Day 37: All the Nations

Exodus 39-40; Matthew 24:1-14

Key Verses

Exodus 39:32
Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did.

Matthew 24:13
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Exodus ends with the people obeying every command of the Lord for the building and erecting of the Tabernacle. God’s presence descends as a cloud covering the tent of meeting and His Glory fills the Tabernacle. The Lord’s presence would go with the Israelites. He is the Covenant-Keeping God. He would be their God and they would be His people!

For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys (Exodus 40:38).

Can you imagine what it would have been like to actually see the Lord’s presence? His physical presence. I believe His presence was visible not only for the Israelites – but also as a testimony to all the nations that the Lord of the Israelites was the One True God.

In Matthew, Jesus answers the disciples’ questions about the end of the age. He says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations.”

From the beginning of time, God’s heart has been for all the nations. He called Israel apart as His people as a testimony to all the nations. And in the end, heaven will be filled with people from all the nations.

And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9).

God’s covenant promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 was that ALL the peoples of the earth would be blessed through him. We are heirs of this promise. And we are called to be the vehicle in which the promise is fulfilled as we proclaim God’s grace and salvation to our neighbor and to the ends of the earth. The end of the age is waiting for the nations to hear!! In the end…

…every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

Day 36: The Tabernacle

Exodus 37-38; Matthew 23:1-39

Key Verses

Exodus 38:21
These are the records of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were recorded at the commandment of Moses, the responsibility of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

Matthew 23:17
You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?

The Law was born on the glory of the mountain, written on stone tablets by the finger of God and encased in the ark. The ark was made of pure gold and it alone was found behind the veil – in the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies. It was behind the veil where the presence of the Lord came down and His glory shone above the mercy seat of the Ark.

Just on the other side of the veil, in the Holy Place, stood the Altar of Incense – which would continually burn the holy Incense, pleasing to the Lord. Inside the Holy Place were also the  Table for the Bread of the Presence and the Golden Lampstand – both pointing forward to Jesus, the Bread of Life and the Light of the World.

The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place comprised the tabernacle which was made of the finest linen with blue, purple and scarlet yarns. The Tabernacle was surrounded by the court. The Bronze Basin, used for ceremonial washings, stood between the Bronze Altar and the entrance to the Tabernacle. After offering a sacrifice on the altar, the priest would then wash in the basin before entering the Holy Tabernacle.

Each act – every priestly duty – was ordained by God to daily remind the people of their sin and His holiness.

Time marched forward and God’s word was diluted. The priests and religious leaders of Jesus’ day distorted God’s holy law to exalt themselves and to line their pockets with the people’s guilt offerings. Jesus was disgusted. The holy tabernacle was defiled by pride.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in  (Matthew 23:13).

Jesus, who perfectly fulfills every requirement of the law… Jesus who would become the final Passover Lamb… Jesus, the God of the Covenant laments over His people.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate (Matthew 23:37-38).

The word “house” was an expression for “temple.” The temple, the dwelling place of God, is desolate. And Jesus weeps.

Day 35: Who is This God?

Exodus 34-36

Key Verses

Exodus 34:6-7
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…”

Who is this God we worship? He is merciful. He is gracious. He is slow to anger. He is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. But he will not let the guilty go free.

Who is this God we worship? That Moses’ face shone with glory after speaking with Him on the mountain?

Who is this God we worship? That he sovereignly placed skilled craftsmen among the Israelites so that His tabernacle could be built perfectly.

Who is this God we worship? He is the God who condescended to us. He made us His people by the sacrificial work of His Son. We are His people, and He. Is. Our. God.

Day 34: God’s Fierce Love

Exodus 31-33; Matthew 22:23-46

Key Verses

Exodus 32:16-17
Moses said to the Lord…”For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

Matthew 22:37-39
And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

In Exodus 24:7, the people promised to obey the all of the “Book of the Covenant.” It doesn’t take the people long to break their covenant promise to the Lord. The people throw aside Moses and implore Aaron to make them an idol. The fickle people choose to worship a calf made of gold in the absence of Moses. It turns my stomach.

I think, however, the focus in these chapters should be on Moses, and his intercession for the people. Moses is the mediator. He’s the mediator of the covenant and he’s the mouthpiece of God. Moses intercedes twice on behalf of the people in these chapters… First, he pleads for their lives and secondly, he reminds God of His covenant promise to be their God in order to convince Him to go with them to the promised land.

