|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #221, 222 and 223|
11 February, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our present series of Bible Studies, which began with God's Call to Abram back in Genesis 12, has led us through the succeeding passages of Holy Writ to our present passage which begins at Exodus 39:21. We have seen through all these studies how The Almighty God has moved to bring His Creation into the more perfect, planned accord with His design.
Scripture recounts how Adam and Eve had lost the perfection of their first devotion, and their descendants had passed through centuries of general decline and disaster until the time came when, as He had planned, God would create a single people, from the loins of that one aged Patriarch whom He had called from Ur of the Chaldees. He did this in order that, descending through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob's children, they might become the required human setting within which He would work to place the human aspect of His Kingdom upon the earth. In order to accomplish His glorious work in human terms, Jesus Christ must be born within this nation of Jacob's children which was prepared as a setting for His advents. These tribes must be educated in both the arts of civilization, in Egypt, and the perfection of God's Laws at Mount Sinai. There, by the officiating mediation of Moses, The Almighty God, made in effect, a full marriage covenant with the Tribes descended from Jacob (renamed Israel). They were, collectively, to become His national wife, taking upon themselves the obligation to observe His Laws, and to be faithful to Him in worship. In return, He undertook to give these tribes His Name, His Home, His protection, His wealth and blessings, the promise of multitudes of children, and His Own Life to save them from death. The name "Israel" (I-Sara-El) means; "ruling with, or under God." One writer has pointed out that the name Sarah means "Princess", and "Sara-El" could well be translated "God's Princess", or Wife!
That these Israelites would drift from Him may surprise us until we realise that, as we of the British-Israel-World Federation maintain, we, the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the present day, the descendants of those ancient Israelites, have done just precisely that but this condition is to be fully rectified at the time appointed!
One of the first things which Israel must do was the construction of the portable focus of National Worship, The Tabernacle, and the setting up of the Priesthood and the process of worship as explained to Moses. We had been reviewing on recent programmes the report of the preparation of the work and the actual construction of the whole design of this Tabernacle. Today, we read more of the actual preparation of those things wherewith the priests were to be garbed in order to be presentable before their God. We pick up today's reading at Exodus 39:21 and as we read we can imagine the various garments and jewels as each piece was meticulously and lovingly prepared by the workers. We are presently watching as the breastplate is set and attached to the ephod which the High Priest was to wear. Let us listen as the record is read.
21. And they did bind the breastplate by his rings unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it might be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate might not be loosed from the ephod; as the LORD commanded Moses.
22. And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue.
23. And there was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band round about the hole, that it should not rend.
24. And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen.
We must keep in mind that all these details should not be casually by-passed or ignored, for they are symbolic of great truths and also they are prophecies enacted, regarding the work of Almighty God for His people. The blue colour represents God's heavenly Laws. The blue which appears in the ribbon that binds the symbolic jewelled breastplate, (each jewel carved with the name of a tribe of Israel), to the heart of the High Priest is of blue to remind us that it is God's Law that binds us to Jesus Christ ["If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)] and the blue ephod shows in symbol that He, our Great High Priest, is the sinless keeper of all of God's Laws.
The robe was made with a reinforced band at the neck that it might not be torn, in prophetic foreknowledge that at His Crucifixion Christ's seamless robe would not be rent, so that the soldiers would cast lots for it. John 19:23-24 says "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did."
Keep in mind also that pomegranates upon the hem were a symbol of priesthood, and these, having been created using the colours of blue, purple, scarlet and linen were very symbolic. Again, the blue represented the keeping of God's Law, which brought Christ to the Cross on our behalf, the purple represented His Royal Personage, the twined linen would be white, which in vesture, represents the "fine linen, clean and white" which is "the righteousness of saints" of Revelation 19:8, while the scarlet red of the hem represents the garment of Christ described in prophetic foreview, in Revelation 19:13. There we see that Christ, "The Word of God", is "clothed with a vesture dipped in blood" which was the condition of His Own vesture at the Cross.
25. And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates;
26. A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses.
The Bells would give forth a sound with each movement of the High Priest beyond the veil to show that the High Priest was yet alive (which could only happen if he had been found acceptable to appear before The Almighty by the blood which he brought with him) and thus that he was continuing to serve within the Holy of Holies on behalf of His people, as Jesus Christ does for us. The writer of Hebrews 9:24 states "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us...". Continuing:
27. And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron, and for his sons,
28. And a mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen,
29. And a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, of needlework; as the LORD commanded Moses.
30. And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.
31. And they tied unto it a lace of blue, to fasten it on high upon the mitre; as the LORD commanded Moses.
32. Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they.
