Leviticus 3-7: The Sacrifices pt.2

We saw how in every day the gospel is imprinted every morning and every night: that when the Israelites wake up, they see the burnt offering which preaches the message of both sin and reconciliation simultaneously (so as not to ‘guilt-trip’ them every morning, yet also remind them of their position in God’s grace!); and every night they thank God for the day through the grain offering which also preaches the message of urgency with the combination of oil and unleavened bread.

Let’s turn to the last three types of offerings in Leviticus.

1.  Fellowship Offering (3:1-17; 7:11-21, 28-34)

2.  Sin Offering (4:1-5:13; 6:24-30)

3.  Guilt Offering (5:14-6:7; 7:1-7)

4.  Conclusion for the fundamental five offerings

5.  Breakdown of the Priests and the (Peace) Offerings (7:11-21)

1.  Fellowship Offering (3:1-17; 7:11-21, 28-34)

In the ESV subtitle it is also named as “peace offering” which is suitable, but does not actually reflect the expression of thankfulness and love for the LORD like “fellowship” offering.  Fellowship implies a certain sense of unity amongst diversity, but “peace” offering sounds very much like an overly personal affair; as if salvation is something personally wrought and personally experienced, when it is just as much something experienced as a church body of Christ.

Voluntary Offering and the “fat” portions

Unlike the previous two offerings of burnt and grain offering, this one is a bit different: it is voluntary.  Secondly, where the previous offerings required the worshipper to give up the sacrifice in totality (through different means), the person who sacrificed the animal can actually eat the sacrifice.  The relevant passages are found in chapter 7:11-21:

11“And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. 12If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice(DZ) unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour(EA) well mixed with oil. 13(EB) With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. 14And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a(EC) gift to the LORD.(ED) It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. 15And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings(EE) for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning. 16But(EF) if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow offering or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day what remains of it shall be eaten. 17But what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned up with fire. 18If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him. It is(EG) tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity.

19“Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten. It shall be burned up with fire. All who are clean may eat flesh, 20but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings(EH) while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people. 21And if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether(EI) human uncleanness or an(EJ) unclean beast or any(EK) unclean detestable creature, and then eats some flesh from the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people.”

There is a lot of detail behind these verses.  And there is much similarity between this offering and the grain offering, save the voluntary nature of the type of sacrifice to be given (an animal from the herd, lamb, goat – all covered between v. 1-17 of chapter 3).  What unites these three types of peace offerings is this (v.16-17):

All fat is the LORD’s. 17It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither(O) fat nor(P) blood.”

We understand that in the blood is the life (Genesis 9:4), and now we also understand that fat and blood are somewhat related.  Genesis 4:4 compared with Genesis 45:18 suggests that what is ‘fat’ is the best portion (the “fat” of the land; the “fat” portions) – therefore, Abel understood quite clearly the meaning not only of burnt offering, but also of this peace offering combined.  Burnt offering speaks of propitiation, but it is also a matter of thankfulness – hence, the worshipper is not only providing the LORD with the life of the sacrifice, but also the best portion of the sacrifice!

Of course, we learn much about Jesus through the peace offering, and something about the worshipper as well.  The worshipper should give the best portions to the LORD in response to his initiating love for us; yet this “best portion” business stems from Christ offering the best of himself to the LORD.  It is the Christ who, as a male young and without blemish, in the prime of his life (~30 years old), who offered himself willingly and voluntarily to appease the wrath of Himself and of His Father against sin and sinner.  This offering is one that is given wholeheartedly, expressed through the message of giving the “best portion” of the sacrifice to the LORD.

There is more to be said about fellowship offering in Chapter 7 v.12 and v.16 pertaining to the priestly duties which I will cover below.

Eating the offering and the Holy Communion

On the point about eating the offering, the person sacrificing the animal is shown to be allowed to invite brethren to enjoy the meat at the tabernacle in the presence of the Seen God in the Holy of Holies.  This is the reason why I think ‘fellowship’ offering is far better than relying on the ESV translation of ‘peace’ offering – because there is now an image of the smaller fellowships of Israel congregating outside the tabernacle, having their self-sacrificial meal with the LORD.

This message is quite profound.  Unlike the last two burnt and grain offerings; and the following two concerning sin and guilt offering, the voluntariness and the grounded nature of this offering points to the importance of this offering is a natural outshoot of our Christian lifestyle.  Do we want to enjoy our fellowship with God, or do we want to go to ‘heaven’ where God does not preside (i.e. the Islamic heaven)?  Do we want to eat with God, or do we want to make God our omnipotent genie?

The fellowship offering therefore points towards the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in Revelation 19:6-9 – we will take part in consuming from the same table which the LORD eats; we will take part in consuming from the same food which the LORD partakes.

There is only one time that the fellowship offering is made compulsory, which is the Feast of Pentecost mentioned earlier in Exodus and later in Leviticus 23.  I have already spoken that the Feast is one which prophesies the coming of the Holy Spirit, and is a clear expression of the forward looking hope of New Creation – and there is no doubt that this fellowship offering speaks the same message of the Marriage Feast with the LORD which even Exodus 24, the manna, and the bread of presence merely point towards.

As application: the fellowship offering as we know it should be a time of spiritual intimacy and further bonding within the family (Deuteronomy 12:7):

7And(A) there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and(B) you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

and Jude 12:

12These are hidden reefs[a](A) at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear,(B) shepherds feeding themselves;(C) waterless clouds,(D) swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead,(E) uprooted…

May we try and understand the utter importance of the Holy Communion and that though it is a physical manifestation of the spiritual truth, our LORD isn’t only Spirit, but he is also MAN – and he will come down to eat with us in New Jerusalem in physical form, just as we partake the meal with him in our physical bodies.

2.  Sin Offering (4:1-5:13; 6:24-30)

The purpose for sin offering is cleansing.  This is easily explainable by just how there is so much focus on hygiene in these few chapters.  What is interesting to note again is how the priest represents the people of Israel, just like Christ represents us:

3if it is the anointed priest who(S) sins, thus bringing guilt on the people…

Here, there is no real concept of sin being something entirely personal.  If anything, sin affects other people: in the context of the high priest, his sin and his righteousness is imputed onto the people of Israel because he stands as a representative for us before the Father in heaven.

What is very interesting about sin offering, and unlike burnt offering, is the focus on the different types of unintentional and intentional sins.

Unintentional and intentional sins

The division may be a bit technical, pedantic or perhaps artificial: is there such thing as an intentional or unintentional sin, or even a ‘level’ of sins?  In fact, yes!  However, remember that all sins are seen as a breaking of covenant (Galatians 5:3), each and every sin explains something of our standing with Christ, and the consequent of the sin.  The sin of the high priest is far more serious and needs more sin offering cleansing than failing to testify at court – because the implication of the high priest sinning actually concerns the entire congregation which relies on the high priest as mediator, just as we rely on Christ as mediator.  If Christ sins, then the implications are gigantic.  However, by failing to testify at court, the implication isn’t comparatively as destructive, although both sin represents a lack of our faithfulness to Him.  Yet, these laws, these 613 commandments from God, are just there to add to our transgressions, to show how utterly incapable it is for us to be like God, unless we stand IN the everlasting ark, Christ.

Numbers 15:28-31 displays unintentional sin with defiant sin:

28(A) And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. 29(B) You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the people of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them. 30(C) But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. 31Because he has(D) despised the word of the LORD and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”

However, there are times when we DO sin defiantly, knowing that we ARE sinning.  What does that mean?  Does that mean we should be cut off permanently?  NO – the “defiant” and the “unintentional” sin has very specific definitions.  The definition of the sin lies in the heart of the sinner.  Do you have a heart of repentance, of true repentance whatever sin you may have committed?  The defiant sin is done wilfully without repentance of any sort; but the unintentional sin, which the sinner later realises or the sin is brought to his/her attention and knowledge, causes deep sorrow in the heart of the Christian.  That is why Paul’s heart is one of repentance, despite his sinful nature in Romans 7:19:

19(A) For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

That is why the context of Numbers 15 is important, given the example of a man gathering wood on the Sabbath: this man is completely unrepentant, and doesn’t even say anything nor show any expressions of remorse.  Numbers 15:28-31 indicates that this man should simply be executed.  In the physical church of God, we should not allow non-seekers remain; they should be ostracised.  To remain within the physical church, to claim to be a spiritual descendant of Abraham, but to continue a life of non-repentance, a life of non-redemption, is to live a life of defiant sin, ignorantly denying the knowledge of God and his statutes.

This is actually quite different from saying that if you still sin (even after repenting of other sins), then you are going to lose your salvation.  No.  The message preached in Hebrews (about running the race of faith, hearing God when he speaks to you, and especially chapter 10:26-29) is that of defiant sin, exemplified by the unrepentant man gathering wood on the Sabbath.  Here is a man who had always belonged to the physical Israel: he expresses no remorse and presumptively assumed that being physically part of Israel is sufficient.  But he misunderstood the significance of the Sabbath and wants to continue in his ignorance.  Thus, the unregenerate heart, which rejects Jesus will continue to reject Jesus for failing to look to Christ. But the regenerate, with the Spirit dwelling within, will continue to look to Christ for he is the perfecter and founder of our faith (Hebrews 12).

Common similarities and differences of the sin offering

There is a common refrain for each subsection of sin: that the sin is brought to the attention of the sinner, or that the sinner becomes aware of it.  This is very important.  The current Catechism of the Catholic Church sees the Pope explaining there is no condemnation for unintentional or ignorant sins.  But, the message shown in Leviticus is very different: each unintentional sin needs the cleansing offered from the blood.

Another common refrain is the fat of the animal is offered to the LORD, as well as the rest of the animal being brought outside to a clean place, to the ash heap, and burnt up on a fire of wood; on ash heap it is burnt up.  (Chapter 4:8-12, 19-21).  This refrain however only refers to the unintentional sin of the HIGH PRIEST and the CONGREGATION.  For the LEADER and the COMMON PERSON/PEOPLE, only a sacrifice and blood needs to be given: there is no mentioning of burning of the flesh at the ash heap, although there is mentioning of the fat being offered (Chapter 4:26, 35).  Finally, for the rest of the sins mentioned in Chapter 5:1-11, only atonement needs to be made: no mentioning of fat, nor ash heap/burning of flesh.

For all the sin offerings, the priest does the offering either for himself, or for others, representing the mediatorial nature of the priest.

The different types of sin offering

Thus, we begin with the high priest’s unintentional sin:

4He shall bring the bull to the(U) entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD and lay his hand on the head of the bull and kill the bull before the LORD. 5And the anointed priest(V) shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it into the tent of meeting, 6and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and(W) sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the LORD in front of the veil of the sanctuary. 7And the priest(X) shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the LORD that is in the tent of meeting, and(Y) all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Then we continue with the congregation’s unintentional sin:

the assembly shall offer a bull from the herd for a sin offering and bring it in front of the tent of meeting. 15And the elders of the congregation(AH) shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull shall be killed before the LORD. 16Then(AI) the anointed priest shall bring some of the blood of the bull into the tent of meeting, 17and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD in front of the veil. 18And he shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is in the tent of meeting before the LORD, and the rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Then we continue with the leader’s unintentional sin:

he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, 24and(AO) shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD; it is a sin offering. 25(AP) Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 26And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like(AQ) the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So(AR) the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

Then we continue with the common people’s unintentional sin

he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. 29(AU) And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering. 30And the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 31And(AV) all its fat he shall remove,(AW) as the fat is removed from the peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a(AX) pleasing aroma to the LORD.(AY) And the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. 32“If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring(AZ) a female without blemish 33(BA) and lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. 34Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar.

Then we have a multitude of sins:

(i)  Failing to testify as a witness (Chapter 5:1)

(ii)  Touching unclean thing (v.2-3)

(iii)  Rash oath (v.4) – verses shown here:

1“If anyone sins in that he hears a public(BD) adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall(BE) bear his iniquity; 2or(BF) if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean wild animal or a carcass of unclean livestock or a carcass of unclean swarming things, and it is hidden from him and he has become unclean, and he realizes his guilt; 3or if he touches(BG) human uncleanness, of whatever sort the uncleanness may be with which one becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and realizes his guilt; 4or if anyone utters with his lips a(BH) rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people(BI) swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these; 5when he realizes his guilt in any of these and(BJ) confesses the sin he has committed, 6he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation[d] for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.

For these sins, if the sinner cannot bring a lamb for atonement, then they should bring two turtledoves and two OR two pigeons.  If the sinner cannot bring two turtledoves OR two pigeons, then they should bring a tenth of an ephah of fine flour like a grain offering – however, these three options are all sin offering and are offered similar to burnt offering, or grain offering (for the fine flour) – but they are all considered as sin offering.

Concluding thoughts on Sin Offering

There is clearly a progression over the seriousness of the sin in these various instances, from the gravest to the least offensive.  However ‘small’ the sin may be, a sacrifice of life needs to be given.  Can you imagine how many animals were killed innocently in the process?  A lamb for atonement, just because you fail to testify at court?  Two pigeons killed innocently, because you touched a carcass of an unclean wild animal?

God is teaching something entirely important here: the necessity of cleansing; which is synonymous with holiness.  The flip side, therefore, points to sin as being dirty.  Many may consider sin as a corruption of morality/ethics – but not many consider sin as something dirty.  We know that dirt does not coagulate only in one person’s heart: it effectively influences other people as well.

Beginning with the first two: the high priest’s and the entire congregation’s sin identically needs the blood of the bull, the laying of hands on the head of the bull, the blood being sprinkled onto the dividing veil 7 times (a number representing the Sabbath, representing God, representing perfection), and then the blood being smeared onto the horn of the altar of incense and the rest on the altar of burnt offering.  The blood is everywhere!  Yet, the blood covers the veil; it covers the altar of incense (Revelation 5:8; Malachi 1:11 – the incense representing the prayers of the church); it covers the burnt offering altar (meaning propitiation).  Thus, the blood of the animal sacrifice will provide the cleansing for the veil which protects us from the Father, through the prayer of us, the saints, which cannot be heard if there is no blood on the propitiation!  This is very thorough, and indeed points out the seriousness of the sins of the high priest as akin to the entire congregation.  The high priest is tied up to the congregation: he doesn’t just die for the individual; our High Priest Jesus Christ died for the entire church.

This is also an interesting thing to note: unlimited atonement does not actually teach universalism (the idea that Jesus died for the entire world, therefore the entire world will be saved regardless of whether they acknowledge Christ’s death on the cross or not as their personal salvation).  Rather, the message of the high priest and the congregation offering the same offering when they commit unintentional sin shows just how the high priest acts only for the congregation, and that the blood only works for the congregation.  Yet, the congregation is ever expanding – the numbers in Israel are always growing.  The blood which the high priest offers will continually apply to those who JOIN the church in Christ, their true pre-destination (Eph 1) – the blood of the high priest does not elect who should or shouldn’t take part in this blood sacrifice.  If you may, it is blind to the individual person: but it is simply applying the blood to the entire church in the Elect One.

The extra message of the ash heap for the HIGH PRIEST’s and the CONGREGATION’s unintentional sin preaches the message of the remaining flesh which has neither fat of the flesh, nor blood – it is subsumed in the fire of punishment far away from the tabernacle, far away from the presence of the LORD.  That is what happens to the sinner’s body – and that is the message preached for the high priest’s/congregation’s sin.  If Jesus had failed to complete his duty, then all of us would have had that same destiny.

This is why I think the message of the ash heap and the wood-fire is not preached for the leader’s and common people’s sin.  Not that the sin is less offensive in God’s eyes, but the message of the church’s/Christ’s sin is tied up together, as we are part of Him; we are in Him.  So if He sins, then we all sin and will partake in the death in the ash heap.  But Jesus’ body did not see corruption, which is why the next two sins concerning the LEADER and the COMMON people’s need not refer to the ash heap – but just referring to the necessity of both fat and blood.

And then the ‘smaller’ but equally deadly sins, which require the death of an animal.  This brings us back to the most important message preached in Genesis 3: that however grave the sin may be (even if Adam and Eve were simply to eat from the tree of good and evil), an animal still needs to be sacrificed.  Such is the gravity of our sin!  If the Israelites were subjected to this visual portrayal of the gospel of death and their life at the cost of an innocent animal’s death, then their ability to understand the death of the Lamb of God for their own life should be far more profound than ours!

