BIBLE STUDY SERIES #188, 189 and 190

25 June, 1995


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We are studying the Great Plan of The Almighty God for the re-constitution of the Creation into that more perfect accord with His ultimate design which Love demands. These studies have led us to examine, from the Call of Abram onward through the Biblical account, the development of a nation which will be the earthly instrument in which God, in Jesus, could work to implement His Mighty Plan. That examination has led us through The Bible, consecutively from Genesis 12 to the later chapters of Exodus. We have seen how The Almighty chose Abram, and then His selected line of descendants to form the organizational core of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

We traced the descent through Isaac, and onward from Jacob, renamed Israel, as he and his family were drawn into Egypt under the care of Joseph, one of his sons, to a later generation living in bondage under "a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph". We watched as they were rescued by The Almighty through the great signs and wonders leading towards The Exodus. Having escaped Pharaoh's pursuing army which was drowned in the sea, these children of Israel had, under the leadership of Moses, approached Mount Sinai for their appointed meeting with the God of the whole earth, Who would henceforth, upon agreement, become, as subsequent Scriptures confirm, their national husband and they, His "peculiar people."

We of the British-Israel-World Federation see the present day descendants of the vast majority of those ancient Israelites to be represented in the essentially Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of today. Our Federation came into existence for the purpose of sustaining that view of Biblical interpretation which accords with this understanding.

As part of their preparation for service in that capacity as the national "wife" of God, the Israelites are being instructed in these latter chapters of Exodus with regard to their sinful nature and the consequent requirement for a means of approach to God which recognizes that condition and instructs regarding the only measures which can effectively operate to counter that condition. The Tabernacle and Tabernacle furnishings presently being described are, as subsequent history has revealed, to act as a sort of instructional teaching aid which is a shadow of the true work performed on their behalf, by God Himself, in the Incarnate Word made Flesh, Jesus Christ.

Today, we have come to the last part of Exodus 30, a passage wherein we discover the specifications regarding a very special form of incense which is to be created for, and reserved for, the service of priestly presentation upon The Golden Altar of Incense. This Altar stood before the vail barring entrance to the Ark of the Covenant, the physical focus where their Almighty God would meet with them representatively in the person of The High Priest. The altar of incense was so holy that it might have been set within the vail of the Holy of Holies, but for the fact that it must be frequently accessed by the High Priest whereas but once only in the year might that High Priest enter the Holy of Holies. Thus, this small, yet tall, golden altar must stand immediately before yet outside that vail.

In today's reading, we examine those ingredients which are to form this most holy incense, and we shall endeavour to perceive the true symbolism embodied therein. Our Scripture passage begins at verse 22, and, as usual, I shall be inserting some comments as we proceed.

22. Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
23. Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,
24. And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:

According to "The New Compact Bible Dictionary" (printed in the U.S.A.), the "hin" is equal to one U.S. gallon. According to "The New Bible Dictionary" produced by British sources, it is about 6 1/2 pints of British measure. This hin would thus equate to about 128 or 130 fluid ounces of olive oil, depending upon your source. A Mineh equals 50 Shekels or 20 Ounces. Thus, the total weight of powdered ingredients would have been 30 Mineh or 600 Ounces. We must note again the Scriptural consistency in the use of the number five or its multiples in the Tabernacle and its furniture, carried forward even in these details of measurements and also in the number of the actual ingredients assembled for the purpose of creating this holy anointing oil. As we have previously noted, that number, five, is the number which is Biblically associated with Grace.

The Companion Bible says of the myrrh "gum of Arabian thorny shrubs" and continues "sweet calamus = lemon grass of India... cassia = the bark of a kind of Indian cinnamon." Of the oil, it says that it is "the type of the Holy Spirit..." Keil and Delitzsch indicate that the myrrh, rather than dry gum, was "liquid myrrh." They also doubt the Indian origin of the cinnamon due to the name being unrelated to any in the local dialects of that land. Whatever the case, it was certain to have been a remarkable ointment for sanctification.

25. And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.
26. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,
27. And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,
28. And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.
29. And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.
30. And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.
31. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.
32. Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.
33. Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.

The ointment which is used for the anointing of the holy things must not be made a spice for common sensual satisfaction and purpose. That would profane the whole purpose of its preparation and use within the Tabernacle.

