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Thursday, July 30, 2009

(23) The Tabernacle, Part 2, Exodus 25-31

Why do you have different rooms in your house? Why do you have a door into these rooms? Simple answers are: each room has its own purpose and the door symbolizes that a new purpose has begun. Other answers may be rooms and doors cause separation for privacy or shows ownership of a certain area. This is the same with God's house- the Tabernacle, the place to worship and meet God. Before we go on, keep in mind that you are today's tabernacle for God. But to understand how important you are today we have to see what the original tabernacle was like and why all of its inhabitants were instructed to be created the way they were. This will focus mostly on Exodus 27 with some others included.

The Court System
Just like your house is divided into sections so was God's house. But these were called courts. There were two main courts- the outer courts and the inner courts. The outer court was an area of fellowship and personal business. It was place to meet others and share things with them. The inner court was a place to start preparing yourself to worship and meet God. For more on what the courts are see this link http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/2008/08/iv-worship.html. But before we get to the courts we have to go through an outer door. In Exodus it was a fence. When Solomon built the Temple it will be known as the Sacred Enclosure. The fence served as a barrier. It prevents the un-Godly from entering into His presence. God can not be around things that are unholy, for He is holy. To be in His presence means you have His protection. The fence kept out all of the wild animals that were wandering in the desert and wilderness. It was not a see through fence because the world will never know what God means until they enter His presence. The Sacred Enclosure by law was a place in the outer courts where the gentile could go to but not pass. The gentile was allowed to do business in this area just like Jews but could not pass the Sacred Enclosure. Because at this time the gentile knew not of what a relationship with the true God was like. It separated them (Isaiah 59:2). But today the gentile by the Grace of Jesus has been allowed to enter. Not to take the place of the Jew but to commune with him. Other scripture

Just like in your house you have set up adornments and accessories that are meaningful to you, so it was with God's house. Linen was added to the house (27:9) because it took a lot of time getting it to the final product. It was made from the flax plant. It was twisted together and beaten. Then boiled in water and wrung out. This process made the linen white and clean. It was a long process making linen to be a valued product, making it expensive. Sometimes our lives take a long time to be refined. Sometimes we get twisted together to make us strong. Sometimes we are beaten to make us tough. Sometimes we go through water to be cleansed so we can be purified. Our lives take a long process to get right but that just shows how important and valuable we are to God. He wants us to be right.

Just like your house there is a way in to the place (the back door is somewhat a new idea compared to time). To get into God's house you had to enter the Gate. There is only one gate. Jesus (John 10:9, 14:6). There was only one door in the Ark that Noah built. And there is only one gate to heaven. Only through Jesus can we actually enter into the presence of God.

Just like your house, there is a place to wash and be clean, so it is with God's house. On the side of the courts was a laver, or basin. This was a place to wash before you went on to worship. Today it could be a symbol of baptism, the washing off detestable flesh and making clean a new creature in Christ (John 13:8-10). Without this washing, the flesh is too much full of stench that the burnt offering will have a horrible aroma that will not please God. A new creature is the like the smell of a new baby.

Lastly, if you notice the tabernacle was a movable place. It is a protege of the new testament temple. You. Your body is now the temple. It is a movable object that you take with you everywhere. God wants us every place we go to be a place of worship. Rick Warren says that we should live a life of worship. This kind of life is described as "walking with God". This is why it is wrong to try and control our own lives, it's not ours to control. God designed us the way we are. We are specific in detail. Each one of us is important to Him like the original temple was.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

(22) The Tabernacle, Part 1, Exodus 25-31

The Tabernacle, before the Temple was built, was the place of worship. To understand the Tabernacle, you have to understand what life was like before it was built. God's original plan was to exist with humanity and walk with man on a day to day basis. But the first man sinned and cause a separation between God and man. God can not be around sin for he is holy. But, man without God is hopeless. There is nothing left for man if God was not around. God did not want man to be lost so He allowed a way for man to get the relationship back, worship.

Sin is when we worship our own will (desires) instead of God's. This is what separates us from God. We need a way to bridge the gap. Worship is when we have a relationship with God. To be able to get back that perfect relationship, sin had to be taken away. Sin kills this relationship. Worship helps bring it back. But there is still a separation. Only total atonement for sin can do that. In the OT, it was through sacrifice. But the New Covenant makes Jesus Christ the atonement, or sacrifice.

Eden was God's place on Earth. It was the place that God put His most prized possession, man. It was a place where God went to man to speak with him, to be with him. But Adam sinned. Sin cause man to be thrown out of God's place.

When Adam sinned, he tried to hide his sin by "covering" himself with a fig leaf. This was not good enough. God gave him a new covering; one made with skin of an animal. An animal had to die and the shedding of blood had to happen to cover us completely. Christ died and His blood now covers us. (Genesis 2:25-3:24)

Why blood? Because as in Hebrews 9:22, blood is a life force. When we died through Adam our blood line to God was cut. To get that blood line back, blood (innocent) has to be shed. In the Tabernacle days, it was through a spotless lamb; one without blemish. If they sacrificed an animal that was already dying or defective, what good would it have done? What would it have proven? Sacrificing a pure lamb showed that they could give up something so valuable in order to show their feelings to God. Do not worry, the animal is God's. Rest assured that the lamb was taken cared of. In the New Tabernacle, which is you, we do not have to sacrifice anymore. Christ is the lamb.

