Exodus 35-36

“All whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved came and brought their sacred offerings to the Lord. They brought all the materials needed for the Tabernacle, for the performance of its rituals, and for the sacred garments.” 35:21

What a beautiful picture of God’s people coming together, offering what they have and working as a community. 

There is no stopping someone whose heart is stirred by the Spirit. I’ve seen people hand over the keys to a car, give large checks of money, walk away from high-paying jobs, give away their prized possession and leave places they love, all in the name of the Lord. 

When is a time God has stirred you to do something? It’s an undeniable feeling that propels you to do something you’d never find yourself doing without him prompting you. 

If you have a relationship with God, and you haven’t experienced that, something’s up. Usually for me, this means I’m not putting myself in a position where I can be informed. I’m not praying or connecting spiritually, I haven’t attended church or am in general distancing myself from God’s people. 

It can be intimidating to engage in God’s work, and maybe you’re even dreading what he’ll ask you to do or hand over. But when we are submitting our lives to God in obedience, there is nothing more fulfilling or rewarding. Nothing! I love imagining the Israelites staggering back to get a look at all their hard work. The large curtains sewn. The perfectly carved gold posts. Enough gifts for the sanctuary that Moses started turning them away! 

If everyone gave away their resources and gifting this generously, I don’t think there would ever be any needs unmet.

Is God stirring your heart towards something? 

Are you making yourself available for opportunities within your community? Are you informed? 

You don’t have to aggressively hunt down opportunities to serve God. Simply engaging with people will present them. This means checking in, asking “anything I can do to help?” with a genuine heart. Leaving space in your day to hear from God. Allowing room for quietness so you’ll notice when he’s pulling you towards something. 

I hope one day to be like the Israelites, offering so much of myself that all the needs in my community are met. Stepping back to admire all our hard work and sacrifice coming together to complete God’s plans and bring him glory. 
-Carly 

Exodus 33-34

“Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.” ‭(33:13-15‬)

Please read every word of these chapters. This is an incredible moment in history, a pivotal moment in God’s story with mankind. There are hundreds of sermons which have started with these chapters: Moses speaking with God as a friend. God showing Moses His glory. The restating of the covenant. Moses veiling his face from the people. The LORD revealing His hallmark attributes (gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, etc). It’s hard to pick which incredible promise to focus on! 

So I’ll choose this. Moses had gotten to know God, since his encounter at the bush, and had become certain of one thing: I’m not going anywhere without you. 

The LORD is all powerful, greatly to be feared and praised, but for whatever reason, He loves His people, desires to be with them, and communicate with them. He responds to Moses’ prayers. They are somehow friends! And no matter how mad/annoyed we all are after the calf incident, I’m not going anywhere without you. 

He knows there’s more to know about God. Infinitely more! He is the complex person of whom every person alive bears the image. He could complete His tasks and fulfill His incredible promises through an angel delegate, but I’m not going anywhere without you. 

The people of Israel might be satisfied with a mediator. They may be too caught up in their brokenness to want a closer look at their creator, but the God of Abraham, the Great I AM has turned out to be deeply beautiful, full of love, justice, goodness, grace, holiness and I’m not going anywhere without you. 

Do you see Him? Do you feel Him? Can you hear Him? Is there any substitute for Who His Is? A golden calf may seem more approachable, an angel may seem powerful enough, but HE IS THE WHITE HOT REAL DEAL. I’m not going anywhere without you. 

-Bethany 

Exodus 31-32

“When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. ‘Come on,’ they said, ‘make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.’ ” 

Ooooh, Israelites. So foolish, so small-minded, distrusting, anxiety-prone and impatient. And so relatable! 

Everyone peels off their gold jewelry and hands it over to Aaron so he can melt it down and create a three-dimensional god for themselves. I wonder if this is the same jewelry mentioned in chapter 12. God favored the Israelites and prompted the Egyptians to hand over their wealth to them on their way out of town. 

Did God’s people take something he gifted them and worship it instead of him? 

We do this too. In moments when we can’t see him, when we haven’t heard from him in a while and we desire something tangible, we scrape up something to worship. Aaron fails them as a leader here. He doesn’t comfort the people, point out their impatience or remind them of God’s history with them so far. He disobeys God and gives them something temporary and manmade, instead of extending them God’s hope. 

What’s your gold calf? What’s something in your life that God gave you, that you reach for instead of him? 

Notice here how Moses advocates for the people. He calls upon God to be true to his promise, rather than true only to his justice. We are fickle, failing people in need of a middle man, mediating on our behalf to our God. 

As we near the end of Exodus, start reflecting on this story. How does it line up with the gospel? What does it say about spiritual slavery? What have you learned about Jesus from Moses? 
-Carly

Exodus 29-30

Consecration is the word of the day: It is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service. The word literally means “association with the sacred”.

