My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Monday, February 28, 2005

Leviticus 14

Cleansing

Summary:
If someone's been healed of a skin disease then two birds are to be brought. One is to be killed over water, and the second dipped in the first's blood. The healed person is to be sprinkled, and the second bird set free.

The cleansed person must shave off all his face and head hair and wash his clothes. He's to wait outside his tent for seven days, and have another wash and shave on the eighth.

Then he's to offer three lambs and some flour and some oil. One lamb is a guilt offering (with some of it's blood put on the cleansed person). Another is a sin offering, and another a burnt offering. The grain and oil are used for wave offerings and burnt offerings.

If the person is poor they can substitute some lambs for birds.

If a house has mildew, then it's to be inspected, and the house is to be closed for seven days if necessary. If it spreads, then the bad bricks are to be chucked. If it comes back after all that they house is to be demolished. If the house is declared clean, then two birds are to be used just as when a person is cleansed.

Key verse:
34. I put a spreading mildew in a house in that land

My thoughts:
If someone is healed, they are to thank and worship God in his chosen way of sacrifices and offerings.

Though mildew was obviously a bad thing for the jews, God still makes it clear that it's him who put it there. God is supremely good, though nothing happens, good or bad, without God allowing it/making it happen. The reason God allows the bad is ultimately connected to the fall of Adam and Eve, when God promises that life will be hard from then on.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Leviticus 13

Skin diseases

Summary:
If someone has a rash or spot, they're to be examined by a priest, who will test if it's infectious or just a rash. If it's infectious then they are unclean.

If someone is covered with a skin disease, and it's all white with no raw skin, then they are clean. If it's got raw skin, then they're unclean.

Old boils and burns and head sores need to be examined in the same way.

Dull white spots are clean. Bald people are clean, unless their baldness is caused by an infectious disease.

If someone is unclean in this way, they are to live outside the camp in messy clothes yelling 'unclean!' and long as their disease remains.

If there's some sort of growth on your clothing, wash it and leave it for a week. If it's gone worse after a week, burn it.

Key verse:
46. As long as he has the infection he remains unclean

My thoughts:
This is Dave's favourite chapter. Good on ya Dave.

These law are obviously there for health reasons. In places of low medical technology the priests functioned at doctors, and the only treatment for infectious diseases was isolation. There was a huge social stigma on unclean people, and Jesus spent a lot of time healing the unclean, releasing them from their rejection.

The clothing laws prevent people becoming diseased from their clothes.

The laws are not hugely scientific, but are mostly commonsense is determining the nature of a skin disease.

Note:
I updated this post after realising that I missed an entire section of the text.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Leviticus 12

Dirty women

Summary:
If a woman gives birth to a boy, then she is unclean for seven days, the boy is circumcised on the eighth. Then she has to wait thirty-three days until she is purified of her bleeding.

If she gives birth to a girl she is unclean for fourteen days, and needs to be purified over sixty-six days.

Then she is to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a bird for a sin offering (or two birds if they're poor)

Key verse:
8. If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons

My thoughts:
Many parts of the womanly cycle were seen as unclean. This was not a despised unholy uncleanliness, but rather an inability to take part in sacraments and ceremonies at certain parts of their cycles, including directly after childbirth.

Does anyone have a good explanation as to why a girl takes twice as long to be purified from? I think it has something to do with the fact that girl children will eventually go through unclean cycles.

When Mary presented Jesus, she offered two birds, not a lamb and a bird. This shows the poverty which Jesus was born into - unlikely for the king of kings. God doesn't like meeting our expectations.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Leviticus 11

Food rules

Summary:
These things are unclean:
Animals which don't have both a split hoof and chews grass (eg. pigs and camels)
Sea creatures without fins or scales
A bunch of birds and all bats
Flying bugs which don't hop
Animals which walk on their paws
A bunch of rodents and lizards
Creatures that move around on the grounf (eg. snakes)

If you eat these animals, or touch any dead animal, you're unclean until the evening. Anything dead unclean animals touch is unclean.

Key verses:
44. I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy

47. You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.

My thoughts:
It's hard sometimes to understand why God gave these seemingly arbitary regulations of eating. I have heard a few possibilities. Some argue that many of the animals weren't to be eaten for health reasons where there was not advanced cooking technology. So God was concerned with the health of the people. However, this falls down because many of the animals which are unclean would be perfectly healthy to eat.