A final note before we move onto guilt offering: is the absolute necessity of knowing God’s commandments clearly.  If even such a little thing can offend and display our lack of faithfulness to God, and we choose to defiantly sin (i.e. to not know what is required of us in marriage, whether we should date non-Christians or even date at all, whether we should tattoo our bodies, whether we could smoke, whether we should work hard at our secular jobs rather than actively pursue a missionary attitude in preaching at the work place… just to name a few examples), then it is a mark of a hard heart.  Worse yet, it is the mark of an unregenerate heart.  If you wish to know Him, Him who saved you, then you would simply not short-change God by failing to study the Scriptures, by failing to know Him in clarity, and look to Him who uses you and sanctifies us by the power of the Spirit.  If you wish to know Him, you will learn to obey Him in the Spirit, and learn to humbly accept his commandments however ‘out-dated’, or ‘irrational’ they seem, for God transcends contemporary culture, and He defines logic by the Logos Christ.

To cut the paragraph short – look to Christ when you read the Scriptures in the Spirit!

3.  Guilt Offering (5:14-6:7; 7:1-7)

Contrarily, this is a repayment offering, displaying a facet of the understanding of incurring a debt against the LORD God and human beings.  This offering is one of restoration.  Burnt offering is one of propitiation; sin offering is one of cleansing; guilt offering is one of repayment and restoration.

The concept of guilt offering is restoration in full, and then adding a 1/5th to it. This effectively means a 120% restoration, but Exodus 22:4, and Leviticus 6:4-6 implies that it may be 220% restoration. The fundamental message is that not only is restoration in full restoring the innocent party’s position to prior the sin – but even better than before the commission of the act of the sinner!

Chapter 5:14-17:

14The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 15(BU) “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the LORD,(BV) he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued[h] in silver shekels,[i] according to the(BW) shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. 16He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and(BX) shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest.(BY) And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.

17(BZ) “If anyone sins, doing any of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done,(CA) though he did not know it, then realizes his guilt, he shall bear his iniquity. 18(CB) He shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering, and(CC) the priest shall make atonement for him for the mistake that he made unintentionally, and he shall be forgiven. 19It is a guilt offering; he has indeed incurred guilt before[j] the LORD.”

And again chapter 6:4-6:

…will restore(CJ) what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found 5or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall(CK) restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. 6And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the LORD(CL) a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering.

What is different in guilt offering is the focus on the financial restitution. Chapter 5:15 speaks of the valuation in silver shekels, according to the currency of the sanctuary.

Secondly, is how everything is attributed to the LORD (Chapter 6:2):

2“If anyone sins and(CD) commits a breach of faith against the LORD by(CE) deceiving his neighbor in(CF) a matter of deposit or security…

When was the last time you thought that your sin against someone is first and foremost your sin against God himself? The deception of one’s neighbour is a breach of faith against the LORD! (Psalm 51:4)

Another thing which people normally miss out is chapter 5:15 –

15(BU) “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the LORD…

Paul Blackham makes the distinction that compensation needs to be made against the holy things of the LORD. Why against the holy things, and not directly to the LORD? Surely the holy things were merely symbolic? 2 Samuel 6:6-7:

6And when they came to the threshing floor of(A) Nacon, Uzzah(B) put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and(C) God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.

I think this is really quite significant. The story of Uzzah has angered many Christians and non-Christians alike, but I feel that it betrays something of their theology of Sacraments. Many Christians today over-spiritualise things and end up espousing ‘philosophies’ which actually have no biblical bearing. God takes the physical and the spiritual equally seriously: if one defiles and sins, the tabernacle is effectively seen as corrupted (Leviticus 16). If one touches an unclean person, the LORD doesn’t just expect you to understand the spiritual meaning of being unclean, but to actually go through the act of cleansing by blood. If the LORD expected you to commit to infant baptism and communion, then don’t over-spiritualise it.

The visual is just as important as the spiritual. Christ is both man and God. Glen’s essay on “Creation and Redemption – the One work of the One Word” covers these antinomies (a term coined by JI Packer in “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God” which explains the accepted ‘paradoxes’ of Scripture – like human responsibility vs. God’s sovereignty). Our Christ is both Creator and Redeemer; Alpha and Omega; God and man; Within time yet Eternal; Spirit and Flesh. This understanding of both physical and spiritual truth undercuts Gnosticism and shapes our eschatological theology of new creation entirely.

4.  Conclusion for the fundamental five offerings

If one may quickly sum up the differences of the five offerings: the burnt offering uses a personal picture of man, the guilty sinner, and the innocent and clean animal dying in his place.

The sin offering is a medical specimen, of sin making the world dirty so much that God cannot dwell there until His re-creation.

The guilt offering is thus an example of a financial, a commercial picture of sin – it is a debt which man accumulates against God, and it also can be paid through the offered animal.

The grain offering shows a picture of a present pre-new-creation view of life – that we thank God for his blessings, but after the grain offering, we enter the night and the inevitability of the day returns to preach the truth of the inevitable second coming of the Light of lights.

The fellowship offering looks forward to renewed creation, that we may partake of the Holy Wedding Feast with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

5.  Breakdown of the Priests and the (Peace) Offerings (7:11-21)

11“And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. 12If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice(DZ) unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour(EA) well mixed with oil. 13(EB) With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. 14And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a(EC) gift to the LORD.(ED) It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. 15And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings(EE) for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning. 16But(EF) if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow offering or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day what remains of it shall be eaten. 17But what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned up with fire. 18If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him. It is(EG) tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity.

19“Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten. It shall be burned up with fire. All who are clean may eat flesh, 20but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings(EH) while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people. 21And if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether(EI) human uncleanness or an(EJ) unclean beast or any(EK) unclean detestable creature, and then eats some flesh from the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people.”

If you notice in v.11, the laws are addressed to the priests.  We already understand the significance of the priests in relation to the assembly, the church of Israel.

What is really confusing here is the fellowship offering being split into three types (v.12 and 16): thanksgiving, vow, or freewill.  These three represent the three facets of fellowship offering: that we thank God, that we vow our commitment with Him as a response to his unwavering faithfulness to us, and that there is much freedom in our desire to fellowship with Him (the last one has already been shown via the freewill offering of the giving of silver and other things for the building of the tabernacle).

Then in v.12-13, there is the detail of the (i) offered animal, (ii) yeast-free bread with oil, (iii) yeast-free wafers with oil, (iv) cakes with oil and (v) bread with yeast.  We already understand the significance of the yeast symbolising one’s stay in the world (shown through the history of Egypt).  Thus, the fellowship offering having bread with yeast represents the time when we arrive at our eternal new home, along with the oil representing the Holy Spirit.  This image is further amplified with the food fellowship with God after atonement; and for those Christians whose sins are already atoned for by the blood of Christ, we can enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit shown in the oil right now as a seal (Esther 8), firstfruit and deposit of new creation (Eph 1).

We then move to the detail of v.16-18 which speaks of the meat which the people are allowed to eat on the day after the sacrifice, extending the eating for 2 days, and then destroyed on the third day.  This example of the third day, destroying the symbolic bread, displays the significance of the ‘third day’ even in eating.  On the third day there is new life – the resurrection of Christ.  Perhaps this points towards the significance of the sign of the third day, the sign of Jonah: that after the resurrection of Christ would people have something to rejoice in.  After the resurrection of Christ, the prophetic eating of the flesh is ended by the prophecy fulfilled, replacing this Old Testament law with the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

v.19-21 serves to substantiate the point in Numbers 15 – either we are clean… or we are unclean (the distinction between clean and unclean is not the same distinction between holy and unclean – I will dwell on this point in the next post on the sanctification of the priests; therefore, “clean” is merely the middleground between holiness and uncleanness), in which case we must be sent out of the city of God which we cannot live in.  Either we are wearing the wedding garments of the robes of righteousness… or we are kicked out of the wedding.  This message cannot be preached enough.  Let us dwell on this truth: the truth of animal sacrifice, of pleasing aroma, of partaking in the food and reminding ourselves that we cannot even wear the robes of righteousness, bear the oil representing the Holy Spirit, eat of leavened bread of the wedding feast if not for Jesus’ magnificent work on the cross.  Matthew 22:1-14:

1And again Jesus(A) spoke to them in parables, saying, 2(B) “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave(C) a wedding feast for his son, 3and(D) sent his servants[a] to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4(E) Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my(F) dinner,(G) my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ 5But(H) they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his servants,(I) treated them shamefully, and(J) killed them. 7The king was angry, and he sent his troops and(K) destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not(L) worthy. 9Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10And those servants went out into the roads and(M) gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there(N) a man who had no wedding garment. 12And he said to him,(O) ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and(P) cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are(Q) called, but few are chosen.”

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Leviticus 3-7: The Sacrifices pt.2

Leviticus 1-2; 6:8-18 – The Sacrifices pt. 1

The book of Exodus, like Genesis, ended on a forward-looking hope. Genesis ended with the people of Israel, the 12 sons of Jacob, looking forward to the Exodus despite their stay in Egypt. Jacob re-stated the importance of his burial in Israel, where his forefather Abraham was also buried. Exodus ended with the Shekinah glory of the Angel of the LORD dwelling in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle, and the people of Israel were standing around the tabernacle in awe.

Like the first few chapters of Exodus, which continues the story of Genesis, Leviticus begins immediately after the Angel fills the Holy of Holies. It is now that the Angel called to Moses from within the tent and gives him the commandments of sacrifices, holy days, festivals and priestly ordinations.

Paul Blackham states that the ancient Hebrew title of the book was Wayyiqra (“and He called”). This, being the first word in Hebrew, shows how the book follows right after Exodus. The Greek translation of the Hebrew title gave the new name “Leviticus”, undoubtedly because the book concerned much of the behaviour of the Levites.

Genesis laid the back-bone for the history, and the story of what the Bible is expecting. Exodus is the back-bone with flesh, fleshing out the theology of what Genesis had looked towards. Leviticus is a further fleshing out, with the laws explained and detailed painstakingly (to the point where some people find it a bit too detailed, and perhaps even trivial). I have heard many say that Leviticus as a boring book, because it doesn’t literally spell out the gospel story as clearly as the other four books of the Pentateuch (and Numbers comes in second, seeing that it seems to cover the numbers of Israelites and their genealogy). This is a lack of foresight, and we continue to maintain the Christological interpretation which Christ himself offered (John 5:39; 1 Timothy 2:5) when we read the Old Testament.  Here is an example of a 18th-19th C preacher Charles Simeon, whose conversion was triggered by the Book of Leviticus:

In Passion Week [the week up to and including Easter], as I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord’s Supper, I met with an expression to this effect—“That the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.” The thought came into my mind, What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer. Accordingly I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus; and on the Wednesday began to have a hope of mercy; on the Thursday that hope increased; on the Friday and Saturday it became more strong; and on the Sunday morning, Easter-day, April 4, I awoke early with those words upon my heart and lips, “Jesus Christ is risen to-day! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” From that hour peace flowed in rich abundance into my soul; and at the Lord’s Table in our Chapel I had the sweetest access to God through my blessed Saviour.” (H.C.G. Moule, Charles Simeon, London: InterVarsity, 1948, p. 25f.)

Remember that the people of Israel are sitting around the tabernacle as they listen to the Angel explain the law to Moses. The significance of the tabernacle has already been considered when we looked at Exodus: that it represents the very format of Heaven (Third Heaven – Most Holy Place) and the Church on Earth (Holy Place), and the rest of the people on Earth who are not part of the Church (the Courtyard).

Unlike the book of Genesis and Exodus, it serves to separate the study of Leviticus into their separate categories.

1. Burnt Offering (1:3-17; 6:8-13)

2. Grain Offering (2:1-16; 6:14-18 )

Introduction to Sacrifices (pt.1)

The best way to introduce the view of the Sacrifices is follow the theology laid down in Hebrews 10:1-16

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

Keep in mind these sacrifices, therefore, point only to CHRIST. Christ is not the definitive revelation of these sacrifices; he is not the final and “best” meaning of the sacrifices – he is the only meaning, from beginning to end (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the God whom these sacrifices have always pointed towards. Hence, the biggest focus of the sacrifices is the “blood”, which is the life of the creature (Genesis 9:4) – which just makes Jesus’ death even more profound as he pours on us his blood of eternal life.

Here is a table from Dr. Blackham’s Book-by-book on Leviticus which may help you look at the offerings in general:

Offering Purpose Jesus Animals Division
Burnt offering/food offering Propitiation; sweet aroma Bearing the anger of God for us Bull, sheep, goat, doves or pigeons All meat for the LORD; skin left for priests
Grain offering Dedication; sweet aroma Perfectly dedicated to His Father Grain or flour, oil and incense Portion burned; priest ate the left-overs.
Sin offering Cleansing His blood cleanses us Bull, goat, doves, pigeons or flour All fat for the LORD.
Guilt offering Repayment He pays our debt to God Ram

Fat for the LORD.Other parts for the priest.

Fellowship offering Fellowship; sweet aroma In Him we have the fellowship of the Spirit Bull, sheep or goat

Fat for the LORD.Portion for the priest; portions for worshipper

To begin with, the first two verses of Leviticus start at the tent of meeting. This is interesting: this tent of meeting should not be confused with the tabernacle. In Exodus 33, Moses had pitched a tent of meeting outside of the camp, and the Son would speak to him face to face there. The same is happening here: there is every reason why the Angel does not meet him in the Most Holy Place, for Moses is not the High Priest – Aaron is. Yet, the focus here is that the Angel can easily meet where he wants: the tabernacle is not made to contain Him. The tabernacle is made to portray an aspect of the gospel that needs to be preached: the unity of heaven and earth by the tearing of the veil between the two rooms of the tabernacle. The previous meeting at the tent of meeting in Exodus 33 is very significant: for Jesus is not asking us to go to where he dwells to receive the Word; he is coming outside (symbolically) of the rightful place where he should be (the Most Holy Place), and decides to go outside the camp, where the lepers and the outcasts are placed, to give Moses the law. Jesus is speaking to Moses face to face in a place which is not privileged, nor special: it shows Jesus’ humanity, the suffering that he will face as an outcast, and the significance of the sacrificial laws in displaying the wrath of God, and Jesus being ostracized from the camp of society by fulfilling the meaning of these very laws.

But now, the tables are turned: Jesus speaks from the throne room of the new Tent of Meeting: he is providing not the structure for the tabernacle, but he is providing the meaning and the functions of the tabernacle. Although Jesus temporarily dwelled with them as an Angel, his presence in the Tent of Meeting displays his divinity just as well; and now that the tabernacle is built, it is most fitting to display his divinity by giving commands from within, rather than remain as the Sent One when he rightfully belongs to the right hand of the Father.

1. Burnt Offering (1:3-17; 6:8-13)

I’ve listed the commands in chapter 1, the types of burnt offerings:

(a) Male from the herd without blemish – brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting; hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him (v.3-4).Then, kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw the blood against the sides of the altar, to the entrance of the tent of meeting. The offering should then be flayed and cut into pieces (v.6), and the priests shall put fire on the altar, and arrange wood on the fire. The pieces, the head, the fat and the wood on the fire on the altar shall be arranged accordingly by the priest (v.7-8 ). However, its entrails and legs shall be washed with water; the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar as a burnt/food offering with a pleasing aroma (v.9).

(b) Male without blemish from the flock, sheep, or goats – he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the LORD, and the priests shall throw its blood against the side of the altar. Again, the animal shall be cut into pieces, with its head/fat, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; entrails and legs washed with water. Again, this is a type of burnt/food offering (v.10-13).

(c) Birds: turtledoves or pigeons – priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head and burn it on the altar. The blood is then drained out on the side of the altar; the crop with its contents/feathers shall be removed and cast beside the altar on the east side, in the place for ashes. It shall be torn open by its wings, but shall not sever it completely. Again, the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood on the fire: a burnt/food offering.

The immediate thing to note is the common refrain for the three types of burnt offerings: they are all required, unsurprisingly, to be burnt, on wood, over fire (i.e. the animal is completely consumed by the fire).  They are all male without blemish. For the offering from the herd (bull), or a sheep/goat, the offering is cut into pieces, arranged on the wood, and the insides and legs washed with water. Finally, as it says in Leviticus 1:5 – each person had to kill the sacrifice himself. This bloody method of burnt offering is not impersonally or ‘professionally’ done by the priests: it is very personal, and the cost of sin is graphically shown to the person who needs to be atoned for.

