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 30:22-28 (The Holy Anointing Oil and the Holy Incense)

Exodus 30:22-38
The Holy Anointing Oil and the Holy Incense

It’s pretty wonderful to be around a lady who is wearing a pleasant perfume or a guy with a nice smelling cologne on. I don’t know if folks like being around me on Sundays because I douse myself in patchouli oil, but if  you like that smell, the Superior Word is definitely the place to be.

Along with that, I rub a dose of olive oil into my beard after putting on the patchouli. That way my beard is shiny and the oil makes the patchouli last longer and its more pungent.

As far as incense, there isn’t much more pleasing than smelling it when it burns. The air fills with a wonderful aroma and the smoke, rather than stinging the eyes and nose, actually adds to the ambiance.

Because most incense is made in the orient, and because oriental religions tend to use it for a lot of crazy things like honoring the dead, Christian’s generally don’t seem to burn it as much as the general populace, but there is nothing unbiblical about having it going at any and all times.

As far as today’s passage, we will see both a wonderfully pleasant smelling anointing oil, and a most fragrant type of incense which was to be made and used as an offering to the Lord. As God doesn’t have a nose, at least in regards to the presence of the Lord in the tabernacle, then there must be a deeper meaning behind the fragrances that are so meticulously described.

And, as always, there is. Every single detail has been chosen to show us snapshots of the coming Christ and His work. As always, I think you’re in for a treat – a delight to the senses – concerning what lies just ahead.

Text Verse: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia,
Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir. Psalm 45:6-9

God is Spirit, and so who would imagine all of the detail that He created in the universe! There are aspects of creation that affect every one of our senses. In fact, our senses were designed to appreciate these various facets of the created order which surrounds us.

But because God is Spirit, the fact that we can appreciate these things shows us that He cherishes us, His creatures, enough to provide them for us in creation. And yet there is more. His word tells us, such as in this psalm, that He actually came and participated in the creation. As He did, we can see why such minute and exacting detail is given concerning those things which are to be set apart for Him alone. Think about this as we go through our verses today. It is all about Jesus and 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. The Holy Anointing Oil (verses 22-33)

22 Moreover the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

This is the third of three times in this chapter that these exact same words are stated, v’dabber Yehovah el Mosheh lemor. They were last said in verse 17. Each time, the words are set off as their own verse. This time, the NKJV translates the same words differently. Instead of “then,” they say “moreover.” This is not incorrect as it is translator’s preference, but the words in the Hebrew are identical. They, being offset in this way, highlight that something new is coming and which will next be introduced for our waiting ears. “Get ready, something new and important is ahead!”

23 “Also take for yourself quality spices—

Moses is now instructed to obtain from the gifts of the people besamim rosh or “of quality spices.” The word rosh means the first, the chief, the head, etc. Thus this indicates that which is preeminent or the finest. They are to be pure in nature. The Hebrew here is especially emphatic – v’atah qah lekha, “And you take unto you.” Although others are noted as assisting in the preparation of this oil, it can be inferred that it is Moses who would personally supervise the gathering and preparing of it.

23 (con’t) five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh,

The first spice named is mar deror or “myrrh of freedom.” Myrrh or mor comes from marar, or “bitter.” The name gives the sense of “distilling in drops.” It will be seen 12 times in the Old Testament. Of these, eight occurrences will be in the Song of Solomon. It will also be mentioned 3 times in the New Testament.

A specific amount is presented and therefore it has its own significance. Five hundred is most readily divided as 5x10x10. Five, as we have seen countless times, indicates GRACE. Ten is the number of DIVINE PERFECTION. “It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete” (EW Bullinger).

The word translated here as “liquid” is introduced into the Bible. It is deror. It is found only eight times in the Bible. It means freedom; hence, spontaneity of outflow, and thus clear. Therefore, it indicates both liberty and purity. This is the only time it is used of a liquid. The other seven times it speaks of liberty, such as the year of liberty, or as being released from captivity.

Myrrh comes from a shrub and can be obtained in one of two ways. The first is the purest form where it naturally exudes from the plant. This is the “myrrh of freedom,” or “free flowing myrrh.” Inferior myrrh comes from the bark when incisions are made in it. Myrrh is fragrant to smell, but bitter to the taste. Looking at the uses of myrrh in the Old Testament, the prominent idea which it symbolizes is love, but more especially, love in intimate union, but not necessarily sexual in nature.

23 (con’t) half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels),

The next spice is qinnamon besem, or “cinnamon fragrant.” This is the first of just three times it is seen in the Old Testament and once in the New. It is from an unused root meaning “to erect.” It thus is applied to cinnamon bark which is found in upright rolls. This is to be provided in one-half the amount of the myrrh. The most basic way of obtaining the number 250 is 5x5x10.

23 (con’t) two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane,

The third spice is qaneh bosem, or “cane fragrant.” Qaneh comes from the verb qanah which means to acquire, purchase, etc. It indicates a reed as erect or a rod, especially one for measuring. Thus it is the source of the word canon which we use to indicate the authority of Scripture – as in the canon of Scripture. This spice is also specified to be two hundred and fifty in measurement.

24 five hundred shekels of cassia,

The last spice is qiddah, or cassia. It is introduced here and will only be seen one more time in Ezekiel. This comes from the same root as the word qodqod which indicates the crown of the head. The root is the verb qadah which means “to bow the head.”

From this we can see bark, as in shriveled rolls, resembling the crown of the head. This spice is said to have almost the same flavor as cinnamon, but its smell is more pungent, and it has a more coarse texture. The measurement is to be the same as the myrrh, five hundred shekels. Note the unusual forming of the numbers 500-250-250-500. In all, they equal 1500 shekels.

24 (con’t) according to the shekel of the sanctuary,

A shekel is a set measurement of weight. In this case the weight required was to be of the shekel of the sanctuary. It is a standard shekel by which all other weights would be compared. This is the same terminology which was seen in verse 13 of this chapter.

24 (con’t) and a hin of olive oil.

Although not certain, a hin is reckoned at about 3/4 of a gallon. One hin of shemen zayit or “oil of olive” is to be used.

25 And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil,

The purpose for all of these ingredients is for making miskhat qodesh, or “anointing oil holy.”

25 (con’t) an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer.

Roqakh mirqakhat maaseh roqeakh – “ointment compound worked perfumer.” It’s an alliterational mouthful in the Hebrew because the three descriptions are all formed from the same root, raqakh, which indicates “to perfume.” The roqeakh or perfumer indicates a compounder; a person skilled in compounding drugs, incense, etc.

25 (con’t) It shall be a holy anointing oil.

The Hebrew is literally “an oil of holy anointing.” Thus that which is anointed with it is considered set apart, or holy. It should be noted that if these proportions were simply pounded out and mixed together, it would make a thick, gooey mess.

Rather, these were softened by boiling in water to extract their essence. From this the oil and myrrh would be mixed in and boiled again in order to evaporate the water. This would be the specific job of the roqeakh, or perfumer. We will see in Exodus 37:29 that is it Bezalel who will perform this task. The care of the oil after it is made will go to Eleazar, Aaron’s son. The responsibility for making it in the future would go to the priests (1 Chr. 9:30).

26 With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony;

A particular order is given for the use of the holy anointing oil. First, the ohel; literally “tent,” of meeting would be anointed. This is the tent which covered the mishkan or tabernacle. Everything associated with the structure would be included. This is seen explicitly in Exodus 40:9 where it says tabernacle instead of tent –

“And you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it; and you shall hallow it and all its utensils, and it shall be holy.”

After the anointing of the tent, the first item to be mentioned is the Ark of the Testimony. Though the details for the construction of the Ark were given before the tent, it is the tent which will enclose the Ark, therefore the implements inside are noted after the enclosure itself. The Ark is in the Most Holy Place.

27 the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense;

Next in order are the items in the Holy Place, the Table of Showbread, the Menorah, and the Altar of Incense. The details for the Altar of Incense weren’t given until much, much later, but because it is enclosed within the Holy Place, it is mentioned now, in its proper order according to the room.

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

After the interior furniture, those outside the tent are next. Of note is that in Leviticus 8:11, it says that the altar and all of its utensils were sprinkled seven times. Just because the altar was outside and closest to the people in no way diminishes its immense importance in both what it signified to them and what it pictures in Christ.

29 You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy;

The anointing of the implements with the holy anointing oil consecrated them. They had been shaped by man, but they were now to be set apart to God. Only those who were also so set apart to God were, from this time forward, to touch them…

29 (con’t) whatever touches them must be holy.

kal hannogea bahem yiqdash – “whatever touches them shall become holy.” In other words, if a person were to touch them, they were to already be holy according to the item being touched, or they were to be given over to the Lord so that He might deal with them as He saw fit. This is certainly the intended meaning of this verse because it is explicitly seen in the tragic account of Uzzah –

“And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.” 2 Samuel 6:6, 7

Uzzah was not holy according to the handling of the Ark and thus his life was forfeit to the Lord’s judgment because of his error.

30 And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.

After the inanimate objects were consecrated, the consecration of the men who would serve as priests is then conducted. This actually only applies at this time to Aaron. The term mashakh is used here which indicates smearing. He is the one to be so anointed now. The term “and his sons” must be taken in the future sense concerning the ones who succeed him in his office.

As we saw in the last chapter, some of the oil will be mixed with blood and sprinkled on Aaron, his sons, and their garments, but this verse is not referring to that. Only Aaron will be fully anointed to act as the mediator and high priest, thus picturing Christ.

31 “And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.

The Lord claims this mixture of oil exclusively for Himself. Anything anointed with it was solely His and was to be set apart to Him for all the generations that the law would remain in effect.

32 It shall not be poured on man’s flesh;

The wording here is specific in that it was not to be poured on the flesh of man. However, it was to be poured on Aaron, who was a man. Therefore, it shows us that Aaron, being high priest, was to be seen in type and picture as the coming Christ.

32 (con’t) nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.

The wording here should read, “after its proportion.” The word is mathkoneth, and it indicates a measurement, quota, or proportion. The people were not forbidden from using these same ingredients, nor were they forbidden from using the same combination of them. What is forbidden is using the same ingredients and proportions of them. The intent is that what was reserved for the Lord’s use was to be only for the Lord’s use. This particular mixture was deemed holy and therefore the proportion itself has particular significance.

33 Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.’”