Worship involves sacrifice. It costs. When Cain sacrificed his offerings to the Lord he only gave some of it. When Abel sacrificed he gave the first fruits of his labor. He gave the best portions of what he had. Cain did not really sacrifice anything. Abel did. (Genesis 4:1-5) True sacrifice also means we have to be obedient. Obedience sometimes cause us to give up things we desire in order to get the things He desires for us. The bigger the sacrifice the larger act of worship it is. King David said in 1 Chronicles 21:24
  • 24 I will not sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.

David knew the real meaning behind worship. Is it any wonder why God had David write all of his Psalms? Worship is the connection that keeps us near to God. It allows us to be close to Him. It brings us back to "Eden", paradise. The Tabernacle was the place for worship. It was ordained by God with specific instructions and emblems. Each emblem had its own purpose and foreshadowed what the Christ would be for us. The Tabernacle was a physical place that was built so that God could exist with man again. But it had to be made holy. Even within the Tabernacle itself there were parts that God would not be present for not all of it was holy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

(21) The Decalogue, Exodus 21:1-24:18

Once the Ten Commandments were etched in stone, they became law; a Godly law. But, how does that transpire into man's law? Could you do something to man that was not against God? Is there a way around His law and still get away from helping man? God knew man's heart and knew his intentions. He knew what man would do if there was some loop hole or way out of something. So, God continued with explaining what the law meant. And since Israel was a stubborn nation, then punishment and atonement for breaking the laws needed to be strict. Israel was God's chosen people. They should have known the power of God yet somehow they remained worldly. He would put a stop to it. This is why chapters 21-24 in Exodus are long winded, extreme, monotonous, dare say...boring, along with Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Almost every aspect of life was written down on how to treat your fellow man. The first four commandments dealt with what your relationship with God should be. The other six deal with your relationship with other people. But notice when the covenant is expanded most of the laws deal with man. When God laid down the law about our relationship with Him, He needed no to expand. He is the Lord, nothing else will do, remember Him and Him only! Stray outside that and you have a problem. But He knew we would do things to each other and needed guidance. These chapters tell us how do deal with servants, injuries, property, social responsibility, justice, mercy, the sabbath and celebration days. Each topic mentioned has its own subtopics as well.

In the end though God tells His people He will protect them if they abide by the rules. He sends an angel out before them preparing their way. Who is the angel? No one knows. It could be any of them but verse 23:21 says he will not forgive your rebellion since my Name is in him. Is that a hint that it could be Christ or is it symbolically saying there is no excuse for rebellion against something from God? You have to be the judge there.

The covenant is finally confirmed with the sacrifice of a life. A young bull (several of them) was sacrificed to claim the testament in blood, the life force, the essence of being. And as a final witness to this covenant God showed Himself to Moses and all the elders of Israel. They ate with Him and had fellowship. But God would not do this all the time. He is too holy to be seen by all so the next step was to build a place where God could meet His creation; the tabernacle.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

(20) Freedom is never free, Exodus 13:1-20:26

When someone is in prison and they are forced to give up their lifestyle and freedom in order to pay their sentence of punishment, they start to become accustomed to another way of life. Once they are free they go through a phase called de-institutionalizing. They have to relearn the way of reality. This is why many convicts commit crimes after they have been freed. They do not know how to handle the real world anymore so they revert back to what got them punished in the first place. Same with Israel.

Israel had been a prisoner for over 400 years, they had lost some of their culture and had picked up some of the Egyptian culture. God did not want them to hold on to the Egyptian culture. So, before any of the major traveling went on, God started to set down laws. If He did not then one of two things would have happened; either Israel would not have known how to survive on their own and the nation would have perished or they would want to revert back to Egyptian ways. As you read you will notice they try to revert back many times. It's a wonder why God stayed with them.

