Summary: Exodus 32-40 A Second Chance
A Second Chance
Today is our last sermon on the Exodus series - chapters 32-40. I hope you’ve read up on them, because today’s sermon will make a lot more sense if you have. What have we looked at so far in Exodus? We started off with the birth and call of Moses, in which God revealed His most profound name to Moses - I AM – or Yahweh. And then God revealed to Moses not only His name, but that He had seen the cries from the Israelites, because at that time the Israelites were an oppressed people living in slavery under the Egyptian owners. They had cried out to God – and He had heard. And now God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites. We learnt how the Egyptians didn’t want to let the Israelites – their free labour go. So God had to send plague after plague – 10 in all – to force their hand. And then on the last and most terrible plague of all in which every Egyptian first born was killed, eventually the Egyptians relented and let the Israelites go. And we learn that when all the first born of the Egyptians were killed, that none of the Israelite firstborn were killed. Why? Because God gave them a sign: the blood of sacrificed lamb on their doorframes s a sign that they were God’s. And this was called the Passover, and 1500 years later Jesus fulfilled that Passover when He died on the cross. His blood was shed so that when the Day of the Lord comes, when Christ returns in judgement, if we repent and trust in Christ, then His seal is on our lives and we will also be passed over in judgement on that great and terrible day.
Then we learnt how God led the Israelites to Mt Sinai. We saw what amazing and terrifying spectacle the presence of God was. When the presence of God was made known on Mt Sinai it was shock and awe. And God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments and a whole lot of other laws, and made a covenant with them. But we saw that there was a problem, and that problem was that God is Holy and perfect and the Israelites were sinful. How could a holy God live amongst a sinful people? And so God told Moses in Exod 25:8-9:
Exo 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.
And so this santuary – that is - a holy place; this tabernacle – that is – a dwelling place. This holy dwelling place would be built so that God could dwell amongst a sinful people. And then we looked at this tabernacle. We saw that in order for God to dwell, to live, among the Israelites, that this tabernacle – a tent - was like no ordinary tent. It was not an open tent but it was closed. It was difficult to get into. And the heart of the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies, also called the Most Holy Place. Only one representative of all the Israelites could go there – the High Priest, and only once per year. And he couldn’t just wander in. He had to be consecrated beforehand. He had to wear special robes designed specifically for the purpose, and most importantly of all – he had to offer certain set sacrifices. The sacrifices of animals killed as a price to pay for his own sins and for the sins of the people. Then and only then could he go into the Holy of Holies and make atonement for the Israelites in the Holy of Holies in front of the atonement cover – also called the mercy seat - that covered the ark, or chest of the covenant. Inside that chest, that box was the covenant between God and Israel carved in stone, representing the very presence of God.
And this tabernacle and everything in it had to be made exactly the way God said. Exactly. There was no room for innovation, for artistic licence on our part. Exactly. Why? Well, firstly, because God said it - that should be good enough reason for us. But also because this earthly tabernacle was a model of the heavenly one. And that’s important for us as Christians, because we looked at our access to God. Surely, the God of the Exodus is the same God who sits on His throne today. If God couldn’t dwell amongst the sinful Israelites without the tabernacle and all its offerings and sacrifices, then how can the Holy God live among us who are also sinful? And we looked at Jesus, who as John says: