Exodus 40 – The Glory of God

In the final chapter of Exodus we see the completion of the tabernacle. Everything has been made exactly as God had instructed, and now here God is instructing Moses as to how the furniture should be arranged within the tabernacle and the courtyard. You can see the instructions that Moses received in verses 1-11. And have a look at what it says in verse 16: “Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him.” Everything the Lord did, there was complete obedience from Moses! The tabernacle and the courtyard are assembled just as God had instructed.

Exodus 40:34-35 says “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” God was pleased with the obedience of Moses and the Israelites. With the complete obedience in the putting together of the tabernacle, it would have demonstrated to God that the Israelites believed in Him and loved Him. In a similar way, we can be sometimes quick to profess our faith and our love for God, but we don’t demonstrate it with our actions. When we come to a place of demonstrating our faith and love for God through our actions, it pleases Him. And so, the Glory of God filled the tabernacle, and Moses was unable to enter it. We also see something similar in 1 Kings 8:10-11. When Solomon had completed and dedicated the temple, the Glory of God so filled the temple that they couldn’t stay in it: “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.”

Let me ask you a question: Do you want to see the glory of God in your life? I would imagine the answer is going to be yes, and maybe the next question will be, ‘How can I see the glory of God in my life?’ In John 11:40, Jesus is speaking to Martha at the tomb of her brother Lazarus, and he says to her “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” If you want to see the glory of God in your life, let me encourage you to live a life of faith and a life of love for Jesus. Not just the professing of faith and the professing of love, but the demonstration of faith and love in the way we live our lives on a daily basis.

Exodus 28 and 39 – The Priestly Garments

Here in Exodus 28, we get a detailed description of the priestly garments that God had commanded to be made and worn by the priests. Exodus 28:2 says, “Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honour.” So we see that these garments were sacred and to give Aaron dignity and honour.

Throughout the chapter, we see many different parts of the priestly garments named. In verses 4 and 5, we get the list of the different garments that were to be made and what they were to be made of: “These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. It seems to me that these garments were to be made to set the Old Testament priests apart for God’s work. And it was required of the priests to ensure that these garments were worn. It wasn’t an option! They had to wear them and be set apart. Exodus 28:43 says, “Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place…”. So these garments must be worn, and set the priests apart.

Similarly, when we come to faith in Jesus, we are called to be set apart, and the Father re-clothes us, so that people can see that the old has gone and the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” In the parable of the Prodigal Son, when the Son returns home, the Father runs out to him, flings his arm around him, takes him back home, and the first thing he says is “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” He is taken from the messy clothes, and re-clothed as a son.

I’m going to finish today with a passage from Colossians 3. From verses 5 to 11 there is a list of things to be rid of. Then it says from verse 12: “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Through faith in Jesus, we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God!

Exodus 25 and 37 – The Ark of the Covenant

Following on from yesterday where we had a look at the tabernacle, today I want us to have a look at the Ark of the Covenant, and the significance of the Ark of the Covenant. Again, we can see from the passage in Exodus what it was made of, and its dimensions, so I want to focus today on what it represented.

The Ark of the Covenant contained within it three items: a jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the two stone tablets with the ten commandments on. On top of the Ark of the Covenant was the Atonement Cover (or the Mercy Seat). The Ark of the Covenant was a representation of God’s presence and power with His people wherever it went, and on numerous occasions in scripture, you can see where the Ark of the Covenant is present, and God moved mightily! With the presence of the Ark, the River Jordan divided so the Israelites could cross on dry land, and the walls of Jericho fell so that the Israelites could capture it. However, it was vital that the Israelites treated the Ark with reverence! In 1 Samuel 4, we see a passage of scripture where the Israelites went to battle with the Philistines without the Ark and got pummelled. Not knowing what to do, they sent for the Ark, because then, God would be forced to be with them. They didn’t treat the Ark with reverence, but rather as a good luck charm and trying to force God’s hand. The result? They got pummelled even more, and not only that, but they lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines. However, God showed His power to the Philistines by causing their idol, Dagon, to fall to the ground when the Ark was placed next to it, and several Philistine cities were plagued when the Ark was there. And so the Ark was returned to Israel.

