Exodus 40

The awesome glory of God!

“…the Tabernacle was filled with the awesome glory of the LORD. Exodus 40:35 NLT

We have reached the end of the book of Exodus, and what better way to conclude this amazing story than with a picture of the glory of God? As Moses completes the erection of the Tabernacle, an amazing thing happens – the glory of God filled it. Up until that moment it was just another tent – a beautiful and elaborate one – but it was still just a tent. But when the glory of the Lord filled it, it became something new and significant. The cloud that had been leading them all the days since they had left Egypt, now hovered over the Tabernacle, and whenever it moved, it was a clear sign that it was time for the people to move. But as long as it stayed above the Tabernacle, God’s glory was filling the Tabernacle and the people stayed put. Moses writes, “The cloud of the LORD rested on the Tabernacle during the day, and at night there was fire in the cloud so all the people of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:38 NLT). God’s presence was visible and real. And His presence had transformed what was once ordinary into something extraordinary – the Tabernacle.

And that is exactly what God has done for those of us who are in Christ. He has placed His Spirit within us and transformed what was once ordinary into something extraordinary. In speaking of the Light of Christ that now lives in us, Paul said, “But this precious treasure––this light and power that now shine within us––is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT). These tents, our bodies, are nothing special. They are simply flesh and blood. They are not significant in and of themselves. And there is nothing special that makes them appropriate dwelling places for the Spirit of God. But God has set us apart and chosen to fill us with His Spirit. In doing so, we become the very temple of God – His dwelling place. Again, Paul asks us, “Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT). The very glory of God fills those of us who are believers in Christ. We are filled with the Light of Life. His presence lives within us. We take Him with us wherever we go. He wants to lead and direct us. He wants to transform us. He wants to empower us. But we must honor His presence. We must acknowledge that He is there. We cannot live our lives the way we want to live. We cannot treat as ordinary what He has made extraordinary. That is what it means to desecrate something. It is what it means to profane something. When we live our lives according to our will and in our own way, we profane the dwelling place of God. We treat as unholy what God has made holy by His presence. Our eyes, feet, hands, voices, and minds all belong to Him. They are part of the tabernacle or temple of our body. He indwells it all. Each of the parts of our earthly body are to be used for His glory. They belong to Him. May we learn to live with that reality in mind. May we learn to desire more and more that our bodies are His dwelling place today, and live like it.

Father, it amazes me that Your Spirit lives within me. I don’t always feel like it. I don’t always act like it. But it is a promise You have made to me and I believe it. Now I want to live like it it is true. Show me how to live in such a way that my life, and my body, bring glory and honor to You. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 39

Holy to the Lord

“Finally, they made the sacred medallion of pure gold to be worn on the front of the turban. Using the techniques of an engraver, they inscribed it with these words: SET APART AS HOLY TO THE LORD. Exodus 39:30 NLT

In this chapter we have the detailed descriptions of the making of the priestly garments. They were made of the finest hand-woven fabrics and decorated with precious stones and gold. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes it this way: “A sacred vestment originally designed for the high priest (Exodus 28:4; Exodus 39:2), and made “of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen,” held together by two shoulder-pieces and a skillfully woven band which served as a girdle for the ephod. On the shoulderpieces were two onyx stones on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. It is not known whether the ephod extended below the hips or only to the waist. Attached to the ephod by chains of pure gold was a breastplate containing twelve precious stones in four rows. Underneath the ephod was the blue robe of the ephod extending to the feet of the priest. The robe of the ephod was thus a garment comprising, in addition to the long robe proper, the ephod with its shoulderpieces and the breastplate of judgment.”

