Telling a Better Story
These sessions about sexual ethics are timely and thoughtful, complete and inspiring. Highly recommended. Matthew Mason of the London Seminary Pastors' Academy delivers them.
Here is the website:
Here is the handout:
Here is the audio for the first talk:
Here is the audio for the second:
2 Chronicles 35:20-27
2 Chronicles 35:1-19
2 Chronicles 14
2 Chronicles 13
Flowers and friendship
Wildflower Tea August 11th 2020
Under the direction of Karla Myers, the basement was once again transformed into a beautiful tea room. This year, due to the pandemic, she and her team of planners were confronted with the added challenge of considering how to adjust the seating and serving arrangements. By placing fewer seats at larger tables, extra space was provided without destroying the friendly atmosphere. Plastic gloves were available at the head of the serving table.
Several ladies spent Saturday and/or Monday at the church. The hours setting up tables, hanging decorations, folding napkins, etc. were well spent. Conversation sweetened the work, and many hands made the load lighter.
Maurina served the ladies by planning the menu. The recipes were easy to follow, and the dishes were pretty and packed with flavor. Bonnie’s Hibiscus tea was refreshing, especially at the end of a hot and humid August evening.
Friendship was the theme of the program. Most of the ladies contributed by reading selected quotations. Julie and Jacquie sang an arrangement of the hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus”.
Our special speaker was Joie Fitzpatrick, who spoke to us about the Best Friend, Jesus Christ. She reminded us that he is our Familiar, Faithful & Forgiving friend who desires our Fellowship. We were challenged to find Christ’s counsel for our good and our growth in His word. We need to read, to love, to listen, and to hide His word in our hearts. It will teach, help, encourage, chide, correct, and show us our need of repentance, as well as reveal the glory of His grace.
Bonnie closed the meeting by thanking the ladies and inviting all to join the church group as they plan to begin a Bible study on subject of Joy this September.
Clothing the Priests
The priests were to be clothed in a special way. They were clothed for glory and beauty because they were the servants in the house of God. Their clothing was in that sense livery, such as the servants of a great house wear, marking them out, signaling the dignity of their employer. The priestly garments were expensive clothes.
The main garment was called an ephod, which was an apron-like garment of costly material. On the shoulders of the ephod were onyx stones, each with six of the names of the tribes of Israel. The meaning is that the high priest who wore this garment carried the people on his shoulders. That was a priestly function: to represent the people before God.
Resting on the ephod and attached to it carefully was a pouch with a metal plate on the front called the breastplate. This golden plate had twelve different jewels set on it: four across and three down. These once again were engraved with the names of the twelve tribes, so that the priest had them on his heart. The point again is that he is their representative before God.
Under the ephod was a blue, sleeveless tunic, which had a hem bordered with yarn balls shaped like pomegranates alternating with metal bells. There are two things to observe here. One is the theme of trees and fruit that you get in the decorations of the Tabernacle and see emphasized more in the Temple. There is the suggestion of a garden, the garden, in fact, of Eden. Where did God come to walk with Adam before sin broke the relationship? It was in a garden, and the priest represents a return to that. What is the meaning of the bell? When the priest was doing his work in the tent, nobody saw him. Only priests could go in, and there was a section, the Holy of Holies, where nobody except the high priest could go. The bells, however, sounded as he went about his business: he could be heard though he could not be seen. The sound of a priest doing efficacious work in God's presence on behalf of God's people is the sound of the Gospel. The Gospel after all is a report of a transaction Jesus Christ our high priest has conducted on our behalf in God's presence, a report that he still intercedes for us in a place we can't see, and a promise of better access to God than the old covenant afforded. The text says that the bell had to sound so that Aaron might not die. That is why I think it represents the Gospel, the sound of the promise of the Gospel, the actual efficacious transaction without which nobody can live.
On the high priest's head was a turban, and surmounting the turban was a plate of gold in which was engraved "Holiness to the Lord." In connection with this garment we read that Aaron would bear any guilt from the holy things that the people consecrated. Having the engraved plate on his forehead, the gifts would be accepted. It is a constant reminder that the people brought contamination, uncleanness, and that which was unholy to God in whose presence everything must be made holy, fitting for him. God established a Tabernacle so that by means of these shadows and symbols they could have access to him. It was a limited access, but it was real access because it was a shadow and symbol of Jesus Christ, who really is holy, who really makes us clean, and who bears away our guilt.
Oil in God’s Lamp
The striking thing about the instructions for the oil used to light the seven-branched lamp in God’s sanctuary is where the instructions occur. They do not occur in chapter 26 when we learn about the lamp. Nor do they occur later when we learn about the incense used in the tabernacle, or when the fragrant anointing oil is described. The instructions for the oil that powers the oil lamps is given to us after the instructions for the perimeter fence and before the instructions for the priestly clothing.
When we think about the order in which the furnishings of the tabernacle are given, we find a certain motion. For example: the first thing described is the Ark of the Covenant, after which we move to the table and then the lamp. Then we get the tent itself and move on from that to the bronze altar outside the tent. Anybody who knows about the furnishings of the tabernacle will realize we haven’t had the smaller incense altar yet. That is something that goes inside the tent, and yet it is not described when every other item within the tent is. Clearly there are associations being made. This is what we need to do with the oil. We need to associate it with what surrounds it fully to understand what it means.
