Sermon: The Story of Sinai (Exodus 20–40)

Audio: http://www.communitypca.org/sermons-1/2019/4/7/exodus-20-40 

When Greg first asked me to preach, he did not assign me a text. We can only hope that he has learned his lesson. The sermon text for today is Exodus ch. 21–ch. 40. Don’t worry, I’m not going to read it out loud. This will definitely be more of an overview or big-picture kind of sermon.

I hope to sketch out six major movements that take place in these last chapters of Exodus. These movements or divisions form a plot that eventually comes to revolve around this central question: will the Lord dwell with his sinful people or not?

Remember the context: Israel is at Mount Sinai. Yahweh has delivered them from their bondage in Egypt and sustained through the wilderness. He delivered them from bondage that they might serve him on this mountain (3:12). In 19:5 the Lord says to Israel: “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” And Israel replies: “All that the LORD has spoken we will do” (19:8).

The Lord then comes down in the cloud on Mount Sinai and speaks the Ten Commandments to Israel from the mountain. In response to this, the people are terrified, and understandably so. Imagine the scene: a thick cloud descending on the mountain, with loud thunder and flashes of lightning. The earth shakes. Fire flashes forth. Smoke goes up from the mountain like from a furnace, and the sound of a trumpet grows louder and louder.

Israel is terrified. They think that if they go on hearing the Lord’s voice, they will die. So they ask Moses to be a mediator to go and hear what God says and report it back to them. V. 21 says: “So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.”

  1. Moses Near the Cloud

This begins the first movement or section, which can be called “Moses near the cloud.” It begins in 20:22 and runs through the end of chapter 33. Note that it does not say Moses entered into the cloud at this point, just that he drew near it. He is in Yahweh’s proximity, but he is not within the glory-cloud yet.

In these chapters the Lord gives Moses various ordinances. Many of these fall under the category of case law. These are applications of the Ten Commandments—they show what the Ten Commandments look like applied to variable circumstances. Reading this as new covenant Christians, we are not necessarily bound to abide by each individual case law in the same way that Israel was. Instead we should seek to discern the principles behind these laws and ask how those same principles might apply to us today.

The case laws are where the rubber meets the road. It’s the nitty-gritty. They take the Ten Commandments and they flesh them out for us, they show us what they look like when applied to real-life scenarios.

The case laws also prevent us from adopting a conveniently minimalistic reading of God’s commandments. What do I mean by “conveniently minimalistic”? I’ll give you an example. A father asks his son to take the trash out. His son doesn’t want to do it. He’s feeling lazy and doesn’t want to take it all the way out to the trashcan by the curb, so he just swings open that back door, sets the trash on the porch, and goes back to his room. Now: has the son done what the father commanded? After all, his dad told him to “take the trash out,” and it’s out, right? Has he obeyed his father? No! What he has done is he’s taken the mere form of his father’s words and twisted them by interpreting them in a very surface-level, minimalistic kind of way, all so that he could justify his lazy behavior. But he knows what his father meant. He is ignoring his father’s deeper intention.

Brothers and sisters, beware of treating God’s commandments like this. Like you’re just looking for the bare minimum reading of each one. “Don’t murder.” Okay, I won’t murder, but I’ll hold a grudge. I’ll nurse bitterness. I’ll slander. I’ll gossip. I’ll seek revenge. “Don’t commit adultery.” Okay, but I’ll lust. I’ll spend time alone with other women. I’ll look at pornography. What is this? It’s self-excusing interpretive minimalism.

When you read God command something or forbid something, do not rest content with the bare form of the words. Press into what is the deeper principle that God is commending to us. Behind every prohibition is some good that God is seeking to preserve.

Let’s use an example from Exodus. The eighth commandment is “do not steal,” and the sixth commandment is “do not murder.” If we’re not wanting to be minimalists, we’ll say that these commands are saying that rather than seeking to do harm to your neighbor’s person or possessions, we should earnestly seek to promote their peace, welfare, and security. So far so good, but even then we’re still at the level of the general and the abstract. What does this actually look like in a real-world scenario? Consider Exodus 23:4–5:

If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.

