EXODUS 34:1 – 36:38 and MATTHEW 22:23-46
We continue to see the unique relationship between the Lord and Moses. He is again called up the mountain alone. God will present Moses with the two tables of stones a 2nd time after he broke them before Israel as a result of their sin. It was at that time when Moses assumed the role of priest where he stood in the gap on behalf of the people (Exo 32:32). God is also going to give Moses a revelation of His name and nature. This is an answer to his prayer from Exo 33:13, 18. This encounter will change Moses. He would not see the front side of God but he was able to behold many of His attributes. This revelation would shape him as a leader.
The Lord first revealed that He was “The Lord God merciful” (Exo 34:6). This is the highest revelation of God. We also see this expressed in the tabernacle where the mercy seat is placed over the Ark, which speaks of the presence of God. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning and it is because of His mercy that we have fellowship with Him. Moses also sees the God who is GRACIOUS, LONG-SUFFERING and abundant in GOODNESS and TRUTH.
Can you imagine how overwhelmed Moses must have been in experiencing this awesome privilege being bestowed upon him. It would shape his ministry to the people. Moses, as a high priest, can now serve as an intermediary between God and the people. He presents to us a picture of Christ as our eternal mediator between God and man.
In verses 10-17 the Lord tells Moses that He will do a marvelous thing among the people. He will go before them in driving out the inhabitants of the land such as the Canaanites, Hivites and other enemy nations. This was stated earlier when God spoke to Moses in Exo 23:20-25. The Lord would send forth an angel before them. He would not only drive out the enemies but he would also keep them in the path and bring them to their destination. This mighty angel was not to be provoked by meddling or making alliances with these enemies. God continued to warn that they were not to make other gods. It’s a warning that still resonates today. Paul when writing to the Corinthians makes clear that we are not to be unequally yoked (2 Cor 6:14). We must constantly be on guard in our interactions in today’s world. We will find that Israel will fail in this area which will result in their being led away to Babylon. Sadly, the modern day church has failed to learn these lessons as it continues to seek common ground with the world system.
In verses 18-28 the Lord speaks to Moses regarding some of the Feasts that were to be observed. These feasts will be elaborated upon in the Book of Leviticus. In verse 29-35 we see Moses descending down the mountain. There is a noticeable change in his countenance. There was a visible glory seen upon him as a result of being in God’s presence. Moses has been given the law which he will soon be teaching. Moses is also an extension of God’s mercy, graciousness and long-suffering to the people of Israel as he is about to lead the children onward in their journey. This pattern exists for our instruction and implementation as well. Are we heeding God’s call up the mountain to learn of His ways (Micah 4:2, Isa 2:3)?
These two chapters have many interesting truths that can be presented. Many of them are repeated for emphasis such as the keeping of the Sabbath (35:1-3), the free will offering for the construction of the tabernacle (35:4-18), and the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that was upon Bezaleel and Ahoilab (35:30-31). The free will offering that was given was due in large part to the spoiling of Egypt. What we see in these two chapters are matters concerning the construction of the Tabernacle. This includes the garments for the priests, furniture, curtains and many other items that would be required. Many of these items will be commented on a bit later but I feel to share some truths regarding the Tabernacle. Why is the study of it important? What really is the purpose in our need to know about it for our day?
I have been consistently stirred on the subject of holiness. Do we really have a proper reverence for God? I am asking this question about myself. Let’s consider the Lord’s Prayer for a moment. It begins with “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be they name…” God is holy and He is to be reverenced. How do we approach Him? Do we have that sense of respect and honor for His presence? I fear we are becoming way too casual in our worship and approach to God. There can be a tendency of taking “His presence” for granted which is something we see throughout Biblical history (1 Sam 4:3). In illustrating this truth let’s examine the words to a well know song that is sung in many churches today.
“Take Me In”
Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
But it’s only found in one place
Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am
This song reflects a worthy cry and desire for any Christian which is to experience the Lord in the Holy of Holies. It is there where the Ark of the Covenant, the Law and the fullness of His presence dwells. It is not my intent to take issue with the artist or the song but to me there is a certain “casualness” that is concerning, at least among the people who sing the song. (I want to be introspective concerning myself as well) The concern is the prevailing sense that we can just enter into the Holy of Holies at any time, on our terms. This is one of the reasons why the Tabernacle of Moses is instructive for us. It demonstrates the way of approach into this most Holy Place. Here are a few conceptions among many Christians today:
1) Once we are born again, we are automatically kings and priests.
2) When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was rent in two, meaning that we can now have immediate access into the holiest of all.
In both of the points above the way has been paved for us to indeed enter into these realities but it is not automatic or instantaneous. In Rev 5:10, the Bible makes clear that we are to be “made” into kings and priests. It is a process resulting in choices that we make as believers. To enter within the veil should be the heart cry of all believers but again it results from a way of approach that is established on God’s terms.
The majority of Christians today (in my opinion) are no further than the outer court. The Bible claims that many are called, few are chosen (Math 20:16). In progressing through the Book of Exodus we have examined some of the prerequisites in becoming priests. It is only the priests that could have access into the Holy Place. They had to have different garments than that of the general congregation. We have just seen how the priesthood was distinguished at Mt. Sinai. True, it was God’s intention that all would be priests (Exo 19:6) but at the time of qualifying, only the tribe of Levi responded. To fulfill the exhortation of the song “Take Me In” we have to pass the “brazen altar”. It is here where prayer and consecration would be made to God. How is our devotional life? Do we wrestle with God at the altar? Do we allow God to get to root issues in our lives? We cannot just slip by the brazen altar into the Holy place with a casual attitude.
Secondly, we cannot even access the Holy Place unless we are “priests” unto the most High God. The priests had to be adorned in specified garments in order to come before the Lord. It is not the song, or the artists (I have no idea who they are) but it’s the way this song is sung that concerns me. I do feel it reflects a certain disregard for His Holiness. The children of Israel said to Moses on a few occasions that they would do whatever God would say. They wanted Moses to be their spokesperson for God to them. How did they respond when it really mattered? How did they respond when being tested such as at the time Moses was withdrawn from them? They failed due to doing church on their terms.
I personally feel that we are living in a day when God will visit His church similar to the way He expressed Himself at Sinai. Are we ready for such a display of His thundering, fiery presence or are we more like Israel who relied on priests like Moses, Aaron and the sons of Levi to serve as representatives of God. The past several chapters of Exodus helps to bring these questions home to us in a personal way. Equating these chapters with a modern song helps to convey the message, significance and warning of what the Tabernacle represents. The song does provide keys in how we can come into that special abiding place. There needs to be that hungering and thirsting after righteousness in addition for a longing for a fresh cleansing. The Tabernacle of Moses and its symbolism must not be lost on the church today. Each and every piece of furniture and item of the Tabernacle was anointed with the precious oil that was declared to be holy (Exo 30). The sequence we see in the Lord’s prayer should indicate another profound truth for us to observe; we hallow His name before His Kingdom comes. Where is the Fear of the Lord?
Matthew 22 – Read day 32 commentary