Exodus 32:25-35 (The Golden Calf – The Testing of the Sons of Levi)

Exodus 32:25-35
The Golden Calf – The Testing of the Sons of Levi

Three sets of testing are found in Exodus 32. The first was Aaron’s testing. He did poorly. The next was Moses’ testing. He did well. The final note of testing is that of the sons of Levi. What is unknown is how many of them participated in Aaron’s failure at first. The Bible is silent on this.

However, what is known is how they responded to their testing when confronted with the need to stand up and act on behalf of the Lord. They will do well. In Matthew 21, Jesus gave us this parable –

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to Him, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31

A shadow of this thought is seen in today’s verses. Regardless of what the sons of Levi did at first, they did what was right in the end. They were willing to stop and evaluate the situation around them and then go about doing that which was right to do.

Because of their actions in today’s passage, they will be bestowed an honor which singled them out as a special tribe, dedicated to the Lord throughout all their generations. In the Song of Moses, their deeds at this time were remembered –

Text Verse: “And of Levi he said:
Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one,
Whom You tested at Massah,
And with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah,
Who says of his father and mother,
‘I have not seen them’;
Nor did he acknowledge his brothers,
Or know his own children;
For they have observed Your word
And kept Your covenant.’” Deuteronomy 33:8, 9

Each one of us is bound to falter in our daily lives at one time or another. But this doesn’t mean that all is lost. What we do with ourselves after our initial failings often overshadows what we initially messed up. This is true in family matters, in our work environment, and in our walk as Christians before the Lord as well.

Sometimes our failings may even highlight our successes. And so we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves, unless our failings remain failures. If not, then let us use the lessons we learn to continuously improve ourselves and to do that which is morally right as we walk in the presence of the Lord each day.

The lesson of the golden calf is one which still hangs over Israel to this day. A friend of mine was reading this very passage at the same time that I was typing these sermons. She said, “How could they have done this after all the Lord had done for them; after all they had seen and experienced.”

My answer was that Israel is just a microcosm of the world at large. We have seen God’s hand do the miraculous both in His word and in our lives. We have seen the ancient promises fulfilled, even during our lifetime, and yet we fail just as Israel failed. But we can overcome our failures if we look to the Lord and to His honor in our lives. This is a lesson which is to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Testing of the Sons of Levi (verses 25-29)

25 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies),

The word for “unrestrained” which is found twice in this verse is para. It is from an unused root meaning “to loosen.” One can get the mental picture that the people were simply loosed, like wild oxen, to dance about in a completely unrestrained manner. They were running amok and out of control.

This word is found only 16 times and 6 of them, more than any other book in the Bible, are found in the Proverbs. One proverb which fits what occurs here at Sinai is found in Proverbs 29 –

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
But happy is he who keeps the law.” Proverbs 9:18

Solomon may have been reading this account in Exodus and contemplating what occurred here when he wrote this particular proverb. This word is variously translated here. Other versions say running wild, out of control, broken loose, were naked, were stripped, and unbridled.

Those translations which say “stripped” or “naked” may be taken literally, as if the people had actually torn off their clothes and committed outright indecency, or it may be taken figuratively in that they left themselves naked and exposed. If so, then their enemies would have the ability to overtake and destroy them. This is most likely the true sense as the same word is used that way in 2 Chronicles 28 –

“For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had made Judah naked and had completely rebelled against the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 28:19, 20

Sounds like our president today! Judah’s morals degraded so greatly that they became naked and exposed to their enemies. Such is the pattern of rebellion against God. We have failed to learn from the past, and we now face the same state of moral decline and nakedness.

As seen in the last passage where Joshua was noted, the enemies of God, represented by Amalek, would be the most likely to take advantage of this naked state. Whether it was the spirit of Amalek within the camp, or the actual group of Amelekites who could view the open and exposed flanks of Israel, the people had left themselves in a state which was unacceptable.

The word translated as “to their shame” is a verb, shimtsah. It is only found here in the Bible, and it means scornful whispering (of hostile spectators), and thus “shame.” It is the same as a rare noun, shemets, meaning “to whisper.”

The idea is that God’s people had so degraded themselves that their enemies had opportunity to scornfully whisper about them. In turn, their actions would then reflect on the Lord. To bring shame upon self is to bring shame upon one’s God. This is evident every time a pastor, preacher, priest, or pope acts in a disgraceful manner. The God they profess is maligned along with them.

But this is not limited to clergy alone. Anyone who claims to be a follower of the Lord will bring disgrace upon Him when they act in an unrestrained manner. We need to remember always that our actions don’t just harm us. Family, friends, congregations, and above all the name of our God, all are affected by our immoral behavior.

26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp,

In the Bible, the shaar or “gate” of a camp, town, or city, was the place of judgment. It is where the elders would congregate to decide matters and to determine laws and their enforcement. This camp, despite being just that – a camp – was set up as a city, with a makeshift barrier around it and points of access. It is certain that there were at least two, and maybe several, points of access from the wording of the next verse.

This was probably the principle gate where Moses now stood, maybe the camp was aligned to face Sinai. Whatever the case, a judgment was now to be rendered at the place of judgment.

26 (con’t) and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!”

The Hebrew basically says, “Who for Yehovah? And come to me!” In verse 5, upon seeing the golden calf, Aaron had said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” He thus equated the golden calf with the Lord, and the people had acknowledged it as such.

Now what is happening is that a divide is being set. Those in the camp who were feasting to the calf had set up their standard of who the Lord was to them. Moses now sets up the unseen Lord in opposition to them. By standing in the gate of the camp, he was calling out for those who were faithful to come outside the camp as an act of declaring themselves sanctified for the service of the Lord. This is similar to the thought of Hebrews 13 –

“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” Hebrews 13:12, 13

Were there any in the camp who were willing to sanctify themselves to the Lord by acknowledging that He was not reflected in the idol, but rather in the commandments which had preceded the idol? This is what he calls out for.

26 (con’t) And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.

As was seen in verse 3, and at many other times throughout Scripture, not every “every” means every and not all “all’s” mean all. In the case of “all the sons of Levi,” it is speaking of a greater portion of them. It can be inferred from verse 27, that there were Levites who didn’t come to the side of the Lord.

However, those who did probably came first out of loyalty to Moses, and thus the brotherhood of the tribe itself. This deep-seated loyalty can be traced all the way back to the account of Genesis 34 where Simeon and Levi both defended the honor of the family against the rape of their sister Dinah.

Moses, calling for the honor of the Lord, then stirred up that same loyalty in his brothers who quickly came to his side. Whether any or all of them had been a part of the feast is not the consideration here. What is being considered is their willingness to turn from the crowd and to the honor of the Lord. As one turned to Moses, another turned, and then another. Eventually, a great portion of Levi had come to his side.

27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel:

Moses is speaking as the prophet of God. There is no indication in Scripture that the Lord told him to say this, with the exception of this verse itself. And yet, the silence concerning any condemnation of what follows, and even the approval of it, shows that Moses was speaking as the Lord’s prophet. And therefore, what transpires is not to be considered inappropriate, rash, or unauthorized.

27 (con’t) ‘Let every man put his sword on his side,

The word translated here as “side” is yarek, and it properly means “thigh.” The swords used would be thigh swords which were small and easily maneuvered in close-quarter fights.

27 (con’t) and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp,

Here we see that the camp was set up with multiple entrances. For a tent type of city, it would have been a rather well defended encampment, and it would have had points where the people could quickly go in and out if enemies came to attack them. The verses here show discipline and contemplative arrangement by the leader, meaning Moses.

However, at this time, these gates would not be a place of safety and life for those inside, but rather they would become the place where death came upon them through full and unmerciful force.

27 (con’t) and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’”

The words here are given as an all-encompassing command. Regardless of how a person was known to one of the Levites, whether through blood relation, close friendship, or nearness as a neighbor, they were to kill and not hold back.

As they are told to go throughout the camp, the idea surely does not mean indiscriminate killing, but rather those who had not stopped their reveling at the return of Moses. Any continued offender would be subject to death. This is certain because out of a group of perhaps two million people, only a small fraction will actually die.

The obvious purpose of this command is to stay the wrath of the Lord against a greater destruction of life. This is seen at other times in the Bible. The zeal for the Lord, and the taking of action in regards to His wrath, is what saves the people from greater wrath. Each of these precepts is seen again in Numbers 25 –

“Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.’
So Moses said to the judges of Israel, ‘Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.’
And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.” Numbers 25:1-9

28 So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses.

Of this, Matthew Henry states –

“Those are marked for ruin who persist in sin: those who in the morning were shouting and dancing, before night were dying. Such sudden changes do the judgments of the Lord sometimes make with sinners that are secure and jovial in their sin.” Matthew Henry

What is important to understand here is that a type of amnesty was offered to all people with the words of verse 26. When Moses called out, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!” it meant that those who came to him had been obedient, and for any who had not, their guilt remained. The only people who were actually not guilty were these faithful Levites. All others were rendered guilty by association, if nothing else.

28 (con’t) And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.

The number to die in comparison to the number in the camp is exceedingly small. Though all bore the guilt implicitly, only 3000 died. However, it was a sufficient amount to demonstrate that the Levites had been faithful to the task to which they had been called.

For whatever reason, the Latin Vulgate of this verse reads 23,000 people were killed, that along with another Catholic version, the Douay-Rheims both state this without any textual support. They are in error and need a red letter correction penned in here.

29 Then Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord,

The words here, v’yomer moshe milu yedkem hayom l’Yehovah literally say, “and said Moses fill your hands today to Yehovah.” The idea of filling the hand brings to mind that of consecration, just as when the priests would fill their hands with the ordination sacrifices, thus consecrating themselves to the Lord.

The deed of the Levites was considered as such a filling of the hand. They had filled their hand with the sword of the Lord, and they had then used that sword to avenge the honor of the Lord. Thus their actions were considered as acts of consecration. It is exactly what was seen in the passage from Numbers concerning Phineas. After his noble deed, this is recorded –

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11 ‘Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’”

The destruction of the enemies of the Lord is called a sacrifice elsewhere in Scripture, thus, their deed is considered as if a sacrifice which fills the hand. In such a sacrifice, there is something which is then returned upon the person…

29 (con’t) that He may bestow on you a blessing this day,

The opposite of a curse is a blessing. The blessing to be bestowed upon Levi for their zeal will be the distinction of a people who are set apart to serve the priests in Israel. What has occurred here is the reversal of a curse. As I said earlier, Simeon and Levi had defended the honor of the family when their sister Dinah had been raped. However, Jacob saw this as a reason to curse their zeal. On his deathbed, he pronounced these words over them –

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.
Let not my soul enter their council;
Let not my honor be united to their assembly;
For in their anger they slew a man,
And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
And scatter them in Israel.” Genesis 49:5-7

In Levi’s zeal, he had violated the precepts of truth and justice in regards to a false connection to obtaining a blood relationship through the covenant of circumcision. Now the descendants of Levi had restored truth and justice, and had upheld the covenant at Sinai by avenging the Lord against their own blood relationships. Thus, their curse had been changed into a blessing.

Both Simeon and Levi would still be divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel, but for the Levites it would be in a positive sense. Whereas Simeon would scatter into obscurity in Judah, Levi would continue to be held in high honor in Israel. Even to this day, the name of Levi remains well-known. Nobody wears Simeon blue jeans, do they? But Levi’s are the standard.

29 (con’t) for every man has opposed his son and his brother.”

Of these words, the Geneva Bible says –

“In revenging God’s glory we must have no partiality to person, but lay aside all carnal affection.” Geneva

This tenet remains unchanged. To what point will you be willing to stand for the honor of the Lord? What will you do if your son or daughter tells you they are a homosexual? What will you do if your brother joins a cult? When will you say, “I’m going to ignore this part of the Bible because it conflicts with my interpersonal relations?” Be prepared now to stand and defend the honor of the Lord – at any and all costs.

How high will you hold up the honor of the Lord?
To what level will you go to defend it before another?
How precious to you is His sacred word?
Will you stand against your friend, or even against your brother?

How sacred is to you the faith that you profess
And how willing are you to stand upon every precept
What if your life is threatened? Will you still confess?
Or in your resolve will the Lord faltering detect?

Be steadfast in your proclamation
Be willing to stand for the Lord before any and all
Be one of the greats in your generation
When the times of testing come, be sure not to hesitate or stall

II. Accursed from Christ (verses 30-33)

30 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin.

After the slaying of the people by Levi, even on the next day, Moses spoke to the people concerning what had occurred. His words, “You have committed a great sin” follow on from what was said in Exodus 20, at the time of the giving of the law. At that time, there was the great display of thunderings, flashes, the blast of the trumpet, and smoke. The people then asked that the Lord would no longer speak to them lest they die. Moses’ response was –

“Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” Exodus 20:20

They had forgotten this, and they had, in fact, committed a great sin, directly against the laws found in the Ten Commandments. The word “You” is emphatic. “You people have committed a great sin.” Because of this, Moses’ next words are given…

30 (con’t) So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

Of these words, several scholars state pretty much what Charles Ellicott says –

“When Moses had, on first hearing of God’s intention to destroy the people, interceded for them (Exodus 32:11-13), his prayers had received no direct answer—he had been left in doubt whether they were granted or no. Having now put an end to the offence, and to some extent punished it, he is bent on renewing his supplications, and obtaining a favourable reply.”

This is incorrect. Verse 14 shows that the Lord relented against destroying all of the people during his testing of Moses. Therefore, Moses’ ascent to the Lord now is not one of seeking His wrath to be stayed. It is a different level of restoration which he seeks.

The people have nullified the covenant through their deeds. They are, in essence, cut off from being the people of the Lord. This is what Moses is looking to restore. When Peter betrayed Christ, he received pardon for that betrayal in the death of Christ. However, he was not restored to his position as an apostle until later, on the shores of the sea of Galilee.

Israel has received general pardon from God for their idolatry; they will not be destroyed. However, their sin has separated them from their God as to being counted as the people of the Lord; His representative nation. This is the atonement which Moses will seek. He will now act as the mediatorial priest for Israel.

It is the greatest such act recorded of him. In the future, with the construction of the tabernacle and the service of the law, this duty will be conducted by Aaron and his descendants after him. That they have lost their status as the Lord’s people is now seen in the words of the next verse…

31 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold!

After ascending the mountain once again to seek the Lord, Moses begins his petition with the word an-na. It is a contraction of two other words, ahava, meaning “love,” and na, meaning “please.” In essence, “I beg of you.”

After this, he does not say, “Your people” as he did in verse 11. He says “these people.” They have distanced themselves from the Lord by the worship of a false god which they called “the Lord.” It has removed from them the position which they had been accepted to in the ratification of the covenant in Exodus 24.

As a further stress, Moses says that the people have made elohe zahav, “gods of gold.” The plural is given for the singular to show the utterly contemptible nature of what had occurred. It is comparable to us saying, “He is engaged in sins of the flesh” when speaking of any illicit behavior a person may have been caught in.

Moses has laid bare the situation, and now seeks for a sign of mercy and restoration concerning what has transpired…

32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—

This phrase is what is known as an aposiopesis. It is the sudden cutting off a speech to make a point. One must insert a thought, guessing what the rest of the phrase should be. Normally the continuation is obvious. In this case, it would be something like, “If you will forgive their sin, then great…” However, those words are left off in order to make the contrasting statement more poignant…

32 (con’t) but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”

The words here are often taken to unintended extremes, even to the point of saying that people can lose their salvation and that this is a proof of it. This is not what this is speaking of, and the context here has nothing to do with the context of salvation after the cross of Christ.

The “book which you have written” is the book of the living. The idea is similar to that of a registry of people in any city. There are those who are alive and who are thus accounted on those roles for all of the purposes of the living. These can include school, taxes, being drafted – whatever.

In the case of Israel, there was a book of the living for those who are a part of the covenant people. This was agreed to in Exodus 24. The people were inscribed in the book as subjects of the kingdom. It could even be that it was compiled during Moses’ 40 days on the mountain while receiving the details of the previous chapters.

To not have their sins forgiven means that they would be blotted out of that book. It would then mean that they would have no inheritance in the land of Canaan to which they were headed. This is what Moses has in view as he petitions the Lord.

