Saturday, August 20
We have made it to the end of the book of Exodus! Even if this is your first time reading through the book of Exodus (and CONGRATULATIONS to you, if it is!), several parts of these final chapters should sound quite familiar – because we have read nearly the SAME thing just a few chapters back? What is the difference? Why the repetition?
In Exodus 27 & 28 God is giving explicit directions to Moses on how the priestly garments, the altar and the tabernacle courtyard are to be made – materials to be used, precise dimensions, and the exact designs God desires for His Holy Place and His Holy People. And, in Exodus 38 & 39 we read that it WAS done exactly the SAME way – including once again all the materials, dimensions and exact designs. In chapter 39 it says at least 8 times that the work was done “-as the Lord commanded Moses”. At the end of the chapter (vs. 43-43) is says, “The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord commanded Moses. Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.” It seems that details are pretty important to God. He didn’t just want it done. He wanted it done correctly. He wanted it done HIS way. Sometimes I think we are quick to pat ourselves on the back if we can just cross a job off the list. But, have we done it correctly? Have we done it God’s Way? Is there a job that needs some more of your attention to do it correctly? To get it done God’s Way?
Another related phrase that caught my attention was a saying that was to be engraved on a gold plate and attached to the priest’s clothing with a blue cord: “HOLY TO THE LORD”. Holiness – to be set apart – total devotion – unlike any other. As a member of the royal priesthood (as explained in 1 Peter 2), how is your holiness quotient looking today? Are you set apart – or blending in? Are you totally devoted – or only when convenient? Is there a visual reminder (like the priest’s gold engraved plate on their clothes) that will help you remember to be HOLY TO THE LORD?
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy , but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as strangers and aliens in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, thought they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” I Peter 2:9-12
HOLY TO THE LORD!
And All Your Tomorrows Too!
(Thank you to Josiah Cain who wrote this week. Since he was working so hard serving in Louisiana the devotion for today (Saturday) was written by Marcia Railton. Keep praying for Louisiana – and let’s jump into Leviticus next!)
By Josiah Cain
After many chapters of instructions it is finally time for the people to craft these objects and put the tabernacle together. Not just any old person built things for God; only the ones filled with His spirit were builders. It says that these people were filled with craftsmanship and intelligence this way they could accurately build all that God commanded them.
I also liked how God provided for his tabernacle by having the people give but only if they wanted to give. God didn’t force people to give like He did with the flat tax rather He only wanted those who really cared to give. So many people were moved that Moses had to command the people to stop bringing stuff because they had more than enough to finish the project.
I always enjoy seeing God interact with His people and how He provides for what needs to be done. If we trust God with everything we won’t be disappointed by Him, I promise.
By Josiah Cain
There is a lot to cover in these chapters and a lot of cool and terrible stories take place. Of course, in normal Israelite fashion, we find the people of God disobeying orders. They make a golden calf statue to worship while Moses is away on Mt. Sinai. God tells Moses that the people are messing up and Moses then pleads with God not to destroy them; if it wasn’t for Moses the Israelites would not have made it very far. So Moses goes down to see what is happening and ends up destroying the tablets that God made and the golden calf the people made. Moses then orders the Levites to kill the people who disobeyed God and this is the same event that made the Levites the priestly tribe for the rest of Jewish history. In total 3,000 people ended up dying that day at the hands of the Levites but that wasn’t enough for God; God later in the evening sent a plague to kill some of the Israelites and finally all the punishment was over. The Jews really can’t seem to keep themselves out of trouble.
There are many things that I don’t envy about Moses, like the time he killed that Egyptian, but if there is one thing I am jealous of, it would be the way he talks to God. It says in chapter 33 that God talked to Moses face to face. What? How cool is that! Can you imagine talking to God face to face?!? It is incredible to think that Moses literally heard the voice of God and sat in the same place as God dwelt. I would give anything to commune with God in this way. Reading the way that God and Moses communicate just builds my anticipation for the coming kingdom even more.
Moses actually spent so much time with God that his face started to glow. I can’t imagine what this would have looked like but it was enough to scare some of the Israelites apparently. I wonder if we will have glowing faces when we spend a bunch of time with God? It did stink for Moses though that he had to hand carve the Ten Commandments again. I would still trade 40 days of no eating and stone carving for that much time with God.
Thanks for reading again and please take to heart the lessons that we can learn from the Israelites. If we follow God’s rules then everything works out for us in the end. I also think that we can learn patience from this story. The only reason they made the statue in the first place was because they were worried that Moses wasn’t coming back. We need to wait because God always has things under control.
