Exodus 19-40 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight EXO02
The Bible from 30,000 Feet, soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
So would you please turn in your Bible to the Book of Exodus? We're beginning in chapter 19. And we're overviewing the rest of this book. We're sure glad that you made it for our midweek study. And as you are getting comfortable, we begin at the foot of Mount Sinai. I was reading an article this week about weather phenomenon that happens around the world. And they showed different pictures of what these things were like. And one of them were known as UFO clouds.
And it seems that whenever you have cone-shaped hills as part of a mountain range, you'll have air that rises up on the slopes of that mountain. But then it is also compressed by gravity from above. And it produces what they call-- what meteorologists call lenticular clouds that look like UFOs. And I saw a picture, looked like a scene right out of Independence Day. I mean, it just looked like these UFOs were dotting the landscape, and they were just clouds.
Then I read also in that article about something called upward lightning. And whenever there's a lightning strike around a city with tall buildings, that you can get a positive, upward leader. So lightning is shot from the ground up to where lightning is supposed to come from. So instead of lightning coming down, it actually goes from the ground upward, upward lightning.
And then the third phenomenon was called sea smoke. And sea smoke is a familiar code word for when cold air moves over warm water, it produces this large fog bank that looks like a greenish, purplish smoke. And it's almost like a wave. It looks like a tsunami of clouds coming at a person or at a city along the coast.
So with that as a background, imagine what it must have seemed like to be at the foot of Mount Sinai as God was thundering and lightning and then speaking His word to the people, the Giving of the Law. And that's where we pick it up in chapter 19. Israel has been delivered out of Egypt. They're safe. They're sound. Now God instructs them. Now God teaches them His law.
And so the emphasis changes in chapter 19 from narration to legislation, from what happened in getting out of Egypt to what God has to say to this new nation now that they are His.
The Jews refer to this section of the Bible, and in particular this part of Exodus, the first few chapters, as the kernel and the core of the nation's life. They realize that, as Jews, they look back to and rely upon the law, the covenant that God made with Moses. You might look at it this way. God's revelation is their identification. They identify themselves as those who have been given by God the covenant of the law.
Now just by way of review, if you remember Genesis really quickly, there were four events followed by four people. In the Book of Exodus, we also have four stages of the birth of a nation. And we gave you four words last time. I'm going to pick up on them this time.
Domination. That's chapters 1 through 12. Domination, domination by Egypt. Egypt is their Lord. It's their owner. They are slaves of the Egyptians. So domination by Egypt followed by liberation from Egypt. That's where we left it off last time in chapters 13 through 18. Now we look at the two final stages of the birth of a nation. That is revelation and identification. God reveals His law to them. And the last section, he has drawn them apart. And they identify as God's special people in this covenant.
So in chapter 19, verse 1, in the third month, after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the wilderness of Sinai. So this is three months after leaving Egypt. They're encamped at this mountain. They're in the wilderness for they had departed from Rephidim and came to the desert of Sinai. And they camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain.
And Moses went up to God. And the Lord called him from the mountains saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel-- you have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself."
God is jogging their memory at this point. Remember who you were. Remember where you came from. Remember what I have done for you. And know how much I care for you. "Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all the people, for all the earth is mine."
Now, God here, through Moses, makes a reference of eagles' wings, "I bore you on eagles' wings." And the Hebrew word is nesher. And it is believed that God was making a reference, a comparison, to a special type of a bird called the griffon eagle. And what's unique about this bird is that it will take its young far away, or it will give birth far away, usually in a wilderness place where it can be undisturbed, and where the mother has to care for it in a very unique way because there are no natural resources.
So in that place sequestered away from all natural resource where the young would be completely dependent on the eagle, God said, I took care of you that way. God brought them out to the wilderness where there were no natural resources. He gave them water from the rock. He gave them manna from heaven. He miraculously preserved them for 40 years.
And then God says, you are to be-- "then you shall be"-- verse 5-- "a special treasure to me." I wonder how you view yourself. I wonder if you see you like God sees you. I don't know that they felt much like a special treasure with dust all over their feet and all over their tents and all over their body and all that they had been through, all that they were wondering about.
But God says you're a special treasure to me. And you are a special treasure to God. Some people say, well, I feel so worthless. What you need to know is this-- the worth of an object is determined by what somebody is willing to pay for that object. And if God sent His only son out of heaven for you because you were that important to Him, then you have no right saying that you are worthless when God says, you're a special treasure to me.
If you follow down the story to verse 8, all the people answered together. And they said, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do." And so Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord. Now, that's a bold statement, right? Everything God says, man, we're up for it. Bring it on. Give us the law. We'll keep it. We'll do it. We're all in. It's a wonderful thing to say. It's a very difficult thing to do.
To make this statement, everything God tells you, we will do-- the problem with that promise is capacity. We, as humans, don't have the capacity to keep the law. That's why Jesus was sent. That's why the covenant of grace will be unfolded as we continue the story.
