Jan. 28 Reading: Exodus 30-32 Commentary
“And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; once a year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the Lord.” (Ex. 30:10)
“Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: ‘Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people.'” (Ex. 32:11-12)
Exodus 30 – The Altar of Incense and Other Items
Exodus 30 gives us a few more items that were needed at the tabernacle. They include:
1. The Altar of Incense. This smaller altar (18 inches square and three feet high – v. 2). was positioned inside the Holy Place just outside the veil that separated the Holy of Holies (v. 6). It was made of acacia wood and overlayed with gold, just like the ark of the covenant, the table of showbread and the altar of burnt offering.
God gave Aaron the responsibility to burn incense on it every morning as “a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations” (v. 8). No strange incense was allowed to be burned on it, an issue that would come up later, affecting Aaron’s life (see Leviticus 10). It would also factor prominently on the Day of Atonement, one of the most prominent days for the nation and their connection with God (see Leviticus 16).
2. The Bronze Laver. This washing station sat between the burnt altar and the holy of holies. With all the sacrifices taking place, the need for the priests to cleanse themselves is understandable. But its deeper significance points to the need to be regularly cleansed from sin. God is holy and the priests could not approach Him without purifying themselves “lest they die” (v. 20).
3. The Holy Anointing Oil. There were even instructions for the proper mixture of anointing oil. The priests used oil to anoint everything associated with the tabernacle and all its furnishings. The oil consecrated these things as holy before the Lord (vv. 29-30). And it was never to be used on a person lest they die (vv. 32-33).
Exodus 31 – Artisans for the Tabernacle
God called a specific man as chief artisan over the tabernacle project. His name was “Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah” (v. 2). God filled him with supernatural “wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works…” (v. 3). His lead assistant Aholiab is also blessed with special wisdom from God (v. 6).
Together, along with the other gifted artisans, they constructed the tabernacle of God with all its furnishings.
The Sabbath Law
God discussed the Sabbath once, coding it into law as one of the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 31, He reiterates its importance:
“Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you…Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord…Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed“ (vv. 13-17).
This day of rest served the Lord’s agenda in several ways:
1. It was a sign of the covenant relationship with Israel.
2. God forced a day of physical rest on the people.
3. It served a historical context, in that it reminded people that God rested on the seventh day after six days of creating the world.
God revealed His passion for this ordinance in the penalty for noncompliance:
“Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death” (vv. 14-15).
Exodus 32 – The Golden Calf Incident
We’ve already seen the Israelites complain a bit about their circumstances. But now we see the first real mess up in Exodus 32. They violate the first two commandments from Exodus 20 by making and worshipping a golden statue. Sadly, Aaron approved of and organized this event, the very man God had just put in charge of the spiritual leadership of the people.
For a complete breakdown of this story and the remarkable way Moses saved the entire nation, read our blog post “The Golden Calf: One Leader’s Mess Up is Another Leader’s Opportunity.”
The incident goes to show that even spiritual leaders sometimes see things the wrong way and make mistakes. Fortunately for us, God used flawed people all through the Bible to accomplish his plan. And He’s still using us today, as flawed as we are.
Questions to Consider:
Do you take time to rest, worship and connect with God each week?
Moses’ brother Aaron really messed up at Mt. Sinai by leading the people into idol worship. Aaron lacked courage. He was impatient and easily manipulated. What flaws do you battle with? How has God used you despite your shortcomings?
What other points would you want to know about in our Exodus 30-32 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.