Monday, February 8, 2010


Exodus 38-40

In chapter 38, the recounting continues of the way that the Israelites followed God's instructions for creating a place for worship. They built the Altar of Burnt Offering and basin for washing, then built the courtyard of the Tabernacle and hung the curtains. They used material obtained by the community and recorded all that they used, including 29 talents and 730 shekels of gold and 100 talents and 1,775 shekels of silver. Likewise, chapter 39 describes how they made the priestly garments, the ephod and breastpiece and the other garments. Moses inspected the Tabernacle, and saw that they had done all that the LORD had commanded and that it had been done just as the LORD commanded. "So Moses blessed them."

In the final chapter of Exodus, chapter 40, the LORD told Moses to set up the Tabernacle on the first day of the first month, to place the ark and the table and the things that belong on it, and to shield them with the curtain. To set up the altar and basin and courtyard, and to anoint the Tabernacle and averyting thing in it with the oil, and to consecrate it and all of its furnishings. Then, they should bring Aaron and his sons, wash them with water and dress them in the sacred garments, and anoint them and consecrate them that they might serve as priests. They did all of this, "then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle."

And the book of Exodus ends with the Israelites living in the desert, and dependent on God's presence to determine when they would move on. "In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels."

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • I've little to add to what I had to say yesterday. The Israelites, at least in these fairly menial and, to many seemingly unimportant, tasks, obeyed God's commands.
  • As much as they have been both ungrateful and disobedient, GOD has forgiven them, and is keeping his presence among them. He made a covenant that he would lead them to the promised land, the land "flowing with milk and honey" and despite their violation of the terms, he's living up to his side of that covenant.

Psalms 8

Psalm 8, unlike a couple of the ones preceding it, contains no pleas for mercy or justice or vengeance. This is a psalm of praise, reflecting on the splendors of the created universe, and the wonder of man's place in it.

One of the anthems that I've most loved singing over the past 15 years is a setting of Psalm 8 by Tom Fettke titled "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name." Here's a recording of the Park Street Church Sanctuary Choir from 2007...

"What is man that you are mindful of him?"

How is it that the creator of the universe, who can do anything, has chosen man to have a relationship with? He has set his "glory above the heavens," he has created the beauty of the moon and stars, and yet we, small and insignificant, have been made "ruler over the works of [God's] hands." C.S. Lewis' Screwtape says that "he wants servants who can finally become sons," and maybe it's just that simple...

Psalm 8

1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise [b]
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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