In Deuteronomy chapter 5, verse 29-- and I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself. But God said this, really, about this promise that they're going to do it. He said, "Oh, that they had such a heart within them that they would fear me and that they could keep my commands." That was the hard cry of a creator who gave the law, heard the promise of the people to keep it, and said, you know, I wish they could pull it off. I wish they had the heart and the ability to do it. But he knew they couldn't.
And Paul addresses this later on in the New Testament in the book of Galatians. He talks about the role of the law. And he says the law was our school master. "Paidagogos" is the word. The tutor who would bring a child from its home, walk it all the way to school, would be the superintendent of that child in the early phases of the child's development.
So the law was meant to lead us along until we got to the real teacher, the real master, the real school master. And that is Christ. It was the school master to lead us to the cross. It was the law that said you need a savior. And once it pointed out the savior, we came under a new covenant. That's a covenant of grace.
In verse 16-- here's some of that meteorological phenomena I told you about. It came to pass on the third day in the morning that there were thunderings and lightnings and a thick cloud upon the mountain. And the sound of the trumpet was very loud. So all the people who were in the camp tremble. Please mark that. The giving of the law was not a beautiful sight. It was a dreadful sight. People were shaking in their boots. They were terrified.
Now, Mount Sinai was completely in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace. And the whole mountain quaked greatly. So if you were there and you were looking at Mount Sinai, it kind of looked like a volcano, like an erupting, fiery, burgeoning volcano in the distance.
Why all this phenomena? It's a demonstration of God's perfect holy character, His flawless, amazing, powerful character. The rabbis used to say of this scene, "No mortal can gaze on unveiled the majesty of God." Now, God's going to say the same thing in a little bit. You can't look on Me and live, Moses. You can't gaze upon Me and live.
So God did not let the children of Israel see Him. But rather, God let Moses hear Him. God revealed by voice His will to Moses, His words to Moses. And Moses will then deliver them to the children of Israel. God's voice here is very dramatic.
But you shouldn't look to this as the model of how God speaks. Because if you're thinking, yeah, man, this is awesome to read about. But I've never had God, like, shake my mountain or shake my vehicle or bend down to me and go, hey, Skip, this is God. I never had an experience like that. I never have either.
More often than not God, will speak to you like He did to Elijah who was expecting some miraculous, earth-shattering, fire experience. God heard him speak in a still, small voice. And more often than not, you'll hear God speak to you in His word, through His word, in a still, small voice.
In fact, if we fast forward to the New Testament-- and this is one of the big differences between the synagogue and the church, between Judaism and Christianity. Judaism makes it all about the precepts and the principles of Moses. The New Testament says that was good for them. But now it's not about the precepts and the principles. It's about the person of the Lord, Jesus Christ. All of that is fulfilled in Him. Now God speaks through His Son primarily.
Hebrews chapter 1, verse 1-- "God, who in different ways and in different times spoke to our fathers through the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things." So the focus is not on the precepts of the law, the precepts given at Mount Sinai, the principles of the law, but the person of Jesus.
I'm going to read what I think is a good commentary from the New Testament on what we're reading in the Old. I'm reading out of Hebrews chapter 12 where the writer says, "For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire"-- that would be Mount Sinai-- "and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of the trumpet and the voice of words so those who heard it begged that the word would not be spoken to them anymore.
For they could not endure what was commanded-- 'and if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.' And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, 'I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.'" The writer continues, "But you have come to Mount Zion." Not Mount Sinai. That was then. This is now.
"You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks of better things than that of Abel."
So a contrast between the old and the new, between one mountain and another mountain, between the covenant at Sinai and the covenant in the blood of Christ at Mount Zion, which took place just outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
When we continue on and get to chapter 20, we have God's top 10. It's the beginning of the law. But the law will continue several chapters after this, many chapters after this. But basically, God condenses all of his regulations into 10 big ones. And it should be noted that God expects two things that can be seen in the Ten Commandments, two things. Basically, God wants supreme devotion to Him and sincere affection for others. That's the Ten Commandments. Supreme affection, attention, devotion to God, and sincere love and affection for others.
And so the law came in two tablets, the Bible says. Two tablets, why? Because there's two parts of the law. There's the first four commands which are vertical commands. They talk about our relationship with God. It goes this way on this plane. The second six commandments are on the horizontal plane. It's person to person. It's man to man.
So the Ten Commandments-- you shall have no gods before Me. You can't make any images that represent God for the purpose of worship. You are not to take God's name in vain. You are to keep the Sabbath day. That's the fourth commandment. Fifth commandment, as you saw in the video, was honor your father and your mother, followed by, you shall not murder, followed by, you shall not commit adultery, followed by, you shall not steal, followed by, you shall not lie.
And followed by the last commandment, which Paul said, when he read that one, it slayed him. And that is, thou shalt not covet. And the reason that slayed Paul is he realized for the first time the law doesn't just deal with outward actions, but with inward attitudes. Because if you lie, if you steal, if you kill-- those are outward actions. But if you covet, you're doing that internally. You have a desire, an inordinate desire for something you don't have. Nobody sees that. But he realized that's an attitude of the heart. And God cares about the attitudes of the heart.
