Let's turn in our Bibles to Exodus chapter 19 this evening.
A word of introduction as we get started tonight: We are going to go, as we have been the last three weeks at a very fast pace, so it's good to take notes but it's also good to just let it soak in. I've been known for speaking fast, and that's so I can cover a lot of territory. Yes, we are flying over the Scriptures, and no, we are not covering every verse, "And what about that verse and what about that section?" What I'm hoping to do is two things: number one - wet your appetite for you go back to study those portions on your own; number two - to help you navigate as you see it from a fly-by perspective. How to navigate your own personal adventure, you might say, through the Word of God and there are a lot of ways to do that. But, this is designed, once again, to give you an overview so we see how all the Bible fits together. We only have a year, so we have to move quickly. We've gone through the Bible verse by verse - one verse at a time and I think we've covered just about every verse in all 66 books. It took us 14 years to do that. That's all on tape, so if you want go back and listen to that, you can. But this is a different perspective. We hope that you will enjoy this way of going through it as well.
Let's just open with a word of prayer. Father, we do give You our hearts, give You our minds, our bodies, we place them before You as a living sacrifice. It's our spiritual act of worship - our reasonable service. We give You every second of every minute of this 50 minutes or so that we're going to be together. We pray Lord, that we would have a hunger and a thirst that is insatiable. I thank You for so many people in Albuquerque that have come out and I do pray that You would fill this city with Your doctrine through these people. I pray that what is learned would then be taught and multiplied several times over. In Jesus' name, Amen.
A little over a year ago, there was a newspaper article about a strange sight in Berlin, Germany. Let me read it to you. "Numerous sightings of massive fireballs in the skies over Germany this week have lead to an upsurge in reports of UFO's. The scientists believe that this could be a bazaar meteor blitz. According to NASA, such fireballs have been reported elsewhere in the world and may also be due to the fact that the earth is now orbiting through a swarm of space debris. One amateur astronomer by the name of Verner Walters, said, 'This week we've had at least 15 e-mails and phone calls from people reporting these fireballs. Some people said it looks like something out of a science fiction horror film.'" Now, segue quickly, and imagine in your mind what it must have looked like from afar to look at Mount Sinai with lightening flashes and the noise of thunder as God descended upon that mountain. That's what we're going to look at in brief tonight. Our journey has led us to Mount Sinai; we're there as Moses gives the Law and we're going to stay there for a while as we finish this book. Now, in review, we said that there are two major themes of this book: Redemption and Revelation. God redeems them from Egypt, then He reveals His law to the people of Israel through Moses, the Lawgiver. And if you remember from last week, and we only covered 18 chapters, we noted that chapters 1 through 12 could be called Domination in Egypt or by Egypt, chapters 13 through 18 could be titled Liberation from Egypt; and now, chapters 19 through the end of the book, (chapter 40), is Revelation after Egypt. So, they've left Egypt, they're out in the wilderness, God has them safe and secure, so to speak; He's fed them with manna from heaven, (you tasted a little bit of that last week), water from the rock, and now that they're settled and nestled in that place, God is going to reveal to them how they are to live with one another and before God. He's going to give them the Law. The emphasis in the book is going to move from narration of a story to legislation; the laws that will be given for them and for their generations. The Jews call this part of Exodus - that is the giving of the law - the kernel and the core of the nation's life because the law, to the Jew, is the identity of the nation. It's a covenant that God gave to Moses. It is good to have an identity. If I were to ask you, in a word, give me what your identity is, your purpose statement in life in just a word or two or three - I tell you what mine would be: In Christ; I'm in Christ. I'm a new creation in Christ. I have blessings in heavenly places in Christ. All that I am now is because I am in Jesus Christ and what He has done for me. We live in a very aimless time of society and in a very aimless culture. No values or wandering values - people searching for them. It's great to know who you are, where you've come from, and where you're going.