Aaron and his sons get consecrated in this passage, to be made “holy” (set apart) ministers of the LORD. This happens all through physical acts: washing, anointing, dressing, etc. They become physically qualified.

Because, you know, meanwhile, as Moses is receiving this very instruction for Aaron and his sons, Aaron is down the mountain melting everyone’s gold into an idol. Not a lot about Aaron’s heart has been addressed, yet.

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”‭‭ (Hebrews‬ ‭9:13-14‬)

We live on the other side of this. Christ had made our cleansing thorough. Our hearts of stone have been exchanged for hearts of flesh. He has purchased us with His blood, we are His. Quite associated with the sacred.

Ask the Lord, today, what it means to be His, and thank Him for the great lengths He went to make it so.

-Bethany 

Exodus 27-28

I love how much attention to detail and emphasis on beauty there is in these chapters. God set up the priesthood and the system of sacrifices to help the people approach him. Jesus is now our High Priest, and daily sacrifices of animals are no longer needed to cover our sins.

Does God have you working on something specific for him? “Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service.” 28:3

This is one of the many times in the Bible that God empowers someone with special gifting and calls upon them to use it for his glory. But first, you need to know your gifting. I’m sure the tailors who made Aaron’s garments never imagined they’d use their skills for such a daunting task. God includes everyone in his work, and empowers each individual to do so.

Are you staring in the face of a huge responsibility? Fear not, God will equip you. He’s bringing you into his work not because he needs you, but because he wants to include you. Lean into him to give you wisdom and discernment along the way, and trust that he will give you what you need, right as you need it.

Don’t be afraid to ask him for ideas, energy, companionship, rest and any other details that come along with completing his good, hard work. He knows what you need!

 

-Carly

Exodus 25-26

“Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.” ‭(25:2‬)

The LORD is a gentleman. He doesn’t force Himself on us. He’s about to get real specific and He’s looking for an audience that’s willing. We can all say we’d love detailed instruction from God for our lives, but the truth is, we have it, and He gives it to those whose hearts and listening and obedient. 

The tabernacle is both magnificent and simple. From what Israel knows about gods, they’ve always got elaborate temples. For whatever reason, the God of creation, who just dominated the Egyptian gods, is only requesting a tent. Sure it’s a well crafted tent, full of articles of gold, but a tent all the same. Mobile. Because He’s traveling with them. 

The real magnificence of the tabernacle is how it foreshadows Jesus. Every piece, every article, every curtain, covering and veil introduces a function He will one day fulfill. 

I found this picture that very briefly illustrates these parallels:


I don’t want to rob y’all of the digging and discovering these things on your own. I remember the first time I read all the way through Matthew after finally studying and reading the entire Old Testament in Bible college. Journeying from:

“You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies.” (26:33)

To:

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.” (Matthew‬ ‭27:50-51‬)

Having made the emotional, perilous journey of God’s people over those 1400 years, left me sobbing like a baby.

He is beautiful. 

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”‭‭ (Hebrews‬ ‭10:19-22‬)

Don’t get lost in these details. Achacia wood, gold plating, goat hair, almond blossoms… they are all there for deeply beautiful reasons. God is getting specific and scholars are still unloading the significance. Don’t shy away from using Google while you read. 

Israel is about to learn the flow of worshipping their Great LORD. We worship this same LORD still, able to abide in His presence and it’s glorious.

-Bethany 

Exodus 23-24

“You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.” 23:2-3

God is a huge advocate for justice, and we should be too. He forbids twisting justice in favor of the poor or the rich. I understand the concept of this on a larger scale. But what does this look like on a small, every-day scale? How are the decisions we make advocating for justice? 

How are you voting? How are you spending your money, or, what companies are you lining yourself up with? How do you treat the poor? How do you treat the rich?

Or, even, how do you treat the unpopular? Who do you favor? 

You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. This can be applied everywhere. Joining in with your coworkers, complaining about your boss. Not speaking up about the weird way your church spends money. Defending the marginalized that was the butt of the joke at dinner with friends. God is not going to measure you up with your coworkers, or speak to you and your friends, or judge you based on what your church leaders decide.

He thoroughly searches your heart. He holds you accountable to your actions.

If something nags on your heart while you read this, bring it to the Lord. We are all held to the same standards, but if he is convicting you of something, don’t look sideways and see how your peers are responding to it. If he has you riled up about with holy anger about something, respond to it! He moves people towards different things so that all the areas of injustice get covered.

