And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. Exodus 25:8-9
God is a God of order and purpose and details. Part of the instructions God gives the Israelites through Moses has to do with a place for God to dwell, or live, with His people.
He gives very specific and detailed instructions for how the tabernacle – His dwelling place with them – should be built and maintained. Directions are given for an Ark of the Covenant (more on this coming up), table for bread, a golden lampstand, the tabernacle construction, the bronze altar, the court of the tabernacle, oil for the lamp, the priests garments and how they should prepare to enter the tabernacle, the altar of incense, giving, the maintenance of the tabernacle, bronze basin, anointing oil and incense.
Prior to sin entering the world and creating separation between man and God, Adam and Eve physically DWELT with God. The Bible is God’s story of bringing us back to this state.
This portable tabernacle is a scaled-down version of a more permanent temple that is to come many years later in Jerusalem where God will also DWELL with His people. But something better will come after that… God will come in the flesh to DWELL with humanity for 30 years, and upon His resurrection, He will send the Holy Spirit to DWELL inside all of us who believe.
But it gets even better… one day in the future, those who put their faith and hope in Jesus will DWELL once again with God forever.
Challenge: Take time this week to just DWELL with God.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Exodus 32:1
While Moses was up on the mountain receiving instructions and even tablets written by the hand of God, the people get anxious because it was taking too long (40 days). They quickly write Moses off and demand man-made idols to worship and guide them. Only forty days! We were created to worship God, but how quickly we search for anything else to worship and follow.
It’s tempting to think if we were only witnesses to the Incredible miracles the Israelites – and later those walking with Jesus – were part of, we would surely believe and never doubt. But the Israelites show us this is not the case.
Life happens. Things don’t go smoothly or according to our ideas of how it should all go down. Fear and anxiety consume us. Everything. Takes. Too. Long. We start to doubt. We stop waiting on God…. we can’t endure the delay…we can’t take the silence…we go back to trying to fix things on our own. We essentially fashion our own false idols to worship, put our hope in, and follow.
“Remember delays are not denials. Sometimes it may be just a timing issue. God’s timing is always perfect. Wait on God in times of delay. It may be that God has something better just a little later down the road.” Ron Parker.
Even in the delays, wait on the Lord. He is a good, good Father. It’s who He is. And you are loved by Him. It’s who you are. He’s worth the waiting.
Questions: What are some of your big doubt triggers (trials, delays, bumps in the road…)? In times of doubt who/what do you turn to instead of God?
And God spoke all these words, saying… Exodus 20:1
While the people are looking on amidst roaring thunder, flashes of lightning, booming trumpets, and a smoking mountain, God speaks to Moses. He gives His people commandments about how to live along with instructions about altars, slaves, restitution, social justice, Sabbath, festivals, and more. He confirms the covenant and tells of a land set apart for them.
Among the directives, God lays out ten specific commandments. A way to teach these people who only knew slavery how to live as free people set apart by a holy God, reflecting His nature and glory.
You shall have no other gods before God. You shall make no idols. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Keep the Sabbath day holy. Honor our father and mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet.
When Jesus walks the earth long after these commands are given, He summarizes them as LOVE GOD & LOVE OTHERS. We can even look at the commandments themselves as pointing to the cross, with the first four being the vertical anchor, representing our relationship with God, and the next six being horizontal, representing our relationship with each other.
The commandments and laws are a picture of obedient, holy, right living. Here’s the problem: we can’t keep them. The laws ultimately serve to show us there is no way we can ever be “good enough” for a Holy God. We can’t save ourselves. And that is part of the plan. We weren’t intended to save ourselves…but we need to understand this fact.
John Piper says we must see our plight before we can recognize the rescue. The law reveals our plight. Jesus is our rescuer.
Thankfully the laws aren’t a requirement for our salvation. He is the requirement for salvation. God sent Jesus to do what we couldn’t do.
