Ten Commandments: Tabernacle
Understanding the Old Testament Lesson #010
March 5, 2000
Father, we do thank you so much that we can gather together as a body of believers this morning to study Your Word. We thank you for the breath and depth of Your revelation. You have revealed to us everything we need to know. Your revelation, like Your grace is sufficient. It is enough. You have provided everything we need. Now Father, we pray as we study Your Word that we can understand these things to have a greater appreciation of Your work throughout history, especially in the Old Testament. We pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
We are going to find out this morning when you get the tape what kind of miracle Jim can perform up there in the sound booth and how long my voice will actually last this morning. I hope that you can understand whatever it is that I say this morning because I have been taking whatever antihistamines; they always give me an outer body experience. I had a seminary professor who use to say, "well, if there is a mist in the pulpit their will be a fog in the pew." So this morning there is a fog in the pulpit. I don’t know where that is going to lead all of you. I just hope that somehow there is some clarity and consistency to what I have to say this morning.
Open your Bibles to Exodus 20 and we continue our study of orienting the Old Testament. Last time we stopped in the midst of our overview of the Ten Words, the Ten Commandments, given in Exodus 20. 1 Corinthians 10:6. By way of review, let’s go over a few things we covered last time. 1 Corinthians 10:6 “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” The word “examples” is the Greek word TUPOS from which we get the transliterated English word “type.” Now there is a branch of hermeneutics, which is the study or the science of interpretation called ‘typology.’ Now it is sad to say that a lot of times typology is overused and abused. Typology is basically a system of foreshadowing, a system of representation used in the Old Testament where certain events or certain objects foreshadow or represent doctrinal truths, doctrinal principles that are later revealed in the New Testament.
The most glaring example is that of the ‘sacrificial lamb’ that was a lamb without spot or blemish. This is a type of Christ. John the Baptist recognized this when he said in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” So we see typology throughout all of these things that we are going to study related to the Exodus event. In terms of typology the nation Israel is a type of the individual believer in the New Testament but in many different ways. Now do not typological use of Israel to make conclusions like everybody in Israel was saved. That is not true. In the Exodus generation the majority were saved as a result of Passover incident, the passing over of the Angel of Death; the application of the blood of the sacrificial lamb, but not necessarily all were believers. But the nation itself is representative and there are representative truths given in the whole Exodus event that reflect or foreshadow doctrinal truths in the believer’s life.
For example, you have the Passover event itself is a picture of redemption; the nation was redeemed from slavery in Egypt. The slavery in Egypt is a type of the believer’s slavery to sin prior to salvation. The move through the Red Sea is a type of the baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit where the believer is identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. It happens at the moment of salvation and makes a clear, distinct break with the old life. The same thing is included in the New Testament where we are identified with Christ. That is the essence of baptism, it is identification. Then you have the giving of the law Mt. Sinai. Notice in terms of typology the giving of the law is after the salvation of the nation. The redemption of the nation takes place first; then there is the revelation of divine requirement; it is not the other way around. If that were properly understood nobody would think that you could be saved by keeping the law. Israel was never saved by keeping the law. The purpose of the Mosaic Law was not soteriological; it was primarily legal. It was establishing a new nation. We had said that there were three things required to have a nation. You have to have:
1. A people.
2. A constitution or body of law.
3. A land
Well the people came with the calling of Abraham and Abraham’s descendents, the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Approximately 70 went down with Jacob to Egypt and there in the womb of Egypt the nation flourished and grew to approximately two and a half million to three million people by the time of the Exodus. I think it is important for us to keep that in mind. So often we think it was such small numbers, several hundred to several thousand people traveling through the desert, but there were approximately 2.5-3 million. That should indicate something about the degree of activity and dynamics that were going on with that large a crowd of people.
When we come to Mt. Sinai and they stand before the mountain and in Exodus 19:5-6a we have what I think is the central passage for understanding the Old Testament. Exodus 19:5, 6 “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant,(says the LORD) then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine (relates to His Sovereignty); and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” This decree sets the nation of Israel apart from all other nations on the earth and they will be the nation who will be the mediatorial and intermediary agent for all other nations to come before the Lord. Now the giving of the Mosaic Law is specifically related to this to show how they are to function and to live before man and before God as that kingdom of priests.
Now, in the same way there is an analogy with the Church because we are a kingdom of priests. Every believer is a priest and we are to function as ambassadors for Christ; we live before God and before man in a certain way in order to carry out that same mission. So there is a parallel concept there and a tremendous amount of application that we can draw from that. From this we see three things that are given:
1. First, it was God’s purpose to create a nation that will be a precious or unique treasure, a valuable possession for Almighty God. Secondly, they are to be a kingdom of priests.