The New Bible Commentary note says "Throughout the Old Testament anointing fills a very important place in God's ordinances for his people, and signifies the enduement with the Holy Spirit for divinely appointed purposes. Prophets, priests and kings were anointed, and all these offices are found in Christ. ('Christ' is the Greek, as 'Messiah' is the Hebrew word for 'anointed'.) The ointment or oil was to be of the very best ingredients, to be compounded by those specially skilled, and to be unique, used for no other purpose than that specified in the sacred ordinances."

34. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:
35. And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:
36. And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.
37. And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.
38. Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.

A. Widdison's notes cover a number of points of interest relating to the INCENSE burned on the golden altar before the veil in the Tabernacle. (p. 38)
(a) Several Points of Interest.
1. RARE. All ingredients are mysterious. Three never mentioned again.
2. OF EQUAL PROPORTIONS. Perfect balance.
3. PERFECTLY BLENDED." (Here Widdison makes a point of comparing this with the fine linen and fine flour of the priestly service and presentation.)
"4. BEATEN SMALL. Suffering and humiliation.
6. NOT TO BE IMITATED. Israelites were forbidden to make a perfume like it; 'to smell thereto.'
(b) The Ingredients. Four." (Here, the rule of five appears to have been broken. However the Companion Bible note says "five in number", possibly from the reference to "sweet spices" which is listed before "stacte" being counted as another ingredient separate from what follows.)
Not to be confused with incense to which it was added. Often used apart from incense. We are never told in the Scriptures what it was. Word used betokened purity, and seems connected with the moon.
2. STACTE ...
Derived from word meaning 'to drop.' It was a sweet spice which dropped spontaneously from the tree that produced it. His paths drop fatness, says the Word of God. Wherever our Lord went, love and pity and sympathy flowed from His heart to the weary and weak and afflicted. It needed no effort in Him; grace flowed from Him.
Of these nothing seems to be known. They appear to set forth the divine, personal and incommunicable graces of Christ in His Eternal sonship. They could plead for men, send up their fragrance on his behalf, but could never be imparted. John 17, 24."

Keil and Delitzsch give the origin of the "stacte", not as resinous myrrh, but as a kind of storax gum resembling myrrh which was baked. They list the other ingredients thus: "shecheleth... the shell of a shell-fish resembling the purpura, of an agreeable odour; ...chelbenah, ...a resin of a pungent, bitter flavour, obtained, by means of an incision in the bark, from the ferula, a shrub which grows in Syria, Arabia, and Abyssinia, and then mixed with fragrant substances to give greater pungency to their odour; ...and ...lebonah, ...frankincense, a resin of a pleasant smell, obtained from a tree in Arabia Felix or India, but what tree has not been discovered." They indicate preference for the view that the Hebrew words indicate the parts were to be prepared separately and then mixed. Moses was to make incense, spice-work, etc. ...salted, seasoned with salt the meat offering." A portion was to be placed with the Altar of Incense, and the rest kept elsewhere. It was holy, and as with all such things, it was not to be profaned by common usage among the people.

Our time has gone. Let me leave with you the thought of the lingering perfume of God's beauty, sensed in the presence of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, as expressed by the perfumed incense in that Tabernacle so long ago, yet always with His people in its spiritual expression even to this present hour. We shall continue with these studies next week.

2 July, 1995


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We are studying the Great Plan of The Almighty God for the re-constitution of the Creation into that more perfect accord with His ultimate design which Love demands. Hence, our lessons are following a sequence which started several years ago with God's Call to Abraham in Genesis 12. In our last Bible Study we mentioned the over-all pattern which is being worked out on the Earth, in response to that Perfect Love which brought all into being. Love is the prime motivation; First, that which was given expression by Almighty God in Jesus Christ, and then, the inter-active corresponding Love which God requires in all of the created beings, of whatever sort, both towards Himself, and towards one another.

We saw how the descendants of Abraham through Isaac, and then Jacob (Israel) were drawn into Egypt to escape a famine. Joseph, who had been taken there as a slave, had risen to become the Prime Minister of that land. Later, descendants of the various clans of Israel became subject to bondage under the Egyptian heat, building Pharaoh's treasure cities. From that bondage, The Almighty God was pleased to draw them forth in and through those great signs and mighty works known as The Exodus. Gaining their freedom, they discovered the harsher life of the Sinai wilderness, and there they were led by Moses to the foot of Mount Sinai where they were gathered to establish a covenant with God.

