Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ascension Sunday: Exodus 27-28

Opening Prayer: Gracious God and Father, we thank you that our King has been enthroned in heaven. We thank you that he rules over the nations and kings and rulers of the earth. We ask now that you would pour out upon us his Spirit that we may be made mighty to serve in your kingdom. Through Christ our King, Amen!

Today is Ascension Sunday, and while we will continue considering Exodus this morning and the building of the tabernacle. There are several themes that we find in our text today that are types and shadows pointing to the enthronement of our King Jesus.

Courtyard of the King
We said last week that the tabernacle is the royal palace of Yahweh, the King of Israel, and it is according to the pattern of the mountain (25:40). The inside of this palace-tent is covered in gold; it shines and glimmers with glory like the top of Mt. Sinai. It is symbolically guarded by the cherubim stationed above the ark and woven into the curtains and veils of the tent. Now we move out into the courtyard of the King: here everything is made of bronze and silver (27:3-4, 10-11, 17-19). The primary object in the courtyard is the great bronze altar (27:1ff, 40:6), but we know from directions in the following chapters that there is also a bronze laver in the courtyard (30:17-21, 40:7). Notice that everything inside the tent is gold, and everything in the courtyard is bronze. The tabernacle is color-coded. The courtyard was about 75ft wide by 150ft long, and the wall was almost 8 feet tall (27:18). The chapter ends with a brief description of the oil for the lampstand inside the tabernacle; perhaps this is mentioned here because it is an activity that took place in the courtyard. The court is considered a holy place, and it is where the priests were to eat their portions (Lev. 6:9, 19). Throughout the Old Testament the word “KHAZER” often means “village” – a smaller enclosed town (e.g. Gen. 25:16, Josh. 13, 15, 19), what the middle ages might have called a castle. The courtyard corresponds to the bottom of Mt. Sinai; it is where Israel must go to offer her offerings (Lev. 1:3, 5). The courts are what many of the Psalms rejoice in (Ps. 84:2, 96:8, 100:4).

Priest as Warrior
The following chapter outlines the garments of the priests who are to serve in the King’s Palace. The priests are the royal attendants, the bodyguards and servants of the King of Israel. And Yahweh cares what they look like (28:2-3). Notice that when the Spirit comes upon people it sometimes makes them create beautiful and glorious things. The priestly uniform is the uniform of a warrior. He wears an ephod which is some sort of vest which attaches to two stones on his shoulders the names of the sons of Israel as a memorial (28:9-12). He then wears a breastplate over the ephod, and it is covered in precious stones again engraved with the names of the sons of Israel as a memorial (28:17-21). The breastplate is attached with gold chains to the shoulder straps of the ephod (28:22-28). Aaron is to have the Urim and the Thummim over his heart whenever he goes in before the Lord in order to bear the judgment of Israel over his heart (28:30). He wears a robe over this armor which opens “like a coat of mail” (28:31-32). He wears bells along the bottom of his robes that make him sound like a soldier geared for battle (28:33-35). The priest is to wear a turban with a gold plate across the front of it with the military insignia “holiness to Yahweh” (28:36-37). They are given sashes and special pants for their service as well (28:39-42). This armor is for “glory and for beauty” (28:2, 40), and all of it prepares Aaron and his sons to do battle with sin and iniquity and guilt (28:38). And they bear the names of their countrymen into battle before the Lord like insignias (28:11, 21). And they carry out this battle with the offerings of the sons of Israel (28:38).

Conclusion & Applications
The court is where Israelites bring their offerings (Lev. 1:3); it is where the bodyguards of Yahweh do their battle, where lambs and birds and cows were slaughtered and cut up into pieces. Pieces were burned on bronze altar, blood was taken into the tabernacle and sprinkled on various items, and once a year, blood was taken in and sprinkled on the ransom lid of the ark. Arguably, the central character of the book of Revelation is the lamb (Rev. 5:6, 8, 12-13, 6:1, 16, 7:9-10, etc.). The whole point of the tabernacle is trying to get Israel into the presence of God. The blood of their lambs was taken in, their names and their judgments were carried in on the priests. And now there’s a lamb in the presence of God. Jesus is our High Priest who has offered his own blood and has sat down at the right hand of God until his enemies are his footstool (Heb. 10:11ff). Jesus has not merely gone in on our behalf, he has taken us up with him. He doesn’t just take our names in with him, he takes us. And this means that God calls us to a full assurance of faith, a clean conscience, hold fast his promises, and consider one another to stir one another up to love and good works – all as we assemble together regularly (Heb. 10:19-25).

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!

Closing Prayer: Gracious Lord, we thank you that Jesus has been raised from the dead and that he now sits at your right hand in glory. We thank you that when he was raised up, you offered him all the nations of the earth as his possession and inheritance, and that he is reigning until all of his enemies have become his footstool. Give us faith that is assured of these promises and that lives them out with joy and love.

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