The only difference for the sheep or goats is that the blood is killed on the north side of the altar before the LORD.

On the contrary, the burnt offering of birds is different: the head is wringed off and then burnt on the altar.  The crop with its feathers removed and cast on the east side, where it is the place for ashes. The bird is torn by its wings, but not severed completely.

Before going into detail about each burnt offering, there are some general comments we can make.

Burnt offering has not only been introduced in Leviticus. If anything, Abraham, Noah, and Abel all had firm understanding of the burnt offering (Genesis 22, 8:19-21, 4:4). This is because the prototype of the offering has been introduced to Adam and Eve when animal skin was provided for them: the first death of life in the history of man (Genesis 3:21) for the protection of man, itself a prototype of the clothing of righteousness which God will provide for man at the cost of the Passover Lamb (Isaiah 61). You can say the burnt offering therefore is the most fundamental of all offerings: which explains why the first offering mentioned is this burnt offering. It is used primarily as a propitiation for sins (the word used in the ESV and older translations like KJV) – c.f. Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2. Romans 3, if exposed, correctly, tells us that everyone has sinned and fallen short of His glory: this is a serious statement of extremity. We aren’t merely ‘fallen’, our ‘natural powers wounded’ (quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church). The glory of God is not an idealistic perfection – it is something we can never attain because of how corrupt we really are (Romans 1). Our image of God is not found in ourselves, but found in Christ, the true image of God (Colossians 1:15). For us to restore that image, that ‘natural power’, then we can only find it if we unite ourselves under the banner of Christ – in Christ alone. This is what the burnt offering essentially means: we are uniting under the banner of the burnt offering which propitiates (literally meaning directs away, or leads away) the wrath of God. Jesus propitiates, and leads that wrath away from us, onto Himself.

BURNT OFFERING: HERD – BULL

Bull

Exodus 32; Psalm 69:30-33; Ezekiel 1:10; Ezekiel 39:17-19; Jeremiah 52:19-21; Revelation 4:7

The significance of bulls and oxen has not been short throughout the OT. We have considered a few of the possibilities when we looked at the reason why the Israelites would make a golden calf of all things: because Ezekiel saw that the face of a cherub is akin to the face of a bull. In addition, Ezekiel 39 suggests that there is a wide provision of not only bulls, but other animals (who are included as suitable sacrificial offerings) in the land of Bashan (meaning “light soil” or “fruitful”) – as part of the great sacrificial feast of the fat beasts there. Not only that, but Jeremiah 52 suggests that there is some significance behind the 12 bronze bulls which Solomon made for the Temple of the LORD. Why 12 bronze bulls? Perhaps its significance is aligned to that of the 12 tribes of Israel; along with the Psalmist’s call to the Father in Psalm 69 that our faithfulness shall exceed that of bulls and oxen with horns and hooves, this suggests a few things about their views of bulls in the OT. Firstly, they resemble angelic creatures; secondly, they are fat, fulsome and pleasing creatures in terms of sacrifice; thirdly, they are humble before the LORD. These definitely embody the characteristics of the Saviour who is both strong, full of pleasure to the father, humble and above all the “one sent” from the Father (hence angelic) to only fulfill the Father’s will (John 6:38 ).

Fire

So what of the significance of the little details? First and foremost, the consumption by fire to make atonement (Leviticus 1:4). This is extremely important, because fire has already been seen as a tool through which God demands his judgment, simultaneously displaying his majesty. The fire barrier between Garden of Eden and the East of Eden (Genesis 3); the fire of God (Exodus 3); and of course, the ultimate lake of fire which these things point towards (Revelation 21). This is as if the animal enters the fire and thus pays the price of the sin: the animal being consumed by the barrier which stands between heaven and earth in the tabernacle (again, remember that the Angel is speaking from the tabernacle!), the veil with cherubim worked into it, reminding them of the barrier of fire. Because the animal is consumed by the barrier, the barrier is, under the Levitical law, temporarily open to the High Priest. But when the true Passover Lamb, Christ, is consumed by the fire of the barrier between heaven and earth, there need no longer be further propitiations for the schoolteacher of the law has served its purpose to point everyone to the fulfillment (NOT revelation) as the everlasting propitiation (Hebrews 10:12-14). The very fact that the people had to regularly propitiate reminded them that these are only signs and shadows; that they cannot be saved by their own works of propitiation, just as the people today cannot be saved by the continual repetition of the transubstantiation of the Holy Eucharist.

Arrangement on the wood

This arrangement on the wood is akin to that in Genesis 22: yes, I am aware that the traditional manner of burning is wood and fire combined. But note the irregularity: the way the altar is made is so that the fire is under the wood, not over. Note that the wood is not the source of the fire: the fire comes from under the wood! The wood therefore makes no contribution to the fires of punishment. Then what is the significance of the wood? Again, this is a fleshing out of the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, his firstborn, on a piece of wood: as it inevitably foreshadows the story of God’s sacrifice of Jesus, his firstborn, on a piece of wood. If the Passover Lamb is THE meaning of these sacrifices, then there being sacrificed on wood over the fire which consumes both wood and flesh, is meant to signify the importance of the latching of the flesh to the food; the arrangement of the flesh to the food.

Some Jews (e.g. Messianic Jew Joseph Steinberg, ex-director of the Jews for Jesus in England) have interestingly noted that the arrangement of the wood is cross-shaped, and the meat is accordingly pitched in the same shape. If that is true, I need not say more of this prototypical view of the cross of Christ.

Cut into pieces

The fact that our Christ will be cut on the cross, his flesh cut, has been prophesied by the message of circumcision in Genesis 17. Our Christ has been so severely punished; so severely mocked by the majority before and during the bearing of his cross at Golgotha. Indeed, Christ has been cut into pieces, his soul, his spirit, and his body. It is easy to say that the burning of the flesh is made easy if the meat is cut into pieces, but let’s not forget the arrangement of the pieces over the wood which we have just considered. Such small detail need not be recorded, if they speak not of Christ: and a Christological reading affords the significance of our Christ being cut, in the shape of a cross over the wood of the cross.

Insides cleansed with water, washed entrails and legs and male without blemish

Yet, our Christ the male was born with the water of the Spirit, and further anointed by John the Baptist for his work as High Priest. He is clean, he is sinless, yet he was made to bear the punishment of others. This is meant to focus on the cleanness of the offering, as opposed to the sin of the person who lays hands on the offering.

Psalm 147:7-11; Songs of Solomon 5:14-16; Ezekiel 1:6-8; John 19:32-34; Revelation 10:1-3

There is much significance behind legs: you may find it odd to read Psalm 147 and ask yourself why the LORD would even adore ‘our legs’. The terminology seems to find its meaning in the other verses: the “legs” are what carries us from one location to another; they find their purpose in upholding the body, the temple, and hence they are the columns mentioned in Songs of Solomon. The legs and the inner parts were washed with water prior to the burning of the sacrifice, a mark of Jesus’ legs not being broken like the other prisoners on the cross (John 19) – and the allusion to the legs being the supporting columns is shown again in Revelation 10, with the angel’s legs being seen as ‘mighty fiery pillars’.

I find it odd that both the inner parts/entrails, and the legs are taken out to be washed prior to the burning of the sacrifice. Why both at the same time? My best guess is that the legs, being the external cornerstone and pillars of the body concords to the inner cornerstone of the body: the inner parts. Without the inner parts, the body cannot internally heal and regulate the consumed food and drink to make a person grow healthily; without the outer part, the column of the body (the legs), the body cannot go anywhere and will find no support. The significance of the washing of the two can very much point to the significance of the legs and the entrails in supporting our physical body as two fundamental cornerstones, reminding the priest or the person who is sacrificing the animal that the spiritual and the physical message of the sacrifice is equally important, for we will inherit new bodies, and not go to a generic spiritual ‘heaven’, with a generic spiritual ‘body’.

Blood thrown onto the sides of the altar

Perhaps to show how the blood covers every corner of the altar, not only the top of the altar on which the sacrifice lay, but also the sides – very much alike the robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61) which cover our bodies in entirety and not only in part, as if we have to compensate to attain the LORD’s favour.

Pleasing aroma to the LORD

Ezekiel 20:41; 2 Corinthians 2:15

For we shall be a pleasing aroma among those who are saved and among those who are perishing: that is the witness of the pleasing aroma offered to God, and staunchly noticeable to both the elect and reprobate.

BURNT OFFERING: FLOCK – SHEEP or GOATS

We have covered the main similarities between this burnt offering and the burnt offering of the bulls, so we need not cover them again. Let’s look at the main differences.

Killed on the north side

Job 26:6-8; Job 37:21-23; Psalm 48:1-3; Isaiah 14:22-24

The far north is significantly pointing to the splendour of God; even Satan wanted to imitate the LORD who resides in the far north. But the significance of ‘north’ is different when it comes to the ‘north wind’ and the ‘northern kingdoms’ spoken of in Ezekiel and Jeremiah, for both bring rain, punishment and judgment.Perhaps, like fire, the meaning of ‘north’ can have synonymous connotations – good if you are looking at the north in remembrance of the throne of God; bad if you are looking at the north but simply laughing at the face of God’s inevitable verdict on the fallen people.

BURNT OFFERING: BIRDS – TURTLEDOVES and PIGEONS

We have covered the main similarities between this burnt offering and the burnt offering of the bulls, so we need not cover them again. Let’s look at the main differences.

Birds

Why birds?

Genesis 1:20-22; Genesis 1:25-29; Exodus 25:20; Job 12:6-8; Job 28:20-22; Job 35:10-12; Psalm 61:4; Psalm 63:7; Psalm 91:4; Psalm 148:9-10; Ezekiel 1:11; Ezekiel 29:4-6; Ezekiel 31:5-7; Matthew 13:4; Matthew 13:32; Romans 1:22-24; Revelation 19:17-21

Birds and animals and creeping things were always seen as different from fish. The creatures in the heavens and on earth have the capability of worshipping the LORD (Psalm 148 ) where fish is absent; and this is focused again in Ezekiel 29 where the fish is fed to the birds and animals. Hence, Romans 1’s mystery: why are birds, animals, creepy things made as idols – but not fish or sea creatures?

Because these birds and animals resemble spiritual things. We have considered that oxen/bull are like cherubim; and birds are no different, for they are winged creatures in the heavens. They, too, resemble a character of the angelic creatures – and it is the birds which devour the flesh of the kings, captains, mighty men, horse and riders, flesh of all men, slave and free.

Principally, it appears that the birds are very similar to angels in that they take solace on the branches of trees, and yet, at the command and sovereignty of God, devour the seed on the path (e.g. seed which does not grow). Like the angels who will be reaping on the Day of Judgment, the seed which does not grow will be devoured by them; yet, even the angels have to nest themselves on the branch of Christ, the vine, the very Tree of Life.

Wringing off the head, burning the head on the side of the altar

Like the burnt offering where the blood is spilt on the side of the altar, the head is now burnt on the side of the altar as well. 1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5 speaks very clearly about ‘headship’, and if Christ, the chief commander of all the angels which the birds symbolize, is manifested in this prototypical imagery of birds as sacrifices – then the burning of his head on the side of the altar can mean a number of things. Given that the blood is on the side of the altar, then sacrificing the head on the side of the altar perhaps symbolizes the joining of the headship and the blood as part and parcel?

Blood drained out on the side of the altar

I imagine there is much to be said about the blood being drained rather than being thrown onto the side of the altar. What say you? (Psalm 75:8; Revelation 16:19) – Perhaps it is a picture of the blood of the wine being poured out from the cup of wrath onto Christ. Is this prophesying to the very cup which Christ wished not to drink from when he struggled in the Garden (of Gethsemane)?

Removal of crop and its contents/feathers and cast to the east side of the altar

The east side has always had negative connotations: namely one of exile. And yet, the Garden had an exit and entrance only on the east side. Adam’s exile from the Garden is a prophetic image of Christ’s exile from Gethsemane – though with different implications. The former exited having lost the battle by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, though the war has already been won for him through Christ. The latter, however, is the victor himself – the battles and wars are all won by him alone.

If we follow the possible explanation of birds as representative of angels, and Christ being the chief uncreated and only divine angel, his “feathers” and “contents” which display his glory are thrown to the east side. Christ is undignified, he is unrecognized, and he is spat upon. So the bird without contents/feathers is without dignity, and is stripped bare naked. This, along with the tearing of the wings (as we now come to) very much preaches the ostracism which our LORD and all his saints would experience and have experienced (Hebrews 11).

Torn open by wings, but not severed completely

Wings represent shelter, and yet this bird which can shelter us is torn open by its wings, the very symbolism of protection. But the wings are not severed completely, meaning that our Christ is not severed from his Father’s love – he returns to the rightful place next to the Unseen God on the throne with a temporarily bruised heel, but not enough to kill the Son permanently (imagine the implications if the wings were severed completely!).

THE PRIESTS and the BURNT OFFERINGS (Leviticus 6:8-13)

Besides the key features of the wood being burnt every morning, the most important thing to note is the fire Between v. 8-13, the word ‘burn’ or ‘burning’ is repeated 5 times, not including the word ‘Burnt Offering’! This suggests the utter necessity and significance of the fire continually burning. This is the furnace in which Daniel was refined alongside the son of man Christ (Daniel 3, esp. v. 25; Revelation 1:15). This refiner’s fire, representing the Spirit and also the oncoming judgment, will keep burning. This is akin to the emphasis on the golden lampstand being continually lit. In any case, the detailed account of priestly activities in chapter 6 very clearly shows the dedication and the intricacies of the priests’ work in ensuring that the image of the Father is portrayed through these visible images, which are only shadows of the true image of God found in Christ alone. which continues to burn.

2. Grain Offering (2:1-16; 6:14-18 )

This grain offering is offered alongside the burnt offering. The burnt offering and grain offering were both offered in the morning and the evening at the tabernacle. This, unlike the burnt offering, is not clearly defined in its purpose. The feast of firstfruits in Deuteronomy 26:8-11 provides some insight:

8And(A) the LORD brought us out of Egypt(B) with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror,[a] with signs and wonders. 9And he brought us into this place and gave us this land,(C) a land flowing with milk and honey. 10And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. 11And(D) you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.

Salt

Leviticus 2:13; Genesis 19:26; Deuteronomy 29:23; Judges 9:45; Psalm 137:34; Jeremiah 17:5-6; Zephaniah 2:9; Jeremiah 48:9

Salt is therefore simultaneous in its meaning like fire: it is a refiner’s fire, tongues of fire and it is a punishment of the lake of fire for those standing outside of Christ. Thus, the salt is both a symbol of covenant faithfulness as well as judgment on all those standing outside of the covenant. Thus, when we are called to be salt and light the meaning is two-fold: salt and light are both positive and negative, both positively shining light into the darkness of hearts and providing the covenant faithfulness to the Christians through Christ. At the same time, salt and light is an annoyance to all those standing outside of Christ – those hearts which remain in the dark despite the light shining into them (John 1:1-18 – the light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it) and the salt alluding to the predicament of Lot’s wife.

Thus, the grain offering is mixed with salt to show the dedication and gratitude to the LORD as essential.Thus, the burnt offering shows the seriousness about sin with the blood; and the grain offering makes the same two-fold point with salt. Unlike the burnt offering which deals directly with the seriousness of sin, the grain offering is about both commitment and gratitude to our own exodus from judgment. However, the grain offering is very much connected to redemption, because of the exemption of salt from yeast and honey.

Yeast and Honey

Exodus 12:39 – the dough was without yeast because they have been driven out of Egypt, and had no time to prepare food for themselves. If one had to wait for their bread to rise during the night of Exodus in Exodus 12, then it displayed their commitment to Egypt. This is the same as Lot’s wife’s yearning for her home in Sodom and Gomorrah, rather than look to the Angel of God – a sign of worldliness. The yeast-free bread is a sign of being ready to move at the LORD’s will; the readiness of redemption by the LORD, rather than redemption by self.

Honey, contrarily, is a foretaste of heaven. Like the heavenly manna (meaning “What is this?”) which tastes like honey, the promised land also is a land flowing with milk and honey (Ezekiel 20:14-16). Hence, the usage of honey and yeasts in celebrations is meant to point towards new life, where we can fully enjoy the eternal Sabbath in new Jerusalem, the time when we are fully redeemed (not just with the firstfruits/deposit of the Holy Spirit).