So, the two tablets of the law, as one person put it, the Ten Commandments were given in tablet form. And obeying them will save a lot of other tablets. A lot of people take tablets-- tablet, tablet, every day, tablets. Settle their stomach. Get them to sleep. Get them up in the morning. But you just stay close to the Lord and take these two tablets of the law to govern your actions and your attitudes.
In verse 24 is something that I just want to fly a little closer to the ground on this one. In fact, it has to do with the ground. Notice, "an altar of earth," God says, "you shall make for me. And you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name, I will come to you and I will bless you.
And if you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it out of hewn stone"-- carved up, nicely fitted and adorned-- "for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it."
It's an interesting text to me. It's actually one of my favorites because it shows me that God was not into ornate, detailed worship structure. He did not want worship to be distracted by something man did. He wanted the focus to be on Him, undistracted worship. He didn't want anybody going, now, that is such a cool altar. Look at that altar. Man, they must have-- who was the architect of that altar?
See, now the focus is on the art and architecture of the altar rather than on the one who gave the talent of art. And that is God Himself. Not that God is opposed to art. I'm going to show you that in a few minutes. But when it comes to worship, God seems to just love that pure, unadorned, unhewn stone as an altar of sacrifice.
What is the principle? Simply this-- art must never supersede heart. It's all about the heart more than the art. Art is OK as long as you have the heart in it. If you have art and no heart, it's just empty. It's like, so what? That's why the highest form of artistic expression is that of worship to the Lord.
Remember the Samaritan woman who was talking to Jesus and the conversation got a little too close to home for her? And so she gets all religious. And she said, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain"-- that is Mount Gerizim up in that area. You Jews say Jerusalem is the proper place to worship. And Jesus said, it doesn't matter where you worship. It matters that you worship and how you worship. You have to worship the true God. And you have to worship Him in spirit and in truth. So heart always supersedes the art.
Chapter 21, 22, 23, and 24-- this is where, for a lot of people, Bible reading bogs down. They get all excited going through Genesis and Exodus as long as the story is fast paced. But now we get to the nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts laws of everyday life. We go through social law, that is, property rights. We go through moral law-- what you can and can't do, what is morally acceptable before God in practice and precept-- and spiritual laws.
Chapter 21, verse 1-- "now these are the judgments which you shall set before them." And the laws that fill this book of Exodus are strikingly similar to many laws that came after it that were based upon the premises given in the laws of Moses, including our own nation.
Verse 2, "If you buy a Hebrew servant"-- I just want to touch on this. "If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve you six years. And in the seventh, he shall go out free and pay nothing."
I'm having you look at this because there is a pattern. You've already noticed it. You're going to notice it again throughout the Bible. And that's a pattern of the Sabbath or the pattern of the six and one. You'll work six days. You'll be off the seventh because God created the heavens and the earth in six days and he rested on the seventh. There is also the same law in their farming practices. They are to work the land for six years. The seventh year, they let it lay fallow, and just whatever grows of itself they take and they partake of.
And here, a servant would work for six years, but then go free. Now, the reason a servant would work for a number of years is because he had to work. He needed to pay off some debts. But there's also stipulations, as we-- if we were to continue reading this, where the servant says, I don't just have to work for you. I want to work for you.
And there was this special little ritual where an awl was driven through the earlobe of the servant. They would take his ear, put it up to the door, and take this little nail and puncture his ear. And you go, ouch! And I say, ouch? You girls have done that for generations upon generations, called earrings. And it would mark a servant-- as he would wear that-- a servant of that person by will.
So back to this six-and-one pattern. It didn't just work in days-- like six days and the seventh day, you have a Sabbath. But it worked in years for their agriculture. Six years, as I mentioned, you work the land. Seventh year, it lies fallow. Israel did not keep this for 490 years. And one of the reasons God allowed them to go into Babylonian captivity, among many other sins, was their neglect of letting the land enjoy its Sabbath rest.
And 490 years would be how many Sabbaths? 70 Sabbaths. That is why God said, you're going to go to Babylon and be in captivity for 70 years. Because you didn't let the land lie fallow for 70 Sabbaths, or 490 years.
Something else-- some people see a reference to the millennial kingdom with this six-and-one pattern. And I'm just bringing this up because some people get really interested in this. I am mildly interested in it. But what they will say is, we have been in bondage-- this earth has been in bondage to Satan after the fall for 6,000 years. Now, I'm not going to debate the age of the universe or talk about when that fall actually happened.
But it is interesting that this year in the Jewish calendar, it is the year 5,778. That's the traditional reckoning from creation. So they will say that it's like the six-and-one pattern. The millennial kingdom is a thousand years-- Revelation chapter 20-- of Jesus Christ reigning upon the earth. Could it be that the 6,000 years before the seventh or millennial thousand years is about up? And some get all hyped up and interested about that. It's, as I said, mildly interesting to me.
I say "mildly" because I'm always leery of people who want to set dates on anything at all. Because as soon as it doesn't happen, then whoever made the prediction gets egg on his face. And then the whole church suffers because, see you crazy Christians always come up with these dates. It never happens. So I stay away from that. I just thought, of interest, you'd want to know that.
