The Gospel According to Moses


Week XXIII: The High Priest, Anointing Oil, etc.

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Day 155: A Portable Temple

And you shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it.

Exodus 25:13-15

There is one very important detail that I’ve failed to mention (on purpose) as we’ve been studying the tabernacle in the wilderness for the last few weeks. The whole structure was made to be portable rather than permanent. One reason is obvious: the children of Israel were traveling across the Sinai Peninsula, and they lived in tents; therefore their place of worship had to be a tent, too. (Tabernacle is just a fancy word for "tent" by the way.) God lived in a tent because His people lived in tents and were nomadic at this period.

So everything in the tabernacle was made to be taken down and transported at a moment’s notice. You never knew when the Shekinah glory of God would lift from the tabernacle and start moving off across the desert—and when God moved, His people packed up and followed after Him! The Levites would dismantle the tabernacle and off they’d go. That’s why the major articles of furniture were built with rings on the sides, and poles that slipped into the rings. The men could just pick up the ark, the table, and the altars by the poles and get moving. The poles used for articles within the tabernacle were of wood overlaid with gold, and the poles for furnishings outside the tent itself were of wood overlaid with brass, again signifying the activities in each area (dealing with sin on the outside, and having fellowship with deity on the inside).

There’s a deeper spiritual significance about the portable tabernacle, however. God’s people aren’t supposed to be settled in this world—this is not our true home. Its been spoiled by sin and satan, and if we’re too comfortable in that company there’s something suspect about our walk with the Lord—"If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in Him," (1John 2:15). Christ has come, but to this day the world is unredeemed. There is a redeemed remnant wandering through the wilderness of the world today, but the majority are still following their father the devil, still walking in the ways of Egypt.

When Israel was settled in the Promised Land, David wanted to build a permanent temple for the Lord, but was refused. He was a type of the first coming of Christ, a man of bloodshed—the first coming bought our salvation but did not save the world. Solomon was allowed to build the temple, a more permanent dwelling place for God, because his reign symbolized the second coming and the millennial reign of Christ, when the world itself would be set straight, when the righteous would no more be pilgrims and strangers, but would rule and reign a thousand years with their Lord.

That day is not yet, however, and you and I are still wandering without a fixed dwelling place. We must live in tents and be ready at all times to follow God’s leading into the unknown, not becoming attached to this world, but living with our hearts in another, the kingdom of our Lord and Christ, Jesus the Son.


Day 156: The High Priest

Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me... And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.

Exodus 28:1,2

After the Lord gave Moses the pattern and blueprints for the tabernacle and its furniture, He went on to describe the garments of the high priest. The high priest is one of the great types of Christ in the Old Testament. His ministry prefigured the ministry of the Son of God: teaching the people about God, offering sacrifices for them, and interceding before the throne of the Father on their behalf. Look at Hebrews 8:1-2: "we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man."

Even the high priest’s clothes spoke of Jesus. First described is the ephod, or priestly cape: "They shall also make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen..."(28:6). These materials, as we’ve seen before in our tabernacle study, illustrate various truths about Jesus: gold - His divinity; blue - His heavenly origin; purple – nobility; red - His shed blood; and white - His righteousness. Two onyx stones were fastened to the ephod in gold settings, and on each was the name of six of the twelve tribes of Israel; for this was the High Priest of Israel.

His preoccupation with Israel also showed in the breastplate—made of the same materials, but with twelve precious stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel fastened to it. So Aaron the high priest carried Israel over his heart (in the breastplate, and on his shoulders (the two onyx stones) whenever he went in before the Lord. Even so the Lord Jesus carries us on His heart; we are the apple of His eye; and without Him we can do nothing—we must be carried.

The breastplate folded in half, and inside the fold was carried a mysterious item known as Urim and Thummim, or "lights and perfections." No one knows exactly what this was, but the priest would use Urim and Thummim to determine the Lord’s will, and help Israel in time of need. Jesus in His earthly ministry was likewise dependant on the Holy Spirit within Him to operate in the Father’s will—and you and I can receive divine direction, too, if we’d bother to seek Him.

On his head the high priest wore a turban with a plate of gold fastened to it that said "Holiness to the Lord." To me that speaks of the ultimate goal and aim of everything Christ is and does. Jesus is God’s man, first and foremost. Everything He does is for the glory of God—it’s in Him and of Him and to Him. Certainly the sorrowful condition of humankind is a major factor, but our redemption is for the glory of God, because it was His good pleasure to save us in the first place. Glory to His holy name.


