Saturday, January 20, 2018

Stay a While in the Courtyard Before Moving into the King’s Palace

Exodus 38:9-20:
This a description of the court with its pillars and linen fence according to the command and description of the specifications given by God to Moses earlier in Exodus 27:9-19.
Thoughts on the Passage
Robert Jamieson informs us in his commentary that the hooks of the pillars in the court were for hanging up the carcasses of the sacrificial beasts. Those on the pillars at the entry of the Tabernacle were for hanging the priesthood robes and other things used in the services conducted in the Tabernacle.

Matthew Henry says the walls of the court (like rest curtains or hangings) represented the state of the Old-Testament church. He implies given that they were made of curtains, this intimated that “the confinement of the church in one particular nation was not to be perpetual”.

He goes on, “The dispensation itself  [i.e. the priesthood system] was a tabernacle-dispensation, movable and mutable, and in due time to be taken down and folded up, when the place of the tent should be enlarged and its cords lengthened, to make room for the Gentile world, as is foretold, [in] Isaiah 54:2,3. The church here on earth is but the court of God's house, and happy they that tread these courts and flourish in them; but through these courts, we are passing to the holy place above. Blessed are those that dwell in that house of God: they will be still praising Him. The enclosing of a court before the tabernacle teaches us a gradual approach to God. The priests that ministered must pass through the holy court, before they entered the holy house. Thus, before solemn ordinances there ought to be the separated and enclosed court of a solemn preparation, in which we must wash our hands, and so draw near with a true heart.”

How big is our vision for the Lord’s Body (the Church)? Does it include others beyond our own race, our nationality, our color?

Have we stopped long enough in the “court-yard” of the Creator’s palace to prepare ourselves properly before we expect to sit down and have communion with Him?


These are the thoughts that come to my mind today as I study this passage with you. Take time to consider what God brings to your mind.

And please feel free to share with us as an encouragement to others.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Mirror, Mirror, Going from My Wall to HIS Tent

The Bronze Laver
Exodus 38:8:
Morever, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.
Thoughts on the Passage
This is the basin that held the water for the ceremonial washing, in accordance with the original instructions of Exodus 30:17-21 where there is no mention of the use of mirrors. Here in chapter 38, we learn that the basin’s material came in part of from polished metal mirrors, owned by the women of the camp. David Guzak postulates that “It is wonderful to think that these women gave up their ability to measure their own physical beauty to make this reservoir. . .. By analogy, it may be said that some [people today] are so focused on looking at themselves that they fail to look to Jesus. It is always time to surrender such a mirror to Jesus.”

He says, “one may say that believers experience the washing of water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26), and that the Word of God is like a mirror (James 1;22-25).

Guzak then goes on to quote others who have offered analogies on this verse. For example, a certain Morgan is said to have written, “It is in the beauty of holiness men must worship, and by the surrender of everything of the flesh.”

Another commentator by the name of Trapp adds, “Let those who view themselves oft in their looking-glasses take his counsel who said, ‘Art thou fair? Be not like an Egyptian temple, varnish without and vermin within. Art thou foul? Let they soul be like a rich pearl in a rude shell.’”
From the text, we learn that there seemed to be a group of women in Israel who served God by regularly gathering to help the priests and the work of the Tabernacle. We see this in practice even today in many of our Protestant churches.  I have also witnessed it in the Greek Orthodox religion.
Guzak says the verb used here and translated ‘minister’ is rare and interesting. It is used in only one other place to refer to women in the service of the sanctuary (see I Samuel 2:22). He says quoting Cole, it really means “’organized in bands for war’, but it is used of ordinary Levitical service (see Numbers 4:23).”

Of course, when we read the I Samuel reference, we can see that all good things, including those intended for God’s service, can be misused. Hopefully, this was not the case at the time of the construction of the Tabernacle.

Robert Jamieson adds to our knowledge by saying, “It was customary for the Egyptian women to carry mirrors with them to the temples; and whether by taking the looking glasses of the Hebrew women Moses designed to put it out of their power to follow a similar practice at the Tabernacle, or whether the supply of brass from other sources in the camp was exhausted, it is interesting to learn how zealously and to a vast extent they surrendered those valued accompaniments of the female [toiletries]”.

Guzak also quotes Hengstenberg who suggests that these women “at the door” were not priestesses but women of pious character and influence, who frequented the courts of the sacred building (see Luke 2:37), and whose parting with their mirrors, like the cutting the hair of the Nazarites, was their renouncing the world for a season.”

Matthew Henry takes us one step further in his commentary on this verse. He suggests this laver holding the water for the priests to wash in when they went in to minister signifies, “the provision that is made in the gospel of Christ for the cleansing of our souls from the moral pollution of sin by the merit and grace of Christ, that we may be fit to serve the holy God in holy duties.” And thus, he says, the refence to the “looking-glasses” or mirrors of the women.

Henry analyzes the whole occasion of the women parting with their finest mirrors. Some women may admire their own beauty, are in love with their own shadow, and make the putting on of apparel their chief adorning by which they value and recommend themselves (do we know any such people – for I daresay, males could also easily be like this – in Hollywood and elsewhere) – these people Henry says can but ill spare their looking-glasses. And then he adds, “yet these women (in our text) offered them to God.”

He goes on to suggest two possible reasons as to why:

1.     In token of their repentance for the former abuse of them (the mirrors), to the support of their pride and vanity; now that they were convinced of their folly, and had devoted themselves to the service of God at the door of the Tabernacle, they thus threw away that which, though lawful and useful in itself, yet had been an occasion of sin to them. Thus Mary Magdalene, who had been a sinner, when she became a penitent wiped Christ’s feet with her hair.  Or,
2.     In token of their great zeal for the work of the Tabernacle; rather than the workmen should want brass, or not have of the best, they would part with their mirrors, though they could not do well without them. God’s service and glory must always be preferred by us before any satisfactions or accommodations of our own. Let us never complain of the want of that which we may honor God by parting with.

Henry suggests that the mirrors were either joined together or molten down and cast anew. But his guess is that the basin was so brightly burnished that the sides of it still served for mirrors, “that the priests, when they came to wash, might there see their faces, and so discover the spots, to wash them clean.”

He goes on to say, “Note, in the washing of repentance, there is need of the looking-glass of self-examination. The Word of God is a glass, in which we may see our own faces (see James 1:23); and with it we must compare our own hearts and lives, that, finding out our blemishes, we may wash with particular sorrow, and application of the blood of Christ to our souls. Usually the more particular we are in the confession of sin the more comfort we have in the sense of the pardon.”


Isn’t it amazing how much we can squeeze out of one verse of Scripture?  The gems are always there for us if we want to dig.  The bottom line for us is this – God first, our ‘image’ last.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

What is the Significance of the Tabernacle's Altar of Burnt Offerings For Us Today?

The Altar of Burnt Offerings
Exodus 38:1-7:
This is a description of the Altar of Burnt Offerings that was made to the specifications God had given earlier in Exodus 27:1-8.
Thoughts on the Passage
At this point, Bezalel had finished the gold work of the Tabernacle. It is interesting that God had instructed that the most beautiful and ornate parts of the Tabernacle were to be, for the most part, hidden from the sight of the ordinary Israelite. To me, that’s an indication that the real “gems” of our worship of, and relationship with, God are very personal – they are to be hidden deep in our hearts. They are to bring us joy and peace and hope. But those experiences are not meant to be flaunted about, egging others to match them in order to be like us or to achieve a certain level of devotion and piety. They are between God and us alone.

Matthew Henry says in this passage we see Bezalel now turning his attention to the preparation of the court of the Tabernacle. This part lay open to the view of all. And in this court, there were two things – the altar of burnt offerings which is described in this passage and then the bronze Laver which held water for the priests which is described in the passage that follows.

We comment, with Henry’s help, on the altar of burnt offerings and its significance. And it gets a little tricky here.  We have to pay close attention and join the dots:
·      First, we note all the sacrifices that were to be made were made on this altar.
·      Second, we note that this altar because it was divinely designed and commissioned by God Himself, was itself sanctified.
·      Third, it was sanctified for the purpose of receiving the sacrifices of the Israelites through the priests.
·      Fourth, the sanctified altar thus made the sacrifices burnt on it, sanctified offerings or gifts, as long as they were offered in faith.

The parallel for us today is clear: “Christ,” says Henry, “was Himself the altar to His own sacrifice of atonement, and so He is to all our sacrifices of acknowledgment. We must have an eye to Him in offering them, as God has in accepting them.”

No man stands between our “peace” or relationship with God except Jesus Christ and He alone. So, as we make our offerings of service and time and prayer, as we seek forgiveness for the sins we committed today or yesterday, we must focus on Jesus Christ Who alone is able to facilitate their acceptance by God. And God, knowing we have made those offerings can only accept them, not be focusing on who we are, but on focusing on Whom we have chosen to present them through – for God can only accept them through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who alone is worthy to do so.

What a beautiful revelation that is. What a picture that paints for us as we study the altar of burnt sacrifices in the court of the Tabernacle.

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