Moses doesn’t change God’s mind. God is molding Moses to have the same thoughts, the same ways, to be more like Himself. Think of the transformation from when Moses first encountered God in the burning bush – to now – when he is boldly pleading for the people. Moses was afraid to stand before Pharaoh, and now he’s able to reason with God. The change is remarkable. This is the work of God in Moses’ life. It is a work of grace.

You see… God made a promise.

I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God (Exodus 29:45-46).

He will not break this promise. His promise does not depend on the faithfulness of  His people. It depends on the faithfulness of One. That One will not break covenant. That One will not sin. And that One will become the once and for all sacrifice and rise to sit at the right hand of the Father where he makes intercession for all the saints. Yes, Jesus, intercedes for you just as Moses interceded for the people. How much more will the Father listen to the perfect mediator?

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-35; 38-39).

God’s anger burned against the Israelite people because He loved them. His anger matches the fierceness of His love. He is jealous for you!

Day 33: A Holy Garment

Exodus 29-30; Matthew 22:1-22

Key Verses

Exodus 29:45-46
I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.

Matthew 22:8, 9-12
Then he said to his servants, “The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.” So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless.

Wow. Exodus 29 is the ceremony of all ceremonies. I’ve never heard or seen a more intricate ceremony! Have you?

First, Aaron and his sons are consecrated (set apart) and ordinated as priests. They are washed and dressed in the priestly garments and anointed with oil…

And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:9).

Aaron is a descendant of Levi (Ex 6:16-20). He is the first of the High Priests. Later, when the Israelites inherit the land and Joshua allots pieces of the land to the tribes of Israel, the Levites are not given land because they are to serve the nation as priests.

Next, Aaron and his sons must make a sacrificial offering to atone for their own sin. They place their hands on the head of the bull to signify the transfer of their sin to the animal. They then slaughter the bull and the insides of the animal are burned on the altar, but the outside of the bull… its flesh, skin, and dung, is burned outside the camp – away from the tabernacle. These parts of the animal symbolically bear the sin. And God does not tolerate sin. (Exodus 29:10-14)

Then we see two rams being offered. The first is a burnt offering in which the whole ram is given as an offering to the Lord. The 2nd ram is the ram of ordination. (Exodus 29:15-27)

The ordination ceremony is to last seven days, and each of the seven days, the priest must make a sin offering. God also gives instructions for how to purify the altar. The consecration of the altar would be part of the regular duties of the priests – to offer both a morning and evening sacrifice. (Exodus 29:38-42)

But why must the altar be consecrated daily? It stands just outside the Tent of Meeting which contains both the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. And it is there where the Lord will meet with the people. (Exodus 29:42-46)

What do we learn from these chapters? God is holy. He can not be in the presence of sin. The word “holy” is used 19 times in these two chapters alone!! And just in case you think that God relaxes on this “holy” thing when Jesus enters the world… Just read what Jesus has to say from today’s reading in Matthew… Only those with the proper garment, a holy garment, are invited to His feast. The man found without the proper garment was “[bound] hand and foot and cast into the outer darkness” (Matthew 22:13).

Friend, do you have the proper garment? We can not manufacture this garment from our own good works. This garment is a gift. It is the righteousness of Christ, received by faith…

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).

God’s holiness is to be feared. We can not approach him without the proper covering. Christ covers us with His righteousness so that He might “present [us] holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22 NIV). That’s good news. That’s the gospel!

Day 32: God’s Holiness Revealed

Exodus 27-28; Matthew 21:23-46

Key Verses

Exodus 28:36
“You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.'”

Matthew 21:31-32
Jesus said to [the religious leaders], “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him.

As we continue to read the requirements for the tabernacle and the priestly garments, I’m struck by the amount of detail given by the Lord. Each detail has a purpose in painting a picture of God’s holiness, His provision for sin, and a future glory!

Did you notice that the objects closest to the Holy of Holies are made of pure gold, but those objects farther away (in the court) are made of silver and bronze? Even the choice of metal reflects the holiness of God!

The priestly garments are also thick with symbolism. Aaron’s turban has a plate of pure gold with the engraving, “Holy to the Lord.” The tribes are individually represented as each name is engraved on onyx stones set in either shoulder of the ephod. The 12 tribes are represented as a whole on the High priest’s breastpiece:

So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord…Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly (Exodus 28:29-30).

If you compare the types of stones on the breastpiece in Exodus 28:17-18, they are the same stones listed in Revelation 21:19-20, when describing the detail of the new Jerusalem. In fact, if you read Revelation 21:12-21, you’ll notice the language describing the New Jerusalem is similar to the language we’ve been reading in Exodus. The tabernacle is just a shadow – which points forward to its fulfillment in the new earth!

Turning to Matthew, we find more glimpses of God’s holiness in Jesus’ harsh dealings with the Pharisees. The Pharisees were held to a higher standard because they were the spiritual leadership among the people. Jesus had no mercy for teachers who lead the people astray through their pride and unbelief.

He is a holy God – but has offered a way of salvation for even the worst of sinners – through Jesus. This is the gospel. This is good news!!

Day 31: The Dwelling Place of God

Exodus 25-26; Matthew 21:1-22

Key Verses

Exodus 2:8
And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

Matthew 21:14
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.

Exodus 25 is the first in a long account of what God told Moses while on the Mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. God begins by giving instructions on how to build the tabernacle – or tent. This is where God would dwell among the Israelites…

In many ways, the tabernacle points back to the Garden of Eden. Both were the dwelling place of God. Each entrance was guarded by Cherubim. The flowers on the Golden Lamp Stand seem to reflect the images of the Garden of Eden.

But the tabernacle also points forward. All of the objects within the tabernacle were symbols in which Christ fulfilled. For example, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” and “I am the bread of life,” as a reflection of the Golden Lamp Stand and the Table of the Bread of Presence respectively.

In today’s reading from Matthew, Jesus entered Jerusalem on the Sunday before Passover (Thursday). This entrance marked the beginning of what many scholars call “Passion Week.” Jews traveled long distances to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Passover and participate in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. One of Matthew’s main literary purposes of his gospel was to portray Jesus as “King.” Matthew quoted Zechariah that says “your King is coming…mounted on a donkey.” The people treated Jesus as a King as they shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Referring to Jesus as “the Son of David” revealed that the people thought he was the Promised King, the savior, the Messiah. 

The next morning, Jesus entered the temple with authority. He was showing that He was the King of a spiritual Kingdom. As he was overturning the tables of the money changers, he was figuratively overturning the spiritual leadership of the day. Regarding the children’s praise, The ESV Study Bible comments; “Jesus acknowledged the children’s praise and linked it to Ps. 8:2, which the religious leaders should have known applied such praise to God, thus confirming Jesus as the divine Messiah.”

This passage is thick with allusions to Jesus’ Kingship!

But consider this…

Both passages from today’s reading point forward to an unspecified time in the future when “the dwelling place of God [will be] with man (Rev. 21:3). The tabernacle is just a shadow of what God’s house will be like in the new earth! And in that day, Jesus will not be the suffering-servant-King, but the King of all Glory and Splendor. The glory of the King will be so bright, we will no longer need the sun! That day will come!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).

Day 30: The Ultimate Mediator

Exodus 22-24; Matthew 20:17-34

Key Verses

Exodus 24:17
Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

Matthew 20:26-28
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Exodus 22-23 continues with laws that will form the Book of the Covenant. Exodus 24 gives us a picture of Moses, the Mediator.

Moses mediates symbolically as he sprinkles the blood on both the altar and the people. The sacrificial blood is necessary for the sinful people to approach a Holy God. Moses stands between the altar of God and the people as the mediator of the Covenant.

But we also see Moses physically mediating for the people as he goes before the Lord’s presence on the mountain to receive the rest of the covenant regulations…

Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights (Exodus 24:17-18).

Before Moses ascended the mountain to stand alone before God, there is an amazing scene. It’s breathtaking…

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank (Exodus 24:9-11).

Can you imagine? Beholding God? And eating and drinking?

In today’s New Testament passage we see a different type of encounter with God… I wonder if the mother of John and James knew exactly who she was standing before when she made her bold request!

She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” (Matthew 20:21-22)

The cup Jesus was referring to was His death. Jesus goes on to say…

“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

It is in this verse that Jesus gives (in my opinion) the clearest message of the gospel. He came to give his life as a ransom for many. He becomes both the sacrifice and the mediator between God and man. Now that’s breathtaking. That’s the gospel!

Day 29: Mount Sinai

Exodus 19-21; Matthew 20:1-16

Key Verses

Exodus 19:5-6
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Matthew 20:15-16
[Jesus said,] “‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?'” So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Seven weeks have passed since the people left Egypt, and in today’s passage, they arrive at Mt. Sinai. The rest of Exodus takes place here.

***This section of Exodus records what will later be referred to as the Book of the Covenant (24:7) and includes:

  1. The Ten Commandments (20:1–21);
  2. Instructions on worship (20:22–26; 23:10–19);
  3. Rules and principles for community life (21:1–23:9); and
  4. Instructions for entering the land of Canaan (23:20–33).

“Covenant” is an important word in the Old Testament. It’s an old word that might have lost its impact over the years, but essentially, it means a sacred contract. God’s part of the covenant is His promise of His presence with His people. In the Old Testament, the covenant is based on “law.”

Even though the laws found in today’s reading seem reasonable, we know that they are impossible to obey perfectly. The purpose of God’s law is to set the standard for holiness. Because of sin, this standard can never be reached. But that’s where Jesus fits into the picture. He bridges the gap between God’s holy standard and our imperfection.

We see Jesus telling a parable in Matthew 20 to describe His Kingdom. This parable emphasizes God’s generosity as each worker receives more than he deserves… but it also reveals that entrance into the Kingdom is not earned, but rather, it is a gift.

Just think about the generosity of God from what we have read so far…

When Adam and Eve broke covenant with God, God’s rescue plan was set into motion…. A Savior would come through a people that He would set apart as His own. God preserved Noah, called Abraham and restated His covenant promise to Isaac and to Jacob. He used Joseph to bring His people to Egypt and after 400 years, God did not forget his promises – but rescued His people from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh. And now they stand before Mt. Sinai where they see lightning and smoke and they tremble with fear (19:16-19) at this AWESOME God that for some reason has chosen them.

And as God gave the covenant law, He knew that… just like Adam and Eve, they would break covenant. But his rescue plan would not fail. The promised Savior would come. And Jesus ushered in a New Covenant. A covenant based on grace instead of law. Jesus fulfilled the covenant requirements for us – so that we no longer have to tremble before Mt. Sinai but rather, we worship before Mt. Zion!

For you have not come to …a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. …Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, …and to God, the judge of all, …and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 12:18-24).

Does this make the law meaningless to us?? By no means! The law reveals God’s holy character, and God’s Spirit writes the law on our hearts. Jesus fulfills all of the requirements of the Old Covenant so that we might be heirs of the new covenant of GRACE! That’s good news. That’s the gospel :-)

***Outline taken from ESV Study Bible, Crossway

Day 28: Life in the Desert

Exodus 16-18; Matthew 19:16-30

Key Verses

Exodus 16:9
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the
Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.'”

Matthew 19:25-26
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Exodus 16 & 17 give us great insight into the way the Lord deals with us, his grumbling children :-)

The Israelites are in the desert. The desert is a hard place to be. It is an empty place – dry and lifeless. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you are familiar with the desert. God seems distant. It is a place of testing.

As we read these chapters in Exodus, we see a pattern develop… The people travel in the desert. The people grumble. God graciously provides either food or water. The people are satisfied and worship. And then the pattern repeats… They travel; they grumble; God provides; they worship.

God is increasing their faith as He tests them with difficult circumstances. We see this in the instructions regarding the manna…

“Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not” (Exodus 16:4).

It’s as if God is a patient parent training his young child to trust Him.

If you are in “the desert” in your spiritual life, it might be that God wants to stretch your faith. We know from His Word that He never leaves or forsakes you… but He loves you so much that He is willing to seem distant – so that as you persevere – your faith is strengthened.

Paul Miller expresses this concept much better than I can in his book, A Praying Life…

When God seems silent and our prayers go unanswered, the overwhelming temptation is to leave the story – to walk out of the desert and attempt to create a normal life. But when we persist in a spiritual vacuum, when we hang in there during the ambiguity, we get to know God. In fact, that is how intimacy grows in all close relationships (Miller, A Praying Life, pg. 192).

In Matthew 19, we see Jesus inviting the rich young man into a relationship with Him, but the man is unwilling to follow Jesus into the desert of ambiguity. You see… the desert is a scary place. Self-sufficiency is scarce in the desert. And as we face impossibilities, our eyes are forced heavenward, and the gospel becomes like manna and water to our souls… The gospel. The good news that even though we are unable to save ourselves, God is not just able to save us; He’s also willing.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:24-26).

That’s the gospel. That’s good news :-)