We are presently seeing those Israelites, in our imagination, camped far below the mount as Moses receives further of God's word for the nation. The various aspects of the Tabernacle tent, its furniture, and the garments and ceremonies to be carried out by His Priesthood, have been described to Moses by The Almighty. That is not all. Yahweh (Jehovah) is not content to give orders and then, without providing the means, expect that His subject peoples will be left to their own devices as they had under Pharaoh, in the preparations which were to be carried forward.

You will, perhaps, remember that, in Exodus 1:11, the Israelites had been set to the task of making the mud bricks which were required to build Pharaoh's treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. This, the Israelites had been ordered to do by Pharaoh as his reply to God's demand, spoken by Moses and Aaron, to let God's people go. Pharaoh had ordered, in Exodus 5:6-19 that the daily tally of bricks must not be diminished, but that no straw should be provided, so that Israel would have to labour even harder than before to gather that necessary ingredient for the brickmaking. While Pharaoh gave them no straw, God would provide them with the materials and also the skills wherewith to create and to embellish those articles of service required for national service to Himself.

I see Pharaoh's actions as an enacted prophecy for our own times because, as we of the British-Israel-World Federation understand, many of the modern descendants of those ancient Israelites are found today within the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples, and they are playing out a parallel experience today. Instead of mud for actual bricks, they labour in a financial swamp, creating the financial bricks for debt repayments, to construct the treasure cities of the new Pharaoh, the community of international finance. Like their ancestors, they are being deprived of the necessary golden straw of debt-free money wherewith to re-finance and service those debts. All the while those financial bricks continue to be extracted of their labour to build the treasure cities of international finance.

The Almighty is not like Pharaoh. He gives directions to His people, but He provides, as He did to the Israelites, the wealth and substance wherewith to do that which He has commanded. The Egyptians had eventually, you may remember, to grant all those back wages which they had withheld, as shown in Exodus 12:36, and with this wealth, Israel now stands at the foot of Mount Sinai, equipped for the task which Moses is about to convey to them from The LORD. Let us read today's passage, taken from Exodus 31:1-11. As usual, comments will be inserted as we proceed.

1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
3. And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
4. To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
5. And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
6. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;

The name "Bezaleel" means, according to Young's Concordance, "God is Protection" and he is thus described: "The artificer to whom was confided the design and execution of the works of art required for the tabernacle in the wilderness. His charge was chiefly in all works of metal, wood, and stone, Aholiab having charge of the textile fabrics. Bezaleel, however, was chief in both departments." The same source says of Aholiab, that this name means "a father's tent." Aholiab's father, Ahisamach, has his name inscribed for all time in three passages of Scripture, and each time, simply as a Danite, and the father of this talented offspring. I wonder how many parents would feel more than content to realise that their whole life had been worth-while because they had the privilege of bringing such a son into the world. That father's name, incidentally, means "supporting brother." Countless numbers of God's people, some of established renown, others very humble, have been so blessed. All are remembered before The LORD for their service.

The New Bible Commentary says in regard to these craftsmen: "For this most sacred work not only were men of great skill required, such as Moses himself might have known and appointed, but men whose hearts were right for handling holy things. God alone could know and appoint such, and He marked out by name (2, 6) those whom He had chosen and fitted for this honour. These two men were both to use their own skill on a variety of tasks and also to supervise other unnamed craftsmen (6), who were equipped likewise by God, but whose appointment was left to Moses... Before Pentecost we read of the Holy Spirit being bestowed upon individuals for special services and in various manners..."

The Companion Bible adds "No Tubal-Cain could instruct these artificers." Tubal-Cain, you may remember, was a descendant of that Cain who is best known for having murdered his brother Abel. Tubal-Cain was stated, in Genesis 4:22 to be "an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron." Let us return to our Scripture passage which now lists those articles which are to be prepared.

7. The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,
8. And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense,
9. And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot,
10. And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office,
11. And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.

Of the "cloths of service" The New Bible Commentary explains "These may be the coverings for the holy vessels when they were being transported... or a general description of the priests' robes, particularized in the next phrase." Keil and Delitzsch state their reasons for selecting the latter meaning alone.

