Deuteronomy 16:13-17: “Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.”
Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from A.W. Tozer. He said: “The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”
Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 9)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
The second festival that all the people were to attend was the Feast of Ingathering, celebrated on the fiftieth day after the offering of the sheaf at Passover. It is also known by other names, such as the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost (a later term derived from the Greek word for “fifty”). This feast took place when the harvest began, and the people brought symbolic loaves of bread (made with leaven) to present to God as a thanksgiving for the harvest. Later this festival was associated with the founding of the church.
The third festival at which the people were to gather was called Tabernacles or Booths. This festival was to remind the people of the period they spent in the desert. They were to live in a booth for one week It was to be a period of no work, so it would be a great social time.
Today’s passage of Scripture is Leviticus 23:1-6: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.”
Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from Billy Graham. He said: “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”
Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 9)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
TIME TO CELEBRATE
Our tendency, as we study this material, is to be overwhelmed by all of the negatives. However, there are some exciting positives. One of the most exciting is the holidays. God set forth seven national holidays, then directed the nation to gather for three of them. These three mandatory festivals were to be times when the people stopped their work and gathered together for sacrifice that involved a communal meal. Thus, it was a time of national celebration. There were other festivals throughout the year as well as a mandatory day of rest each week—the Sabbath. Each was to remind the original audience of specific things God had done for them. By extension, then, they were to remind future generations of the acts God had done in the past.
— The Sabbath
The Sabbath, or seventh day, was to be a day of rest, which within this context meant that work did not go on as usual. Some necessary activity was allowed. But the Sabbath was to be a day when everyone in the nation got a break. After the Exile, the religious leaders began trying to quantify what should be regarded as work, but that issue will concern us later. The purpose of the Sabbath was to remind the people that God was their Creator (a direct reference to the creation account in Genesis) and that they were but human.
Today’s passage of Scripture is Leviticus 8:6-10 which reads: “And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water. And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith. And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim. And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the Lord commanded Moses. And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.”
Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from Patrick Henry. He said: “The Bible is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed.”
Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 8)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
— GUIDELINES FOR PRIESTHOOD
The nation of Israel was to be “a kingdom of priests”. That is, they were to be God’s representatives on earth and to represent the people of the world to God. As such, they were to have a distinct lifestyle. In some respects, we clearly see that their lifestyle was held to higher standards. In other respects, we can say only that it was distinct. In a similar way, the tribe of Levi had a special position within the nation, for it was the priestly line. The priests represented God to the people of Israel, and also represented the people of Israel before God. As such, they were to have an even more distinctive lifestyle.This section gives aspects of both groups, and they are somewhat intertwined.
The priesthood was inaugurated with the consecration of Aaron. A key word that shows up in this process is anoint. Beginning in Leviticus 8:10, we see that the tabernacle was anointed. The altar and all the items of the sacrificial system were anointed. Aaron was anointed. The Hebrew verb used is the one from which we get the word Messiah, the Anointed One. The idea is that through this dedication ceremony, the priesthood and tabernacle system were established as working entities.
This entire process was serious business. That fact was pointed out sharply in the tragic incident of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons. We are told only that they “offered strange fire before the LORD.” Apparently this means that they took coals from an unconsecrated fire, not the brazen altar. From our perspective, this irregularity seems somewhat trivial, but from God’s perspective, it was an act demeaning to His position as God and as suzerain. To illustrate the seriousness of the situation, the two died, consumed by fire from God. Moses then warned Aaron that he needed to continue with the dedication process—worshiping God was more important than mourning two sons who had disobeyed.
Today’s passage of Scripture is Leviticus 7:11-15 which reads: “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings. And of it he shall offer one out of the whole oblation for an heave offering unto the Lord, and it shall be the priest’s that sprinkleth the blood of the peace offerings. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.”
Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from George MacDonald. He said: “The Bible is to me the most precious thing in the world just because it tells me the story of Jesus.”
Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 7)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
— Communal Offerings
The third category of sacrifices involved a variety of offerings that apparently did not necessarily have to be done in the central sanctuary. In general, they were celebrations expressing gratitude to God. They are called communal sacrifices because they were eaten by the community as a whole (or at least by close friends and family). In the process, the fatty portion was offered to God, but the rest was eaten by the offerer and friends. The three differ solely in what they celebrated.
Peace offerings. The term comes from the Hebrew word “shalom” (meaning peace or welfare). It was usually an offering that reflected a state of celebration because things were going well. For example, at the end of a good harvest, a person might decide to have a celebration to give thanks to God. Or he might decide to give a celebration to thank God for a new child or for a wedding.
