The Path to the Throne of God

 

4. ISRAEL'S PREPARATION FOR SERVICE

 

The First Passover. Preparatory to entering upon the sacred work of constructing the sanctuary, God led the Israelites through experiences designed to strengthen their faith and better qualify them for the task. Chief among these was their miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage and idolatry. When the exact time arrived God laid bare His mighty arm to set them free. To mark this great event, In obedience to His command, each household, on the tenth day of Abib, the first month, selected a lamb "Without blemish, a male of the first year." The lamb was kept until the fourteenth day of Abib, when it was slain "in the evening"; that is, between three P.M. and sunset, and the blood sprinkled on the door posts of every house where the Israelites were assembled. It was then "roast with fire." "in that night," the early hours of Abib 15, it was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, Ex. 12:1-9.

 

The bitter herbs were to be a reminder of their release from bitter bondage; the unleavened bread was "bread of affliction; for thou camest forth in haste; "They were “thrust out." Deut. 16:3; Ex. 12:33, 39. The lamb roasted with fire typified the fiery trials of "the Lamb of God," who was “wounded for our transgressions," "oppressed" and "afflicted." Isa. 53:4-12. The blood put on the doors for the protection of those within, symbolized the blood of Christ, shed to protect them from the power of sin.

 

This service was called the Passover because, when the Lord smote all the firstborn of the Egyptians, He passed over the houses of Israel where the blood had been sprinkled. It was "for a memorial” to be observed in commemoration of their deliverance. It was to be "an ordinance forever," Ex. 12:14, and throughout eternity those whose sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ, will continue to celebrate their great deliverance.

 

The Passover was not observed in the wilderness. pp 406, 485; Ex. 12:25; Josh. 5:10. Regarding it, the Lord told Moses, “When ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you... ye shall keep this service from year to year.” and when your children ask, “What mean ye by this service?” explain to them its divine significance which even children were to understand. Ex. 12:25-27; 13:10. As we explain these things to our children today, let us make it plain that the plagues sent on Egypt at this time were not against the people but against “all the gods of Egypt.” Ex. 12:12. They were designed to teach the Egyptians the power of the true God and the utter helplessness of all false gods, which could not protect even the firstborn dedicated to their idolatrous worship. Ex. 11:4,5.

 

Deliverance "at Midnight." It was "at midnight" when all the firstborn of Egypt were slain; "there was not a house where there was not one dead." Immediately all Egypt was aroused, and the king sent Moses an urgent command to leave the land in haste, lest they be all dead men. Ex. 12:29-33. By this time every arrangement had been made for their departure. The people had been "divided into companies under appointed leaders." Every man and woman had visited the Egyptians and "claimed a recompence for their unpaid labor. The Lord gave them such favor in the sight of the Egyptians that they were given jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and whatever they asked. The amount collected was so great that it is written “they spoiled the Egyptians.” Ex. 11:2,3; 12:35,36: PP281; Ed. 37. The Passover had been observed with loins girded, shoes on feet, and staff in hand, Ex. 12:11, so when Pharaoh issued his command, immediately after midnight, "the bondmen went forth laden with the spoil of their oppressors." God "brought them forth with silver and gold" and

“Egypt was glad when they departed.” PP 281; Ps. 105:37,38, This fulfilled the prophecy that at the end of their 400 years of affliction, they would come out “with great substance.” Gen. 15:13,14.

 

Israel "departed from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month." Num. 33:3. They went out "by night," they went out "in haste" for the command was urgent." Deut. 16:1; Ex. 12:33. They were "thrust out." Ex. 12:39. But, although thrust out in haste, they went out not in disorder. "Israel went harnessed" (in orderly array, Moffatt) out of... Egypt." Ex. 13:18.

 

"Out of Egypt" "the Selfsame Day." It should be clearly understood that the expression "the selfsame day" applies not only to the 430 years sojourning, Ex. 12:40, but also to the 400 years of bondage. Gen. 15:13. Both periods ended on the selfsame day. On that very day God laid bare His arm to fulfil His promise. He brought them forth from Egypt by "strength of hand." Ex. 13: 14. God is the "wonderful numberer." Dan, 8:13, margin. He foreknows every event and the exact time when it will occur. He makes no mistakes in His plans.