This was a one-of-a-kind garment that was to be used by the high priest alone for service to God alone. This was clearly expressed on the golden plate that was permanently affixed to the turban which the high priest wore. On the gold plate were the words, “Holy to the Lord.” It could also be translated as “Set apart as holy to the Lord.” These words signified that the high priest and all the duties associated with his role were to be for the Lord alone. He was set apart for God. He belonged to God. His garments signified his new role and responsibilities. But while the Aaronic priesthood no longer exists, God is still setting apart men and women for himself. Just take a look at these verses:

“for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession.” – 1 Peter 2:9 NLT

“And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 2:5 NLT

“He has made us his Kingdom and his priests who serve before God his Father.” – Revelation 1:6 NLT

We are His chosen people. Not only that, we are His royal and holy priests. We are to daily offer up spiritual sacrifices that please Him. That is our role. That is our duty. And like the high priest, we have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Galatians 3:27 tells us this: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” We have been set apart by God for His service. We are His. We belong to Him. And that fact should thrill us beyond belief. So much so, that we would exclaim as the prophet Isaiah did so long ago: “I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10 NLT).

Paul reminds us, “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:9-10 NLT). The High Priest had duties to perform. He had responsibilities to take care of on behalf of God the Father. So do we. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 that “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.”

The High Priest was responsible for reconciling the people to God. He made the sacrifices demanded by God in order that the people’s sins might be forgiven. Our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, has made that final sacrifice once and for all, but we have the responsibility of pointing people to God by introducing them to Christ. We can be agents of reconciliation, helping them understand that there is a sacrifice that has been made for their sins. They do not have to save themselves. They can be reconciled to God through the finished work of Jesus Christ. We have been set apart for that duty. It is why we are here. So how are we doing?

Father, I’ll be honest. I get off target very easily. I have not been doing my job like I should. I do not see myself as a priest. I do not remind myself daily that I have been set apart as holy to You. I am no longer mine, but I live as if I am. I do what I want to do more than I do what You have called me to do. Help me remember my role and responsibility. I want to live a life that is set apart unto You. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 37-38

Bezalel and Oholiab

“Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, was in charge of the whole project, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. He was assisted by Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, a craftsman expert at engraving, designing, and embroidering blue, purple, and scarlet yarn on fine linen cloth. Exodus 38:22-23 NLT

Have you ever made anything you were really proud of? I remember in high school the time I made a Colonial-style hutch in wood shop. It was the biggest and most ambitious project I had ever taken on. Tongue-and-groove joints, scroll work, beaded paneling, beautiful antique staining – it was gorgeous and I could not have been prouder. Especially because my dad was a man who loved to work with wood and I knew he would be proud of me. They still have it in their house to this day. Well, can you imagine how proud Bezalel and Oholiab must have been as they began the construction of the various pieces of the Tabernacle. They were making these things for God and according to His plans! What a privilege, but what a responsibility. God had handpicked these two men for this job. “The LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. The LORD has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence, and skill in all kinds of crafts. He is able to create beautiful objects from gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in cutting and setting gemstones and in carving wood. In fact, he has every necessary skill. And the LORD has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach their skills to others. The LORD has given them special skills as jewelers, designers, weavers, and embroiderers in blue, purple, and scarlet yarn on fine linen cloth. They excel in all the crafts needed for the work” (Exodus 35:30-35 NLT).

These two men were chosen by God, equipped by God, and given the responsibility of teaching their God-given skills to others. They were filled with the Spirit of God and were endowed with wisdom, intelligence, and skills. But that is exactly what has happened to every one of us as Christ-followers. We have His Spirit living within us and we have each been given a gift by God for use within His body. We are uniquely equipped to serve God in special ways. We are to serve one another with the abilities and gifts He has given us. Paul reminds us, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church” (1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT). We are to use our gifts to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We are to minister, using our gifts and abilities, teaching others how to do the same. The result will be a unified body of Christ that is pleasing to God. It is His plan and His will. Bezalel and Oholiab knew what they were supposed to build, so do we. They were equipped for the job, so are we. But are we doing our job? We have no excuse. We have work to do. Let’s get busy doing it for the Lord.

