Category Archives: Hillsdale Baptist Church

Imagine: The People Gave Too Much! (Exodus 36-38)

Daily reading assignment – Exodus 36-38

Imagine being a part of a congregation in which the hearts of the people are so stirred to give and serve the LORD that the pastor must demand, “Please, stop giving! You have given too much already!”

Such is the spirit of a people when they are “wise hearted…stirred…willing…and willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29). The offerings given by the people for the Tabernacle and its furnishings exceeded the need, and Moses “restrained” them from giving any more (36:5-6) for they gave “too much” (36:7).

Because the Tabernacle would serve as a constant reminder of the LORD’S presence in the midst of Israel, God gave Moses precise details for its design and furnishings (review Exodus 26).

Beautiful curtains embroidered with cherubims are described for the interior of the Tabernacle (36:8-13).  “Curtains of goats’ hair” were to be spun and overlay the boards of the Tabernacle’s exterior (36:14-34).

The veil that would serve as a divider between the outer Holy Place and the sacred inner Holy of Holies is also defined (36:25-38). The construction and dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (37:1-9), representing God’s heavenly throne in the midst of His people, is stated (note – Psalm 80:1; 99:1).

The Ark was to be transported by means of “staves” (i.e. rods) slid into rings when Israel moved during her sojourn in the wilderness (37:3-5).  Gold overlaid the whole of the Ark, including the “mercy seat” upon which two cherubims faced one another with wings outstretched (37:7-9). The angels reflected the purity and holiness of God’s throne of judgment.

Exodus 37:10-29 itemizes other furnishings employed in the Tabernacle, including a table overlaid with gold and gold dishes, bowls, spoons, an elaborate candlestick, and an “altar of incense”.

Exodus 38:1-20 gives the design of an “altar of burnt offering” and the vessels of brass to be used in offering sacrifices (38:1-8).  The arrangement of the outer court of the Tabernacle (including its construction, curtains, and rings on which they hung) is given in exacting detail (38:9-20).

Exodus 38:21-31 might appear as minor, inconsequential information on first reading; however, the names of men recorded here serve as a lasting memorial and reminder:

The LORD honors those who faithfully employ their talents and skills to serve Him (38:22-23).

Are you using your time and talents to serve the LORD?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Who Is On the LORD’S Side? (Exodus 30-32)

Scripture Reading Assignment – Exodus 30-32

Let’s begin today’s devotional commentary with a spiritual truth found in Exodus 30 and then see it identified in practice.

Lesson: That which is holy is never to be treated as common! (30:35-38)

Continuing our study of Exodus, we find Moses on Mount Sinai communing with the LORD who instructs His servant regarding the preparations for daily worship (Exodus 30:1-10), sacrificial offerings (30:11-16), and the anointing oil and spices exclusive for use in the tabernacle and never to be duplicated for any other use (30:17-37).

In Exodus 31 the LORD chose skilled artisans and laborers to construct the furniture and various utensils to be used in the tabernacle (31:1-11). Think about it: Even what some call “blue collar workers”, were chosen and called by the LORD to serve Him!

Moses was to remind Israel to set aside one day, the Sabbath, to rest and worship Him (31:12-17). Finally, the LORD gave him two tablets, tables of stone, on which He inscribed His covenant with Israel (31:18).

Exodus 32 – Rebellion in the Camp

Moses ascended Mount Sinai in Exodus 24 and had been apart from the people for forty days and nights (Exodus 24:18).

In Moses’ absence, the hearts of the people had turned away from the LORD, His commandments, and covenant with Israel.  The people rebelled and turning to the ways of Egypt, demanded Aaron cast a golden calf for them to worship (Exodus 32:1-6).

Angered by the breach of His covenant, the LORD vowed to judge the nation in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-10).  Moses, however, interceded for the people, reminding the LORD of His covenant promises and testimony among the heathen nations (Exodus 32:11-14).

Descending the mount with the tablets of stone inscribed by the LORD, Moses encountered Joshua who feared the noise below was that of war (32:15-17).  The sight of the golden calf, the frenzy and wickedness of idol worship, and the nakedness of the people so incensed Moses “he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount” (32:19).

Confronting his brother Aaron, Moses took up the LORD’s righteous cause and demanded he account for the wickedness of the people. Aaron foolishly defended his failure to face the idolatrous demands of the people and withstand them (32:20-24).  Turning from Aaron, Moses challenged the “sons of Levi,” the priestly tribe, “Who is on the LORD’S side?” (32:26).

