“As the Lord commanded Moses.”
This phrase appears a lot. Sometimes the redundancy is almost like the refrain in a chorus. Actually, this phrase appears 57 times in the Bible. It’s most concentrated uses are in Exodus 39-40 and through the book of Numbers. They built the Tabernacle as the Lord commanded Moses. They sacrificed as the Lord commanded Moses. Everything they did in order to approach God had to be done as the Lord commanded Moses. Moses showed them the way, and as long as they did it as the Lord commanded Moses, they would be blessed.
They saw the connection between obedience and blessing through the instructions from God through Moses. If they wanted to eat, they needed to collect manna on the right day. If they wanted God’s favor then they needed to be right with Him through sacrifice. They needed to live as the Lord commanded them. A great illustration of their daily obedience is seen in their walk with God through the wilderness. As long as the aura of God’s presence remained on the Tabernacle, they abode in their tents. As soon as the cloud was removed from the Tabernacle, they knew it was time to move. It didn’t matter if it was night or day, whether they were healthy or sick, or if they felt like it or not; they were to respond as the Lord commanded.
If an Israelite, in the desert, had taken it into his head to make some movement independent of Jehovah; if he took it upon him to move when the crowd was at rest, or to halt while the crowd was moving, we can easily see what the result would have been. And so it will ever be with us. If we move when we ought to rest, or rest when we ought to move, we shall not have the divine presence with us. – C.H.M.
Do you live your life as the Lord commanded? Do you devote your life to the work of God as the Lord commanded? Do you parent as the Lord commanded?Do you love your spouse as the Lord commanded? Do you invest your time, talents, and treasures as the Lord commanded?
If you don’t walk with God on a daily basis you might wander ahead or be left behind. Either way, you are living without His presence.
“Stop giving! I mean it. I’ll have to put a restraining order on you. We have more than we need for the Lord’s work.” Said no pastor ever.
Nestled in this obtuse section of Exodus in chapters 35-36, Moses makes such an edict. The laborers were diligently working on the Tabernacle. They began to notice the same people, a lot of people, coming every morning with more offerings to give to the work. It became too much! Their willing offering was too much of a good thing! The craftsmen seek out Moses and tell him the good news, “The people are giving! Now tell them to stop!”
What motivated the people so? There is one word that springs from these chapters fourteen times—”heart.” There are three heart conditions which drove the people’s giving to a rarely seen devotion.
First, a willing heart (35:5, 22, 29). This work was an open invitation from God. There was not a directive or a mandate, but rather a request for all those willing to contribute to God’s work. God is a gentleman. Whosoever will let him come (Revelation 22:17). Behold I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3:20). He is not splintering your door down and strongarming you into service. It’s an open invitation. Are you willing?
The second heart condition is the stirred heart (35:21, 26; 36:2). The work is great and noble. It’s a privilege to serve the God of all the earth. Today, the love of Christ constrains us to serve Him faithfully. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). As soon as the people heard of the work, they responded to the invitation and their hearts were stirred. The word “stir” has the idea of lifting one up to a new purpose which defines an action.
The third heart condition is the wise heart (35:10, 25, 34-35; 36:1-2). You may object, “But I don’t know of anything I could do for God!” God will provide the wisdom to the willing heart. He showed them what they could do. Some only gave. Some with wise hearts spun or assisted the artisans. A few were given divine skill.
Most people come to God on their terms. “I’ll do what I know,” they say. If you only do what you know, it will lake the stirring of God. Others say, “I’ll go when my heart is stirred.” The stirring comes to those who are first willing.
Has your soul burst into song lately? Have you recently soared to undiscovered heights during your walk with God? Have you so craved His presence, such as Joshua, you refuse to leave the location you met with God?
Exodus 32-34 captures the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. In one portrait, we blush to imagine the lewdness of God’s people. It was so onerous they were shaming themselves before the world (32:35). The darkness of the hour grows worse when 3,000 men refuse to repent from their ways and return unto the Lord. Their refusal to affirm their alliance on the Lord’s side resulted in death at the hands of the sons of Levi. Just when this night of experience couldn’t be worse, things shade darker as God sends them away without His presence. He would fulfill His promise. Oh, yes, they would inherit the Promised Land, but that would be like owning your home void of life, family, and memories. It might as well be a prisoner’s cell without the presence of God. The people mourned the threat of lacking God’s presence, but do they understand? God’s presence had been on the mount. God’s presence had spoken directly with them and they could not bear the ominous display of His majesty.
