EXODUS 39:1 – 40:38 and MATTHEW 24:1–31
The final work on the Tabernacle and accompanying items is nearing completion. In verses 2-3 we note the meticulous work of the linen garments. There are thin strands of gold that are threaded into the garments signifying the work of “divinity” that can be interwoven into our lives by God’s prescribed order. This is not something that happens at one’s salvation experience. At salvation we are imputed to be righteous, meaning that we are righteous due to the righteousness of Christ applied over our life, which is accomplished by faith. This is how Abraham grew in faith (Rom 4:22). As we progress in our walk with God the righteousness of God can be interwoven into our inner being as illustrated by the priestly garment. How is this done?
Peter, at the end of his life gave many insightful keys that help us to uncover this truth. Peter exhorted his audience with the following words “be ye holy as I am holy” (1 Pet 1:15-16). Later on he demonstrates on how this can be done.
2Pe 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
2Pe 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
2Pe 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
It is by faith we believe, hence faith must serve as the foundation of our Christian walk (Heb 11:6). Peter says we are to add to our foundation of faith “virtue”. What does virtue refer to? It speaks of moral purity. By faith we can grow stronger in this area as we journey on in God. If a person struggles with lust, he or she can acknowledge their need while looking upon the Lord who is pure and undefiled. In acknowledging their weakness they are allowing opportunity for grace to be poured into their lives so that they can “die” to that desire. In so doing a measure of God’s grace (His enabling power) can be worked into the fabric of that person whereby he or she can be changed. There is now an element of God’s grace (golden thread) that is now part of that person. The same is true for knowledge and the other attributes that Peter cites in these verses. The question is as to whether we will allow this process to take place. This is a garment that the Lord will recognize because it has been applied by faith. This helps to give a bit of understanding to the man without a wedding garment in Math 22. Let’s consider the following verse from Revelation.
Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Rev 19:9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
These verses help to make clear that there is a process in being part of this wedding company. If we are going to be part of the bride there is a preparation involved. There is no assuming that we are automatically the bride of Christ just because we are saved. The wife hath made herself ready. The fine linen mentioned in verse 8 can be linked to Exo 39. The righteousness spoken of in Rev 19:8 is not an imputed righteousness but rather an “outworked righteousness”. This means that the righteousness of God has been developed within the bride and those who are called to the marriage supper. We need to be reminded again that we will not reign as kings with Christ in the millennium unless we are qualified to be priests.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Can you see how holiness is linked again to the priests? Can you see how consistent the message of the Tabernacle is from the time of the Exodus up to the last days? The three divisions of the Tabernacle are real and they have deep meaning for the church today. It is a blessing and a wonder to experience God’s salvation. It represents the most important decision one will ever make in their lives. Still, we diminish the work of what Jesus accomplished at the cross if we leave our experience at salvation alone.
The power of the Cross is its ability to present us holy and faultless before God (Col 1:22). As believer’s we do not want to stay (spiritually) in the Outer Court. God’s desire is that we press into all that He has for us. His desire is that we all become kings and priests by appropriating his daily provision of grace “manna” which results in our dying to self where we become more like Him. It’s true; our mortal beings can come to the place of having those golden threads of “Divinity” worked into the inner fabric of our lives. May God grant that we be adorned with these beautiful priestly garments.
The balance of this chapter represents the finishing touches being made to the Tabernacle and its furnishings. It is now presented to Moses in verses 33-43. The work has been completed and it has been done according to the instructions that God had given.
The Lord speaks to Moses as to the formation of the Tabernacle consisting of the placement of the various pieces of furniture. In verse 15 the Lord makes a statement regarding the succession of the priesthood after Aaron. God makes clear that the anointing for the priesthood will be an “everlasting one”. This verse is important because we will see later how this will play out. We will also see how and through whom the promise of an everlasting priesthood perpetuates. Aaron had 4 sons; two of them died (Nadab and Abihu) due to offering strange fire (Lev 10). The remaining two sons (Ithamar and Eleazar) had a lineage that carried forward. Ithamar’s lineage ended with Abiathar, who is traced to Eli who had the following verse applied to his priestly ministry.
1Sa 2:32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
This was a word to Eli, the high priest at the time of Samuel’s birth. This word came as a result of what Eli’s two sons were doing. These two sons were priests who prostituted their office and representation of a priest. They took God for granted and lightly regarded His ways. They were sons of Belial, (1 Sam 2:12) they took the best offerings, using their office as priests to enrich themselves, (1 Sam 2:17) and they committed immorality at the entering into the temple (1 Sam 2:22). The fulfilment of the above verse takes place through the priest Abiathar.
1Ki 2:26 And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.
