The Teachings of Jehovah and the will of God - Part 1
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
In this paper we are to consider a part of the third and last main division of the book of Exodus. The title proposed for this is
THE TEACHINGS OF JEHOVAH AND THE WILL OF GOD, 19. 1 to 40. 38
The particular chapters on which we shall now comment extend from 19 to 27, and these should be read carefully. Reference to the complete outline of Exodus (in July-August 1970 issue) will keep before us the place which these chapters have in the whole scheme of teaching. They form a part of the sub-division entitled
The Revelation of Divine Purpose, chs. 19-31. Within these chapters, four subjects are treated at some length, two of which will be considered in this paper. Firstly
The Law - A plan for living, chs. 19-24. The instructions cover moral, civil and ceremonial requirements. God's plan for His people was that they should be "a peculiar (special) treasure" to Him by obedience to His voice and observance of His covenant, 19. 5-6. Though they promised to do this, v. 8, their history was marked both by persistent failure on their part, and by continued patience on God's part.
In the introduction of the law and the prelude to the commandments, God reminded them that His law was rooted in His love, 20.2. Having been delivered by God's grace, it was their responsibility and privilege to be governed by His law. Chapter 20. 1-17 describes the foundation principles of life in relation to (a) God, vv. 2-11, (b) parents, v. 12, and (c) neighbours, vv. 13-16. Thus man's obligation is firstly to God and secondly to man. Read here the Lord's words in Luke 10. 26-27. How far removed are present day values and standards from those laid down so long ago.
The chapter ends with reference to the altar, w. 24-26, to remind man that before he becomes a worker he must become a worshipper, and that sacrifice must precede service. The altar was to be of earth or of stone, and without steps for its approach. God requires no decorative aggrandizement, no human workmanship, nor human effort in man's approach to Himself.
In civil matters, God shows His intimate knowledge and concern in the details of individual relationships. There is the master's duty to his servant, and the servant's obligation to his master; the right of justice between man and man; the details relating to the death of an ox; restitution in the event of carelessness; the loan of a garment or the loss of a servant's tooth. God is not too great to care.
Among other items of advice given to them here, one was to prove of special importance in their future pilgrimage and dealings with other nations, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil", 23. 2. Popular opinion is not always right, and one with God is always a majority.
This section concludes with the experience of Moses, Aaron,Nadab and Abihu along with seventy of the elders of Israel being called into the presence of God, when "they saw the God of Israel"., 24. 10. No description is given of this glimpse of Deity except that "there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the very heaven for clearness", 24.10 R.V., "and they beheld God, and did eat and drink", v. 11 R.v. How wonderful that at such a time and with such an experience of God, they were able to "eat and drink", and live their natural lives in all fulness. It has been said
i. Some eat and drink but do not see God. Of Christian professors Paul remarked "Whose god is the belly", Phil. 3. 19 R.v.
ii. Some see God and do not eat and drink - that is, they draw a strict line between the sacred and the secular.
iii. Some see God and eat and drink - they glorify God in their body and in their spirit.
The Tabernacle or Tent - A pattern for Worship,
chs. 25-27. The purpose of the tabernacle is expressly declared: "let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them", 25. 8. In all the offerings of the people there was to be
Desire. "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering . . . willingly", 25. 2. Although God could well have done without their offerings (see Acts 17), He was to find pleasure in their voluntary giving. Give not of duty but of desire.
Devotion. Their offering was the proof of a heart that had been stirred up, 35. 21; 25. 2. To give to the Lord, even of that which belongs to Him, should be a soul stirring exercise. Do you give like this?
Design. In all the variety of their gifts there was to be design; all was to be "after the pattern", 25. 9. Whether it be gold or goat's hair, onyx for the ephod or oil for the lamps, badger skins or acacia wood, all must be "according to all that I show thee, after the pattern". Gifts and energies in Christian service are only acceptable to God if they are according to His will and design. We must be diligent to be workmen that need not to be ashamed, 2 Tim. 2. 15.
A Brief Outline of the Tabernacle. Note in the chapters Its Construction - Plan and Purpose. The court with its pillars, sockets, hangings and gate, 27. 9-19.
Its Coverings - Measurements and Materials. They were of badger skins, ram skins, goats hair, blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen. See ch. 26.
Its Contents - Fittings and Furniture. These include the ark, mercy seat, table, lampstand, tongs and snuffdishes, ch. 25; the vail and door, 26. 31-37; the brazen altar, ch, 27; the golden altar and the laver, ch. 30.
Its Construction - Plan and Purpose. There are three distinct areas to be noticed. These are the holy of holies, the holy place, and the court. The entrance into each of these featured the same materials, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen. Each entrance reminds us that Christ is the only way into the varied fields of glory involved in knowing Him and serving Him, whether in the world, in the heavenlies, or in the very heaven of heavens itself. The redeemed in heaven and in earth will be ranged under His leadership, on the grounds of His atonement and the access procured by it.
The hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, supported by fifty-six pillars mounted upon sockets of brass, and linked together by hooks and fillets of silver.
