Exodus 30-31; Psalm 27
In Exodus 30 we get a collection of all the rest of stuff that needs dealing with. The big bits have been designed, so now we get lots of smaller things.
The first thing we get is the altar of incense. In many of our churches today we don’t burn incense, but it had multiple uses at the time. Firstly, it was part of the preparation of the space to make it holy. The incense burnt was unique to the tabernacle and so made it a place where God could dwell.
Secondly, it was a reminder of God’s presence. If you remember the pillar of cloud in Exodus 14, and that pops up again and again during Israel’s time in the wilderness, this cloud was an example of God’s presence. As they burnt the incense a mist would rise up, a cloud if you will, to be reminder that God’s presence is here.
We then have a tax for the maintenance of the temple, a bowl for the priests to wash their hands, and then the recipes for the anointing oil and the incense that was to be burnt, both of which were unique to God and his purposes.
Then we read as God calls out specific, skilled people to do the work of building the Tabernacle and everything in it. I think as Christians we can sometimes play down skills too much. It’s all about the Holy Spirit. And that’s true. God often calls people that seemingly are unqualified.
But it’s also important that when we serve God, we do our best to get skilled at what we do. As much as we possibly can we want to make sure that what we do for God we do to a high quality. This Tabernacle wasn’t mediocre or poorly put together. It was expertly put together and we should want to bring that same level of excellence, as much as we can, to everything we do for God.
And finally we get fresh teaching on the Sabbath. The day of rest. This is a call back all the way to Genesis 1. Is God has given the people multiple steps on how to create this space where humans can meet with God.
If you remember, I said a couple of days ago that this section is broken down into seven sections, each starting with “the Lord spoke/said to Moses”. We’ll we’ve had six sections of preparing and building.
Finally, here we get the seventh. Rest. God is once again affirming his eternal pattern. Yes, we work and build and get things done. But we also rest. At the beginning of this new nation, brought out of Egypt to be their own people, God wants to ingrain in them, at the end of every six days, rest!
From this pattern we can see that God is establishing a new Eden. A new place where humans and God can dwell together. It took him six days to make the first one, it’s going to take the Israelites six steps to make the new one. And the goal is the same with both. To spend day/step seven, resting with his people.
This psalm falls into the category of lament psalm, where the psalmist brings their struggles before God. While lament psalms normally start with the complaint and work towards declaring trust in God, this psalm open on a foundation of trust.
It is structured in a chiasm where the passage reflects itself, as though the psalmist lays out all the things they trust about God and then places their requests and struggles within that.
a) Psalm 27:1 - The Lord is my strength
b) Psalm 27:2-3 - My enemies
c) Psalm 27:4 - Let me dwell in the Lord’s presence
d) Psalm 27:5 - The Lord will take me in
e) Psalm 27:6 - Three positive declarations
f) Psalm 27:7 - Hear me
f) Psalm 27:8 - Let me see you
e) Psalm 27:9 - Three negative requests
d) Psalm 27:10 - The Lord will take me in
c) Psalm 27:11 - Lead me in your ways
b) Psalm 27:12 - My enemies
a) Psalm 27:13-14 - Be strong in the Lord
The psalm opens with the declaration that the Lord is the psalmist’s strength. Because of this strength, it doesn’t matter what their enemies or opponents throw at them. They will not stumble or fear because they have God.
Next the psalmist stands their ground on something they have been asking God for a while. That they might stand in his presence. They can have confidence in this because the Lord is the one who gathers and protects his people.
Because of the Lord, there are three things that the psalmist can now do. He can hold his head high, he can make his offering with joy, and he can sing praise to God.
With this foundation laid, the psalmist then asks God to hear his prayer, and this is where the psalm begins to reflect itself. He asks God to hear him and then asks that he might see God.
He had stated three things he can do because of God and now asks God not to do three things; hide his face, turn the psalmist away in his anger, cast the psalmist out of his presence.
He once again states the truth that the Lord is a God who gathers and protects those that are his, and asks the Lord to lead him in his way. Finally he makes one more request, that he not be handed over to his enemies, and then ends where he began. The Lord is his strength.
Through this psalm we see how a proper understanding of who God is can lead us to make big asks that he not forsake us. Instead, we can seek him to lead us and protect us in our struggles.
Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.