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Scripture reading – Exodus 29-30
Today’s Scripture reading, Exodus 29-30, finds Moses and Joshua on Mount Sinai, where they continued “forty days and forty nights” (24:18). The LORD instructed Moses that he might teach the people and give to them “tables of stone, and a law, and commandments” (24:12). He commanded Moses to receive offerings from the people (25:1-3) that were to be used in constructing and furnishing the Tabernacle. As the LORD’s sanctuary (25:8), the Tabernacle was a visible testimony of God’s presence in the midst of Israel.
The LORD also gave Moses the design and dimensions for the Tabernacle and its furnishings (25:9). Those furnishings included the Ark of the Covenant and its Mercy Seat (25:10-22), the table, and the candlestick. All were to be overlaid with gold (25:23-40). Finally, the interior and exterior of the Tabernacle were described in detail (26:1-30), including a room that was divided by a veil (26:31-33) and served as the “holy place” in which the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat was to be placed (26:33-34).
Central to Israel’s worship was the brass altar (27:1-8) in a courtyard that formed an enclosure for the Tabernacle (27:9-19). Aaron, the brother of Moses, was appointed to serve as Israel’s first high priest, and his sons served with him as common priests (28:1). God also gave Moses a detailed description of the holy garments the high priest would wear when he ministered before the LORD as Israel’s mediator (28:2-43).
The Priesthood: Ordination and Consecration
Having established the Aaronic priesthood in Exodus 28, the LORD instructed Moses regarding his brother’s ordination to serve as Israel’s high priest (29:1-9). One young bull and “two rams without blemish” (29:1) were to be sacrificed, consecrating Aaron as the high priest in an ordination ceremony.
Aaron was to wash and put on the high priest’s garments (29:4-9). Moses then directed Aaron and his sons to put their hands on the bull, thereby identifying with its sacrifice as their sin offering (29:10-14). Placing their hands on one ram that was without blemish, Moses was to slay the ram as a burnt offering to the LORD (29:15-18). A second ram was then sacrificed, and it served as a “blood ordination,” for its blood was put on “the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and his sons (29:19-21), dedicating them to the priesthood.
The best parts of the second ram were offered to the LORD, and then Aaron and his sons were to consume the ram at the door of the Tabernacle (29:22-34). For each of the seven days, young bulls were to be offered for the sins of the priests and as a testimony of God’s grace in providing a substitute (29:35-37).
Twice daily, lambs were sacrificed and offered as a meat offering by fire, one in the morning and one in the evening. These were perpetual offerings to the LORD (29:38-42) and a reminder to the people that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin (Hebrews 9:22). Thus, the LORD promised to “dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. 46And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God” (29:45-46).
Altar of Incense (30:1-10)
The LORD instructed Moses to have “an altar to burn incense,” made with wood and overlaid “with pure gold” (30:1-5). The altar of incense was located outside the Holy Place and before the veil. There the LORD promised to meet with Moses, Aaron, and the generations that followed him. The aroma of burning incense was perpetual, burning night and day (30:6-8). Once a year, the “blood of the sin offering” was to be applied to the corner or horns of the altar of incense and serve as a reminder that only the blood atones for sin (30:9-10).
Tabernacle Tax (30:11-16)
An annual census was commanded, and a special tribute described as a “ransom” (30:12) was required of every Hebrew person twenty years old or older (30:12). A failure to believe and obey the LORD could incur a judgment described as a “plague” (30:12b).
The rich and poor were required to pay “half a shekel” (30:13), reminding us that every soul is of equal value in the sight of God (30:14-15). This “ransom” (tax or tribute) was paid for “the service [expenses] of the Tabernacle” (30:16). Those expenses would have included purchasing sacrifices, flour, wine, oil, priestly garments, and other costs.
Additionally, a large brass laver, or fount, was to be made and filled with water where the priest would wash their hands and feet before entering the Tabernacle (30:17-21).
Holy Oils and Fragrances (30:22-38)
A special anointing oil with ingredients and fragrances designed by the LORD was made and used for anointing the Tabernacle, its furniture, the altar, and the priests (30:22-31). However, it was a sacred oil and forbidden for other purposes (30:32-33). The LORD also required a unique blend of incense and perfume to be made and used before the tabernacle. The fragrance was unique to the Tabernacle and was not to be used elsewhere (30:34-38).
What lessons should we take from the attention to detail the Scriptures have preserved for us in Israel’s worship? It is the knowledge that we should prepare our hearts for worshipping the LORD. Worship is not careless and incidental, but purposeful and done in a manner that reflects and speaks of the holiness of the LORD.
Questions to consider:
1) How did Aaron and his sons identify with the bull and ram as sacrifices for their sins? (29:10, 19)
2) What was Aaron instructed to do with the high priest’s garments when his service ended? (29:29-30)
3) What did God promise if the people continued to bring sacrifices to the Tabernacle? (29:45-46)
4) What was the purpose of the water basin that God commanded Moses to make? (30:17-21)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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