If you keep going down a few verses, down to verse 12, and capital punishment is introduced-- it's already been introduced in Genesis, but it's articulated here. Verse 12, "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death." Now, this has bothered some people. Capital punishment continues to be a lightning rod issue in our culture. And among Christians, it is debated.
Back in Genesis 9, there was the principle where God said, "whoever sheds a man's blood, by man, his blood shall be shed." Here, this is basically repeated again. "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death."
If you follow the Old Testament, there were at least 10 reasons why people could receive the ultimate punishment-- taking away their life, capital punishment. They are murder-- stated here-- number two, child sacrifice, number three, kidnapping, number four, sexual immorality of certain kinds, number five, cursing your parents. There'd be a lot less population these days.
Witchcraft, magic, astrology, idolatry, and being a false prophet-- all of those were capital crimes. What bothers people about the idea of capital punishment is they say, well, it's murder. God says if you murder somebody, you should murder that person. It was never regarded by the Jewish nation as murder. Capital punishment and murder were two completely different entities.
To the Jewish nation, capital punishment was simply righteously administered judicial execution. That's how they saw it. Righteously administered judicial execution, not regarded as murder. But then it's fleshed out. If you go down a little further, verse 24, "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for a hand, foot for a foot." Sounds pretty gross, right?
"Burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. And if a man strikes the eye of his servant or the eye of his maid servant and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye. And if he knocks out one of his servant's tooth or maidservant's tooth, he shall let him go for the sake of his tooth."
This section is known as the "lex talionis." And it is the law exact retribution. That is, the punishment for the crime must match the crime that has been committed. This goes way back to early law, some of the earliest laws, the Code of Hammurabi, the Babylonian annals of the laws that were given. The same kind of thing is included in that.
Now, why does God include this? It's not so that people can exact vengeance. It's meant to limit vengeance. God knows human nature. God knows human nature is, hey, you took out one of my teeth. You're going to wear dentures. I'm taking all your uppers out. You took out one of my eyes? Thou shalt be blind in both thine eyes. That's human nature. So to limit a retribution, to match the crime, the lex talionis was given.
By the way, if you remember Genesis, you remember this was a guy's problem by the name of Lamech. And Lamech said this in Genesis 4-- "I have killed a man for wounding me." See, that's human nature. You wounded me? I'm going to kill you. "I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech shall be avenged 77-fold."
So in ancient tribal societies, they had a special person who was designated by the title, the Avenger of Blood. So that if somebody of their tribe was hurt or maimed or killed, that person's duty was to administer the lex talionis, and especially when it came to property or certain injuries. And the next chapter, chapter 22, deals with property rights.
Now, Exodus chapter 23. We discover as we read Exodus 23 that God is really big on fellowship, that God wants His people, who are scattered through the land of Canaan eventually, he wants them to come together a few times a year to have-- let's just call it holy parties. He wants them to have a good time, a time of celebration, and to commemorate their history, especially as God was in control.
So there are three feasts that are given. Verse 14 of Exodus 23-- "three times a year, you will keep a feast to Me in the year. You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. You shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib." That's the first month in their calendar month. Later on, it will be changed to Nisan. I'm just throwing that out because if you read Nisan later-- know that Nisan was not the car manufacturer, but the month that used to be Abib.
"For in it, you came out of Egypt. None of you shall appear before me empty." Verse 16-- "and the Feast of Harvest, the first fruits of your labors which you have sown in the field, and the Feast of Ingathering, which is at the end of the year when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. Three times a year, all your males shall appear before the Lord, God."
Why did God do this? Because He knows that when we fellowship, it's a uniting exercise. It's why the New Testament in Hebrews chapter 10, verse 25 says, "not forsaking the assembly of yourselves together." But you do it more frequently as you see the day approaching. So three feasts-- Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles. Passover celebrates redemption. Pentecost celebrates provision. Tabernacles celebrates protection. The Feast of Passover celebrated their deliverance from Egypt, the bondage of Egypt. That took place by the blood of a lamb. A lamb was selected on the 10th day of the first month of-- what's the first month name?
Abib. Look at you scholars.
So that little lamb was selected on the 10th day of Abib or Nisan. It was slaughtered on the 14th day of the month-- that was the Feast of Passover-- which would mean you'd select some cute, little lamb. You'd take it home. The kids would love it. They'd probably name it. You'd think it's the cutest little pet. Four days later, you have to kill it. You say, that's cruel. It reminded everyone this is the cost for atoning for sin. An innocent victim has to die. Blood must be shed. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. That's Passover.
Pentecost took place 50 days after the first fruit. The first fruits of the harvests were brought in 50 days later. It was this celebration called Pentecost. They celebrated provision, grateful to God for the harvest. It was the only time, interestingly, leavened bread could be used. It's the only feast in which leavened bread could be used.
Why is that significant? Later on, the church is born on the day of Pentecost. And the church will include, as it continues through history, not just Jews, but unleavened people, gentiles, combined in a simple faith in Jesus Christ. He will bring them together.
Then there's the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. That celebrated God's provision in the wilderness wandering that we're going to get to in next week and the week after. And what's cool about this feast is the whole family camped out for a week. They put up a tent. They looked at the stars. They were just-- the kids loved the Feast of Tabernacles. They still do. You ever go to Israel during this feast, the kids love it because they get to camp outside every night for a week.