Popular Christian authore Philip Yancey suggests that all things God saw as unclean for his people Israel were in some way odd. Therefore God was outlawing oddballs. I don't understand why God would do this though.

I think the true reason why God gave these regulations is related to atheme of the entire book of Leviticus, which is holiness. In this chapter God calls his people to be holy as He is holy. They are to be set apart in many ways, one which is by the things they eat.

In the New Testament God is opened up to all the 'oddballs', when Peter receives a vision stating that what was once unclean is now clean. So the laws of this chapter do not apply to modern Christians.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Leviticus 10

Tabernacle politics

Summary:
Aaron's sons Abihu and Nadab offered bad fire, so God smote them. Sheesh.

Moses told Aaron that God is holy, and made Aaron's nephews, Mishael and Elzaphan, throw out the bodies. Aaron and his remaining sons were told not to mourn or leave the tent of meeting (but their families could). They were not to drink alcohol in the tent (ever), and they were to eat their holy part of the offerings. But they didn't eat it, and Moses was angry. But Aaron said he shouldn't have eaten it in these circumstances, and Moses was happy with that.

Key verse:
2. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them

My thoughts:
Yesterday we saw the very real benefits of doing things right in the taberbacle, when the glory of God came (with fire). Today we see the flip side of the penalties when something is done wrong. God is holy, and will not associate with unholiness, so he consumed and killed the wrongdoers (with fire). In both chapters the fire came from the presence of God, but for very different purposes, all depending of the holiness with which the ceremonies were performed.

On the other side of this merciless killing of wrongdoers, there is Aaron, who did something wrong by not eating the offering, however he went unpunished when Moses (and God?) saw that he had a reasonable explanation. From this I understand that though God is fearless in punishment, he is reasonable and will listen to our excuses/reasons.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Leviticus 9

God turns up

Summary:
After their ordination, Moses told Aaron and his sons to get a sin offering and a burnt offering, and to tell the Israelites to get another sin offering and burnt offering, and a fellowship offering and a grain offering, because God was going to turn up today.

Aaron performed all the sacrifices, and blessed the people. Then the glory of God appeared with fire, and the people fell down with joy.

Key verse:
24. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.

My thoughts:
Though reading through the different types of sacrifice and offerings may seem mundane, it did serve a very exciting purpose. These offerings were designed to bring the presence of God to the people, as happened in this chapter.

Just like at pentecost, God came in fire. When God's glory turns up, there's really nothing you can do but fall facedown in worship and adoration. The God we worship today was truly with his people Israel at that time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Leviticus 8

The ordination

Summary:
Aaron and his sons get ordained as described in Exodus 29.

Which, in case you forgot, involves them getting all dressed up in their priest's gear, then anointing all the tabernacle equipment. Then a bull was offered for sin, and a ram as a burnt offering. Another ram was offered for the ordination, and some its blood was put on Aaron and his sons. Then Aaron and his sons ate the meat, and stayed inside the courtyard for seven days until the ordination was complete.

Key verse:
34. What has been done today was commanded by the Lord to make atonement for you.

My thoughts:
Whereas all of the construction of the tabernacle was narrated in Exodus, here the fulfilment of God's command comes in the next book. Aaron and his sons obviously had an important position in the service of God, and their ordination was important. They were to be holy, and God chose this practise to sanctify them.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Leviticus 7

More about offerings

Summary:
There's a recap of the guilt offering then...

The guilt and sin offerings belong to the priests.

If a fellowship offering is of thankfulness, then a meat offering is to be offered, along with a variety of cakes and wafers, with and without yeast. It belongs to the priest and the meat is to be eaten on the same day.

If it's an offering due to a vow or is by freewill, then it can be eaten on the second day too.

Anyone who's clean can eat the meat, unless the meat touches something unclean - then it should be burnt.

Don't eat the fat or blood.

Of each fellowship offering, the priests get the breast (once it's been used as a wave offering) and the right thigh, and the fat gets burnt.

These are all the laws for the offerings that Moses got on Sinai for the priests to follow from now on.

Key verses:
37. These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering,
38. which the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai on the day he commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings to the LORD , in the Desert of Sinai.