Oil

Thus, the final element of the grain offering, being oil, is referent to the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13). We have explained this when we looked at the golden lampstand of the Spirit in the tabernacle series in my Exodus commentary, and the oil which is used represents the filling of the Holy Spirit.

THE PRIESTS and the GRAIN OFFERINGS (Leviticus 6:14-18 )

The elements necessary for the priestly actions is covered for the grain offering in the sub-section above (oil, unleavened bread, etc).

Conclusion: Burnt and Grain Offering

Thus, the Christian in the Old Testament prior to the law of Sinai being fulfilled at the advent of Christ, would offer the burnt offering as an atonement for sin, displayed by the seriousness of how and why certain animals were burnt and killed in particular ways. This is immediately followed by the grain offering which re-affirms their need for redemption, signified by the salt, the lack of yeast and honey, and the oil of the Spirit always present in our life. This two-fold step is reminiscent of our two-fold step in our faith: initial redemption, and life as an outcast in this world by the power of the Spirit. The truth of these sacrifices shed light on issues of whether the practice is barbaric, or a mere copycat of the sacrificial rituals worldwide, or even animal rights issues. Just a few comments on that now.

Firstly, the view of animal rights and barbaric practices are human made: in one sense, yes – it is definitely barbaric to sacrifice animals for the sake of the LORD. The LORD has planned for man and beast to co-exist peacefully in new creation (Isaiah 11:6-9). In another sense, it is even more barbaric that the Son of God is killed for our sins. Yet, the LORD chose to use this method to display this self-sacrificial love for us: that indeed, we should realize how utterly ridiculous, dirty, and barbaric this method of salvation is – the death of God for the unlimited (but not universal) atonement of all. But this also concentrates on how divine, instead of how human this method of salvation is. It is not clean; it is not compartmentalized; it is not convenient. It is everything but. A sacrifice of life for another life is a truth which we partake in everyday when we consume food, and (possibly seed-bearing) plants in our meals – yet, somehow we think there is nothing barbaric with that. We should remember that any element of barbarism is but a shadow of the true barbarism against the Son of God.

Secondly, it is a chronological fallacy to say that the rituals worldwide are copied by the Mosaic covenant: it is the other-way-around. Firstly, a majority of sacrificial non-Christian offerings were made between 1-3 thousand years prior to Christ’s incarnation (that is not to include the number of sacrificial offerings of cults today). The Mosaic covenant was established between 1 to 2 thousand years prior to Christ’s incarnation as Messiah; and the sacrifices of burnt offering has begun since the time of Adam and Eve, ranging between 3 to 5 thousand years prior to Christ on the cross. That is not to say that non-Christian offerings have not occurred during this time (if anything, they seem to overlap); but like every worship of pagan gods especially during the time of the Pharoah, they are false representations of true God of Israel, the God of the world and universe. They may display some vague hints at the prototype of the burnt offering, but they know not the significance of the offering. The worship of stars, the worship of idols, the sacrifices of their own sons and daughters as a sign of reverence to their self-made gods are all false representations of the true law laid down in Leviticus. Chronologically speaking, however, the earliest burnt offering (recorded in Scripture) being at the time of Abel means that the allegation of Old Testament Christianity ‘copy-catting’ other religions is unfounded, since Abel is Adam and Eve’s first son alongside Cain.

This is but a display of what happens to man when we fail to look at things Christologically – we think the action itself as barbaric; or we think the action itself as our works of salvation. Put Christ in the picture, and the action itself points to the true pain of Christ on the cross; put Christ in the picture, and it is Christ’s work of salvation which is gifted to us, not our work of salvation. Our mind should begin and end with Christ now that we are saved by the power of the Spirit: let us learn to look at the rest of Leviticus with Christological lenses as redeemed people of Christ.

Leviticus 1-2; 6:8-18 – The Sacrifices pt. 1

Exodus 37-40: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age

1.  The construction of the Tabernacle (con’d) (Exodus 37-39)

2.  The Tabernacle Erected (Exodus 40)

3.  Conclusion and re-cap of the 2nd Book of Moses

1.  The construction of the Tabernacle (con’d) (Exodus 37-39)

Exodus 37-39 sees a direct obedience of the people to the LORD’s instructions to Moses.  Here especially is the extent of the freewill offering of the people mentioned in Exodus 38:21-31:

21These are the records of the tabernacle,(L) the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were recorded at the commandment of Moses, the responsibility of the Levites(M) under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 22(N) Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses; 23and with him was(O) Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver and designer and embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen.

24All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels,[e] by(P) the shekel of the sanctuary. 25The silver from those of the congregation who were recorded was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary: 26a(Q) beka[f] a head (that is, half a shekel, by the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward, for(R) 603,550 men. 27The hundred talents of silver were for casting the(S) bases of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil; a hundred bases for the hundred talents, a talent a base. 28And of the 1,775 shekels he made hooks for the pillars and overlaid their capitals and made fillets for them. 29The bronze that was offered was seventy talents and 2,400 shekels; 30with it he made the(T) bases for the entrance of the tent of meeting,(U) the bronze altar and the bronze grating for it and all the utensils of the altar, 31the(V) bases around the court, and the(W) bases of the gate of the court, all the(X) pegs of the tabernacle, and all the pegs around the court.

First and foremost is the active participation of the responsibility of the Levites, who have not succumbed to the violent unchristian behaviour which would have plagued their future (c.f. Genesis 48-50 with Jacob’s ‘blessings’) if they did not repent and display their allegiance to God by the slaying of the 3000).  Ithamar (“land of palms”) is Aaron’s youngest son (Exodus 6:23) and he is responsible for the actions of the Levites.  I find this quite odd: why aren’t Aaron’s two elder sons present?  Perhaps this is indicative of their relationship with God.  Nadab and Abihu may have contributed somewhat to the making of the Tabernacle, but being the two eldest sons who actually dined with God, it is disappointing that their obedience is not even mentioned in Scripture.  This may be prophetic of the reason why they were destroyed later on (Leviticus 10:1).

The financial value of the free-will offering

Secondly of course is the offering given in v.24-31.  The amount is not small – William Brown had this to say about the value of the sockets for the silver foundation of the Tabernacle itself (100 silver sockets):

“Each socket weighed a talent (Exodus 38:27), equal to 1500 oz., worth, when the silver was raised for the foundation, at least 400 GBP (British pounds), so that the value of the hundred was not less than 40,000 GBP… [then, in reference to the price which the Israelite men paid (Exodus 30:13)]… When all the pretty glittering coins were counted, it was found they numbered 603,550, being the same as the number of men (Num 1:46), showing that every man paid his ransom money.  The 603,550 half shekels, divided by 6000, the number of half shekels in a talent, show that the total amount in talents was 100 talents, and 1775 shekels (or 7/12ths of a talent).  This summation exactly agrees with that of the sacred historian”

He goes on to speak of the significance of the historical accuracy of the detail given and the symbolism provided by it under the subtitle “Christ the Church’s Sure Foundation” in his chapter “The Silver Foundation”:

“The beautiful shining foundation made of the ransom silver, worth forty thousand pounds sterling, constituted a very costly basis, from which our thoughts not unnaturally rise to an infinitely more valuable one, even to Him “who gave Himself a ransom for all”.  Prophets and apostles alike testify that He is the sure foundation on which the spiritual edifice rests.  Had the sockets not been made of the atonement money as commanded (Exodus 30:16; 38:27), but of some other material, God certainly would not have acknowledged the tabernacle as His palace-temple.  He never would have enthroned Himself in visible symbol on the mercy seat.  In like manner, those who substitute their own good works, or anything else, in the room of the Redeemer, on which to build their hope of salvation, are building on the sand, and cannot form a part of that building which is an “habitation of God through the Spirit,” for “other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Christ Jesus”.  Rest, then, on Him, and on Him alone, and your hope will be founded on Rock that will never fail you, and you will be one of the living stones of the great spiritual temple, and He who dwelt between the cherubim will dwell in you, and be your God.”

That, however, is just the silver foundation, and what great symbolism this foundation provided.  Only men were allowed to bring silver, and this re-inforces not sexism, but the headship of man over the woman, and the role of man in relation to his church.  The church is sanctified by the head – and so the salvation is provided symbolically through man, so to preach the message of Christ the man blessing his bride, the church.

What of the gold offering?  This is the offering contributed to making the golden walls of the tabernacle (Exodus 38:24), 3000 GBP worth of gold used in covering one board of the tabernacle – and in covering them ALL would be 144,000 GBP.  The entire gold offering weighed 29 talents and 730 shekels – equal to 43,865 ounces.  Thus, the approximate value of gifts for the tabernacle, including the gold (this is a table taken from Brown’s work):

Gold – 184,344 GBP

Silver – ~17,603 GBP

Brass – ~331 GBP

Probable higher price of the precious metals at the time of the Exodus – (an additional) 50,000 GBP

Grand Total:  252,168 GBP (by William Brown’s time; when his book on the tabernacle was written, it was 1899.  If you can figure out the exchange rate of 1 GBP to whatever currency you feel most comfortable working in to the exchange rate of that today, then the tabernacle may have costed at least 1 million GBP by today’s standard.  This, however, doesn’t include the value of the other voluntary offerings and needful materials, and as Brown stated, it would be quite safe to round the original figure from 252,168 GBP to 300,000 GBP by the 1899 exchange rate standard.

And no doubt, these various colourful, and beautiful materials contributed in a variety of ways: from one, which is the finances spent on the tabernacle is sufficient to magnify what the woman with the alabaster flask did with the expensive ointment (Matthew 26:7) – it is an act of reverence, faith, and acknowledgement of the divinity of the Son of Man by contributing this amount of money towards the building of the tabernacle.  It isn’t a financial stress; but it is a worshipful privilege to partake in the theatre of God’s glory.  The gold gilded boards must have shone majestically as they stood on the ransom silver, and like the Christians who rest on our ransom silver symbolised by Christ the man, we too will shine with unfading glory and holiness represented by the gold.

The tenons and sockets at the foot of every board of the tabernacle takes hold of two atonement money sockets, and the sockets in their turn took hold of the boards firmly.  Our faith is like the board hands, since it is by faith that we can even cling onto our ransom money Christ; yet the perfecter and founder of our faith is Christ himself (Hebrews 12), and his love will never depart us like the clinging of these tenons and sockets (Romans 8:38 ).  The golden bars encircle the boards and helped (along with the silver sockets) to support them, representing the arms of God which protect and support His children; and the pillars mentioned so often are also strong supports of the tabernacle, helping to sustain the roof, and the veils were suspended from them.  This is what Revelation 3:12 has to say about the representation of the pillars:

12(A) The one who conquers, I will make him(B) a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him(C) the name of my God, and(D) the name of the city of my God,(E) the new Jerusalem,(F) which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

So also, let us conquer in His name, let us conquer by His grace, let us conquer and become a pillar in His temple and partake in the brightness and glory which the tabernacle materials are only shadows of.

2.  The Tabernacle Erected (Exodus 40)

There are a few things to question in this final chapter of Exodus:

(a)  Why is the Tabernacle set up on the first day of the first month (v.1-2)?

This being the beginning of the new year, it is a sign of the tabernacle pointing towards a renewed start, a new creation being realistically filled with the glory of God (but symbolically shown by the Shekinah glory dwelling in the Tabernacle).

(b)  What is the meaning of the arrangement in v.3-5?

Again, as covered in the post covering the three Tabernacle furniture representing that of the Trinity, the focus on the veil is mentioned in v.3.  Immediately after the ark of the testimony is placed within the Most Holy Place, the next thing is not to bring in the table of shewbread, nor golden lampstand.  Rather, it is to bring in the veil; that is the status which we are at now, as the glory of the Living God is too great for us to bear.  The veil is to show symbolically how his holiness would destroy sinful humans; so the veil, like the flaming sword preventing the way to the tree of life, is for our own safety.  If, while being in the sinful state, we ate from the tree of life or entered the Most Holy Place, then we would be destroyed.

(c)  What is the significant ‘phrase’ of the final verses of Exodus 40 (v.17-32)?

The refrain is “as the LORD (had) commanded Moses” (v.16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31).  Moses did according to the LORD’s commandments: this is true, humble obedience essential to enforcing the typology of Moses and Aaron and his sons (v.31) acting as prototypes of Jesus, the one man whose obedience is unrivalled (as opposed to the Catholic overly-exaggerated view of Mary’s obedience).

(d)  The cloud of the LORD on the tabernacle by day, and pillar of fire by night throughout all their journeys (v.34-38 )?

The entire verse 34-38:

34Then(BW) the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and(BX) the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36Throughout all their journeys,(BY) whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37But(BZ) if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

I find these verses exciting, and helps to substantiate the new creation forward-looking faith.  The end of Exodus points towards the glory of the LORD, of the Shekinah resting and guiding the Israelites throughout all their journeys.  The ironic thing is the number of times the Tabernacle or the Temple is neglected throughout the rest of the Old Testament.  The final verse, v. 38, seems to be sarcastic.  Was the cloud of the LORD with them throughout all their journeys?  No – but that is because all of what has been spoken of is merely prophetic and symbolic of the greater thing to come and fulfill the meanings of these shadows.

3.  Conclusion and re-cap of the 2nd Book of Moses

So let’s quickly recap the entire book of Exodus.

Chapter 1-2: speaks of Moses’ typological birth after 400 years of silence, akin to that of Christ, during a time of persecution and death of Hebrew babies due to a sinful authority who is powerful over the land.  Moses is made an outcast, just as Jesus was an outcast (Hebrews 13:13).  During this time, Israel was groaning, as Israel was also groaning during the New Testament gospel period.

Chapters 3-11: speaks of Moses meeting with the Angel, and the Angel, Christ, promising the Israelites that the Exodus is in fulfillment of a prophecy made many hundreds of years ago, and their temporary Saviour is displayed typologically through Moses.  However, it is constantly re-stated that it is the Angel who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, not Moses (nor God the Father).  Moses returns to bring the people out of Egypt, just as Jesus was called to Egypt and desires to provide the spiritual exodus to the New Creation just as all of mankind have been waiting for (Genesis 3:15) the foundational Messianic moment in history.  The plagues speak prophetically of the plagues in Revelation, pointing again to the shadowy and prophetic nature of the events at Exodus, merely witnessing to the future global destruction by these plagues (rather than local, Egyptian destructions).

Chapters 12-15: the great exodus begins with the Passover representing the death of the firstborn son of God, Jesus Christ, through whom we live through the global fiery punishment symbolised by the crashing of the 2-walled waters (a testament of the preaching of the gospel through day 2 of creation) at the Red Sea.  Chapter 15 responds to these trials with song and praise, sung in the face of the Israelites’ enemies.

Chapter 16-18: speaks of the struggles which Israel faces regardless of the salvation, because their journey until the promised land will be filled with trials.  Yet, our trials will be fought for us by the power of the cross on the holy hill symbolised by Moses’ stretching of hands and his staff on the hill, and fought by Christ, the true Yeshua of the prophetic name of God in Joshua/Yeshua in chapter 17.  Amalek is caricatured as the enemy whom we struggle against in our daily struggles as a Christian.  The management of the Israelite church is needed given the huge and growing numbers of Christians according to Jethro’s advice, and the biggest cell-group system is established… and increasingly growing.

Chapter 19-31: prophetically symbolised the meeting of the Son and the Father on the third day after they arrive at Mt. Sinai, and the dining with the Son, the Seen God sent from the Unseen God is symbolic of the wedding day feast when the LORD will come down from heaven to eat with us (when New heavens and earth are joined, and the dividing curtain is destroyed).  Yet, the laws spoken of in these chapters are shadows and only work to reveal the sin in our hearts and the laws only work to display God’s holiness, and aiding us in turning our view from ourselves to Jesus Christ’s righteousness.  This is the reason why the law is limited to the physical Canaan.

Chapter 32-34:  the golden calf incident displays the Israelite’s ease in idol-worshipping in the time of trial for the 40 days and 40 nights while Moses is in the thickness of the clouds.  Moses returns (non-transfigured) and smashes the two tablets of the 10 words; and 3000 were taken from the church on that day by the Levites contrary to the 3000 added on the Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2).  Yet, God now tells the Israelites to leave Sinai, leaving the place where they heard the commandments from the Father, but the new tablets take away the focus on the physical land of Canaan.  The older tablets served as the older Old Testament system of the law which pointed towards Christ; the newer system pointed to the gospel, the spiritual life which the law pointed towards, which explains the lack of focus on physical Canaan.  On this note, the covenant between God and Israel is renewed, resulting also in the ‘transfiguration’ or the shining face of Moses.  Such is the true glory of the second, not the first, set of tablets.

Chapter 35-40:  Exodus ends on the obedience of the people, filled with the Holy Spirit, in response to the mighty instructions given from the mountain of God and in response to the second set of tablets.  The old set elicited insufficient response and only a few obeyed the truth of the older tablets as pointing to Christ; but the new tablets and the ‘transfiguration’ of Moses pointed almost the entire congregation to Jesus Christ as displayed by their sudden obedience.

Thus, chapters 19-40 work to become a blue-print of the future; the Exodus of the Christians when they come to embrace the blood of their Passover Lamb, symbolised further by the meeting of the Son and the Father on the Third Day when the work on the cross is complete.  We, as Christians, are then filled with the Spirit after acknowleding Christ’s reconciliatory propitiation of sins and are equipped to worship and evangelise through whatever means, symbolised by the finances given to the building of the tabernacle, the detailed temple and body of Christ Jesus.  So chapter 40 ends on a positive note, much like that of Genesis 50.  Both looked forward to God’s fulfillment of his promise and his covenant by his faithfulness (Romans 3:4) – yet the fulfillment is yet to come and until then, we continue to contribute more free-will offerings to the tabernacle, the church of God, by the power of the Spirit until the day when the Shekinah glory will reside with us for all of eternity.

Final words from Brown on the materials:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the LORD; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Exodus 37-40: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age

Exodus 34-36: The ten words destroyed (pt.2)

We ended the last post with a slight preview of what the significance of the instructions being given, the ten words being smashed, rebuilt, and the building of the tabernacle really meant.  We will be going through these themes as best we can today and try to detect the blueprint for the future present in the book of Exodus.

1.  The new stone tablets and the Covenant Renewed – Moses’ transfiguration (Exodus 34)

2.  Tabernacle contributions and construction (Exodus 35)

3.  Construction begins (Exodus 36)

1.  The new stone tablets and the Covenant Renewed – Moses’ transfiguration (Exodus 34)

The exciting mark of Exodus 34 is this:

6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed,(H) “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and(I) gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast(J) love and faithfulness, 7(K) keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a](L) forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but(M) who will by no means clear the guilty,(N) visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

The LORD’s faithfulness, mercy, grace – slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!  This is most encouraging, and reminds us that it is the LORD who is gracious through our half-hearted evangelism and worship; that it is by his faithfulness and love that we prevail in the Covenant which he established through Israel.

Again, the sequence of the events is quite important:  in this chapter alone

(a)  Moses provides two new stone tablets (Exodus 34:1-9) – Why a new set?  Why did Moses destroy the older tablets?

(b)  The Covenant is re-confirmed between God and Israel (Exodus 34:10-28 – a repeat of the covenant spoken of in Exodus 3, 13, 23-24).  Interestingly enough, the covenant was NOT confirmed after the 1st two tablets were established.  Again, Moses was with the LORD for 40 days and 40 nights.  Why is there a seeming repeat of 40 days and 40 nights; and why wasn’t the covenant confirmed?

(c)  For the first time we see Moses’ transfigured face (we did not see this in the last two chapters though he had also descended from God in the thickness of the clouds prior to the breaking of the 10 words on the older tablets); and this time, the Israelites did not stray nor worship new idols.  Is this representative of something?

We will be looking at these three points again after we consider the next two sections.

2.  Tabernacle contributions and construction (Exodus 35)

This is essentially a repeat of the instructions given to Moses on the mountain: and this is normally part of the Hebraic way of focusing on something, rather than using the European grammatical method of superlatives.  In Hebrew, repeating constitutes the same effect, the repeating of the Tabernacle details clearly means that the Tabernacle is far more than it seems.

What I find most edifying in this chapter is the absolute freedom in the contribution to the creation of the Tabernacle: and oh, how much the people gave!  And this was considered as a freewill offering to the LORD in v.29 (freewill offering meaning an offering of thankfulness, an offering of voluntary sacrifice):

20Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21And they came,(CE) everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him,(CF) and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. 23And(CG) every one who possessed(CH) blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. 24(CI) Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the LORD’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25And every(CJ) skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26All the women(CK) whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27And the(CL) leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29(CM) All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.

This is the first picture of the bigger assembly of Israel working together: and remember the numbers of Egyptians who are partaking in the glory of God, and who had followed the Israelites out of Egypt.  This is the work of the church: let there be the eyes, ears, hands, arms, feet – different parts of the church giving their freewill offering in contribution to the Tabernacle: the very temple and body of Christ (the Holy Place), and contribution to the depiction of the Most Holy Place for the sake of better illustration of the Holy Trinity and our relationship with the Father through the propitiatory blood of the Son through the dividing curtains.  Like the silver used to be the foundation of the court and other aspects of the Tabernacle construction, so also the freewill offering, which is the “LORD’s contribution” (v.21 – i.e., not a contribution for themselves to give, for what they have is from the LORD), is the true foundation of the Tabernacle of Heaven and Earth (the church, not the reprobate).

3.  Construction begins (Exodus 36)

This contribution did not cease even when the construction began:

3And they received from Moses all the(CS) contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him(CT) freewill offerings every morning, 4so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, 5and said to Moses,(CU) “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.” 6So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the(CV) contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, 7for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.

What glory!  They had to cease in their contribution, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more!  Their response is definitely very different from the response of the Israelites when the golden calf was around.  These people are filled with the Spirit, and realised that what they had, they are only giving it back to God.

In Chapter 37, we see that the construction follows the instruction: first the Ark (Exodus 37:1-9), then the Table (Exodus 37:10-16), then the golden lampstand (Exodus 37:17-24); but this time the altar of incense is not described as one of the last things (Exodus 37:25-29) – rather it is the very first thing made after the three objects which represent the Holy Trinity.  Why is there such a discrepancy between construction and instruction for the altar of incense?  To this I turn to the conclusion for the two-fold post on the 10 words and how it points to the blue-print of the events of Scripture.

Conclusion:  The Blue-print of the Future

I have already done a brief blue-print on the posts analysing Abram’s life prior to Isaac and how his travels point towards the travels which Israel and Jesus himself will make, and the future relationships between Israel and the nations.

In the same way, the events of Exodus have done a very similar thing: our God is very prophetic and forward looking, revealing the New Testament in the Old Testament.

What do I mean by that?  Well let’s consider each little point in turn:

(a)  The Father descends on Mt. Sinai on the 3rd day

(b)  Moses goes up to meet the Father after 7 days and 40 days and 40 nights – to receive the first set of tablets of the ten words, and the instructions of the Tabernacle

(c)  Moses returns, in anger, and without being transfigured.  He smashes the 10 words and the idol is destroyed.

(d)  Moses goes up the mountain again, spending another 40 days and 40 nights, this time returning transfigured, ‘re-establishing’ the first set of 10 words… or are they really ‘re-establishments’?

(e)  The construction of the tabernacle begins with the freewill offering of the church of Israel

If I may link the points (a) to (e)… Jesus meets with the Father first – and the Father proclaims that Jesus is the one whom he is well pleased with.  We don’t see this happen again until at Jesus’ anointing baptism.  In many ways, this incident reflects that time period in the New Testament, prior to Jesus’ ministry.

Then point (b) sees a time of trial in receipt of the first set of tablets of ten words which are actually slightly (but very significantly) different from the second set of ten words.  The first set related restrictively to the land of the Canaan; where the second set did not (a detail covered in Deuteronomy).  This first set of the 10 words is representing that of the period of the Old Testament: the 10 words on the first tablets pointed towards Christ, but it is a poor and limited geographical reflection.  Even Moses did not transfigure from being in front of the LORD in the creation of the first two tablets.

Yet, after the giving of the law, Israel rebelled: and the golden calf (c) is but a representation of all the idolatrous relationships which Israel will engage in after the giving of the Mosaic law. Which is why the giving of the law is marked by the death of 3000, only to be counter-reflected by the Pentecost in the New Testament.

Eventually, after the rebellion of Israel and the punishment of 3000, Moses returns for another 40 days and 40 nights to come down with a second set of tablets.  This time, these tablets have something altered, and refer no longer to the physical land of Canaan.  As a result of this meeting, Moses is transfigured, much like Christ.

As the true spiritual meaning of the law is revealed in the second set of the tablets, it is here that the New Testament is prophesied:  that the construction of the tabernacle, and the freewill offering of the Christians are an example of the global freewill offering to come, after Christ’s death on the cross.  The global freewill offering of the church/people of Christ, which occurs in an outburst after Christ’s resurrection and ascension.

Thus, the two givings of the 10 words is a reflection of the OLD and NEW Testament.  The 1st tablet, represented the Old, limited to geography and nationality.  There is not nearly as much glory in the giving of the 1st tablet, and only instructions given.  No actions were taken after the 1st tablet.  In fact, the only response it elicited was sin, and rebellion by the worship of Satan.  This is followed by the ascension of Moses, the type of Christ, and his transfigured return to give an altered 2nd giving of the 10 words.  This time, Moses’ transfiguration and the readiness of the church to freely give and build by the power of the Spirit displays the New-Testament and post-Apostolic times.  The work of Christ, after his ascension, led to the Pentecost and the giving of the Spirit to fill men and women in Christ with the ability to freely give.  This is why the Spirit is mentioned in Exodus 33-35; because He is appropriately mentioned after the giving of the 2nd set of tablets of the 10 words.  The building of the tabernacle, the (global Jewish and Gentile) church, must not have begun until after Christ’s transfigured work on the cross.  So also, the instructions only served to enable people to realise their sin in the Old Testament and build a physical but limited church to the geography of Canaan or under the label of Israel; but the true building of the universal church is one of Spirit-filled ministries, freely offering oneself to God consistently after the Pentecost, in fulfillment of the mystery of Christ, which is the inclusion of the Gentiles with the Jews in the Great Gospel.

A final word from Dev, on the two stone tablets:

The 2 stone tablets on which the Ten Words rest, represent the dual witness to Christ Himself, the Rock, the basis of all the Law, who will be shattered for our sins that we may be spared, like the temple, His body will be renewed, made again. During that time Moses intercedes for the people and the glory of the Lord is revealed, all testifying to the works of oblation and intercession of Christ on the cross.27 Thus the 2nd giving of the Decalogue is differently quoted from the first: Deuteronomy 5:13-16 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. 16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. The Sabbath is refocused on the new land, the new creation instead of on the first creation, and now things will go ‘well’ in that land.

Exodus 34-36: The ten words destroyed (pt.2)

Exodus 31-33: The 10 words destroyed (pt. 1)

1.  The Filling of the Holy Spirit (Exodus 31:1-11)

2.  Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-18 )

3.  The Golden Calf (Exodus 32)

4.  Leaving Sinai – marks of the Holy Trinity (Exodus 33)

1.  The Filling of the Holy Spirit (Exodus 31:1-11)

Now, we see two specific mentioned; one of whom is specifically filled with the Spirit of God.  Bezalel (“in the shadow (protection) of God”) from the line of Judah was given the ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, working in gold, silver and bronze.

Oholiab (“the father’s tent”) contrarily, from the line of Dan, is appointed as Bezalel’s helper.

Then in v.6:  “…And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you…”

Why were Bezalel, from the line of Judah, and the Danite Oholiab specifically mentioned?  I’d like to hear your say on them: perhaps something to do with the scepter not departing from Judah, and justice coming from the tribe of Dan?  He who is in the protection of God, in the line of Judah vs. he who is in the father’s tent (i.e. the Father, 1st person of the Trinity) in the line of Dan?

I’d like to focus on another aspect: which is the mentioning of the Spirit filling someone specifically for the first time in Scripture (v.3).  What is the meaning of this?  Many people have decidedly interpreted John 8 that the Spirit is only given in part to the Old Testament saints, but there is no evidence of the Spirit dwelling within Bezalel, let alone (as v.6 says) all the able men who were also given the ability.  Can we be filled with the Spirit of God, without the indwelling of the Spirit?  Must we differentiate technical categories of illumination, regeneration, indwelling salvation, sanctification/filling of the Spirit?  Perhaps these distinctions are akin to the three-fold distinction of the Levitical law: completely trivial.

But this is not the first time the Spirit of God is in someone – look at Genesis 41:37-38 – The Spirit of God is in Joseph.  Numbers 27:18 – the Spirit of God is in Joshua.  Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, but this happens many times throughout the Old Testament, prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost.  But how do you reconcile that with John 7:37-39?  The Spirit is not yet given, as Jesus was not yet glorified!  Did Jesus contradict himself?

The problem is that people actually have a misinterpretation of John 7:33-39 – many think it refers to a different way of salvation; as if Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (post-Pentecostal age), and OT saints were saved differently.  But we have always had one mediator, Christ (1 Timothy 2:5); and only one mystery.

The Mystery of God

Some people think the “Mystery” refers to the Holy Spirit, but not really.  Dev has written a good post on the ‘mystery’, but here is my quick summary of his “quick” summary:  Ephesians 3:2-6 and Colossians 1:25-27, just two small examples, show that Paul’s explanation of the mystery as the inclusion of all nations within the blessings of Israel.  The revelation therefore isn’t the sudden arrival of the Holy Spirit (since he is so active in the OT), but the extension of His work to all nations.  The mystery is the global inter-racial church of both Jews and Gentiles.  That is the symbolism of Jonah 3-4; only after the sign of Jonah, the 3 days in death, resurrection and ascension, can Jonah then preach directly to a Gentile nation.  The response is national-scale salvation for Nineveh: but this story is prophetic of the necessity of Christ’s glorification for the Spirit to be given to the Gentiles as well.

So if we come back to John 7:33-39:  the Jews were actually concerned that Jesus is about to go and teach the Gentiles, but Jesus’ response affirms that the gospel is not just for the physical Israelite nation.  Anyone and everyone who comes to Him will receive the Holy Spirit; but AFTER he has been glorified (i.e. which is a direct reference to the cross John 12:23,34; 17:5), then the dividing curtain between the Jews and the Gentiles is destroyed.  Only then can the Spirit be given to anyone and everyone who believes on Him.  Only after the sign of Jonah, after the sign of the cross, can Nineveh be saved.  Jonah was a prophet unheard of in his time; no other prophet went out to evangelise to other nations.  Jesus was a prophet, priest and king unheard of in his time – yet he affirmed that this is the sign and meaning of Jonah’s minsitry.

The division between the indwelling and the filling of the Spirit is not yet laid at rest, because we haven’t considered comparing the difference between the ways the Spirit worked in the Old and in the New Testament; but the passages of 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 2; Jonah 3-4; John 7:33-39 point not to the Spirit given to the Jews only in the New Testament.  The Jews were already partakers of the gifts of the Old Testament, and the mystery of the New Testament fulfilled is the inclusion of the Gentiles in a different way from the OT (e.g. Rahab had to be assimilated into the Israelite community; but we don’t assimilate ourselves into the Israelite community today).  If the mystery is simply that of the inclusion of Gentiles, then that means the Gentiles are given the same gifts of salvation through the Spirit in the same way the OT saints have been enjoying all along.  This means that effectively, just as we are sealed and have the Spirit indwelling in us – so also the OT saints are possibly sealed by the Spirit, and He is indwelling in them.  We will come back to the Holy Spirit in the next post on chapters 34 onwards.

2.  Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-18 )

16Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17(U) It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that(V) in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and(W) on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'”

God has repeated the significance of the Sabbath a number of 11 times between after the salvation of the Jews until now.  Clearly, this is quite important – and v. 17 etches it into their heads – it is a sign forever between me and the people of “the-God-who-fights”.  And how does God justify that model of the Sabbath?  Again, it is found in the model of creation, which is sufficient in preaching the gospel in itself.  Not observing the Sabbath will result in death; and this crime is therefore seen as heinous as that of intentional murder, and striking one’s parents.  There is a link between these heavy-sins – and it has nothing to do with the Catholic response to ‘grave’ or ‘mortal’ sins by HOW we repents.  Rather, these heavy-sins have something to do with a characteristic of God; and the Sabbath, like the respecting of one’s parents, are facets of the highest representation of God’s personality.  As I’ve stated, Sabbath represents our time in new Jerusalem where our time of rest (Genesis 2:15) in Paradise is restored and renewed.  If we forget the meaning of Sabbath, then we forget our purpose on earth; we thrive in the curse of God to toil on this earth, but God is deliberately pulling us away from that idolatrous mindset.

