Sunday May 27th
A little boy went up to a priest, stared at his white clerical collar and asked, “Why do you dress so funny?”
The priest replied, “This is kind of like the uniform that I wear when I go to work.”
The child pointed to the collar and asked, “Do you have a boo-boo on your neck?”
The priest pulled out the white plastic insert and showed it to the little boy and said “No I’m just fine. Do you know what this is for?”
The little boy stated, “I sure do.”
The priest said, “OK then, you tell me what it’s for.”
The little boy then replied, “It kills fleas and ticks for up to six months.”
In Chapters 28 and 29 of Exodus, God establishes a “uniform” for the priests of Israel and then he sanctifies them for His service. We aren’t going to read every verse within these two chapters, but let’s see how things start out in Exodus 28:1-4 as God gives these instructions to Moses:
“Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me—Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. 2 You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. 4 These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me.
There were six specific articles of clothing for the priests. Each one had to be made of woven gold, with blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen.
And God wanted these items made by “skillful persons” who had a God-given gift of wisdom to make beautiful things. So don’t ever think that the ability to make or create something isn’t a spiritual gift. It most certainly is a gift from God, just as much as prophecy or preaching.
The breastplate had two onyx stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel. Below those were four rows of stones; ruby, topaz, emerald, turquoise, sapphire, diamond, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx and jasper.
The breastpiece also contained the Urim and the Thummim, which were stones that the priests used to seek the Lord prophetically.
Around the hem of the linen garment there were bells of gold and a pomegranate. And those bells were very important!
Because verse 35 says:
“It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the Lord, so that he will not die.”
I don’t know about you, but I think I would be jingling those bells of a regular basis just to remind God that I was there on official business!
Then verse 36-38 tell us about the turban:
“You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ 37 You shall fasten it on a blue cord, and it shall be on the turban; it shall be at the front of the turban. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take away the iniquity of the holy things which the sons of Israel consecrate, with regard to all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.”
You could say that the turban was there to keep the priest’s minds focused on the things of God.
That clothing for the priests is the main focus of chapter 28 and then chapter 29 focuses on the consecration, or ordination of the Priests, starting with these verses:
“Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them to minister as priests to Me: take one young bull and two rams without blemish, 2 and unleavened bread and unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil; you shall make them of fine wheat flour. 3 You shall put them in one basket, and present them in the basket along with the bull and the two rams. 4 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 5 You shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the tunic and the robe of the ephod and the ephod and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod; 6 and you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. 7 Then you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him.8 You shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. 9 You shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and bind caps on them, and they shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute. So you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.”
The remainder of the chapter is instructions regarding the offering of sacrifices for all of the priests, along with one more mention of the garments in verses 29-30
“The holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him, that in them they may be anointed and ordained. 30 For seven days the one of his sons who is priest in his stead shall put them on when he enters the tent of meeting to minister in the holy place.”
This is all very interesting from a historical perspective, but is there any correlation between this discussion of priestly garments and our status as New Testament followers of Jesus? I think there is.
For starters, we are told in 1 Peter 2:9
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
We, as believers, are clearly seen as a part of the priesthood in God’s Kingdom. But does our priesthood have a “uniform” like the Old Testament priests? Yes it does!
Let’s go to Ephesians 6:10-17
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
How many pieces made up the clothing of the priests of Israel?
There were six: “a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash.”
How many pieces make up our armor? There are also six:
Those priests were girded – We are girded!
They had a breastplate – We have a breastplate!
Keep in mind that this breastplate of righteousness isn’t our own righteousness, it’s the righteousness of Jesus!
Look at Romans 4:2-8“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
8 “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
So there are some similarities in our garments, but there are also a few differences:
They had a turban – We have a helmet!
We also have a sword and a shield. These differences should remind us that we are not just priests before the Lord– we are also warriors for His Kingdom!
And we also have the Gospel of Peace on our feet because we are not meant to stay standing still – we are meant to be moving!
Sometimes it’s hard to see ourselves as deserving such a lofty title or role like “priest” or “priestess”, especially if we’ve experienced rejection and condemnation from others somewhere in our past.
But let me assure you that God sees you as a precious part of the priesthood of believers, no matter what other people have ever told you about yourself!
Look at 1 Peter 2:4-5
“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Does it matter if you have been rejected by men?
Absolutely not! Jesus was rejected by men too!
Look at Psalm 118:22
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.
Who is that speaking about? Jesus! How do we know that? Because Jesus quotes it back to the chief priests and scribes in Mark 12:10
Have you not even read this Scripture: “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone?”
In Isaiah 53:3 we see that the Messiah was not only going to be rejected – He was going to be DESPISED!
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
I want you to grasp this today:
It doesn’t matter what people think of you – only matters what God thinks of you!
You are not who other people say you are – You are who God says you are!