Laws, Customs and ways of Life

  1. Consecration of the first born-no matter what the child was the first born of all families was to be dedicated to God. This was to remind all of Israel that the one plague that allowed them to go free was that the firstborn of all Egyptians was killed. This is also a foreshadow of the Christ. In order for us to go free the firstborn of God had to die.
  2. Manna ,Quail and Water-not even three months had passed and the Israelites were complaining about the outside world. Some of them cried out that they would rather have died in Egypt. But, God listened and gave them plenty of food by sending manna and quail, everyday. They were to trust in Him and not gather any more than what they needed or were told to gather. Still some of them did not trust. And since this happened maybe another major necessity of life was denied to them so they would appreciate being free. They ran out of water. So God caused water to flow from a rock.
  3. War- Never thought of this before but the Israelites, although had to take the land that was promised to them, were not the aggressors. The Amalekites attacked them first. And they won't be the last. Why was war necessary? Because the land was consecrated by God hundreds of years earlier with Abraham. The people living in the land now had defiled the land by their practices. What was done there in the past few hundred years had to be wiped out so the land could be worthy again. Plus the people living there would not leave voluntarily.
  4. The Commandments-In Greek called the Decalogue or The Ten Words. Words is a term that describes a covenant in OT times. Why were they given? They were a sign to God's people that there was a special bond between them. He chose them to be His people and if they abide by His laws then they will share in His glory and presence. Why these certain laws? First of all its what His original plan was anyway. To love God above all, to remember what He has done and all of His power, to take care of each other by not causing each other to fall by certain acts of selfishness i.e., murder, stealing, etc.. Oddly enough Jesus restated the Ten Words into two: Love God and Love your neighbor. He did not change the law keep in mind, the Ten Words are still a covenant. Jesus just simplified it. He also expanded on it with what we call the Sermon on the Mount.

These ways of life were written down due to the fact that the culture of Israel and its original purpose of existence had been watered down by life in Egypt. Before these were written down people lived by faith. Abraham was not "under the law" because he lived by faith. Through the years people had lost faith and never knew what it was like to live by faith. This is why when they got to the dessert they did not know how to trust in God and turned so easily to idols and grievances. So God wrote down these things to help them remember, but since they were a hard-headed people He gave them strict conditions to abide by as written down in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Today we are not "under the law" per se. Jesus is the law. We are back to living by faith. However, we are living in times that say faith is not valid. We are sliding back into Egypt, if you will. This next time God will not send another savior. This next time that our faith needs refining will be the end. Third time is a charm...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

(19) The Plagues, Exodus 7:7-12:36

The plagues of Egypt. Why did God use these certain ten plagues to change the mind of Pharaoh? He could have used anything yet He chose to use these. Most of the plagues were directed at the religion of Egypt. Most of the plagues were directed specifically at the gods of the Egyptians. These were signs to show the Egyptians that the one true God was powerful than anything that the gods of Egypt could muster.
  1. Plague of the Nile turning to blood: The Nile was of course the Egyptians lifeline. A fertile land region that no one else could control. There were three gods whom the Egyptians felt gave them this control. Khnemu was the guardian of the Nile. Hopi was the spirit of the Nile. Osiris was the creator of Egyptian civilization using the Nile as his bloodstream after he was murdered and his body thrown into the Nile.
  2. Plague of the frogs: The goddess of fertility was Heket. She helped women with childbirth and her symbol was a frog.
  3. Plague of gnats and the Plague of flies: These were references to Ba'al. The term Ba'al itself means "lord" but later in the Bible a term comes out of this to refer to what we know today as satan; beelzebub or "lord of the flies". Ba'al originated in the Middle East and not Egypt but since the Egyptian kingdom grew and they were always willing to adopt new gods then this became part of their worship. Ba'al had died and his sister resurrected him, virtually a living dead, where flies would be attracted.
  4. Plague of Cattle dying: These were direct to Hathor, goddess whose form was a cow, and Apsi who was called the bull god. Both of which have too of long stories to divulge. You can read more about them via Internet.
  5. Plague of Boils: Boils of course are a skin irritation that can be treated with medicine. But the Egyptians could not cure this even with the help of Imhotep, the god of medicine.
  6. Plague of hail: The weather was also controlled by Egyptian gods such as: Nut, the sky goddess, Isis, who was partly known as a mother of nature and giver of life, and Seth who was known as the protector of the crops and god of storms.
  7. Plague of locusts: Again directed at Seth who protected the crops.
  8. Plague of darkness: Ra, the sun god.
  9. Plague of death (first born): Directed straight at Pharaoh, who was considered one of the gods.

With each plague God Almighty showed that He could out do any Egyptian god there was and it was He who controlled the world not them. Each plague caused the Egyptians to want to get rid of the Israelites. Each plague only effected the Egyptians while the Israelites were protected by God. Even by the fourth plague, the Pharaoh's advisers were telling him to give in and let them go because for the first two plagues they had reproduced the act. Now they are finding out that they can't do what God does.

There are physical explanations for each plague. Such as sulfur in the Nile caused the river to turn red and poisoned to drink, thereby causing all of the frogs to get out of the river since they could jump but the poor fish were left to die. Since the frogs could not go back into the river to be rehydrated they died causing swarms of flies and gnats to devour their left over carcasses. And since there were carcasses that means disease may have spread out of this causing the cattle to die with cowpox and may have spread to humans as small pox which cause irritation of the skin and boils. A freakish once in a hundred years storm produced hail hitting the crops and making the locust fly prematurely all at once and blocking the sun out, or the same hail storm had no rain but only wind causing a dust storm to hit blocking out the sun. And of course the only explanation for the oldest son dying is there must have been a plague...duh! Even if all of these had a natural explanation, then why did they all happen at this certain time and why the coincidence that it didn't happen to the Israelites?

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