And then we have the Atonement Cover. Each year the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies. He would approach and sprinkle the blood of a bull onto the atonement cover for his and his household’s sins, and then the blood of a goat for all the sins of Israel. Jesus has become our permanent atonement cover. Through Jesus’ blood, our sins have been covered over, and when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our sin, but the provision: His own Son. The atonement cover was God’s throne in the midst of the Israelites. God is on His throne today, and Jesus, our High Priest, is at His right side. When we come to God now, we approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Exodus 26 and 36 – The Tabernacle

Over the next two days, we are going to take a look at the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. However, rather than focusing on the dimensions and materials they were made of, we are going to look at what they were and what they represented. Today, we will take a look at the Tabernacle itself.

However, to start off with I will say this: God told Moses that the Tabernacle and all the furnishings were to be made exactly the way He commanded (Exodus 25:9). Each of the components of the Tabernacle were part of a visual aid to show God’s relationship with His people, and one aspect of this relationship was the requirement of complete obedience to that which God commanded. Everything was built as God instructed, and God requires the same level of obedience from us today, that being COMPLETE OBEDIENCE.

The word Tabernacle is translated as ‘tent’, ‘place of dwelling’, ‘sanctuary’. It was a sacred place where God met with His people during their time wandering in the desert, and it was also the place where the leaders and people came together to worship and offer sacrifices. In Exodus 25:8, God said, “…make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them”, and in Exodus 29 45-46, “Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them.”

 And so God dwelled among His people in the Tabernacle in the wilderness. By day, He appeared as a pillar of cloud, and by night as a pillar of fire in the sight of all Israel. The Israelites would not set out on their journey unless the cloud lifted. I can only imagine that this would have been a powerful visual aid showing them God’s presence among them.

In the New Testament, it says in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” This word ‘dwelling’ is the same word for ‘tabernacle’ in the Old Testament. God came in living flesh to dwell or to tabernacle among His people, and so therefore Jesus himself fulfilled the picture of the Old Testament tabernacle. It is fair to say that the tabernacle was a prophetic projection of the Lord’s redemptive plan for His people!

Exodus 31 and 35 – Bezalel and Oholiab

For today, we are jumping forward to Exodus 31, and we will go back to Exodus 25 tomorrow. From Exodus 25-30, we see God giving instructions to Moses and Aaron as to how the Tabernacle and all the furnishings should be made. And then from Exodus 36-39, we see the Tabernacle and all the furnishings being built. We will take a look at the Tabernacle and some of the furnishings over the next few days. However, for today we are going to take a look at Bezalel and Oholiab. Here are some of the things written about them:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills… 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. (Exodus 31:1-6) and (speaking of Bezalel and Oholiab) “He (the Lord) has given them both the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work…” (Exodus 35:34-35)

 We can see that, just as Moses and Aaron were called by God at the start of Exodus for a specific work, these two men are equally specifically chosen by God to carry out the work that He requires from them. And God has supernaturally enabled and empowered Bezalel to do the work of building the Tabernacle. It seems to me that God saw this work required of Bezalel and Oholiab as just as spiritual, and just as dependent on the Holy Spirit’s power, as the work Moses and Aaron did. God filled them with the power of the Holy Spirit not to work for themselves, but to carry out the work for the Lord. Similarly, it says in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Sometimes, we can look at the work we are doing, and the work that someone else is doing, and see what we are doing as being insignificant or less important. But where the Lord calls us, He empowers us to carry out the task through the power of the Holy Spirit, just as He did for Bezalel. So let me encourage you, pay attention to Colossians 3, and in all that you do, work with all your heart, as working for the Lord.

Exodus 24 – The Covenant Confirmed

In this chapter, we see the covenant being confirmed between God and His people. In verse 3, Moses goes back and tells the Israelites all of the Lord’s words and laws, and the Israelites confidently respond, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Some may consider this response to be an over confident response from the Israelites, but, aren’t we as confident in the words that we say? We can easily say “Everything the Lord has said we will do”, just as the Israelites did. However, as we can see from the following verses in the chapter, it seems that a verbal agreement to this covenant relationship isn’t enough, but that there also needs to be an action to the things that we say.

