Sometimes we struggle in reading through the end of the book of Exodus. Is there really something to learn in the instructions for the construction of the tabernacle or in the anointing of the priests? Here are a few quick thoughts I had when my daily reading took me through Exodus 29-31.
Exodus 29:19-20 – 19 “You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, 20 and you shall kill the ram and take part of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tips of the right ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the great toes of their right feet, and throw the rest of the blood against the sides of the altar.
In the anointing of Aaron and his sons to be priests, we see this odd instruction. After a particular sacrifice, the people are to put the blood of the lamb on the priest’s ear lobe, thumb, and big toe. How strange? Why?
Maybe we are to see that the priest, the faithful servant of the Lord, is to be consecrated to God in multiple areas of life. We belong to God in what we think (the head or ear lobe), what we do (the hand or thumb), and where we go (the big toe on the foot). No aspect of life is our own. Every part of your life—thoughts, actions, locations—belongs to God.
Exodus 30:11-13 – 11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give a ransom for his life to the Lord when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. 13 Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as an offering to the Lord.
When the people were coming into the land, God was going to have the people counted. And every adult who was counted was required to pay a ransom for his life. Rich or poor, it does not matter, every person is to pay this price. Why? Every life belongs to God. Every person is a sinner who rightly could die. Everyone needs payment to be made for who we are and to cover what we deserve.
How much does this point us to Jesus? Every one of us has sinned before God. Every one of us needs a price to be paid so that we might live. Only Jesus has the infinite worth and personal perfection to pay that price on our behalf.
Exodus 30:31-33 – 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.’ ”
When the people were to make the sacred anointing oil, there were restrictions. This oil could not be used by ordinary folks. In fact, if an average joe were to make this oil, he would be cut off from his people.
What might we learn? God has every right to declare a thing his own. God has every right to tell his people that certain things are off limits. God has every right to tell us what is holy and what is not. And we have every obligation to follow the Lord’s commands instead of thinking that we get a say in how we are to worship.
Exodus 31:1-5 – 1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.
Here, we see that God has set apart a particular man and given him the skill to craft the artistic items needed for the tabernacle. Here we are reminded that God, when he has a ministry he wants fulfilled, will gift his people with the skill needed to accomplish the task. God gifts us on purpose to do the work to which he calls us.
All these are simple thoughts, But all these remind us that there are glorious lessons for us to learn even in obscure passages.