When Jesus said, “Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you,” he was simply calling us back to the heart of God revealed in the law.

So when you read the Bible and you read one of God’s commands, always ask, What principle undergirds this, and what difference should that make, specifically, in my day-to-day life? As you do this, you’ll begin to understand what the psalmist means when he says that the righteous man meditates on the law day and night (Ps 1:2): he is not just repeating the words over and over again, he’s meditating on the deep principles that the law is getting at and how they cohere and fit with the world as God made it.

So, chapters 20:22–23:33 is Moses near the cloud. He receives various ordinances and case laws. The section concludes in 23:20–33 with Yahweh promising to send his angel before Israel to drive out the nations from the promised land. He forbids Israel from worshiping their gods and commands them to destroy the Canaanite idols and pillars.

This leads us to the second section:

  1. Israel Affirms the Covenant (24:1–11)

In Exodus 24 Yahweh commands Moses, Aaron and his sons, and seventy elders of Israel to come up the mountain and worship from afar, although only Moses is allowed to come near to Yahweh.

Before that happens, Moses first tells the people all of the words that Yahweh spoke to him in chapters 21–23, and they reply, as they did in ch. 19, by saying, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.”

In verses 4–8 they go through a ritual of covenant initiation. Moses builds an altar at the foot of the mountain and sets up twelve pillars, one for each tribe.

He sacrifices oxen as burnt and peace offerings, and throws half of the blood against the altar, and puts the other half in basins. He first reads all the words of the covenant to the people, and the people promise obedience for the third time in the Sinai narrative. After this, Moses sprinkles the blood of the covenant that he reserved in basins onto the people.

What’s with the blood going on the altar and on the people? One pair of commentators say this: “the division of the blood has reference to the two parties to the covenant, who were to be brought by the covenant into a living unity.” This is a ritualized act of covenant unity, like putting on rings at a wedding ceremony. Israel has said “I do,” and a rite of union occurs, showing they have been made one by the covenant.

And just like in weddings, this is followed by a feast. Verses 9–11 read thus:

Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. 11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.

This feast is the climax of the covenant affirmation ceremony. This is the purpose for which Yahweh called Israel out of Egypt: that they may have fellowship with him, eating and drinking in his presence, beholding his glory.

So also our weekly covenant renewal in worship climaxes at the Lord’s table, where we experience communion with Christ at his table. We eat and drink in his presence, and he blesses us as we behold his glory not corporeally but spiritually, by faith. And we anticipate his return, when we will eat and drink with him in his Father’s kingdom.

So Israel was betrothed to Yahweh in the Exodus, has gone through the marriage ceremony here in ch. 24. What is left but for the bridegroom to move in, to take his bride for himself? This brings us right to the third movement or section.

  1. Moses in the Cloud (24:9–31:18)

In 24:12 the Lord commands Moses to come up to him on the mountain and be there, that he might receive the tablets of the law and the commandments. We later learn that these are a copy of the Ten Commandments, written by God’s finger.

Moses arises with his assistant Joshua and tells the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you.” Moses tells them that if anyone has a difficulty or dispute, that they are to go to Aaron and Hur. That’s important to remember. Aaron was to act in Moses’ stead and settle any issues that arise.

So Moses goes up into the mountain and a cloud covers it. God’s glory rests on it for six days, and on the seventh day, the day of Sabbath rest, Moses enters into the midst of the cloud to rest in God’s presence. Forty days and forty nights, Moses did not eat bread or drink water. He was sustained in God’s presence. This prefigures Israel’s experience of spending 40 years in the wilderness, when they were sustained by the heavenly manna, that they might learn that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Now, being in the cloud, what does Moses hear? In chapter 25:1–9, the Lord commands Moses to tell the children of Israel bring to bring offerings to the Lord of materials they will use to build him a sanctuary, or holy place, where he might dwell among them.