Have a read of Exodus 24:4-8. It seems to me that there are four things mentioned within these verses that help the people to confirm the covenant that God was making with them. First of all, Moses had to write down all the words of the Lord. Secondly, there was a sacrifice needed. The sacrifice admitted the sin and failing before God, and the need was addressed through the death of a substitute. In this passage, the sacrifice was oxen. Thirdly, it seems that covenant is made when God’s word is both heard AND responded to. The covenant is based on HIS words, and OUR obedience to what God is saying. And fourth, the covenant is made with the application of blood.

This was what was required of the Israelites to keep covenant with God. However, they were unable and kept breaking covenant. And so God made a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Jesus came as the sacrificial lamb. Through the death of Jesus, we are able to come into covenant relationship with God. In Matthew 26:28, Jesus says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” And so the outpouring of Jesus, blood for the forgiveness of our sins is vital to being in covenant relationship with the Father. Have a look at what else it says in Jeremiah 31:33: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” And so, as Moses had to write down the words of God, when we come into covenant relationship with God, He writes His law on our hearts. And finally, what God wants from us in our covenant relationship with Him is our obedience to what He is saying (1 Samuel 15:22). So hear what it is that God is saying, and do it! God loves it when we are obedient!

Exodus 23 – Three Festivals

In this chapter, we get introduced to three of the Jewish festivals: The Festival of Unleavened Bread, The Festival of the Firstfruits, and The Festival of Ingathering (also known as The Festival of Weeks). We can see more on these Festivals and how these should be observed in Leviticus 23:1-22. In Leviticus 23, we see each of the Jewish Festivals being outlined, however I want to focus on the three festivals mentioned in this chapter of Exodus, and how the meanings of these Jewish feasts were fulfilled in Jesus.

The first festival mentioned is The Festival of Unleavened Bread. We have previously taken a look at how Jesus was our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) whose blood was shed for our sins. In the Bible, leaven represents sin, and so the unleavened bread points us towards Jesus and His sinless life, making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. About this, a commentator has written “Jesus’ body was in the grave during the first days of this feast, like a kernel of wheat planted and waiting to burst forth as the bread of life.”

The second festival mentioned is The Festival of the Firstfruits. It was on this very day that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and so therefore, this points us towards Jesus’ resurrection as the firstfruits of the righteous. In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”

 The third festival mentioned is The Festival of Ingathering (also known as The Festival of Weeks). This festival occurred fifty days after the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This points us towards the day of Pentecost, which came 50 days after Jesus death and resurrection. On the day of Pentecost came the promised gift of the Holy Spirit: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:15-17). God poured out his Holy Spirit and the church was established. In Jesus, all things are fulfilled.

Jeremiah’s Prophecy

Jeremiah 31 is regarded as a “Proof Text” for so many things, especially the national Israel, and future gathering. Can we just look at a few things.

Israel is in exile and Nebuchadnezzer is King in Babylon. I do not resist or despise prophecy and encourage it in the Church, but it is quite evident that the immediate application of this scripture is with regard to the return of Israel from this exile. Yes, I can see the prophetic and the Messianic, but logical extrapolation is not prophecy.

The New Covenant

(verse 31), “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant”. Is Jeremiah speaking of the immediate, or the future Messiah, or His return? Most agree that this speaks of the Messiah and the New covenant that He was to bring. One thing for certain from the text, this covenant was to Israel and Judah, who are accepted as one, along with Gentiles in the covenant of Jesus, but now we have to decide, ‘physical or spiritual’. Secretly, I disagree that Jesus’ Kingdom is spiritual only. Ephesians is the argument for one family. Let’s for the time being deal with the covenant to Israel and Judah, (to whom I will refer as Israel). The covenant is to Israel.

Its effects

(v27) The days are coming, for planting Israel (paraphrase). “People will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge’”.