Once we are in the outer perimeter, which is what comes after the bronze altar and before the oil, we are in the area in which most of the priestly work was done, but not all. The priestly work also included a daily trimming of the lamps. With that daily trimming, we will eventually learn, there also came the offering of incense. But before that we have to have a priesthood.
So here is the order of events:
The oil is a way of connecting that which is continually harvested and continually brought through the camp to God’s dwelling, with the inner dwelling. It represents the best of the olive crop, the bounty, and it has a high and holy function: to shed light on the table in God’s house all night long. “The pure oil signified the gifts and graces of the Spirit, which are communicated to all believers from Christ the good olive, of whose fulness we receive (Zec. 4:11, 12), and without which our light cannot shine before men.” -Matthew Henry
Bringing the oil to its place is something only the priesthood can do, and so it is associated with them. It is something that must be constantly renewed, that comes from without and fuels the ongoing light and splendor of that place where prayers are offered up symbolically in incense by the high priest morning and evening when he trims the lamps. “This office God enjoins upon the priests, because they ought to be ministers of light when they are interpreting the Law, which David calls ‘the lamp of our feet, and the light of our paths.’” -John Calvin
The Perimeter Fence
The perimeter fence of the tabernacle enclosed a space that was 150 ft. by 75. It consisted of linen curtains suspended from posts which were 7 ½ ft. high and set 7 ½ ft. apart. The posts were placed in bronze bases, and the curtains were attached with silver hooks and rings. The enclosure had one entrance 30 ft. long which was designated by more decorative linen curtains. No doubt there were also cords stabilizing the posts: we learn that the pegs were made of bronze.
Bronze was the level that touched the ground. The Tabernacle was where God came to live with his people. They pitched their tents and lived their lives on the dusty floor of the wilderness. God joined them, and the place where his habitation met the camp was at the base of this perimeter tent: the bronze level.
The bronze altar was where what they brought was consecrated to God’s purposes, and the threshold of the sanctuary also was made of bronze. The threshold of the inner sanctuary, the space crossing between the holy and the holy of holies, was of silver, just as the higher fixtures of the post were. And the whole pictured an ascent, in three stages, to the place where God rested between the Cherubim.
The perimeter fence traced the outer boundary between that which was common and daily, between where God’s people lived and that which was consecrated, the space where sacrifices were made, cleansing was obtained, and God’s holy presence sanctified the lives of his people. It was a porous membrane, we could say, that allowed the people to approach God and obtain pardon and cleansing in his holy presence.
It reminded them that they must approach God on his terms, and “the majesty of holy things was shewn them in this type, in order that they might reverently approach the worship of God; and they were reminded of their own unworthiness, that they might humble themselves the more before God, and that fear might beget penitence.” - John Calvin
The Bronze Altar
What is an altar? A place of sacrifice. Practically speaking, an altar is much like a grill. It was a place where a fire was lit and on which things were burned. Symbolically, however, an altar is a mountain. It stands on the ground where human beings are and raises things up to the skies. From the altar the smoke of the burnt offerings went up. The altar was much like mount Sinai, to which the people approached, and on the smoking top of which God came down. Sacrifices were symbolic meals, and it was on the altar that the choice portion that belonged to God was consumed. It was God’s place at the table, in that sense.
The bronze altar was 7 ½ ft square, and 4 ½ ft high. Its construction was such that it was hollow, and was probably filled with earth and stones, which insulated the bronze covered board of the frame. It had horns on each of the corners, and these represented the power of the altar. Blood was daubed on these horns in cleansing rituals. It also consecrated things. We read, when it is finally dedicated, that whatever touched it would be made holy, or devoted, or consecrated. That means that whatever touched it became the Lord’s possession, no longer useful for common purposes but for special, consecrated purposes. It was a warning to use it only for holy purposes.
That it was bronze is associated with the lowest order of the precious metals of the temple, the level that touched the ground at the borders of the encampment. This bronze altar was set in the courtyard, the enclosure which set off the holy space of God’s dwelling from the space of his people’s dwelling and where God’s people could come with their gifts of devotion, of cleansing, of communion. God received the gifts brought from the life of his people. They were prepared and in contact with the altar, consecrated so they might be received by a holy God. Holiness to the Lord, was the legend on the High Priest’s crown: and only holy things would be received.
That altar represents Jesus Christ, who is not only the sacrifice and the one sacrificing as high priest. Jesus Christ is that which consecrates us, the one who is not only clean, but cleansing. In union with him we are consecrated, devoted to the Lord and no longer available for common or profane purposes. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11. The words of Paul, especially what he says in the following verses 15-20 seem to me to allude to the idea of contact with holy things and how that renders one consecrated and unfit for common usage. He was thinking of the shadow of Christ in Exodus, and the meaning for us who no longer need a bronze altar of the spiritual realities the bronze altar represented. Our body and our spirit now belong to God, Paul says, and can only be used for his glory. We have come into contact with that which turns us into living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God.
Now this brazen altar was a type of Christ dying to make atonement for our sins: the wood would have been consumed by the fire from heaven if it had not been secured by the brass; nor could the human nature of Christ have borne the wrath of God if it had not been supported by a divine power. Christ sanctified himself for his church, as their altar (Jn. 17:19), and by his mediation sanctifies the daily services of his people, who have also a right to eat of this altar (Heb. 13:10), for they serve at it as spiritual priests. To the horns of this altar poor sinners fly for refuge when justice pursues them, and they are safe in virtue of the sacrifice there offered.
 Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (pp. 133–134). Peabody: Hendrickson.