3.  The Golden Calf (Exodus 32)

The irony of this chapter is how quick the Israelites forgot about the LORD; especially the elders and those who ate with the LORD on the mountain of God – how is this possible?  And why does this terrible and infamous incident occur between the instructions of the tabernacle and the building of the tabernacle?

And in this period of testing, of 40 days and 40 night – the people wavered.  They had problems in waiting for Moses to come down, in the same way we have problems with waiting for Christ to return.  v.1 is very interesting: “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.” Why gods?  I think this has very much to do with the fact that they are faced with Two LORDS, the Angel and the Unseen Father; and one Spirit, thus numerically three Persons in the Triune God.

v.2-6 display a use of the gold which should have been used to build the Tabernacle with.  Instead, the gold is taken to create for themselves gods.  God makes clear that there is one golden calf (v.8 ), but the people are saying “these are your gods”. Clearly, there is a misunderstanding of some sort – but this is also a depiction of their understanding of Triune Oneness.  There may be one calf, but there are gods.  There may be one God, but THREE Persons.  However far this analogy can go, their golden calf is a perversion of the Three-in-Oneness of our God.

v.11-14 is very important: Moses asks God to remember the covenant between Him and their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Israel, His servants.  Moses does not say: “Look at what we have done!  Look at our faithfulness!  Look at the signs which we kept!” – rather, he says “Remember what you promised us”.  Salvation is from the LORD, and only the LORD need remember what he has promised the Israelites.

Then comes v.19 – Moses threw the two tablets with the 10 words on them and broke them at the foot of the mountain.  Is he insane?  Does he not value the 10 words written by the finger of God?  Of course not – the significance of the breaking of the two tablets at the foot of the mountain is significant in the context of Moses’ righteous anger against the idolatrous Israelites.  Why did he break the tablets?  We’ll come to answer that in the next post when Moses receives two new tablets. The saddest thing of this ordeal, along with their idolatrous relationship with the idol outside of God, is that their evangelistic attempt to be a holy priesthood and a witness for all nations is crippled by this event, Exodus 32:25:

25And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose,(AH) to the derision of their enemies)

The enemies derided them; how much better would it have been if they remained loyal and faithful?  Indeed, salvation is of the LORD, but our interference and disobedience will lessen the credibility of the gospel given their lack of faith displayed by worshiping a golden calf.

Just three other things to quickly note in this chapter before coming back to that point of receiving 4 tablets in total in the next post:

(a)  Aaron’s nature to blame inherits that of Adam:  v.22-24 – “You know the people, that they are set on evil.  23  For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us…24… So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf‘.  Firstly, the ridiculous logic of Aaron’s argument – did he not realise that Moses is spending time with the LORD?  Wasn’t Aaron meant to be Moses’ aide?  Instead, he sided with many and perverted justice (Exodus 23:2).  Secondly, how can a calf just come out of a fire refining gold, unless the calf was carefully sculpted?  Adam also said the same thing to God:  ‘it was the woman whom “YOU” gave me that led me to sin’.  How easy it is to place our blame on others.

(b)  Why did they create a golden calf of all creatures?  Ezekiel 1:10 – we see that the spiritual creatures have four faces: a lion, eagle, man and a bull.  Ezekiel 10:14 – again, the four faces appear but there is an alteration in the terminology: a lion, eagle, man and a cherub.  Ezekiel is referring to the same creature, but cherub and bull is interchangeable here.  It is likely that the face of a cherub is akin to the face of a bull, and this may help us understand why some world religions/cultures worship the calf because some divine creatures resemble bulls (i.e. Hindus who regard the cow as a sacred animal), or treat the calf as a sacred animal.  If Satan, as explained in Ezekiel 28 is a guardian cherub, then it is possible that the worship of the calf is a form of Satan-worship, explaining the LORD and Moses’ righteous anger.

(c)  v.26 speaks of the sons of Levi gathering around to kill three thousand men of the people (v.28 ).  Why this, and how is this related to their consequent ordination (v.29)?  Firstly, we should understand that this is the 50th day after Israel reached Sinai.  After reaching Sinai, they waited three days at the prompting of Christ, the Angel, to wait for the Father to descend to the top of the mountain of God.  Then Moses waited another 7 days before he spent another 40 days and 40 nights with the LORD (Exodus 19 and 24).  That totals to 50 days.

The sign of the third day and Jesus and the Father meeting on the third day is a prototypical display of Jesus’ victory over sin at the cross.  At the Pentecost, in Acts 2, 50 days after Jesus’ victory over sin at the cross, the LORD shook the earth and sent fire and the mighty Spirit to both Jews and Gentiles.  This is why in Acts 2:41, “3000 were added to their number that day”.  This is in direct contrast to the 50th day event here: the Levites ‘celebrated’ their Pentecost with the slaughter of 3000 as a sign of judgment; but the Christian disciples celebrated their Pentecost post-ascension with the addition of 3000 to the church of Christ, as a sign of salvation.  If you would (also notice, it is 50 days after which they left Egypt that Moses meets with the two Lords on Mount Sinai; and another 50 days before the 3000 were taken away by the Levites).  Any connection between the two sets of 50 days?

4.  Leaving Sinai: marks of the Holy Trinity (Exodus 33)

Remember throughout this chapter and previous chapters the fundament of Deuteronomy 4:12 – “no form” was seen, although this is the voice of the Yahweh-Person.  The GOD in the thick darkness is never seen – but then later, in v.7-11, Moses meets the LORD face to face as a man speaks to his friend in a tent pitched at the bottom of the mountain.  This is the seen Lord!  (v.9-11). Most importantly, note how Joshua/Yeshua, the son of Nun, remains in the tent when Moses turns to the Israelite church.

But Moses wants more than seeing the seen Lord face-to-face – he wants to also see the Unseen LORD, the Unseen Father!  But the Unseen LORD explains some very specific things: v.14 states that the LORD is happy for his presence (i.e. Christ, as explained in earlier posts) to go with them, but (v.19-23):

19…he said,(CX) “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And(CY) I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for(CZ) man shall not see me and live.” 21And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a(DA) cleft of the rock, and I will(DB) cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall(DC) not be seen.”

So v.20 solidifies that this is the Unseen Father speaking to Moses; and the Unseen Father wishes to reveal his backside to Moses, but only if Moses hides inside a cleft of a rock.  So also, when we hide inside the cleft of the Rock of Ages (Psalm 18:12) will we even bear the real existence of being before the Father, but that rock which Moses hid in is just a shadow of the true Rock which will completely cover us with His righteousness:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure. – hymn “Rock of Ages” by Augustus Montague Toplady on Moses hiding in the cleft of the rock

So Moses is not rejected by the end of this chapter; rather, he is already encouraged that the Father’s ‘presence’, in whom is the proclamation of the name “the LORD” (v.19), is already a sufficient goodness to reflect the Father’s glory.  But, as it still stands, v.20 shows that we cannot live if we meet with him face to face.  Which is why we must rely on the Angel whose name is “the LORD”; we must rely on God’s presence who will go with Moses; we must rely on the rock of ages cleft for us – and only through this mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) can we even come to meet the Father who resides in the Holy of Holies.

Conclusion

There are again marks of prophecy not only in these three chapters, but in the mysteriousness of why this incident of the golden calf occured in between the instructions and the making of the tablets; why the first set of tablets were destroyed and the meaning of the changes in the second tablets (as we will later see in the next post); why there are signs and allusions to the Pentecost (i.e. 50 days after leaving Egypt; 50 days after arriving at Sinai; 3 days waiting period vs. 7 days waiting period; 40 days and 40 nights of testing for those waiting at the bottom of the mountain) – and in general how this, like Abraham’s early actions by travelling in and around Canaan is a blueprint of the future.  I will try to wrap these points up in the next post.

Exodus 31-33: The 10 words destroyed (pt. 1)

Exodus 28-30: Tabernacle and Instructions (pt.2)

We’ve described most of the Tabernacle furniture and structure; we are now left with the priestly clothing, the ordination, and the remaining furniture.

1.  A list of the priestly clothing (Exodus 28:1-5)

2.  The ephod (Exodus 28:6-14)

3.  The breastpiece (Exodus 28:15-30)

4.  The robe (Exodus 28:31-35)

5.  The turban, and other clothing (Exodus 28:36-43)

6.  The priestly ordination (Exodus 29:1-46)

7.  Altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-10)

8.  The Census Tax (Exodus 30:11-16)

9.  The bronze basin (Exodus 30:17-21)

10.  Anointing Oil and Incense (Exodus 30:22-38 )

11.  The History of Mankind and the Hope of the Remnant (Summary of all the Tabernacle Instructions)

1.  A list of the priestly clothing (Exodus 28:1-5)

4These are the garments that they shall make: a(E) breastpiece, an(F) ephod,(G) a robe,(H) a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. 5They shall receive(I) gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.

Holy garments for the priests so they can do their work in the Holy Place and Most Holy Place – this is most interesting.  It is of the LORD’s personality to clothe us, and shield us from harm (think animal skin in Genesis 3; think colourful coat between Israel the father of Joseph and the typology of the Father and the beloved Son; think robes of righteousness Isaiah 61).  This clothing as directed by God should undoubtedly shout out two things: God’s righteousness in the form of clothing us (i.e. it is external to us; the righteousness is NOT found within, a la Buddhist teachings); and secondly, that it is God who clothes us, not that we clothe ourselves with this external righteousness.

If that is the case, if the clothing is that of righteousness, then the clothing should speak something of OUR High Priest, Jesus Christ, our external righteousness which we now wear as Christians.

2.  The ephod (Exodus 28:6-14)

The ephod is a beautifully crafted kind of apron made from gold thread woven into blue, purple and scarlet fine linen.  It has an onyx stone on each shoulder, each stone with the names of each six tribes of Israel written on it (Exodus 28:12) for remembrance.  What this means is that the priest isn’t just representing himself, but also representing the people of God on his shoulders.  The weight of the entire 12 tribes of Israel is therefore on the shoulders of this priest, and sacrifices which he offers are offered on behalf of the entire Israel, the entire church of Christ.  Isaiah 53:6 speaks of the heavy weight of all of mankind’s sin which Jesus had to bear on our behalf; the stones are attached to the ephod with gold chains, ensuring that they won’t fall off.  That is the seriousness of our Christ – he ensures that he has nailed our sins to the cross, and nailed our names to him!

3.  The breastpiece (Exodus 28:15-30)

On top of the ephod-apron is a breastpiece of gold, linen and 14 precious stones (including the 12 which represent each tribe of Israel, and 2 which represent the Urim and the Thummim (Exodus 28:21).  The names of the tribes of Israel are not only on the shoulders of the priest, but also on the heart of the priest!  With the ephod and the breastpiece, the identity of the priest is completely bound up with the people he represents, hence explaining the Bible’s emphasis on Christ and His people as one.  Christ is the head of the church, his body! (Ephesians 5).

Paul Blackham has provided a table of what is possibly a link between the 12 Tribes and the Stones used:

Row

Tribe

Stone

1

Reuben

Simeon

Levi

Ruby

Topaz

Beryl

2

Judah

Issachar

Zebulun

Turquoise

Sapphire

Emerald

3

Dan

Naphtali

Gad

Jacinth

Agate

Amethyst

4

Asher

Joseph

Benjamin

Chrysolite

Onyx

Jasper

However, this is different from William Brown’s interpretation.  Rather than looking at what the 12 tribes represented (in general, by the stones used), he looked at what was actually on the breastplate:

NAME of 12 Stones of Israel

3. Carbuncle (or Emerald) for Zebulun

2. Topaz for Issachar

1. Sardius (or Ruby) for Judah

1st row

6. Diamond for Gad

5. Sapphire for Simeon

4. Emerald (or Carbuncle) for Reuben

2nd row

9. Amethyst for Benjamin

8. Agate for Manasseh

7. Ligure (or Jacinth) for Ephraim

3rd row

12. Jasper for Naphtali

11. Onyx for Asher

10. Beryl (of Chalcedony) for Dan

4th row

He noted that the names on the breastplate were those of the 12 tribes arranged not according to age, but according to the order of the tribes (Exodus 39:14).  Levi and Joseph are not included; but only Manasseh and Ephraim are included.

More detail on the stones to come!

4.  The robe (Exodus 28:31-35)

Under the ephod is the blue robe.  The hem is the special feature, with brightly painted pomegranates (blue, purple and scarlet – like the colour on the curtain!) – but between the pomegranates was a golden bell. v.35 reveals that the sound of the bells will be heard when Aaron enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die.  The sound of the bells as he walked meant there was nothing secretive about the work of the priest.  Levicitus 10 displays that careless wandering into the presence of the LORD warranted their deaths, even if you are a priest.  The sound of the priest walking in is an audible warning that the priests were coming before the LORD in the Holy Place; the worshippers outside would wait in anticipation for the SOUND of the Priest returning from the Holy Place.

5.  The turban, and other clothing (Exodus 28:36-43)

The priest’s turban had a plate of pure gold attached to the front, saying “Holy to the LORD”.  So not only is the priest dedicated to his job, with the weight of Israel’s sin on his shoulders, but the names of the tribes on his heart, coming in open before the LORD.  This plate of pure gold on the head displays even further the utter dedication of Christ to his job – the golden sign was declaring that the promised Messiah-Priest would be absolutely holy, without sin.

Exodus 28:38 explains that the symbolic holiness of the priest is what enables him to bear the people’s sins, which explains why Jesus cannot have sins of his own: he would have to pay for His own sins and incapable of bearing others’.  This emphasises the significance of the turban, the ephod, the robe and the breastplate which all point towards both the symbolic righteousness of the High Priest, as well as the burden which He must carry to the Most Holy Place (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The remaining clothing, Woven Tunic and Sash were about dignity and honour (v.40):

39“You shall weave the coat in checker work of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash embroidered with needlework.

40(X) “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them(Y) for glory and beauty. 41And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall(Z) anoint them and ordain them and(AA) consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

Thus, we conclude that the Levitical Priest is just a symbol of holiness, glory, beauty, dignity, honour (additional descriptions from the NIV translation).  No man has these qualities, and even the chosen High Priest must don the clothing which represents these qualities; but one God-man, Jesus Christ, has all of these qualities without the necessity of clothing anyone else’s righteousness.  He is our righteousness (Job 35:8; Psalm 5:8 ).

6.  The priestly ordination (Exodus 29:1-46)

So while chapter 28 is sufficient in presenting a figure capable of entering into communion with the Holy Trinity on behalf of others, this figure is not yet ready for service!  The priest must and cannot invite himself into the presence of God; he must be ordained.

The rites of ordination is laid out in chapter 29, with two significant features of purification with blood; and the anointing with oil – undoubtedly, two extremely prophetic and Messianic symbols.

Firstly, the blood flows everywhere in the ordination rite, from the horns of the altar to the base of the altar; sacrifice is the underlying meaning of the tabernacle.  This is a picture of the priest, having to continually offer sacrifices for himself, to keep himself in a state to gain forgiveness for others.  Only after that could he bring the forgiven people into the presence of God.  Au contraire, Jesus need not continually make such sacrifices for himself, for he had no sins of His own that needed to be forgiven!

Secondly, oil also gets everywhere, even onto the priestly clothing.  v.7 shows Aaron anointed with oil (Psalm 133:2), the symbol of the Holy Spirit (as I have established the oil’s symbolic meaning in previous posts).  This is a direct prophecy of the Messiah’s life and work, filled with the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), the Messiah who is fittingly called the Christ, the Anointed One (in Hebrew).  Thus, only a priest anointed with oil could serve in the Tabernacle; so also, only Christ anointed by the Holy Dove, could be equipped to work for his bride, the church, and his Father in heaven as symbolised by the Tabernacle and its temporary dividing curtain.

More detail on the priestly ordination to come!

7.  Altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-10)

This is the final piece of furniture described within the tabernacle.  Why is this the last piece of furniture explained?  Why couldn’t it have been explained earlier?  The order has been thus far: the Trinity furniture (Ark, Table, Lampstand); the Tabernacle Structure explaining the division between heaven and the church, the division in their harmony; the Bronze Altar, explaining the underlying significance of sacrifices and offerings to remit sins; the Court of the Tabernacle, to explain the inclusion of the church in the secular world (the whole of creation); yet the Oil for the Lamp is lit.

Who can maintain the sacrifices and the offerings though?  The priests themselves; their clothing firstly speaking of Christ; and their actions secondly during their ordination, speaking of the ordination of Christ.

