Spirit-Filled Spirit Guild, Exodus 31:1-11; 35:30-35

Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.” -Exodus 35:30-35

(Source: yearinthebible.com)

Bezalel and Oholiab—with very unique names—were chosen by God. These two men were commanded to make unique engravings and designs with materials like yarn, linen, wood and gems. They were also to teach others their craft in designing the tabernacle furniture, furnishings, accessories and priestly garments, all according to the pattern God gave Moses.

How could just two men carry off such a huge task? God gave them wisdom, understanding, and knowledge for leadership and artistic craftsmanship through the filling of His Spirit.

God gives His people a variety of abilities. Don’t look down on your skills if you’re not a leader like Moses, or have a theological education. It took tremendous community effort in building the tabernacle. Likewise, churches today need this same kind of mentoring and working together for essential services. What abilities and skills has God gifted you with? How could you use these abilities to serve God and others?

Confession: I stole . . . uh borrowed . . . the title of my post from my pastor’s sermon three weeks ago. (I didn’t think he’d mind!) Pastor Cliff is currently teaching a series about the Holy Spirit. He gave a really interesting message about Bezalel and Oholiab that I’d like to share. You can find (and listen to) his podcast here: Spirit-Filled Spirit Guild. Have a wonderful week!

Consecration of the Priests (Part 2), Exodus 29; 30:22-33

For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” –Hebrews 9:24-26

In order to set the high priest and his sons apart for service, God commanded that they participate in a public consecration ceremony that lasted a week. During this time, the priests had to remain in the tabernacle precincts. My last post summarized the first two stages of this ceremony. Below are the following five stages.

  • The priests were anointed (Ex. 29:7, 21; Lev. 8:10-12, 30). In the Old Testament, God granted priests, prophets, and kings His Holy Spirit for empowerment and service (Luke 4:17-19; Isa. 61:1-3). A special oil was used only to anoint the priests, tabernacle and its furnishings. Moses poured the oil over Aaron’s head. The oil flowed down his beard—covering his breastplate and stones that represent Israel’s tribes—displaying a beautiful picture of unity in the Lord (Ps. 133:2).

(Source: chongsoonkim.blogspot.com)
Under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit’s anointing isn’t reserved just for priests, prophets, and kings. Those who have placed their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior have also received an anointing of God’s Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27; 2 Cor. 1:21-22). The Holy Spirit is the “down payment” of future glory. He has both anointed and sealed us by His Spirit.

  • The priests were forgiven (Ex. 29:10-14).

    Jesus Christ is our sin offering. We find forgiveness in Him alone (Isa. 53:4-6, 12; Matt. 26:28; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Rev. 1:5-6).

    To atone for the priests’ sins, they had to sacrifice a slain bull (Lev. 4; 8:14-17). This sin offering was to be repeated daily for a week (Ex. 29:36-37) to cleanse not only themselves, but also to sanctify the altar where the priests would minister.

  • The priests were completely dedicated to God (Ex. 29:15-18; Lev. 8:18-21). God expected the high priest and his associates to fully devote themselves to their work of ministry. Total dedication to the Lord is depicted when the animal is completely given to Him during the burnt offering sacrifice (Lev. 1). Likewise, Jesus held nothing back in both His ministry before the cross and becoming our sacrifice on the cross.
  • The priests were marked by the blood (Ex. 29:19-22; Lev. 8:22-24). Warren Wiersbe (Be Delivered) writes: “At this point in the ordination ceremony, we would have expected Moses to offer a trespass offering (Lev. 5), but instead, he offered a ram as a peace offering, “the ram of consecration” (Ex. 29:22). The Hebrew word means “filling” because the priests’ hands were filled with bread and meat.” Moses not only sprinkled the blood—along with the anointing oil—on Aaron, his sons, and the altar, but also marked each man with some blood on the right thumb, right big toe, and right earlobe as a reminder to the following: Listen to God’s Word; carry out God’s work; and follow God’s way. As the blood speaks of sacrifice, the priests became “living sacrifices” in their service of the Lord (Rom. 12:1).
  • The priests were fed (Ex. 29:22-28, 31-34; Lev. 8:25-29). As part of the priests’ payment for serving at the altar, pieces from some of the offerings—along with special harvest tithes—were given to them. However, they were to eat in the tabernacle precincts and view these gifts as holy sacrifices. The priests’ hands were filled from the “food basket” (Ex. 29:2-3) and from the altar (vv. 22-28). Then the priests would wave these gifts toward the altar in devotion to God. Lastly, they shared this food in a fellowship meal (vv. 31-34). The priests would never lack for nourishment if they faithfully encouraged Israel to obey God and taught His Word. Sadly—in later years—some of the priests lost sight of God and His commands as they consumed the best for themselves (1 Sam. 2:12-17; Mal. 1:6-14).