2. Secondly, they are to be a kingdom of priests and access to God will be limited through the nation Israel functioning in that intermediary state.
3. Third, that the nation will be holy; which means to be set apart to the service of God.
We have seen that the covenant is modeled after a secular treaty called a Suzerain-vassal treaty form. Suzerain refers to a nation that controls another nation in international affairs but allows it a certain measure of domestic sovereignty. The word “vassal” refers to a person or maybe a feudal lord who held land and received protection from a Suzerain in return for homage and allegiance. This is the model that man serves as the servant of God and in order to rule God has delegates to man certain responsibilities in order to rule the earth. We trace this theme all the way back to the creation of man.
1. The Suzerain-vassal treaty was a second millennium BC treaty between a powerful king or empire and its vassal state or client nation. It was composed of a ‘Preamble,’ which is analogous to Exodus 20:2a, “I Am the LORD your God.” This is a simple statement in the text identifying God as the LORD, the King. In secular treaties this would go on and on and there would be a lot of verbiage and the king would be built up and a lot of flowery language and hyperbole about how great and wonderful he was, which would stand in contrast with the very simple straight forward statement, “I Am the LORD your God.”
2. The second section in a Suzerain-vassal treaty was the ‘Historical Prologue,’ which would identify the parties. This is the second part of Exodus 20:2, “I Am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
3. Then there would be a section which gave various stipulations, ‘General Requirements.’ These are given in Exodus 20:3-17, which we know as the Ten Commandments.
4. And then there would be ‘Specific Requirements’ are given in Exodus 20:22-23:13, which is called the Book of the Covenant.
5. Then there would be a provision for reading so that the people, the vassal, would be continuously reminded of its obligations and of the stipulations in the covenant. That is given in Exodus 24:2-7.
6. There would be certain witnesses to the covenant, and here we have God on the one side represented by the altar and the tribes on the other side. This is given in Exodus 24.
7. Then there would be a list of blessings and cursings.
We are going to come back and talk about the blessings and cursings in relationship to Deuteronomy, probably next time. Because to understand the history of Israel is to understand the blessing and cursing passages at the end of Deuteronomy. To understand what I am talking about last week, this week, and next time, that gives us the framework for understanding everything that happens in Israel’s history. You come back later on and you hear about Elijah coming out of the wilderness. Elijah comes to Ahab and says that there is going to be a drought in the land until I pray for it to rain. Now you cannot understand that if you don’t understand the Mosaic Covenant.
Because in the cursing section of Deuteronomy God says that part of the five cycles of discipline on the covenant nation, God says that at one stage, one stage of that discipline is that there would be economic collapse due to the agricultural environment, due to a drought in the land. And God would close up the heavens, the sky would be like burnished bronze and there would be no rain. So when Elijah comes to Ahab and says that it is not going to rain again until I say so, you cannot really understand what is going on unless you understand that this is part of an announcement, a divine discipline on the nation as per the Deuteronomic curses. So everything that happened from Joshua on is directly related to the dynamics of the Mosaic Covenant; God fulfilling His promises in terms of both blessings and cursings in the Mosaic Covenant.
1. We started last time looking at the Ten Commandments, which is like a prologue, like the preamble to our constitution. It is a summary of ten mandates, ten laws that guarantee freedom, privacy, and provide the ethical outline for the entire judicial system and legislative system in Israel.
2. Later we will see as we get into the judgments, the torah, the judgments and regulations, which is called the mishnah 'im that they are basically case laws. Case law is the idea that if somebody does such and such then this is what you do in that situation, and that becomes a precedent for much of Anglo-Saxon law and our legal system is based upon case law.
3. The third section of the Mosaic Law deals with the spiritual life, ceremonial regulations in the law. This has to do, as you will see this morning, with priesthood, the function of priesthood, the garb, the dress, the uniform of the high priest, the feast days and sacrificial system; all of which was designed to teach certain principles in a very vivid, visual way about salvation, Soteriology, and about the person and work of Jesus Christ, which is Christology.
So we began last time looking at the First Commandment; God spoke all these words saying, “I Am yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of slavery. Thou shall have no other gods before Me,” Exodus 20:3. The point here is that this excludes the worship of all other gods. It is a prohibition of idolatry; it is a prohibition of polytheism; and it is a statement that there would be exclusive worship of God. At any time they went to another deity, another god, an idol for something then that would put that other god before the LORD God and that would be idolatry. So the foundation for all the absolutes is in the Person of God because of His Sovereignty, because He created the universe the way it is; and because the universe is the way it is then everything functions the way it does in the universe because God decreed it to be such.
So we have to understand that we live in an era, and we will get into this in the second hour if my voice survives. We live in an era of relativism. Relativism ultimately grounds law in consensus, in the views of the majority. If the majority happens to be biblically oriented and operating on divine viewpoint then, of course, they can be right. But if the majority is operating on a system of human viewpoint, a system of relativism, then the majority will always be wrong. Absolutes are handed down from heaven; they do not come up from creation. So what we understand as the root of the Ten Commandments, even though these are for believer and unbeliever alike, is that if we are going to live in God’s world and if you are going to have any degree of success, any degree of happiness, any degree of stability both nationally as well as personally, then it must be grounded upon the absolutes of God’s Word and on the reality of who God is and what He has done.
The Second Commandment prescribes monotheism; the second command proscribes idolatry, Exodus 20:4-5, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness...” and this is a very significant word in the Hebrew; it is chesed. There is a lot of discussion on this word in literature; chesed is God’s faithful, God’s loyal, unwavering love. It is often associated with His covenant promises. So it is a strong word related to covenant obedience. “…showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
I want you to notice the connection here between loving God and obedience. We have seen this again and again in Jesus discussion on love in the New Commandment in John 15, those who love Me keep my commandments. Now the point that we need to realize here is normally when we use the word ‘love’ what we associate that with is some sort of emotion, some sort of feeling, some sense of warmth or attraction to somebody and that is not at all how the Bible uses it. When we look at the synonyms for ‘love’ and you look at the other words that associate with ‘love’ what we see is in Scriptures is that ‘love’ for God is equated to obedience to God’s commandments; to making God and the worship of God a priority in our life and learning everything there is to know about God, and thinking as God would have us to think. It is not a sense of feeling; it is not a sense of a lifted spirit; it is not some kind of subjective warmth; you may have that at times; you may not have that at times; that depends on a wide variety of factors. But the criterion in the Scriptures for evaluating our love for the LORD is always very objective, and very clear, and that is related to doing the right thing, and doing the right thing is defined as applying doctrine.
Now one question that comes up, that may come to your mind when you read this mandate in Exodus 20:4, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth….” Does that somehow prohibit the visual art; such as, sculpting, art, or something of that nature? There have been those Christians who at some point in history have interpreted this to mean that you can’t make any representations of bird, trees, or animals. But the Hebrew word here for ‘idol’ is the word pesel and it is not simply an image, but it is an image that is designed to be worshipped. There is a vast difference in having a statute of Jesus or a statute of some other biblical figure or a piece of art that is portraying them, then in actually worshipping that art.
In church history the major controversy over this is called the iconoclastic controversy, which took place in the early, early Middle Ages between the Eastern branch of Christianity known as Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, and the Western Church. They split around the 10th century. One of the reasons they split was over this whole issue of “icons.” It is very interesting that several years ago when I was over in Russia and I went into some of the orthodox churches there; you see the various icons on stands. There are no pews out in the church. You would walk into the church like this and there are no pews whatsoever, no place to sit; there is an area up in the front that is the “Altar” and that is closed off and nobody can go there and desecrate the Altar. There are icons, pictures of saints all over the walls. They have these icons on stands sitting out all through the open area. They will be covered in flowers and candles all around and people coming and lighting the candles and praying. They are literally worshipping the idols even though they would tell you that they are representative aid to worship. They are really more than that. It has slipped over into a form of idolatry.
That is why the Western Church condemned that practice in the Middle Ages. One of the reasons why the Eastern Churches split off from the Western Churches is because the Eastern Churches had a tendency toward “mysticism” at the very core of their thinking. In fact, that is one of the difficult things sometimes in dealing with folks in Russia who are coming out of a Russian Orthodox background. Because of the heavy mysticism their thinking is much more akin to Hinduism and the mysticism that is steeped in the Eastern religions than it is in the Western Christianity.
So we know that the Bible does allow for art and does promote artwork, 1 Kings 7:23 does so. Just think in terms of all the artistry that was involved in making the furniture for the temple for the tabernacle. If we can get there this morning and talk about the tabernacle and God the Holy Spirit came upon Bezaleel and Aholiab, the craftsmen, the goldsmith and the silversmith, all the craftsmen who built in carpentry, who built the tabernacle were given wisdom and skill. The Hebrew word is chokmah, which is used for wisdom in the Proverb. In Exodus it talks about skill that is the root meaning of it. I have been telling you to read the Proverbs where it talks about how “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Wisdom is the application of doctrine in the life so we produce a work of art that is an expressive testimony in the angelic conflict.
So art is very much mandated and prescribed in the Scriptures and there is nothing wrong with that and its not a violation of any of these particular principles. Now one of the things that we have here in the opening four commandments is that there are reasons given for each one of the mandates. The First Two Commandments are linked with an explanatory clause in Exodus 20:5, “You shall not worship them or serve them…” The word for “serve” goes back to the word at the very beginning related to Adam’s work in the garden. So you see, what I am trying to do is to point out that this terminology; Adam was placed in the garden to work and to serve or to worship. The Hebrew term avodah and it is often used for worship and it is our work and fulfillment of God’s mandates for our lives is part of our worship; and we are to renovate our thinking so that we can work in such a way that it brings glory to God when we do our work. That is one of the important things that we ought to develop at some time, the theology of work and the theology of labor.
But what we see here is that throughout this these terms that are used in covenant context tell us something about the original purpose and creation of man. Here it would be a perversion because man was created in the image of God to represent God. If you are in idolatry there is a role reversal, a flip-flop in man’s role; and man who is the image creates another image begins to serve that rather than serving God. So it is a perversion of God’s purpose for man. “You shall not worship or serve them….” Why? Then we have our explanatory clause, which covers both of t the first two commandments. “… for I, yahweh, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
Now a couple of things that we have to say here, once again we get back to that somewhat controversial theme of whether or not there is emotion in God. The term “jealous” translated here is really a theological statement; the Hebrew word qana, which means to be jealous in the negative sense; that is when somebody is over possessive, over protective. It can also mean to be zealous, to have a passion or a desire to completely possess that which is rightfully what is owed. The difference between zealous and jealous is in jealousy you seeks to control that which isn’t yours. It goes beyond the bounds. Where zealous is something that is yours and you have a right to that.
Zealous is not necessarily an emotion, but as I have said before, I think that a lot of this terminology is what is called anthropopathic terminology. Now this is ANTHROPOS, the Greek word for man and PATHOS for emotion. An anthropopathism attributes to God human emotion that God does not exactly possess. In the same way an anthropomorphism, which is talking about the eyes of God, the nose of God, the ears of God, attributes to God something in human form that God does not actually possess. God does not have eyes, ears and a nose like man does. But when we use that term ‘eye’ there is something in human experience that we can relate to and it tells us something about the plan, the purposes, or the policies of God. This is called analogy. Scripture says that God’s thinking is not our thinking and God’s ways are not our ways.
So, we cannot understand God necessarily as He is, but we can understand truth about God. What we understand about God is not exhaustive. But it is analogical. Now that gets into an incredibly detailed epistemological problem and I am not about to go into that this morning. But we will just stop there. The anthropopathism and anthropomorphism build on analogy. Now, for an analogy to work there has to be something somewhat analogous on God’s side. Over here we have God and over here man. So man has something on this side and you are using that as the analogy to communicate something on God’s side, but it is not equivalent to what man has. If you take some time to look at the dictionary and look at the word emotion; emotion has been defined a lot of different ways.
Emotion has been defined as a response to intellect; it has been defined as a passion; it has been defined as an appreciator, all of these things indicate that something happened that is new that generates this response in us. Since God is omniscient; He knows all the knowable; He is immutable; He can never change; that means then that if God could have emotion in anyway like we have emotion would have serious problems with both His omniscience and His immutability. So we have to take that into account. There really needs to be a lot of precise thinking done in this area and I do not find that too many people really want to get into and slice the baloney quite that thin; but that is the kind of work that needs to be done, being very precise in defining the terms and the things of that nature.
But let’s just go ahead and move on now. Exodus 20:5b is a bit of a problem passage, God visits “the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me…” (Pause -- Pastor Dean has a bad allergy problem --)
Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” This seems to stress the fact that sin is not punished except individually; you is responsible for your own failures; you are responsible for your own successes. It is not somebody else’s responsibility if we fail as a parent it is not going to be brought upon our children.
Now we look at this particular passage and it seems to suggest just the opposite. It seems to suggest here, Exodus 20:5b that the sin of the father is brought upon the children to the third and fourth generation. But, what is going on here? What is going on here is that we have to look upon the word “of” down there. Literally in the Hebrew it is “the iniquity of the fathers on the children of those who hate me.” In the Hebrew “on the children” is really a lamed, which is a preposition when it reads, “of those who hate Me,” you have a lamed there at the beginning of the participle, and the preposition is a lamed of reference which literally means “with reference to those who hate me.” So the discipline that extends down through the fourth generation curse, and that is what this is a reference to, is that God continues to show His lovingkindness to those who respond to Him and keep His commandments, but if one generation is negative to God and they reject God, then if that is passed on to their children then those in that next generation who continue in that path will continue to receive divine discipline. They are those who continue to hate God or reject God.
