27 March 2012

A Survey of the Old Testament Law--Finishing Exodus




Have you ever talked to someone who just heard some good news and they were just happy-happy-happy? We may tell them something like, “Wow, there’s just this glow about you!” Not that their skin is actually glowing—unless they’ve been out at the Y-12 nuclear facility out in Oak Ridge—but they’ve just got this look about them. Well, today we’re gonna see that when Moses came back down with the tablets of the covenant, he had a certain glow about him—but in this case, he was actually glowing.

Exodus 34:29-3529 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

We saw a couple weeks ago Exodus 33:11The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. If you were to speak with God, face-to-face, would you ever be the same? I would think not. Well, Moses spoke with God face-to-face—we actually talked about that briefly a couple weeks ago—and he was never the same. We see many times that when God would speak to a person, and reveal just a portion of His glory to that man, that man would never be the same. Isaiah 6:1-81 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple…5 So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts"…8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." And as an added bonus, guess whose glory it was that Isaiah saw? Read John 12:37-41.

There was a fellow named Job. We’ve heard of people having “the patience of Job”—he wasn’t quite as patient as people would like to think he was. In Job 1:1There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. Job was a “good person” and Job “deserved” to be saved, right? For the first 37 chapters, Job almost sounds as if he is making that case, trying to convince himself and his friends that he didn’t deserve all the calamities that happened to him. Then, in Job 38-41, God lays out roughly 85 questions for Job to answer. Job 38:4-7“4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?...5 Who determined its measurements?...Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” And God just knocks down every high thought that Job might have of himself and in Job 42:1-61 Then Job answered the LORD and said: “2 I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You…5 I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” 

And then there was a fellow who lived in the area around the Sea of Galilee, about 2000 years ago, made his living as a fisherman. His name was Simon bar-Jonah. Met a man one day—not just ANY man, of course—and his life was never the same. In fact, even his name got changed. Luke 5:4-84 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" Now, notice something in all three of these episodes. When all these men saw the Lord, what was their reaction? They saw God as being the glorious God that He is, and they saw themselves as being the vile, dirty sinners they were. Isaiah 6:5"I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips…for my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts" Job 42:5-6“5 Now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Luke 5:8"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" 

That SHOULD be our reaction. Whenever we go into the presence of the Lord through prayer, our attitude should not be “OK, God, I'm going to twist your arm to make You give me all of my material wants!” Even though there are many who make a lot of money teaching people that very thing. In fact, one fellow said the following:  “As a believer, you have a right to make commands in the name of Jesus. Each time you stand on the Word, you are commanding God to a certain extent because it is His Word.” But I won't mention Kenneth Copeland by name. Our attitude should be one of dependence and poverty, knowing that everything belongs to God, we own nothing, we deserve even less, and that it is only by God’s grace and mercy that we have anything. Unlike another fellow who said, “Let me be very clear—I want your money. I deserve it. This church deserves it.” But enough about Rod Parsley. We do not go to God and “command Him to a certain extent.” We do not command Him to ANY extent. He’s God—we’re not. Isaiah realized that; Job realized that; Simon Peter realized that—yet many who prop themselves up as preachers and teachers don’t get it. Our prayers should not be centered and focused on ourselves. Or on any other human for that matter. The focus of our prayers should start and end with God and His glory. When we pray for our friend to be healed, or when we pray for our loved one to find a job, the focus of our prayer should not end with that person being healed or finding a job—it should begin, end, and have one theme running all throughout it--that thing being the desire to see God glorified through us and through that person and how God will work through their circumstances.