Upon completion of their ordination ceremony, the priests immediately entered into ministry with no allotted vacation or sick days. Their daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule were charted in the law that God gave Moses on Mount Sinai. Every day would start with sacrificing a lamb as a burnt offering. This signified the people’s total dedication to God. The day also ended with offering another lamb as a burnt offering. Wiersbe observes: “That’s a good example for us to follow, opening and closing the day with surrender to the Lord. . . . The flour and wine [given as a meal offering] represented the results of the people’s labor in the fields and the vineyards. Symbolically, they were presenting the fruit of their toil to God and thanking Him for the strength to work and for food to eat (Deut. 8:6-18). The wine poured out was a picture of their lives poured out in His service (Phil. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:6, NIV).”

Reflect

The priests’ first obligation was to minister to God. What does this mean for God’s people today? Who has been anointed with the Holy Spirit today? What is gained from this anointing? What does it mean for believers to present their bodies as a living and holy sacrifice (Rom. 12:1)?

Consecration of the Priests (Part 1), Exodus 29:1-37; 30:22-33

“It comes as a shock to some people to learn that Jesus did not die to make us happy; He died to make sinners holy. ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ was a frequent command to the Jews and it’s repeated in 1 Peter 1:15-16 for believers today. . . .” – Warren Wiersbe, Be Delivered

My last post explored the purpose of the priesthood and the High Priest. We learned that the priesthood with the sacrificial system was temporary. Through the priests and their work, God planned to prepare all people for the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ, God in flesh. Jesus, our great high priest, is superior to the Old Testament priests. Like the high priest, He mediates between God and us. But unlike the high priest who could only go before God once yearly, Christ is always available to hear our prayers and intercedes for us as our representative at the Father’s right hand. As a human, Jesus experienced a full range of temptations, but never sinned. He sympathizes with us in our weakness and assures us of God’s forgiveness and help when facing temptation.

It would be easy to gloss over this next section, “Consecration of the Priests”. But through a consistent study of the Old Testament, we’re given a deeper understanding and appreciation of the New Testament. When I read Wiersbe’s quote (below) I wonder if this truth gets muted in some of our churches where the main focus is on entertainment.

Jesus did not die to make us happy; He died to make sinners holy.”

This certainly isn’t a popular teaching. Many probably question: “Why would I want to follow God if He’s not for my happiness?” The truth is, however, God is for our joy and happiness. But being perfectly holy, He hates sin. Yes, He also loves the sinner, thankfully! But if we’re not cleansed from our sin, we won’t be living with Him for eternity (Rom. 6:23). God also knows that deep joy can only be ours when we are free from being entangled in sin. So He disciplines those He loves.

Joy is a by-product of living in God’s presence and is not dependent on our circumstances.

It would be wrong if I don’t finish Wiersbe’s quote before moving on: “The first step toward happiness is holiness. If we’re right with God, then we can start being right with others and with the circumstances of life that trouble us. If you aim for happiness, you’ll miss it, but if you aim for holiness, you’ll also find happiness in the Lord.”

Consecration of the Priests

To set the high priest and his sons apart as God’s servants, God commanded that they participate in a public consecration service. Wiersbe writes of at least seven stages in this service.

