Saturday, 1 February 2014

(33) February 2: Exodus 29-30 & Matthew 22:1-22

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

To discover:­­
As you read note how God’s holiness is stressed.

To ponder:
The holy and unholy cannot be married easily. 29v42-46 make clear these instructions are so that God can “meet” and “speak” and “dwell with” Israel. This is the heart of God’s promise and blessing, because if God is with them they will thrive.
            To be “consecrated” is to be made holy, which in turn is to be set-apart for God’s service. To “ordain” is to invest someone with a particular ministry. To this end the priests were to be washed from the basin of 30v17-21, dressed in their garments and anointed with the oil of 30v22-33, which was to be used solely for this purpose. The anointing reflected God’s choice and possibly imparting of authority for the role. This is the significance of the word Christ, which means “God’s anointed.” He is our priest, having been anointed by the Holy Spirit.
            The bull and two rams were to be burnt as sin offerings. By laying their hands on their heads, Aaron and sons were symbolically passing their sins to the animals, who would die in their place. By putting the blood on the horns and sides of the altar, and the extremities and clothes of the priests, everything is being cleansed of its contamination by sin so it is fit for God’s presence and service, and so the sacrifices offered are acceptable. The “pleasing” nature of the second offering may suggest it reflects the devotion of the priest in service, which pleases God. The offering then “waved” in-front of God has this “pleasing” sense too. It includes elements of the fellowship offering, so may stress the peace with God the priests then enjoy. In taking a share for themselves, is there also a sense of feasting with the LORD as in chapter 24? All this was to be repeated every day for seven days before everything could be deemed “holy.”
            As for ongoing ministry, each day from then was to be bracketed with the offering by fire of a lamb and a grain and drink offering. This would be a constant reminder of Israel’s need of atonement, but also the privilege of her ongoing fellowship with the LORD.
            A second altar was to be made solely to burn incense each time the priest tends the lamps “before the LORD.” This probably symbolised how the sacrifices came up to God’s throne as a “pleasing aroma” just as we are told our prayers do (Ps 141v2, Rev 8v4).
            The paying of money to fund the work of the tabernacle stressed each Israelite was constantly reliant on it if they were to continue to live. This money would be raised by those over twenty ransoming (buying back) their lives at the yearly census. And as all are equally precious, the cost would be the same for rich and poor alike. Because of its use, this money would effectively “make atonement” for their lives.
            Reading these things should impart a deep sense of the care with which we should offer ourselves daily to God, and the holiness of our gathered worship and of the Lord’s Supper, when we remember and look to the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The reality of human sin and God’s holiness is the same today as it was in Israel. However it should make us thankful too, that Christ’s death is sufficient to fully cleanse us and all we do so that it is truly acceptable. Moreover, it fits us to enter God’s presence in heaven itself.
Praying it home:
Praise God for fully cleansing us through Christ. Pray that he would grant you greater godliness in offering your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God (Rom 12v1-2)

Thinking further:
The New Testament doesn’t prescribe the specific role of “priest” for the church because Christ is our great High Priest. He has offered himself in full atonement for sin, he intercedes for us in heaven, and he instructs us through his word. However, the NT does describe all believers as “priests” in the sense that Israel were to be a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2v9). This reflects the fact that we are all set-apart to serve God at the temple of the church, which is the place of his presence. We are all to intercede for and instruct one-another and the world. And we are all to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. This gives great dignity to our calling and Christian service.

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