Archive for ‘Tabernacle’

February 8, 2016

Your Life is the Worship of Christ (John 1:1-18)

William Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Covenant College and Visiting Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Northwest Theological Seminary.

On Sunday, December 20, 2015, Dr. Bill Dennison preached “Your Life is the Worship of Christ” from John 1:1-18. The following is an edited transcript of Dr. Dennison’s sermon.

The prologue to the Gospel of John (John 1:1-18) is one of the most famous passages in the Bible. This passage contains the famous proof texts for the deity (1-2) and the pre-existence of Jesus Christ. The Nicene Creed echoes that Jesus Christ is co-eternal with the Father. The ninth verse proclaims Jesus as the Light of the world. Jesus comes to his own, and his own do not receive him (v. 11), but those who do receive him are given the right to become the children of God (v. 12).

One topic in this passage that is less familiar is the worship of Christ and how it is united to us in our everyday life. I will focus on the great incarnation text of the prologue, John 1:14. How do we get worship out of this text? The concept of worship undergirds what John proclaims regarding the Lord Jesus Christ. You won’t get a point-by-point how-to, but in the language of John, by being born into the covenant of grace, your life is the worship of Jesus Christ.

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Dr. Dennison baptizes his grand daughter.

The Reformed tradition accents the corporate worship of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Lord’s Day, but it also accents the fact that all that the believer does should be done in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

The term “dwell” in John 1:14 is connected with God’s dwelling with his people in the Old Testament, and this relates to the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. In Exodus 24, God instructs Moses to build him a Tabernacle—a dwelling, by which God will dwell among his people.

The manifestation of God’s glory is also related to God’s dwelling among his people in Exodus 24, and therefore, also John 1:14. When Moses is face-to-face with the glory of God is when God instructs him to build the Tabernacle. (See also Exodus 40:34). In the building of the Tabernacle we have the emblem of God’s presence dwelling in the midst of his people in all his glory here on earth. What are the people to do with this Tabernacle? They are to come, and they are to worship God at that Tabernacle.

12657927_10153430098562005_8122199000419005145_oThe same is true with the Temple built by Solomon. Now that they dwell in the land and have a king in a time of peace, they have a place where they build the Temple to worship God. They are required to make a pilgrimage once a year to worship God in the Temple.

Notice also that the glory of God fills the Temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) as it did the Tabernacle. In these structures we see the representation of God’s glory present in the midst of his people saving them from the bondage of Egypt, providing for them in the wilderness, giving them victory over their enemies, securing for them a land according to his covenant promise.

But the Old Testament promise is incomplete unless we look at Ezekiel. The sin of Solomon leads to Israel being divided into a Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Ezekiel was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Judah concerning the Babylonian Captivity to come. He sees that just before the destruction of the Temple that the glory of God would leave Jerusalem and the Temple. Why did that happen? One reason is that God cannot be identified with the decadent sin that had been going on among the people of Israel. The second is that even though the Babylonians will capture the people of God, they cannot capture the glory of God. So God’s glory departs.

What situation is sadder than the arrogance of the people of God who question Ezekiel’s prophecy of the departure of God’s glory? But the Lord has another vision for Ezekiel in chapters 43:4 and 44:4. Someday the glory of God will return to dwell in the midst of his people. When you read the chapters carefully, you see it is about an everlasting covenant. John 1:14 is the fulfillment of Ezekiel 44:4. Our Lord Jesus Christ comes as the one who now dwells in the midst of his people with the glory of God himself, as evidenced by the Greek term for “dwell” in John 1:14 which term means that the Word became flesh to “tabernacle” among us. So you see God no longer dwells in buildings made with human hands, but in human flesh, so that in his work we can behold his glory, the glory of the signs and wonders he does for the salvation of his people. Three of his disciples even beheld his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17.

What does it mean to do everything for the glory of God? The glory of God is the revelation on the Mount of Transfiguration before the disciples with divine honor, splendor and power. Jesus is the visible divine radiance of God himself. This is the glory of God.

Now you see how the glory of God dwelling among the children of Israel in the Tabernacle and the Temple points forward to the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ as he dwelled among us in human flesh as the true Tabernacle. Jesus is now the worshiping Tabernacle and Temple of God. That’s what Jesus’ reference to the destruction of the Temple is about in John 2:19-22. “Destroy this Temple and I will raise it up in three days.” In this passage, he tells us Jesus is referring to his own death and resurrection on the third day.

