16 December 2011

A Survey of the Old Testament Law--Ransom Money, Incense, Anointing Oil

Today we are going to study Exodus 30. We will be covering the whole chapter today, looking at three commandments God gave concerning the tabernacle. We’ve already seen what it probably looked like; we’ve seen what the instruments of worship—the Ark of the Covenant, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Lampstand, and so forth—what they probably looked like. But there are a couple of items we haven’t seen yet, such as the oil for anointing and the incense for burning on the Altar of Incense. Just as God gave very detailed instructions for building the tent and the furnishings and the garments for the priests, He was also very specific about the oil and the incense. You didn’t just walk into Food City and pick up a bottle of ValuTime extra virgin olive oil (in fact, they were not to use virgin oil, but beaten oil. But that will have to wait for another day), nor did you stop at the local gas station and grab some sticks of incense. These things were to be made very meticulously and according to the pattern that God would give. But before we get to those things, we’re going to look at what was called “ransom money.” Exodus 30:11-1611 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "12 When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. 13 This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs). The half-shekel shall be an offering to the LORD. 14 Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the LORD. 15 The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves. 16 And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves." Before we go any further, let’s look at some more terms here. In Exodus 30:13“(a shekel is twenty gerahs).” And of course we ask ourselves, “Right. What’s a gerah?” A gerah was equivalent to about 16 coffee beans. A shekel of weight was equal to 20 gerahs or 320 coffee beans.

Therefore the ransom money, a half-shekel, would be about 160 coffee beans. Now, this shekel is different than what you would find in other places in Scripture that talk about a “shekel of silver” or a “shekel of gold.” This was the “shekel of the sanctuary,” and this was paid by every male 20 years old and older. Now, what was the amount that the people were to give? One half shekel. If you owned 10,000 head of livestock, how much were you commanded to give? One half shekel. If all you had was some loose change in a little sack, how much were you commanded to give? One half shekel. Exodus 30:15The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel. The poor were not exempted because they were poor; the rich were not penalized because they were rich. Everybody gave exactly the same amount. No more; no less. So, that leads us to this question—if a person is rich, how are they saved? Christ. If a person is poor, how are they saved? Christ. Is there one way for the poor to be forgiven of their sins, and another for the rich? Way back in Exodus 23, we saw that there was one Law for both Jew and Gentile, and that there was one Gospel for both Jew and Gentile. The same is true for rich and poor. The rich are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The poor are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Now, we find the reason for paying this ransom was “for the service of the tabernacle of meeting” (Exodus 30:16). If we were to read in Exodus 38, we would see that when they did take the census and gathered the money together, they came up with one hundred talents and 1775 shekels of silver (Exodus 38:27) and that they used that silver thus: Exodus 38:28And from the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary and the sockets of the veil: one hundred sockets from the hundred talents, one talent for each socket. Then from the one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, overlaid their capitals (tops of the pillars), and made bands for them (to hold the curtains). A talent was 3000 shekels—a whole bunch of coffee beans. Or, about 94½ lbs. The “sockets of the sanctuary” were the bases for the pillars that held up the tent, the “sockets of the veil” were the foundation of the framework upon which the veil was hung. They could have used that silver for any purpose, but they were led by God to use it for these purposes. Now, let’s think about this a minute. The silver from the ransom money was used for what parts of the tabernacle? They used the first 100 talents for the foundation, the ground if you will. Then, they use the rest of the ransom to finish the pillars and make the bands that would hold the whole tent together.

Hmm. Isn't that interesting? The tabernacle and the temple—many times in the OT we find them referred to as the “House of God.” Well, in the NT the church is called the “House of God.” Hebrews 10:21Having a High Priest over the House of God. 1st Peter 4:17Time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God. Then listen to what Paul says in 1st Timothy 3:15I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God—then what does he call it? The pillar and ground of the truth. Hmm. Isn't that interesting? The ransom money—the silver and gold—was paid to build the “ground” of the tent. The ransom that Jesus paid—His blood—was paid to build the “ground” of the church. The church is the ground of the truth. We were ransomed, by God, to be built into a spiritual house devoted to the worship of God by the Lord Jesus Christ. 1st Corinthians 3:16Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? Under the Old Covenant God dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle; under the New Covenant He now dwells inside of each believer. Ephesians 2:19-2219 Now, therefore, you are…fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. The people paid their ransom, and that ransom went toward building the house of God. They were redeemed by their silver and gold—BUT!! We are redeemed by something greater. Jesus Christ gave His life as a ransom; 1st Timothy 2:5-65 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Matthew 20:28“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The next thing we’re going to look at is the oil for anointing. Exodus 30:22-3322 Moreover the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "23 Also take for yourself quality spices—five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane, 24 five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. 25 And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil. 26 With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; 27 the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; 28 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base. 29 You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy. 30 And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests. 31 And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations. 32 It shall not be poured on man's flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33 Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.'" 

500 shekels of liquid myrrh would weigh about 14 lbs., and of course 250 shekels of the other ingredients would weigh about 7 lbs. each. This mixture would weigh about 42 lbs. altogether. Then mix it all into about 5 quarts of olive oil. It’s not so important that you know what the ingredients were, that’s kind of interesting. The main point is this: this oil was to be used for one purpose and one purpose only—to anoint Aaron and his sons and to anoint the tabernacle and the furnishings inside it. What would happen to the soul that found the recipe and said “Hmm, I’d like to make some of that for the house.” They would be “cut off.” That is a phrase that you find in many places throughout the Law. And it means, in a way, to be put to death. There is a difference between the phrase “he shall be put to death” and the phrase “he shall be cut off from his people.” When one was “put to death” it was carried out either by the people themselves or by the civil magistrates in an official manner. However, one was “cut off” directly by the hand of God Himself (we’ll see an example shortly). Anyone who made anything like this holy oil could look forward to the Hand of God Himself taking their life from them and “cutting them off.” 

