15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2_Timothy 3:15-17).
The holy scriptures Paul mentions here are those of the Old Testament. Coupled with the new revelation of Christ, these scriptures were able to make Timothy wise unto salvation, were profitable for the work of the ministry and to equip Timothy to that work. So, it would do us well to pay attention as we read the pages of our Old Testament so the Spirit of God may teach us about the character of God and about the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we have read through the book of Exodus recently, here are a few lessons that I came away with regarding some of these truths mentioned above. Perhaps you saw similar truths when you read through the book.
One of the first things we notice is the grand amount of detail given regarding each of the offerings (see especially the book of Leviticus) and the specific details of the construction of the tabernacle. From this we learn that God is a God of order. We know that the New Testament tells us that all things in the church are to be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40), and the roots of that fact can be found deep in the Old Testament, especially in the building of the tabernacle.
So what can we derive from this? First of all, God is concerned with order in the place where He places His Name. For our day, then, we can say that what goes on in church needs to be orderly. Even in those times when there is a spirit of praise amongst the Lord’s people as, things still are to be done in an orderly fashion.
Here is another important consideration. Since God is a God of order, it would do us well to examine our lives to see if we are following our God in this aspect. Look again with me in the tabernacle: we find no clutter, no extra items, no unnecessary objects lying around; rather, we find only those things which were necessary for the daily work and worship of God. Our lives are so cluttered with things that we receive on a daily basis – junk mail (both paper and electronic), dollar store/yard sale buys, and even sentimental possessions received from our relatives – that the things of God are often crowded out. Yes, our homes and lives can be filled with such clutter that these things consume our lives and can distract us from the purpose of lives, the worship of God. Instead of shifting the clutter from one area to another, we need to purge our homes and lives of such clutter and align our homes and lives like the tabernacle. No, they do not have to be so drab or Spartan where they are absent of decoration (for though God has no clutter in the tabernacle, yet there is a beauty with which He adorns the simplicity) but beautifully simple with only those things that God can use for us to honour Him.
Though the furnishings of the tabernacle were very simple, yet they were overlaid with gold. The typology of the nature of Christ is well-known, the shittim wood representing His humanity and the gold His deity. Yet we can learn a rather simple but powerful lesson from this. God is a God who enjoys beauty. We certainly can see this from Creation. But have we considered the garments of the priests? Consider for a moment the colorful adornment of the high priest’s garments (Ex 28:2) and the coats for Aaron’s sons (Ex 38:40), both of which God said were to be made “for glory and for beauty.” It is apparent that God wanted those in priestly service to have a certain look about them. The colors of Aaron’s ephod were vivid: it was made of blue, purple, and scarlet colored cloth, and the clothing was sewn together with golden wires (Ex 39:1-3). His breastplate was to be adorned with specific colored stones, one each for the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Ex 28:15-30). Each of these stones has a particular beauty due to its characteristics. Thus, the high priest did not come before God with just a regular garment. Rather it was beautifully made, something appropriate with which to come into the presence of God.
Is it possible to build a case for wearing our Sunday best from these passages? Both the linen garments the priests wore daily and Aaron’s clothing were to have both glory and beauty. As a kingdom of priests unto our God, should we not come before His presence with the same attitude in our attire? Whether a three-piece suit or overalls and a white shirt, should not a man come before the Lord in his very best? God wants us to appear before Him prepared to meet with him, and the clothing we wear is simply an outward expression of our hearts’ preparation to come into the presence of our great God. Certainly this is something to think about.
We read in Exodus 40:33, “And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.” Moses is the leader in charge of the work, so ultimately the completion of the work was his responsibility. However, we need to remember that Moses did not actually do the work all by himself. In fact, God specifically told him that He had gifted a man, Bezaleel (Ex 31:2-5), to do this particular work.
God uses people, common people. It seems that this particular ability to do the work of fine carpentry and needlework were a special gift of God just for the purpose of this special work of God. Some men want to do all the work themselves. What we need to do is to find those whom God has blessed with particular gifts and talents and let them “run with it” to accomplish what God wants.
Taking this thought a little further, we need to understand that Bezaleel did not work with materials that appeared from out of nowhere. These materials were supplied by God’s people – the common people. We are told that all those who were “willing hearted” (Ex 35:22) brought material for construction of the tabernacle. In in the next chapter the Bible says that the people had to be told not to bring any more since they had already brought too much. What a statement! Now think about this. The gold from everyday bracelets, the colored cloth from the articles they owned, all of that common material went into building the very place where God would meet with man!
Where our gifts and abilities end, others’ begin. God can allow someone else to step in and use their gifts where mine are severely limited. That’s why every person in a local church is important. Each person has a contribution, and they must use it for the glory of God. Aren’t you glad that God uses common people?
These are just three of the many lessons that can be learned from a prayerful reading of the Old Testament. God still speaks to His people through His word, and He teaches those who listen for the voice of God as they read. Yes, there are many wonderful lessons we can learn from His word. So as you read the Old Testament, pray the Lord to open your eyes to behold wondrous things out of His law (Psalm 119:18), then listen for His voice to teach you.
Just a few thoughts,
Pastor John Nichols