33. And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses, the tent, and all his furniture, his taches, his boards, his bars, and his pillars, and his sockets,
34. And the covering of rams' skins dyed red, and the covering of badgers' skins, and the vail of the covering,
35. The ark of the testimony, and the staves thereof, and the mercy seat,
36. The table, and all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread,
37. The pure candlestick, with the lamps thereof, even with the lamps to be set in order, and all the vessels thereof, and the oil for light,
38. And the golden altar, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the tabernacle door,
39. The brasen altar, and his grate of brass, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,
40. The hangings of the court, his pillars, and his sockets, and the hanging for the court gate, his cords, and his pins, and all the vessels of the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of the congregation,
41. The cloths of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons' garments, to minister in the priest's office.
42. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work.
43. And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.
We can now begin to appreciate that every detail was acceptable only if its symbolic equivalent matched the divine plan. We, likewise, must accord our forms of worship to the demands of our calling. It is not acceptable to offer "strange fire" before The LORD, or to make up our own selection of symbols to please our esthetic pleasures, for we thus destroy the prophetic content, and that is not pleasing to Him. Graffiti placed upon a masterpiece in the national gallery by a conceited "beautifier" would not be allowed. Why should we think that The Almighty God is pleased to permit such variation from His Plan, of a type which thus destroys the perfection of the beauty and glory of it?
18th February, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
When be began this series of Bible Studies, several years ago at Genesis 12, we undertook to follow the course of events which are recorded in Scripture as The Almighty God moved to draw His creation into a more perfect accord with His own purposes.
When God called Abram from his home in Ur of the Chaldees to go forth to seek a better country which God would designate, He set in motion a process which would enlarge the progeny of that man down through the generations into a great company of servant people who would prepare the way for the emergence of Jesus Christ to do what only Christ could do, for all humanity. We saw how God had provided, in Abraham's old age, the miracle birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, and then from Isaac and Rebekah came Jacob who would contest with his brother, Esau for birthright and blessing. Jacob would, in turn, generate by his wives a family of twelve sons and one daughter and from these sons, in turn were to come tribes of people whom history would record as the children of Israel, for Jacob's name was thus changed, as we read in Genesis 32:28, at the Brook Jabbok.
With enforced education under Pharaoh's task-masters, and the experience of The Exodus, Israel had emerged to life in the Wilderness, and to Mount Sinai where they had encountered The God of all the earth, and agreed to become a national wife to Yahweh, for by that name they were to know Him. We anglicise that holy name of The Almighty, pronouncing it as "Jehovah."
We are presently finishing up our studies in the last chapters of the Book of Exodus which contain the review of a great task. The Almighty had commanded the creation of a tent of worship, and had described how all the detailed parts of it were to be designed and prepared. In accordance with Yahweh's instructions, so meticulously outlined and relayed to them by Moses, the people of Israel have contributed gladly those articles and materials which were required. They have laboured with great care and devotion and, in the case of the artisans, with the utmost dedication and holy skill, and at last they have arrived at the point where the work is done.
They have carefully carried out all the instructions that were imparted to them, preparing all the various parts of that extremely beautiful and symbolic portable national focus of worship called The Tabernacle. Now, at last, all the preparations have been set in order. Now the whole of their national focus of worship, this Tent of Meeting, was to be put together and each beautiful article in turn dedicated to the holy purposes and tasks in the service of The Almighty, as the children of Israel had agreed to do.
At last, Israel is to see the results of their work, although by its very nature this tent will hide from the common gaze those most beautiful and symbolic articles of furniture within it. Nevertheless, all is done, and the tent is to be set up and the ceremony is to begin.
Let us join in the proceedings, using our imagination as we read, as if we were standing among the Israelites on this great occasion. We are taking the text from Exodus chapter 40, which says this:
1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
3. And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail.
4. And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.
5. And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle.
6. And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
7. And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein.
8. And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate.
9. And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.
10. And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy.
11. And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it.
12. And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.
13. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
14. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:
15. And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
16. Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.