In the rest of chapter 25 through 31, Yahweh describes in detail how his tabernacle or “dwelling-place” is to be made. There we read of the tabernacle structure, its layout, its design, its furnishing, of the courtyard and its furnishings, and of the priestly garments and ordination. As the author of Hebrews noted, so I also have to note: “of these things we cannot now speak in detail” (Heb 9:5).

There is much depth to the symbolism to the tabernacle and the priesthood. But suffice it to say that the tabernacle was instituted to make a way for a holy God to dwell among a sinful and unclean people. His presence was mediated by the priesthood and various rituals dealing with sin and guilt and uncleanness. There were divisions of sacred space: only priests were allowed in the holy place, and only the high priest was allowed in the most holy place, and that but once a year on the Day of Atonement. Though it had its restrictions, this tabernacle was a great grace to the people of God. It was the means by which God dwelt among his people in a more settled way. God was “moving in” to be with his bride, no longer in an occasional and sporadic kind of way like in his appearances to the patriarchs in Genesis, but in a settled, abiding sense. This is why the tabernacle is called his “dwelling” place. It is where Yahweh would dwell and remain with his people, to be their God. This is why he delivered them from Egypt. This is why he brought them to Sinai. This is why he gave them the law: so that he himself could dwell among them.

This makes what was going on down in the camp all the more tragic.

  1. The Golden Calf (32:1–33:6)

Back in the camp, the people were growing impatient. Moses had been up in the glory-cloud for 40 days and 40 nights. And besides this, in 24:17 we are told that “the sight of the glory of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.” They knew, and perhaps saw, that Moses stepped into this consuming fire. This tested their faith. They had to trust that Moses was still alive and protected in Yahweh’s presence. They had to trust that this God who delivered them out of Egypt did not do so only to consume them in his wrath. They had to believe that he was good and that he was faithful toward them.

But they did not believe. 32:1 says: “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’”

They lost faith. They assumed that Moses was in all likelihood dead. They doubted YHWH’s goodness toward them, just as the serpent tempted Eve to believe God was not good toward them in withholding the tree of knowledge.

It is not just the people at fault, though. Aaron—the one that Moses appointed to act as judge in his stead—fails in his duty to guard and protect the people. Aaron is a new Adam. Just as Adam listened to the voice of his wife and did not restrain her from sin, so Aaron listens to the voice of the people and fails to restrain their wickedness. He does not oppose them. He acquiesces to their request. He asks for their golden earrings and fashions the gold with an engraving tool into a molded calf. The people proclaim, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (32:4), and in response to this, Aaron builds an altar before the calf and proclaims that tomorrow is a feast to Yahweh. V. 6 describes this “feast” as an idolatrous frenzy: “then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” This contrasts with the 70 elders eating and drinking before Yahweh and seeing God: now the people of Israel are feasting and celebrating not before the true God, Yahweh, but before a golden calf. They broke the very first two commandments that the Lord declared to them: you shall have no other gods before me, and you shall not make for yourselves a carved image. And they did this while the glory-cloud was atop Sinai, and while Yahweh was giving the regulations for the tabernacle to Moses.

In verses 7 and following, Yahweh takes note of their idolatry and unfaithfulness and commands Moses, “let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”

To help us understand some of Yahweh’s fierce anger here, think back to the wedding imagery. The Sinai covenant ceremony is the wedding between Yahweh and his people. This means that the golden calf is adultery. Worse still, Yahweh had not yet even “moved in” with his bride yet through the building of the tabernacle. Imagine if a bride committed adultery on her wedding night. That is what Israel did. Yahweh is so angry that he is ready to destroy them all and make a great nation out of Moses instead.

