Today’s Reading: Exodus 35-40
It was always God’s plan to lead His people and to direct them in His ways. They were never alone and never without His leadership. This is evident in His instructions to Moses. He told Moses to build a Tabernacle – a holy sanctuary so that He could live among His people (Exodus 25:8). He gave Moses an exact pattern to follow in building this place of worship and “Moses proceeded to do everything just as the Lord had commanded him” (Exodus 40:16).
There were specific instructions about the Ark of the Covenant, in which the stone tablets containing the 10 Commandments would be placed. Moses was given the exact measurements for the table, the lampstand, and the framework and curtains for the Tabernacle. There was to be an altar on which to give burnt offerings and a courtyard. Lamps burning pure olive oil were to burn continually (Exodus 25-27). God set apart Aaron and his descendants as priests to minister in the Tabernacle and again gave specific instructions regarding their role and their garments.
These are the garments they are to make: a chestpiece, an ephod, a robe, a patterned tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother, Aaron, and his sons to wear when they serve me as priests. So give them fine linen cloth, gold thread, and blue, purple, and scarlet thread (Exodus 28:4-5).
On the ephod (apron with front and back pieces joined by shoulder straps) was engraved the names of Jacob’s twelve sons in birth order, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. He would carry these names on his shoulders reminding him of who he represented every time he went before the Lord.
The chestpiece was beautifully adorned with twelve stones, again representing the twelve tribes of Israel. It was worn as a constant reminder that it was the priest’s task to bring the people to God and to bring God’s word to the people. He was to wear the chestpiece for seeking decisions from God. He was never meant to lead the people of his own strength, but was to always seek God and follow His lead.
“These burnt offerings are to be made each day from generation to generation. Offer them in the Lord’s presence at the Tabernacle entrance; there I will meet with you and speak with you. I will meet the people of Israel there, in the place made holy by my glorious presence. Yes, I will consecrate the Tabernacle and the altar, and I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will live among the people of Israel and be their God, and they will know that I am the Lord their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the Lord their God.” – Exodus 29:42-46
The preparations God asks us to make are different than those He instructed the Israelites and priests to do, but He still desires for us to prepare our hearts to enter into His glorious presence. He longs to live among us and be our God, that we might know that He is the Lord our God!
For we are the Temple of the living God. As God said:
“I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. – 2 Corinthians 6:16b-7:1
What a privilege to be in God’s presence!
Who am I representing when I come before the Lord?
Whose needs am I lifting to God in prayer?
Am I seeking God for every decision, following His lead?
Is His will the desire of my heart?
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.
The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere. – Isaiah 61:10-11
Lord, cleanse us from everything that can defile us. Create in us a clean spirit and make us a masterpiece of your holiness at work, clothing us in your righteousness. Bring the needs of your people to our hearts this morning so that we can lift their needs to you in prayer. Dwell among us, oh Lord, and lead us on today’s journey.
Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.
Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys. – Exodus 40:34-38