A LONG OBEDIENCE
Eternal One, often I tend to bury myself in fleeting nonsense. Grant me a realistic perspective and a wise set of priorities as I live for you.
Read Exodus 39:1–21
The Priestly Garments
39 From the blue, purple and scarlet yarn they made woven garments for ministering in the sanctuary. They also made sacred garments for Aaron, as the Lord commanded Moses.
2 They[a] made the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 3 They hammered out thin sheets of gold and cut strands to be worked into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen—the work of skilled hands. 4 They made shoulder pieces for the ephod, which were attached to two of its corners, so it could be fastened. 5 Its skillfully woven waistband was like it—of one piece with the ephod and made with gold, and with blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and with finely twisted linen, as the Lord commanded Moses.
6 They mounted the onyx stones in gold filigree settings and engraved them like a seal with the names of the sons of Israel. 7 Then they fastened them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel, as the Lord commanded Moses.
8 They fashioned the breastpiece—the work of a skilled craftsman. They made it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 9 It was square—a span[b] long and a span wide—and folded double. 10 Then they mounted four rows of precious stones on it. The first row was carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 11 the second row was turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 12 the third row was jacinth, agate and amethyst; 13 the fourth row was topaz, onyx and jasper.[c] They were mounted in gold filigree settings. 14 There were twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
15 For the breastpiece they made braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. 16 They made two gold filigree settings and two gold rings, and fastened the rings to two of the corners of the breastpiece. 17 They fastened the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece, 18 and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. 19 They made two gold rings and attached them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. 20 Then they made two more gold rings and attached them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod. 21 They tied the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband so that the breastpiece would not swing out from the ephod—as the Lord commanded Moses.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.’1
There’s a familiar phrase that bookends our reading today. It’s so familiar it would be easy for our eyes to skim over it: ‘… as the Lord commanded Moses’ (vs 1,21). As we’ve already discovered, these past few chapters are the record of the Israelites executing the instructions for the worship structure and experience God had in mind for his people. Isn’t it a little tedious to keep coming back to the same point? Not really. There’s a message in the repetition, which is captured in the title of Eugene Peterson’s book (about the Psalms of Ascent), A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. It may not seem all that spectacular, but day-by-day living out God’s Word is what really pleases him.
As I read this description of the Old Testament priestly garments, my mind hyperlinked to another description of biblical attire – the armor of God.2 There Paul reminds us to clothe ourselves with the traits that will help us stand firm in our faith. What attire helps you stand firm for God? Here in Exodus, the ephod was a fancy outer garment with twelve stones reminding the people of the sons of Israel. What symbols remind you of your spiritual ancestors? The breastpiece was even fancier, with jewels and more reminders of the twelve tribes. As we learned in chapter 28, it also contained the means for making decisions.3 Have you ever felt prompted by God in worship to make a big decision in your life?
Today, we are coached to ‘dress for success’. That is often good advice for the workplace, but take some time to ponder how you might dress for the ‘worship-place’. What attire, both actual and figurative, will help your heart be more ready to meet with God and serve a world in need?
Ask God to help you clothe yourself with one or two attributes of the fruit of the Spirit listed in our call to worship above.
Lord God, as I seek to live for you on a daily basis, may the fruit of your spirit be increasingly seen in me.
1 Gal 5:22,23, TNIV 2 Eph 6:13–17 3 Exod 28:30