But Moses intercedes in verses 11–14. He reminds Yahweh of how he has redeemed them from Egypt with great power and a mighty hand. He notes what the Egyptians might say if Yahweh simply destroyed them all. He calls on Yahweh to turn from his anger and to remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The outcome is that the Lord does relent from the harm which he said he would do the people.

Moses eventually goes down from the mountain and, like Yahweh, his anger burns hot when he sees the calf and the idolatrous festivity. He casts the tablets out of his hands and breaks them at the foot of the mountain, showing that Israel has broken the Ten Commandments, broken the covenant.

Moses takes the calf, burns it with fire, grinds it to powder, scatters it in the water, and makes them to drink it. This prefigures the test for jealousy in Numbers 5: Moses is calling for a curse on the unfaithful Israelites who drink the water, and thus bear their sin within themselves.

Moses confronts Aaron, asking him, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” (32:21). Moses does not mince words. He puts the blame right upon Aaron. Aaron was supposed to be the guardian, the judge, acting in Moses’ stead. He was supposed to take responsibility for the people and take a stand. He tells Aaron that he has brought this great sin upon them.

In response to Moses’ accusation, Aaron downplays his sin. He asks Moses to not let his anger become hot—which is to ask Moses not to follow Yahweh’s own example. Aaron, again, like Adam, shifts blame. He blames the people. “You know the people that they are set on evil.” Even as Adam says, “The woman you gave me…” to excuse his actions. Aaron also downplays his own active involvement in promoting their idolatry. He says: “I cast it in the fire, and this calf came out” (v. 24). No, Aaron actually actively molded the image and engraved it himself. Aaron, like Adam, is failing to own up, to take responsibility for his actions.

Don’t be like this when you sin. Notice I said when you sin. It’s not uncertain. We all sin, and if anyone says he has no sin, he deceives himself and the truth is not in him, as the Apostle John tells us. So when you sin, own up to it fully. Don’t try and weasel your way out of bearing the responsibility. Don’t shift the blame elsewhere. Don’t downplay it. You will not find freedom that way. You will find freedom by owning up to it, being honest with yourself with others and with God, and asking for forgiveness from God (and from others when appropriate) in humility and heartfelt sincerity. He is merciful and just to forgive us our sins through Christ, when we acknowledge them and confess them.

Moses does what Aaron should have done. He goes to the entrance of the camp and calls out, “Whoever is on Yahweh’s side—come to me!” (32:26). And who comes? “All the sons of Levi.”

The Levites’ task is like the cherubim in the garden of Eden: to go to and fro with swords, cutting down the idolaters, and they strike down 3,000 men in one day. The Levites’ willingness to do this to their own relatives and countrymen shows their zeal for the Lord. On this account the tribe of Levi is consecrated to the Lord that very day to serve as priests.

The Levites embody the zeal that Jesus calls all his disciples to have for him: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt 10:37). Jesus claims that our allegiance must be to him above all else. More particularly, as guardians of God’s people, the Levites embody the pastoral care and willingness to practice church discipline that elders ought to have.

Moses again intercedes for the people, asking for the Lord’s forgiveness. He does not downplay it but calls it a great sin, and names it specifically—making for themselves a god of gold. He asks Yahweh to forgive their sin, and if he won’t, then to blot him out of his book—meaning, let Moses’ fate be the same as that of Israel. Similarly, Paul says that he could wish himself accursed for the sake of his fellow Israelites who are cut off from Christ in Rom 9:3.

In response, Yahweh tells Moses to go and lead the people to the land and promises his angel to go before them. However, the Lord also promises that he will visit them in punishment for their sin, and the text states that he plagued the people for what they did with the calf Aaron made.

This is similar to David and Bathsheba. God’s forgiveness does not eradicate the consequences for sin, nor does it eradicate fatherly discipline on account of sin. God’s forgiveness means that he is no longer a wrathful judge condemning us, but it does not mean that he will not as a father chastise us in love.

