Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 2 April 2022:
Exodus 40:15-33 – …anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.
God sets apart ministers He calls for His service. God expects ministers to do what His word has told them to do.
Exodus 40:34 – Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
“While on Mt. Sinai, Moses received the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:1–20:21), various other regulations (20:22–23:19), and basic instructions for the invasion of Canaan (23:20–33). He was also given the blueprint for the tabernacle (24:15– 30:38), that portable sanctuary where God would dwell among His people until a more permanent house could be built in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 22). The tabernacle and its associated furniture and services are extremely important to both the Old and New Testaments, and we will explore their significance over the next few weeks.
In order to understand the purpose of the tabernacle, we need to go all the way back to the beginning of Genesis. We read in 3:8 that the Lord used to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden during “the cool of the day,” signifying the close, intimate fellowship they enjoyed with the Creator before sin caused everything to fall apart. Having sinned, Adam and Eve were banished from Eden and the immediate presence of our holy God (vv. 22–24), and since that day the goal of salvation has been to restore that face-to-face communion between the Lord and His people. This is seen in the promises to the patriarchs where God promised not to leave Jacob until He accomplished what He said He would do (28:10–17).
The tabernacle was the vehicle through which God manifested His presence among Israel between Sinai and the construction of Solomon’s temple. Because it was constructed like a portable tent, the tabernacle could travel with the people into the Promised Land (Num. 1:47–53). During their journey, at those times when the Israelites stopped for a time, the tabernacle would be erected in the center of the nation’s camp and the people would see that the Lord dwelt among them (chap. 2).
Today’s passage records God’s entrance into the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–38). No longer would He meet Israel at the top of Sinai but His presence would be visible in the midst of the camp. Now the people had a tent where they could meet the Creator.
Yet even though the tabernacle was a step forward for God’s people toward oneon- one communion with Him, it still did not go far enough. Sin had not yet been atoned for, and only a select few could enter into the tabernacle and enjoy the Lord’s glorious presence (Num. 1:51–53).
In Christ we have access to the holy place in heaven where we can commune with our Father. This can be a difficult reality to remember since we do not yet see Him face-to-face. But just as the tabernacle reminded Israel of God’s presence, so too can modern church architecture remind us that we have free access to the Lord. The cross, in particular, should cause us to recall the privilege of the intimacy we have with God through Christ Jesus.” (Ligonier Ministries)
Exodus 40:35 – And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
When God’s glory was present, no one could enter and look upon it. We must never lose appreciation for the glory of God’s presence, and we should never lose perspective that as Christians, we are continually in the presence of God, which is progressively transforming us to the image of Christ — And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Exodus 40:36 – Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out.
We must follow God’s lead in life.
Psalm 37:3 – “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”
“Conformity to the character of God, insofar as creatures are able, is our goal as believers, and the Holy Spirit is the agent chiefly responsible for this work of sanctification (Rom. 8:1–17; Eph. 5:1). As we follow His leading and the transformation of our minds by God’s Word, the Spirit bears in our lives fruits such as joy, peace, patience, and kindness (Rom. 12:1–2; Gal. 5:22–23). Goodness and faithfulness are also fruits of the Spirit’s work, as we see in Galatians 5:22 and today’s passage.
Biblically speaking, goodness involves both the external act and its internal motivation. God measures us not only by how we obey His law but also according to the intent of our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7). Thus, a deed is fully good only when it is motivated by a desire to please the Lord. Moreover, remember that our Savior had harsh words for those who acted holy but not for the right reasons (Matt. 23).
Fallen people are unable to do what is good according to this standard (Rom. 3:10–11). Measured by the relative standards of sinful creatures, we can say that unbelievers do civic good and other commendable things, such as loving their children. Nevertheless, because fallen people do not do these things out of a love for Christ, such deeds are ultimately splendid vices. Only believers, because we are redeemed by Jesus and have been granted the Holy Spirit, have the ability to do what is good in an ultimate sense. Sin, however, remains in our lives until our glorification (1 John 1:8–9), so our best works are still tainted by impure motivations. Thanks be to God, the Spirit does work in us to purify our motivations (Titus 3:4–7), making us more willing to do the right things for the right reasons.
Faith is another fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:22). But when the Apostle refers to faith, he speaks not merely of “believing in God.” Paul also calls us to “believe God.” Believing in God is not that remarkable — even demons do that. What the Lord wants is a people who trust in His promises alone (James 2:14–26).