Next, we’re going to see the incense that was to be burned on the Altar of Incense, in Exodus 30:34-3834 And the LORD said to Moses: "Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each. 35 You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. 36 And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. 37 But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the LORD. 38 Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people." There’s that warning again. This was the incense that was to be burned on the Altar of Incense. And this was the ONLY THING that was to be burned on that altar. We would see that if we read Exodus 30:9-10“9 You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it…10 It is most holy to the LORD.” If we were to fast-forward to Leviticus 10 we would find the most well-known case of one being “cut off” for burning something on the Altar of Incense that they ought not to have been burning.

Leviticus 10:1-31 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.'" So Aaron held his peace. There is an application in that episode for us today. A growing sentiment these days in some churches is: in order to appeal to this generation, we must combine the things of God with the vulgar and profane things of the world. Churches are playing music that is—no other way to say it—vulgar, satanic (whether outrightly so or in a more subtle fashion). And then you have youth “pastors” who think that to appeal to the kids their supposed to be pastoring (by way of the word of God), instead they feel the need to act like children themselves. Which is why so many young people leave the church once they leave home. They’ve been subjected to years of “stupid youth pastor tricks” and all kinds of nonsense, so to them church is nothing more than a social club. It makes no impact on their life. Which is what happens when we do what the priests were doing in Ezekiel 22:26“Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean.” These churches are, in a way, guilty of offering up “strange fire” to the Lord. Listen to this from an article I found:
“You see at least fifty kids standing around…in a circle watching and laughing at something. You move closer into the circle and see the youth pastor and a kid trying to eat a banana through pantyhose covering their heads. You look around and notice no open Bibles, no sound of hymns or worship music, and no one praying. All you see is just a group of teenagers watching an adult and one of their peers awkwardly trying to eat a banana. You think to yourself, ‘Is this supposed to be church? This looks more like a party!’ Well, unfortunately, this is church now. Youth group used to be opening your Bible and hearing what God had to say to you. It used to be led by someone older, someone with more experience and wisdom on how to live a godly life. It used to be about learning to listen to God and keeping Him close to your heart. Not anymore…The youth pastor might read a verse or two, but only after losing the kids’ attention and respect because of his display of looking like a fool.”
Amen. Want to know who wrote that? The girl that wrote that was 16 years old. The same principle that God displayed when He destroyed Nadab and Abihu—“By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.”

OK, so what we have seen now is those things that were necessary for the construction and sanctification of the tabernacle, and for the prayers of the people to be heard by God. We have silver (or gold) for the ransom money. We have myrrh in the anointing oil. We have frankincense to be burned on the altar of incense. Let’s see…gold, myrrh and frankincense. Seems as though I've seen a list similar to this somewhere in the NT. Matthew 2:11And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But all that OT Law stuff is so boring and has nothing to do with Jesus! The gifts that the Magi brought were specifically for the support and sanctification of the tabernacle of flesh of Christ’s body and for the prayers of the saints. And before we begin, although I wrote and taught this lesson back in July, I think it's not a little ironic that I am getting around to posting it a week and a half before Christmas. And on that note, let’s get rid of some myths. These men were not kings. They were “Magi,” probably philosophers or astronomers. But not kings. There were probably more than three. They did not show up until Jesus was about 2 years old—meaning, they weren’t at the manger. So “We Three Kings” and all the pictures of the wise men at the stable—we can get rid of them, because they are wrong. At any rate. Oh, by the way, Isaiah 60:6The multitude of camels shall cover your land, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah…they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of the LORD.

First, the gold. The ransom money under the Old Covenant, which was used to redeem the people. Now, under the New Covenant it is Christ’s blood that provides our ransom and redemption from sin. Romans 3:24-2524 Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood. Propitiation simply being a fancy way of saying “To satisfy a debt.” 1st Peter 1:18-1918 You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Ephesians 1:7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

The myrrh. Which was the chief ingredient in the anointing oil. Psalm 45:6-86 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. 7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions. 8 All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad. See if you see what I see. Psalm 45:6Your throne, O GOD, is forever… Who is being spoken to there? Then Psalm 45:7Therefore God, your God, has anointed You. Who is being spoken to here? So obviously, in Psalm 45:6, it is the 2nd member of the Trinity that is being referred to as God. In fact, in Hebrews 1:9, the writer makes the point that God the Father is saying these things to God the Son. Read Hebrews 1, all of it, and you will see that the writer is making it as clear as he possibly can, without coming right out and saying it, that Jesus Christ is God. Then Psalm 45:8All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia. The same ingredients we find in the holy anointing oil. 

Finally, the incense. In the tabernacle and the temple the burning of incense was meant to symbolize our prayers rising to YHVH. Revelation 5:8The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. This does NOT mean that we are to pray to angels and dead saints as the Roman Catholics do. What did Jesus say? “Pray in this manner, ‘Our Father, which art in Heaven’” (Matthew 6:9). But that’s for another day. Malachi 1:11“From the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,” Says the LORD of hosts.

Jesus Christ is Lord.