Moses has tied himself to his people. They are either the people of the Lord, or he desires to be counted among them when they are no longer His people. He is expressing his highest desire that they remain the people of the Lord, despite having broken the covenant. John Lange details this –

“He would rather be blotted, with the people, out of the book of life, of theocratic citizenship, than without the people to stand in the book alone. As mediating priest he has come as far as to the thought of going to destruction with the people, but not for them.” John Lange

There are quite a few verses in Scripture which point to this idea of inclusion in the theocratic citizenship of the Lord. Two of them will help explain what is going on –

“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living,
And not be written with the righteous.” Psalm 69:28

“And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 4:3

This is an earthly kingdom leading to the Messiah. In Christ’s coming, the kingdom moves into a new phase where the Mediator will not be just willing to go to destruction with the people, but for them. In His act, the true book of life is seen and realized. When one puts their faith in Christ, receiving Him as Savior, they become a part of His eternal theocratic rule. Revelation says –

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5

Paul shows us the state of those who have rejected this spiritual kingdom of Christ. It is a state of being accursed and cut off from God. In his love for his people, we find words reminiscent of those of Moses –

“I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Romans 9:1-5

In Moses, there is a petition for “grace or judgment.” In Christ, there is the realization of, “Through judgment the highest grace” (Lange). Paul could not seek the first for his people collectively, and so they are obligated to seek the latter individually.

Gods of gold fashioned with our hands
We pray for them to save, but they do not hear
Gods of gold, it seems no one understands
Instead of life and peace, they bring only death and fear

Lord, forgive our hearts and turn us back to You
Give us wisdom to seek out that which is right
Help us to be ever faithful and true
And to pursue only Jesus with all of our might

Let our names be inscribed forever in Your book
Through Christ’s shed blood alone do we overcome
Towards heaven’s riches forever shall we look
To no more gods of gold will our hearts succumb

III. Promises and Punishment (verses 33-35)

33 And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.

Cambridge states, “Jehovah replies that He will blot out of His book not the righteous, but those only who have sinned against Him.” However, there is the truth recorded later in Romans that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23) Further, Romans says, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (3:10).

In Ezekiel 18, it twice says, “The soul who sins shall die.” It is certain that Moses sinned, and Moses died. Further, Moses could not die for the sins of others. The Bible makes it known that such a vicarious punishment is unacceptable.

And yet, we as Christians can rightly make the assumption that though Moses died, he is also considered a righteous saint, along with many others of the Old Testament. And so how can we reconcile these two contrasting thoughts – that of being blotted out if a soul has sinned against the Lord, and that of being considered righteous before the Lord?

The answer, as always, comes down to faith. Faith in God’s provision, which is Christ, is what brings a person to the Throne of God. This is why Hebrews 11 highlights the saints of old and proclaims that they were deemed acceptable to God. It was by faith in what lie ahead.

Only in Christ is there found One who never sinned. And yet He died. However, it was not for His sins, but for the sins of others. Only in Christ is a vicarious punishment deemed acceptable. The Bible shows us such marvelous truths!

In the immediate context though, Moses is being told that the one who has sinned against the Lord will be blotted out of the book. This is referring to the sin of the golden calf and the book of the theocratic rule which is to be realized in the land of Canaan.

Those who failed to live by faith, and instead trusted in the work of their hands, would not receive the promised inheritance. This is seen in the words of the next verse…

34 Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you.

It is the promised inheritance, the land of Canaan, which is being dealt with – life in Canaan under the theocratic rule of the Lord. Moses is instructed to lead the people there in fulfillment of the promise which was made.

34 (con’t) Behold, My Angel shall go before you.

There are two views on what these words mean. Is “the Angel” referred to here a created being, or is it referring to the Angel of the Lord who is Christ?

These words are very similar to Exodus 23:20 which was speaking of the Lord. However, based on the words of the next chapter, most scholars see this angel here is not the Lord, but a created angel. In the next chapter, it will say –

Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” Exodus 33:3

For this reason, it seems that this is not the Angel of the Lord, but a created angel. However, the words “in your midst” are the antithesis of the words of Exodus 33:7 –

“Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.”

The Lord was no longer in the midst of the congregation, but a far way off. Thus, there is no reason to assume that this verse is not still the Angel of the Lord, meaning Christ. This is further supported by the term malaki or “My Angel,” rather than merely malak, or “an angel.” Only the “angel” of verse 33:2 is not speaking of the Angel of the Lord. This appears to be borne out in the chiasm which spans these chapters.

34 (con’t) Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.”

The words here in Hebrew read, “when I visit, then I will visit on them their sin.” The word is paqad. It comes from a root which means to visit, either with friendly or hostile intent. In the case of this visitation, it will be with intent which is hostile. Those who sinned and were spared by the sword will still not find relief.

*35 So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.

The chapter ends with these sobering words. The Lord promised to visit the people with punishment and these words confirm that this took place. The word used here means to strike. It can be in a plague or some other way. Nothing more is said about what occurred in their being stricken. Nor is there any note of those that repented and mourned over what they had done.

Instead, the verse is left up to the divine discretion of the Lord and to His righteous justice to decide what occurred with each person who sinned. The congregation was spared, but the soul that sinned was brought into judgment. What is to be considered of particular note is the contrast between this account today and that of what occurred in Acts 2.

At Sinai, which according to Galatians 4 symbolizes the temple in Jerusalem, the law was received and it was written on tablets of stone. Those tablets were given to Moses but were broken at the base of the mountain because of the people’s turning from the Lord to a false God. After this, 3000 people died because of their sin. In Acts 2, we read this –

“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:40-42

There at the temple in Jerusalem, the word of the Lord was again given, but this time it was written on the tablets of the hearts of the people, as Paul calls the work of the Spirit in 2 Corinthians 3:3. At that time, 3000 people were saved because of their faith in Christ.

The two accounts are given to show the superiority of the fulfilled law in Christ to the giving of the law by Moses. One was written on stone and it leads to death. The other is written on the heart and it leads to life.

It was a perverse generation who followed after the golden calf, having rejected the Lord on the mountain at Sinai, and it was a perverse generation who rejected Christ and sought to seek their own righteousness apart from Him. For those 3000 who died at Sinai, they died in sin because of their deeds. For the 3000 who received Jesus in Jerusalem, they died to sin because of His deeds.

For all the rest, in both places, and for all who have come since, the truth is that the soul who sins shall die. The question for each of us is, “When the Lord comes to visit us for punishment, will it be punishment in us for the sins we have committed in this life, or will it have been in Christ for those same sins?” These are the only two options available to man.

If our sins have been judged in Christ, our names are written in the book of life and they shall never be blotted out; we have overcome. If our sins have not been dealt with through Him, then another fate awaits –

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

Of this passage today, Matthew Henry says –

“But having that mind which was in Christ, he was willing to lay down his life in the most painful manner, if he might thereby preserve the people. Moses could not wholly turn away the wrath of God; which shows that the law of Moses was not able to reconcile men to God, and to perfect our peace with him. In Christ alone, God so pardons sin as to remember it no more.” Matthew Henry

Isn’t that the most marvelous news. In Christ, God so pardons sin as to remember it no more! The world doesn’t even want to hear about sin. But it is a reality which cannot be denied when considering the holiness of God.

Today many large churches are full of worshippers quite often because the church is geared towards the carnal man. There are promises of health, wealth, and prosperity, but there is no heart for the grace of God which frees us from sin. The sin is passed over, not dealt with.

It is the rare church which is both large and filled with worshippers who praise God not for what He can give us in this life, but what He has given us for eternal life. Sin is not a popular subject, but it is one of the defining subjects of Scripture. If God simply wanted to plop down prosperity upon our heads, He would have skipped over the brutal death of Christ. But He didn’t.

Today, if you are wanting a true and right relationship with Christ, come to the foot of the cross and call out your need for the Savior. After that all else will fall into its proper place. If you have never come to do this, please make today the day…

Closing Verse: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

Next Week: Exodus 33:1-11 As you all listen, none of you should be bored (Everyone Who Sought the Lord) (92nd Exodus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Testing of the Sons of Levi

Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained
For Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies
Then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp
And said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me. Do, please

And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him
And he said to them

Thus says the Lord God of Israel:
“Let every man put his sword on his side
And go in and out from entrance to entrance, as well
Throughout the camp, let these words be applied

And let every man kill his brother
Every man his companion, and every man his neighbor

So the sons of Levi did according to as Moses did say
And about three thousand men of the people fell that day

Then Moses said, yes he did say
“Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord
That He may bestow on you a blessing this day
For every man has opposed his son and his brother according to His word

Now it came to pass on the next day
That Moses to the people said
“You have committed a great sin, in your wicked way
So now I will go up to the Lord instead

Perhaps I can make atonement for your sin
Otherwise you are surely done in

Then Moses returned to the Lord and said
“Oh, these people have committed a great sin
And have made for themselves a god of gold!
Surely your patience is wearing thin

Yet now, if You will forgive their sin – but if not, I pray
Blot me out of Your book which You have written, blot me out today

And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me
I will blot him out of My book, this is how it shall be

Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place
Of which I have spoken to you
Behold, My Angel shall go before your face

Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment
I will visit punishment upon them for their sin, the debt shall be paid
So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did
With the calf which Aaron made

Here we are Lord, really no different than Israel
We are unrestrained in in our lives each and every day
It is a sad, sad story to tell
But this is humanity’s normal, confused way

Help us to be bold, Lord, when facing sin
To stand against it and to be firm in defending Your glory
While the world continues to spiral its way in
Help us to proclaim to all the wondrous gospel story

For it alone has the power, the lost soul to save
For it alone tells of the precious life You gave

Thank You, O God, for this perfect gift which You have bestowed upon us
Thank You, O God, for our Savior, our Lord, our precious Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…





Exodus 32:1-10 (The Golden Calf – The Testing of Aaron)

Exodus 32:1-10
The Golden Calf – The Testing of Aaron

Starting with verse 1 of this chapter, a chiasm begins which will span every verse until Exodus 34:17 – 8 sermons. However, it is a rather unique chiasm because it not only conveys individual thoughts in individual verses, but it also contains examples which comprise entire passages. It is truly a marvel of wisdom and beauty which eyes had not rested upon until the 31st of August 2011.

When it came to light, I was so very excited. Each time a chiasm is revealed, it sheds new light on what God is thinking and what He wants us to know. I have printed off copies for you so that you can keep them in your Bible and follow along with it as we go through these next three chapters. Let’s review it now…


As you can see, the center of the chiasm is verse 33:15 – “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” The people were prone to idolatry and they were stiff-necked in their demeanor, but Moses knew that unless the presence of the Lord went with them there would be no true way of knowing that they had received His grace.

In type and picture, the Presence of the Lord being with Israel is realized in the giving of the Holy Spirit to those in the church. He is the seal and the guarantee of God’s presence in our lives. Sometimes we may feel He is distant or has left us. But this is more often than not because we have fallen back into some type of sin, highlighted by the idolatry of Israel. That thought goes well with our text verse of the day…

Text Verse: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Let us remember that the Lord is with us, and that we should act in accord with that knowledge at all times. Let us be pleasing to God and stand firm on the commands, exhortations, and prohibitions which are given to us for right living. Such is what we are told to do in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. This is Your God, O Israel (verses 1-4)

For the sake of context, we need to remember where we are in the history of the book of Exodus. Using Moses as their leader, the Lord had brought Israel out of their bondage in Egypt. On the way to Sinai, and even at the foot of Sinai, He had shown them great and marvelous proofs of His abilities to care for them, as well as His affections directed towards them.

At Sinai, He had come down in their presence and verbally pronounced to them the Ten Commandments. After that, because of the terror of the meeting, they had asked that the Lord not speak to them. Therefore, towards the end of chapter 20, Moses ascended Sinai and received the Book of the Covenant. This went all the way through chapter 23.

After receiving the Book of the Covenant, Moses went back down, and the covenant with the people was cut. The agreement was made, and the people committed themselves to obedience. This was followed by the covenant meal between the Lord and the leaders of Israel.

After this, towards the end of chapter 24, Moses and Joshua ascended Sinai again where Moses would be presented with the details for the construction of the sanctuary and all of its furniture, the ordination of the priests, the details for the sacrifices and offerings, and the law of the Sabbath. At the end of chapter 31, the very last thing that was recorded was –

“And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” Exodus 31:18

The two tablets of the Testimony, written by the finger of God which contained the Ten Commandments, was handed to Moses. The words which had been uttered at the beginning of chapter 20 by the Lord, were written down by Him and presented to the leader of the people. This then is the context of where we are now.

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain,

The words ha’am or “the people” are certainly used in a general sense. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul says that “some” of the people were involved in the depravity of the idolatry to be described here. Regardless of this though, these things will normally start with a few and eventually permeate the entire body.

Whether few or many then, they are regarded as a single group. They had been brought out of Egypt and had been promised to be brought back into the land of their forefathers. But after an extended period of sitting idle, they are restive and unable to endure any more delay.

The word used concerning Moses which is translated here as “delay” is bosh. It is a verb which means “ashamed,” but the primary meaning is “to fall into disgrace, normally through failure, either of self or of an object of trust” (HAW). The word has only been used once so far and it gives us a clue as to the entire flavor of the coming account. It was first seen in Genesis 2:25 –

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

In Eden, there was no shame; no disgrace. There was peace between God and man. But that quickly changed when sin entered the picture. It is sin which causes shame and brings about disgrace. The people imply that Moses has let them down, just as God was disappointed in Adam. A classic use of this word, and one which resembles the events which lie ahead, comes from Isaiah 44:9 –

“Those who make an image, all of them are useless,
And their precious things shall not profit;
They are their own witnesses;
They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed.”  Isaiah 44:9

Due to the delay, it seemed that Moses has failed and fallen into disgrace. Either he had died in the fiery inferno on the mountain, or he had packed up and left without letting the people know, or some other unknown event had occurred. Whatever their thoughts about Moses were, it included the idea that he had fallen into disgrace.

Thus the irony of what is about to occur centers on this word, given to us in the first sentence of the account. Rather than Moses, it is the people who will fall into disgrace. Moses, or “He who draws out” will have to draw them out of the wrath of God which will be directed towards them.

We were told in Exodus 24 that Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights. This means that what we are seeing here occurs somewhere around five weeks after his ascent. We know this because the details of what we will see took at least a few days, or maybe even a week, to transpire.

The Lord selected this period of forty days for a reason. According to Bullinger the biblical meaning of forty is –

“Forty has long been universally recognized as an important number, both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement—(not judgment, like the number 9, which stands in connection with the punishment of enemies, but the chastisement of sons, and of a covenant people). It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation.”

The forty days are rightly defined by him as a time of evident probation. The people had been given the law and now they were being tested with that law without their chief leader there to supervise them. How would Aaron fare as their designated representative? How would they fare?

There are eight such great forty day periods recorded in Scripture. One of them corresponds to this period in a marvelous way. Israel was given these forty days of testing and they are now shown to have failed. Jesus was given forty days of testing and He prevailed.

1 (con’t) the people gathered together to Aaron,

The Hebrew reads, v’yiqahel ha’am al aharon – “And assembled the people against Aaron.” Aaron and Hur were appointed as the leaders during Moses’ absence. Being the prominent leader, the people have come against him in a forceful way. It is what we could consider the possible beginning of a mob scene.

1 (con’t) and said to him, “Come,

The word is qum. It means to arise. They are tired of waiting and they are adamant that Aaron now arise and take action. And so they demand that he get up and act.

1 (con’t) make us gods that shall go before us;

The word for “gods” here is elohim. It can mean either “god” singular or “gods” plural. Different translations say one or the other. However, in this verse the word for “shall go” is yeleku. It is in the plural, and therefore they are demanding visible gods to lead them. In these words then, multiple sins are seen.

The first is a violation of the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The second is a violation of the second, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image.” They have also devolved from monotheism to polytheism. Regardless of what Aaron actually makes, they have requested “gods.”

The mentioning of the Lord handing the Ten Commandments to Moses after his long discourse on the mountain is not without significance then. There are several purposes for it. First, it came at the end of the directions for the sanctuary as the fulfillment of what the sanctuary anticipated.

All of the details looked forward to Christ, but without the law which Christ fulfilled, there would remain an eternal disconnect between God and man. Only when this law was placed in the Ark and covered by the Mercy Seat, could there be a sort of restoration of that fellowship which was lost in Adam.

Secondly, it was given to show us that a willful, open, and united act of disobedience against these laws had taken place. The people had forgotten the words of the covenant, but the Lord had not. They had agreed openly and publically to it, and they had openly and publically violated it.

And so thirdly, we will see the just due for violating God’s law and the mercy and grace which is granted when God’s mediator stands between the Offended and the offenders. Moses, as a type of Christ, will be seen to do just this in the verses ahead. Without his intercession, the people would have been destroyed.

1 (con’t) for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

The words here show double contempt. The first is upon the unnamed Lord. Instead of relying on He who had already shown Himself reliable on numerous occasions, they completely ignore Him in what they say. It is as if He isn’t even a consideration.

