Posts Tagged ‘exodus 24-25’

From Every Man Whose Heart Moves Him–Exodus 24-25

October 17, 2018 Leave a comment

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Exodus 24-25


From Every Man Whose Heart Moves Him


From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.  Exodus 25:2


Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  (Matt. 5:8)


Moses, Aaron, and seventy of the elders of Israel saw the God of Israel on Mount Sinai.  But they were not pure in heart.  Not the elders of Israel, who, a few chapters later, were presumably among the people of Israel who demanded that Aaron give them a golden calf.  Not Aaron, since he blessed the people’s sinful plan.  Not even Moses was pure in heart.  He forgot to circumcise his son and caused him to break God’s covenant.  And yet these seventy-two men who were not pure in heart “saw the God of Israel.  There was under His feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.  And He [God] did not lay His hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.”  (Ex. 24:10-11)


This was something that had been denied human beings since Adam was thrown out of Paradise.  With a few rare exceptions, no one had seen God since human beings fell into sin.  But now the elders of Israel do.  They eat and drink in God’s presence; they sit down at God’s table.


Something even more amazing follows.  Moses goes into the cloud of the glory of God to receive further instructions from Him.  And the first thing He tells Moses is to take up a collection: “And let them build me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.”  (Ex. 25:9)  God not only shows the elders of Israel His face, but will dwell in the midst of them.  He will not only show them His face this once, but always be in their midst, in a place where they can find Him.  And not only with them, but with their children and their descendants forever.  What was lost at the garden of Eden—the presence of God—is now being restored for this one people, chosen out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.


What happened to Moses and Israel was only foreshadowing what God would do at the end of time.  The sanctuary they built was an earthly one, made with human hands, and it was only a temporary structure.  Now God has built an eternal dwelling place, not made with human hands, in which He dwells with His people forever.  That dwelling place is the human nature, the body of Jesus, which was conceived in the womb of Mary.  And by the same Spirit the Holy Trinity makes the bodies of His saints into the eternal dwelling place of God, into the members of Jesus’ body—so that we not only have God dwelling among us in a tent or a temple of stone—but we are the tent, we are the stones.  We are the dwelling place of God.


But how can this be?  And how can we be certain that this “we” includes us?  How can we be God’s holy place, His sanctuary, when we appear to be unclean and unholy, just like the elders of Israel when they ate and drank in the sight of the glory of God?  We are God’s dwelling place for the same reason they could stand in His presence: the blood of the covenant.


They were sealed into a covenant with God by the blood that Moses threw on them after first throwing part of it on God’s altar.  We are made holy by the blood of the Lamb of God, His spotless, well-pleasing Son, who was slain in our place, for our sanctification and cleansing.  His blood is poured out on us in our Baptism into Him, sprinkled on us when we are absolved and when His cross is proclaimed to us.  It is given us to drink in the supper that is His testament.  His blood cleanses us on the outside and within.  The stain of our sin is washed away in His blood in Baptism.  The ongoing power of sin within our sinful flesh is covered and put into remission as we eat His body and drink His blood which He shed for the forgiveness of our sins.


And then something else comes out of us instead of sin.  Praise and thanksgiving pass our lips instead of cursing and lies.  And instead of our hands being used to steal and tear down, we begin to build up the sanctuary of God, contributing not only to maintain the houses in which we hear Jesus, in which He gives us His Spirit, but to support the preachers through which His Word is proclaimed and His Sacraments are administered, so that the holy place of God may be built up in our own congregation and in those farther away.  Christians give for the same reason the Israelites did in Exodus chapter 25—because their hearts moved them, after the God who saved them from bondage by a mighty hand made a covenant to dwell with them.


Those who believe in Christ will have hearts that are moved to give to the Lord’s house.  They believe that they will one day see God’s face for the sake of Jesus, and they rejoice in hope.  But they also believe that the fullness of God’s glory dwells with them—and in them—now.


Yet she on earth has union

With God the Three in One,

And mystic, sweet communion

With those whose rest is won.

O blessed heav’nly chorus!

Lord, save us by your grace,

That we, like saints before us

May see You face to face.

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