Posts Tagged ‘church’


In the final chapter of the book of Exodus, chapter 40, we find Moses again hearing from the Lord.  Although at this point all the specified items had been made – the furniture, the Ark of the Covenant, the curtains, the framework – for the building and furnishing of the tabernacle, Moses has waited upon God for further instruction.  He did not simply move on ahead and put it all together until God said to do so.  We must always remember to allow God to go before us every step of the way on every journey he sets us out upon. If not, we often end up doing our own will rather than his.

Here, we have God speaking to Moses and telling him exactly how and when to erect the temple and anoint the priests.  God is very specific and Moses is very obedient down to each and every minute detail.  We know this because of the absolute redundancy of chapter 40.  Not only did God repeat exactly that which he had previously told Moses on Mt. Sinai the first time, but after every act of obedience the text says this, “…as the Lord had commanded Moses.”  Consider the text:

Exodus 40:16 – “This Moses did, according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did…” 

Exodus 40:19 – “…as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Exodus 40:21 – “…as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Exodus 40:23 – “…as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Exodus 40:25 – “…as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Exodus 40:26 – “…as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Exodus 40:29 – “…as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Exodus 40:32 – “…as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Moses did all that the Lord commanded exactly how and exactly when the Lord commanded.   That is why this portion of scripture ends with the words, “…So Moses finished the work.”  It was because of Moses’ strict obedience and deference to God that the perfect work of the Lord was completed.  Apart from our submission and complete surrender to God’s will, we personally will not be positively useful in finishing his perfect work, yet we may be negatively useful.  By this I mean that by obeying God will use us in a positive way to build his church, but in disobedience God may use us in a negative way to build his church in the same way he uses the evil in the world to stir up courage and compassion in the just.

After the temple was erected and furnished according to all that God had said, the priests were anointed.  Here we have the order of operations.  First, the church is to be built, then the leaders are to be inaugurated.  Matthew Henry says,  “Thus, in the visible church, which is God’s tabernacle among men, it is requisite that there be ministers to keep the charge of the sanctuary, and that they receive the anointing.” Many a men have mistakenly sought to build a church without understanding the importance of chosen, called, just, anointed leadership designated before attempting to begin ministry in that place.

Once the priests are anointed for service, God’s presence arrives.  A cloud descended and covered the tabernacle.  The cloud remained every day and fire was in the temple by night.  Israel saw these proofs of God’s holy presence at all times during their subsequent journeys.  It was for their consolation that he was indeed with them at all times, as well as their protection.  The cloud hid them from the world while they worshiped here.  What a beautiful example of how when we repent, obey, and move close to God, he comes down and moves close to us.  Henry notes,  “As when, in the creation, God had finished this earth, which he designed for man’s habitation, he made man, and put him in possession of it, so when Moses had finished the tabernacle, which was designed for God’s dwelling place among men, God came and took possession of it.”

This is a picture of the modern day church.  We repent.  We obey.  We surrender fully to God’s leading and he comes down, reassures us of His holy presence at all times through the Holy Spirit, and protects us when we draw close to him.  The Lord Jesus Christ builds his church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.  Still yet, we so often fail.  Moses was not permitted in the holy place once the presence of God descended.  In the closing of this amazing book, I will leave you once again with the words of Matthew Henry,

“This shows how terrible the glory and majesty of God are, and how unable the greatest  and best of men are to stand before him.   The divine light and fire, let forth in their full strength, will overpower the strongest heads and the purest hearts.  But what Moses could not do, in that he was weak through the flesh, has been done by our Lord Jesus, whom God caused to draw near the approach, and who, as the forerunner, has has for us entered, and has invited us to come boldly even to the mercy-seat.  He was able to enter into the holy place not made with hands; nay, he is himself the true tabernacle, filled with the glory of God, with the divine grace and truth prefigured by this fire and light.  For in him dwells all the fullness of he godhead boldly.  Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!” 



Read Full Post »


Today I am looking at Exodus 35:1-19.  The passage begins where the sin of idolatry caused Israel and God to leave off.  All has been reconciled between God’s people, Moses, and God after their sin and it’s time to go back to the place where progress stopped.  These are the things God was about to have the people do when he found them worshiping the golden calf.

