Tag Archives: alter

Numbers 7 – Dedication

It has come time for the alter to be dedicated and for the priests to do their duties.  The leaders of the tribes of Israel to step up and be leaders.  So they do.  Together they offer 6 carts and 12 oxen for use in the service of the tabernacle.  Then the leader of each tribe comes and offers the offering for a day, each in turn for 12 days.  They all offer the same things.  A silver dish and a silver bowl full of grain and oil, a gold pan full of incense; a bull, a ram, a male lamb one year old for a burnt offering; a male goat for a sin offering; 2 bulls, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old for a peace offering.

I love to see the leaders being leaders!  They stand as not only instructing and directing each of their tribes respectively, but also serving and being an example to them.  They recognize that they have a responsibility to both YHWH and the people that they stand before.  They are the first to offer sacrifice and offering to the LORD and stand both in representation of their tribe, and as an example for their tribe to follow.  Everything is done right, and it is done well.  This is why these men are the leaders of their tribes.  They came first and they came before.  They served, and they served as an example.  They obeyed and they cooperated.  They were truly dedicated leaders.

This was a long chapter going through all of these offerings day by day.  It took me three days to copy over this chapter, but it also allowed me to finally get caught back up with my posting, so now i am once again posting on the same chapter that i am completing.  It’s a nice to be caught back up!

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Numbers 4 – Duties

I think it’s interesting that God / YHWH tells no one how to do their jobs except for the Levites and priests.  Everyone has free reign to choose the job / position / role that they want to play.  They could choose to herd sheep, be an artisan, run a shop, take care of kids, teach, whatever.  But not the Levites.  They were not just set aside as holy, they were set aside with a purpose.

Not only did the Levites have to serve the priests, temple, and God / YHWH, but they also each had their own tasks depending on their families.  The Kohathites for instance, were in charge of moving and caring for the most holy things.  Even in this, the Kohathites were not allowed to see the most holy objects.  It was the duty of the priests to cover the objects such as the alter, the lampstands, and the ark of the testimony.

Next the Gershonites were responsible for the coverings and hangings of the tabernacle.  They were responsible to take care of the screens for the doorways, the hangings of the court, and the covering of the tabernacle.

Then finally, the Merarites were responsible for the frame of the tabernacle.  They took care of the pillars, the boards, the bars, etc.  They were responsible for the very skeleton, the frame of the tabernacle.  If they did not do their jobs right, the whole of the structure would fall down upon them.

Does God give us duties, or simply roles.  Does He direct our every step, or are we responsible enough to seek the Lord and all He is and allow obedience to His overall calling guide us?

 

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Leviticus 1 – Offering

The establishment of religion clause.  That is what this government is all about.  It is government by YHWH for the people and for His glory.  After having come out of Exodus and understanding that one of the primary things that YHWH was giving the Israelite people was a means and way of finally being able to worship Him, we find the first chapter of Leviticus giving instructions on how to offer up an offering from  the flock or the herd.

This is the very base and foundation of offerings.  It is the very cornerstone of the sacrificial system.  The shedding of blood for the remission / covering of sins is what gives the people the ability to come before a holy God without being consumed by YHWH’s holiness in the form of fire.  Within the sacrificial system there are three primary sacrificial animals; the bull, the sheep, and the goat.  This chapter answers how to properly bring those sacrifices to the temple, priests, and YHWH.  Secondarily, it also answers to how to bring the sacrifice of a bird.

This sacrifice is the very core of the sacrificial system.  It is a necessary offering and it is complete… or about as complete as an imperfect sacrifice that only covers sin and does not remove them can be.  The true and perfect sacrifice… The fulfillment of the sacrificial system, Jesus the Christ, will not come for millenia yet.

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Exodus 38 – Court of the King

So the tabernacle and all that it will contain has been made.  Now on to the court and the alter.  If i thought that the ark of the covenant was small, the alter is HUGE!  At 5 cubits long (~7 1/2 feet) and 5 cubits wide and 3 cubits (~4 1/2 feet) tall, this thing was not small at all.  But then again, when sacrifices included bulls, size does matter!

So the court of the tabernacle is underway with its pillars and linen hangings.  All around the tabernacle are these hangings of fine twisted linen connected to pillars of bronze with hooks of silver.  The entryway was to the east, to the rising sun, and the work of making all of the tabernacle and its tools of worship is finished.  All that’s left is the priestly garments, putting everything together, and… the results.

All of this came  together with structure and a plan.  It took time, and effort, and finances to make it happen.  It wasn’t just God doing it because it would be faster and easier for Him to do it Himself than to rely on humans to do it.  He gave us the work.  He gave us the plan.  He gave His people the desire to make it happen.  Do we have a structure and plan for our spiritual growth?  Are we willing to invest ourselves into that plan?  Are we willing to put our time, effort, and finances into loving God and loving others, or are we only willing to do the absolute minimum in order to get away with the least we can.  Are we giving our firstfruits or our leftovers?  Do we want to enter the court of the King, or are we satisfied with just passing it by and knowing that it’s there if we need it?