1Ki 2:27 So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD; that he might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
The last son of Aaron would be Eleazar. It is through his line that the promise of an everlasting priesthood would be fulfilled. This was secured long before the demise of Ithamar’s lineage through Eli, his sons and Abiathar. What was the determining factor in this matter? The promise of an everlasting priesthood was given to Phineas, who executed God’s judgment as a result of Balaam’s compromised prophetic ministry which introduced immorality to the camp of Israel.
Num 25:7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
Num 25:8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
Num 25:9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
Num 25:10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 25:11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
Num 25:12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
Num 25:13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
We are referencing many verses above but it helps to give a clear picture of what God spoke to Moses in Exo 40:15. The priesthood continued throughout the Old Testament with priests like Zadok, Joshua and Ezra who were all descendants of Eleazar and it continues on to day with the emerging of a New Testament order of priest.
In verse 17 we see that the construction of the Tabernacle took about one year. The chapter and Book of Exodus concludes with the glory cloud filling the Tabernacle. The glory was so great that even Moses could not enter into the tent of the congregation (vs 34-35). This is a similar picture that is seen at the time of the dedication of Solomon’s temple. We will note the differences between Moses Tabernacle, David’s Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple as we progress in our study. Consider these verses regarding Solomon’s dedication.
2Ch 5:11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:
2Ch 5:12 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)
2Ch 5:13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;
2Ch 5:14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God
There is so much that can be shared from the above verses. It would be good to spend some time and meditate upon them. It would be good to link them to what we have looked at in Exodus concerning the glory of God, the Holy place and priests. Link them also to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. There were 120 people gathered in one accord in that place. The anointing holy oil as seen in Exo 30 and alluded to in Psa 133 is a key in understanding the cost of unity and the cost of holiness. What is seen in type in Exodus really does have vivid and applicable expressions throughout the Bible. This will be seen at a more personal level as we navigate through Leviticus.
We now get to one of the most popular but less understood chapters in the whole of the Word of God. The disciples ask a question that echoes the curiosity of many today. When shall be the sign of the 2nd coming and the end of the world? Think about it! Even 2000 plus years ago there was the sense that there would be an end of the world, as they knew it. What is sobering to consider is that we are more than likely in that period that Jesus is about to address. There are some definitive statements that Jesus gives that can help establish a timeline. At the same time there are unknowns that should provoke vigilance and being prepared.
One of the first statements that Jesus makes is that there will be many false Christ’s that will be accompanied by deception in the last days. (vs 4-5) The culmination of deception will be seen in the antichrist when he enters into the fullness of his ministry. The Apostle John makes clear that the spirit of antichrist is already at work. What is this spirit of antichrist and how does it function? It is based on deception and John emphatically warns concerning this. Remember it was John, who was given the revelation of who the betrayer would be at the last supper. It was the Lord who revealed this to him and it will be nothing short of revelation that will enable us to discern this deception in the last days. This is why John was given the revelation of Jesus Christ as he neared the end of his life.
The world is already deceived so we as believers are the ones who need to take heed. The gift of discernment is an absolute essential for our day. In verses 6-8 the Lord mentions that there will be wars and rumours of war, coupled with nations and kingdoms rising up against each other. Is this not the case in our modern day life? It’s as if the white horse of the apocalypse has been released to gather nations to take sides (Rev 6:2). Jesus says that this is only the beginning of sorrows.
The next statements of the Lord are fast moving that cover considerable ground. One thing is clear, there is an ever growing hatred in the world for the things that pertain to God. It may have had a subtle beginning nonetheless its momentum is increasing at an alarming rate. Let’s take for example the transformational changes taking place in the USA in recent years. How could a country that espoused and defended religious freedom for centuries so quickly allow for its dismantling? The moral tenets that established and held America in good standing since its founding is eroding away. The Law has been compromised resulting in a breech to the nation. The enemy now can make inroads whereby lawlessness becomes the norm. The laws are then changed and altered to suit man’s way of doing things. In our Old Testament study through Exodus we have put much stock and emphasis on the Law. We sought to define the Law and to understand its relevance with regard to the New Covenant. Why has the Law been allowed to be eroded? What are the consequences?
Isa 24:5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
Isa 24:6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
Isa 24:19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
Isa 24:20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
The above helps to give a clear picture as to what awaits the earth in these last days. It is in this environment where the man of sin will make his appearance. He will have answers to complex problems; he will have an economic acumen and will by all appearances seem to be a man of peace. This is where the great deception will be seen. The first 3 ½ years of the great tribulation will be a period of great deception. The ones who resist will come under great scrutiny and persecution. It was the scribes, priests and Pharisees that consented to the death of Christ. I feel there will be similarities in the days before us. It is imperative that we prepare during this current window and pray that our hearts are tender and open before Him.
In verse 15 the Lord speaks of the abomination of desolation. This will be a focal point when things begin to take an adverse turn. This abomination takes place in the midst of the 7 year tribulation (Dan 9:27). It will be at this time when Elijah and Moses have their testimony in Jerusalem. They will be killed by the antichrist and after 3 ½ days resurrect and be caught up to heaven. It will also be the time when the man-child company is caught up to heaven (Rev 12). Satan will be cast down to earth at this time also which will only make the violence upon the earth more pronounced. The Lord makes references to events immediately after the abomination right up till the time of the end. I feel that many of the things that Jesus shares in verses 16-31 can be aligned with accounts in Revelation concerning the period of the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments.
If Math 24 were left to itself it would be difficult to put many of the Lord’s remarks into its proper place. The Book of Daniel, Zechariah, Revelation and other Biblical books helps to present a clearer picture. For example, the Lord cannot just return at any time. There are sequences of events that must first take place. This will help clear up some questionable doctrines which are strongly promoted amongst believers. It is also clear that the church will go through the great tribulation. The Lord is sending out many signals and warning signs to help get our attention. We have such a wonderful privilege to be living in these days. At the same time it comes with great responsibility. The Lord wants us to be acquainted with the signs of the times, and to be minsters of reconciliation in preparing for His return.
Act 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
The Lord continues to express keys regarding what it will be like in the end times. The ability to see the progression of events will be critical in knowing that the end is near. One of the key remarks is that concerning the days of Noah. (vs 37-39) I am sure there were many who were taking notice of what was happening in Noah’s day; after all it is not every day when a man is building an Ark and seeking to fill it with animals etc. It is also interesting that in recent years you have had movies come out relating to this event. (Hollywood versions which have their own sordid view of this Biblical account) In Noah’s day life was carrying on as usual right up to the end. Then in an instant, the flood came. We can assume that in Noah’s day there were over a million(s) people alive that would have come forth from the godly line of Seth. Yet, only 8 were spared the ravages of the flood. This suggests that there will be many Christians that will not be covered or protected when the judgments begin to be released.
We have looked at this in previous commentaries regarding the Outer Court of Moses Tabernacle. There was no overhead covering that protected the Outer Court from the outside elements. It could also be likened to the remnant group in Rev 12. In this chapter you have the man-child who gets caught up to the throne, (Rev 12:5) the woman (church) that is preserved from the flood of the dragon’s mouth (vs 15-16) and then the remnant which faces the wrath of the dragon. (vs 17) When Jesus died, He went into the lower parts of the earth to preach to the souls who perished in the days of Noah (1 Pet 3:19-20). I feel that something we need to guard against is this “business as usual approach” mentality that is prevalent in many Christian circles. We have a sense that we are living in the last days and that we are on the threshold of a mighty move of God yet still unaware of the realities playing out around us. We get comfortable and as a result tend to let our guard down.
Jesus is sending out warning signals in this chapter alone for the need to be vigilant and aware of events. We are not called to over-speculate as to the exact date of events (vs 36, 42, 44) nonetheless Jesus is clear in wanting us to be aware of the signs. Jesus sums up the matter in verses 45-51. A faithful and wise servant is one who maintains this posture throughout his or her life. This servant is working faithfully right up to that day (vs 46) and as result will be given greater responsibilities within the master’s kingdom. (vs 47)
We have seen in our studies in the Old Testament that God often allows delays to test and see what is within the heart of his people. When Moses was about to ascend Mt. Sinai, the people were assuring Moses that they would do whatever the Lord would speak. The 40 days of delay resulted in Israel letting their guard down. They cried out for new gods to be erected and worshipped. The “delays” test what is truly within our hearts. The Lord will not give exact dates for specific events but He surely gives enough clues as to the season. The seekers of God’s Word will discover added clues as they search the whole of the Bible which only heightens ones preparedness. The various accounts or events that the Lord gives in Math 24 can be researched further and be elaborated upon. It is imperative that we do not let down our guard.
Let us call to mind what was happening in the days of Noah and be warned by it. Life was going on and there appeared to be a casual disregard for the reality that was about to strike the earth. We need to be careful of such a “casualness” in our own walk with God. The church is separating and God is calling us to come within the confines of the Ark, the inner place of Moses Tabernacle; not just for the purpose of being covered from the coming judgments but to know Him and be a representative of Him, an instructor in the ways of righteousness and Truth. The Lord goes to great lengths to inform our generation through Math 24 of what is soon coming. Math 24 is for our benefit and we can only bless the Lord for His faithfulness and love in bringing it forth moments away from His death. Once again may we hear that which the spirit is saying to the church.