Father, You’ve called us and equipped us. Now give us the strength to do what we have been set aside to do. To build up the body of Christ, so that You might be honored here on earth through us. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 36

Gifted by God

“Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other craftsmen whom the LORD has gifted with wisdom, skill, and intelligence will construct and furnish the Tabernacle, just as the LORD has commanded. Exodus 36:1 NLT

God designed the Tabernacle, but men were going to build it. This was a partnership. God’s design. Man’s ability. But God would even equip them with the skills, talents, wisdom, and intelligence to accomplish the task set before them. Not only that, He would instill in them a desire to give all the materials needed for the structure to be completed. In fact, they gave so much that they had to be asked to STOP giving. “So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: ‘Bring no more materials! You have already given more than enough.’ So the people stopped bringing their offerings” (Exodus 36:6 NLT). These people had been moved by God to give to the project … “everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments” (Exodus 35:21 NIV). This entire project was God’s idea, but He chose to use men and women to accomplish it. He gifted the, guided them, and prompted them to give of their talents and treasures in order that His plan could be accomplished. Even the materials they gave were a gift from God. When they had fled from Egypt, God had prompted the Egyptians to shower the people with treasures. “And the people of Israel did as Moses had instructed and asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold. The LORD caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So, like a victorious army, they plundered the Egyptians!” (Exodus 12:35-36 NLT). So even what they gave to complete the Tabernacle had been given to them by God. Their talents and abilities were gifts from God. Their treasures were gifts from God. The plans for the Tabernacle were a gift from God. This was a God-inspired, God-provided venture from start to finish.

But what is amazing is that God bothered to use them at all. He could have done it all Himself. He didn’t NEED their help. They needed His. And if the truth be told, He didn’t really need a place for His presence to dwell. “This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you ever build me a temple as good as that? Could you build a dwelling place for me?” (Isaiah 66:1 NLT). God didn’t need a dwelling place. This was all about Him giving a lesson to the people of God. Every detail of the plans for the Tabernacle are a lesson on God and His holiness. The gold and precious jewels all speak of His infinite value. The layout of the Tabernacle speaks volumes about His holiness and unapproachability. His detailed instructions speak of His expectation that His people obey His Word to the smallest detail. This place was going to be a constant, daily reminder of His presence, power, and provision.

And God is still giving us lessons today. He is still equipping, empowering, gifting, and directing His people today. He is still using people like you and me today. Not because He has to, but because it is how He teaches us about Him. He is accomplishing great things and He chooses to include us in His plans. He wants to reveal Himself to us as we work alongside Him. He could do all that He does without us, but He doesn’t. We have the opportunity to give, work, and watch as God uses His people to accomplish His will in the world around us. And as we watch we are reminded of His power. We see His handiwork. He gets the glory and we get reminded of just who it is we worship. The Almighty God of the universe. The creator of all things. The holy, righteous, all-powerful God.

Father, it always amazes me that You use me in any way. You have gifted me and You have equipped me to serve You. And I am surrounded by people whom You have done the same thing for. You want to accomplish great things through us as You work in us. May we be as faithful to give and serve as the people of Israel were. Show us what You are getting ready to build in our day. Not buildings, but Your kingdom. May we be willing servants for You. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 34-35

Lord, go with us!

“O Lord, then please go with us. Yes, this is an unruly and stubborn people, but please pardon our iniquity and our sins. Accept us as your own special possession. Exodus 34:9 NLT

Moses knew something we all need to learn. He knew that this journey through the wilderness was going to be impossible without the constant presence of the Lord. A Tabernacle wasn’t going to be enough – if the Lord was not in it. Tablets of stone would not be adequate, if the living God was not there to remind them of His holiness. Moses knew he was going to have his hands full trying to lead “an unruly and stubborn people.”  They were hard-headed and even more hard-hearted. Moses understood that he was going to need God to get these people to their final destination. God had just told Moses, “I am the LORD, I am the LORD, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness. I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so I do not leave sin unpunished, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:6-7 NLT). He reminded Moses of His boundless grace and mercy. He reminded Moses that He was long-suffering, loving, and faithful. But He was also holy and just, and willing to deal with sin. This was the God who Moses pleaded with that He would go with them. He wanted this God on the trip with him. He wanted all of God. He knew he needed all of God.