A lot of times in Scripture we have to be careful with the words ‘love’ and ‘hate,’ especially when they are used in the same context, because they are not speaking necessarily of absolute love or absolute hate. They are used in what is called a merism; a merism is a figure of speech that uses opposites, like heaven and earth, which means everything, the whole universe; darkness and light; the Psalmist meditates on God’s Word day and night, day and night are opposites; all day and all night just means continually. These are figures of speech. Talk about somebody that does not weigh very much “they weigh that way wet or dry,” both ways, any way possible. It covers all of the contingencies in-between. So ‘love’ and ‘hate’ is often used as a merism and when it is used that way ‘love’ means acceptance and ‘hate’ means rejection. It is not an absolute hate in the sense of the negative sense.
So the sin, the iniquity, the idolatry, of those who hate Me is those who have rejected God and erected idols, either physical idols, concrete idols, or abstract idols of the mind. Now we consider ourselves a very sophisticated culture and we don’t have idolatry. But the idols we have in our society are mental abstractions. We worship money; we worship the things that money can buy; we worship sex; we worship education; we worship all kinds of abstract ideals that we set up in place of God. Anything that is in our life that is a priority above and beyond God and the learning of doctrine is an idol. So this is a prohibition of idolatry and in Exodus 20: 6 there is the principle that God does indeed show “lovingkindness to thousands who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Then we come to the Third Commandment, which says in Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” Now what is the sense of this? Usually you will hear some holy roller trod out the fact that you can’t blaspheme or say Jesus or God or fix that as some sort of preposition to some other curse word…. I think that is an application and that is not what this passage is talking about. This is a very interesting commandment. The idea of the Hebrew word that is translated “vanity,” taking the LORD’S name in vain means to attach the name of God to a worthless cause; literally to lift up the name of God to vanity, to something that isn’t really there, something that is false. I think one of the greatest examples of the violation of this commandment is when people say, “Well God told me to do that; this is God’s will; God spoke to me last night and this is what we need to do.”
There are a lot of religious hucksters out there who are claiming they are teaching the truth of God’s Word and doing what they do in the name of God, and that is precisely what this is prohibiting. It is attaching the name of God to a worthless, meaningless or false cause. It is claiming the divine stamp of approval for that which God has not specifically authorized. So it is claiming God’s approval for something God has said nothing about and it is again explained, “For the LORD will not leave him unpunished.” God indeed, we are told, in the Supreme Court of Heaven, will operate and will discipline that individual. So I want you to know that the first two commandments have an explanatory clause and the Third Commandment has an explanatory clause and the Fourth Commandment has an explanatory clause.
(Fourth Commandment) Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Whenever we read anything about the mention of the Sabbath it is always attach to God’s pattern of Creation. If God did not pattern the Creation then after six literal days of creative activity one following immediately upon the other, six twenty-four hour days, and then a seventh day of cessation of work, then the Jews could easily come along and say, ‘Well God worked or let me see, each one of those days was really a million years, or it represented a geological age; those geological ages lasted several million years, so that means that I don’t have to stop work. I can just keep my business open seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, and maybe once every ten million years or so we’ll take a million years off. I won’t every have to close down the shop.” So you know however we are going to interpret the days of Exodus 20:9 we have to use that same principle to interpret the days of Genesis 1. If you don’t then you are in trouble and you render both passages meaningless.
Exodus 20:9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,” which shows again the divine stamp of approval on work and labor. This is something that is good and honorable. The seventh day is the Sabbath; whenever you read about the Sabbath we need to think about God’s provision. Why did God rest on the seventh day of Creation? God did not rest on the seventh day of Creation because He was tired! Granted He did a lot creating the universe, restoring the earth in Genesis 1, but that did not exhaust God because God does not weary or grow tired. He rested because His plan was complete and He had provided everything that man needed for sustenance on the earth. In other words, God’s grace provision in creation was sufficient; it was total, nothing more needed to be done.
This tells us that the Sabbath specifically speaks of the grace of God, the sufficiency of God’s grace that is absolute and total provision for us so that the Israelites in turn, instead of trying to go out and take care of ourselves in the seventh day, were not to work. It also speaks of the faith-rest life: that we are to continue to trust God and relax in His provision, relying upon His promises and procedures and principles so that we are in turn, instead of trying to go out and take care of ourselves on the seventh day, at least the Israelites, they were to rest. They were not to work on the seventh day. It was a sign that they were resting in God’s provisions. So it not only speaks of the sufficiency of God’s grace, but it also speaks about the faith-rest drill, the faith-rest life.