Instead, they turn their contempt towards the human instrument of their situation, Moses, by saying ki zeh Mosheh – “for this Moses.” The words again imply that he is a failure. “Yeah, whatever happened to that guy?” It reflects a quickly-faded gratitude for all he had done. Especially concerning their acknowledgment that he was “the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt.”

What is even more incredible, is that they are right there at the base of Sinai. All they had to do was send someone up to see what was going on in the cloud and fire. But they were too cowardly to even do this. They were warned to not do this thing. It is an acknowledgment that they knew, very well, that the Lord was there, but instead of coming to face Him, they would stay below and disgrace Him.

And yet even more, they continued to receive their daily portion of manna and their stream of water from the rock. Exodus 16:35 tells us that the manna continued unabated for forty years. Joshua 5:12 tells us that the manna finally ceased only when they had eaten of the produce of Canaan, exactly forty years later.

Instead of the unseen Lord, who would care for them by His effort, they sought a visible god which would embolden them in their own effort. And thus pride has stepped into the minds of the people. They have fallen into the same sin as their first father. And in defiance of God, they intended to work their way into the promised land apart from Him.

It is the same pattern which all false religions follow. They use what God offers to sustain them – just as Israel continued to eat the manna, but they ignore His leading and His counsel – just as Israel set out to fashion their own gods. But Matthew Henry shows us that this is not how it should be –

“While Moses was in the mount, receiving the law from God, the people made a tumultuous address to Aaron. This giddy multitude were weary of waiting for the return of Moses. Weariness in waiting betrays to many temptations. The Lord must be waited for till he comes, and waited for though he tarry.” Matthew Henry

And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

What Aaron should have done was to stand and defend the honor of the Lord and the keeping of His commands. He was entrusted with the care of the people after having been included in the meal with the Lord on the mountain. He had seen the Lord prove faithful time and time again, but he was also a weak and fallible person, unwilling to sacrifice himself in the defense of the Lord.

And yet, he knew that the right thing to do was to not obey the demands of the people. In hopes of deterring them from this course of action, he goes to what he supposes is their greatest source of affection by asking them to “break off the golden earrings.”

The word translated as “break” is paraq. It means to break off or tear away. It is a rather rare word, being used just ten times. Instead of saying, “take them off,” he uses this stronger word which almost gives the idea of violence. It is a challenge to the people. “All right, if you want me to do this thing, then you will have to do this other thing.”

The word for earring is nezem – a ring. It can be an earring or a nose-ring or some other type of ornament. Here, it is specifically noted as on their ears. Genesis 35:2-4 makes it apparent that the wearing of these nezem, or rings, was in and of itself a source of some type of idolatry –

“And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.’ So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.”

They had probably gotten these as a part of the plunder when they left Egypt. They would be considered a valuable and deserved blessing. But now Aaron was telling them that if they wanted a corporate idol, they would have to give up their personal ones.

It seems he was betting that they would not be willing to make such an exchange and would prefer their own most valuable possessions. Even more, he specifies those that belong to the wives, sons, and daughters. He probably felt that the people would be as weak towards their families as he was towards them.

The sentiment of what occurs here in defiance of the Lord, is actually something that He later sets down as a precept in His word. In Malachi 2, we read this –

“’If you will not hear,
And if you will not take it to heart,
To give glory to My name,’
Says the Lord of hosts,
‘I will send a curse upon you,
And I will curse your blessings.
Yes, I have cursed them already,
Because you do not take it to heart.’” Malachi 2:2

This in fact is what will occur with these cherished possessions of the people. The blessings of their departure from Egypt will become a curse.

So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron.

If it was Aaron’s intent to keep the people from their plans, he failed. It says that “all the people” did as he asked. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean all the people of the camp, but it at least means all of the people who had conspired against the Lord. They tore away their earrings and they brought them to him.

And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.

The words here are so difficult to translate that there are a multitude of possibilities as to what occurred. Some say that instead of receiving the gold and fashioning it, he received it and bound it in a bag. The same thing occurs in 2 Kings 5:23.

Some say that the order is reversed, and that he made a molded calf and then fashioned it with an engraving tool. But that is not how cast images are handled after they have been cast. What is possible is that it mentions the receiving of the gold first to show that Aaron was now compelled to fashion a god for the people.

After this, he fashioned the thing from wood with the chisel. And then next, he had the gold melted and poured out on it. The reason this is likely is that in Deuteronomy 9:21, it says this –

“Then I took your sin, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it and ground it very small, until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that descended from the mountain.”

That it was burned seems to imply that its core was wood. Only after the wood was burned away, did he crush and grind the gold into dust. This seems likely from the words used. First, the word for “fashioned” is yatsar. So far, it has only been used three times in the Bible. The first two are seen in these words –

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.” Genesis 2:7, 8

After this, it was used one more time in God’s forming of the beasts of the earth. Now, it is seen in opposition to those uses. Instead of the Lord forming man, and beasts for man’s use, it is man forming a god in the form of a beast in defiance of the Lord.

The word for “engraving tool” is kheret. It is used for the first of just two times. It comes from a root meaning “to engrave,” and so it indicates a chisel or a graver. In Isaiah, it is used to indicate a pen for writing.

The word for “molten” is masekah. This is its first use in the Bible and it comes from nasak which means to pour out, as a libation, and thus to cover. Thus, if a wood form was made, it would then have been covered with the gold which had been melted and then applied over it. From this, they formed their false god, a calf.

The word for “calf” is egel. Again, it is a new word in Scripture. It is the same as the adjective agol which means circular, or round. The reason is that a calf, especially one nearly grown, will frisk around, dancing and twirling. The mental imagery of this is beautifully seen in Malachi 4:2 –

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” NLT

Why a calf is selected is not agreed upon. Many scholars tie this calf in with the calf-worship of Egypt’s god Apis, the god of strength and fertility.

Others disagree and claim that Egypt’s worship was of living animals, not images. If they wanted a god to follow, they could have just taken one of their own calves and sacrificed to it and followed it where it led. Thus they tie the calf all the way back to the Babylonian times prior to Abraham.

What is correct is that they were relying on a god of Egypt. Many ancient images of Apis have been found in Egypt. Acts 7:39, which I will cite in a moment tells us that it was to Egypt that they had turned their hearts. They had left the Lord and what He had revealed to them. This is evidenced in the next words…

4 (con’t) Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

The Hebrew reads, eleh elohekha – “These are your gods…” It is plural. Again, people argue what the intent here is by the use of the plural. Some see it as being the many earrings of the people being combined into one form, thus the plural is used.

Others see the plural being used for the singular. In other words, the sign of the thing represents another thing. This seems likely based on Aaron’s words of the next verse. He will call for a feast to the Lord, implying that the calf stands in place of the Lord as their recognizable image of Him.

But even this is in direct violation of the Ten Commandments and it shows that regardless of Aaron’s intent, the hearts of the people had rejected the Lord. His chosen leader was long gone, and they had closed their eyes to His past mercies and their hearts to His future promises. This is attested to by Stephen in Acts 7 –

“This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, 39 whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.” Acts 7:38-41

What will we do in our times of distress?
How will we deal with the unseen Lord?
When our lives devolve into a horrendous mess
Will we hold fast to the promises in His word? 

Or will we turn to another god, which is no god at all?
Will we forget what Christ has already done for us?
Through His cross, He has reversed our fall
This came through the blood of our Lord Jesus

The unseen Lord is a hard concept to follow, it’s true
But this is what He would ask of us; faith to display
By remembering what He has done in the past, for me and for you
We can have strength to continue in Jesus, day by day

And so let us never forget His gift, His holy word
Which reminds us of the faithfulness of our Lord

II. A Stiff-necked People (verses 5-10)

So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it.

With the handiwork of the workman accomplished, Aaron now provides full assent for the continued path of apostasy by building an altar before the Lord. After the giving of the Ten Commandments, the people asked Moses for the Lord to not speak to them anymore. After that, Moses ascended the mountain to receive the Book of the Covenant. The very first thing mandated at that time was the law of the of the Earthen Altar. This is what that passage says –

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 You shall not make anything to be with Me—gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves. 24 An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you. 25 And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. 26 Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.” Exodus 20:22-26

In direct violation of the law of the altar, Aaron approved the work of man’s hands and built an altar to the abomination. And in addition to that, in further disobedience to that law he next makes a proclamation

5 (con’t) And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.”

Not only did he approve of an image formed by man’s hands, and not only did he build an altar to it, but he ascribed to it the character of Yehovah by claiming a feast to Him. The self-existent One who proclaimed to Moses, and through him to the people of Israel, I AM THAT I AM, had been reduced to an image of wood and gold.

And that image was merely an image of something else which had been created by God, having been formed by Him as He desired. Now a mere image of His handiwork, that of a brute beast, had been exalted by Aaron as a representation of His infinite being.

The disgrace of what he has done is literally incomprehensible, and yet it is something that almost every human has done countless times in his own life. We form a god in our image. Whether it is through physical idols, or active disobedience to His word, we form our own god, suitable to our own liking.

Whether we decide that God is wrong in forbidding abortions, or whether we ignore His word concerning the order of the family unit, or whether we refuse to acknowledge that Christ is Lord – to the glory of God the Father, we recreate a god in our image and for our glory. The difference between Aaron and us is that Aaron’s deed happens to be recorded for all of us to read. The evil we have done may be out of sight, but it is recorded by God and it will be brought to light.

Then they rose early on the next day,

The idea we get here is that the people were too excited to sleep. The tedium of the previous five plus weeks had become too much for them. The thought of a feast day was as exciting to them as the thought of a coming wedding day. No sooner had the sun risen, then they went forward for their day of feasting.

6 (con’t) offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings;

The one offering that they needed the most, the sin offering, is noticeably missing from this verse. Instead, they made burnt offerings to appease their false god, and they brought peace offerings as a sign of fellowship and intimacy with him, but they were blinded to their sin and never considered such an offering.

6 (con’t) and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Along with the sacrifices came feasting and drinking. As with most of such things when conducted in an unholy manner, it led to something worse. The words v’yaqumu letsakheq, “and rose up to play,” probably include fornication, adultery, and the like. It is the same word which was used concerning the accusations against Joseph by Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39:14.

Paul cites this verse in 1 Corinthians 10 along with a list of other things which brought about the wrath of God upon the people of Israel. After citing them, he then followed up with these words of warning, assurance, and relief –

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12, 13

The lessons of the past have been given to us as examples for us to learn by. God is not contained in a box, and He is not represented by an animal or a man, except in the person of Jesus Christ who alone is the image of the invisible God.

As servants of the Lord, we are to refrain from idolatry, and we are to refrain from sexual immorality, both of which are ever more prevalent in society, and both of which are therefore all the more easy to fall into.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down!

The Lord uses the same term now that He did in Exodus 19:24, lek red – “Go, get down.” It is a highly emphatic expression implying an emergency, and expecting urgency. Moses didn’t understand the urgency in Exodus 19. In this chapter, he isn’t even aware of it. It is such a forceful expression, that it even affects him…

7 (con’t) For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.

The term ammekha, or “your people,” carries one of two possibilities. The first is that the Lord is telling Moses that the people have sinned and they require a mediator to intercede for them. The second is that the Lord has disavowed them as His people. The covenant which united them is broken and they are no longer His.

What appears from the coming verses and chapters is a mixture of both. The Lord has distanced Himself from the people, but he understands that the tie of Moses’ blood relationship is permanent. As we will see, He will offer a new beginning through Moses, promising to make him a great nation, but because of Moses’ faithfulness to his people, in Chapter 34 the Lord will continue the covenant between Himself and Israel.

The greatness of Moses the man is seen in both how the Lord deals with him, and how he deals with his people. No matter what though, at the present time, the people have broken the covenant and the Lord is rightfully offended at their actions. Concerning what they have done in relation to modern idolatry, Adam Clarke provides wise words of counsel –

“This is one pretense that the Roman Catholics have for the idolatry in their image worship. Their high priest, the pope, collects the ornaments of the people, and makes an image, a crucifix, a madonna, etc. The people worship it; but the pope says it is only to keep God in remembrance. But of the whole God says, Thy people have corrupted themselves; and thus as they continue in their idolatry, they have forfeited the blessings of the Lord’s covenant. They are not God’s people, they are the pope’s people, and he is called “our holy father the pope.” Adam Clarke

They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them.

The words here show that whether the people thought Moses was gone a long time or not, the Lord saw it as a very short span. They turned away from Him and they were in a hurry to do so. Because of this, the guilt of their actions was all the more visible and intense. He had commanded, telling them the proper way in which to live before Him; and no sooner had He done so, than they had turned aside to the false path. As Arthur Pink describes this –

“Man must have an object, and when he turns from the true God, he at once craves a false one.” Arthur Pink

8 (con’t) They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’”

His words here confirm the analysis of Adam Clarke concerning the idolatry of the RCC. The Lord says that not only had they made a molded calf, but they had worshipped and scarified to it. The Lord deems such actions as worship not of Him, but of the object itself, regardless of what the verbal expression of the people claim.

And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!

The Lord was fully aware of the people before He ever created them. Certainly for this reason, as much as any other, He chose them. This might seem contradictory, but it is not. When making an example of something or someone, you choose that which fits the type the most perfectly.

The Lord chose Israel knowing the hardness of their hearts and their rebellious nature so that they could be an example to all people, carefully recorded in His word. And the metaphor He uses to describe them now is one which will be used numerous times of them in Scripture, and countless more throughout history. He says they are “a stiff-necked people.”

The word is normally explained as being obstinate, but it is more than that. It signifies a perverse people who want to behave in a way which is both unacceptable and unreasonable, even in spite of the consequences they will face.

It is a metaphor which finds its source in an animal which will not submit itself to yoke or bridle. He stiffens himself against the pull of the rein, even if it hurts. Thus Israel is being described as the very animal they have shaped and worshipped, a twirling calf. It is as if in history we are viewing a rodeo and Israel is the twirling obstinate animal.

They failed to submit to the yoke of God’s law, right in the sight of the burning mountain and just after a breakfast of manna provided by the Lord which formed on the ground upon which they now danced. This term for them will be used again and again to remind them of their infancy in the wilderness where they bowed their hearts away from God and turned their necks, rather than their faces, to Him.

In their defiance, the Lord now displays His anger at them. The dread and horror which was on display at Sinai in the giving of the Ten Commandments can now be expected to be released on them for violating those very same laws. It is a pattern which will be seen time and again in their history. The first is promised, and it is promised right now

10 Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them.

The Lord now states to Moses the words v’atah hanikhah li – “And you let alone Me.” This appears to be a command, but it is not. It is the beginning of another test. Aaron was tested and he failed. Now a new test is being introduced. This becomes clear with the next words, v’yikhar api bahem v’akalem, “…and my wrath will burn hot against them and I will consume them.”

His burning wrath and His promised destruction is merely an exercise in revealing the character of Moses. This is what occurred with Jacob when the Lord wrestled with him in Genesis 32:24-28 –

“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaks.’
But he said, ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’
27 So He said to him, ‘What is your name?’
He said, ‘Jacob.’
28 And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’”

The Lord tested Jacob, not for His own learning, but for Jacob’s. Now we see the same thing occurring again. The Lord has told Moses to leave Him alone, not “that” or “so” his anger may burn against the people, but “and” His anger will burn against them. If Moses agrees, the action will occur. And the test is made greater with our final words of the day…

*10 (fin) And I will make of you a great nation.”

v’e-e-se owtkha l’gow gadol – It is almost an exact repeat of the words spoken to Abraham over 430 years earlier. “And I will make you a great nation.” The mettle of the man is being tested. The love of his people, the faithfulness to his duties, and the desire for recognition are all being established.

As noted earlier, the number forty speaks of a time of evident probation. Aaron failed, the people failed, but Moses’ character is yet to be revealed. He has gone forty days and forty nights without food or water. Will he remain steadfast in His love for his people, his faithfulness to God, and his ability to withstand temptation?

He is being used as a picture of Christ who endured the same testing almost 1500 years later. Next week we will pick up with the account of this memorable incident which we can turn to in order to learn valuable insights into how we ourselves should be willing to act when faced with our own temptations and human limitations.

We, like Israel, like Aaron, and like Moses, have been brought up out of Egypt, the land of sin. The Lord has promised to take us back to the land we originally came from; the Land of Promise. In the meantime, we are to live by faith and not by sight.

We cannot replace our affections and devotions to the Lord with inanimate objects like statues of Mary, or false gods of gold and silver. We cannot trust in money or IRAs to keep us secure as we go. We cannot make sex, work, or wealth our god. Instead, we are being asked to trust the Lord and to pursue Him alone.