What could the significance of the altar of incense mean?  Firstly, notice the location of the altar of incense: it was to be placed just near the dividing curtain in the outer room, the Holy Place.  This altar represents the prayers of the church (Revelation 5:8; Malachi 1:11).

8.  The Census Tax (Exodus 30:11-16)

The census tax is a good example of the atonement money going towards the work of the tabernacle, and what a small cost to be paid for such a tough job on the High Priest:

11The LORD said to Moses, 12(DB) “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give(DC) a ransom for his life to the LORD when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. 13Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel[i] according to the(DD) shekel of the sanctuary (the(DE) shekel is twenty gerahs),[j](DF) half a shekel as an offering to the LORD. 14Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the LORD’s offering. 15The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than(DG) the half shekel, when you give the LORD’s offering to make atonement for your lives. 16You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall(DH) give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to(DI) remembrance before the LORD, so as to make atonement for your lives.”

This money is ransom money (v.12), it is for the atonement of their lives (v.15), and each shall pay if they are 20 years and upward.  No bias, no partiality.

9.  The bronze basin (Exodus 30:17-21)

Finally, the bronze basin, which is a sign of new birth, regeneration; after the sacrifice of burnt offering would there be a need of the washing of renewal as the tent was approached by the priest.

Titus 3:5-7:

5he saved us,(H) not because of works done by us in righteousness, but(I) according to his own mercy, by(J) the washing of regeneration and(K) renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he(L) poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that(M) being justified by his grace we might become(N) heirs(O) according to the hope of eternal life.

10.  Anointing Oil and Incense (Exodus 30:22-38 )

25And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the(DP) perfumer; it shall be a(DQ) holy anointing oil. 26(DR) With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, 27and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, 28and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the(DS) basin and its stand. 29You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy.(DT) Whatever touches them will become holy. 30(DU) You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 31And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. 32It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition.(DV) It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33(DW) Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.'”

The message spoken of here is immensely deep, provided we stick to the spiritual representations of the previous instructions.  The anointing oil is sacred, and holy (v.25).  Whatever touches them (the tent of meeting, aka the tabernacle; the ark of testimony; table and its utensils; lampstand and its utensils; the altar of incense; altar of burnt offering with utensils; basin and its stand) will become holy (v.29).  The Trinity, the Prayers, the Sacrifices, the Spiritual regeneration – are all made holy by the sacred anointing oil.

And only Aaron and his sons may be consecrated, serving as priests, anointed by this sacred anointing oil.  No ordinary person shall have it poured on him or her.  The significance spoken of is referring to Jesus’ work on the cross.  Only through his work, and his ascension can he fill the universe and give gifts to all them (Ephesians 4:10; Psalm 68:18).  This is extremely important: why didn’t God start the instructions with the anointing oil?  Why leave it till the very end?  Or, the question is… is this the very end?  God had already seen into the future: the saving work on the cross, the giving of the Spirit to all flesh during the Pentecost festival, Jesus’ death on the wood, His righteousness imputed onto us as ours.  At Christ’s ascension, he filled all things; gifts among even the rebellious, that the LORD may dwell on earth.

Thus, this anointing oil is a picture of the Pentecost – the giving of the Spirit to the entire world.  Prior to this, the Spirit is indeed represented by the Golden Lampstand; but when the work of the cross is complete, the Spirit is now given to both Jews and Gentiles, and the oil is spread across everything.  We partake in the complete renewal of all things because of the High Priest, Aaron, a type of Christ, in whom we stand.  He is the only one consecrated by the holy oil; and we are consecrated by the holy oil for we are in Him.

11.  The History of Mankind and the Hope of the Remnant (Summary of all the Tabernacle Instructions)

Let’s follow the line of Christian logic thus far:

The Trinity has existed prior to the creation of the world; however, heaven and the church had harmony in the past.  This is merely a foretaste of things to come in New Jerusalem, which not only a mere garden, but an entire city of God.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they were given animal skin – an offering to God as represented by the Brazen Altar, a symbol of sacrifice necessary for remission of sins after the division between heaven and earth is made.  Now Adam and Eve are thrown to the East of the Garden, into the world of the court of the Tabernacle – the rest of God’s creation.  Yet, throughout this period, the oil for the lamp, the Holy Spirit, is lit in the hearts of the professing Christians of the earliest age of mankind, preparing for the coming Messiah (Genesis 3:15).  This Great Messiah is also the true High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, of the greatest righteousness, who can carry the burden of the world’s sins on his shoulders through a righteousness of his own.

Despite his status as pre-incarnate Christ is that of glorified and transfigured righteousness, he must then be ordained to commit to the works and plans of God in his incarnation; and only through the High Priest’s saving work can the altar of incense, the representation of our prayers, work through him.  Only after the High Priest’s ordination can our prayers be relayed to the Father through the mediation of the Son, who enters the throne room in Third Heaven on our behalf. If Jesus was not ordained, and he did not go to the cross, then our prayers will not go to the Father, for the Father will not hear us.  But the very reason that the Old Testament saints spoke through Christ, the one Mediator, to the Father LORD displays the inevitable victory of Christ on the cross; it shows the inevitable anointing of the High Priest, and his work which will enable the saints of all ages to have their incense at the centre stage of the Trinity’s thoughts.

In the duration of our prayers to the LORD, we are simultaneously saved by the symbolic census tax: what we give up is such a small price compared to what we receive; and so we repent of our sins symbolised by the giving of the tax, the money which belongs to the LORD anyway; and after we are justified and salvaged from the bondage of sin, we are cleansed simultaneously by the Holy Spirit, shown through the bronze basin.  We then finally reach the anointing oil and incense which makes all things holy, including us.  We are made holy by God alone; we are made holy by Christ alone (Isaiah 61).

Yet, this leaves something to thought.  God had already established the entire plan, and Moses saw into the history of mankind and the future of mankind just for spending time with the LORD in the thickness of the mountain.  This may, after all, shed light onto the most mysterious verse of Revelation 13:8 (here are v. 6-8):

It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling,[a] that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7Also it was allowed(A) to make war on the saints and to conquer them.[b] And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8and all(B) who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in(C) the book of life of(D) the Lamb(E) who was slain.

Indeed, if the Lamb of God was slain before the world, it explains how some could partake in the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament; it explains how the prayers were heard in the Old Testament; it explains how the Old Testament saints were saved.  Because the work on the cross was already prophesied in the story of the Tabernacle, but actually already done before the foundation of the world!  Christ’s incarnation is but a replay, a manifestation in the physical world of what has already occured in the spiritual world!  Christ’s incarnation is a fulfillment, a theatre, of things already accomplished.  The victory was secured in Genesis 3:15 because it is already done.  We know the OT saints had the Spirit in them; how else could they be saved?  We know the OT saints had their prayers heard, but was it through Aaron’s work, or was it through Christ alone?  We know that the OT saints were saved (look at Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah), but how could they be if the work on the cross is not accomplished?  Indeed, the work of the cross is prophecied in the OT, because it is already accomplished before the creation of the world.  The world, after all, is a theatre of God’s glory in which we partake.

Exodus 28-30: Tabernacle and Instructions (pt.2)

Exodus 25-27: The Tabernacle and Instructions (pt.1)

So we are embarking on the Tabernacle series!

These chapters of Exodus are extremely important in establishing the truths about this holy sanctuary which God wants the Israelites to make exactly (Exodus 25:9).  The details are uncanny, and undoubtedly they contribute much to knowing more about Jesus unsurprisingly.

William Brown’s book titled “The Tabernacle: Its Priests and Its Services” has definitely given me much help in understanding the architectural and spiritual meaning behind the Tabernacle: I highly recommend it as basic literature.  Though I feel he can go further with the spiritual significances because he seems to shy away from the spiritual, and focus somewhat more on the architectural.  Neither should be compromised. Many of the images are taken from his book… I remain ignorant whether there are copyright laws against me posting them here.  Feel free to prosecute.

Another note is that there are many references to ‘cubits’ and lengths, breadths, widths… not to under-estimate their significance, but I will be focusing mostly on the significance of the architecture, rather than reproduce the architecture itself unless there is something which I think needs particular noting.  That is why I have the images to aid me.  Remember though:  they may not necessarily aid you if they are inaccurate portrayals (e.g. the cherubim on the ark may not have looked like that, given that not all cherubim looked human, or looked like human babies.)

1.  The items used (Exodus 25:1-9)

2.  The Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22)

3.  The Table for Bread (Exodus 25:23-30)

4.  The Golden Lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40)

5.  The Tabernacle structure (Exodus 26)

6.  The Bronze Altar (Exodus 27:1-8 )

7.  The Court of the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:9-19)

8.  Oil for the Lamp (Exodus 27:20-21)

NB:  This is one of the rare times where I can comfortably use the sub-titles offered in the ESV!  More than often they detract from what Scripture actually says – so praise God for these specific sub-titles for once!

1.  The items used (Exodus 25:1-9)

There is much spiritual significance behind every time used – indeed, God’s plan to use the picture of trees, rivers, water, seeds, the sea, the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. have been extremely helpful in aiding our exegetical method.  If the truth of God is in the details, the very details which He provides for us, then we should spend time scrutinising them for greater worship.

First and foremost, the contributions come from “every man whose heart moves him” (v.2) – there is a sense of voluntariness for the contributions, but also implies that this is no legalistic venture.  This is a venture where the heart-circumcised may participate:

(a)  Gold, silver, bronze (v.3)

(b)  Blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins (v.5)

(c)   Acacia wood (v.5)

(d)  Oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense (v.6-7)

(e)  Onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece (v.7)

The above 5 groups of items are used for the making of the holy sanctuary.  Their significance is not apparent yet, and will only come to light when we see how these items are being used – nonetheless, remind yourself that God is in the details, the item used, the way in which the items were contributed (by a moving-heart) and the way in which the items will be implemented.

2.  The Ark of the Covenant – the Father (Exodus 25:10-22)

v.10 – made of acacia wood

v.11 – it is overlaid with pure gold, inside and out

v.12 – 4 rings of gold, on four feet

v.13 – poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold

v.14-15 – poles to be inserted into the rings on the side, and to remain there

v.16 – the almighty testimony (the 10 words/commandments) placed into the ark!

v.17 – mercy seat of pure gold again

v. 18-20 – two cherubim of gold, of hammered work, wings above and overshadowing the mercy seat

v.21 -22 – it is here that the LORD will meet with the High Priest, giving commandments for the people of Israel

Note that the ark of the covenant is basically a wooden box made of acacia wood covered in gold.  The Mercy Seat is its special lid, and inside the ark are three items: the stone tablets of the 10 words; a jar of manna; and Aaron’s budding branch (the latter two placed there later: the 10 words being of greatest importance seeing that it was mentioned both in v.16 and v.21-22).

The Ark of the Covenant was to be placed inside the Holy of Holies – the Most Holy Place.  We will go to the details of the Most Holy Place when we come to consider the tabernacle structure.  Note for now the interesting detail: why is the Ark of the Covenant, the Table for Bread and the Golden Lampstand mentioned BEFORE the Tabernacle structure in Exodus 26?  Surely any architect would start with the structure, before going into the furniture of the structure?

The “Mercy Seat”, the gold used for the entire structure (made of wood) should also be considered as a throne – in 1 Samuel 4:4 the language used is that the ark of the covenant is enthroned between the cherubim.  No doubt, this ark also symbolised the throne of the Father in heaven – c.f. Daniel 7:9-10 and Revelation 4:1-3.  The former book speaks of the Ancient of Days, whose throne was flaming with fire, and wheels were all ablaze.  The latter letter speaks of the throne in heaven where a rainbow, resembling an emerald encircled the throne.  Although the throne was spoken of in two different manners, the lake of fire coming out from the throne is akin to the lake of fire referred to in Revelation 20:15.  However, the throne of the Father in heaven, if speaking of the covenant rainbow established after the global diluvian punishment, then the message spoken of is that of peace and eternity, rather than contention and eternal hell.

Then there is Isaiah 37:16 who speaks of the LORD who dwells between the cherubim; and Ezekiel 1:4-5, 26-28 speaks of four living creatures and the throne of God:

4As I looked, behold,(J) a stormy wind came(K) out of the north, and a great cloud, with(L) brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire,(M) as it were gleaming metal.[b] 5And from the midst of it came the likeness of(N) four living creatures…

26And above the expanse over their heads there was(BA) the likeness of a throne,(BB) in appearance(BC) like sapphire;[f] and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27And(BD) upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were(BE) gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and(BF) there was brightness around him.[g] 28Like the appearance of(BG) the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

So these four living creatures had something of the likeness of a throne above them, and seated above the throne is no mere human (though he had a human appearance) – but this man was wearing gleaming metal, with the appearance of fire enclosed all around, and brightness around him; like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud (the rainbow), so was the appearance of the brightness.  If you are still confused about this man who was sitting on the throne:

Such was the appearance of the likeness of(BH) the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it,(BI) I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (continuing v.28 )

It is therefore quite clear that we should consider the meaning of the ark of the covenant, on which is the Mercy Seat lid, to be considered as a throne imitating the throne in heaven.  But weren’t we speaking of two cherubim?  Indeed: but we need not go into the detail now when the other two angels were added, and the significant parallels between the four angels surrounding the throne of God in Ezekiel (and Revelation) – check out 1 Chronicles 28 to make meaning of the chariot angels and the cherubim.

Then the next question comes: why make the ark out of wood, covered in gold?  Firstly, the significance of gold is that of royalty and divinity (Matthew 2:1; Revelation 1:12-13; 21:18-21).  But this ark isn’t made of real gold – it is only painted with gold.  I think the significance is great here:  it is basically saying that the ark, in itself, is just a temporary structure.  The gold is just on the surface: it is only symbolic.  What is the make-up of the ark though?  WOOD – the wood which speaks of the cross.  Thus, the meaning of gold-covering the wood is simple: it is that of the royalty, painted over the heart of the item which is made of the wood prophesying the cross of Christ.  So also, the cross is at the centre of our lives: and on the outside, we are painted with the golden colours of royalty when we are clothed with righteousness.  I’ve heard other interpretations of the acacia wood as that of Christ’s humanity; and the gold paint as that of Christ’s divinity.  The acacia wood = earthly life (grown from the soil on earth); the golden paint = prophetic visions of Christ as Eternal and Divine Son.  I personally favour the interpretation of the wood speaking of the cross of Christ, which undergirds not only the ark, but much of the entire tabernacle.

The function of the Mercy Seat above all speaks of its significance; in Exodus 25:22, when God says that he will meet with humanity above the cover, between the two cherubim: that place of meeting and atonement, the lid of the Ark is therefore rightly labeled as the mercy seat.  The Mercy Seat “symbolically ‘absorbed’ the judgment of God so that there could be a meeting with humanity” (Tom Parsons).  This is because the ark of the covenant is a living paradox: on one hand, the Mercy Seat was placed inside the Holy of Holies.  If someone wanted to go into the Most Holy Place it also meant death, because of the separation presented by the curtain between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place.  That is why, in later laws given, that once a year the Mercy Seat was sprinkled with blood to bring peace and atonement, explaining Parsons conclusion of the Mercy Seat being rightly named as such. And only by the blood sacrifice on the Mercy Seat can one present the apparent paradox of God accepting sinners into the throne room of the Father!  Romans 3:25 displays Paul’s use of this Mercy Seat imagery to explain how the Mercy Seat absorbs God’s wrath.

3.  The Table for Bread – the Son (Exodus 25:23-30)

The table of the Presence was a wooden table overlaid with gold, having a special carrying pole and on the table were placed 12 loaves of bread (possibly representing the necessity of the 12 loaves of bread for the 12 tribes of Israel).  It, like the ark, is made of acacia wood (v.23), and also has four rings of gold with holders for the poles.  Most importantly let’s look at the word “Presence” used in Scripture.  In Exodus 33:14-15:

14And he said,(A) “My presence will go with you, and(B) I will give you rest.” 15And he said to him,(C) “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.

and again in Deuteronomy 4:36-37:

36(A) Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and(B) you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. 37And because(C) he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them[a] and brought you out of Egypt(D) with his own presence, by his great power…

What we should understand is that there is a real difference between the LORD, and His “presence”.  Moses is in Exodus 33:15 is not saying that he wants the LORD to be really with him, physically – especially not after the whole explanation of the Holy of Holies and the significance of us not being able to be with the LORD Father directly because of the untorn curtain which only the LORD Son can pass through.  Unsure about that?  Look at Judges 2:1-4

1Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to(A) Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said,(B) ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2(C) and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land;(D) you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? 3So now I say,(E) I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become(F) thorns in your sides,[a] and their gods shall be a snare to you.” 4As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept.

