Exodus 24-25 & Matthew 23—The Bible is the written Word of God to us. It is His story of love for, redemption of, and relationship to His highest creation—you and me. Sometimes we ask a child or a friend, “Do I have to paint you a picture?” Well God did in His Word. All throughout He reveals what being in a covenant relationship with Him should look like. These passages today–Exodus in the OT and Matthew in the NT—tie together like so many Old and New Testament passages do. (Don’t you see that in a new way reading through the Bible!) Exodus 24 records the Israelites agreeing to everything the Lord had commanded them to do. They committed to obey. Furthermore, with the ceremony of the blood sacrifice, they were acknowledging their sin and confessing (agreeing with God). Half of the blood from the sacrificed animal was sprinkled on the altar and half was sprinkled on the sinner. The individual was now able to once again approach God as the penalty of their sin (disobedience) had been paid.
Such a ceremony, the killing of an animal as a substitute for the sinner, was not a flippant demand from a God just wanting to mess with His people. God doesn’t play games! The commands He had given were for their good–and ours. They were not simply rules to follow but they were and are a Law of Love. We obey them when we understand the love the Law giver has for us. Today we know that blood was shed by God’s only Son, Jesus, to cover our sin. We stand in faith and the righteousness of Christ able to approach God with the full assurance that the price for our sins has been paid. We are all debt free in regard to our sin.
What is so heartbreaking as we move to the passage in Matthew is that the Pharisees didn’t get it. They were nothing more than cold-hearted rule followers and flaunted it in the face of the very God-Man about to die for their sins. They proudly kept every rule of law but missed the love of the Law Giving Redeemer.
Obedience is a matter of the heart. It is rooted in love and it is God’s plan for the good life. (I’m writing a book about that.)
Jesus called out the Pharisees on their “mask wearing ways” confronting them with the sin that blinded the eyes of their heart. Rule following crushed them and crushes us today. At the end of the chapter we see a heartbroken Jesus expressing His desire that we abide in Him. He wants us to focus on Him and the love relationship we have. If we love him, we will keep his commandments. As we fall in love with Jesus and our relationship grows obedience will follow.
Exodus 26—27:19—Yesterday in Chapter 25 we began reading the tabernacle instructions God gave to Moses. Our passage today includes more of those details. Reading chapter upon chapter of these instructions for building the tabernacle may be tedious and a little hard to follow. We may even be tempted to ask, “So what?” Allow me to point out another one of those “Wow Moments” in the Old Testament that we so often miss when we skim through Scripture.
In chapters 25, 26, 27 and following there is quite a bit of building and sewing and gold and silver overlaying going on. Remember: these people of God are in the wilderness. There’s no Hobby Lobby or Lowes. No power tools or sewing/embroidery machines. Where in the world or wilderness did they get the materials to construct and furnish and decorate the tabernacle according to God’s very specific instructions to Moses?
Go back and read Exodus 3: 21-22 and 11:2. You have to see it for yourself!
God provided what they would need before they even knew they would need it. They left Egypt in a hurry taking only what God had instructed them to take. He had a plan. God ALWAYS has a plan! The work they are doing in chapters 25, 26, & 27 is the execution of God’s plan for the riches they brought out of Egypt. Exodus 25:8 says, “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me (tabernacle), that I may dwell among them.”
The gold, silver, clothing, and whatever else they brought out of Egypt as slaves in the mighty hand of God were for a purpose. Wow!
Whatever God is doing in your life right now, especially what might not make any senses or seem to serve any purpose, know that He has a plan. Trust Him to execute His plan in your life.
One more thing . . .
In our reading today we see in the construction of the tabernacle the separation of the Holy of Holies by a veil hand-sewn by the Israelites. The Holy of Holies is where God himself dwelt. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies and even he could enter only once a year to make atonement for the sins of a nation.
Here’s another “wow”. Through Jesus Christ, God dwells IN US now. We are the Holy of Holies. We are His sanctuary—His tabernacle. Like the Israelites, who were once slaves in Egypt, we were once slaves to sin. But God Himself set us free and has taken up residence in our hearts and lives through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. And just as the altar of burnt offering was the first thing they saw when they entered the tabernacle courtyard (27:1), so others must see in us the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Any good or praiseworthy thing others see in us is all because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His life in us.
Exodus 30:11–31—-Today we finally read what was one of my first and still one of my favorite “Wow” moments as I read through the Bible for the very first time years ago. Let me tell you a little about myself so you’ll understand my wow moment.
- I’m a doer.
- I’m a very task oriented, list person.
- I’m all about the details
- I’m a planner, organizer, and recovering perfectionist.
(Thank goodness I married a visionary or I would have drowned in the details of life years ago. He helps me see the big picture.)
My point in explaining my personality is this: as I was reading through Exodus with all those instructions and details about how to build the tabernacle I was overwhelmed for those poor people. “How were they able to make all of that?” The engraving, embroidery and stone cutting were very specialized skills and they lacked the machinery that helps artisans today.
And then I read Exodus 31: 1-6! God told Moses that He had “specifically chosen Bezaliel” and “personally appointed Oholiab . . . so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make.”
Two things wow me in this passage.
- God is in the details. If He asks you to do it He will provide everything you need to accomplish the task.
- God does not only set aside skilled people for ministry such as preachers and worship leaders. Many of you are artists, technicians, and craftsmen using your God-given talents to bless the world and glorify Him. Each of us has been given a job to do. Use your talent to the glory of the One who made you and saved you.
Leviticus 11–13:23—Congratulations if you’re still pressing on after these first 10 chapters of Leviticus! There’s certainly no poetry or people or stories that captivate our attention like we found in Exodus. But there’s a message here that we must not miss: “a powerful God, the creator of the universe, has entered the life of a small and insignificant tribe. The Israelites could not merely fit this God into their lives. They needed to restructure their lives—food, sex, economics—to fit with His. It was essential not just for priests, but for everyone.” (quoted from the Introduction to Leviticus)
Many of the rules were about germs, good health habits, and being set apart from pagan neighbors. But the underlying basis was still religious. “Uncleanness” was unavoidable and steps must be taken to be “clean” in order to worship God. Today, because of the sacrifice of Christ we don’t live in the world of Leviticus. Jesus cleanses us from the real source of contamination, our sinful nature. As you read Leviticus and the rules and regulations, thank God for his provision in Christ. But also be reminded that we should never approach Holy God carelessly. Examine your life and renew your commitment to holy living for the glory of God.