My thought for the day today is about how detailed God is.
And it comes from my favourite book of the bible – Exodus! No not really, just kidding. I honestly doubted that I would get much out of this book and day after day I’ve been reading page after page of conversation between God and Moses whilst God downloads His instructions for building the ark of the tabernacle and for the outfit of the priests etc. etc.
But I had a bit of a revelation yesterday as I really thought about what I was reading. Listen to this:
Design of the Ephod
6 “The craftsmen must make the ephod of finely woven linen and skillfully embroider it with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. 7 It will consist of two pieces, front and back, joined at the shoulders with two shoulder-pieces. 8 The decorative sash will be made of the same materials: finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread.
9 “Take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the tribes of Israel. 10 Six names will be on each stone, arranged in the order of the births of the original sons of Israel. 11 Engrave these names on the two stones in the same way a jeweler engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in settings of gold filigree. 12 Fasten the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod as a reminder that Aaron represents the people of Israel. Aaron will carry these names on his shoulders as a constant reminder whenever he goes before the LORD. 13 Make the settings of gold filigree, 14 then braid two cords of pure gold and attach them to the filigree settings on the shoulders of the ephod.
This passage follows very detailed and intricate instructions on exactly how the Israelites were to make these objects and garments. They were told exactly what materials to use, in exactly what quantities, how to fix them together, how to carry them or how to wear them. There are even instructions on how to make perfume and the recipe for bread.
The detail is mind-blowing!
God spoke to Moses in a very clear and detailed way. It was specific. It was unequivocal. There was no room for interpretation.
God made it very clear what His will was and how it was to be done.
Nothing left to chance. It is exact.
Why am I going on about it?
1. It shows me that if God is interested in the tiny detail of the clothing of His priests, how much more interested in the tiny details of our lives could he be? We already know that God does not look at the outward appearance but at the heart, and yet here we see such intricate attention being paid to the outward appearance. What does that say about the interest that Father God takes in each one of us and in our character?
2. It shows me that God can speak to us in detailed instruction. I believe on the whole that God gives us choices in our lives and certain decisions are up to us and don’t really have monumental effects on our lives, like what should I wear today? However, this gives me confidence that if I need God’s clear direction for something, He can give it and give it in a way that we can clearly understand and follow the instructions.
Questions like: ‘how can I make my business profitable?’, ‘how do I raise my children?’ are not outside of God’s remit. ‘What am I supposed to be doing for the rest of my life? Is not too big or difficult a question for God.
I wonder in light of this whether we limp along trying to do things in our own strength and our own limited understanding, when we could in fact be asking the omniscient God who created us, for the answer.
Often our prayers are like an air strike. We just pray everything we can possibly think for each situation and hope that one of them hits the mark.
Whereas another way of doing it might be to wait on God over each prayer request and ask God for wisdom and revelation on how to pray effectively. This is more of a sniper approach. (I’ve recently watched American Sniper which is probably why I am thinking like this!).
Specifically asking God’s thoughts about a person and praying into that is just so much precise and effective. I definitely want to pray that way in future rather than the scatter gun approach hoping that one prayer might just hit the mark.
My 2nd thought is about:
Men wearing dresses
I have always been a little scathing on the whole men wearing dresses in the Church of England and the Catholic church, writing it off as old tradition and outdated religion. However, as I read this passage I was gobsmacked as to the detail God went into to describe the way a priest should dress and how his ‘dress’ should be made, with what and how he should put it on.
So I just stopped and said ‘Holy Spirit please teach me what this means now. If this was so important then, should we still be doing it now’.
And the thought came:
Each person brought into the Kingdom of God is now a priest.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Listen to this:
1 “This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect. 2 And from the finest wheat flour make round loaves without yeast, thick loaves without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves without yeast and brushed with olive oil. 3 Put them in a basket and present them along with the bull and the two rams. 4 Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 5 Take the garments and dress Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself and the breastpiece. Fasten the ephod on him by its skillfully woven waistband. 6 Put the turban on his head and attach the sacred emblem to the turban. 7 Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head. 8 Bring his sons and dress them in tunics 9 and fasten caps on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons.[a] The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance.
And then lots of detail about slaughtering an animal then this bit:
19 “Now take the other ram, and have Aaron and his sons lay their hands on its head. 20 Then slaughter it, and apply some of its blood to the right earlobes of Aaron and his sons. Also put it on the thumbs of their right hands and the big toes of their right feet. Splatter the rest of the blood against all sides of the altar. 21 Then take some of the blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his sons and on their garments. In this way, they and their garments will be set apart as holy.
I read this and asked ‘So Lord if we are all priests now, what does it mean?’
And I got a picture of God preparing us for priestly duties. He takes off the dirty garments that we were covered with – our sin, our attitudes, our pride…. and He clothes us with the righteous of Jesus Christ. All the detail and the beauty and expense of the priestly garments are replaced with the beauty and expense and sacrifice of Jesus dying in our place, and we are clothed with the beautiful garment of righteous, of right standing, of sins forgiven, of cleansing from sin.
And where the sacrifices were offered of food and of blood, that is taken care of because Jesus’s body was broken as an offering and his blood now washes the altar and as we are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus and the oil of the Holy Spirit, we are set apart as holy and consecrated as priests forever.
Blown Away doesn’t even cover it!
If we don’t read the Old Testament we miss out on the weight of this transaction. If we don’t understand the weight of the responsibility and the seriousness of sin as they did in Exodus, we don’t fully grasp the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Thank you Lord that we don’t have to offer you sacrifices of food and blood to be able to be enter your presence.
Thank you that not only do we not need to go through a priest to talk to you, but that you call us all priests.
Thank you Jesus that your sacrifice on the cross was complete, once and for all time and for everyone. Thank you that I am clothed with your Righteous which means that I can stand before you holy and faultless
Wow! What an incredible God we serve.