Moses charged the faithful, “Put every man his sword by his side…and slay every man his brother…and every man his neighbor…and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (32:27-28). Moses then ascended the mount and interceded for Israel (32:30-35).

Permit me to close with an observation: We recognize Aaron’s gross failure as a spiritual leader.  He failed the LORD out of a desire to please and appease the people…and three thousand souls perished.

I wonder how many attend churches whose worship is led by men more concerned with what the people want than they are with what the LORD demands…a Holy People.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Casual, “Come as You Are” Culture and the God They Serve (Exodus 28-29)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 28-29

Exodus 28 describes the clothes Aaron and his sons were to wear as priests. The rich detail and beauty of their priestly garments was to reflect the eminent role of those who minister for the people before the LORD (28:2).  The garments of the high priest were particularly beautiful, well-crafted, and rich in color and detail (28:3-5).

Various stones adorned an ephod worn by the high priest. An ephod being a garment made of linen cloth that crossed the shoulders, the back and breast of the high priest (28:6-14).

The high priest also wore over the ephod a breastplate that was a symbol of judgment.   Embedded in the breastplate were stones on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (28:15-29).

Great attention was given to the robes of the priesthood (28:15-30) down to the bells about the hem of his robe whose sound gave witness to the movement of the high priest within the Tabernacle and his acceptance in the LORD’s presence (28:31-26).

The LORD instructed Moses to perform a formal ceremony consecrating Aaron and his sons to the priesthood in Exodus 29. A ceremonial ritual of washing and adorning priestly garments is described (29:1-7), followed by a ceremony of sacrifices in which Aaron and his sons were commanded to lay their hands on the heads of beasts to be offered, consecrating themselves and the altar of sacrifice (29:8-37).

I close with an observation of a sad irony I see in today’s church.

“Dressing down” has become the style of those who occupy the pulpit and the pew.  A casual demeanor is reflected in the whole atmosphere of 21st century worship.

If ripped jeans, shorts, sandals and t-shirts are appropriate for worship, I am left wondering what became of the God who demanded beautiful robes and dedicated priests who were holy and consecrated to the LORD.

Surely the LORD is no less holy today than He was in Israel’s day!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Tabernacle: The Lord Was In The Midst (Exodus 25-27)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 25-27

Having given the people His Law and Commandments, the LORD instructed Moses to collect materials necessary to construct the Tabernacle (a sanctuary transported during Israel’s sojourn).  The people were instructed to freely offer gold, silver, and bronze which were used in constructing the Tabernacle, Altar, and forming instruments and utensils to be employed in worship and offering sacrifices.

In his Bible Exposition Commentary on the Pentateuch known as the “Be Series”, Warren Wiersbe makes the following observations.

“Several different kinds of materials were needed: precious metals (gold, silver), bronze, fabrics (yarn, fine linen, and goat’s hair), wood, skins, olive oil, spices, and precious stones. It’s been estimated that a ton of gold was used in the tabernacle as well as over three tons of silver. Where did all this wealth come from? For one thing, the Jews had “spoiled” the Egyptians before leaving the land (12:35-36), and no doubt there were also spoils from the victory over Amalek (17:8-16). God saw to it that they had everything they needed to build the tabernacle just as He had designed it.”  [Warren Wiersbe; The Bible Exposition Commentary – Pentateuch]

While the Tabernacle served as the outward visible symbol of God’s presence in the midst of Israel (Exodus 25:8), the “Ark” was the central place of worship within the Tabernacle and its precise dimensions are recorded in Exodus 25:10.  The “Ark” is designated with various names in the scriptures, among them The Ark of the Covenant, The Ark of the LORD, The Ark of God, and The Ark of the Testimony.

The construction of the Ark and its appearance is described in Exodus 25:10-22.   It was to be overlaid with pure gold with rings and “staves” or rods (25:12-15) employed to transport the Ark. On top of the Ark, described as the Mercy Seat, two cherubim were to face one another with wings outstretched,  and the space between them representative of the throne of God (25:17-22).

In addition to a table and implements of gold used in the Tabernacle (25:23-30), a golden lampstand with seven lamps was to be made (25:31-40).

Ten curtains were to be employed within the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:1-6) and eleven curtains of goats’ hair (26:7-14) used for an outward covering of the boards used in the construction of the Tabernacle (26:15-30).