Yet how often do I attempt to live my life, to go on my journey, without the presence of God. I can go through entire days and not ask God to be a part of them. I can do all the things I think I need to do – many of them for God – and not even include Him in the process. Moses knew better. He knew his own inadequacies. He knew the challenges that were out there. He knew he couldn’t do this without help from God. And his greatest fear was the thought of having to make this journey without God. But he also knew that God had already threatened to let them make their journey alone. “Theirs is a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not travel along with you, for you are a stubborn, unruly people. If I did, I would be tempted to destroy you along the way” (Exodus 33:3 NLT). That idea was unacceptable to Moses, and he told God so. “If you don’t go with us personally, don’t let us move a step from this place” (Exodus 33:15 NLT). No, Moses wanted God present every step of the way. And so should we. Why wouldn’t we? The idea of trying to live this life without the constant presence of God should send chills up our spines and send us to our knees where we cry out “O Lord, then please go with us!”

God’s presence is what sets us apart from all other people. Without Him we are nothing. That’s why Moses said, “How else will it be known that you’re with me in this, with me and your people? Are you traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we’re special, I and your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?” (Exodus 33:16 MSG). God with us. That is what Emmanuel means – the very name given to Jesus at His birth. He is God with us. He is with us and walks beside us every step of the way. We cannot live this life without Him. And we only enter into eternal life because of Him.

Father, thank You that You are always with me. Your Spirit lives within me. Your Son intercedes daily on my behalf. I have daily access into Your presence. I do not have to walk this journey alone. I sometimes try, but You always lovingly remind me just how much I need You. And for that I am grateful.  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 32-33

Let me see You!

“Then Moses had one more request. ‘Please let me see your glorious presence,’ he said. Exodus 33:18 NLT

Moses and God had a unique relationship. God told Moses, “you have found favor with me, and you are my friend” (Exodus 33:17 NLT). They had been through a lot together. Moses had spent a lot of time alone with God. They talked together regularly at the tent of meeting. God had chosen Moses to lead His people out of slavery. He had given Moses the Ten Commandments. He had listened to Moses when he interceded on behalf of the people and begged God not to destroy them for their having made the golden calf. Moses knew how important the presence of God was to their future. He had come to rely on God’s presence and direction. He knew that it was the very presence of God that set them apart as a people. When God assured Moses “I will personally go with you, Moses. I will give you rest – everything will be fine for you” (Exodus 33:14 NLT), Moses responded, “If you don’t go with us personally, don’t let us move a step from this place” (Exodus 33:15 NLT). It was the presence of God in their midst that set them apart. “If you don’t go with us, how will anyone ever know that your people and I have found favor with you? How else will they know we are special and distinct from all other people on the earth?” (Exodus 33:16 NLT). Without the presence of God, they would have been just another people group. Without the presence of God, a local church is just another gathering of people. It is God’s presence that sets us apart.

And Moses couldn’t get enough of God. He didn’t want to move a muscle without God. In fact, he wanted even MORE of God. Here is a man who had spent countless days and hours alone with God, and what does he request? “Please let me see Your glorious presence!” He wanted to see God’s glory. And God grants His request. God tells Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, ‘the LORD,’ to you. I will show kindness to anyone I choose, and I will show mercy to anyone I choose” (Exodus 33:19 NLT). The glory of God Himself passed before Moses in the form of His goodness. But Moses would not be the only one to enjoy this unique privilege. God would also reveal His glory and His goodness to men hundreds of years later in the form of His Son Jesus Christ. John tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV). We have seen the glory of God through Jesus Christ. He has given us a glimpse of God Himself. “No one has ever seen God. But his only Son, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart; he has told us about him” (John 1:18 NLT). Jesus is God. He has revealed Himself to man. What Moses experienced that day, we can experience every day. And when God told Moses, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14 NASB), it is just what Jesus invited us to experience, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT). We can enjoy the presence of God and the rest that comes from knowing God through our relationship with Jesus Christ. We can see the glory of God each and every day.

Father, I can enjoy Your glory and Your rest through Your Son – every day of my life. May that become a reality each and every day of my life.  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 30-31

Rest or Die

“Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. Exodus 31:14 NLT

Rest. It’s a foreign word to most of us today. We don’t know how to rest. We know we need it because we feel exhausted most of the time. We don’t get enough sleep, and when we do, we wake up just as tired as when we went to bed. We take vacations but come back just as stressed as when we left. The problem is that the kind of rest God offers is soul rest, not physical rest. Jesus offered us this kind of rest when He said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB). This isn’t about a cessation of activity, but about learning to rely on God for all our needs. It is about dependence. It is about relationship. It is the reason God created the sabbath. He knew we needed rest and He also knew we would do everything to violate and ignore it. Rather than depend on Him, we would start depending on ourselves. Even in our efforts done on His behalf, we can end up leaning on our own strength and abilities. We can find ourselves doing things for God, but not in the strength of God.

It’s interesting that God decides to reiterate His sabbath command just at the time the people were about to begin construction on the Tabernacle. God had given them all His instructions and had anointed various craftsmen with the abilities they would need to accomplish the work. But God seemed to know that the people, in their zeal to accomplish this great task for God, would be tempted to work seven days a week to get it done. But God knew they needed soul rest. And He was so serious about it that He threatened the with death if they violated it. Think about it, God is so serious about soul rest that He threatens His people with death if they don’t take advantage of it. In the Jamieson Faussett Brown Complete Commentary on the Bible, they say that this renewing of the sabbath command was done for the following reason, “The reason for the fresh inculcation of the fourth commandment at this particular period was, that the great ardor and eagerness, with which all classes betook themselves to the construction of the tabernacle, exposed them to the temptation of encroaching on the sanctity of the appointed day of rest. They might suppose that the erection of the tabernacle was a sacred work, and that it would be a high merit, an acceptable tribute, to prosecute the undertaking without the interruption of a day’s repose; and therefore the caution here given, at the commencement of the undertaking, was a seasonable admonition.”

God knew how prone we are to do His work our way – even if it means violating His will. If God had put so much thought into the design of the Tabernacle and its construction plans, don’t you think He had give some thought as to how long it might take. He knew this work could only be done in His strength, according to His plan, and on His time line. Sabbath rest was a non-optional necessity if they were going to pull this off. But how easy it is for us to ignore God’s command to rest and think we can accomplish His work without it. God threatened the Israelites with death if they violated or literally, treated as common, that day.

In our day, rest is a luxury most of us can’t afford. Or at least we think so. We work around the clock. We have our kids involved in anything and everything. We find ourselves, financially tapped out, emotionally stressed out, physically worn out, and spiritually burned out. And some of our rest-lessness is due to all the things we are trying to do for God. But God wants us to learn to rest in Him, not wear ourselves out for Him. He wants to restore us, reprioritize us, redirect us, and reveal Himself to us. But we must learn to rest. Saint Augustine expressed it best when he prayed, “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in Thee.”

Father, You are serious about rest, but we aren’t. We think we don’t need it. Or we think we can achieve it on our own. But experience teaches us otherwise. Only You can provide soul rest – the kind of rest we desperately need. I can’t find rest for my soul on my own. It always ends up in failure and exhaustion. So show me how to rest in You. Forgive me for trying to do Your work my way and in my own strength. It only results in weariness and a lack of joy. Open my eyes to see that resting in You is the key to serving You. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 29

Christ our High Priest

“You are to take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him.” Exodus 29:7 NET

In this chapter we have the ordination of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood. Moses is given intricate instructions by God as to how to consecrate these men for their service in the Tabernacle. And in this imagery we get a glimpse into some deep spiritual truths about Christ and His role as High Priest. The Tabernacle itself was God’s dwelling place here on earth. The Tabernacle was symbolic of Jesus’ coming to dwell among His people. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV). The phrase “made His dwelling” literally means He “tabernacled” among us. He pitched His tent in our midst so to speak. Images of Jesus are found throughout the Tabernacle from the golden lampstand, representing Jesus as the light of the world, to the bread of the presence which symbolized Jesus as the bread of life. But we also get a foreshadowing of Jesus in the ordination of the priests. The sacrifices that consecrated them to God pointed to the sacrifice He made for us on the cross. He became our substitute. In laying their hands on the bull to be sacrificed, they were identifying with this animal as their sin substitute. Their sins were transferred onto this animal, which was then offered up as a substitute sacrifice on their behalf. Paul was to later remind us “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT).

