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Thursday, February 11, 2016

God Among His People

“So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God” (Exodus 29:44-46).

Ever since man’s eviction from the garden of Eden, God has desired to dwell among His people. He does not dwell with them, however, because He is holy, humanity is sinful, and the earth is cursed. In mercy God devised a way that reveres His holiness, covers man’s sins, and consecrates a place where He and sinners may meet. 
The place - The Tent of Meeting is a place on earth designed to communicate both separation between holy God and sinful men and the restoration of that broken relationship. 
The priests - God chooses and dedicates Aaron and his sons as servants in His tabernacle and as His adjudicators between Him and His people. These priests wore an ornate ephod with 12 stones engraved with the name of the tribes of Israel as a physical reminder of their calling and duty. The consecration ceremony reminded them that they too were sinners in need of cleansing and substitution. The morning and evening sacrifices were constant reminders of the sinfulness of man, the holiness of God, and way of atonement. The priests were never to take their role lightly; they wore their priestly garments and head dresses that declared Holy is the LORD.   
The price - God requires a sacrifice from anyone who wishes to approach Him. These sacrifices, both individual and corporate, declare that sinful humanity can only draw near to Holy God through the blood of an innocent substitute. Whenever they offered their sacrifices, they laid their hands on the head of the animal to identify with the animal, transferring their sin to that animal and acknowledging the reality of sin’s penalty―death. 
Sadly, Israel rebelled against God as her priests corrupted themselves and her people worshiped idols. God removed Israel from her land. For a time. Then a High Priest came who offered Himself as the substitute for man’s sin. God accepted HIs offering and God again dwells among His people, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  
God longs to dwell among His people. May He find a welcomed dwelling place in the hearts and lives of His people today! God among His people!

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"They are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so that he may serve me as priest. These are to be the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash." (Exodus 28:3-4)

God gave exact instructions regarding the priestly garments. These garments distinguished the priest from all other men, giving them dignity and honor. Dressed in these garments the priest represented the people before God. Each piece symbolized or taught the people something about God.

The central piece of the priest garment is the ornate breastplate with its twelve jewels mounted in gold settings. On each of these stones is engraved the name of one of the tribes of Israel. The high priest bears on his shoulders and in his heart the burden of all twelve tribes mirroring the Great High Priest's heart, love and intercession for His people.

Even today our High Priest interceeds on behalf of His people. All believers can live with the joy of knowing that the Lord Jesus bears their name close to His heart. Not only does He know our name but He ever lives to bring our name before the Father continually. Should no one remember to bring your name in prayer before the Father today, rest assured that the Lord Jesus never ceases to pray for you.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Exodus 28:1-29:46
  • Name the pieces of the priestly garments and give at least one outstanding feature of each piece.
  • What do the priest do to demonstrate their transfer of sin onto the sacrificial substitute?
  • Where were the priest to sprinkle the blood?
  • Upon what basis would God dwell among His people?
Turning truth into prayer
Thank the Father that Jesus Christ is the High Priest who prays for us by name. Even at this very moment.