As we start this new week together, let’s focus again on our main purpose for reading the Bible: to get to know God, our Father in heaven. We will always have questions, but the more intimate we become with Him, the fewer loose ends we tend to have. So enjoy. Grab your cup and let’s begin.
DAY ONE – Exodus 33-36
It was not without pain and shame that Israel was restored by God’s grace. In the aftermath of the chaos Yahweh dispatched Moses to lead Israel to the land promised to Abraham and offered to send an angel in His place to help them gain the land and settle in it. When Israel heard that Yahweh didn’t want to be among them, they mourned and stripped off all signs of celebration and gaiety. Moses continued to go outside the camp to commune with the Lord and intercede for the nation. He made two major requests that we all do well to emulate throughout our lives. Exodus 33:13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your way, that I may know you, so that I may find favor in your sight: and consider that this nation is your people.” Exodus 33:18 He said, “Please show me your glory.”
Moses learned at Sinai that this nation-developing was not gained easily, and that he was not properly qualified to continue the work without a fresh, God-centered education from Yahweh Himself. Hence, his requests. In both cases the Lord answered positively and acted accordingly, giving fresh revelation to Moses and preparing Him for the long journey and life ahead. In revealing Himself to Moses, the Lord announced: Exodus 34:5-8 Yahweh descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed Yahweh’s name. 6 Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, “Yahweh! Yahweh, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, 7 keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation.” 8 Moses hurried and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. In this manner they started over. God chiseled new engravings on the replacement tablets that Moses brought to the mountain; and when he came down, he gathered the people together and appointed the God-gifted men Bezalel and Aholiab to begin the development of the Lord’s sanctuary in the wilderness, commonly called the ‘tent of meeting’ or the ‘tabernacle.’ This entire experience demonstrates that God is merciful and gracious; that He hears and responds to intercessory prayer; and that He is willing to move forward with us as we humble ourselves in His Presence and seek His face earnestly and sincerely. It is not an event but a way of life; may we learn God’s ways and mirror His true character to our generation.
NOTE: It appears from these encounters between Moses and Yahweh that God does not change His overall plans but is willing to change His mind as to how He will move forward with us. Discipline is intended to humble us, not destroy us. When destruction does occur, it is among those who are rebellious and stiff-necked. In spite of that we may receive new mercies and learn more of God’s ways.
DAY TWO – Exodus 37-40
Exodus 39:42-43 According to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work. 43 Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it as Yahweh had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them. Soon Moses set up the entire edifice exactly as Yahweh had instructed him, establishing a meeting place for Yahweh among the nation of Israelis. When it was done, Yahweh’s Presence came down upon the tent, appearing during the day as a cloud and at night as a fire. So intense was Yahweh’s Presence that Moses could not at first enter the tent. And now the nation of God’s people had their law, their culture, their religion and their meeting place–all given by Yahweh in order to set them apart and distinguish them from all other nations around them. This circumstance would remain for the next forty years, so long as they were on the journey to the land promised Abraham 400 years earlier.
They could see with their eyes all that God had done–
- The miracles in Egypt that caused the Pharaoh to let them go as Yahweh commanded.
- The miraculous parting of the Red Sea enabling Israel to cross on dry ground but drowning the Egyptians as they tried to pursue.
- The unforgettable manifestations of God on Mt. Sinai when their Law was given by Yahweh.
- The particular and minute specifications for the Tent of Meeting which point forward to the coming of Messiah–though at the time they had no clue!
- And finally God’s fiery cloud to indicate that He was there, directing and watching over their future.
Their exodus is now complete, and their journey will soon commence. In a very short time God has built a nation–and it still exists with its original language, religion and relevance to the rest of the world!
DAY THREE – Leviticus 1-4
“Leviticus is a most interesting and important book; a book containing a code of sacrificial, ceremonial, civil, and judicial laws, which, for the purity of their morality, the wisdom, justice, and beneficence of their enactments, and the simplicity, dignity, and impressive nature of their rites, are perfectly unrivalled, and altogether worthy of their Divine Author. All the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law are at once dignified and expressive. They point out
- the holiness of their Author,
- the sinfulness of man,
- the necessity of an atonement, and
- the state of moral excellence to which the grace and mercy of the Creator have destined to raise the human soul.