  • The priests were washed (Ex. 29:4; Lev. 8:6). The Bible depicts sin with the following terms: disease (Isa. 1:4-6), darkness (1 John 1:5-10), drowning (Ps. 130:1-4), and even death (Eph. 2:1, 5; John 5:24), but frequently it’s pictured as dirt and defilement (Isa. 1:16, 18; Jer. 4:14; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 9:14; James 1:21; 4:8). Complete cleansing from the Lord was symbolized when Aaron and his sons were washed all over. Likewise, those who have placed their trust in Christ have also experienced this inward cleansing from the Lord (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
  • The priests were clothed (Ex. 29:5-6, 8-9, 29-30; Lev. 8:7-9, 13). God instructed the priests to wear specific garments. Moses clothed his brother Aaron and his sons with linen tunics and bonnets. They dared not minister in the tabernacle without their official “uniforms”. Scripture likens the wearing of garments to the character and life of the believer. We are to put aside filthy garments of the old life and put on the beautiful “garments of grace” the Lord provides (Eph. 4:17-32; Col. 3:1-15). When Christ died on the cross He purchased a robe of righteousness for us (Isa. 61:10; 2 Cor. 5:17, 21).

I’ll conclude with the remaining stages of this consecration service in my next post.

Reflect

It’s always easier (and more comfortable) to point out sin in others. But God tells us “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6). We can never achieve righteousness by our own efforts and standards. However, when we ask God with honesty and sincerity to save us from our sins, He will do it (1 John 1:9). For “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God, (2 Cor. 5:21).  Although Jesus followed His Father’s call, He willingly laid down His life. Why? “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Christ went all out so we could be clothed in a robe of righteousness and have eternal life.

What an awesome privilege to live in a time when Jesus Christ reigns not only as King over sin and death, but also serves as our Mediator and High Priest! God’s mercy toward us is not to be taken lightly. Philippians 2:12 tells us to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. In context, this verse is an exhortation to unity, but I think it also refers to being careful in how we live and what we believe. . . . Have a great week!

The Purpose of the Priesthood and High Priest

Last week we explored the significance of the priestly garments in Exodus 28. We not only discovered that their clothing symbolized God’s expectations for them, but there are also some truths that parallel today’s church ministry of “the holy priesthood”.

Although God originally intended for His chosen people to be a “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6)—both as a nation and individually dealing directly with God—the people’s sin blotched that idea. So God initiated plan B by appointing priests from Levi’s tribe with the intended purpose of the people being able to approach Him within His system of sacrifices. If the people would offer certain sacrifices administered by the priests on their behalf, God promised to forgive their sins. The priests were also to represent God to the people by helping them obey the law through their teaching (Lev. 10:8-11; Deut. 33:10; Mal. 2:7).

The High Priest

The high priest was the highest religious leader of the Israelites. This position was hereditary, traced from Aaron’s lineage (Moses’ brother) who belonged to the Levite tribe (Exodus 28:1Numbers 18:7). Requirements of the high priest included: to be “whole” physically (without any physical defects) and holy in his conduct (Leviticus 21:6-8).

One role of the high priest was to oversee the responsibilities of all the subordinate priests (2 Chronicles 19:11). Only certain tasks were given to him, such as wearing the Urim and the Thummin (engraved dice-like stones used to determine truth or falsity), even though he could also perform regular priestly roles. The Israelites went to the high priest when seeking God’s will (Numbers 27:21). The New Testament (John 11:49-52) references the high priest as also having the gift of prophecy.

Another role of the high priest includes making a sin offering not only for himself, but also for the sins of the whole congregation (Leviticus 4:3-21). When a high priest died, all those confined to the cities of refuge for the accidental cause of death to another were given freedom (Numbers 35:28).