Chapters 25, 26, and 27 gives to us the pattern of a very interesting structure that is prominent during this wilderness march called the tabernacle. The tabernacle was simply a tent. It was made out of cloth material for the most part, though. There was some wood. And there was some gold and metals. But mostly, as you looked at it, it was a tent structure.
So think of it this way-- God was camping out with them 3,500 years ago. Now get this-- one fourth of this book, the Book of Exodus, is all about the tabernacle. One fourth, 11 chapters outline the commandments or the making of the tabernacle. That's significant. I'm going to get to that in a minute.
But go down to chapter 24, verse 18. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights. Verse 1 of chapter 25, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart, you shall take My offering." Verse 8, "And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them."
If you've ever traveled to Europe, one of the most amazing architectural features is the abbey, or the cathedral, these incredible edifices that have been built throughout history for the worship of God. If you go to Egypt, one of the landmarks as you're flying into the city of Cairo-- I remember my flight into Cairo. Off the left side of the airplane were the pyramids. Incredible just to see them. It's like, wow, I've seen pictures of them. There they are.
When you get to God's house, the real God's house, it's like a hovel. It's a hut. It's a tent. Again, it's not fancy at all. You would look at it. I've seen models of the tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai. And you look at it in real time. You go, not all that impressive. But that's the place God chose to dwell, at least during this time.
And here's what's important. What made the tabernacle so stand-out was the occupant. That's where God hangs out, enough said. Doesn't have to be about all the other accouterments for worship. It's about its chief occupant, which is God. It's God's throne. And it was the place to behold God's glory.
So let's take a quick tour, without reading all the chapters, of the tabernacle. As you would approach the tabernacle, you would see a fence that is 7 feet tall, approximately made out of cloth. It had one gate, one narrow opening, only one way to get in. And you had to get in by bringing basically an animal to be sacrificed. And the priest got in for you. He would take it in and sacrifice it there. So the only way you could approach God was at the tabernacle with an animal for a blood sacrifice.
As you-- if you were a priest, as you would walk through the courtyard, you would see that you are surrounded by a perimeter fence 75 feet wide, 150 feet deep. That is the courtyard of the tabernacle. You would immediately be struck by a visual of a large brass altar in front of you where sacrifices were made. And you would see a big laver, or a pool, a brass container where water was used to wash the animals for the sacrifices.
Then you would see in front of you a tent. So far, you've seen just a dirt courtyard and a cloth fence, 150 feet by 75 feet. But you would notice that toward the back right in the center was a tent structure. And that tent structure was 15 feet wide by 45 feet deep. It was divided into two sections.
The first room is called the Holy Place. The Holy Place was 15 feet wide, 15 feet tall, 30 feet deep. If you were a priest and you were walking in, on your left side, you would see a menorah, a seven-branched candlestick. And the priest would have to keep those lamps burning and trimmed every day.
On the right-hand side-- so for you, it would be this side. There is the picture-- left-hand side, that menorah, right-hand side, the table that had 12 loaves of bread, each representing one of the tribes of Israel. And right in front of you, in front of a veil, was a little, tall altar where incense was burned called the Altar of Incense.
Then beyond that veil was a cubicle that was 15 feet square, 15 feet wide, 15 feet deep, 15 feet tall. That's called the Holy of Holies. Nobody ever went into that room except one dude one day a year. That was the high priest. On the Day of Atonement, he would walk in.
If you were a priest, you would replenish the bread. You would put oil in the lamps. You would burn incense on the Altar of Incense. In the Holy of Holies where the high priest would go once a year-- doesn't say so in the biblical text, but there are lots of rabbinic writings that say that it was such a fearful thing. You would approach the presence of God with such trepidation, even as a high priest, not only with elaborate sacrifices and cleansings for yourself, but even then, according to the rabbinical tradition, they would put pomegranate bells on the hem of the high priest garments.
And so the other priest could be outside on the other side of the veil, kind of going like this-- listening. And they hear a-- [CHIMING] Little tinkles, kind of little motion going on, all is good. But if they hear a-- [BOOM] and then no tinkling bells after that, they know the high priest just keeled over dead. So they, according to the rabbinical writings, not only had bells, but a rope attached to one of the feet of the high priest. They would drag him out. They're not going to go in and get him.
So they drag him out. Now, inside that room, the Holy of Holies, was the most important article of the tabernacle, called the Ark of the Covenant. I don't have to describe it to you. You've all seen Raiders of the Lost Ark so you've got a good visual. They did a pretty good job. Only about 45 inches long by about 27 inches tall, 27 inches wide. It was made out of wood, covered with gold, except the top of it, the slab-- was called the mercy seat. Solid slab of gold.
Inside that Ark of the Covenant, there were three things-- two tablets of the law-- I should say the second copy of the two tablets of the law because the first ones Moses breaks. He has to make a new section, a new copy of them. Those are placed in the Ark-- a golden jar of manna from the wilderness commemorating the manna, and Aaron's rod that butted, that distinguished him as being the guy above all the rest. So those three things were kept in the Ark of the Covenant.
The law that was in there was the law the children of Israel said, we'll do it, man. Whatever God says, we'll do it. But it was the very law they kept breaking over and over and over again. So, what was in the tabernacle was symbolic of their failure in the wilderness.
But God says, I'm going to meet with you between the cherubim on the top of that slab because that's where the blood was sprinkled. And when the blood was sprinkled on the top of that Ark, it became the mercy seat. It's a place where God could apply mercy and withhold his judgment based upon the blood that was between the broken law and the perfect God-- all a picture of Atonement.
Now, in Exodus 25, verse 21, the Lord says, "You shall put the mercy seat on top of the Ark." And here it is-- "there, I will meet with you. And I will speak with you from above the mercy seat from between the two cherubim which are on the top or which are on the Ark of the testimony."
So the tabernacle becomes to us New Testament believers a picture, a picture of Christ. There was one door into the Tabernacle. And there is one way into heaven. Jesus said, "I am the door." The entrance to the tabernacle was on the east side of the tabernacle, which means whoever wanted to go to it had to pass through the tribe of Judah. And Jesus Christ was born from the tribe of Judah.
From the inside, the tabernacle looked splendorous, beautiful, ornate. There was gold that covered wood. There were panels. There was artistry and beautiful architecture and four different layers over that Holy Place. But from the outside, it looked plain, even ugly. It was prophesied in Isaiah chapter 53 concerning Jesus-- He has no form or comeliness. There is no beauty in Him that we should desire Him. But the value was who He was, His person on the inside.
Then there was a menorah, as I mentioned, in that Holy Place. It was the only source of light in the tabernacle. Jesus said, "I am light of the world." There was one section called the table of showbread. Jesus said, "I am the bread of life."
There was the Altar of Incense. The priest would offer the incense. That's the ministry of Jesus Christ today. He is our great high priest. Incense going up was a symbol-- used symbolic in the Old Testament-- of prayers going up before the throne of God. And the veil limited the access. Nobody could go into that veil. Nobody could go through into that Holy of Holies except the high priest one day a year.
When Jesus died on the cross, interestingly, the veil of the temple was ripped in two from top to bottom, right? Matthew 27, from top to bottom, the veil of the temple. God was going, [RIPPING] come on in. You can have access to Me any time, day or night. You don't have to go through a priesthood. You don't have to go through rituals. You come by faith in what My Son did for you. It's a finished work.
So that's the tabernacle. Also, we should just make this statement quickly-- It's also a model of heaven. When you stepped into the tabernacle in the wilderness, it was like stepping into a scaled-down-- really scaled-down model of heaven. Hebrews chapter 8 says, "They serve"-- the priests-- "at a sanctuary that is a copy and a shadow of what is in heaven."
That is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle, see to it that you make everything according to the pattern that is shown you on the mountain. Now we understand why so many chapters and so much detail was given to the building of the tabernacle. It was a model of heaven. And if you read Revelation, the sea of glass, the throne of God, you see the correspondence of the tabernacle to the throne in heaven.
By the way, I said one fourth of this book is devoted to the tabernacle. Guess how many chapters in the whole Bible are? 50. 50. Now I bring that up for this reason-- there's only two chapters in Genesis that deal with creation. There's 50 chapters in the Bible that deal with the tabernacle, worship, approach to God, et cetera, et cetera.
So the way God-- what God views as important can be seen by how much literary real estate he devotes to a particular subject, and in this case, to the tabernacle, an awfully lot. Chapters 28 through 31 speak about the priests who minister in the tabernacle, what clothes they wear, what they're to do. This is, of course, for Aaron and his sons. That's the priesthood.
You know, when I was a boy, I grew up in a Catholic home. And I was the fourth of four boys. So my mom and dad were hoping that my oldest, Jim, would be a priest. And that's, by the way, if you're not Catholic, that's always the hope of a Catholic family, is one of their boys would be a priest. So Jim was like their first hope. And he did go to seminary. But he got married. So that kind of nixed their hopes of a priest.
Then Rick, the second-born-- he also went to seminary. He didn't become a priest. He became a philosopher. A lot of question marks going on with Rick after that. Bob, the third-born didn't go to the seminary. He joined the Hells Angels.
And then I was their last hope, fourth boy. And then I got saved. So my mom was awfully disappointed.
And she said to me-- she said, oh, Skip, I always wished that you would become a priest. And I remember the day she told me that, after I was saved, I said, Mom, you got your wish. I am a priest. All believers in Christ, the New Testament says, are priests of God. We're a nation of priests. You've got your desire.
[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
She wasn't all that excited about my answer.
Chapter 31-- I want to just dedicate the next couple verses to my artist friends just to show you that art does have a place. Verse 31, verse 1, the Lord spoke to Moses saying, "See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and knowledge and in all manner of workmanship."
Bezalel was already a recognized artist. This is God's special empowering upon him. Verse 4, "to design artistic works, to work in gold, and silver, and bronze, the cutting of jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to do work in all manner of workmanship." So his job was art, jewelry, and carpentry. To which you say, OK, but where's his ministry? Answer-- that's it. That's it-- art, jewelry, carpentry. God called him to that.