 

Arriving at Succoth, they baked unleavened cakes of the dough they had brought with them, for being "thrust out” they had not “prepared for themselves any victual." Ex. 12:39. From Succoth, instead of continuing eastward, the cloud that guided them directed southward to Etham "in the edge of the Wilderness." Ex. 13:20. (This led Pharaoh to conclude that they were "entangled in the land.") From here they were directed to journey to Pihahiroth and encamp by the Sea.

 

The places along the Red sea, which is the eastern boundary of Egypt, were fortresses where guards were stationed to signal the approach of danger. "After the Hebrews had been gone from Egypt some days," S.P. Vol. 1, 1870, p. 206, these guards sent the warning message to Pharaoh that instead of serving God in the wilderness, as Moses had requested, Ex. 5:1, the people were fled. Ex. 14:5.

 

Immediately the king's, army followed in hot pursuit, planning to recover part of the spoil and, if necessary, destroy some of the people. They overtook Israel at the Sea. Ex. 14:3-9; 15:9.

 

“The third night after leaving Rameses they (Israel) found themselves walled in on each side by mountain ranges, while the Red Sea lay before them." Vol. 4, Test. p. 21. In spite of apparently insurmountable difficulties, the command of the Lord was, "Go forward." Ex. 14:15.

 

To make this possible, another mighty miracle was wrought. The guiding cloud passed between the two armies, becoming a pillar of darkness to Pharoah's army, but of light to Israel. "All that night," Ex.14:21, God held the waters of the Sea in check and Israel passed over on dry ground In “the morning watch," (the watch before the dawn, Moffatt) the entire army of Pharaoh, attempting to follow, was drowned in the Sea. Ex. 14:10-31.

 

The Song of Moses. In commemoration of this event Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote one of the most remarkable songs on record, a song that still bears his name - "the Song of Moses." That “same day" he directed to commit it to memory... and to teach it to their children and children's children." It was not to be forgotten, for it was to testify against them as a witness," when they should depart from God. Deut. 31:19-22; PP 467468; Ed. 39. While it expressed thanksgiving to God for His deliverance, it pointed forward not only to the earthly but also to the heavenly sanctuary. Ex. 15:17,18.

"I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously.

Pharaoh's chariots and his host ... his chosen captains also are drowned In the Red Sea." 'The Lord... is become my salvation: He is my God and I will prepare him an habitation.

(the earthly sanctuary) . . .

 

"Thou shalt bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, In the place, 0 Lord, which Thou has made for Thee to dwell in,

In the sanctuary, 0 Lord, which Thy hands have established," (the heavenly sanctuary)Ex. 15:1,2,4,17.

 

All the women led by Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, with timbrels in their hands, joined in the grand chorus. Ex. 15:20,21. Over desert and sea rang the joyous refrain. It would seem that Israel spent most of this wonderful day memorizing and singing this immortal song. It was a day of great rejoicing. Its Antitype, the Song of Moses and the Lamb, Rev. 15:2,3, will be sung around the eternal throne when all the enemies of God's people are destroyed, and His eternal sanctuary is established. PP 467,468. That will be a day of still greater rejoicing.

 

Arrival at Mount Sinai, Israel reached Mount Sinai the third month, "the same day;" that is, the third day, Sivan 3. Ex. 19:1; See Page 276. Here they “camped before the mount," (Ex. 19:2), where they were to remain about one year. After they had camped, they spent the first two days - “today and tomorrow” - Sivan 3 and 4, washing their clothes and sanctifying themselves. Ex. 19:10,14. This was the necessary physical and spiritual preparation to meet with God, who on the third day Sivan 5, after their arrival was to appear in a thick cloud on Mount Sinai and speak His law in their hearing. Ex. 19:9; Deut. 4:1013.

 

The First Pentecost. The word Pentecost means fiftieth. It was so named because this ordinance was to be celebrated on the fiftieth day from "the morrow after" the ceremonial Sabbath; that is after the day the Passover was eaten. It is also called the Feast of Weeks, because it was "seven Sabbaths... complete," Lev. 23:15,16, "seven full weeks" (Moffatt), a “week of weeks." Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:9,10,16. This first Pentecost fell on Sivan 5, the third day after Israel's arrival at Sinai. Ex. 19:16, (See calendar). "In the morning" of this day, Ex. 19:16, “Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God.” Which day does the Bible recognize as God's special day? From Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11, we learn that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. They took their stand at the foot of the mount, outside the "bounds" which God had told Moses to set about it. Ex. 19:12.