“They include, as well as point out, the gospel of the Son of God; from which they receive their consummation and perfection. The sacrifices and oblations were significant of the atonement of Christ; the requisite qualities of these sacrifices were emblematical of his immaculate character; and the prescribed mode in the form of these offerings, and the mystical rites ordained, were allusive institutions, calculated to enlighten the apprehensions of the Jews, and to prepare them for the reception of the Gospel. The institution of the high priesthood typified Jesus, the Great High Priest, called and prepared of God, who hath an unchangeable priesthood, and is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.” (Book Introduction from Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) The beginning of the book is all about offerings: who, what, how. The offerings are regulated by Yahweh, although they appear to be voluntary in nature. The regulations further allow discretion in the offering itself, determined perhaps by the person’s economic advantage and/or the kind of property he has. It might be from the herd, or the flock, or even a bird. In the end, it must represent a person’s ‘all;’ that is, all of the offering must be sacrificed on the altar. It must be burnt with fire, consuming that part which is specified by Yahweh, so that to Him it may be ‘a sweet aroma.’
From these chapters we discover things about God–His reasonableness, flexibility, willingness to allow personal choice, and the reasons behind whatever He prescribes. This is our God, bent on doing everything within His power to provide redemption, protection and a plan for future blessings–all descriptive of His character and purpose. God initiates, we respond; He instructs, we obey; He works, we benefit from all He has done and is doing. I love the Lord and I pray every day that His kingdom will increase in my sphere of existence. May His kingdom come, His will be done here and now.
DAY FOUR – Leviticus 5-7
wor·ship – n. — The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object. 1) The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed: 2) Ardent admiration or love; adoration
v. — 1) To honor and love as a deity. 2) To regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion. (From <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/_/dict.aspx?word=worship&h=1&w10app=1)
Leviticus is primarily a book about worship, especially the worship of Yahweh God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each of those men, upon discovering the favor that God was adding to their lives, and wanting to acknowledge His Creatorship, built an altar and offered sacrifice to Yahweh, often several times throughout their wanderings and journeys. Reverent love and devotion toward God is a response not easily developed, as God must always take the first step to initiate relationship and show His nature to the respondent. And so Yahweh took the first, second and additional steps to reveal His good plans and purposes; to demonstrate His excellent character; and to facilitate a reconciliation and redemption toward mankind in general. So He is certainly worthy to be worshipped.
These chapters in Leviticus show the preparations to be undertaken by Israel in the course of worship, in order to satisfy God’s holiness and be acceptable to Him. And the first observation we must make is the BLOOD…so much blood! The blood of every animal was to be poured at the base of the altar designed by God for animal sacrifice. Imagine that many people bringing their offerings to the Lord to be presented by the priests at the designated location of the altar. It was a virtual slaughterhouse as the priests were kept busy in their work before God. And the blood flowed, day after day; and the fire burned, day after day; and the mess had to be cleaned up, day after day; only to be repeated again. Any thinking person can see the liability that sin has placed upon us, and the necessity of worship to God who saves us according to His own grace and mercy. Leviticus 7:37 This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meal offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecration, and of the sacrifice of peace offerings; 38 which Yahweh commanded Moses in Mount Sinai, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel to offer their offerings to Yahweh, in the wilderness of Sinai.
DAY FIVE – Leviticus 8-10
The previous chapters outlined the detailed instructions for the Theocracy–God’s rule and government among the Israelis. Now it was time to implement everything. Moses brought Aaron and his sons to the newly-assembled tent of meeting and carried out the CONSECRATION of the tent, of Aaron and his sons. And, of course, it involved the shedding of blood in copious amounts, along with burnt offerings, sin offerings, and consecration offerings. The manner, the place and the ceremony were all specified in minute detail. Moses carried out his part of the ceremony, then had Aaron and his sons copy his actions on behalf of the people–God’s congregation. So they were all consecrated that day–everything and everybody–to demonstrate that they now belong to God and they are ready to enjoy His holy presence. Theoretically, at least, God’s rule is in place and the people are going to demonstrate to the rest of the world how wonderful God is through His work in their midst. Don’t we wish…