Exodus 29-31: Wrapping up temple and worship instructions.

May 27, 2015.

Daily Reading: Exodus 29-32.

Background: Exodus 25-28.

Concepts and Connections.

Chapter 29

Concentration of the priests: This chapter gives the ceremonial practices that were to be done to consecrate the priests before the Lord that they might minister before Him for the people without being consumed. Notice the attention to both detail and the cleansing through blood (see Hebrews 9). The sons of Aaron were to hold the priesthood throughout the generations of the children of Israel, and they were to be consecrated in this way continually with these sacrifices and priestly garments. We must remember that this period of time was before the sacrifice of Christ, who’s blood is the only true answer to sin, and thus there was no full atonement for sin. This is why the priest were subject to such ritual in order to concentrate them and set them apart before the Lord, to make them holy (see Hebrews 10:1-18). Take special note also of verse 14, the sin offering that is burned outside of the camp, as this is what Christ exemplified when He was crucified outside the camp to sanctify us through His blood (see Hebrews 13:10-16). This chapter serves as a good reminder of the detailed practices that God’s people had been given directly from God, and provides insight into the depth of the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice for us, who are not as familiar with the concept of sacrifice.

Chapter 30

Various instructions for the temple and worship: In this chapter, there are instructions given for various temple worship practices and duties of the people of Israel. It begins with the altar that is to be built for incense, made out of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold. On it, Aaron and his sons were to burn fragrance every morning and evening. Note that they are explicitly told not to offer unauthorized fire on the altar, a direct command that Nadab and Abihu violated and for which they were struck dead (see Leviticus 10:1-3). Next, a census tax is discussed, where all the children of Israel who were numbered in a census were to give half a shekel of silver when they were numbered, regardless of their economic status. This is possibly why the Lord was angry with David when he took a census of the people, for there is no mention of collecting a census tax when he did it, though this is speculation (see II Samuel 24). The tax was to be given for the service of the tent of meeting. Next was instructions about the bronze basin in which Aaron and his sons were supposed to wash their hands and feet before they went in to minister in the temple. Note the abundance of ceremonial washing that was necessary to symbolize cleansing and consecration (compare with Hebrews 10:22 and Acts 22:16). Finally, there are instructions about anointing oil and incense. The anointing oil was for the priest, that they may be made holy. The incense was holy to the Lord. Like the altar in chapter 29, anything that touched the oil was made holy (see Exodus 29:37). The people were not to make any oil or incense like these, for they were special and only for the priests.

Chapter 31

Specific craftsmen and the Sabbath: As the instructions for the temple and all that was therein were coming to a close, the Lord notes that He had not left Moses empty handed, for He had given the skill to accomplish everything He had told Moses to do into the hands of different men throughout the congregation. Two men are specifically mentioned here, Oholiab and Bezalel, that were given special talents in craftsmanship, in setting stone and cutting wood, and other areas which would be needed to carry out the plans of the Lord as given to Moses in the previous chapters. This is a good reminder to us that the Lord gives us each different talents and abilities, and expects us to use what He has given us to glorify Him and His kingdom (see Matthew 25:14-30).

Finally, just before the Lord gave Moses the complete tablets of stone, He tells Moses that above all, the people are to keep the Sabbaths of the Lord, a holy day to Him. On the seventh day, there was to be no work done, but rather it was to be a day of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. It was a sign between the children of Israel and the Lord throughout their generations. Then God gave Moses the tablets of the testimony, written with His own finger, that he might take them down to the people to have a record of the instructions given by the Lord.

Tomorrow’s Reading: Proverbs 2-3.

Study to show yourself approved.

-Walter

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