I met some nice people as I travelled the US in 2010 who fell into a bad patch. It involved the courts and confinement for the husband, and real distress for the wife and children. They become exceedingly pious and seemed to hold fast to the Lord through what happened, but not long after his confinement ended, he went back to his profession and the money started coming in.

She became a body builder. They stopped posting about the Lord and instead they make posts about the empire they are building. It is an empire built on sand, I assure you. Any such god that we put our trust in will fail us. The money will fade, the looks will disappear, the bodies will tire, and only emptiness will be left. What a sad price to pay for the temporary pleasures of this life.

Let us put away our golden calves and fix our eyes upon the high mountain where the Lord dwells. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Let us be resolute in our stand upon God’s sacred word, and let us never be willing to forsake our love and devotion to our most honored Lord.

If you have never called out to Him to be your Savior, please do it today…

Closing Verse: “They made a calf in Horeb,
And worshiped the molded image.
20 Thus they changed their glory
Into the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham,
Awesome things by the Red Sea.” Psalm 106:19-22

Next Week: Exodus 31:11-24 It’s always exciting to see what the Bible shows us… (The Golden Calf – The Testing of Moses) (90th Exodus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Golden Calf

Now when the people saw
That Moses delayed instead
Coming down from the mountain
The people gathered together to Aaron, and to him said

“Come, make us gods that shall go before us
For as for this Moses, the man who brought us up, also
Out of the land of Egypt
What has become of him, we do not know

And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings
Which are in the ears of your wives, so let it be
Also your sons, and your daughters…
And bring them to me

So all the people broke off
The golden earrings which were in their ears
And brought them to Aaron
Of the Lord God, they showed no fears

And he received the gold from their hand
And he fashioned it with an engraving tool
And made a molded calf
Aaron truly acted like a fool

Then they said
“This is your god, O Israel
That brought you out of the land of Egypt
As you know very well

So when Aaron saw it
He built an altar before it, disobeying God’s word
And Aaron made a proclamation and said
“Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord

Then they rose early on the next day
Offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings
And the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play

And the Lord said to Moses “Go, get down!
For your people whom you brought out
Of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves
They have performed great wickedness, no doubt

They have turned aside quickly
Out of the way which I commanded them, as I did tell
They have made themselves a molded calf
And worshiped it and sacrificed to it as well

And said, ‘This is your god, O Israel
That brought you out of the land of Egypt
This to the people they did tell

And the Lord said to Moses, who was paying heed
“I have seen this people
And it is a stiff-necked people indeed

Now therefore, let Me alone
That My wrath may burn hot against them in my consternation
And I may consume them
And I will make of you a great nation

Lord God, we sure know how to strive against you
It is in our nature to stiffen our necks in this way
Grant us wisdom to do what is right to do
And to be pleasing in Your sight; this we pray

Help us to follow closely what is written in Your word
And be a light on our path, guiding each of us
Help us to be obedient to the things we’ve heard
Concerning what You have done through our Lord Jesus

Lead us to Your place of rest, in eternal glory
That which is promised in the gospel story

For this we pray, and to this help us to attend
And surely we shall praise you forever; days without end

Hallelujah and Amen…

Exodus 31:12-18 (The Law of the Sabbath)

Exodus 31:12-18
The Law of the Sabbath

We have already had several sermons on the Sabbath. It is a theme which one would think would simply dry up so that all we would be doing is repeating the same thing. However, today’s passage is completely different than those of the past, such as Ex 16:22-26, where the Sabbath was introduced into Scripture, or Exodus 20, which dealt with the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath.

This passage today takes us in an entirely different direction, and yet it fully supports those, and all the other passages which deal with the Sabbath. It is a temporary institution which finds its true meaning in Christ. In Him, the picture made by the Sabbath is fulfilled, and thus the Sabbath requirement is ended. Along with the new information comes a marvelous chiasm which I discovered while doing the sermon.

I will lay it out for you now, and at times we will refer to it in the sermon. Chiasms give us hidden structures which reveal what God is thinking. They help us to properly analyze difficult passages and theological concepts and they reveal what their true meaning is. This one is no different –

2 Chiasm

As we read the sermon text, maybe you thought, “Why is the same thing being repeated again and again?” Now you know. The Lord is revealing truths about this most important weekly day which occurred in the lives of Israel of old.

Text Verse: “Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Hebrews 3:7-11

Before we even start with the sermon, we need to be reminded that the Sabbath was a part of the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses is, according to the book of Hebrews, obsolete, annulled, and set aside. It is, according to Paul in Colossians, “nailed to the cross.” We are not Sabbatarians here. We don’t observe an annulled precept from an annulled law in order to be pleasing to God.

Instead, we trust in the work of Christ, and we rest in His finished work – plain and simple. Working deeds of the law in order to attempt to be right with God will lead to only one sad end, separation from God. It is a self-condemning act. This truth, and quite a few others, are poignantly highlighted in today’s verses. Let’s pay heed to what is revealed there… in His Superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. A Sign Between Me and You (verses 12-14)

12 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

v’yomer Yehovah el Moshe lemor – “And said the Lord to Moses saying…” These words introduce the second major section of this chapter. The first began in verse 1 with a very similar phrase. With just a single word of difference, this second section now opens. What is most notable about it, is that it will close out the Lord’s discourse concerning the instructions of the tabernacle and the priestly ordination which began in verse 25:1.

In all, these 6 chapters have comprised 22 individual sermons which have discovered hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of Christ. There has been an amazing amount of information revealed in this 40-day trip up the mountain by Moses. Even 3500 years later, new insights continue to come out of these 6 chapters of 243 verses, such as our chiasm which finally came forth at this time.

13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep,

This final section of the instructions to Moses seems to be completely out of place. Everything to this point concerning his time on the mountain has been in regard to the building of the tabernacle and its associated rites and services. Suddenly, the law of the Sabbath is reintroduced. As I said, it was already mentioned in chapter 16 where it was first introduced.

It was then next mentioned in the giving of the 10 Commandments, specifically it being the fourth of them. Those two incidents would seem to suffice concerning this particular observance, and yet, before closing out His highly detailed discourse, these six verses are given.

After them, will be one more verse concerning the tablets of the Ten Commandments and the chapter will close. Because of this seemingly unusual placement of these seemingly out of context verses, several reasons have been suggested for their inclusion now.

  • “The law of the Sabbath held a particularly prominent place” in the Ten Commandments, and so it is highlighted before they are given to Moses. (Kurtz)
  • “That the holy service in the tabernacle could not supersede the observance of the Sabbath, but derived from that observance its true value.” (Kalisch)
  • That the “penal edict was especially introduced as a caution in reference to the construction of the tabernacle, lest the people, in their zeal to carry on the work, should be tempted to break the divine law for the observance of the day.” (Barnes)
  • “Hitherto the Sabbath had been, in the main, a positive enactment intended to test obedience (Exodus 16:4); now it was elevated into a sacramental sign between God and His people (Exodus 31:13). Having become such a sign, it required to be guarded by a new sanction, and this was done by assigning the death-penalty to any infraction of the law of Sabbath observance (Exodus 31:14-15). (Ellicott)
  • None of the above (Charlie Garrett)

The first reason, that the Sabbath held an especially prominent place in the Ten Commandments, is wholly unjustified. Elevating the Sabbath above the other nine has led to both heresy and the establishment of aberrant cults. That is neither stated in, nor can it be inferred from, Scripture.

The second reason, that the service in the tabernacle could not supersede the observance of the Sabbath, would mean that the rites of the tabernacle would have to be suspended every Sabbath. And yet the directions for the service of the tabernacle mandate that they be conducted, without interruption, every day of the week. Even the ordination of Aaron and his sons was to continue on through Sabbath days.

The third reason, that of the people neglecting the Sabbath to work on the tabernacle, is just wrong. The Sabbath law has been given. For them to assume that they could work on the tabernacle in order to get it finished was not mentioned by the Lord during the instruction of these 6 chapters. In other words, the Sabbath requirement was named at the giving of the Ten Commandments. It was mandated and expected to be kept, just as all ten were.

The last view, that it was because it was elevated to a sacramental sign between God and the people is a correct precept, but that doesn’t explain the placement of it here along with the instructions for the tabernacle. It simply provides an explanation for the penalty of death for a violation of the Sabbath and goes no further.

The issue is, “Why has the Sabbath been placed here, at this time, after giving minute instructions for the building of the tabernacle, and just prior to the physical handing over of the Ten Commandments?” That is the relevant question.

The answer is that if you survive to the end of this sermon, you will be told the reason. In the meantime, you can chew on it as we go through the rest of the verses, and see if you can come to the correct answer.

As far as the use of the word Shabbat, or Sabbath, here, it is the first time that the term shabbatotay or “My Sabbaths” is found in Scripture. First, it shows the personal nature of the Sabbath in relation to the Lord. In observing the Sabbath, there is a direct connection to God’s rest which is recorded in Genesis 2 –

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3

Second, the word is in the plural, “Sabbaths,” because they were a regular occurrence, each week throughout the year. This is why Paul uses the same term when speaking of the “Sabbaths” in Colossians 2:16. They are many, and they are personal to the Lord. This “rest of God” is so important to Him that it will bear several unique connotations and requirements. The first is…

13 (cont’) for it is a sign between Me and you

The Sabbath is to be a sign between the Lord and His people. The word for “sign” is owth. It comes from the verb avah, which means “to sign, mark, [or] describe with a mark.” Thus this type of sign is something that points to something else.

It can point back to a memorial which represents a particular occurrence; it can point forward to something anticipated; and it can reflect something that exists which is only highlighted by the sign itself. In other words, a signature on an important document highlights the authority of the one signing the document.

The Sabbath then is merely a sign intended to highlight a reality which exists already, or which is to be anticipated at some point in the future. Further, this sign is not a temporary thing. Rather, it was intended to remain…

13 (con’t) throughout your generations,

This exact same phrase, l’dorotekem, or “throughout your generations,” has already been used nine times. Looking at those earlier instances will hopefully reveal a truth to you concerning the reason for the placement of this passage.

So far it has been used when speaking of the sign of circumcision which was given to Abraham in Genesis 17. It was used when speaking of the Passover in Exodus 12. It was used concerning the keeping of an omer of Manna in Exodus 16. It was used in the passage concerning the daily offerings at morning and between the evenings in Exodus 29.

It was used in connection with the burning of incense on the Altar of Incense at morning and between the evenings in Exodus 30. And finally, it was used concerning the use of the Holy Anointing Oil in Exodus 30.

Of these nine references to something being done “throughout your generations,” what is the common element? Well, let us ask ourselves, “Are we still required to be circumcised?” No! In fact, Paul says that if we do that in order to be justified by the law, then we are debtors to the whole law. It is a self-condemning act. Circumcision only pointed to the coming Christ.

Are we required to observe the Passover? No! “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Are we still holding on to a golden jar of Manna? No! Why? Because Christ has come! He said –

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 6:47-51

What about the daily sacrifices? What about the offering of incense or the Anointing Oil? What is the common element? The common element is Christ. None of these previous things which were to be l’dorotekem, or “throughout your generations,” was permanent. They were given in anticipation of Christ.

13 (con’t) that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

The Sabbath was a sign, to be observed throughout the generations of Israel, to point to something else. It was given as a sign for the people of Israel to know that it was Yehovah who sanctified them. Just as he blessed and sanctified the seventh day after His creative effort in Genesis, the people of Israel were to know that they were sanctified by that same God. In observing His rest, they were intimately connected to Him and sanctified by Him.

In the words of the Bible connected to the Sabbath, we find a most important truth. First, the Sabbath is given in Exodus 20:11 based on the God’s creative efforts. In Deuteronomy 5:15, the Sabbath is given based on God’s act of redemption. And in this verse, it is tied into God’s work of sanctification.

In other words, the work of all three members of the Trinity are tied up in the Sabbath. God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Sanctifier. Matthew Poole notes –

“…the sabbath owns the Lord as our Creator, and as our Redeemer, and as our Sanctifier; and therefore it is no wonder God so severely enjoins the sanctification of the sabbath, and punisheth the neglect of it, it being a tacit renouncing or disowning of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

14 You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you.

Of these words, Joseph Benson says –

“…it is designed for your benefit as well as for God’s honour; it shall be accounted holy by you.” Joseph Benson

It is the Lord who sanctifies Israel. The Sabbath is the property of God. For Israel it is the inheritance of God. Therefore, Israel was instructed to keep the Sabbath. The directions for the construction, services, and rites of the sanctuary were based on works. They were to work towards the Sabbath each week, and then rest in honor of the works which were performed, even though the priest’s works continued during Sabbath days.

14 (cont’t) Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death;

To profane the Sabbath means to defile it. That which would defile the Sabbath was defined in the Ten Commandments –

In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” Exodus 20:10

Violating these, and any other prohibitions which will be given, would then be considered profaning the Sabbath. However, as we saw in a recent sermon, the priest’s continued to work on the Sabbath and yet they were held guiltless. They did not profane it.

14 (cont’t) for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.

A distinction is especially made between being put to death and being cut off from the people. A person could be cut off from the people without being put to death. The two are not synonymous. A person who offended in such a way as to put himself out of the covenant was considered an outlaw. He was to be cut off from his people. When the offense affected the nation as a whole, then the person was to be put to death.

When a person defiled the Sabbath, they actually caused more harm than may be realized. If nothing was done about his actions, it might spur others to jealousy who were not making the same money as the one who profited from the Sabbath. Further, it would then spur them on to profane the Sabbath as well, knowing that nothing would be done about their actions.

Eventually, the infection would spread, and the people in general would come to this same conclusion. What was a sign to the people would cease being a sign. They would no longer know that it was the Lord who sanctified them, they would no longer fear the Lord, and they would quickly turn from Him to profane worship. This will be noted later today in a passage from Nehemiah.

I am the Lord who sanctifies you
In Me you shall find your rest
What I look for is faith that is true
And in this, I shall put you to the test

I am the Lord, pay heed unto Me
For I will give you a Day of rest
If you will simply trust, you will see
That in My presence you will be eternally blessed

Come unto Me, you who are weary
And in My presence there will be peaceful rest
Come unto Me, leave your life so dreary
If the land of Paradise-restored is your hope-filled quest

II. A Sabbath of Rest, Holy to the Lord (verses 15-17)

15 Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord.

These words of verse 15 form the middle of the chiasm. The term Shabbat Shabbaton, or “rest of restfulness,” gives the idea of complete restfulness.  The Pulpit Commentary translates this as, “but in the seventh is complete rest.”

These words, Shabbat Shabbaton, are a particular term used only seven times in Scripture. It is applied to the Sabbath here and two other times – to the Day of Atonement twice in Leviticus, and to the Sabbatical year in Leviticus. Each of these is only a prefiguring shadow of the work of Christ. That the term is mentioned seven times shows us the spiritual perfection of Christ’s work.

The repetition of Shabbat in Shabbat Shabbaton, using an abstract form of the fixed noun, gives the idea of that which is superlative. Thus, the term “high Sabbath” is used of it in John’s gospel. There he says –

“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” John 19:31

It was a Sabbath, but it also occurred in conjunction with another feast day. Thus John highlighted the day. It truly was the Lord’s Sabbath as He was secreted away in a cave to rest after His great time of work culminating in what we know as the Passion.

In this, it needs to be noted that the life of Israel was working towards a Sabbath. As the verse says, “Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest.” Israel worked and then rested. Just as God worked, and then rested – six followed by one, Israel was to work and then rest – six followed by one.

15 (cont’t) Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

With these words, the chiasm begins its backward descent from the high point of the previous words. This clause forms two separate parts of that chiasm. The first is that of working on the Sabbath; the second is that of being put to death.

The sequence of thought is 1) The infraction – working on the Sabbath; 2) The penalty – mowt yumat, “dying he shall die.” Think about the structure of the chiasm. Line d is an explanatory sentence. Line e is the penalty for the infraction. Line f is what the infraction is.

The first half of the chiasm explains the requirement. It then gives the naming of the punishment first and then the reason for the punishment. The second half of the chiasm does the opposite. It gives the reason for the punishment, then the naming of the punishment, and then the explanatory basis for the sequence.

The middle is the anchor of the two halves.

What is the Lord showing us? If it is about Christ, as we know it is, then there is a reason for the chiastic structure. Keep thinking. The sermon is half over. Until we finish, let’s continue analyzing… The severity of the punishment which is mandated brings a few thoughts to mind. The first is, “Was this punishment ever meted out?”

The answer is that, “Yes, it was.” It is common for a precept to be laid out in the Bible and then an example of punishment for violation to be noted. For the Sabbath, the punishment is recorded in Numbers 14 –

“Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. 34 They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him.