No person was to make the same compound as has been described here. Further it was never to be used on a layman. The word for outsider is zuwr and indicates “another.” No person who was not qualified by being chosen for the anointing was to have it put on them. The penalty for this was to be cut off from his people.

The word for “his people” is in the masculine plural. Therefore, it is being used in a particular sense. It is extremely close to the general term for people, but the specific form of the word consistently speaks of someone of his father’s kin. Any such person was to lose their rights of paternal kinship.

Holy anointing oil with a smell wonderful and sweet
Shall be made for the service of the Lord
The exact mixture when it was complete
Was set apart for Him alone, according to His word

With it, the articles of service would be anointed
And with it the priest would be anointed too
These things are according to what the Lord has said
And so in each detail is Moses to exactingly follow through

Thus, consecrated and holy were these things to be
And they would be that way throughout the time of the law
But they are only types of the coming Christ, you see
And so from these things, pictures of Christ we can draw

II. The Holy Incense (verses 34-38)

34 And the Lord said to Moses:

The words are very similar to verse 22, but they are not the same. It is as if what is said now is a continuation of what was started in verse 22, but with a different subject. The oil and the incense are being drawn together into one concept.

34 (con’t) “Take sweet spices,

qah lekha sammim – Take to you sammim. The word sammim has no exact word which we can use to translate. A close choice would be fragrances; “Take to you fragrances.”

34 (con’t) stacte

It is not exactly certain what nataph, or stacte is. The word stacte comes from the Greek translation of the OT. However, we can find out something from the Hebrew. The word nataph means “drop” as in a drop of dew. This word comes from the verb nataph which means something which distills gradually, and thus falls in drops.

It is a resin of some sort from a plant. However, it being unknown what resin, the substance is not what is important, but the act of dropping is. The verb nataph means to fall in drops, and so figuratively it means “to speak by inspiration” or to “prophesy.”

34 (con’t) and onycha

Onycha or shekheleth speaks of the aromatic shell-fish. When burnt, its claw produces a strong odor. The word comes from the same root as shakhal, meaning a fierce lion. That root probably means to roar. The two words may meet in the thought of peeling off by concussion of sound.

34 (con’t) and galbanum,

Khelbenah or galbanum is only found here in the Bible, but it is apparently well known to chemists. Different plants are known to produce it. When it burns, it has a strong and pungent odor which is not nice smelling by itself, but it is used to bring out the richer smells of other spices and it prolongs their burning. The word comes from khelev which means fat and thus the best or finest.

34 (con’t) and pure frankincense with these sweet spices;

These words are reversed in the Hebrew. It says “…fragrances and pure frankincense.” In other words, the frankincense is in addition to the other spices. Levonah, or frankincense is introduced here. It comes from the word lavan, meaning “brick” and thus it gives the idea of “white,” perhaps because of its smoke. There is an adjective attached to the frankincense though. It properly reads u-levonah zakkah – “…and frankincense pure.”

34 (con’t) there shall be equal amounts of each.

bad b’vad yiyeh – alone by alone there shall be. The sense probably means that they were beaten separately and then mixed together. Thus, the proportions would be equal in amount.

35 You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy.

The fragrances, combined with the frankincense, was to be compounded as a perfumer would do. Older versions then say “mixed” or “tempered together,” but the word used is malakh, the verb form of “salt.” Thus, the mixture was to be “salted.”

Salt was considered an integral part of offerings to the Lord. This incense was to be offered to Him by the priests with salt, just as the people’s offerings were to be. This is seen in Leviticus 2 –

“And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.” Leviticus 2:13

Because of the ingredients and its salting, it is thus described with an adjective and a noun. It is tahor qodesh – pure, holy.

36 And you shall beat some of it very fine,

The word shakhaq or “beat” is now introduced. It will be used just four times. It means “to pulverize.” Also, the word daqaq, or very fine, is also introduced. It carries the same idea of being crushed or pulverized. The incense was to be completely crushed to powder.

36 (con’t) and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you.

The portion that was taken from the main whole, after it was beaten fine, was to be placed “before the Testimony.” What this means is that it is the portion to be burnt upon the Altar of Incense. The compound was one large mass, but a portion was taken off, pounded and burnt at the regular hours of incense offering. The idea is that it would mix better and be easier to spread on the coals. Further, it would burn more purely and ascend more quickly.

36 (con’t) It shall be most holy to you.

In contrast to the anointing oil, this is considered not just holy, but qodesh qadashim, or holy of holies. This implies that it was set apart for the use of the Lord alone as is next seen…

37 But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the Lord.

This provision is similar to that of the anointing oil. No incense was ever to be made which was according to the same proportions. Instead, it was to be considered for the sole and sacred use of an offering to the Lord.

*38 (fin) Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”

And again, the same prohibition is given concerning replicating this incense as was given for replicating the anointing oil. Any person who so made it was to be cut off from the rights of the paternal kinship.

Sweet smelling spices combined into one
Shall be used to make a holy incense for Me
And every detail points to the coming Christ, God’s Son
This is the reason for such specificity

The work that He will do is revealed in each sweet smell
And the salt speaks of Him and His work also
Every detail has a wondrous story to tell
And as you ponder each detail, their meaning you will know

And so look into the things as they are recorded for you
Ponder them and take each thing to heart
In so doing, there is a blessed reward; it is true
Marvelous things will this precious word to you impart

III. Pictures of Christ and His Work

As always, the Lord is giving us specific instructions, not just for us to see what the priests did and what was expected of them, but to show us types and pictures of Christ and His work.

The anointing oil was first said to be of besamim rosh, or the first or preeminent spices. Each is a foreshadowing of the preeminence of Christ.

Myrrh, comes from the word marar, or bitter. As I noted, the main significance of myrrh in Old Testament passages reveals the prominent idea of love, but more especially, love in intimate union, but not necessarily sexual in nature. Understanding the work of Christ for us, nothing could be more obvious.

The myrrh here is described as mar deror, or the myrrh of freedom. Without a doubt this signifies the bitterness Christ was willing to go through in His earthly life to secure our freedom. It is reflective of His words, cited in a synagogue in Nazareth which were read from the book of Isaiah –

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18

It should be noted that there are three times myrrh is mentioned in the New Testament. The first was presented to Him at His birth by the Magi (Matthew 2:11). Once it is recorded as having been used in His burial (John 19:39). The third time was in Mark 15 –

“Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.” Mark 15:23

Notice that the myrrh was mingled with wine to form a gall which would deaden His pain, but He refused it. Because of His love for us, He was unwilling to dilute the pure myrrh of freedom which was provided to redeem us. Our liberty, and our freedom from oppression, came at a very high cost indeed.

The qinnamon, or cinnamon is found four times in the Bible. Two point to Christ, two point to harlotry. The one in this chapter is used to picture Christ’s work. The one in Song of Solomon 4:14 is used of the description of the bride by the bridegroom – thus it pictures the redeemed of Christ. The two other uses are in Proverbs 7:17 where a harlot spices her bed with cinnamon and other fragrances, and in Revelation 18:13 which is connected to Mystery Babylon, the Mother of Harlots.

The word comes from a root meaning “to erect.” Thus there is a house which is being erected by the Lord for His people, and there is a false one which is being erected by the false religious system of the world for those who would pursue her harlotry. One will stand forever; the other will be forever destroyed.

The third spice is qaneh bosem, or “sweet-smelling cane.” Qaneh comes from the verb qanah which means to acquire, purchase, etc. It indicates a reed as erect or a rod, especially one for measuring. It is the source of the word canon, which we use to indicate the authority of Scripture – as in the canon of Scripture. Thus, this spice is used to indicate the word of God which permeates throughout the anointing oil. It is reflective of Christ, the word of God who both embodies it and reveals it. His word is that which is used as the standard measure for the acquisition and purchase of God’s people.

The fourth spice is qiddah, or cassia. It is derived from the same root as qodqod which indicates the crown of the head. The root is the verb qadah which means “to bow the head.” In this, we see Christ’s submission to God in all ways. This is evident throughout the gospels which record His earthly ministry and it is well summed up in Hebrews 10 –

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.” Hebrews 10:5-7

This word qiddah, is found only twice in the Bible. The second is seen in Ezekiel 27:19 as one of the goods traded by the kingdom of Tyre. This leader of Tyre is used as an allegory for Satan by Ezekiel. Samuel Ridout explains the symbolism –

“For the world would make merchandise of the excellencies of Christ, and Satan, its prince, seek to rob the Lord of that which is His alone.”

The weight of the four spices was meticulously provided. In order they were 500-250-250-500. First, four is the number of that which is created; it is the world number. Individually, they each reduce to the digits 10 and 5 or divine perfection and grace. Cumulatively, they equal 1500 and thus reduce to 10, 5, and 3. Three signifies that which is real, substantial, complete, and entire.

Therefore, the four together point to the entirety of divine perfection and grace towards God’s creation. These, not surprisingly then prefigure the four gospels. As this is so and the weight of the first and fourth are the same, and the weight of the second and third are the same, we should find a pattern in the gospels according to the spices.

The first is myrrh and is what was presented in Matthew to the newborn Child. Myrrh speaks of bitterness, as in the bitter herbs of the Passover. Thus it reflects the King who came to die for His people as the Passover Lamb.

The fourth is the same weight and corresponds to John. Its root indicates bowing the head as an act of obedience and this is what the divine Son of God, portrayed in John, came to do. He came in obedience to the Father.

The second, qinnamon besem, or “cinnamon fragrant,” comes from an unused root meaning “to erect.” It reflects Christ in the book of Mark; the Servant, the builder of the house for His people.

The third, qaneh bosem, or “cane fragrant,” comes from the verb qanah which means to acquire, purchase, etc. It is the source of the word canon which we use to indicate “canon,” the authority of Scripture. In it we see Christ the Son of Man who acquired His people by fulfilling the law, the rod of God’s measurement.

The second and third spices were only one half the weight of the others. This speaks of lowliness. In contrast to the King in Matthew and the Son of God in John, the gospels of Mark and Luke speak of the Servant and the Son of Man – both lowly stations in relation to their counterpart.

Despite the lowly weight though of these two middle spices, only they are described by the term bosem, or fragrant. It is the life of the Servant, the Man – Christ – which was considered a fragrant offering to God. Though being lowly, or more rightly, because of the voluntary lowly station He took, there was an markedly sweet fragrance connected to it.