Thankfully, there was one man who desired the presence of God more than anything. “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not hence…shew me thy glory” (33:15, 18). Jacob may have wrestled with God physically, but Moses wrestled from His soul. After the tears of the night, joy came in the morning. The darker the night, the more the brilliance of God sprang from the mount. What a morning it must have been to stand in the cleft of the rock and see the Lord proclaimed in all His holiness. Moses basked in the beauty of his holiness. What you must crave more than anything else in life is to see God.
To speak face to face with God as a man speaks to his friend, what rapture for your soul! Then to leave that presence so you can communicate the nature of God indelibly absorbed in you. As you do life, your face may shine with His radiance undiluted. It is true what one has written, “Here is the world’s need today: Men who have seen their Lord.”
You may have heard the phrase, “The devil is in the details,” but have you heard “God is in the details?” The latter is actually the original phrase, but what is interesting is that both phrases revolve around the details. You could summarize the message of these two phrases by saying, “You better pay attention to the details. They will either ruin or reward you.”
Put yourself in real time through Exodus 29-31. Moses is up on the mount receiving the instructions from God. The very instructions you are privileged to read in Exodus. Maybe you are impatient as you read through these passages which are overstuffed with details. You want to rush on to something which excites you. “Let’s move on to some action,” you say! This is the same trap Israel fell into.
You see they were impatient. They found the aura of God on the mount mind numbing. The fear that gripped them had soothed to complacency. They rushed in as fools to create a religion more exciting and to their taste. They fashioned a golden calf to suit their need for entertainment. Paul told us, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). We need to take heed and avoid the complacency of Israel. God was actively designing each article in the Tabernacle with such precision as to point his children toward His infinite nature. The details reveal the character and personality of God. Jesus Christ was the ultimate expression of God, the living and breathing Tabernacle with men (John 1:14). The Old Testament Tabernacle was also a glimpse into the nature of God.
All religions of the world mask and mystify the reality of God. Through their rules and rituals, they make men search for God through a kaleidoscope. The only place you can clearly see God defined is in His Word. There are times where the delight of His Word lifts your spirit to soar with the eagles. There are other times the details of His Word places you alongside Bezaleel and Aholiab as they fashion each intricate facet of the Tabernacle. Both are equally inspired and valuable for us to understand God.
How many Christians today are not patient enough to develop their relationship with Christ? They need excitement. They move on too quickly instead of being still and knowing God. Don’t rush in like fools. Ask God to help you learn more about him through the details as well as the delights of Scripture.
Your palms are sweating, your mind is racing as you scan the variety of confectionery gifts. The stakes are high. You do not want to mess this up! Then a soothing thought relaxes the tension in your neck: “It’s the thought that counts, right?”
What about when you are presenting a gift before the Holiest of All? His holiness is not simply a presence, but a power that cannot accept a fleck of impurity otherwise it would be tainted. What about when you come before the presence of God to offer Him the gift of worship? What if there was a hidden motive imperceptibly lurking in your heart? You can see how well that turned out by reading about the sudden death of Uzzah. To answer your question, the thought doesn’t really count for much.
God made preparations for this insufficient approach in worship with the Israelites by way of the mediator. Aaron wore a plate on his turban which was engraved with the words “Holiness unto the Lord,” for the express purpose to “bear the iniquity of the holy things” (Exodus 28:38). How do holy things have iniquity? Interesting phrase, but what it tells us is that all the rituals of the Israelite’s worship were still not acceptable. All the sacrifices and incense burning and washings and candle lighting were not enough to cover the impurities of sinful man. The holiest work they could offer was still tainted. The High Priest ceremonially bore away the impurities in order for God to receive their worship.
Charles Spurgeon wrote about the reflections of a Dr. Payson who wrote, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the melioration [improvement] of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? It may be that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride. Or, it may be that my neighbours may look over the wall and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.” Spurgeon commented, “Even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives.”
As you read John the Baptist’s announcement, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” you are hearing the pronounced expectation of Christ the sacrifice and mediator all in one (John 1:29). As the perfect sacrifice, He was capable of bearing all of the sins of humanity. As our mediator, he was enabled to bear our impurity away so we might have access to God. “My righteous servant [shall] justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself…so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:26, 28). “That we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
As Matthew Henry explained, Christ bore our sins “for us and from us.” He, the Holiness of All, perfected what was lacking in our nature.