My thoughts:
This the end of the regulations about offerings and things (for now anyway). Given the strict regulations about different offerings show the importance God places on giving and offerings. Each offering has a purpose, which ultimately helps the Israelites.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Leviticus 6

Cheating and offerings

Summary:
If anyone cheats or deceives his neighbour, he is to pay back what cheated him of, and add a fifth for restitution. He is to do this on the same day he performs his guilt offering.

The burnt offering is to stay on the altar overnight, then the priest gets dressed and takes the ashes out of the city to a pre-determined spot. The fire on the altar is to keep burning always.

One handful of each grain offering gets burnt, and the rest gets eaten by the priests in the courtyard. Aaron's special anointing grain offering is to be a tenth of an ephah, and is to be burnt entirely, and not eaten.

A sin offering is to be slaughtered and eaten by the priests in the courtyard. Anything it touches is holy. The pot it's cooked in is to be broken, or cleaned thoroughly. But, if it's a sin offering brought into the holy place for atonement, then it's not to be eaten, but burnt.

Key verse:
5. He must make restitution in full

My thoughts:
The sins in this chapter are seen as minor property sins, where someone somehow takes advantage of someone else's property for their own gain. The penatly for this is not extreme, but is clear. The offender must pay back what was wrong, and also pay an extra fine equal to a fifth of the original value. This does not go to the priests, but rather to the person who was wronged.

A lot of the offerings were eaten by the priests. The priests had no income, and lived off the offerings of the people.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Leviticus 5

Sin and the guilt offerings

Summary:
These things will make someone guilty once they learn of it:
Holding back needed knowledge,
Touching unclean stuff,
Taking a thoughless oath.

These must be reconciled with a sin offering of a lamb, or two pigeons/doves. If they are poor, they are to bring an ephah of flour to be burnt.

If someone sins with regard to the holy stuff, they are to offer a ram. They should also bring cash for restitution equalling the value plus a fifth. It's a guilt offering.

If someone disobeys God's commands unintentionally, he is to bring a ram as a guilt offering.

Key verse:
1. 'If a person sins because he does not speak ... he will be held responsible

My thoughts:
Sin is not only through an action, but it can also be through an inaction. The anglican liturgy in New Zealand asks for repentance what we have said and not said.

God appreciates that the poor can only give less than the rich, so he allows smaller offerings for poorer people.

Oaths are generally frowned upon in the bible. We are too careless with promises, and we should simply do something or not, rather than make eloborate oaths.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Leviticus 4

Sin Offerings

Summary:
If a priest unintentionally sins, then a bull is to be sacrificed. It's blood is to be sprinkled around, and it's fats and things are to be burnt on the altar. The rest is to be burnt outside the camp.

The same is to be done if the whole community sins unintentionally.

If a community leader sins, he is to bring a male goat to be sacrificed. The blood is to be splattered, and it's fats burnt.

If a member of the community sins, the same is to be done, except a female goat or lamb is to be brought.

Then they will be forgiven.

Key verses:
3. If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people...


27. If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord's commands, he is guilty.


My thoughts:
There is a clear distinction between unintentional sin and intentional sin. In the Old Testament law, unintentional sin is able to be reconciled with sacrifice, but intentional sin results in death or exile. 'Real' or intentional sin could not be tolerated by God.

In western protestant Christianity we often see sin as simply an individual sin. People sin, communities cannot (though they may contain sinful people). However, this is not a biblical mindset. The Bible recognises both individual sin and communual sin, with punishment of both being just. Here, though only the priest sins, the community is guilty. Similarly, Jeremiah personally repents for the sin of Israel, despite being blameless himself. God seems to reserve the right to punish a sinful community, though there may be innocent people within it, however he also respects individual morality, as he did when he saved Lot from the destruction of sinful Sodom.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Leviticus 3

Fellowship offerings

Summary:
An animal without defect should be the fellowship offerings, and it can be from the herd or the flock. The person who presents it should put their hands on its head, then it should be killed at the entrance of the tent. Blood is to be splattered on the altar, and the fats and guts of the animal is to be burn for God.

If it's a goat, then it's the same, but with more fat.

The people aren't to eat the fat or the blood.

Key verse:
17. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood.