Another picture of Christ in the ordination of the priests can be seen in the fact that the blood of the bull was carried by the High Priest and sprinkled in the Most Holy Place, but the body was carried outside the camp and burned. Jesus blood was offered as a sin sacrifice before the very throne of God, but His body was taken outside the walls of Jerusalem to be destroyed.

But Jesus is not just the sacrifice, He is the priest. He enters God’s presence on our behalf. The book of Hebrews tells us, “Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 NLT). As our Great High Priest, Jesus presents our prayers to God, interceding on our behalf. He also stands before God in perfect righteousness, so that we can be accepted in God’s sight. And just like Aaron and his sons were ordained for the priestly ministry, so was Jesus. Jesus began His public ministry when He was baptized in the Jordan River. Washing with water was the first step in the ordination of the priests. More than likely, they were completely immersed in water for this to be done, just as Jesus was by John the Baptist. But unlike Aaron and his sons, Jesus was not being washed to cleanse Him from sin, but to set Him apart as a priest for sinners. His baptism was also his anointing. God sent Him to be the Messiah, which means “the Anointed One.” Luke records that at His baptism, “the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. And a voice from heaven said” (Luke 3:21b – 22a NLT). In the Old Testament the priests were anointed with oil, a symbol of the Spirit setting them apart for God’s service. But Jesus was anointed by the Spirit Himself in the form of a dove. In Acts 10:38 Paul states, “And no doubt you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”

Jesus stands as our High Priest today. He is our representative. He is out advocate. He has offered the final sacrifice, Himself, and has made it possible for us to stand as pure and righteous before the throne of God.

Father, Your Son is the sacrifice and the priest. He is the sin substitute and the people’s representative. He was chosen by You. He was anointed by You. He satisfied You. His sacrifice appeased Your holy wrath and satisfied Your righteous judgment. Because of Him, I can stand before You. Thank You for sending the Messiah, “the Anointed One.” Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 27-28

Qodesh and Qadash

“You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. Exodus 28:2 NASB

Reading through these chapters in Exodus I can get overwhelmed by all the details and descriptions of how the Tabernacle was to be constructed. The degree of detail is amazing. I can only imagine Moses pleading with God, “Could you slow down just a little bit!” as he attempted to write all of this down. There are so many different kinds of objects made, so many different kinds of materials used. Most of it was ordinary wood, clothe, and metal, but it was being transformed into something extremely unique and incredibly special – the Tabernacle – God’s dwelling place. And all of it was to be holy or set apart for God. The Hebrew word typically used for holy when describing the utensils, materials, and garments associated with the Tabernacle is qodesh and it means “apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness.” When God tells Moses to make “holy” garments for Aaron, He is not asking Moses to manufacture some special kind of robe that has unique qualities or properties. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins is given a special shirt of chain mail called Mithril. It was made by elf craftsmen for an elf prince and had special, magical qualities. That is NOT what God is asking Moses to make for Aaron. So what does it mean to make a holy garment? And what made these normal, everyday materials holy?

In making the Tabernacle, Moses is instructed to take ordinary, everyday materials, some expensive like gold and precious stones, and some inexpensive like wood and metal, and to construct a house for God. What made these materials holy or qodesh was NOT their inherent worth or value, but the fact that they were being set apart or consecrated for God’s use. They belonged to Him and Him alone. They were holy because of their new purpose and position. The garment that Moses was to make for Aaron had no special characteristics or qualities. It held no special powers. What made it unique was that it was set apart for one use and one use only – for the priest to use in his service to God. Had Aaron chosen to wear that garment home and use it around the house, he would have desecrated it. He would have been using it for something other than its intended use. To do so with something holy would be to profane it.

