We have said before that this altar was where the Lord does business. There is an outer altar and an inner altar, and a third altar called the Miphkad altar (more on that later). But, we are going to deal with the two main altars where we do business with God. The outer altar deals with the things of the world, sin, service to others and so on. The inner altar is where we deal with the inner things of God and service to God.
Israel has said the Shema so many times that they have lost the meaning of “Echad” which is a composite unity, not “absolute one.” If Israel and the non-Jews are ever going to understand the person of God, they need to understand the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We must follow the “tavnit” (blueprint) and it will explain it all. Yeshua came to set up the Mishkan in the hearts of the people so that he could take his place with the Father and the Holy Spirit. We can enter into that sanctuary and have the Advocate and the Comforter working with us. We all want to get beyond the veil and it is real simple.
Once beyond the veil, what is in the box? What is in there? We have the two tablets, the Word of God, the Torah. We say, “If only God would speak to me, then everything will be alright.” But he does speak to us through the Tanak, the Gospels and Epistles. That is why the Messiah is called the Word of God and the Mediator. He brings us to the “Kipporet” or “Mercy Seat.” But what does that mean? It means we didn’t get what we deserved and we got what we didn’t deserve. We got unmerited favor. So, let’s get back to looking at the Mishkan and all that went into it. Remember, the Mishkan and the Temple were seen as a miniature Eden and an extension of Mount Sinai.
In Exo 28.1-3 we learn that God has given the Spirit of Wisdom to certain “skillful” or “wise hearted” individuals. The Torah implies that the work must be done with the heart. Having “skill” or “wisdom” was not enough. The priestly garments have been discussed before in Exo 28, but here are a few points. Clothes are associated with sin and its aftermath. God finished his exposition of the consequences of sin and he clothed Adam and Chava (Gen 3.21).
In Rev 7.3 we will be clothes with white garments associated with righteousness. In Hebrew thought, the garments of the High Priest teach us about sin. The Tunic alludes to the shedding of human blood (Gen 37; Isa 63). The Trousers allude to the sexual sins (Exo 28.42). The Turban alludes to the sin of pride (Psa 83.2). The belt alludes to the heart of impure thoughts. It wrapped around the High Priest from just under his arms to his mid-section. The Breastplate alludes to the sin of injustice (Exo 28.15) and the Ephod alludes to the sin of idolatry (Hos 3.4). The Robe alluded to the evil tongue. It had bells that tinkled when he walked. The Head Plate alludes to the sin of shamelessness (Jer 3.3; Rev 13). Garments can force us to focus on who we really are, and with whom we identify.
As the fear of heaven changes, so will our garments. The word for clothing in “beged.” The word for “traitor” has the same letters. Clothes have a dual concept. They can disguise a traitor or they can trace the wearer back to God. The “garments of God” metaphorically is a concept that says God wears the world like a garment, just as a garment covers (“olam” means world and it has the same root as “elim” meaning hidden).
In Exo 29.38-46 we have the “Tamid” (continual) service, and this will also be mentioned later in Num 28. The purpose for the Mishkan and the priesthood was this service in particular. The people brought their korbanot between the morning tamid (9 am) and the afternoon tamid (3 pm). The morning tamid started the daily worship.
In Exo 29.39 we read “the one lamb” and this lamb was different that all the others. Beginnings are important. The Tamid was fundamentally independent. The failure to bring one of them would in no way reduce the obligation or ability to bring the other one. However, there was one exception, the first Korban Tamid. If the priest failed to bring “the” lamb, he would not be allowed to bring an offering. This lamb was different. How is it like Yeshua? The first tamid lamb had to be perfect and done in the correct manner.
In Exo 30.1 we come to the Golden Altar of Incense. It was not mentioned earlier, but it is now. It is mentioned now because Aaron is High Priest. Smells can be powerful and can come on a person against his will. Smells can warn us, so we need to be alert and perceptive. So, is there a connection between the Golden Altar of Incense and Aaron as a leader? Any leader must have certain qualities. First, they must be able to influence people far away. Their reach should be powerful enough to motivate. Then they must be alert, perceptive and knowing which direction to go.
As we have seen, everything in the Mishkan had to be beautiful. It was the “House of Kedusha” and people are imperfect and those with a bad nature would have less respect and be distracted by imperfection. They would be annoyed by blemished kohanim (priests). The beauty of the Mishkan, and later the Temple, reminds us of the Architect.
In Exo 30.12 the Lord wants them to take a census of those who can go to war, for a “ransom” or covering as a potential life taker. This census was for the army. It wasn’t to see how big the army was, God already knew that and he doesn’t need an army anyway. This was to show life had value, even the life of an enemy. In Israel, when a suicide bomber kills himself there are volunteers that will gather the body for burial, with respect. They are in God’s hands and there is no point in disrespecting the dead.
In Exo 35, Moses assembles the congregation, the material for the Mishkan and the hearts of those who would contribute (v 21). We meet Oholiab and Bezalel in Exo 35.30-35. Bezalel (shadow of God) was from Judah, the most honored tribe. Oholiab (Father is my tent) was from Dan, the tribe that brought dishonor. These two taught that our pedigree means nothing to God for him to use us. He accepts our gifts, talents and contributions no matter where we come from. A good leader can see all the parts and see how they can be used. But it is the Lord who comes in and fills them with his gifts so they can perform his work.
Now, what was the purpose of the Exodus? It was so that we may know God as redeemer and savior. God gave the Torah because he is God and we are mere men. He needed to each and guide us once we have been delivered. Notice a very important point in the Exodus story that is applicable in our spiritual exodus. Notice he saved them first, then he takes them to Sinai for the Torah. He saves us first, then he takes us to Sinai for the Torah. The Torah was never for salvation, or it would have been the Torah first, then they would have been delivered.
The question is this, “Is there a God of Israel?” If there is, then his commandments stand. And if they stand they should be obeyed. But if you can “reshape” God’s identity, then you can “reshape” his commands. It all comes down to “Whose commands do we follow?” It is not a question of whether a person believes, it is what they believe. It is not a question of whether a person obeys, it is what they obey. People don’t like certain commandments so they reshape God into one who doesn’t like those certain commandments. People will make God into their own image and eventually he does not resemble what he has said about himself. So in reality, they have a different God. God hasn’t changed (Mal 3.6), but the people in Rabbinic Judaism, Replacement Theology Christianity or in many other religions have changed him into what they want. We need to see the Lord for who he really is and for what he has said about himself, his commandments and his will. We have already said that God gave a command to build the Mishkan for him (Exo 25.8-9). But that also means in our lives. Yeshua is not in conflict with the Torah.
We will pick up here in Part 80.