Today, I finished Exodus, and I want to look at one or two things.
First of all, as I read through the descriptions of the temple, I can’t help but be amazed at all the gold that was used in it. As I picture this thing, it was magnificant, and the magnificance was meant to be a physical display of God’s glory. God has an inherent beauty and majesty, something far more beautiful and majestic than anything we could picture or imagine, and that’s what His glory is (simplistically). I feel like there’s a relation to holiness there, like His glory is the displaying of His holiness, or something like that. Not yet sure.
Exodus 40 is fascinating. It is the completion of the tabernacle and the descending of the glory of God on it. I think that Exodus 40 is where the articles of the tabernacle (the ark, alter, incense alter, table, etc) become holy. Before then, they were gold artifacts, but not holy unto God. Before then, the workmen could touch them freely to work on them. After then, it would be death to touch them.
Moses annointed each artifact and the tabernacle itself with annointing oil, and they became holy (40:9). It’s almost like God was saying, “this is now the official tabernacle. These aren’t just fine gold things, these are the articles of the tabernacle.” That seal of approval from God that these things were holy is what was going on as Moses annointed them. Then Aaron and the his sons were washed and annointed, and Aaron was clothed in the holy garments. In other words, they became holy to the service of God. This whole chapter is about everything being made holy (artifacts and people).
In verses 18-30, Moses sets up the tabernacle, annoints the stuff, etc. He is a mere man, but at his touch, things become holy. And he is the one doing all the work: He raised the tabernacle, he spread the tent, he put the Testimony into the ark and put the mercy seat on top of the ark and inserted the poles into the ark so that others could carry it in the future. He put the lampstands in the tabernacle and lit the lamps and burned incense. And more. In short, he did everything the priests would do in future generations, only he set it up and did it for the first time.
I feel like this is a foreshadowing of Christ, as Moses stood halfway between man and God setting up the means for forgiveness of sins to be made and for worship to take place. At Moses’ annointing, things became holy, just as through Christ’s annointing (in the Spirit), we become holy.
And then in verses 34-38, the cloud descended on the tabernacle, and the glory of God filled it: yes indeed, this place was holy. No doubt about it. God confirmed the holiness and the appropriateness of this place of worship.
I must say, this is interesting to look at. And I need to do my etymology research, but this idea of things being separated for God’s service is captured by the word “sanctified.” I’m not sure what relation this has to holiness, or if “sanctify” is simply a verb that means “to make holy.” They may be the same word in the original, for all I know.
However, this separateness is a significant part of holiness, I think. It is a part of God: that He is utterly untouchable by us. He is far above and separate, and the best way to express this to us humans was to give us the tabernacle, where everything was holy, and to touch something holy meant death.
I think that for our holiness, it means that we should avoid being touched by defiled things (sin). If in this physical expression of His holiness it was wrong that the unholy should touch the holy, then we imitate God’s holiness by keeping free of the touch of sin. However, none of us can do this as we ought, so Jesus came and died in our place and forgave us, declared us holy, and now we learn to walk out in actuality our declared position of holiness (our sanctification).
There’s a significant thing about holiness to learn from Exodus 40. And for once, I’m excited to get into Leviticus.