Yesterday, we read through the end of Joseph's life in Egypt, which also concluded the story of the Patriarchs in Genesis. Then, we read of the shift in Egyptian rule to a new Pharaoh, accompied by a subsequent 400 years of bondage for the Hebrews. After Moses led 600,00 men (not including women and children, which, if included, would bring the number to well over one-million) from Egypt across the Red Sea, Moses speaks with God on the top of Mount Sinai and is given instructions for the Ten Commandments, as well as regulations for consecration, sanctification, social justice, etc. The Israelites began to build the Tabernacle, using God's specific blueprint.
Today, we pick up in Exodus 30, where the Israelites continue building the Tabernacle. Sometimes reading books in the Torah can become mundane and even confusing, but here are some helpful things to remember as we read through many rules and regulations in the next couple days:
1. The Israelites had a tendency to easily forget the miracles that God displayed in their life, so God needed to remind them over and over again who He was (I can easily forget as well).
2. God is holy, and those that follow him must be holy. Likewise, anyone who enters his presence must be holy, and thus there were many regulations for purification and cleanliness to enter into God's presence.
3. Sin requires remittance, and God provided specific sacrifices for the remittance of sins.
4. God is worthy of our gratitude, praise, and worship, so God provided avenues by which to give sacrifices and praises simply to enjoy fellowship with God and thank him.
5. God wants to help us live in the most practical (and often healthy) lifestyle possible, to better allow us to praise him. In the Torah, God provided many instructions for how to live, eat, socially (and sexually) interact, etc.
John Oakes' From Shadow To Reality is a helpful book for understanding the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, and much of the information that follows is adapted by using his book. While it may be relieving to read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, let's remember that the Old Testament is still God's written word, and has plenty to teach us in itself too.
The Tabernacle was built for God to dwell with his people Israel, and preceded the Temple, which Solomon built "in the four hundred and eightieth year [10th century B.C.] after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of [his] reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month . . ." (1 Kings 6:1).
Throughout Exodus, we read of several specificities intentionally regarded in the Tabernacle, many of which hold important significance for New Testament teachings.
The bronze basin (Exodus 30) is a way by which the Israelites cleansed themselves between the tent of meeting and the altar. The reflection of this in the New Testament is baptism, which cleanses us so that we too can enter God's presence (Titus 3:5).
The altar of incense (Exodus 30) provided a regular burned incense as an offering before the Lord. This is refleced in the New Testament in Revelation 5:8 as the "prayers of the saints."
The ark of the covenant (Exodus 37) was the presence of God. Now, God dwells within us in his Spirit.
In Exodus 32, the Israelites can't find Moses, and ask Aaron to build them a golden calf to worship. Aaron does, then Moses finds out and is furious. He broke the tablets that had the testimony written on them, ground the golden calf to a powder, put it into water, and made Israel drink it.
The tent of meeting was where Moses met with the Lord, outside of the camp. A pillar of cloud was above the tent whenever Moses entered to speak with God. When Moses entered, the Israelites would worship God corporately. (Exodus 33)
Throughout Exodus, Moses travels up and down Mount Sinai to meet with the Lord and intercede for the people Israel. "His face shone" in Exodus 34 when he returned from the top of Sinai. When we speak with God, everything about us changes: the way we conduct ourselves, our heart, our minds, sometimes even the way we look.
In Exodus 35, all the people join together, some doing work far out of their profession, to help construct the Tabernacle. Fascinating! This is a lesson for us all not to put people into a box, but to allow them to serve God in the way they desire.
Israel constructs the Tabernacle with care. (How's that for a summary!)
These chapters have the regulations for the Levitical sacrificial system.
A common misconception is that the offerings of the Old Testament all had to do with the remittance/forgiveness of sins. Actually, many of the offerings performed by the Jews were purposed for worshipping God, while indeed the others were meant to purify or cleanse them so that they could worship God. The first three listed (and the drink offering) are sacrifices of worship, while the last two are blood sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins.
