Saturday, November 04, 2006

"God's Power in the Pentateuch"

This is just an observation as I've been reading through the Pentateuch [first five books of the Old Testament]...

God performed the plagues on Egypt, "To show [them His] power, so that [His] name [would] be proclaimed in all the earth (Exodus 9:16). (ESV)" It seems brutal, but that is really what was going on behind it all.

We see the fruit of this in that, " Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses (Exodus 14:31). (ESV)" Also, "Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy (Exodus 15:6). (ESV)"

These passages kick off the theme of God's power that cannot be missed. I'll try to build up to a surprising event that I didn't remember from the last time I read these books culminating in Leviticus 9.

Israel at Sinai began a new period of time (Exodus 19), of God relating to His people, a time under God's laws given through Moses. They received laws about many things [the ten commandments (20:1-21), altars (20:22-26), slaves (21:1-32), restitution (21:33-22:15), social justice (22:16-23:9), sabbath and festivals (23:10-19), etc.]. They also received instructions on making the ark of the covenant (25:10-23), the table for bread (25:23-30), the golden lampstand (25:31-40), the tabernacle (26:1-37)...and on and on it goes through chapter 30 and then again from Exodus 35-40.

Exodus 40:34-38 is a testimony to the Lord's faithfulness in that the Glory of the Lord was dwelling among Israel.

Then in Leviticus the first 7 chapters outline how Israel was to offer offerings for atonement of sin. It is clear through the demand for having to cyclically make atonement all year every year that this substitutionary atonement was not a full atonement for all sins that we see in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We see all the different procedures for offering sacrifices to the Lord in these first 7 chapters of Leviticus. God is very detailed in what He expects for atonement, the tabernacle, priests clothes, etc. It's like all of this tension is building from Exodus 19-Leviticus 7. Tension of all these standards that Israel must meet in order to please God. In my mind I'm thinking, "this is all impossible," and, "to what end are all of these things being done?"

So in Leviticus 8 God, through Moses, consecrates the priests, Aaron and his sons. He basically ordains them and follows a very specific ritual in order to do this. Then in Leviticus 9 the priests do their first offering!

A bull! It's interesting that this is the first real mention of Aaron since he led Israel in idolatry of the golden calf...and he is sacrificing a bull. So they do it...all according to God's design and then this happens in Leviticus 9:22-24:
"And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings.
And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people [my emphasis]. (ESV)"

What a reward to the people who obediently followed God's very particular instructions. And then this...

"And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces [my emphasis]. (ESV)"

How humbling would that have been...

Of course Israel stumbled right after this, but what an amazing experience to come out of Egypt; to sin against God numerous times and be forgiven; to be given, out of God's grace, a law would point to our sin; to be given an understanding of atonement in a shadow of what was to come in Christ being seen in glory on the cross and resurrected; and then to see God's glory in this consuming of the offering.

I don't spend enough time on my face in reverence of God's power and glory!

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