My thoughts:
Though in the future the people are commanded not to eat blood, here they are commanded not to eat fat. Either God is very health conscious or this ordinance only refers to sacrificed animals, where the fat and blood belong to God. I believe that fat (in moderation, of course) generally is permissable to the Jewish people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Leviticus 2

Grain offering

Summary:
A grain offering is to be of fine flour, oil, and incense. Some of it gets burnt, and some of it gets kept by the priests

If it's cooked, it shouldn't have yeast (or honey) in it. And offering should be made with salt.

Key verse:
13. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out

My thoughts:
Often when something is made specifically for God, yeast is forbidden. Yeast was not unclean and was not untouchable, in contrast to pork, but it was seen as an imperfection when offering to God. Refraining from it was also seen as something to do when dedicating yourself to God, when following the discipling of simplicity.

There is an interesting statement about "salt of the covenant" in this chapter, which I don't completely understand. It makes an interesting comparison to 'salt of the earth' in the new testament. Comments anyone?

My Bit:
Well, I'm not at Otago University doing this. It's very exciting and new, and finally these computers let me format my post, so I'll return to making large headings and smaller texts.
UPDATE: No, I'll just stay with normal size fonts, cos the blogger program seems to be being retarded.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Leviticus 1

Burnt offerings

Summary:
God commands Moses on how to perform burnt offerings. Any offering must be from the herd or the flock, and must be a male without defect. The person offering must put their hand on the head of the animal for atonement.

A bull's blood is to be sprinkled on the altar, and cut into pieces and burnt on the altar, after washing it. God will like the smell.

The same is to happen to a sheep or goat, but it is to be sacrificed on the north side of the altar.

If it's a bird, it should be a pigeon or a dove. It's head is to be pulled off, and it's to be burnt on the altar, and it's blood drained out down the side of the altar. The bits are to be thrown with the ashes, and it's to be opened at the wings before being burnt. God will like the smell.

Key verse:
17. an aroma pleasing to the Lord

My thoughts:
Well, here we are in Leviticus, and we're staight into the specifications for sacrifice. Leviticus is the book of laws and regulations for the priests. It is like their handbook, and therefore contains many detailed explanations of how to perform sacrifices and minister to people. As a modern Christian, it can be difficult to read because it goes into much detail which does not affect our modern Christian lives.

Leviticus is all about holiness. God is a holy God and is pleased by holiness. Leviticus gives instructions on how to be holy. In this context, holiness comes from performing sacraments and ceremonies preciseless, and it's only by doing it right that God will be pleased.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Exodus 40

The tabernacle completed

Summary:
Moses set up the tabernacle. He put the ark in the tent behind a curtain, and he set up the lamps and the table. He put the gold altar in front of the ark. The altar of bunrt offerings was put in front of the tent, with the basin between it and the tent. The courtyard was set up around the tent. Then everything was anointed and consecrated.

Aaron and his sons were dressed up and anointed.

Once this was all completed, the glory of God filled the tabernacle as a cloud, and even Moses could not enter. The Israelites moved when the cloud moved.

Key verse:
34. the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

My thoughts:
You may remember when Moses convinced God himself to travel with the Israelites rather than just send an angel. Here, once the tabernacle is complete, that promise is fulfilled, as God goes before his people as a cloud with the tabernacle as his earthly dwelling place. God’s plan for Israel was to live amongst them and to be their king, and this tabernacle shows God’s desire to live amongst his people. In Relevation we read that God’s plan is still to live amongst his people in the same way, even in the new covenant.

This is the last chapter of Exodus, so I have now finished two books of the Bible. Only 64 books to go! At the end of Exodus, the Israelites have been brought out of Egypt with power, and have now started their journey with God through the desert, and the tabernacle is complete. Now we move onto Leviticus. Which will be interesting.

My Bit:
Well, today is Valentine’s Day, and it’s my last day in Wellington! I go down to Otago tomorrow to start my Physics/Theology degrees. It will be very scary being in a new environment, but I’m sure I’ll love it! And hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with my chapters when I actually have stuff to do in life! I’ll have to change my profile

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Exodus 39

Finishing the pieces

Summary:

All the priestly garments, including the ephod and the breastplate, are made just how God said.

Once all the pieces had been made, Moses inspected them, and blessed them, seeing that they were made just how God had said.

Key verse:
43. they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.