 

Upon the mount a thick cloud rested, and on top “the glory of God was like devouring fire." Ex. 19:9; 24:17. It was like a heavenly pulpit for here "the Father and the Son, attended by a multitude of angels," were present to address the people. PP 304,339. These angel attendants were "the chariots of God... even thousands of angels. The Lord is among them, as in Sinai.” Ps, 68:17. Describing the scene later, Moses said, “He came with ten thousand of saints," Duet. 33:2, and David, in his poetic style, wrote, "He bowed the heavens... and came down." Ps. 18:9. Out of the cloud, lightnings flashed and thunders roared and “Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly... and the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder," so that all the people trembled. Ex. 19:17-19. This manifestation of divine power and glory indicated that God had something of great importance to say to His people.

 

God Speaking His Law. Out of the cloud, a voice like a trumpet blast was heard. Ex. 19:16. "Christ and the Father, standing side by side... proclaimed God's divine law, the Ten Commandments." HS 231; Ex. 20:1-17. Because of the fiery display about the cloud, Moses fittingly declared, From His right hand went a fiery law." Deut. 33:2. So terrible was the sight and

so awe-inspiring God's voice that even Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake.” Heb. 12:21. Never before, since the voice of the Eternal spoke the worlds into existence, had there been a more sublime scene. The Ten Commandments, spoken by God's own voice from Mount Sinai, Ex. 19:9; 29:22, was Jehovah's fundamental law, the constitution, for the government of the nation and the church which at this time He organized. PP 303. This is the only time that with audible voice God ever addressed His assembled people on earth, an event well calculated to inspire in man the solemnity and sacredness of the law of God, His eternal law that governs the entire universe.

 

As "the Passover was to be both commemorative and typical, not only pointing back to the deliverance from (the bondage of) Egypt, but forward to the greater deliverance which Christ was to accomplish in freeing His people from the bondage of sin," PP 277, so also Pentecost was both commemorative and typical. As commemorative, Webster says "it was instituted to be a memorial of the gift of the law on the fiftieth day after Israel's departure from Egypt." To this agree Fausset's Bible Encyclopedia, Smith's Bible Dictionary, Clark's Commentary, and “most of the later Jews." From that time Pentecost was to be an annual reminder of Israel's covenant with God to obey His law, Ex. 19:8; 24:7, and of their sacred obligation to teach it to all the nations; and as typical, it pointed forward to the time when Christ's representative, the Holy Ghost, was to set apart the Christian church to carry to the whole world, to every nation under heaven a knowledge of the law as fulfilled in Jesus Christ, its Author. Acts 2:5-12; Matt. 5:17.

 

At this first Sabbath morning service at Sinai, the congregation consisted of the entire body of God's chosen people - 603,550 men twenty years old and upward, Num. 1:45,46, besides women, and children under twenty. God Himself was the Speaker; His sermon, brief but emphatic, His eternal law, the Ten Commandments - spoken in their hearing. Ex. 19:9; 20:22. This memorable occasion was certainly the most outstanding Sabbath morning service ever held on this earth.

 

It certainly did not take a long time for God to speak the Ten Commandments - cHis "ten words," as Rotherham has literally translated Deut. 4:13 from the Hebrew, for anyone can read them audibly, slowly, and with appropriate emphasis in much less than ten minutes. But the fiery display on the mountain, the roaring of thunder, and the majesty of God's voice, so terrified the people that they urgently requested Moses "Speak thou with us and we will hear, but let not God speak to us lest we die." Ex. 20:19.

 

God heard their cry, Although He had more to say to them that morning, He listened to their request and in His compassion and tender mercy, did not chide them for their fear. He understood their distress as He always understands us in trouble. God did not ignore their plea, but instead of speaking to them direct, He called Moses to Him. After giving him specific directions for building an altar He said unto Moses, "Thus thou shalt say unto the Children of Israel . . . These are the judgments which thou shalt set before them." Ex. 20:22; 21:1.This change in chapters well illustrates the fact that the division of the Bible into chapters is man-made and not inspired, these judgments being merely a continuation of the narrative of Chapter 20.