Although the articles and service of which we have been reading were designated by The Almighty God on Mount Sinai, in that ancient time, with the long-term object of providing to us an understanding of what The Almighty, in Jesus Christ, was setting before His people, the special service of private individuals today, whenever and wherever one feels led to offer such, ought to be undertaken with just as much commitment to a sense of an holy calling as was granted to the craftsman Bezaleel of the Tribe of Judah and Aholiab of the Tribe of Dan. We may not set unholy hands to the work or we will fail. We must seek that preparation which is found in Jesus Christ, and be sure that He has called and that He has defined our task. Presumption causes division and creates no work which honours God. Let us, this week, as The LORD may lead us, meditate carefully upon the work to which it may be His good pleasure to call each of us. Let us, if so called, be humbly willing to seek His pleasure in the design and the execution of all which He has planned that we shall accomplish. May I leave with you the thought for this week that you may have some very special work assigned of Our Lord which only you are positioned to do and it can only be done with a prayerful preparation of ourselves to the task assigned. We shall continue with our series of lessons next week.

9 July, 1995


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our continuing series of Bible Studies is designed to bring before us the Great Plan of The Almighty God for the re-constitution of Creation to that more perfect destiny which He has proclaimed.

The whole Old Testament record is one which explains, in fact, the preparation of the required line of descent from Adam and Eve down to the formation of a nation within which would emerge that Seed of the Woman which would, as Genesis 3:15 states, eventually bruise the Serpent's head. It was necessary that a whole nation emerge in order to prepare the way and to explain and document the nature of God's Plan. Israel was to become a national wife to Yahweh (Jehovah) at Sinai because such a nation was required in order to preserve pertinent revealed prophecies and ceremonial teachings and to establish the line of descent preparatory to the mighty work of The Lord Jesus Christ at The Cross; that marvellous sacrifice which forms the centre of the Great Plan.

The Cross was necessary to permit repentant men and women to come subsequently into God's presence with Sins forgiven and washed away. To perform this, Jesus had to take the place of such sinners, and to receive the punishment which was due, for only thus might Divine Love cancel the demands of Divine Justice and preserve His people. Moreover, as Israel had sinned to the point of divorce, and to comply with His own law (Deuteronomy 24:4) concerning such a woman or a nation once divorced, God in Christ had to die as husband to divorced Israel of old and pass through Resurrection in order to allow for a marriage supper of the Lamb, as pictured in Romans 7:2 and Revelation 21:2.

Subsequent generations might then benefit through the same history of that nation and the spiritual transaction which was accomplished then and for all time, on behalf of God's people by Himself.

We started the sequence with the Call of Abram in Genesis 12, and we have progressed steadily through the Scriptures to Exodus 31. We have watched Abraham's descendants, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes of Israel as they passed into Egyptian bondage and were subsequently rescued by God Almighty through the great events of The Exodus. They are now gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai where they await the return of Moses from the summit of that Mount. There, he is meeting with God and preparing the record of the contract which is being consummated with the nation. The Tabernacle wherein worship will focus during the wilderness wanderings has been outlined, along with the priestly robes, regalia and service. Now the preparation of that tent of worship and its articles of furniture is to begin, and God is repeating a most important aspect of the arrangement between Himself and His national wife, the nation of Israel. Let us listen as God gives these words of instruction to Moses. We are reading from Exodus 31:12.

12. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
13. Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.
14. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
15. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
16. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
17. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

The New Bible Commentary has this note concerning the sign of the sabbath: "Over and above circumcision as the sign of the covenant between the Lord and Israel, the sabbath, an institution originating from the beginning of the world (Gn. ii.2,3), was used by God as the special token of His relationship to them. It marked them out from all other nations. The keeping of the sabbath was taken by the prophets as the crucial test of their obedience to their God, e.g. Je. xvii.19-27; Ezk. xx.12-24." Regarding the tables of testimony, it adds: "The culmination of the promise given in xxiv.12.

Keil and Delitzsch provide us with a more lengthy comment on the matter of the sabbath. They state: "God concludes by enforcing the observance of His Sabbaths in the most solemn manner, repeating the threat of death and extermination in the case of every transgressor. The repetition and further development of this command, which was included already in the decalogue, is quite in its proper place here, inasmuch as the thought might easily have occurred that it was allowable to omit the keeping of the Sabbath, when the execution of so great a work in honour of Jehovah had been commanded. 'My Sabbaths:' by these we are to understand the weekly Sabbaths, not the other sabbatical festivals, since the words which follow apply to the weekly Sabbath alone. This was 'a sign between Jehovah and Israel for all generations, to know (i.e. by which Israel might learn) that it was Jehovah who sanctified them,' viz. by the sabbatical rest... It was therefore a holy thing for Israel..., the desecration of which would be followed by the punishment of death, as a breach of the covenant. The kernel of the Sabbath commandment is repeated in ver. 15; the seventh day of the week, however, is not simply designated a 'Sabbath,' but... 'a high Sabbath' (the repetition of the same word, or of an abstract form of the concrete noun, denoting the superlative...), and 'holy to Jehovah.'"

The Companion Bible note on the phrase is "sabbath of rest. Heb. 'sabbath of sabbatizing.'"

Keil and Delitzsch continue: "For this reason Israel was to keep it in all future generations, i.e. to observe it as an eternal covenant (ver. 16), as in the case of circumcision, since it was to be a sign for ever between Jehovah and the children of Israel (ver. 20). The eternal duration of this sign was involved in the signification of the sabbatical rest, which is pointed out in chap. xx.11, and reaches forward into eternity." Let us now add the concluding verse of the present Chapter.

18. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

The New Bible Commentary says that by "the finger of God" we are to understand not a literal hand, but some unseen divine power. See Lk. xi.20. It is usually understood that the ten commandments only were inscribed on the tablets."

Keil and Delitzsch comment: "When Moses had received all the instructions respecting the sanctuary to be erected, Jehovah gave him the two tables of testimony,- tables of stone, upon which the decalogue was written with the finger of God. It was to receive these tables that he had been called up the mountain (chap. xxiv.12). According to chap. xxxii.16, the tables themselves, as well as the writing, were the work of God; and the writing was engraved upon them..., and the tables were written on both their sides (chap. xxxii.15). Both the choice of stone as the material for the tables, and the fact that the writing was engraved, were intended to indicate the imperishable duration of these words of God. The divine origin of the tables, as well as of the writing, corresponded to the direct proclamation of the ten words to the people from the summit of the mountain by the mouth of God. As this divine promulgation was a sufficient proof that they were the immediate word of God, unchanged by the mouth and speech of man, so the writing of God was intended to secure their preservation in Israel as a holy and inviolable thing. The writing itself was not a greater miracle than others, by which God has proved Himself to be the Lord of nature, to whom all things that He has created are subservient for the establishment and completion of His kingdom upon earth; and it can easily be conceived of without the anthropomorphic supposition of a material finger being possessed by God. Nothing is said about the dimensions of the tables; at the same time, we can hardly imagine them to have been as large as the inside of the ark; for stone slabs 2 1/2 cubits long and 1 1/2 cubit broad, which must necessarily have been some inches in thickness to prevent their breaking in the hand, would have required the strength of Samson to enable Moses to carry them down the mountain 'in his hand' (chap. xxxii.15), or even 'in his two hands' (Deut. ix.15,17). But if we suppose them to have been smaller than this, say at the most a cubit and a half long and one cubit broad, there would have been plenty of room on the four sides for the 172 words contained in the decalogue, with its threats and promises (chap. xx.2-17), without the writing being excessively small."

In conclusion, I might quote a few statements from The New Compact Bible Dictionary descriptive of those Ten Commandments. It states: "In Heb. the Ten Commandments are called the ten words... They are God's precepts given to Moses... They were not intended to be a 'yoke of bondage' to the Israelites, but a wise provision for God's people to enable them to enter a life of joyful fellowship with their God.... All except the 4th are repeated in the NT and are expected to be obeyed by Christians."

As the keeping of the Sabbath is so definitely required of Israel while in the bond of marriage to Yahweh (Jehovah) as shown in today's passage, and as Christ Himself entered the place of worship on the Sabbath Day "as was his custom", as we find in Luke 4:16, we can hardly ignore the matter. We have the prospect of a full reassertion of all God's intention for His people Israel at Christ's Second Advent. Let us consider how each of God's Commandments may yet be implemented at that time, and let us prepare our hearts in the spirit of their summary, namely, that we love both God and our neighbour as ourselves. That will form a challenging meditation for the coming week.