By Josiah Cain
After yesterday’s reading I didn’t think that it could get any more thorough but it did. In this section God lays out very specific instructions for what Aaron and his sons are supposed to wear, who is to make the clothing, and how they are to make it. There are also instructions on what type of sacrifices the Israelites are to be making; God even gave directions on how to make holy perfume. It all seems a little much but at the same time I really appreciate the lengths that the Israelites went through to honor God and follow His orders.
One thing that stuck out to me in this reading was how the spirit filled those who were supposed to be doing the crafting. It is not very often in the Old Testament that we find the spirit filling people. I think it’s cool how God gave certain people the spirit so they could make clothing. It just makes me realize that everyone’s gifts are important and God may very well be blessing you with a gift that is simple, like making clothing.
I also liked that Aaron and his sons ate from the sacrifices that were made to God.The fact that God provided for His priests through what was His really appeals to me and shows me that YHWH is a God of love. Of course everything is already God’s but the sacrifices almost seem doubly God’s, if that is even possible.
The last thing that I really liked about this section is the flat census tax that everyone payed. No matter how rich or poor you were, you payed the same amount as everybody else. There is something appealing to me about that but I can’t really explain why I like it so much.
Anyway, thanks again for reading my short and humble thoughts on today’s section. God bless and have a great day!
There are many great stories in these few chapters but they are by far some of my favorite stories in the book of Exodus. Through the stories we get a very good idea of how God chooses to communicate with His people, the Israelites. If you are just hopping into the Bible reading program the main character of this passage is a man named Moses. Moses was a man chosen by God to do great works for the Israelites; Moses was the man who set the Israelites free from Egypt and led them through the desert. The Israelites wandering through the desert is where we pick up the story.
The Israelites had a nasty habit of complaining to God about their so called ‘problems’ and how they are being treated ‘poorly’. Of course, the Israelites had no idea that God always had their back and was always watching over them. The Israelites run into two problems in chapter 17; problem number one, they have no water and problem number two, they are in danger from Amalek. God is not worried by any of this, but because we have little faith sometimes God must intervene for our sake. So God provides water for all of the Israelites through a miracle and does another miracle to protect them from Amalek. The Amalek story in particular always intrigues me. I love how Moses gets support from two of his closest men to help him do his job. Also it’s just cool to see God work through his people to kick some gentile butt.
In chapter 18 we get a good view of how I think the church should be structured. Moses’ dad-in-law, Jethro, comes and sees that Moses is having a hard time coping with all the stress the Israelites put on him. So Jethro gives Moses the advice to put some trusted men in charge of smaller groups of people to handle the small quarrels and disagreements among themselves. This turns out to be great advice and it makes everyone happier. I see God was moving when Jethro came to Moses; that God once again cared for His people even when they didn’t realize that they needed it.
I can’t help but think of how amazing God is when I read chapter 19. The image I get in my head of God covering the mountain with fire and talking through thunder is incredible. What an awesome God we serve! What blows my mind though is how the Israelites didn’t even want to talk to God. They could hear God’s voice, which I think any of us would die to do, and yet they threw it all away. Now it’s not until the end of chapter 20 where we find out that the people don’t want to talk to God. I mean come on how stupid can the Israelites be sometimes? Even though God told them that they would be safe they still felt fear towards Him. This is also the time when God decided to give His people rules to follow that way they could better follow Him. I don’t think the Israelites really understood the greatness of the gifts they were given. Who wouldn’t want God to come down to them in person and tell them exactly how to live there lives. I would love for God to come down and speak to me directly on my life and how I could live better. Anyway, the Israelites said they wanted no part in talking to God, only Moses, so that’s what they got.
We can see God really striving to be with His people in these chapters. He wants so badly for us to have everything we need and be safe so He provides for us. God wants to be with us and speak to us but we, like the Israelites, shy away in fear from God. We get rules from God that He wants us to follow but we always seem to fall short. I can’t help but think that we are like the Israelites; running from God because we are too afraid to speak to Him ourselves, afraid of what He might say. We are always willing to have someone else pray for us or have a pastor talk to God for us but we need to do that ourselves. Let’s not be like the Israelites. Let us walk boldly up the foot of the mountain and talk to God just like He designed us to do. We don’t need a middle man in our lives because we have Jesus. He is our mediator and he does a perfect job for us. It’s through Jesus that we can speak to God. We should not waste this great gift like the Israelites did. We should speak to God and go to Him for everything because He is perfect and longs to provide for us.
— Josiah Cain