Verse 1, chapter 19, "In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai." Now, there they are in front of a mountain, Mount Sinai, the Arabs call in Jebel Musa, the Mountain of Moses. It jets 7500 feet up above sea level. It's quite high; I've climbed it before and it's not easy. It is not dissimilar to what Sandia Mountain looks like from the city of Albuquerque, jutting up high into the sky and climbing the La Luz Trail to get up. "For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, 'Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself.'" In other words: remember where you were; remember what I've done; remember how I've cared for you. "Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine." This is an important text here. God likens Himself in His care for them like an eagle would bear her young on eagles' wings. The eagle that is spoken about here in the text was called the Griffin Eagle and it inhabited that part of the world and it would build its nest high up in rocky, inaccessible places; hard to get to. There, isolated from all natural protection and provision, that mother eagle would care for her young. And so it was with the Children of Israel. God brought them from Egypt where they had plenty of food, at one time at least, took them way in the middle nowhere, crossing the Red Sea, out in the desert, where there was no natural protection nor provision; and there God miraculously provided for them while they were in the wilderness. Notice also, in verse 5, God says, "Then you shall be a special treasure to me." 'Segula' is the word that is used here and it means something very precious, a precious object. I wonder if you view yourself as God views you. I don't know what messages you say about yourself. "I'm worthless; I'll never amount to anything; I'm not really that good at a lot of things." But understand something; value always depends on what someone is willing to pay for it. I've seen the house market lately in Albuquerque. Let me back up a little bit. The housing market in California? What people pay for like a little tiny house? It's worth like a tenth of what people pay for it, but the value goes up because people are willing to pay that much for it. You know what God was willing to pay for you? The death and the blood of His own Son. So never say, "I'm worthless; I can't do anything; I'm no good" - when God values you enough that He would send His Son to purchase you so that you could be His own special treasure. You are a child of the King. You're a son or a daughter of God. Verse 8, "Then all the people answered together and said, 'All that the Lord has spoken we will do.' So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord." Now, that's a bold statement. It's sort of like saying, "Okay, you give us the law, bring it on, we'll do it all." Now it sounds good, but God saw a problem with that. It's not mentioned here, but in Deuteronomy, chapter 5, (we'll be there in a few weeks), you'll see it. This story is told but God's comment is added. God says, "Oh, that My people had such a heart in them." God realized that the weakness of the law was a weakness of the human heart itself to keep it. We're not able to keep the law. That's why in the book of Romans, chapter 3, we read, "Whatever the law says it says to those who are under the law that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world judged as guilty before God." That's why in Galatians the Bible says the law is a school master or a tutor. It leads you to Christ. You read the law, you try to keep it, you fail, you feel bad, you try it again, you fail, you feel worse, and eventually you go, "I need help; I can't keep this thing. I need a Redeemer; I need a Savior; Someone who can take all of the requirements of the law, live the perfect life that I could never live and just count me as being righteous." And that's what the new covenant is all about.
Verse 16, "Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thundering and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly." It's like what Verner Walter said in that little quote from the newspaper, "Like a science fiction horror film." Now, Mount Sinai appeared to be from a distance like an erupting volcano. It wasn't a beautiful sight. Don't picture the Children of Israel going, "Oh, isn't this wonderful? This is nice. Let's have a picnic." This was a dreadful sight. The people would shrink back in fear. You wonder, "Well, what's that all about?" Because it is to show an attribute of God that most people have forgotten about today. And that is the utter and total holiness of God. He is so pure and utterly unique and absolutely holy that when you put someone - that One - that unique and holy in the presence of mankind, this is what it looks like. The rabbis used to say, "No mortal can gaze on the unveiled majesty of God." So this was dramatic, lightening, thundering, people were trembling and quaking because God was speaking.
Now, God doesn't always speak that way. I remember as a brand new Christian, I read this and I went up on a mountain and I thought, "Okay, I'm on a mountain, piece of paper and pencil, and I even got a little wooden staff; a broom handle, (that's all we had), and I walked up to this mountain and thought, "Okay, God's going to talk to me." And I waited for a long time and I didn't get any lightening or thunder or "Go to Africa." I didn't get any of that. God doesn't always speak that way. You'll read later on that a guy named Elijah goes to the same mountain, Mount Horeb, or Mount Sinai, and God tells him to come out of the cave that he had spent the night in. And it said, "A great wind came by that broke the rocks, but the Lord wasn't in the wind. And then a great earthquake shook the mountain, but the Lord wasn't in the earthquake. And then in a fire, but the Lord wasn't in the fire", and then finally, and you know the rest of the story, "A small still voice spoke to Elijah." On Mount Sinai, God spoke quietly, at other times God can speak dramatically.
So Mount Sinai; the place of the law, in contrast to Mount Zion. That's what Christians identify with. We're not here identifying with Mount Sinai as much as with Mount Zion. It's the law versus grace. John talks about Jesus, the Son of God, coming, tabernacling upon the earth, and it says this, "For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." And the writer of Hebrews spends the latter portion of chapter 12 making a distinction, metaphorically between Mount Sinai, the law, and Mount Zion, grace. Let me just read a portion to you. This is Hebrews 12, "For you have not come to this mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to the blackness and darkness and the tempest, But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant." Herein lies the fundamental difference between the synagogue and the church; between Judaism and Christianity; and that is the synagogue believes that the covenant God made with Moses on Sinai is an eternal covenant, whereas we know that was a covenant God once made with a particular people that had an end game in mind. As Jeremiah 31 predicted, "God would put a new covenant and write it on their hearts."
