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Background of Exodus

Background

The book of Exodus tells of the rise of the people of Israel after they left Egypt. The Israelites remained in Egypt after the death of Joseph in the last chapter of Genesis.  Then, the book of Exodus opens and tells us that as the Israelites grew in number and the Egyptian pharaohs grew in forgetfulness of all Joseph had done for them, the Israelites were made slaves in Egypt. God saw their suffering and bondage and had compassion on them. In his mercy and grace, he sent them a leader, Moses, to deliver them from  slavery in Egypt. God’s people were miraculously led and fed in the wilderness for forty years, demonstrating God’s provision. God showed them how to live and worship.

The summary of the theme of the Book of Exodus is found in Exodus 19:4-6 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel Ex 19:4–6
%% The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ex 19:4–6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Our verse is found in the second half of the book of Exodus. The focus of these chapters is on God’s covenant with the Israelites as given to them through Moses. God has bought the freedom of his people by punishing their Egyptian captors and now he wants to guide his people to live for him. In this section, God gives the Ten Commandments as well as detailed commands on worship. The worship instructions include the section on the building of the Tabernacle where our focus verses are found.

After being set free, the Israelites focused on survival. The people were given the Ten Commandments and many more rules through Moses. Then, the Lord instructed his people about how to worship him. The intricate details regulating worship and the following Israelite failure to worship as commanded, point to the people’s need of a savior. The elaborate worship is a reminder of why we needed Jesus to come.

Jesus said that his followers would worship more simply in Spirit and in truth. No more is it needed for God’s people to worship on “this mountain or that one” because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. You are still called to worship but now you must worship with your very life, just as Jesus gave his life a ransom for you. God calls you to build more than a building of precious stones. You build not just physical structures but the very Kingdom of God.  Believers in Jesus Christ are the priesthood today as the apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:5- Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Pe 2:5

However,  the way God continues to call people to build with him has not changed.  A study of the Old Testament can teach us about our God-calling today.

Before God gave the rules of the Covenant, the call to create and guidelines for worship he first called the Israelites out of bondage and drew them to himself. Remember he said “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” Similarly, God calls us to a work for him in the context of his great love for us, seen in the sacrifice of his only Son for us. He will lead us out of the bondage that holds us back from our calling and he will cause us to soar above obstacles.

Overview of this study
God provides everything for your calling. All you need to do is:

1)recognize- know when God is calling, hear his voice clearly

2)respond- obey God’s call once you are aware of it

3)rest- in God’s faithfulness to complete what he begins in you.

God calls, fills with his spirit, sends helpers, commands and continues with you every step of the way. All of this is seen in the few verses examined in this book.

The main verses for our study are from the second half of the book of Exodus. Here is the description of God’s written and verbal covenant with Moses and the Israelites. God gives a series of commands and regulations to Moses including the Ten Commandments. He also give detailed plans for worship. It is in the detailed worship instructions that we find the study verses.Here, God calls specific workmen to the build of a portable worship center and the ark of the covenant to hold the written instructions.

The rest of the book after the call of the artisans to build the Tabernacle and Ark covers the incident of the worship of the false idol the Golden Calf, instructions for Sabbath rest and descriptions of the gathering of materials for and the building of the Tabernacle.

%% Background to Exodus
%% The second half of Exodus deals with the covenant God makes with the Israelites at Mount Sinai. This section begins with the Israelites camping at the mountain and receiving the Ten Commandments, which are followed by other regulations (chs. 19–24). God also gives Moses detailed plans for the Israelites’ worship, including instructions for the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle (Israel’s portable tent-shrine), and the priesthood (chs. 25–31). While Moses is up on the mountain, the Israelites decide to worship a golden idol shaped like a calf; in the fallout, God teaches the people how important it is to worship Him alone (chs. 32–34). The remaining chapters record the Israelites constructing the tabernacle and preparing for worship (chs. 35–40).
%% Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
%% • Exodus proclaims God’s deliverance of Israel. God frees His people and sustains them. He is their great rescuer. This act of deliverance is remembered throughout the Bible as the quintessential example of Yahweh’s power to save (Neh 9:9–15; Psa 78; Isa 48:20–21). Just as Yahweh saved them before, He would save them again (Isa 51:9–11; Hos 11:1–11). And, in Christ—the one greater than Moses—we too have a great rescuer (Heb 3:1–6). Jesus came to fulfill the law of Moses and free us from the bondage of sin (Matt 5:17–20; Gal 5:1). Thanks to Christ’s actions on the cross, we also have God’s very presence among us, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17; 16:17).
%% Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
%% • The message of Exodus is that God has set the captives free and continues to do so. God hears the cries of all who are oppressed, from sin or any worldly or spiritual powers, and He is faithful to answer (Rom 8:31–39; Heb 2).
%% Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
%% • The message of Exodus is that God has set the captives free and continues to do so. God hears the cries of all who are oppressed, from sin or any worldly or spiritual powers, and He is faithful to answer (Rom 8:31–39; Heb 2).
%% Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