 

Moses Given the Judgments and Reading Them to Israel. God dictated these judgments to Moses who wrote them in a book. They are recorded in Exodus 21, 22 and 23.

These civil laws were called judgments because they were to guide Israel to manifest justice in matters regarding their relation to one another. Moses read these civil laws to the most influential of the people who promised or covenanted to obey. Thus ended this never-to-be-forgotten Sabbath Day. Ex. 24:3-7.

 

In the Mount with God. "Early in the morning" Sivan 6, (See calendar) an altar was built under the hill, according to the directions God had given Moses. On it sacrifices were offered, and the covenant duly ratified. Ex. 20:24-26; 24:4-8. The glory of God, which to Israel looked like

blazing fire, still rested on the top of the mount, and for six days the cloud covered it. Ex. 24:16,17; See calendar. During this time, Moses with seventy elders and a few others whom God called went into the cloud where they spent the time in heart-searching, meditation, and prayer. To Moses this was a time of preparation for closer communion with God. Ex. 24:9. While all the people saw the glory of God, to these chosen ones was given a closer view. The God of Israel was above them. Under His feet they saw "as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone (a sky-blue stone, one of the most valuable and lustrous of the precious gems), and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness." Ex. 24:1,3,10.

 

At the close of the six days, "on the seventh day, Sivan 12 (See page 276) (which was the Sabbath, PP 313) Moses, at the divine call, went alone into the midst of the cloud where God was. Since it is true that the seventh day Sivan 12, the day Moses went into the presence of God, was the Sabbath, Is it not equally true that the previous seventh day, the day God spoke His law from Sinai, was the Sabbath? Moses remained in the mount forty days and forty nights, Ex. 24:18. During this time he received the tables of stone and complete directions for making the sanctuary, the earthly dwelling place for God.

 

The Pattern Given to Moses. The earthly sanctuary was to be a "pattern of the things in the heavens" Heb. 9:23, "a figure for the time then present" of "a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands." Heb. 9: 9-11. It was to be "a miniature representation," God also gave Moses detailed instructions for building the sanctuary. “Moses wrote all the directions in a book, and read them to the most influential of the people." SPI: 269. For our learning, they are recorded in the book of Exodus, chapters 25 to 31 inclusive.

 

The words "representation" and "book" as here used agree perfectly with the translation of the word "pattern” in Exodus and in Hebrews as given by Hebrew and Greek scholars; namely, that the word "pattern" indicates a model, though it may also include a book. “He (God) presented before Moses a miniature model of the heavenly sanctuary, and commanded him to make all things according to the pattern shown him in the mount." SPI: 269. This makes it doubly plain that when Moses was in the mount, God showed him a miniature model, "a figure" of the heavenly sanctuary, and then dictated instructions which he wrote in a book as a guide in the construction of the earthly sanctuary. In this sense, both the model and the book were the pattern.

 

Exact and Minute Description Given. Bible expositors in general agree that the services of the sanctuary illustrate the work of Christ in the plan of salvation. As already noted, the various parts of the building itself also symbolize His redemptive work. If this be not true, why did the Divine Architect give so much space in the inspired Word to such a minute description of each part of this spiritual object lesson? Why did He require such exactness of detail, such skill, such wisdom and perfection in the execution of His plan? And why was He so particular to admonish Moses, and frequently to repeat the command, "Look that thou make them after the pattern which was showed thee in the mount"? Ex. 25:9,40; Heb. 8:5. Eighteen times in Exodus 39 and 40, it is stated that the details of the sanctuary building were made "as the Lord commanded Moses."

 

Not only the services of the sanctuary but "the sanctuary itself . . . was to serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things." Heb. 8:5; PP 351, Therefore the Lord, through Moses, gave the most definite instruction concerning every part.

