Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Exodus 30-32 They ate and drank and rose up to play

From Exodus 30-32

Ex 30.1-10 Law; Temple Worship - Instructions for the Altar of Incense
Ex 30.11-16 Law; Temple Worship - Census Tax to be used for the tent of meeting
Ex 30.17-21 Law; Temple Worship - Bronze basin
Ex 30.22-38 Law; Temple Worship - Anointing Oil and Incense
Ex 31.1-11 Story; Oholiab and Bezalel commissioned to make all commanded of Moses
Ex 31.12-17 Law; Repeated Law - The Sabbath is a sign (for creation) and to be observed for all generations
Ex 31.18 Story; The LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mt Sinai and gave him the two tablets
Ex 32.1-14 Sin-Story; The people create and bow down to a golden calf, the LORD denounces them, and Moses intercedes
Ex 32.15-35 Sin-Story; Moses punishes the people and tries unsuccessfully to atone for them

Passage and Comments
There is a fair amount that caught my interest today, so I will quote a lot.
[26] With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, [27] and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, [28] and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. [29] You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. [30] You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. [31] And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. [32] It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. [33] Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’” (Ex 30:26-33)
This passage is interesting because you always have to note what makes things holy. Here it is the anointing oil, whatever it touches becomes holy. Normally uncleanness spreads by touch. Touch an unclean dead body and you become unclean. Here it is in reverse. Whatever the anointing oil touches becomes holy. Secondly, this is probably the same anointing oil they used to anoint the messiah.
[12] And the LORD said to Moses, [13] “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. [14] You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. [15] Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. [16] Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. [17] It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” (Ex 31:12-17)
 What is interesting about this passage is that the Sabbath is deliberately described as a sign. What this means is that it is intended to distinguish the people apart from others. When the Hebrews observed the Sabbath, people around them knew they were Hebrews. God’s chosen people.
[3] So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. [4] And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” [5] When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” [6] And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. (Ex 32:3-6)
A shocking display of apostasy and idolatry. Why Aaron was not killed in punishment I don’t know. We need to pay attention to the detail here, because it is commented on by many later.
1) They create the golden calf
2) Aaron proclaims a feast to the LORD
3) They offer burnt and peace offerings to the calf (both included in Leviticus 1-6
4) There is a funny expression - ‘the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play’

Paul and the early church both recall (4). The early church use this account of Israel’s sin as one reason why God does not accept the levitical offerings as valid laws. They continued use in pagan festivals becomes increasingly associated with them.
[30] The next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” [31] So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. [32] But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” [33] But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. (Ex 32:30-33)
 Moses pleads their case. But the LORD refuses. Whoever sinned will be blotted out of his book. The book of life.

Story of Israel
When we look at Israel, quite often we need to make a decision based on the behaviour of people if they are really the people of God or not. Paul said in Rom 9, 'not all Israel is Israel'. Based on the assessment of Stephen (Acts 7), Paul (2 Cor 3) and the author of Hebrews (Heb 3-4), it seems unlikely these people are the true Israel.

Story of Jesus
If I continue with the theme of holiness we should be reminded Jesus is the one who makes people holy. Seek him out, touch him like people did who were sick. Be healed. Follow him. No longer is the Sabbath a sign for the people of God, faith in Jesus as the Christ is. Do people know you're a Christian? Are you a sign to the people? Likewise the levitical offerings have been rejected and or replaced by Christ. They were a shadow of the things to come. That is Jesus the Christ. People who trust and follow him are in the book of life.