The body of Jesus Christ is the dwelling place of God. He is the worshiping sanctuary of his people. God dwells in all his majestic glory in his Son. The Anointed One of Israel comes to tabernacle among us so that the people of God may now worship in spirit and in truth. Christ dwelling among us gives us the assurance that he will ever be with us to the end of the age. This assurance strengthens our faith. Paul adds that Christ now dwells in us. If Christ dwells inside of us, then believers must define their lives in light of Christ, and therefore, their lives are the worship of Christ. That’s why hate, envy, jealousy, lust–the ways of the flesh–are not characteristics of the Christian life, because the Spirit of Christ dwells in you to will and to do so that your life is the worship of Jesus Christ.

12657893_10153430098572005_3888751453276932230_oBy the Spirit of Christ dwelling in the believer, the body of the believer now becomes the worshiping-house sanctuary of God. Did you ever think of your own body as the worshiping sanctuary of God? This is exactly what Paul tells you in 1 Corinthians 6:19. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. If you read anything about the Temple in the New Testament, it applies to you.

Everywhere we see “dwelling,” we see it joined to the glory of God. Paul likewise includes the glory of God when he calls our bodies the Temple of God. “Therefore glorify God with your bodies.” Our bodies are to be the visible radiance of Jesus Christ. They are to manifest his honor and power. They are to be the splendor of Christ, even right now here on earth.

So we have the pattern: Temple, Tabernacle–Old Testament. God dwells in the midst of his people in all of his glory, pointing us to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment who comes, according to John, to dwell with us in all his glory. His Spirit, therefore, descends on the church, and so, you who are in Christ are the dwelling place, and the glory of Christ in the Spirit.

This is eminently personal, even to the church, to each of you, and should uplift your soul to gratitude to the Lord and what he has done. Indeed, sometimes the church in our age does not seem to understand this. So many ministers want to build visible monuments and churches to themselves to gloat in their own glory.

Let me drive it home. I have the privilege of standing up here this morning. Wow! I am looking at so many tabernacles and temples. That is you. You are the sanctuary of the living Christ, and thus you are the one who is the worshiping temple of the Holy Spirit on the face of this earth. That is who you are in Christ. Latch onto it. That is the privilege. Hold onto it all the days of your life.

Listen to “Your Life is the Worship of Christ” (John 1:1-18) at mcopc.org.

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September 22, 2015

Shining Face of Moses, Sabbath Regulations, Contributions for the Tabernacle (Exodus 34:29-35:19)

Chuck CainOn September 20, 2015, the adult Sunday School class studied Exodus 34:29 through 35:19.

The last verses of Exodus 34 record the seventh and final descent of Moses from Mount Sinai. He brings with him the tablets of the testimony. His face shines as a result of his time with God and the lingering effect of his having been shown God’s glory (33:18). This appearance serves to authenticate Moses as mediator and leader, God’s presence and guidance, and the Law. Based on 2 Corinthians 3:7 through 4:6, in the face of Moses we see the glory of any person who meets with God by faith through his word. That is, being with God has a transforming effect on people. Also in this passage we see the glory of the gospel as the old covenant fades away.

In chapter 35 we see Moses resuming his discussion of the sabbath after he was rudely interrupted after 31:18 upon his finding Israel engaged in idolatry. Moses then proceeds to announce God’s commands regarding the tabernacle. He solicits contributions and craftsmanship from the Israelites. He orders the manufacture of the the tabernacle, particularly listing the seven articles of furniture (35:12-16). Note that this is the third such listing. The first was in chapters 25-30, and the second occurs in 31:7-9. There will be seven such listings before Exodus is concluded.

Note that Aaron has apparently been forgiven his sins and his lame excuses recorded in chapter 32, for according to 35:19 he is to be consecrated as high priest. This plus God’s renewed promise to dwell with his people shows that there is always hope for sinners.–Chuck Cain

Listen to “Shining Face of Moses, Sabbath Regulations, Contributions for the Tabernacle (Exodus 34:29-35:19)” at mcopc.org.

August 11, 2015

Furnishings Concluded; Oil and Incense; Artisans (Exodus 30:17-31:11)

Chuck CainOn Sunday, August 9, 2015, the Adult Sunday School Class reviewed Exodus 30:17 through 31:11.

Exodus 30:17-21 describes the last of the seven items of furniture in the tabernacle. The bronze basin was used for the washing of the hands and the feet of the priests. For us it speaks of the need for daily cleansing through confession and the washing afforded us through the word.

Exodus 30:22-38 provides the formulas for preparing the anointing oil and the incense.

In Exodus 31:1-11 God identifies the two principal artisans who are to craft the tabernacle, its furnishings, the priests’ garments, and other items.—Chuck Cain

Listen to “Furnishings Concluded; Oil and Incense; Artisans” (Exodus 30:17-31:11) at mcopc.org.

August 4, 2015

The Incense Altar and the Census Tax (Exodus 30)

Chuck Cain On July 26, 2015 the Adult Sunday School Class reviewed the incense altar and the census tax in Exodus 30.

