Instructions for Tabernacle Worship, by Melissa Gibbs

Instructions for Tabernacle Worship, Exodus 29-31

In reading over some of the passages from yesterday's reading, I realized I neglected to mention something of interest to me. In the description of the priestly garments, verse 28:30 speaks of the "Urim and Thummim" in the breastpiece such that Aaron would "always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord". I wondered, "what are the Urim and Thummim and how do they help Aaron make decisions before the Lord"? Unfortunately, the answer is that no one really knows. It must have been common knowledge to the ancient Hebrews, but modern-day scholars can only surmise that they were stones or dice used to determine God's will. Some of the hypotheses as to how they may have worked range from sounding like a Magic 8-Ball to a Ouija board, both of which I initially found ridiculous. Why on earth would God communicate with His people in such a way? And then it hit me. Because the people of that time had no written Word to consult, no Holy Spirit to offer internal guidance, and no living example (Jesus) of how to approach God in relationship. As difficult as it is for us, who have access to all of the forementioned, to discern God's will, imagine what it must have been like for them??? So things like "casting lots" and using the "Urim and Thummim", whatever they may have been, were temporary means of seeking God's will until he provided direct access to His throne through Jesus. This may also explain why there seem to be more uses of audible voices and visible manifestations of God in the Old Testament. The people had nothing else at that time. But given what we have at our fingertips, we should have no need for the same dramatic appearances from God.

In chapter 31 we are introduced to Bezalel and Oholiab, the men God had appointed to oversee the construction of the Tabernacle. Bezalel was "filled with the Spirit of God with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts". This is not to be confused with an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, since this did not occur until Pentecost, after Jesus ascended to Heaven. But rather this is a special anointing specific to a particular task. In essence, God gave Bezalel the ability to complete the job He set before him. Very cool, as this should reassure us that when God asks us to do something, He will equip us as well!

My final observation, and definitely a case of "saved the best for last". A few days ago, I wrote about my own questions about the Sabbath, as to whether or not it was a regulation from which we are released by the new covenant of grace or whether it was to be a lasting ordinance. Well, it was very clearly spelled out in verse 31:16 and 17. The observance of the Sabbath was to be a covenant obligation for all time. Now what that should look like in my life or in yours may be debatable, but there should clearly be something about the Sabbath that sets it apart for the Lord. Now I just have to figure out how to do that! I know that I'll never have all my questions about God and the Bible answered in this lifetime, but I sure do appreciate a quick and authoritative response every now and then!

About Melissa Gibbs:

 Melissa is the mother of four boys and the wife of her junior high sweetheart, JD.  He is the President of Joe Gibbs Racing and the son of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs.  JD and Melissa have been married 16 years and are actively involved with Young Life, Motor Racing Outreach, their church, and other ministries.  Their youngest son Taylor is nearing completion of a 3 year treatment protocol for leukemia, which has been a powerful faith walk for their family.  Since his diagnosis, Melissa has been called upon to share their family's testimony with many local churches.

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