Each of these spices was said to be “according to the shekel of the sanctuary.” In other words, His work is according to God’s divine standard by which all else is compared. It is by Him and His work that all of the holy attributes of God are measured.

Next was the measure of olive oil. This is the vehicle by which Christ’s work was effected. It is the anointing of the Spirit upon Him. This was seen, for example, in Acts 10:38 where it says that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”

The spices, though differing in weight, all diffused into the oil evenly resulting in all being equally on display and none having priority over another. Thus we see in equal measure Christ the King, the Servant, the Son of Man, and the Son of God. Each radiates out equally, forever revealing the mystery of Christ.

To summarize, in the anointing oil we see Christ the King, the Myrrh of Freedom giving His life for our liberty; we see Christ the Servant, the builder of the house for His people; we see Christ the Son of Man who acquired His people by fulfilling the law, the rod of God’s measurement; and we see Christ, the Son of God, who stepped out of His eternal realm to do His Father’s will.

This oil, after it was made, was used to anoint the tabernacle, every piece of furniture, and the high priest, all of which has pointed perfectly and completely to Christ in our past sermons. The anointing of the Spirit was applied to every aspect of His life, work, and ministry – both past and ongoing – effusing out His fragrance in the great plan of redemptive history.

What is remarkable is that this anointing oil is described directly after the bronze laver. The laver was used as a means of cleansing from defilement. It signified sanctification from all that would hinder our walk with God. The anointing oil, is just the opposite. It signifies the anointing of the Spirit, an emblem of sanctification for our walk with God forward; propelling us ever forward.

After the Anointing Oil, the Holy Incense was described. Moses was told to take fragrances for this incense. The first is nataph, or stacte. The word means drop, but it is connected to the verb which means “to speak by inspiration” or to “prophesy.” This signifies the word of Christ; the divine word of inspiration and prophecy.

The next was shekheleth or onycha. The word comes from a root meaning to roar, and thus signifies the power of the word of Christ. He is the Lion of Judah and His word issues forth like a roar.

The third is khelbenah or galbanum. This comes from the word khelev which means fat and thus the best or finest. It therefore indicates that the work of Christ is the finest, the epitome of all works before God the Father.

This particular spice was noted as not nice smelling by itself, but it is used to bring out the richer smells of other spices and it prolongs their burning. Thus this aspect of Christ is what was not considered nice in and of itself. His work of fulfilling the law included His atoning death under the law. And yet, it is this that brings out all of the other aspects of His work and makes them everlasting for His redeemed.

The fourth ingredient is levonah, or frankincense. It comes from the word lavan, meaning “brick.” The concept of a brick in the Bible is one of human work. At the tower of Babel, the people made bricks in order to work their way to heaven. In Egypt, the people were forced to make brick without straw and were unable to perform their duties. In both instances, pictures were being made of man’s futile attempt at pleasing God through works. Their brick-making was tainted and unacceptable.

This spice for the incense is contrasted to that. It contains an adjective so that the words properly read u-levonah zakkah – “…and frankincense pure.” This pure frankincense symbolizes Christ’s perfect works which are acceptable to God.

With the four characteristics of Christ seen in the spices, we were then given the words bad b’vad yiyeh – “alone by alone there shall be.” The sense is that these aspects of Christ are separate, but when mixed together the proportions are equal in amount.

Once these were compiled, they were to be salted. In the Bible, no amount of salt is ever detailed. Because of this, it indicates an unlimited amount. Salt signifies covenant faithfulness, incorruptibility, and that which provides flavor. It was worked into the compound and each aspect reflects the work of Christ.

In the salt we see His covenant faithfulness, His incorruptible nature, and His adding flavor to the life which we are captured in, granting us a new taste, never before experienced. Through His word, represented by these four spices and salt, an offering can be made to God with is tahor qodesh – pure and holy.

After the incense was made, the next instructions were given which were that it was to be beaten very fine and placed before the Testimony. The incense was to be prepared so that it would diffuse in the quickest and most thorough manner.

To grasp this, the symbolism of incense needs to be understood. In both testaments, incense is directly equated with prayer, and thus the prayers of Christ in His ministry, based on His person and work, are what are being pictured Here.

It symbolizes the office of High Priest, mediating between God and man. This is why the incense was termed qodesh qadashim, or holy of holies. Only Christ’s prayers are truly acceptable to God  because only He is without sin. Therefore, as our Mediator, our prayers are only acceptable to God through Him. But when we belong to Him and our prayers reach to God through Him, they are holy of holies; acceptable to God.

Finally today, in both the Anointing Oil and in the Holy Incense, there were similar prohibitions concerning making either in the same proportions and/or using them in an unauthorized manner. These carry the same connotation.

There is one Lord, one Christ, and one path to God, which is through what He has done. The Spirit of God does not reside on any outside of Christ, and people’s prayers are not heard by God outside of Christ. We are never to mix our worship of God, or our prayers to God, with those who are not of God in Christ.

This does not mean that we can’t have unsaved people in a church; that should be expected. Nor does it mean we can’t walk into a religious service of another faith to learn what they are up to or to perform a necessary function. The example of Naaman the Syrian performing his duties in the temple of Rimmon shows us this.

What it does mean is that we are not to participate in religious services with others who are not of the faith. Our worshipping with them is mixing the holy with the profane.

If we publically pray with Mormons, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. We are implicitly condoning their faiths in their own eyes. We are demonstrating, openly and publically, that the Spirit which anoints us, and the Christ who mediates for us, is on the same level as their false god. This is not to be condoned.

As we have seen today, everything about these two mixtures points to Christ and His work. The amazing thing is that because of Him, we too are now authorized to share in what these picture. We are anointed with the same Holy Spirit because of Him, and we are given the same right to offer our prayers to God through Him.

Who here has never called on Jesus and yet prays to God? I tell you now that the symbolism of these things, and the words of the rest of the Bible, show that your prayers are unheard by His ears. The only prayer God wants to hear from you is the prayer of accepting Jesus. Should you choose to do that today, you too will be anointed with the Holy Spirit and your prayers will then be holy and acceptable to the Lord. Choose life; choose Christ; do it today.

Closing Verse: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Next Week: Exodus 31:1-11 What they will build is no prefab… (Bezalel and Aholiab) (87th 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 Oil and the Incense

Moreover the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
These are the words He began relaying

Also take for yourself quality spices—
Five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh
Half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon
Two hundred and fifty shekels, for sure

Two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane
Five hundred shekels of cassia also
According to the shekel of the sanctuary
And a hin of olive oil, as you now know

And you shall make from these
A holy anointing oil, one set apart
An ointment compounded
According to the perfumer’s art

It shall be a holy anointing oil, so you see
Follow these directions ever so carefully

With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting
And the ark of the Testimony; as I to you tell
The table and all its utensils
The lampstand and its utensils as well

And the altar of incense; you shall anoint too
The altar of burnt offering with all its utensils
And the laver and its base, so shall you do

You shall consecrate them
That they may be most holy
Whatever touches them must be holy
These things are set apart to Me

And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, you see
And consecrate them
That they may minister as priests to Me

And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying
This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me
Throughout your generations, as I am now relaying

It shall not be poured on man’s flesh
Nor shall you make any other like it
According to its composition
It is holy, and it shall be holy to you, I submit

Whoever compounds any like it
Or whoever puts any of it on an outsider
Shall be cut off from his people
You shall stand by this instructive divider

And the Lord said to Moses:
Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha, as to you I teach
And galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices
There shall be equal amounts of each

You shall make of these an incense
A compound according to the art of the perfumer
Salted, pure, and holy will be its contents

And you shall beat some of it very fine
And put before the Testimony some of it
In the tabernacle of meeting
Where I will meet with you, as I now submit

It shall be most holy to you
Following these instructions you shall do

But as for the incense which you shall make, this I tell
You shall not any for yourselves make
According to its composition as well
It shall be to you holy for the Lord, only for His sake

Whoever makes any like it, to smell it
He shall be cut off from his people, so I now submit

Wonderful pictures of Christ and His work for us
Are revealed in the holy oil and incense of Israel
Every word shows us more hints of Jesus
And of His marvelous works each does tell

Thank You, O God, for such a wonderful word
Thank You for the mysteries which are hidden there
Each that we pull out speaks of Jesus our Lord
Thank you that in His goodness we too can share

For all eternity we shall sing to You our praise
Yes, from this time forth and for eternal days

Hallelujah and Amen…

Exodus 30:17-21 (The Bronze Laver)

Exodus 30:17-21
The Bronze Laver

Jesus said in John 13 that he who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. It’s a verse we’ll revisit today, but it is a simple truth. If we take a nice long shower and then work on an art project in the den for an hour or so, we don’t say, “Gee, I have to go take another shower.” Instead, we just go wash our hands and that’s that.

In old Israel, the people wore sandals and the paths were dusty. When someone took a bath, afterwards they might go out for an evening walk. When they got home, they wouldn’t go take another bath, instead, they would just wash their feet as they came into the house. It would wash off the dust and that was that.

On the surface, this is what He was referring to. One is clean after taking a bath. However, they might do something that would later make them partially unclean, even though they were still completely clean in the overall sense.

The Bible uses this same terminology as a picture of our spiritual state as well. Just like almost every other actual thing that the Bible speaks of, there is an underlying spiritual connotation. The Bible speaks of building a house on a rock, but there is an underlying spiritual meaning which is being conveyed.

The Bible speaks of anointing something with oil. That pictures something else as well. If we can understand what something physical pictures on a spiritual level, then we can understand the root of what God is showing us. Today, we will see the instructions for another piece of tabernacle furniture. It will, just like everything else, show us spiritual pictures of Christ, His work, and how it relates to us.

Text Verse: “I will wash my hands in innocence;
So I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
And tell of all Your wondrous works.
Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.” Psalm 26:6-8

As far as taking a bath, I hope that the spiritual picture which that makes applies to everyone here. If not, you will need to correct that. If so, then the lesson of the Bronze Laver is another step for you to pursue. You’ve taken your bath; next you need to keep your hands and feet clean. Let’s see what this is picturing. 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. The Bronze Laver (verses 17-21)

17 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

This is the second of three times in this chapter that these exact same words are stated, v’dabber Yehovah el Mosheh lemor. Each time, the words are set off as their own verse, and so it is as if we are being asked to pause and consider them.

