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LESSON 5. EXODUS, CHAPTERS 20-40
There were two further observations on the subject matter of the last lesson I should like to have made, had it not been already somewhat extended. The first was the "difference" which God put between the Egyptians and Israel (11:7). Notice that it was the difference between "life" and "death," and its determining point was the sprinkled blood of the lamb. Teachers who are conducting classes will, it is hoped, seize upon such opportunities to illustrate and emphasize the distinction between the saved and the unsaved as based on faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ.
The second observation refers to "the beginning of months" (12:1, 2). This is interesting not only as bearing on the fact that the Jews have a religious as well as a civil year, the one beginning in the spring (March-April), and the other in the autumn (September-October), but also as showing that their deliverance from Egypt marked a new era in their history. Henceforth in their relations to the Lord, the past was to be regarded as a blank. The suggestion is obvious that "redemption is the first step in real life."
Our New Work.
You have already recalled that the last word in the word outline of the previous lesson was "Sinai." Now what occurred at Sinai? It is easy to reply that there the Israelites received the revelation of the law, the tabernacle and the priesthood. There were two other events, for example, the idolatry of the golden calf, and the building of the Tabernacle, after its pattern had been shown to Moses in the mount. Nevertheless, the first three mentioned constitute the outline, which might read thus:
(1) Law, 20-24.
(2) Tabernacle, 25-27, 30, 31.
(3) Priesthood, 28, 29.
Let us analyze a little what is found under the word "law." Observe that we have here a remote application of the law of recurrence hitherto explained. That is, we have first, the law in general as set forth in the ten commandments (20:1-17), and then in detail in what follows to the close of chapter 24. In the first, God lays down certain fundamental principles, so to speak, and in the second, shows certain applications of those principles to ordinary, everyday life. It might be illustrated, perhaps, by the distinction between the constitution of a state, and the enactments of its legislators from year to year, the latter in a sense growing out of the former.
Notice the frequent allusions to the fourth commandment. Since the original institution of the Sabbath, which means "rest" (Gen. 2), it has been referred to at least five or six times. Observe the reason for the keeping of this day as stated, 23:12.
Notice the revelation of the character of God afforded in the law. His condescension is seen in occupying Himself with the details of daily life, the death of an ox, the loan of a garment, the loss of a tooth. What a motive for holiness, what a source of comfort this affords! His justice is seen in the even balance held between the rich and the poor, the punishment for bribery, defalcation, etc., penalty on the guilty and protection for the innocent. Remember in the same connection that this is the law which will maintain in the millennium about which we are to study later on. God has doubtless given this law to be obeyed by all men on the earth, and His purpose in that matter will not ultimately be defeated.
Notice the revelation of the character of man afforded in the law. The fact that such law must be enacted shows that such crimes will be committed. He is right who says that the most refined member of the human family carries about in his bosom the seeds of the darkest and most horrifying abominations (Rom. 2:1; 3:23; Mark 14:18, 19).
Notice particularly the place the law is said to occupy in the scheme of redemption (Gal. 3:24). It brings us to Christ in the sense that it shows us what sin is in God's sight, how far off we are from being what God requires, and how absolutely essential is a Saviour of God's providing.
The divine sense of the importance of the revelation of the Tabernacle is seen in the preparation for it (24:15-18). Let the subject receive the most prayerful attention. Carefully note each article referred to. Beginning with chapter 25, what four articles of furniture are mentioned in succession? At chapter 26 the framework of the building is spoken of. What was the material and predominating colors of the curtains (vv. 1-6)? How many coverings were to be made and of what materials (vv. 7-14)? How were the two parts of the building proper separated, and by what names were they distinguished (vv. 31-33)? What articles were placed in the most-Holy place? What in the Holy place? What part of the Tabernacle is spoken of in 27:9-19? What specific article for the outer court is mentioned in the preceding verses of that chapter? What subject interrupts the revelation of the details of the Tabernacle in chapters 28, 29? In returning to the Tabernacle what is its next article of furniture mentioned? In which of the three places, the most Holy, the Holy, or the outer court, was it to be placed? What precise position was it to occupy? What was the last article named, and in which of the three places was it to stand (30:17-21)? What provision was made for the financial support of the Tabernacle service (30:11-16)? What prohibition was laid upon the people with reference to the composition of the ointments and perfume (30:22-38)? What provision did God make for the execution of His plans in the erection of the Tabernacle (31:1-11 )? What chapters contain the account of their execution? When were they completed (40:17)? How did God show His approval of the work (40:34)? What was to be offered on the brazen altar twice every day (29:38, 39)? What kind of offering was this to be (v. 42)? How in this same verse does God indicate that He will bless the people? How is the same idea expressed in verses 45, 46? Indicate the divisions of the building thus:
The outer court. The Holy place. The most Holy place. The furniture of the outer court; the brazen altar, the laver. The furniture of the holy place; the table of shewbread; the golden candlestick; the altar of incense. The furniture of the most holy place; the ark of the testimony; the mercy seat.
It will greatly aid the student if he can examine a drawing or picture of the Tabernacle and its contents. Such will be found in a good Bible dictionary, such as Smith's, which ought to be in every well-equipped private library. Then there are special books on the Tabernacle treating of its typical character which are highly useful from a spiritual point of view. Some are large and expensive, but I here mention others within easy reach, such as The Tabernacle and Priesthood, by H. W. Soltau; All of Blue, by Frank White; Mosaic Institutions, by W. G. Moorehead; and Shadow and Substance, by George C. Needham.
The Tabernacle -- A Type.
The deep significance of the revelation of the Tabernacle doubtless lies in these two mysterious facts, (1) it was a pattern of things in the heavens, and (2) it was to be the dwelling place of God on earth. As to the first fact little can be known at present, but the Christian should dwell upon it in the light of the Epistle to the Hebrews, especially such passages as 8:1-5; 9:11, 12, 22-28; 10:11-14.
As to the second fact, God made the Tabernacle His dwelling place in the sense that His visible glory abode there (Ex. 40:34-38), and there He met the people and communed with them in the person of the high priest (25:22). But in this particular it becomes a wonderful type of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:14), in whom God dwelt among us. And not only is the Tabernacle itself such a type, but every article in it, and every part of it points to Him in some particular way. For example, take the ark and mercy-seat together, the latter resting upon the former, in the one we have Christ in His life fulfilling the law on our behalf, and in the other we have Christ in His death becoming a propitiation for our sins. Here mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other. It is a beautiful thought that in 1 John 2:2, the word "propitiation" is precisely the same in its meaning as the word "mercy-seat." If you will read that precious verse in that way it may reveal Jesus to you in a new light.
Coming out of the most Holy into the Holy place, we have the altar of incense symbolizing Christ's intercession; the table of shewbread, representing Him as our food; and the golden candlestick as our light. In the outer court He is in the brazen altar our sacrifice for sin, and in the laver our cleanser or regenerator.
Even the different parts of the sacred building suggest Him. The "fine twined linen" of the curtains expresses His spotless manhood; the "blue," His heavenly character; "purple," His royal position; "scarlet," His human sufferings upon the cross. Their measurements, number, couplings, loops and taches all find a significance in Him. The coverings of goats' hair, rams' skin, and badgers' skins are not without their meaning also, as will be seen by a perusal of some of the books referred to above. At first it may seem to some as if these points of suggestion were somewhat strained, but as one grows "in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," he comes to recognize Him more frequently in the Word, and to rejoice in Him as the One ever in His Father's eye, and the alpha and omega of all that He has to reveal to man. One needs to be very careful, however, not to be led astray here by fanciful and unwarranted interpretations of some of these things, the only safeguard against which is constant dependence upon the teaching and guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Nor should we forget that the tabernacle foreshadows in some sense that blessed truth to the true believer, of God's indwelling him (1 Cor. 6:19; John 14:15-23). And then what shall we say of Revelation 21:2-5? Is it possible that the original Moses saw in the mount, whose pattern he set up in the wilderness, is that which God hath prepared aforetime to be His habitation in the new earth throughout the age of eternity? Such hints as these should quicken our interest in the study of the subject of the Tabernacle.
When we approach the revelation of the priesthood, perhaps the first thing that strikes us is its position, cutting in two as it does the revelation of the Tabernacle. But remember that the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Word, and that He makes no blunders. Even though we do not always understand the meaning of such things, it is our duty to regard them as divine and seek light. A very probable reason for this proceeding is suggested in C. H. M.'s Notes on Exodus, referred to before, pages 263-265, and 289-291.
You will observe that the two chapters containing the revelation of the priesthood are naturally divided by the subjects of which they treat. What is the subject of each? Be careful to identify each of the garments, remembering that the high priest especially is a type of Christ, and that each has a significance in its teaching concerning His work for us. After the general statement (28:4, 5), the details follow to the end of that chapter. Take time to. write them down.
The ephod is named first. The material, coloring, shoulderpieces and breastplate are all significant, and particularly, of course, the names of the tribes of Israel engraven in the precious stones. "The strength of the priest's shoulder and the affection of his heart were wholly devoted to the interests of those he represented. This typified in Aaron, is actualized in Christ." The girdle is the symbol of service. "Urim and Thummim" which mean "lights and perfections," is peculiarly mysterious, but seems to be "connected with the communication of the mind of God on various questions of detail in Israel's history." See the marginal references or concordance for other places where the words are used. The application to Christ is clear, who, by His Word and Holy Spirit, communicates the counsels of God to us (John 12:49, 50; Acts 2:32, 33). Observe the bells on the hem of the ephod and the reason for them (v. 35). Our High Priest has passed into the heavens, but those whose ears are chastened to the sound, have daily evidence that He ever liveth. Observe the engraving on the plate resting upon Aaron's forehead and the meaning assigned to it, "It shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord" (v. 38). Wonderful demonstration in type that Christ's holiness is ours, and that because of it God looks on us with complacency! Do not fail to observe that Aaron's sons are not forgotten, and that coats and bonnets and girdles and breeches are ordained for them in their particular ministry (vv. 40-43). If the high priest (Aaron) typifies Christ, his sons, the priests, are regarded as typifying, first, Israel itself (19:6), and afterwards the church (1 Pet. 2:9), and, of course, every individual member of the church. These garments, therefore, may represent those qualities and graces with which the true people of God and members of Christ are endued in their own sphere for worship and service.
Reaching chapter 29, observe the preparation for the consecration of Aaron and his sons. The washing (v. 4), the anointing (v. 7), the sacrificial offerings (vv. 10-18), the consecrating act (vs. 19-21), etc., all of which, of course, illustrate the fundamental truths of the Gospel concerning our standing in, and relationship to Christ.
The Types in Exodus.
Exodus, unlike Genesis, contains no distinct prophecies of Christ, but its typology in that respect as already seen, is very abundant. And there are other types than those which apply only to the person of Christ. As in the case of Genesis, so here, I would ask you to recall the words of the outline of the book, with the subdivisions under them, for such suggestions as may come to you. For example, "bondage" contains no type of primary importance, nor "birth of Moses." But when we come to "call of Moses," the burning bush comes into view. Here we are furnished with a type of Israel, which, although in the furnace of Egypt, was not consumed because God was there. It becomes in the same way, and for the same reason, the type of the church, and of the individual believer in Christ. Material for a Bible reading will be found in the treatment of such a theme. The word "plagues" suggests no type, but the next word, "Passover," brings before us the great type of redemption already treated of, and in the paschal lamb a remarkable type of the Redeemer Himself. "Red Sea," we need not dwell upon, but the word "Wilderness," and especially "Rephidim," one of the stopping-places therein, produces at least two types of Christ, the manna and the smitten rock. When we reach the last word, "Sinai," we have the tabernacle itself, and for that matter every part of it, and every article of furniture it contains, the daily lamb spoken of in chapter 29, and the priesthood of Aaron. It is not assumed that these are all the types by any means, but the principal ones, and those upon which the church at large is generally agreed.
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