We are to continue to trust God and relax in His provision and rely on His promises, His procedures, His principles and His provision so that we can advance in the spiritual life. Not only did this apply to the family but it applied to the servants in the family; it applied to all the animals of the family; everyone was to take the day off because it was to symbolize their rest in God. There was not only the weekly Sabbath, there was the Sabbatical year every seventh year they would take the entire year off to rest in God’s provision and then every 49th year, every 50th year, the Jubilee year and these were to be taken off as well. So you would take the entire 49th and 50th year off as a sign of trusting God. Of course the Jews did not do that so this is one of the reason that Israel was taken out into Babylonian captivity, but we will get to that later. The reason is given Exodus 20:11, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them….” This is not the original creative verb bara but asah, which takes us back to restorative activity in those six days of Genesis 1. “… therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” This was for Israel.
Nobody up to this point that we know of rested on the Sabbath and applied this. The Sabbath is a particular sign of the Mosaic Covenant and no longer applies. Sometimes you will find people who, and their logic always escaped me, believe that Sunday is now the Sabbath, the Christian Sabbath, and you should not do anything. I remember a godly old missionary lady in my first church who retired there and she just thought you had to keep the Sabbath; you could not work on the Sabbath; every Sunday after church you went down to Wyatt’s Cafeteria for lunch. I asked her, “Well you are expecting all these other people to work on the Sabbath. I don’t see the consistency of that.” And then there is a very well known Old Testament scholar who has written a number of books and he likes to keep Sunday Sabbath and he does that by not watching football. There is always just gapping holes in people’s logic. The Sabbath was Israel and the seventh day is Saturday. There is nothing in the New Testament that translates that to Sunday; that it is the first day and we should not work on Sunday.
You know we brought that into our culture through the old Puritan theology and remember Puritan theology is Covenant Theology, which does not see a distinction between Israel and the Church. So anything that is given in the Old Testament is the difference in Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology. If you don’t know this you want to write it down. In Covenant theology unless God specifically says that it ceases in the New Testament then it continues in the New Testament. In Dispensational Theology unless it is specifically restated in the New Testament it was abrogated at the Cross.
Let me say that again, Covenant theology says that unless it is specifically said to have ceased, something specifically is said to no longer be in operation in the New Testament, such as the sacrifices and the priesthood. Unless it is specifically said to have stopped; if it is mandated in the Old Testament then it continues all the way through the New Testament. So the Sabbath was mandated in the Old Testament, so it continues in the New Testament. Dispensationalism says unless it is restated in the New Testament it was abrogated, it ceased at the cross; therefore, since all of the other commandments are clearly stated in the New Testament except for the Sabbatical commandment, it ceased at the cross. It is not restated. All of the other mandates principles in the Ten Commandments are restated in one way shape or form in the New Testament except for the Sabbatical mandate. That covers the first four commandments, then we get down to the last six, fairly common, and they are all basically grounded in the Creation covenant and they are comparable to mandates throughout the ancient civilization.
In Exodus 20:12 we have the Fifth Commandment, honor your parents. “Honor your father,” Why? Because that is where you learn authority orientation in the home. Parents if you do not teach your kids to respect you your children will never respect authority anywhere. That is the only place they are going to learn it and frankly I think they have to learn it before they are five years old or they are going to have terrible problems the rest of their life. That is why it is your responsibility to teach them to respect authority. “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”
Let me make a little comment here. This is why you have to do observation in the Text. I remember hearing the pastor, and you would be terrified if I told you who the pastor was that said this. But I remember this when I was a little boy hearing this pastor say that here is a promise that says if you honor your parents you will live a long time. Notice there are conditions to this: “your days will be prolonged in the land.” That is a technical term in the Old Testament referring to the promise land; this is talking to Israel living in the land under the Mosaic constitution. Now think a minute, if we turn over a couple of chapters we will see that if you were a disobedient rebellious child you were to be taken out into the public square and stoned and your parents were to cast the first stones. That sounds like a great idea. I think it would probably solve a tremendous number of problems in our society. Because the principle that underlies it is that if you do not have authority orientation by the time you are an adolescent you never will have and you will be a criminal and you will be a problem to society. So you need to be excised; you need to be removed from society and that was the principle. So that is way it says to respect your father and mother and your days will be long. If you didn’t you were going to be stoned; in fact, it was a capital crime to disobey your parents. So you will never forget that now.
The Sixth Commandment, Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.” The way it was translated in the King James version you always have some pacifist who is anti-military coming along and saying, well the Bible says you shall not kill. They want to utilize that to justify doing away with capital punishment and doing away with the military and war due to pacifism. The Hebrew word ratsach, which means to commit murder. There are about seven or eight different words that are used for the taking of human life in the Scriptures and a general word for killing, but this is a word means “murder,” homicide. “You shall not commit homicide.”