Day 157: Bells and Pomegranates

And you shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue... And you shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe.

Exodus 28:31-34

The high priest of Israel is one of the most significant types of Christ in the entire Old Testament. The book of Hebrews spends several chapters discussing the priesthood of Christ, and helping us interpret the symbolism found in Exodus—as we said earlier, this typology business isn’t an arbitrary, subjective sort of interpretation that comes from human imaginations, but it’s something that is found throughout Scripture, especially in the prophetic portions. The ancient Jews thought and expressed themselves in symbolism—it was part of their culture—and no doubt a great deal of it was picked up from the symbolism in the tabernacle.

The high priest wore a blue robe that was quite symbolic or typical. Blue, as we’ve said, speaks of the heavenly origin of the Christ. As He told His disciples, that’s where He came from, and that’s where He went back to, and that’s where we can join Him when we pass from this life, because of His sacrifice for us.

On the hem of the robe hung pomegranates and bells. The bells were gold, and the pomegranates were woven of the usual blue and purple and scarlet material of the tabernacle. The bells would ring against the pomegranates and make a gentle tinkling sound while the priest was in the presence of the Lord inside the tabernacle. Those outside could hear him moving about and know that everything was in order.

Now a bell ringing against another bell would have made a sharper, harsher sound, so God had them put a cloth representation of a fruit between them to soften the sound and make it beautiful instead of irritating. This brings to mind the "clanging bells and cymbals" that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2... "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of so as to remove mountains, but do not have love I am nothing."

The gifts of the Spirit must be tempered and complemented by the fruit of the Spirit, or they could actually turn into an obnoxious display of human pride and ambition that turns people off, instead of on to Jesus. It’s also noteworthy that the New Testament records nine gifts and nine fruits of the Spirit: see 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and Galatians 5:22-23. For every gift a fruit: "a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate," and you have the high priest’s robe just like in the book of Exodus.

Jesus certainly operated more fluidly in the gifts of the Spirit more than anybody before or since, and He also had the fruit to match. He was patient and kind, full of love, and sensitive to where His hearers were at, without compromising or being sentimental about it. That’s God’s combination. How are you doing, by comparison? Do you covet the gifts of the Holy Spirit in your life? I do, and we should. But see to it that there’s a fruit in between each one.


Day 158: The Holy Anointing Oil

And you shall make...a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.

Exodus 30:25

Everything in the tabernacle, including the priests, were anointed with holy anointing oil. Throughout the Bible the oil is a type of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. If the tabernacle speaks of Jesus, it must be recognized that Jesus operated during His earthly ministry under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He had emptied Himself of divine abilities and prerogatives when He took the flesh and blood of mankind upon Himself. If it weren’t for the Holy Ghost He would have done no miracles—He did none before His baptism in the Holy Spirit at the River Jordan.

If Jesus needed the baptism in the Holy Spirit then His body, the church, does, too. If we’re to continue His work, if He has sent us as the Father sent Him into the world, then we need to be anointed, too. The ingredients of the holy anointing oil tell us what we might expect when we’re anointed by the Spirit of Christ...

There were several. The first was 500 shekels of myrrh. Myrrh was a funeral spice. It speaks of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. In reference to us, it reminds us that we, too, died on that cross—when we decided to follow Jesus our "old man" was crucified with Him, never to rise again. There is no anointing while the flesh is still alive and kicking, the Holy Spirit can only use us to the degree that we’re dead to ourselves and alive to Christ.

The next two ingredients were prescribed in half proportions to the myrrh—250 shekels each. The first was cinnamon, spicy and tasty. The Christian life in the Spirit is delicious, exciting, and challenging. I haven’t been bored since I was saved. I’ve been around the world; I’ve lived in exotic places, met all sorts of people, cast out devils, and healed the sick. Some of my old pre-Christian friends, by contrast, are still hanging around the same bar and eating pizza at the same old pizza parlor every week. The anointed life is an exciting life. The other 250 shekel spice was calamus, or fragrant cane. The Spirit-anointed believer will walk in the sweetness of Jesus, with all the fruit of the Spirit, and life will be sweet for him, too. He’ll dispense sweetness of spirit wherever he goes.

