Summary: The symbols of the tabernacle
“Truths from the Tabernacle”
Intro: Let’s play a little Bible trivia! What do the following all have in common?
Ebenezer, Ezel, Zoheleth, Galeed, and Mizpeh?
Answer - They are all the proper names given to certain stones in the Bible.
They are marker stones, memorial stones.
Yesterday I was up in Michigan at my grandmother’s funeral. When we went to the cemetary for the graveside service, there was a gravestone at each grave. Each grave had a marker, a memorial, a significant reminder of those who are meaningful to us. And when I die, I trust my children will place a fitting marker over my grave as well.
While we don’t like to admit it, we are a people of symbol, significance, and ceremony. And ten times more so are the Jews. They are a people who for centuries have thrived on symbol and significance. We’ve read about that this week in the book of Exodus. Let’s read from
1 Corinthians 10:1-14. READ TEXT
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry." We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did-- and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did--and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did--and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
What we have read about in Exodus this week has been the setting up of a lot of symbols, examples, reminders for the children of Israel, and yes, reminders for us too! Let’s talk about . . .
I. Symbols in our worship
I would remind us that symbols in themselves are not good or bad. They are neutral.
A. One can worship God without symbols
John 4:24 - God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
-There is no prerequisite to use symbols.
-You are not made holy for using symbols; you are not holy for not using symbol
B. Worship can be perverted through the use of symbol
We saw that very vividly this week. Moses is up on the mountain getting the 10 commandments. While Aaron waits below he forms a golden calf, an idol for the people to follow. Ex. 32:1-6 - When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered round Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him." Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold ear-rings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." So all the people took off their ear-rings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD." So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterwards they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
C. Used rightly, symbols serve as reminders of God’s faithfulness
They remind us of the faithfulness of God - Deut 6:6-14 - These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates. When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you--a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant--then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you.