If you want to see an example of a man-centered prayer--one in which the one praying tells God how much the person deserves to have God hear him--turn to Luke 18:10-13“10 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'” There was a writer named E.M. Bounds, who wrote VOLUMES on prayer. And in one of his works, called The Essentials of Prayer, he uses the episode of the Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke 18 to show us the kind of humility we should have when we pray.
“The Pharisee seemed to be accustomed to prayer. Certainly he should have known by that time how to pray, but alas! Like many others, he seemed never to have learned this invaluable lesson…The position and place are well-chosen by him. There is the sacred place, the sacred hour, and the sacred name, each and all invoked by this seemingly praying man. But…although schooled to prayer, by training and by habit, he prays not. Words are uttered by him, but words are not prayer…pride has poisoned his prayer offering of that hour. His entire praying [is full of] self-praise, self-congratulation, and self-exaltation…On the other hand, the [tax collector], smitten with a deep sense of his sins and his inward sinfulness, realising how poor in spirit he is, how utterly devoid of anything like righteousness, goodness, or any quality which would commend him to God…falls down with humiliation and despair before God, while he utters a sharp cry for mercy for his sins and his guilt…Here we see by sharp contrast the utter worthlessness of self-righteousness, self-exaltation, and self-praise in praying, and the great value, the beauty and the Divine approval which comes to humility of heart…when a soul comes before God in prayer. Happy are they who have no righteousness of their own to plead and no goodness of their own of which to boast. Humility flourishes in the soil of a true and deep sense of our sinfulness and our nothingness. Nowhere does humility grow so rankly and so rapidly and shine so brilliantly, as when it feels all guilty, confesses all sin, and trusts all grace.” 
A couple of Scriptures before we move on. Matthew 6:7“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Philippians 4:6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. That word ‘supplication’ means that we come to God admitting that we have nothing and that every thing He gives us is a gift of His grace. This whole “name-it-and-claim-it” nonsense is just that—nonsense. Not every single believer is going to be materially wealthy or physically well in this life. And we just need to accept that. In fact, one of those fellows, a man named Fred K. Price, would condemn our brother David here. Why, David, you don’t have any legs--how can you glorify God in that body? Quote from Mr. price--“How can you glorify God in your body, when it doesn't function right?....What makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside of a body where He can't see out through the windows, and He can't hear out the ears?” James 4:2-3 (NASB)2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. When people pray something like, “God, give this to me because I want it!” They need to ready themselves for the fact that He might just say “no.” And we have to be okay with that. The point, again: God is God, we are not. Any “God” that we can command by our “faith” is an idol. Do with that what you will.

There’s another point I want to make with this episode of the shining face of Moses. The apostle Paul uses this episode to show how we humans cannot understand the things of God unless He helps us understand. 2nd Corinthians 3:7-167 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. 12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Notice something here—Moses used that veil to cover what? His face. Why? Because it was shining with the glory of the LORD. BUT—in 2nd Corinthians 3:14, what does the veil cover? It covers the hearts of those who do not believe. Specifically, those who were still clinging to the Law of Moses for their salvation. 2nd Corinthians 3:14But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. The OT—from Genesis to Malachi—was filled with pictures and prophecies and shadows and figures of Christ. But that’s Paul’s point here—Christ was in the OT but He was, so to speak, behind the veil of the Law and the Prophets. You see Christ all throughout the OT—but only in shadows and figures, not in His fullness. However, now that He has come and revealed Himself, the veil that was the Law and the prophets has been removed. The writers of the OT wrote about Christ, but they used terms and phrases and word pictures which only gave glimpses of Christ. But, now have Christ as Lord and Savior revealed in His fullness. In fact, he told the church at Colosse, Colossians 2:16-1716 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 

But, at the time that Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians (and Colossians, and all of his epistles for that matter), the Jews still didn’t understand it. They still didn’t get it; they were still clinging to the Law and the Prophets. A couple of scriptures before we move on. John 5:39-40“39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Acts 26:22-23“22 To this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come—23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Moses and the prophets said that? Really? Moses and all the other Old testament prophets said that "the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles"? Yes, they did. Luke 24:18-2718 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?" 19 And He said to them, "What things?" So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened…25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. All the Scriptures—being what? The Old Testament. And the OT is not only able to show us Christ, it is able to show us that salvation is by faith in Christ. 2nd Timothy 3:15From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. You don’t need a guy sitting on a fancy chair in Italy, along with his red-robed buddies, to tell you what the Scriptures mean. The Scriptures themselves have that ability. Even Moses shows us that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But now, the veil has been removed from Moses by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to fulfill all the things which were spoken of by the Law and the prophets—not just in types and shadows, but in full.

So, that concludes Exodus chapter 34, then chapter 35 we see the offering taken up for the construction and maintenance of the tabernacle and then we see the architectural firm of Bezalel and Aholiab, LLC called to oversee the project; in chapter 36 the tabernacle is constructed (but not raised up yet); chapter 37 shows the furnishings of the tabernacle being made (the Ark of the Covenant, the lampstand, the altar of incense, the table for showbread and the anointing oil and incense); in chapter 38 the making of the bronze wash basin that would sit between the altar of burnt offering and the tent; the curtain around the courtyard is made; in chapter 39 they make the garments for the priests. That just leaves us with Exodus 40. In Exodus 40:1-33 the tabernacle is set up, it is anointed with oil, purified with incense, and everything is put in, around, and over top of it. The sons of Aaron are outfitted in their garments and anointed for the priesthood.

Then, finally, Exodus 40:34-3534 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. God said He would do this, back in Exodus 29:43-44—“43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. 44 So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar.” We see much the same thing happen when Solomon finishes building the temple in Jerusalem, 1st Kings 8:10-1110 And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. While the tabernacle was being raised, and while the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was being hung, there were probably people going in and out of the various parts of the tent. They almost had to in order to make sure everything was done right. But now that the glory of the LORD has rested on the tent, now that the glory of the LORD has sanctified everything about the tent, God has declared that this is His resting place, and all the commandments concerning where people can and can't go are now in force. Eventually the glory would dwell only “between the cherubim”—or, the angels—on top of the Ark of the Covenant and the priests would be able to enter the first part of the tabernacle, but only the high priest would be able to go beyond the veil and into the Most Holy Place, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur). 