The very first thing he instructs is a Sabbath rest.  The very first instruction is for the people to imitate God and rest once per week.  God is essentially saying, first and foremost, trust me.  You have to trust me.  If you don’t trust me first, you won’t succeed in anything you do.  If you can’t trust me to provide for you every single day of your life – and prove it by ceasing to work one day in every work week – you can’t live at all.  Death was the penalty for breaking the Sabbath.  Death!  The very first thing God tells his people to do is trust him to give to and provide for them and the penalty for disobeying is death.  Kinda gives you a fresh perspective on how God expects us to trust him, huh?  Likewise, works religion leads to nothing but spiritual death.  The punishment for self-sufficiency in religion is spiritual death, and, eventually if not repented of, eternal death.  We must rest only in Christ and his finished work on the cross and trust him alone.

The second thing God instructs is for the people to give back to him.  That’s how it works.  God gives and provides all we need, and then expects a return.  He does not obligate or mandate the return or how much.  He simply asks for a voluntary return of gifts to be given to his house for the benefit of his people.  When we give to the good and betterment of others, God considers it giving to him.  What a generous God!

So God says, trust me to give to you and give back to each other for my glory and the building of my house.  Those are among the first instructions Almighty God gave to his people after he delivered them from oppression and slavery.  Consider that in light of the fact that each one of us is delivered from the oppression and slavery of sin.  Trusting God’s provision and giving back to him are priorities in every saved sinner’s life.

There were primarily two ways to give back to God in the building of his house.  The first was to give of their goods and the other was to give of their skills.  Those who gave of their goods were called “willing” or “generous” and those who gave of their talents were called “skilled” or “wise-hearted.”

God loves a cheerful giver.  Everyone who was able to give anything to the betterment and building of the tabernacle was called by God and Moses to give for the good of others and the glory of God.  God made it voluntary, not mandatory that the people might judge for themselves what was right to give to God.  God, in his infinite wisdom, made it less about how much we give and more about how willing our heart is to give.

I just love what Matthew Henry says:  “Those that were rich must bring in materials to work on; those that were ingenious must serve the tabernacle with their ingenuity; as they needed one another, so the tabernacle needed them both.  The work was likely to go on when some helped with their purses, others with their hands, and both with a willing heart.”  

Amen!  And that is how the church is supposed to work!  Now, I am going to do something I generally never do.  I am going to tell you a story about a man I know who embodies the truth of this passage.

My husband and I have been away on vacation over the past week.  We are in the Bahamas and we have explored the island of Nassau.  Not only has Tim given of himself and his hard-earned money so generously to bring me here, but I have watched his incredible generosity toward the local people here.  It’s not because he has money to throw away.  It’s because he has compassion for people who have less than.  He gives the vendors more than they ask for when selling their goods while most people bargain them down to the lowest dollar.  He gives people more than they expect and this is his character trait, not a one-time vacation fluke.  This is Tim, every single day.  He uses his craft to glorify God with his skills and talents.  He works hard and treats people fairly when doing a service for them.  He gives generously out of his heart a good return to the Lord’s work and the building of God’s Kingdom.  He is the same every day in the area of giving and he always thanks God for his amazing provision for our family.  The text calls a man who can work skillfully with his hands “wise-hearted.”  If I have ever known anyone who embodies this description, it is my husband.  I am so thankful that God has provided this wise-hearted, always willing to give generously to others, Christian man for me.  What a blessing he is!  Surely this is how God has instructed men to behave in the area of giving.

This is how God gives to us – more than we deserve, expect, or imagine.  He lavishes us with his love.  What a great God!  Give back to him.  He is worthy.

Read Full Post »


After the Levites kill their own brothers and friends  on behalf of God for the golden calf idolatry, God gives them some more consequences for their rebellion.  In Exodus 33, the Israelites are told to depart from the base of Mt. Sinai.  God restates his promise to bring them into the promised land, but there is one catch – he’s not coming.