Something new is being introduced which is calling out for Moses, and thus us, to ponder. As this has been a dialogue between the Lord and Moses, and as Moses is recording what was said, the words seem all the more remarkable. Instead of saying, “Then I was next instructed,” or “Then the Lord spoke to me,” it is very formal and precise.

Moses’ words are recorded then, not for himself alone, but for all who would read them in the future. It is as if they are saying,  “Get ready! Something new and highly important is coming to your hearing. Stop and consider what lies ahead.” Now that we have so prepared ourselves, we can move forward into the “what” and “why” of the coming verses.

18 “You shall also make a laver of bronze,

The kiyyor is introduced into the Bible here. It is a basin, or a laver. The word comes from an unused root meaning properly “to dig through,” and so it is could be a variety of things that are shaped out, as if excavated, like a pot, washbowl, pulpit, platform, or furnace.

In this case, it is a washbowl which Moses is instructed to make. It is to be made of nekhoshet, or bronze. As we have seen, bronze mainly symbolizes judgment, but also endurance.

Concerning judgment, it can be negative, such as in the case of bronze fetters being worn by those who have been sentenced for a crime, or in a pictorial judgment such as that found in the curses of Deuteronomy 28:23 where the punishment for disobeying the Lord is described as “…your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze.” That picture is one of rainless skies, heat, and anguish.

However, the judgment can also be one of purification and justification. This is seen time and time again as well. As this laver will be used for washing, we can already make the mental connection that the bronze will signify positive judgment in purification and sanctification.

18 (con’t) with its base also of bronze,

The base in Hebrew is the word ken. This isn’t the first time it has been used, but it is the first time it is used in this sense. It means a pedestal or station, but also a base, estate, foot, office, place, or well. It is the same as the adjective and adverb ken which is an especially common word in Hebrew which means, “thus,” “so,” “rightly,” and so on. As a positive response to a question, one would say ken.

Scholars are divided on exactly what this ken is. Some believe it is a base upon which the laver sat. Others find it to be a shallow trough of some sort which would receive water from the laver when a spout was opened. This is not unlikely because throughout the Middle East, this was a common means of washing hands and feet. A practice which even continues to this day. No matter what, the use of the laver is known…

18 (con’t) for washing.

No matter what the base actually is, what is unlikely is that the laver was simply a large bowl where the priests would go and dip their hands in as so many depictions show. The water would be defiled by the hands if this was what happened.

The two probable solutions to this would be either a separate bowl being dipped into the water to take some out, of which the text says nothing, or a type of spout which would allow the water to come out of the laver. The second seems much more likely, even though this is also not specified. No matter what, the laver’s use is known. It is for washing. Later, in Exodus 40, the full purpose for the laver is given –

“He set the laver between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar, and put water there for washing; 31 and Moses, Aaron, and his sons would wash their hands and their feet with water from it. 32 Whenever they went into the tabernacle of meeting, and when they came near the altar, they washed, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” Exodus 40:30-32

The laver was used for purification in connection with any duties associated with the tent of meeting and the altar, meaning the brazen altar. And, notice that it included Moses in this. Despite being the mediator and the one who was to perform the consecration and ordination of Aaron and his sons, Moses still was required to wash from the laver any time he did something in connection with the tent of meeting or the altar.

Though he was used by the Lord to establish the priesthood, he was still not free from the requirements of that priesthood. He was not above the precepts of the law which he was used to initiate.

Verse 18 contains all of the instructions given for the making of this bronze laver. What is more than remarkable is that nothing is said of its size, height, width, shape, or ornamentation. It is completely devoid of any further description. Nothing about how it was transported is mentioned either. This is completely different than any other article which has been made.

Though the size of the menorah wasn’t given, the amount of gold, which would determine its size, was. Concerning this laver, what is lacking in written instruction was certainly not lacking in minute detail for Moses to adhere to. As Moses has been expressly told several times, and is even repeated in Hebrews 8, we read this precept –

“According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” Exodus 25:9

So Moses was aware of any and all of the details concerning the making of this laver, and yet none of it is recorded. The omission of this detail then carries as much weight as that which has been included. Further, in contrast to this laver, the bronze sea and the ten lavers, which served the same specific purpose in the temple in Jerusalem, were exactingly described. They were intricately worked with elaborate designs. This detail is seen in 1 Kings 7 and 2 Chronicles 4.

The only other thing about this laver which hasn’t been noted yet, but which will be seen in Exodus 38:8 is that… –

“He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.”

Mirrors were not made of glass at this time in history. Instead, metals which were highly polished and exactingly shaped served as mirrors. The specificity concerning where the bronze for this laver came from cannot be without special significance.

The Greek translation of this verse from Exodus 38 says, “..of the women that fasted, who fasted by the doors of the tent of the testimony.” Two verses concerning such women lead us to a better understanding of who they were and why Exodus 38:8 is so specific concerning where the bronze came from –

“Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” 2 Samuel 2:22


“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” Luke 2:37

What appears to be the case is that some of the women, at the time of the building of the tabernacle, gave up their mirrors which had been used for the earthly adorning of themselves and instead devoted themselves to the service of the Lord in the courts of the temple as a heavenly offering. In other words, what was once a means of obtaining earthly praise was given over for the purpose of receiving heavenly commendation. It seems that the offerings of these first women became a model for other women to follow during the times while the law was in effect.

18 (con’t) You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar.

This is the logical place for the laver because it was to be used for washing when either they went into the tent of meeting or when they ministered at the brazen altar. Before doing either, they were to first come to this laver and wash. In the next section of this chapter which concerns the holy anointing oil, it will say this in Exodus 30:25-30–

“It shall be a holy anointing oil. 26 With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; 27 the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; 28 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base. 29 You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy. 30 And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.”

As the laver and its base are considered most holy, and as the priests had to wash at it prior to participating in any of the duties associated with the most holy things, then this should teach us a lesson concerning holiness. There is a fount of cleansing which is needed, even for those who are consecrated and set apart for the service of the Lord.

As far as the exact placement of this laver, Jewish tradition says that it was placed between the entrance to the tent of meeting and the brazen altar, but not exactly between them. They say it was placed a little to the south. This is not found in Scripture however.

18 (con’t) And you shall put water in it,

The details for the use of the laver are simply described here. It doesn’t say how much water, it doesn’t say how often to change the water or to fill it up, and so on. This is all that is given. It is completely different than, for example, the Menorah and the Altar of Incense, both of which are given almost minute detail as to their attendance.

19 for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it.

“Aaron and his sons” means the priestly line who would attend to the tabernacle and later the temple. This then is an explanatory statement concerning the priestly line throughout the time of the law. It is set in contrast to the verse from Exodus 40 that I mentioned a while ago.

That verse included Moses who would be the one exception to this rule throughout the entire period of the law. After Moses, the use of the laver would be solely for “Aaron and his sons,” meaning the priestly line which descended from Aaron.

It is these people alone who were to “wash their hands and their feet.” As these members picked up dirt and defilement, they needed to be washed in order to symbolize purification before the Lord. As the laver was considered most holy, then the water inside of it would be as well.

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,

The priests were required to make the daily sacrifices upon the altar in the morning and at twilight. They were also to tend to the Menorah and the Altar of Incense at these times. The Table of Showbread had its regular schedule, and the Ark of the Covenant was to be approached each year by the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

For each of these times, and all others which are designated by the law, the priests were required to first wash their hands and their feet at this laver. Though it is almost neglected in written detail, its use was as frequent as any implement in the entire sanctuary, even more so!

20 (con’t) lest they die.

These words are actually a part of the first clause. The NKJV has placed them at the end, indicating that death would be the result for not washing in any of the circumstances of this verse. However, the words “lest they die” are actually after “when they go into the tent of meeting.” The conjunction “or,” along with the words of the next verse, give us clarity.

This may seem like excessive punishment for such an infraction, but when considering the nature of the duties, the One to whom the observance was due, and the frequency of this being required, it makes good sense. As the Pulpit Commentary states it –

“Contempt of the simple and easy regulation to wash at the laver would imply contempt of purity itself; and so an entire hypocrisy of life and character, than which nothing could be a greater offence to God.” Pulpit Commentary

21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die.

A second emphatic statement is made, repeating the substance of what had just been said. This brings to memory the time when Moses came to the burning bush and was told to take off his shoes. The most holy things were most holy, the ground within the tabernacle was deemed most holy because of the presence of the Lord.

In touching these holy articles with defiled hands, or in walking in the holy places with defiled feet, it would be reckoned as sin against the Lord and thus deserving of death. Their consecration did not bring them to an indelible state of holiness. Rather, they acquired defilement through their regular lives. To ensure that they maintained purity before the Lord, they were thus required to wash. This is reflected in the words of Leviticus 11:44 –

“For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44

*21 (fin) And it shall be a statute forever to them—to him and his descendants throughout their generations.”

The washing of the hands and feet during the ministering of their duties was to be olam, or forever to their generations. The word olam indicates that which is concealed. It is an indeterminate amount of time which simply extends on without knowing when it will end. Hence, the term “forever” is used.

In this case, forever is to be taken in the sense of the duration of the covenant which comprises the words we are looking at. As the covenant is annulled in Christ, it is no longer a requirement. But for as long as the generations of the law were to remain, the statute was in force for Aaron and his sons, meaning the priestly line who ministered before the Lord.

There is a Laver which is available to me
And from within it comes water to cleanse and purify
I am to attend to it always, even daily
And in coming to it, the water has power to sanctify 

In washing with it, I am able my duties to complete
And from it the water has power to cleanse my soul
Through this washing, there is again fellowship so sweet
And my life remains steady before God, always under control 

No matter how many times I come, the water continues to pour
From the Laver, there is no end to the cleansing flow
And so I will come to it every day for sure
And in my walk I will be purified, I know

II. The Symbolism of the Laver

This laver is the seventh implement to be described in relation to the tabernacle furniture. The first was the Ark of the Covenant, then the Mercy Seat, the Table of Showbread, the Menorah, the Brazen Altar, and then the Altar of Incense. This now is the final such implement.

However, it is actually the second one to be approached when entering the courts, immediately after the Brazen Altar. There is a great deal of difference between the two. The altar was made of wood and brass, but the laver is of brass only. The dimensions of the altar were given in detail, but no dimensions are given for the laver.

The transport of the altar is given in that it was to be covered and carried on poles placed into rings. However, nothing is mentioned about how the laver was to be moved and nothing is said about a covering for it.