So in chapter 20, we get into and we've been looking at that on Sunday morning, so we'll just kind of skate through it briefly. God gives the law, the Top Ten, or the Ten Commandments, but not only that; that's just the beginning. There are many laws in chapters to come after the Ten Commandments. Basically, as we've noted on Sunday morning, God expects two things from His people: supreme devotion to Him and sincere affection for others. Supreme devotion to Him - that's the first four commandments; sincere affection for others - that's the second six commandments. So the Ten Commandments are split in two. The first four are God centered; the second six are man centered. God gives brief commandments - His Top Ten. No other God's before Me; no images; keep My name revered or Holy; keep the Sabbath. That's the first four. We're to honor our parents; not to murder people; no committing of adultery; no stealing; no lying; and no coveting. That's the second six and that wraps up the Ten Commandments and again we're covering them in depth, so no need to look at them again. Notice that they're in tablet form, or two tables of stone. I'd like to think of it this way - the Ten Commandments were given in 'tablet' form and if you obey them it's going to keep you from having to take other 'tablets'! This is good for living right here! This is healthy; it's like daily vitamins - keep God's Word.
Verse 23, "You shall not make anything to be with Me - gods of silver or gods of gold. You shall not make for yourselves an altar of earth, (or dirt - you would say adobe or stone), You shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you. And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it." I like this about God. It seems that God isn't interested in ornate structure, just keep it simple. Pile a bunch of dirt up there; that's good enough. Throw some rocks on there; that'll serve the purpose. But the idea of going out of your way to make it ornate would simply put all of the attention on the person who designed and built it rather than on God Himself. That seems to be the idea here. I've been in great cathedrals, great Abbeys in England and in Scotland and massive cathedrals and they go in and they'll point out this architect, so and so, and this builder and this artist and they're talking all about what man did. When God said, "You know, that's the problem with ornate structure. Just keep it simple so that people go, 'How great is our God.'" There's nothing wrong with art and beautification, but art must never eclipse heart. God is all about the heart more than He is about art. Remember the woman at the well of Samaria who said, "Well, our fathers worshiped on this beautiful temple, Mount Garizim, you Jews say, 'Jerusalem, that's the temple in the place where one is to worship.'" Jesus said, "That's irrelevant. God's looking for true worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth." It's all about the heart.
Chapters 21 through 24 - this is the nitty gritty of everyday life. This is the place most people reading the Bible slow down. They get all ambitious: Genesis - "That was cool!" Exodus - "This is great!" Then they come to chapter 21 all the way to the end of the book then Leviticus and Numbers and they feel it's hard to go through because of the multitude of laws: social laws, moral laws, spiritual laws, property rights. But we're just going to highlight a few things. In chapter 21, verse 1: "Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them: If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing." Are you noticing by now a pattern in the Bible of six and one that comprise seven? It's the Sabbath law. This in particular, is for indentured servitude. This is how it would work: Let's say you couldn't pay off your debts. Well, there was a way around that. You could become a servant, a slave. You sell yourself to a master and basically what you do is for six years you work off the debt that you owe him. The seventh year, you're to go free because you're a brother. They let you off the hook. However, that servant could say after six years and then into the seventh, "You know, I kind of have a good gig here, I like this guy, in fact I love my master." Then you would be a servant by choice not by debt. If you wanted to do that, they would take you to the door of the house and they would take an awl and run it through your ear - punch a hole in your ear. That shouldn't shock you. People do it all the time, it's called an earring. They poke an awl - or an ice pick - into the ear and open it up. When it dries, they put an earring in there. It signified, "I am a servant, willingly, of this master." So that six and one pattern follows in many areas of life; six days, the seventh day you rest, and we'll find out later on in chapter 23, we won't read it but I'll tell you about it. You would plant your fields and harvest them for six years but on the seventh year you would do nothing. You had a year vacation every six years. Whatever grew on your land you'd take it and harvest it and you'd eat it and you'd let the land recover, or lie fallow. I'm sharing this with you because we're seeing the Bible from 30,000 feet. Six years you work, seventh year lay fallow - six, one. You keep doing that - they didn't do it. They disobeyed this law and they disobeyed it for 490 years. That is why you read at the end of the book of 2 Chronicles, second to the last verse, that the children of Israel went into captivity for 70 years to give the land its Sabbath rest as predicted by the Prophet of Jeremiah to fulfill 70 years. If you don't obey this law for 490 years, that's how many Sabbath years? Seventy. So God said, you owe me 70; I'll take it out of you while you're in Babylon, I'll let the land rest. So that's the overall, overview picture.