17. And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.
18. And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars.
19. And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses.
20. And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:
21. And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses.
22. And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail.
23. And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses.
24. And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward.
25. And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.
26. And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail:
27. And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the LORD commanded Moses.
28. And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle.
29. And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses.
30. And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal.
31. And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat:
32. When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses.
33. And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.
Concerning those verses, The New Bible Commentary gives this note: "The various parts and articles of the tabernacle were now completed but had yet to be put together and set in their appointed places. For this they had to wait for God's time and for His instructions, given through Moses, as to the order in which they were to place each portion of the tabernacle." With reference to the words "cover the ark", in verse 3, it advises that we should read, with the RV, 'screen the ark'. On the matter of the anointing of the tabernacle, it says "All that concerns the worship of God must be touched by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit." Regarding the mention of "the first month" in verse 17, the reference states that "On the fourteenth day of this month the Israelites left Egypt just two years before." Continuing:
34. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
35. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
36. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:
37. But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.
38. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
The New Bible Commentary has a note on the section which follows. It says "When all was completed according to His commandments, the LORD, by this visible token of His glory, declared that He accepted their obedience, and was fulfilling His promise to remain with them in person... The same cloud and fire which had led them before... was still their guide, but now it was the tabernacle, the symbol of God's rule over them and His dwelling among them, that was the centre of this manifestation... The light and fire of the shekinah, the manifestation of the divine glory, were so awesome that even Moses, who had spoken with the LORD face to face, dare not approach. Cf. 1 Ki. viii. 11. But what Moses could not do Christ has done for us, entering into the holy place made without hands (Heb. ix. 24) so that by Him we may have boldness to enter into the holiest (Heb. x. 19-22)."
In closing, may I leave with you the thought that this awesome, even fearful, glory is destined to be manifest again at Christ's Second Advent, and all who look for His appearing will doubtless be preparing their own tabernacle of the body and mind to accord with the demands of that splendid yet also powerful and glorious event. By the signs of the day, we may agree that this event cannot be far removed from our own time, and one must live in the expectation of a sudden revelation which will change all the priorities of all who live upon the earth. May you receive the consolation and blessing which this thought brings to you, this week.
25 February, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our present course of Bible Studies, which began with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us from Genesis, Chapter 12 through the remainder of that Book, and also through the Book of Exodus to this, the closing remarks of that Book..
Today, as the Book of Exodus closes, we make a review of the scene within the camp of Israel by describing how the glory of The LORD descended to fill the Tabernacle. Although we had time only to mention the fact on our last programme, I believe that this event was so remarkable and glorious that we do well to consider further upon it and its implications.
The actual work of preparation of each of the component parts of the structure has now been accomplished by the dedicated Israelitish workers, and each part has now taken its place in the completed structure by the careful hands of those appointed to the task. The various pegs, boards and bars, the beautiful curtains, in their colours of red, white and blue, their pins, cords and all the details of the tent have been carefully linked together and the glittering and costly articles within are set in perfected order in their appointed places. The whole is now assembled and the people can stand back with a sense of satisfaction and yet awe, to behold what God's design has brought into their midst.
They now have a national focus for their ceremonies of worship, but while they have done their part, God has now to inspect the whole and set His seal upon it by a sign of His acceptance and His indwelling presence. Now we see, as the closing verses of Exodus explain, the wonderful gracious act of The Almighty in creating what they could never do. All the gods of Egypt could never dignify the temples of that land with a living presence.
As Isaiah states, in a series of glorious passages, The God of Israel alone is God. Isaiah records the words of God to His people Israel, in Isaiah 43:10-11, saying: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour."
For our guidance in regard to this great occasion, I think it will be profitable if we have a look at the words of Keil and Delitzsch. In the passage wherein they describe the erection and consecration of the Tabernacle, they move from a commentary upon the actual erection of the tent and the location of each symbolic piece of furniture within and about the tent to a consideration of what followed. They point out that "There is no allusion to the anointing of these holy places and things, as commanded in vers. 9-11, in the account of their erection; for this did not take place till afterwards, viz. at the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests (Lev. viii. 1-, 11). It is stated, however, on the other hand, that as the vessels were arranged, Moses laid out the shew-bread upon the table (ver. 23), burned sweet incense upon the golden altar (ver. 27), and offered 'the burnt-offering and meat-offering,' i.e. the daily morning and evening sacrifice, upon the altar of burnt-offering (chap. xxix. 38-42). Consequently the sacrificial service was performed upon them before they had been anointed. Although this may appear surprising, there is no ground for rejecting a conclusion which follows so naturally from the words of the text. The tabernacle and its furniture were not made holy things for the first time by the anointing; this simply sanctified them for the use of the nation, i.e. for the service which the priests were to perform in connection with them on behalf of the congregation (see at Lev. viii. 10, 11). They were made holy things and holy vessels by the fact that they were built, prepared, and set up, according to the instructions given by Jehovah; and still more by the fact, that after the tabernacle had been erected as a dwelling, the 'glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle' (ver. 34). But the glory of the Lord entered the dwelling before the consecration of the priests, and the accompanying anointing of the tabernacle and its vessels; for, according to Lev. i. 1 sqq., it was from the tabernacle that Jehovah spake to Moses, when He gave him the laws of sacrifice, which were promulgated before the consecration of the priests, and were carried out in connection with it. But when the glory of the Lord had found a dwelling-place in the tabernacle, Moses was not required to offer continually the sacrifice prescribed for every morning and evening, and by means of this sacrifice to place the congregation in spiritual fellowship with its God, until Aaron and his sons had been consecrated for this service."
Now that observation may be significant. While this was a material edifice, and the sacrifices made therein were literal ones, there must ever be, beyond it all the vision of Christ's Cross and His Crown. The symbol must not obscure the true reality of what is portrayed herein. Christ does not wait for a perfect dedication before coming to a sinner who appeals to Him. As the words of Christ state in John 6:37: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Let us return to the comments of Keil and Delitzsch.
"When the sanctuary, that had been built for the Lord for a dwelling in Israel, had been set up with all its apparatus, 'the cloud covered the tabernacle, and the glory of Jehovah filled the dwelling,' so that Moses was unable to enter. The cloud, in which Jehovah had hitherto been present with His people, and guided and protected them upon their journeying... now came down upon the tabernacle and filled the dwelling with the gracious presence of the Lord. So long as this cloud rested upon the tabernacle the children of Israel remained encamped; but when it ascended, they broke up the encampment to proceed onwards. This sign was Jehovah's command for encamping or going forward 'throughout all their journeys' (vers. 36-38). This statement is repeated still more elaborately in Num. ix. 15-23. The mode in which the glory of Jehovah filled the dwelling, or in which Jehovah manifested His presence within it, is not described; but the glory of Jehovah filling the dwelling is clearly distinguished from the cloud coming down upon the tabernacle. It is obvious, however, from Lev. xvi. 2, and I Kings viii. 10, 11 that in the dwelling the glory of God was also manifested in a cloud. At the dedication of the temple (I Kings viii. 10, 11) the expression 'the cloud filled the house of Jehovah' is used interchangeably with 'the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah.' To consecrate the sanctuary, which had been finished and erected as His dwelling, and to give to the people a visible proof that He had chosen it for His dwelling, Jehovah filled the dwelling in both its parts with the cloud which shadowed forth His presence, so that Moses was unable to enter it. This cloud afterwards drew back into the most holy place, to dwell there, above the outspread wings of the cherubim of the ark of the covenant; so that Moses and (at a later period) the priests were able to enter the holy place and perform the required service there, without seeing the sign of the gracious presence of God, which was hidden by the curtain of the most holy place. So long as the Israelites were on their journey to Canaan, the presence of Jehovah was manifested outwardly and visibly by the cloud, which settled upon the ark, and rose up from it when they were to travel onward.
With the completion of this building and its divine consecration, Israel had now received a real pledge of the permanence of the covenant of grace, which Jehovah had concluded with it; a sanctuary which perfectly corresponded to the existing circumstances of its religious development, and kept constantly before it the end of its calling from God. For although God dwelt in the tabernacle in the midst of His people, and the Israelites might appear before Him, to pray for and receive the covenant blessings that were promised them, they were still forbidden to go directly to God's throne of grace. The barrier, which sin had erected between the holy God and the unholy nation, was not yet taken away. To this end the law was given, which could only increase their consciousness of sin and unworthiness before God. But as this barrier had already been broken through by the promise of the Lord, that He would meet the people in His glory before the door of the tabernacle at the altar of burnt offering...; so the entrance of the chosen people into the dwelling of God was effected mediatorially by the service of the sanctified priests in the holy place, which also pre-figured their eventual reception into the house of the Lord. And even the curtain, which still hid the glory of God from the chosen priests and sanctified mediators of the nation, was to be lifted at least once a year by the anointed priest, who had been called by God to be the representative of the whole congregation. On the day of atonement the high priest was to sprinkle the blood of atonement in front of the throne of grace, to make expiation for the children of Israel because of all their sin (Lev. xvi.), and to prefigure the perfect atonement through the blood of the eternal Mediator, through which the way to the throne of grace is opened to all believers, that they may go into the house of God and abide there for ever, and for ever see God."
That concludes the Keil and Delitzsch passage on the last part of the Book of Exodus. As our time has gone for today, I shall simply leave with you the thought that, as the Glory of The LORD could fill a tent of meeting so long ago to lead and care for His people, His presence is promised for a yet future occasion, which we call the Second Advent. By all the present signs we can feel great confidence in anticipating that event because it has equal authority in prophetic certainty with Christ's First Advent so well marked throughout all the Old Testament prophetic passages, as the risen Christ Himself assured the two on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:27 so long ago.
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