Our sermon text is about a new Exodus that God promises through Isaiah, an Exodus out of exile into freedom, into glory. In the gospels, the turning point in Jesus’ ministry, when He turns His face toward Jerusalem, is the transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus, and He shines with the glory of His coming victory. And Luke’s gospel says explicitly that what they talked about was the Exodus that He was about to perform in Jerusalem (Lk. 9:31). In other words, the great Exodus that Isaiah foretold began when the exiles returned under Cyrus, but that only prefigured the Great Exodus of Jesus. And like the first Exodus, Jesus began with a meal, shared with His disciples, and He told them to keep celebrating it until He comes again in glory. Isaiah commands a number of things for keeping the Passover Feast which we should keep in mind: Wake up, get dressed, be on the look out, rejoice, get ready to leave, and the sign of their departure will be God’s servant, a new Moses, who will be greatly exalted, but He will be surprising because His appearance will be marred. Week after week, we come to this same table, to celebrate this same Exodus, and so the commands are still for us: Continue Reading…
Archives For Bible – Exodus
Paul writes the Colossians to assure them that Jesus is enough grace, power, glory, and today we consider the fact that Jesus is enough wisdom. Because Jesus is the very image of the invisible God (1:15), He is the perfect, complete Word of the Father to us. Jesus is our understanding, our wisdom.
Summary of the Text: Paul wants the Colossians and the Laodiceans (the closest neighboring church) to know that he is laboring mightily for the gospel (1:29-2:1). Paul’s “conflict” or “struggle” is his carrying out of the mission of God through preaching Jesus, warning all men, teaching all men with wisdom, as well as his suffering (1:24-25, 28-29, cf. Phil. 1:30, 1 Tim. 6:12, Heb. 12:1). Paul understands that his race/struggle is perhaps even more valuable to those who have never met him (2:1). If they have heard of Paul, if they know about his ministry of proclaiming Jesus, Paul wants them to know he isn’t living it up, relaxing in luxury. He’s out in the fray. He’s leading the charge. He’s at the head of the infantry, and this is so that their hearts may be comforted (2:2). Paul explains that he hopes this knowledge will drive them to love one another even more, and that it will drive them to draw on the “riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God” (2:2). As they understand more fully who Jesus is, it will equip them more fully to be involved in what Jesus does. Paul just finished saying that he is rejoicing in his suffering because it is another way that Jesus is being proclaimed, the mystery hid from ages and from generations is now manifest in the gospel (1:26). This is the riches of God’s glory even among the gentiles: Christ in them (1:27).
But it’s not just what’s in them. It’s what’s in Christ: “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:3). And Paul is underlining this point because he knows that there are other words on offer. There are other men with different messages, with “enticing words” (2:4). But Paul wants to encourage them, though he is absent from them, and he rejoices in their military formation and courage in Christ (2:5). So the central exhortation is for them to walk the way they were born. Continue the same way they started (2:6). It was the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus that turned them from enemies into friends, and Paul urges them to hold fast to that word, grow up into that word. It wasn’t a particular experience. It wasn’t a feeling. It isn’t an elitist club. It was the message of truth that Jesus is Lord of All and has begun to bring peace to all things through the blood of His cross (1:20). And the telltale sign that this grace has taken root and is flourishing is overflowing thankfulness (2:7). Continue Reading…
In our sermon text today, we noted that the tabernacle and the priests were anointed with oil for their dedication. In the New Testament, all Christians are ordained to the new priesthood through the water of baptism and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But in James 5 it says that if anyone is sick, he should call for the elders of the church to come pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord (Js. 5:14-15). The elders of Trinity take this seriously, and this is why from time to time we gather with individuals and families and anoint them with oil and lay hands on them and pray for their healing. One of the things that we regularly say when we perform this is to remind the individual or family that this anointing should remind them and is a prayer to God to remember their baptism, to remember His promises to them in Jesus. It’s a way to enact prayer before God with actions, we are asking the Holy Spirit to heal, to empower, to transform a difficult trial, a sickness into an occasion for great glory. We want Jesus to shine out in power, just like the oil makes your face shine. Continue Reading…
In Exodus 39, the priestly garments are made with the echoing refrain: “… as the Lord commanded Moses.”