The gate, or entrance on the cast side of the court, was a hanging of blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen wrought with needlework, 27. 16. This was supported by four pillars, the number of which may suggest (a) that the way into God's blessing and presence is available for all, for four is the universal number, or (b) that wonderful portrait of the Lord Jesus given in the four Gospel accounts. The fine twined linen speaks of the purity of His manhood, His walk and character; the blue speaks of His heavenly character, the Lord from heaven; the purple speaks of His royalty; the scarlet may speak of His sufferings and death. Our Redeemer must be very God and perfect Man, the One mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
Brass, or copper, is the symbol of righteousness demanding judgment upon sin and the ability to withstand the fire of God's wrath. Silver reminds us of redemption's cost.
Its Coverings - Measurements and Materials. Ten separate curtains, coupled together in two sets of five by means of loops of blue and taches of gold, were used to make the one tabernacle. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory, full of grace and truth. In Him was satisfied the need of man and the claims of God.
The curtains of goats' hair, the rams' skins dyed red, and the badger skins were seen by the outside observer, while the blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen of the inner curtains were visible to those privileged to enter the holy place. Of the Lord Jesus, those who did not know Him and believe on Him said, "Is not this the carpenter?", "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" They failed to see Christ and appreciate Him in His eternal Sonship and Godhead; only by the Holy Spirit can man perceive the glories of the One who is both God and Man.
Its Contents - Fittings and Furniture. The order in which the furniture is presented, from the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat within the holiest, to the brazen altar before the gate of the court, indicates God's approach to man in grace. Where God finishes, man begins. From the brazen altar of sacrifice to the ark within the holiest, the way was marked by the blood of atonement. Only by means of the blood, by a blood sprinkled way, can sinful man approach God's holy presence.
The ark of the covenant was made of acacia wood (speaking of the incorruptible humanity of Christ), and was overlaid with pure gold (speaking of the deity of Christ). It preserved intact the second pair of tables of stone, which symbolized divine integrity and perfection. The ark accompanied the children of Israel throughout their journeyings, symbolizing God's presence and power among them. While in the wilderness it contained the tables of stone (God's righteousness), the golden vessel containing the manna (God's faithfulness), and Aaron's rod that budded (a token of rebellion and failure on their part, but of God's provision of a living and fruitful High Priest, a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God). When finally it found its resting place in the oracle of Solomon's temple, 1 Kings 8. 9, the staves were withdrawn, and the tables of stone alone remained within; the failures of the wilderness were temporary and forgotten, but the claims of God's throne remain eternal. The final reference to the ark is in Revelation 11. 15-19 where it is seen in the temple of God in heaven.
The mercy seat formed a lid upon the ark. It was made of pure gold, with figures of two cherubim beaten out of it and being of one piece with it, facing toward each other and covering the lid or seat with their wings. Here God promised to meet with His people as the high priest entered the holiest. Here "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other", Ps. 85. 10.
The holy place contained the table of shewbread, the golden lampstand and the altar of incense.
The table of shewbread was made of acacia wood, and was overlaid with pure gold. On it were placed the twelve loaves of fine flour, along with frankincense. They were renewed each week, and once removed from the table they became the food of the priests, Lev. 24. 5-9. This speaks of
(a) Christ's perfect manhood and devotion to God; He is the One upon whom God feeds with absolute satisfaction, and
(b) of God's people as they are seen perfect and complete in Christ and are thus acceptable to God.
The lampstand was of pure gold, with a central stem and six branches. The lamps set upon it provided light for the priests; God's priests require light as well as food in their service to Him. The tongs and snuff dishes were used to keep the lamps trimmed and clean, so that they might burn continually and brightly with the supply of pure oil olive. By the energy of the Spirit and the diligence of God's people, the church becomes a powerful witness in the world.
The altar of incense was made of acacia wood, and was overlaid with pure gold. From it incense, composed of four spices and kindled by the fire from the sacrifice outside, burned daily in the holy place.
The vail divided the holiest from the holy place. It was entered on one day in the year only, and that by the high priest on the day of atonement; see Lev. 16 and Heb. 9. 23-28. On this occasion the high priest sprinkled the blood of sacrifice on and before the mercy seal, both for his own sins and the sins of the people.
The court of the tabernacle contained the altar of burnt offering or the brazen altar, 27. 1-8, and the laver, 30. 17-21.
The brazen altar was made of acacia wood, and was overlaid with brass or copper. It stood inside the gate of the court. Here the priest offered the pieces of the various offerings, the trespass, sin, peace, meal and burnt offerings; see Lev. chs. 1-7.
The laver and its foot (or base) was made of brass made available by the bringing of the looking glasses (i.e., the copper mirrors) of the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle, 38. 8. Its size and shape are not defined, but it was used by the priest for the washing of his hands and feet before entering the holy place to worship, and on returning to serve at the brazen altar. Only as personal holiness is maintained is communion with God and service to man possible and effective. Not by gazing into nature's mirrors, but rather into God's perfect law of liberty, can we obtain a clear and permanent picture of our true condition and become not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, James 1. 23-25.