Let’s look at how the Apostle Paul explains it in 1st Corinthians 1:26-31
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
If you never considered yourself to be wise, or mighty, or noble – If you’ve always thought of yourself as weak, or foolish, or despised by other people – then according to what these verses are saying you are just the person that God wants for His priesthood!
By choosing people who are not as strong, not as brilliant, not as popular as what the world admires, God is giving us an opportunity to proclaim that it’s all Him, and therefore He gets all the glory! Can we be okay with that?
Why Give? (Exodus 25:1-9)
We have all given something to someone out of feeling obligated or received something from someone that we know they didn’t give it from their heart.
When it comes to giving to God if it isn’t from the heart He does not accept it. We can give financially, volunteer our time, share our abilities, at our local church but God will not honor us if we have impure motives.
The bible says to give cheerfully if we cannot do that we might as well not give at all. It is wrong for Preachers to try to manipulate people to give, for that money will not be blessed anyway.
Finances and service are required for advancing God’s Kingdom but yet having the right heart must be at the core. God does not need our treasure, talent or time, but He desires our heart. What we do with these elements reveal the condition of the heart.
Here in Exodus 25, The Lord told Moses to tell the people of Israel to bring their sacred offerings and to accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them. These offerings as it says in verse eight for the purpose of building the Lord a holy sanctuary.
An acceptable offering is one that has no expectation in return. It is a free will offering! I am not giving in order to get, I give because I put my trust not in money but in God and I am grateful for all He is and has done.
Patterned In The Image of God (Exodus 25:10-40)
We are the temple of God our lives are the offering. Our talent, treasure, and time make up who we are and that is what we promised to give when we made Jesus Lord of our lives. Those who truly live surrendered lives are those in whom God inhabits.
The building description of the ark of the covenant, table, and lamp stand, have one main ingredient in common, GOLD.
Gold represents Glory! The physical structure of the temple in the Old Testament has the revelation for us to understand the spiritual structure of the temple in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 3:16 says that don’t you know you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in your midst?
As temples of God, we are called to be filled with His glory. Like gold, we have been mined out of the dirt and purified by fire and now shine brightly with the presence of the living God.
We who walk in covenant relationship with God experience the ark of His presence. He meets and talks with us daily.
2 Cor. 6:16-18, “What agreement can exist between the temple of the living God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And: I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
We see here we must live a separate life, unclean things and idolatry must be done away with if God’s glory is going to fill our lives. Just as the bread of the presence was to remain on the table at all times, God wants to be Lord of our lives at all times. Too many Christian live double lives, in and out, not consistent. It is time to renounce all darkness and live continually in the light. To do this as it says in verse 40 we must be sure that everything in our life is according to the pattern God has revealed in scripture.
Does all aspects of your life line up with the Word of God? This is the defining factor of how much of His Glory exceeds from your being.
Tabernacle of God (Exodus 26)
Here in Exodus 26, we see the blueprint for the creation of the Tabernacle. In the New Covenant, the Temple of God is made up of human flesh, patterned like the Old Testament Tabernacle after the Word of God, as living epistles. The Tabernacle had so many specific dimensions and we are to have every part of our life formed into the image of God.
The difficulty with this is that we must destroy that which is not a reflection of Him. Every traditional and cultural frame that does not line up with the Word of God removed. Every hurt and pain surrendered so that healing and deliverance can follow. Then and only then can we carry the full weight of God's Glory!
Removing Darkness (Exodus 27:20-21)
God, the Father tells Moses to command the people of Israel in Exodus 27:20-22 to bring pure oil of pressed olives to keep the lamps in the tabernacle burning continually.
Jesus speaks in Matthew 5:14-16 that His disciples are the light of the world, a city on the hill that cannot be hidden.....so let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
In the Old Testament, the glory of God-centered around a building called the Tabernacle. In the New Testament, those who abide in Christ are the Tabernacle, He is the oil within us that allows us to shine with the glory of God.
Light is used to remove darkness, that is our call, not to escape from the world, but to go into it, countering evil with good, so that the Kingdom of light destroys the kingdom of darkness.
If your light is going dim, humble yourself before God and let the Holy Spirit recharge you, so you can shine brightly once again.
Sunday May 13th
Little Johnny came home from church all excited, and his mother asked him what he had learned in Sunday school.
"Well Mom”, Johnny said, “our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt."
“Oh, that sounds interesting”, his Mom said.
Johnny nodded his head and continued, "And when they got to the Red Sea, he had his army build a pontoon bridge over the water and all the people walked across safely. Then, he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. And they sent jet bombers to blow up the bridge and drown the Egyptians, but all the Israelites were saved".
His mother crossed her arms and asked, "Now, Johnny, is that really what your teacher taught you?"
Little Johnny looked down at the ground and shook his head. He knew that you should always tell the truth to your mother. Then he said,
"Well, no Mom, but if I told you the story the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!"