Every time we sin we show disbelief. To transgress God’s law is to show that we do not consider evil to be evil and do not fear the Lord’s promised wrath. To flee sin, on the other hand, is to show faith in God as the ultimate standard of good and to believe His promise that righteous men and women will prosper (Ps. 1).” (Tabletalk Magazine, Ligonier Ministries)
What is the goal for Christians in this life? “…to be conformed to the image of his Son….” (Romans 8:29)
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) “…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our imperfect ‘good deeds’ done in all the love we can muster for the Lord and for others, practiced over time in sincerity and humility become steps towards Christ-like character development. The key is prayerful practice. Just as we practice skills we want to master, riding a bike, using a hammer, throwing a baseball, etc.; we must also practice the habits of love and the virtues of faith – “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey His commandments. (John 14:15) However, since we aren’t perfected in love, sometimes His commandments are difficult for us; sometimes we don’t obey as we should, and sometimes we obey, but our words or actions don’t match our hearts. Obey anyway, and your behavior, with prayers of confession and repentance, will be used by the Holy Spirit to shape your heart to make your good deeds a natural joy, no longer difficult for you – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Practice!
- Philippians 4:9 — What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
- 1 Timothy 4:15 — Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
- Hebrews 5:14 — But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
- 2 Peter 1:10 — Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
- 1 John 3:4, 7, 8 — Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
- Romans 8:28-29 — And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Proverbs 2:1-5 — “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”
Don’t miss this important if-then statement. What is your treasure? What are you crying out for?
Proverbs 2:7, 8 – “…he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.”
God does not give wisdom to everyone equally or protect everyone equally. God enlightens and protects “those who walk in integrity” as His “saints.”
Proverbs 2:11-15 – …discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways.
“Few could argue that television and motion pictures have dramatically impacted modern society. We live in a culture dominated by images, and surveys routinely indicate citizens spend hours each week consuming movies and televised broadcasting.
Drama has long been a shaping influence on Western society. Ancient Greece is known for the theatre, with plays such as Oedipus Rex still studied in public schools across the country. Whether these performances were tragedies or comedies, most of them taught a moral lesson. Christian playwrights later embraced this heritage; Shakespeare, for instance, conveyed biblical themes with drama.
The advent of radio in the twentieth century made the dramatic arts available to the majority of people in the United States, if not the entire world. Early broadcasting included variety shows, news, sitcoms, sports, and other formats soon adapted for television. The growth of the motion picture industry in Hollywood provided life-like depictions of both real world events and whimsical fantasies.
At first, this programming drew sharp lines between good and evil. In old Westerns, for example, the good guys wore white and the bad guys wore black. Moreover, real-time presentations of violence were avoided and overt references to sexuality were nonexistent.
As the century progressed, however, programming has become increasingly violent and sexually explicit. The culture began to ignore the admonitions of today’s passage and adopted the sinful lifestyles seen on movie screens. People began to flock to the leaders who were the most physically attractive and who offered the cleverest sound bites, not those who offered the most logical arguments. Life began to imitate art, although to be fair, art was revealing the evil inclinations of our hearts long before this.
As Christians, we must be sensitive to the power the silver screen has in shaping our worldview. Ministering effectively to people requires an awareness of which programs and movies have most powerfully influenced them. The solution is not necessarily to avoid such things altogether; instead, we must be discerning about what we watch.
The neopaganism promoted in today’s movies and television causes many believers to avoid these mediums altogether. While we must be careful about what we view, even drama can glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). Ezekiel, for example, acted out the impending destruction of Jerusalem at the Lord’s behest (chap. 4). Consider a favorite movie and think about its impact on you. Talk with a friend about how this movie does, or does not, reflect a biblical worldview.” (Ligonier)
Proverbs 2:17 – “…who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God….”
Your marriage covenant is tied to your covenant with God. Your marriage relationship reflects your spirituality. If you are married, how much you really love God is most revealed in how you love your spouse. How much you really value the forgiveness and grace you have received through Jesus is most revealed in how you forgive and show grace to your spouse.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 April 22: Trusting in the Lord and His grace, strive to do good from a heart of love, and pray for God to increase your love where obedience is still a chore; as you “dwell in the land,” doing your job, taking care of your family, and interacting with others in your community, befriend faithfulness. When you fail, which we all do daily, repent, and fail forward, being increasingly conformed to the character of Christ.