A beautiful veil (Exodus 26:31) served as a means of partitioning the interior of the Tabernacle; the innermost area beyond the veil described as “the holy place and the most holy” (26:33) where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. The veil represented the divide between man and the Mercy Seat, a representation of the presence of the LORD (26:34).

Exodus 27 describes and gives the dimensions for the Altar of Burnt Offerings (27:1-8) and the outer court of the Tabernacle and its vessels (27:9-19).  Pure olive oil was to burn in the lamps giving light in the Tabernacle “from evening to morning” (27:20-21). The perpetual light of the lamps serving as a lasting testimony of the LORD’s presence.

As it was the duty of priests to make sure the oil in the lamps never ceased, so it is the duty of all believers to remember the Word of God is a perpetual “lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Does God Require? – Honesty, Integrity, Fairness, Truth, and Holiness (Exodus 22-24)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 22-24

The agricultural nature of ancient societies meant one’s livestock were an essential part of a man’s livelihood and the well-being of his family (21:33-36). The negligent injury or theft of oxen or sheep was a serious crime requiring compensation (22:1-4), as was damage to a man’s crops (22:5-6).

God’s law requires honesty and integrity.

Personal responsibility and liability were important issues among God’s people and fair compensation for losses, whether by theft or neglect, was mandated (22:7-15).

As an illustration, consider a farmer who borrows another man’s ox to work his field; however, while in his care the ox is injured or dies.  Under such a circumstance, the borrower was debtor to the lender and under obligation to “make it good” (22:14). In other words, repay or replace.  The exception is when the owner of the ox is plowing a man’s field “for his hire” (22:15).

Borrow or rent another’s property or goods, you were under obligation to make whole any damages or loss suffered by the lender. 

Other moral and societal issues addressed in Exodus 22 include rape (22:16-17), witchcraft (22:18), bestiality (22:19), and idolatry (22:20).  In the matter of borrowing and lending, the LORD demanded fairness. Charging excessive interest was condemned knowing it imposed an unnecessary hardship on the poor (22:25-27).

Exodus 23 – God’s Law Concerning Slander and False Witnesses

Acknowledging God is Just, it follows He demands His people be fair (23:1-2), good neighbors (23:3-5), and just in matters of law making no occasion for lies and distortions of the truth (23:6-8).

In a culture that is given to the drive for success at all costs, the thought of a Sabbath Day of rest, let alone a Sabbath Year dedicated to the LORD, is foreign (23:10-12).  For Israel, the Sabbaths, feasts, and offerings of the first and the best fruits of one’s labor to the LORD were a constant reminder that all a man had was an exercise of God’s grace and loving benevolence (23:13-19).  Exodus 23 concludes with God’s promise to protect and bless Israel as they journey through the wilderness (23:20-33).

Exodus 24 – Moses Enters Into the Presence of the LORD

Concluding today’s devotional commentary, you and I are privy to a glorious moment as Moses, his immediate leadership, and seventy elders are invited by the LORD to draw near to the mountain (24:1-4). After reviewing God’s covenant with Israel, the people pledged to obey the Lord’s law and commandments, sealing their vows with the blood of sacrifices (24:5-8).

As the “glory of the LORD” shrouded Mount Sinai, Moses was invited to ascend the mount and “come near the LORD” (24:2) where he received the law and commandments he was to teach the people (24:9-15).  Moses was alone on the mount for six days and on the seventh day we read, The LORD “called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud” (24:16). Forty days and nights would pass before Moses descended the mount (24:18).

What was Israel doing in Moses’ absence while the “glory of the LORD” appeared to be a “devouring fire” on the mount?

We will take up that question in Exodus 32.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Timeless Commandments (Exodus 19-21)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 19-21

Three months after their exodus out of Egypt, Moses and the children of Israel arrive at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) where the LORD directs His servant to instruct the people to hear His Word and keep His covenant.  Confirming His covenant with the people, the LORD promised Israel would be “a peculiar treasure…above all people” (19:5-6).

Calling “for the elders of the people”, Moses rehearsed all the LORD had commanded him (19:7) and the people affirmed they would keep the LORD’s covenant (19:8).  In preparation for establishing His covenant with Israel, the LORD directed Moses to “sanctify” the people and command they wash their clothes (19:9-15).

On the third day, the LORD made Himself known to the people by “thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud” (19:16).  Then the LORD “descended upon it [the mount] in fire: and the smoke ascended” (19:18) and the “trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder” (19:19).  Witnessing the power and majesty of the LORD, “all the people that was in the camp trembled” (19:16b).