God is like, time to leave here.  You still get the promised land, guys!  But I’m not coming with you.  God’s immediate presence would not be there with them.

How many churches today operate this way?  Yet many are perfectly content to do so.  So sad.

“When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.  For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the people of Israel, “You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you.  So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.” ~Exodus 33:4

Therefore, they were not content.  They did not rejoice.  They did not go on with business as usual.  They did not plan outreach.  What they did was mourn.

Half their company just died by the sword of their own brothers.  The text does not say they mourned then.  But for this, they mourn.  Why?

This was a bigger, more severe judgement and tragedy than losing half your friends and family in a day.  We know this because the latter just happened and these people didn’t mourn.  They did not mourn until God said he would remove his presence.  The is absolute worst thing God can do to human beings who love him is separate himself from them.  What was the lowest point of Christ on the cross?  The separation of he and his Father.

One day these guys were fixing to become a nation of priests, the next God tells them to dress in their skivvies and has his prophet tell them who they really are.  Not priests.  Nope.  Stiff-necked, stubborn, rebellious kids who don’t listen – that’s who they are.  That’s who we are when we fail to patiently wait on God, be faithful, and obey Him despite our circumstances.

God moves even their leader outside their camp.  The plans God was giving to build the tabernacle there at the base of Mt. Sinai were no more.  They had to move on, and this, without the immediate presence of God.  The bottom line was that because of these guys’ impatience and unbelief, they suffered greatly.  Their impatience led them into the sin of idolatry.  Their idolatry caused many of their brothers and friends to be killed in a civil war of sorts and these guys who are left are shamed with what they must wear.  They don’t get to serve God in the ways he originally had planned for them – at least at this point.  Not only that, but he moves their leader, Moses, outside the camp because he does not want to be close to them.  Even one moment keeping company with them would cause God to destroy their rebellious, ungrateful selves.

Here is a picture of every single one of us when God’s mercy finds us.  We are stubborn.  We are rebellious.  We are idolatrous.  We are impatient.  We are unfaithful and unbelieving.  We are ungrateful.  We are separated from God because of our sin.  We are in desperate need of mercy and forgiveness.  We need an intercessor and a clean slate.  These guys had Moses.  We have Christ.  Let us trust in Him when our sin separates us from God.

Read Full Post »

Moses had been on Mt. Sinai for some time now.  He had been instructed on the laws of God as they pertain to personal conduct, altars, slaves, restitution, social justice, sabbaths and festivals, the future sanctuary, and furniture therein, the tabernacle the people were going to build, and the priests and their holy garments.  In Exodus 29, God instructs Moses on how to prepare, or, “consecrate,” the priests who were to serve His people in His temple.

Moses was told to consecrate the priests.  To do so, he had to wash them, dress them, and make offerings for them.

First, Moses was told to make a sin offering for the priestly candidates.  He was told to bring them to the entrance of the tent and wash them with water.  Then, he was to clothe them with the priestly garments, anoint them with oil, and “ordain” them.

To ordain literally means, “to fill the hand.”  Anyone who is called into ministry will have their hands full, so to speak.  We must! If we have nothing to give, we’ve no use in God’s house.  We must be busy about God’s business when he has us involved in serving his people and his house.  We have no time to slack or sloth as some who wear the titles in the church are so infamously known to do.  We must ourselves continually receive from God in order to properly give nurture, console, comfort, correction, and instruction to His people.  Therefore, our hands must first be filled.  Our hands will be full if we would work for God.

These men were brought to the entrance, or, the doorway of the Tent of Meeting.  This act symbolized their mediation and their standing between God and man.

After they were ordained, the offerings were to be made.  One was a sin offering for the sins of these soon to be priests (Exodus 29:10-14.)  One was a burnt offering wherein these me dedicated themselves to God (Exodus 29:15-18.)  And one was to be a peace offering for the fellowship between God and man (Exodus 29:19-28.)  Part of the blood from these offerings was put upon these men and sprinkled on their robes.  This was to point us all to the necessity of Christ’s sacrificial blood covering us.  They had to wear these blood-stained garments and make sacrifices for seven days in order for ordination to be complete.  Not only that, but once they began to serve in the temple they had to make animal sacrifices daily.  I imagine it was a pretty dirty job for someone wearing such elaborate clothing.  One who faithfully serves God’s people is bound to get their hands, and robes, desperately dirty in doing so.