At the end of this section, things are left in the air. On the one hand, Yahweh has promised that he will not destroy the whole nation and start over with Moses. But what will the consequences for Israel’s sin be? This leads to the next section…

  1. Yahweh Renews Covenant (33:7–34:35)

In ch. 33:1–3 Yahweh issues a devastating word:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ 2 And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

Martyn-Lloyd Jones, in his sermon on this passage, points out that the people heard this as “bad news” in v. 4, or as the KJV has it, “evil tidings.” Think on that. The promise of an Angel to go before and destroy your enemies. The promise to inherit a land flowing with milk and honey. Earthly prosperity and success. But not God. God himself would not be among you. Many of us might think, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Not to Israel. “Evil tidings.” They heard this and “mourned” and did not put on their ornaments.

Why does Israel respond with sorrow over this news? Because they realize the serious consequence of their sin: they forfeited God’s presence. All those tabernacle regulations are nullified. God will not dwell with them after all.

Why was Israel delivered out of Egypt? So that they could become YHWH’s people. So that they could serve him. Ultimately, so that they could enjoy his life-giving presence. The tabernacle system was the means by which God would dwell among them, but while he was giving those commands to Moses, they committed spiritual adultery against him and bowed before a molded calf. Israel ruined it before it even got started.

Israel’s mourning teaches us important lessons. No matter how much worldly pleasures and acclaim one has, it will never be enough (see Ecclesiastes). God alone can satisfy the human soul. The heart of believers is like the heart of the psalmist, that longs and faints for God, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. We often quote this, but it bears repeating: our hearts are restless until they rest in him. We were made for God, to know and enjoy and glorify him forever. That’s our purpose and our end as man, and life will not work, things will not make sense if we do not make that our highest delight and pleasure. The gospel at its heart is that we get God himself.

In verses 7–11, we read of Moses’ tent. In lieu of the tabernacle, Moses made a tabernacle of meeting of his own, purely for prayer and meeting with God. Moses pitches his tent “outside of the camp, far from the camp,” and calls it the tabernacle of meeting. It was open not just to Moses, but to anyone who sought the Lord to go out there. But whenever Moses rose to enter the tent, the Israelites would all rise and stand at their tent doors and watch him go. When Moses entered the tent, the cloud would come down and stand at the door, and talk with Moses, “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (v. 11). The people would see this and worship from their own tent doors (v. 10). Joshua stayed behind, likely to guard the tent.

This shows us two things:

  • On the one hand, this further shows the Israelites their sin, in that Yahweh does not dwell in the camp or even near the camp, but “far from the camp” (v. 7).
  • On the other hand, it shows Moses’ determination to still meet with Yahweh and mediate on behalf of Israel.

In 34:12–23 Moses intercedes for Israel again. Verses 12–17 seem a bit repetitive and confusing until you notice that it is a chiasm. Verses 12 and 17 correspond, verses 13 and 16 correspond, and verses 14 and 15 correspond as the center, where Yahweh promises that his presence will go with them and give them rest (v. 14), and Moses responds, “If your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (v. 15).

After this, Moses asks to see Yahweh’s glory. Yahweh promises that he will show Moses his glory, but that he cannot see his face but only his back, for “no man shall see Me, and live” (33:20). Moses will be hidden in a cleft of a rock and covered with Yahweh’s hand, but will be allowed to see his back as he passes by. Like the tabernacle itself with its curtains and veil and divisions, this shows that while God’s glory was revealed graciously to the saints in the OT, it was also obscured. Moses cannot see God’s face but only his back. God’s people was not yet ready for a full manifestation of his glory, which awaited the time of Christ.

Chapter 34 gives us this manifestation of God’s glory along with a covenant renewal. Yahweh commands Moses to re-make the tablets of stone and to come up to the mountain. In vv. 5–7, Yahweh reveals his name, as he promised. This self-revelation is foundational and repeated or alluded to often throughout the rest of Scripture:

Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

In response to this, Moses at once bows his head to the ground and worships. He entreats once more that the Lord forgive Israel’s sin and go among them and take them for his inheritance.