Exodus 40:36-3836 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. Simple: now that the glory of the LORD has filled the tabernacle, it will stay here for a while. But, when the glory is lifted, they are to pack everything up, look for where the cloud is moving, and follow it. When the cloud stops, they stop. If the cloud doesn't stop, they don’t stop. It’s not like when you go on a long trip, and you ask the wife, “How about we stop here for the night? No? How about here? No? How about here?” It wasn’t up to the wives to decide where the cloud was going to stop. It wasn’t up to the priests, or the high priest, or Aaron or even Moses—God and God alone was the one who said where they would go and where and when they would stop. If the cloud goes east, the people go east. If the cloud goes west, the people go west. There was no, “Yeah, but it’s kinda dry here, doesn't seem very comfortable. How about we pitch it over there?” It was not a matter of where the people chose to go; it was God simply saying “Follow Me.” Hmmm…seems as though I remember reading how somebody else told some fellows “Follow Me.” And in fact, at one point when that Man said "We must go to Jerusalem," one of those fellows said, “No, surely You don’t want to go THERE.” But He did say, “Yes, I NEED to go there.” And wouldn’t you know it, we’re talking about good ol’ Simon Peter. Again.

Turn to Matthew 16:13-1713 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" 14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Peter saw Christ for who He was—is. He saw Him as being the Christ of God. The Son of God, the Living Christ, the Messiah, Yehoshua Ha'Mishiacah. BUT—don’t forget, we’re talking about Peter. Skip down to Matthew 16:21-2321 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" 23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan!" The OT tabernacle was a picture of Christ. Christ dwelt in a tabernacle of flesh (John 1:14), and wherever that tabernacle went, His disciples were to follow. They were not to tell Him where to go, but He was to tell them where to go. He told two separate groups on two different occasions, “You guys go here and here and here, but don’t go there, or there or over there. Go only to the lost sheep of Israel, do not go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans” (Matthew 10:5-6).

He tells Simon Peter, “Blessed art thou Simon bar-Jonah…Get behind Me, Satan.” And this is another area where we fall short in our prayers. We sometimes have a tendency to say, “Lord, You can send me anywhere You want—just so long as it isn’t _____.” Or we tell God—and this is one we fall into quite easily, when we listen to our flesh—“Lord, I'm gonna do this, and You will have to bless the work”—even though it is something He didn’t call them to. Again, twisting God’s arm. Thou shalt not test the LORD thy God. God may lead us to a nice city, where we will have running water and all the creature comforts we silly humans think we need. Or, He may send us to Peru to live in the midst of some of the most impoverished people on the planet. But that doesn't matter. If He says “Go,” we need to go. He may send us to Sudan or China or Iran to be arrested and put in prison—maybe even beaten and killed. Not necessarily to have our “Best Life Now.” But that’s what happens when we pray the way we should. You'll hear folks say “Pray according to your faith—not according to His will.” That is about the most asinine a statement as a person can make.

How did Jesus teach us to pray? Some folks would have you think he said, "And when you pray, pray in this manner: Our Father, who Art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, According to my faith, make it so!..." However, God said--yes, GOD said--“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” The first type of prayer (“According to my faith, make it so!”) is the type of prayer that commands God. The second type of prayer (“Thy will be done”) is the type of prayer Christ commands. Can we command God to make Him do what we want? We are to pray in faith, knowing that God can do all things. The prayer that accomplishes the will of God—which, again, is what should be the focus of all our prayers—is “Thy will be done.” It may not be God’s will for us to be healthy and wealthy and prosperous. And we have to accept that. The Israelites did not tell God where He should lead them—we don’t tell God what He should do in our lives. This ain't a democracy; you don’t get a vote. Let me finish with the words of an old, old hymn.

“Take up thy cross and follow Me,” I heard my Master say;
"I gave My life to ransom thee, Surrender your all today."
Wherever He leads I'll go
I'll follow my Christ who loves me so, Wherever He leads I'll go.

He drew me closer to His side, I sought His will to know,
And in that will I now abide, Wherever He leads I'll go.
It may be thro' the shadows dim, Or o'er the stormy sea,
I take my cross and follow Him, Wherever He leadeth me.

My heart, my life, my all I bring To Christ who loves me so;
he is my Master, Lord, and King, Wherever He leads I'll go.
Wherever He leads I'll go, Wherever He leads I'll go,
I'll follow my Christ who loves me so, Wherever He leads I'll go.

Not the other way around.

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD. AMEN.

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