Then the LORD introduced Himself saying, “I am the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] thy God [Elohim], which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”(Exodus 20:2).

The LORD stated Ten Commandments as part of His covenant and Israel was commanded to hear, heed and obey them (20:1-17).

Exodus 20:3-17 – “3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image7  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain8  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy… 12  Honour thy father and thy mother13  Thou shalt not kill. 14  Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15  Thou shalt not steal. 16  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17  Thou shalt not covet…”

Exodus 20:22-26 instructs the people regarding worship and the LORD’s intolerance of idols among His people (20:22-23).   The construction and sanctity of altars for sacrifices is addressed (Exodus 20:24-25) as is a principle for modesty: “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon” (Exodus 20:26).

In our day when “anything goes” and the church calls it worship, it might surprise some the extent to which God regarded not only the construction of places of worship (i.e. altars), but also the dress of those who led the people (i.e. priests).  Contrary to the casual brashness of the majority of 21st century American churches, those who led Israel in worshipping the LORD were to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the holiness of God and never allow for any “nakedness” that would be a distraction for those who worship the LORD (Exodus 20:26).

Moving beyond the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) we find specific applications of God’s judgment and the bases of democratic law and order in Exodus 21:1-23:19. Principles for masters (employers), indentured servants (employees), and the sanctity of human life are stated (Exodus 21:1-17). [Exodus 21:12-17 draws a distinction between murder (21:14-16), a violation of the sixth commandment (20:13), and manslaughter (taking a human life without intent).]

Finally, in the event of accidental injuries or death, personal liability is addressed and explained: Should a beast cause injury or death and the owner prove negligent, the beast would be put to death and its owner possibly forfeit his own life should gross negligence be proved (21:18-32).

Believer, our God is Just, Holy, and Merciful!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Three Keys to Effective Leadership: Objectivity, Wise Counsel and Delegation (Exodus 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 16-18

The people began to murmur in the Wilderness of Sin, a desert area along the east shore of the Red Sea that we know today as the Arabian Peninsula. Here they accused Moses of leading them into the wilderness to starve (Exodus 16:1-3).  Murmuring hearts and wagging tongues would be Israel’s nature throughout their wilderness years.

The LORD promised He would provide the people sufficient bread each morning for the day. On the sixth day, the day before the Sabbath; He promised bread for two days so the people would have no need of laboring and gathering food on the Sabbath (16:4-5).  The LORD also promised to send the people meat to eat in the evening (16:8, 12).

In spite of the LORD’s provisions and promises of bread and meat, the people hoarded more than their daily bread and it spoiled in their tents (16:19-21).  Only when they gathered two days provisions on the sixth day, sufficient for the Sabbath, did the bread and meat not spoiled (16:25-30).

Continuing their journey through the Wilderness of Sin, Israel came to Rephidim and finding “no water”, the people began murmuring against Moses (Exodus17:1-3).  Moses cried out to the LORD who commanded him to strike a rock with his staff “and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink” (17:4-7).

The nation of slaves soon faced their first enemy in the wilderness when the Amalekites (descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob) came against Israel at Rephidim (17:8-16).  A dramatic scene unfolds as Moses stands on a hill overlooking the battlefield (17:9).  Two men stood with Moses, Aaron and Hur, and they steadied the arms of Moses as he held high in his hands “the rod of God” (17:10-12).  Joshua, Moses’ aid and successor, emerges as the commander who led Israel to her first battlefield victory.

Exodus 18 records Moses’ reunion with his wife, two sons, and father-in-law Jethro (18:1-6).  What an incredible reunion it must have been as Moses rehearsed all the LORD had done in Egypt (18:7-12).

I close today’s devotional with lessons for all, but especially Christian leaders. Jethro, Moses father-in-law, observed him serving as judge in the people’s matters “from the morning unto the evening” (18:13). Jethro asked Moses, “Why sittest thou thyself alone…from morning unto even?” (18:14).  Jethro warned, Moses, you will wear yourself out; this is too much for one man (18:17-18).

Jethro suggested Moses teach the people the “ordinances and laws” (18:19-20) and delegate the responsibility of judging the simple, miniscule matters to others (18:21).  Wisely, Moses judged the “hard causes”, the weightier matters that rose among the tribes (18:22-25).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith