Maybe the Beatles were onto something (or on something?) when they wrote All You Need Is Love. But, the love they were referring to wasn't the agape--or unconditional love--our Savior drenches us in. As we conclude the final chapter in Exodus (hooray!) and forge our way towards the Christmas season, there's no more ideal time than this to pause and be steeped in His love.
It may not be the crisp white tee, dark wash skinny jean, or the perfect black dress -- but Exodus 39 teaches us about the priestly garments and the meaning behind what they wore. Only one week left in our verse-by-verse study of this book. Keep a watchful eye for the Messiah, Not Mayhem advent study I'll release soon!
The lampstand in the tabernacle represented the nation of Israel and the light they were to be to the world. Whether a Gentile light or a Jewish light, we must have fuel in order to shine brightly. What fuel do you use to get through your day? Let it be the oil of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) who empowers you to shine and don't try to create your own oil!
Let us build, let us build, let us build for Him! After days and days of instruction from God to Moses, it is finally time for action. Isn’t it awesome to think about all the preparation that went into this one task? That is how it is in our lives, too. We can’t always see it, but God is actively preparing us for something wonderful. He will provide the vision, the material, and the resources necessary to accomplish that which He desires to do.
In Exodus chapter 34, the Sabbath was mentioned, and in chapter 35, it is again re-emphasized. Anytime we hear or read something repeatedly, it should give us pause. As Margaret Feinberg puts it in her book The Sacred Echo, "When God really wants to get your attention, he doesn’t just say something once, he echoes. He speaks through a Sunday sermon, a chance conversation with a friend the next day, and even a random email. The same theme, idea, impression, or lesson will repeat itself in surprising and unexpected ways until you realize that maybe, just maybe, God is at work." Let's study Exodus 35 together today and listen for His echos.
How blessed we are to have Jesus Christ, Who fulfills the covenant put in place during this Old Testament time. As New Testament believers, we don’t live by an if/then statement like this: If we follow His word and never sin, then He will love us. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” What Jesus asks of us is that we believe in Him, and then rest in His accomplished work.
There are lots of things we can “worship” in this world, even without realizing it. Make a list of the things you do with your time, with your money, and with your thoughts. You're digesting those things into your life. The idols in our lives go down to the inmost parts (Proverbs 18:8) and they don’t just stay compartmentalized. They travel throughout our spiritual bloodstream.
Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.
- The first eleven verses of this chapter should be a reminder to us of this: The Lord always provides for His projects! Detailed and elaborate plans were given to Moses, but what good were plans without someone equipped to do the work?
- What a beautiful reminder to us, as His slaves, that when He calls – He equips! I love Galatians 3:3, which reads, “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” First, ask yourself what the Lord has called you to do, and then ask yourself if you’re carrying out that work through the power of the Holy Spirit or through your own efforts.
- We don't know much of Bezalel other than God filled him with His Spirit. It goes on further to inform us what it is to be filled with His spirit. It means wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and skill. It was of extraordinary proportion so that he not only could do the work, but teach others. Think about that! When we are full of His spirit, we are given wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and skill. We are not filled just so we’ll have these gifts and keep them to ourselves, but that we should share and teach God’s fullness to others.
6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”
- Verse six in the KJV reads different, and I really like it: "And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee." These men were wise because God put wisdom in them. That wisdom was meant to bring Him glory through the construction of the tabernacle. What are you doing with the wisdom the Lord has given you? Recognize that it is from Him and solely for His glory. James 1:5 reminds us that anyone who lacks wisdom should ask for it, and the Lord will freely give it to you!
- I love me some F.B. Meyer. So, here’s an encouraging quote from him to mull over: “There is a niche for each of us in God’s service, to each a special work is given; and for each those talents are imparted, which are requisite and adequate.” We all have talents that God has given us! Use them for His glory because what you’ve been given is sufficient for the task.
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.
