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Saturday

January 31st - Jealous But Just

Jealous But Just

(Exodus 32-34)



The Adoration of the Golden Calf

By Nicholas Poussin

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Have you ever had a mountaintop experience with God? Moses surely did, spending 40 days and night on Mount Sinai with the Lord (see Exodus 24:18). Moses had his head in the cloud, to be sure, and the cloud was the Presence of God Himself.


Suddenly, God ended their wonderful meeting, sending Moses back to confront the people. The Hebrews had talked Aaron into constructing a golden idol, shaped like a calf, from their precious jewelry. God was jealous of the people’s affection, and justly so, as they engaged in idolatry.


In anger, Moses tossed the Ten Commandments to the ground, smashing the stone tablets to bits. Soon, three thousand men had been slain by the swords of the Levites.


But Moses prayed for the people to be restored to the Lord. Moses became an intermediary between God and His people, asking the Lord for mercy on their behalf.


The prayer of Moses pierces my soul:


“Then Moses returned to the Lord and said,

‘Oh, these people have committed a great sin,

and have made for themselves a god of gold!

Yet now, if You will forgive their sin –

but if not, I pray,

blot me out of Your book

which You have written.’”

(Exodus 32:31-32, NKJV)


Moses was willing to offer his own salvation, in exchange for the people’s salvation. This servant-hearted leader asked the Lord to accept his life, in place of the lives of the people. Seeing his faith, the Lord chose mercy.


The Apostle Paul expressed a similar level of commitment toward those to whom he was ministering:


For I could wish that I myself were cursed

and cut off from Christ

for the sake of my brothers,

those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

(Romans 9:3-4a, NIV)


How earnestly do we pray for others to be delivered by God? What are their souls worth to us? What are we willing to sacrifice, so that others might know the Lord? Will we give our time, our talents and more towards that end?


What could be worth more than seeing others come to experience a personal relationship with our great God, the Lord of goodness, mercy and compassion? May we pray that many will know Him, and may He make us faithful in this very prayer.


“The Lord replied,

‘I will make all my goodness pass before you,

and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you.

For I will show mercy to anyone I choose,

and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.’”

(Exodus 33:19, NLT)


Will you pray with me?


Righteous Lord,

You have said You are a jealous God,

As You deserve to be.

No one else deserves our allegiance,

Our loyalty or our love.

Show us the idols we have raised in our lives.

Grant us the strength to cast them out.

Give us the depth of devotion

To pray more consistently

And to invest ourselves more heartily

In Your ministry to the lost.

Teach us to care more deeply,

And create in us a craving

To see people come to know You

Now and forever.

We honor You.

Amen.


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Friday

January 30th - Priestly Principles

Priestly Principles

(Exodus 29 - 31)



It’s easy to skim over these instructional chapters in the Old Testament book of Exodus. After all, these verses specifically outline God’s rules for priestly sacrifices and rituals in the Tabernacle of the Israelites. Right?


How can these ancient Hebrew instructions possibly relate to a modern-day believer?


Certainly some symbolic principles apply to us. The Apostle Peter made this quite clear:


“You also, like living stones,

are being built into a spiritual house

to be a holy priesthood,

offering spiritual sacrifices

acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

(1 Peter 2:5, NIV)


Let’s take a closer look at today’s readings in Exodus 29 – 31.


Isn’t it interesting that God required Aaron and his entire family line of high priests to be consecrated to Him before they could serve their priestly duties (see Exodus 29:1-37)? What might God expect from us, in terms of preparation, before we may answer His calling to a ministry for Him?


God required the priests to sacrifice lambs daily, both morning and evening (see Exodus 29:38-46). Although Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed once for all time, do we not need to seek His face and His grace on a daily basis?


During times of census, when each person was counted, the Lord required a ransom payment from each one (see Exodus 30:11-16). Will He not someday require the same from all of us (see Romans 14:10)? Thanks be to God, who has already redeemed those who will trust Him!


Here’s my favorite part of today’s reading.


Sometimes, a tiny little section of Scripture may contain a huge piece of personal revelation. Have you ever found that to be true in your own walk with the Lord?


I love this passage:


“Then the Lord said to Moses,

‘Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel

son of Uri, grandson of Hur,

of the tribe of Judah.

I have filled him with the Spirit of God,

giving him great wisdom, ability,

and expertise in all kinds of crafts.

He is a master craftsman,

expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled

in engraving and mounting gemstones

and in carving wood.