Murder violates the privacy of a person’s life; it takes away their freedom and steals everything from them, their home, their dreams, their potential; it takes everything from them, their life, their future, their family. It is the greatest form of theft. What we see is that this was first established in the Noahic covenant; it is not the Mosaic Covenant that mandated capital punishment. It is in the Noahic Covenant for all people. It is for Gentiles and Jews. God restated this in the Mosaic Covenant and gave it depth into case law, but we see that capital punishment was delegated by God for the very purpose of controlling excessive crime. Now God in His omniscience certainly knew that we would have judicial systems that would fail; judicial systems that would execute innocent people. Yet, even so, God still mandated the practice of capital punishment. It is not simply an option, it is something that should be regularly exercised with expediency.
One of the problems we have with that is, someone recently told me, it cost more to execute somebody in New York then it does to keep them alive. They have go through appeal after appeal after appeal after appeal. You add up all the legal cost and weigh that against how much money it costs to keep them alive; it cost less to keep them alive in life imprisonment. And that is because we do not believe in a quick and judicial use of the death penalty.
My personal view is that if we were to revamp our legal system to any crime committed with a handgun automatically you are dead within a year. Any crime that involves sex you are dead within a year. Any crime that involves drugs you are dead within a year. Everything else, you go to work for the state and you pay it back five to ten fold; no prison, do away with the entire prison system. The problem we have is that our entire penal system is based now on the philosophy not of punishment, but of rehabilitation. Scripture says the purpose is punishment, not rehabilitation. The reason you have capital crime is because some people allow their sin nature to go so far and to be so uncontrolled that they commit certain acts. They are irrecoverable. You cannot bring them back; you cannot rehabilitate them and they have violated and given up their rights to continue to live. So the command here is that you shall not murder.
The next Commandment (Eight, skipped Seven, but will correct below) is Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.” This clearly recognizes the private ownership of property. This is totally against communism, socialism, or any of those things that show that at the root of the economics Scripture values personal labor and the rewards for personal labor.
I skipped one, Commandment Seven, Exodus 20:14 prohibits adultery. “You shall not commit adultery.” This is a violation of the sanctity of marriage and it steals someone else’s spouse. Adultery is prohibited because it violates the divine institution of the family and marriage and begins to break down the foundational cohesive unit of society. (Commandment seven)
Commandment Eight, “Thou shall not steal.” Protects private ownership of property. (See above)
Commandment Nine protects a person’s reputation. Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This in not a command against lying; this is a command against perjury in the court. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
The final, Tenth Commandment, is the prohibition against mental attitude sins. Now the interesting thing here is how are you going to enforce this? This is simply a principle that underlies everything else that is given specifically in case law of Exodus. Exodus 20:17 NASB “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
The case law is given in Exodus 21-22. Then starting about Exodus 24-25, Exodus 24 you have the Covenant ratified and in Exodus 25 you start the instructions for the ceremonial law. This has to do with the construction of the Tabernacle and the priesthood, all of which relates to the individual Jew’s relationship to God. Here is a picture, an artist’s conception of the tabernacle. One thing about the tabernacle, it was the center point of the encampment. When you think about 2.5 to 3 million Jews out in the desert, they had a regular campground. It is not like down here on Python Pond. Their campground was roughly one-third to half the size of Rhode Island. All of the tribes had a specific place where they camped in relationship to the tabernacle, and the tabernacle was at the center of the encampment. In fact,
as a person God is to be at the center or heart of our life. That is the idea in that illustration. The use of the word heart means center point. God is to be the central reference point in our life.
Now if we look at this, what we see is various elements; you have the outer wall. There is only one entry point. Everything about this indicates something about the nature of Christ and God. Inside the innermost part of the tabernacle where the Holy of Holies and Ark of the Covenant is, where the Shekinah Glory of God resided, there is only one entry point to God. Everything about the tabernacle ultimately portrayed something about the Person and work of Jesus Christ. So this tells us that there is only one way to God, through the one entry. Before you can get to God you have to go through certain rituals. First of all there is the Altar of burnt offerings. This represents typologically salvation. It is there the lamb is sacrificed; the blood is applied to the four corner post to represent the application of the death of Christ to the believer in his sin. After the setting of the sacrifice of the lamb, then the priest comes to the Laver. Here he washes his feet and he washes his hands. This represents confession of sin, cleansing from what we have done and what we have thought; cleansing here before one enters the tabernacle itself, which is composed of two areas.