On the tenth day of the seventh month of every year the high priest conducted the service on the Day of Atonement. This marked his most important duty. For he was the only one permitted to enter the Most Holy Place to stand before God. Having made a sacrifice for himself (so he wouldn’t die) and for the people, he then brought the blood into the Holy of Holies. Through sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat, God’s “throne” (Leviticus 16:14-15) he made atonement for himself and the people for all their sins during that year (Exodus 30:10). This service is compared to the ministry of Jesus Christ as our High Priest (Hebrews 9:1-28).

(King James Version, source: Bible.Com)

Reflect

The priesthood with the sacrificial system was temporary. The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that Christianity surpasses Judaism because it has a better covenant (8:1-13), a better sanctuary (9:1-10), and a more sufficient sacrifice for sins (9:11-10:18).

The NIV Life Application Study Bible notes: “Through these priests and their work, God wished to prepare all people for the coming of Jesus Christ, who would once again offer a direct relationship with God for anyone who would come to Him. But until Christ came, the priests were the people’s representatives before God. Through this Old Testament system, we can better understand the significance of what Christ did for us (see Hebrews 10:1-14).”

Christ is completely competent, qualified and supreme in the forgiveness of our sins. Not only is He the perfect revelation of God, but He is also the final and total sacrifice for our sin. Thankfully, Jesus—the only way to eternal life—is also our compassionate and understanding mediator.

The Priestly Garments, Exodus 28

I hope you are enjoying this last day of summer! We are drawing closer to the end of Exodus, (exhale). I am certainly learning a lot as I plod through this Old Testament book. It’s time to examine “the holy priesthood” that God ordained for the tabernacle.

God desired for Israel to be “a kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6) to share His blessings and reveal His glory to the surrounding unbelieving nations. But to glorify the Holy God, Israel would need to be a holy people. So God called the Aaronic priesthood (Aaron’s family) and the Levites (Num. 3-4) to serve and represent the people before Him in the tabernacle. They were also to represent God to the people by helping them obey the law through their teaching (Lev. 10:8-11; Deut. 33:10; Mal. 2:7). God didn’t choose Aaron and the Levites because of any special merit on their part, but rather as an act of sovereign grace.

Israel, however, failed in their role as a kingdom of priests. Instead of helping the people worship God, the spiritual leadership slowly decayed to the point of allowing idol worship in God’s temple (Ezek. 8). So God disciplined His people by permitting the Babylonians to carry thousands of Jews into exile. The Babylonians not only destroyed Jerusalem, but also the temple. Why? “But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests who shed within her the blood of the righteous” (Lam. 4:13).

How does the Old Testament priesthood relate to us today? Warren Wiersbe (Be Delivered) writes: “Today, God wants His church to minister in this world as a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, 9). If God’s people are faithful in their priestly ministry, they will “proclaim the praises of Him who called [them] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:5, 9 NKJV).

Like Aaron and his sons, we didn’t choose God. Rather, “[He] chose us” (John 15:16) as an act of divine grace. It’s no small thing that the Almighty God saves sinners, makes us His children, and then equips us to be His “holy priesthood”. Our first priority is to please God and serve Him. If we accomplish this, then He will work in us and through us to achieve His work in this world.

As we study the Old Testament priesthood, let’s look for parallels between the past work of the Jewish priests and the church’s ministry today of “the holy priesthood”.

The priestly garments

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One way the priests were to please the Lord was to obediently dress in His designed garments for them. They couldn’t dress however they wanted when ministering in the tabernacle. Why? Wiersbe lists three reasons: 1) They gave the priests “dignity and honor (Ex. 28:2) and set them apart, just as a uniform identifies a soldier or a nurse; 2) they revealed spiritual truths relating to their ministry and our ministry today; and 3) if the priests didn’t wear the special garments, they might die (vv. 35, 43).

And now—although I love having you here at my site—let’s examine GotQuestions.Org’s summary of this topic: the significance of the priestly garments. Listed below their post are related topics including: What were the Urim and Thummim?What was the significance of the ephod?, and What was the significance of the anointed priest?  Have a terrific week, end of summer, and beginning of fall! 🙂