In the remainder of the chapter, Yahweh renews his covenant with Israel. He promises to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan, prohibits them from making covenants with them and commands them to destroy their idols, and gives various laws concerning worship. He commands Moses to write these words of the covenant and God writes the Ten Commandments on the new tablets.

When Moses speaks with the Lord, the Lord’s glory rubs off on him. His face shines. When he goes and delivers the words of God to the people, they all look upon his shining face while he delivers what God has commanded. But the people are afraid to come near him, so he veils his face in normal life, and only unveils it when he speaks to the Lord and speaks the Lord’s message to his people. There is a deeper significance to this that we will return to at the end. But first we will briefly outline the sixth and final movement of the book:

  1. The Building of the Tabernacle (chs. 35–40)

In ch. 35 calls are made for tabernacle offerings and artisans, and the people of Israel give far more offerings than were needed. Whereas the people needed to be restrained from idolatry at the golden calf (32:25), now the people need to be restrained from giving so many offerings for the tabernacle (36:6)—a complete and happy reversal. An emphasis is laid upon the willing heart of the people of Israel and their eagerness in building the tabernacle. It is as though the heart of the people has changed.

Chs. 36:8–39:31 parallel chs. 25–31 quite closely, except some of the order is rearranged and now the focus is on how the craftsmen made it just as Yahweh commanded it.

In 39:32–43, the building is completed and the materials are presented to Moses. In 39:43, Moses looks it over, sees that it was done as the LORD commanded, and “blessed them,” language reminiscent of Genesis 1.

In ch. 40, Moses sets up the tabernacle and arranges it. He is commanded to do this on the first day of the first month: the first day of a new creation, a new heavens and new earth, a new world—the world of the tabernacle. In vv. 16–33 it states 7 times that Moses did “as the Lord commanded Moses” and it ends in v. 33 by saying “Moses finished the work.”

And after Moses finished the work, the cloud and the glory finally came to rest on the tabernacle, as God had promised he would. So great was the glory that v. 35 says not even Moses was able to enter. This is the crescendo of the book, as God graciously moves in to dwell with his bride, his chosen people.

Conclusion

The glory of the covenant at Sinai was very great. It was so great that when Moses’ face shone after speaking with the Lord, he had to cover his face so that the Israelites would not cower away in fear. They could not handle this glory. And yet, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3, this is a temporary glory, one that passed away. The Mosaic covenant itself had an end in Christ. Jesus brings the new and eternal covenant, which has much greater glory.

That greater glory is the full manifestation of God’s glory in the face not of Moses, but of Jesus Christ, as 2 Corinthians 4 puts it. Jesus Christ is the full embodiment of the divine presence, God himself dwelling among us in human form. Colossians 2:9: “For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” His is not a glory that causes us to flee in terror, but as John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt—literally, tabernacled—among us, and we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The new covenant does not just have a greater glory, but also a greater hope, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3. Greater hope leads to greater boldness. Moses could not be bold toward the Israelites. They were in fear of this great glory, this consuming fire. They kept away. There were divisions in place in terms of holy space. It was not safe for the Israelites to get too close to God. Touch the mountain and you die. No one but Moses could go on top of the mountain to where God was. Only priests could enter the holy place. Only high priests could enter the most holy place. God’s glory in these many ways was veiled and obscured; Israel wasn’t ready for it yet. And even today, 2,000 years later, this obscuring veil, that masks and separates us from the divine glory, remains over the minds of those who are apart from Christ.

Christ does away with all of this through his perfect life and sacrificial death and his present intercession. He does away with all barriers between man and God (and also, in so doing, between Jew and Gentile). We all now, in Christ and by the Spirit, have direct access to God. We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus. We are in the place of Moses, and can behold the glory of the Lord with face unveiled. May we look to Christ in faith, and be changed into his image, from one degree of glory to the next.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Image source: Sabatka on Pixabay

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