I think we can all agree that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt was a powerful supernatural event. But God was just getting started with the journey that He was taking them on. And even more supernatural event were about to unfold here in Chapter 24:
Then He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance. 2 Moses alone, however, shall come near to the Lord, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.”
Just like with the 12 apostles, there was an inner circle who went with Moses, and it included Moses’ brother Aaron, Aarons sons Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders. We are going to discuss them more in a little bit but let’s see what unfolded next:
3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” 4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
So twice within these six verses, the people proclaim - “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
And then Moses confirms their promise by them with “the blood of the covenant”, and that blood puts the covenant into effect.
If we look at Hebrews 9:19–22 we see this:
“For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
The blood signified a cleansing from sin so that the people could enter the covenant, and it reminded them that the penalty for breaking the covenant was death. Jesus proclaimed the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the establishment of a New Covenant at the Last Supper when He said: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28)
So before Laurie takes us through the remainder of this chapter I want to take us back to that list of names of those who were in Moses’ inner circle. Because you may remember two of those names from our study of Leviticus.
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
So these two sons of Aaron, members of Moses’ inner circle, broke the covenant that they had sworn to uphold, and they lost their lives. The question that we need to ask is twofold. First, how did they let that happen? And second how could they have avoided it? The answer is found in the glory! Here’s what happened next:
9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.
12 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. 14 But to the elders he said, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them.” 15 Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. 17 And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top. 18 Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like a sapphire stone in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.
2 Corinthians 3:3
being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation
Americans grow up in a culture that promotes independence which makes it tough to understand how to operate dependent on the body of Christ. If we are going to move with God as His body, we must learn to walk together with the other parts, or there will not be a move of God.
Exodus 23:1-13; deals with justice. We are to consider others more than we consider ourselves. Every decision we make we need to think it through making sure it is what is best for each person that it affects. The majority of the world is swayed by what is most popular. Children of God are only moved by what is just and right, no matter what persecution may follow.
Passion for God equals compassion for humanity, which produces empathy. Jesus, tempted in all ways, can relate to all people. Those who walk with God identify with the hurt, pain, loss, and anger of others. They don't pass by or cause greater oppression but do whatever it is in their means to help. Knowing that if it wasn't for the grace of God they as well would be in a similar situation.
After dealing with how to walk in harmony with each other, God commands Moses that three Festivals must be celebrated each year; the feast of unleavened bread, harvest, and final harvest.
It is hard to celebrate with people unless you get along with them. When people enjoy each other they look for any opportunity to come together and have a good time. God wants His people celebrating it is a way to bring glory to God for all He has done. The world longs for a good time, they love to be able to forget their worries and just let loose. Those who walk with God have joy, unspeakable, and running over. We don't need a chemical substance to feel good. Our drink is living water, and it is a spiritual well deep within our soul.
When I was a college student, I partied just about every night, I needed alcohol in order to get out of my shell. I had a lot of good times but I had a lot of regretful moments as well. I had a girlfriend who invited me to a gathering of young adults at a theatre when I got there it was packed with people singing about Jesus. They seemed so happy and it caused me to wonder because of my view of Christians as they were boring and serious, obsessed with the end of the world. I went to Denny's afterward with a bunch of them and they stayed up all night, laughing, and enjoying themselves yet without any chemical substances. This blew me away and was a serious seed planted in my heart that eventually led me to know the Lord for myself.
When church gatherings are full of people who love life and love each other, celebrating the goodness of God, it will be very attractive. We will no longer have to pull and push our family and friends to come to church it will be a wanted destination. People want to get free of their cares, they want to feel loved and accepted. We as leaders need to create a celebratory environment and the church will grow.
It is a scary world; mass shootings, terrorist attacks, nuclear threats, police brutality, causing many people to be crippled by fear. The good news is there is a safe place called the presence of the Lord.
The Lord provides protection to those who journey with Him. Someone may say if this is true then why do bad things sometimes happen to Godly people? Jesus did say that those who follow Him will experience suffering. There is certain trouble that cannot be avoided for it goes along with the Lord’s plans. Example of this is when Paul was shipwrecked and bitten by a deadly snake for in him not dying people opened their hearts to God. Unnecessary pain can be avoided if we as it says in Exodus 23:21, “pay close attention to Him, and obey His instructions.” This is only possible if we follow Proverbs 3:5 “acknowledge God in all your ways and He will direct your path.”
We cannot take our life for granted, Satan is waiting for an opportunity to devour us. We must proceed cautiously not haphazardly thinking God will just rescue us anytime we get ourselves in trouble. When we are on God’s right path, His angels go before us and behind us, opposing our enemies, destroying anything in the way of us fulfilling His will. The enemy will try to distract us and get our eyes off of God by tempting us in his evil ways but as we choose to serve the Lord and not walk double minded He will bless us with all we need and protect us from unnecessary harm.
As our faith increases our enemies will fear us and scatter as we go forth to possess God’s promises. The Lord will enlarge our boundaries and expand our influence as we remain completely surrendered to His will.