It’s no accident that this refrain is repeated 7 times, mimicking the seven days of creation:
Day 1: Light & Darkness: 39:1: Holy garments for service
Day 2: Firmament: 39:2-5: Ephod
Day 3: Dry Land, Seas, Seed bearing plants: 39:6-7: Onyx stones for the shoulders w/ the names of the children of Israel
Day 4: Rulers in the Firmament: Sun, Moon, & Stars: 39:8-21: Breastplate with 12 precious stones bearing the names of the sons of Israel
Day 5: Birds & Fish: 39:22-26: Robe
Day 6: Man & land animals: 39:37-29: Coats, hats, pants, and sash of linen
Day 7: Holy Sabbath: 39:30-31: Gold crown bearing the inscription: Holiness to the Lord Continue Reading…
As we have noted previously, the construction of the tabernacle is intended to enact the re-creation of the world (e.g. Ex. 25-31). It is to follow the “pattern” which God showed Moses on the mountain (Ex. 25:9, 40, Acts 7:44). That pattern is ultimately the presence of God on the mountain come down to dwell among the people (Ex. 33:7-9, 40:34-38). In other words, the way Moses’ face shone after being in the presence of God on the mountain is a picture of what God wants to do with all of Israel and ultimately the whole world. The pattern of the tabernacle is meant rub off on Israel. But a big part of the story in Exodus is the actual construction of the tabernacle. That work is meant to be a transformative process too.
As the Lord Commanded
Remember that Ex. 25-31 was the record of the initial instructions given by God on the mountain, the seven speeches of the “new creation” of Israel. After the fall at with the golden calf, the following description of the actual work of Bezalel in Ex. 36-39 proves that the “new covenant” is in force and that God’s word does not return void. In the first creation account, “God spoke and it was done.” Likewise, here, God has spoken and now it is being done, “all that the Lord had commanded Moses” (38:22). Another way of looking at this recapitulation of the details of the tabernacle follows the original creation pattern of Gen. 1-2. Just as Gen. 1 is the creation of the world according to God’s spoken word in six days and Gen. 2 follows the creation of man, his situation in the garden, his naming of the animals and finally the creation of the woman, so too these two accounts of the details of the tabernacle accomplish similar goals. In Gen. 2, we see Adam imitating God and following his commands in naming the animals. In Ex. 36:8-39:31 we see Bezalel leading Israel in carrying out the commands of the Lord. Likewise, if the tabernacle is to be seen in feminine terms, the completion of the tabernacle is the creation of a new Eve from the side of Israel, the new Adam-son of God (cf. Ex. 4:22). Continue Reading…
The greatest thing is knowing God. 1 John was written to give assurance of what it means to know God: keeping His commandments (1 Jn. 2:3-4), being children of God (forgiven & freed from sin) (1 Jn. 3:1-6), listening to the Apostles (1 Jn. 4:6), loving others (1 Jn. 4:7-8), having the Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 4:13), knowing that Jesus is the Son of God and in Him is eternal life (1 Jn. 5:20).
Summary of the Text: Stephen gives us inspired commentary on our text in his sermon in Acts 7. He says that the history of Israel from Abraham to Moses to Solomon was always all about knowing God, walking with God, relying on God. The land, the mountain meetings, the tabernacle and temple, were always all about knowing God, meeting with God. Stephen calls the Jews “stiff-necked” because God has shown up right in front of them and they killed Him. Following Israel’s sin, God offers to lead Israel into the land and drive out their enemies but will not go up “in their midst,” – a definite change from the original plan, which included God dwelling with His people, meeting with them, speaking with them (25:8, 29:42-46). God says He could come into their midst, but He would consume them (33:5). This cannot be because of the presence of sin per se, otherwise the original plan for the tabernacle and sacrificial system would make no sense. Rather, God is questioning whether Israel really wants to be in covenant with Him, and this is signified by the command to remove the “ornaments” which Ezekiel 16 says were tokens of Israel’s maturity and marriage to God (Ez. 16:7-11). Continue Reading…
When things are going really well, many are tempted to think: just wait, in a few minutes it’s all coming down. We have a sinking sensation that when things begin going well, we’re headed for some kind of disaster. This is our innate knowledge of the curse of sin, the curse of the Fall.
Exodus 32 is a hinge story connecting the instructions for building the tabernacle (Ex. 25-31) with the actual building of the tabernacle (35-40). This story is a “fall” story following God’s seven new creation speeches, but the point is that God is determined to overcome the curse of sin by finally dealing with all sin and rebellion.
