Cleft Of The Rock

Exodus 34:5
“Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”

Something happened in Moses that made him desire to know God better. Faced with the opportunity to ask anything from the Lord his sole desire was to see the glory of God. In response to this, God had a plan. Moses would get away from the people, hide in the cleft of a rock, and listen as God passed by declaring His true character. This event serves as a pattern for how every believer can discover the glory of a God.

Moses rose early and found a secluded place where he could hear the word of God. If we will follow that pattern, we too, will have glorious encounters with the Lord. It is in the secret place where we learn to abide in Christ and discover the hidden truths of His Word.

It is true that God can speak to us anywhere. Many of us have testimonies of times when our world was interrupted by the unexpected voice of God. We may have heard His voice in the middle of a crowded room, hiking a hill or even when we were stuck in traffic. While it is true that we may unexpectedly hear from God anywhere, it is also true that we can expect to hear from Him if we will rise early, get in a secluded place and open the pages of His Word.

Every morning there is a cleft of a rock waiting for the child of God to hide away in and hear the voice of God. Take the time to discover it for yourself.

Pastor Jim

 

Word Art

Exodus 30:1
​ “You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood.”

The book of Exodus not only tells the story of the building of the Tabernacle and it’s furnishing, it also serves as a wonderfully detailed illustration of the New Testament work of salvation. The altar serves as a portrait of the cross, which provides atonement for sin and access to God. Each of the remaining articles illustrate some aspect of our walk with God.

The incense altar was situated inside the first room of the tabernacle, and serves as a portrait of the beauty of prayer. Morning and evening the priest would bring incense to burn upon this altar, and the fragrance would rise up to the heavens. In the same way, when we take the time to lift our praise, petition, and intercession to the Lord, it rises up and fills the throne room of heaven like a sweet aroma.

Every adult in Israel, no matter how rich or poor, was required to bring a half shekel of silver as an offering for the sanctuary. By some estimates, the Tabernacle would have cost in excess of fifty million dollars. This was an impossible sum for any one man, but everyone could afford half of a shekel. This offering serves as a picture of the need for, and value of, faith. Our simple offering of trust in Christ is all that is required for us to receive the benefit of salvation.

Just outside the door of the Tabernacle sat the bronze laver. It was a big bowl used by the priests to ceremonially wash themselves whenever they approached the tent. This cleansing is a picture of the importance of the Word of God. Jesus spoke of the Word as a cleansing agent in the life of the believer. Each time we open the Bible it is like taking a shower, and the dirt of living in a fallen world is washed away.

Finally, the priests were anointed with a fragrant oil. This oil symbolizes the work of the Holy Spirit who makes ministry possible. Before Jesus began His public ministry, He was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and before the ministry of the church began the believers were also baptized with the Spirit. We see in Scripture that the work of the Lord is energized by the work of the Spirit on individuals. It is also worth noting, they were not to alter the fragrance. A false incense would not serve as a proper anointing oil. In the same way, we must be careful not to confuse hype and emotion with a work of the Spirit of God.

As we continue through Exodus, we will see more and more of these beautiful portraits of our relationship with the Lord. Keep in mind, Jesus said the entirety of the Bible testifies of Him.

Pastor Jim

Stained Garment 

Exodus 29:20-21
“Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.”

The Lord went to great detail to explain the garments that the High Priest would wear. He referred to them as holy garments, designed for glory and for beauty. In other words, they were designed to both look beautiful and to reveal some aspect of the Lord’s glory. These garments included a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a skillfully woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. The most highly skilled artisans in all Israel were commissioned to create them. Once the day of consecration arrived, Aaron and his sons were dressed in the most beautiful and highly technical attire the world had ever seen, but as they approached the altar, something quite striking took place. An innocent ram was killed, it’s flesh offered upon the altar, it’s blood mixed with anointing oil, and this mixture placed upon the Priest. Imagine how shocking to see the High Priest all dressed up, then have blood splattered upon his garments. No longer would our attention be drawn to his beautiful turban, breastplate or sash, now all we would notice was the stain.

God wanted the people, then and now, to understand that access to God is never based on what we try to do to earn it. All the skilled artisans on the planet could not create attire clean enough to grant access to God. Access to God is only granted when sin is covered by the blood of the innocent. This was symbolized by the blood stained garments of the Priests, and pointed to the time when Christ would make a way for all to have access to God.

Hebrews 9:12 “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

The blood was also placed upon the ear, toe and thumb of the Priest. This was symbolic of a cleansing of all that he had done, and preparation for where he would go. How often have we laid our head on our pillows at night only to be consumed with guilt, for the things we have heard, seen or touched. We live in a fallen world, and sin is always around us. It is so comforting to know there is cleansing available to free us from sin and guilt.

Pastor Jim

Burden Bearer 

Exodus 28:12
“And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial.”

When I am deciding on what to wear, one of the key factors is comfort. I have owned clothing that fit and might even have looked nice, but I rarely ever wore, because it simply was not comfortable. I imagine if I had a coat with two large stone shoulder pads, it would not be my first choice for a Sunday service.

