The Design for Worship, cont’d. Exodus 25-40
Exodus 25-31 The Details of the Tabernacle, cont’d.
Exodus 31:1-11-God tells Moses that He has chosen two men to lead in the construction of the Tabernacle…Bezalel and Oholiab…as well as others who are to assist them. He tells him that He has given them the abilities that they need to accomplish this task.
Exodus 31:12-17-God instructs Moses about the Sabbath...it is a "sign between Me and you throughout your generations that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you" (:13,17). It is "holy"...a day of "complete rest". Anyone who “profanes” the Sabbath will be put to death.
In these verses, the words "holy" and "sanctify" both come from the Hebrew "qodesh". In essence, God is telling the people to set apart as special one day...in the same way that He has set apart one people, them. This will serve as a weekly reminder of their unique relationship. To not do so is a direct denial of this relationship and its significance.
It seems that everything about the Tabernacle...from its furnishings, to the Priests, to the ceremonies...is to serve as a reminder of the "holiness"...the distinct "otherness" of God (none of these things could be used, or duplicated outside of the Tabernacle). He is unique, there is none other like Him and He is to be worshipped as such. It is my concern, that we have been so determined to convince people (and ourselves) that they can know God, that we have removed the vestures of His holiness...and lowered Him to our level. We have lowered God into the mundane everydayness and easily explained concepts of our world...instead of having our spirits lifted into worship of Him Who is truly eternal and totally beyond our rational capabilities except within the extent to which He has revealed Himself to us. Whereas, true worship, should never involve bringing God down to our level (beyond what He has already done in Jesus), so that He just seems like one of us...but instead, it should involve elevating our understanding and comprehension of God until we see Him as He truly is. We seem to be more concerned with making ourselves comfortable with God...than with God making us acceptable to Him. It is no wonder that we no longer fall in fear of Him in regards to our sin...nor stand in faith in Him in regards to our needs. We have reckoned Him to be little more than an immortal, just another member of the X-men (humans who possess super-human capabilities). In our attempts to elevate our own self-esteem...we have devalued God...so that no one has a higher authority, or a deeper comprehension than our own. At the end of the day...we have made God into a utensil, something to be used for our own advantage and benefit.
Along this line of thought...it is interesting that when Aaron offered a sacrifice on the altar...he had to go up the steps to the place where the sacrifice could be made...in the direction of Heaven. If we were to have it our way, it would be the other way around...God would be the one coming up the stairs...not us.
Exodus 31:18-God gives Moses the two tablets with the 10 Commandments. They were written on both sides and were written by God (32:15-16).
Exodus 32-34 The Breaking of the Law
Exodus 32:1-2-Moses had been on the mountain for 40 days (24:18). They attribute to Moses the act of bringing them out of Egypt. With his absence, they felt that God was absent, as well. This was a common belief among pagan religions. A god was constrained to the immediate area of the residence or presence of the one who worshipped him. So, when Moses left and didn’t return…they were concerned that God had left with him. The people ask Aaron to "make us a god". Sadly, he was only too quick to comply and tells them to give him their gold jewelry so that he might do so.
Exodus 32:3-5-Aaron made an idol that looked like a golden calf and said, "This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt...a feast to the LORD." Aaron was still trying to direct them to worship the LORD…but, this was actually a return to the idolatrous form of worship of Egypt.
Exodus 32:6-Their feast was a time to "eat and to drink, and rose up to play"...suggesting sexual activity (The word “play” is the same word used in Genesis 26:8 of Isaac “caressing” Rebekah. Also see Exodus 32:25; 1 Cor. 10:8). The people were reverting back to the practices of their pagan religions.
Exodus 32:7-11-God tells Moses that the "people whom you brought up from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves". Moses responds to God, "Thy people whom Thou has brought out from the land of Egypt". God also tells Moses that he would like to destroy the people and give him another people to lead.
Exodus 32:12-13-Moses asks God to "change Thy mind" about destroying the people...and based it not on their behavior, but on the covenant that God had made with Abraham (32:13).
Exodus 32:14-The words “So the LORD changed His mind” (“repented”-KJV) do not mean that God had made a mistake and then corrected it. There is no moral quality to His change of mind…meaning that He had made a bad decision and had now corrected it. Instead, it simply means that there was a choice to make in the decision. He was going to do one thing…then decided to do another. God changed His mind not because the people changed…but because of the promise of His covenant with Abraham. In fact, it could be that this was God’s intention the entire time. He initiated this discussion with Moses as an opportunity to remind Moses of this covenant…knowing what he would have to face in the future. In this way…He involved Moses in the discussion in such a way that Moses was reminded of the basis of the relationship between God and the people…the covenant.
Exodus 32:15-16-The two tablets were “God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.” This was not something that Moses had done. This was clearly the work of God.
Exodus 32:17-18-As Moses and Joshua came down the mountain the noise of the partying of the people was so loud that Joshua said it sounded like a battle going on.
Exodus 32:19-21-Moses became so angry that he threw down the two tablets and they broke. This action vividly demonstrated that they had broken the covenant. He then destroyed the golden calf by burning it up and grinding it into powder...then mixed it with water and made the people drink some of it.
Exodus 32:21-25-Aaron tried to shift the responsibility for making the calf onto the people…”you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil” (:22). Then he claims that the calf just came out of the fire on its own when he threw the gold into the fire (:24). However, Moses knows that Aaron had allowed the people to get out of control (:25).
Exodus 32:26-28-Moses calls for those who will follow the LORD to stand with him...the Levites did so. Moses sent them out and they killed 3,000 of the rebel men.
Exodus 32:29-35-Moses goes to the LORD to make atonement for the people and tells Him to "blot me out from Thy book which Thou has written" instead of not forgiving their sin. God says that He will not blot them out now...but in the day when He punishes they will be punished for their sin.
Exodus 33:1-6-Because of the obstinacy of the people God is sending an angel to guide them...but His personal presence will no longer be with them.
Exodus 33:7-The Tabernacle had not yet been constructed, so Moses set up a "tent of meeting" where he would go to meet the LORD (:11). "the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend".
Exodus 33:12-23-Moses asks God that if he has found “favor” (means: to be acceptable to someone; to extend grace, mercy to someone) with Him…that He reveal His “ways” to him that he can “know” Him…and by practicing them continue to find His favor. God tells Moses that His “presence” will be with him. Moses requests that God be with them, the people...or else do not lead them out at all…since it is His presence that distinguishes them from all other people and it is His presence that is actually His favor to them. Moses then requests that God "show me Thy glory!". This is a request for God to reveal Himself completely, without restraint to him. God tells Moses that He will "make all My goodness pass before you...but You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!...you shall see My back". In other words, God is going to let Moses see Him indirectly, not face-to-face. Man’s fallen, sinful nature has affected him to such a degree that he is not capable of being in the presence of the absolute holy presence of God. So, exactly what did Moses see? We don’t know for sure. But, someone has suggested that what Moses saw as God passed by him was not His face, His absolute being…but, His back, meaning the affect His presence had as He passed by. They have compared it to not seeing a jet airplane…but, seeing the vapor trail that a jet airplane leaves in the atmosphere.
Prayer: Lord, You are holy and deserving of our worship. Please help me to worship You in keeping with Your nature and not by means of my own device. Lift up the gaze of my faith so that day by day I might be in awe of Your glory! Thank You that the Holy Spirit’s presence is constantly with me. I have Your peace and confidence no matter what I must deal with.