Friday, 31 January 2014

(32) February 1: Exodus 27-28 & Matthew 21:32-46

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note the purpose of the different priestly garments.

To ponder:
Every word of God matters. So, although harder to read, these details still teach us. The importance of the items is again stressed by their materials, and the command to make everything exactly as God commanded.
Later we learn the altar is for burnt sacrifices, and so atonement (38v1). It is a picture of the greater altar of Christ (Heb 13v10). Condemned people would hold onto its corner tips (horns) begging for mercy just as we cling to Christ. This explains why God commanded men condemned to death must be taken “away from my altar” (21v14). The oil for the lamps is to be the best and relatively smoke free. They are to be kept alight throughout the night “before the LORD.” There’s a sense in which they are for him not Israel, but reminding Israel of his constant presence.
            The elaborate garments for Aaron and sons bring home their “dignity and honour” as priests. Christ’s glorified body brings home his. Like the tabernacle, these garments were to be decorated with gems found in Eden, engraved with names of the twelve tribes. In bearing these on the ephod’s (over-garment’s) shoulders “as a memorial before the LORD,” Aaron would effectively remind the LORD of his commitment to Israel whenever he entered God’s presence. The gems bearing the same names on the “breastplate of decision” also reminded the LORD the priest was seeking his will for his people. We’re unsure how the Urim and Thummim were used. Most likely, they were precious coloured stones that the priest would draw out from his breastplate randomly and discern God’s will from what appeared. This would be similar to drawing lots, as practiced by the apostles (Acts 1v24-26). It recognised that even what seems chance is from the LORD.
            28v31-43 are about protection. The bells on the robe used in ministry were to prevent the priest dying. This may be by reminding the LORD the priest is present so he holds back his holiness against his sin. In representing the people, the priest bore their guilt which could have made their offerings unacceptable. In this context, it seems the plate inscribed “HOLY TO THE LORD” also reminded God of the special status of the people so that he would instead accept what was offered. Finally, the linen garments were to ensure the priest was suitably covered and so not “incur guilt” himself “and die.”
             Of course God doesn’t in reality need reminding, and these instructions can seem rather laborious. But they dramatically portrayed that God’s presence is actually dangerous for sinful people. They would therefore help keep Israel’s attitude to the LORD a right one. We can be thankful that Christ lives forever to intercede for us, reminding the Father of our status in him.

Praying it home:
Praise God for his utter purity and holiness. Pray that we would maintain an attitude towards him of “reverence and awe” aware that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12v28-29).

Thinking further:
To see a picture of the priest, click here.

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