When it came to the clothing of the priests, comfort was not the goal. Instead, their clothing was designed for symbolism. Every article they wore spoke volumes regarding God and the ministry. One of the most telling pieces was the stone shoulder pads with the names of the tribes engraved upon them. Each morning, when the priests suited up, they were reminded that they carried the burdens of the people into the presence of the Lord. I cannot think of a better way to illustrate the need for, and value of, intercessory prayer, than a man carrying the names of his friends and family members on his shoulders.

The New Testament reminds us to bear one another’s burdens. This can be accomplished by entering the Throne of Grace on behalf of another and praying for the things which are weighing down their lives. When a friend is struggling with loss, sickness, confusion, or any other of a long list of things that tend to weigh upon us, we can ease their burden with intercession.

Take some time to make a list of people close to you and begin to carry their burdens into the presence of God. You will be amazed by how much you begin to care about them, as well as seeing how God intervenes in their lives.

Pastor Jim

The Altar

Exodus 27:2
“You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze.”

One of the key furnishings of the Tabernacle was the Altar. It was a large wooden structure overlaid with bronze. It was located within the gate of the courtyard, and outside the entrance of the Tabernacle, itself. It was on the Altar, where all of Israel’s sacrifices were offered. After the construction of the Tabernacle was completed, the nation gathered around and dedicated it to the Lord; concentrating on the Altar, with its sin offerings. This dedication included placing blood on the four horns of the Altar. These horns were more than decorative attachments to the Altar, the Psalmist wrote, “God is the Lord, and He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27). This Psalm is Messianic, meaning it looks forward to the Christ, and His death upon the cross. In a figurative sense, Jesus was bound with chords to the Altar when He was bound with nails to the cross. These horns were on the four corners of the Altar, pointing outward in the four directions of the compass. Again, in a figurative sense, the Altar alluded to the fact that salvation was available to all men through the shed blood of the innocent. After rising from the dead, Jesus sent His disciples out to the uttermost parts of the earth with the simple message of salvation, available to all who would put their trust in Christ.

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, . . .” The word translated “nations,” is the Greek word “ethnos,” from which the word ethnicity is derived. Jesus is declaring that salvation is the same for all people, everywhere. No matter who we are, if we want eternal life, all we need do is come to the cross and receive Christ.

Pastor Jim

Glamping 

Exodus 25:2
“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

A few years ago I heard a word I had never heard before, or ever dreamed could be real. That word was “glamping.” “Glamping,” according to the urban dictionary, is “a form of glamorous camping done by urban types.” Those who “glamp” turn tents into elaborate structures with all the comforts of home. Once inside the tent, you are sure to forget you are in the wild. Of all the glamorous tents ever constructed by these wanna be campers, none could compare in beauty or cost to the Tabernacle Israel built in the wilderness. At the current value of an ounce of gold, the Tabernacle would have cost more than $50 million just in materials. The question is, where did all that money come from?

“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

Moses laid out the building plans for the Tabernacle, then instructed the people to go home and consider what part they would play in the construction of the Tabernacle. Each family was to prayerfully consider their financial condition, in light of the work that God wanted to do. In the end, the people were to give willingly to the work.

I am sure many factors were considered as families got together to examine their finances. They needed to look at their net worth, what expenses they had to cover, and to keep in mind that the future was unknown, and they could not be certain what kind of provision was around the corner. I am sure, in addition to looking at their needs, they also considered some wants. If they gave to the work of the Lord, that would mean they had less to spend on pleasure, amusement or vacations. Another factor they needed to consider, was that by giving to the Lord, they were giving to something bigger than themselves; a work that would continue long after they were gone. So much of our expenses are spent on things that don’t last, giving to the Tabernacle was giving to something that would be used for the furtherance of the kingdom for years to come.

When considering your finances, and what to do with them, it is important to carefully examine what you have, but it is also important to consider what kind of lasting impact you are making for the kingdom of God. Perhaps it is time to prayerfully consider what investments you are making in the furtherance of the Gospel.

Pastor Jim

Faithful In All Things 

Exodus 24:5
“Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.”

“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” I am quite certain most of us have heard this little slogan. The lesson in it is, there is no way to get a job done properly, unless you alone are the one to do it. I would guess each of us could supply loads of empirical data that would support such a statement. We have all given a task to another, only to find they proved less than qualified to accomplish it.

While it is necessary for a person to prove themselves faithful before they are given opportunity for ministry, it is also true, God’s method of  expanding ministry is to give it away. Moses was not a one-man-band who did not allow others opportunity to serve. Instead, he spread ministry by putting it into the hands of others.

Although the names, physical descriptions, and occupations of these men are not disclosed, we do know, they were less than qualified for the task. The one adjective used to describe them was that they were young. Young, in many cases, could be used synonymously with the word inexperienced. The basic idea is, Moses chose guys who might seem unqualified for the job, in order to raise up another generation given to the service of the Lord. Moses was not alone in this approach, Jesus and Paul were both known for giving ministry away.

I think there are two simple applications to draw from this text. First, we should seek to become a person that others would want to include in ministry. If we know those serving the Lord are always looking for faithful, although perhaps inexperienced people, we should seek to be faithful. Second, if we are involved in ministry, we cannot try to hold on to it. Instead of viewing it as “our ministry”, we should see it as “His ministry”, and be looking for others to team with, and ultimately, to pass things on to.

Pastor Jim