My thoughts:
The end of the making of the pieces of the tabernacle finishes by pointing out the significance of how they were made. The significance is that they were made just as the Lord had commanded, and that the Israelites worshipped with a temple made by God's exact design.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Exodus 38

Altars, courtyards, and Materials

Summary:
The craftsmen made the altar of burnt offering, and the courtyard exactly how God had described.

They also made a bronze basin from women's mirrors.

The total amount of gold used was about a metric ton. The amount of silver was about 3 3/4 tons, which was half a shekel from each male over 20 (there were 603,550 of them). The amount of bronze was about 2 1/2 tons.

Key verse:
22. Bezalel ... made everything the Lord commanded Moses;

My thoughts:
There's actually a reasonable amount of original content in this chapter, mostly to do with the amounts of materials used.

Mirrors as we know them did not exist in this time, so polished bronze was used. Which would make sense if you're using mirrors to make a bronze basin.

The exact amount of silver used was 100 talents, and 1,775 sanctuary shekels, which equals 301,775 shekels, which is exactly half of 603,550 - the number of men who gave half a shekel. This number (603,550), is a very high number, and given that this is only the adult men, it may seem unlikely that so many people would have come from 70 people who entered Egypt 400 years ago. This number is often not taken literally. However, it is perfectly possible (if unlikely), that there were that many people (or there abouts), because of the exact maths used in the census - as we will later see.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Exodus 37

The inner furnishings

Summary:
The ark, table, lampstabd, and altar of incense are made exactly how God described by the craftsmen. The ark is made by Bezalel.

Key verse:
1. Bezalel made the ark

My thoughts:
The chief craftsman, Bezalel, got the honour of making the most important part of the tabernacle, the ark.

Normally my study bible has a third of a page of notes (sometimes much more) on each page. However, in this section, they have one line, which simply requests that you refer to the previous notes. So I'm not the only one who can't think of anything new to say!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Exodus 36

Construction starts

Summary:
Bezalel and Oholiab and other craftsmen started building the sanctuary with the offerings of the people. In the end they had more than enough materials, so they had to tell the people to stop giving.

They made the Tabernacle (the tent) just as God had told them to (in a previous chapter).

Key verse:
5. The people are bringing more than enough

My thoughts:
From a modern understanding it can be hard to see why there is so much repetition in the Bible. This is because we are used to books. Repetition is largely pointless in books, as you can simply go back and read the first 'repeat'. However, it must be understood that for most of history the Bible was communicated orally. Large parts of the Old Testament almost certainly existed as oral tradition before they were ever written in book form. In this form repetition was important for accuracy.

Because oral reciting is not largely practiced now, it is easy to think of the Bible's earliest existence as a huge game of chinese whispers - it seems a terribly inaccurate form of retaining information. However, the oral reciting of a text such as the Bible was seen as hugely important, and was, infact, very accurate. It was a simply different mindset towards keeping information.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Exodus 35

In case you didn't get it the first time...

Summary:
Moses tells the people to keep the sabbath.

He then asks the people to give what they are willing to give to build the tabernacle. He also asks for the skillful people to help build all the pieces of the tabernacle.

Moses then proclaims Bezalel and Oholiab to be chosen by God, and filled with the Spirit, to do the artistic craftsmanship.

Key verse:
29. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings.

My thoughts:
Here begins probably the third biggest repeat of the Bible. The biggest repeat is probably the entire of 1 and 2 Chronicles with (parts of) the books of Samuel/Kings, and the second biggest repeat is probably the Gospels. A few chapters ago, God told Moses to do a bunch of stuff, and now for the next five chapters we get to hear that it was all done - in the same words as God used to Moses. It's pretty much exactly the same.

Ultimately it goes to show how obedient they were in making the tabernacle.

On a different point, God's blessing on Bezalel and Oholiab shows God's support and appreciation of art and artistic creation. Our God is creative.

I may not have a lot to say on the next few chapters, purely because I've already commented on it all.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Exodus 34

Moses goes up the mountain again

Summary:
God calls Moses up the mountain again, and tells him to bring new tablets, so God can write on them. God makes a declaration of his grace when Moses was on the mountain.

God promises to drive out the nations of Canaan before them, and warns them not to make treaties with the nations, or else they will be lead into the worship of their idols and gods.

God tells Moses to make his people keep the annual feasts, and the Sabbath, and to redeem the firstborn. Offerings aren't to contain yeast.