I'm bringing this up because we, in our age, have a very warped and narrow view of ministry. I'm going into ministry, meaning I'm going to seminary. And I'm going to become a scholar and a preacher or a worship leader. You can be a doctor and called into ministry. When I was working in the medical profession in radiology, and I would bring books and I would read and I would share the gospel with people and what I'm learning.
And somebody said, you never think about going into the ministry? I said, I am in the ministry. I'm talking to you right now. And if I wasn't here, maybe you'd never hear the gospel. So God put me here to talk to you and have this conversation. I am in the ministry. I'm in full-time ministry. Start seeing what you do as the call of God upon your life. And God will empower you to do what He's called you to do that.
I had a friend named Barb who God called her to be a pool player. I mean, she was a pool shark. And she could beat anybody I met, I ever knew. Her style of evangelism was to go into a bar or a pool hall and challenge the best guys in there to a pool game. And if I win, she said, you have to give me an hour of your time to listen to what I want to tell you. They said, deal. And she would always win.
And she would always share the gospel and lead some of those other pool sharks to Christ. That's what God called her to do. I love that.
Chapter 32 through 40 is the last section that we skim over. This deals with their identity or their identification. The children of Israel have the covenant God made with them renewed. Why renewed? Because they broke it.
As soon as Moses was getting the law from the mountain-- notice he hasn't even come down yet to give them the law-- they're already breaking it. Now remember, they said, whatever God says, man, we'll do it. We'll do it. We're all in. Moses isn't even down yet. And they have what I call their uh-oh moment. Moses is away. The children will play. And it's like, uh-oh.
Verse 1 of chapter 32-- "when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron and said to him, 'Come, make us gods that shall go before us. As for this, Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." So they broke off their gold earrings and their other jewelry, brought it to Aaron, verse 4. He received the gold. He made a molded calf. They said then after that, "This is your God, oh Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt."
Please remember this. It took one night for God to take Israel out of Egypt. It took 40 years for God to take the Egypt out of Israel. Their culture is so much a part of them, their background, that worldly way of thinking, that they construct an image of a bull that would have reminded them of a God in Egypt called Apis, the god of strength the bull god, as the symbol of worship.
Now, Moses comes down the mountain, comes to Aaron, gets in his grill, verse 22. Aaron said, "Do not let the anger of my Lord become hot." Like, don't get all hot under the collar, Mo.
"You know the people, that they are set on evil, for they said to me, 'Make us gods that will go before us, as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold let them break it off.' So"-- get this part-- "they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out!"
Dude, Mo, it was amazing! We just threw this stuff in there. And it was like, poof, instant cow. And it walked out. Seriously, Mo, you had to have been there.
It is amazing the lame excuses that people have for stupid behavior. I was given a list of excuses, real excuses, that people give police officers when they get pulled over. Just a couple of them-- man ran two red lights. Ran two red lights-- police pulled him over for running the red lights, going too fast. And the man actually said, it's a V8, man. You try stopping it.
And then he pulled over-- somebody else was pulled over for speeding and the man said, I had to speed-- he said this to the officer. I had to speed to get in front of you.
What, so he could pull you over? I don't get that. Another one said, I'm hurrying to the service station because I'm running out of fuel. And the classic is, I'm late for a funeral. Now, that last excuse-- a police officer, friend of mine, told me about this one, to which the police officer responded, the next time you go to a funeral, you might be riding in the back of the hearse. You be careful.
Question is this, as we're drawing this toward a close-- what excuses do you have for not accepting Christ? Because I bet if they were examined, they wouldn't be much different or better-- let's say better than Aaron's excuse to Moses.
Now, I'm going to take it to chapter 33 and 34 real quickly. Moses has a personal encounter with God. This is right before they start obeying the Lord. This is sort of the renewal of the covenant, after that uh-oh moment, chapter 33, verse 11, the Lord spoke face-to-face to Moses as a man speaks to his friend, one of my all-time favorite verses in the Bible.
Verse 18 is a highlight. Moses said to Him, "Lord, please show me your glory." And then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious. And I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But He said you cannot see My face, for no one can see My face and live."
So God takes Moses, puts him in a cleft of a rock, hides him, and God says, I'm going to pass by. And you will see My back-- that is the back of My glory when I take My hand away-- but My face shall not be seen. This is where the concept of the afterglow comes from. God basically says, you can't see My face. But I'm going to pass by. And you're going to look and just see the afterglow. You're going to see Me pass by.
Moses says, I want to see your glory. Now, if I'm there, I'm thinking, Mo, dude, when are you going to be satisfied? I mean, you've seen miracle after miracle after supernatural manifestation, et cetera, et cetera. That would be enough for most people. Let's see-- you've heard the voice of God, God meets with you privately in your tent, you've seen a Red Sea open up, you've seen water out of a rock, you've seen man out of the sky. That'll be enough. But it's not enough for Moses. He wants to see the Lord's face.