(v30) “Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes, their own teeth will be set on edge”. To Israel, I will make a covenant with you which will remove national, corporate responsibility for sin. The implications are huge, but suffice to say that this is the preamble to the prophecy that the new covenant is coming to Israel. This also raises a question. How can we reconcile a new covenant with Israel who already have a covenant made with Abraham? Regardless of argument, both of these appear on the same page and so we must go carefully with this text, bringing honest revelation, not just opinion to support our view.

So, the New Covenant is with Israel, who have broken covenant with God, but God is not going to ever cast all of Israel aside. Next, the New Covenant will not be like the previous one. Since the problem was that the first Covenant could be broken, this new one must be, “a better Covenant”, that would not break. God also would need to keep a remnant by grace, which He did, and leave sins unpunished, which He did, until the New was in place. This New Covenant, (Jeremiah 31v31) would require individual, not national accountability and therefore, possibility that those of faith would be in, (along with Abraham and faithful Gentiles), and the unfaithful would be out, unless they came to faith this way. Israel would always have a people, albeit not all national Israel would be this people, but those who are true children of Abraham, by faith. So in bringing in a New Covenant, which was always part of His eternal plan, prophesied in the Old Testament, God keeps His promise and His people.

Now here’s a point for comment. If Jesus was Messiah, and I know that some do not believe so, but if he was, and all Israel’s sin (and Gentiles) was laid on Him, does His resurrection carry the fulfillment of Abraham’s promise and the laying aside of the Old to establish the New?

Be Blessed

Love Israel

Love Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I’m not sure that funding the war comes into that category. But God loves Israel. Oh! and the rest of the world too. In fact Romans 11, that much debated chapter begins with these words. “I ask then, did God reject His people?. By no means!. I am an Israelite myself”.

Paul, the apostle was not rejected and was an Israelite, descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. So how did he know that he was accepted, he who had killed Christians for their faith? Read Acts chapter 9. It speaks of Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul. Whilst he was deep in rebellion, Jesus found him and by grace, did not reject Him.

If this Jesus really is Messiah, Son of God, Saviour, (you decide), then Saul the Israelite had discovered that God had not rejected him but now is he claiming to be accepted?

Be blessed

An Eternal Covenant

In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul is clear that the purpose of God in Jesus was before the foundation of the world. His foreknowledge, His choice, His predestined outcome was already in place. This was kept hidden, in times past, we read in chapter 2. So whilst there are glimpses and expectations in the Old Testament, the full revelation comes in the New Testament. In fact, Isaiah says that Israel were blinded, deafened and stupified by God [Isaiah 6v9]. However, Paul here in Ephesians is praying for the eyes of their understanding to be opened to see that resurrection power is now at work, to witness in the Church just what His intention was: that God has taken down the middle wall of partition, making two people (Jews and Gentiles) into one people. This is what God makes known to principalities and powers, that He is the God of one people. So I put it that there are no longer two covenants nor are there two peoples. Furthermore, those who by there insistence to the contrary are challenged to bring the scripture which contradicts this.

The wall which is demolished is called, “Hostility”. Rebuilding that wall is the work of unbelievers. Drawing lines of division between Jew and Gentile, separating us again, is contrary to the Gospel, and contrary both to Scripture and revelation.

There is an eternal covenant. Someone recently told me that such a thing does not exist. Hebrews 13v20 says, “Now may the God of peace, who through the Blood of the Eternal Covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep “. Can I just remind you that this letter is written to Hebrews . My point is, and it is written large in Old and New Testament that God has but one purpose for all people on Earth, salvation through Jesus.

Finally bretheren. I was also told that, “Fulfilment Theology”, is not Biblical. I would not wish to build such a huge case on one Scripture but a very strong basis for those who believe this is in Acts 13v32, where Paul speaking again says, to those listening, “(v26), Fellow Children of Abraham and God fearing Gentiles, (v32), “We tell you the Good News: What God promised to our ancestors He fulfilled for us their children, by raising up Jesus.. A very clear indicator of Jesus Messiah fulfilling the promise, by that resurrection power which can be seen when the eyes of our heart are opened. Does any of this mean that God has forsaken Israel? Absolutely not. His love endures for ever and is worked out in the most powerful way available to mankind from heaven, Resurrection Power for those of faith.