Only the priestly candidates could eat of the ram of ordination.  Anything that touched the altar where these sacrifices were made became holy.

All of these preparations were done to magnify the seriousness and sacredness of the office.  It was so they, and we, might understand the weight of the call of God when we hear it, and that those who are seeking position and influence in God’s house out of human ambition rather than a true call might not assume such things upon themselves.  Many a man wreaks havoc, brings great judgement upon himself, and harms many within God’s church by putting himself forward for ministry out of greed and self-interest.  Woe to him!

The whole seven day ceremony was meant to point they, their people, and we, to the gospel.  Jesus is our high priest.  He is our one mediator between we and the Father.  If we are going to serve him, we must first be washed clean of sin and clothed with his sacrificial blood.  We must understand the seriousness of our call, and we must prepare accordingly.

We live in a culture full of people who treat the offices of leadership within the church as day jobs and personality contests; power pulls and position pandering.  Many lack respect and reverence in their knowledge, their attitudes, and even their dress.  These things are evidenced clearly by their utter and complete unpreparedness.  These things should not be so!  If you would not preach the gospel and tend to God’s house for the joy of doing so and free of charge, you should not ever think yourself fit to do those things in exchange for a paycheck!  The priesthood, the pastorate, and the leadership within the church are not day jobs!  They are not popularity contests, power plays, or positions to covet!  These are to be taken on only by the direct and decided call of God after much preparation and sobriety of thought over their consideration.  Anyone who believes he is called to ministry should consider Exodus 29 carefully.

Caring for God’s people is the hardest job in the world, hands down.  Caring for God’s people is the best job in the world, hands down.  Amen.

Read Full Post »


Still on Mt. Sinai, once God was finished giving instructions to Moses on how to build and furnish the tabernacle, he proceeded to instruct Moses on the people who would be attending it – the priests.

Exodus 28 is a record of what the priests were to wear and the significance of their garments.  From their heads to their undergarments, the priests were to be notably and specifically dressed.

 “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. ~Exodus 28:1-5

In verses 1-5, we see the sovereign choosing of God highlighted as he informs Moses that his brother, Aaron, and all of his descendants were to be the priests serving in temple.

Notice that Moses did not argue with God or sulk because he himself had not been chosen for this particular job.  Moses was a prophet.  He had much to do for God and for the people already.  Moses’ job was different than that of a priest.

In this time, priests were primarily responsible for attending the ever-burning fire and the sacrifices given.  Heads of families were responsible for the teaching of their own people on the ways of God.  Once synagogues became commonplace after the Jews’ captivity, the priests and leaders in the temple then became teachers and preachers of the law and the Word of God.

Today, it is still true that prophets hear words from the Lord, see visions, direct God’s people in His ways, warn, intercede, correct, and admonish all.  Priests and pastors attend to House of God, shepherd the people, and help them do what God has called them to.  These are very different callings .  Prophets can preach and preachers can prophesy, but these are not the primary responsibilities each has.  Both are equally important, but, a priest has a much more tender relationship with the people while a prophet generally is held at a distance because the people fear, avoid, and even hate him for his truth-telling.

Nevertheless, Moses isn’t complaining.  He is happy to give his younger brother this honor.  Aaron had served under him up until this point and God honored him for it.

As we see in verse 2, Moses was instructed to have holy garments made for Aaron.  He was told to call all those who were skillful to this task.  That tells us that these garments were not only mandatory, but they were greatly important to God.  He wanted them to be exactly as he instructed that his own glory and beauty might be seen through these men.

Each item that the priests wore had a meaning and a purpose.  We will be examining those in the coming days, but notice today especially what God’s Word says of those Moses was to call to the task of making these clothing items for the priests.

