Episode 8 Wilderness Years
Its been said that without a knowledge of the past you cannot understand the present which is the key to the future.
When we have explored the past some more we will explore the future.
Today our story starts with the deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt about 3,500 years ago.
Pharaoh insisted on keeping them as slaves, but when his first born son died, he begged the the Israelites to leave.
The Israelites’ sons escaped death by obeying God’s instruction to daub their doorposts and lintels with the blood of a lamb.
You won’t find that remedy in any medical journal. But you will find it in Exodus 12:22.
The book of Hebrews Ch. 9 v 22 says, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”.
Wicked people often recognise their evilness but don’t know how to deal with it.
‘Good’ people often fail to see their evilness when compared to God’s standards, and refuse to do anything about it.
The experience of ‘the angel of death’ passing over houses daubed with blood becomes celebrated annually by the Israelites as the ‘Passover’.
Jesus gave it new significance, telling His disciples to eat bread, symbolising unity with His body, and drink wine in remembrance of His blood shed for their forgiveness.
After travelling for three months God gave the the Israelites the Ten commandments recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.
It wasn’t long before the Israelites broke God’s commandments. Isn’t that like us, if we are honest?
So why did God give rules He knew would be broken?
The rules inform us of the standard He expects from us - scripture says, “Without holiness no man can see God.”
They also give us an opportunity to examine our own lives to see just how unrighteous we are. The Bible is like a mirror in which we can see what we are really like.
If we are honest, and having looked into the mirror, we will admit our guilt. Since God is a just God, we need his mercy and forgiveness.
The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, shows how we can experience that mercy and forgiveness without God compromising His justice.
It is liberating to know the penalty of wrong doing has been dealt with, and we can be released from the power of sin, shame and guilt.
God tells Moses, in Exodus 25:8-9 "Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you”.
The detail of this tabernacle (tent, dwelling) is so important that the Bible contains 50 chapters speaking of it.
The outer courtyard ‘fence’ was approximately 71/2 feet high. Too high to look over.
Only by entering could one see the incredible beauty of the decorations. But It only had one entrance on the east side.
You will remember in Episode 5 that the Ark (barge), in which people could escape from the world wide flood, only had one door.
The single door, or entrance, reminds us what John 10:9 records. Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me he will be saved.”
The barrier to us entering God’s presence is our sin.
Between the entrance and God’s special tent, was an alter.
To get to God’s tent you needed to bring a lamb as a sacrifice. Before it was offered on the alter you would lay your hands on it.
The repentant sinner confessed his sin and ask for forgiveness and by faith his sin was transferred to the lamb and the lamb’s innocence imputed to him.
When we believe, by faith, our sin has been transferred to Jesus and His righteousness imputed to us, we experience a new dimension of living.
Going past the alter is the special tent having two rooms. The second of which is called the holiest Place.
It is shaped as a cube (more of this in a later episode). To enter this room one has to enter through a ‘veil’ or thick, beautiful ‘curtain’.
Only the High Priest had permission to enter through the veil, and that only once a year after special sacrifices had been made.
When Jesus gave up His spirit whilst hanging on the cross, the veil was torn from the top to bottom, thus signifying that by faith in Jesus’ atonement, the barrier to our fellowship with God has been remove.
A very important piece of furniture in the Holiest Place is called the Ark of the Covenant. It looked a bit like a box.
Within it was kept the stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments. This being the standard by which man is expected to live.
It also contained Aaron’s rod, which within a twenty four hour period budded, blossomed and bore almonds, testifying to God’s power.
A pot of Manna, food which sustained the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings, was also in the Ark. A reminder of God’s ability to provide for our physical needs.
On top of the box, was a ‘cover’ known as the ‘Mercy Seat’ or ‘Seat of atonement’.
When the High Priest went into the Holiest Place, he would sprinkle blood on the ‘cover’, or ‘mercy seat’ for the forgiveness of the nations’ sins.
Tabernacle means dwelling. John 1:14 tells us that God, in the person of Jesus, came to tabernacle, or dwell, with us.
I would like to tell you more about God tabernacling with us but we will leave it for another time.