Votive offerings. This term denotes the aftermath of a vow or promise. The offerer has been through a hard time, and during this experience he or she has made a promise to God that is to be carried out after experiencing deliverance.’ After God had intervened, one had to do several things. First, the person had to carry out the promise. Then, the community was called together for a celebration that included a votive offering and a declaration of what God had done. Often this celebration would include a special song written for the occasion. These are known as “declarative praise psalms.”
Today’s passage of Scripture is Leviticus 1:1-4 which reads: “And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”
Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from Chip Brogden. He said: “One way the God-Man reveals Himself to us, of all ways, is not in a glorious vision or supernatural event, but in the pages of this thing we call the Bible. Imagine that. How odd. A book. Why not just appear to the one who seeks Him and speak face to face. No! Why? It would kill us. It would absolutely blow us away to be confronted with the Real Jesus, because the Jesus we have come to believe in is a fairy tale, a jolly elf, a fantasy character. The Bible prepares us for Him, does it not? Using types, shadows, stories, just to whet your appetite and get you accustomed to Him and His dealings so you are not totally shocked when you do meet Him.”
Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 6)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
THE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM
Most of us, when we think of the sacrificial system, think of offerings to atone for sin. While these offerings were part of it, in reality the system was much more complex.” Sacrifices were performed also to show consecration or to give thanks to God. While the fundamental concept of the sacrificial system in its entirety was ‘atonement,” this notion seemed to carry several nuances in the general context of the Old Testament law. The basic idea of atonement is a harmonious relationship brought about by bridging a gap between two parties.’ There seem to have been three general categories of offerings. We will look at them in the order they are presented in the text.”
Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 27:18-21 which reads: “The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass. All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass. And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always. In the tabernacle of the congregation without the vail, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.”
Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from A.W. Tozer. He said: “The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.”
Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 5)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
— GOD’S TABERNACLE
The first of these two Scripture passages lays out the guidelines for the tabernacle. The second describes the construction process and tells us that it was built according to plan. Essentially the tabernacle was a tent within a curtained courtyard. The entire structure was designed to be portable so that the people could take it along with them. There is also the possibility that the structure was designed to be moved to different locations within the land.
The tabernacle had three sections. First was the courtyard, approximately 150 by 75 feet, which was defined by the curtains that hung on wooden frames. Oriented with the long axis pointing east-west, it had an entrance gateway on the east side. In addition to the inner tent, the courtyard contained a bronze (or bronze-covered wood) altar for the animal sacrifices and a bronze basin for washing the hands and feet of the priests. Beyond the altar and basin was the actual tent of the tabernacle, which was approximately 15 by 30 feet. It too was made of wooden frames and curtains woven from linen, covered with goat hair cloth and animal skins.
This structure was divided into two sections. The outer (or front) section was called the Holy Place. Here the Israelites had three items: a table that held the bread of the Presence, an incense altar, and the lampstand. The first two symbolized the nation before God. The twelve loaves of the bread of the Presence represented the Israelites’ presence before God, and the incense offered in the morning and evening symbolized their prayers. The lampstand seems to have served a practical purpose of providing light within the closed tent. The final portion of the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies. This room held only the ark of the covenant.
The ark was basically a gold-covered wooden box with rings on the sides to allow it to be carried. It was approximately 3-and-3-quarter by 2-and-one-fourth by 2-and-one-fourth feet in size. On top of the ark was a lid called the “atonement cover” (“mercy seat”). Here were two cherubim with their wings stretched across the top, meeting in the middle. This was the place where God met with the nation, and thus it would have been the focal point of the Shekinah, the manifestation of God’s glory. No one was allowed into the Holy of Holies except the high priest on the Day of Atonement—and then only after extensive ritual cleansing.
Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 32:1-4 which reads: “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him… And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
Today’s quote about the Bible is from Romaine. He said: “The longer you read the Bible, the more you will like it; it will grow sweeter and sweeter; and the more you get into the spirit of it, the more you will get into the spirit of Christ.”
Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 4)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
— The Law as a Religious System
The bulk of the last half of Exodus and the book of Leviticus set forth instructions for worship. In the process, several changes were made to the Israelite culture. Before this time, sacrifices were performed by the family leader. There were no priests and no central place of worship, which suggests that worship was individual, perhaps sporadic, and certainly unguided. To change this, Moses was given instructions for a tabernacle, a priesthood, a sacrificial system, and a liturgical calendar. Before these directions were implemented, however, trouble arose in the camp.
THE PEOPLE GROW IMPATIENT
While Moses was on the mountain receiving instructions from God, the people grew restless. He had gone up the mountain several times, and the people had already ratified the covenant. After this ratification, Moses started getting the more detailed directions relating to the tabernacle. However, this time Moses was gone too long for the people. They went to Aaron and asked for “gods'” to lead them because they didn’t know what had happened to Moses.