Don’t feel particularly convicted about something? Partner with your friends who are. Don’t underestimate this opportunity. It might seem like a cop out to just write a check to your missionary friend, or to commit to pray to someone or sign a petition. But it’s not! My friends who are on the front lines, starting nonprofits, moving their lives across country or getting their law degree to work for the marginalized, know that they couldn’t do what they’re doing without supporters. The body of the church has many parts. Ask God what part you are. He’s often not quiet about this, he loves justice-seekers.

 

-Carly

Exodus 21-22

We are here in the second half of Exodus, where details of the Law may begin to confound or frustrate you, but we’re all in this together and we remember God is good, beyond our ability to judge.

Here’s the second half of the Bible Project Overview for Exodus.

It’s helpful to take note of repeated words. One I notice is restitution.

Of course, in a perfect world, there’d be no slavery or violence, but the situation of Israel is far from perfect. You’ll notice this theme of restitution, instead. It is the best attempt at returning things to their original state. Without it, vengeance has a tendency to escalate, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime and things only get worse. 

Here God lays out the consequences, punishments that fit the crimes, so that order is restored and matters are settled. Sin, pain, murder and accidental death is inevitable. This was God’s answer to these people at this time. It’s not a perfect world. Restitution of the whole world is a much bigger plan (one still in the works).

Though parts of this make me cringe, I do enjoy the equal rights for women, and God’s promise to be the avenger of those without family:

“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” (22:21-24‬)

As the Overview said, there are some chapters about tabernacle dimentions ahead. Challenge yourself to engage. Also consider the problem Israel is starting to face: themselves. 

It’s easy to point fingers, blame Egypt for your problems, but slavery is a condition that followed them into the wilderness. God has begun the Good Work of redemption in our lives, but we still battle the human condition. Is there someone I’m wanting to blame my sin on? Am I ready to confront my own self-righteousness? Am I willing to make restitution and settled matters with forgiveness? Or will I let offense escalate in my heart?

LORD I need you.

-Bethany 

Exodus 19-20

I was in Iowa recently and experienced house-rattling thunder for the first time. I was in awe, and then later surprised when it was labeled a pretty small storm. 

Recently relocated to the south, I joke that the Bible Belt still exists because of the impact of storms. It humbles you. Noise and  power that man could never recreate or control, when you regularly experience them, you can’t help but revere to the creator of them.  Reread verses 19:16-20 and try to picture this scene. This is merely a whisper of God’s might. We follow such a powerful God! 

The last verse of chapter 20 got me thinking. God lays down the moral standards he has for mankind, and then tacks on “hey, watch your robe on the steps”. 

My eyes skimmed back to the Ten Commandments. So many of them seem obvious, right? Don’t kill each other, steal or tell lies and make sure to rest. I noticed they are all rooted in respecting the sanctity of life. 

I compare today’s society to this list and wow, we fall short. We don’t value human life and in fact, try to redefine when it begins. Screen writers capitalize on the idea of adultery being romantic. Resting is the mark of weakness. And there’s an entire industry dedicated to “exposing your nakedness”, and enjoying it. 

Nothing feels sacred anymore. But we are God’s people! We are not to imitate or align ourselves with secular, godless society. We are image-bearers of the mighty, holy God who brews the storms and breaths out the wind. Let us not forget that in our daily lives. Examine your heart today, are you honoring God with how you live your life? Or how you treat life? 


-Carly 

Exodus 17-18

“So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” (17:11)

This seems like an interesting trick and I think plenty of sports fans have tried it themselves. But it’s not a trick. This was Israel’s first battle of many more to come. It needed to be established, up front, that victory was only going to come from the LORD. Hands up is a symbol of appealing to God, asking for divine intervention and favor. As long as Moses’ hands were up and they were looking to God for victory, things worked out. 

Israel wasn’t going to come out of slavery, never having fought in a war before, and be incredible soldiers on their own. God had promised them a land, but it was going to happen because He’s awesome and they’re obedient… never the other way around.

Sometimes I can trick myself into thinking, if I do everything right, and pray all the right prayers, God will answer me favorably because I’m awesome and He’s obedient. YIKES!

This is why we all need help. Even Moses was refreshed by advice, in chapter 18.

So much of the Christian faith is giving up stuff: laying down rights for the sake of someone else, laying down burdens, surrending “control” (as if it was ever ours to begin with). Just a couple chapters ago Moses told Israel, “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.(14:14) Keep silent. That should be easy enough. Right?

For whatever reason, it’s part of our culture to be busy all the time. It gives us some false sense of importance. Jethro comes alongside Moses and says, “the thing you’re doing is not good.” (18:17) Delegate, man!

So this all brings me to some self assessment. What battles am I fighting? What makes me hope for victory? My skills and work ethic or my posture of dependence? What responsibilities am I holding that I need to let go? Am I empowering those around me and being an example of dependence on God? Am I handing out fish or teaching people how to fish?

What about you?

-Bethany