more than goosebumps although we can experience them plenty. To be walking in the SPIRIT is to be maturing in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge and bringing HEAVEN to EARTH through your talents and gifting to the GLORY of God’s plans.
One thing I would like to point out is that right in the middle of all these instructions to build, the Lord reminds them about keeping SABBATH. I believe the Lord knows that sometimes we can get busy doing things, even in His name, that we substitute or forget to honor Sabbath. Not even holy work is excused when it comes to honoring the sabbath. The Lord is pretty set on this point.
The Almighty finished speaking all these things to Moses and gave him two STONE TABLETS of the covenant written by His very FINGER. As Moses is preparing to go down and share with the people God’s heart to dwell with them, God breaks in and says Moses YOUR PEOPLE have corrupted themselves. Notice how God went from MY people to YO people. That is because the GOLDEN CALF had been built and the covenant had been broken between God and His people. See while Moses was up on the mountain getting a plan to bring God down the people grew IMPATIENT and did their own thing. OH SNAP! GUILTY! How many times do we grow weary waiting on the Lord and do our own thing creating idols. The key to remember is that this golden calf was made to honor God but IT WAS NOT GOD. In the same way things can look so great in the name of God and NOT BE GOD! We can never argue with the word. If it does not line up with the word then whatever voice you heard was NOT GOD'S! See the children of Israel were attempting to worship God in an idolatrous way and God was not having it. When we try to serve God on our own terms and not His we are worshipping in an IDOLATROUS way and God AINT HAVIN IT SISTER. The gravity of this sin was that it alienated the BRIDE from her GROOM and the wedding was annulled before it EVER entered consummation. Aaron gets into trouble because he did not keep the people in check and stop the idolatry. Leaders, teachers, pastors would do well to pay attention to this little truth. You hold a responsibility to guard the people and if they begin to act in ways against the covenant, regardless of the flak you might receive, SPEAK UP and SHUT IT DOWN. Spiritual impulses that go unchecked can lead to IDOLATRY. Aaron was guilty because he allowed the people to build the calf and he had to live with the death of 3000 of his brothers and sisters because he did not speak up. He had to watch the punishment of his people for the sin HE ALLOWED. Moses comes down burns up the calf, grounds up the ashes, and makes everybody drink it until they are sick. Kinda like hey is this what you want, is this what you want, a fake version of true covenant, here take it all, get your fill, see how sick counterfeit things make you. Do not ever mistake God for anything your human hands can craft HE IS SO MUCH MORE. Then MOSES goes and offers himself in the place of the people so that Gods favor would return. Moses was going before God and saying hey I WILL TAKE THEIR PLACE just have mercy and remember your COVENANT. He offered to exchange his life for the salvation of the entire nation. SOUND FAMILIAR? WWJD? The merit of one person’s righteousness extended to others. On the basis of God’s favor of one man, an entire nation was forgiven and God said I WILL GO WITH MY PEOPLE. You see GRACE is from Genesis to Revelation NOT just the New Testament. This is the gospel, Moses went on behalf of Israel and Jesus went on behalf of the entire world. YAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSS…..
After Moses made the great exchange with God he was called back up into the mountain for God to give him a NEW COVENANT for His people. This time the covenant would be marked with His unchanging character and grace. Moses said Lord let me see your Glory and God said OK but go hide over there in the rock because YOU CAN’T HANDLE IT! As the glory of God passes by Moses, the LORD declares who he is, unchanging<deity and powerful<mother like in compassion< shows favor and grace to the undeserving<patiently waits for repentance< devoted<fair<he forgives intentional sin< sin of rebellion< inadvertent sin< and he cleanses sin. THIS IS HOW GOD DESIRES TO BE KNOWN it is His GLORY. He writes a new covenant with His people and Moses once again goes to deliver the words of the GROOM. As Moses returns this time his face is ON FIRE! Not literally but shining as if he was ON FIRE! He had been in the presence of God and now carried that presence with him. The scripture says that after he spoke with the people he veiled his face UNTIL he went in and spoke with God again and then his face would SHINE again. This happened every time he spent time with God and then after he told the people what God said he would veil his face again. This is a beautiful picture of what happens to us as we spend time with the Lord. Our spirits are on FIRE and then we share with whomever will listen. At least I DO! Im sure all of you do as well at certain times. You know the moments when you get gobsmacked with the word, spirit, or YAAAASSSSSS BOTH and your spirit is just so ON FIRE you gotta tell somebody. YEP, Moses and the SHINING FACE SYNDROME.
For two chapters in the book of Acts Paul is on trial! He has been arrested and placed in prison. Paul is brought before leader after leader and questioned about his accusations. At one point scripture says Paul was left in prison for two years while leadership roles changed. First of all Paul is ONLY in prison because some religious crazies did not like his testimony about resurrection and JESUS. Sound familiar? In today’s culture we can believe and say almost anything UNTIL we start talking about Jesus being THE WAY. If you are a man/woman who lives their life for the King of Heaven you too at some point will be placed on trial. Whether it is before an audience of one or a group setting YOUR testimony and belief will be on trial. What did Paul do? HE did not defend HIMSELF and he did not defend GOD. Instead Paul unleashed the testimony of all testimonies starting from day one all the way until the Resurrection of Christ. He went on the offense NOT defense. We are not called to be people who defend anything we are called to PROCLAIM! Paul did not justify anything in his life HE PREACHED A SERMON! He not only preached a sermon he was giving an ALTAR CALL in the middle of the court proceedings. What our culture needs is a man/woman who lives a life of adoration and praise and whose God is an all consuming FIRE in their life. We need to be people that live with quiet confidence in who our God is and the word he left us AND any opportunity we get DECLARE THE EXCELLENCIES OF THE ONE WHO RESCUED US FROM DARKNESS AND BROUGHT US INTO THE KINGDOM OF LIGHT. IN other words we need to be so close to HIM that when others see us, question us, persecute us, or even try to kill us that we are not defensive but rather we are found SHINING LIKE FIRE in word and deed.