Another illustrations, the frontal view looking into the Tent of Meeting as it was called, into the Holy Place. The first picture is inside. It was three articles of furniture that went inside the Holy Place, which is the outer part of the tabernacle itself. Here we have another diagram to put up on the overhead. Here there is one entry point, a Brazen Altar out in the court yard, then the Laver is there, then when you go into the Holy Place you have a Table of Show Bread on one side, opposite you have the Golden Candlestick, and then at the entry point into the Holy of Holies there was the Altar of Incense. Now each of those things tells us something about Christ. It is interesting that all these pieces are made of Acacia wood inside and then overlaid with gold. That pictures the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ’s true humanity combined, joined with undiminished deity (divine nature).
So on one side you have the Table of Showbread, which represents the importance of God’s provision for all of our nourishment ultimately in Jesus Christ; He is the bread of life. Opposite that you had the candlestick, the candelabra, which represents the revelation of God and His illumination of our minds to the truth; and ultimately that represents Jesus Christ Who is the light of the world. Then we have the Altar of Incense; here the Altar of Incense represents the continued prayers of the saints (believers) going up to God. The fire was always lit and that speaks of Christ’s continual interception for us as our Great High Priest.
Then once a year the High Priest on the Day of Atonement would go into the inner sanctum, which was the Holy of Holies, and there was one article of furniture there, the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box or chest that was incased in gold and it had a lid on it that was wood covered gold as well and the center point of the lid was called the Mercy Seat. All of this speaks of the atoning work of Christ on the Cross. Then there were two cherubs that were on top of the box. Inside the box there were three things, manna, which represents God’s provision for Israel for their physical sustenance; of course they griped and complained about that when they were out in the wilderness. So it represents their rejection of God’s grace provision. There was Aaron’s rod that budded, that represented the rebellion over Aaron’s appointment to priesthood and his staff was placed inside the Ark in the tabernacle. Aaron’s staff sprouted, life out of death, a picture of regeneration. Aaron had God’s approval on him. But it reminds us of man’s rejection of the High Priest, Jesus Christ. The third element was the broken Ten Commandments, the tablets that were broken when Israel violated when God was giving them to Moses when they were down having Aaron build a golden café.
The three things that are inside the box represent the sin of the nation and their rejection of God’s divine provision. The two cherubs represent the Holiness and Righteousness of God, His integrity. The cherubs look down upon the Mercy Seat. Once a year the high priest would take the blood of the lamb without spot or blemish and place it on the Mercy Seat. So as the righteousness and the justice of God looked down upon the sinfulness of man it is covered by the blood. This is a picture of our salvation; that our sinfulness is taken care of by the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The ark of the covenant was the dwelling place of the Shekinah Glory in the throne room of God on the earth.
The only other thing I want to cover this morning, quickly, is the priesthood. All the garments of the high priest represented something significant as well. He had an ephod which was like an apron that was made of the same material as the curtains all around in the tabernacle, and it had shoulder straps on which were set two precious stones, one on each shoulder, on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, six names on each stone. It represented the fact that then high priest brought the nation Israel into the presence of God so that God would be gracious to the nation.
The high priest, he then wore a breastplate on his front that had twelve precious stones affixed to it, and they represented the tribes of Israel; there was a name inscribed on each of the stones. Because he worse this breastplate over his heart, the center point of his life, it is a visual representation of the compassionate intercession undertaken by a priest to yahweh. So it pictures how Christ compassionately intercedes for us in the presence of God. He also worse a blue robe that was one piece, and that represents the fact that there is no hem and it is just a one piece garment that represents the unity in the person of Jesus Christ. He wore a turban that had inscribed on it the Hebrew word qedesh yahweh meaning “Holy to God,” separated to God. Underneath it all he wore a linen garment to protect his modesty, and this is in contrast to the pagan priests who many times were just naked before the various gods in fulfillment of all the fertility rituals and the phallic cult that was so dominant in the ancient world.
So all of this is designed to speak about God, to think about His uniqueness; how the believer is to get into the presence of God, and to teach basic principles about the Person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross. There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ, Who said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the father except through Me, John 14:6.
With our heads bowed and our eyes closed, Father, we do thank You so much for Your grace and that You have given so many wonderful illustrations of Your grace and Your love for us not the least of which is all the things in the tabernacle, which pictures the unique Person and work of Jesus Christ. Father we pray that if there is anyone here this morning who is without faith, without hope, uncertain of their eternal destiny, that they would make that certain right now. All you need to do is believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins. You don’t have to join a church; you don’t have to promise God anything; you don’t have to feel sorry for your sins; simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Father, we just thank you for Your Word and pray that you will challenge with it. Help us to appreciate all that You stand for in Jesus' Name, Amen.