God rewrote the commands on the tablets. Moses was on the mountain forty days and nights.

When Moses came down his face glowed, and he had to wear a veil. He took it off when he entered the Lord's presence.

Key verse:
7. [The Lord is gracious,] forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished

My thoughts:
Today's key verse summarises the juxtaposition of God's grace and justice. The nature of God does not change, and God in the new testament still applies his justice.

It may seem harsh that the Israelites are commanded not to make peaceful treaties with the nations of Canaan, but to destroy them. However, God has a good point. If they made peaceful treaties with the nations of Canaan, they would interbreed, and they would start to worship their gods. The Jewish people would not exist. God knew that the only way that Israel would stay with their one supreme God was if they were a distinct people set apart for God. Given the importance of the Israelites in God's plan to bring the world back into relationship with him, it is not surprising that he takes such measures to keep his people distinct.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Exodus 33

The glory of the Lord

Summary:
God tells Moses to lead his people to Canaan, but that God himself will not go with them, but an angel. God is annoyed with the stiff-necked Israelites, and is worried he might get angry and kill them all if he goes with them. The people are upset that God is so angry with them.

Moses used to go into a tent and talk to God, and a pillar of cloud would come down on the tent, and all the people would watch and worship. Joshua would stay in the tent even when Moses left.

Talking with God, Moses expresses concern that an unknown angel will be their guide to the promised land. Because God likes Moses, he decides to go with his people after all. Moses asks to see God's glory, and God shows his full goodness to Moses, except Moses cannot see his face, or else he will die.

Key verse:
19. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.

My thoughts:
God is still 'hurt' by what the people did, and he decides that he will not go with them, because he loves them, and he doesn't not want to destroy they in his anger. Ultimately it is his love for Moses that makes him decide to go with them.

In passages like this God can seem very human, in the way Moses persuades him, and how he seems uncertain if he'd be able to control his anger. I do no believe this is an expression of any imperfection within God, but rather God showing that he wishes to relate in a very understandable way to us, and even allows us sometimes to change his mind.

Moses gets to see the fullness of God's glory. He had previously spoken with God many times, however that was quite separated from God's full glory. God's glory doesn't not appear often, but when it always has a huge affect of those around. Like when Solomon's temple is consecrated, and the glory fills the temple and all the priests fell facedown.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Exodus 32

The Calf

Summary:
Whilst Moses was up the mountain, all the people, led by Aaron, made a golden calf, worshipped it, and had a festival about it. Meanwhile, up the mountain, God tells Moses what's going on with the calf, and Moses convinces God not to kill them all for their sin.

Moses comes down the mountains and sees the 'revelry', and breaks the tablets, and burns the calf, and scatters the powder into the Israelite's drinking water. Moses makes a stand, asking anyone who belongs to God to stand with him. Only the Levites stand with him. Moses then tells the Levites to go kill the others, and they kill about three thousand people. God promises to punish those who sinned, and God struck the people with a plague.

Key verse:
8. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded

My thoughts:
Ah, narrative... sweet narrative.

This is a messy chapter. There's sin, death, plague, lying and threats. The Israelites screwed up royal, and practically fall into civil war so soon after God had performed great miracles for them. The only reason God didn't just kill them all, is because then the Egyptians would have bragging rights over God, because he sent his people into the desert to die.

Sometimes it's hard to understand God commanding the death of masses of people, but it happens a lot in Israel's early years of conquering Canaan. It's a difficult issue to wrestle with, but I guess that it was such a vital part of God's plan, that any imperfection had to be physically removed at this stage of God's plan. Ultimately God is God, and he reserves the right to kill people, when he sees it fit (even in the New Testament - see Acts 5).

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Exodus 31

Craftsmen and Sabbaths

Summary:
Two craftsmen, Bezalel and Ohaliab are chosen by God to make all the stuff described in the last few chapters.

God tells Moses to remind his people to keep the Sabbath, because God made the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh.

God gives Moses two tablets with what he said written on them.

Key verse:
3. I have filled him with the Spirit of God

My thoughts:
Bezalel is the first person to be described as being filled with the Spirit of God. His craftsmenship was a spiritual gift. It's not the first appearance of the Spirit in the Old Testament (See Genesis 1:2), but it does show that even before Jesus, the Spirit personally filled people and gave them spiritual gifts.