1. Burnt Offering
An animal without defect was taken, its head burned on the altar and its body washed, then the body also burned on the altar. This offering is exactly what it sounds like, an offering that is burned completely. "And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord" (Leviticus 1:13). This sacrifice foreshadows Jesus and the church. While Jesus, the head of the church, does not need cleansing, the body (the disciples in the church), need to be cleansed before being dedicated to God.
2. Grain Offering
This offering was intended to remind the Israelites of the providence of God. It was likewise a way for the Priests and Levites to especially devote themselves to the Lord. God expects us to trust him in our sacrificial giving. Also the drink offering, usually made alongside the grain offering, was an offering of worship. While it was easy (they just poured wine onto the altar), it reminded the Jews of their fixed devotion to God. Paul joyfully refers to being poured out like a drink offering in Philippians 2 and 2 Timothy 4.
3. The Fellowship/Peace Offering
Starting the same way as the burnt offering, the Jews brought an animal without defect, and killed it, then ate it, celebrating their relationship with God in worship (and good food!). Likewise, we are called to "rejoice always" (2 Thess 5:16).
4. Sin Offering
This offering was for the forgiveness of sins. The offering is incredibly detailed and perfectly reflects Jesus' sacrifice for us.
- The sacrifice had to be unblemished --> Jesus was unblemished (1 Peter 1:18-19)
- The sinner put their hands on the animal --> Jesus took on our own sin, becoming sin for us (Isaiah 53:6, 2 Corinthians 5:21).
- The sinner killed the animal --> Because of our sin, Jesus had to die (Acts 2:36).
- The sinner sprinkled the blood on the curtain and the altar of incense, which was inside the Holy Place of the Tabernacle --> Hebrews 9 tells us that Jesus was the High Priest who entered the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies) and sprinkled his blood for eternal redemption.
- The offering was burned outside of the camp --> Jesus was crucified in Golgotha, which was outside of Jerusalem. Throughout the OT, many things that are unclean are required to be dealt with outside of the camp.
5. Guilt/Trespass Offering
- While the sin offering could be offered corporately (for you and your family, for example), the guilt offering was for the individual. The guilt offering required relational reconciliation before offering. For example, if you had an offense with your brother, you needed to reconcile with him before reconciling with God through sacrifice. God is concerned with our relationships with him and with each other.
Aaron and his sons were consecrated before the Lord as priests, which required a complicated series of sacrifice, blood, and sanctification. The Lord accepts Aaron's offering, but Aaron's sons (Nadab and Abihu) offer an unauthorized incense, and are burned by fire and killed.
- Laws for clean and unclean animals (what you can and cannot eat)
- How to purify yourself following childbirth
- What to do and how to be purified with leprosy
- How to purify a house that has mold or other infectious growths
- How to be cleansed when you have open sores
- Laws against eating blood
- Laws against unhealthy sexual relationships
- Consequences for child sacrifice
Feasts (See John Oakes' From Shadow To Reality for more in-depth information regarding Feasts and Festivals in the Old Testament).
A day of rest on the seventh day (Saturday)
To remember God bringing Israel safely out of Egypt --> Christ's sacrifice on the cross
The Feast of First Fruits
Celebrating the harvest before the crops were ripe. Anticipating God's promise --> Jesus was resurrected on the day of the Feast of the First Fruits.
The Feast of Weeks
Celebrating the harvest --> we have a spiritual harvest in Christ, and in God's kingdom.
The Feast of Trumpets
Jewish New Year --> Judgment Day, Jesus returning, the second coming
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
A reminder that we are responsible for our own sin and desperately need God's forgiveness.
The Feast of Booths
Celebrating our life with God --> We can now fellowship freely with him, with Christ as our advocate and High Priest.
The information given is purely supplemental and intended to summarize. Having a basic skeletal knowledge of the construction of the Torah helps to continue reading the Old Testament books, and illuminates Jesus' teachings in the New Testament. Further, Jesus often chooses a specific time to teach in the New Testament, based on what his message is, and centers it around the timing of a certain feast or festival. The Bible is a collection of many books, and understanding how they work together will help us as we continue reading through it in the next 27 days.