Summary of the Text: This story is in the middle of much larger, well known story: God has redeemed His son from slavery in Egypt, brought him to a mountain and spoken a new way of life to him. And the plan is to make this new way of life into a new world through faithful worship so that God will dwell with His people once again, like once upon a time. Like the first Adam, Israel is offered a new covenant of life with God, if he will trust and obey. But like the first Adam, Israel falls, disobeys, and breaks covenant with God. Israel breaks covenant by breaking most of the commandments explicitly and the rest implicitly by the time the episode is finished (32:1-6). God offers to destroy the people and build a nation out of Moses’ family, but Moses argues with the Lord, reminds Him of His promises, and God relents from His anger (32:7-14). Moses goes down the mountain and brings a small version of God’s fury with him (32:15-28). Given the way Moses has pleaded for the people, we have to see Moses’ actions as driven by love and not by blind wrath. The slaughter of the 3000 Israelites is likely not a mass execution of random people. There were leaders of this rebellion (e.g. 32:4), Egyptian sympathizers, and as in the first Passover, an Angel of death passes through the camp and those whose loyalty is to Pharaoh and his ways are struck down. After this new Passover, Moses again pleads for Israel, and God promises that His Angel will go with them into the Promised Land (32:29-35). Continue Reading…
In our sermon text today, Israel breaks covenant with the Lord by making a golden calf and corrupting themselves with false worship. It’s tempting to think that we are far more advanced, enlightened, and that we are not nearly as stupid. But centuries later, Stephen, preaching to the Jews about Jesus explains why they did what they did: their hearts were turned toward Egypt.
Growing fearful, insecure, worried in the wilderness, Israel was tempted to find meaning, value, security in the ways of pagans. And people are no different today. People looking for meaning and security in clothing, houses, bank accounts, drugs, alcohol, sex, friends, or just keeping up with whatever is considered cool or sexy or safe in the world’s eyes.
And this happens when your heart is turned toward false gods. But like Israel of old, we don’t usually make an idol and invent a completely new religion on the spot. We name our idol after good things. Israel named the golden calf after Yahweh who brought them out of Egypt. Maybe you drink too much and call it Christian liberty. Continue Reading…
We noted previously that the tabernacle is a portable Mt. Sinai, but Mt. Sinai and the tabernacle are also miniatures of the whole universe (Heaven-Sky-Earth-Sea) created in Genesis 1. The chapters we consider today finish and organize the instructions for the tabernacle in 7 speeches meant to illustrate and emphasize how big God’s plan of redemption is.
Golden Altar of Incense (finishing Day 1)
The altar of incense is golden which means that it is associated with the Most Holy Place (30:3). It is placed in the Holy Place directly in front of the veil of the Most Holy Place (30:6). Nothing else goes on this altar except for “sweet incense” every morning (30:7), and once a year on the Day of Atonement, blood is smeared on its horns “to make atonement for it” (30:10). Chapters 25-30:10 are “day one” of this new creation. The tabernacle is the light of the new world; the tabernacle is what separates the Day of Israel from the Night of the nations.
Census and Atonement (Day 2)
“Day two” is the provision for the people to protect them from the plague when a census is taken (30:12). The obvious implication is that if they took a census without this “atonement offering” they would be struck by a plague. Remember that the story of the Exodus as a great battle between the “hosts” of Israel (Ex. 6:26, 7:4, 12:17, 41, 51) and the fortress-strength of Pharaoh (14:4, 9, 17, 24, 28). There, at the Passover, blood covered the armies of Israel. This whole provision has to do with reckoning strength/security (cf. 2 Sam. 24). The second day of creation concerned the firmament that separated the waters above from the waters below; it has to do with how heaven and earth are joined and relate (e.g. 2 Kgs. 6:8-17ff). Continue Reading…
In today’s sermon text, God gives the instructions for the priests’ garments. One of the things to notice is that God wants Israel to view the priest as a sort of warrior. His garments are like armor. He wears a breastplate, shoulder guards, and a robe like a coat of mail. To be near to God, to serve God on behalf of others, to guard God’s presence necessarily means warfare, struggle, fighting. Priests busy in the tabernacle would frequently be splattered with blood, the blood of sacrifice.
But lots of Christians spend their time walking or running away from struggle, away from the fight. Many Christians are at least functional pacifists when it comes to their priestly duties. It’s easier not to speak up, easier not to comment on the silly Facebook post, easier not to get off the couch and correct your child, easier not to go to someone who has offended you. But the Christian life is not all about just keeping the peace, making sure everyone is just floating merrily down the lazy river of life.
Paul insists that we have been enlisted in the army of Jesus: put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. At the end of his life, Paul describes his whole ministry as having “fought the good fight.” Continue Reading…