Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 1 April 2022:
Exodus 39 repeatedly points out that, as with the work of constructing the tabernacle, the making of the priestly garments was done precisely the way God had shown Moses. Those who seek the Lord must approach Him with obedience, honoring His Sovereignty and holiness. Disobedience is cosmic treason. A follower of Jesus must also strive to know the Bible through and through. You should be an expert on God’s word, not only in knowledge but also in application which is wisdom (knowledge rightly applied).
Exodus 39:43 — “And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them.”
The theme that jumps out to me from our readings today is ‘accountability’ – being answerable to God with the burden of responsibility for your actions. Eleven times in Exodus it is repeated that the people completed all the work, with excruciating attention to detail, “as the LORD had commanded Moses.” And all of the resources used in the building of the Tabernacle and in the crafting of the instruments for worship were carefully accounted for. (Exodus 28:21-39) God’s commands to Moses, the overseers, and the craftsmen were very detailed and specific, to the point where many readers of the Old Testament have a hard time getting through these chapters.
Far more detail is recounted of the construction of the place of worship than was recounted of the building of the ark, which literally kept mankind afloat on earth. Certainly we can appreciate how important it was for Noah to diligently follow the directions provided to him by God, but we see that God’s expectations for how His people approached Him for worship were even more demanding, detailed and specific. More important than life is the honor of God’s Holiness.
When the work was done, Moses carefully inspected, holding everyone accountable to the commands of God. Obedience was not taken lightly at all but was expected. Perhaps Moses was the first to coin that old Marine Corps adage: “Expect neglect in what you don’t inspect.” God expected obedience and Moses, as a leader, inspected for obedience.
Accountability is an essential attribute of righteousness. The Proverbs speak of the “The fruit of the righteous,” God’s expectation of righteousness from His people. The word righteous is used 13 times in Proverbs 11 alone, and each time it is connected with the consequences of righteousness – reward, life, deliverance, good, flourishing, repayment, etc. The message is that our gracious God, who is quick to forgive, still holds us accountable for our behavior and rewards or disciplines accordingly.
The Bible says that each of us will be held accountable before God, and on the Day of Judgment, we will give an account for “every careless word” we speak. (Romans 14:12, Matthew 12:36) On the Day of Judgment we will all fall short of God’s perfectly Holy standard and will rely solely on salvation through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We will be saved by Grace and not by our works. Nevertheless, all of Creation remains subject to both God’s natural laws and spiritual laws, and “the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.” (Isaiah 5:16) Though we rely on Grace, God’s demand for love requires obedience, and to obedience (in His love) He holds us accountable and rewards and disciplines accordingly – “he rewards those who seek him…. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Hebrews 11:6, Revelation 3:19) Though imperfect, we must strive for perfection, and that is what God expects – “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:12) Again, we are only perfected in Christ, but our act of worship on earth is to follow God’s perfect law which begins and ends with love. As we read about how carefully and diligently the craftsmen built the Tabernacle, perhaps we should consider how diligently we honor God in obedience to His word and in love:
- 1 John 2:4-6 -- “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” - 1 John 4:12-21 -- No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Mark 9:2-4 – “And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.”
Jesus is transfigured on the mountaintop before His three closest disciples. As previously discussed, we shouldn’t miss the point that, while Moses didn’t make it to the Promised Land in his temporal state, He received that reward and so much more in glory. God’s ultimate goal for Moses was not a piece of terrain but rather Himself. Beyond that point, we should also make note of the significance of these two specific people appearing with Jesus:
“It is very significant that these two men appeared, for Moses was the mediator of the old covenant, the giver of the Law, and Elijah stood at the head of the long line of Israelite prophets. In summarizing the testimony of the Old Testament, Scripture often speaks of the Law and the prophets. Thus, we see here the confluence of the Law and prophets with the Messiah whose coming they foreshadowed. Finally, a cloud, a symbol of God’s presence, overshadowed the scene, and God’s voice was heard urging the disciples to listen to Jesus. They were to stop hesitating and embrace His mission to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die for His people.” (Tabletalk Magazine)
- Matthew 5:17 — “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
- Matthew 22:37-40 — And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
- Luke 24:44 — Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
- John 1:45 — Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
- Acts 24:14 — But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets….
- Acts 28:23 — When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
- Romans 3:21 — But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—
The Mount of Transfiguration reveals agreement between the Law, the prophets, and Jesus; and Jesus’ preeminence and fulfillment of the Law and prophecy. Jesus did not abolish God’s previous words but embodied them. The heart compelled by the love of Christ need not be compelled by commands and fear of punishment, because obedience is the natural product of love, which is all powerful over motivations of fear or duty.
A final point from Ligonier Ministries – “Peter was on a mountaintop spiritually, and he wanted to stay there. But his experience was designed to send him into the world to participate in the death and humiliation of Christ. Consider how your spiritual mountaintops—at worship, at a Bible study, or during a retreat—should drive your walk with Christ.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 April 22: Share your mountaintop experience in Christ with everyone you can today.