The altar was used for burning with fire; the laver for holding water. Even though only the priests could work at the altar, many of the sacrifices for it came from the general population. However, the contents of the laver were solely for the use of the priests. There is thus a great difference in these two implements.

As I just said, and as verse 19 notes, this implement is solely for the use of the priests – for Aaron and his sons. But there is a truth to be found in this, if they didn’t use the laver to wash, they would still be Israelites, but they would not be allowed to perform the duties of a priest. This then shows us a spiritual truth.

When we as Christians interact with the world, we won’t stop being Christians. We are once and forever justified before the Lord because of what He did. However, as we become defiled by the things of this world, we lose our effectiveness to do the priestly things that we should be doing. Our fellowship with God is fractured, and our ability to minister properly to others becomes useless.

Therefore, the Bronze Laver points to Christ, just as all the other implements have. It is through the cleansing which comes from Him that we are made suitable to perform our proper priestly roles as Christians.

Concerning its composition, we have seen time and again that bronze signifies judgment. In the case of this laver, it is after the judgment on sin for justification which was seen at the altar. Therefore, this Laver is looking to judgment on defilement and thus it signifies purification. It is a picture of the continued purification of the believer because of Christ.

Despite having been justified through the altar sacrifice, we still see Christ’s inflexible righteousness which tests us, judges us, and which ends close fellowship with God when we continuously violate His precepts. This is a lesson that every born again believer should heed, but which is far too often ignored.

We may not lose our salvation, but we can lose the joy of it as we continuously stray away from what Christ expects. In understanding this, we can see then what the water which is contained within the Laver signifies. Surely, it cannot be overly difficult to see what it is.

As far as the makeup of the bronze, we were told that it came from the mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tent of meeting. The Bible took the time to specifically note that, unlike almost all of the other voluntary offerings, this one was most specific.

It shouts out to us to consider what a mirror is used for. The Laver pictures Christ, as we have seen. He is the Word of God and from Him issues the word of God. Both are discerners of the hidden things. Christ is the active discerning of what is hidden in man, whereas the Bible is what passively allows man to see what is hidden in himself. The composition of the Laver being mirrors then points to what it says about the Word of God in Hebrews 4 –

“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:11-13

The bronze laver, made from these precious mirrors, points to Christ’s ability to discern and judge the very thoughts and intents of the hidden heart of man. And so, if Christ is the Laver, then what issues from Him is symbolized by the water. As He is the Word of God, and the word proceeds from Him, then it is a picture of the word itself; the Bible.

So much is tied up in this because the Holy Spirit worked to ensure that we received the written word through the prophets and apostles. Jesus came and dwelt among us and spoke the word. But suffice it to say that it is the word which is pictured in the water.

As we have only one source for knowing Christ during this dispensation, then it must be that source, meaning the Bible, the written word of God which is our water of cleansing. Numerous verses in both testaments show us this. A direct one from Psalm 119 is –

“How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.” Psalm 119:9

Another from the New Testament is again explicit –

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word…” Ephesians 5:25, 26

These and a host of other verses show us that this water symbolizes the life which flows from the Word of God. And especially for us during this dispensation, it is the written word meaning the Bible. Understanding that, there is more to see in the idea of washing.

In the ordination of Aaron and his sons which was recorded in Exodus 29, they were completely washed. That was a one-time washing only for ordination. However, they are now instructed to wash their hands and their feet each time they minister to the holy things. This then shows a contrast between the two types of washing.

Further, the first was done for them by Moses one time and never repeated, the other was done by themselves frequently. This contrast is seen in what happens to believers in Christ. The first conducted for them typified regeneration – moving from Adam to Christ, once for all. The second typifies on-going sanctification and constant spiritual cleansing.  This is actually seen in Jesus’ washing of the disciples in John 13 –

“Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.’” John 13:10, 11

He uses two different words there for us to understand what is meant. The first is “bathed” or louó. It signifies the washing of the entire person; a full washing. This signifies cleansing from sin. The second word He used was “wash” or  niptó. This indicates a simple washing of one’s own hands. It is an on-going process of keeping something clean.

What is seen is a contrast of what the Lord does for us in regeneration, and what we receive from the Lord in our sanctification. The regeneration is actively conducted by Him. It is once for all, and its effects are permanent, meaning forever. In our sanctification, we passively receive from Him as we actively cleanse ourselves with Him.

We open the spigot and we receive sanctification and cleansing through the washing of water by the word. This then is why the Laver comes after the Brazen Altar. The Altar speaks of justification before God because of the application of the work of Christ. The Laver speaks of sanctification before God because of application of His word.

We don’t need to have the blood reapplied, but we need to continuously apply the water, even to go back and minister as a priest at the altar. The holiness of God demands that in order to be in proper fellowship with Him, we must treat Him in the holy manner He deserves. Arthur Pink states this beautifully with these words –

“What is needed by the exercised believer as he is conscious of the blemishes of his service (the “hands”) and the failures of his walk (the “feet”), is to avail himself of that which the Laver and its water pre-figured—the provision which God has made for us in His Word. What is needed by us is a practical appropriation of that Word to all the details of our daily lives.” AW Pink

How sad it is to think that the water is right there for us if we desire it. The word is written, its precepts are available, and the yielding of our lives to it will bring us back into a right standing with our heavenly Father. And yet so few avail themselves of this fount of spiritual blessing.

It is there for us to draw from. Just as the priests had to go to the Laver and draw the water from it, we too have to draw from the word, using it to judge ourselves, to guide our lives, and to grow in a close and personal relationship with the Lord. Paul sums the thought up so well with these words –

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16

In doing these things, we will keep ourselves from temptations, we will be kept from falling into evil practices, we will stay on the right path, and be able to resist the devil. The snares he sets for us will be evident long before we come close to them. This is the power of the word of God to affect our lives. The water of the Laver is our written word. In pursuing it, we can fulfill Paul’s admonition from 2 Corinthians 7:1 –

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

And this perfecting comes in two ways, symbolized by the two parts of the body which were washed by the priests. The hand washing was intended to signify purity in action, whereas the foot washing was to signify holiness in how they walked and conducted their lives. Together, they signify the right-now and the on-going. Our cleansing is to be for the task at hand as well as for the steps we take which lie ahead.

In this pursuit of the word though, there is more than just keeping ourselves from harm and growing in holiness. There is an aspect which anyone who reads the Bible daily will surely comprehend – relief and reinvigoration. When Aaron and his sons washed their feet, especially before the evening work, they would be tired from the labors of the day.

When the cool water came down on them, it would have been a blessing to their soul. This is what the Bible gives us each time we pick it up, looking for a moment away from the weariness of the labors of the world. Reading David’s psalms can lift even the most wiped-out soul from the pit of the most melancholy spell. Such is the power of the Word of God when we open the tap and let it flow upon us.

Having seen so far what the Laver is according to the word, we need to see what is missing concerning it according to that same word. As I noted, nothing is said of its size, height, width, shape, or ornamentation. It is completely devoid of any further description. In this, we see a picture of unlimited provision.

The Laver could have held a gallon or 1000 gallons. The omission thus tells us that we don’t need to know. It holds water and water will issue from it. That is all we need to know. And so it is with Christ. He is unlimited in scope, being very God of very God. And what issues from Him is therefore unlimited in scope.

His word is fully sufficient to cleanse and to keep on cleansing. He is sufficient to sanctify and to keep on sanctifying. He is sufficient to purify and to keep on purifying. From Him, the water never ceases. Every need is met, and every desire is fulfilled in Him.

But not only was the size of the laver not given, the transport of it was not detailed either. The transport of all of the other implements is detailed, even minutely, but nothing is said of this. No mention of it being covered is given, no words tell us of how it is moved.

This omission was purposeful in order to show us Christ once again. He is ever available for our cleansing. No matter where we move, and no matter what deplorable place we go to, there is always available to us the pure cleansing of the word. It will never depart from us. As long as we come to the tap, the water will flow. In this life, we will never search out all of the mysteries of His word, and in eternity, the water will never run dry. This is the promise of Revelation 22 –

“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1

And there is one more omission concerning the laver, at least as far as Israel is concerned. It is mentioned 10 times in the books of Moses. It is seen 9 times in Exodus and once in Leviticus. All of these are in connection with the construction and consecration of the tabernacle. After that it is not mentioned again.

Instead, only the lavers for the temple are once again described. This is probably not by accident, but is intended to show us just how far Israel departed from the word of the Lord throughout its history. They were redeemed by God. Those who participated in the Day of Atonement received His covering, but the people never lived close enough to the Lord to be considered as cleansed from their daily walk.

It is the continued theme of the Old Testament. This is certainly why they were twice exiled and it explains beautifully the words of comfort for Israel which lie ahead someday when they turn to Christ. This is seen in Zechariah 13 –

“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” Zechariah 13:1

The fount was opened for them, but they rejected Him. Therefore, they were exiled and God turned His focus to the Gentiles who have gladly received what is offered in these ancient types and shadows. However, Israel is being prepared for the day when the cleansing water will pour out for them.

Nationally, they will sit as chief among the nations. Spiritually, they will be purified by the water which flows from the throne there in Jerusalem. This is described in Ezekiel 47:1-12. The water will flow from the throne and be so abundant that it will even bring the Dead Sea to life. Only the swamps and marshes won’t be healed.

The note that the ritual for Aaron and his sons was forever to them throughout their generations is an anticipatory look into the true and eternal cleansing in Christ. The law failed, not because it wasn’t holy, but because man isn’t holy. Only through Christ can that be corrected. And in Him, it is completely corrected.

What we need to do now, in our present walk, is to pursue Christ. We should fill ourselves with His word, apply its precepts to our lives, and live always in a state of purifying ourselves to honor His holiness. We can hold onto the words of the Lord from John 15:3 that say –

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

But we also need to hold onto the truth that our one-time cleansing from a bath does not mean that we don’t need ongoing cleansings through self-washings. One has eternal value and can never be removed, whereas the other has right-now value which can affect so much of our earthly life as well as our heavenly rewards. As I’ve said, the tap is there. We just need to open it and wash.

If Christ is the discerner of our inner selves, then let us use what we have from Him for our own self evaluations; let us look into the perfect law of the Lord in order to discern our faults, and let us strive to mirror the Lord until the day when He looks at us and sees as much of Himself reflecting back into His precious, purifying eyes as is possible.

