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

The Tabernacle 

Hebrews 9:23
“Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

Hebrews is dealing with the superiority of Christ. Here in Chapter 9, we see Christ is clearly superior to the Old Testament sacrifices, for they must be offered continually, but He was offered once to take away sin. We are even told, while it is appointed for all men to die once, then to face judgment, Jesus took the penalty on the cross, rescuing all who believe in Him from the judgment to come.

In discussing the superiority of Christ, the furnishings of the Tabernacle are listed; we are told they are “copies of heavenly things.” In fact, the Tabernacle and it’s furnishings, become a perfect illustration of the way of salvation. In Exodus, as the Children of Israel are working their way from Egypt to Canaan, God gave them plans for building the Tabernacle. This building would serve the purpose of making a way for man to be in right relationship with God.

The Tabernacle measured 15’x15’x45′ and was surrounded by a linen fence. Linen is not a durable fencing material. It is safe to say, none of our houses are surrounded by linen fences. The purpose of this fence was to symbolize the holiness of God, reminding the people they could not have access to God. However, on the eastern side of the fence, was an opening large enough for all to enter. Jesus told us, He was the doorway to heaven (John 10:7). Although God is holy and men are sinful, Jesus has provided a way, for any and all who will come to Him, to be forgiven and restored.

Once a person walked through the gateway, they would be face to face with the altar of sacrifice. This would remind them they are sinners in need a Savior. Just as the innocent animal was sacrificed for the guilty sinner, so Jesus, the Lamb of God, went to the cross to make a way for us. Right behind the altar was a large basin in which the priests would wash. Paul compared the Bible to water that washes the believer. Jesus told us that after He has cleansed us, we still need to have our feet washed (John 13:10a). The Word of God is the Christian’s cleansing agent. As we walk through this life, we get dirty, the Bible cleanses our mind and refreshes our spirit.

Inside the Tabernacle were five important pieces of furniture, each one symbolic of relationship with God. The Lamp-stand shedding its light, was symbolic of the work of the Spirit illuminating the Word, and was of God. The show bread speaks of Jesus as the bread of life, the incense altar is a picture of the prayers of the saints, and the Ark and mercy-seat, of the intimacy of relationship with God.

It can be helpful to use the Tabernacle as a roadmap, reminding us of our relationship with God that we now have because of the work of Christ. The High Priest, who alone entered in behind the veil once a year, speaks to us of the access we now have daily, to the very presence of God. Let’s take advantage and spend time with Jesus today.

Pastor Jim

 

Utensils

Exodus 37:16
“He made of pure gold the utensils which were on the table: its dishes, its cups, its bowls, and its pitchers for pouring.”

IMG_1464
Here in the closing chapters of Exodus, the focus is upon building an elaborate tent designed as the focal point for Israel’s worship. This tent went by many names; it is called the Tent of Meeting, the Tabernacle, and the Holy Place. Each of the titles reveals something of the purpose of this structure. The term, Holy Place, helps us to understand what holiness actually means.

It seems holiness is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the Bible. If we go back to the time of Jesus, we find holiness was defined by the clothes a person wore, the food they ate, and the time of day they chose to pray. The Pharisees became the embodiment of holiness, and all others in Israel were considered to be somewhat common. Things have not changed much as the years have passed. Today, it seems holiness is still defined by what we don’t do, rather than by who we are. I think a quick glance at the utensils designed for the Tabernacle might help us better understand what it means to be holy.

Aholiab and Bezalel were instructed to take common earthly materials like silver, gold, wood, and a variety of fabrics, and construct them into what would become a holy place, filled with holy instruments. It was not the material the objects were constructed from that made them holy, but the fact that they were dedicated to the Lord. One spoon stood out above all other spoons, because it had been given to the work of God. Holiness then, is more about dedicating ourselves to the Lord, than it is about the kind of food we refrain from eating.

Years later we will read of these utensils no longer being treated as holy. Belshazzar, king of Babylon, will use the cups that were once dedicated to God, as common drinking cups to hold his liquor. His actions will invite the judgment of God upon himself and his nation.

Perhaps today it is time to take inventory of your life and the way you are living. Have you dedicated yourself to God and His glory? Are each of your members being used for His service?

When life has passed, only what we have done for God will last.

Pastor Jim

 

The Veil

Exodus 26:33
“The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy.”

IMG_1440Moses was invited by God to ascend Mount Sinai. Upon reaching its pinnacle, he received the Law of God, and the blueprints for the Tabernacle. The Law was given to reveal the perfection of God, and the sinfulness of men. Had Moses descended the mountain with only the Law, humanity would have been forever condemned. Fortunately, Moses was also given design plans for a large and elaborate tent called the Tabernacle. This tent was designed as the meeting place between God and man. Over and over, we read of it being built “according to the pattern which you were shown in the mountain” Exodus 26:30. This heavenly pattern would serve as a means to reveal God’s plan of salvation. Each and every detail of the Tabernacle, would serve as a picture of the sinfulness of man, the holiness of God, and the way to fellowship with God. Nothing revealed this more than the veil which divided the Tabernacle.

The veil was hung within the Tabernacle itself, and divided the room into two unequal parts. The larger of the two rooms included the Table of Showbread, the Lamp-stand and the Incense Altar. This room was attended daily, by the priests who would ensure the Lamp had oil, the altar had incense, and the bread was properly cycled out. On the other side of the Veil was the Holiest place. This room contained the Ark , and was the place where God would meet with man. The Holiest place could only be entered one time a year, by the High Priest. No one else was allowed in, under any circumstances. Under the Old Covenant, fellowship with God was possible, but limited.

When Jesus breathed His last breath on Calvary’s cross, we read, this Veil of separation was torn from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). No longer is access to God limited to the High Priest. Now, any, and all, who come through Christ, can have intimate and personal fellowship with God.

Don’t live life apart from God. Take advantage of the access He has provided, by receiving Christ as Savior, and walking daily with Him. No matter what your sin has been, Christ paid its penalty so you could know God, and spend eternity with Him.

Pastor Jim