The first is a description of the incense altar. One would wonder why it is described here rather than in Chapter 25, where the other four furniture items inside the tabernacle are described (the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat, the bread table, and the lamp). This description forms an inclusio with 27:20-21 which speaks of the priests’ daily tending to the lamps; whereas, 30:7-8 speaks of the priests’ daily tending to burning incense. In the midst of this inclusio in Chapters 28-29 is the description of the priests’ garments and consecration. This is to say that a description of the priests’ daily duties serve as bookends surrounding their ordination.

The burning of incense likely symbolizes prayer, both of the people’s prayer to God and our Lord’s intercession for his people. The linkage of incense and prayer is found in other passages such as Psalm 141:1-2, Luke 1:5-11, and Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4.

Note that the design, as well as the name, of this article of furniture is almost identical to that of the bronze altar in the courtyard. They are both square and have horns. Perhaps this is to remind us that a life of prayer depends on a sacrifice for sin.

The second subject discussed in Chapter 30 is the census tax. In Exodus 30:11-16 the LORD tells Moses that when a census is taken each person is to pay a half-shekel tax to “ransom his life” (verse 12) and “to make atonement for your lives” (verses 15 and 16) “that there be no plague among them when you number them.” These frightening statements are likely a reminder that the people are not their own, they belong to God who has redeemed them. The taking of a census could tempt pride in numbers and achievement. The tax would remind them that they were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 7:23).

In 2 Samuel 24 David confesses that he has sinned after taking a census of the people. Likely the sin was the failure to require each person to pay the census tax. Also see Matthew 17:24-27 where it is recorded that Christ paid the half-shekel tax both for himself and Peter. — Chuck Cain

Listen to “The Incense Altar and the Census Tax” (Exodus 30) at mcopc.org.

July 21, 2015

Consecration of the Priests and the Altar (Exodus 29)

Chuck CainOn Sunday, July 19, 2015, the Adult Sunday School Lesson completed a review of Exodus 29 regarding consecration of the priests and the altar.

Three animal sacrifices are identified as part of the ceremony. In each case the blood of the animal is applied in various ways to the altar.

The first sacrifice is a bull for the sin offering. Curtain organs are burned on the altar. The remainder is burned outside the camp. Hebrews 13:11-12 identifies this practice as a foreshadowing of Jesus being crucified outside the city as a sacrifice for our sin.

The second sacrifice is a ram for the burnt offering. This offering represented full commitment of the priests and the people.

The third sacrifice is a ram for the fellowship offering. This offering is also identified elsewhere as a peace offering or wave offering. In this case after specified organs are burned on the altar, the breast and thigh are eaten by the priests symbolizing a fellowship meal between them (and the people) and God.

The order of these three offerings differs in Leviticus as identified by J. A. Motyer. In Exodus 29 the order highlights individual need for being forgiven. In Leviticus 1-5 the order is burnt offering (1:3), fellowship offering (3:1), and sin offering (4:2-3) highlighting the order of divine desire. In Leviticus 6-7 the order is burnt offering (6:9), sin offering (6:25), and fellowship offering (7:11) highlighting the order of priestly ministry.

Exodus 29 states that the consecration ceremony for the priests was to last seven days.
The chapter closes with the highly important and oft repeated statement, “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.”

Listen to “Consecration of the Priests and the Altar” (Exodus 29) at mcopc.org.

June 30, 2015

The Structure of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26)

Chuck CainOn June 28, 2015, the Adult Sunday School Class reviewed Exodus 26, which describes the structure of the tabernacle.

The chapter begins by the LORD telling Moses how the tabernacle curtains were to be designed. The ceiling and walls were to be covered by linen curtains made with colored yarn and cherubim designs. A priest entering the tabernacle would see cherubim depictions on all the walls and the ceiling as a portrayal of heaven. This curtain would then be covered by three more curtains of goats’ hair, rams’ skins, and porpoise skins.

Then the upright frames were described which were to form the north, south, and west walls. The frames were to be made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. The frames would be 15 feet tall and number 20 for each of the north and south walls making a total length of 45 feet for the tabernacle. A total of 8 frames would comprise the west end. The inside width of the tabernacle would be 15 feet.

Each frame would rest on two silver bases each made from a talent of silver (38:27). The 4 pillars for the veil would each rest on a single silver base. Thus, the 48 frames and 4 pillars would require 100 silver bases, each weighing one talent or 75 pounds (7,500 pounds total).

The chapter also describes the design of the veil and the entrance screen.

Chapters 2540 of Exodus emphasizes the importance and the exactness of required worship. The materials used for tabernacle construction emphasize God’s holiness, glory, and beauty.—Chuck Cain

Listen to The Structure of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26) at mcopc.org.