The word Atonement means to sacrifice for sin. The sacrifice “covers” our sin. You might remember that the first atonement (foreshadow of the Cross) was made in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin (nakedness) with fig leaves. They failed. They could not cover their own sin, so God sacrificed an animal and covered them with “animal skin”. HE atoned their sin. The cover of the Ark was called the Atonement Cover.
Only ONCE a year the high priest would go behind the veil and put blood on the cover to Atone the sins of the people. The day is called “The day of Atonement”. (On the calendar it is Yom Kippur).
The Altar of Incense.
Are you following the “path” of the Tabernacle? FIRST, a sacrifice is made. THEN we cleanse, The Altar of Incense is before the Ark of the Covenant. Here is a wonderful visual of how Christ will fulfill the Tabernacle.
If you are having trouble picturing the inside of the tabernacle, visit a cathedral or a catholic church. They used the same layout for their church design. Each item in the tabernacle represents Jesus. Incense represents “prayer”. The priests would burn incense in the morning and at night for the Israelites. The people would see the “prayer” going up to God from a hole in the roof of the tabernacle. Neat, huh.
Atonement Money: The directions regarding the tabernacle opened with instructions concerning contributions for its construction. They close with this directive that every Israelite, “20 years old and over,” was to pay a flat fee. Everyone was to pay the same amount (“the rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less”), because the cost of everyone’s “atonement” was the same in the Lord’s sight. When we get to the New Testament the lingo will be called the “Temple Tax” but we don’t have a temple yet. It will become an issue and Jesus will be “tested” on it.
Basin for Washing: The basin was a large reservoir for holding the “water” that the priests used to wash their hands and feet as they performed their duties. It stood between the altar and the sanctuary. Its presence in that position symbolized the fact that cleansing is necessary after making an atonement, but before the enjoyment of fellowship with God.
Anointing oil and Incense: Both were created with a special mixture God specified for “holy” use only. One day maybe we will dig into these ingredients if time allows, I bet we would find some cool foreshadows.
OK. We know what to build..now we need the builders. The Lord fills Bezalel “In the Shadow of God” and his assistant Oholiab “The Father is My Tent” special gifts and wisdom to do it!
If you read this first before the actual Bible read…STOP here and go read Exodus 32. Click here if you need to. Your head will explode.
This is a story about Apostasy. Apostasy means “to depart” or “stand away”. In a biblical sense, it means to depart from God’s will. I point this out because apostasy is not about being an unbeliever (which is how I have read this in the past). The term refers to obedience, not salvation.
It has always been hard for God’s people (insert my name here) to wait for Him. True or False.
Calves and bulls have always been used in worshiping pagan gods. The calf was representative probably of the god ‘Apis’ He was symbolic not as the actual god, but the footstool of the god or the vehicle they rode in on. So who is the golden calf really replacing? God or Moses? It is unlikely Aaron was replacing God with this calf since the Bible says in verse 5
“When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.”
Aaron was responding to verse 1
“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
Look for Apostasy in this verse:
8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf.
In other words, they fashioned the calf as a footstool to be used by God just as Moses had been the vehicle used by the Lord. The English word “idol” derives from the Greek eidolon, meaning “something to be seen.” Is this a big deal? Yes!
- God’s intent was that His people worship Him at the altar revealed to Moses, not at an altar constructed by Aaron.
- God’s intent was to dwell among His people above the mercy seat above the ark, not above a golden calf.
- It was His intent that His people celebrate the feasts that He prescribed, not a feast involving pagan revelry.
- God’s intent was that Moses should lead the people, not Aaron.
Some of God’s intentions had not yet been revealed to the people; Moses was still on the mountain receiving these instructions. Their failure was running ahead of God. Ouch!
So if you read the story you know that Moses prays that God does not wipe out the Israelites. God relented “changed His Mind”. I have struggled with this for years, but now have Peace about HOW prayer works. I used to think, does prayer matter?? God causes everything to work out the way He wants it to. He knows what will comes to pass, but Scripture doesn’t say that He dictates how everything will come to pass, or when it will come to pass. Prayer does matter.
(Sorry this is long. It is just one of my favorites). Aaron’s response is probably one of the all-time classics! “Moses, you know these people they are crazy. I don’t even know how a calf got made! I threw the gold in the fire and poooooof…there was a calf!” LOL. Liar! So Moses calls for a rally. The only tribe to side with him was HIS OWN FAMILY! The Levites!
Their decision and obedience demonstrated their faith in God. They chose to go the way of His appointed leader, Moses, instead of following the rest. God’s punishment was severe because of the seriousness of their offense. It was also merciful; only 3,000 of the 600,000 men died. (3,000 were judged, in the NT on the day of Pentecost 3,000 will be given mercy)
Moses intercedes AGAIN by making an atonement for their sin.
Take a moment to sit and think about what this read said to you about your own relationship to the Lord. Lack of patience? Idolatry? Prayer? After that, think about how the people may not always see God on the mountain, but God always sees us ❤️.