And I contend that no matter how well informed you are religiously, spiritually, you're not going to be satisfied until you see the Lord face to face, which means all of our worship experiences on this earth, as good as they might be, were never meant to satisfy you, but meant to whet your appetite for that full, unveiled, face-to-face, transformative moment when you're in the presence of God.
Chapter 35 through 40 is take two. Israel starts obeying the Lord. They bring supplies. They build the tabernacle. Chapter 40, down to verse 34, "Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting because the cloud rested above it. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in their journeys. If the cloud was not taken up, they did not journey until the day that it was taken up, for the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all of their journeys."
So, we close at the appropriate place of the house of worship becoming the center of their community. God was at the center of the layout of the mapping of their tents in the wilderness. It was at the center of the nation. Why? They were to be a God-centered people.
So the book opens with the brickyards of Egypt. The book closes in the presence of God before Mount Sinai. That's the message of Exodus to us. God wants to redeem you from bondage and be at the center of your life, camping out with you, tabernacling with you. John 1:1, the Word became flesh, and literally tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory.
I have a question I want to ask you as we pray. Everyone in this room has had a genesis. I know that because I'm looking at you right here. You had a beginning. You're alive. You've had a genesis. But not everybody in this room has had an exodus. Not everybody has been delivered from the bondage of a past life, of a life of sin, of wandering away from God. And they're not walking in present redemption.
God wants to change that tonight. He wants to rescue you. He wants to deliver you, break the shackles of the bondage that you've been struggling with. And He does that by knocking. [KNOCKING] Knocking, He said, "Behold, I stand at the door and I knock." If you'll open the door, I'll come in. But guess what? You have to open the door. Consider that as we pray.
Father, we close this evening, in considering the second part of the Book of Exodus, as these people were celebrating your deliverance, committed to your revelation even though they failed and broke that. Also, Lord, tuned into your revelation to them and their identity as people of God, you were dwelling in their midst. Having been delivered from the bondage of Egypt, you were dwelling in their midst. They could approach you.
And I pray for anyone here who has not had an exodus, had a deliverance, from a life of sin, from a past life of bondage, where they could enter into the freedom that is in Christ. Pray, Lord, that they would. They would surrender their lives to Jesus right here at this moment.
With eyes closed, heads bowed, if you're here tonight, you've had that genesis. I know. I see you. You're here. But you haven't had an exodus where the blood of the lamb has caused God's judgment to pass over you, which means you're still in line with his future judgment, which means you'll experience it one day.
But you don't have to. You can say, I would like it if Jesus would take all of my sins. And I understand that He came to do that. I'm going to let Him do that. I'm going to let Him take the rap for me, the punishment for me. And I am going to ask Him to forgive me. And I'm going to give my life to Him, to follow Him. That's the exodus God wants to give you.
And if you've never done that before or if you've wandered away from Him and need to return, would you just raise your hand up right now in the air? Keep it up so I can acknowledge you. I want to pray for you. I need to know who I'm praying for. God bless you to my left and you toward my-- yes, sir, toward my left in the back corner. Right there in the middle. Anyone else? Just raise that hand up.
Just slip that hand up in the air. God bless you. Who else? You're among friends. God bless you. Awesome. You just make an admission. I need God. I need help. I need His love. I need His forgiveness. I want a second start. God bless you and you to my right. And to you, right over here to my right.
Father, we want to thank you. Strengthen them. Live your life through them, we ask. Give them victory in Jesus's name. Amen. Let's all stand.
As we sing this final song, I'm going to ask those of you since we're going to sing this anyway, we'll use this time appropriately. As we sing this song, if you raise your hand, I'm going to ask you-- you're among friends-- to get up from where you're standing, find the nearest aisle, and come right up here, where when you come, I'm going to lead you in a prayer of receiving Christ. So you'll walk away knowing this is the night I prayed to receive Christ. This is the night my sins were taken away. This is the night I started a brand-new life with him.
So as we sing this song, if you raise your hand, just get up from where you're standing and stand right up here and come right now as we sing.
(SINGING) Oh come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Oh, come to the altar. The Father's arms are open. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Come right on up. Yes, sir.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
We're going wait just another couple of moments. We do this because Jesus Himself called people publicly in the New Testament. There's something about making a clean break and making a public confession of Jesus Christ that settles it in a person's heart. That's why we ask you to come forward. Glad you wrote raised your hand. Glad we could pray for you. But now come as we sing this song. Let us rejoice with you.
(SINGING) Oh come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Oh come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Oh, Jesus Christ. Oh yeah, yeah. Oh, come. Oh, come, yeah.
Hey, those of you who have come-- I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to just pray this prayer out loud after me. Say these words from your heart, OK? Say, Lord, I give you my life.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know that I'm a sinner.
I know that I'm a sinner.
Please forgive me.
Please forgive me.
I place my faith in Jesus.
I place my faith in Jesus.
I believe He died on a cross.
I believe He died on a cross.
I believe He rose from the dead.
I believe He rose from the dead.
I turn from my sin.
I turn form my sin.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I want to follow him as my Lord.
I want to follow him as my Lord.
Help me. It's in His name I pray.
It's in His name I pray.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit CalvaryNM.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible from 30,000 Feet.