Challenge: Fully acknowledge the depth of God’s mercy and grace. Examine each of the 10 commandments and thank Jesus for how He has saved you from your personal and specific failures in each one.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:4-5
On this journey of freedom, God will be the provision, this time providing bread from Heaven…bread to keep His people alive. Another glimpse into the person of Jesus who comes and teaches that He is the bread of life.
Manna - bread from heaven – rains down daily providing just what the millions of Israelites need for that day. They are only to gather what they need for their household – no more and no less. Each portion is different based on the different needs, but it is precisely what each family needs. They were not permitted to gather more to store up for later. At the end of the day, it would rot. They had to daily trust God to provide what they needed for the day. And this went on the entire 40 years they were in the wilderness.
God provides us with “manna” too in the form of giving us what we need for the day. He will provide all of the strength, power, wisdom, courage we need for the daily tasks He has called us to. He gives us the precise portion we need precisely when we need it – no sooner and no later. We have to trust Him and as we daily gather what He provides for each day.
We can easily get fearful and overwhelmed when we look ahead to the scary and unknown, wanting to store up what we think we might need in advance. But we have to trust that God will give us what we need when we need it. Our DAILY bread. We may not feel brave, strong, or equipped as we look to the future or fret over what-ifs, but that is because it isn’t our time yet. We can’t collect that portion of manna until the day comes that we need it.
Questions: Do you often worry about the future, desperate to be equipped today for all of the what-ifs of tomorrow? How can you take the lesson of manna to help not be so anxious or afraid?
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14
Finally, freedom! Moses leads the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt with God as their guide. But Pharaoh has a moment of panic realizing his entire free labor force had left. He sends large and powerful armies to pursue them. The Israelites see them getting closer and closer and are filled with fear. Terrified, they say they would prefer to be back in Egypt. Back to slavery and mistreatment.
How quickly we forget? How quickly we prefer the destructive known to the promising unknown? Fear distorts and blinds truth. Fear keeps us locked on our circumstances instead of God’s promises. Fear fixes our eyes behind us instead of looking up and out.
“The Lord will fight for you,” Moses declares. Just be still.
God through Moses parts the Red Sea and the entire Israelite population (several million!) walk on dry land to the other side. The astonished Israelite’s watch as the water closes in on all the Egyptians pursuing them. God provided as He promised.
Moses and the people sing a song of praise and worship to God. But it only takes three days on the other side for the grumbling to begin again. This time they are thirsty. God directs Moses to throw a log into the water, making it sweet and drinkable. Another miraculous provision.
God wants His people to KNOW that they need Him and that He WILL provide. In all of our fear and worry and limitations, God says, “Be still. You’re not supposed to have this. I will fight this one for you. I’ve got this.”
Questions: Have you ever settled for the destructive known instead of pursuing a promise in unknown territory? How have you seen God fight for you?
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. Exodus 13:21-22
The Israelites had been in Egypt for many years. Though they were oppressed, it was still their home. It was all that they knew.
God provided a special tour guide to take them out of Egypt…Himself!
In a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, God says, FOLLOW ME. Later God will arrive on earth in human flesh and say, FOLLOW ME.
The newly freed Israelites that knew only slave life in Egypt could be sure of where they were going because they were following God. We too can be sure of where we are going if we follow God.
When I feel lost in unfamiliar territory or have a big decision ahead of me, I often wish God would show up in a pillar of cloud or fire showing me exactly which way I should go. Though this will undoubtedly never happen for us, we do have the Holy Spirit in us and we have God’s Word. We can open our Bible and pray for God to give us wisdom and to show us the way. He wants to be our tour guide. If we are following His path, we can always know we are on the right track, even if we feel a little lost in the moment.
Questions: Who do you turn to when you feel lost or uncertain? How can you make it a habit to turn to God first for direction?