The over-arching message of Exodus is that God sets captives free. After their release, the Israelites were free to worship God. Similarly, Jesus tells us that he came to set the captives free. We are to use our freedom as believers in Jesus to worship God and lead others to do the same. We do this by living out our God-given calling. Let us look at these themes in more detail.

The major themes of Exodus are:
1)God sets captives free
2)The purpose of freedom is to serve and glorify God
3)God continues to guide and instruct his people about who he is and who we are. He never leaves us to figure things out on our own.

All of these themes echo in the Gospels through the life and work of Jesus.
1)Jesus came to set the captives free,
2)the purpose of our freedom is that we would build God’s Kingdom on earth and
3)Jesus invites us to learn of him, abide with him and he promises that he will never leave us.

Jesus’ life and ministry brings back a time of God dwelling among us, tabernacle with us is the word in Greek. Jesus was Emmanuel, God with us. The Holy Spirit, the Counselor, was left for us. We have immediate and complete access to the throne of grace in heaven to ask for mercy and anything else that we need. Much of Eden has been restored!

%% There is much that could be said about the tabernacle’s design, but perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it was designed to be a copy of the Almighty’s heavenly throne room. – Ligonier.com

The Israelites, though, did not have the full revelation of Jesus Christ. But they had a glimpse of the future through the Tabernacle. The tabernacle was an awe-inspiring reminder of the beauty and splendor of Heaven and Eden. The entire story of the Bible is one of redemption, God constantly calling us back to himself, recreating the original intimacy he had with us right after creation. This redemption culminated in the birth, death and resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls you to participate in the building of his Kingdom on earth. Just as the Tabernacle pointed all who saw it to God, so should the building that is a result of our calling do the same. Whether we build a business, ministry or family or if we create a work of art, write a book or sing a song, all should point back to Christ in all his glory seated in the heavenly places.

The curtains of division in the Tabernacle served to remind the Israelites that there was still a chasm between the ordinary people and God. Only through the death of Jesus on the cross would the Temple curtain be torn, a symbol of our ability to freely come to God through Christ.

Our verses are in the midst of a glorious story of God’s salvation and guidance of his people. The Israelites or the descendants of Jacob. They are first led out of harsh slavery under the Egyptians through God’s call on Moses. Next, they are guided into how to worship and give their lives to God through God’s instructions to Moses, his called leader.

This is a story of a people stuck in the increasingly cruel bondage to one of the powerful regimes in the ancient world at that time. Small and vulnerable, God chose these people to be his but first they needed to get free. God chose to accomplish their escape by calling one man to himself. That man was Moses.

%% portable sanctuary where God would dwell among His people until a more permanent house could be built in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 22). Ligonier Ministries ligonier.com
%%
%% While on Mt. Sinai, Moses received the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:1–20:21), various other regulations (20:22–23:19), and basic instructions for the invasion of Canaan (23:20–33). He was also given the blueprint for the tabernacle (24:15– 30:38), that portable sanctuary where God would dwell among His people…. Ligonier

God gave instructions to Moses on both spiritual and physical aspects of living. There was no divide. Daily behaviors like eating, drinking and resting are covered as well as building, conquering and worshiping. God calls in every aspect of your life and your calling should affect all of your life.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9: 11-12

Hebrews 9 tells us the goals of the Tabernacle were fulfilled in Christ. So although we study Exodus for lessons about how God calls, remember the privilege we have today of knowing the finished work of Christ. In each section of this book, I include a reminder of how Jesus fits in with our study.

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