And for those who have never taken the first step, not of being sanctified by the word, but of being justified by the Lord, it’s time to make the decision to do so. No matter how much you wash your hands, the defilement will remain unless the sin of your soul is first washed away.

This is the problem with religion; always putting the horse in front of the cart. “I’m going to clean myself up and God will be counting me in for sure.” That’s not how it works. Only Christ can clean us up to make us right before God. After that, we use what Christ offers to keep ourselves clean. Let’s get it in the right order and you’ll be in the sweet spot for all eternity. Call on Jesus, receive His forgiveness, and then live for Him all the days of your life. Do it today!

Closing Verse: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7

Next Week: Exodus 30:22-33 The wonderful smells must have been so intense… (The Holy Anointing Oil and the Holy Incense) (86th 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 Bronze Laver

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

You shall also make a laver of bronze
With its base also of bronze, for washing, as I submit
You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar
And you shall put water in it

For Aaron and his sons shall wash, as is meet
In water from it, their hands and their feet

When they go into the tabernacle of meeting
Or when they come near the altar to minister, by and by
To burn an offering made by fire to the Lord
They shall wash with water, lest they die

So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die
And it shall be a statute to them forever
To him and his descendants throughout their generations
As long as this law continues, they shall cease this never

Lord, in this simple Laver, we see marvelous pictures of you
And of the word which you have spoken as well
Help each of us to do those things we should do
And purify ourselves as the pictures of this Laver do tell

Let our actions be right and acceptable each day
May our steps be free from error; walking a path which is holy
And help us to wash ourselves with your word, we pray
Until the time when we stand there before the glassy sea

For marvelous are you, O God
And worthy are You of our seeking right living through Your word
And may we forever upon the holy path trod
Until the day when comes for us Jesus Christ our Lord

We long for that day and may it be soon we pray
Until then we will continue to pursue You day by day

Hallelujah and Amen…


Exodus 29:38-46 (I Will Dwell Among Them and be Their God)

Exodus 29:38-46
I Will Dwell among Them and be Their God

If you’ve read through the Old Testament, you may have gotten kind of tired of all the offerings that are mandated in it, especially in Exodus and Leviticus. I actually had a friend quit reading the Bible because of them. It seemed brutal, pointless, and overly excessive to her.

Reading the pages one after another and not understanding what is actually going on can certainly lead to that kind of conclusion. Be honest, it seems tedious at times, doesn’t it? Even the Lord said that he had had enough of Israel’s burnt offerings. If you don’t believe me, check Isaiah 1:11.

But the reason was because of the manner in which they were offered, not because it wasn’t the right thing to do. The Lord had called Israel and had given them these rules for a reason. It was first so that they would be His people and He would be their God. There was to be communion with Him through their offerings.

But they got to the point where communing with God was a chore and not a joy. They mechanically offered what the law required and there was no true fellowship in what they did. The second reason for the required offerings was to show us something else. These offerings under the law, like every other detail of what we have seen, were given as a type and shadow of Christ to come.

I know that the thought of analyzing a bunch of sacrifices and offerings may seem dull, but its not. If you still aren’t impressed with the verses ahead when we get done today, I’ll give you a full refund on your time. But I just don’t believe you will ask for it. If you truly love what Christ has done, then those things which picture Him will be worth the time you spend looking into them.

Text Verse: For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”2 Corinthians 6:16

The Lord said in our sermon verses today that he would dwell among the children of Israel and that He would be their God. He said in 2 Corinthians 6 that He would dwell among us and be our God. Doesn’t that at all get your curiosity up? How do the two accounts tie together? How can the morning and evening sacrifices of ancient Israel point us to our current position with God?

Well, stay awake and pay attention for the next 30 or 40 minutes and you’ll see. One thing is for sure, we can’t find out if we don’t open the book and study it. 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. A Lamb, Morning and Evening (verses 38 & 39)

38 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar:

The consecration of the altar was explained in the previous verses, especially in verses 36 and 37. Now, immediately following that description, the account moves directly into the establishment of the daily offerings to be made on the altar.

The purpose of the ordination rites which were described, both for the priests and for this altar, is explained in these verses today. They are the end design to which that ordination is subservient, which is the worship of God and an acknowledgment to Him that all things come from Him.

It would make no sense to ordain the priests and consecrate the altar if there was not an ultimate purpose for their ordination and its consecration. Therefore, it shows that the intent for those consecrations find their fulfillment in what will now be described.

No exception is given here, or anywhere else, concerning relief from these offerings. Even if the land were completely deprived of food or animals, these would still be required because God, being the Source of all things, was to be acknowledged for being the provider or withholder of those things for the people.

His grace could be anticipated if these offerings were made, but even if it was withheld, they were still to be given in petition for mercy. To refuse to offer them as instructed would first be a violation of the covenant, and secondly a stubborn refusal to acknowledge the sovereignty of God who controls the nations and who directs the destiny of Israel.

The life of the people belonged to the Lord, and therefore, these sacrificial animals stood as representative of their lives being offered daily to him. These offerings then could be summed up by Paul from his words in Romans 12 –

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1, 2

This mandate will continue throughout the duration of the Old Covenant. Even until the time of Christ, these offerings were made. At His coming, they were made obsolete, but they continued on until the destruction of the temple in AD70.

The re-establishment of them is being planned right now, but this doesn’t mean they will be acceptable to God. Rather, they are a part of what God has said would come in the final 7 years of the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. However, these offerings were so especially important to the covenant while it was in effect, that we read this in Ezra 3 –

“From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid.” Ezra 3:6

Even before the laying of the foundation of the second temple, the daily offerings prescribed here were initiated. The same will probably be true with the reestablishment of the offerings in the coming of the next temple. As we will see though, the offerings only picture the coming work of Christ. In Him, they are fulfilled and set aside.

38 (con’t) two lambs of the first year,

The words read, kebasim bene shanah shnayim – “lambs, sons of the year, two.” These lambs were to be young, in the first year, picturing innocence. A lamb of any age is a beautiful picture of innocence, but one of the first year is especially so. It’s hard to imagine sacrificing such a pure and unstained animal.

However, it needs to be considered that it is the Lord who is mandating the sacrifice. As He is the Creator of the lamb, then it is His prerogative to stipulate whatever animal He chooses. In selecting a young, tender, and innocent lamb, He was making a picture of His own Son to come.

Every single day, 360 days a year, and therefore 720 times, these young lambs were sacrificed in anticipation of the day when the pure, perfect, and innocent Son of God would be sacrificed. These lambs then only prefigure His perfect innocence, and His infinite tenderness.

Lambs are not rebellious, but submissive animals. They don’t fight even as they go to their deaths, but rather they remain silent. They will willingly go where the master leads them. Such an animal then made a perfect picture of Christ who voluntarily submitted to His Father’s will and who did not fight or speak against the authority that came to take His life.

Lambs further picture many of His other endearing attributes of harmlessness to those He died for, His humility even toward those who cared nothing for Him, His patience towards the objects of His wrath, and they even emulate Christ in that lambs are useful for both food and clothing.

For those who partake of Him, He is their food. And for those who receive Him, He is their unstained white garment of righteousness. The sacrifice of these lambs was to be a twice-daily anticipation of many of the good things to come in Jesus Christ the Lord.

One more aspect of them is actually not yet recorded. However, in Numbers 28:3, it is added into the details where it says, “two male lambs in their first year without blemish.” Not only were these to be innocent lambs which were to be sacrificed to the Lord, but they were to be without blemish.

These then picture Christ as anticipated by Isaiah with the words that “He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.” Peter then further refines the image in the New Testament –

“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:17-19

38 (con’t) day by day continually.

la’yom tamid – ” daily continually.” From the first day that they were to be offered, until whatever point set by God in His eternal counsel, these offerings were to be made continually and without interruption.

If a war raged around Jerusalem, and the walls were ready to be breached, the offering was not to be withheld from the Lord. If the rains poured down, or if the snow piled deep, the offering was to continue unabated. God did not delay in offering His Son; Israel was not to delay in offering what merely pictured His coming.

The idea for Israel was first to understand that they continuously contracted new defilement which offended the Lord. And so daily they needed His pardon in order for them to continue before Him. Secondly, it was to show them that the worship of Him wasn’t to be limited to a Sabbath day or one of the set feast days, but it was to continue on at all times, and every day of the year.

39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning,

ha’kebes ha’echad taaseh ba’boqer – “the lamb the one you shall offer in the morning.” The first lamb was to be taken and sacrificed as an offering in the morning. There is a lesson for Israel to consider in this act, but there is also a picture of the Christ to come. In a moment we will look at both, but only after seeing what occurs with the second lamb…

39 (con’t) and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.

v’eth ha’kebes ha’shnei taaseh ben ha’arbayim – “and the lamb the second you shall offer between the evenings.” The second lamb was to be sacrificed at a particular time which would later become known as the time of the evening offering, or even simply as the time of the offering. This is found, for example, in the great challenge between the 450 prophets of Baal and Elijah –

“And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.'” 1 Kings 18:36, 37

This time became so important to the Jews, that even during exile when the sacrifices had stopped being made, those who were observant still used that time of day to make a sacrifice of prayer, petition, and praise to God. This is seen, for example, in Daniel 9 –

“Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.” Daniel 9:20, 21

For the people of Israel, these two daily sacrifices were to be a reminder of the sin-debt they incurred each night, necessitating a morning sacrifice, and the sin-debt they incurred each day, necessitating an evening sacrifice. An innocent died each morning and each evening as a symbolic reminder of the mercy of God towards them.

Thus, the nation was given a reminder to rededicate itself to the Lord morning by morning and evening by evening. They were to offer themselves as that reasonable living sacrifice that Paul later tells us in the church to be.

The only difference is that instead of considering the death of an innocent little lamb, we are to consider the death of the Lamb of God. How much more then should we treat the offering as holy and worthy of our fullest attention and devotion!

Just as Peter equated Christ with these innocent lambs of the morning and evening sacrifice, Paul asks us to consider our own selves in a similar light, being holy and without spot or blemish –

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

But there is more in this verse to consider. The Hebrew term here is ben ha’arbayim – “between the evenings.” It seems like a perplexing phrase, but one has to consider biblical time. According to the Bible, a day is divided into “evening” and “morning.” Thus there are actually two evenings to be reckoned. The first began after twelve and went through until sunset.