He is a master at every craft!’”

(Exodus 31:1-5, NLT)


How often do we assume that spiritual giftings and God-given ministries must be confined to traditional forms of ministry? Right here, in the earliest instructions for ministerial duties, the Lord singles out and honors an artisan. What a wonderful point of blessing this is to any individuals who may be called by the Lord to minister through the arts.


As a writer, I choose to claim this passage personally. I pray daily that God will grand me “wisdom, ability and expertise” in sharing His truth through words.


Artists of other kinds may identify with this same passage in their own niches, be they photographers, sculptors, quilters, painters, woodworkers, crafters, graphic designers or even web designers. God can equip and use anyone who is willing to be used by Him.


Will you pray with me?


Lord,

You are the Creator of all,

The most creative One,

The Author of Life.

Fill us with Your Spirit of wisdom.

Make us able,

And grant us expertise

To do whatever You call us to do.

We choose to glorify You

With our hands,

Our hearts,

Our minds

And all we are.

Amen.


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Wednesday

January 29th - The Tent of Meeting

The Tent of Meeting

(Exodus 25 - 28)


God wants to relate to His people.


On Mount Sinai, as God gave Moses the tablets of the Law, He also detailed His instructions for the Tabernacle.


“Then have them make a sanctuary for Me,

and I will dwell among them.”

(Exodus 25:8, NASB)


God outlined all of the intricacies of design and dimensions of His tabernacle for Moses. He explained the materials and methodologies for construction.


Did Moses need complex step-by-step instructions for building the structure? Perhaps the Israelites had limited contractor experience. Possibly, during their years in slavery in Egypt, the art of carpentry had been buried.


Why did God specify all the details for the Tabernacle? Perhaps our triune God had at least three primary purposes for micromanaging the manufacture of His dwelling place among His people.


1) The Tabernacle was to be precious.


God began his Tabernacle-building instructions with a list of materials. The Tabernacle was to be constructed of the finest resources available, and these were to be donated willingly by the people.


“Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.


“These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows ; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.


"Then have them make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”

(Exodus 25:2-9, NIV)


God had delivered the Israelites from Egypt by His own hand. He had parted the Red Sea for their safe passage and provided miraculously for every need they had. The Lord had rained down manna every morning and presented quail for meat every evening. Why would He not require the best that His people had for His dwelling place among them?


The

We know that the Israelites had carried off many valuable items from Egypt, after the final plague.


“The Lord had made the Egyptians

favorably disposed toward the people,

and they gave them what they asked for;

so they plundered the Egyptians.”

(Exodus 12:36, NIV)


In fact, all the precious gifts that the Lord asked of His people had actually come from His own provision. Don’t all our gifts come from God anyway? (see James 1:17)


2) The Tabernacle was to be portable.


The Tabernacle has also been called the Tent of Meeting. This portable structure, which held the Ark of the Covenant, was God’s sanctuary. Here the Lord would meet with His People.


God specifically instructed Moses to have the people construct the Tabernacle to be a movable structure. The Lord was leading the people of Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and He would go with them throughout their journey. Each time His people would stop to set up camp, the Lord would encamp around them.


The portable Tabernacle reminded God’s People that He was always with them. What a wonderful memo to us all. Is there any situation we may face, in which God is not? Are there any circumstances in which we cannot worship, honor and cry out to the Lord?


3) The Tabernacle was to be a priority.


God cared deeply about the details of His Tabernacle. Moses and the people of Israel understood the sacredness of God’s Presence.


Clearly, meeting with His people has always been a priority to the Lord. How He longs to receive us into fellowship with Himself.


Will we make our time with God a priority as well? What reminders might we need? Although we may not set up sacred tents in our yards, we may require other notices. If the God of the universe awaits us, will we pass Him by? How many days will we allow to slip by without meeting with God?


See also:


How Long? Rhyming Yet, Lest I Forget (Where Have I Been, when My Beloved Has Called Me by Name?)”


Will you pray with me?


Most Holy One,

How many half-hearted gifts

Have I tried to offer You?

How often have I neglected

To seek You

Wherever You have led me?

How many moments have I lived,

Without seeking Your Presence?

Make my heart

A Tent of Meeting

For You.

Make my life

A Tabernacle

For Your Presence.

Build in me

A deeper desire

To honor You,

For You are the Glorious One,

The Deliverer,

The Miraculous one true God.

Amen.


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