Note that it is the angel of the LORD who says that he brought the Israelites up out of Egypt.  Note: NOT THE LORD Father, but the ANGEL of the LORD.  In conjunction with Deuteronomy 4, this ANGEL is the PRESENCE of God the Unseen Father!

As if it isn’t already made obvious enough that this bread of presence refers to the bread of the Angel of the LORD, the New Testament hammers the point down your throat when Jesus refers to himself as the Bread of Heaven in John 6, the manna which pointed towards Christ – “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (read John 6:48-51).

4.  The Golden Lampstand – the Holy Spirit (Exodus 25:31-40)

This golden lampstand, a beautiful item, was fuelled by olive oil to each of its seven branches.  Immediately the number should connote some significance.  This lampstand is made to look like a golden plant of some sort, with branches.  Unsurprisingly it is also of pure gold, and the golden plant with branches have three cups on either side made to look like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower (v.33), thus six branches in total.  The detail is wonderfully painted out – but note: this is the only item which is completely gold inside out.

Oil has no small significance throughout scripture.  Paul Blackham states that there are three classes of persons anointed with oil: priests (Exodus 29:7); prophets (1 Kings 19:16); and kings (1 Samuel 10:1, 6, 10).

The oil showed that these three classes of persons needed the Spirit to equip them for their work.  Note that this isn’t about conversion – this is simply speaking of equipping prior to God’s work!  In 1 Samuel 16:13, King David was anointed by Samuel in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on “the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power“.  Do remember to differentiate between the Spirit coming upon people in power and the Spirit coming to dwell within people.  Thus, the lampstand fuelled with olive oil represents something of the Spirit of God.  This significance needs not further implication, for Zechariah 4:1-6 speaks quite in depth about it:

1And(A) the angel who talked with me came again(B) and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. 2And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold,(C) a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and(D) seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. 3And there are(E) two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4And I said to(F) the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me,(G) “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to(H) Zerubbabel:(I) Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

Read especially Psalm 23 and 133, for they speak of deeper significances of the Holy Spirit as symbolised by the oil.  And in Revelation 4, the seven lamps before the throne of God represented the seven-fold Spirit, ruah, of God – and the lampstands spoken of in Revelation 1-2 speaks of the Holy Spirit who gives life to the churches; and the power of the Spirit is taken away when the church refuses to obey Christ.

5.  The Tabernacle structure (Exodus 26)

The structure of the tabernacle is clearly very important – besides being described here, it will be described again in Exodus 35-40 when it is actually being built.  Why record the detail again when Scripture has already recorded it when the LORD is giving Moses the instructions?

Remember that Moses had now gone up into the thick darkness on top of the mountain (Exodus 24:15-18 ) as if he were shown the reality of heaven and earth in the presence of the Unseen Father.  The common refrain in the instructions concerning the tabernacle is: “Make this according to the pattern shown you on the mountain”.  This refrain did not only refer to the structure, but also at the end of the instructions for the furniture as well (Exodus 25:40).

There are particular divisions which the LORD has made concerning the structure.  We have gone through the materials, and the furniture already.  Here is the overview of the instructions though:

Scripture

The Divisions of Instructions

25:1-8

25:9

Materials for making the Tabernacle

Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you

25:10-39

25:40

The Furniture: Ark of Covenant, Table of Shewbread, Golden Lampstand

See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain

26:1-29

26:30

The Tabernacle Structure

Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain

26:31-27:7

27:8

Dividing curtain and the altar of burnt offering

It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain

27:9-31:10

31:11

The priestly work of the Tabernacle

They are to make them just as I commanded you

So having gone through the first two divisions, we now reach the Tabernacle Structure instructions.  The significance of the furniture (and some of the materials) we have already considered at length; but the structure may provide further insights as to why the furniture were instructed to be made PRIOR to the structure of the tabernacle; and then we come to realise the significance of the locations of the furniture in relation to this structure which is made after the furniture.

Single Undivided Room

Firstly, let’s take a look at the measurement of ‘cubits’ – in the ancient standard of measurement, it is roughly 18inches/45cm.  If you read from verses 15 to 25, you would come to the conclusion that the tabernacle was a covered wooden structure measuring 45 feet long, 15 feet wide and 15 feet high (13.5 m by 4.5 m by 4.5 m).  From verses 1-29, the tabernacle is described as a single, undivided room.

If the entire tabernacle is made “according to the pattern shown on the mountain” (aka according to the pattern of heaven which Moses is now seeing in the thick darkness, as shown on the mountain), then the implication is that the entire tabernacle represents heaven and earth.  This is why –

At the beginning of Genesis, the heavens and earth were created, and I have already stated in the earlier posts in Genesis that the Garden of Eden has also been called the Garden of God, and that the garden is on a hill (hence the terminology ‘who can ascend the “holy hill”‘ alludes very much to the Garden of Eden on a hill).  The very term Garden of God implies that the Garden is readily accessible to God, and that originally there was true harmony between heaven and earth (note: this is not the same as saying that earth and heaven are the same thing; they are different, but they are also in harmony, lest I be charged with Islamic views of the garden of Eden being in heaven!).

Therefore, the implication of the first instructions of the tabernacle is that the LORD’s intention is for heaven and earth to be united together in one.  That was what happened at the Garden, and that is what the world is re-created towards at this very moment.  The New Heaven and Earth will be united into one tabernacle room without division.  This first set of instructions is rightly divided from the second set of instructions by v.30: “Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain”.

The two rooms divided by a curtain

In v.31-37, we get the second set of instructions: two new things are added – the dividing curtain, and the altar of burnt offering.

Because of this ‘curtain’, the inner room is now 15 feet by 15 feet by 15 feet (effectively a cube of 4.5 metres cubed).  This is an important detail.  In Zechariah 5, the flying scroll is 30 feet long and 15 feet wide/high – this is exactly the same size as the second room, NOT including the Most Holy Place.  It is exactly the same size as the HOLY place.  If we follow the spiritual significance of the Most Holy Place as equivalent to heaven, then this flying scroll represents our earth.  The Angel of the LORD then explains (Zechariah 5:3-4):

3Then he said to me, “This is(DY) the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who(DZ) steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who(EA) swears falsely[j] shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side. 4I will send it out, declares the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of(EB) him who swears falsely by my name. And(EC) it shall remain in his house and(ED) consume it, both timber and stones.”

It is a judgment on the land; thus it concerns not the heaven, the most holy place – but only the holy place.  The funny thing is, if the allusion is accurate, that the Most Holy Place is heaven, and the Holy Place is earth, then what is the court of the tabernacle?  This requires some explaining, and of course defining what ‘heaven’ literally means, what ‘earth’ means (i.e. not the physical earth as WE know it) and what the ‘court of the Tabernacle’ represents.

Secondly, the cube structure is spoken of in Revelation 21:15-16:

15And the one who spoke with me(A) had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia.[a] Its length and width and height are equal.

Indeed, this is the same cube spoken of in the instructions – and perhaps Moses was already peering into the heavenly realities of the heavenly city spoken of to Apostle John!

Thick Curtain

This is perhaps why the thick curtain should garner some attention.  Exodus 26:31-35

31(AO) “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and(AP) fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 32And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. 33And you shall hang(AQ) the veil from the clasps, and bring(AR) the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. 34(AS) You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. 35And(AT) you shall set the table outside the veil, and the(AU) lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table, and you shall put the table on the north side.

So we see that it is a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen (v.31), with cherubim worked into it.  Understanding the analogy of the Most Holy Place being heaven, and Holy place as earth, then similarly the cherubim should represent the very same cherubim who guarded man from the tree of life in Genesis 3:24 – the cherubim placed on the east of the Garden and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

We know that what is being shown in the instructions of the tabernacle is just a shadow of heavenly realities: the writer of Hebrews explains just as much in chapter 8:1-5:

1Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest,(A) one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2a minister in the holy places, in(B) the true tent[a] that the Lord(C) set up, not man. 3For(D) every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus(E) it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5They serve(F) a copy and(G) shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying,(H) “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”

Come to the Court of the Tabernacle in Exodus 27:9-19, then we can fully understand on a macro-scale the significance of these divisions.  Before moving onto the Bronze Altar, let’s consider the significance of the materials used for the Tabernacle thus far.

Materials used for the Tabernacle

I’ve listed all the materials used for the Tabernacle in general, but now we can consider the way they are used and the significance:

(1)  Curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns (v.1 and 31) with cherubim skillfully worked into them.  The only curtain/veil not given cherubim to be skillfully worked into it is the entrance of the tent (v.36).

(2)  Goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle (v.7)

(3)  Rams’ skins (v.14) a covering for the tent under the goatskins on the top (this is therefore a two-fold skin roof)

(4)  Forty bases of silver used to build the foundation (Chapter 27v.9-19)

For (1), the details are not only on the veil, but also on the curtains.  Brown notes that what was used was undyed and dyed linen yarn – some of which was the finest pure white linen yarn (Hebrew: “shesh”), and the same white material dyed blue, purple and scarlet.  The colours are most important: the combination of purple and scarlet most often refers to Babylon, the nation of prostitutes.  This is explained in Revelation 18:16, and Revelation 17:4-6 (the woman with the blood of the saints).  The order of the instruction goes from blue to purple and scarlet to white (undyed) linen.  Esther 8:15 describes it quite well: the royal colours of blue and white.  What this essentially means is that blue is a royal colour; purple and scarlet is a picture of punishment on the Woman of Babylon; and white is a return to that combination with royalty, and undoubtedly a colour of purity and of sins cleansed, immediately proceeding from scarlet, the colour of blood shed by Christ and his martyrs.

For (2), the goat-hair as a tent is used to fill the deficiencies of the curtains which may not have filled up the walls and the ceilings of the tabernacle.

For (3), rams’ skins are definitely red, and goatskins are known as tough skins of a sea animal. There is much significance in this goatskin especially, given that the Tabernacle is effectively water-proof because of this goatskin.  Knowing that the rain, the rainbow and the flood all pointed towards the global punishment, the effective message is that the Tabernacle and what is inside of it (i.e. NOT including the uncovered courtyard) is protected from the global judgment to come.  If we were to assume therefore that the Holy Place is just earth in a generic sense, then we would be doing injustice to the symbolism of the goatskin.  The rams’ skin, undoubtedly, another picture of red meaning punishment for sins.

For (4), the forty bases of silver were taken from the Israelites (Exodus 38:28 ) who contributed ever so minimally, but ever so greatly to the very foundation of the tabernacle!  So also, by God’s grace, the Israelites give so little, yet in comparison God has given them so much more.  But we are honoured to play a role in the foundation of the Tabernacle, just as God has called us to play such a role when we give our life to Jesus.

6.  The Bronze Altar (Exodus 27:1-8 )

The altar is given horns on its four corners – and it is of course an altar of offering.  What else has four corners of horns?  Revelation 9:13-20:

13Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from(V) the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release(W) the four angels who are bound at(X) the great river Euphrates.” 15So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released(Y) to kill a third of mankind. 16The number of(Z) mounted troops was(AA) twice ten thousand times ten thousand;(AB) I heard their number. 17And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire[c] and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were(AC) like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.

20The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues,(AD) did not repent of(AE) the works of their hands nor give up worshiping(AF) demons(AG) and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21nor did they repent of their murders or their(AH) sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

The four horns seem to relate directly to the four angels.  How fitting it is then that the bronze altar has these details:

3You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and(BB) forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze.

Fire, ashes… these are marks of one of the few plagues in Revelation, and seems to speak a lot about punishment.  Indeed, this is an altar of offering, and the similar punishment is re-enacted on the sacrificial offering; but it helps to understand the detail of such a sacrificial offering, how it comes around and how God puts into practice these judgments by His four angels – and that these sacrificial offerings, which don’t SAVE us, but point to the Christ who is the full meaning of the true Sacrificial Offering once and for all.

How fitting it is that the Brazen Altar is in the Courtyard, rather than in the Tabernacle?  The significance of the Courtyard we now consider in the next part…

7.  The Court of the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:9-19)

Thus, the fenced area of the tabernacle is quite important.  Note that similar curtains are used for the court as it is used for the entrance of the tabernacle without the cherubim worked into them.  After understanding Hebrews 8:1-5, and the significance of the Most Holy Place, and the Holy Place, the Court can imply one thing: the entire creation.

This is actually contributed by the understanding of the cherubim who are in communion with God on some level.

The Most Holy Place:  where the ark of the covenant lies (Exodus 26:34) is where the UNSEEN Father resides, only seen by the Great High Priest Christ.  This Most Holy Place isn’t merely heaven (aka skies), but the third heaven where God resides (2 Corinthians 12).

The Holy Place:  The Table of Shewbread and the Golden Lampstand therefore both stand in the Holy Place (Exodus 26:35). The Holy Place is not earth in the sense of the entire creation as we see it.  Rather, we have contact with the Table of Shewbread and the Golden Lampstand because we are in the church of Christ.  Because, as the bride of Christ, as the Christian, we live by faith in CHRIST alone, saved and sanctified by the power of the SPIRIT alone.  Yet, despite direct contact with Christ and Spirit, Christ is still our mediator with the Father as is the Spirit (Romans 8 ) who aids us in our prayer to Him (and we only have the Spirit because of Christ’s work on the cross coupled with his death, resurrection and ascension!).

The Courtyard: This is the rest of creation.  The reason why the entrance to the Tabernacle, the Holy Place, has no cherubim is because the cherubim is not needed to guard us from anything – to enter the Tabernacle, to enter the church of Christ, Christ himself is knocking on our door, and we enter into communion with Him.  There is no angel BLOCKING our way to the church of Christ.  Yet, with the rest of creation, there are no ‘angels’, no ‘cherubim’ protecting the entire creation.  If anything, this is reinforced by the understanding of the two-fold skin cover of the Tabernacle: if rain falls, the waters of judgment will fall on the sinners who stand outside the tabernacle.  Yet, if you are in the tabernacle, you are shielded spiritually from Satan’s attacks by the cherubim who are our ministers (Hebrews 1), the cherubim who are inlaid throughout the entire Tabernacle (but not the courtyard) – and also from within, the power of Christ and the Spirit taking us through to the Most Holy Place.

Thus, this courtyard is the entire creation as we see it, prone to judgment; then a smaller remnant of that courtyard, of this entire creation of people, are the saved.  Those already in the tabernacle will look forward to the tearing of the veil, which is symbolically destroyed by Christ: but the true veil still exists, for heaven and earth are still separate.  Thus, we look forward enthusiastically to the day when the true veil will be destroyed, and we will commune with God and have a Wedding Feast with him in New Jerusalem where Heaven AND Earth meet!

8.  Oil for the Lamp (Exodus 27:20-21)

The Priests, the Levites will do such from generations to generations:

Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the LORD. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel (v.21). It shall be a statute forever – but look at the Jews now!  They have lost both their temple, their tabernacle and their ‘pride’ – did the LORD lie when he meant that statute is meant to last forever?  No – for even the Levitical priesthood pointed towards Christ, the true High Priest; and through Christ the High Priest, the oil shall be tended to the lamp from evening to morning before the LORD.  In Christ alone, the SPIRIT will be alive, from evening (meaning trials), to morning (meaning victories in Christ) before the LORD.  This perpetual burning of the Spirit is the fight of faith, of Christ Jesus the perfecter and founder of our faith borne by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2).  Will you be one of the bride, ready for the bridegroom’s return with oil in her lamp, or will you need to ask someone else for the oil because you have not been in Christ, who is the one who gives us the Spirit which the oil points towards?

CONCLUSION

To end on Hebrews 9:6-12:

6These preparations having thus been made,(A) the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7but into the second only(B) the high priest goes, and he but(C) once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that(D) the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9(which is symbolic for the present age).[a] According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered(E) that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10but deal only with(F) food and drink and(G) various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

11But when Christ appeared as a high priest(H) of the good things that have come,[b] then through(I) the greater and more perfect tent ((J) not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he(K) entered(L) once for all into the holy places, not by means of(M) the blood of goats and calves but(N) by means of his own blood,(O) thus securing an eternal redemption.
Exodus 25-27: The Tabernacle and Instructions (pt.1)