35 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.’” Numbers 14:32-36

The second question is, “Are all violations of this standard which are noted in Scripture handled with the same punishment?” The answer is, “No.” In Nehemiah 13:15, we read –

“In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.”

The third question is, “Are we today required to observe the Sabbath?” If so, what are we doing in church on Sunday instead of Saturday? That will be answered later.

The fourth question is, “For those who claim that the Sabbath is still in effect, meaning the Jews and aberrant cults like the Seventh Day Adventists and various messianic groups, why are they mandating the word of the Lord concerning the Sabbath, but not upholding the word of the Lord by putting their Sabbath breakers to death?” Is their disobedience in this any less damaging than failing to adhere to the requirement of the Sabbath itself?

16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath

These words correspond to line d on the chiasm. The word “therefore” simply says “and” in the Hebrew. The sentence, although explanatory, is more a reaffirmation of the importance of the requirement than being an overall explanation of what has thus far been said.

Israel is again commanded to keep the Sabbath and to observe the Sabbath. The repetition is a stress in itself. The honoring of the Sabbath was to be as important to them as was life in the day itself. We cherish Today because it is the day we are in. It is the moment in which we exist. The observance of the Sabbath was to be just as important and cherished as that state of existence.

To understand this, I can give the example of what Jim and I do on Saturday. Every Saturday, the two of us, along with Tom Alley, do mission work in the projects. At times, people come along with us. It is not their Saturday except for the Saturday that they come. However, for Tom, Jim, and me – it is our Saturday. To not be there is the exception for us. For any others, to be there is the exception for them. Israel’s Saturday was to be their Sabbath, without exception. And it was to be…

16 (con’t) throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.

These words correspond to line c on the chiasm. Again, the idea of the Sabbath was to continue on for the generations to come. However, as we saw earlier, the idea of something continuing throughout the generations does not mean eternally. There is a point where the practice of these generations was to end.

As long as it was in force, it was however, to be a berith olam, or a covenant perpetual. As long as the generations to whom this requirement was assigned were in existence, the requirement stood. The covenant was made at Sinai and it remained in effect until it was superseded by the New Covenant.

The word olam, or perpetual, gives the idea of “to the vanishing point.” Whatever that point was, it was to continue to it. The same term berith olam, or covenant perpetual, was given to Abraham concerning circumcision, something no longer required.

17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever;

These words correspond to line b on the chiasm. We continue to move away from the middle anchor verse, but the precept remains the same. The rest of the Sabbath is to be an owth, a sign. A sign, as I said, points to something else. It is not the thing itself, but stands as representative of the thing. The rest was to be this sign and it was to be so until the vanishing point.

17 (cont’t) for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,

This is not included in the chiasm, but it explains the final line. In order for there to be rest, there was first work. As God worked six days in creating, Israel was to work six days with the creation. The six days were intended to lead to the anticipated seventh…

17 (con’t) and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”

On the seventh day, the Lord rested. Without a doubt, the Lord, meaning Yehovah, has been seen countless times already to be Jesus. He is the incarnate Word of God. He is the Lord in the flesh. In His creative efforts, He made the heavens and the earth, and then He rested. And along with that, it says He “was refreshed.”

The word is naphash. Literally, “He took breath.” This is the only time the word is used in this remarkable way in the Bible as being ascribed to the Lord. After the immense work of creation, the Lord took time to catch His breath and to admire the handiwork which He had so marvelously brought into existence.

The connection between this line of the chiasm and the first line is that it is the Sabbath which the Lord claims as His, and it is the seventh day on which He took His rest. The two are intimately and intricately tied together.

A time of rest for the weary soul
A time to stop and contemplate Jesus
Our Lord, Our God – our Aim, our Goal
The longing desire for each of us

To rest in Him, sweet and sublime
To be still in His presence, safe and secure
For the ages of ages; for all time
Blessed assurance – holy and pure

Oh! To know Christ and to seek Him more
To ponder His majesty as together we rest
Come to Him all you weak, weary, and poor
Find peace and joy, in His comfort be blessed

III. The Tablets of the Testimony (verse 18)

18 And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony,

Everything that has been presented since Exodus 25:1 has been for the reception of these two tablets. After the call for the people to provide materials, the very first thing that was described to Moses was the construction of the Ark of the Testimony and then the Mercy seat. In verse 25:16, after the details for the construction of the Ark, it said, “And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.”

Then again in verse 25:21, after the details were given for the Mercy Seat, the Lord said, “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you.” Every single thing after that was described for the purpose of building a tabernacle and a sanctuary for these stone tablets and then for the conduct of the services and rites associated with that sanctuary. With that speaking for instruction now complete, it says that the tablets were then given to Moses. These tablets were…

18 (con’t) tablets of stone,

lukhot eben, “tablets of stone.” The fact that they are stone is to give the idea of permanence. What is written on them is fixed and is unchanging. That there were two tablets shows something more though. Two in the Bible is the number of difference. In the number, there is a contrast, and yet there is a confirmation.

The precepts of the Ten Commandments fall under two distinct categories. The first five follow a basic pattern of filial obedience, as children to their parents. The first four were directed to God, but in them and in keeping them, they were as children honoring their heavenly Father. The fifth was specifically in honoring of one’s parents. The second set of five deal with interpersonal relationships between man and his fellow man. The contents contrast, and yet they confirm God’s expectations for man.

These two tablets, which are made of stone and which are to be secreted away in the Ark also have another defining characteristic. These were…

*18 (fin) written with the finger of God.

The tablets themselves were made by God, and the writing upon them, which was set in stone, was written by God. They are the law of God which is set and unchanging. Once written, they are set, fixed, and complete. There were 172 words which detailed God’s expectations for man to live in His presence.

However, that they were stone also showed that they could be broken. The words would still be there, but they would be violated if broken. And in fact, Moses will break the first set. And so a second set will need to be made. However, the second set will be made by Moses. This is recorded in Exodus 34:1 –

“Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.”

Later, in the same chapter, the Lord writes on those new tablets –

“So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 34:28

In this we are given a picture of our spiritual state. The laws are permanent, but are capable of being broken. And in fact, God knew that man would break them. God created Adam, pictured by the first set of tablets, and Adam broke God’s law.

Moses made the second set, picturing Christ, coming from the stream of humanity, and yet He never broke God’s law. In both, the law was written by God, but only in Christ does the law remain unbroken. Adam Clarke, at least partially picked up on this when he wrote concerning the giving of these tablets to Moses –

“It is evident therefore that this writing was properly and literally the writing of God himself. God wrote now on tables of stone what he had originally written on the heart of man, and in mercy he placed that before his eyes which by sin had been obliterated from his soul; and by this he shows us what, by the Spirit of Christ, must be rewritten in the mind.” Adam Clarke

The giving of this law, at the end of the directions for the sanctuary, is the fulfillment of what the sanctuary anticipated. All of the details looked forward to Christ, but without the law which Christ fulfilled, there would remain an eternal disconnect between God and man. Only when this law was placed in the Ark and covered by the Mercy Seat, could there be a restoration of that fellowship which was lost in Adam.

In the pages of the Bible, we are hardly there yet, but in type, shadow, and picture, we are getting there with each new passage which speaks of Christ, and which is leading us to Him. And so this passage and the chapter close out with these final words. But we are still missing something. We have not yet correctly answered the question which has eluded those great scholars we cited earlier.

Why was the seemingly disconnected subject of the Sabbath placed here, in the overall theme of the preparation for the Sanctuary? John Lange came very close to answering the enigma when he said –

“It should also be observed that in 35:1 sqq. the command respecting the Sabbath recurs again, and this time precedes the order concerning the erection of the tabernacle. The Sabbath belonged as essentially to the tabernacle and the temple as the Christian Sunday to Christian worship.—A sign between me and you.” John Lange

Just after receiving the details of the sanctuary from the Lord, the subject of the Sabbath is brought up. And then, just prior to Moses conveying the details of the sanctuary which he received, he will say this to the people –

“These are the words which the Lord has commanded you to do: Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” Exodus 35:1-3

The Sabbath is being intricately and intimately tied into the sanctuary. The sanctuary is where the Lord is to reside. It signifies that He is dwelling among the people. The greatest punishment of all for Israel was exile from the presence of the Lord. But this is exactly what was promised for disobedience. In that promise the Lord states the following in Leviticus 26:33-35 –

“I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you;
your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.
34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land;
then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.
35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—
for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.”

The reason for the Sabbath’s inclusion here is because it, like every other detail which has been given in the past six chapters, ultimately points to Christ – His Person and His work, for us. The chiasm itself hints at this.

In the Old Covenant, man worked and then rested. In the New Covenant, man rests and then works. A picture is made of the process of salvation in the two dispensations. Israel worked six days and then rested on the Sabbath. It was an anticipation of the time of rest which lay ahead when all things would be restored.

With Christ’s coming we rest on the first day of the week in honor of His finished work, and then we conduct our work week. This is why in the first half of the chiasm, line e gives the penalty – death, and then line f gives the reason for the penalty – working on the Sabbath.

Whereas in the second half of the chiasm, the order is reversed. First is noted the reason for the penalty – working, and then is given the penalty – death. Our rest is in Christ and what He has done. We have died to the law; we now live in Christ.

If we work in an attempt to please God, we are cut off from God. But if we accept Christ’s work, we are saved by grace and through faith. Works are excluded. They can only condemn, not save. The book of Hebrews explains the rest of God in great detail. In Chapter 4 we read these words –

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” Hebrews 4:1-5

Speaking of those who had been disobedient, the word says that “They shall not enter My rest.” But for those who have believed, verse 3 says, “For we who have believed do enter that rest.” Everything about the sanctuary centers on Jesus.

All of it points to our return to Eden and into God’s rest which is from the foundation of the world. Now, by faith in Christ we do enter that rest. Like the sanctuary itself, the Sabbath is obsolete because Christ has come. This then explains why the Sabbath is included in these sanctuary instructions. It is a part of the rites of the law; the law is fulfilled; it is set aside.

Because of this, works are excluded. And for those Jews who have missed the grace train, to this day they are still working, having failed to trust in Christ. They exist in this new dispensation, that of grace, and thus are cut off from His provision.

However, the Bible tells us of their coming day of restoration. They will finally, after 2000 years, call on Him as a nation. They will be brought into the covenant, and they will enter their time of rest. This is what we call “the millennium.” In this, we see that the Sabbath is a sign between the Lord and Israel.

The great Sabbath is coming in the final dispensation of time as we know it. The world has been at war and in strife for six thousand years, but when the nation of Israel calls out for their Messiah, He will return to them. The Sabbath is a sign between the Lord and Israel because it pictures something else. It pictures that truly wondrous time on earth when wars will cease, where –

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9

This then explains the rare term of verse 18, naphash. Literally, “He took breath.” The Lord will sit on His throne in Jerusalem and will take His breath. His work will be fully complete in the restoration of all things for that marvelous millennial period.

This, however, also explains why the priests were held guiltless, even when working on the Sabbath. It pictures Christ’s continued role, at all times, as our great High Priest. The priests of Old, only pointed to the true Priest – Christ. Insightfully, Matthew Poole shows that the Sabbath of Israel was a fivefold sign to Israel –

  1. Commemorative, of God’s creation of and dominion over them and all other things.
    2. Indicative, showing that they were made to be holy, and that their sanctification can be had from none but from God.
    3. Distinctive, whereby they owned themselves to be the Lord’s peculiar people.
    4. Prefigurative, of that rest which Christ should purchase for them.
    5. Confirmative, both assuring them of God’s good will to them, and that as he blessed the sabbath for their sakes, so he would bless them in the holy use of it with temporal, spiritual, and everlasting blessings. Matthew Poole (amended)

He noted that it was only prefigurative of Christ and the rest that He would purchase for them. We are still awaiting the day when they will see this, but maybe one of you has yet to receive it as well. He has already done the work. All we need to do is simply reach out by faith and grab it.

If you are here and feel that you have to somehow merit God’s favor by some work or another, the Bible shows that you have missed the mark. God has done the work in Christ. Trust in that and be found pleasing to God by simple belief in His mighty deeds, accomplished by Christ and just for you…

Closing Verse: So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Colossians 2:16, 17

Next Week: Exodus 32:1-10 Worshipping anything but the Lord will leave you baron… (The Golden Calf – The Testing of Aaron) (89th Exodus sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Law of the Sabbath

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying
These are the words He was relaying

Speak also to the children of Israel, saying:
Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, so shall it be
For it is a sign between Me and you
Throughout your generations, as commanded by Me

That you may know that I am the Lord
Who sanctifies you, and so pay heed to My word

You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore
For it is holy to you
Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death
This is what you are to do

For whoever does any work on it
That person shall be cut off from among his people
So to you I submit

Work shall be done for six days
But the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord
Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day
He shall surely be put to death, according to My word

Therefore the children of Israel
Shall keep the Sabbath, so shall they do
To observe the Sabbath throughout their generations
As a perpetual covenant; a covenant between Me and you

It is a sign between Me
And the children of Israel forever; thus we are enmeshed
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth
And on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed

And when He had made an end
Of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, no more could Moses linger
He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony
Tablets of stone, written with God’s finger

O God, again we come to Your word
To search it out for what You would of us expect
And in so searching we find our precious Lord
And in Him, only grace and mercy can we detect

For those who have trusted in Jesus
We have the surest hope of all
Magnificent, wondrous things He has done for us
Because upon His precious name, we did call

How can such love be, O God?
Surely it is exceeds heaven’s highest height
And so for sending Jesus we joyously applaud
Because through Him, all things are new –
Once again all things are right

Hallelujah and Amen…

Exodus 31:1-11 (Bezalel and Aholiab)

Exodus 31:1-11
Bezalel and Aholiab

The contents of today’s passage are significantly different than that which we have seen for quite a while. Instead of directions to make things or to perform certain tasks, the focus here will be on those who are going to do the actual work.

In particular, and by name, the Lord has selected two men who will be in charge of seeing that it gets done. In calling them by name, it indicates that He is both aware of their capabilities, and that He will use them in pictures of Christ. Were this not so, then there would be no need to name them.

Many others are noted as helping out in the tasks, but their names aren’t given. However, none of them are unknown to God. Though we will look at the details of the passage from a historical and literal perspective, and also from a perspective which points to Christ, we shouldn’t overlook the moral and personal characteristic of the verses.

The Lord is having a sanctuary built. It requires materials, instructions, leaders, workers, time, energy, and so on. Every detail of this process demonstrates a need to be fulfilled. Jesus said this during His ministry –

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?” Luke 14:28-31

It is unfathomable to think that the Lord would direct Moses to build this sanctuary and not have calculated that every detail of it could be met. Each person who participated, in whatever way, was a part of what the Lord had already figured into the job. If this is so with an earthly sanctuary that was to take up a limited amount of space, and which would take less than a year to complete, how much more carefully do you think the Lord has considered every detail of His heavenly sanctuary, of which we are a part!

As this is so, and as you are a part of that equation if you have called on Christ, then it means that the Lord knows you intimately, He is using you exactingly, and He will complete His good work in you perfectly.

Considering that the workers of the tabernacle could have made little flaws in their work and not said anything about it, such as scratching a piece of wood and saying, “Oh, it will be covered with gold anyway, I don’t need to sand it down,” it means that the Lord allowed the workers to decide the quality of their work.

If Moses, or one of the men mentioned today didn’t approve of what was handed to them, they could refuse to use it. Instead, it would be discarded, burnt, used for something else, or whatever, but they decided what was acceptable and what wasn’t.

The same is true with us. The Lord will look at our work for Him and decide whether it is worthy of reward, or whether it will be burned up. It is up to us how we conduct our duties for His coming kingdom. For this reason, I have to tell myself (and the Lord) often, “What I am doing right now counts forever.” You should have the same attitude. Let yourselves be used up for the Lord now. When we stand before Him, it will have been well worth it.

Text Verse: “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and discretion.” Proverbs 8:12

Jobs need to be done, and if they are important to the Lord’s plans, they will, in fact, get done. We have a little church here, but there are jobs that need to get done. To me, some days are overwhelming, but apparently the load is what I am to be given. If I couldn’t take it and the job didn’t get done, it would either mean that it wasn’t a needed part of the Lord’s plans, or that the Lord was ready to send someone else to help in the tasks. JFB says –

“When God has any special work to be accomplished, He always raises up instruments capable of doing it;” Jamieson-Faucett-Brown

I would hope the things we are doing at the Superior Word are a part of His plans. And I would also hope that the Lord will raise up helping instruments for some of the tasks that will need to be done. When they walk through the door, it will be a welcome relief. Until then, “Use me up Lord. This life is yours.”

This is the moral lesson I’d like to give you today. Have this attitude. Christ is coming soon enough. Now let’s get into the literal and pictorial aspects of today’s passage. It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Bezalel (verses 1-5)

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

v’dabber Yehovah el Mosheh lemor – And spoke (the word) Yehovah to Moses saying. This is now a new thought which is introduced into the discourse and so the words are offset from what is to come. Moses has his pen out and he is awaiting a new set of instructions from the Lord. Likewise, as the recipients of the word, we are being prepared for something and are being asked to get ready as well.

The chapter will logically be divided into three sections. The first is verses 1-11. This will be followed by verses 12-17. Finally, a closing thought concerning this most important time on the mountain will be given in verse 18.

“See, I have called by name

In the Bible, it is a high honor when the Lord calls someone by name. It indicates that they have been chosen for a specific reason and to perform a particular task or mission. This is especially so in regards to redemptive history.

In Isaiah 43, the Lord told the people of Israel that He had called them by name and for His sovereign purposes in the conduct of redemptive history. Two chapters later, He says the same thing about a pagan king, Cyrus, who the Lord called by name in order to fulfill His will concerning Israel’s release so that redemptive history could continue on the course purposed by the Lord –

“Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.” Isaiah 45:1-4

Here in Exodus, after the Lord has given all of the many details concerning the gifts of the people, the design of the sanctuary, including the tabernacle and its furniture, the courtyard, the garments for the priesthood, and the making of the special anointing oil and holy incense, the Lord is calling someone by name for a particular purpose. And that person is…

2 (con’t) Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur,

The name Betsalel is formed of three parts. The el at the end means “God.” The “b” at the beginning signifies “in.” and the middle part comes from the noun tsel, meaning shadow. Thus his name means “In the Shadow of God.” As shade is considered a protection in the Bible, such as from the heat of the sun, it thus is a metaphor for “In the Protection of God.” This idea of the shadow being protection is seen several times in Scripture, such as these memorable words from Psalm 91 –

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.’” Psalm 91:1, 2

It is even used to speak of the Lord Himself, such as –

“The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.” Psalm 121:5, 6

He is the son of Uri, whose name means probably something like either “My Light” or “Light of Yehovah.” The name of Uri’s father is Hur which means “White.” This is Hur who was already seen in Exodus 17 along with Moses and Aaron atop the hill during the battle with Amalek. He was also mentioned in Exodus 24 as being left in charge of the camp, along with Aaron, when Moses ascended the mountain to receive this law.

Although not in the Bible, Josephus says that Hur was the husband of Miriam and thus Bezalel would then be the son of Moses’ nephew. If so, then the Lord is keeping the authority of the camp and the making of the sacred implements very close in regards to relationship with Moses.

This Bezalel is considered so important to the artistic work of the sanctuary, that he is mentioned first by Moses in the calling of the people to their tasks in Exodus 35 & 36, but he is even mentioned alone as some of the separate portions of the work are accomplished in Exodus 37.

Bezalel, and his contribution to Jewish culture is regarded in such high honor, even to this day, that Israel’s national school of art is named after him. It is the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design which was established in 1906, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Israel. It is located at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In the personal naming of Bezalel as the chief builder, all grounds for any type of discontent or jealousy would be removed. Nobody could feel that they had been overlooked despite the merits they possessed. And with the amount of labor to be done, it is certain that anyone with suitable ability would have plenty of opportunity to show his skills under the authority of Bezalel.

2 (con’t) of the tribe of Judah.

l’matteh yehuda. Matteh means a rod or staff.  It was first used in the Bible in Genesis 38 when Tamar asked for Judah’s staff as a pledge of future payment for services rendered. There it said –

So she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”
17 And he said, “I will send a young goat from the flock.”
So she said, “Will you give me a pledge till you send it?
18 Then he said, “What pledge shall I give you?”
So she said, “Your signet and cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” Then he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 So she arose and went away, and laid aside her veil and put on the garments of her widowhood. Genesis 38:16-19

After that, it became a very common word in Exodus as Moses’ matteh, or staff, was used to work the many miracles for the Lord and against Pharaoh leading up to and including the time of the Exodus. However, this is the first time the word matteh is used of a tribe rather than a physical rod.

To understand the connection, a staff is something used for chastening and correction, as a symbol of rule, and as something one would lean on for support. Therefore, the staff of Judah symbolizes those things in the tribe which issue from him. He is their support, their line of rule, and their authority for chastening as well. Therefore, his staff symbolizes the tribe of people who descend from him.

The staff is even figuratively used as the support of life itself, and thus it is used to speak of bread. Hence we get the basis of the expression, “Bread is the staff of life.” As you read through the Bible, think on how this word is used in relation to both the tribe of Judah and the One who descended from Judah, but from whom Judah originally came – Christ the Lord.

Bezalel is specifically, the seventh from Judah. In line, his genealogy reads Bezalel, Uri, Hur, Caleb, Hezron, Perez, Judah.

And I have filled him with the Spirit of God,

The term male or “fill” was used in the directions for the consecration of Aaron and his sons. The term was specifically “fill the hand.” It meant that they would be set apart as acceptable concerning the offerings which filled their hands from the people and to the Lord. Thus, the term “fill the hand” indicated their acceptability and hence their consecration.

Now the term is used again concerning Bezalel – va’amale otow ruakh elohim. He is said to be filled with the ruakh elohim or “Spirit of God.” This means that his work will be acceptable concerning the things which are required for him to accomplish.

A question arises concerning this verse as to whether this was a direct infusion of the Spirit of God, or if it was simply who he was as a person, created by God. It is more sensational to speculate that he was especially infused with the Spirit, but that has to be read into this as much as the opposite view.

Looking at it as an external filling also gives those who lean to the charismatic side a chance to claim they also are somehow externally filled with the Spirit of God. But when Paul instructs believers to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit, the word is passive, not active.

It is God who fills, not us. So how can we be “filled” with the Holy Spirit? The answer is, “By yielding ourselves to God.” Bezalel, and indeed all who are filled with the Spirit are filled by God as they yield to Him. Therefore, it is more than probable that the gifts which Bezalel possessed were used in this way. As James says –

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17

Like Bezalel, we all have gifts which are unique. Our makeup, and indeed all things, originally stem from God. He has filled us all with wisdom according to His purposes. What we do with it will either glorify Him or not, but the intelligence and wisdom we have certainly came from Him.

If He supplemented Bezalel directly through external inspiration, that was His prerogative to do so, but if He simply chose him, knowing that his makeup was such that he could accomplish all these tasks, it doesn’t diminish His hand in the process at all.

Bezalel was a son of Adam who was created by God, just as we all are. He submitted to God’s will in order to accomplish the tasks set before him. We too have the ability to perform wonderful things. When those things are done to glorify the Lord, they find a true purpose that is lacking in any other such endeavors.

3 (con’t) in wisdom,

The word is khokmah and it was first seen in Exodus 28:3 –

“So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest.” Exodus 28:3

The word signifies wisdom in a good sense. It is a common word, but it is used a great deal in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. It refers to understanding which is rightly applied in a wise, prudent, or beneficial way.

3 (con’t) in understanding,

The word is tebunah. It indicates discretion, reason, skillfulness, understanding, and wisdom. Again, it is mostly used in Proverbs and it indicates an ability to comprehend. A man may read a sentence and understand its surface meaning, but he may not comprehend the deeper meaning that goes along with it, such as in a pun or an idiom. There were a bunch of pillows at the store. I got one, but my wife got the rest.

3 (con’t) in knowledge,

The word is daath. It was first seen in Genesis 2:9 when speaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It indicates knowledge in the general sense. One is either aware of something or they are not. If they are, then they can use that for understanding or even in wisdom. In this we can think of empirical, experimental, or experiential knowledge.

3 (con’t) and in all manner of workmanship,

The word is melakah. It is the same as the word malak, or angel. It thus signifies employment in a task or job, but never in a servile way. Rather it would be in an industry or occupation. Just as an angel or a messenger has his duty to carry out, this indicates the ability to accomplish the task at hand by employing the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom one possesses.

In these aspects of workmanship, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, we again see Bezalel as a type of Christ who possesses the Holy Spirit without measure, and “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze,

The first category is lakhshov makhashavot. The words come from the same root and carry the idea of considering or contemplating. In other words, it could be paraphrased, “to think-out thoughts,” “to prepare proportions,” “to devise devices,” (YLT), “to create constructions,” “to sculpt schemes,” shall I go on? “to wisely work works,” “to fashion forms,” etc. Thus, “to design artistic works” fits the description well.

These would be those things which needed to be shaped according to the instructions of Moses based on the patterns he was given. These would be in the metals for which each was specified. The gold for those which were to be gold, the silver for those designated as silver, and the bronze for those called to be bronze.

John Gill says that “it is not to be supposed there were either goldsmiths or brasiers among the Israelites; only masons and bricklayers, and brickmakers, and such sort of manufacturers.” That is an assumption based on no facts at all.

Just because the people were noted as brick makers in the early Exodus account doesn’t mean that all of them were such. Nor does it mean that people didn’t do other jobs on their own time. And it also is known that a vast multitude of others came out with Israel. As they had met the requirements of Exodus 12:48, they were now included in the collective people of Israel. The Lord has already said in chapter 28 that people with such skills were, in fact, available for these tasks.

in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.

The word for both cutting and carving is the same. It is kharosheth. In this noun form, it is only found four times, here and twice again in Exodus 35:33. It indicates mechanical work such as carved or cut. Despite being a noun, almost all translators make it a verb.

Several commentators note that instead of carving wood it should instead read “cutting.” The Pulpit Commentary says, “The word is the same as that used of the stones. And no ornamental ‘carving’ of the woodwork was prescribed.”

This may not be correct. Unless the horns of the altars were very basic in form, there was carving to be done on them. Also, there is no reason to assume that the actual pattern Moses was shown didn’t include other carved details as well. It very well may be that all of the wood was cut only, but that cannot be known for sure.

In the shadow of God, I find my rest
There under His wings all of my troubles cease
I am safe and secure, no longer oppressed
I have found safe refuge and a place of peace

Here I will stay, I have found my home
Under His wings, where all my troubles cease
Never from this safety will I roam
Here in this place I have found my peace

Thank You, O God for Christ my rest
Because of Him, all troubles now cease
In this home, I am more than just a temporary guest
Here in this home and as a son, I have found eternal peace

II. Aholiab (verses 6-11)

“And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach,

By name, the Lord chose a second person to perform the necessary tasks required for the overall job. His name is Aholiab. The name comes from av, which means “father,” and ohel, which means “tent.” Therefore, the name means “Father’s Tent.” The word ohel is used to describe the “Tent of Meeting” which has been noted time and time again in these last chapters.

It is not a coincidence that the names of Bezalel and Aholiab are so similar in meaning. Bezalel means “In the Shadow of God” and Aholiab means “Father’s Tent.” When considering Christ, the two come more clearly into focus.

However, the name Aholiab has a second meaning. The word ahal is used once in the Bible, in Job 25:5. It means “to shine.” Thus the secondary meaning of his name is “Father’s Shine.” Considering that the name of Bezalel’s father is Uri, or “My Light,” we have either an amazing coincidence, or we are being shown a picture because both speak of the Father’s radiance. This Aholiab is the son of Akhisamakh. His name means “My Brother has Supported.”

6 (con’t) of the tribe of Dan;

It is of note that this person is of the tribe of Dan as was the main artificer for the Temple of Solomon. We see this in 2 Ch 2:13, 14 –

“And now I have sent a skillful man, endowed with understanding, Huram my master craftsman 14 (the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre), skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, purple and blue, fine linen and crimson, and to make any engraving and to accomplish any plan which may be given to him, with your skillful men and with the skillful men of my lord David your father.”

6 (con’t) and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans,

The Hebrew literally reads, “…in the hearts of all of the wise hearted I have put wisdom.” Again, it appears that the wisdom they possess was already possessed by them. It was there because God designed it to be there when He designed them. This fits perfectly with the idea brought out in the words of the Lord to Jeremiah –

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

There is no need to assume that this wisdom came at the time of their appointment in the stream of time, but rather, it was a wisdom that they possessed at the time of their appointment by God in His eternal mind and which was given to them at birth.

6 (con’t) that they may make all that I have commanded you:

All of the people, those named and those who are unnamed, are filled with the wisdom necessary to accomplish all of the tasks that the Lord has laid down for Moses to fulfill.

the tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tabernacle—

Although the details for the Ark were given first, the tent (not the tabernacle!) is mentioned first here. The word for “tent” is ohel, and it is the same word as the root of the name Aholiab. It is, again, not a coincidence that he was introduced in the verse preceding this one. A stress is being laid on the word tent for us to consider. Only after the tent is named is the Ark with its Mercy Seat detailed. These are found in the Most Holy Place. From there “all the furniture of the tent” is next named…

the table and its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense,

These are the three implements found in the Holy Place, east of the veil. The Table of Showbread was on the north of the room. The Menorah was opposite it on the south. And the Altar of Incense was to be further west, before the veil.

The word used to describe the lampstand is tahor. It means “pure,” and it is the same adjective used to describe the gold of the Ark, Mercy Seat, etc. However, only this item is called tahor in this list, not the others. Therefore, it is probably not speaking of the gold used in its making, but rather it is being used to describe its function. It is resplendent brightness.

the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base—

These are the two bronze items which were located in the courtyard. The altar was furthest east by the entrance, and the laver was further west, closer to the tent itself.

10 the garments of ministry, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests,

Two most enigmatic words are introduced here – bigde ha’serad, translated as “the garments of ministry.” The NKJV brushes over them by ignoring the next word which is “and.” In other words, it reads, “…the garments of ministry, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons…”

By ignoring the “and” it makes it look like the second clause is simply explaining the first, but it isn’t. These bigde ha’serad are only mentioned four times, and all in this same context. One possibility is that the term is speaking first of Aaron’s garments alone. It is then followed by an explanation of the garments which belonged to him and his sons alike. This really doesn’t explain the “and” between the clauses though.

Another explanation is that they are the coverings which will be placed over the sacred things when they are transported from place to place. Those are described in Numbers 4. This is very likely because they are described with the same word, beged. Just because they have not yet been detailed, doesn’t mean that they cannot be noted now. On several occasions, we have already seen other things mentioned in advance of their details. For this reason, I would personally go with this explanation.

11 and the anointing oil and sweet incense for the holy place.

The last two items mentioned before this chapter are noted now, and in the same order. If you remember, every detail of everything we have seen in all of these past 20 sermons concerning these implements has pictured Christ. The number probably reaches above a thousand. All of this is now instructed to be made…

*11 (fin) According to all that I have commanded you they shall do.”

Moses’ notebook is full of notes. He has been given extremely detailed instructions, and they have followed amazing patterns of intricacy and design. The wisdom behind the words is reflective of the wisdom of God in Christ. Receiving and then analyzing these instructions of the past chapters which were given to Moses has personally been one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

I will dwell with the Lord for all eternity
Here in His tent I have found my home
At peace and at rest by the glassy sea
Never shall I from this marvelous spot roam

In the tent of my Father, no cares can be found
I am at peace in this spot, dwelling in His glory
Listening to the marvelous, beautiful sound
Of the eternally unfolding, matchless story

In my Father’s tent all troubles have ceased
I am at peace in this place Christ prepared for me
And with the redeemed, from the greatest to the least
Here we will dwell for all eternity

III. Pictures of Christ

As soon as the introduction was made, the Lord noted that He had called Bezalel. His name means, “In the Shadow of God.” Thus it is the place of closeness, fellowship, and protection. This is seen for example in Psalm 63:7 –

“Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.” Psalm 63:7

The shadow of the wings indicates being right up against the body of the bird, covered by it, and protected by it. That, in turn, describes Jesus who is described in the same close relation to God the Father –

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. John 1:18

There He rests in the shadow, or close relation to His Father. Bezalel is next said to be the Son of Uri. Uri, as noted, means either “My Light” or “Light of Yehovah.” In this context, they both have the same end signification – that of Jesus, the Light of the world. The same wording of the name Uri, or “My Light,” is used by David when speaking of the Lord in the 27th Psalm –

“The Lord is my light (ori) and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1

After naming Uri, his father Hur is then named. The name means “White.” In Exodus 17, he pictured Christ the King. The same picture is given again. Each name is intended to show us Christ. He is the King, He is the Light, and He is the One who is in the bosom of the Father.

