Now, order the Israelites to bring you pure, clear olive oil for light so that the lamps can be kept burning. Exodus 27:20a (TM)
Don’t lose heart. Don’t wander off. Keep the faith.
Keep the flame burning.
We’re still recovering from a long weekend of celebration as Taylor graduated from high school. The folks were down on Friday for the commencement ceremony. The ceremony was actually pretty good as these things go. One of the student speakers was Taylor’s old boyfriend (now her good friend), Andrew, who did an admirable job. Taylor was all smiles as she crossed the stage to accept her diploma.
We didn’t see much of Taylor on Saturday as she made the round of graduation open houses for her friends. Her open house was on Sunday afternoon and we shared the Open House with her friends Emily and Sophie (Emily and Sophie are joining Taylor on her mission to Romania and Sophie will be her roommate at college in the fall). There was a steady stream of family and friends who came to congratulate the girls and enjoy some of the ten chocolate cheesecakes Wendy made last week. Taylor felt really honored by everyone’s presence.
Yesterday was a holiday. After all the weekend festivities, we needed a little rest and relaxation. With Wendy’s little sister, Suzanna, visiting this week (that’s Suzanna getting a kiss from Wendy in the lower picture) we decided to enjoy the Memorial Day weather to take in an Iowa Cubs game (Cubs Win!) followed by a cookout with our friends, the Vande Lune’s.
The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Holy-of-Holies. Exodus 26:33b (TM)
A portable worship center. Those are the instructions in these chapters. A sanctuary-tent for God’s presence that the Hebrews can carry on their sojourn from Egypt to the promised land. Notice, within these instructions, that God commands a clear separation between His presence and the people. He gives a very clear word picture to the Hebrews: "There’s a separation between you and me. I’m in here and you can’t come in." Why?
There’s this problem called sin. The separation began in Genesis 3 when Adam’s and Eve’s willful disobedience banishes them from God’s presence in the Garden. The question then was the same one that faces each of us today. The things I should do I don’t and the things I know I shouldn’t do I do. What do I do about this willful disobedience called sin?
As history proceeds, God sets about to set up a systematic provide a blueprint for worship, and within that blueprint is the Message in metaphor. Sin separates us, but there is a curtain, a Gateway into my presence and through that sacrifice this curtain shall be torn and I will make a way for you to come in and be with me and me with you.
Let them construct a Sanctuary for me so that I can live among them. You are to construct it following the plans I’ve given you, the design for The Dwelling and the design for all its furnishings. Exodus 25:8-9 (TM)
When most casual readers get to this part of of Exodus, it’s easy to lose interest. What’s with all this Sanctuary stuff and all the instructions for making furniture? What does that have to do with anything?
God is an artist. He expresses Himself in metaphors. For worship, He gives the nation of Israel three word pictures that foreshadow the climactic moment of history (his-story, if you prefer):
Blood is an important theme throughout God’s Message. God is an artist and He expresses Himself in metaphors and word pictures. Blood is a metaphor for life and the shedding of blood is a metaphor for death. All the way back in Genesis 3 God told us that the result of our willing disobedience was death. We are appointed to die and be justly judged.
A sacrifice is made, blood is shed, another dies on our behalf. Ultimately, God would send His own Son to be the ultimate sacrifice – his body broken, his blood shed – to pay the price for our disobedience and redeem us from our guilt. Until that day, a system of animal sacrifice, instituted through Moses, was used as a metaphor for the ultimate sacrifice to come.
Down payment was made on the debt of sin. Blood was shed. It covered the people and their sin…and pointed them towards the ultimate sacrifice to come. Jesus would someday pay our debt of sin in full.
"Bring the choice first produce of the year to the house of your God." Exodus 22:19a (TM)
One of the themes consistent throughout scripture is that our giving is to be from the best we have, right off the top. The principle serves as a word picture to help us remember several very important truths. First, God is worth the very best that we have. In fact, He’s worth all that we have and more. Second, everything we have belongs to God anyway, so first give Him back what He’s graciously given you. Third, we need to be content with what we have left and to live within our means. Giving of the choice first produce also reminds us that it is not about us.