The second evening began at sunset and continued till night, meaning the whole time of twilight. This would therefore be between twelve o’clock and the termination of twilight. Between the evenings then is a phrase which allows the three o’clock sacrifices at the temple to be considered as the evening sacrifice even though to us it would be considered an afternoon sacrifice.

The sacrifice of these two lambs then, one in the morning and one “between the evenings,” meaning at 3pm, then picture the work of Christ on His final day. His final daylight hours are exactingly recorded in the gospels. Luke says this concerning the time which parallels that of the morning sacrifice mandated here in Exodus –

“As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, 67 ‘If You are the Christ, tell us.'” Luke 22:66

And again, Luke tells us of the ending of this day of brutality, torture, and death –

“Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:44-46

The same time that Christ began his last day there in front of the chief priests and scribes, the morning offering was being made. And the same time that Christ died on the cross, which is carefully and meticulously recorded in the gospels, was the same time that the evening sacrifice was being made – the sixth hour, or 3pm.

God, knowing in advance of what was to come in the final day of Christ’s earthly ministry in fulfillment of the law, ensured that these two lambs would be sacrificed, day after day and year after year, as a picture of the ultimate sacrifice of His own precious Son.

Now, in the remembrance of the Day, and in the life which was given for us, we can press on in the full assurance that morning by morning and day by day our sins are truly removed and God’s mercy is granted in all its fullness to us. As Christ offered Himself once for all, He is literally therefore a continual sacrifice for us.

What these continual day by day offerings pictured is what we have realized in the absolute sense through our receiving of Christ Jesus the Lord. Because of this, how much more should we be like Daniel and offer our own spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praise, and petition to God both morning and evening and at all times in between. As Matthew Henry says –

“Our daily devotions are the most needful of our daily works, and the most pleasant of our daily comforts. Prayer-time must be kept up as duly as meal-time. Those starve their own souls, who keep not up constant attendance on the throne of grace; constancy in religion brings in the comfort of it.”

A Lamb, spotless, and pure – without any defect
Will be sacrificed in my place
And looking at that Lamb, I can certainly detect
The greatest love and grace… this I see looking upon His face

Oh! That I could refrain and not see Him die
Oh! If there could be any other way
How could this Lamb go through with it for one such as I?
Oh God! This perfect Lamb alone my sin-debt can pay

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Behold the sinless One, there on Calvary’s tree
He has prevailed and the path to heaven has been unfurled
The Lamb of God who died for sinners like you and me

II. Sanctified by Glory (verses 40-43)

40 With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour

Along with the lambs, other offerings were to be presented. The first such named offering says, v’issaron solet, “and one-tenth of flour.” From later verses, we know it is one-tenth of an ephah of flour. This is the first time that a division of tens is indicated in the Bible using the word issaron, or “the tenth part.”

An ephah is believed to be around 4 1/2 gallons, and so 1/10th of that would be a bit more than 3 lbs of flour. Elsewhere, the tenth part of the ephah is specifically known as an omer. This was to be presented with the first lamb each day. With this it was to be…

40 (con’t) mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil,

The ephah is a measure of dry goods; the hin, now introduced into the Bible, is a measure for liquids. It is believed to be a word of Egyptian origin. Although not certain, a hin is reckoned at about 3/4 of a gallon and so 1/4 of a hin is somewhere around a pint, maybe 1 1/2 pints.

There is to be 1/4  of a hin of shemen kathith or “oil pressed.” The word kathith is used for the second of just five times. It indicates something beaten. It is only used in connection with the olives that have been made into oil. This oil was to be mixed in with the flour and presented as a daily offering along with the first lamb.

The flour is an obvious picture of Christ, the Bread of life, who came down from heaven. It was a reminder that day by day we are to dine on Christ. He is our sustenance and that which nourishes us. The oil from beaten olive pictures the anointing of the Spirit upon Him which was suitable to carry Him through the suffering and trials that He endured.

Together, they made a tasteful food offering to God, just as Christ crucified became our Bread of life. As He is our spiritual meal, then we can and will be able to endure whatever trial or suffering we too may face.

40 (con’t) and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

The same amount of wine as oil was to be presented to the Lord. However, this was not mixed with the bread, but was poured out as a drink offering. The word for “wine” here is yayin. It is a common word for wine, which was used ten times in Genesis, but is seen just this once in all of Exodus.

It comes from an unused root meaning “to effervesce.” Thus it indicates fermented wine. It is to be considered wine which has alcohol content to it, thus banqueting wine. This is only the second time that a drink offering has been mentioned in Scripture. The first was after Jacob’s night, sleeping on the stone when he had his heavenly dream in Genesis 35 –

“So Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it. 15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel.”

Like that drink offering, these were to be wholly poured out to the Lord. The Pulpit Commentary disagrees. They say –

“The application of the “drink-offerings” is uncertain. Josephus says (Ant. Jud. 3:9, § 4) that they were poured out round the brazen altar. But the analogy of the “meat offering” makes it probable that a portion only was thus treated, while the greater part belonged to the priests. In the entire provision by which burnt and peace-offering were to be necessarily accompanied with meat-offerings and drink-offerings, we can scarcely be wrong in seeing an arrangement made especially for the convenience of the priests.” Pulpit Commentary

This is entirely incorrect. The wine contains alcohol content. This was forbidden for the priests to consume during the time they ministered in their duties. This is seen in Leviticus 10:8-11 –

“Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: ‘Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.'”

There was no prohibition, on the priests or anyone else in Israel, concerning alcohol consumption with but two exceptions. The restriction for the priests as they ministered, and for the Nazirite during the time of a vow, are the only times it is forbidden.

The pouring out of the drink offering signifies the pouring out of the life-blood of Christ for the remission of sins. There is no way God would allow the priests to consume such an offering. In this act can be seen a secondary picture of the outpouring of His love in the offering up of Himself. The three offerings of the lamb, the meal offering, and the wine produce a marvelous picture of a banquet of Christ’s life presented to God and for man.

But for Israel of old, they could only speculate on the meanings of these things. For them, the sacrifice and accompanying offerings would simply be signs of gratitude to God for His everlasting mercies. They would also be a faithful, twice-daily acknowledgment of His protective care and enduring love.

41 And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight;

As was noted in the last clause of verse 39, the second lamb was to be offered “at twilight” or literally, “between the evenings” at the time that Christ gave up His spirit on the cross of Calvary. As John Lang describes the two sacrifices –

“The morning sacrifice made atonement for the sins committed in the night, and the evening sacrifice expiated the sins committed during the day.”

This is true in a sense and thus it pictures a continual purification from sin for the people, day unto day and night unto night. As this was merely a picture of Christ to come, in its fullest sense it symbolizes the full atonement and complete expiation of sins for any and all who have received what His life and work offers. Along with this second lamb, there were also other offerings…

41 (con’t) and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning,

The same procedure was to be followed for the bread, oil, and wine in the evening as was conducted in the morning. The cycle was complete in the two sacrifices each day, and the cycle of our redemption was complete beginning on that Friday morning so long ago in Jerusalem and ending at 3pm that same afternoon.

41 (con’t) for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.

It should be noted that together, the two offerings are described in this one clause. In other words, the two sacrifices, though separate, actually comprise one whole. Only together do they form to make a complete offering to the Lord. Why is it noted this way?

It is for three specific reasons. The first deals with Israel. These two sacrifices combined were intended to show Israel that they were to consecrate their lives each day anew unto the Lord. So that the entirety of their lives would be included, the two offerings were made continually, both morning and evening.

As long as the law existed, the requirement was to be Israel’s reminder of their consecrated status as the Lord’s holy people. Secondly, they are mentioned together because only together do they picture the final day of the Lord’s earthly ministry before and up to His death.

And so thirdly, they now form for us what Israel only saw in the earthly sacrifices. We are to consecrate our lives each day anew unto the Lord. This is so that the entirety of our lives will be included. The complete and finished work of Christ is to be our constant reminder, both morning and evening.

42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations

The words of the previous clause, “a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire” in Hebrew are masculine. And yet, combined they are call now “a burnt offering.” This is feminine and so it appears there is a gender discord, but this is what Keil calls an ad sensum.

This is “a grammatical construction in which a word takes the gender or number not of the word with which it should regularly agree, but of some other word implied in that word” (Wikipedia). There is a precision of thought and intent in the original which is not seen in our translations.

And now once again, the word tamid, or “continuously” is repeated from verse 38. The offerings were to be perpetual, but it cannot be said forever. They were to continue only as long as the law, for which they were mandated, was in effect.

As a point of doctrine then, it should be noted to those who perpetually reinsert precepts from the law into their Christian doctrine, that they are actually in violation of the law which they insist upon. If the law is in effect, then the sacrifices must be made.

After the consecration of Aaron and his sons, this is the first point that has been considered. It is a continual, or perpetual, statute for the time of the law. If the law is in effect, in any part, then this part must be followed through with. Thus, it is both ridiculous and absurd to assume that one can pick and choose what parts of the Mosaic Law they will adhere to.

It is an all-or-nothing thing. To go with the “all” can only mean condemnation. To go with the “nothing” means a full and complete trusting in Christ alone, of whom each of these things only picture. If you are sticking to precepts of the law – be they tithing or not eating pork – or any other part of the law, in hopes of pleasing God, you are not only failing, you are disgracing the work of His Son and offending Him.

42 (con’t) at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord,

This translation is incorrect in part. It is the door of the tent of meeting, not tabernacle. However, the KJV does even worse by calling it the “tabernacle of the congregation.” This is entirely incorrect. It is ohel moed – the tent of meeting.

They have made the assumption that this is speaking of the door of the courtyard where the altar is more closely placed, but this is not correct. The sacrifices are said to be “at the door of the tent of meeting before the Lord.” This is speaking of the door to the tent of meeting, even though the altar isn’t placed in that exact spot.

The door for the tent is the word pethakh. The gate of the courtyard is the word shaar. They are two entirely different words describing two different things. It is the altar before the door of the tent of meeting where the Lord would meet with the people and commune with them. This is seen in the next words…

42 (con’t) where I will meet you to speak with you.

Most translations do not give a good sense of these words because of our modern use of the word “you.” It says, asher ivaed lakhem shammah l’dabber elekha sham – “where I will meet with you (plural) and speak with you (singular). The reason for the wording is explained quite well by Charles Ellicott –

“This passage determines the meaning of the expression, ‘tent of meeting.’ It was not the place where the congregation met together, for the congregation were forbidden to enter it, but the place where God met His people through their mediator and representative, the high priest, who could there commune with God and obtain replies from Him on all practical matters that were of national importance. … The fact that all communication was to be through the high priest is indicated by the change of person.”

