The second week of this unit is titled, “Why Do You Worship (Exodus 25:1-31:18).” Last week the Ten Commandments were the focus as we covered the laws God initially disclosed to Israel. This week we will see how Moses ascends Mount Sinai to receive from God the tablets and much instruction on how holy God is and how He must be worshiped by a sinful people. Watch in the reading and outline how the presence of God at the mercy seat has so many obstacles between Him and His people. These are to preserve His people so His holiness does not destroy them by direct exposure. But these are temporary blockades which Christ destroyed by His completely holy life and sacrificial death so that we might have access to God (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:19-22).
Again this week I’ll try to comment through the outline because of the amount of material.
- God gives instruction for an offering and a strictly constructed sanctuary so that God can dwell among His people
- Instructions for the Ark, which will contain the covenant and over which the mercy seat is where God will meet with Moses and the high priest. (25:1-22)
- Table for the bread of the Presence (25:23-30)
- The golden lamp stand to provide light (25:31-40)
- The tabernacle, which is the tent that surrounded the holy place and most holy place (26:1-37)
- The altar, first bronze article of furniture (27:1-8)The court of the tabernacle – walled tent that surrounded the area outside the holy place and most holy place, the outer most wall, included silver and bronze (27:9-19)
- Instructions for offerings, especially the oil for the lamp (27:20-21)
- God extends the request for an offering to materials for garments. God gives instruction on the priests garments.
- The ephod with two onyx stones to bear the tribes names in remembrance before the LORD (28:6-14).
- Breast piece of judgment – stones for remembrance and Urim and Thummim for bearing the judgment of the people of Israel on the high priest’s heart before the LORD regularly (28:15-30).
- Robe of the ephod with bells so Aaron won’t die, needed as a constant confession of his sinfulness (28:31-35)
- Plate of pure gold for Aaron’s turban – to bear the guilt of the holy things the people consecrate as their holy gifts. He wears it so they might be accepted.
- A coat, sash, and turban (28:39)
- Coats, sashes, and caps for Aaron’s sons – for glory and beauty (28:40)
- Instruction of anointing, ordaining and consecrating as priests (28:41)
- Under garments to cover their nakedness in the tent, harkening back to Genesis 3 (28:42-43)
- Consecration of the priests
- Ordination anointing (29:1-9)
- Sacrifices (29:10-28)
- Garments (29:29-30)
- Priests eating their part of the sacrifice (29:31-34)
- Week of ordination (29:35-46)
- The altar of incense (30:1-10)
- The census tax – a ransom and atonement (30:11-16)
- The bronze basin for washing before entering the holy place (30:17-21)
- Composition of the anointing oil and incense – to anoint the priests and incense to offer (30:22-38)
- Oholiab and Bezalel – God gives commands and provides resources (31:1-11)
- The Sabbath – “that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you” (31:12-17)
- The two tablets – the final product of God’s instruction after 40 days on Sinai with Moses
This section of Exodus definitely highlights God’s holiness. The instructions for the tabernacle are given from the inside out. This helps us appreciate how much separated the Old Testament believer from the presence of God. The mercy seat is where God met with people but only two people – Moses and whoever was the high priest (Aaron at this point in history). We are later told in Leviticus 16 that the only time the high priest was allowed to come before the mercy seat was once each year. There was a curtain that separated that room from the room with the table of the bread of the Presence and the golden lamp stand. Those two rooms were in a tent separated from the court of the tabernacle where the altar for sacrifice was. We also find out later that the Levites, God’s designated priests encamped in the area directly around the tabernacle’s count tent and after them was the rest of Israel. These separations tell us how much sin separates us from the LORD. This is the reason we need Jesus!
The high priest is the representative of the people before God. The careful preparation for Aaron to serve as high priest is striking. First, his clothing tells us so much about his role as high priest. Second, his ordination tells us so much about the imperfections of the high priests of Israel in contrast to the perfect High Priest Jesus Christ. One specific that I would like to draw out is Exodus 28:38 about Aaron’s golden plate to wear on his turban, “It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.” Notice that the high priest must bear any guilt from the holy things. It is not their guilt for sexual immorality or theft or murder. The High Priest even has to bear the guilt for the things which the people consecrate as holy. This tells us two things practically: 1) there is guilt that needs to be borne even for the good and right things we dedicate to the LORD; 2) Jesus is the perfect High Priest who bore the guilt of His people on the cross so that they may have access to the holy of holies – the Holy Spirit indwelling us!