This is the end of God's dictation to Moses, mostly about how to make and outfit the tabernacle. Look forward to the almost word for word repeat from Chapter 36-39.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Exodus 30

Various other bits

Summary:
An altar of acacia wood is to be made, and is to be in front of the curtain that's before the ark. Aaron is to burn incense on it at morning and at twilight. Nothing else is to happen on the altar, except the annual atonement.

Each census, each Israelite is to pay 1/2 a shekel as atonement for their lives.

A bronze basin is to be made for the priests to wash their hands and feet before doing official duties.

A special formula of oil is to be made all all the sacred items are to be anointed with it.

A special formula of incense is to be placed in front of the ark.

Key verse:
10. It is most holy to the Lord.

My thoughts:
The annual atonement is very significant, especially in the light of Jesus' atonement. It is described in more detail in Leviticus 16.

The atonement money is not a tax. The rich and the poor are to pay their same, because it is atonement for their lives, rather than a tax, and the Bible sees the rich and the poor as worth the same.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Exodus 29

Consecrating the priests

Summary:
This is how the priests are to be consecrated:
Aaron is to be dressed in the priestly garments, and his sons will be in tunics with headbands on, and they all wear sashes. A bull is to be sacrificed for sins, a ram is to be sacrificed as a burnt offering, and another ram is to be sacrificed for ordination, and it's blood is to be put on Aaron and his sons, and the altar. Aaron is then to wave the inner parts of the ram and some bread and wave it before God, before burning it. The ram of ordination is to be eaten. The ordination will take seven days, with a bull and two lambs sacrificed on each day.

Key verse:
45. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.

My thoughts:
This complicated, and somewhat bizarre process was significant as it dedicated the most holy people in the land, the priests, and particularly the high priest (Aaron). There is a large emphasis on animal sacrifice in the ceremony. Sacrifice means exactly that - sacrifice. The large number of bulls, lambs, and rams needed for this ceremony would be expensive. These offerings were all needed to 'appease' God, as these imperfect human priests were to minister with the holy God. Over time, the Jews overestimated God's opinion of this type of sacrifice (See Hosea 6:6).

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Exodus 28

Holy garments

Summary:
Aaron and his sons are to be priests. A breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a tunic, a turban, and a sash are to be made especially for Aaron.

The ephod is to be woven of blue, purple, scarlet and gold. It is to have two onyx stones set in it, with the names of six sons of Israel engraved on each stone.

The breastplate is also to be of blue, purple, scarlet and gold. There are to be twelve precious stones set in the breastplate, each with a name of a tribe of Israel on it. There will be gold chains (bling) across the breastplate, with gold rings to attach it to the ephod. Urim and Thummim are to be placed in the breastplate.

The robe is to be blue with gold bells

A plate of gold with 'HOLY TO THE LORD' enscribed on it is to be attached to the turban.

The tunic and undergarments are to be made of linen.

Key verse:
43. Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die.

My thoughts:
These garments were important because it was what the priests came before God wearing. God is powerful and terrible, and to appear before him guilty will cause your death. The garments were designed by God to be holy, so that the priests who come and minister before God in the tabernacle would not die. The bells on the robe were there so outside listeners could hear if the priest had actually died or not. Without Jesus to remove their guilt, many other sacraments such as these clothes were used to appear before God.

The Urim and Thummim were used to determine God's will, which basically involved casting lots, and the result was determined by seeing whether Urim or Thummim was dominant in the lot casting. Joseph Smith claimed to use Urim and Thummim to translate the Book of Mormon in the 1800s.

The garments had the names of all the tribes of Israel on them, because Aaron would represent all Israel before God.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Exodus 27

The altar, courtyard, and oil

Summary:
An altar is to be built of acacia wood, with all the utensil and extras made of bronze. It is also to be transported on poles.

A large courtyard is to be around the tabernacle, made of curtains and poles.

Clear olive oil is to be used by Aaron and his sons to keep the lamps inside the tent burning overnight.

Key verse:
21. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for generations to come.

My thoughts:
All the major pieces (such as the altar in this chapter) of this tabernacle are made to be transportable (on poles), as it would constantly be moving in a procession as Israel wandered around the desert.

This is what some of these articles probably looked like.