Then 500 shekels of cassia was added. Cassia is also a bark, like cinnamon, and it was reputed to have healing powers. The anointed person will bring the healing of Christ to others: healing and deliverance in spirit, soul, and body. Christ and the apostles ministered to the whole person by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we can do no less. People still have the same needs as they did 2000 years ago, and if we have the same Holy Spirit anointing as then, we can minister effectively to them.

The oil itself was also used for medicinal purposes, so that’s another witness. Sweetness and healing, that’s what the ingredients of the holy anointing oil seem to emphasize. That’s not a bad combination: goodwill towards others and the ability to really help them where they’re at—you can’t beat that.


Day 159: In Spirit and in Truth

Whoever shall mix any [anointing oil] like it...shall be cut off from his people.

Whoever shall make any [incense] like it, to use as perfume, shall be cut off from his people.

Exodus 30:33,38

Let’s look further at the holy anointing oil today, and while we’re at it, let’s include the incense that was offered inside the holy place, for it, too, was very holy. It represented, as we saw in our brief discussion of the altar of incense, spiritual prayer and praise being offered up to the Lord.

Neither the oil or the incense were to be duplicated outside the tabernacle precincts or used for anything besides tabernacle use. If you put the oil on human flesh (except the consecrated priests) you would be put out of the camp of Israel, cut off, excommunicated. If anyone offered unauthorized incense, they likewise would be cut off. If we’ve learned anything about types by this time, we ought to sense that here is a serious symbol indeed, that the Lord would issue such a strong warning.

The oil typifies the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the incense, prayer and worship. True anointing, and true worship, must be exercised within tabernacle guidelines. As long as the tabernacle was standing there was only one proper place to worship and offer sacrifices. The Samaritan woman at the well questioned Jesus on this point: "should we worship in Jerusalem or at the high place of Samaria." Jesus then interpreted the type for us: "You must worship in Spirit and in truth, that’s what counts." The holiness of the tabernacle compound, the strictness of its ceremonies, the commands against profaning the oil and incense and other items—these all spoke of the necessity of God-initiated, Spirit-directed worship. Anything man does by himself is suspect, actually false—but when man submits to God’s ways he walks in the Spirit, he worships in Spirit and in truth.

Today many minister in the flesh, instead of with reliance upon the Holy Spirit. They know enough about putting on a good show to gather the crowds in. They understand enough psychology, either by study or by horse-sense, to know what people will respond to and what they won’t. They plan their act well, and then perform it—and it seems to bear fruit, so they continue on that way. Only God knows if their anointing oil Spirit-mixed or man-mixed.

Others worship in the flesh. They can pray with the best of them, like the Pharisees of old, but does God hear them? They may know all the right phrases, postures, and just when to raise a hand or utter an "Amen;" but is it from the heart? is it in Spirit and truth?

I’m not saying that anyone who ministers well or prays in biblical language is in the flesh. What I am saying is we need to keep our hearts pure and not fall into formalism, hypocrisy, or even worse. Let’s use only God’s oil, and God’s incense, and let’s make sure we are holy, consecrated vessels. Let’s worship in Spirit and in truth.


Day 160: An Image of the Lord?

And he took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf; and they said, "This is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt." Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord."

Exodus 32:4,5

Moses spent forty days up in Mount Horeb getting the Law of God and the pattern for the tabernacle in the wilderness. It was the greatest revelation of God ever given up to that time. Moses came down, found Joshua where he had left him, and they proceeded together back to the camp of Israel.

The sight that met their eyes totally blew Joshua’s mind, but Moses had been prepared for it by the word of the Lord. The people had fashioned an idol, a golden calf, and were dancing and worshipping before it. There was eating and drinking and partying going on in every section of the camp. Moses got so angry that he smashed the precious stone tablets of the Law he was carrying, then stormed over to the calf and totally destroyed it. There followed a showdown in which 3000 men were killed. It was a day of infamy that is remembered wherever people name the name of the Lord to this day.

How is it that these people, who had been so powerfully led out of Egypt by the Lord could be so easily turned away from Him to idolatry? Well actually, they hadn’t totally turned away from the Lord; they’d just made an image of Him. It says, "they made... a molten calf; and they said, ‘this is your god... who brought you up from the land of Egypt,’" and they proceeded to declare a feast unto the Lord. That’s right, that calf was supposed to be what the Lord looked like. They still wanted to worship the one true God, they just wanted to worship Him in the form of an idol.