God had specific instructions regarding the profaning of what He had set aside as holy. Over in Leviticus He says in regard to the priests, “They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they present the offerings by fire to the LORD, the food of their God; so they shall be holy” (Leviticus 21:6 NASB). To profane something means to make it ordinary. It would be to use something that was intended for God and use it for ordinary, everyday use. Over in 1 Peter 1:16, we are told by God, “You must be holy because I am holy.” We have been set apart by God for His purpose. We belong to Him. There is nothing in us of any value that makes us holy. But God has chosen us and set us apart as His own. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us, “you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession.” We belong to God. So when we use our bodies, our minds, our hands, our feet – for any purpose other than what God has planned for us, we profane ourselves. We take what God has set apart and use it for things He never intended. We have been set apart by God for a purpose – ordinary men and women who God has chosen to use for His glory. Why would we want to do anything less?

Father, thank You for setting me apart – for choosing to use me. Forgive me for using myself the way I want to, instead of the way You want to use me. Help me to remember that You chose me for a purpose. I belong to You. I am to glorify You with my body. I am to honor You with all that I am. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Exodus 26

Behind the curtain

“Across the inside of the Tabernacle hang a special curtain made of fine linen, with cherubim skillfully embroidered into the cloth using blue, purple, and scarlet yarn. Exodus 26:31 NLT

I recall that scene in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow found themselves in the presence of the mighty Oz. There was smoke and a scary apparition with a booming, intimidating voice demanding  to know the purpose for their visit. They were in awe. They were petrified. They were in the presence of someone mightier than they were. They were afraid for their lives. The Toto happens to sneak behind the curtain and pulls it back to reveal a small man twisting an assortment of knobs and dials, speaking into a large microphone. The “mighty Wizard of Oz was exposed for what he was: a fraud and a charlatan. He was anything but mighty and certainly no wizard.

But as we read the story of the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus 26, we run across a similar curtain, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. This curtain was said to be 4-inches thick and proved a formidable barrier, preventing anyone but the High Priest from coming into the place where the very presence of God dwelt. In it were contained the Ark and the Mercy Seat, but no one was allowed beyond it. No one dared try to go behind it. Out of awe, fear, and respect for the One who dwelt there.

And it was to remain that way for generations – during all the years the Tabernacle existed and throughout the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem. There was no mere man behind this curtain. This was not a sham. It was the holy, all-powerful presence of God Himself. Later in chapter 40 we read that when the Tabernacle was completed, an amazing thing happened. “Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glorious presence of the LORD filled it. Moses was no longer able to enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the Tabernacle was filled with the awesome glory of the LORD” (Exodus 40:34-35 NLT). During set-up and construction of the Tabernacle. Moses had been free to go in and out of the Holy of Holies, but now that God had taken up residence, Moses was no longer allowed access. He could not behind the curtain. And neither could anyone else.

But all that was to change. A day was coming when the curtain separating men from God would be removed. Access to the Holy of Holies and the God who dwelt there was going to be opened up once and for all. Mark records the event.  “Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37-38 NLT). As a result of Jesus’ sacrificial, substitionary death on the cross, the wall of separation was removed. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life–giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of his death for us. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT).

We can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. No fear. No apprehension. No condemnation. Christ has opened up for the a way through the sacred curtain by means of His death for us. We can go right into the presence of God with Jesus as our High Priest. We are clean and totally pure because of the blood of Christ. No more barrier. No more isolation. No more separation.

Father, the curtain has been parted. But behind it we don’t find an imposter or a fake, but the Almighty, Sovereign, Holy God. And we have full access into your presence without fear of condemnation or risk of annihilation. Because of the blood of Your Son, You see us as pure and holy in Your eyes. The sacrifice has been made once and for all. The separation has been removed forever. Thank You!. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men