Now let me throw something else in since we're at 30,000 feet. Some people see a correspondence in the six and one with what we call in the Bible, the Millennium, or the thousand year reign of Christ. Many scholars believe that Adam was in the garden 4,000 BC, so 6,000 years ago, and that we have been sold under slavery of Satan since the fall for 6,000 years. By the way, in the Jewish calendar the year is 5767 today, not 2007 - almost 6,000 years, some of those scholars say, from the fall of Adam. So that we are very close to that six and one when the entire world could unravel and Christ could come back and ushering in the seventh year, the thousand year reign of Christ on the earth. Interesting, at least.
Well, we get into capital punishment laws. Verse 1:"He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death." Capital punishment is a subject that is hot right now, it's on the news, it has been and there're some proponents and there are some people who want to abolish is all together. Some states practice it; other states do not practice it. Some in quoting the Bible will say, "Well, it's the old covenant, it's the old law." Actually, you're right, but you're not completely right. You see, capital punishment didn't come at the time of Moses, it pre-dated Moses. It goes all the way back to the time of Noah, so it's not just a Mosaic stipulation; it goes all the way back to the very fundamental, after the earth was being repopulated by Noah in Genesis 9. "'Whoever sheds man's blood,' says the Lord, 'by man his blood shall be shed.'" Now in the book of Exodus, we find out that capital punishment is given for these crimes: murder, child sacrifice, kidnapping, sexual immorality - which includes adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, cursing your parents, (just going to let that settle a little bit - you're thinking, boy I'm glad we're living in the New Testament - so am I), witchcraft, magic, astrology, idolatry, and being a false prophet. This is how the Law of Moses views capital punishment. It doesn't see it as murder. People will say, "Capital punishment is bad because you're murdering someone after they murdered someone." The Bible sees it as righteously administered judicial execution, not as murder.
Verse 23, "But if any lasting harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. If a man strikes the eye of his male or female servant, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth." Now, this is a law that becomes known as the Lextalionis, it's a Latin word - the 'law of exact retribution'; that the punishment must fit the crime. It appears in the earliest laws, the earliest codes. The code of Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian text of those kingdoms that this was written in. Now, this is why it's here in the Bible - because God wanted to limit vengeance. People look at this and go, "How barbaric!" You know why God put it here? Because He understood that human nature isn't satisfied with exact retribution - vengeance is never satisfied. It's like, "Oh, you knocked one of my eyes out? Thou shalt be blind in both of your eyes! Oh, you knocked out one of my teeth; thou shall wear dentures for the rest of your life!" You know, we don't want to stop; we want to keep going until it feels right. So, to limit vengeance, the Lextaliones was given. By the way, right out of the Bible, we see this is a problem. In the book of Genesis, chapter 4, verse 24, there's a guy named Lamech and that was his sin. He said, "I have killed a man for wounding me. Even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold then Lamech shall be avenged seventy-seven fold."
Chapter 22 deals with property rights and many of the laws we use today are based right out of this. Chapter 23 are spiritual regulations, spiritual laws, and some of them regulate, let's call them, special events. You know we have a special events coordinator at this church for all the special events we do. God was into some special events. Let's read, verse 14, Exodus 23:"Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib,(or Nisan),for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the first fruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God." People would gather. They would gather from their hamlets, their villages, their cities, and their towns and they would flood to Jerusalem, those in closest proximity especially, three times a year. This would be spiritually and socially uniting as they gathered together. God was big into fellowship. It's sort of like what it says in Hebrews 10, "Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together but exhort one another (or encourage one another), and so much the more as you see the day approaching." The need to get together. So three feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Passover celebrated their redemption. Pentecost celebrated God's provision. Tabernacles celebrated God's protection in the wilderness. You already know about Passover. The lamb's blood was over the lintels and door posts and the blood of the lamb that was slain saved them, redeemed them, from the death angel. By the way, the lamb was selected for Passover, it says here, on the tenth of the month, the tenth of Nisan and slaughtered on Passover, (pecach), the fourteenth day of Nisan. Guess what day Jesus appeared in Jerusalem on a donkey and walked and was accepted, Hosanna in the Highest? On the tenth of Nisan; the day the Lamb is selected and presented. Then He was crucified and killed, we believe, on the fourteenth of Nisan, on Passover and Passover was split in that era - we'll get to that in a few months, I think, as we go through the Bible. The second feast, Pentecost, is interesting because it's the only feast where they were able to eat leavened bread. Now I hope some little bells are going off in your head, because the church was founded on what feast? Pentecost - book of Acts, chapter 2. Isn't it interesting that the only time they could eat leavened bread is the time when Jew and Gentile came together in what is called the church? Let me throw