Monday, August 23, 2010

Exodus 28, 29, 30, 31: Establishing a Priesthood

Replica of the Temple menorah, made by The Tem...Image via Wikipedia

Over the last three days, I spent most of my time addressing the last minute preparations for my daughter's imminent departure for college.  Running errands, buying clothing, window shopping, making interminable "to do" lists, visiting and praying with friends, and just taking a little bit of time to talk and reflect on the upcoming academic year, are only a partial itinerary of everything we are doing to get her ready for this year.  This is another aspect of parenting which enables me to view these chapters in Exodus in a slightly different light than I had viewed them before.

 These four chapters of Exodus  are an over view of a "how to" and "to do" list which remind me a bit of how I am getting my daughter ready. While I want to do all that I can to help her get ready,  I can only so much and then I have to let her go.  God, on the other hand, not only showed Moses  a blueprint for the construction of the tabernacle, God also gave him explicit directions on how to worship Him and an assurance that He would always be present.   God, however, wanted Israel to understand that He could only be worshipped or addressed  in the way that He specified;  individuals could not arbitrarily create a system of worship that He would honor or to which He would respond.  It was only because God initiated the process that Israel was permitted to worship Him and enter into a relationship with Him.

Not only did God give Moses these comprehensive plans for temple worship, but He also chose men into whom He put His Spirit so that they could follow these plans.  Exodus 31:1 - 6 records "... I have filled Him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts - to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones,  to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship."  In the desert, as the nation of Israel was beginning their journey of promise,  God gave men the ability to glorify Him with art, engineering, architecture, and with whatever was required to make the tabernacle.  Since God had already planned that the Israelites would construct a tabernacle in the desert, He made certain that they had all of the supplies such a temple required.  And then, once they were ready to hear about the next step of their journey, God gave them blueprints for the tabernacle.

Along with the tabernacle as the place to worship, God sanctified a special twenty four hour period of time, called the Sabbath as the day of worship.  In six days God worked when He created the entire universe, and on the seventh day He rested.  The Israelites were told to observe the Sabbath because this would serve as a sign between God and Israel for all generations so that they would remember that God is a holy God.  For the Jewish people, observing the Sabbath is an everlasting covenant which also reminds the rest of the gentile world that Creation took God six days to accomplish and that we have days off  from work because God ordained it.  I think that we really have a neat God who truly understands us!

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