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Exodus 37 – Furnishing

Well, the tabernacle proper and the alter have been built.  Now it is time for the very core of the tabernacle; the furnishings.  We have the table, the lampstand, the alter of incense, and most importantly, the ark of the covenant.  When i was a kid i always thought that the ark of the covenant would be BIG.  It would be taller than me and so big i wouldn’t be able to touch from end to end.  Almost like it would be the length of a big dining room table, but it’s actually very small.  If a cubit is the distance from the average person’s elbow to the tip of their middle finger, and the ark of the covenant is 2 1/2 cubits long, it’s really not very big.  Add to that the height and width each being 1 1/2 cubits, it’s something i could easily jump over from a standing position (not running)… not that i would.  I’m just saying that it would have been feasible if i had wanted to and God hadn’t struck me dead for even thinking it.

It’s even more interesting when you consider that the ark of the covenant sat on the floor / ground and not on a table.  So chances are that the ark of the covenant didn’t even come  up to most people’s waists.  It was the throne of YHWH, yet while standing up you looked DOWN on it!?!  I guess it’s surprising to me because i would think that the throne of the God of the universe and everything would be a wee bit bigger than… well, than that.  But it’s His ark.  I’ll let Him make it as big or small as He wants it to be.

The other interesting thing i wanted to note is how you hold it.  I grew up watching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of  the Lost Ark.  My dad really liked that movie.  So i know what the Ark of the Covenant looked like.  It was covered in pure gold, it had the two cherubim on top and the rings for the carrying poles about 3/4 of the way up.  But wait!  According to the text, the rings for the carrying poles were at the feet of the ark?…  It was the same way with the table.  The rings for the carrying poles were on the feet.  It’s almost like YHWH wanted  everyone to be able to see it when they travel.  Almost as though it wasn’t just meant to be hidden away in some tent 24/7/365.  Hmm, what an interesting concept!  You mean God isn’t just some hidden away god that we aren’t allowed to see or interact with?

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Exodus 29-2 – Provision & Consecration

(vs. 26-46) Much is expected of the priests of God.  It is a difficult job with long hours.  It requires purity and holiness on the part of the priests.  It even requires that they come before YHWH’s presence under the pressure of only doing what is right, and if they don’t they could be risking their lives.  But it’s not without some perks.  The priests, with all their hard work, get a portion of the meat used in the sacrifice as well as the bread used in the tabernacle.  “It shall be for Aaron and his sons as their portion forever”.  It’s nice to see just how God is providing for His leaders.

We also see the importance of consecrating the alter for its use.  It didn’t matter that it was made just right.  Even with the right materials and being built the right way, it still required consecration before it could be used for its intended purpose.

One of the things i did want to note is that every day in the morning and at twilight there was to be the sacrifice of a one year old lamb with one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour with one-fourth of a hin of beaten  oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering.  It’s interesting that wine would be considered as something clean / pure to be used in a holy offering since many Christians / Christian denominations here in America see alcohol as something sinful.  Yet God sees it as a valid sacrifice to Him

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Exodus 27 – The Court

The plans are in place!  The blueprints are being written up.  The details are set.  Life as we know it is changing.  There are three constants in the world: Death, Taxes, and Change.  The people of Israel are used to living surrounded by other gods.  Gods of the Egyptians, gods of the Canaanites, and the gods of everyone in between.  All of these other gods have temples and alters and rules of worship, but the Israelites seem to not have anything that they can use to identify with their God.  The God of the Israelites doesn’t want statues to be made of Him.  He hides His name from them.  They have no established alter or temple to bring sacrifices to.  How do you connect with a God like that?

Well, that’s all changing.  God has just given Moses the plans for the tabernacle, and is now giving him the plans and blueprints for the alter and courtyard as well.  The people of Israel are well on their way to having a place and way to worship that is all their own.  No more having to watch all of these other nations and people worship their gods in all their ways, and not to be able to show their devotion to the God of their fathers.  Finally, there is a more complete identity in what it means to be an Israelite and to serve their own God.  The people of Israel are starting to become a more cohesive unit with all that YHWH has done for them, and now a way for the circle to be completed… a place to honor and serve Him in return.  They are finally able to fulfill their lives and purpose.

We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we have been place on this planet and in this world for a purpose outside of ourselves.  Our culture attempts to push us to accept that we are here to serve ourselves, and that other people are here for me.  But the reality is that we are here to serve Him.  When we are not serving Him, or worshiping Him in what we do and say, we will always have a sense of loss… of being incomplete.  It’s only in honoring and worshiping God in our lives, actions, and words that we are able to be complete in who we are.  These ancient civilizations had so much of a better grasp of these concepts than we do.  We are continually trying to rebel from what some would call “oppression”, but what is in reality a core part of who we are…  To serve a greater God.  And now, with the plans in place, the Israelites are finally going to get what they need.  A place and way to serve the one true God, the alter and court of the tabernacle.

 

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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