Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Reading in Exodus This Week #5 (25-31)

51ChsiH46qL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_We are continuing our discussion on Exodus, while reading through the commentary, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory, by Philip Graham Ryken, The next section of Exodus gives instruction about how the Israelites are to build the Tabernacle and serve in it. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

On the mountain God gives Moses the plan for the Tabernacle. The tabernacle was to be the place for the symbol of God's presence on earth. In a way, it was the palace of their king and God. It was also designed as a microcosm of the universe. It showed that the God who rules and runs the universe had taken up residence within the nation of Israel and was caring for them. It was the place of connection between heaven and earth. However, the barriers (courtyard, veil, Levitical guard) reminded them that God is holy and they are not. Something else still was needed to grant full access to God.

If he had wanted to, God could have performed a miracle and sent his people a whole tabernacle, ready-built. Instead, he gave them an opportunity to contribute to its construction. This is the way God usually works: He gives us an opportunity to participate. Although we can never repay him, we can offer ourselves for his service. Exodus 25.1-8, 803

The general meaning of the tabernacle is fairly obvious: God was coming to live with his people...the tabernacle was “sacred space for the long haul.”...The old tabernacle was a visual aid to show what kind of relationship God wants to have with his people. But the greater reality is the person of Jesus Christ, who gives us direct access to God. The way to meet with God is to believe in his Son Jesus Christ. Exodus 25.9-22, 814–815

The showbread symbolized God’s constant awareness of their daily needs. In case they were ever tempted to doubt his providence, it reminded them that their needs were ever before him. God saw what they needed. Their needs were always on his mind. God not only saw what they needed, but he also provided it. Exodus 25.23-30, 830

So when the priests entered the Holy Place to trim the golden lampstand—that shining tree of lights—they were glimpsing the glorious destiny of the children of God. Anyone who comes to Jesus Christ in faith will never go down to darkness and death but will live forever in his light. Exodus 25.31-40, 841

The tabernacle was a microcosm of the universe. Inside was Heaven, and outside was earth, with God at the center of it all. The heart of the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies, where God reigned in glory. The tabernacle, in turn, was at the heart of Israel, with all twelve tribes surrounding it. And Israel was the heart of the world, the centerpiece in God’s plan for saving the nations. Exodus 26, 850

The furniture inside the tabernacle demonstrated various truths about God and his promises. As the people worked together to build the tabernacle and provide the resources for it they would learn about God and deepen the relationship. It was expensively and artistically made because God is a great king who deserves honor and loves beauty, order and creativity. It was made exactly according to God's plan because it was an earthly copy of God's "control room" in heaven. It was a precursor to the final plan where heaven will come to earth and the two spheres will merge. (Rev. 21-22)

The lampstand was a little bit of Heaven on earth. Heaven is the place where God is glorified by all the saints who have gone to glory, the place where he has received praise since the moment the angels began singing for joy. The perpetual flame on the golden lampstand was a symbol of the heavenly worship that never ends. What God deserves is nothing less than everlasting praise. Exodus 27.18-28.14, 869–870

The high priest functioned as the mediator between God and the people. Thus, his clothes represented the glory of God and the breastplate represented that he carried the 12 tribes, as stones engraved with the names of all 12 tribes, on his shoulders and next to his heart. The high priests "crown" was inscribed with "holiness to the LORD" as a reminder of what was necessary to enter God's presence. The elaborate sacrificial system indicated just how far short of that holiness humanity came.

The high priest was the symbol; Jesus is the reality. He does all the things for us that the high priest did for Israel. He bears the burden of our sin on his shoulders. He carries our concerns close to his heart. He represents us before God. And as he does this priestly work, he stands in perfect holiness, so that we are holy to the Lord. Exodus 28.31-43, 898

The tabernacle was made skillfully and wonderfully because God is a great king who loves beauty, order and excellence. He gifts people like Bezalel and Oholiab with amazing talents that are to be used for God's glory and to serve fellow people by bringing them into God's presence. Anything that is truly beautiful and excellent is a gift of God's grace whether that is acknowledged by humans or not. God steps into Israel's culture as a king and brings a bit of heaven to them in His presence.

Here God is explaining what the tabernacle was all about. And what was it all about? It was about the God of Heaven making a place to dwell on earth. It was about God building a place where he could meet with his prophet and his people, establishing a point of contact where he could speak to them. It was about God consecrating a place by his presence. It was about God making his people holy to serve him. It was about God revealing himself so that he would be known as their God. It was about God being his people’s God and the people becoming his people. It was about God completing the work of salvation that he had begun when he brought Israel out of Egypt.  Exodus 29, 920

Art has the power to shape culture. What is happening in the arts today is prophetic of what will happen in our culture tomorrow. So when Christians abandon the artistic community, the church loses a significant opportunity to speak the gospel into our culture. What we need to recover—or possibly discover for the first time—is a full Biblical understanding of the arts—not for art’s sake, but for God’s sake. Then we will be able to produce good art that testifies to the truth about God and his world. Exodus 31, 947

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