In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. Exodus 12:11-13
God reveals the tenth plague; the final warning to Pharaoh of what will happen if he refuses to release the Israelites from slavery to freedom: every firstborn in the land of Egypt will die. God tells Moses that Pharaoh won’t listen. His heart is hardened, but through it, God’s wonders will be multiplied.
God instructs the Israelites to take and kill a male lamb without blemish. They are to take blood from the slain lamb and put it on the doorposts around their houses. The blood of the lamb, marking them as God’s people, will save them.
As promised, the angel of death shows up. All firstborn sons – including livestock – are struck dead. But all the houses with the blood over the doorposts are passed over. You better believe Pharaoh lets them go. And not only that, he sends them on their way with gifts …gold, silver, clothing. God provides for their journey.
A Passover celebration is instituted annually to remember this incredible event. A celebration that many years later Jesus participates in as part of His last meal with His disciples before He becomes the ultimate lamb without blemish sacrificed to save us all.
Passover is a taste of what is to come. We are hopeless in our mess and pride and disobedience, but God provides a way out for us. God loves us so much, He wants to save us from the death and destruction that is sure to come when we dig in our heels, harden our hearts, and insist on doing things our own way. He wants us to be “passed over” from death and instead have eternal life with Him. He knows it will require a sacrifice and He is willing to provide that sacrifice for us. God’s plan for a Savior continues to unfold.
Question: In what ways do you see Jesus in the Passover story?
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. Exodus 3:13-15
For the Israelites in Egypt, things are getting increasingly worse. God hears the cries of His people. And He has just the man to step in as His hands and feet. God appears to Moses in the burning bush, telling him that he is the one to lead His people out of Egypt.
Moses reluctantly obeys and sets out for Egypt, his original home. God intends to bring His people back to the promised land as He said He would long ago. He desires for them to be free from their slavery. But it is going to take some persuasion for the Egyptians to let their free labor go.
God has a plan though. God always has a plan.
As you can imagine, Pharaoh isn’t going to give in easily to losing the people doing all the work in the land as slaves. But God has plagues in store to help with that. The first nine plagues are a disaster for the people in Egypt (while not impacting the Israelites). Each is preceded with warnings to let God’s people go to avoid the plagues…the water is turned to blood, frogs literally everywhere, gnats in all the land, swarms of flies, death of livestock, boils breaking out on man and beast, heavy hail, locusts covering the face of the land, complete darkness for three days.
Pharaoh is stubborn. He won’t let them go. The tenth plague will be devastating. They have been warned.
Questions: What do you think keeps us clinging to things that fight against God? Are there things God is telling you to let go of that you keep hanging on to?
Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. Exodus 2:1-3
Joseph’s family was thriving and growing in Egypt. But as years pass and new leaders came into power, the Israelites (Jacob’s, aka Israel’s, descendants), large in number by this time, become a threat to Egypt. To try to control their growth and power, the Egyptians make them slaves, subject to hard labor and oppression. And there is an order to kill all Hebrew (another name for the Israelites, or Jewish people) baby boys born.
But God has a plan for one of them in particular...A baby boy– Moses –from the tribe of Levi, Leah and Jacob’s third son.
The Pharaoh’s daughter finds the baby and adopts him. Moses is an Israelite but raised as an adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Slavery to royalty.
At one point when he is older, he becomes angry about the mistreatment of his Israelite people and kills an Egyptian in the process. This leads to him fleeing to Midian to escape punishment. He starts a new life, eventually marrying and having a child there.
For forty years Moses lives in the wilderness area of Midian.
We will see that the events in Moses’ life are perfectly preparing him for the calling He will soon get from God. He grew up in the house of Pharaoh but learned to live and thrive in the wilderness. Two things that will soon come in handy. God is always working, even when we can’t see it.
Questions: Think of some things you are currently learning or doing, or some places you are finding yourself. How can these things be preparing you for something you might do in the future as part of God’s plan? How does it change your perception of circumstances knowing that God might be using them to prepare you for something bigger and beyond your imagination?