- At first, it may seem odd that Sabbath reminders are inserted into this section. However, previous verses spoke of the work to be done and the individuals who were called to serve in this capacity. While work is a wonderful thing, it must operate in balance with rest. God knew that the god of achievement could quickly distract His people. Think of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10: “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
- Martha’s heart to serve Jesus through her meal preparations was not wrong, it was simply that Mary had chosen something better. There were many preparations and details to follow in constructing the tabernacle, and God knew that the Sabbath must be kept or the work would become a distraction instead of an outlet of His glory. What distracts you from spending time with Him? These distractions may not be inherently sinful – but they can be unnecessary or imbalanced. Like Mary, make a conscious and intentional decision to choose what is better.
14 “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. 15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”
- To put people to death for not observing the Sabbath may seem a bit extreme in our eyes, but we must remember that what was physical in the Old Testament has a spiritual meaning in the New Testament. We know that the Sabbath was a day of rest. Is not Christ a symbol of the Sabbath? He is the true rest and peace that people seek in this world – and not just one day a week, but at all times. He was put to death so that we could have that complete rest and enjoy Him eternally. What's your “rest” status? My prayer for you is that your Sabbath isn't just on Sundays, but that you carry the act of Sabbath in your heart throughout the week.
18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
- God gave Moses lots of instructions and thoughts. For forty days, Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving these words from the Lord. Then, the Lord gave Moses something to show the people. Tablets of stone which were inscribed by the finger of God. Wow! That ranks in the “awesome” category, doesn’t it? But that same God who spoke to Moses, dwells in us. We can receive instructions and insight from the Lord, just as Moses did. Proverbs 7:3 reminds us that we are to write God’s Word on the tablet of our hearts. The inscription is permanent! Spend some time today meeting with the Lord, hearing from Him, and letting His word be engraved on your heart. Amen.
So far in Exodus, we’ve learned about five of the seven pieces of furniture associated with the tabernacle: the ark and mercy seat, the table, the lampstand, and the altar. Everything has a divine connection and meaning – it all points to Christ. It makes me stop and think about the “furniture” which takes up residence in my temple (heart). What story does my thoughts, actions, family, career, bank account, free-time, and so forth tell? Lord, show us what creates clutter.
God knew that corporate worship was necessary for the life of the believer. In Hebrews 10:25 we’re told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Like mentioned in Exodus 26 , how can we bear one another’s burdens if we are not fastened together? Christ did not die for us to stand separately, but sacrificed Himself so we could be tied to Him and to the other believers. God desires a unified body – a tabernacle – for Him to dwell in.
The Tabernacle was to be a single unit. It had diverse structures and parts, but cohesively came together into one. Division and hatred have been in the current events spotlight recently, and I'm not going to recount those headlines or draw attention to them. Regardless of what is happening in these final days, as believers, we know where to fix, fasten, and focus our eyes: the unified Trinity.
God doesn’t want us to “basket-ize” our life. He wants us to let His light shine freely to those around us. Maybe it’s the basket of busyness, or the career basket, or the baby basket. Regardless, it doesn’t need to be covering up His light. Get your oil from the Holy Spirit, through communing at the table with Christ, and praise Him who sits on the throne of mercy and grace!
The theme of chapters 1-18 in Exodus is how the Lord delivered His people from Egypt (bondage). In chapters 19-24 – what we are currently studying – the Israelites are at Mount Sinai so the Lord can adopt them as His children. He’s allowed them to experience Him and be taught by Him through Moses’ words.
We’re over half-way there! Persevere in your study as there are so many parallels between the Old Testament law and our freedom in Christ Jesus now.
Rest assured: little by little, God will continue His sanctifying work in our life through His Word. We know this because Jesus prayed it Himself in John 17:17, which says, “Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.” Be in His truth, day by day, and allow Him to drive out the sin of your life through that truth.
God desires our best because He gave His best: Jesus. This a rich truth for us to anchor in our life, especially as we begin each morning. I understand not everyone is a morning person, but we see Christ’s example throughout the gospels of how He rose very early in the morning (Mark 1:35) to pray. Jesus knew that feeding our spiritual man first, would bring about a godly harvest for the day.
In Exodus 20, we learned about the Ten Commandments. Aren’t you thankful that you live in the New Testament and have the privilege to know God’s grace through Christ Jesus? Hebrews 10:1 tells us that the law was a shadow of the good things to come. God knew giving a law to the people wouldn’t bring about true righteousness; but, it was another step toward the revealing of His Son.