Finally, it is said that he is from the “staff” or “tribe” of Judah. The line was specifically selected to show us types of Christ who likewise descended from this royal tribe of Judah. Judah means “Praise.” This again shows us Christ, the One who brings God praise through His work. This is made explicit in Hebrews 2 –

“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:
‘I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.’” Hebrews 2:11, 12

Next, Bezalel was said to be filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. Isaiah could not have made a more perfect match of this to the coming Christ –

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:1, 2

Paul follows up with a similar, but shorter description of Christ in the New Testament –

“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

This workmanship that Bezalel was endowed with was in order to build the Lord’s sanctuary; His dwelling place; His temple. This is an exact type of Christ who likewise is the One to build the Lord’s temple. This is noted in both testaments, such as in Zechariah 6 –

“Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
From His place He shall branch out,
And He shall build the temple of the Lord.” Zechariah 6:12

It is also seen in Ephesians 2 –

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21

In these verses, Bezalel, or “In the Shadow of God,” of the tribe of Judah – all picturing Jesus – is called by name to show us a most fitting picture of the coming Christ. After this, the many materials were noted, each as we have seen in previous sermons picture Christ. The gold, His deity; His divine glory –

“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” John 17:5

The silver, His work of redemption –

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5

The bronze, His judgment. First of judgment on sin –

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:20, 21

And also of His judgement of sin –

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:” 2 Timothy 4:1

The stones to be cut, as we saw, signify the mediatorial role of Christ. They were to be on the shoulders and on the breastplate of the high priest. The true stone is Christ mentioned throughout Scripture as the stone rejected by men, but chosen by God, and precious. We are thus lesser stones, supported by Him through His role as our Mediator to God.

In all, five specific materials were mentioned here – gold, silver, bronze, stones, and wood. Five is the number of grace. It thus signifies the grace of God in the building of the temple, prefigured by the artificer Bezalel.

After this, Aholiab was introduced. His name means “Father’s Tent.” This is speaking of the incarnation of Christ as is seen in the words of John –

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tented) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

However, the name also has a secondary meaning of “Father’s Shine.” Thus it signifies the glory of the Father. He again is a type of Christ. The glory of the Father is revealed in the glory of the Son. This is seen in the book of Hebrews where it speaks of Christ in relation to the Father –

“…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…” Hebrews 1:3

As I said earlier, the two names, Bezalel and Aholiab, are both connected in two specific ways. The first is that Bezalel means “In the Shadow of God” and Aholiab means “Father’s Tent.” They are showing us a picture that Christ is the one who resides in the Godhead with the Father.

But even more both names are connected directly to the radiance of the Father. Bezalel’s father is Uri or “My Light,” and Aholiab has the secondary meaning of “Father’s Shine.” Both names are given to show us that the glory of God the Father shines or radiates out in the Light of Christ. This can be no mistake.

Aholiab was next noted as the son of Ahisamach, meaning “My Brother has Supported.” This reflects the words of Hebrews 2 –

“Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:17, 18

Notice that the name of the Ahisamach’s father isn’t given. Instead of three generations like Bezalel, only two are given here. This shows us that the Lord uses names only when they will make a type of Christ for us to see.

Aholiab is said to be from Dan. Dan means “Judge.”  The sanctuary being built isn’t just a place of praising God as the name Judah implies. It is also a place of Judgment as the name Dan implies. Both purposes are seen in the selection of these two men.

Further, the two tribes are not without another important meaning. When the tribes broke down and moved from place to place, they always broke down in a specific order. Judah always travelled first, Dan always travelled last. This is seen in Numbers 10 –

“The standard of the camp of the children of Judah set out first…” Numbers 10:14 ///  “Then the standard of the camp of the children of Dan (the rear guard of all the camps) set out according to their armies…” Numbers 10:25

The two men from the two tribes shows the totality of the work of Christ – from beginning to end and everything in between. All of God’s people are included in the work Bezalel and Aholiab, and all of God’s people are included in the grouping of Judah to Dan. None are missing. The two sets represent the whole. In Christ, praise forever goes first, because judgment forever goes behind.

After the naming of Aholiab, the words “that they may make all that I have commanded you” are given. This is followed up with a list of all of the implements for the tent and outside of the tent. Each of these has been described in detail and each, if you remember, pictured Christ minutely. Following the naming of those things a second admonition is given, “According to all that I have commanded you they shall do.”

These two men, picturing Christ and His work in such specific detail, were to do everything according to the word of the Lord. This is perfectly reflected in Jesus’ words –

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38

Christ performed the task set before Him, according to all that He was given to do. And He did it perfectly. As I said at the beginning of the sermon, we have been given tasks as well. Or we have the opportunity to assume tasks that need to be done. When we go about these things, let us say, “Not my will, Lord Jesus, but Thy will be done.”

Let us allow the Lord to use us up now so that He can lavish wonderful rewards upon us in the future. Let us do this to the glory of God and in the spirit of honoring the greater work already accomplished through the giving of His Son for us. And lastly, if you have never taken the step of receiving Christ Jesus, you really need to get that done now. Eternity is forever and we will all spend it somewhere. In Christ, it is a very good end; without Him, not so much. Let me tell you what you need to know…

Closing Verse: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Next Week: Exodus 31:12-18 It is for the end of the week’s path… (The Law of the Sabbath) (88th Exodus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Bezalel and Aholiab

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying
These are the words that He was relaying

“See, I have called by name
Bezalel the son of Uri
The son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah
Yes, he has been called by name by Me

And I have filled him with the Spirit of God
In wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge too
And in all manner of workmanship
There are many things for Me he shall do

To design artistic works
To work in gold, in silver, in bronze also
In cutting jewels for setting
In carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship –
It is so

And I, indeed I, have appointed with him
Aholiab the son of Ahisamach; of the tribe of Dan
And I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans
Special wisdom according to each man

That they may make all that I have commanded you
The tabernacle of meeting, so shall it be
The ark of the Testimony
And the mercy seat that is on it, as directed by Me

And all the furniture of the tabernacle—
The table and its utensils, all of these
The pure gold lampstand with all its utensils
The altar of incense, for a sweet burning aroma, Me to please

The altar of burnt offering with all its utensils
And the laver and its base, as you know
The garments of ministry
The holy garments for Aaron the priest, let it be so

And the garments of his sons
To minister as priests, yes before My face
And the anointing oil
And sweet incense for the holy place

According to all that I have commanded you
These are the things they shall do

Thank You, Lord for the wonderful detail we see
Every word is precious for us to ponder
And all of it points to Jesus ever so marvelously
Thank You for sharing with us such splendid wonder

Hear our thanks as we praise you for all of our days
Forever and ever we shall sing to You with joyous praise

Hallelujah and Amen…



Exodus 29:1-14 (The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons – Part I)

Exodus 29:1-14
The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons, Part I

Towards the end of chapter 28, the Lord told Moses the purpose of the special garments which were made for Aaron and his sons. In verse 41, he said –

“So you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him. You shall anoint them, consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to Me as priests.” Exodus 28:41

The covenant was cut, the law was confirmed, and the place where the law would be administered has been described. Further, the instructions for making the garments of those who would administer the law has been given. Every detail has ultimately pointed to the work of Christ.

And so before going on, it needs to be noted that if each of these things which has been given to administer the law point to Christ, then in Christ’s coming, they are no longer needed. The ark and its mercy seat; the table of showbread; the menorah; the tabernacle and the tent; the courtyard; each pillar and socket – all of it.

If Christ fulfilled these pictures, then the items are no longer needed. And if there is no longer a need for an ark or a mercy seat or a temple to contain them, then the law which these things detailed is no longer in effect. One cannot have a law without one to minister that law. And one cannot have a minister of the law if there is no place to minister.

This should be as clear as crystal to Christians. And yet, the heresy of reinstating the law into our theology never ceases to raise its ugly head. And so, even before looking at the consecration of Aaron and his sons for the priesthood of the law, let us remember this truth. The law and everything associated with it only pointed to Christ, including this priesthood. The author of Hebrews explains this…

Text Verse: “For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.” Hebrews 7:12, 13

Let us never lose sight of this fundamental truth as we now turn to the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood; a priesthood which only remained in effect until it was superseded by the work of Christ, our true High Priest who descends not from Aaron, but from Judah.

This is why the author of Hebrews almost immediately follows up with words that tell us that the Law of Moses is annulled “because of its weakness and unprofitableness.” The law made nothing perfect. But on the other hand, in Christ there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we can now draw near to God.

In Christ, we have a new priesthood, an eternal one which is superior to the law in all ways. We have a Mediator who is without sin and who will never fail us. Let us remember this truth as we look at the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood. These were fallible men administering a law of bondage and death.

However, it is a necessary part of the redemptive story. By seeing the failings of this priesthood, the glory of Christ’s priesthood stands out all the more radiantly. It is all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Investiture of Aaron and His Sons (Verses 1-9)

“And this is what you shall do to them to hallow them

As I said, at the end of chapter 28, Moses was given instructions to anoint, consecrate, and sanctify Aaron and his sons. We will now be given the specific process by which this is to be accomplished. In Leviticus 8, the actual rites which are prescribed here will be carried out.

The word translated here as “hallow” means to sanctify. It is what is required in order to set them apart for their duties. Five things will be accomplished in order to sanctify them. The first is washing. This is found in verse 4. The next will be investiture of them with the garments of the priesthood. This will be seen in verses 5-9.

After this, will come the anointing mentioned in verse 7. After that will be the sacrifices of the bull and the rams. This is recorded in verses 10-23. And finally, will be the filling of the hand as recorded in verse 24. This filling will be for the purpose of a wave offering. Charles Ellicott notes the purpose of these five acts –

“All of these were symbolical acts, typical of things spiritual—ablution, of the putting away of impurity; investiture, of being clothed with holiness; unction, of the giving of Divine grace, &c.; the entire consecration forming an acted parable, very suggestive and full of instruction to such as understood its meaning.” Charles Ellicott

Here in verse 1, the offerings are mentioned first. The Pulpit Commentary says this is because it was to have them “in readiness when the investiture and anointing were over.” This is incorrect. Moses is still on the mountain and only receiving instructions. He isn’t actually there, ready to do the prescribed tasks. The same thing here is happening as that which occurred with the mentioning of such things as at other times, like the ark and the mercy seat being mentioned first before all other furniture.

The thing which sanctifies is mentioned first. In the case of the animals, it is their shed blood which will be used to cover the sins of Aaron and his sons. For this reason, the bull and rams are named first. Each step of the process is showing us the holiness of God and the need for atonement, even for the high priestly line.

1 (con’t) for ministering to Me as priests:

It should be understood that these things were required, and they allowed Aaron and his sons to minister to the Lord, but they did not make them perfect. This will be seen throughout the history of Israel under the law. Further, when the high priest sacrificed for Israel each year on the Day of Atonement, he first had to sacrifice for his own sins. Therefore, the Aaronic priesthood is one of imperfection, but established by grace and with mercy. Were this not given, these men would be unacceptable as priests to the Lord.

1 (con’t) Take one young bull and two rams without blemish,

The first portion of the hallowing process is to take one young bull. The word is par. It comes from parar, which means “to defeat.” Par means “a bullock” because it breaks “forth in wild strength.” It may also have a reference to dividing the hoof.

They are also instructed to take two rams. The ram is ayil. This comes from uwl, meaning “mighty.” Therefore, it indicates strength or anything strong. In the case of a ram, it is the strong animal of the flock.

Those selected are to be “without blemish.” The Hebrew word is tamim, which means “blameless” or “perfect.” It was first used to describe Noah in Genesis 6:9. Later, the Lord told Abraham to “walk before me and be tamim (or blameless).” It is also the word used to describe the Passover lamb of Exodus 12. Now, for the fourth time in the Bible, it is used to indicate the animals which are to be sacrificed in place of Aaron and his sons.

and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil (you shall make them of wheat flour).

Meal offerings are next mentioned. They are a bloodless offering, but each is specifically noted as being unleavened. Leaven, or yeast, in the Bible pictures sin. Just as bread puffs up when leavened, man puffs up in pride, arrogance, or wickedness through sin. It is also something that causes corruption, just as sin is what causes corruption in man.

The first bread is simply lekhem, or bread. We will see in verse 23 that this is a round loaf of bread. The circle in the Bible signifies that which is divine and eternal. It has no beginning or end.

The second bread is khallah, a new word introduced into the Bible. It comes from khalal, meaning “to pierce.” Therefore it is pierced or punctured cakes. These cakes were to be mixed with oil. The third is another new type of bread, raqiq. This comes from raqaq, which means “to spit.” So it is a thin cake, like a wafer. These wafers were to be smeared with oil.

Each of these was to be made of soleth khittim or fine wheat flour. The word khittah or “wheat” comes from the word khanat, which means to make spicy, to embalm, or to ripen. The flour, or solet, comes from an unused root meaning “to strip.” Thus it is fine flour. It has only been seen once so far in the Bible, at the time of Abraham. When the Lord appeared to him on the way to destroying Sodom, we read these words –

“So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.'” Genesis 18:6

We will see that these will all be waved before the Lord. It was to be an acknowledgement that bread is what sustains the body, and that the mercy which allows man to be acceptable before God comes solely by an act of grace.

You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, with the bull and the two rams

It’s always curious to come to a verse like this. One must ask why the Lord is so specific about them bringing the three types of loaves in sal ekhad, or ” basket one.” Is this entirely necessary? Couldn’t He have just said, “Bring them in a basket,” or “Bring those along with the animals”?

And yet, there is great specificity which asks us to stop and consider why one basket is specified. The sal, or “basket,” comes from the word salal, which means “to build.” Thus it indicates a basket which is built up through the weaving process, specifically with a type of willow branch.

“And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting,

The translation is incorrect. It is “the tent of meeting,” not the “tabernacle of meeting.” The word is ohel, signifying a tent, not mishkan, which would be the tabernacle itself. At this door of the tent, an item which is not yet described, known as the bronze laver, will be placed. That will have a specific purpose in the rituals of the priests as they minister to the Lord.

4 (con’t) and you shall wash them with water.

As part of the ordination process, Moses is to wash Aaron and his sons with water. This implies an entire washing of their bodies. At this strategic place, just between where the people were allowed to come, and the entrance to the place where the Lord dwelt, they were to be prepared for being acceptable to enter His presence.

The people would be witnesses of this part of the process, and it was intended to allow them to see that they remained unclean and unacceptable to enter where their King was. Only those chosen and properly prepared could do so. After this washing of their bodies, the laver will be used differently. This is seen in Exodus 30 –

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 18 “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, 19 for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. 20 When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die. 21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them—to him and his descendants throughout their generations.” Exodus 30:17-21

Each step, they are being progressively instructed in the holiness of God and the need to be pure and undefiled as they approached Him on behalf of the people.

Then you shall take the garments, put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the intricately woven band of the ephod.

Two of the things previously described, the sash and the Urim and Thummin, are not mentioned. Also, the order here for two of the pieces of clothing is inverted. When the clothing of them is actually done in Leviticus 8, the missing items will be mentioned and the two inverted items will be noted in the right order.

For now, only basic instructions are given. These instructions now are not in error, but they are noted according to what the Lord determines is needed in order for Moses to clearly understand what is expected for the ordination process.

You should remember now that the clothing of Aaron and his sons only occurs after their washing. However, the continued washing of their hands and feet in the regular discharge of their duties occurs after they are clothed. Why is this something we should remember? Because you will be given a test on it at the end of the sermon to see if you remember.

You shall put the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban.

The turban is what is to adorn Aaron’s head and the holy crown is to adorn the turban. This “holy crown” is the “plate of pure gold” mentioned in verse 28:36. Here it is called netser ha’qodesh, or “crown, the holy.” The word netser is introduced here. It comes from nazar, which means “to consecrate.” It indicates something set apart and includes the idea of the Nazirite who is found in Numbers 6. There is to be a separation noted between Aaron and all others, highlighted by this marvelous holy crown.

And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him.

The anointing oil was first mentioned in Exodus 25:6, but its specific makeup will not be explained until chapter 30. Again, this is not out of order, but rather the use, being given before the makeup of the substance, follows logically along with the other prioritized items so far.

This special anointing oil will be used to anoint Aaron, his sons, and the tabernacle along with everything in it. As far as the means of anointing Aaron, it was poured or smeared on his head in an extravagant amount. His sons however would simply be sprinkled with this oil. The anointing of Aaron was remembered by David in a most vivid way in the 133rd Psalm –

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore.” Psalm 133:1-3

Then you shall bring his sons and put tunics on them.

The clothing of the sons is intended to set them apart for their priestly duties. Though not in the mediatorial role of Aaron, the sons are consecrated to perform the necessary services required for the care of the people of Israel. They are also set apart for the care of the items in the holy place of the tabernacle.

And you shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them.