The words in today’s passage have been exceptionally precise and take great thought and consideration to understand. If you try, you can see what is going on rather clearly. Christ is the Altar. Christ is the offerings. Christ is the High Priest. Christ is the Door. Christ is all of these things. Therefore, the Lord is saying that He will speak to us (plural) through Him (singular).

Everything about this edifice, the offerings, the exquisite wording that is used… all of it is intended for us to see the Person and work of Christ for us – both past, present, and on-going – even until forever. This is seen in the next words as well…

43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel,

It is through the entire process of what is being described that the Lord promises to meet with the children of Israel. They meet with Him through the sacrifices and offerings. They meet with him at the altar on which they are made. They meet with him through Aaron and the priests. There in the place, the rituals, and the people, the Lord says that He will meet with the children of Israel

43 (con’t) and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.

In this clause, the words “the tabernacle” are inserted by the translators for either your benefit or as an error. All it says is, v’niqdash bikbodi – “…and I will sanctify by My glory.” The question is, “What will the Lord sanctify by His glory?” Of 20 English translations, here are the options – “the place,” “it,” “the tabernacle,” “that place,” “the Tent,” and “the altar.” Anyone?

The answer is “None of the above.” The tent, the altar, and Aaron and his sons are all mentioned in the next verse as being consecrated. The only entity mentioned in this verse is Israel. It is Israel which is sanctified by the glory of the Lord that is being referred to here. This is later explained explicitly in Ezekiel 37 with these words –

“My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” Ezekiel 37:27-29

In the New Testament, it is Christ who is said to sanctify the people. As each implement, each rite, and each position of the tabernacle merely points to Christ, then this is speaking first and foremost of the people who are sanctified by Him.

This is a higher and more perfect sanctification than the law could ever provide. It is a sanctification which proceeds from the Lord Himself. It is the people who are being sanctified by His glory personally, represented by the various things around them by which they draw near to God.

It is I who consecrates Israel
It is by My glory that this is so
And it is I who can consecrate You as well
To you My holiness I will show

For those who call out from Egypt’s chains
I will respond and break them free
Nothing of the previous bondage now remains
For those who have been released by Me

I am the Lord who sanctifies His people
It is by My glory that this is so
So let them sing their praises from under the steeple
They are mine; let the world know

III. I am the Lord Their God (verses 44-46)

44 So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar.

Only after noting that He would sanctify the people of Israel does it now mention sanctification of the list of things which allow for the ministering of the people. Further, it is in the future tense, “And I will consecrate…” It is another indication that what was said in the previous verse is wholly separate from that which is being referred to now.

This is why it is so disastrous to read and be captivated by a single translation of the Bible. Man is fallible and the insertions are man’s fallible words, often incorrectly rendered. This is perfectly evident, once again, even in this verse which the NKJV translates at “tabernacle.” Again, it is the ohel, or tent of meeting and the altar which are first noted as to be sanctified.

44 (con’t) I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests.

After the edifice, only then are Aaron and his sons mentioned as to be sanctified by the Lord. As they are a part of the people of Israel, it is logical that they would be mentioned after the tent and the altar if the previous verse was speaking of Israel as a whole.

The separation between the clauses shows that verse 43 refers to the people of Israel. This will become fully evident in the next verse, but before going there, Adam Clarke’s words on this verse, in relation to the ordaining of men as ministers, is worthy of note –

“From this, as well as from many other things mentioned in the sacred writings, we may safely infer that no designation by man only is sufficient to qualify any person to fill the office of a minister of the sanctuary. The approbation and consecration of man have both their propriety and use, but must never be made substitutes for the unction and inspiration of the Almighty. Let holy men ordain, but let God sanctify; then we may expect that his Church shall be built up on its most holy faith.”

The lesson in Clarke’s words has been borne out thousands of times throughout the years. Man ordains, but only God sanctifies. How many pastors and preachers have been ordained by man, but have had no sanctification by God’s Spirit. Hence, it is never wise to put faith in a title such as pope, priest, pastor, or preacher.

Rather, we are to put our faith in God and inspect the man as to whether he is endowed with God’s approval or not. And the only way to do that is to see if he lives in accord with the word which He has given us.

45 I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God.

As I said a minute ago, the structure of how these verses are put together shows us that verse 43 was speaking of Israel. There is a chiastic structure in verses 43-45 which allows us to see this –

And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and they shall be sanctified by My glory.
So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar.
I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests.
I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God.

The Lord promises to meet with the children of Israel and to sanctify them by His glory. Therefore, He will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. The center of the verses speaks of the tent, the altar, Aaron, and his sons. Each of these has pictured Christ.

Therefore, we can see the picture revealed for us in the church now. Through Christ, in all of His many roles, God meets with us, sanctifies us, dwells with us, and is pleased to call Himself our God. As I said earlier, the passage today is exquisitely structured and the wording is exactingly precise.

Who would have thought when we started through them less than an hour ago that such marvelous treats would be seen in them! And yet, you are learning what so very few people have ever taken the time to learn. Like Israel of old, for us today, it is Christ who directs us, it is He who saves us, it is He who sustains us, it is He who enlightens us, it is He who defends us, and it is He who loves us enough to dwell among us.

In these verses, you are experiencing marvelous depths of wonder that are hardly ever plumbed. You are finding Christ through the revealed mind of God. Be pleased to revel in Him because through these words, there is wonderful assurance…

46 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God,

It is through Christ who sanctifies His people that we can know Yehovah our God. It is He who dwells among us and who lives in us by His good Spirit. It is by no other name that we can identify with God in this unique, personal, and intimate way.

In the tabernacle, the people saw the working of God and for God. It was through these types and shadows that they could say, “Here is the Lord our God.” As these types and shadows look forward to Christ, then when we see their fulfillment in Him, we can – and without any reservation at all – say, “Here is the Lord our God.”

God has given us the Old only to point us to the New. Let us never squander our rightful position by deferring to the Old and trusting in our own deeds of the law in order to do what Christ has already accomplished and set aside.

4(con’t) who brought them up out of the land of Egypt,

It is through the sanctification of Israel and all that went along with it that they would know the Lord “who brought them up out of the land of Egypt.” In other words, it is not through the tabernacle itself, nor the altar, nor Aaron that they would know this, but through their sanctification.

This is why the Lord ties this knowledge of Him in with being brought out of Egypt. Otherwise, it makes no sense. The tabernacle was replaced with the temple. The people were exiled to Babylon, the priestly line stopped its sacrifices and offerings, and yet they never forgot that it was the Lord who dwelt among them who brought them out of the land of Egypt.

Thus, we need to remember what Egypt only pictured – our life of sin. We don’t have an altar; we don’t have a tent; we don’t have a high priest. Rather we have the Altar; we have the Tent; and we have the High Priest. All capitals there folks! We have Jesus, the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. It is He who brought us up out of the Land of Egypt and He did it for a most marvelous purpose…

4(con’t) that I may dwell among them.

Until Christ died for us, we could not be justified. Until we received His work, we remained apart from Him and separate from the covenant promises. But when we called out to Him from our state of bondage, He made another entry on the rolls of heaven’s scroll. He set another space at the heavenly banquet table, and He added on another room to the glorious dwelling where we will reside with Him for all eternity.

But He also gave us of His Spirit so that even now He dwells with us. What Israel realized in type and shadow, we realize in spirit and in truth. We have the fullness of what God offers when He said that He will dwell among us. We have the true Tent, our Lord Jesus Christ. And because we have Christ, we have the absolute fullness of our final words of the day…

*4(fin) I am the Lord their God.

Ani Yehovah elohehem. If there is one truth which absolutely must be stated again and again and again, it is that Jesus Christ is Yehovah Elohim. He is the Lord God. This is so absolutely evident in Scripture that it takes the very hardest of hearts, or the very dullest of minds to deny it.

Throughout the entire chapter, we have seen literally dozens if not hundreds of pictures of Christ. In today’s nine verses, we have seen countless more. God is calling out through His word to show us what was, what He has done, and what will be in what He will do.

And every single detail of it hinges on our acceptance that He personally stepped out of His eternal realm and united with His creation in order to redeem us from Egypt, our place of bondage to the devil and sin. In that act, He again becomes the Lord our God.

And as certain as any other truth found in the Bible, if we fail to accept that and to receive Him as our Savior, we remain under the devil’s power. The little lambs whose life blood ebbed away at the altar of sacrifice each day make people cringe at the brutality of God who would allow such a thing.

And yet, those innocent little lives were given as a mere type and shadow of something far more precious, and infinitely more valuable. The love of God for humanity impelled Him to do what He did. This is how much He loves the work of His hands, and this is the amazing length that He would go to in order to once again fellowship with us. Through the cross of Christ, God is calling out to you. Will you respond? Call on Christ; marvelous things lie ahead if you do.

Closing Verse: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.'” Revelation 21:3

Next Week: Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 Our lives are such a very short span… (The Brevity of Man)

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.

I Will Dwell among Them and be Their God

Now this is what you shall offer on the altar:
Two lambs of the first year
Day by day continually, in this do not falter

One lamb you shall offer in the morning so bright
And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight

With the one lamb shall be
One-tenth of an ephah of flour, such is the proffering
Mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil
And one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering

And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight
And you shall offer with it the grain offering, as to My word
And the drink offering, as in the morning
For a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord

This shall be a continual burnt offering
Throughout your generations, so you shall do
At the door of the tabernacle of meeting
Before the Lord, where I will meet you to speak with you

And there I will meet with the children of Israel, where I abide
And the tabernacle shall by My glory be sanctified

So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar too
I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons
To minister to Me as priests, so shall I do

I will dwell among the children of Israel
And will be their God, as I to you now tell

And they shall know that I am the Lord their God
Who brought them up out of Egypt the land
That I may dwell among them
I am the Lord their God, so they shall understand

Surely You are holy, O God
And this is what You expect also from us
But even now You have accepted us while on this earth we trod
Because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus

How can such a marvelous thing as this be?
That You have granted us to again fellowship with You
Thank You, O God for Jesus, the Lord of glory
Who, through His shed blood has made all things new

And so in His name to You we give our praise
And so shall it be forever and ever, even unto eternal days

Hallelujah and Amen…