 

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary states it this way: "It is impossible to account for the circumstance of God's descending to such minute details, except on the assumption that the tabernacle was to be of a typical character." By way of emphasizing its fullness of spiritual meaning, A. I. Pierson, an eminent Bible student and writer, says: "Typical structure and furniture are shown in the tabernacle, the description of which, with its contents and ritual, occupies more

room in the Bible than any other single object or subject in the Old or New Testaments, and there must be a reason for it. Every detail of the tabernacle is described, and seven times in all is reference made to the pattern shown in the Mount, to emphasize the fact that in no respect, however minute, was that pattern to be disregarded. Ex. 25:9,40; 25:30; 27:8; Num. 8:4; Acts 7:44; Heb. 8:5; I Chron. 28:11,12,18,19." (God's Living Oracles, p. 130).

 

What does all this mean? Is it not that God would thus emphasize the importance of its study? Moreover, in the space thus occupied many things are repeated. Surely God does not multiply words without a purpose. "Every word of God is pure." Prov. 30:5. "The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Ps. 12:6. Why then this repetition? Why did God repeat Pharaoh's dream about the years of plenty and the years of famine? "That the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice." we are told, "it is because the thing is established by God." Gen. 41:32, italics supplied. The dream contained information vital to the physical and temporal life of the king and the nation, and the sanctuary contains truth that is vital to our spiritual and eternal life. In repeating, God would have these truths to be "established.” For this reason the student must dig, and dig deep, to find the hidden treasures wrapped up in the sanctuary.

 

"A Shadow of Things to Come." The sanctuary has been fittingly called “a shadow picture of Christ." Paul speaks of it as "a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Col. 2:17. Christ is indeed the key to these types, as He is the key to the whole Bible. With this key in the hand of faith, our study will be richly rewarded.

 

The sanctuary is not only a shadow picture of Christ, it is a shadow picture to teach us about God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the angels as ministering spirits in their work to save us. It also represents the experience of every true believer as well as of the church in all its generations; all compose the "building fitly framed together unto "an holy temple in the Lord... for an habitation of God through the Spirit" Eph. 2:21,22; a dwelling place of God, a "temple of the Holy Ghost." 1 Cor. 6:19.

 

God's Final Word to Moses. During the forty days that Moses was in the mount, nothing regarding the building of the sanctuary was left to his imagination or devising. Every detail was divinely dictated. At the end of this time, he was to return to the people and communicate the instruction to them. But! Wait a moment! God has one final word of great importance - a command that involves life or death to His people. In their ardor to see the work go forward, they might forget, so He sent a warning that not a stroke of even so sacred a work as building a dwelling place for God, was to be done on the Sabbath. "Verily," He emphasized, 'My Sabbaths ye shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that 1 am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death; for whomsoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people!" Ex. 31:13,14. This was the climax of that long and very important interview between God and Moses.

 

His Law Engraved in Tables of Stone. Although Israel had seen the glory of God that rested on Mount Sinai, and had heard His voice as He spoke His law, God “did not . . . trust His precepts to the memory of a people who were prone to forget His requirements, but wrote them upon tables of stone.” PP 364. When He "had made an end of communing with Moses upon Mount Sinai," He gave unto him these "two tables of testimony; tables of stone, written with the finger of God." Ex. 31:18. This “testimony" was the Ten Commandments. Ex. 34:28.

 

On what kind of stone did God write the Ten Commandments? The only stone mentioned in the description of His presence on Mount Sinai is the precious "sapphire stone," a blue sapphire stone, like "the body of heaven in his clearness." Ex. 24:10. How fitting that on the stone which

formed the “paved work” - the pavement or foundation under the feet of God - when He spoke His law, the eternal God should write His eternal law, which is the foundation of His eternal throne! And how fitting that it should be a blue stone, a color indicating obedience to heavenly truth! Num. 15:36-40.

 

"The tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables." Ex. 32:15,16. "Graven;" that is, cut or carved in sunken pattern, impressed deeply or indelibly similar to cloisonne work for which Chinese artists have been famous. What excellent illustration this indelible writing is of the indelible character of God's law! It cannot be erased; it cannot be changed; it is the writing of God.

 

"And Moses turned, and came down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand." Ex. 32:15. When, because of the apostasy of Israel, these tables were broken, Moses, at the command of God, "cut two tables of stone, like the former ones." Then, "early in the morning" he went up into Mount Sinai . . . and took in his hand the two tablets of stone." Upon them God condescended to write again “the words that were on the former tablets.” Ex. 34:1,2,4, Moffatt. Is not this a marvelous illustration of God's patience and mercy toward these who break His law?