something else out, because we are cruising from 30,000 feet and these are fun facts. There is a Rabbinic tradition that Enoch, back in Exodus, chapter 5 it says that Enoch walked with God and he was not forgotten - God took him. The idea is that God instantly raptured him or translated him from earth to heaven and we find out that's the meaning of it when we get to Hebrews 11. The Rabbinic tradition says that Enoch was born on Pentecost and it was on his birthday that the Lord took him up, before the flood. Interesting, because it could be like just one of those little watermarks, you hold the paper up to the light and go, "Oh, there's like an image behind that." It's almost like a hint by the Holy Spirit, if that is indeed the fact - indicative of the church being raptured. Then the feast of Tabernacles, their protection in the wilderness. Look at verse 19 of chapter 23, "The first of the first fruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk." Or as the King James says, "Seethe a kid in his mother's milk." This is a better translation. When you read that and I read that, what does that mean to you? To me, it's pretty straight forward, and I poured over reams of material over this text. It seems odd but it seems plain that you don't take a little goat and boil it in its mothers' milk. You think, "That's gross! Who would want to do that?" Well, this is the text that has resulted in the kosher kitchen. The reason that Jewish people will separate meat from milk and have two sets of dishes is because of this Scripture. Now you read this and go, "I don't get it. It's almost like they are straining at an interpretation." The idea, and I've talked to Rabbi's about this is that if there is milk in your stomach, or dairy, and you eat a piece of meat and it begins to break down by the gastric juices and it's sort of seething and boiling in there by the breakdown, you're violating that commandment. Now that is as stretched and as farfetched as the Jehovah Witnesses who say, based on the Scripture, "You're not to drink blood," that you can't have a blood transfusion. It's a stretch of the imagination. Now why is this text in here? It was a common pagan practice to take a young animal, like a goat, and boil it in the very substance that gave life to that young goat, its mothers' milk. Incantations were then said over that ritual. Plants and trees were sprinkled and spices and prayers were said. The idea was that we'll be a more fruitful, wealthy, prosperous family if we do that. It was a pagan practice that God was forbidding. You see, it's easy to miss the point in the Bible. You can make the Bible say just about anything. "Well, the Bible says…" Context here helps and you remember in the New Testament that Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Woe unto you Pharisees, you who strain at a gnat but you swallow a camel." When He said that, I can guarantee you there were people going, "Ha, ha, ha, it's a joke!" They were so worried about straining out a gnat, "Oh, a gnat got into the soup; we have to get it out because the law says everything has to be squeezed of its blood and if we have a gnat go in there, it's defiling." So they are straining out gnats but swallowing whole camels. In other words, you're majoring on minor points and you forget the larger aspects of the purpose of the law itself. That's just an example.
Exodus 25 through 27 forms, in part, the very heart of this book, the pattern of the Tabernacle itself. We have some furnishings up here on the stage that are really old. They were built by a guy name Jay McCoughlin about twenty some years ago and repainted like a thousand times. But you'll notice we have a few implements here. And have you smelled the incense? Okay, we're not turning into hippies here, it's because that's on the altar of incense. I'll explain that to you. Chapter 24, verse 17: "The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.'" So chapters 25 through 27, they take in the money for this, the gold the silver, the cloth and they make this tabernacle. A tabernacle was a shack, folks; it was a tent. God camped out 3500 years ago out in the desert with His people. We're going to throw up images of the tabernacle as we go. Now, what made the tabernacle awesome was not the way it looked but its occupant. God decided that in that simple enclosure He would hang out and the Children of Israel would behold His glory.
So let's take a brief tour. If you were to walk up to the tabernacle you would see, first of all, a plain cloth fence that was seven feet tall. And one door; one opening into the tabernacle itself. There is only one way in to the presence of God - not five, not twenty, not make up your own. One way and you have to bring a sacrifice. An animal's blood has to be shed. Are the lights going on about now? It's all a picture of something else that is going to come. Now the courtyard itself was 150 feet deep by 75 feet wide and if you were to walk in, the first thing you would see right ahead of you was a brass altar and to the left hand side, a laver, a basin, where water is. And then beyond that, another tent structure. That tent structure was divided into two rooms. The first room, when you went through the curtain, was 15 feet wide by 30 feet deep; that's called the Holy Place. Then the room beyond that, 15 by 15, was called the Holy of Holies. In the Holy Place, there were some of these articles that I'm going to explain. There was a table with twelve loaves of bread; the table of showbread - this is the Holy Place, the altar of incense, and the menorah - the seven branch candlestick. If you were to walk into the Holy Place, and by the way you never could unless you were a priest, and if you were a priest, you'd go in there to make sure that the showbread was taken care of and that the menorah, the candlestick, was lit. The candlestick would be on your left hand side as you go in; the table of show bread on your right hand side as you go in; the altar of incense, which represented the prayers of the people, was right before the veil that led into the Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, itself. Once you get into the Holy of Holies, there's one piece of furniture in this small room, 15 feet by 15 feet. Inside was the Ark of the Covenant. It was made out of acacia wood, covered with gold; the lid, the mercy seat, was pure gold; and on top were angels, cherubim, or the likeness of it hovering over it, whose wings touched. There were three things inside the Ark - now I know, all we have in our minds is Raiders of the Lost Ark, right? So, I can't fight against Hollywood, but they were the Ten Commandments, not wood, but stone, a golden pot of manna, and a rod (that was Aaron's), that butted. These were momentos that they were to carry through the wilderness. Now, get this visual: blood would be sprinkled on the top of the mercy seat by the high priest. God said, "I'm going to meet you here, on this place - this mercy seat is the place where I will meet with you and have fellowship with you." So inside the Ark were Commandments; the Law of God - God's perfect and utter holy standard that had been broken and broken and broken, time and time again, by all the sins of the people. The holiness of God and the broken law of God were covered by blood. So that God said, "When I look down, I will see the blood." Aren't you glad that when God looks at your life, He sees the blood of Christ? Now if you say, "Well, I'm really not one of those born again Christians. I don't really believe that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sin. I do my best and I work hard and I try to keep the laws and help people across the street…" and all that nonsense - you'll fail - you've already failed. The only hope for mankind is to apply the blood of the Lamb of God that was slain for us to cover our brokenness, our sinfulness. Maybe some of you can relate to this: "Dear Lord, so far today, I've done alright. I haven't gossiped. I haven't lost my temper. I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or over indulgent. I'm thankful for that, but in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed, and from then on, I'm going to need a lot more help, Amen." All of the broken laws that they had were covered by the blood predictive of Christ who would come.
Exodus chapter 25, verse 21: "You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel." The entire tabernacle is a study of itself and how it is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Again, one door and one door, one entrance only. As Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." There's only one way to heaven, friend. It's not by your good works; it's not by believing in any guru or master or any other alternate religion - it's by Christ alone. The entrance to the tabernacle was on, guess what side? The eastern side. Guess what tribe occupied the front part of the eastern side? The tribe of Judah. You had to go through Judah to get into the tabernacle. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah. He was the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Inside the tabernacle of the Holy Place, there were four layers of curtains. White linen on the inside, over that - goat's hair, over that - ram's skins, over that - badger skins on the outside. So on the outside, it looked ugly. On the inside it looked beautiful. There was gold and white and blue and red. That is also like Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "To look on Jesus, He has no form or comeliness, that when we see Him we should not desire Him." I don't think Jesus Christ looked like the holy cards depict Him. You know in all the holy cards, He's just this striking, kind of brownish-blond, American surfer and He's glowing and there's this big halo that kind of walks around wherever He goes. Then when another saint comes into the room, they have a halo but it's just not quite as big, but their face is kind of glowing too. And then there are the people in the crowd, and well, their faces aren't glowing at all. I think you look at Jesus and go, "That's Jesus?" He just looked like a normal guy. But from the inside - the pure, perfect, white, righteous, Son of God - so beautifully pictured here in the tabernacle.
Then there's the menorah. The only source of light in the tabernacle was that. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." There was bread in the tabernacle. Jesus said, "I am the bread of life." There was an altar of incense right before the approach to the Ark veil. By the way, that is the ministry of Jesus Christ today. He prays; He's at the right hand of God making intercession for you. The incense was always a representation of the prayers of the Children of Israel. Then there was the veil in the temple. You can see it here in this picture. You can see the white and then all of that beautiful ornate linen. Just on the other side of that veil was the Holy of Holies. It's the veil that kept everybody out. Nobody, not even a priest, could go into that room. The only one who could go in, once a year, was a high priest. He would sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. Once a year he went in and he had little bells on his robe, because if his heart wasn't completely right and he wasn't totally pure before God, he would just keel over dead and they had a rope tied to him and they'd pull him out and say, "Okay, who's the next high priest?" "Not me! My shift isn't until next month!" What did Jesus do when He died on the cross? What happened in Jerusalem? "The veil of the temple," Matthew 27 tells us, "was torn from top to bottom." God tore the veil, saying, you don't just have to be a high priest - you don't just have to be of the sons of Levi or of that tribe - anybody and everyone can come and have intimate fellowship with that was Aaron's Me, 24/7. So all of it speaks of Christ. We ought not to be surprised because Jesus said, "If you were to believe Moses, you would believe Me, for Moses wrote of Me." Have you ever stopped to ask the question, "Where did Moses write about Jesus?" It's all over here. This tabernacle; all of the sacrifices; a beautiful picture of Christ.