Right there we have the essence of idolatry. The Roman Catholic church insists that the statues that many pray to are not gods in themselves, but merely representations of Jesus, Mary, Peter, and others. That’s just what the Israelites said about the golden calf. They knew this calf hadn’t led them out of Egypt—they’d only just made it the day before—but it represented the God who did. Even educated Hindus (among the most idolatrous people in the world) would say the same thing: "It’s not the statue itself, it’s what it represents that we venerate." I’ve walked into shops in India that sold the familiar bright pictures of Hindu gods, and right alongside of Shiva and Krishna and Lakshmi I’ve seen colorful representations of Jesus and Mary. The "Christians" want pictures of their "gods" to burn incense to and anoint with ghee (clarified butter) just like the Hindus.

The true God, however, forbids idols of any kind. Statues and pictures do take people’s hearts away, and they quickly degenerate into even worse manifestations of false religions, like many gods. Idols keep God’s people away from Him personally, from worshipping in Spirit and in truth. It doesn’t matter if your God is a giant phallic symbol (like many of those Hindus I mentioned), a golden calf, or an image of Jesus—an idol is an idol, and an abomination to the Lord.


Day 161: Aaron is Caught Red-Handed

And Aaron said, "Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. For they said, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us...’ And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf."

Exodus 32:22-24

There is an almost humorous sidelight to the golden calf story, and that’s the way Aaron squirms, shifts the blame onto others, and even lies to get out of responsibility for building the idol. I can’t believe he can look Moses square in the face, and without batting an eyelash, start telling this wild account of what really happened.

First he blames the people... "Moses you know how prone to evil these people are..." It’s reminiscent of the Garden of Eden, when Adam said, "It’s the woman You gave me who did it," blaming Eve and God, instead of accepting responsibility like a man. She in turn blamed the snake... in fact, only the serpent didn’t try to shift blame. Aaron blamed the people. Not only were they evil, but they forced the poor man into playing along with them—he presents it like he just did a little fast thinking to keep from getting stoned.

Blame-shifting is one of the pettiest, most cowardly things a person can do—and almost anyone can fall into it if the stakes are high enough. Just cast a little blame on the other guy, and at least give yourself a little breathing can always lie to him about it later and say, "well, that’s not exactly the way I said it...that’s not what I meant anyway..." I once knew a man who not only twisted the facts a little, but actually did total role-reversals in his story-telling, making himself the hero of the story when he had actually been the heel—"I tried to stop the other guy but he just wouldn’t listen."

Aaron should have had the character to stand up and do the right thing, but instead he had about the same attitude as the pastor who told me, "Well, I’m not crazy about some of these questionable activities in the church myself, but it’s what the people want so we give it to them." Leaders are supposed to lead, not be intimidated—but the truth of the matter is that both Aaron and my pastor-friend had initiated the foolishness themselves. They decided to blame "the people" to defend their position a little.

The amusing part is when Aaron says, "I threw the gold in and out popped this calf." Like, "Look Moses, it’s a miracle! This is what the Lord looks like, and He wanted us to know...and He showed me before he showed you! I’ve had this tremendous revelation and you’re trying to spoil it." Moses didn’t buy it, and neither do I. It says up in verse four that he "fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf." He lied.

One of the marks of a man or woman of God is the ability to repent. We all blow it sometimes, and when you do, be big enough to admit it, repent, and ask forgiveness; not only to God, but to all the people involved. Blame-shifting and lying don’t save your skin, they become a cancer that eats away at your spiritual life until it kills you. Compare this story with David and Bathsheba—one man is still called a "man after God’s own heart" even after his sin; the other is remembered as a weakling. The difference: the ability to ‘fess up and make amends. You might as well get in practice now—you’re going to be making a lot of mistakes in your life.


The Gospel According to Moses, Week XV

The Gospel According to Moses, Week XVI

The Gospel According to Moses, Week XVII

The Gospel According to Moses, Week XVIII

The Gospel According to Moses, Week XIX

The Gospel According to Moses, Week XX

The Gospel According to Moses, Week XXI

The Gospel According to Moses, Week XXII

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All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Version unless marked otherwise.

Copyright © 2005  Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.

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