FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
SCRIPTURE: EXODUS 30-31
BY: Jeremy Witt
We continue reading of specifics for the construction of altars and how to make preparations for worship in the Tabernacle. This theme will take a break for our next devotion or two.
Verse 6 jumps out to me as we hear of the “place of atonement with the tablets with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there.” (New Living Translation) The Day of Atonement was a once-a-year ceremony where the high priest would make a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins for the entire nation. The high priest would purify himself, wear the proper clothes after confessing all of his own sins and would go into the Most Holy Place to confess the sins of the people. It was a reminder that the sacrifices were temporary, so the people needed to come to God throughout the year and make confession of sins with a blood sacrifice. It points us to Jesus, who was the perfect, pure and holy sacrifice that would not be a temporary sacrifice like before, but the perfect and complete sacrifice, once for all.
Notice in verse 10 that the altar itself would need to be purified. God intended everything involved in worship to be pure and holy, even the altars had to be purified! This was so different from other forms of worship of the nations around Israel. God was intending for their worship to be drastically different so that others would take notice and come to Him.
Verses 11-16 introduce us to a census tax, which essentially taught the people that they belonged to the LORD and needed to be redeemed by sacrifice. Everyone was required to pay this regardless of economic status. All are equal in the eyes of God, and each one of us need mercy, forgiveness, and grace because of our sins. In the Jewish human mind, the rich were blessed and closer to God, yet this disproved that idea. The rich could not buy God’s favor and were in need of redemption just as the poor were.
Verse 17-21 tells us of a wash basin for the priest to cleanse themselves before they went into the Tabernacle. Again, God was teaching the people to be pure and set apart, and the priests were to lead in this as they approached God.
We read of the preparations for the anointing oil in verse 22-33 and also the incense in verses 34-38. This incense was a visual picture of the prayers of the people going up to the LORD. It was a sweet smell to the people. This was a vital part of the Day of Atonement. It was forbidden to be used for personal use.
We come to chapter 31 and discover two men who God had given special talents. Notice verse 3 stating that His Spirit was in Bezalel. God gave him an assistant Oholiab to help design and craft the articles for worship. Why is this important? Some people think that the “out in front” jobs are most important. Moses was that guy, but God specifically gave these two men gifts to be used for Him. God does that still today. God calls some to be priests or pastors. God calls some to protect such as police, fire, army, etc. God calls some to teach. God calls some to be design and build as we see here. God gives each one of us who are called according to His purpose and glory, special gifts and talents. We call those spiritual gifts. They are to be used to help others. They are not to be hoarded for ourselves. They are to bring God glory and honor.
Our last section involves the Sabbath in verses 12-18. It all boils down to why God separated the Sabbath. It was to be kept holy for two purposes: for the people to remember what the LORD has done and simply for rest. A day of rest was to help restore man and to remember the big picture, which is for God and His glory. We could use a reminder of that ourselves, couldn’t we!