Also, by the way, it's a model of heaven. So if you were to step into the tabernacle, it would be in a crude form on earth, of what it would be like to step into heaven. You're saying, "Now you're getting kind of weird and stretching this thing a little bit." No, I'm not. Listen to Hebrews, chapter 8. "They," the priests, "serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and a shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle, 'See that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'"
So we get to Revelation, chapter 4, John's up in heaven. What does he see? The throne of God, and not two little angels carved in gold where God's throne is, but God Himself and four living creatures with their wings spread out in worship. That's a crude model of what's going on in heaven. He doesn't see a laver for washing anymore but he stands on a glassy sea. Here the laver is hardened. It's become stiffened because there's no need to be cleansed anymore. The cleansing is over. And then instead of an altar for sacrifice, there is the Lamb John sees: the One that looked like it had been slain. He was slain for the sins of the world. It's a picture - a model. Now I'm telling you that so that you'll understand, from 30,000 feet, why so much literature is devoted to the tabernacle. Let me frame it for you. There are only two chapters in the Bible that speak of the creation of the universe, and not even in much detail. There are over 50 detailed chapters that speak about the tabernacle. You ask, "Why?" That is why. Because of what it speaks about.
Chapters 28 through 31 are the priest in the tabernacle. What they are to wear, what they're to do, how they're to be consecrated. Aaron and his sons are taken to the gate, the door of the tabernacle. Blood is put on their ear, their big toe, their right thumb; all speaking of giving their bodies in service to the Lord. These are the priests. I'll tell you a little secret. Some of you may know it; I've told a few of you before. When I was young, it was my mom and dad's hope that one of their four boys would become a priest. So my two older brothers, Jim and Rick, actually went to seminary and were on their way to the priesthood. They dropped out and they got married and it was a disappointment, especially to my mother because she thought, "I'd just love to have one of my boys as a priest." So, then I turn up - the born again one. I'm the last kid. None of them become priests and I become like this born again Protestant to them and I was like their worst nightmare. Until I read 1st Peter that says, "Don't you know that you are chosen generation and a royal priesthood? A nation set apart." And I found that Scripture and said, "Mom, your prayers have been answered - I'm a priest!" She still wasn't that excited.
Chapter 31 is for all my artist friends. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.'" Bezalel was already an artist by profession and now he's given a special anointing by God - an empowering to fulfill God's will. Verse 4: "To design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship." So, they did art, they crafted jewlery, they worked with fine carpentry - that's what they did. You might read that and go, "Okay, cool, so what was their ministry? What's all this about God anointing them and specially empowering them? You described what they did for a living. They were artists. Where's their ministry?" That's it. Their ministry was to be an artist for the glory of God. Sometimes we have the ministry so weird in our minds. We think, "Well, if you're in the ministry you're going to be a Reverend, a Pastor, a Teacher, Doctor." You could insert your name here. That God has raised up 'Frank' or 'George' or 'Nancy' as an accountant or a lawyer (yes, a lawyer) or a doctor or a whole host of other professions as a place to do ministry - a base of operations for God to work. I remember when I was going through school in radiology and I would always read my Bible and somebody said, "Don't you ever want to get into the ministry?" I said, "I am in the ministry, because I'm talking to you right now and since you asked me…" and I went on and told him about Jesus Christ to show him that I was in the ministry. You can be an executive; you can be a skateboarder for the glory of God. Okay, now listen. I don't want to minimize this. There's a skate park and a whole group of kids that the Lord is getting a hold of their hearts and they're taking their skate boarding skills and going out having contests in different parts of the state and country and sharing the Gospel. That's creative - very artistic.
Chapter 32 is the "Uh-oh" chapter. Everything is good, they're hearing God's Word, they made it up to this point, then you read chapter 32 and you think, "Uh-oh", because they really messed up. This chapter gets as much press in the Bible as the exodus out of Egypt. It's a hefty chapter. We'll just skim it. "Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, 'Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' So they broke off their gold earrings and they brought them to Aaron." Verse 4:"And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'" Verse 6: "Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to indulge in revelry." (That's the idea of play - to indulge in pagan revelry.) Goodness! In the midst of God revealing Himself so powerfully to a nation, this quickly they turn away into idolatry and worship this bull. Now Moses gets mad, as we mentioned Sunday, breaks the Ten Commandments on the ground before the mountain, grinds up the calf, puts it in water and makes them drink it. Bummer. Verse 21: "And Moses said to Aaron, 'What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?' So Aaron said, (after he burped up the calf),'Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil.'" Now watch this. This is like classic excuses number 101, "For they said to me, 'Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.' So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.'" "Seriously, Moses, it just walked out! Listen, you had to have been there dude - it was amazing!" What a lame excuse! Somebody once said, "An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie." I'm thinking, "If I was Moses I'd be shaking my head saying, 'You can't come up with anything better than that?'" I've talked to police officers who have told me about excuses that people give them for speeding. One guy said, "Well I had to floor it so I could get it to the gas station because I'm almost out of fuel." Another guy said, "I'm late for a funeral." Of course, the next could be his. I have a question for you as we bring this to a close. "What excuse do you have for not receiving Christ as your Savior? What excuse do you have for being an onlooker but not a receiver of Christ?"