The second and third of the three designations of the priestly office are noted here. They were to be girded with sashes and have the hats placed on their heads. These three items then are the standard dress expected of the priests as they ministered for the people and before the Lord.

9 (con’t) The priesthood shall be theirs for a perpetual statute.

In these words, confusion can arise unless one understands what the Lord means. The priesthood will last only as long as the law lasts. If the law is annulled, then the priesthood ends with the annulling of the law. When the Messiah came who fulfilled all of the types and shadows of the law, and who also fulfilled living out the law, then the law was set aside and the priesthood ended.

The word for “perpetual” is olam. It means “the vanishing point.” It can mean eternity, but in the case of the law, it is not to be so understood. The law would serve its purpose, and as long as it was in effect, the priesthood would belong to the line of Aaron.

9 (con’t) So you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons.

u-mileta yad ad aharon v’yad ba’nav – literally, “…and you shall fill (the) hand of Aaron and (the) hand of his sons.” In the ordination and consecration of Aaron and his sons, they would be set apart as acceptable concerning the offerings which filled their hands from the people and to the Lord. Thus, the term “fill the hand” indicates their acceptability and thus their consecration.

Clothed in righteousness, adorned in white
Cleansed by the blood of the Lamb
Now our garments are pure; clean and bright
Saved forevermore by the Great I AM

We are now priests unto the Most High God
We have been brought new unto Him by the blood of the Lamb
Forever and ever golden streets we will trod
Saved forevermore by the Great I AM

Throughout the ages we will serve the Eternal King
Subjects of His kingdom because of the blood of the Lamb
For endless, ceaseless ages to Him we shall sing
Saved forevermore by the Great I AM

II. The Slaying of the Bull (Verses 10-14)

10 “You shall also have the bull brought before the tabernacle of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the bull.

The KJV incorrectly says, “…thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought.” It is not “a” bull, but “the” bull mentioned in verse 1. It was to be set apart because it was “without blemish.” The KJV confuses this and diminishes the importance of what is being said.

This bull, without any blemish, was to be brought to the door of the tent, not the tabernacle. There before the tent, they were to place their hands on the bull’s head. In this is symbolically a transfer of the sin and imperfection of the men to the bull.

In this act, the bull thus takes on the curse which they deserve for their sins and it is transferred to the bull. As the animal is accursed, it must die. Thus we have what is known as a vicarious substitute. The sin is symbolically removed from the one and transferred to the other. Therefore, one life is given in place of another.

11 Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

It is Moses who is instructed to kill the bull. He will act as the priest pro-tempore until Aaron and his sons are fully consecrated as priests. In this verse, we see something which occurs from time to time. Instead of saying. “…kill the bull before Me,” it says, “…kill the bull before the Lord.”

The words are intended to be fulfilled in the future, at a specific time and at a specific place. Therefore, even though He is speaking about having this accomplished in His own presence, He still uses the formal term “before the Lord.”

A way of understanding this would be for the president to say to a person on a mission, “You are to get this document and bring it directly to the office of the president.” The matter is so important, that the stress is laid on the position rather than the person. In the case of the Lord, as He is both position and Person, He uses the term “before the Lord.”

12 You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger,

Once the bull was bled out, it would be a confirmation of the death of the animal for “the life is in the blood” according to Leviticus 17:11. With this proof of the death of the substitute, then some of its blood was to be put on the horns of the altar with his finger.

The horns, or qarnoth, of the altar are the place of mercy and safe refuge. Further, horns are a symbol of strength. For the blood to be placed on them signified the granting of mercy and the allowance of safety from the wrath which had been transferred to the bull. As there are four horns pointing toward the four corners of the earth, it further symbolizes the power of the act to fully save and cleanse the sinner. David understood this when he wrote these words –

“I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:1, 2

Another point is that Moses is specifically told to apply the blood with his finger. The word etsbah, or finger, has only been used one time so far in Scripture, in Exodus 8:19 when the magicians of Pharaoh ascribed the plague of the lice to the “finger of God.”

The word etsbah comes from another word, tsebah, which indicates dyed material and thus one gets the idea of grasping something. Therefore, the finger is that which accomplishes a task. The creation is said to be the work of the Lord’s fingers in the 8th Psalm. Thus in this verse, the mercy, the refuge, and the remission of the sins is granted by God, but it is accomplished by the work of the mediator’s fingers.

12 (con’t) and pour all the blood beside the base of the altar.

After the proof of death has been testified to on the horns of the altar, the rest of the blood was to be poured out at the base of the altar. This signifies the complete removal of the life-force which bore the sins of Aaron and his sons.

13 And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar.

As new words come into the Bible, I always try to highlight them to you. In this verse are three new words – the yothereth, or lobe; the kabed, or liver; and the kilyah, or kidneys. One must wonder why these particular parts of the animal were to be burnt on the altar. The fat around the entrails signifies the health of life, its abundance. This is seen, for example, from David in Psalm 63 –

“My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:5

The liver signifies the seat of emotions and feeling. It is used synonymously with disposition and character. In Lamentations, Jeremiah says –

“My eyes fail with tears; my bowels are troubled; my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people because the children and the sucklings faint in the streets of the city.” Lamentations 2:11 (Jubilee Bible)

The kidney’s position within the body makes them almost inaccessible. When an animal is cut up, they will be the last organs which are reached. Because of this, the kidneys symbolize the hidden parts of man, and thus the mind.

These then were to be offered to the Lord because they symbolized those most intimate aspects of the person. They are the very substance of who he is. The life of the animal was given in exchange for the sins of the men. Therefore, these attributes of theirs were being offered to Him in fire on the altar.

In fact, the word for “burn” here is qatar. It is a new word in the Bible and it gives the idea of the smoke of incense. It is the act of turning something into a fragrance by fire. These parts of the animal, signifying these most intimate aspects of the person, were to become as incense to the Lord.

14 But the flesh of the bull, with its skin and its offal, you shall burn with fire outside the camp.

The rest of the entire animal was to be taken outside the camp and burned with fire. Nothing of it was to remain and none of it was to be eaten. The animal was under a curse, and thus to eat it would be symbolic of taking the sin into oneself.

Instead, it was to be returned to the old order of things where sin remained. In its place, those for whom the animal died would be reckoned under the new order of things. They would be new men with a new nature, cleansed from their defilement before the Lord.

One new word in this verse is peresh, meaning dung. It is translated here as offal (and dung is usually pretty awful!). It is what passes through. The entire animal, including what was inside of it, was to be wholly burnt outside the camp.

*14 (fin) It is a sin offering.

These last words of the day show us the imperfection of the Aaronic priesthood. Because these were fallible men who required sacrifices for themselves before they could sacrifice for the people, the priesthood could not endure forever. It could only do so until it was replaced by the One who would be perfect and without a need of sacrificing for His own sins. Only then could man truly be purified of the stain of sin which had clung steadfastly to him since the fall of his first father.

The bull is slain, his blood poured out
The proof of the death is evident in the bowl of blood
But for that bull, don’t shed a tear or pout
Sin is atoned for by the crimson flood

There! On the cross of Calvary hangs a Man
For the sins of mankind, was shed His blood
We ask, “Can it truly atone for sin? God says, “Yes, it can!”
And so we plunge ourselves ‘neath that crimson flood

And through His death, our High Priest He came to be
When He went behind the veil and presented His blood
He did this because of God’s love – for you and for me
And so let us tell the world of the marvelous crimson flood

III. Pictures of Christ

Again, as we do each week, it is time to look at the verses today in what they actually picture in relation to the Person and work of Christ.

The meal offering consisted of three things: unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil. All of them were to be made of wheat flour. These point to three aspects of Christ’s life and ministry.

Bread is symbolic of life, the word, and provision which sustains man, among other things. The lekhem, or bread, is simply the normal term for bread. It was to be made without leaven and thus symbolizes life without sin. It is thus a picture of Christ, the sinless Man, who is the word of God, our life, and our provision. As I said earlier though, it is round bread. Thus it also signifies the divine eternality of Christ. As it says of Him in Hebrews –

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

The second is the unleavened cakes mixed with oil. That cake is known as khallah, which comes from khalal, meaning “to pierce.” Thus this bread pictures Christ’s work as the One who was pierced to give us life. This bread was to be mixed with shemen, or oil.

Oil signifies several things in the Bible such as joy, prosperity, etc. However, its preeminent signification is that of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the work of the Spirit is mixed into the piercing of Christ. The two are not disconnected, but are intricately enmeshed together.

The third type of bread is raqiq. This comes from raqaq, which means “to spit.” So it is a thin cake, like a wafer. These wafers were to be smeared with oil. In Leviticus 15:8, it notes that if a person defiled by a discharge were to spit, raqaq, on a person, it would make them unclean. This bread then pictures Christ’s passion when He was spit on and beaten by the unclean Gentiles as is stated in Luke 18. This was prophesied in Isaiah, using the word roq which comes from raqaq

“I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6

However, this bread is said to have been “anointed” with oil. The word is mashakh. It is the same word used to identify the coming Messiah in Isaiah 61:1 –

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Isaiah 61:1

Thus, this third bread with its oil also pictures Christ as the One anointed to fulfill the messianic pictures presented in the Old Testament. Each type of bread was to be made of soleth khittim or fine wheat flour.

Khittah, or wheat, is the finest of the biblical grains. The word comes from khanat, which means to make spicy, to embalm, or to ripen. When the wheat is ripened, it is valuable as food and as seed for more wheat. Through Christ’s ministry, a harvest of wheat is realized. He spoke of this in John 12:23-26 –

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

The fine wheat flour is a picture of His unchanging character and purity. After these were specified, the Lord told Moses that all three of the breads were to be brought before Him in one basket. The three loaves in the single basket indicate three different aspects of Christ’s single ministry. He is the bread of life; He is the One pierced for our transgressions; and He is the one who brings about our salvation and the growth and great harvest of the church.

And yet, there is great specificity which asks us to stop and consider why one basket is noted. The sal, or “basket,” comes from the word salal, which means “to build.” It indicates a basket which is built up through the weaving process. Thus it is through these various aspects of Christ that His ministry is built and embodied. This aspect of His work can be summed up by the words of Hebrews 2:9 –

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9

After this, the washing and clothing of Aaron and his sons is mentioned. This was to be done at the door of the tent of meeting where they were to be first washed with water. This pictures the total cleansing of the priests.

In Aaron’s case, as the high priest, it pictures Christ’s perfect purity as our High Priest. It points to His baptism before He entered into His public service in order to fulfill all righteousness. For the sons, it pictures those who follow Christ and are purified by His work. This is seen in John 13 where Christ said this –

“He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” John 13:10

In that passage, John uses two different words. One indicates a full bathing, the second indicates a lesser washing. Through Christ’s work, we are completely cleaned. We stand justified and free of guilt. However, we also continue to go through a process of sanctification where we need to be purified from time to time.

This is pictured in the priests need to wash their hands and their feet as they ministered to the Lord. These external washings signify the universal corruption of man and our need for external purification. The water pictures the spiritual regeneration which occurs when we are set apart by Christ.

Only after the washing was accomplished were the garments then put on them. In the case of Aaron, his garments are emblematic of the divine work of Christ. In this passage, he had seven articles placed upon Him, each representing an aspect of His work which we have seen in previous sermons. Together, they form a picture of Christ, the Prophet, Priest, and King who is completely distinct and set apart from all others.

After he was clothed, Moses then anointed Aaron. That is a picture which was seen once already in the bread, and which is repeated here. It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit on Christ which was prophesied in Isaiah 61. It is also referred to by Peter in Acts 10:38 where he told Cornelius that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”

In the case of the sons of Aaron, the symbolism again follows through to us. Three items were placed on them – tunics, sashes, and hats. The tunics picture our being clothed in His righteousness. The sashes picture us having girded our waists with His truth. The hats picture our having been granted a helmet of salvation upon our head because of the judgment named for Christ at Gabbatha, the name of which bears the same root as that of the hats.

As far as the terminology concerning the priesthood, that of Aaron and his line, it was to be as long as the law was in effect. However, for the priesthood which this only pictures, Christ’s priesthood, Hebrews tells us of its duration –

“Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.” Hebrews 7:23, 24

The priesthood which Christ established, and to which we belong is one which will span eternal ages.

Finally today, we looked at the bull offering. The bull is an exacting picture of Christ. It is the sacrifice that the high priest made for his own sins each year on the Day of Atonement. As Christ has no sins of His own, and thus needing no sacrifice, the bull pictures Him as the perfect High Priest.

As the bull pictures Christ, then the symbolism is rather sobering. These men placed their hands on the bull in a symbolic act of transferring their corruption and guilt to it. In Christ, we transferred our corruption and our sin to Him – the sinless Son of God whom the bull pictures. Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 5 –

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

The slaying of the bull symbolizes the death of Christ as our Substitute. The bull was to be without blemish, symbolizing the perfect Man, Jesus. The application of the bull’s blood on the horns of the altar shows that Christ’s blood has brought all who come to Him mercy and a place of refuge.

The particular instructions that the blood was to be applied with the finger demonstrates the creative workings of God on our behalf. Jesus told the people of Israel that if He truly cast out demons with the finger of God, then surely the kingdom of God had come upon them. The application of the blood signifies Christ’s exacting work for His redeemed.

As I said earlier, the mercy, the refuge, and the remission of the sins is granted by God, but it results from the work of the mediator’s fingers. As Jesus is fully God, the proof of His death in the shedding of His blood is completely sufficient to take away the sin guilt that we bear.

The pouring out of the blood at the base of the altar pictures the full proof of Christ’s death. He bled until the life had expired from His body. His blood was completely poured out. Despite this, the burning of the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them sybolizes the offering of the very essence of Christ to God. Paul explains it exactingly in Ephesians 5 –

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:2

The verses ended today with the final disposal of the body of the bull, with the exception of those parts already mentioned. It was to be taken outside the camp and burned with fire. The author of Hebrews explains the symbolism for us –

“We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” Hebrews 13:10-13

Here we are again at the end of a passage which upon a cursory reading seems to have little other than historical value. And yet, it is a passage rich in significance because of what it shows us. The details are in the words and the words reveal so very much.

The law really existed, and it served its purpose, but the law also was given in types and shadows in order to show us the supremacy of what still lies ahead. In Christ, the law was annulled. In its place has come the most marvelous of priesthoods. It is an eternal one and one which has the ability to perfect those who come to Christ through it.

If you have trusted in earning God’s favor through self, or through deeds of an outdated law which could never save, I would ask you to reconsider your stance. Christ’s priesthood is superior to that of Aaron’s in all ways. Take your sins, place them at the feet of Jesus, and be reconciled to God through what He has already done. Please allow me just another moment to tell you few verses to make this simple and understandable for you…

Closing Verse: “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:11-14

Next Week: Exodus 29:15-25 Wonderful things the Bible will relate to you… (The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons, Part II)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons

And this is what you shall do to them
To hallow them for ministering as priests to Me
Take one young bull and two rams without blemish
And continue to follow my directions explicitly

And unleavened bread
Mixed with oil, each unleavened cake
And unleavened wafers anointed with oil
You shall them of wheat flour make

You shall put them in one basket
And in the basket them you shall bring
With the bull and the two rams
So you shall do this thing

And Aaron and his sons you shall bring
To the tabernacle of meeting, at the door
And you shall wash them with water
On them water you shall pour

Then you shall take the garments
Put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod too
The ephod, and the breastplate
And gird him with the intricately woven band of the ephod –
So shall you do

You shall put the turban on his head
And put the holy crown on the turban, as I have said

And you shall the anointing oil take
Pour it on his head, and anoint him
For the ordination’s sake

Then you shall bring his sons
And put tunics on them, so shall you do
And you shall gird them with sashes
Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them too

The priesthood shall be theirs for a perpetual statute
So you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons
In these things, the priesthood you will institute

You shall also have the bull brought
Before the tabernacle of meeting, as I say
And Aaron and his sons shall put their hands\
On the head of the bull, this they shall obey

Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord
By the door of the tabernacle of meeting
According to My word

You shall take some of the blood of the bull, for sure
And put it on the horns of the altar with your finger
And all the blood beside the base of the altar pour

And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails
The fatty lobe attached to the liver, so shall you do
And the two kidneys and the fat that is on them
And burn them on the altar, as I now instruct to you

But the flesh of the bull
With its skin and its offal, you shall do this thing
You shall burn with fire outside the camp
It is a sin offering

Lord God Almighty, we thank you for what You have done
You have made us a kingdom of priests to You
And it is only because of the work of Your Son
It is only because of what He alone did do

And so we do thank You and we give You praise
Yes, Lord God Almighty, we shall do so… even unto eternal days

Hallelujah and Amen…