MEETING WITH GOD
Patient Father, sometimes I am petulant and the next moment I am praising You. I need Your special grace to keep me focused on You.
Read EXODUS 27
The Altar of Burnt Offering
27 “Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits[a] high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide.[b] 2 Make a horn at each of the four corners, so that the horns and the altar are of one piece, and overlay the altar with bronze. 3 Make all its utensils of bronze—its pots to remove the ashes, and its shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans. 4 Make a grating for it, a bronze network, and make a bronze ring at each of the four corners of the network. 5 Put it under the ledge of the altar so that it is halfway up the altar. 6 Make poles of acacia wood for the altar and overlay them with bronze. 7 The poles are to be inserted into the rings so they will be on two sides of the altar when it is carried. 8 Make the altar hollow, out of boards. It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.
9 “Make a courtyard for the tabernacle. The south side shall be a hundred cubits[c] long and is to have curtains of finely twisted linen, 10 with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts. 11 The north side shall also be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts.
12 “The west end of the courtyard shall be fifty cubits[d] wide and have curtains, with ten posts and ten bases. 13 On the east end, toward the sunrise, the courtyard shall also be fifty cubits wide. 14 Curtains fifteen cubits[e] long are to be on one side of the entrance, with three posts and three bases, 15 and curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on the other side, with three posts and three bases.
16 “For the entrance to the courtyard, provide a curtain twenty cubits[f] long, of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer—with four posts and four bases. 17 All the posts around the courtyard are to have silver bands and hooks, and bronze bases. 18 The courtyard shall be a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide,[g] with curtains of finely twisted linen five cubits[h] high, and with bronze bases. 19 All the other articles used in the service of the tabernacle, whatever their function, including all the tent pegs for it and those for the courtyard, are to be of bronze.
Oil for the Lampstand
20 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.
- Exodus 27:1 That is, about 4 1/2 feet or about 1.4 meters
- Exodus 27:1 That is, about 7 1/2 feet or about 2.3 meters long and wide
- Exodus 27:9 That is, about 150 feet or about 45 meters; also in verse 11
- Exodus 27:12 That is, about 75 feet or about 23 meters; also in verse 13
- Exodus 27:14 That is, about 23 feet or about 6.8 meters; also in verse 15
- Exodus 27:16 That is, about 30 feet or about 9 meters
- Exodus 27:18 That is, about 150 feet long and 75 feet wide or about 45 meters long and 23 meters wide
- Exodus 27:18 That is, about 7 1/2 feet or about 2.3 meters
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.
‘… let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience’.1
God sets out detailed specifications for three more components of the tabernacle. Far from being mundane, they deal with the how, where, and when of the Israelites meeting with their God. The first component is the main altar (vs 1–8). A holy God can only be approached through a sacrificial offering, the most regular of which was the burnt offering. It symbolized that Israel wholly and unreservedly belonged to God, while also making atonement for them.2 I’ve attended many worship conferences which have emphasized, quite legitimately, the use of artistic gifts, following the example of Bezalel and Oholiab,3 but some of us seem to have forgotten that Israel’s worship was first and foremost sacrificial worship. The one indispensable component of worship is atonement for sin. We, too, can only worship because of Christ’s sacrifice offered in our place, as Hebrews explains at length.
The second element concerns space (vs 9–19). Only the priests, God’s servants, are permitted to enter God’s home but, like other homes at the time, the tent was surrounded by a courtyard where guests would be entertained. Here, the spacious courtyard provided a sheltered environment in which God invited people to draw near. Jesus ejected the money-changers from the Temple, not chiefly because of their greed but because they occupied the courtyard which served as the nearest access point Gentiles had to the presence of God.4 Rather than bidding people draw near they sent out a signal saying, go away. Yet, God welcomes sinners. The oil for the lamp concerns time (vs 20,21). The people’s gift of oil meant they could meet with God at any time, including throughout the night. Each element speaks of a gracious God who longs to welcome and meet with his people, providing the barrier of their sin is dealt with.
In what ways does our church’s worship reflect the tabernacle’s priorities? Are there ways in which we put obstacles in the way of people drawing near to God?
Lord, may I never forget that when I reach rock bottom, I am steadied by You, the Rock of Ages.
1 Heb 10:22, TNIV 2 Lev 1:3–17, esp. v 4 3 Exod 31:1–11 4 Mark 11:15–17