Chapters 33 and 34 are all about a personal encounter that Moses has with God. He sets up a tent where God speaks to him face to face. The glory of God via a cloud descends upon that tent. They speak, it says in this chapter, "face to face" and God promises that His presence will go with them. So in verse 18, here's the highlight, Moses said, "Please show me your glory. Then He said, 'I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.' But He said, 'You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.'" I just have to say, you'd think that Moses might be satisfied, right? He had seen more supernatural wonders than anybody so far. He saw plagues happen supernaturally. I think most of us would be satisfied with watching God plague our enemies. We'd go, "That's cool; I believe!" Then the Red Sea opens up. "Okay! I believe! I'll never doubt you again." Now he goes, "I want more! Show me your glory!" No matter how well educated or sophisticated we are, at our very core, we want to see God. That's the longing of every believer. Philip even said to Jesus, "Show us the Father and it will be sufficient." "Oh, Philip, don't you know who I am? Haven't I been around you long enough? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. But no man can see the full brunt of the unshielded glory of God and live. One day your body will be transformed via resurrection and you'll be able to handle it." But if God came here tonight and said, "I'm going to show you my glory," we'd just fizzle up - we're not ready for that, we need a new body.
Chapters 35 to 40 are "take two". What I mean is, I can quickly sum this up. Israel starts obeying God and they build the tabernacle. All the specifications are given. All the things they used to make it are given and it's completed. That's the brunt of chapters 35 through 40. So in chapter 40, verse 17, "And it came to pass in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was raised up. So Moses raised up the tabernacle, fastened its sockets, set up its boards, put in its bars, and raised up its pillars. And he spread out the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent on top of it, as the Lord had commanded Moses." Remember those four coverings? Linen and goat's hair and rams skins and badger skins? It was all assembled. Verse 34: "Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout of all their journeys."
So now, here's where we're at. The tabernacle is at the very heart and center, geographically, of the encampment of Israel. The nation of Israel is centered on God. He's in the very center and the very midst of them. It's really a great way to end the book; God's presence dwelling among His people. We started the book - they were in Egypt crying out, they went through the wilderness, grumbled and complained a little bit - but you haven't seen nothin' yet! Wait until we get to the next few weeks! But it ends in glory. From groaning to grumbling to glory - that's how the book flows and we end with God delivering them from the furnace of Egypt out into the wilderness where God is providing, preserving and protecting them.
The Lord; His design for you, here's the message of Exodus for you: God wants to deliver you from the slavery caused by your sin, bring you into deliverance and be at the very center of your life, as the tabernacle was at the center of their life. He wants to deliver you from sin and be at the center of your life. That's why the Bible says, concerning Jesus Christ, "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us," literally, "and we beheld His glory."
As we close this service, I'm going to ask us all to stand right now and we are going to close in a word of prayer as the worship team comes out. But I'm going to ask you this, in finishing the book of Exodus with you, "Are you sure that tonight you're not enslaved to your own desires, wants, and practices? Are you certain that you have been delivered from sin? Is God at the center of your life? Do you walk with Him in loving obedience? Those are the great themes of this book - Redemption and Revelation. If you're not certain that you have a personal walk and relationship with Christ or maybe you remember looking back to a time where, "Yeah, I remember crossing that Red Sea and I thought it was grand for a while, but I haven't been walking with God - I don't even know where that cloud went." Maybe it's time for you to get right with Him tonight. This is how we're going to close - we just have a few moments. As we sing this last song, if you aren't right with God or you want to give your life to Christ for the first time or a rededication, I'm going to ask you to get up from where you're standing and come right up to the front. We'll make room for you, but come right now and follow God's call, be obedient to Him. Just come forward and give your life to Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, tonight. As we sing this song, no matter where you're at, just say excuse me to the person around you and come stand right up on the front. Right now, give your life to Christ - just say, "Pardon me." They'll know what to do. I'm going to lead you who have come in a prayer. I'm going to pray something out loud and I'd like it if you'd pray out loud after me, what I say. But I want you to just, if you can, as much as you can, tune everybody here out for a moment and just tune in this fact. You're standing before God, and you're going to mean from your heart the words you're about to say to Him. You're going to give your life over to Him.
Let's pray together. Lord, I give you my life. I know I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I turn from my sin and I turn to You to be cleansed. I believe in Jesus who died on the cross and rose from the dead. Fill me with your Spirit and give me power to live for You. In Jesus name, Amen.