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Musings from Exodus

P Harding, Newton Stewart

Over the book of Genesis the word Ruin could be written. It commences with a man in the Garden in enjoyment of fellowship with God and ends with a man in a casket. That is the ruin which sin has wrought.

Over the book of Exodus could be written Redemption. One may wonder why, early in Exodus, midwives are introduced. If there is to be anything for God, and if Genesis closes with a casket, then life is required. In Exodus God moves in order to redeem, so that those who are redeemed might be gathered around the Tabernacle, gathered around Himself in the wilderness to bear testimony for Him.

Over Leviticus the word Reverence could be written. It is the book that speaks of holiness, the way of approach to God. Continually in that book holiness is demanded because when the priest entered the sanctuary he had to do so appreciating the holiness of God and move with reverence and godly fear.

In Numbers, the journeying of the children of Israel in the wilderness is recorded and over this book Responsibility could be written.

In the book of Deuteronomy Recognition is the issue - a recognition of the inheritance that is to be enjoyed in the land. So we have the ways of God in Genesis, the work of God in Exodus, the worship of God in Leviticus, witness for God in the wilderness in Numbers, and the wealth of God in Deuteronomy.

Our consideration in this article is from the book of Exodus. In the first twelve chapters there is the sovereign grace of God or, expressing it another way, the supreme grace of God in providing a deliverer. In chapters thirteen to eighteen there is the salvation of God in bringing Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness. This includes separation, sanctification, salutation (their song), supply and satisfaction in the wilderness. But in the third section, from chapters nineteen to thirty-one, there are the sovereign claims of God upon those who have been redeemed. This section divides into two parts.

1. God is manifesting Himself in His righteousness (chs.19-24), and in those chapters we have the Law of God that is given to the people. The inauguration of the Law manifests God's righteousness and shows us that sinners need justification. Righteousness is linked with His throne and the truth of that is brought before us in the Epistle to the Romans.

2. There are the instructions concerning the Tabernacle, the House of God (chs.25-31). In this section God manifests Himself in holiness, a holiness has to do with His House - "holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever" (Ps 93.5). That shows the need for sanctification, and the truth of that is developed in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The commencement of chapter 25 reads, "And the Lord spake unto Moses". We do not read that expression again until 30.11. There is one communication from 25.1 until 30.10, and that has to do with the House, with the Tabernacle, and the functioning of that House. There are the details of the Tabernacle itself, the furniture, and the priesthood. That is all one communication. God is indicating the kind of House and the kind of activity that is in keeping with His character - His holy character - in that section.

Following what is noted in the previous paragraph, between 30.11 and 31.17 the expression, "the Lord spake (or 'said') unto Moses" occurs six times. But six is the number of man, and man with God brings perfection as far as men are concerned. So in this section God is now indicating the kind of people in the midst of whom He will dwell. It is not now only the nature of the House and the functions of the House, but the emphasis is on the character of the people.

And the Lord spake…When thou takest the sum (30.11-12)

The first thing that God speaks of in this section is the atonement money (30.11-16). God is showing that the people among whom He will abide will be a redeemed people, a purchased people, a people in the good of the work of Christ. That is what the redemption money speaks of. God will dwell in the midst of a purchased people, a people with a deep sense of the value of the work of Christ, a people who have been redeemed, the kind of people who form the "House of God" in the day in which we live. They, too, must be a purchased people.

And the Lord spake…Thou shalt also make a laver (30.17-18)

Then we have the laver brought in (30.17-21) as one of the vessels of the house. How is it that this vessel is not spoken of or described in the first part? All the other vessels are dealt with there. Some say it is because the priests were not functioning, although the priests are mentioned and their consecration is described in chs.28-29. But, as has been noted, God is indicating the character of His people. They will not only be a purchased people, a people rejoicing in the work of Christ, they will also be a pure people, a people appreciating the profit to be found in the Word of God, applying that Word to their lives which will be marked by holiness.

Moreover the Lord spake…Take thou (30.22-23)

There follows the details of the anointing oil (30.22-38). We are taught that the people in the midst of whom God will dwell will be a powerful people, a people in the good of the anointing, allowing the Spirit of God to control. In the New Testament three times over the word "anoint" is used concerning believers, and it has to do with the Spirit of God (2 Cor 1.21; James 5.14; 1 Jn 2.20, as "unction").

And the Lord spake…See, I have called by name (31.1-2)

Under the supervision of Bezaleel and Aholiab (31.1-11) they will be a working people, working for God, a people rejoicing in the privilege and dignity of serving and building for Him. Their task was to build and erect the Tabernacle and its furniture, a work that would require great effort, but nevertheless a work that was of great satisfaction.

And the Lord spake…Speak thou (31.12-13)

In the last part (31.12-18) they will be a willing people. It is the Sabbath which provides the context, and the reader will be aware that the Sabbath belongs to the old ceremony. However, it is taken here as one of the ordinances. Israel has to be a willing people, a people moving in the blessedness of obedience, a people walking in willing submission to God's Word.

It is God's desire to enjoy the devotion of a worshipping people. "The Father seeketh such to worship him" (Jn 4.23). The incense speaks of the fragrance of Christ and the fragrance of His life that brought deep joy, satisfaction, and pleasure to the heart of God. It speaks of the One who is "altogether lovely" (Song 5.16). Spurrell in her translation of the Old Testament renders it: "And Himself - the concentration of loveliness!". She puts a little note in her original text stating: "This is what He is in Himself, whether men appreciate it or not". He is the "concentration of loveliness". Does not the Song of Songs describe His name as "ointment poured forth" (1.3)?



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