You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. ~Exodus 28:3

The lesson here is that God gives people their skills and talents.  He gives them a “spirit of skill” and he expects it to be used for his glory and according to his very specific instructions.

God chooses who will be the prophet.
God chooses who will be the priest.
God chooses who will make the garments.
God chooses who will have trade skills.
God chooses who will be given a spirit of skill.
Good chooses what those who have been given a spirit of sill and excellence will make and do.
Good gives the skilled workers the materials needed to produce what will most glorify him.

Get this, Christians!  This is so very important.  Prophets are not better than priests.  Prophets are just people chosen by God to be prophets.  Priests are not better than the people they serve because they are called to teach, preach, and counsel others.  Priests are just people chosen by God to be priests.  And, finally, skilled workers who make and do jobs of trade with excellence are not unspiritual or unused of God simply because they are preaching, teaching, or prophesying like prophets and priests are doing.  Skilled workers who make and do jobs of trade are filled with a spirit of skill, according to Exodus 28:3, and are therefore just as spiritual and used of God when they act upon their calling as prophets and priests.

Did you get that?  It’s important.  There are no spiritual superheroes in God’s house.  Every person is greatly needed and equally important.  Therefore, there should be absolutely no attitudes of superiority or looking down on a man who works a trade vs. a man who preaches or vise versa within God’s house.  AMEN.

Read Full Post »

In Exodus 25, we find the three furnishings that the tabernacle was to house.  Here, we find what the contributions the people of God had been called to make were designated for.

It is somewhat unusual to build furniture before building the house, but perhaps the Lord intended here to show us an order of importance of sorts.  What goes into God’s house, namely the law, the mercy, the place designated for the bread, and the lampstand, is more noteworthy than the building itself.  These items represent what actually constitutes a true Christian and a true church today.

If we have not law and grace, a special place for the presence of God, and a light-bearing witness, we have not an individual nor a place prepared and fit to worship Almighty God.  We can place all kinds of other things into our hearts and inside church buildings but nothing other than these particular furnishings will suit.  Nothing other than these particular things will make either us or that building a place fitting, pleasing, and suitable for the Lord to dwell.  I imagine the reason why so much unnecessary and spiritually unrelated “stuff” goes on in the church is because the real elements and foundation necessary for true worship to take place are not even present.


Read Full Post »

As the Lord begins to speak to Moses on Mount Sinai, he enters into a very long discourse on exactly how to build a place of worship.  He goes into great detail over a period of forty days and forty nights just instructing Moses on how to instruct His people to erect, furnish, and attend His place of worship.  It begins in Exodus 25 and does not conclude until Moses comes back down the mountain in Exodus chapter 31.  Let’s consider these instructions for God’s holy dwelling place carefully.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. ~Exodus 25:1-9

The very first thing God tells Moses about his sacred place is that it is to be a place of giving.  Each and every person attending God’s place of worship was to offer a gift.  Each and every person was to contribute.  No one was to come empty handed.  No one was to be excluded from making an offering.  No one was to be kept from giving whatever they had to give.  God gave specific instructions on what to bring.  The idea here is that the people of God were to bring the very best things they had and offer those to the Lord.

Note…to the Lord.  Verse two tells us that the contributions made were “for me” and God was speaking.  The gifts we bring to the house of God are for HIM; to glorify HIM; to honor HIM; to please HIM.

This was the very first instruction God gave in regards to the place of worship where he would be pleased to come and dwell.  This tells us that giving and offering our very best gifts in a place of worship is greatly important to God.

We should never enter or attend a place of worship empty handed.  We are to bring our very best gifts and offer them back to God.  We ought never to forbid others from giving their best gifts to the Lord.  God commands His people first and foremost in a place where he is to come and dwell to contribute.

If we fail to contribute to God’s house due to apathy, complacency, laziness, or greed, we ought to be very ashamed.  If we fail to allow others to contribute due to pride, control, envy, or jealousy, we ought to be very ashamed.  God would not have made this instruction first, foremost, and primary if it was not of great importance.

Let’s do things God’s way, Church.  “Whatsoever is done in God’s service must be done by His direction and not otherwise.” ~Matthew Henry

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »