The Altar of Incense. I hope by now you are picking up on all the details as we peel off about 1% of this book. Maybe if we do this again, we will reach 2% 😁. What is the material it was made of…Acacia wood of course!
If you are having trouble picturing the inside of the tabernacle, visit a cathedral or a catholic church. They used the same layout for their church design. Each item in the tabernacle represents Jesus. Incense represents “prayer”. The priests would burn incense in the morning and at night for the Israelites. The people would see the “prayer” going up to God from a hole in the roof of the tabernacle. Neat, huh.
At that time, priests made intersession on behalf of the people. This will help you understand why some denominations have “confessionals” with a priest on the other side. However, Jesus fulfilled every part of the tabernacle and we are His priesthood who offer prayers directly. 2 Peter 2:9:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Atonement Money: The directions regarding the tabernacle opened with instructions concerning contributions for its construction. They close with this directive that every Israelite, “20 years old and over,” was to pay a flat fee. Everyone was to pay the same amount (“the rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less”), because the cost of everyone’s “atonement” was the same in the Lord’s sight. When we get to the New Testament the lingo will be called the “Temple Tax” but we don’t have a temple yet.
Basin for Washing:The basin was a large reservoir for holding the “water” that the priests used to wash their hands and feet as they performed their duties. It stood between the altar and the sanctuary. Its presence in that position symbolized the fact that cleansing is necessary after the making an atonement, but before the enjoyment of fellowship with God. Think on that for a moment.
Anointing oil and Incense: Both were created with a special mixture God specified for “holy” use only. One day maybe we will dig into these ingredients if time allows, I bet we would find some cool foreshadows.
OK. We know what to build..now we need the builders. The Lord fills Bezalel “In the Shadow of God” and his assistant Oholiab “The Father is My Tent” special gifts and wisdom to do it!
If you read this first before the actual Bible read…STOP here and go read Exodus 32. Click here if you need to. Your head will explode.
This is a story about Apostasy. Apostasy means “to depart” or “stand away”. In a biblical sense, it means to depart from God’s will. I point this out because apostasy is not about being an unbeliever (which is how I have read this in the past). The term refers obedience, not salvation.
It has always been hard for God’s people (insert your name here) to wait for Him. True or False.
Calves and bulls have always been used in worshiping pagan gods. They were symbolic not as the actual god, but the footstool of the god or the vehicle they rode in on. So who is the golden calf really replacing? God or Moses? It is unlikely Aaron was replacing God with this calf since the Bible says in verse 5
“When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.”
Aaron was responding to verse 1
“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
Look for Apostasy in this verse:
8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf.
In other words, they fashioned the calf as a footstool to be used by God just as Moses had been the vehicle used by the Lord. The English word “idol” derives from the Greek eidolon, meaning “something to be seen.” Is this a big deal? Yes!
- God’s intent was that His people worship Him at the altar revealed to Moses, not at an altar constructed by Aaron.
- God’s intent was to dwell among His people above the golden mercy seat above the ark, not above a golden calf.
- It was His intent that His people celebrate the feasts that He prescribed, not a feast involving pagan revelry.
- God’s intent was that Moses should lead the people, not Aaron.
Some of God’s intentions had not yet been revealed to the people; Moses was still on the mountain receiving these instructions. Their failure was running ahead of God.
So if you read the story you know that Moses prays that God not wipe out the Israelites. God relented “changed His Mind”. I have struggled with this for years, but now have a Peace about HOW prayer works. I used to think, does prayer matter?? God causes everything to work out the way He wants it to. He knows what will comes to pass, but Scripture doesn’t say that He dictates how everything will come to pass, or when it will come to pass. Prayer does matter.
(Sorry this is long. It is just one of my favorites). Aaron’s response is probably one of the all time classics! “Moses, you know these people they are crazy. I don’t even know how a calf got made! I threw the gold in the fire and poooooof…there was a calf!” LOL. Liar! So Moses calls for a rally. The only tribe to side with him was HIS OWN FAMILY! The Levites!
Their decision and obedience demonstrated their faith in God. They chose to go the way of His appointed leader, Moses, instead of following the rest. God’s punishment was severe because of the seriousness of their offense. It was also merciful; only 3,000 of the 600,000 men died.
Moses intercedes AGAIN by making an atonement for their sin. I want to be like Moses when I grow up.